Sunday, May 2, 2010

*196. EDDIE DEL MAR, Kapampangan 'Rizal' of the Silver Screen

MI ULTIMO RIZAL. Eduardo "Eddie" del Mar gave such a stirring and unforgettable performance as the national hero in the movie "Ang Buhay at Pagibig ni Dr. Jose Rizal", that his name has become permanently linked with that prized role. This is a small, giveaway photocard of the Kapampangan actor, ca. 1950s.

The life of our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal has been the subject of many Philippine movies through the years. The first Rizal biopic was entitled “La Vida de Jose Rizal”, filmed by theater-owner Harry Gross in the first decade of the 1900s. Honorio Lopez, a writer-actor, got the plum role of Rizal. Gross would later make the first film adaptations of the hero’s novels, “Noli Me Tangere” (1915) and “El Filibusterismo” (1916).

Many actors have essayed the role of Rizal since— Joel Torre, Albert Martinez and Cesar Montano are but two contemporary actors who have won acclaim for portraying him. But the one movie star most famous and identified with the prized role of Rizal is none other than the Kapampangan film great of the 50s and 60s, Eduardo ‘Eddie’ die del Mar.

Eduardo Magat was born on 13 October 1923 in Candaba , Pampanga, the son of Albino Magat and Benigna Sangalang. After finishing his Associate in Arts course, he enrolled at UST to study medicine, but the war intervened. He was set to join the ROTC contingent bound for Bataan but became a guerilla fighter intead, almost losing his life for his underground activities.

After the War, he resumed his medical studies--until a classmate of his, Lucas usero, a relative of the Veras of Sampaguita Pictures, brought him along to a party at the Vera residence. Mrs. Dolores H. de Vera offered to screen-test him under Gerry de Leon's direction. He passed the test and became a featured player in "Kapilya sa May Daang Bakal" (The Chapel by the Railroad) starring Oscar Moreno and Tita Duran. Directed by Tor Villano, he was intridyced as 'Eduardo del Mar'. He was next cast in “La Paloma” (1947), directed by Tor Villano, with Paraluman, Fred Montilla and Lilian Leonardo as lead stars. He was unbilled in that movie, but he made quite an impression that his star was soon on the rise.

In the next few years. Eddie was kept busy doing movies not just for Sampaguita but also for the Nolasco Brothers, Liwayway and Lebran Pictures. He made his mark in such movies as "Lumang Simbahan" (1949), "Kilabot sa Makiking", "Huramentado" (1950), and Lebran’s first anniversary movie presentation, “The Spell”, which was in English. It was at Premiere Productions that he renewed acquaintance with director Gerardo de Leon with whom he made his most memorable film "Sisa" where he took on the role of Crisostomo Ibarra. Again, his performance generated much buzz and an acting nomination, overshadowed only by Anita Linda's, who was named Best Actress that year. The 1951 film itself won the top "Maria Clara Award". Thus began his association with "Rizaliana movies".

In 1952, he played the title role of “Trubador”, a Filipino folk hero who was a rig driver by day and a protector of the oppressed by night. He did “Bandilang Pula“ in 1955 for which he would receive his first Film Academy of Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Best Actor nomination. Suddenly, Eduardo delMar found himself among the big leagues of Philippine moviedom.

It was his 1956 film, “Ang Buhay at Pag-ibig ni Dr. Jose Rizal” that would change his showbiz career forever. Produced by Balatbat and Bagumbayan Production, this movie that dramatized the romances of our national hero. He was joined in this movie by Edna Luna, Corazon Rivas and Aida Serna, under the able direction of Ramon Estela. Eduardo, in the title role, was so effective and memorable in his portrayal of the national hero that, in the minds of moviegoers, he and Rizal were one. This was not lost on the FAMAS jury who gave him the Best Actor Award for 1956, a highlight of his career. This role would influence his movie project choices for the rest of his life, mostly with patriotic and heroic themes.

Another unforgettable opus would come 5 years later in the movie adaptation of “Noli Me Tangere” of Bayanihan-Arriva Films. The film was made to commemorate the birth centenary of Rizal in 1961. “Noli” was megged by the brilliant Gerardo de Leon, and in this Rizal masterpiece, Eddie del Mar copped the role of Crisostomo Ibarra, with Miss Philippines Edita Vital as Maria Clara and Leopoldo Salcedo as Elias. Eddie actually conceptualized this ambitious project, and when it was premiered at the Galaxy Theater on Avenida, it proved to be a blockbuster hit, grossing over P100,000 in its first week of showing alone.

In the 10th FAMAS derby that year, he found stiff competition from his co-star Leopoldo Salcedo, who edged him out for the Best Actor award. “Noli Me Tangere” would win the top award for the evening as the “Best Film” of the year, with its director, Gerardo de Leon, earning another Best Director trophy. But what Eddie cherished more was his being named as a "Knight of Rizal", during the 99th birthday of Jose Rizal, a distinction he received in Calamba, Laguna.

Eddie continued his winning streak by appearing in “Sino ang Matapang” in 1962, for which he was nominated again for Best Actor. Gerry de Leon’s “El Filbusterismo” also was released the same year with Eddie conspicuously absent from the star line-up. As if to showcase his versatility at portraying roles of opposing character and temperament, he appeared as the revolutionary hero, Andres Bonifacio, in the 1964 epic, “Andres Bonifacio (Ang Supremo)”.

Eddie del Mar disappeared from the movie scene in the 1970s, but resurfaced as part of the cast of the popular hit, “Tinik sa Dibdib” in 1986. A son, Louie Magat, briefly dabbled in showbiz, assuming the screen name, Eddie del Mar Jr. to honor his father. Eddie del Mar died on 8 November 1986, but his memory lives on in his films, most especially his Jose Rizal movie classic, that not only immortalized the talent of this Kapampangan screen luminary, but also brought back to our consciousness, the life and loves of our national hero.


Anonymous said...

That's my lolo! :) May you live on forever and ever :)

alex r. castro said...

He is a "national hero" in the eyes of many movie fans!

Misha said...

Jose Rizal is The Web’s Most Wanted Jose!
(Check your score for your name too.)
Baby Names Alert.