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Tawag ng Tanghalan honor roll - STAR BYTES by Butch Francisco

About two months ago, I appealed to our readers to please send me any information regarding anything they remember during the old days of Philippine television. I got a wonderful response from J. Anthony Pena of Saint Louis University in Baguio City. Mr. Pena wants to share with us his complete list of the Tawag ng Tanghalan champions from the time of Pepe Pimentel (I’m sure few people know that this game show master was once a Tawag ng Tanghalan winner – the very first) up to the program’s demise in 1972 as a consequence of the declaration of martial law.


So, here’s the list of the Tawag ng Tanghalan champions – courtesy of reader J. Anthony Pena.


It includes the year, the grand champion’s name, his winning song and the area he represents.


1955, Jose Gonzales (a.k.a. Pepe Pimentel), Angelitos Negros, Manila;


1956, Rizal Boy Ortega, Ponciana, Naga;


1957, Larry Martinez, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Davao;


1958, Leon Leon Ibrado,The Night has a Thousand Eyes, Bacolod;


1959, Diomedes Maturan, Rose Tattoo, Manila;


1960, Cenon Lagman, Ikaw Lamang ang Iibigin, Manila;


1961, Rufina Esperancilla, Pandangguhan, Manila;


1962, Conchita Penalosa, If You are But a Dream, Davao;


1963, Boy Leonardo, Tammy, Manila;


1964, Eva Adona, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Manila;


1965, June Pena, Autumn Leaves, Dagupan;


1966-1969 - The Grand National Championship was suspended*


1970, Novo Bono, Jr., If You Go Away, Cebu;


1971, Alice Mendez, (sorry, cannot recall), Cebu;


1972, A lady from Manila (It was actually Marsha de Rivera – Butch Francisco)


image images/ent2b.jpg" border=0 align="right">*The grand national championship was contested yearly from 1955 to 1965 by regional champions from Luzon (Dagupan, Manila and Naga); Visayas (Bacolod, Cebu and Iloilo); and Mindanao (Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato). For unknown reasons, the grand national championships from 1966 to 1969 were not held.


Manila champions held their championships from 1966 to 1969, while regional championships of other regions were stopped. Manila winners included:


1966, Elizabeth Torres, Bewitched


1967, Elizabeth Ledesma, People


1968, Nora Aunor, Moonlight Becomes You


1969, Jonathan Potenciano, (sorry, cannot recall)


Other weekly champions of Manila who made an impact on the local music world include Jose Yap (who won for 19 weeks), Berlin Meneses (who set a record when 23,000 people forced their way to Clover Theater just to hear his rendition of Silent Night which was better than the version of Mahalia Jackson), Ric Manrique, Jr. (Prince of Kundiman with his undying classics – Maruja, Walang Hanggan, Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Sapagka’t Kami ay Tao Lamang), Lover’s Trio, Abe Trio, Armando Ramos and Edgar Mortiz.


1965 Manila representative Ofelia Dayrit (whose winning song was Bali Hai) did not win any of the three coveted prizes (Pena was the most outstanding discovery; Firma del Castillo, Cagayan de Oro, second place; and Enrico Ticar of Iloilo, third place) but her innocent looks and magnetic personality were enough for her to have landed a starring role opposite Fernando Poe, Jr. in Ang Salarin.


Reunions of Tawag ng Tanghalan champions were held in 1970 when the grand national championship was held after it was suspended from 1966 to 1969. Asia’s Queen of Song, Pilita Corrales, tried her best to reunite the grand national champions, but came out with the Manila champions only.

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