By Tante de Ramos
Our FAP Website movie trivia expert Tante de Ramos came up with an alphabet of pre-war actresses who made their marks in the silver screen prior to the bloody years of World War II and the Japanese occupation that followed.
According to Tante, the following 28 actresses were the forerunners in our pantheon Filipino movie acting greats:
Alma Bella – She appeared in, among the first talking pictures produced in the country.
Norma Blancaflor – for the film Dalaga, Isang Ngiti Mo Lamang, where she co-starred with Ely Ramos, she was chosen as the best actress for the year 1940, She also starred in such movies as Binibini ng Palengke, Hatinggabi, Sa Dating Pugad and Bawal na Pag-ibig. In Binibiro Lamang Kita (also with Ely Ramos) she was in a cast that included Narding Anzures, Lilian Velez, Nati Rubi, Florentino Ballacer, Pugo and Togo. This film was produced by Philippine Films and directed by Carlos Vander Tolosa. In 1948, she made Huling Dalangin for LVN Pictures Inc. She received the Walang Kupas award in 1982,
Elizabeth ‘Dimples’ Cooper – She was the lead actress in the silent movie Miracles of Love, which was produced and directed by Vicente Salumbides, who likewise co-starred with her in this film. Jose Nepomuceno directed her in Ang Tatlong Hambog where she had a kissing scene with her co-star Luis Tuason, a known car racer.
Naty Fernandez – She starred in Lilies of Benguet with Carlos Padilla Sr., Gregorio Fernandez, Salvador Tinsay, Nora Linda and Salud del Valle. The movie was shot in Baguio and produced by Malayan Pictures. In The Miracle of the Virgin of Antipolo, she co-starred with Hector Nieto and Nena Warsan for Jose Nepomuceno-megged film.
Lina Flor – She was a radio talent who made the transition ionto the movies. She made Kundiman ng Puso with her co-stars Rudy Concepcion and Francisco Monroy under the direction of Eduardo de Castro for Philippine Films.
Adela Flumkers – She made Diwata ng Karagatan opposite Rogelio de la Rosa and Mari Velezano. It was directed by Carlos Vander Tolosa and produced by Parlatone Hispano-Filipino.
Arsenia Francisco – She starred in the films Azucena, Ave Maria, Sa Oras ng Kasal, Pangako na Puso and Sa Hirap at Ginhawa in a love team with real life husband Jose Padilla Jr., Her contemporaries included Eddie del Mar, Rosita Noble, Ramon D’Salva, Lopito, Ruben Rustia, Nello Nayo, Purita Alma and Vicente Liwanag and was usually directed by Cesar Gallardo for Larry Santiago Production,Inc. She was the leading lady in the swashbuckling movie Guerrero with Johnny Monteiro in the title role. The film was directed by Teodorico C.Santos for Premiere Productions, Inc.
Rebecca Gonzales- She starred in such films as Pista ng Nayon (with Jose Padilla Jr., Tessie Quintana and Victor Sevila and directed by Manuel Silos), Mutya ng Pasig (with Jose Padilla Jr. again), and Waling Waling (with co star Jaime dela Rosa). In the film Gitano, she showed her talents in singing and dancing, pwerforming together with the beauteous Delia Razon. It was directed by Manuel Silos Most of here films were produced by LVN Pictures, Inc. She was also a Walang Kupas awardee in 1983.
Lucita Goyena –In 1937, she appeared in the film Teniente Rosario with Rogelio dela Rosario as her leading man. She also appeared in Leron-Leron Sinta, Dalagang Pilipina and Punit na Bandila (made in 1940). She was crowned Movie Queen along with her co-star Fernando Poe, Sr. (the movie king). She also appeared in Pugad ng Agila, Palaboy ng Diyos, Duyan ng Magmamahal, Alaalang Banal, Tinik ng Isang Bulalak, Alipin ng Alila, Vinda Aligre and Biyak na Bato. Another Walang Kupas awardee in 1982
Hanasan – Her real name was Aurelia Hallado. She appeared on stage at the Savoy and the Manila Grand Opera House with Atang dela Rama. She made a comedy movie titled Ang Landas ng Kayamanan with Enrique Davilla Atang dela Rama and Vicente Ocanpo.
Amparo Karagdag – She appeared in Angel ng Tukso, her first movie where she co-starred with Carlos Padilla Sr. and Nemesio Caravana, a poet-novelist-journalist who wrote screenplays of swashbuckling films which mostly starred by Efren Reyes Sr. and the archetypal villain always portrayed by Johnny Monteiro. It was produced by Vicente Salumbides who also directed the movie.
Mona Liza – Her first screen name was Flour de Lis. In 1938, she appeared in Bahay Kubo with Fely Vallejo, Rogelio dela Rosa and Ernesto Vallejo. She also starred in the 1939 movie Giliw Ko which co-starred her with Mila del Sol, Fernando Poe Sr., and Ely Ramos. She continued acting up to the years of great directors Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal in the 70s and 80s.
Luningning – She appeared in Ang Hinamon which was produced by Parlatone Hispano Filipino. Othere films where she appeared were Bayan at Pag-ibig, produced by Excelsior Productions, and Punit na Bandila with Fernando Poe, Sr. and Lucita Goyena. Her other films included Ang Lilim ng Lumang Simbahan, Siyudad sa Ilalim ng Lupa, Prinsipe Paris and Ang Kaban ng Tipan.
Ester Magalona – In 1941, she starred in Ibong Adarna which co-stars Fred Cortes Sr., Mila del Sol, Vicente Oliver, Deanna Prieto and Ben Rubio under the auspices of LVN Pictures. The film was directed by Vicente Salumides. In 1946, she starred in Doon Po sa Amin which also starred Carlos Padilla, Sr., Elvira Reyes and Leopoldo Salcedo. This was the initial presentation of Mabuhay Pictures and was directed by Manuel Conde. She also starred in Kayumanggi with Leopoldo Salcedo and Nora Madrid under the direction of the Great Profile.
Rosario Moreno – She appeared first as an extra in Diwata ng Karagatan, Parlatone Hispano-Filipino production. The producer saw promise in her acting and launched her in Luha ng Ina, opposite Carlos Padilla Jr. Her films included Sa Paanan ng Krus and Pusong Dakila. At Sampaquita Pictures, she made Inang Mahal, Alipin ng Palad and Mapait na Lihim with Rudy Concepcion as her leading man. She also made Dating Sumpaan and Mahal Pa Rin Kita for Excelcior Pictures. She married actor Fernando Royo.
Corazon Noble – The mother of actor Jay Ilagan, she appeared in sucxh films as Kahapon Lamang, Mariposa and Estrelita with leading man Angel Emeralda, her reel and real life partner.She was the elder sister of another LVN contract star, Carmencita Abad.
Elsa Oria – A great singer, she starred in musical films like Madaling Araw (a film was which was later remade by Sampaquieta Pictures) and Bituing Marikit. Her usual leading man was Ely Ramos, her perennial love team for several decades.
Paraluman – She first appeared in Flores de Mayo in a supporting role. She co-starred with Fernando Poe, Sr. in Paraluman. She also made Huling Dalangin for Sampaguita Pictures, as well as Veronica, Baby Face and Lydia. Baby O’Brien was her daughter and Rina Reyes her grand daughter.
Deanna Prieto – She starred in Ibong Adarna in 1941 opposite other stars like Mila del Sol, Fred Cortez Sr., Ester Magalona, Vicente Olivar and Ben Rubio. It was produced by LVN Pictures and directed by Vicente Salumbides.
Atang Dela Rama – Known as the Queen of Kundiman, she appeared in Dalagang Bukid, a silent movie produced by Jose Nepomuceno, the acknowledged Father of Filipino Movies. She was also a popular zarzuela stage performer because of her good singing voice. She returned to making films by appearing in classics like Ang Landas ng Kayamanan (with Vicente Ocampo and Honasan), Mahiwagang Binibini (with Carmen Rosales), and Mga Batong Buhay (with Leopoldo Salcedo and Paraluman). In Siga-siga, she played a mother role. Likewise in Ang Buhay at Pag-ibig ni Dr. Jose Rizal where she played the role of the mother of the great National Hero. She was named a National Artist for her contributions to the arts, as well as a 1982 Walang Kupas awardee.
Rita Rica – She appeared in Himala ni Bathala with Mary Walter, Gregorio Ticman and Pedro Faustino under the direction of Eduardo de Castro. Another of her films was Hagase Tu Voluntad with Normadel Rosario, Juanita Angeles and Domingo Prinsipe under the direction of Agapito Conchu for Philippine Films.
Rosita Rivera – Before war errupted, she made films like Makiling, Namumukod na Bituin, Kalbaryo ng Isang Ina, Monghita, Ikaw ang Dahilan, Ang Magmamani and Bago Lumubog ang Araw. In the film Ilaw ng Langit, she appeared opposite Jose Padilla Jr. In the 50’s she made a comeback through the film Sapagkat Mahal Kita which re-teamed her with Jose Padilla Jr. They were supported byTessie Santos as the other woman, Manuel Barbeyto, Consuelo P. Osorio, Metring David, Antonia Santos, Lirio Yabut and Ed Regal. It was directed by Consuelo P. Osorio for Fremol Pictures. Dina Bonnevie was her granddaughter.
Carmen Rosales – Undoubtedly the first superstar durig her heydays, she made movies for the three biggest major film companies in the country at her time. Her love team with Rogelio dela Rosa spelled phenomenal box office success. They starred in films like Colegiala, Lambingan, Senorita, Tampuhan, Panambitan, Ang Tangi kong Pag-ibig, Lydia, Takipsilim and Diwa ng Awit. In Inspirasyon, she co-starred with Norma Valles, Van de Leon, Katy dela Cruz in a film where the great dramatic actor Ric Rodrigo was introduced, She also made Si Senorito (with Oscar Moreno and Fred Montilla) and MN (with Cesar Ramirez, Alicia Vergel and Oscar Moreno)—both produced by Sampaguita Pictures, Inc. She won the Miss Radio of 1938 title after besting several contestants. In 1939, she made her first film under Excelsior Productions, Arimunding- Munding . In Gerilyera, she co-starred with Celso Baltazar. Before, during and after the war, she made a lot of films which included Tatlong Maria (with Norma Blancaflor), Hindi Kita Malimot (directed by Eddie Romero), Kaaway ng Bayan (with Leopoldo Salcedo), Maalala Mo Kaya?, Kampanang Ginto and Camella. She also starred in Batalyon Trece (with Jaime Dela Rosa), Palikero and Selosa (both with ElyRamos), Sipag at Yaman and Probinsiyana (with Jose Padilla, Jr.). She led the Walang Kupas awardee in 1982.
Rosa Del Rosario – She appeared first in the silent movie Ligaw na Bulaklak. With Leopoldo Salcedo, their love team made such films as Biyaya ni Bathala, Kalapating Puti, Ligaw na Bituin, Ang Kumpisalan at ang Batas, Dalagang Silangan, Neneng Ko, Walang Sugat, Magpakailanman, Tandang Sora, Kundiman ng Luha and Panata ng Puso. In Bulaklak at Paruparo, she co-starred with Rogelio Dela Rosa for Premiere Productions, Inc. In 1941, she also starred in Ilang-Ilang under LVN Pictures. She was the first to appeared as Darna with Cristina Arayon as Valentina, the snake woman, in a film directed by Fernando Poe Sr. Her second Darna movie was Darna At ang Babaing Lawin with Elvira Reyes as the hawk woman directed by Carlos Vander Tolosa. The films were both produced by Royal Productions of Fernando Poe Sr. She also appeared in An American Guerilla in the Philippines, Anna and the King of Siam and Border Bandit which were all international film productions. She was also tagged as the Queen of the Philippine Movies during her times. In 1980, she was one of the Walang Kupas awardees. Her films were Lantang Bulaklak (with Rogelio Dela Rosa), Zamboanga (with Fernando Poe Sr.), Birheng Walang Dambana, Dr. Kuba and Walang Sugat.
Consuelo Salazar – She made the film Ang Maya, the initial film presentation of Excelsior Film. She was a soprano who used her actual singing in this movie.
Mila del Sol – She appeared in the 1939 initial presentation of the movie Giliw Ko with Fernando Poe Sr., Ely Ramos and Mona Lisa. In the first version of Ibong Adarna made in 1941, she co-starred with Fred Cortez Sr., Ester Magalona, Vicente Olivar, Deanna Prieto and Ben Rubio under the direction of Vicente Salumbides. She also appeared in Sawing Gantimpala (1940). All films were produced by LVN Pictures. She was also a Walang Kupas awardee 1982.
Fely Vallejo – In Bahay Kubo, she was opposite Rogelio dela Rosa, Monalisa and Ernesto Vallejo, her brother-in real life. This was directed by the great Gerardo de Leon for Parlatone Hispano–Filipino. She appeared in Ay,Ay Kalisud where she also sang.
Mary Walter – She was the queen of Filipino silent pictures, appearing in such films as Don Juan Tinoso, Ang Lumang Simbahan, Dimasalang and Ang Gayuma with Gregorio Fernandez as her loveteam partner. Gregorio Fernandez became a prolific director. Even in her advanced years she suaully portrayed roles of a strict grandmother of a kind family matriarch. She was also 1982 Walang Kupas awardee.