How Christopher de Leon stays in tip-top shape at 67

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
How Christopher de Leon stays in tip-top shape at 67
Christopher “Boyet” de Leon

Power couple Christopher “Boyet” de Leon and beautiful wife Sandy Andolong (who was sporting a new pixie haircut) hosted a casual and fun lunch in Mario’s Tomas Morato last Thursday for Manay Lolit Solis, Boyet’s talent manager of 25-plus years. Present were Leo Espinosa, lifestylist; Salve Asis, Entertainment editor of Pilipino Star Ngayon and Pang-Masa as well as newly elected president of SPEED (Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors); Gorgy Rula of PEP entertainment; Mr. Fu, radio and TV personality; and Noel Ferrer, talent manager, producer, writer, and Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) spokesperson.

At age 67, Christopher de Leon (in photo with wife Sandy Andolong) still has his boyish charm, movie star good looks, and the body of a man in tip-top shape.

Boyet was seated next to me, and he readily agreed when I asked if I could interview him. I couldn’t get over the fact that at age 67, he still has his boyish charm, movie star good looks, and the body of a man in tip-top shape! And so I began our chat by asking him how he kept his muscles in all the right places, and why he didn’t have a beer belly. He replied that he has a mistress whose name is “gym,” and that she is the one who keeps him in shape. He works out almost every day and eats anything and everything but pork. (During our lunch, he had a Ceasar salad and spaghetti Bolognese; for dessert, apple pie and coffee.) Sandy works out as well, but not as much as Boyet so he has to remind her to exercise once in a while.

Fun lunch is hosted by Boyet and Sandy with Mr. Fu, Salve Asis, Lolit Solis, Leo Espinosa, Noel Ferrer and Gorgy Rula.

Boyet and Sandy have five children: Rafael, 40; Miguel, 38; Gabriel, 35; Mariel, 30; and Mica, 27. All live abroad except for Mica, who still lives with mom and dad but will leave for the US soon and work there. Boyet and Sandy have three grandchildren and will be celebrating their 44th  wedding anniversary soon. To this day, it is evident that they still dote on one another.

Boyet first saw Sandy when she graced the cover of Express Week, the Sunday magazine of the ‘70s broadsheet, Daily Express. When he saw her photo, he made a mental note to “stalk” her. Fortunately, the late Marichu Maceda tapped Boyet to play Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and Sandy Andolong to play Imelda Marcos for the short documentary Sundalong Ilokano. The project was about the life of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. when he was a soldier and was shot entirely in Ilocos Norte. That’s where Boyet met Sandy, though they were both romantically linked to others at the time. However, by the time they co-starred in Mike de Leon’s 1980 comedy satire Kakabakaba Ka Ba (with Charo Santos and Jay Ilagan), they were already dating.

Our chat then veered to Boyet’s latest movie, the MMFF romance When I Met You In Tokyo, which he starred in, co-wrote and co-directed together with Vilma Santos. Boyet admitted that Vilma is his favorite leading lady. After all, they have made over 16 movies together and their onscreen chemistry is undeniable.

Speaking of Boyet’s other leading ladies, he revealed that the most challenging to work with is ex-wife Nora Aunor. He would also like to do another movie with Hilda Koronel, and recalled that during the filming of the romantic drama Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising — directed by Mike de Leon and released in 1977 — he was in awe of Hilda’s beauty but could only admire her from a distance since she was the wife of his best friend at the time, (the late) Jay Ilagan.

At this point during our lunch, Noel Ferrer shared that there is a chance Hilda Koronel will be invited to grace the MMFF later this year since December 2024 will be the MMFF’s 50th anniversary. I do hope that MMFF 50 will have a Boyet de Leon-Hilda Koronel movie. I’m sure moviegoers will line up to see it.

Going back to When I Met You in Tokyo, Boyet said that the film was actually supposed to be released in September 2023, but the producer was afraid that the rainy season would keep moviegoers away from theaters. And though the rains did not come, the movie was pushed back and became one of MMFF 2023’s 10 entries.

We then asked Noel why MMFF had 10 entries this year when there had always been eight in previous years. Noel tried to justify the 10 films, but we all agreed that a few of them felt like political concessions.

Noel then shared that the movie landscape has changed drastically. Pre-pandemic, the highest grossing day of the MMFF was always opening day, Dec. 25. This year, the highest grossing days were Jan. 6 and 7, which indicated that people waited to hear feedback or read movie reviews before they spent their money on tickets. The take home realization from MMFF 2023? Filipinos want quality movies and are willing to pay good money to see them. Who can argue with that when this MMFF has already breached the P1 billion target and could even close with a P1.2 billion gross?

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