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Mitch Valdes recalls burlesque dancing scene

/ 12:22 AM February 12, 2017
From left: Myrna Rosales, Lorli Villanueva, Laurice Guillen, June Keithley, Lolita Rodriguez and Mitch Valdes. Back, from left: Estrella Kuenzler, Chuchi and Metring David. Front, seated: Bembol Roco—Photo courtesy of Radha Cuadrado

From left: Myrna Rosales, Lorli Villanueva, Laurice Guillen, June Keithley, Lolita Rodriguez and Mitch Valdes. Back, from left: Estrella Kuenzler, Chuchi and Metring David. Front, seated: Bembol Roco—Photo courtesy of Radha Cuadrado

Singer-actress Mitch Valdes shared with her friends on Facebook this “blast from the past”—a photo from the 1976 film, “Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules, Huwebes, Biyernes, Sabado, Linggo,” directed by the late National Artist Lino Brocka and written by another master, Orlando Nadres.

The landmark drama-comedy-musical tells the story of seven showgirls, each corresponding to a day in the week—thus, the kilometric title.

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The snapshot was retrieved by singer Radha Cuadrado from the baul (treasure chest) of her grandmother, actress Lolita Rodriguez, who passed away last November.

Lolita, Mitch, June Kiethley, Laurice Guillen and Lorli Villanueva played against type, as bar girls in Olongapo.

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The gambit worked for Mitch, who won best supporting actress in the first Urian Awards, handed out by local critics the following year.

“I was in a tie with Yvonne, who was the hottest bomba star in the 1970s,” Mitch recalled.

The year 1976 was considered by many film buffs as a golden year in Philippine cinema, a creative high for the local movie industry.

Front row, from left: Mitch Valdes, Laurice Guillen, Lorli Villanueva and Bembol Roco. Back row, from left: June Keithley, Chuchi, Metring David, Estrella Kuenzler, Lolita Rodriguez and Myrna Rosales  Photo courtesy of Laurice Guillen

Front row, from left: Mitch Valdes, Laurice Guillen, Lorli Villanueva and Bembol Roco. Back row, from left: June Keithley, Chuchi, Metring David, Estrella Kuenzler, Lolita Rodriguez and Myrna Rosales. Photo courtesy of Laurice Guillen

Mitch recounted: “Our acts were filmed live with a real audience, composed of US Navy men! Three cameras rolled at the same time—which was pretty rare at that time.”

She remembered that the great Lolita was “unnerved” by the prospect of grinding and twerking (before the term was invented) in front of “drunken, hooting sailors.”

“Lolita asked for scotch on the rocks and there was a little tremor in her hands as we waited for our burlesque numbers to begin,” Mitch looked back. “I was just on the verge of passing out from not being able to breathe.”

Bembol Roco was a newcomer at that time, Mitch reminisced, while “June had just given birth to son Diego and had to travel back and forth, from Olongapo to Manila, on our days off.”

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Mitch pointed out that true-blue vaudeville veterans Chuchi and Metring David played the girls’ mamasans. Character actress Estrella Kuenzler also played an aging bar girl-turned-mamasan.

There was also a radio talent, Myrna Rosales, in the cast.

Although known as a comedienne, Mitch started in theater, too. Talk about a multimedia ensemble!

“It’s very unfortunate that there is no copy of this movie anymore,” Mitch noted, with a tinge of nostalgia. “I really hope they find a copy of this ‘lost’ movie. It would be cool to see it again…just for the great memories.”

Calling film conservationists and archivists!

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