Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A 60-SECOND LOOK AT A MOVIE IDOL (The Weekly Nation, April 28, 1968)


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A 60-SECOND LOOK AT A MOVIE IDOL
By Ida Aguinaldo

ON MY way to the Fil-Am Film laboratory on Del Monte Avenue, Quezon City I made an embarassing discovery.  My signature skirt was showing signs of tear.  Should I go back and change?

Not on your life.  Fernando Poe, Jr., the screen's virile gift to women, was shooting Tatlong Hari at the Fil-Am compound and I'd rather be there than any place else in the world.

His back was turned to me when I entered the set.  Shoulders up to there...hair vaguely reminiscent of his late father's...

I popped up like a jack-in-the-box from behind.  He turned around and saw me.  He did not question my presence out of politeness.  Although I was an intruder he said nothing.

My heart leaped.  So this is Fernando Poe, Jr. whom I saw in Magpakailan Man.  His singing was marvelous.  I heard they pressed an album of his songs.

At the moment I thought of myself as the luckiest girl on earth to merit sixty seconds of his full attention.

I wanted to introduce myself but how does one go about saying, "I am the writer with more rejections than accepted materials?"

I did not even say "Good afternoon."  I was tongue-tied.

The wornout skirt bothered me no more.  The idol's checkered green and gray shirt with long sleeves wasn't any newer either.  Or does he don it for luck?

Ronnie moved around the set, hands on hips, taking stock, checking everything, giving instructions.  Many were the times when he gave out to good-natured laughs when someone cracked a joke.

I imagined that it was Fernando Poe, Sr. in his place and little Ronnie was only seven years old prowling around the set tinkering with the props.

It is not easy to connect the seven-year-old tot with the 26-year-old Ronnie who is doing a man-sized job as producer, director and Star.  He looks so cool and free, alert.  Simply professional.  Always in command of himself and the situation.

He injects jokes while he works.  While on a trial take of Jose Garcia, Ronnie cocked an impish eye on him.  "Das how the old actors do it," he remarked and grinned.

This man really deserves the honor and prestige that fans have given him.  He strove, sweated, dug new techniques, left no stone unturned to reach the place where he is at present.

He did not relax to rest on his father's laurels.  He made pictures to suit extraordinary talents.

I hope someday they give him a plaque with this inscription:  "To Fernando Poe Jr., who so painstakingly built a name for himself."

Like father, like son.  That's what they say.  But I think there's something more to it.

Source:  The Weekly Nation Magazine
              April 29, 1968
              Article written by Ida Aguinaldo


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FOCUS ON D'LANOR: A PORTRAIT OF FERNANDO POE, JR. AS MOVIE DIRECTOR (The Weekly Nation Magazine, May 1, 1967)

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FOCUS ON D'LANOR
A portrait of Fernando Poe, Jr. as movie director.
By Baby K. Jimenez


LIPS PRESSED, eyes cast low, hands on hips, he moved about the camera and kleig lights.  Rubbing his nose, he ordered the crew to prepare for another take.

"Quiet!" a voice boomed out.  Everybody was held in a standstill.

"Motor!" he signaled.  The take was on.

Now he was approaching a huge mirror near the stairs.  But before he could take a glance of himself he decided to make his way to the dining room and explained something to the old man seated there.  Later he bade him goodbye....Then he was completely out of the picture leaving the old man in focus.

"Cut it!" from the adjoining room rang out the distinct clear voice that had ordered the crew to put on the motor a while ago.

Then he came out.  The take was over.

At the snap of a finger the silent spell was broken.  Everyone was all smiles.

The leading man, who was also the director and the producer, was once more rubbing his nose and smiling in his usual shy manner.

To the movie audience he is Fernando Poe, Jr.  To his intimates he is just Ronnie.  A darling.  Friendly.  Samaritan.  His real name:  Ronald Allan Poe.  Unknown to many, known to few, he is also D'Lanor.  It is Ronald spelled backward.  Producer.  Director.  Writer.

Although Ronnie was said to have directed almost ten pictures already, the first movie that really had him billed as the director was San Bernardo, the fourth anniversary offering of his outfit, FPJ Productions.  He also directed Hanggang May Buhay and Langit At Lupa, his latest.

All the movies mentioned were box-office hits.  Like other Tagalog movies, they are not flawless -- but the directorial job in those three photoplays is competent.

Ronnie is a conscientious director.  He sees to it that his actors play their roles to the hilt and makes them rehearse their lines often.  He also asks for retakes when necessary.  And there are times when he has to miss his lunch or dinner when shooting a most important scene.  He kids his associates and co-players.  His friendliness is unquestioned yet the same guys look up to him as a real boss when it comes to business.  They arrive on the set promptly, do their work devotedly and do their best to please him.

The Same Humble Guy

Whenever reminded that he has achieved greater glory than his father (the late Fernando Poe, Sr.), Ronnis has this to say:  How can I be greater than my father when I'm only his junior in the movies...The fact that I was named after him is enough proof that my father is greater and I will always take my hat off to him."

An NBI instructor who used to tutor Ronnie in self-defense says, "You may think that what Ronnie does on the screen -- those heavy punches -- are just camera tricks.  But I tell you, they are real.  What I taught him was only intended for the movies but Ronnie has come out a genuine master of these techniques...Now I won't even risk tangling up with him.  I know I'll be the loser."

Ronnie also writes.  He has a rich and vivid imagination.  Some of the stories that have been shown by his studios were his own brainchilds, like his latest production, Langit At Lupa.  But Ronnie keeps mum about it.

Ronnie had two stories for Langit At Lupa.  The former plot is about a European princess who comes to the Philippines for a vacation.  During the course of her visit, she meets with an airplane accident and the public thinks she is fatally injured.

Though an amnesia victim, the princess is lucky enough to be the lone survivor of the crash, thanks to the natives of the remote crash site who do their best to make her live again.  Here she falls in love with a farmer.  Later an incident leads him to discover the identity of the princess, who at this time has recovered from her sickness.

A scene follows with the princess being crowned as Queen of her kingdom.  How the Queen (she surely personifies Langit) would live happily ever after with her poor sweetheart (who of course represents Lupa) provides the highlight of the story.

Another Story

But since this story would require more time to shoot and a location abroad, Ronnie had to shelve it.  And well, considering that tongues keep wagging about the Ronnie-Susan romance, others could easily jump to conclusions should Susan and Ronnie decide to go abroad for shooting.  Hence, Ronnie had woven meticulously another love story.  By this time you must have seen the movie already.  Langit At Lupa has chalked up another first -- box office-wise and quality-wise.

There are reports going around that Ronnie will be building his own studio compound soon somewhere in Quezon City.

Shakespeare once said, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."

I think Ronnie, or rather D'Lanor, is a combination of all this.

Source:  The Weekly Nation Magazine
              May 1, 1967
              Article written by Baby K. Jimenez

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

APENG DALDAL: CLOWN PRINCE OF SHOW BUSINESS (The Weekly Nation, November 26, 1965)


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Article written by Eddie L. Resposo
The Weekly Nation Magazine, November 26, 1965

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

DIVINA VALENCIA SPEAKS (The Weekly Nation, October 8, 1967)


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Article written by Ricardo F. Lo
The Weekly Nation, October 8, 1967

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Monday, August 5, 2013

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAN WHO TWICE BESTED NORA AUNOR IN SINGING TILTS


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THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAN WHO TWICE BESTED NORA AUNOR IN SINGING TILTS

By Herbert L. Vego
(As published in Weekly Nation, January 25, 1971)

HE beat today's phenomenal singing sensation twice.  And yet, unlike Nora Aunor, he has not yet burst out from the cocoon of anonymity, although he used to be Nora's partner long before Tirso Cruz III, Manny de Leon and Victor Laurel came along.

"Nora and I were both born and raised in Iriga City.  In fact, we were schoolmates from grade four to second year high school.  Those years, the two of us made good as singing sweethearts of our school."

Speaking is Elmer Aballa, a little known name, a bolt out of the blue, what with this revelation of his good old days with Nora.  And to say that he beat Nora twice arouses great surprise.  For who is he anyway?

This writer came to know Elmer by accident when somebody in town made this remark:  "There's a friend of Nora Aunor who beat Nora herself, but he must be dogged by back luck since he is still groping in the dark for success."  That aroused my curiosity to inquire about this fellow and to meet him personally.  In a week's time, Elmer showed up for a hearty interview.

During his first three years at the Iriga Central School, Elmer Aballa earned the title of "the song sparrow of Iriga" from his teachers.  He was always asked to do a song in school programs.  When he was in grade four, Nora Villamayor came along.

"This newcomer," Elmer recalls, "enrolled in the same section (one) where I belonged.  I learned that she had been born in Iriga, too, but that she had gone to Manila to study in grades one, two and three.  During the first days of classes, some of the boys and girls teased her, 'Negra!  Bulilit!'

"We discovered that Nora has a golden voice.  Her voice was enough to shut the mouths of her teasers.  From then on, I had a partner in the person of Nora Villamayor.  We two were always chosen to represent our school in district meets.  Actually, Nora's part in most of these meets was declamation; she was more of a declaimer then, both winning and losing at times, same with me as a singer.

"Nora and I both belonged to a poor family.  Her father was a porter.  My old man was a Philippine Air Force crew member receiving four pesos a day.  But poverty didn't deter us from our obsession of becoming successful singers someday.  We both finished elementary grades and graduated in 1964.  After that, we thought we would be on our own -- quitting school and joining choral groups."

But in July of 1964 when the new schoolyear opened, Elmer and Nora found each other enrolled in the same school again -- this time at the high school department of Mabini Memorial University.  Their parents decided that they continue their studies.  Elmer and Nora agreed to keep the ball rolling as singing partners again.

One morning while Elmer was studying his lessons in the library, Nora came over with a jolly message:  there would be an amateur show at Nabua, Camarines Sur the following night.  Elmer agreed to Nora's suggestion that he go with her to join the contest.  They joined.  Singing Granada.  Elmer bagged the first prize of P50, edging out Nora, whose You And The Night And The Music placed her second with P30.  It was past midnight when the show ended; no transportation was available to take them home to Iriga.  Nora and Elmer walked home with only the moonlight to guide them the distance of three kilometers.  Back home, their parents were the proudest of 'em all.

In the middle part of December 1964, their principal, Timoteo Panga, called Nora and Elmer to his office, requesting them to represent the freshmen in the intramural.  They had to compete against each other, however, since only one would be sent to Cabanatuan City for the national PRISAA MEET IN 1965.  It was Elmer who made it to the PRISAA.  This, then, was the second time Elmer beat Nora.

"Nora was a good sport that early," Elmer avers.  "When I left for the PRISAA, Nora was my most enthusiastic wel-wisher.  It was unfortunate I lost by some points to a Cebuana!"

The opening of the schoolyear in 1965 found Nora and Elmer high school sophomores still at the Mabini Memorial University.  Early part of the second semester in December, however, Nora had to bid Elmer goodbye.  Her auntie Belen in Manila had asked her to study at the Centro Escolar University.  But education would prove later to be secondary to Nora's personal plans while in Manila.

Elmer decided to keep on singing even if he had to commute to Naga City.  He joined the Darigold Jamboree in Naga City over dzGE and was proclaimed champion for the year 1965 during the show's grand finals.

Nora must have heard of Elmer's good luck.  For in the summer of 1966, she took a vacation to Iriga and made use of it by joining the Naga Darigold Jamboree, too.  She did make it as a champion but only for two weeks, unlike Elmer who had pushed through seven weeks of defending his crown until finally owning it for good.

But Nora was not the type of person who would easily give up.  When she returned to Manila, she joined an even more prestigious contest.  Leila Benitez' Darigold Jamboree over dzRH.  There she held on to the championship for 14 consecutive weeks and on the 15th week got edged out.  Elmer had been following her career over the radio in Iriga.

In 1967, Nora Villamayor received her trophy as the year's grand national champion of Tawag Ng Tanghalan.  Prior to this, she had placed second but had tried out once again, retaining the title for several weeks until the final triumph.

This big news saturated practically every barber shop, beauty shop and household in Iriga.  Elmer felt a bit bogged down just thinking that a girl he had defeated twice was already carving for herself a national name; but being Nora's townmate and childhood chum, Elmer was himself beaming with pride.  Eventually, he motored all the way from Iriga to Manila just to see Nora at the ABS-CBN studios in October 1967.  Nora was rehearsing her songs when Elmer arrived bu she asked for a one-hour recess upon recognizing her visitor.  For one hour, Nora and Elmer, recalled the good old days.  This would later prove to be Elmer's last talk with Nora, for when Elmer attempted to see Nora last November just before she left for Hollywood, the guards of Channel 9, where Nora was performing, would not allow him to enter the studio and he was just at the audience booth.

Graduating from high school in April 1968, Elmer decided to reside in Manila and seek greener pastures.

Almost three years have elapsed since then and Elmer has been working hard finding a place in the sun.  Only trouble is that his climb has been quite slow.

For instance, he was not given a second chance like Nora after had placed second in Tawag Ng Tanghalan in December 1968.

In January 1969, Elmer studied voice culture in Cubao under the private tutorship of Prof. Grace Turla Melendrez, finishing it in one year and a half.

That year Elmer started joining different radio and tv shows.  The year ended with a good deal of laurels to his credit:  as a three-week champion of dzXL's Talents Unlimited, as a second placer on Channel 5's On Stage, as a four-week champion of Channel 2's Oras Ng Ligaya.

Last summer (April 1970), Elmer joined the audience participation of the Monday edition of Stop, Look And Listen (Channel 2) under the hostage of Eddie Mesa, Carina Afable and Joey Lardizabal.  He was the undisputed week-after-week champion of the show until he was hired by the UP Mobile Theater.  For about six months, he went with the choral group hopping from one province to another in singing engagements.

Later it became impossible for him to stay with the theater:  a ray of success was finally alighting on him.  Elmer is now a regular performer in three radio programs, on two tv shows and a first-class discotheque.

This young fellow of 18, the third of four children of Moises Aballa and Jovita Jacob, shoulders a herculean responsibility.  His father in Iriga, now a retired PAF enlisted man, is suffering from thrombosis and his mother has to spend her time caring for him.  Only the eldest in the family, a sister teaching in high school, is gainfully employed.  And so Elmer has to help financially.

Elmer's wish for 1971 is to make it this time as recording artist.  He is still waiting for somebody to salvage him from anonymity.

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