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100th Birth Anniversary of Gerry de Leon

TODAY, Sept. 12, 2013 is the 100th birthday anniversary of National Artist Gerardo de Leon. He is the father of my good friend Liberty Ilagan, former Sampaguita actress.  In celebration of the event, magkakaroon ng launching of commemorative stamp by Philippine Postal Corporation na gaganapin today at 6 pm sa National Commission for Culture & the Arts building in Intramuros Manila.  Special guests sina Anita Linda, Robert Arevalo, Liberty Ilagan and National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera.

Aka Gerry de Leon, he was born Gerardo Ilagan. He was a medical doctor by profession, but his ultimate love for film has won him over.  Among his early films as an actor is  “Ang Dangal.” He made his directorial debut in 1939’s “Bahay Kubo,” starring Fely Vallejo (who he later married). Nicknamed “Manong,” de Leon holds the sole distinction of being the most awarded film director in the history of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences’ FAMAS Awards, the Philippines’ Oscars. From 1952 to 1971, he was awarded seven FAMAS Awards, three of them he received three years in a row. His 1961 film The “Moises Padilla Story” was selected as the Philippine entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 32nd Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee. All of the films in which he won for Best Director also won for Best Picture at the FAMAS: “Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo” (1952), “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Daigdig” (1958), “Huwag Mo Akong Limutin” (1960), “Noli Me Tangere” (1961, adaptation of the novel  “Noli Me Tangere” ), “El Filibusterismo” (1962), “Daigdig ng mga Api” (1965), “Lilet” (1971).

Gerry de Leon was certainly the Best Director ever.  He influenced Lino Brocka and Ismael Bernal.  Even Lamberto Abellana and Eddie Romero won’t contradict this. He died in July 25, 1981, and was named a National Artist the following year.  Actually he started in the silent movies or walang talkies. He was then a piano player at Cine Moderno in Quiapo, playing musical accompaniment for silent films shown at that time. Black and white lang ang mga pelikulang gawa noon at puro movements lang ng mga artista ang mapapanood. Silent movies served as Gerry de Leon’s very good training because the pictures told the story.  Lalong lumalim ang kahusayan ng kanyang mga ideya. Ginawa rin niya ang pelikulang “Ama’t Anak” as film director. His biggest pre-war hit was “Ang Maestra” starring Rogelio dela Rosa and Rosa del Rosario. Ilan pa rin sa mga ginawa niyang pelikula noon ay ang “Dyesebel,” “Banaue,” “The Brides Of Blood island,” “The Gold Bikini,” “Sawa Sa Lumang Simboryo,” and many more.

In 1951 or 62 years ago, he directed the film “Sisa” na itinanghal siya bilang Best Director sa Maria Clara Awards (unang award giving body noon).  Si Anita Linda naman na siyang “Sisa” ang nagwagi Bilang Best Actress sa nasabing Maria Clara Awards. Let’s salute a great film director, Gerry de Leon!

Chito Alcid

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