Sunday, October 3, 2010

*218. CHIQUITO: The Man Who Laughs

TO-CHIQUI 'TO!. Augusto Valdez Pangan, in real life, was not just a popular comedian who animated the silver screen with his well-known comic characters and spoofs of Hollywood movies, but also a dancer, politician, inventor, jockey and businessman. Ca. 1960s.

One movie character icon that certainly made an impression on me as a kid was this unforgettable Chinese with a long droopy moustache, called “Mr. Wong”. Before his appearance, the Chinese were portrayed unflatteringly on the silver screen, either as taho peddlers or as people with incomprehensible accents. But Mr. Wong was funny yet sagacious, distinguished but practical, a champion of the Chinese people and its traditions.

It was a role originated by a comedian with Kapampangan roots, who had always been seen as the chief rival of Dolphy for the title of comedy king. Here, finally was a performer with a fine mind and sensitivity, who did comedy for a purpose, not just for a few cheap laughs.

Augusto Valdez Pangan, or simply “Chiquito” was born on 12 March 1932 to Manuel Pangan, an executive of San Miguel Brewery and Remedios Valdez, the second of eleven children. The Pangans trace their family roots to Apalit, Pampanga, but moved to San Miguel, Bulacan and finally to Manila were “Tito” or “Gus” grew up.

He was 7 when he started performing in Manila theaters, and in one impersonation contest, impresario Lou Salvador Sr. spotted him. He gave him a role in a musical production at the Manila Grand Opera House during the Japanese regime. Only 13 at that time, Chiquito went on to delight crowds at bodabil shows at Cloverand Life Theaters, with his engaging boogie-woogie dancing. Soon, he was being called “Tito Boogista”.

Enrolled at Mapua, Gus dreamt of becoming a topnotch engineer but the lure of showbiz proved irresistible. A meeting with Fernando Poe Sr., jumpstarted his film career in the 50s, starting with Sanggano (1947), from Palaris Pictures. He was also one of the original “Lo’Waist Gang” (1956) that counted Zaldy Zshornack and Jess Lapid as members. For the next five decades, he would make movies, mostly comedies, like Atrebida, Fighting Tisoy, Mr. Basketball, Lo’Waist Gang and Og sa Mindoro (all shown in 1958). He would also star in “Sotang Bastos” (1959), a movie about professional jockeys, of which Chiquito was one. He developed a love for gambling, naming even his production outfit (Sotang Bastos Productions) after this hit movie of his.

One highlight of his long, stellar career is appearing wit Hollywood vixen Mamie Van Doren in the western comedy spoof, “Arizona Kid”, released in 1970. To make it official, Chiquito was also the first to don a Darna costume in the film “Teribol Trobol”, thus beating Dolphy for the title of the first male Darna.

In later years, the characters he portrayed would become major movie icons. Aside from “Mr. Wong” (1977) there were: the caveman “Barok” (1976), “Asiong Aksaya” (a Larry Alcala cartoon character, 1977), “Mang Kepweng” (1979), “Gorio” (1979), “Estong Tutong”, “Kenkoy at Rosing”, “ Tacio” (based on a popular comic strip, 1980), “Pete Matipid”, “Django” and “Atorni Agaton” (1990).

Chiquito married Vilma “Ely” Isidro, who was once Ramon Zamora’s dancing partner. They were just 19 and 17 respectively, and they raised seven children, Medy, Eliza, Buma (“Bukol”), Princess, Tiny, Gus and Archie. Chiquito is also credited with discovering Alma Morena (Vanessa Laxamana), a Kapampangan actress whom he introduced in “Kambal-Tuko”.

Entering politics, he was successfully elected three times as a councilor of Makati. He served briefly as the Vice Mayor of the city, and then in 1992, he ran for a seat in the Senate, but lost. He returned to the movies in 1994, teaming up with rapper Andrew E. in the blockbuster Viva movie, “Pinagbiyak ng Bunga (Lookalayk)". A spin-off TV series was rushed that same year entitled “Puno’t Bunga”. His last movie before he got sick was “Strict ang Parents Ko’, with Amanda Page.

3 July 1997 was the day the laughter died. Chiquito, the master of broad comedy and character spoofs passed away at age 65 after a courageous bout with liver cancer at the Makati Medical Center.


Bogs said...

I think Chiquito is the funniest Filipino comedian actor and my favorite movie that he starred in was Mang Kepweng.

alex r. castro said...

Yup, one of the most well-rounded artists of the Philippines, indeed. When his career waned, he shifted to politics, where eh is remembered in Makati as a hard-working councilor of the city.

Anonymous said...

I missed Mang Chiquito especially his movies mang kepweng, Estong Tutong and Takbo peter takbo, Tacio at iba pa. Sa ngayon wala pang Komedyante ang pwedeng e compare sa kanya.

Anonymous said...

I missed Mang Chiquito especially his movies mang kepweng, Estong Tutong and Takbo peter takbo, Tacio at iba pa. Sa ngayon wala pang Komedyante ang pwedeng e compare sa kanya.

Gary SB said...

Papang To chiqui deserves a tribute. I think present day comedians especially Joey de leon and Vic Sotto should take the lead in giving a grand tribute to him

Anonymous said...

chiquito is chiquito walang makakatulad my comedy king

wayne moises said...

He is the ace comedian and slapstick king rival to undisputed king of comedy Dolphy actor & performer direct descendant of Epifanio Delos Santos his great great great grandfather and relative and a legendary talent in films television & media in Filipino film history.Thanks! From:Wayne

wayne moises said...

All characters in film television & media his real name was Augusto V Pangan (1932-97) Filipino actor & comedian. Thanks! From:Wayne

wayne moises said...

I like Mr Wong Asiong Aksaya Nardong Burak Patok Estong Tutong and other films made by Chiquito. Thanks! From:Wayne

wayne moises said...

Reverted name of the famous comedian anagram for Chiquito is Tochiqui in films & television in Philippine history. Thanks! From:Wayne