For five decades, she has mesmerized the moviegoers with her
beauty and allure. As filmdom’s Miss Number One, she notched the record as the
first actress to become an independent film producer. She was also the highest
paid movie star of her generation.
We’re talking of the great Amalia Fuentes, probably the most
beautiful actress to ever grace the silver screen.
For the longest time, she has ensconced herself in her
private havens—an opulent mansion in New Manila and a tranquil house in Tali
beach, Batangas. In this two-part
article, she shares her thoughts on life, family and fame, and why she is
considered a true showbiz evergreen.
Amalia first appeared onscreen in the 1955 film, “Movie Fan”
at the tender age of 15. As early as then, her beauty was flawless. But
ironically, she doesn’t put much premium on the physical.
“Of course, I’m
grateful that I was born beautiful. But I can’t take credit for it. Ayokong maging proud dahil lang doon. I want to be recognized for my
achievements, na may narating ako,
either for myself or for others. I love women, who in their lifetime, have done
something about their lives, other than just being beautiful,” says Amalia in
her usual candor—arched eyebrows, and all.
And indeed, through her glorious reign as movie queen, she proved that she’s more than just a pretty
face. She was a risk-taker, a
trailblazer — a woman ahead of her time.
After seven years as a contract star of Sampaguita Pictures,
she turned freelance, put up her own AM Productions, and in the process made
history as the first actress who stood against the powerful studio system.
“It was a big
gamble,” says Amalia. “I was only 21 but I have a very good family support
system. Of course, at the back of my mind, there was this fear of failure. Baka mauwi ako sa pagtitinda ng balot sa
Quiapo, gaya ng sinasabi ng iba. Like
every thing in life, nandyan lagi ang danger. But even dangers can be utilized
positively. Kasi, kapag alam mong, you can fall, you will be more careful.”
And Amalia was truly careful, her gambit paid off. Her foray into film production suited her to
a T. She says, “In a way, I am a control
freak. I wanted to make movies that would prolong my career. Putting up my own film production was
That bold move was complimented by another smart
decision—she raised her talent fee to the hilt. If her colleagues were
getting ten thousand or less, per film, she asked for fifty. And while the
country’s biggest male star, Fernando Poe Jr, was getting thirty, Amalia was being
paid a hefty sixty thousand pesos per movie.
“That time, ako lang ang female lead na freelancer,” relates
Amalia. “Walang mai-partner kina Bobby (Vasquez), Ronnie at Joseph (Estrada).
Halimbawa, ‘pag si Bobby ay nag-over price, kukunin ng producer si Billy
(Castelvi). Pero noon, ako lang ang leading lady na available. I was doing 16
movies a year.”
Amalia continues, “Ang unang kumuha sa akin ay si Atty.
Esperidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, for the movie
“Iyong-Iyo”. Ang katwiran ko, I gave up
the security of a studio system, and I had to make sure that what I
would get was well worth it. I was able
to buy a Mercedes Benz car because of that film.”
And that’s not all. A luxury soap that prided itself in
having glamorous Hollywood endorsers like Jane Fonda and Debbie Reynolds, got
Amalia as the first Lux model in the Philippines . The company paid her a cool
100 thousand pesos for the job.
The soap commercial did not only break record in the
country, it was also used in the United States . In order to accommodate Amalia, the company removed the word ‘Hollywood’ and
replaced it with ‘world’, in its teaser: “Nine out of ten most beautiful
actresses in the ‘world,’ use Lux.”
Amalia, the captivating star, had truly arrived.
As a film producer, Amalia was the mother
of reinvention—way before pop queen Madonna was even born. “Ako ang unang lumabas na vampire doon sa
“Ibulong Mo sa Hangin”, she says.
“Artists should always reinvent themselves. You cannot rely
on your past glories. Noon sa Sampaguita, puro pa-tweetums ako, but when I
started producing my own films, I
chose roles, na hindi ko nagawa
noon. There were also roles, na kahit
ayaw ng mga fans, ginagawa ko. Kasi, I
wanted them to see me on a different light.
I was willing to take a risk. With my own studio, naging madali yun. Ang
feeling ko, kahit hindi kumita ang pelikula, I was able to prove
something. At nagawa ko ang gusto ko. Kung hindi ako nag-produce, hindi siguro ako
nanalo ng award.”
In the process, Amalia also realized that her
pretty face and immense popularity have hindered her from getting
She explains, ”In the awards department, hindi ako masyado, kasi noong time ko,
nandiyan si Charito (Solis) na nangangatog-ngatog ‘yung baba kapag
umiiyak. Ang mga roles ko noon, safe
lahat. Walang producer na gustong
mag-gamble na babayaran ako ng fifty thousand para papangitin lang o gawing pulubi. Safe movies ang gusto nila,
yung sure na kikita at magbabalik sa kanilang investment.”
She continues, ”At saka ang mga tao noon, kapag lumabas kang
kontrabida, akala nila salbahe ka rin sa
tunay na buhay. People tend to believe what they see on screen. So, even
actresses before were afraid to tackle roles that were out of the ordinary”.
But why was she so driven?
What motivated Amalia?
“Darling, we were poor,” she says nonchalantly. “I lost my
father (Alvaro Muhlach Sr.) when I was five years old. What am I gonna do with
my life? Ayokong lumaki kagaya noong mga nakikita ko sa paligid noon, na nagkukutuhan sa hagdanan. When I was a child, we just have enough money
to buy gas for our lamp. Kasi ang light
namin sa Mindanao , yung de- gaas lang. Yung kinki ba.”
And that explains her
strong money sense. Like the fictional
Scarlett O’Hara, she vowed never to go hungry again. “I lived through
poverty. Yung mga taong nag-aakala, that they will never be poor, akala lang
nila yun. Andyan lang yun. Darating din
yan, kapag hindi sila maingat sa kabuhayan nila.”
Today, Amalia remains as busy, doing housing projects here
and there and spending her precious time with husband Joey Stevens, and their
son Geric, who is taking up Law at the Ateneo de Manila University.
As a starry-eyed orphan who made millions out of hard work,
good sense and sheer determination, Amalia rightfully earned her place in the
hearts of every dreamer who tinkers on the art of the possible. For comments, send e-mail to