Archive for the ‘Philippine history’ Category


Behind the Camera: George Musser and Vicente Bonus

October 4, 2019

Late afternoon yesterday, before going to the opening of the 2019 Spanish Film Festival at Greenbelt 3 to watch the animation film on surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel, I dropped by Archivo1984 at Chino Roces St., with the intention of seeing the exhibit featuring George Musser and set designer Vicente Bonus. The gallery was unfortunately closed. Interestingly, a big framed blown-up photo of Manila Talkatone’s filming of a George Musser film (Size: 79.3″ x 56.7″ on archival photo paper) is displayed opposite the gallery room.

George Musser

Behind the Camera. George Musser and Vicente Bonus. George Musser Productions using Manila Talkatones for Sound Equipment. (Setting: Musser House).

I sat down for a while to look at the old and awesome picture. Just look at the big slate they used at the time!!! At least they were not using Mitchell camera by then which I recall to be very, very bulky. I have experience of using it at the Film and Television Institute of India, aside from 35mm Arriflex cameras.

George Musser_P18

Pasilio 18. The way to Archivo located at the end portion of the pasilio.

The exhibit is part of the Centennial Celebrations of Philippine Cinema.


Production Designer Vicente Bonus in Premiere & People’s Pictures’ Movies_circa 50s and the 60s

September 23, 2019

In Celebration of the Centennial Celebrations of Philippine Cinema, a salute to the works of Vicente Bonus, Production Designer [credited as Set Designer / Art Director during his time], made with and for known and respected master directors Gerardo de Leon, Cirio H. Santiago and Cesar Gallardo, as well as actor-director Efren Reyes, Teodorico Santos and Josefino Cenizal. From films produced by Premiere Productions and People’s Pictures, Inc., two of the most active movie studios in the 50s and the 60s.


From my personal collection of brochures with synopses and credits released by Premiere Productions and People’s Pictures, Inc. given to me as far as I can recall by Mr. Mer Sevilla of Premiere Productions who attended to me when I was doing a research for my Humanities subject in Philippine Cinema under Ms. Virginia Moreno

Archivo pasilio

At 6 p.m, September 25, day after tomorrow, a tribute to Vicente Bonus in form of an exhibition shall be held at ARCHIVO 1984 gallery, Pasilio 18, La Fuerza Compound 1, 2241, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. Lito Bonus, son of Vicente and Teddy Co shall give a short introduction.


Manila Talkatone Studios and the Movie Art of Vicente Bonus at Archivo

September 20, 2019

In commemoration of 100 years of Philippine Cinema, Archivo 1984 Gallery presents:

Archivo2 Manila Talkatone Studios and the Movie Art of Vicente Bonus, featuring never before seen photographs of behind the scenes prewar movie productions of director, George Musser, and production designer, Vicente Bonus. The exhibit opens with back to back film talks with Teddy Co and Lito Bonus (son of Vicente Bonus) on the makings of early film, and Andrew Leavold on Philippine Diasporic Cinema in Hawaii.


The exhibit opens on the 25th September 2019 at 7PM at Archivo 1984, Pasillo 18, 2241 La Fuerza Compound, Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City.


Dimples Cooper, Silent Movie Actress in Philippine Cinema

September 20, 2019

Arcihvo screeningLast September 7, I managed to watch the video clips from some films where Elizabeth “Dimples” Cooper had bit roles. Held at ARCHIVO 1984 Gallery in Chino Roces St., formerly Pasong Tamo, Makati City, the 11-minute or so multi-video show by Fil-Am artist Miljohn Ruperto fascinated me seeing everything de-focused except Cooper. Technically, computer graphics effects must have done the magic! The video only presentation consist of several spliced clips from different prewar movies. I was quite happy to see a 16-mm projector after many years. It quite differs from what we used to have at the UP Film Center.

Cooper 4

Elizabeth “Dimples” Cooper

Dimples Cooper or Isabel Rosario Cooper, was the silent movie star who did Asia’s first onscreen kiss with Luis Tuason in “Tatlong Hambug,” a film directed by Jose Nepomuceno in 1926. She was Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s mistress for 15 years until she was dumped and had to do bit roles in some Hollywood films. (Below is an interesting collection of photos featuring MacArthur and Dimples, courtesy of youtube)

I thank Teddy Co for the invitation as I would have missed the show if the info was not passed on to me. Before leaving I met Lito Bonus, who surprisingly remembered me as Tikoy Aguiluz’s Boatman editor. He was part of the production crew, I believe.

W LBonus2

With Lito Bonus

On September 25 next week, the Movie Art of Vicente Bonus (set designer, art director, production designer), Lito’s father will be exhibited. The series of exhibition is part of the Centennial Celebrations of Philippine Cinema.



Film on APO MABINI Showing July 28 at the Open Air Auditorium, Rizal Park

July 27, 2019

From July 17-23, the annual celebration of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week is held in the Philippines as a tribute to Apolinario Mabini, one of our national heroes. He was paralyzed at the height of his career as a lawyer. Despite that, he became the Chief Adviser of the first Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo. Mabini was our first Prime Minister, and the first Minister of Foreign Affairs. As part of the post-celebration of the NDPR Week, the National Parks Development Committee shall screen the one-hour educational documentary at the Open-Air Auditorium in Rizal Park tomorrow, July 28, 2019 at 7:30 pm. Admission is FREE!

!pule poster_for Jul 28

Note that Apolinario Mabini was elected officer of the LIGA FILIPINA founded by Jose Rizal, another great hero after whom the place where it shall be shown, Rizal Park was named after. Rizal was executed at the then Bagumbayan, now called Rizal Park on December 30, 1896. Mabini born on July 23, 1864 died on May 13, 1903.



Gen. Charles E. Kilbourne Initiated the Building of Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor?

June 28, 2019

General Charles E. Kilbourne

Oh well, that’s what I just read today from an article about Malinta Tunnel building on Corregidor Island — birthplace of my forefathers, father and siblings. It was Gen. Charles Kilbourne, then re-assigned to assume the Harbour Defense Command in 1929 who revived the idea of building the tunnel under the Malinta Hill in December 1931. He worked on its realization, initiated and finally got the approval of the building project on January 14, 1932. To lead the construction work, Lt. Paschal N. Strong of the US Army Corps of Engineers was sent over. He arrived in the Philippines in 1932.

So, the idea which got hatched in 1921 started to get realized only in 1932 not 1922 as stated on a sign displayed outside Malinta Tunnel. The use of prison labor from Bilibid prison was said to be also his idea leading to building of prison stockades. The photo of Dr. Selma Harrison Calmes’ father with the prisoners that she graciously allowed me to use in my documentary TIGA-ISLA (The Islanders of Corregidor) is included in the same article simply captioned “Bilibid stockade.”

To read all the details, here’s the link to the article of Mr. John Moffit written on December 12, 2012:

Incidentally, I found just a few days ago, a letter already eaten up by silver fishes written by Gen. Charles E. Kilbourne in reply to I do not know exactly who. Was it my father, or my historian brother who wrote to him? Since Juan Medina whom he mentioned in the letter were grandfather to both, I wouldn’t know until I find a copy of the welcome letter sent to the General that he was referring to. Anyway, what is clear was that he was on a visit here at the time the undated letter was written. Knowing that he died in 1963, I would assume that he was in the country sometime in the 50s for a sentimental journey.

Gen. Kilbourne sounded how well he knew my great granduncle Juan Medina, former municipal president (mayor) of Bo. San Jose, Corregidor. Lolo Juan and my father’s father Mateo were brothers. The latter was appointed as Corregidor municipal councilor in 1906.

Kilbourne Letter_Front

Letter of Gen. Charles Kilbourne in reply either to my father, Ricardo M. Medina Sr. or my historian-brother Isagani R. Medina, both Corregidorians

Kilbourne Letter_Back

kilbourneGen. Kilbourne “was responsible for much of the military development of the island fortress of Corregidor. During his third assignment there [Philippines], from 1908 to 1913, he established the first artillery garrison on Corregidor.” (

We have two other letters written by Gen. Kilbourne, one dated 1936; the other written from Maryland that is undated. Both original copy of the letters were deposited in 2004 at the Pacific War Museum on Corregidor Island. In addition, the Certificate of Appointment of my grandfather Mateo dated 1906, and written in Spanish is also at the museum. Currrently, they are under the care of Corregidor Foundation, Inc.


Lips to Lips: The Evolution of Kissing Scenes in Philippine Movies

June 22, 2019

“Every imaginable taboo, once unspoken and forbidden, has been depicted in graphic ways in Philippine movies,” says Alex Castro.


From Alex Castro’s “Lips to Lips: The Evolution of Kissing Scenes in Philippine Movies”

In his lengthy, impressively researched and well- documented article — flavored with trivia notes at times — about the evolution of kissing scenes in Philippine movies, readers, particularly film history buffs journey with Mr. Castro from way way back, when yes! it was taboo for lovers to kiss, even hold hands in public; the reason why it was so shocking for the viewers to watch kissing scenes, especially when first shown in the movies. Now, it is so common a segment without it and lovemaking would render a film incomplete. It has become part of the formula.


Vicente Salumbides and Sofia Lota in “Fate or Consequence” (1926) from Salumbides’ book “Motion Pictures in the Philippines” (1952)

Reading about Mr. Vicente Salumbides in the article, I couldn’t help but recall my interview with him. He did say how jealous her then-future wife was, Rosario Panganiban when his film, “Fate or Consequence” showing him kissing actress Sofia Lota was shown. Mr. Salumbides was hard of hearing at that time. To communicate with him, I had to write each question on a piece of paper and gave it to him one at a time. He would read it, then would reply to whatever question I handed to him. I was then working as a researcher for the UP Film Center, and about to start a documentary on him when unfortunately our house burned. The flames ate up all the materials that I gathered from my interviews with him, Alejandro Celis, one of his silent movie actors, and Atang de la Rama. At that time, Mr. Salumbides was living somewhere in Fairview, Quezon City, BF Homes, if I am not mistaken.

To read Alex Castro’s full article, please click the link below: