Filipinos have made it on Broadway, and we’ve won the Miss Universe and Miss International crowns a number of times. The big question is, “Will Pinoys ever win an Oscar?” Let’s pray that it happens sooner than later.
After gracing the German edition of Playboy, gorgeous Tetchie Agbayani tried her luck in the US, appeared in a couple of Hollywood movies, and even shared a scene with Tom Hanks—but, she admitted upon coming home, “There were simply too many rejections!”
In the ’50s, Manila sat up and noticed when Patrick Adiarte appeared as the Crown Prince in Walter Lang’s hit musical, “The King and I,” for which Yul Brynner won an Academy Award. Then, he was featured in Blake Edwards’ “High Time” and Henry Koster’s “Flower Drum Song.” For his part, Leon Lontoc was always cast as a steward or servant in US films, and acted with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in “Operation Petticoat.”
In 1967, Zorro David shared the screen with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in John Huston’s “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” in which Zorro was acclaimed for portraying a flamboyant gay opposite the closeted character played by Marlon Brando!
Unfortunately, Lontoc and David’s careers didn’t amount to much after those assignments. It is said that Leon would close his barber shop and put up a sign, “Out acting,” whenever he would land a role—and his customers could only smile bemusedly at his thespic aspirations.
It may be years before Filipinos land substantial roles that could merit an Oscar citation. Remember that African-Americans had been part of American life for centuries before they began getting nominated.
It began with Hattie McDaniel’s feat in 1939’s “Gone With the Wind”—and it took 24 years before Sydney Poitier followed up on her Oscar triumph with his portrayal in “Lilies of the Field!” Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Hudson eventually followed. Let’s pray that our time is up next!