TESSA A. CASTILLO WRITES : IN the early days, the turning cradle was a face-saver for mothers of unwanted babiesSpared the shame of revealing her identity, a mother only had to deposit her child into the turning cradle, located at the entrance of the orphanage. She would then turn it around to bring her baby inside the orphanage. A bell would then ring to alert the resident nuns that a new baby was in the cradle. Turning cradle, therefore, stood for rejection and abandonment, though adoption may be a sensible option to spare a child’s life. It was, in fact, a painful part of Lim‘s life, as dramatized in a forthcoming biopic of the incumbent Manila mayor, with Cesar Montano in the lead role. THE movie, aptly titled “The Turning Cradle: The Untold Story of Alfredo Lim“ and slated for showing on Feb. 27, opens with Lim’s mother (Gina Pareño plays the old mother and Raquel Pareño, the young version) leaving him as a baby at the turning cradle of the Hospicio de San Jose circa 1930. His father had died before he was born in 1929 and his mother quickly took another husband and relocated to faraway Benguet to start a new family. Fred was a baggage she was not willing to bring with her. Lim spent nine years of his young life as a ward of the Hospicio. Each single day was marked by tears, according to Cesar. “The Turning Cradle“ suggests that such a childhood had a profound impact on his character as an adult. “Ipapakita rito kung paano tumibay ang pagkatao ni Mayor at ba’t naging `Dirty Harry’ (a tag Lim earned as crimebuster) siya. It will show his heart. We lifted everything from the book of Nick Joaquin (`May Langit Din ang Mahirap: The Alfredo Siojo Lim Story’).“ This, Cesar, who also wrote, directed, and produced the filmbio, revealed during a pocket interview with him and Mayor Lim at the old Army Navy Club build ing on Kalaw Street, where shooting for the biopic was ongoing. “Turning Cradle“ is the fourth Fred Lim movie after 1978′s “Alfredo Lim: Manila Policeman“ (starring Rudy Fernandez), 1989′s “Target: Gen. Alfredo Lim“ (Ramon Revilla), and 1997′s “Batas ng Maynila“ (Eddie Garcia). “Orphanage ‘yon, siyempre malungkot; we were deprived of parental love. Mga madreng Kastila ang nagpapatakbo roon,“ Mayor Lim shared. “Nakatapos ako ng Grade 3 sa Hospicio.“ BUT it is written, God is close to the broken-hearted. As soon as his paternal grandparents (played by Spanky Manikan and Gloria Romero) learned of his whereabouts, they retrieved Fred from the orphanage and took him home to live with them. Through sheer industry and obedience, Fred eventually won the hearts of his grandparents and became the favorite apo among so many others in the clan. “Kinuha ako ng lolo’t lola ko… ‘yan ang pinakamasayang sandali ng buhay ko,“ Lim said, recalling with fondness memories of snack time in his new home when he got to drink his favorite Magnolia chocolait and vending native delicacies cooked by his lola and shining shoes on the side to help his grandparents earn a living come the Japanese time. “Nauubos agad ang paninda ko at iniin trega kong lahat ng pinagbilan sa lolo’t lola ko kaya tuwang tuwa sila. Paano ko raw nagagawang ibenta lahat ng kakanin sa napakaikling oras?“ Lim added. Lim’s grandmother died in 1943 but not without turning him over first to the care of his godmother, who was also the family doctor. Perhaps to make sure that he had a family to come home to. She also made him promise to pursue college and earn a degree, which Lim fulfilled. “My lola gave me all the love I needed. My only regret is di ko man lang nagantihan ang kabutihan niya sa akin,“ he sighed. OH, but “Turning Cradle“ is not all heavy drama. The film also follows his rise as a decorated police officer in the late 1960s and his crimebusting efforts against at least two colorful criminals who hogged the headlines during the time ­ Charlie Zulueta (Mark Abaya), son of a judge in Iloilo who became the vicious leader of a gang of bank robbers and goons-for-hire, and master of disguise Moises Alcantara (Noni Buencamino) who used a dubious organization called Society for a Better Philippines as front for his highjacking activities. CURIOUSLY, did the good mayor give Cesar the liberty to exploit his love life in “Turning Cradle“? You can count on that. Call it the icing on the cake. After all, Lim had two wives and 14 children. “Are you a faithful husband?“ Lim is asked. “Yan ang paniwala ko… kasing faithful ako ni Cesar,“ he said apparently amused. When a howl of protest from the press followed his remark, Lim retorted, “Ang daming nagrereact, siguro marami akong di alam!“ Really, Mr. Mayor? AA a recap, more secrets about the 83-year-old public servant will be revealed in “Turning Cradle,“ which incidentally is a period film set in 1968 with flashback to 1940. It might just be the last Alfredo Lim movie, the mayor himself revealed. “His life is very inspiring,“ Cesar said. “It teaches a lesson that you are the gatekeeper of your own fate and poverty does not dictate your destiny.“

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