Friday, September 23, 2016

*408. Comedy Through Word of Mouth: APENG DALDAL, San Luis, Pampanga

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS. Apeng Daldal (real name: Serafin Gabriel), left us in stitches with his distinctive oral features--and his gift of non-stop gabbing. Fan photo, 1967.

In the days of black and white TV, “Pinilakang Tabing” was a must-watch program every afternoon, for it afforded me to watch 50s’ and fairly-recent 60s movies without going to a theater.

I’ve always been partial to fantasy films, and I remember enjoying “Silveria”, “Anak ng Bulkan”, “The Magnificent Bakya” and Pomposa, Ang Kabayong Tsismosa”. 

 But the one that left the most impression was “Magic Bilao”, an improbable story about a “bilao” that functioned pretty much like a magic carpet, taking anyone who stands on the woven winnowing basket, on an unexpected, marvelous joyride.

 With Apeng Daldal as its reluctant high-flying passenger, the magic bilao helped solve a barrio crime, and saved the day for lovebirds, Dindo Fernando and Rosemarie.

To me, it was Apeng Daldal who stole the show, playing Rosemarie’s brother, Tonio—who, with his thin, gangly frame and mile-long teeth sticking out from his wide mouth, turned out to be the hero of the story. The comedian earned his screen name from his funny oral/dental features, which he used to the hilt by being a motormouth with a high-pitched voice.

 He was born as Serafin Gabriel in the town of San Luis, Pampanga on 12 October 1928. At an early age, he moved to Manila, and despite his skeletal built, found work as a Divisoria kargador. Of course, he didn’t last long, so he tried his hand at working in the bod-a-bil, from the 40s-50s. He had a comedy group called “Top Three” (along with Mar Lopez and Bebing Santos) which drew crowds at the Manila Opera House.

His stage success paved the way for a TV career, starting with the 1961 noontime show “The Big Show”, supporting Cris de Vera, Sylvia La Torre and Oscar Obligacion. Apeng Daldal’s gift of non-stop gabbing and witty ad-libbing had audiences laughing for more, and soon, he was being cast in movies.

His debut was in the Susan Roces starrer, “Libis ng Baryo” (1964), that was followed by appearances in "Bandong Pugante" and "Babaing Kidlat". Sampaguita Pictures gave him his break, third-billed in 1964 production “Magic Bilao” after Rosemarie and Dindo Fernando. The comedy-romance-fantasy formula was perfect for Apeng and the movie was the takilya buster for 1965. The same concept was used in his next flick,”Walis ni Tenteng”, that practically retained the previous stars with Blanca Gomez and Bert Leroy Jr. thrown in. Again, the movie about a skinny sweeper and his magic broom was another monster hit for Apeng.

 Apeng Daldal—now regarded in the same breadth as A-lister funnymen Chiquito and Dolphy, was rewarded with a lead role in “Maskulado”, (also in 1965), pitting his physique against the buffed leading man, Arnold Mendoza. He worked almost nonstop, completing film projects like “Tatlong Mabilis” (1965), “Mistiko Meets Mamaw” (1966), “The Pogi Dozen”(1967), ”The Son of Dyango Meets Dorango Kid” (1967) and another comedy-fantasy film, “Baticobra at Flying Salakot”(1974).

The final decades of his life were spent working in different capacities for TV, radio and films. The creative Apeng wrote scripts for various TV comedy shows like “Ayos Lang, Pare Ko” (1972) and penned the story for the film “Dobol Dribol” (1979). He was heard on radio singing novelty songs ( "Pandanggo ng Aswang", "Hoy Mamang Kaminero") , while headlining 70s-80s gag shows like “Super Laff-In”, “Trio Los Bobos” and “Cafeteria Aroma”. His last film was the Eddie Romero-directed action-fantasy, “Kamakalawa”with Christopher de Leon and Tetchie Agbayani, released in 1981.

Afflicted for years with emphysema, he passed away on 9 February 1992. He was survived by his wife Elma Modesto and 8 children. Watching Apeng Daldal’s old movies on youtube today, you can say this Kapampangan was born with a funny bone in his mouth.

My Idol Comedian, Apeng Daldal:
Apeng Daldal,

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