Throughout the years, the local film industry saw a continuous parade of child actors and actresses who eventually became adult performers to take their rightful places in the pantheon of movie stars. Hereunder are some of those phenomenal thespian-turned-stars:
Tessie Agana—As a young girl, she played the title role of Roberta opposite Boy Alano and Zeny Zabala, and was a cherubin in Si Kerubin at Si Tulisang Pugot with Fred Montilla. As an adult performer she co-starred with was Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces in Amy, Susie and Tessie.
Gina Alajar—She starred with Roderick Paulate and Snooky Serna in Kaibigan Ko ang St. Nino which was directed by Lino Brocka for Lea Productions. Her first lead role as an adult was in Salome with Johnny Delgado and Dennis Roldan in a Regal Film directed by Laurice Guillen.
Boy Alano—He vied with forty other boys in the contest to search for partner of Tessie Agana in Roberta. He later appeared in his title role film, , opposite senior veteran actresses Rosa Mia and Etang Discher. He also appeared in films like Musikong Bumbong and Fighting Waray sa Ilocos, both produced by Sampaguita Pictures, Inc. In his adult years, he appeared in the bio-flick Mayor Latigo (the story of Baras Rizal, Mayor Meliton Geronimo who was portrayed by Eddie Garcia.
Carlo Aquino—A child actor in the award-winning movie Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa?, she appeared opposite now Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, Albert Martinez and Serena Darymple as his sister. He also appeared in Sugatang Puso with Christopher de Leon, Lorna Tolentino, Cherie Gil ang Patrick Garcia, directed by Jose Javier Reyes for Regal Films.
Janice de Belen—She made her mark in the teleserye Flor de Luna and in such films as Mga Basang Sisiw, Kasal, Tropang Bulilit and Flor de Lisa opposite child actress rival Julie Vega. During her teen years, she was in the cast of films like Nasaan Ka Nang Kailangan Kita?, I Will Wait For You and Umiyak Pati Langit. She won trophies from Urian, Star, FAP and FAMAS for Rosenda and the best actress award for Kailan Ka Magiging Akin? in the 1991 Metro Manila Film Festival. Catherine Janice Yap de Belen is her real name.
Sheryl Cruz—She appeared opposite Fernando Poe Jr. in Ang Leon at ang Kuting and was also the lead role in Candy. She appeared in many Regal Film baget films but was launched into a dramatic adult role in Paano na ang Mundo Mo? where she played a rape victim molested by her stepfather played by Christopher de Leon. The cast also included Alma Moreno and Aiza Seguerra. After she got married and stayed in the U.S., she returned and was cast as the lead villain in the television version of Bakekang which also starred Sunshine Dizon, Lovi Poe, Jasmien Kurdi, Rainier Castillo and the late Marky Cielo.
Tirso Cruz III—The most popular love team partner of Nora Aunor, he appeared as a child star in Ang Pagsilang ng Mesiyas where he was the young Jesus with Norma Blancaflor as his Virgin Mother Mary. As the teen partner of singing sensation Aunor, he played opposite her in such films as Blue Hawaii, A Gift of Love, Fiesta Extravaganza, The Young at Heart, My Little Brown Girl, and Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig. As an adult performer, he also co-starred with Nora Aunor in Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit, winning the best actor award from FAMAS, Star Awards and FAP. In a Rudy Fernandez starrer, Kahit Buhay Ko, he also won the best supporting actor award.
Dranreb—He was just a child actor when he appeared in Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? opposite Christopher de Leon in an award-winning film megged by National Artist for Film Eddie Romero. He was also a regular in the Ang Panday series of FPJ. He was busiest playing teenage roles but starred opposite Philip Salvador in Kapit sa Patalim.
Tita Duran—She appeared in a long list of films as a child actress. The films included Mga Tinik ng Isang Bulaklak, Tatlong Pagkabirhen, Mariang Alimango, Sa Paanan ng Krus, Hampaslupa (with child star Angelito Nepomuceno) and Ang Magsasampaguita. In her adult years, she appeared in many movies with real and reel love team husband Pancho Magalona. These films included Always (Ang Ganda Mo), Umaga na, Giliw, Sa Isang Halik Mo, Pancho, Dahil sa Isang Sulyap Mo, and Dahil Sa Iyo. Her other films were Maharlika (with Oscar Moreno), produced by Sampaguita Pictures, and Tatak ni Solomon, directed by Rolf Bayer for Shaw Malaya Film Productions.
Jay Ilagan—He appeared in an FPJ film, Ang Alamat, as a child actor. As a teenager, he was the lovetam partner of Susan Henson in Ligaw Tingin. He also reprised the role of Mars Ravelo’s Bondying (originally played by Fred Montilla). He appeared with Gina Alajar and Amy Austria in Marilou Abaya’s Brutal. In Lino Brocka’s Tubog sa Ginto, he co-starred with Eddie Garcia while in Lupita Concio’s Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo, he co-starred with Nora Aunor.
Liberty Ilagan—As a child actress, she appeared in the 1940 film So Long America. She became the loveteam partner of Jose Mari in many Sampaguita Picture films like Ang Tindahan ni Aling Epang (with Matimtiman Cruz) and Kaming mga Talyada with an all star cast.
Liezl—The daughter of Amalia Fuentes and Romeo Vasquez, she was launched by and appeared in AM productions such as Portrait of an Angel, Pinokyo En Little Snow White, Anghel ng Pagibig and Poor Little Rich Girl. As a teenager, she appared in Ibulong Mo sa Puso. She later married Albert Martinez. In Antipolo Massacre, directed by Carlos Caparas based on a true-to-life case, she appeared opposite Cesar Montano, Dawn Zulueta, Boots Anson Roa and Director Celso Ad. Castillo.
Matet—She appeared as a small girl in I Love You, Mama; I Love You, Papa with mother Nora Aunor, sister Lotlot de Leon and brother Ian de Leon. Then she appeared with FPJ in One Day, Isang Araw. Her other films included Batang Kerubin, Bobo Cop, Magic To Love and Mama, Dito sa Puso Ko (with Nora Aunor again). As an adult performer, she appeared in Pangako ng Puso and Abakada Ina with Lorna Tolentino.
Niño Muhlach—Backstopped by his father’s D’Wonder Films, he began his career that early on got a boost when he co-starred with FPJ in Ang Leon at ang Daga. He aso appeared in his aunt’s AM (Amalia Muhlach or Amalia Fuentes) Productions like Lulubog, Lilitaw sa Ilalim ng Tulay, May Lalaki sa Ilalim ng Kama Ko. His D’Wonder Films projects, mostly directed by Erastheo ‘Baby’ Navoa included Kutong Lupa, Jack en Poy, Tropang Bulilit and films which co-starred him with leading actors and actresses. National Artist for Films Lino Brocka directed him in Tahan na, Empoy,Tahan with Alicia Alonzo and Snooky and in Ang Tatay Kong Nanay with Dolphy. As an adult, he appeared in Buhay Bumbero with Dennis Padilla and One Percent Full which starred by Burton Richardson, Andrea del Rosario and Ronnie Ricketts, directed by Burton Richardson for Fat Free Entertainment in association with Rockettes Productions, Inc.
Roderick Paulate—The Quezon City councilor was early in his career directed by Lino Brocka in Kaibigan Ko Ang Sto. Niño with Gina Alajar and Snooky for Lea Productions. As a teenager, he appared in Kurikit and the Petrang Kabayo series. His movie contemporaries included now QC Mayor Herbert ‘Bistek’ Bautista. His latest starring role was in Ded na si Lolo, the country’s Oscar Awards entry for 2010.
Susan Roces—She actually appeared as a youngster in Mga Bituin ng Kinabukasan which was produced by Jose Nepomuceno. Her first starring roles as an adult included Boksingera Daw with Dolphy, Sa Hardin ng Diyos, and The Big Broadcast (with Amalia Fuentes).Most of her films were produced by Sampaguita Pictures. She also co-starred with President Joseph Estrada in Buhay sa Buhay for his Emar Productions. She appeared with reel and real life partner FPJ in such films as Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw, Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin, Pilipinas Kong Mahal, Perlas ng Silanganan, Zamboanga, Karnabal and Sorrento. Her real maiden name was Ma. Jesusa Sonora.
Lea Salonga—Before becoming a world-class opera singer, Lea first appeared in Tropang Bulilit with co-stars Nino Muhlach, Janice de Belen, Rowena Bautista and Sheryl Cruz for D’Wonder Films. She appeared as the leading ladies of Aga Muhlach and Ariel Rivera in her adult films. Her role in Miss Saigon paved the way into international success. In the animation film Aladdin, her voice was as the singing voice of Princess Jasmine with the song A Whole New World.
Vilma Santos—She was the original Trudis Liit in 1963. Paired with Edgar Mortiz as a loveteam, they appeared in Our Love Affair, My Love at First Sight, Don’t Ever Say Goodbye and Young Love. But her filmography is filled with outstanding films directed by top-notch directors. Her unforgettable films included: Bata..Bata..Paano Ka Ginawa? (Chito Rono) which won for her a best actress award from Belgium directed by Chito Roño; Anak (Rory Quintos); Dekada 70 (Chito Rono) with Christopher de Leon; Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (Ishmael Bernal); Relasyon (Ishmael Bernal) which gave her a gand slam of all local best actress awards from FAP,FAMAS, Star; Broken Marriage (Ishmael Bernal); Hahamakin Lahat (Lino Brocka); Rubia Servios (Lino Brocka); Kapag Langit ang Humatol (Laurence Guillen); Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-Itim ng Tagak (Celso Ad. Castillo); Burlesk Queen (Celso Ad. Castillo) and Sister Stella L. (Mike de Leon).
Aiza Siguerra—She was discovered in the Little Miss Philippines Contest on Eat Bulaga hosted by Tito, Vic, Joey and became a mainstay there. Given a break by Mother Lily Monteverde of Regal Films, she then appeared in films like Super Inday and the Golden Bibe, Aso’t Pusa with co-star Tito Sotto, and Good Morning, Titser with Coney Reyes as the tutor. She signed up to record songs for Vicor Recording Company. Then she was back in the limelight as an adult performer in the Shake, Rattle & Roll series and Bahay Kubo under Regal Films. Her real name was Cariza Seguerra.
Snooky—She appeared as a child actress in such films as I Love Mama, I Love Papa, Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star, The Living Doll and The Golden Child. In her teenage years, she played such roles in Kapag Napagod ang Puso, and Blusang Itim. She became also a television newscaster, assumed a hosting job and appeared in Habang Kapiling Ka, a GMA Television Teleseries. Ma. Milagros Sumayao Serna is her real name.
Maricel Soriano—She started as the youing daughter in the John en Marsha series. Her team-up with William Martinez was hugle successful with films like The Graduates, Summer Love, Parang Kailan Lang, Galagaw, Pabling and Hindi Kita Malimot. She eventually graduated into challenging roles like Hinugot sa Langit, directed by Ishmael Bernal and Mila, directed by Joel Lamangan as the tutor of Serena Darymple.
Lorna Tolentino—As a child actress, she played the title role in Divina Gracia. She also appeared in the 1971 movie Lumuha Pati Mga Anghel with co-stars Gloria Romero, Ronaldo Valdez and Arnold Gamboa, produced by Lea Productions, Inc. She was one of the seven stars launched into stardom by Jessie Ejercito, together with Alma Moreno, Chanda Romero, Elizabeth Oropesa, Daria Ramirez, Amy Austria and Janet Bordon. Her other films included Katawang Alabok, Waikiki with Rio Locsin and Sinasamba Kita. Lorna Aluquin was her real name.
Julie Vega—She gained stardom with Mga Mata ni Angelita. She appeared opposite Janice de Belen in Flor de Lisa. Then she played an adult role in the film Milagro sa Porta Vaga.
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