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Pinoy Screen Legend: Alice Vergel—The Action Queen of Philippine Cinema

Alicia Vergel. Image: Beverly Vergel
It is a rarity among actors and actresses today to possess certain versatility in the way they project themselves in the camera. Some are good in drama, others excel in comedy, many though are simply too good-looking to give a rousing performance. But the same could never be said of Alicia Vergel, the screen thespian who reigned in the 50s and 60s. She was pretty as much as she was talented and versatile as a performer. She proved her mettle in action flicks many times over but more than held her own in a slew of drama and comedy features, too. But among her many performances, it was her stint in the action genre that made her the indelible and unforgettable queen of action movies. She had such an agile physique that she didn’t need to have a double to perform even the riskiest scenes actresses of her days dared not do. Years later, she entered public service and kept her life literally in “action” despite the lack of klieg and glitter that filmdom had to offer. Nevertheless, she sporadically lent her acting prowess to a few but worthwhile pictures in the 70s and 80s. These, she did while staying true to the vow of motherhood, rearing her children, who themselves carved their niches in show business. Indeed, Alicia Vergel is one, true lady for all seasons.

Early Years in Acting

Alicia Vergel started her acting career in Sampaguita Pictures, where she had a cameo role in the Tita Duran-Pancho Magalona starrer Milagro ng Birhen ng mga Rosas, a 1949 film that depicted a real-life miraculous event in Lipa, Batangas. In 1950, she landed a role in a “dream sequence” production number in the musical Huwag Ka Nang Magtampo. The film also saw Paraluman, Linda Estrella, Lillian Leonardo, Maria Corazon, Lita Rio, Norma Vales and Tessie Quintana do the routine performances.

Career Heights

Huling Patak ng Dugo (1950)

Bernardo Carpio (1951)

Berdugo ng mga Anghel (1951)

Basahang Ginto (1952)
Madam X (1952)
Alicia Vergel’s star began to shine after being cast opposite Pancho Magalona in the action flick Huling Patak ng Dugo in 1950. This was when she saw promise as a leading-lady doubled as an action star. She eventually reigned supreme as the country’s Queen of Action Movies, appearing opposite reel and real life romantic partner Cesar Ramirez in such films as Bernardo Carpio (1951), Espada (1952), Diwani (1953), Ukala (1954), and Lupang Hinirang (1955), perhaps their most unforgettable film together.

MN (1954)

Ukala: Ang Walang Suko (1954)

Balisong (1955)

Lupang Kayumanggi (1955)

Mambo-Dyambo (1955)
Vergel was also comfortable in starring with other leading mans, including Fred Montilla in Tenyente Ramirez (1951), Oscar Moreno in Dugong Bughaw (1951) and Ramon Revilla in Balisong (1955). Vergel was equally adept in drama and in comedy, as she was at home in performing feisty and tough characters. For her dramatic outings, she was well-received in Madam x (1952), where her character was based on the life of a millionairess and in MN (1954), where her durability as an actress came face to face with drama queen Carmen Rosales’ own. Her stint in comedy, especially in the film Mambo-Jumbo (1955) opposite Dolphy was also well-received by audience and critics alike.

Taong Putik (1956)

Kahariang Bato (1957)

Maskara (1957)
 With the end of her contract in Sampaguita, Vergel decided to freelance. While her status as a top leading lady considerably diminished during this time, Vergel’s acting skills remained evident though in such films as Bicol Express (1957), Day of the Trumpet (1958), Kadenang Putik (1960), NBI (1961) and Viva Caballeras (1961).
The Day of the Trumpet (1957)

Anak ng Lasengga (1958)

Cavalry Command (1958) 

Obra Maestra (1958)
Thereafter, Vergel kept herself busy as a public servant after getting elected as barangay captain of Brgy. Santo Domingo in Quezon City, a position she held for 22 years. She occasionally got lured from semiretirement whenever meaty roles came her way, such as starring with her own son Ace Vergel in the film Inay (1977). She also lent her dramatic appeal in such tearjerkers as Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig? (1987), Isusumbong Kita sa Diyos (1998) and Mundo Man Ay Magunaw (1990).

Kadenang Putik (1960)

Inay (1977)

Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-ibig? (1987)
Career Achievements

Vergel’s career has been highlighted by many spotlights. In a time when actresses used doubles when doing difficult stunts, Vergel insisted on doing them on her own. She was also the only actress during her generation to enjoy enormous popularity as an action film regular. In the awards department, Vergel was the first actress to grab the Maria Clara Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mapuputing Kamay (1950). She was also the first actress to win the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) award for Best Actress for her role in Basahang Ginto (1952).

Personal life

Alicia Vergel was born on June 7, 1927. Her real name was Erlinda Gaerlan Asturias. She was married to screen partner Cesar Ramirez and they had two children: Ace Vergel, who went on as the "the Bad Boy of the Philippine Cinema” and Beverly Vergel, an actress, acting coach and director of the ABS-CBN Center for Communication Arts, Inc. Vergel and Ramirez separated; Vergel married another man and they had another child, Mike Vergel. She died in 1992.


1990 Mundo man ay magunaw 
1989 Bakit iisa lamang ang puso? 
1988 Isusumbong kita sa Diyos 
1987 Saan nagtatago ang pag-ibig? 
1985 Victor Lopez Jr. 
1985 Jandro Nakpil: halang ang kaluluwa 
1977 Inay 
1976 Tatlong kasalanan 
1965 Tagani 
1961 Konsiyerto ng kamatayan (segment "Noche Azul")
1960 Kadenang putik 
1958 Anak ng lasengga 
1958 Cavalry Command 
1958 Obra Maestra (segment "Macao")
1957 Kahariang bato 
1957 Maskara 
1956 Taong putik 
1955 Mambo-dyambo 
1955 Lupang kayumanggi 
1955 Balisong 
1955 Kuripot 
1955 Artista 
1954 Aristokrata 
1954 MN 
1954 Eskandalosa 
1954 Ukala: Ang walang suko 
1953 Diwani 
1952 Basahang ginto 
1952 Madame X 
1952 Hiram na mukha 
1951 Bernardo Carpio 
1950 Huling Patak ng Dugo 
1950 Mapuputing kamay 
1949 Milagro ng birhen ng mga rosas 
1949 Teniente Ramirez 

Watch Alicia Vergel in this film clip of her 1954 film MN


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