Sunday, September 9, 2007


TOP ROW: GRACITA DOMINGUEZ of Mabalacat; this young ingenue, “bagong tuklas ng Manuel Conde Productions”, was launched in the costumed epic “Siete Infantes de Lara”. She got stellar billing in Hiwaga ng Langit (1951). Her children with comedy king Dolphy also entered showbiz, Sahlee and Rolly Quizon. GREGORIO FERNANDEZ of Lubao, started as an actor before making a successful transition to movie directing. He directed Asahar at Kabaong (1937), Señorita (1940) and Higit sa Lahat (1955), which won for him the Best Director Award at the 1956 Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong and also at the FAMAS. His descendanst include action star Rudy “Daboy” Fernandez, whose present wife and ex, are both Kapampangans (Lorna Tolentino, Alma Moreno) . PATSY. “Patsy Patsotsay”Mateo often portrayed the role of a bumbling confidante or alalay who would spew out Kapampangan lines in moments of panic. Later, she became a host (together with Lopito) of the long-running Tawag ng Tanghalan, a singing competition on TV sponsored by manufacturing giant, Procter and Gamble PMC. The contest spawned winners like Pepe Pimentel, Edgar Mortiz, Jose Yap and Nora Aunor. BOTTOM ROW: ROGELIO DE LA ROSA of Lubao, came from a very artistic family. His siblings also made a name for themselves in the movies: Jaime de la Rosa (star of Dyesebel, Aladin and Engkanto), sisters Africa (a scriptwriter) and Purita (occasional actress who became Diosdado Macapagal’s 1st wife). He married Lota Delgado, an Angeleña who also became a prominent actress in the 1950s. After retiring, he was elected to the Senate and became an ambassador to Cambodia, Sri Lanka and The Hague, Netherlands. CHUCK PEREZ of Mabalacat, comes from a showbiz family which includes director Elwood Perez. After winning Face of the Year, a modelling competition, he was launched in the action-fantasy movie “Bagwis”. Later, he tried the stage, essaying the role of Tony Javier in “Portrait of an Artist as a Filipino”.

My earliest exposure to movies was via those popular, mid-morning 1960s programs --Mga Aninong Gumagalaw or Pinilakang Tabing—which featured re-runs of black and white classics such as Darna, Anak ng Bulkan, Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo, Ang Senyorito at ang Atsay, Munting Kerubim, Bondying or Og. I leaned toward fantasy films like Dyesebel (with Edna Luna as a mermaid) and grand costumed epics like Ibong Adarna. The older members of the family favored weepy, romantic stories moreso when the movie starred Carmen Rosales and a dashing young swain named Rogelio de la Rosa. I was often told that he was Kapampangan, but that did not surprise me as I knew early on that we Kapampangans are inherently malagu and masanting!

There were no movie stars in the earliest films produced in the Philippines. Produced by foreigners, most of these were historical movies , showing scenics or events like Panorama de Manila and Fiesta de Quiapo. The 1st Filipino-made feature film however starred a legendary zarzuela queen named Atang de la Rama, who appeared in Dalagang Bukid, produced by Jose Nepomuceno in 1919. In the 1920s-40s, Filipino entrepreneurs cashed in on the growing interest on local films and began churning out pelikulas like Tatlong Humbug (featuring the 1st screen kiss and starring Elizabeth “Dimples” Cooper), Zamboanga (a Fernando Poe Sr. starrer first shown in the U.S.) and Ibong Adarna ( 1st movie in color). Even Pampanga businessmen caught the movie bug; a movie outfit was established in Angeles with Jose Ganzon directing Prinsesa sa Bundok, an initial film offering produced by Joaquin de Guzman.

Local filmdom soon saw the rise of brilliant Kapampangan talents, directors, cinematographers, writers as well as glamorous artistas who lorded the silver screen with their luminous presence. One of the earliest actors was a Lubeño named Gregorio Fernandez who successfully made the leap to directing via his 1937 debut movie Asahar at Kabaong.

Without a doubt, however, it was Rogelio de la Rosa (born Regidor de la Rosa in Lubao on 12 Nov. 1914) who made the most indelible impression in the golden years of Philippine cinema, with a career that spanned over 3 decades. The dashing 6-footer was introduced by his kabalen Gregorio Fernandez to movie mogul Jose Nepomuceno in 1929. His launch movie was 1932’s Ligaw na Bulaklak with Rosa del Rosario, but it was his pairing with Carmen Rosales that immortalized an enduring love team, appearing with her in such blockbusters as Camelia, Maalalaala Mo Kaya? , Lambingan and Colegiala. In 1955, he won Best Actor award in the 1956 Asian Film Festival in Hong Kong, for his acclaimed movie Higit sa Lahat. After retiring from the movies, he was elected as Senator in 1955 and later became an ambassador to Sri Lanka, Cambodia and The Hague, Netherlands where he died on 26 November 1986.

The list of Kapampangan movie talents in varying degrees of incandescence is endless: Actors: Vilma Santos (Bamban), Rosita Noble (Floridablanca), Letty Alonso (Lubao, wife of Mario Montenegro) , Gracita Dominguez (Mabalacat), Luis Gonzales, brothers Ramil and Pepito Rodriguez (San Fernando, Stars ’66 members) , Tony Ferrer (a Laxa from Macabebe) , Rafael Yabut, Bernard Belleza (Macabebe), Ben David, Alma Moreno (Vanessa Laxamana, Macabebe), Paquito Diaz, Liza Lorena (Elizabeth Luciano Winsett, Magalang), Lorna Tolentino, Chuck Perez (Mabalacat), Patsy, Nanette Inventor (Macabebe), Eddie del Mar (Macabebe), Jon Santos , Dante Rivero (Floridablanca), Lydia Montanez (Arayat), Hilda Koronel (Susan Reid, Angeles City), Edgar Mande (Dau), Melanie Marquez, Joey Marquez (born in Mabalacat), Maricel Morales, Judy Ann Santos, Antonette and Tom Taus (Angeles); Directors: Artemio Marquez, Elwood Perez; Writers: Racquel Nepomuceno-Villaviciencio (Angeles), Agnes de Guzman (Mabalacat); International Artists: Donita Rose, Lea Salonga.

Pampanga’s very own, Gov. Lito Lapid, was, as we all know, already a well-known action star (together with his other famous relations, Jess Lapid and Jess Lapid Jr.) before his foray in politics. His latest accomplishment was winning the Best Actor Award for the movie Lapu-Lapu from the controversial 2003 Film Academy of the Philippines. And lastly, there’s the First Son himself, Mikey Arroyo, who has put his thespic talents to good use in a number of action-comedy movies. Indeed, for political wannabees who want to fast-track their ambitions, there’s no business like showbusiness!
(17 May 2003)

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