Monday, July 29, 2013

CELSO AD. CASTILLO: YOUNG MAN IN A HURRY (The Weekly Nation, November 12, 1965)

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by Armando Ruiz David

At 21, he already has several films to his credit as director and scriptwriter.

A STORY AND SCRIPTWRITER at 18 and a director at 21.  That gives the reader an idea of the record of Celso Ad. Castillo, but by no means does it sum it up.  However, it does give one a picture of a young man in a hurry to go places in this country's cinematic industry.  It also explains why Castillo has been dubbed the youngest director alive.

College stage director and actor, holder of an A.B. degree, and a law student, Celso Ad. Castillo, became a story and scriptwriter at 18 when he made the first "agent" series in local cinema; namely:  James Ban-dong (Secret Agent 0210), Dolfong Scarface (Agent 1-2-3), and Dr. Yes.

At 21, VM Cinematic Films assigned Castillo to direct the controversial film, Misyong Mapanganib (Top Secret 7-11), starring Tito Galla and Helen Gamboa.  Then Jessica Productions gave him his next directorial job, a jungle movie titled Zebra (Babaing Gubat) which launched Ruby Regala in her first starring role.

At this writing, Castillo is making two more pictures, Mansanas Sa Paraiso and Pistoleros.

Castillo hasn't had smooth sailing in his career.  His first fight was against the movie censors when his first picture, Misyong Mapanganib, had to be previewed en banc for two times.  He also has had fights with people who cannot understand him.  "They always treat me as a boy, when they themselves know that I'm older than they are in the sense of proper behavior and exploitation of things.  I sleep when I want to sleep on the set -- I sing and cry whenever I feel like doing it.  Because that's the only way I could keep myself and my talent.  I hope they understand me."

Talking about movie direction, he goes on:

"I want to exploit the unexploited things.  I want to impress the subconscious and not the conscious sense of men.  It is better to deal with the dirtiest behavior of men because in that way, you will understand life itself.  The smallest form of subject in life like poverty is the best movie theme, in my opinion.  People haven't changed; they still like tragedies and enjoy seeing the reflection of their lives on the screen.  To make a good movie, there must be public participation.

Noted for this kind of movie are directors Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Vittorio de Sica, Akira Kurosawa, and that inimitable Satyahiit Ray of India.  By reading the biographies of these men, Celso Ad. Castillo has learned many things about movie direction.  And remembering these great men, Castillo will, as he says, exploit the minutest and most sensitive parts of human beings to give them what the others can not give."

Castillo is an avid follower of Elia Kazan, the Greek-born Hollywood director who discovered Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Shirley MacLaine, and the late James Dean.  He appreciates the offbeat style of Roger Vadim, the French director who made Brigitte Bardot what she is today.  He likes both Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming who contrast sharply with each other although both have the same touch of composition in writing.  With his special taste for talent, he considers Marlon Brando the greatest actor today.

Source:  The Weekly Nation
              November 12, 1965

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

THE OTHER SIDE OF FERNANDO POE, JR. (The Weekly Nation, June 1, 1966)

By Ross F. Celino, Jr.

THE STORY of Fernando Poe, Jr.'s screen life and loves has been well played up in newspapers and magazines.  What is not well known is Ronnie's personal life as a private individual.

We hope to bring out heretofore unknown, perhaps unheard-of vignettes on his personal life as we have gathered them from people close to the popular and most sought-after actor.

From his mother, the former Bessie Kelly, we learned that Ronnie, that's how intimates and friends prefer to call him, is not only a loving, but also a dutiful and thoughtful son, wh has more than sufficiently provided all the things his loved ones needed.

It is of public knowledge that when his father, Fernando Poe, died some 15 years ago, Ronnie though still barely a man took it upon himself to assume his illustrious father's role.  He took the tremendous responsibility in stride and eventually came off with flying colors.

Proof of this is the different film-producing companies which he has put up.  There is the mother corporation which bears his own initials, FPJ Productions.  Then Jafere Productions which spells out the first letters of his name and that of his brothers and sisters, Jenny, Andy (the husband of Mina Aragon), Frederick, Elizabeth (the wife of Bob Soler), and Evangeline.  And D'Lanor Pictures, his name spelled backward.  And RR Productions, in partnership with comedian Dolphy.

The Poe Household

Between mother and son, there exists a love and respect which is much apparent.  Ronnie more than knows what is expected of him as a son and big brother and so does Mama Bessie, so much so that a healthy convivial atmosphere dominates the Poe household.

From others, specially the technical crew of his movie outfits, we gleaned a very interesting, if not a heartwarming episode in the young life of Ronnie.  He was doing the picture Only The Brave Know Hell (Hanggang May Kalaban) with Hollywood actor John Saxon, for Filipinas-Hemisphere, a coproduction venture of Eddie Romero and Hollywood producer Kane Lynn, on location in Magdalena, Laguna.  A big throng of people came to watch the shooting.  From among the crowd was an old crippled woman who asked to be brought to the set.

Apparently, the woman had not seen a movie for a long, long time since she became crippled, much less seen an actor or actress in person.  When Ronnie heard her plight, he was visibly touched but did not show it in an ostentatious manner.

The next morning he had the old woman fetched to the set and a pleasant surprise awaited her!  A wheel chair was ordered from Manila for her and to complete her happiness a 16-mm movie was shown to her.

The woman at first was dumbfounded, for who would not?  When she regained her composure, she hugged Ronnie tightly.  Copious tears welling from her eyes, she thanked him profusely for his generosity and thoughtfulness.

A Big Hearted Man

Ronnie indeed has a magnanimous heart!  Consider this:  During the showing of any of his pictures in Manila theaters -- whether he is the star or the producer -- he almost always has "special guests."

He gave explicit orders to his checkers and personnel to admit free of charge all physically handicapped and destitutes who may desire to see his pictures.

This writer witnessed an unusual incident which happened at the Center Theatre not so long ago.

I was on my way out of the theater when I happened to spot at the foot of the stairs leading to the balcony and loge seats a crippled young man in an improvised self-operating card talking to a checker.  I overheard the lame man expressing over and over his gratitude for Ronnie.

Curiosity got the better of me and I inquired why the man in the card was so profuse with his thanks.  I learned that Ronnie had given orders to admit these unfortunates -- the lame, the deaf, the dumb and destitutes -- to see his movies free.

Outwardly, Ronnie appears to be tough and stone-hearted, but people close to him swear that he has the softest of hearts this side of heaven.  He could not, they aver, stand a woeful tale without acquiescing to requests for help.

It is not uncommon, therefore, for Ronnie to fall prey to professional sob-story tellers who periodically go to him for assistance.

On this, Ronnie quips:  "It's no longer my fault if they deceive me.  After all, they cheat nobody but themselves if they tell me a false story...What bothers me is if I cannot give anything to these people who come to me for help.  I only wish I have more to spare..."

One time, a man approached Ronnie and told him that his wife had just died and that he did not have money for the funeral expenses.  After hearing his tale of woe, Ronnie, without asking questions, fished out a crisp fifty peso bill from his pocket and gave ito to the man, who hurriedly left after murmuring his thanks.

Friends, who were with him that time, reminded Ronnie of a similar incident in which he played the sympathetic sucker to a hoax, but Ronnie shrugged his shoulders and just smiled.

But then Ronnis is like that, always the kind-hearted guy, ever ready to help a fellow-being.  As he says:  "I always live by my adage in life that:  "It is not what we give but what we share, for a gift without the giver is bare..."

Source:  The Weekly Nation
              June 1, 1966

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DIVINA'S BIG SPLASH (The Weekly Nation, 1965)

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by George C. Alvarez

FROM A MERE innocent-faced teenager from Cavite late in 1963, Divina Valencia has since graduated into the forefront of the Philippine cinema's sex sweepstakes.

"Let's face it, I was a nobody then.  I was just a plain coed enrolled in a secretarial course in Cavite when I was discovere through a photo of mine at my sister's dress shop.  The rest is history -- and I became what I am now.  Modesty aside, I am a somebody now, and I simply love and enjoy it!"  Divina gushed as the Weekly NATION interviewed her as she was about to start shooting Labanan Ng Mga Babae, with Stella Suarez who is Divina's closest rival in the sex symbol race.  She had then just finished TIIP's Labanang Lalaki.

Divina was born Consolacion Divina Valencia Fuller on September 1, 1946 in Abucay, Bataan.  She is of Filipino-Spanish-German-American parentage.  Her father was US Army Major Waldorf Fuller.  She is the youngest in a family of six; she has three sisters and two brothers.

"My family turned full force against me when they learned that stardom would mean doing nude scenes.  My mother said she would reject me as a daughter; my brothers, my sisters, my relatives, and the whole neighborhood literally condemned me and kept stabbing me with killing looks!"  Divina reminisced.

Tips One's Hat

Looking at Divina's film record since she made quite a big splash in her first starring role (a bandit girl in love with Jess Lapid in TIIP's Kardong Kidlat), one can only tip one's hat off to her and throw her a meaningful glance and a wolf's whistle.

"In my first picture as a lead actress (she was just an extra in Basagulero, which preceded Kardong Kidlat), it took much time and effort from the TIIP producer, Atty. Esperidion Laxa, and Director Armando Garces to cajole me to do a bathing sequence fully nude.  I had not, in my life, appeared before in the nude in public -- and with people piercingly looking at me yet!, Divina, barely blushing, mused.

"So, naturally, I turned down their persuasions and explanations at first.  Thinking it over, however, I consented to do the scene because I said to myself that if I wanted to be an actress in the true sense of the word, I had to portray realistically the scenes demanded by the script.  Moreover, sex actually has already caught up with us, in this modern world.  As such, before anybody else jumps the gun on me, I reasoned to myself, why shouldn't I start the neo-realistic trend?  As you can see, I have somehow succeeded to a maximum degree, and I am glad!" Divina triumphantly smiled and winked at us, the mole below her left eye seemingly also smiling.

Gladsomely enough, the roles she has already portrayed are quite a variety of types.  She was a guerrillera in Ito Ang Lalaki, a bikini-clad smuggler in Agent 69, a ranch girl in Isa Lang Ang Hari, a cigaret-vendor who turned ballerina in  Lovers' Street, a village maiden in Markong Bagsik, a doctor's daughter in Api Ngunit Lumalaban, and a vamp, a tramp, a cat, a kitten, and what-have-you.

"What I want to try now is to act in a musical, a pure song-and-dance film.  I might yet do this kind of movie if Col. Jacinto B. Chong, producer of JBC Productions, and I agree regarding his recent offer to star opposite Eddie Mesa in his upcoming film, Manila A-Go-Go," she told us.

"I also want to play a nun or a girl who sets her wiles on a priest.  The girl, however, should eventually change.  Crime doesn't pay, you know!"

"To this effect, I would want to make it clear that sex isn't a crime.  Sex is something we, people, should cherish; it being God-given and all that.  It shouldn't be associated with dirt.  Sex, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder should truly behold it or lo, there goes his existence!"

Having gone into this rather long explanation, Divina momentarily became quiet and seemed to palate each word that she had just uttered.

"I also would want to make it clear that stripping down to one's birthday clothes isn't a playful business, as most of my colleagues in the movie world think.  It requires much effort and talent, it requires much swallowing of one's own pride.  Hence, when I am literally spanked by statements that I haven't got talent to spare, I spank myself, and say that I have got IT, and that's enough.  Having IT, you know, is having talent!"

Divina then looked at us, piercingly, boldly, to show us perhaps that she really has got talent, that she really has got it.  And we Agree. 

Source:  The Weekly Nation Magazine
                Year 1965

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Saturday, July 20, 2013


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Production:  Emar Pictures
Cast:  Susan Roces, Joseph Estrada, Paquito Diaz
Direction:  Armando Garces


BUHAY SA BUHAY, in Eastman color that may not be flaming as the movie's advertising proclaims but in clear, clean, and often striking photographic detail, is the best example that, technically, Filipino films are in general as good as any foreign-made and processed picture.

Felipe Sacdalan's competent hand and functioning imagination are evident in frame after frame of Joseph Estrada fleeing from gunmen and gumshoes, Susan Roces fleeing from Joseph Estrada, Joseph Estrada and Susan Roces fleeing from Oscar Keesee, Oscar Keesee fleeing from no one, and Susan Roces finally fleeing to Joseph Estrada.  The moving shots of the countryside are alive and full of interesting detail, too, as in the photographing of fight sequences and night time raids.

The Buhay Sa Buhay photographer's pride, however, should really consist of the various angles and emotional attitudes he has captured of the love story between Estrada and Susan.

A convict is taken out of Muntinlupa penitentiary, Joseph Estrada escapes when the truck he is riding with the prison guards overturns in a ditch near Badman's Paquito Diaz's territory.  As it turns out, Diaz and his two brothers and father (Oscar Keesee) has been responsible for Estrada's imprisonment by goading him to kill in revenge for the murder of his father, brother, and bride-to-be.  A rich and powerful clan, Oscar Keesee's family and hired gunmen start to track down escaped convict Estrada.  The desperate hero decides to take Susan Roces, a doctor and the fiancee of Paquito Diaz, as hostage, and chains her wrist to his.  Chained not by fate, by hatred, by love, or by evil men, but by mere necessity, Estrada the ruthless and Rocess the innocent go their brief romantic way.

Love develops as the doctor knows more of the ex-convict's life and character, and this is what Photographer Sacdalan makes capital use of for his charming forest romance scenes and final clinching drama.

In between, there are the habitual fistfights, gunfights, and roarfights.  When not being bothered by three policemen who keep popping in and out of inopportune senes with inopportune words, Oscar Keesee is riled by the bumbling stupidity of his coconut palm leaf fan carrier and folding chair attendant.  Forcibly comic and faintly remisniscent of pre-war landlord film types,  Keesee's role is the most memorable in Buhay Sa Buhay -- with perhaps the exception of his son who is conscience-stricken over his brothers' and father's ruthlessness and who finally brings on the catharsis that ends the family's supremacy and the haunted flight of Estrada and Roces.

Other technical aspects of Buhay Sa Buhay appear exceptionally good, as the sound mixing which eliminates the harshness and overloudness of most Tagalog films.

Armando Garces created this movie, and he should be credited with having chosen some of the best technicials for the film.  The best moneymaking stars, too, Joseph Estrada and Susan Roces, who are paired for the first time.

- Film Review on "Spotlight" by Ophelia San Juan
  The Weekly Nation, December 1965

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Thursday, July 18, 2013


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Production:  D' Lanor Productions
Cast:  Bob Soler, Rebecca, Nova Villa, Lou Salvador, Jr.
Director:  Paquito Toledo

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013


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By Jose V. Liza, Jr.

RUSHING footsteps emanated from the corridor.  In a moment Gloria Sevilla's eldest daughter Lilibeth entered their bedroom.  
"A letter for you, Mommie...guess from whom?"  The 13-year-old girl held up the envelop.
Though some steps afar Glo was able to see the postmark of origin of the letter:  New Iberia, Louisiana.
"That's from Sister Teresa Suarez from Mt. Carmel Convent."
"Correct," Lilibeth approached her and handed the missive.

Glo smiled as she tore it open.  And she read the contents:

"Dearest Glo,
I hope you don't mind giving the two other letters to Charito and Miriam.  I am not sure of their addresses.

Right now I'm spending a time in one of the congregation's country houses.  This is a mission house.  I am doing fine.  I am always praying for you and your family.  I can never forget you in my everyday prayers.

Love in Mary of Carmel,

Sr. Teresa Suarez


I got a news about what happened to Maggie de la Riva.  Since I got the news I started praying for her that the Good Lord strengthens her in her everyday life.


After reading it, Glo folded back the letter neatly.  She placed it on her lap and sighed deeply.  Her eyes went misty in recollection of the past. 

She first met her a year ago.  TV writer, longtime friend Leleng Isla, during a visit at the Sevilla residence, brought her along with him.

Sister Teresa Suarez then was an up-and-coming starlet who was later made a star in the picture "GAHAMAN" and became popularly knnown as Aida Roxas.

"I found her really beautiful and charming," narrates Glo during our interview, "but pious in manners and aspiration."

In fact Glo asked Aida why she joined the movies when her childhood ambition was to be a nun someday.

"I did it for my mother and my sisters and brothers.  I wanted to support them in the best way I can," was her reply to Glo.  "And if I'll fail as a movie star, then I will solicit the help of others so that I can fulfill my earnest dream in life."

Since the first meeting Glo and Aida weren't able to see each other again for several months. Though they were both busy in the same world -- flickerville -- they didn't meet even by chance.

Except that afternoon when Aida, together with a certain Mrs. Lim, saw Glo at home for a serious reason.

"My being an actress isn't helping me much after all," confided Aida to her.  "I'm decided now on becoming a nun.  I have sent my application to a Carmelite convent in America.  It was already approved.  I received a reply but all I have is P225.  It's not even enough to pay for my fare in going there.  Please help me, Glo."

Aida cried.  Glo understood Aida's plight.

She was deeply touched by Aida's plea.  "Go home.  Don't worry.  I promise you I'll do my best to help you realize that dream of yours."

Immediately after Aida and Mrs. Lim had left theSevilla residence, Glo phoned buxom friend Miriam Jurado.  She informed the latter about Aida's situation.

"What do you have in mind?", Miriam asked Glo.

"We'll approach some of our colleagues," Glo replied.  "Have you any important appointments today?"


"Then please prepare I'll drop at your place in an hour or so, Okay?"

"Okay.  I'll wait for you, Glo."

After an hour Glo and Miriam were together.  And they planned what to do the next day.

With Aida, Glo and Miriam started to see their close friends and colleagues.

"They visited Efren Reyes at his Mandaluyong residence.  Efren gave some money for Aida.

The three went to Senator Sergio Osmena's office and the scion chipped in P200.

They looked for Susan Roces and she gave P500.  Fernando Poe, Jr. also contributed. 
Joseph Estrada prepared a P300 check for Aida.

Alberto Alonzo, Charito Solis and many others, including the Philippine Movie Press Club, gave their shares for Aida.

When the crusading pair -- Glo and Miriam -- approached Mr. Joaquin Roces, publisher of the Manila Times, the movie actresses were commended by the latter.

What both of you are doing now for the sake of Aida Roxas will really make you feel good," said Mr. Roces.

After only a few days Aida Roxas had enough cash to pay for her airplane fare to Mount Carmel Convent in New Iberia, Louisiana and for her dowry and other necessities.

Glo gave Aida some travelling dresses.

"You're beautiful, Aida," Glo told Aida while they were at the International airport for an early afternoon departure, "and yet you really chose to be a bride of Christ."

"Why," Aida happily replied, "doesn't God deserves a beautiful bride too?"

"I agree with you, Aida," was all Glo could answer back.

"After six years, God Willing, I'll have my final vows," Aida said.  "And I'll take it in Dumaguete City."

"I'll be praying for that blessful event, Aida," Glo smiled.  "And I'll endeavor to be present when that time comes."

Today Sister Teresa Suarez is writing regularly to Gloria Sevilla.

- from The Weekly Nation, October 23, 1967.

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