The art of film and television was introduced to the Philippines in the late 1890’s and although this is the youngest of the Philippine arts, it has developed into the most popular. Because of its appeal, the Philippine Entertainment Industry appears to be growing larger every year. And when we say large, we mean it. With new faces popping up everyday, it would take a very long time to name all of the young and rising Filipina Actresses currently gracing the screen.
We decided to take a different approach. Yes, there are many Filipina actresses, but who are the ones we consider timeless? Who are the leading ladies we can watch years from now and still find ourselves mesmerized by? Who’s performances bring us to tears? In honor of Filipino American History Month*, we present to you Ten Timeless Filipina Actresses:
NORA AUNOR (1953)
Nora Aunor first began her career after winning an amateur singing contest. Upon recognizing that her singing career wasn’t going as well as she’d like, she set her heart on acting. This was clearly Aunor’s strength and she quickly became a serious actress after her film debut in All Over the World
(1967). Her career sky-rocketed and today her achievements are astounding. She has had more nominations in both the FAMAS Awards and Gawad Urian Awards for Best Actress than any other Filipina actress. With over fifty awards under her belt, its no surprise that this leading lady has received international recognition.
VILMA SANTOS (1953)
Surprisingly, this award-winning actress and politician stumbled upon her acting career quite accidentally. While in the studio her uncle worked at, she mistakenly ended up in line to audition for a role in Trudis Liit. Sure enough, she landed the role and received a FAMAS Award for Best Child Performer in 1963 for it. Vilma Santos went on to do countless films and has been nominated for countless awards for her performances. She is currently the Governor of Batangas Province.
HILDA KORONEL (1957)
Koronel began her successful acting career very young and at thirteen she became the youngest winner of the FAMAS Best Supporting Actress Award for her role in the film Santiago (1970). She is best known for her work under Lino Broka (named one of the greatest film directors of the Philippines). Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko Ng Liwanag (1976) won six FAMAS awards and Insiang(1977) won a FAMAS and Gawad Urian Award.
LORNA TOLENTINO (1961)
Tolentino began her career as a child actress- she was only eight years old during her first film Uhaw Sa Kalayaan (1969). Clearly finding her calling, she continued film and currently has about 60 pictures to her name. She is also one of the Grand Slam actresses in the Philippine Cinema Industry. The Grand Slam award is the rare title given to those who win a certain amount of awards for a single film. The list of Grand Slam actresses include Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, and Sharon Cuneta. Lorna has expanded her career to hosting and producing.
Narito Ang Puso Ko
MARICEL SORIANO (1965)
With the nickname “The Diamond Star” of the Philippine Entertainment Industry, a lot is expected of Maricel Soriano. Luckily, she lives up to these expectations. Soriano began her acting career at the young age of six in My Heart Belongs to Daddy (1971). With 46 movie and television awards, Maricel is the third most awarded Philippine film actress of all time. These awards include Best Child Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Achiever Award as actress/producer, Best Performer and Best Actress.
SHARON CUNETA (1966)
Cuneta is another Philippine actress given a nickname in the Entertainment Industry- The Megastar. Beginning her career at the age of twelve, Sharon has had quite the success. With 53 starring roles in film, 10 television roles, and 40 recording albums, its no wonder that Sharon is the highest paid Filipino endorser. She became the highest paid Filipino artist ever with her contract to the Kapatid Network. She currently hosts a daily talk show called Sharon; Kasama Mo, Kapatid.
Kung Ako Na Lang Sana
REGINE VELASQUEZ (1970)
Regine has been in over 20 films and even more television roles. She even has a few theater titles under her name. Although she has clearly captivated audiences with her acting (and has the awards to prove it), her heart lies with music. In 1989, Velasquez won the Asia Pacific Singing Contest in Hong Kong. She’s the first Asian artist to perform solo at Carnegie Hall and her first Asia-released album sold more than 700,000 copies.
Of All The Things
Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw
KRIS AQUINO (1971)
At the age of 14, Aquino made her first television appearance and quickly seemed to find her calling. Her film career gained her some nominations and awards, but her heart seemed set for television. She has gained popularity through her talk shows, game shows, and endorsements. Her television and hosting prominence has gained her nicknames such as Queen of All Media, Philippine’s Queen of Talk, and Queen of Philippine Game Shows.
JUDY ANN SANTOS (1978)
Like many of her fellow Timeless Filipina Actresses, Judy Ann began her acting career as a child. She began in television with Kaming Mga Ulila (1986). She also began doing film and won her first FAMAS Award nomination for The Lost Command. In 1992 she was getting vast media attention and finally had her breakthrough in 1997 with the television drama Esperanza. Santos is known to have achieved high recognition, popularity, and success in both television and film. She has become an award-winning actress, recording artist, and film producer.
Kasal Kasalo Kasali
CLAUDINE BARRETTO (1979)
Interestingly enough, Barretto was discovered at the age of 13 by talent manager Douglas Quijano at a party. With her sisters already in the entertainment business, Claudine was ready for her own stardom. By 2000 she was named Most Popular Teen Star by the Starlight Cultural Foundation the nicknamed Box Office Queen in 2003 for her role in Kailangan Kita. With nearly thirty movies, 26 television roles, and a handful of award nominations to her name, Claudine Barretto is proving that shes here to stay.
*This story was originally published in March to honor Women’s History Month. Today, it is republished to celebrate Filipino American History Month and showcase the Filipino actresses who have created lasting influence in Filipinos and Filipino Americans alike. By progressing the Filipino Entertainment Industry, these ladies have allowed Filipino Americans to reconnect with their roots.