Bert Tawa Marcelo: Remembering Bulakenyo Funny Man

Bert Tawa Marcelo, a Baliuag native, did not live long enough to see the transformation of the company that makes his favorite beer. But son Gerard said that his dad would be proud and happy to learn of what San Miguel Corporation has become and that it has remembered to give back to his beloved Bulacan with a soon-to-be-built airport 25 years after his demise.

READ Soon to Rise: A World-Class Bulacan Airport Worth $15B

“He would have loved to meet Mr. Ramon Ang, the San Miguel visionary who led the diversification. He would have given him butong pakwan ni Mentong or a box of chicharon from Bulacan, his usual pasalubong to friends,” said the 47-year-old Gerard, one of the comedic legend’s four sons who have carved out their names in different businesses away from the spotlight of the entertainment world.

Bert "Tawa" Marcelo
Bert Tawa Marcelo (Photo from Pep.ph)

Bert Tawa Marcelo and San Miguel

Gerard said his father’s closest association to SMC’s big boss Ramon S. Ang was the late chairman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. “I remember when Boss Danding wants to have a good laugh, he will call my father and tell him to deliver Boss Danding’s favorite joke.”

But his association with SMC was not confined to the higher-ups and not constrained by his role as a brand ambassador, a title that Bert Tawa Marcelo proudly held from 1971 until his death in 1995. San Miguel Corporation and subsidiary San Miguel Brewery celebrated their anniversaries last Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, respectively.

“My father was close to San Miguel people from its truck drivers up to the Chairman. He can relate to them. He talks to everyone since he is easy-going and has a friendly nature. His jokes were snappy and non- lethal,” he said.

“He lived that value of friendship over money. He would do San Miguel shows for a minimal fee like the Balikbanda shows and appear in their Baguio summer shows yearly in the 80s. He did shows for San Miguel executives and friends for free. He also lived the SMB value of ‘Iba ang may pinagsamahan,’ another San Miguel Beer tagline,” Gerard said.

Gerard said the gloom of the lockdown due to Covid-19 has led Filipinos to revisit his dad’s old SMC television commercials on Youtube and share these on Facebook.

Watch Bert Tawa Marcelo’s iconic TV commercial here:

One of the favorite ones was featuring Bert demanding debt payment from Bruno, a karate practitioner, who sends his sparring partner sailing through the front door. A dazed Bert then invites him with his characteristic Bulakenyo lilt, “Mag beer muna tayo.”

Gerard agrees that a lot has changed since then and San Miguel has diversified in many industries. “But my father would be happy that Ramon Ang is investing heavily in the country to help our kababayans by providing employment and improving our country’s infrastructure. His big investments are helping the country’s economy,” he said.

Because Bert Tawa Marcelo, his father, values the bond and friendship with San Miguel and loves Bulacan dearly, particularly his hometown, Baliuag, Gerard said that the construction of the P734 billion Manila International Airport would definitely make him proud.

Bert Tawa Marcelo: The Proud Bulakenyo

“Yes, definitely he will happy and proud of the development. My father was a proud Bulakenyo. As Jose Guevarra also said, ‘He was one of the two men that the province of Bulacan can be truly proud of. He placed Bulacan on the map. The other one is Blas Ople, the serious one,” he said.

The airport, set to start construction, will be a game-changer in the province as it can handle up to 100 million passengers per year, eyed to create about 30 million tourism-related jobs, and generate more than a million direct jobs for the host province Bulacan and nearby provinces.

It will also be a timely shot in the arm for many Overseas Filipino Workers, who lost their jobs and had to return to the country in droves due to uncertain global economic conditions.

“Central Luzon has the most number of OFWs too outside of NCR. With this development, his kababayan will benefit from the airport in the province. This will put Bulacan on the world map now with foreign tourists arriving in a world-class airport built by San Miguel Corporation in his hometown,” Gerard said.

He added, “Because of the Covid19 pandemic, our economy is hit for the next two years. We hope this airport will provide employment to Bulakenyos and also help in the recovery of tourism nationwide which was severely affected by the pandemic.”

And with an airport to be built by San Miguel right at his home province, Bert Tawa Marcelo’s legacy as quintessential Bulakenyo with an enduring link to the country’s iconic beer lives on.

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