My Place Under The Sun

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Visayan Film Industry: A Retrospective (Part I)

While waiting for this morning's interview for Kapihan sa PIA which was aired over channel 15 on Skycable cebu, I found an article about the history of the Visayan Film Industry that I'd like to share with you guys:

The Visayan Film Industry: A Retrospective
by J. Vincent Noriega and Valeriano Avila with Kris Relatado and Junius F. Ranillo

During the 1920's when the Germans and Russians dominated the artistic development of the film and its techiniques (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-1919;Nosferatu-1922;Potemkin-1925,) Filipino-Visayan filmmakers such as Max Borromeo, Florentino Borromeo and Celestino Rodriguez collaborated in making El Hijo Disobediente (The Disobedient Son) in 1922. This black and white silent picture could have been one of the earliest noted films from the Southern Philippines. The year 1929 marked the advent of talking pictures, but only in 1938 did the Visayan Film Industry have its first "talkie" entitle Bertoldo Ug Balodoy (Bertoldo and Balodoy) written by Piux Kabahar, which was followed by Mini (Fake), 1940, and Gugmang Talagsaon (Rare Love), 1940 by Virgilio Gonzales. In Cebu, the first movie houses were built by the Avila Clan: Ideal Theater (1911), Cine Auditorium (1922) and Cine Oriente (The old Teatro Junquera).

After the second world war, a resurgence of Visayan films cam about through Lapu-Lapu Pictures, which produced Timbu Mata, 1948, starring Eva de Villa and Lino Ramas and Damgo Ni Adan (Adan's Dream), produced by Rudy Robles. Then came Mactan Films which produced Tahas (Mission), 1950, starring Luz Celeste and Dakay; Mat Ranillo was in this film. Then Balud(Wave), 1950 which starred Luz Celeste and Mat Ranillo. Another independent picture, Sa Kabukiran (In The Fields), 1948, was also produced during this time.

By 1951, Azucena Productions was established by the Arong Familiy (owners of Rene and Liberty Theaters). They produced Princesa Tirana (Princess Tirana), 1951 with Mat Ranillo and Gloria Sevilla (her first feature title role after she was discovered through a declamation contest at the University of the Visayas) as lead players. Their first feature together made such a box office success in the Visayas and Mindanao that other features immediately followed: Leonora, 1951;Pailub Lang (Be Forebearing), 1951; Utlanan (Border), 1952; Handumanan (Memoir), 1953; Inahan (Mother), 1952, starring Mat Ranillo and Caridad Sanchez; Antigan, 1952 with Virgie Postigo and Arise Roa; Carmen 1 and 2 (from the famous radio drama in Cebu), 1953; Paabuta Lang Ako (Wait for Me), 1953; Gloria Kong Anak (Gloria My Child), 1953; and Gihigugma Kong Ikaw (I Love You), 1954; Mat and Gloria then became synonymous to Visayan picutures, and since then were called as the King and Queen of Visayan Movies.

In 1953 a film entitled Sangang Nangabali (Broken Branches), produced by Cebu Stars Production broke box-office records in the mid-1950s. Cebu Stars Productions (owned by the Tojong Family) had earlier produced Dimakaling, 1952 and Mga Anak Intawon (Oh, Poor Children), 1953. Other independent Visayan films produced at this time were: Mapait Ang Balaod, 1953 (Arturo Blanco); Bugas Mais (Corn Rice), 1953 (Arturo Blanco); Kapintas Sa Kinabuhi (Hard Life), 1953, (Cebu Stars Productions with Esterlina and Rebecca Torres); Pit Senor (Hail Senor); and San Tilmo, 1953, (Barba Productions); Ang Siloy, 1953 (with Nora Hermosa and Rebecca Torres); Huni sa Gugma (Where is Love), 1953; Dadansoy, 1953 and Inahan (Mother), 1954.


  • hello. i am one of the grandaughters of the visayan actress paz lirio ojeda and i was just talking to my mom that she was in the visayan movie, damgo ni adan and nangabaling sanga. my uncle and auntie was also a movie extra. thank you for writing about this.

    proud grandaughter,

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:47 PM  

  • Good day to you Mr Benjie Ordonez.
    I was glad to read your blog re visayan films.this should be a pride to all visayan people and film industry.though, i noticed that all informations are not included and written.
    My dad,the late Fernando V. Alfon Sr.was the director of the films you have mentioned in your blog.My sister,Virgie Solis is one of the visayan movie actress and was also been included in the films.She was also been to lead role to some of the films with Gloria Sevilla,and others.
    I was glad to know that someone like you showed an interest to write a topic like this that could somehow awaken the forgotten memory of the visayan films.My sister and I, have shared our considered treasures of our dad to Mowelfund.The foundation somehow don't have enough files and copies to write and show about visayan films.
    Your effort to this is worthy of our thanks.More power to your field.

    Jun Alfon

    By Blogger jun alfon, at 4:23 PM  

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