It�s sad but finally, after several years of being in the red, LVN Studios had to stop its operations. The studio, one of the so-called Big Three in the 50s (along with Sampaguita Pictures and Premier Productions), the golden era of Philippine movies, reportedly closed shop last June 30. The slump in the local movie industry has caused the studio to lose business and it was inevitable that it would close down. Because there were only a few movies being made now, the studio hasn�t been doing good business for the past three years and it could no longer raise enough funds to pay the salaries of its employees, we were told.
A few months ago, LVN which used to have the most modern and high-tech filmmaking facilities in town, was reported to be up for sale and among those who were saddened by this turn of events was Mother Lily Monteverde of Regal Films. "LVN is an institution in the local movie industry and it saddens me that it is now being sold. Sana huwag nila ito ipagbili because it�s only the De Leon family and their staff who could run the studio effectively," the lady producer said.
It has been reported that LVN Studios has finally been sold, but contrary to this, only the laboratory and color processing facilities (which were the best in Asia), and not the lot and studio per se were sold recently to a group of businessmen. The LVN Museum which holds the memorabilia of the studio from its founder, Do�a Narciso "Sisang" Buencamino de Leon, to its stars and films wasn�t part of the buy-out. For those who don�t know, the museum was put up by the late Bernard Fernandez who was in charge of the costume department of LVN, upon the encouragement and inspiration of Charito Solis, Nida Blanca, Emma Alegre, Caridad Sanchez, Delia Razon and the other stars of the studio. Bernard patiently and painstakingly collected all those in the museum now. The museum should be an interesting place to visit, especially by students and filmmaking buffs. But what�s this we heard that Ms. Nenita de Leon Era�a who is in charge of LVN Studios, won�t just allow anyone to have access to the museum?
LVN Studios was the home studio of such legends as the late Nida Blanca and Nestor de Villa, Mario Montenegro and some others who�ve passed away. Among the LVN stars who�re still active in their acting careers to this day are Delia Razon, Caridad Sanchez, Luz Valdez, Marita Zobel, Mila Ocampo, and Perla Bautista.
Established by the fiery Do�a Sisang, an insitution herself and a legend in her time, LVN stood for the first letters in the family names of the three founders: de Leon, Villongco and Nabua. But later, when her partners couldn�t give time to the company, Do�a Sisang bought them out and she single-handedly took over the production of their movies.
Do�a Sisang put up LVN initially as a parttime, we were told. She belonged to a well-off family from San Miguel, Bulacan whose wealth came from real estate. They say that their land holdings were "as far as the eyes could see." (The LVN lot alone is from corner to corner of the streets P. Tuazon, C. Benitez and St. Peter in Cubao, Quezon City). Do�a Sisang was known for her strictness (to her stars) as well as her generosity to people. She is said to have donated many parcels of land to the needy (in Bulacan and Cabanatuan City among other places, and to her loyal household staffs.
Do�a Sisang was married to Kapitan Pepe de Leon with whom she had four children: Manny, Encarnacion, Amada Era�a and Florencia, all dead now. Manny, who took over the reign of LVN Pictures when Do�a Sisang was no longer physically able, died last Feb. 4. Do�a Sisang passed away on Feb. 6 many years ago. Granddaughter Nenita de Leon Era�a, daughter of Aling Bading, later took charge of LVN Studios.
Do�a Sisang was a very rich lady but she could be stingy and frugal too, we learned. She is said to be very masipag (she even sewed the dresses of her stars then) and one who didn�t want anything wasted. It was told that if she saw a nail in the street, she�ll pick it up, never mind if its rusty, she�ll clean and polish it up!
Of the closing of LVN Studios, Caridad Sanchez said "nakakalungkot na pangyayari ito, but it is something inevitable, something expected because of the changes in technology. It�s sad but we have to accept it..."
Delia Razon is of course also saddened that LVN Studios will no longer be there for them to reminisce their glorious years. She�s happy though that she was able to get some copies of her old films and her studio photographs "para naman may maipakita ako at maipagmalaki sa mga apo ko when they get older," she said.
Delia started with LVN when she was in her teens, and she first appeared in the movie "Prinsipe Amante" whose leading man was Rogelio de la Rosa. Delia made her last movie with LVN in l958. Entitled "Rebelde," it co-starred her with Mario Montenegro. Delia, who was nicknamed "Kalog" by the De Leons, made about 49 movies with LVN Pictures.
It was Delia who brought Nida Blanca, then 16 years old to Do�a Sisang. Delia met Nida at the Estrella Theater in Malabon where the latter was trying to get into showbiz first by singing. She approached Delia and told her she�s a fan of hers, that she wanted to be a movie actress too so could she bring her to Do�a Sisang please? "I gave her my address, and a week later, she came knocking," Delia recalled. "I told her to dress up, gave her one of my high-heeled shoes and I accompanied her to Do�a Sisang. Nagustuhan naman siya, because really Nida then was oozing with talent."
On the other hand, Luz Valdez was 18 when she first got into the portals of LVN in l957. "I was introduced in the movie �Ay Pepita,� which was supposed to star Nenita Vidal (Do�a Sisang�s granddaughter) but she was sent to the States to study dentistry, kaya ako ang pumalit sa kanya," Luz recalled. The movie also started her love team with one of the studio�s young matinee idols, Manding Claro. Their team-up was followed by several movies including "Teenage Crush."
Manding, who married another LVN star, and his family are now active with service to the Lord, Luz told us.
Luz�s first starring role was in the movie "Combo Festival," and her first title role was "Tsinita," which paired her with Nestor de Villa. Two other movies, "Tres Muskiteros" and "Tatlong Kumando" teamed her up with Pancho Magalona.
When LVN Pictures stopped producing movies, a sister company called Dalisay Pictures was established by the De Leons.
By the way, Luz is in the cast of "Idol Ko si Kap" topbilled by Senator Bong Revilla. Luz has been in the sitcom since the very start, five years ago. She is also part of the newly launched action/adventure series "Sugo," also on GMA-7.
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Rachelle Ann goes R&B
After striking it big with a succession of three hit singles from her debut album, "Search for a Star" champion Rachelle Ann Go is set to go R&B with the song "Here I Am Again." Composed and produced by Jimmy Antiporda, "Here I Am Again" introduces a sassy and sexy but also romantic Rachelle Ann to her followers. It also proves her versatility as it is completely different from her other hits, "Don�t Cry Out Loud," "You and Me, We Wanted It All," a duet with Christian Bautista and her winning song at the Shanghai Asia Music Festival, "From the Start."
Rachelle Ann who has just returned from a successful performing tour of the United States with other singing champions, once more faces a full working schedule. She is set to host the second season of the TV show "Search for a Star in a Million" on ABS�CBN together with Sheryn Regis, Mark Bautista and Erik Santos. She is also one of the regular hosts of the TV variety show "ASAP" also at ABS�CBN. Rachelle Ann is set to guest in singer�songwriter Ogie Alcasid�s show at the Dusit Hotel on July 9 and will join balladeer Nonoy Zu�iga at the Music Museum on Aug. 5 and 6.
Rachelle Ann, who is set to begin work on her second album soon, won the "Search for a Star" contest in March 2004. She has since released a hit album "Rachelle Ann Go," starred in her successful solo concert "The Ultimate Champion" which was held at the Aliw Theater on April 29 and toured the Philippines and other countries in various shows.
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Tidbits: Happy b-day greetings today, July 7, go to former Quezon City Councilor Dingdong Avanzado, Singapore-based Imelda Ilanan, Bong Chavez, NewYork-based Leah A. Martinez, Bert Pasquin and Charles Owen of San Miguel Corp., Rosalinda Tongos, Jack Teotico, Tristan Albert Flores Wenceslao, Grace Figues, Al B. Blanco, Dr. Ben Dorado, Dr. Candy Noche-Apacible, Marie Christine Ledesma, Justine Angela Michelle B. Recio, and former UAE Ambassador Roy Se�eres...Happy wedding anniversary to Allan and Libby Lavarro...