Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Zeny Zabala was born Zeny Ortiz Santos in 1934.

She reigned as primera contravida of 1950s Pinoy cinema.

With her alabaster skin and proud Mandarin features, Zeny specialized in "society girls gone bad."

She was discovered when she used to accompany her movie star sister Aurora Aragon in the movie set. She was just 16.

Premiere's resident publicist Aurelio Navarro gave her the name Zeny Zabala.

The Premiere execs casted her in "Lourdes" which had the great Anita Linda in the title role.

She played a market vendor opposite comedian Lopito.

When Dr. Jose Perez of Sampaguita saw the movie, he looked for her. Ric Rodrigo who was his dad's drinking buddy brought her to the head of Sampaguita Pictures.

Her first film was as Lolita Rodriguez's nemesis in "Binibining Kalog," which also featured Ramon Revilla Sr.

In the Samapaguita compound where Sampaguita contract stars were housed, she became pals to Lolita, Barbara Perez and Jean Lopez.

Men and women rode in separate vehicles. Women had chaperones wherever they go.

They were provided with clothes for the movies which they could buy at discounted prices later.

They were advised proper gromming and appropriate make-up for the occasions.

Ramon Valera and Pitoy Moreno dressed the ladies for special occasions.

After three consecutive three-year contracts with Sampaguita, Zeny went freelance.

When she went solo in the late 1960s, she started juggling six to seven movies annually.

She started being casted in the lead roles. ( "Ruby," "Mother Dear," "Our Lady of Penafrancia") and costume epics ("Luzviminda," "Mindanao," "Kalinga").

She was nominated for Famas Best Actress for her movie "Ruby".

When bomba became the trend, Zeny left the movies.

She put up a beauty parlor, canteen and shoe store.

From time to time, she accepts movie offers like 1993's "Ikaw Lang," with Vilma Santos and Cesar Montano, and 1998's "Tataynic," with Dolphy and Zsa Zsa Padilla.

She suffered two strokes in 2001.

But therapy and prayers brought her speech back and she was able to walk again.

* 1954 -Lourdes [Balatbat-Flores]
* 1954 -Milyonarya at Hampaslupa [Sampaguita]
* 1954 -Tin-Edyer [Lvn]
* 1955 -Pandora [Premiere]
* 1955 -Binibining Kalog [Sampaguita]
* 1956 -Prince Charming [Sampaguita]
* 1956 -Teresa [Sampaguita]
* 1956 -Gilda [Sampaguita]
* 1956 -Gigolo [Sampaguita]
* 1957 -Sino ang Maysala [Vera Perez]
* 1957 -Pasang Krus [Sampaguita]
* 1957 -Pretty Boy [Vera-Perez]
* 1957 -Prinsesang Gusgusin [Sampaguita]
* 1958 -Mga Reyna ng Vicks [Sampaguita]
* 1958 -Palaboy [Vera-Perez]
* 1958 -Berdaderong Ginto [Vera-Perez]
* 1958 -Talipandas [Sampaguita]


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