Monday, January 11, 2010

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF LEOPOLDO SALCEDO


Leopoldo Salcedo, dubbed as Philippine Movies' "The Great Profile"



“Guys, what are these prewar actors doing here in the studio today?”
Asked one of the production people on the set of one of my TV shows being taped.

“We’ve been seeing all these old actors come alive. I thought they have died already,” said another.

“Aha!” The Floor Director said. “I know why, it ‘s because Joemari Lee is here!”

Everybody blurted out laughing. This became a standard joke among my colleagues in BBC-Channel 2.

Of course, the production people involved in any of the shows I was writing for that time knew all along that when there was a role for an older person in the drama, rest assured that a prewar actor was always my choice.

Everybody knew as well, that prewar actors were the true performers. They seemed not to make mistakes during tapings and were they ever good.

One of these prewar actors was LEOPOLDO SALCEDO.

He was one of our most talented, handsomest actors, and he was someone who looked and act like a true, honest-to-goodness gentleman: always well-dressed, good-mannered, confident, stylish, charming, gregarious, and a very witty conversationalist. A true image of a debonair that I didn’t seem to see anymore in the younger actors of those days.


Leopoldo Salcedo with Nela Alvarez in SIERRA MADRE, BUNDOK NG HIWAGA
Photo from Kabayan Central


In the 1970s, he was still appearing in local movies and I made sure I cast him in my scripts in TV dramas. He was indeed a fantastic actor, he came on time, ready, all the dialogues memorized (just like Rosa Rosal). While the younger actors were all fumbling during the rehearsal before the take, Pol and Rose were patiently trying their best to understand the shortcomings of younger actors (except Gina Alajar, of course, who would also come to the set well-prepared, and whose caliber was A1).

One conversation I had with Pol that really stuck in my mind was when we were outside the studio of Broadcast City one taping day of the show Alindog. While waiting for all the cast to arrive, we both leaned on the railings on the top landing of the stairs leading to the studio, overlooking the vastness of the network compound – the same raillings where the child Romnick Sarmenta would wait before taping starts. The same raillings where, after seeing me arrive, the child would hurry to meet me, and would jump right at me where I would raise him above my head, up and down, three to four times, while he was laughing hysterically.

So, while Pol and I looked out to the vastness of the compound of the biggest network in RP in those days, he suddenly said:

"Joey, I'm celebrating my 66th birthday this weekend. Do you have time to come to my house?"

"Of course, I will find the time, just for you, Pol. I'm sure all your friends in showbiz are coming as well?"

"Oh. God, no. Many of them are gone now. The ones I worked with like Rose (Rosa Rosal) are much younger than I am. It's really sad when you grow old. You wake up one day, realizing that your closest friends are not around anymore because they have passed on. It makes you feel so all alone. In my youth, every time I would celebrate my birthday, it was always a big event. Producers, directors, movie stars, movie scribes, and even my fans would be there. It was wonderful. Life was beautiful. Now, they're all gone. Sometimes, some people I used to know would even ignore me when they see me."

I choked, and it took me a few minutes before I gathered myself together.

"Pol," I said, "you may be old now, some people may ignore you now, but always remember that you are Leopoldo Salcedo who made many ordinary people happy. They went to see your movies and for two hours, at least you've lightened their load. You made them forget their problems at least for a few moments, and they’ve gone home refreshed, inspired, even thankful for being alive – because there was someone like you who made their daily toil bearable, thus lessening their miseries. You are one of the Philippines' finest actors, and your name will never be forgotten for a long, long time. I will admit to you that when I write a character in my script, and I know that it will be you who would play that role, I feel so happy because I know that, that particular role will be in good hands. You are a great actor and thank God for giving you to us."

He said: "Thank you for all the kind words. You are a good kid. And each time I see you, I am reminded of my children. I wish I have been a better father for them."

I turned to look at him. He was looking away at the distance. There was a profound sadness on his face. We both remained quiet. After a long beat, I told him:

“Pol, nobody’s perfect. We are all infallible. There is no such thing as “slam dunk” formula for being a perfect parent. We all have shortcomings. The only thing we can do is to try to do our best. You’re not a bad father. I know you’ve tried your best.”

“I could have tried my very best,” he said. “But my career had always gotten in the way. I seldom saw them because I was always busy. I could have made them my first priority.”

“Sometimes, we are trapped by life. We have to make choices for our loved ones. Some parents are always at home with their children, yet they can’t afford to give them the bare necessities of life. You have chosen what you thought was the best for your loved ones and that was a wonderful thing. Don’t worry about the past. You’ve done okay as a father. “

I extended my hand to give him a handshake.

“Happy 66th birthday in advance.” I said. And we smiled at each other.


Leopoldo Salcedo with Vida Florante in SIERRA MADRE, BUNDOK NG HIWAGA
Photo from Kabayan Central


Suddenly, Charo Santos appeared at the landing of the stairs, greeting both of us. She was replacing Alma Moreno that day because Alma was filming in Baguio City. And we all went inside the studio.

In my mind, I remember the lyrics of one of Shirley Bassey’s songs:

“But love, if you had been behind the curtain when it fell
When all the lights were out, and I was all alone
You would have seen this actress crying.”

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do great actors like Poldo Salcedo memorize their lines at so short a time? Is there a secret memorization technique? Please spill the beans, J.M.

I still remember the MOISES PADILLA story starring Poldo Salcedo. Now that Gerry De Leon film is a must see of any lover and fan of true Filipino cinema.

January 11, 2010 at 6:33 AM  
Anonymous annabellegonzales@yahoo.com said...

Oh, so sad. But looking at Mr. Salcedo's photo here, I agree with you that he's one of the handsomest actors of our local films.

But I can't believe some people can treat our senior citizens without respect. This sort of attitude is hurting, and they even taunt you just because you gave importance to the old actors.

You really know how to respect old people, and I read somewhere that you even took care of your own mother until she passed away. I admire people like you, JM. If someday, my services will be needed to care for my old, sick folks, I will not hesitate to take care of them also.

Thank you for sharing with us a day in the life of Leopoldo Salcedo.

January 11, 2010 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Anonymous:

I think the secret is: understand the story of the script. The veteran Filipino actors such as Leopoldo Salcedo, Rosa Rosal, Fred Montilla, Venchito Galvez, Jose Villafranca, Jose De Villa, Ben Romero, Bella Flores, Tony Santos Sr., Ely Roque, Anita Linda, Metring David, and many more... would request that the script be given to them at least a week before the shoot. This way, they read the whole thing, they understand the characters, they begin to memorize their lines. Thus, when the actual shoot comes, they're well-prepared.

However, I noticed that the younger actors in the 1970s, even if you send to them the script a week earlier, they don't look at it, anyway. They were just too busy having a good time, such as: staying late in night clubs, or gambling in a casino, et al. Once I went along with some of the younger bunch, because this pretty actress (who admitted in an article that she was raped at 13), insisted that I should go and I was insane enough to agree. We ended up nigh club hopping from 9pm till 6am the next day, we did nothing but go from one bar to the next. Six night clubs (discos, bars) all in all.

I promised myself NEVER to go with them again because it was such a waste of time and life.

Anyway, you send the script a week early, they don't read it, then they come to the day of taping late, and once on the set, that's the only time they will begin to memorize their lines.

To be fair, not all younger actors were acting like this. Many were responsible, but the ones who couldn't care less are bigger in number. Naturally, the ones who were serious were invited back to appear in more episodes: Gina Alajar, Jun Soler, Hero and Herbert Bautista, Princess Punzalan, Maila Gumila, Chona and Cecille Castillo, Charmie Benavidez, Charo Santos, Laurice Guillen, Ernie Garcia, Dennis Roldan, Fanny Serrano, Janice de Belen, Ruffy Mendoza, Roel Vergel De Dios, Rosemarie Sonora.

Those who are delinquents I'm not going to name them. But, there was one who was on top of my list. A very beautiful actress who hailed from my hometown (Bulan, Sorsogon), but incredibly nasty, I realized soon enough. The schedule of taping was 8:00 am, she made all cast wait for her because she arrived at 1pm. Once she got there, she asked for the script and that was the only time she read it. After reading it, she complained why her dialogues are long and the blocking too complicated. Everybody was so annoyed by her that I told the director to pack up the shoot, and he did. Her name was black listed by the studio soon after that. BTW that actress married a restaurateur. End of story.

January 11, 2010 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Annabelle:

I'm glad you have compassion for older people. Indeed, some young people just don't give a damn. Maybe they think they'll remain young forever.

It feels good to take care of your old folks. There are nurses or caregivers who can do a better job, but nothing is more special when a son or a daughter is there to shower his/her parents with tender loving care.

January 11, 2010 at 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read that old vaudeville actors like Dolphy, Chiquito, Pugo, patsy, etc. didn't really follow the script but ad-libbed most of the time. Is this also good? To ad-lib frequently even if you've worked your butt as a scriptwriter?

Have you ever worked with Tetchie Agbayani? Carmen Ronda? Carmi Martin? Becca Godinez?

January 12, 2010 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Hi anonymous:

Only Beca Godinez didn't appear in any TV drama. All the others you mentioned did.

This is what is good about drama anthologies, even if you have a mainstay actor, the cast is different every week and in a way, that alone, is a surprise for the viewers. In those days, most film actors are also appearing in TV dramas. There were so many of them, that some of them I can't remember the names anymore, but I do remember their faces. I could name some more actors that maybe you don't remember anymore, like: Raquel Montessa, Susan Gonzales, Olivia O'hara, Ting Jocson, Bobby Roldan, Diana Dean, Michael Vallar, Bong Morales, Winnie Santos, Rod Dasco, plus a lot of Ateneo and La Salle guys we guested in Ulila. There were also those TV commercial models who also appeared in TV. Almost all film actors worked in the the TV shows I was writing for. In fact, many even started their own acting careers in them. In those days, writing for TV was very lucrative. This is the reason why I concentrated more on TV than in films.

January 12, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Anonymous:

Regarding ad-libbing, that usually happens in live shows, like a stage play, for instance. If you're in front of an audience then you suddenly forgot your lines, the best thing to do is to ad-lib. That's why it's good to know the whole story of the play because when you ad lib, it is within the subject of what was being talked about. If your ad lib is way out of the subject, how do you expect your co-actor to pick up the dialogue to lead it again to where it should go?

In taping sessions, an actor would usually ad lib by just changing some words within the dialogues and that's fine. That would also depend on the style the script is written. Some writers write their scripts with a lot of sequences. In a one-hour show, they would create 25 to 30 sequences! That might be easier for the actors for the scenes are very short, but it becomes boring because the writer is saying one thing using 4 sequences to say it.

My scripts are written with very few sequences, usually from 12 to 15 only. However, 1 sequence will say 5 things. I always want it "less is more". It is so, because long sequences that deals with difficult dialogues and blocking, challenges the actors more to give their best. Log scenes are good for emotional build-up, and since a lot of things happening one after another within a sequence, there is less time involved shooting them.

But, by golly, you better study the script before the actual shoot or you'd look stupid in front of everyone.

January 12, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I know that nasty actress you were referring to. She is now retired from showbiz and seems to enjoy the good life.

In singing, what do you do, if you forgot the lyrics? nangyari na ki Frank Sinatra dito iyan, an tanda na kasi ng pumunta rito....

Totoy Boogie

January 12, 2010 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

In forgetting the lyrics of the song while singing, if you don't stop totally, it becomes less obvious. What's so easy about this is: you can hum and the listener might just think that it's part of the singer's interpretation of the song.
:0

January 12, 2010 at 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am sure broadcast city and maybe abs-cbn have old tapes of your old tv shows.

In the states they have started compiling old tv series into complete seasons.

I wonder when they'll start doing that here? The shows you mention as well as most of the stars' names are unfamiliar to me. I would be great if we can view them now. Maybe in youtube? He he. Wishful thinking.

January 13, 2010 at 3:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tsk. Leopoldo Salcedo. Those were the days. Just look at that photograph. Disente. And mind you, even photos of the less known actors and actresses are like that. You had no trouble rooting for them to succeed.

And looking at the old 50s and 60s photographs of Coching, Ravelo, Jesse Santos, Redondo, Alcala, Del Mundo, etc. they (especially the lesser known comics creators) were well groomed, dressed well and looked successful. Back then, people gave a damn about how they appeared in public. As they say: "Me "class" noong araw ke mayaman ke mahirap."

So unlike today's bunch of comics practitioners. Most of them are in dress down Friday mode: Jeans, unkept hair, long sleeved collarless shirt especially when you're a bit obese to hide the gut. What else? Oh yes, bullcap, jeans, knapsack, mountain hiking shoes, slippers, black t-shirt with superhero or rock insignias...dreaming of "world domination"...no wonder many of these people are largely unknown and gripe that they get no respect.

- Jinky Oda

January 13, 2010 at 6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jinky,

I think they dress and act in accordance with the ZIETGIEST. As BOB DYLAN, would put it: CAUSE THE TIMES,THE ARE A-CHANGIN...

But I agree with you, they were well-groomed than and look respectable.

January 13, 2010 at 9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well if today's "zietgiest" means low self-esteem and its natural and cool to look like a bum, there goes the neighborhood.

--Jinky Oda

January 14, 2010 at 3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raquel Montessa, Susan Gonzales, Olivia O'hara, Ting Jocson, Bobby Roldan, Diana Dean, Michael Vallar, Bong Morales, Winnie Santos, Rod Dasco,

-JM, Pamilyar lang ako ke Raquel Montessa. Ganda nyan. Nakapareha niya si Jay Ilagan, right? Madalas na kontrabida roles niya right? Nasan na kaya sya? Yung iba, doesn't ring a bell. Sorry.

Have you ever encountered a model in your day by the name of MICHAEL ALFERS?

January 14, 2010 at 4:02 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Raquel Montessa became the wife of actor Jun Soler, who is the son of 1960s TV actor-producer Virgilio Garcia.

Alfers is a familar name. Sorry, I've guested a lot of the male models and college boys like Earl Palma, Dennis Cuyugan, and another guy whose last name was Elizalde (who became well-known as the boy in Camay soap commercial with Tina Revilla). Sorry for not remembering all their names. If you're writing a school work about the old TV industry, I could no longer supply you with all their names. It was long time ago, and if only the TV networks kept a copy of their old shows, there would have been no problem for the present generation to watch them and do their research. Unfortunately, RP is a country that seems not to care so much about social history, culture, and other things similar. Also, during the 1986 revolution, the public destroyed a lot of things, not only the Malacañang Palace, but also the TV networks. It's such a shame.

January 14, 2010 at 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pero alam mo, ang dating sa akin ni Poldo noong early 70s, parang laos and desperately hanging on trying to put on an air of sophisticated veneer interpreted or misinterpreted by some as "yabang" at "porma" ng "has been". Agree?

Was Poldo Salcedo financially well-off in his sunshine years?

January 20, 2010 at 4:30 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

I never saw this side of him that you mentioned. He was very friendly. Leopoldo owned a mansion, actually, and he also have other properties. He might not have been super rich, but he was not poor either. He continued appearing in the movies after his retiring age because it was something to keep him busy and make income on the side.

January 20, 2010 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. J.M. Ano ba ang silbi ng screenwriter's guild? Para saan ba ito? Meron ba nito sa Pilipinas?

-Edna H.

January 24, 2010 at 1:00 AM  
Blogger TheCoolCanadian said...

Well, Edna H, when I was there in RP in the 70s, yes, we did have a screenwriters' Guild. The guild takes a percentage of the writer's talent fees. The funds are collected to help writers who were old, sick, etc. Its purpose was actually very noble. Also, it was a good way to gather all the screenwriters in one place to know each other. The group promoted camaraderie and unity among writers.

Now, I don't know if it still exists.

January 24, 2010 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger wayne moises said...

Who will play the great profile Cavite-born film actor will be played by Diether Ocampo in his title role soon on Maalala Mo Kaya soon on ABS-CBN network worldwide filming this year of 2013 a forthcoming episode as soon as possible .thanks for the information.from:Wayne

June 29, 2013 at 11:35 PM  

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