bomba queen of the 70s : merle fernandez

UhawMerle Fernandez, daughter of director Gregorio Fernandez and sister of action star Rudy Fernandez, was the original ‘Bomba’ Queen of Philippines Movies. She made her mark in the 1970 movie, Uhaw, which broke all box-office records during its theater run. The movie, considered a classic in sex films genre, started and triggered the spate of bomba films that began in 1970 and ended in September 1972 when then President Marcos announced Proclamation 1081 placing the country under martial law.

I came across this nice narrative in the internet (here’s the link) which best described what was it like in the 1970s during the ‘bomba’ era.

… Then bomba komiks magazines came out, which were illustrated komiks with stories depicting the sexual act and like BTS, also featured cheap reproductions of photographs from Swedish or Danish magazines. But this was so much better than BTS because the pictures were larger. Then when bomba movies came out – it all started with Uhaw (starring Merle Fernandez running naked in Avenida …), the bomba komiks started to feature stills from Filipino bomba movies, and then later on, even had original Filipino porn photographs. I used to have lots of these komiks (bought them in Cubao late at night – that’s when they appeared on the newstands or on makeshift stands on Aurora Boulevard) – which I hid under my mattress. I should have saved them as they are curious cultural items. (Yeah right.)

And so far as bomba movies are concerned, does the term singit ring a bell? How about Rose Theater? Lion Theater? Del Monte (or El Timon?) Well, singits are these short snippets or cut portions of bomba movies which they used to ‘singit’ after the whole movie was shown. Most of the time though, they don’t have any connection with the featured movies – they are short films like western FF’s (fighting fish) – basta – they are sexually explicit films (triple X – or ‘pene’ in today’s parlance). The theaters mentioned are 2nd run theaters in Project 4 (Rose), Marikina (Lion) and Frisco (Del Monte) notorious for showing bomba movies with singit.

The first time I went Rose Theater was with a bunch of 2-22 guys, can’t remember who, but I’m sure Boboy Marasigan and Joel P. were in the group. A spy movie with Fred Galang, Ricky Rodgers and a blonde import was being shown at that time. That movie became notorious – forgot the title now – because it was more explicit than Uhaw or Hayok or even Dayupay (which was shot in UP High library on a Saturday, remember that?). The movie, according to some classmates (I think it was Philip Camins who said this) had a bed scene with Fred Galang and the blonde import. (To state it as politely as possible, he described the scene as Fred Galang’s pepe was seen in and out of the blonde’s pipi.)

And so we all rushed to see it.

We didn’t get in though. There was an usyoso at the takilya who said that we looked so totoy pa and this was a For Adults Only movie, even if we bought balcony tickets. (Note: the trick then was to go in groups and buy balcony, because it was more expensive so they can’t refuse the money involved.) Actually, the takilyera sold us tickets, but there were other younger kids in line whom they didn’t let in and the kids said, bakit kami pinapasok – so the usyuso – he was just hanging out there – took the tickets from us and told us, sorry na lang, we looked so young.

We were so frustrated to say the least. In our disappointment, some of us went to another movie house – that other theater in Project 4 (I forgot the name – Liberty?) that also was showing another bomba movie with Rosanna Ortiz. It was harang though, – to put it crudely, suso lang kita (although there was a short frontal in the other feature). And there was no singit after the movie.

The next week or so though, we tried Rose theater again. As usual, they were showing a double feature, an English and a Tagalog movie. This time, we got in but the only reason we got in was because Stephen Pigram was with us. They were again hesitant to let us in, but the takilyera, ever so hospitable to a foreigner – she thought that Stephen was going to see the English feature (and this what what we reasoned also, yeah right) – let us in.

It was great. The singit I distinctly remember had some buxom mestiza woman being molested by an unano. Or something like that. It was bizarre.

We sort of became regular Rose theater habitues then, until Glenn (Ramirez) who was also in 2-22 introduced us to El Timon (Del Monte Theater) near his house in San Francisco Del Monte. He said that it periodically showed bomba movies and singit. So one Saturday, after shop class (we had shop Saturday mornings then), we went to his place to have lunch first, then to El Timon.

When we arrived at the theater, we were disappointed to see that the movies being shown were not bomba – in fact, one was a Manny de Leon/Tirso Cruz III/Edgar Mortiz starrer (With These Hands I think)! Glenn said that we should go in anyway because they might have singit.

And they had. It was strange to say the least because there were lots of Manny/Pip and Kuya Edgar fans in the theater and they showed a lengthy – about 30 minutes – singit and no one (so far as I know) complained or left the movie house. The most memorable of the singit was a short called Ang Ubas ni Bas (and I don’t want to relate details – it had something to do with grapes obviously) and THE torrid scene from the infamous Yvonne starrer, Climax of Love. Yvonne was 13 or 14 at that time, just freshly plucked from Zamboanga, or where ever province she came from by some producers who promised her the moon, stars and the skies – which were roles in bomba movies of course.

Needless to say, I never went back to Rose Theater after that. It was El Timon every Saturday for me. I think the reason why I never grew (physically) was because I skipped lunch every Saturday so I could use my lunch money for movie money. Oh well.

simon santos/ video48.blogspot

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