Friday, April 1, 2016

*401. LIZA LORENA: A Luciano Star from Magalang

LIZA WITH A K. Born Elizabeth Ann Jolene Luciano Winsett, this multi-awarded actress comes from a family whose history is linked with that of Magalang town, where she was born.

 The Kapampangan beauty who rose to stardom after a series of career moves was born Elizabeth Ann Jolene Winsett y Luciano on 31 October 1949, to American George Winsett and MagaleƱa, Josefina Luciano.

The Lucianos—together with the Cortezes and the Suings—are recognized as founders of the town, and Elizabeth’s forebears include prominent relatives like Dons Jose and Antonio Luciano, and the lawyer Andres Luciano.

 She spent her formative years going to Catholic schools at nearby Angeles, first at Holy Family Academy and then to Holy Angel Academy. Her family, however, moved to Manila when Elizabeth turned 13, so she had to complete her high school at Our Lady of Loreto in Sampaloc.

 Soon after graduation, she was accepted as a domestic flight stewardess at Philippine Air Lines, then took a corporate job at the Philippine Tourism and Travel Association as a tour guide/receptionist. Things became even more exciting for the teener when she joined the 1966 Bb. Pilipinas Pageant and placed second to winner Clarinda Soriano.

 This exposure led to movie offers from such leading studios as Sampaguita Pictures and Nepomuceno Productions. Asked to do a script reading with director Luis Nepomuceno, Elizabeth gamely went through the audition that she thought was for a commercial. She had prepared for the reading by practicing Tagalog, a language she was not well-versed in. Elizabeth was chosen from a field of over 60 ladies, but unbeknownst to her, the reading was actually a screen test for a movie project.. destined to be a classic --“Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak”’ 

 She was given the screen name “Liza Lorena”, and immediately was cast as Esperanza in a family drama headlined by major stars Charito Solis and Ric Rodrigo, who portrayed her parents. ”Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak” was touted as the “biggest Filipino film ever in 50 years ” and the first Philippine movie in color by De Luxe. It was released in 1967 to thunderous acclaim.

 Many thought that Lorena’s star would shine brighter after such an ominous start. She, however, put her budding career on hold after her relation with matinee idol Eddie Gutierrez produced a son, Eduardo Antonio Gutierrez Jr.. Just 18, the teen-age mother risked not only losing her career but also incurring the disapproval of movie audiences. However, Lorena was determined to take care of her son—who would grow up to be the equally-accomplished actor, Tonton Gutierrez.

In later years, she would also have a daughter with Honey Boy Palanca. Lorena would rebound only in 1982, in the acclaimed Peque Gallaga-helmed classic, “Oro, Plata, Mata”. The epic period film, which told of the changing fortunes of two Negros families with the coming World War II, earned for Lorena, the Film Academy of the Philippines’ (FAP) Best Supporting Actress award. In 1986, she won another Best Supporting Actress honors, this time, from Gawad Urian for the movie “Miguelito: Batang Rebelde”. 

That same year, she was named “Best Actress” of the Manila Film festival, for “Halimaw sa Banga” and was also cited by FAMAS with a Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Pahiram ng Ligaya”. Her most recent Best Actress triumph came at the 9th Gawad Tanglaw Awards, for the movie “Presa”, completed in 2010.

 Lorena is also a staple in many popular TV series— “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” (ABS-CBN, 200) “Kung Mawawala Ka” (GMA 7, 2001-2003) , Maria Flordeluna (ABS-CBN, 2007) , "Lobo” (ABS-CBN, 2008), “Apoy Sa Dagat” (ABS-CBN, 2013), and “Akin Pa Rin ang Bukas” (GMA, 2013). In a career that spanned 4 decades, Lorena has appeared in more than 185 movies and television shows since 1967.

 Today, Lorena remains a single mother, and continues to be active in showbiz—a feat she takes pride in. One other source of pride is grandson, Carlos Philippe Winsett-Palanca, who, in 2009, placed first at the Kids Golf European Championships in Scotland.

Lorena, a Kapampangan speaker, also has remained very much in touch with her Pampanga roots—she regularly goes to her school homecomings at Holy Angel, now a University, in Angeles. She may have taken unexpected detours in the course of her life journey, but this resilient Kapampangan artist has always managed to get back on track, finding fulfillment on paths that few have chosen to travel.


tony said...

I've shared this article with Liza's Fb and she will show it to her relatives.Big Thanks

alex r. castro said...

Any corrections on this article would be appreciated. It is interesting to note that when I worked in Makati, I boarded with a Luciano family in Makati who were her close relatives!!