By Tante de Ramos
(For movie trivia aficionados, the following article lists down the beauty contest winners and queens who were able to break into the film industry, successfully vaulting from the beauty contest ramp to the movie set. This is actually a worldwide phenomenon and the Philippines has, thus, its share of 23 actresses who initially began as beauty pageant celebrities.—JNC)
At last count, this writer has come up with 23 actresses who began as beauty queens. This statistic only emphasized without doubt that beauty contests, local and international, are instrumental in providing the entertainment industry a long queue of actresses and showbiz personalities. Following is an enumeration of the beauty queens who had or have been gracing the local scene.
Elvie Gonzales – One of the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant runners-up, she joined the movie world via the film Dugay Ka Na Sa Maynila, Tonto Ka Pa . The cast included Anita Linda, Gina Laforteza and Max Alvarado. She is the mother of Charlene Gonzales, a runner-up in the Miss Universe contest held here in the Philippines and now the wife of actor Aga Muhlach.
Pilar Pilapil – One of her movies was El Pinoy Matador , opposite comedy king Dolphy. It was shot in Spain and one of the locations included a bullfightarena. The cast also included Panchito Alba, the sparring partner of Dolphy in many comedies. She was another Miss Philippines beauty contest winner.
Chiqui Somes – A Miss Press Photography of the Philippine runner-up, she was also a Binibining Pilipinas candidate who has also appeared in movies. In Premier Productions’ Hangga’t May Hininga, she was the leading lady of Eddie Mesa and Ronald Remy.
Helen Gamboa – A Miss Press Photography of the Philippines candidate, she entered showbiz by appearing in the movie Banda Uno . She also polayed the villainess role in Darna at ang Planetman. She married former Senator Tito Sotto, member of the comic trio Tito, Vic and Joey. Their daughter Ciara Sotto follows in her parents’ footsteps.
Mila Ocampo – A Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant candidate, she started appearing in films in 1965. One of the films she appeared in was Takdang Sandali . The cast included Gloria Sevilla, Amado Cortez and Von Verna who later became her husband. Their daughter is actress Snooky Serna who is still active in television and movies.
Evangeline Pascual – A Miss Philippines beauty pageant winner, she eventually tried her luck in movies. She was the leading lady of the late Fernando Poe Jr. in the film Mediavillo , which was produced by his own FPJ Productions. She has made several movies as leading lady and is still active now, specially at home with mother roles.
Gloria Diaz – A 1969 Miss Universe title holder, she entered the celluloid world with the groundbreaking film Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa . Playing the lead title role in her first ever attempt in movie acting, she went on to do a sequel, The Virgin People. Both films were megged by Celso Ad Castillo. She is still very visible in movies and television.
Maria Isabel Lopez – Another Bb. Pilipinas (Universe) winner, she also appeared in The Virgin People . She wasa also tagged as a bold star when she made the film Dingding Lang ang Pagitan with co-stars Orestes Ojeda and Olivia Ortiz.
Melanie Marquez – This Miss International title holder not only appeared in but also produced films. The picture The Untold Story of Melanie Marquez won for his father, Artemio Marquez, the best Director Award during a Metro manila Film festival. She is the sister of actor Joey Marquez and actor-producer Damba Marquez.
Alice Crisostomo – In the film The Golden Girl , she was paired with Tony Ferrer who later became her husband. It was produced by Tagalog-Ilang-Ilang Productions. The producer of this film was Atty. Espiridion Laxa. She was also a Miss Philippines title holder.
Margie Moran – Another Miss Universe title holder, she appeared in a movie titled Oh! where she was paired with Cocoy Laurel. This romance- musical picture was made after she who the much-coveted title.
Marilou Destreza – A Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant contestant, she tried her luck as an actress. She was paired with the legendary king of Philippine Movies, Fernando poe Jr. in the film Sanctuario under his own FPJ Productions outfit. The film was principally shot in and within the vicinity of the century-old church of Magdalena in Laguna. Then there was the film Basketball Stars which starred the leading ladies opposite some of the most popular basketball players at that time.
Dang Cecilio – Another Bb. Pilipinas title holder, she was the leading lady of Fernando Poe Jr. in the 1983 film Kapag Buhay ang Inutang under his own FPJ Productions. She also appeared in a number of big-budget films before deciding to leave the limelight.
Maria Teresa Carlson – A Mutya ng Pilipinas candidate, she gained popularity as a member of thw cast of the TV sitcom Chicks to Chicks with Nova Villa, Freddie Webb, Carmi Martin, Chito Arceo and Chuchi. She was cast in many comedy films where she played the role of a character who has a difficulty in talking in Tagalog. She died in an accident, falling off the top floor of a hotel condominium.
Alice Dixon – Another Miss Philippines candidate who struck it big in the movies, she top-lined the controversial film The Jessica Alfaro Story . Another Regal baby, she also portrayed the role of the half-woman-half-mermaid Dyesebel in one of the famous comics novel’s sequels. She won as best actress for her role in Regal Films’ Sambahin ang Ngalan Mo during a Metro Manila Film Festival award nights.
Rio Diaz – A sister of Miss Universe title holder Gloria Diaz, she also participated in the Miss Philippines beauty pageant. In the film Enteng Manok , she was cast opposite Eddie Garcia. She died after battling cancer for several years.
Mutya Crisostomo – A Mutya ng Pilipinas beauty pageant winner, she joined the Miss Philippines pageant then entered showbiz. She has appeared in some movies. She is the daughter of Alice Crisostomo, a Miss Philippine title holder, and actor and local James Bond Tony Ferrer.
Charlene Gonzales – The Miss Philippines title holder became a runner-up in the Miss Universe beauty pageant held here in the Philippines some years past. She appeared with Fernando Poe Jr. in the film The Epimaco Velasco Story. She was among those who portrayed the role of Dyesebel. She is the daughter of beauty queen Elvie Gonzales and Bernard Bonnin. She is now married to actor Aga Muhlach. They have twin children, Andres and Andrea.
Andrea Del Rosario – In Miss Philippines 2001, she was chosen as Miss Close-Up for her winsome smile. Her debut movie was Lupe, directed by Elwood Perez, which co-starred her with Leandro Muñoz and Jordan Herrera. She also appeared with other actresses in Attagirl, an ABS-CBN program which is longer airing.
Miriam Quiambao – A Miss Philippines title holder, she hosted the popular GMA TV reality program Extra Challenge with Paolo Bediones. She was introduced in a movie opposite Paolo Bediones. She now resides abroad with her husband.
Jo Canonizado – A Mutya ng Pilipinas Asia Pacific title holder, she was cast in Ang Mananabas opposite Cesar Montano which was produced by Maverick Films. She signed up a contract with Dyna Records. She is also a product endorser and a ramp model.
Nina Ricci Alagao – Another Bb. Pilipinas winner, she just appeared in Bikini Open with Diana Zubiri, Francine Prieto, Rafael Rosell, Alfred Vargas and J.E. Sison under the direction of Jefrey Jeturian for Sieko Films.