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Bodabil is genre of variety entertainment is composed of song and dance numbers, slapstick comedy routines, magic acts, and chorus girls -- an indigenized version of the American vaudeville. It was prevalent in the Philippines from the 1910s until the mid-1960s, though it reached the height of its popularity during the Japanese occupation. It has spawned onstage performers who would be icons of Philippine Cinema, such as Dolphy, Nora Aunor, Leopoldo Salcedo, and Rogelio de la Rosa.


The American tradition entered the Philippine scene through the educational system that they introduced in 1901. The fresh new inputs that they brought in merged with the transforming tradition of the Philippine theater. The songs and dances of the bodabil used to fill in the gaps between short Zarzuela or between the acts of long ones. In some provinces, these intermissions were called "jamboree", the term used for opening musical performances of stage shows. During the Japanese occupation, they were called "stage shows". The current form of bodabil are said to be the variety shows that are so popular on television.

Venues and performers

Bodabil was staged in the Manila Grand Opera House and the Savoy, which was later called Clover. It also appeared on political stages, but after a few decades, it deteriorated into cheap shows shown in low class theaters around American bases.

During its peak, there were different performers that emerged in different fields. One of these was Borromeo Lou who played Jazz music. There were also dancers such as Benny Mack and Bayani Casimiro (known as the "Filipino Fred Astaire"), and comic magicians like Canuplin. There were also singers such as Katy de la Cruz, Diana Toy and Miami Salvador; the "Filipino Elvis Presley", Eddie Mesa; the local Perry Como, Diomedes Maturan; and Pinay Timi Yuro, who is known now as Nora Aunor.