Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Vic Vargas by Butch Francisco
July 22, 2003
Vic Vargas was the he-man and macho of Philippine movies. Born
Jose Maria Marfort Asuncion on March 28, 1939, he was a campus
heartthrob when he was taking up Commerce at the University of Sto.
Tomas. His ticket to fame was his physique. In fact, before he became
an actor, he first hosted a judo show on Channel 7 in 1961. Then came
the movies the following year. He played the title role in Diegong
Tabak with Lolita Rodriguez as his leading lady.
Then, together with Dolphy, he did the hilarious action-comedy
Tarzan vs. Tansan. They had two former Miss Philippines winners as
leading ladies: Josephine Estrada and Cynthia Ugalde.
Vic Vargas stayed with Sampaguita until the mid-‘60s, where he did
mostly action films: Ang Rosario at ang Tabak, Walang Takot sa
Patalim, Kumander Judo, Mga Kanyon ng Corregidor and Paratroops
From action, he shifted to sex flicks – actually bomba movies that
became the fad in the early ‘70s: Apoy ng Kaligayan with Stella Suarez
and Rosanna Ortiz; Busog with Merle Fernandez, Bert Leroy Jr. and
Philip Gamboa, Mister Incredible with Jessica, Rosanna Ortiz and Ricky
Santiago and Ang Bukid ay Basa with Gina Laforteza and Rosanna Ortiz.
But the majority of the films he did were really action or drama
laced with sex scenes: Mga Hagibis (no rleation to Sonny parsons and
his singing group) with Eddie Rodriguez and Eddie Garcia; Ako’y Tao,
May Dugo at Laman, an Armando Garces all-star cast drama with Rita
Gomez, Helen Gamboa, Perla Bautista, Leila Morena, Eddie Garcia, Eddie
Gutierrez, Leopoldo Salcedo and Ramil Rodriguez, Kapwa Limbas with
Roberto Gonzales and Rosanna Ortiz and Dodong Ko with Gloria Sevilla,
Perla Bautista, Anita Linda and Frankie Navaja Jr.
In 1971, he did his most important film – Pagdating sa Dulo, which
was also the first movie of Ishmael Bernal. Voted one of the best
films of the ‘70s by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, Pagdating
was a commentary on crass commercialism, materialism and the state of
the movie industry. Aside from Vargas (who played a taxi
driver-turned-movie actor), the movie also starred Rita Gomez, Eddie
Garcia and Elvira Manahan.
It was El Vibora, however, that gave him his first Best Actor
award (Manila Film Festival, 1972). Serialized in Liwayway, El Vibora
cast him as a bandit on the lookout for the man who raped his sister
and killed his family (It was Leopoldo Salcedo, a supposedly good
citizen of the community, who did it). El Vibora also starred Boots
Anson-Roa as his love interest.
The following year, he repeated his victory at the Manila Film
Festival for Nueva Vizcaya, where he played a warring Tarican. The
film also starred Zaldy Zshornack and was the launching movie of Miss
Republic of the Philippines, Evangeline Reyes.
In 1974, he also played leading man in the movie debut of another
beauty queen-turned-actress – Gloria Diaz, this time in Ang
Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa.
The other movies he made with the former Miss Universe were Amor,
An Affair in Tahiti and much later, Hayop sa Ganda with another Miss
Universe, Amparo Muñoz.
To show their versatility, Vargas and Diaz also tried comedy in
the Andres de Saya series.
The other significant movies he did were Pito ang Asawa Ko, Sinong
Kapiling, Sinong Kasiping?, Banta ng Kahapon, The King and the Emperor
and In Dis Korner which gave him an Urian Best Actor nomination.
On television, he also topbilled Lahi ni Adan on a round-robin
basis with Bert Leroy, Jr., Dindo Fernando and Jay Ilagan (All of
Vargas’ episodes were directed by Lupita Concio (now Kashiwahara).
And there was a time he also tried hosting Tawag ng Tanghalan
after the death of the original male host, Lopito (the hosting job
eventually went to Pugo).
Vic Vargas was also among the first batch of actors who joined the
Charismatic movement. A few years before he died, he also did his
share for the environment when he joined Bantay-Dagat in Palawan.