School opened recently for some and those who will enter prep or just start high school and especially college are going to have new classmates. I still remember the name of my very first seatmate in prep school. It was Oleron Pascual. We never became friends because when we got to Grade 1 (and the rest of elementary) we were moved to different sections. All I know of him was that they had a small supermarket (or was it just a big grocery store?) called Nora-Mart (maybe it was named after the mother) somewhere in Mandaluyong,
Since I’m quite good at remembering names (but not faces), I still recall the names of most of my classmates in school. But since I lost touch with 98 percent of them (prep till college), I wonder often whatever became of them.
Sometimes I also ask the same kind of question regarding showbiz people of the past — those who didn’t stay long enough for the public to know what happened to them when they quit the field of entertainment.
A few months ago, I was surprised to read an item in Ricky Lo’s Funfare when Elizabeth Bankhead contacted him somewhere from the US Midwest. Ms. Bankhead was one of those cute mestiza teenyboppers in the late ’60s to the early ’70s who always appeared on television. It was heartening to find out after all these years that she is very comfortable (rich — did you say, Ricky?) and seems quite happy away from showbiz.
But I’m curious about what happened to the other stars of her generation — before her and after her? Those who did not continue with their showbiz careers? Below, I’m listing down the names of some stars who graced both big and small screens in the past, but did not stay long enough in the TV and movie profession. Maybe readers of this paper who know the whereabouts of these personalities (or why not the stars themselves?) can provide me with information as to what happened to these celebrities once upon a time. And so here we go — whatever happened to…?
Margie Tanquinctic — She hosted TV shows and acted in sitcoms and once appeared on the calendar of an oil company when we didn’t worry about the price of gas.
Chiqui Somes — She was the Chiqui Hollman of the ’60s (Hollman I know where to find her and she’s doing fine). I remember Chiqui Somes because she was the big sister of my classmate in grade school. My family says she was in the audience at our graduation in prep, but I didn’t know her then. Ms. Somes was the daughter of character actor Jose Vergara.
Eddie Miller — I think he was the screen partner of Elizabeth Bankhead. With a surname like Miller, he obviously is of mestizo stock — but I don’t recall much his face.
Jennifer and Jesette Prospero — Two sexy sisters in the movies and decades later I was told that one of them became the girlfriend of a movie writer who has already passed away.
Nancy Roman — In the movies, she was the good girl in Darna at ang Babaeng Tuod. On TV, she was a mainstay on Alright! Okay! in the old Channel 11.
Rico Roman — He was one of the leading men of Gina Pareño in Paula. Ms. Pareño — oh, can you imagine how to this day she still continues to receive international acclaim? But what became of some of her leading men in her films in Sampaguita Pictures? Whatever happened to Rico Roman?
Mary Ann Murphy — One of the mestiza beauties on TV and in the movies. Until the early ’70s, she was still doing films and one was Panginoon ng mga Kilabot with Romeo Vasquez. I remember her because when I went to Grade 3, my teacher-in-charge (her name was Carmencita de la Rea) looked like her. My teacher was a six-footer and was also very mestiza. Her best friend was a co-faculty member, who stood no taller than five feet, but that’s another story.
Mila Montañez — I only remember the name, but not the face, but she did TV and movies and in one of the films she made — the 1970 Magnificent Convict — she was the leading lady of Bernard Bonnin, father of Charlene Gonzalez.
Sonny Cortez — An American-Igorot mestizo (I hope I got his lineage right), he was paired off with Millie Mercado, half sister of Lani Mercado. Sonny was basically a singer and didn’t he marry once Via Hoffmann, sister of Joey Marquez (I’ll ask Lolit Solis that)?.
Jessica — She started out as a winner in the Miss Nite Owl contest hosted by the late Lito Gorospe. She was sweet-looking and made news by succumbing to the bomba trend of that era. Her reason for doing that? “I can’t be competing with either Nora Aunor or Vilma Santos, so I’ll just do bomba,” she said in an old magazine interview. Too bad for her, bomba movies came to an end soon after when martial law was declared.
Thelma Kennedy — She was one of those foreign imports who couldn’t speak Tagalog, but had a career hosting Darigold Jamboree with the late Johnny Wilson and Bentot. She was also into films.
Georgina Fairy — I think she was Aussie and she appeared mostly in movies (one was Kidnappers with Tony Ferrer and Divina Valencia) and once had a scene where she did a nude scene that showed her full behind — and that was shown on primetime TV.
Linda Martin — She did a lot of movies in the early ’70s, but played mostly supporting parts (one was Revenge of the Pistoleros with the Lapid brothers — Rolly, Rex, Raul and Rey). Apparently, she was good at her roles because she was even nominated at the 1970 FAMAS, but lost to Hilda Koronel in Santiago. She also did the rounds of TV later, but eventually quit the business.
Manny de Leon — He became the leading man of Nora Aunor after Tirso Cruz III. Theirs was also a popular tandem. Decades later, when I finally got to talk to Nora during an interview, she revealed that their working relationship wasn’t really all that pleasant. Manny disappeared from the scene when Nora moved on to become a more serious actress. Whatever happened to Manny de Leon? When last heard from — many, many years ago — it was full of speculations and, sadly, those bits of information about him were unpleasant.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I was watching GMA 7’s Cool Center and in one of their segments, hosts Anjo Yllana and Eugene Domingo were conducting a contest that required the home participants to bring the oldest picture of a celebrity. One of the entries was that of Blanca Gomez and Eugene Domingo misheard this and said Bianca Gomez.
Apparently, she has never heard of Blanca Gomez, who is actually the younger sister of Daisy Romualdez. Ms. Gomez was one of Sampaguita Pictures’ Stars of ‘66, which included among them Gina Pareño, who is still very active in the field of entertainment and is, in fact, still winning international awards for her films.
I had the chance to interview Blanca for this paper in the early ‘90s when she visited Manila (she is based in the US) and stayed with Daisy, who was then still living in Kamias. I thoroughly enjoyed myself during that interview because Blanca was so honest and candid. And she was still pretty.
It’s just too bad that most movie fans of today no longer remember her and this is one reason why I came out with this series on whatever happened to… because I myself am curious as to what happened to this and that celebrity of the past. Maybe some of our readers could fill us in on the whereabouts of the former entertainment personalities I am enumerating below. And so for the concluding part of this series, I want to ask whatever happened to:
Novo Bono Jr. — The 1970 Tawag ng Tanghalan champion — our local version of American Idol back then (but without the voting power of the viewers) — this Cebuano went on to do a couple of films and was paired with Sahlee Quizon (daughter of Dolphy), who I met during the wedding of Vandolph two years ago.
Eva Vivar — She was in the same batch as Esperanza Fabon (who later became a judge). She was very petite, probably not even five feet tall — but with long curly hair that went way below her waist. Fans likened her hair to that of the Virgin of Antipolo, but without necessarily being sacrilegious.
Frankie Navaja Jr. — A child actor from Cebu — our Robert “Buboy” Villar of today — he appeared in both Cebuano (mostly with Gloria Sevilla) and Tagalog films. Years and years back, when Mat Ranillo III was interviewed on TV and was asked about the whereabouts of Frankie Navaja Jr., he said something like: “He couldn’t pursue his movie career after the awkward years kasi nabansot.” Well, that’s the curse of most child stars, who were not given much time to sleep — no thanks to overnight shoots.
Cita Avecilla — As the 1970 Miss Young Philippines, she later did a movie with Dolphy, Rodolfo Valentino. I don’t know if she made any more movies after that, but somehow had the taste of showbiz.
Jean Jasmin — Her real name is Jean Altavaz. She was one of the ABS-CBN promo girls (they came out during station IDs and gave the schedule for the day). In 1970, she joined Mutya ng Pilipinas and placed second to Alice Crisostomo, mother of actress-beauty queen Mutya, who was based abroad for a while, but was back again a couple of years ago.
Polly Penson — She was Mutya ng Pilipinas in 1974 and did Bornebol with Dolphy the same year. Earlier she had a brother who also joined showbiz and his screen name was Juancho Juarez. If I am not mistaken, they are the siblings of Margie Juico, who used to be with the staff of former President Cory Aquino. But Ms. Juico and I had never been personally introduced to each other. So paging Ms. Juico.
Love Admana — She was the leading lady of Dolphy in one of his early ‘70s comedies — the one with Liezl (now Martinez). When Love later joined a beauty contest, she used her real first name: Pag-ibig.
Dolly Favorito — I distinctly remember the name, but have no idea what she did (so help me, please). Maybe she was in the radio show Operetang Putol-putol — in the same batch as Esperanza Fabon.
Efren Montes — A child star who played the youngest son on Padre de Pamilya in the old Channel 9 — with the late Ric Rodrigo, Jimmy Morato and Millie Mercado.
Boy Mondragon — A young singer in the early ‘70s with a very powerful voice.
Boyet Orca — Always mentioned in the same vein as Boy Mondragon when you talk about those old days of very ‘70s entertainment. But come to think of it? Those stars then came in with just raw talent: No acting workshops, used their own voices (no modern technology to aid them during recording) and with face, skin and body untouched by science.
Zernan Manahan — A child actor (quite talented) who quit in his early teens. He was always cast as a bit of a nerd.
Allan Valenzuela — A matinee idol always present in variety programs. He also played stud on screen to a lot of sexy leading ladies.
Trixia Gomez — A very sexy actress in the mid-‘70s, who appeared in trilogies mostly with Alona Alegre.
Manny Luna — He was Lorna Tolentino’s leading man in Dulce Amor Ina and in her other movies in the late ‘70s.
Perla Adea — She was with Vilma Santos on D’ Sensations in the old ABS-CBN. Her partner was Romy Mallari and they eventually got married and had kids. From what I know, she continued with her studies when her children also started schooling. She enrolled at the Trinity College along E. Rodriguez and even took public transportation at times when the car wasn’t available. That was in the early ‘80s. Romy went on acting on TV and in the movies till the mid-‘70s. Now I have no idea where this couple is. Maybe they are lolo and lola to very small grandchildren — and hopefully still very happy together.
butch francisco/philstar online