The country’s film history is colorful and diverse, and so are the people who make up its real-life cast.
On December 6, Danilo H. Santiago and wife Lina (formerly Araneta), organized a special dinner to honor screen luminaries, particularly those who were identified with Premiere Productions, the Santiago family’s film company.
Danilo’s sister, Digna, who produced several films like “Fe, Esperanza, Caridad” (1974), “Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo” (1976) and “Emir” (2010) was put in charge of inviting the guests.
The Santiagos considered the party an “extended family” reunion for the holidays as well.
Danilo invited his high school classmates (batch 1955) from the Ateneo de Manila.
Danilo and Lina met in France, on the set of National Artist Eddie Romero’s “Pitong Gabi sa Paris” (1960). Danilo was part of the crew; Lina was vacationing with friends.
When they traveled to Paris recently, they thought of giving thanks to the various artists who helped make Premiere one of the Big Four studios in the first Golden Age of Philippine cinema (along with LVN, Sampaguita and Lebran).
After all, the couple said, they would not have met were it not for the movies and Romero’s film.
Patron of movie arts
The dinner also paid homage to a patron of the arts who has made the archiving of film memorabilia his personal crusade.
Among the honorees were Premiere artists—filmmaker Romero; Anita Linda, star of National Artist Gerry de Leon’s “Sisa” (1951); Joseph “Erap” Estrada, star of “Barilan sa Pugad Lawin” (1963); the studio’s late contract star Fernando Poe Jr., and Danny Dolor, for his efforts to preserve the rich history of the local film industry.
The guests included Romero’s son Joey; Susan Roces, FPJ’s widow; Mowelfund head Boots Anson-Roa; filmmaker Mel Chionglo; actor Robert Arevalo and wife, Sampaguita star Barbara Perez; LVN star Delia Razon; Marichu Vera Perez-Maceda and Cielito Legazpi.
The dinner allowed guests to reminisce on “the good old days.”
Maceda—daughter of Sampaguita Pictures founders Jose and Nena Vera Perez—and the Santiagos recounted how two Premiere leading men, FPJ and Arevalo, ended up marrying Sampaguita stars, Roces and Perez, respectively.
But there were also true-blue Premiere couples like Zaldy Zshornack and Shirley Gorospe, Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil, and Ronald Remy and Lily Marquez.
The elder Romero was ecstatic to see Legazpi, who starred as an Ifugao maiden in “Day of the Trumpet” and as Leopoldo Salcedo’s lady love in “Huling Mandirigma,” both directed by the National Artist.
Legazpi eventually married then budding director Pablo Santiago. They became the parents of Randy, Rowell and Raymart.
According to Chionglo, “the party was like taking a trip down memory lane.”
He said the anecdotes shared that night were more than enough to fill a volume on Philippine film history.