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A Gallery of Child Stars (Pre-War to Circa ’60s)

Gina Alajar (with Roderick Paulate in Kaibigan Ko Ang Sto. Niño)

Did you know that some of our seasoned actors, directors, producers and even a costume supervisor and a film editor started as child stars?

Funfare readers want to know so I requested contributor Celso de Guzman Caparas to do a compilation just as he did in this corner’s previous “galleries” (of actors, actresses, Lux beauties and kontrabidas).

 

 

 

 

Here’s Part One of this Gallery:

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  • Tita Duran was seven years old when she starred in movies she did between 1936 and 1940: Awit ng mga Ulila, Sa Paanan ng Krus, Sa Duyan ng Pagmamahal, Anak ng Kadiliman, Milagro ng Nazareno sa Quiapo, Ang Magmamani, Ang Pusong Wasak, Inang Mahal, Alipin ng Palad, Mariang Alimango, Palaboy ng Dios, Tunay na Ina, Yaman ng Mahirap, Anak ng Hinagpis, Ang Magsasampaguita, Tatlong Pagkabirhen, Awit ng Magulang, Pangarap and Sawing Gantimpala.
  • Angelito Nepomuceno was eight years old when he did Sa Paanan ng Krus in 1936 directed by his dad Don Jose Nepomuceno, dubbed as the Father of Philippine Movies. Until 1939, he appeared in Hampaslupa, Tatlong Pagkabirhen, Ang Lihim ng Lumang Simbahan, Palaboy ng Dios, Mga Tinik ng Isang Bulaklak and Leron, Leron Sinta. Angelito later married 1951 Miss Philippines Teresita Villareal; bowling champ Paeng Nepomuceno is one of their children.
  • Armida Siguion-Reyna was eight years old when she appeared in Yaman ng Mahirap (1939, Tita Duran was also in the cast), her only film as a child star. The film was directed by Carmen Concha, aunt of Armida.
  • Marichu Vera-Perez was five years old when she played a flower girl in a wedding scene in Carmen Rosales’ and Oscar Moreno’s Hele-Hele Bago Quiere (1947).
  • Liberty Ilagan was three years old when she appeared in So Long, America (1946) followed by Selosa and Hindi Kita Malimot (both in 1948), all by Sampaguita Pictures.
  • Tessie Agana was seven years old when she was introduced in Ang Milagro Ng Birhen (1949). She appeared in Abogada, Makasalanang Banal, Mapuputing Kamay, Tenyente Ramirez and Camp O’Donell (all in 1950), was launched in Roberta (1951, received the Maria Clara Awards Best Child Actress) and starred in Ang Prinsesa At Ang Pulubi and Rebecca (1951), Ulila Ng Bataan (1952). Tessie and mom Linda Estrella together did Labintatlong Hakbang (1950), Batas Ng Daigdig (1951), Kerubin (1952) and Nagkita Si Kerubin at si Tulisang Pugot (1954).
  • Boy Alano was six years old when he signed up with Sampaguita Pictures after besting 40 other aspirants for the role of Tessie Agana’s best friend in Roberta (1951). Boy’s first title role was Kiko (1953). He appeared in Anghel ng Pag-ibig (1951); Ang Asawa Kong Amerikana, Rebecca, Ulila ng Bataan and Kerubin (1952); El Indio, Anak ng Espada and Maldita (1953); Musikong Bumbong (1954); Kuripot (1955); Prince Charming (1956); and Batang Bangkusay (1957).
  • Manuel Ubaldo is best remembered as Ding to Rosa del Rosario in Darna (1951) and Darna at ang Babaeng Lawin (1952). Manuel was in Anak Ko! and Mag-inang Ulila, both directed by Fernando Poe Sr.
  • Ike Jarlego Jr. was seven years old when he was introduced in LVN’s Pag-asa (1951, starring Armando Goyena and Priscilla Cellona). Until 1955, he appeared as a child actor in Harana sa Karagatan, Rodrigo de Villa, Sa Paanan ng Bundok, Kalyehera, Higit sa Lahat, Sonny Boy, No Place to Hide (Hunted), Takas!, Hagad, Indian Pana, Sebya and Mahal Kita!. Ike later became an award-winning film director, production designer and editor.
  • Nora Dy was paired with Ike Jarlego Jr. in Aklat ng Buhay, Kuwentong Bahay-bahayan, Batangueña, Ganyan Lang Ang Buhay and Waray-Waray. She also did Luha at Musika, Dagohoy, Dalawang Panata, Abarinding and Ikaw Ang Buhay Ko (all films released from 1952 to 1955).
  • Susan Roces was 10 when she debuted in the all-star cast Mga Bituin ng Kinabukasan by Jose Nepomuceno Productions (1952).
  • Tirso Cruz III was barely eight months old when he played the infant Jesus in Lebran’s Christmas offering, Ang Pagsilang ng Mesiyas (1952), topbilled by Norma Blancaflor as Mother Mary.
  • Rosemarie Sonora was five years old when she debuted in Apat na Taga (1953, starring Gloria Romero, Ric Rodrigo and Lolita Rodriguez). She played the titular role Ulilang Anghel (1958), a DZRH serial which was made into a movie.
  • Rudy Fernandez was three years old when he debuted in Luksang Tagumpay starring Delia Razon and Jaime dela Rosa (1956, FAMAS Best Picture) and later in Emily with Charito Solis in the titular role (1960), both directed by his father, Gregorio Fernandez and produced by LVN.
  • Boy Planas won as Best Child Actor for The Day of the Trumpet in the 1958 Asian Film Festival. Among his films were Kulang sa 7 and Lo’ Waist Gang (1956), and Ulilang Anghel (1958).
  • Ace Vergel was four years old when he did his first film, Taong Putik (1956), starring his mom Alicia Vergel. He used Ace York Ramirez in his next film, Sisang Tabak (1958) starring Lilia Dizon and his dad Cesar Ramirez. In 1959, he was billed as Ace York in Anak ng Bulkan with FPJ, Edna Luna, Miriam Jurado and Ronald Remy in the lead roles.
  • Lilibeth “Betchay” Vera-Perez was four years old when she was cast in Paruparong Bukid and Mga Reyna ng Vicks, based on the celebrated DZRH radio program (both in 1958, and produced by family-owned Sampaguita Pictures). In 1959, Lilibeth did the titular role in Vicky with Carmen Rosales, Gloria Romero, Ric Rodrigo and Greg Martin. She was also in Mother Dearest (1961, first story: The Innocent) and The Big Broadcast (1962).
  • Danilo Jurado was five years old when he auditioned and was chosen for the titular role in Marcelino Pan y Vino, a Lenten offering by Champion Productions in 1959. The film was a Tagalog adaptation of the Spanish movie, Marcelino Pan y Vino (1955). He was in the classic Biyaya ng Lupa (1959), Gerry de Leon’s Huwag Mo Akong Limutin and Kadenang Putik (1960), Alyas Palos (1961), Asiong Seven (1962, with other child actors Romeo San Jose, Boy Alvarez, Toots Goyenechea, Boy Pangilinan, Jun Ragrario and Roger Thompson), Duwelo sa Sapang Bato, Angkan ng Matatapang, Dakpin si Pedro Navarro! and Munting Bayani (1963). He played Ding to Liza Moreno in Darna at Ang Impakta (1963) and appeared in Ang Babaeng Isputnik and Isputnik vs. Darna.
  • Jay Ilagan was seven years old when director Armando Garces cast him in Mga Tigreng Tagabukid (1962) topbilled by Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada and Romeo Vasquez. Jay’s mom Corazon Noble also starred in the film. Boy Noble was his first screen name. He was FPJ’s favorite; together they did Batang Maynila and Albano Brothers (1962), Ito Ang Maynila, Callejon, Magnong Mandurukot and Angkan ng Matatapang (1963), Saan Mang Sulok ng Daigdig, Sierra Madre and Daniel Barrion (1964), and Baril Sa Aking Kamay (1966), all FPJ starrers. Plus, he did Munting Bayani, Patapon, Kung Gabi sa Maynila and Isputnik vs. Darna (1963). He played the young Gabriel (Romeo Vasquez) in Maruja (played by Susan Roces, 1967).
  • Vilma Santos was nine years old when she auditioned along with more than 100 others in Sampaguita studios and was chosen to play the titular role in Trudis Liit (1963). Other films she did as a child star up to 1964 were Anak, Ang Iyong Ina!, Duelo sa Sapang Bato, King & Queen for a Day, Aninong Bakal, Ging, Naligaw na Anghel, Sa Bawat Pintig ng Puso, Morena Martir and Larawan ng Pag-ibig.
  • Connie Angeles was seven years old when she bested hundreds of aspirants for the role of Oreng, sister of Trudis (Vilma Santos). After Trudis Liit, Connie played the daughter of Eva Montes in Anak ni Dyesebel, of Joseph Estrada in Anak ng Pantalan and of Gina Alonzo in Darna at ang Babaeng Tuod.
  • Gina Alajar was eight years old when she beat more than 300 who auditioned for the role of Oreng, one of the four roles at stake in Lea Productions’ Kaibigan Ko ang Sto. Niño (1967). Gina played Irene in Pinagbuklod ng Langit (1969, with Luis Gonzales as Ferdinand Marcos, Gloria Romero as Imelda, Vilma Santos as Imee and Jonjie Aranda as Bongbong). She appeared in Bandana and Donata (1968), Sagupaan!, The Magnificent Ifugao, Baluga, Rikitik Loves Rositik, Si Darna at Ang Planetman and Dino Barbaro (all in 1969); Devil Woman, Sixteen, Angelo, Mga Anghel na Walang Langit, Mga Batang Bangketa, Sapagka’t Sila’y Aming mga Anak and the classic Wanted: Perfect Mother (all in 1970); Robina; and Mag-inang Ulila (1971). She won FAMAS Best Child Actress for Kaibigan Kong Sto. Niño and Catholic Mass Media Awards Best Child Actress for Wanted: Perfect Mother. (Trivia: Gina and Celso were classmates at the Padre Burgos Elementary School in Altura, Sta. Mesa, Manila.)
  • Roderick Paulate was six years old when he was chosen to play the role of Bong, one of the four kids in Kaibigan Ko ang Sto. Niño (1967). Aside from Gina, the other two kids chosen were Raquel Alarcon as Lilian and Ador Villena Jr. as Freddie. Roderick won Best Child Actor in the 1968 Manila Film Festival for Kasalanan Kaya? and in the 1970 FAMAS for Mga Anghel na Walang Langit. Up to 1969, he did Bulag na Matador, The Karate Champions, Oh! My Papa, Mga Tigre sa Looban, Bandana, Sagupaan!, 7 Fantastic Judo Karate Brothers, Zoom Zoom Apollo, Musmos na Mandirigma and Petrang Paminta. He continued making movies as a child actor until the ‘70s.
  • Zernan Manahan won the 1968 FAMAS Best Child Actor statuette for Barbaro Cristobal. Other films he appeared in were Batang Matadero, Perlas ng Silangan, Patria Adora: Dugo ng Bayani,Ginintuang Kamay, Nardong Kutsero, Mga Batang Estibador (1969), Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin, Mga Angel na Walang Langit (1970), Fastbreak and Ang Kampana sa Santa Quiteria (1971), among others.

(Next: Child stars of circa ‘70s onwards.)

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.) — Photos from the collection of Celso de Guzman Caparas; Tita Duran photo from the collection of Danny Dolor

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