Labels: , ,

Rosa Rosal: The Femme Fatale with the heart of Gold

Hearing the name Rosa Rosal denotes an impassioned public servant who lives her life for the benefit of others. But more than a civic icon, Miss Rosa Rosal is also considered one of Philippine Cinema’s formidable legends whose career never faltered simply because her true luster shines from within.

Born Rose Danon in 1931, her father was of Irish-Egyptian ancestry while her mother was a native of Pampangan Her half-brother, Don Danon, was a double of Rudolf Valentino.

Initially working as a physician’s secretary, Miss Rosal was spotted by Luis Nolasco, who cast her in a minor role in Fort Santiago (1946). It was during that time that she earned her screen name Rosa Rosal – the Filipino for rose and gardenia, respectively.

Her beauty did not go unnotice. With her exotic looks, thanks to her French-Jewish ancestry, she seemed to become a mixture of Hollywood’s Hedy Lamar and Dorothy Lamour, all while displaying Rita Hayworth's "love goddess" presence and Barbara Stanwyck's irrepressible femme fatale performance.

In 1947, she was cast by Nolasco on her breakthrough film, Kamagong. Her performance drew the attention not just of the film studios but also of the crowd. In 1949, LVN, then the country’s top film studio, offered her a long-term contract, and cast her in her first starring performance in the comedy hit Biglang Yaman.

Throughout the 50’s, Miss Rosal's career peaked as alternated between villainous, bitchy roles, and plum leading parts.

Legendary for being the “femme fatale of the Philippine Cinema,” Miss Rosal was the screen's most glamorous contravida who brought hell to the lives of LVN leading leading ladies in such films as Sumpaan, Ang Lumang Simbahan (1949), Prinsesa Basahan (1949), and Ang Babaeng Hampaslupa (1954). She was in every bit the Golden screen's ultimate bitch, but her bitchiness did not go beyond the theaters. As a matter of fact, she was the antithesis of real-life glamor-girls.

Where most stars of her era were seen partying and club-hopping at night, she contented herself in attending night classes at Cosmopolitan College, where the late Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas referred to her as his kamag-aral. Yes, she pursued a college degree in Business Administration, though she was not able to attend her graduation ceremony because she had a commitment that time. And to even make her different from her fellow stars, she seldom attended parties. Instead, she busied her self with her 8-5 daily schedule and her work in the Philippine National Red Cross.

While prim and proper in person, Miss Rosal had no qualms in playing nasty roles and prostitutes, as well as wearing bathing suits and skimpy attires - then considered a suicide to an actress' career. But Miss Rosal did it well and superb! Her excellent acting and ethereal look, plus her growing popularity as a Red Cross volunteer, all built up her image as a popular icon.

She would have remained as the screen's most hated performer until she was cast by LVN as the lead in three of it's spectacular "super productions," Lamberto Avellana's Anak Dalita (1956) and Badjao (1957) and the FAMAS-winning Biyaya ng Lupa (1959), considered by critics as three of the Philippine Cinema's greatest films.

In Anak Dalita (1956), Miss Rosal convincingly played as the prostitute with the heart of gold, opposite Tony Santos. In Badjao (1957), she was superb as the Tausug princess torn between her loyalty her tribe and love for her Badjao husband. And for Biyaya ng Lupa (1959), she was a mater dolorosa who tilled the soil and grew lanzones to raise her family.

For her compelling performance in Sonny Boy (1955), Miss Rosal won the FAMAS Award for Best Actress and for the international success of Anak Dalita, she worthily received a FAMAS Award for International Prestige: she was herself the model of that most coveted trophy, considered to be the country’s equivalent of Hollywood’s Oscar.

By the 60s, it seemed that Miss Rosal’s film career was nearing its off as she devoted more and more of her time volunteering at Red Cross and appearing on the relatively new medium – television. The steady rise of Bomba films also wore here off and she only lent acting ability, though scarcely, to films of worthy choice and juicy roles.

In one of her rare performances in the 1970s and 1980s, she was touching as the embittered tenant in Sakada (1976) and earned her third FAMAS nomination for her compelling, supporting performance in the family drama Ang Lahat ng Ito Pati Langit (1989).

Miss Rosal is considered to be the world's longest serving Red Cross volunteer. She started out serving the organization in 1949 after an eye-opening, near-death situation of a boy she saw at a hospital in Manila. From then on, she alternated between the studio and Red Cross. While earning the reputation of being one of the country's screen queen, Miss Rosal quietly dedicated her life to charity and service to her fellowmen. Lending her legendary and iconic star presence to fund-raising activities and speaking engagements, Miss Rosal pooled millions of pesos for the Red Cross and helped thousands in need.

For her humanitarian works, she was awarded with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1999 - Asia's equivalent of The Nobel. In 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo bestowed on her, for life, the Grand Cross of the Order of the Heart, the highest honor given to a civilian.

These days, Miss Rosal seldom appear on TV or in films. However, her presence, as a star and as a civil servant, is always felt simply because she is a star not just on films, but most of all, in real life.


Since she broke into show business as an extra in 1946, Miss Rosa Rosal has made dozens of film appearances - leading and support, alike. Here is a partial list of some of Miss Rosa Rosal's films, with Biglang Yaman, Prinsipe Amante sa Rubitanya, Dagohoy, Sonny Boy, Anak Dalita, Badjao, Biyaya ng Lupa, Sakada, and Lahat ng Ito Pati na ang Langit considered as the films where she delivered her most powerful acting.

1947 -Kamagong

1947 -Ang Himala ng Birhen sa Antipolo

1947 -Hagibis

1948 -Huling Dalangin

1948 -Apat na Dalangin

1948 -Hampas ng Langit

1948 -Sumpaan

1949 -Ang Lumang Simbahan

1949 -Maria Beles

1949 -Prinsesa Basahan

1949 -Virginia

1949 -Biglang Yaman

1950 -Mahal mo ba ako?

1950 -Sohrab at Rustum

1951 -Reyna Elena

1951 -Bayan O Pag-ibig

1951 -Prinsipe Amante sa Rubitanya

1951 -Amor Mio

1952 -Matador

1952 -Correccional

1952 -Aklat ng Buhay

1952 -Babaeng Hampaslupa

1953 -Kuwintas ng Pasakit

1953 -Mga Pusong May Lason

1953 -Makabuhay

1953 -Dagohoy

1954 -Dakilang Pgpapakasakit

1954 -Donato

1954 -Mabangong Kandungan

1955 -Hagad

1955 -Sonny Boy (FAMAS Award, Best Actress)

1956 -Anak-Dalita (FAMAS Award, International Prestige; Best Film, Asia-Pacific Film Festival)

1956 -May Araw ka Rin

1956 -Medalyong Perlas

1956 -Big Shot

1956 -Higit sa Korona

1957 -Badjao (FAMAS Award, International Prestige; Best Film, Tokyo Film Festival)

1957 -Sanga-Sangang Puso

1958 - Faithful

1959 – Biyaya ng Lupa (FAMAS Award, Best Picture; FAMAS Award Nominee, Best Actress)

1959 – Cry Freedom

1964 – Ethan

1966 – Ako’y Magbabalik

1976 – Sakada

1976 -Wanakosey

1986 – Nakagapos na Puso

1989 – Ang Lahat ng Ito Pati na ang Langit (FAMAS Award Nominee, Best Supporting Actress)

1990 – Pangako ng Puso

1994 – Lagalag: The Eddie Fernandez Story

1999 – Esperanza: The Movie

2006 – Wrinkles

(If you know about any of Miss Rosa Rosal's film that is not included on this list, please feel free to let me know that I may include it on this list.)

Miss Rosa Rosal's breakthrough film, Biglang Yaman (1949)

Sohrab at Rustum (1950)

Miss Rosal plays the prostitute with a noble heart in the touching and critically- and internationally-acclaimed "super-production" Anak Dalita (1956)

In another screen classic, Miss Rosal convincingly played as a Tausug princess in Badjao (1957)

Playing as a long-suffering lanzones farmer's wife in Biyaya ng Lupa (1959), Miss Rosal worthily earned a FAMAS nomination for Best Actress. This super-production was awarded with the year's Best Picture honor.

By the 1970s, Miss Rosal may have appeared less and less in film, but here, as a peasant in Sakada (1976), she has proven that a noteworthy performance is never out of season. Hers, as well as the film, was widely-applauded by critics.

For her turn in Lahat ng Ito Pati na ang Langit (1989), Miss Rosal earned her third FAMAS nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actress.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


More Stars in Heaven © 2012 | Designed by Canvas Art, in collaboration with Business Listings , Radio stations and Corporate Office Headquarters