It was a delightful midday at the office of the Film Academy of the Philippines as I eagerly awaited the arrival of the subject of this interview. I have no idea how he looks in person as the bare knowledge I have about him was his trove of classic works as film editor of LVN Pictures. The man I was about to meet is a person created only in my imagination through some write-ups I came across in my younger years, but I admired his guts, his derringdo as far as film editing is concerned. The picture I have in mind was bigger than he physically is.
Enrique Rosario Jarlego Sr. is not physically as big as the man I have created in my imagination, actually barely a few inches from the regular Pinoy height. Nevertheless, he is more than big enough if we consider the fantastic accomplishments in film editing. Let us work browse through a quick bio capsule of the man.
Ike Jarlego Sr., as he is still known up to the present, is a native of San Anton in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. At 17, he ventured to travel to Manila hoping for a job after finishing high school. Fortunately, he was immediately hired as janitor in the old Parlatone Film Studio somewhere in Quezon City. True to all probinsiyanos, young Ike had shown his dedication and industry, working beyond his working hours, cleaning the editing room daily, picking up discarded film clips and diligently studying them, making coffee for the men in the laboratory, observing their works and asking so many questions related to editing which impressed his chief editor, the soft spoken kind-hearted Braulio Calma, the first film editor in the country who studied film making in the U.S. Calma was so fond of young Ike that after a year and eight months on the job, he was elevated as helper in the editing room but…then became the assistant editor to Mr. Calma. Finding the new job challenging and engaging, the young Ike showed hard work and deeper interest. Calma edited all the few film projects produced even by Nepomuceno Productions. Where Calma went, the young Ike dogged him like a shadow. This gave Ike the opportunity to grasp the finer points of film editing.
At Parlatone Studio, he was finally promoted to film editor in 1935. His first assignment was Bahay Kubo starring Rogelio dela Rosa who was just then starting in the movies. For sometime, he worked as editor at the Parlatone Studios and later moved to LVN productiona as full pledged film editor in 1937, a job that would last up to 1980. His editing impressed the late Donya Sisang and even his directors were often surprised how he could come up with fantastic interaving of their shots. Sometimes, the director would quip that he did nt remember having shot that scene because of the novel way Ike had edited it. A modest and mischievous smile was his usual answer.
The active film productions during that time were Parlatone, Philippine Films of Fernando Poe Sr., Libran Films, Sampaguita Pictures and later LVN Pictures. When LVN Pictures began producing, its first project was Giliw Ko starring Mila Del Sol, Fernando Poe Sr., Ely Ramos and Ben Rubio, then the mainstays of LVN Pictures. Ike Jarlego Sr. was resident film editor.
All the films produced by LVN Pictures passed through the hands of Ike Jarlego Sr. because majority of the directors personally requested that Ike edit their films. The meticulous and observant Donya Sisang was more than satisfied with the works of Jarlego. When the grand matriarch decided to put on films a popular comics serial, Talisman, she assigned Nemesio Caravana to direct the film but the director admitted he does not know how to make trick shots which were needed in the fantasy film. Donya Sisang decided to have Ike Jarlego Sr. direct the movie since he used to do trick shots he learned from Richard Abelardo, the first trick shot director during that time. Talisman thus became his first directorial job which starred Tessie Quintana, Armando Goyena, Tony Santos Sr., with then newcomer Ramon Revilla Sr. who appeared as an extra and one of the goons of the kontrabida (Tony Santos). It served as a screen test to Ramon Revilla Sr.
His next assignment as film editor was Bathaluman in 1953 with Lilia Dizon and Mario Montenegro. There was a binding agreement between Ike Sr. and Donya Sisang that he will direct a movie only once a year, since he had more assignments as editor and would earn more. He could finish his editing job in ten days and usually labored through three solid months to direct a film. He admitted he would really lose a lot of money if he will concentrate and work full time as film director. As film editor, he could work on six films at a time, moving from one film studio to another. That time, he was receiving P400.00 as film editor and another P400.00 as monthly salary from the LVN Studio.
Ike Sr., Gunding Ramos and Fely Crisostomo together worked as assistant to chief editor Braulio Calma. The other editors are Gregorio Carballo and Teofilo de Leon. Ramos, Crisostomo and Calma, Carballo and de Leon are all gone now. Among the other film editors who were active during his time have all gone to join the creator.
In 1952, Susana C. de Guzman who was an active writer joined the ranks of credible directors at the LVN Compound together with Felicing Constantino, Manuel Silos, Armando Garces who started with TIIP Productions, Nemesio Caravana, Natoy Catinding, Gregorio Fernandez, Bert Avellana and Carlos Vander Tolosa. They were the ace directors at the LVN stables. Tony Arnaldo and Tony Santos Sr. were popular superstars of LVN that time. Tony Arnaldo married writer-director Susana C. Guzman and was given directorial assignments by Donya Sisang. Much later, Tony Santos began directing some films when the old hands became less available to take care of the directorial jobs. Soon, Leroy Salvador who was also a lead actor for LVN began his directorial career. All of the above named personalities in the film industry had finally succumbed to eternal rest.
There were over a hundred films Ike Sr. edited including those produced by other studios. He was the most in demand film editor and most directors during that time would not trust other editors to cut their films. These included Engkantada starring Lilia Dizon and Dambanang Putik starring Delia Razon and Mario Montenegro which he also directed.
According to Ike Sr., Donya Sisang as film producer personally viewed the rushes, changed some scenes, revised some parts of the script and even ordered reshoots of some scenes. Donya Sisang was indeed meticulous—a perfectionist when films produced by LVN are concerned.
(To be continued)