Do you know that during the 50s and 60s, most of the actors and actresses in the Philippines were Mestizos? Most were Spanish Mestizos, but there were also American Mestizos and few non mestizos. I do not know the real reason for this, but what I've learned was, that Sampaguita Pictures and LVN Pictures (two of the biggest Movie Studios of that time) hired mestizo Actors because they look good in film, and when watching them in cinemas they look more like American actors in American films. You have to remember that this was during the 50s and 60s and the Philippines had just gained its independence from United States in July 4, 1946.
Actresses like Gloria Romero, Amalia Fuentes, Susan Roces, Fernando Poe jr., Rogelio de la Rosa and Carmen Rosales were just some of the Mestizo actors of the so called Golden age of Philippine Cinema. The great Pilita Corrales, the Asia's Queen of Songs, also tried acting in the big screen, but music was really her first love. Until now they are considered as Kings and Queens of Philippine Cinema.
Yet during the late 60s, a girl from Bicolandia, a non mestiza succeeded in capturing the hearts of movie goers, she is Nora Aunor (small picture left, from the movie "Himala"), said to be the first "dark skinned" Filipino actress who became a Superstar, "Minsa'y isang Gamogamo", "Himala", "bona" and "Ingrata", were just some of her films.
Today, the trend is still stong, but now you can see more of the non Mestizo actors, which is great. Among the famous Mestizo actors of today are Anne Curtis, Bea Alonzo, Marian Rivera and Jake Cuenca. Here are some more of the great Filipino Actors of the 50s and 60s in video.
The Golden Age of Philippine Films
The 1950s were considered a time of “rebuilding and growth”. But remnants from the preceding decade of the 40s remained in the form of war-induced reality. This is seen is Lamberto Avellana’s Anak Dalita (The Ruins, 1956), the stark tragedy of post-WWII survival set in Intramuros. The decade saw frenetic activity in the film industry which yielded what might be regarded as the first harvest of distinguished films by Filipinos. Two studios before the war, namely Sampaguita Pictures and LVN, reestablished themselves. Bouncing back quickly, they churned out movie after movie to make up for the drought of films caused by the war. Another studio, Premiere Productions, was earning a reputation for “the vigor and the freshness” of some of its films. This was the period of the “Big Four” when the industry operated under the studio system. Each studio (Sampaguita, LVN, Premiere and Lebran) had its own set of stars, technicians and directors, all lined up for a sequence of movie after movie every year therefore maintaining a monopoly of the industry. The system assured moviegoers a variety of fare for a whole year and allowed stars and directors to improve their skills.
Critics now clarify that the 50s may be considered one “Golden Age” for the Filipino film not because film content had improved but because cinematic techniques achieved an artistic breakthrough in that decade. This new consciousness was further developed by local and international awards that were established in that decade.
Awards were first instituted that decade. First, the Manila Times Publishing Co. set up the Maria Clara Awards. In 1952, the FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) Awards were handed out. More so, Filipino films started garnering awards in international film festivals. One such honor was bestowed on Manuel Conde’s immortal movie Genghis Khan (1952) when it was accepted for screening at the Venice Film Festival. Other honors include awards for movies like Gerardo de Leon’s Ifugao (1954) and Lamberto Avellana’s Anak Dalita. This established the Philippines as a major filmmaking center in Asia. These awards also had the effect of finally garnering for Filipino films their share of attention from fellow Filipinos.