A Street Named Calle Cuco-A A +A
By Max Sangil
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
“I HAVE often walked down this street before; but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before. All at once am I several stories high. Knowing I'm on the street where you live.”
I was a freshman at the College of Philosophy and Letters at the University of Sto. Tomas when, with a nursing student, I heard Rex Harrison belting out that song in a Rodger and Hammerstein movie we watched at the Galaxy theater along Avenida Avenue. From then on, l never forgot those lines.
Another street one should visit is a road in San Nicolas, Lubao. It is called by locals as Calle Cuco. This is the street where Ex-President Diosdado Macapagal, brother Angel and sister Lourdes were born. In the early years in this Calle Cuco, famous movie director Gregorio Fernandez, father of Merle and Rudy Fernandez, lived. It is in this neighborhood where the Arrastia family, whose descendants include Mercy Tuazon and Letty Arrastia, wife of LVN star Mario Montenegro also lived. The family of socialite Isabel Preysler, former wife of Spanish balladeer Julio Iglesias once had their ancestral home in that calle.
The late Governor Jose B. Lingad, who was Customs commissioner and Labor secretary in the 60s, was born in this street; this was where he grew up. But one of the most popular personalities born in Calle Cuco was the late Rogelio de la Rosa, and younger brother and fellow movie actor Jaime.
By the way, you know why they call the street Calle Cuco? It is because many of the people who lived there suffered from respiratory and pulmonary diseases. When one died, it was mostly traced to tuberculosis. Purita de la Rosa, the first wife of former President Macapagal, and mother of ex-Vice Governor Cielo M. Salgado and successful businessman Arthur Macapagal, died of tuberculosis. There was no found cure yet for the disease during those years. Penicillin came much later.
Purita was the sister of Rogelio de la Rosa, the matinee idol of the 20th century. The de la Rosas were of Spanish and Chinese ancestry. When there were no movies yet in the country, the zarzuelas were the main form of entertainment. Rogelio, whose real name was Regidor, appeared as contravida to Diosdado Macapagal, who played as the hero on the many plays written and directed by the latter's father, Urbano. Gregorio Fernandez either played roles or directed the plays, which were shown in several towns, mostly during fiestas.
Regidor was renamed Rogelio when he first appeared in “Ligaw na Bulaklak” produced by Jose Nepomuceno, considered father of Philippine movies. He was only 17 years old at that time. He appeared in more than 100 movies and nobody unseated him as the king of Philippine films until Fernando Poe Jr. claimed the title.
It is no coincidence that both 'kings' ran unsuccessfully in a presidential race. Rogelio de la Rosa was elected senator in 1957. And according to the many stories, as told to me by my friend Manuel Almario, who was then De la Rosa's public information officer and ghost speech writer, it was at the instance of then President Carlos P. Garcia why the senator from Pampanga declared an intention to run for the presidency.
Brother-in-law Diosdado Macapagal was the rising star in Philippine politics during Garcia's presidency, and the latter feared that he will lose in the forthcoming elections with the former as the Liberal Party standard bearer.
Garcia exploited the rift between Macapagal and De la Rosa. He encouraged the latter to run for president. It was then House of Representative Speaker Jose Yulo who dissuaded De la Rosa not to continue his presidential ambition. It could have altered the political history of this country if De la Rosa insisted on his bid, and Macapagal did not make it as president.
Maybe Gloria Macapagal didn't even make senator and president if her father lost that election. Well... Nakaguhit ang tadhana.
There was outpouring of support from her cabalens when former president and now Congresswoman Gloria M. Arroyo made a trip to her congressional district. Newsmen covering her trip said her supporters “embraced her, held and kissed her hands.”
She is gunning for re-election despite the neck brace.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 31, 2012.