Remembering Leopoldo Salcedo

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Made Ordinary People Happy – “…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 had 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…” – The Cool Canadian (READ MORE)

The Great Profile – “…Veteran actor Leopoldo Salcedo, known as “The Great Profile” of Philippine movies, died Thursday morning of heart failure after being bedridden for one year. Death came while he was in his residence in Pasig. He was 86. Born in San Roque, Cavite, on March 12, 1912, he was married five times, the latest to actress Merle Tuazon. He had 14 children. Nicknamed Pol, he waned to become a priest and entered the San Vicente de Paul seminary, but quit after a year. At 17, he joined the bodabil troupe of Borromeo Lou. He made more than 200 movies. His big leading role debut was in Jose Nepomuceno’s “Sawing Palad in 1934. During the Japanese occupation of Manila, he continued to perform at the Avenue Theatre with the Philippine Artists’ League of Lamberto Avellana. Leopoldo’s most memorable role was in the title role of the “Moises Padilla Story” which won for him the Famas Best Actor Award in 1961. In 1976, at 64, he won the Best Supporting Actor trophy for his performance in the classic “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?” In 1989, he received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Film Academy of the Philippines…” – Sol Jose Vanzi (READ MORE)

Most Sought After Actor – “…His popularity prompted the Japanese to cast him in “The Dawn of Freedom,” their first propaganda feature designed to spread the goodwill of the invaders and expose the treachery of the Americans. In the film, Salcedo is betrayed by his American superiors and is shot by them while trying to save the lives of Filipino soldiers. After the war, Leopoldo SAlcedo was the personification of the down-at-heels guerilla who found problems in re-entering the quotidian. In “Lupang Pangako,” he pawns a clutch of medals so that he could order lunch for his ex-guerilla friends and himself. In “Kamagong,” he is a senator’s son and former guerilla who steals from pardoned but unrepentant collaborators to help the downtrodden. His roles are a stirring commentary on the hard realities of post-war reconstruction and the ennui after the euphoria of liberation….

…This led to the social slant found in many of his later films. In “Bisig ng Manggagawa,” he focused on labor problems, in “Tyug (Ang Bayang Api)” and “Batong Buhay (sa Central Luzon),” on the burgeoning peasant revolt, and in Moises Padilla Story,” on political martyrdom exacted by rotten governance. Also, after the war, Salcedo was one of the most sought after of actors and one of the first to go to freelance. His contention was, “If you are a good actor, why would you be afraid to be a freelancer.” He was already receiving a princely sum of three hundred pesos a month from the studios which he thought he could further up but not being tied to a contract. At the height of his popularity, he was shooting as many films at the same time and a number of them were playing simultaneously in Tagalog language moviehouses…” – Augustin Sotto (READ MORE)

Leopoldo Salcedo and Vilma Santos

Burlesk Queen (1977) – The last film of Vilma and Leopoldo. He played the crippled father who is against his dauther working as a burlesque dancer. Writer, Ricardo Lee interviewed director Celso Ad Castillo about the directing Salcedo and Santos: “…Tuloy-tuloy ‘yun…(the hospital scense with Vilma and Leopoldo Salcedo) nag-experiment ako noong una, kumuha ako ng second take, pero di ko na rin tinapos. Perfect na iyong una. Alam mo bang nang gawin namin ang eksenang iyon tatlo kaming umiiyak sa set? Ako, si Vilma, at si Leopoldo? Dalang-dala si Leopoldo sa pagsasalita ni Vilma, lumuha siya kahit patay siya dapat doon. Buti na lang di siya nakuha ng kamera…(Kung Nahirapan ka ba kay Vilma?) …Oo, hindi sa acting dahil mahusay talaga siya kundi sa scheduling. Alam mo kasi it takes time before I can really get into the mood of a picture, mga two weeks, tapos kapag nandiyan na, that’s the stage when I’m ready to give my life to the project. Tapos biglang walang shooting ng two weeks dahil busy siya sa ibang pelikula…” – Ricardo Lee, Manila Magazine, Dec 1- 31, 1977 (READ MORE)

Dugo at pag-ibig sa kapirasong lupa (1975) – Leopoldo played Pablo Ramirez on the last segment while Vilma played a rebel activist hiding in the forest, she died in the end from a gunshot.

Happy Days Are Here Again (1974) – Both Leopoldo and Vilma played a forgettable bit parts to this all-star ensemble casted film.

Vivian Volta (1974) – Leopoldo played support role to the crime buster Vivian Volta played by Vilma.

Biktima (1974) – Leopoldo Salcedo played Attorney Andrade who reintroduced Vilma, a naive provincial to her lost rich family and relatives (most with with dark hidden agenda).

Anak ng Aswang (1973) – Vilma Santos and Leopoldo Salcedo played father and daugther with dark secret, they’re vampires.

Darna and the Giants (1973) – Salcedo played a minor role as a politician (Alkalde) while Vilma Santos, now a box office star played a super hero, Darna.

De colores (1968) – Gil de Leon and Leopoldo Salcedo played major role opposite the still child actress, Vilma Santos.

Leopoldo Salcedo (March 13, 1912 – June 11, 1998) was a two-time FAMAS award-winning Filipino film actor who specialized in portraying dramatic heroes. Dubbed as “The Great Profile” see his famous profile image here, he was said to be among the first kayumanggi or dark-skinned Filipino film stars, in contrast to the lighter-skinned mestizo actors of his generation. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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