Sunday, January 2, 2011

*233. Boys Next-Door Stars '66: PEPITO & RAMIL RODRIGUEZ

THE RODRIGUEZ BROTHERS. Pepito and Ramil Rodriguez, come from an old well-to-do Bacolor family with rich agricultural holdings. But the two followed a different path by entering shwobiz, finding fame in the 60s as part of the immensely popular young love team group, Stars '66.

One of the leading production outfits of the 1960s, Vera-Perez’s Sampaguita Pictures, conceived of a way to launch its stable of young stars and starlets. And so, in 1966, and with much hoopla, Sampaguita Pictures presented the group—comprising of 5 love teams, collectively known as Stars ’66. The group included such young actors and actresses as Gina Pareño, Bert Leroy Jr., Blanca Gomez, Dindo Fernando, Edgar Salcedo, Loretta Marquez, Rosemarie Sonora —and two Kapampangan brothers, Ramil and Pepito Rodriguez.

It was the tandem of Rosemarie (Susan Roces’s younger sis) and Pepito, however, that caught the fancy of young Philippine fans, catapulting the “Stars ‘66” to national popularity. The Rosemarie-Pepito tandem had started in 1964, with the “Mga Batang…” series of film hits that included “Mga Batang Artista”, “Mga Batang Bakasyonista”, “Mga Batang Turista”, “Mga Batang Milyonaryo”, and the frequently-replayed-on-TV “Mga Bata ng Lagim”.

Pepito Rodriguez was born Jose Rodriguez in 1944, one of the sons of Rene Hizon Rodriguez with Maria Rosa Moreno. The Rodriguezes are from a prominent family with roots in Bacolor. Eldest brother Rene Jr., born on 22 August 1941, also entered showbiz, taking on the screen name Ramil Rodriguez. Their other siblings were Ma. Melinda, Oscar, Celina and Antonio. Their paternal grandparents were the wealthy sugar planters and successful entrepreneurs, Don Godofredo Rodriguez and Dña Victoria Hizon-Rodriguez who eventually settled in the capital town of San Fernando.

The Rodriguezes were friends of the Vera-Perezes, which owned Sampaguita Pictures. Of the brothers, Ramil was the more reticent one when they were offered to make movies. In the end, family friendship prevailed and in 1963, Pepito joined the movie bandwagon as the boy-next-door type, in the film “Haliging Bato”. He started being noticed in light musical romances like “Dance o’ Rama”, “Jukebox Jamboree” and of course, in the aforementioned “Mga Bata..” series.

Pepito’s career continued to shine in the next few years, doing more teen-orienetd films like “Papa Um Mamaw”, “Jamboree ‘66”, “Petrang Paminta” and “Bahay Kubo, Kahit Munti”. He dabbled in drama like “Alaala ng Lumipas” (1965) , “Hinango Ka Sa Lusak” (1967), but fans seemed to like him better in lightweight romance films. When actor Ricky Belmonte entered the picture as Rosemarie’s other love interest, fans gravitated towards the more contemporary Ricky (he could sing and dance), and an alternative love team was formed, drawing a large following and leaving Pepito in an awkward situation.

After appearing in “Life Everlasting” in 1971, he dropped out of circulation, only to come back almost a decade later in the made-for-TV movie, “The Children of An Lac” as the Vietnamese Capt. Nam. He was lured to return in the 1985 drama, “Palimos na Pag-ibig”, and in the 1990 action film “Alias Baby Face”. He would permanently retire from showbiz after that, and settle in the U.S. as a successful busnessman.

On the other hand, Ramil's first film was in the 1960 movie, "Palanca". He was officially introduced in 1964's "Leron-Leron Sinta", a musical comedy starring Susan Roces and Eddie Gutierrez. As part of Stars '66, Ramil was initially paired with Loretta Marquez, but eventually acquired other leading ladies like Josephine Estrada and Liberty Ilagan.

He was a multi-facetted actor, taking on everything from comedies and musicals in the '60s ("Hi-Sosayti, Magnificent Bakya, Jamboree '66, Sitting in the Park") to light romance, action and drama flicks in the 70s ("Maraming Kulay ng Pag-ibig, Ako'y Tao, May Dugo at May Laman, Ang Daigdig ay Isang Patak na Luha"), evolving into a fine dramatic actor in the process.

In the '80s, he starred in classic like "Blusang Itim", "Magdusa Ka", (1986), "Asawa Ko, Huwag Mong Agawin", "Ibulong Mo sa Diyos" (1988). he remained active in the 1990s and found a new set of audience with his TV appearances in telenovelas like 1997's "Mula Sa Puso", "Love to Love" (2004) , "Magpakailanman" (2005) and the highly rated "Bakekang" (2006-07).

One need only to look at past movie magazines to see how popular the brothers Rodriguezes were in their time, led by the elder Ramil, who continue to light the TV screen with his occasional, but marked presence in heart-stirring dramas and Pepito who, together with Rosemarie, came to be one of the hottest, most unforgettable love teams of 60s Philippine cinema.


wayne moises said...

He is the elder brother of Pepito Rodriguez former actor from the 1960's era veteran talent of Sampaguita Pictures together with Gina Pareno Rosemarie Sonora and Eddie Gutierrez they are alumnus of
talents in Philippine movie history.?Thanks!

wayne moises said...

Gina Pareno as Neneng in Magnificent Bakya based from a comic serial became a live action fantasy movie of the 1960's Sampaguita Pictures and a remake
of a classic film soon in Wansapanataym starring Hope Soberano soon to be filming by early spring of 2015 by ABS-CBN network. Thanks! From:Wayne.