Carmen Rosales book & films define the Filipino

LIVE FEED - Bibsy M. Carballo - The Philippine Star

Although there will be those among us who remain faithful to their movie idols, there will be none as devoted as Manny Fernandez, a fan of Carmen Rosales for the past six decades. From the time he started watching her films, writing about her in various publications, finally meeting her at the Sampaguita Pictures canteen in 1958, to the time of her death and burial, he has remained loyal to her memory.

Manny, who has been living abroad with his wife Aida for many years, flew in last March 1 to grace the launch of a book he wrote titled A Tribute to the Movie Queen Carmen Rosales. Publisher is Danny Dolor, editor is Ronald K. Constantino, book design and image restoration by Mel Bacani III, and photo editing, book design and pictorial research by Cesar Hernando. 

In introducing Manny to a full house at the Silangan venue of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the book’s publisher, art patron and businessman Danny noted Manny’s extraordinary devotion to his idol. “He worships Carmen Rosales, recites all the titles of her movies from memory, even knows how much her films made at the box-office,” Danny informed the incredulous crowd. When we ask Manny how he feels now that his book is out, he lets out a sigh, saying it is the realization of a dream.

With its easy reading and preponderance of photographs that cover Carmen’s life as a singer and artista, non-fans may feel a surfeit of information from songs, awards, films, love life, to her make-up technique or taste in clothes. Nevertheless, one cannot erase the fact that this book, lovingly put together in appreciation of her unique character, also offers unmitigated research material of the period from the ’30s to the early ’60s when Mameng was active.

Organized by chapters, students can easily pick out the topic of their interest. Will it be how she loved the camera and how it loved her back in “Romance with the Camera”? Or lessons on how to detect fakery in diamonds in “Diamonds are Forever”, since Carmen never wore fakes? Or perhaps “Queen of Gays” as she was the earliest fag hag to condemn those who bully and make fun of gays?

One personal favorite is chapter “Destiny” (page 10), which makes mention of when her first husband Ramon Navales was killed by the Japanese in WWII, and sharpshooter Mameng, joined the guerilla movement, choosing Pangasinan as hideout, and wearing a moustache as a disguise. For her heroism, a barrio was named Carmen, in the town of Rosales, Pangasinan. In chapter “Broken Heart” (page 43), Carmen couldn’t put up with women flirting with an early love of her life Carding Cruz, she took a leave in 1956 to go to the US, promising to return and honor her commitments. She was away for two years and Sino ang May Sala, Veronica and Sonata all earmarked for her at Sampaguita went to Paraluman.

But what to us was the most interesting chapter dealt with her propinquity for “Scene Stealing” (pages 73 and 74) and spotting scene stealers. These experiences involved Gina Pareño, Rita Gomez, Alicia Vergel, Paraluman and choreographer Rally Calvo. 

Every book written, every film produced for that matter, will always survive as a living testament to history. After reading Manny’s book and watching Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig (Sampaguita, 1955) that followed the launch ceremonies, we find that they both help define the Filipino of today.

A blockbuster film of the Carmen Rosales/Rogelio de la Rosa love team, Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig opened with Carmen singing as main attraction of the Niteclub and rumored mistress of its owner Bert Olivar. Tired of the situation, she ups and leaves for the province to settle with her grandfather sarsuelista Horatio Morelos.

Away from Manila, Carmen’s life is happy and uncomplicated until she is bitten by a neighbor’s dog of the rich and handsome neighbor Rogelio who offers to accompany her to the nuns nearby who operate a clinic. After 25 anti-rabies vaccinations, the couple fall in love and prepare for their wedding.

Meantime at the Niteclub, business is bad with customers asking for Mameng’s return. After numerous attempts, owner Bert traces her whereabouts, disrupts the wedding and engaging Rogelio in a fight that ends with Rogelio in critical danger of blindness and Bert dead after rolling off a cliff. After months in a city hospital, Rogelio is cured and goes to the nuns who tell him that Carmen had disappeared immediately after incident. We find her in the robe of a novice weeping until the Mother Superior tells her to follow her heart. The lovers are reunited and the film ends. 

(E-mail your comments to [email protected]. To purchase the Carmen Rosales book, contact DLD Publishing, Skyland Plaza, Gil Puyat, Makati, with tel. no. 844-5115 and fax no. 844-6187.)

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