Monday, September 17, 2018

63. First Filipino Broadway Star: CELY CARRILLO


 Cely Ocampo Carillo (born 18 Feb. 1934/d. 2017) was the daughter of  Dr.Tomas Carlos Carrillo Sr.from Binan, who once served as a medical officer in the U.S. Medical Corps during World War II. Her mother, Carmen Casas Ocampo, was a Spanish language teacher at the University of the Philippines. The school opened doors to the the child musical prodigy who often performed in presentations staged by the U.P. Dramatic Club.

CELY CARRILLO, press picture, 1960.

One of Carrillo’s  earliest performances was playing Gilda at age 13, in the Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto”, where she was hailed and billed as the world’s youngest coloratura soprano. To prove that her success was no fluke, she next appeared in another play directed by Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero—“Give the Kid a Break”(written by Mely Landicho). When the play opened at the Little Theater in Diliman, Cely--who was only in a minor role as the younger sister of the lead character Roberting—earned the highest kudos of the evening.

NEW YORK GIRL. Cely refreshes for a shake and  burger .

Her stage achievements that included starring roles in “Kismet” and “Firefly”, paved the way for the young artist to compete against other budding international talents for a slot at the famed Juilliard School of Music. Her efforts were rewarded with a 6-year scholarship at the school in New York. Moving to the U.S., and quickly immersed herself in getting a complete Western-style theater and performance arts education.


Carrillo, bent on pursuing her Broadway dream,  lingered on and rented a West Avenue apartment in upper Manhattan. With her was brother Tomas Jr., who was starting college at Fordham University, and her unmarried maternal aunt, Miss Ocampo (her mother and 2 sisters Cory and Cecille, were living in Tennessee).

CELY CARRILLO answering an audition call, NY. April 1960

Like all aspiring artists, she went on countless auditions, snagging TV roles on and playing alongside Raymond Massey and Lee Tracy. She was also a featured singer in the ABC-Paramount produced record, “Hi-Fi in an Oriental Garden”, where she sang 3 folk songs: Leron, Leron Sinta, the Pearls of Mindanao, and Bahay Kubo.

"The Pearls of Mindanao" Here:

In 1958, a casting call was sounded out for a new Broadway musical created by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the 1957 novel, The Flower Drum Song, by Chinese-American author C. Y. Lee.


The story is about a rich Chinese refugee,  Wang Chi-yang, who clings to traditional values in San Francisco's Chinatown.  The musical shifted its focus to his son, Wang Ta, who is caught between two clashing East-West cultures, including the practice of arranged marriages. Rodgers and Hammerstein, with stage director Gene Kelly, then scoured the country for Asians or Asian-looking talents to form the mainly Oriental cast.

FLOWER DRUM SONG, Road Tour Program, 1960

Carrillo joined the casting call  for the new musical, and was taken in as part of the ensemble. Also passing the audition was a compatriot, Patrick Adiarte, originally from Manila, best known for appearing as the young Prince Chulalongkorn in the 1956 film version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “The King and I”.


The lead female role, however, was won by the Japanese-American actress and former nightclub singer, Miyoshi Umeki.  Umeki had won a supporting role Oscar for the 1957 film, "Sayonara", headlined by Marlon Brando. Carrillo, later became her understudy, a fortuitous role. She also understudied Pat Suzuki, who was cast as the first Linda Low, Ta's nightclub love interest.


“Flower Drum Song” opened  in New York at the St. James Theatre on 1 Dec. 1958, and was met with enthusiastic reception, generating significant advance sales. There were many sold-out performances and the original cast album which included Carrillo, also did very well too. Some of the memorable songs included: “I Enjoy Being a Girl” (later popularized by Doris Day), “A Hundred Million Miracles” , “Love, Look Away”, “The Other Generation”, and “Chop Suey”.  Come awards season, “Flower Drum Song” received six Tony Award nominations.

THE NEW MEI-LI. Cely takes over Umeki's lead role in 1960.

After over a year of headlining the musical, Umeki left and it was Carrillo who stepped into shoes her in 1960, a milestone in her career. Suddenly, she was thrust in the spotlight as the lead actress in a popular musical, a first for a Filipino. 

CELY CARRILLO featured in a trade card.

Her moment of Broadway fame would be brief, lasting until May 7, 1960 only, as by then, plans were afoot for a film version of the hugely-popular musical. The movie would be released in 1961 topbilled by Miyoshi Umeki, who reprised her stage role, and James Shigeta. Unfortunately, Carrillo was not included in the film adaptation (Adiarte was retained), but when “Flower Drum Song” closed on Broadway after 2 years, she joined a road tour of the musical that opened in Los Angeles in June 1960, and which then played in San Francisco, Dallas, Denver and other key U.S. cities.

CELY WITH ROBERT MITCHUM, in the movie, "Rampage", 1963.

Surprisingly, “Flower Drum Song” would be Carrillo’s  first and last Broadway credit. She would foray into television and films, which by then was burgeoning business. She was seen in The Corruptors (1961, TV series) , rampage (1963, with Robert Mitchum), The Virginian (1964) and Coronet Blue (1967, TV series).

During her stay in New York in the 1960s, Carrillo was squired by a number of suitors. One of them was George Strattan, a classmate at the American Theater Wing who has also appeared in  off-Broadway revues. He would be seen in TV shows such as “The Monkees” and “The Waltons”. But it was to Filipino Antonio M. Onrubia that she would spend her life with.

CELY WITH CYNTHIA. 1977. Pix;, by gottogodisco

A daughter, Cynthia Onrubia (b. 27 Jan, 1962, inherited her artistisc genes. She gained national attention, when, as a 15 year old,  was cast in the musical, “A Chorus Line”–the youngest dancer in the blockbuster production that premiered at the Shubert Theater in 1977.  She stayed with the musical until 1985, and then was seen in other hit musicals---"Cats" ( 1982-83); "Song and Dance", "Jerome Robbins’ Broadway" (Asst. choreographer, 1989-90); "The Goodbye Girl"(Dance Captain, 1992); "Damn Yankees" (1993-95); "Victor/Victoria" (1995-97);  "Dame Edna: The Royal Tour"(1999),  “Cabaret” (2014-15),


“Flower Drum Song” enjoyed a short revival in 2001, using a script rewritten by playwright David Henry Hwang. It opened on October 14, 2001 at the Mark Taper Forum with Filipina Broadway star Lea Salonga  in the title role. The sold-out show had an extended run, which ended in January 13, 2002. 

CELY MEETS LEA.  Opening of Flower Drum Song the Virginia Theater.Pix: Getty Images

Because of its success, “Flower Drum Song” was moved to Broadway on October 17, 2002. At  the opening night at the Virginia Theatre, Cely Carrillo was on hand to meet Lea Salonga—the musical’s newest Mei-Li.  It was a trailblazing role that once was hers, which she played to so many standing ovations, and which made it possible for an Asian—a Filipina, to be exact—to conquer the Great White Way and pave the way for other incredible Filipino talents  to follow.

My thanks to Mr. Rufi Carrillo for Cely Carrillo's personal background.
Aguila, Dan D’umuk, “Cely Carrillo in Broadway”, The Sunday Times Magazine, 10 April 1960 issue, pp. 6-8.
Cely Carrillo & Cynthia Onrubia:
Broadway World:

Monday, September 3, 2018

62. MABINI ART: From Tourist Souvenirs to Mainstream Masterpieces

WALL-TO-WALL ART. Filipinana paintings done in the so-called Mabini School style fill the walls of Serafin Serna's studio
 For over 80 years now, the 2-kilometer street located in once-genteel Ermita has been the nexus of touristy and artistic activities—Mabini Street---which, in its heyday,  teemed with art galleries and shops, making it Manila’s most colorful alley.


Mabini was known in the late 1800s as Calle Nueva, and, like Calle Real (now known as  M.H. del Pilar St.) ran straight and parallel to the bay, starting from Wallace Field in the north and ending at the Pasay boundary. Back then, the Ermita-Malate district was peopled with Manila families from the principalia class, along with many Spanish and Spanish mestizo residents. After the 1860s, Ermita expanded as a suburb, along the main calles of Real and Nueva, which provided Manila with an important link to the Cavite harbors where the galleons landed.

MUSLIM COUPLE, by Crispin V. Lopez (1903-1985). From the Collection of  
Øcsalev Thor, Used with permission.

When the Americans came, they too were drawn to the quiet dignity and exclusivity of the suburb which characterized the uppity residential streets—Calle Nuevo included. Renamed during the American occupation as A. Mabini St. to memorialize the “brains of the Revolution”, the street slowly began its transition as a shopping destination, along with the Escolta and the walled city of Intramuros.


By the 1930s, as the country opened its doors to the world, Manila’s population swelled to include international residents and visitors. Hotels, serviced apartments, posh homes and clubs sprouted along the area.  Joining the Germans, Dutch, Swiss and English traders were the Americans and their families—soldiers, teachers, diplomats, government officials, businessmen, adventure seekers, and tourists—whose fascination with our  exotic islands stimulated a demand for manufactured cultural souvenirs to send back home as gifts and travel mementos.

BARRIO STREET. Gabriel Custodio. 

 Mabini St. and its peripheries became the go-to place for such tourist souvenirs. The Little Home Shop ran by the Metcalfs on 676 A. Mabini was one of the first shops to offer “a treasure trove for the seeker of the unusual”. It carried everything from Moro brassware, embroidered piña and Igorot dresses. Nearby was Philippine Shell-Craft that created stunning remembrances of shell and mother-of-pearl. Also just a walk away, on 620 Mabini, was Manila Art Craft that specialized in reptile leather goods, trays, cards, candy boxes and other novelties.

The war decimated much of Ermita, but when peace settled in the country and rebuilding went underway, the proud district rose from the ashes with a renewed sense of optimism.  With the promise of independence fulfilled in 1946, the new country continued its spree of reconstruction and rehabilitation.

HARVEST TIME, By Serafin Serna.  He trained under Prof. Teodoro Buenaventura before enrolling at
the U.P. Fine Arts. His biggest commission was decorating the Philippine Pavilion at the New York’s
World’s Fair with murals and brass sculptures in 1964. 
Øcsalev Thor Collection, used with permission.

 Mabini St. attracted artists like Paombong-born Miguel Geronimo Galvez Sr., to open his own visual arts shop in 1949. Galvez had honed his painting skills as a sit-in student of Prof. Teodoro Buenaventura at the U.P. college of Fine Arts along Taft Avenue. Simon Saulog, from Imus, also located his studio cum shop along Mabini.

STARTING THEM YOUNG. Art along Mabini St.. 1952.

The early artists that gravitated towards this street painted in the realist tradition—led by such names as Galvez and Saulog, plus Ben Alano, Fermin Sanchez, Cesar Amorsolo,  Jose Bumanlag David, Elias Laxa, Romeo Enriquez and Gabriel Custodio.  Like master Fernando Amorsolo, the conservatives painted idyllic pastoral scenes, landscapes and ruralscapes, nipa huts set against mountain backdrops or rice fields, and other folkloric themes. Abiding by tradition, they painted what they saw-- the more real, the better.

Left: YOUNG RAJAH, by Jose Bumanlag David, 1955. The works of this Pampanga artist was often featured on
the pages of Graphic Magazine in the 1920s. Left: T’BOLI ELDER. By Fortunato Jervoso. Pasay-born Jervoso
learned painting via the International Correspondence School , Philadelphia from 1934-37. Alex Castro Collection.

BATHING BEAUTY, by Victor T. Cabrera. 1956. This U.P. educated artist
trained with Vicente Manansala
and Antonio Dumlao. His works--landscapes,
portraits, historical paintings--were characterized by 
" a silky, finished quality",
evident in this painting.Alex R.Castro Collection.

The  distant Far East from a Western perspective was always imagined as exotic, wild and tropical, an isolated part of the world—with swaying palm trees, bare-breasted island women, mysterious Mohammedans and mountain folks. These conceptions were consistent with the imageries that Mabini artists managed to deftly capture on their canvasses. Tourists, with tastes far different from art connoisseurs, snapped up these artworks, simply as remembrances of their Philippine experience. Not only where these paintings affordable, but the paintings were also portable to hand-carry home.


 “Commercial fine arts”, was a term first used by Fabian de la Rosa to describe  art associated with advertising—billboards, illustrations, magazine covers. It would later come to refer as well to the products of the “Mabini School”, meant to be sold and generate money. Anybody with a fairly good hand could churn out paintings of the same style and hackneyed Filipinana themes. As expected, academically-trained artists and aficionados of high art thumbed their noses at these creations—hastily done, painted in multiples, and cheaply priced.

MARANAO FISHERMEN. By Romeo Enriquez, 1953. A  much sought after portraitist,
established his studio-gallery along Mabini St.
Øcsalev Thor Collection. Used with permission.

No matter, the demand of tourists for commercial fine arts  intensified during this period.  Mabini St. assumed a bohemian air of some sort, as classicists and the rising modernists congregated in the area. The convergence would eventually lead to a clash in 1955, when, in a contest mounted by the Art Association of the Philippines (AAP), the modernists won over the conservatives, prompting a walk-out of some 20 realist painters. They also won the support of non-AAP members who join them in their outdoor shows in front of Manila Hotel, that elicited much attention from the public.
BANCA RIDE,Oscar T. Navarro. 1964. Alex Castro Collection.

Indeed, times were changing in the city’s landscape too. By the end of the 50s, the offbeat color of Mabini—often likened to New Yorks’ Greenwich Village—was starting to pale in its appeal. Alongside residences, quaint souvenir shops and art galleries arose in quick profusion, an amalgam of dress shops, 3rd rate motels, cocktail lounges, sleazy bars and unsightly tenement buildings and barong-barongs. But the artists stayed on, both the good, the bad and the downright phony.

LAPU-LAPU AND BULAKNA, by Rod Pasno. 1960s.

The output was more commercialized—velvet nude paintings that American servicemen favored, copies of famous European paintings (Da Vincis’s Mona Lisa, Last Supper), his ‘n hers ethnic kitsch (Rajah & Rani, Lakan & Lakambini, Moro & Mora, Igorot & Igorota) and Tiki crafts to decorate American dens and bars. Aesthetic rules could also be broken, based on the dictates of the buying customer. Thanks to the promotion of tourism, Mabini art—despite its reputation as cheap souvenir art for the tourist trade—enjoyed a ready, and steady market.

ISLAND GIRL, by Ben Alano, 1952. Alano maintained a studio in Ermita 
for over 20 years. Øcsalev Thor  Collection, used with permission.

True talents—in the persons of Paco Gorospe, Salvador Cabrera (Bencab’s brother), Roger San Miguel, and Leonardo Zablan, would emerge from this 60s decade, representing the second generation of Mabini painters with exceptional skills that were yet to be recognized. Galleries continued to proliferate in the area—Gorospe, Zablan and Lopez had theirs along Mabini—which gained major patronage from hotels, embassies and corporate buildings in need of interior decoration.
SUMMER FIELDS, Isidro Ancheta, 1904.

Pistang Pilipino (later, Sining Pilipino) a one-stop commercial arts and crafts center with 200 stalls, was put up along Mabini in the 80s, and carried many souvenir paintings of Filipino artists, in varying grades of finish and quality.  These artists, many of whom remained nameless,  constituted the third wave of Mabini painters that began painting in the 70s through the 90s.


The political turmoil and the economic instability of the mid 80s dealt a severe blow to Philippine tourism, and Malate-Ermita business felt the impact more than any other district.   Alternative commercial centers like Greenhills and Makati drew more “quality” crowds as opposed to Mabini, which suffered from its ‘red light district’ image.  Regular crackdowns on illicit trades didn’t help in hastening Mabini’s decline. Many art galleries closed, and while Pistang Pilipino remained open until 1995 and then relocated, its business was never the same again.
MANOBO ELDER. By Crispin Agno. 1955. Alex R. Castro Collection.

But just when everyone thought that Mabini art was on its way out,  a new breed of art aficionados began rediscovering them in other parts of the world with the advent of the the internet in the mid-1990s. Filipiniana paintings from the mid-century and older began appearing in online museums as well as international selling sites, gaining a core group of patrons, mostly overseas Filipinos.


 It must be recalled that in the course of 50 or  so years, thousands of these Mabini paintings made their way to other countries, especially the United States, where they either hung in homes or stashed away for keeping, passed on to descendants, to be recovered in estate, garage sales, auctions, and flea markets.  
GRAND OLD LADY. By Miguel Galvez, 1937. Miguel left Paombong to work in the household of
his uncle-artist PrOf. Teodoro Buenaventura, who enrolled him at the U.P. Fine Arts. He was the
first artist to open a studio on Mabini St. in 1949.

International online selling sites like and  regularly offered vintage Philippine paintings as early as the late 80s, posted by sellers who picked such pieces from rummage and yard sales, and sold outright or thru bidding.

From a few dollars, the prices for these Philippine works  have quickly escalated to hundreds, even up to thousands of dollars. A quick check on ebay’s current inventory (as of July 2018), features a 24” x 20” Simon Saulog 1959 painting of a Filipina gathering palay that is priced for sale at $1, 650. Two Crispin V. Lopez portraits are more realistically priced at $299 each.
Add captionLeft: SAN MIGUEL ARCANGEL, A painting copied from Sanzio Raphael. Signed "Rafael Sanzio
por Dumlao". By Antonio Dumlao.1955. Right: ORACION EN EL HUERTO. By Domingo Celis. 1951.
He is one of the first graduates of the UP school of Fine Arts in 1914.

American museums, like the Field Museum of History in Chicago, keep many good examples of this kind of genre paintings. Since 1989,  Geringer Art based in Honolulu, Hawaii has also been studying and marketing fine Southeast Asian paintings, including Filipino works wrought by artist who began their careers in Mabini,

In 1992, a book based on the art collection of Jorge B. Vargas, the former Executive Secretary of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, was written by Prof. Santiago Pilar Albano on the occasion of the Vargas Centennial Celebrations. The book, PAMANA, featured write-ups and photos of paintings of many Mabini luminaries, raising further awareness for Vargas’ vintage paintings which he bequeathed to the University of the Philippines, where they are now housed at the school’s Filipiniana section.

WINNOWING RICE. By San Fernando-born Patricio Salvador of U/P. 1967.

Suddenly, collectors and critics from here and abroad began taking a more serious look at these artworks and the painters that created them, finally acknowledging their significance and their place in the development of Philippine art history.
BALIK-TANAW EXHIBIT in Chicago. Courtesy of Victor Velasco

In June  2013,  Filipino expatriate Victor B. Velasco assembled Filipiniana paintings found in the U.S. in a representational exhibit in Chicago entitled “Balik-Tanaw: Philippine Images Beyond Nostalgia” . The exhibit featured the paintings of Mabini artists and others who worked in the same style like Serafin Serna, C.V. Lopez, Hernando Ocampo, Crispin Agno and Isidro Ancheta.

OLD SPANISH CHURCH. Elias Laxa of Macabebe,Pampanga. 1964.

Art collector Mr. Jack Nasser, founder of Philexcel Business Park and a pioneering investor  in Clark Field, Pampanga,  began amassing Mabini art paintings beginning in the 1960s. When he passed away, his widow, Ariella Nasssr-Moskovitz, organized the Jack Nasser Collection and put the artworks on permanent display at the Philexcel Art Center, inaugurated  in 2016. The paintings on exhibit, many done by Oscar Navarro and Paco Gorospe, is open to the viewing public.

WEDDING GIFTS, by Simon Saulog, 1954. Commissioned by Heacock’s Department Store in Escolta. 
Alex R. Castro Collection.

Perhaps, the most convincing proof that Mabini Art had indeed gained mainstream status as well as respectability  in the art world is the inclusion of paintings in the two premiere auction houses in the Philippines—Salcedo Auctions and the Leon Gallery Auctions. Along with the like of Amorsolo, Bencab and Manansala, examples of Mabini Art are now being offered on regular basis on the prestigious auction houses—and doing very well.


For example Cesar Buevantura’s “Planting Rice” had an ending price of Php 303,680 from a staring bid of Php 120,000. The “Barrio Scene” painting of Romeo Enriquez sold at Php 163.520, more that quadruple its initial Php 40,000 bid. Oscar Navarro’s “Sailboat”, which had a starting price of Ph 16,000, was snapped up for Ph 46, 700. Simon Saulog’s “Nude”, was had a tag price of Php 30,000, and which sold at Php 327,040. Finally, Antonio Dumlao’s painting, “Bountiful” ,  with a starting bid of Php400,000, ended with a realized price of Php 759,200.The prices are still far away from the millions people pay shell out for a Manansala or a Bencab, but selling is brisk and the demand remains strong.

BAHAY KUBO BY THE BANKS, by Felix Gonzales,1955. Gonzales
owned a gallery at the Manila Hotel 
then moved to Mabini. Many of
his children became artists like him.

The popular art form persists and endures today, although slowed down by the vagaries of tourism industry and fads of taste. In some nooks and crannies of Mabini and neighboring M.H. del Pilar, there are still a handful of studios which continue to churn out canvas after canvas of nipa huts, tinikling dancers, grazing carabaos and toiling farmers—objects of beauty that have also become idealized expressions of our culture. In those holes-in-wall may yet arise another Amorsolo, de la Rosa or Manansala, but what is clear is that Mabini Art, once disparaged by local patrons, is finally receiving the appreciation it deserves today.

Mabini’s Arty Street, Sunday Times Magazine,  6 January 1957, pp. 14-15, photos by Ben Santos
Castañeda, Dominador C., Trends and Influences in Fine Arts, PROGRESS 1955. Pp. 26-34
Quingco II, Oliver, Hartung III, Klaus W. Revisiting Mabini Art, Transwing ® Jane Hartung, e.k., 2013
Albano, Santiago Pilar, Pamana: The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection, Committee on Arts and Culture, Vargas Centennial Celebrations, U.P. Vargas Museum, 1992
Balik-Tanaw: Philippine Image Beyond Nostalgia, exhibit catalog 2013
Castaneda, Dominador, Trends and Influences in Fine Arts, Progress 1955. Pp. 27-33
ERMITA Magazine, 1976 issue
The Dynamics of Change in Tourist Arts

Sunday, September 2, 2018


You know them as politicians, dancers, actors, models—excelling in their chosen fields like business, showbiz and government service. But you would be surprised to know that these 10 personalities have a competitive side, that of being accomplished athletes, who, in their time made waves in the local and international sports arena. 
Claim to Fame: Dean of the College of U.P. Liberal Arts, Statesman, Constitutionalist, Civic Leader
Sporting Credentials:
Varsity Swimming Team and Captain of the Water Polo Team, University of Chicago
Dean Conrado F. Benitez (b.Nov. 26, 1889/d.Jan. 4,1971) took up the sports of swimming while growing up in Pagsanjan, learning the fundamentals in the famed rapids of his town. When he studied at the Philippine Normal College, he briefly took up baseball but gave this up when he became a government “pensionado” in 1911.  Sent to the University of Chicago, Benitez rediscovered his love of swimming. One of his good friends in the university was Johnny Weismuller (future Olympic swimming champ and filmdom’s “Tarzan”) who practiced with him at the university pool. He became so good that he qualified for the university’s swimming team, and earning letters in the sport. Simultaneously, Benitez also captained the school’s water polo team. Upon his return to the Philippines in 1913, Benitez organized the swimming team for that year’s Far Eastern Games. He trained mostly Muslim swimmers who went on to beat the Japanese and Chinese teams for the Gold. The Philippine Women’s University,  that school that his wife, Francisca Tirona-Benitez founded, holds the distinction as being the first exclusive girls’ school to have a pool. In 1957. Benitez was honored by the University of Chicago as one of its outstanding alumni, for his meritorious contribution to campus sports.

Claim to Fame: Actor, “Master Showman” of Philippine Showbiz, patriarch of Salvador showbiz clan that includes Lou Salvador Sr., Leroy Salvador, Philip Salvador, Alona Alegre, and Maja Salvador.
Sporting Credentials:
Philippine Basketball Team, Far East Games 1921, 1923, 1925
Meralco Basketball Team, Winner, 1932 National Open  Championship
Before the movies, Lou Salvador was an ace basketball player who once ahot 116 points in a single game. This, he achieved in the 1923 Far East Games in Osaka, Japan where he was part of the Philippine basketball team. He had also represented the country in the 1921 and 1925 edition of the premiere Asiatic games.  A member  of the Jose Rizal College and the Meralco team that won the National Open Championships in 1932, Salvador was a skilled player, who would loop the ball into his own ring from the opposite goal, and was hailed as “the greatest forward the country has ever produced.” Salvador tried his hand in “bodabil” as the character Chipipoy and Ivan Ludor, and made a successful move to movies. He appeared in such classic films as “Genghis Khan”.

Claim to Fame: Pre-war Matinee Idol
Sporting Credentials:
Philippine Boxing Team, 1932 & 1936 Olympics
 Born to a showbiz family, Jose “Pempe” Padilla (b. Jul. 16, 1911/d. Jun. 18, 1978) made his first film in 1931. The next year, the avid pugilist represented the Philippines as a lightweight boxer during the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, but was eliminated in the first round. Upon his return, he resumed acting in films, taking second lead to Don Danon in the immensely successful movie, Dr. Kuba, shown in 1933. He took time off again to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but lost again. Padilla then devoted his time to movie making, often paired with wife Arsenia Francisco, Carmen Rosales and Rosa del Rosario—superstars of their day.

Claim to Fame: Daughters of justice and patriot Jose Abad Santos
Sporting Credentials:
Member, Philippine Women’s Swimming Team, 1934 Far Eastern Games
All the four daughters of Justice Jose Abad Santos with Amada Teopaco were all enrolled at the Philippine Women’s University, where they all became varsity swimmers. Amanda and Luz, however, were at the top of their game. In an open call to determine the delegates to the 1934 Far Eastern Games, the teen sisters joined and successfully passed the qualifying races. Both Amanda and Luz were fielded to compete in the women’s 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke events. In later years, Amanda would wed businessman Antonio Paterno Madrigal. A daughter, Jamby Madrigal, became a Philippine senator.

Claim to Fame:  3-Term Senator of the Philippines (1957, 1963, 1969); Lawyer (3rd place at the Bar Exams), ; Educator, Author of Law Books, ; Vice Chairman of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution.
Sporting Credentials:
Captain, Philippine Basketball Team, 1936 Berlin World Olympics (5th placer)
The brilliant Ateneo sportsman—Ambrosio Bibby Padilla (b. 7 Dec. 1910)/d. ) proved in his lifetime that sports and academics can, indeed, mix.  Graduating from Ateneo with Summa Cum Laude honors, he moved to U.P. for his Law degree, and finished as Salutatorian. On the side, “Paddy”, as he was called, was excelling in sports. His basketball skills earned him a berth in the national basketball team that went to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. As captain and playing coach, Padilla steered the Philippines to a 5th place finish, the best finish ever achieved by the country, losing only once to the United States team. After his sporting days were over, Padilla actively supported the government sports program., serving as President of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF), President Emeritus of the Asean Basketball Confederation (ABC), and Chairman of the National Olympic Committee (NOC).

Claim to Fame: Actor, known for his role “Bernardo Carpio”.
Sporting Credentials:
Bodybuilding, Mr. Luzon 1951
Arlen Quindoy Aguilar (b.1929 d. 18 Jul. 2003) was an avid student of physical culture, an interest cultivated while with the U.S, Fire Service. In 1951, he joined the bodybuilding contest of Mr. Philippines. The well-built  22 year old did well, garnering runner-up Mr. Luzon honors  to eventual winner,  Jesus Ramos (who also became a movie star via the “Og” films). Sampaguita Pictures took a second look at Aguilar, who had previously appeared as an “extra” in  a handful of their films. He was re-christened as Cesar Ramirez, and was launched in the movie, “Bernardo Carpio”, the legendary figure known for his great strength, trapped between the mountains of Montalban. Ramirez was paired off with the voluptuous Alicia Vergel, who would become his wife and give him 2 children: Ace York and Beverly. Ramirez’s star would rise in the next few years, with films that allowed him to show off his muscled physique:  Tres Muskiteros, Palasig, Dumagit, Ukkala,  Madam X, Aliping Maharlika, Ramir, and Lupang Kayumanggi. In 1975, he migrated to the U.S. only to return to the Philippines in 2001. Already afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, Ramirez died of cardiac arrest in 2003.

Claim to Fame:  Media Magnate, Executive Officer of Manila Broadcasting Co., husband of Lisa Macuja
Sporting Background:
Member, 1960 Philippine Olympic Team, Swimming
Medallist, 1958 Asian Games
Son of the the Philippine Patron of Sports, Manolo Elizalde, the younger Elizalde  (b. 17Aug. 1940),  was a Harvard collegiate swimmer in the U.S. when he was chosen as part of the Philippine team , at the 1958 Asian Games. With teammates Rodolfo Agustin, Jacinto Cayco and Dakula Arabani, Elizalde won a Silver medal in the 4 x100 individual medley and a Bronze in the 200 m. butterfly. He reached top form in 1960 when he won the Eastern Collegiate crowns in the U.S.  at the 100 m. (1:02.6 secs). and 200 m. butterfly events and with his Harvard mates won the medley relay against a fast field. He earned an All-American rating in Swimming. Freddie would have been a medal threat  in the 200 m. butterfly race (he was clocking in at 2 mins, 20 secs.) at the 1960 Rome Olympics had it not been for a fractured hand that he suffered that almost kept him off the Philippine Olympic squad. Nevertheless, he managed to race in the 100 m.freestyle event and the 4x100 m. IM.

Claim to Fame: TV Dance Host
Sporting Credentials:
1954 Asian Game Gold Medalist, 3-Time Olympic shooter
On 29 October 1961, the pioneering dance show --“Dancetime with Chito” hit the Philippine airwaves for the first time. Adolfo “Chito” Feliciano and his group danced their way to national fame with their energetic cha-cha, rhumba, samba, ballroom and signature Latin dances. But the nimble dancer was also a world-class athlete. At the University of the Philippines where he was a Fine Arts major, Feliciano tried out for the U.P. six-man shooting team. When the trials were over, he was ranked no. 1 in a field of 80 students. In the next 2 years, he became so adept with the 3-position rifle event. He qualified for the quadrennial Asian Games, held in Manila in 1954. Entered in the small bore rifle, 3-position, Chito won a Gold. In fact, of the 15 Gold medals won by the Philippines, the shooting team garnered 4. Upon his return, he was offered by Channel 7 to do a program—a dance show!! Not everybody knew that Feliciano also loved social dancing, and the TV show, which he hosted until 1964, made him a household name. His last stint was at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. After his sporting and TV days were over, he put his sharpshooting expertise to good use by joining the Philippine Navy as head of the Sniper Training Unit. He died in 1972,during a military exercise.

Claim to Fame:  Movie Actor, playing character and villain roles.
Sporting Credentials:
Professional Basketball Ace
The actor you love to hate was regarded as one of the shotmakers in the varsity league when he was still with the FEU (Far Eastern University) Tamaraws. In his UAAP games, he made an average of 25 points per game. His record was 44 points in 25 minutes of play. Diaz made his professional debut with the Floro Redmanizers at the popular 1962 Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) cage tournament (pre-cursor of the PBA), where he made 17 pints against the YCO team.

Claim to Fame: Presidential Son (Diosdado Macapagal with Purita dela Rosa)
Sporting Credentials
2-Time Olympic Shooter
The presidential son, Arturo dela Rosa Macapagal ( b. 14 Sep. 1942/d. 11 Aug 2015) was an accomplished shooter who competed in 2 summer Olympics. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is his half-sister. He started competitive shooting as a hobby, and became an expert marksman. At the 1972 Olympics in Germany,  Macapagal established a national record for free pistol, a record that stood  for 21 years, the longest in the country's shooting history. For that feat, he was named the All-Around Filipino Sports Awardee by the Philippine Sportwriters Association in 1973 and 1974. He was chosen as the "Most Outstanding Shooter of the Decade" by the Philippine Olympic Committee in 1980. Macapagal also led the Philippine National Shooting Association for many years and also served the Philippine Olympians Association as president.

Conrado Benitez: Ablaza,Elias L., “Saving a Sinking Sport”, The Sunday Times Magazine, 15 Jan. 1967 issue,pp. 38.
Jose Padilla Jr.: Graphic Magazine 1933,
Amanda Abad Santos: Graphic magazine, 1934
Lou Salvador: Garcia, Jessie B., A Movie Album Quiz Book, Erehwon Books and Magazines, Iloilo City. Dec. 2004, pp. 224-225
Cesar Ramirez: “Bernardo Carpio ng Sampaguita”, Literary Song-Movie Magazine, May 1951 issue, pp. 46-47.
Romy Diaz: Variety Magazine, 1962
Chito Feliciano:
Arturo Macapagal: The Sunday Times Magazine, 1972 Olympic issue