How Juan Marasigan Feleo ruled Philippine Cinema


Johnny Delgado is awesome.

My bad, I meant was awesome.

This Bad Banana took a trip to heaven to conduct eternal acting workshops.

Yeah… he was a damn great actor.

My early memories of Delgado were from his stint as the “bad boy” of the Bad Bananas quintet. He was great playing wicked and street-smart characters in their sketches. When Goin’ Bananas moved to Channel 2 from 13 (don’t mistake this show from the 80’s kids show which stars an intergalactic chimp), I realized that he was a great dramatic actor from the 70’s. In more than 40 years of acting, he was nominated for an award 25 times, six of which translated into wins!

Here’s a breakdown of his achievements:
(Source: http://www.imdb.com/)

Legend: When the awards were held – Film (citation)

1976 – Banaue (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1977 – Mrs. Teresa Abad, Ako po si Bing (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1979 – Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Won Best Supporting Actor at MMFF)
1979 – Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1981 – Kakabakaba ka ba? (Won Best Supporting Actor at Gawad Urian)
1981 – Kakabakaba ka ba? (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1981 – Brutal (Nominated for Best Actor at Gawad Urian)
1981 – Brutal (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at Gawad Urian)
1982 – Salome (Nominated for Best Actor at Gawad Urian)
1988 – Balweg (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1990 – Joe Pring: Homicide Manila Police (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1993 – Lumayo ka man sa Akin (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at Gawad Urian)
1993 – Lumayo ka man sa Akin (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
1995 – Macario Durano (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
2001 – Tanging Yaman (Won Best Actor at FAMAS)
2001 – Tanging Yaman Brutal (Nominated for Best Actor at Gawad Urian)
2003 – Kailangan Kita (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at Gawad Urian)
2005 – Santa Santita (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAP)
2005 – Santa Santita (Nominated for Best Screenplay alongside Jerry Gracio and Michiko Yamamoto at FAP)
2006 – Ligalig (Won Best Supporting Actor at MMFF)
2006 – Ligalig (Won Best Supporting Actor at FAP)
2006 – La Visa Loca (Won Best Supporting Actor at FAP)
2006 – La Visa Loca (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at Gawad Urian)
2006 – La Visa Loca (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)
2007 – Kaleldo (Nominated for Best Supporting Actor at FAMAS)

If you look at his wins and nominations, one thing you’ll notice is most of his wins came from movies that are considered as Philippine Cinema’s best. Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan, Kakabakaba ka ba, Brutal, and Salome are awesome flicks in a movie career which either stars him as the conniving bad guy or the very observant silent type. Lumayo ka man sa Akin, an underrated prodigy directed by his wife Laurice Guillen, was the first movie that I saw his acting skills minus the film grains and scratches (seriously those films from the 1970’s aren’t that well-kept). And if you young folks can’t remember him, he was the unsuccessful eldest son trying everything to unite his family in the Star Cinema mega-hit Tanging Yaman. Tanging Yaman was his first film back after a long hiatus. I believe alongside his wife, they figured out the lack of vision from the producers and the directors when they decided that the best way to profit is either through teen flicks, buddy comedies, and skin-bearing flicks. Before his hiatus, Delgado found his niche playing bad guy roles in action films. His hiatus donned him as fresh.

Throughout the tail-end of his career, there have been countless reincarnations of his fabled bunch. Even after Jay Ilagan’s fatal motorcycle crash, Johnny, Edgar Mortiz, and acting demigod Christopher de Leon continued to strengthen the status of the “Bananas”. Arriba, Arriba (with Edgar Mortiz) and All Together Now (with Mortiz and de Leon) were their on-screen connections but off-screen they continued to bond as brothers.

Amongst the five I rate Delgado ahead of De Leon, Ilagan, Mortiz, and Al Tantay as my favorite amongst the Bad Bananas. Actually, I rate Delgado as one of my best actors if I make a Top Ten list. You’ll be shocked at his acting as a good guy after being typecasted as a bad guy although, play a bad guy for this guy is his forte. Check out the rapist scenes and the scheming characters he portrayed in the 70’s. He was the best film rapist ever… and this is not a bad thing. Ruel Bernal, semi-retired, is a close second (for Pinakamagandang Hayup sa Balat ng Lupa and Insiang).

The thing I like about Johnny is his acting swagger. He could be a good guy or a bad guy but you will be compelled at his persona. He doesn’t deliver his lines without conviction… a mere burp or head scratch is enough for you to figure what his emotion is. Even in the decent 2002 film Hari ng Selda: Anak ni Baby Ama 2 (Robin Padilla’s acting vehicle during his stint in prison), where he is about to execute the double agent in his team, you are looking at an evil character that is played to perfection without the danger of overacting. Without his image, you notice Delgado as a cartoon in Dayo and Urduja (his last works). Even playing a cameo role in the critically-acclaimed 2003 flick Crying Ladies, he has his way to steal a scene. He is an actor’s actor – playing his character well enough for people to love and hate his presence.

It saddens me that he needs to go but that damned lymphoma is getting the better of him. Ina Feleo, his daughter, is one of the bright spots in the indie scene and he could break in the mainstream acting circuit a la Sid Lucero and Coco Martin. Laurice Guillen is staging a comeback directorial tilt for the Metro Manila Film Festival, an award-giving body that proved generous to this grizzled vet. Without battling an eyelash, I can easily name Aga Muhlach, Richard Gomez, Robin Padilla, de Leon, Pen Medina, Cesar Montano, Jinggoy Estrada (if playing a non-action star role) and Philip Salvador as the top actors in the current cinema landscape.

His 61 years of life will be remembered through 80+ films bearing his acting greatness.

As a mission to myself, I will hunt down a copy of Kakabakaba ka ba, Salome and Brutal.

And while I’m doing this, Johnny might be berating Jay Ilagan on why he rode a motorcycle while Jay Ilagan is dishing out a sermon on Johnny on why he got sick in the first place.

And while they are doing this, Ishmael Bernal and Lino Brocka are secretly filming their verbal bashing.

Johnny Delgado = awesome.

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