Monday, March 24, 2008

DOWN MEMORY LANE 1: THE MAGIC OF CARMEN ROSALES

What was the magic of Carmen Rosales?

I have always asked this question. You see, I have never seen her in person, and when I was old enough to watch movies, she was no longer around. From time to time, magazines and tabloids would feature her photos, but no studio or television network has ever bothered to show us, the younger generation, her films.

That's exactly why Carmen Resales became a mystery to me.
The more the older Filipinos raved about her, the more she became mysterious to me.

What I knew about her was rather sketchy. Older Filipinos say that she danced, she sang and she acted. Well, there were so many actresses who did all these, how come nobody talks about them the way people talk about Carmen Rosales?

I remember my mother telling me about her best friends ASUCENA VERA who became the wife of Sampaguita Pictures producer Jose R. Perez, and ELSA ORIA who was to be dubbed later on as The Singing Sweetheart of Philippine Movies (they met on December 8, 1930, during La Concordia's Immaculate Concepcion Day celebration. My mom, who was then Filomena Armengol, a French-Spanish young woman, was an intern at the Colegio de la Concordia. Elsa was an intern at Colegio de Santa Rosa, and Azucena was an intern at Santa Scholastica - they became friends for life). My mother told me that Elsa later on became one of the most popular actresses and singers in the Philippine movie industry.

Too bad, my mom was not a follower of Tagalog movies. So there's no way for her to tell me exactly how Carmen Rosales fared compared to Elsa Oria.

So, the mystery became more perplexing to me.

What was so special about Carmen Rosales to warrant such following, such love, such adoration?

Well, I searched the web for old black and white Tagalog movies on video, particularly the ones starring Carmen Rosales. I thought it was absolutely a long shot, but what the heck, I might just get lucky and find one. Kabayan Central has a copy.

ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG. Starring Carmen Rosales and Rogelio de la Rosa, plus the young Luis Gonzales.

I became excited. I was about to demystify the mystery of Carmen Rosales.

ANG TANGI KONG PAGIBIG is based on Dr. Fausto J. Galauran's serialized novel in Bulaklak and Alimyon Magazines. It's a pity that the story and screenplay of this very popular film are not well written. The scriptwriter wrote his screenplay exactly the same way the serialized novel was constructed. Result: ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG becomes an episodic love story that fluctuates like a spygmomanometer in action. Up and down, down and up, and up and down. One cliffhanger comes up, then it is resolved in no time, just for another cliffhanger to begin, only to be resolved just before the plot point begins to whet your appetite.

Surprisingly, Mar S. Torres' direction is quite creative. Even though the script is so limiting, he manages to expound this rigmarole of a screeplay, effectively. It's also fascinating to see the old Manila, just before immigrants from other countries went to live there. Back then, it looked so friendly, spacious and extremely clean. The last description is in bold type, for I think it would take a miracle before Manila could possess once again such clean surroundings. Seeing Rogelio de la Rosa and young Luis Gonzales walking in the streets of Manila made me wistful.

Wistful and not wishful, because I knew that deep inside me no one will see a spic and span Manila ever again.

Carmen Resales' performance made ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG a classic. In this movie, she sang, she danced and she acted.

The Stanislavsky Method emphasizes the use of the voice and body as the tools of an actor. Carmen Resales used both tools quite competently. He eyes "lead," so to speak in Method Acting.

I have met many Philippine actresses during the late 70s and early 80s who were much more beautiful than Carmen Rosales (and I dare say Imelda Ilanan is one of the most beautiful actresses I've ever seen in my life), but not one of them has matched the expression of Carmen Rosales' eyes. Lolita Rodriguez came this close, but not quite. Carmen Rosales didn't have to say anything to express an emotion. A stare, or a glance, or a wink, was enough for us to understand what she was trying to convey. She was most effective when a scene was quiet. There was one particular scene in ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG where she was wearing a surgical mask. It was an unforgettable close up, for by just using her eyes she was able to emote a color swatch of emotions. All the loneliness, the pain, the confusion, the happiness and anger of the character she was portraying came to life.

Mar S. Torres sure knew how to explore an actress' capabilities. I wish we had more movie directors like him. He was as intuitive and creative as Hollywood's Willy Wyler.

At last, I have unravelled the mystery of Carmen Rosales. I maybe thirty or forty years late to have discovered her, but it is worth it. I know that from now on, I will be raving about her too, just like the way the older generation did then and are still doing now.

What was the magic of Carmen Rosales?

The answer is simple: she was such a consummated actress, a singer, a dancer, but most of all, she was a master of improvisation and mime, a rara avis in the Philippine movie industry.

ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG is available (unfortunately) on VHS only, from Kabayan Central.

20 Comments:

Blogger Robby Villabona said...

As a kid I always wondered what the big deal was with Carmen Rosales. She looked older and wasn't as stunningly beautiful as her contemporary leading actresses. When I grew older and saw one of her films I realized why she was a star.

ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG was one of the songs we requested the choir to sing on our wedding (along with other choice kundiman). I'll post it somewhere when I finally get the video (I don't know why it takes 5 months here).

March 25, 2008 at 5:26 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Now that's different, Rob.
It must have sounded really romantic during the wedding. I hope you didn't miss Juan Silos' compositions like HATINGGABI, MADALING ARAW and others. I have an old LP of Silos and I don't get tired listening to it. Too bad I wasn't invited to the wedding and that sucked big time. :(

March 25, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Robby Villabona said...

Hindi yata namin nasali yung mga kantang sinabi mo... but yes it was great. And the guests said the cultural dances was also unique. But we don't remember many of the songs that were sung (it's true that the ceremony is just a blur to the marrying couple). But we do remember one because it made the bride cry: MAALAALA MO KAYA.

If I'd known you'd actually come to the Philippines and show up I would have invited you :)

March 27, 2008 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger neto said...

12 ANG MOVIES NI CARMEN NA NAKASURVIVE SA SAMPAGUITA ..AT 1 SA LVN AT DI PA ITOY INCOMPLETE.


GUSTO KO ANG ACTING NIYA SA ..MATANDANG DALAGA,1955,KUNG SAAN SIYA'Y BINABATUKAN AT PINAPALO,LANA TURNER DID THIS KIND OF SCENE SA MGA MOVIES NIYA..SHE PLAY A MEAN SPIRITED CHARACTER SA MN,1955 AT DIFFERENT NAMAN DON SA MAALALA MO KAYA AT ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG.

ITO YONG 6 NA MERON AKONG MOVIES NIYA,MN..MATANDANG DALAGA,MAALAALA MO KAYA,ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG,LYDIA ATIYONG-IYO.

INNORDER KO PA ANG ILANG MOVIES NIYA LIKE:ESTELLA MONDRAGON,7 PAGSISISI,VICKY,3 MAGDALENA,,DOLLY SISTERS.

June 26, 2008 at 4:37 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi Neto:

Saan ka ba umo-order ng Carmen Rosales starrer films? Isa lang ang nakita kong gawa sa DVD. Though it is frustrating that Kabayan Central is only releasing old B&W movies on VHS. And these days, who has VHS? The Blu-Ray age is here, yet they're still releasing their movies via VHS.

Are you from Sanfo? Isn't it ironic that some great Tagalog films are not seen by the younger generation pinoys because they're not available in RP, yet we see several of them make the rounds of filmfests and critics' circles.

Thanks for the tip on old Carmen Rosales films.

June 26, 2008 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger paul h roquia said...

carmen to me is such a legend. said to be the very 1st superstar of local showbiz, she stands as a monument of fine acting and grace. it is sad that i learned during her last years, she lived in a silong somewhere in manila and was toothless. but even so, she was such a happy soul, laughing at her memories...

thanks to cinema1 & pinoy box office (viva) for featuring her films every now & then ...

July 2, 2008 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 3, 2008 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Carmen Rosales? Lived in an entresuelo?Are you sure of this, Paul?What I gathered from Mother Lily in the 70s, was: Carmen Rosales had nice residence in San Juan, Rizal (now Metro Manila). Patria Plata, also an actress, told me once while we were taping an episode of PEPING (ANG MUNTING ANGHEL), that Carmen Rosales was still driving her car when she was in her early 70s. But, the thing that really stuck in my head was when Miss Plata told me that it was hard to recognize Miss Rosales that time because she became extremely overweight.By the way, where did you hear this other story?

July 3, 2008 at 6:25 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

She was featured in Expressweek mag in the late 70s. I kept that photo of hers. Maganda pa rin siya.

Maalaala Mo Kaya and Ang Tangi Kong Pag-ibig are available in DVD format from CineFilipino.

Thanks for featuring Ms. Rosales.

July 16, 2008 at 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to coolcanadian..

wag kang bumili sa kabayan central..mahal don...bumili ka sa sampaguita pictures mismo..it cost 15 dollars...14 na movies niya ang nakasurvive sa sampaguita pics..ask for ate nena..ako nga agpapabili lang ako kay eleonor then pupunta siya sa sampaguita pics studio...6 na movies ni carmen meron ako,,,at bibili pa ako ng 8 movies niya..

magkaiba ang acting nila ni lolita rodriguez..di puedeng icompare...bigger difference..

vhs format ang mga movies ng sampaguita at lvn pictures bat maari itong itransfer sa dvd...kaya ako bumibili din ako ng mga vhs player dito sa america para lang mapanood itong mga lumang movies...

recommend ko sa yo...matandang dalaga,1954...i watch it over and over again

remraf911@yahoo.com

October 22, 2009 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Thank you for the tip, remraf.
I certainly will ask my friend to do what you did.

I haven't heard of Matandang Dalaga and I'll make sure I get a copy of it.

October 22, 2009 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger neto/malikot said...

the coolcanadian..

you will watch thaqt movie over and over again...matandang dalaga...isa lamang sa lvn ang meron siya 1949 camilia bat ito ay 10 minutes lamang..mga 13 or 14 movies ni carmen ang meron sa sampaguita...umorder nga ako baka next month may copy na ako

October 29, 2009 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi Neto. Nag-order na rin ako. Marami pala akong hindi pa nakitang mga films niya, lalo na yung mga late 40s and mid 50s.

Again, thanks for the tip.
:)

October 29, 2009 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger neto/malikot said...

to cool canadian

im glad to hear from you...crush ko siya nong high skul ako...di nga lang lahat nakasurvivve na movies niya sayang...bat di ako nagsasawa na manood ng mga movies niya..perfect timing,cue..everything.

November 4, 2009 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger neto/malikot said...

mag-uupload ako ng mga movies ni carmen rosales..sa youtube...pilipinomovies

November 6, 2009 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Neto/malikot:

That's FANTASTIC.
Kung meron ka noong ANG TANGI KONG PAG-IBIG, na kung saan naka surgical mask si Carmen at kita mo ang lahat ng emotion by just looking at her eyes?

Isa iyon sa mga very powerful performances niya. Great idea, my friend.

November 7, 2009 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger neto/malikot said...

may copy ako ng ang tangi kong pag-ibig...upload ko din yan


iyong-iyo with rogelio dela rosa...new upload ko sa you tube

November 10, 2009 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

neto/malikot:

Keep the memory alive. Thanks.

November 10, 2009 at 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI... neto/malikot and remraf911 are just one person. Just be careful...

October 16, 2011 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger Edgar Ebro 09482197306 said...

3 ang napanood kong movie ni carmen Rosales noong dekada 70s ita ay iyong Sipag ay yaman with Jose Padilla, Kampanang Ginto with Jaime dela Rosa, Camelia with Rogelio dela Rosa

April 12, 2016 at 5:21 AM  

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