Philippine Cinema has a lot to thank Kapampangans for. Some of the greatest and most successful movie directors were fully or partly Kapampangan, from Gregorio Fernandez (of Lubao) and the legendary Manuel Conde (Kapampangan mother) to Elwood Perez (of Mabalacat), Mike de Leon (mother was a Pamintuan from Angeles), and of course, Brillante Mendoza (of San Fernando) and Jason Paul Laxamana (of Angeles).
Kapampangans were among the industry’s biggest movie producers: Espiridion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang (from Macabebe) and Narcisa de Leon of LVN (San Miguel de Mayumu).
There are three names that should be mentioned here for their role in the rise of independent (indie) films in the Philippines: producer Ferdinand Lapuz (of Angeles) who has produced dozens of award-winning indie films and, more importantly, paved the way for the participation of Filipino films in international film festivals in unprecedented number and frequency; film critic Alexis Tioseco (also of Angeles), whose faith in Filipino cinema inspired filmmakers like Lav Diaz to rise to global standards; and film scholar Joel David (of Magalang), the first Filipino to graduate with a film degree, whose reviews and published works are considered pioneering studies in cinema and who played an important role in the formation of the UP Film Institute.
Aside from Vilma Santos (whose Kapampangan father had an aunt, Maria Santos of Patling, Capas who became the second wife of Modesto Paras, former juez de paz of Angeles), Kapampangan movie queens include the original Darna, Rosa del Rosario (mother from Bacolor), Lota Delgado (of Angeles), Rosita Noble (of Floridablanca), Rosa Rosal (mother Gloria Lansang was from Sta. Rita), Liza Lorena (of Magalang), Hilda Koronel (of Angeles), Alma Moreno (of Macabebe), Lorna Tolentino and Kris Aquino (both from Concepcion), Sharon Cuneta (whose mother Elaine and aunt Helen Gamboa are from Sta. Ana town), and Judy Ann Santos (of San Fernando). Lea Salonga, who won both the Tony Award and the Lawrence Olivier Awards for best actress, studied in Angeles and her father was from Porac.
The two Kings of Philippine Movies, Rogelio de la Rosa and Fernando Poe, Jr. came from Pampanga; Rogelio was born and bred in Lubao and FPJ had a Kapampangan grandmother (mother’s side--Gatbonton) from Candaba who married a Lubao resident (Irish-American Edmund Kelley). (To be continued)