By Patricia Matalog and Rhovin Maglaqui
If there’s something that Filipino artists should be proud of, it’s the thriving state of Philippine cinema.
In celebration of the scene’s 100th year, we thought it was high time we look back at the most iconic stars who have made their mark in the Philippine film industry throughout the years.
During the golden years of Philippine movies, Dolphy became a prominent name in the industry. Tagged as the country’s King of Comedy, the actor had a huge career that spanned over seven decades. He was also able to portray different roles, from the father figures, clowns, and even gay roles.
One of the most beautiful faces in the country is none other than Gloria Romero. For over sixty years, she has had different big screen outings, most of which were recognized by award-giving bodies both local and international. Until today, the veteran actress continues to excel at the craft and be a legendary inspiration to young actresses.
The late Nida Blanca became the queen of movies during the 1950s. She also became a household name after starring in a sitcom during the 1970s. Even before her sudden passing, the actress has starred in various films that really made a mark.
Da King, Fernando Poe Jr. really has left all of us a lifelong legacy. He even became the image of heroic deeds and nobility after his famous roles of being the “savior” of people. It has been 15 years since he died, but no one lives up to FPJ’s name until today.
Eddie Garcia might just be one the greatest Filipino actor of all time. Known for playing antagonistic roles, but it was just proof that he was doing his job well. In a career spanning over seven decades, Manoy was part of over 600 projects, portraying a variety of roles including gay, villain, and antihero ones.
Well, who would not forget the Ishmael Bernal-led classic “Himala” starring Nora Aunor? After starring in an amateur singing search “Tawag ng Tanghalan” in 1967, the actress was able to land movie roles that launched her into superstardom, giving her the title as Philippine cinema’s Superstar.
A child actress who eventually became a superstar, Vilma Santos started her career in the 1960s. She is currently regarded as the Star for All Seasons and holds the title as one of the longest-reigning box office queens of Philippine cinema.
Another child star who became popular eventually is Maricel Soriano. Since the beginning of her career, the Diamond Star starred in films of various genres including comedy, fantasy, horror, suspense, action, romance, and drama.
The Megastar Sharon Cuneta started her career as a young singer who appeared in different pop charts in the country. Afterward, she ventured into movies and became a box office hall of famer during the 1990s, proving her excellent acting prowess.
A former matinee idol, Eddie Gutierrez started out as a bit player before landing huge roles in movies. He has starred in hundreds of films since the 1960s, and now remains as the pillar of the local movie industry.
Moving forward to the booming years of the '70s to '90s where more and more successful films have been produced, some of the most iconic actors such as Ronaldo Valdez, Albert Martinez, Christopher De Leon, and Tirso Cruz III shone the brightest in their generation.
Ronaldo, whose fatherly figure is an effective portrayal, has been part of different family-oriented plots up to this day. Meanwhile, Albert starred in films of various genres, and eventually ventured in the world of directing. Christopher and Tirso, on the other hand, were very much effective as villains in movies, particularly in dramatic ones.
If there was Ronaldo, there was also Coney Reyes, whose remains to be the secret ingredient in successful family dramas.
One of the most versatile actresses in the Philippine cinema, Jaclyn Jose made a mark with boundary-pushing roles which paved way for her entry into the international scene. Zsazsa Padilla and Dina Bonnevie were also active in those years, and their roles ranged from drama to romance, and even comedy.
Cherry Pie Picache was also a household name, starring in some of the most popular comedies in the country. Her versatility continues to be a gift.
The Bad Boy of Philippine Cinema, Robin Padilla was known for his action movies, stealing the hearts of women for his gangster roles. His romance movies were also a hit as he had tremendous chemistry with his past leading ladies.
Also during the 1990s -- who would not forget the team up of Aga Muhlach and Lea Salonga? The pairing was an instant hit, even allowing the pair to star in more films together. Although Aga and Lea went on to have successful careers independent of one another, talks of a reunion movie seem to be here to stay.
The well-loved tandem of Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta, better known as CharDawn, made waves as a love team after having starred in a number of projects together.
Kristine Hermosa and Diether Ocampo were also among the top loveteams during those years. The two were young talents of the then newly-established ABS-CBN Talent Center, which is now known as Star Magic.
Another famous pair during those times were Claudine Barretto and Rico Yan. Among their big screen outings were the romantic drama “Dahil Mahal na Mahal Kita” and the romantic comedy “Got 2 Believe,” which was Rico’s last film before his sudden death in 2002.
How about Jolina Magdangal and Marvin Agustin? Their pairing produced a number of movies na kinakiligan during the 1990s. Until today, fans patiently await their upcoming reunion flick.
For rivalries, who would not forget Judy Ann Santos and Gladys Reyes? How we hated the latter for being a maldita and pitied the former for enduring all the pang-aapi. Their early projects were undeniable successes, and it catapulted both to the A-list.
A primera kontrabida, Gretchen Barretto molded herself as one of the country’s finest antagonists. She remains as one of the premiere actresses in the country.
Serena Dalrymple was able to win the hearts of Filipinos for her iconic child roles during the 1990s. She was usually cast as a daughter in a majority of her film projects. Among her biggest projects include “Bata, bata ... Paano ka ginawa?” and the “Ang Tanging Ina” film series.
The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the rise of new stars who became the new faces of Philippine showbiz
Among those who remain popular today is Piolo Pascual. He is the ultimate leading man, with good looks, acting skills to die for, and a versatility younger actors can only dream of achieving.
Also considered as ABS-CBN’s biggest movie stars are John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. Who could forget Popoy and Basha’s legendary “One More Chance” love story? The John Lloyd-Bea love team gave us some of the most iconic movies of the 2000s to 2010s and we love them for it!
Baron Geisler’s excellence in dramatic roles made him a name to remember during that era. He recently made a return to showbiz in the hit television series “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.”
Yet another famous pairing during the early 2000s was that of Angelica Panganiban and Carlo Aquino’s. They reunited in the hit Black Sheep-produced film “Exes Baggage” last year.
Before her rise as Daniela Mondragon, Dimples Romana was known for being a sweetheart in cinema.
Ian Veneracion started out as a child star and remains as one of the hottest actors in the industry. There is nothing Ian cannot do.
We still are mesmerized by Iza Calazado’s goddess-like looks. A multi-faceted and multi-talented actress, she consistently puts out outstanding work and never, ever falls short of excellent.
He’s one of the most handsome faces in the industry today. Jericho Rosales was actually the face of kapogian even before he started landing dramatic roles for both television and movies. Aside from his good looks and acting skills, he could also give you good moves and great tunes.
Jiro Manio is one of the best child actors of his time. He started acting at the age of seven and most of his films remain a hit among the hearts of Filipinos today.
She was among ABS-CBN’s young homegrown teenage stars during the late 90s and is now a famous household name. Jodi Sta. Maria has proved herself as a one of a kind star in taking on exceptional roles. She was even nominated in the International Emmy Awards.
Richard Yap, or Sir Chief as he is fondly called by people, is among this generation's top leading men. He may have entered showbiz just a few years back, but this doesn’t make him any less loved.
Kris Aquino is the country’s Queen of All Media. She is best known for her portrayals in different Star Cinema horror flicks including “Feng Shui” and “Sukob.” She also starred in other projects that were among the country’s top-grossing films. Until today, we are all still patiently awaiting her horror comeback.
He was a part of a legendary showbiz family, but Raymond Bagatsing made a name for himself for being one of the best actors of his time. His most recent outing was in the historical drama flick “Quezon’s Game.”
Our very own Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez have also ventured into the big screen and even made a famous movie appearance with Piolo in “Paano Kita Iibigin.” She also became the voice of some of the most iconic movie soundtracks.
Rica Peralejo was among ABS-CBN’s homegrown talents in the 1990s. She was among the youth icons during her time.
Shaina Magdayao actually started as a child star for some of the biggest movies during the 1990s and early 2000s. She made a seamless transition into more mature roles, becoming one of the best working actresses today.
Enter the prosperous 2000s, where comedy films clicked with audiences. Comedies of Bayani Agbayani, Ai-ai Delas Alas and Eugene Domingo were a huge hit. "Ang Tanging Ina" film series and "Kimmy Dora" trilogy? We will always pick them as stress relievers!
The natural humor of Dominic Ochoa and Pokwang were also loved by the audience, but their versatility can also pass in the dramatic roles they portrayed in movies.
While Luis Manzano and Vhong Navarro are great hosts, their comedic roles in films were also crowd favorites. Add them up in a film, and you're sure in for some instant LMAO treat!
Of course, this generation's comedy wouldn't be complete without the household name of Vice Ganda, who keeps on breaking records every year in his Metro Manila Film Festival entries. The personality of Vice himself could bring joy to anyone, let alone his top-grossing movies.
Drama films of Angel Locsin and Anne Curtis will always be timeless gems. They are queens of their craft. The Megastar's daughter KC Concepcion also had her time under the spotlight after starring in a number of love stories, which showed her natural charm as an actress.
Apart from being this generation's hunks, Zanjoe Marudo, Jake Cuenca, and Derek Ramsay were also great dramatic actors. Being the versatile actors that they are, throw them any role, be it drama, action, or comedy, and they can still slay them all.
Gerald Anderson might just be one of this generation's most in-demand leading men. The same could be said of JC De Vera, Sam Milby, Paulo Avelino, and Matteo Guidicelli.
Actresses loved by everyone? We have Erich Gonzales, Julia Montes, Sarah Geronimo, and Toni Gonzaga. They have the perfect balance of comedy and drama which totally captured the hearts of everyone!
Enchong Dee and JM De Guzman, on the other hand, were the type of leading men who will truly melt your hearts.
He’s probably this generation’s most famous action star. Coco Martin started out by doing daring roles in the indie scene before being given the chance to enter mainstream movies. Nowadays, aside from his portrayal as Cardo Dalisay, he remains known for his humorous lines in romantic comedy films.
She’s the new hot face of primetime, but Maja Salvador remains as the sweetheart in most of her movies. Since the start of her career, Maja has already shown how powerful she really is as an actress.
Coming from a prominent showbiz family, Julia Barretto was able to make her own name in the industry. She started out as a young star before blooming into the lady that she is today. She was also able to portray various roles in movies that show how powerful her skills really are.
Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, who is also known as KathNiel, are one of this generation’s most successful love teams. They started with sweet teenage roles and through the years, have evolved into more mature roles. Their last film “The Hows of Us” broke records all over the world.
LizQuen, Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, is among the most lovable loveteams of today. Their cuteness have definitely captivated a lot of Filipino hearts. They have found success both in television and in the big screen, with their latest outing being this year’s “Alone/Together.”
James Reid and Nadine Lustre's tandem, collectively known as JaDine, soared high from being the cute and innocent team up we've seen from "Para Sa Hopeless Romantic.” They’ve also successfully expanded to businesses outside of their showbiz projects. James now leads the indie label Careless Music Manila.
Talking about mature love teams, Kim Chiu and Xian Lim's team-up, collectively called as KimXi, stunned the local box-office with their hit rom-coms that truly proved their on-and-off screen chemistry.
They may be young, but Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber have already given us a peek into their excellence in the acting craft. Their personalities have caught the hearts of Filipinos. They also are perfect in doing roles in movies, may it be comedy or drama.
One of this generation's most promising actors, Joshua Garcia impressed viewers with his natural yet realistic flavor of acting. And for some of our freshest faces in the movies, Arci Munoz and Pia Wurtzbach were a total revelation with their talent, making them two of the most promising actresses of their generation.
In just a number of films they've starred, there is nothing that Dingdong Dantes and Richard Gutierrez cannot pull off. Their latest film "Fantastica" even proved that they're more than just the looks, given their humor that naturally showed in the movie.
Watch out for more articles celebrating the 100 years of Philippine cinema on starcinema.abs-cbn.com!
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