Gerardo de Leon

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Gerardo de León Ilagan (12 September 1913 – 25 July 1981) was a Filipino actor who became one of the Philippines' best film directors. Known as Manong Gerry by his colleagues, he was considered to be the “Father of Philippine Cinema” because of his contributions to the industry.

De León is the most awarded Filipino film director in the history of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards, the Philippines' version of the Oscars. In between 1952 and 1971, he received seven FAMAS Awards, three of them three years in succession.

Early Life

De León, who was born Gerardo Ilagan on 12 September 1913, came from the gifted Ilagan clan, which was influential in the field of Philippine motion pictures. Many of the people who came from this group would later on become luminaries of the silver screen, such as Robert Arevalo (known for being the first to act in the 'Santiago' films and was awarded best actor in his work on “'Daigdig ng mga Api'”), Liberty Ilagan (a Filipina actress who is known in the industry as 'Libay'), Ronaldo Valdez (a celebrated comedian), and musical prodigy Tito Arévalo.


Gerardo de Leon studied Medicine in University of Santo Tomas (UST). However, his great love for the art of entertainment eventually led him to study theater and film-making during his academia. He later acted in and directed small campus productions.


As an Actor

De Leon acted in a total of eight movies before moving to film making. Some of his notable works are “'Ang Dangal”” (his acting debut) in 1934, “'Ang Maestra”' in 1941, “'Orasang Ginto”' in 1946, “'Lantang Asahar”' in 1947 and “'Ang Kamay ng Diyos”' in 1947.

As a Director

In 1939, he was tasked to direct the short film “'Bahay-Kubo”'.

It was also on the set of Bahay Kubo that he met Fely Vallejo, who would later be his wife.

De Leon made numerous films in his life as a director, many of which were recognized by the Philippine FAMAS awards in his lifetime. His award-winning works include “'Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo'”; “'Hanggang sa Dulo ng Daigdig'”; “'Huwag Mo Akong Limutin'”; “'Noli Me Tangere”'; and “'El Filibusterismo”'. The last two are adaptations of the novels written by Jose Rizal.

During his lifetime, De Leon was able to cross absolutely every available genre of his time. Many of his projects were re-released and imported to the US and the UK. Some examples of these are Day of the Trumpet, Terror is a Man, “'Intramuros”', “'Kulay Dugo ang Gabi'”, “'Ibulong Mo sa Hangin'”, and Women in Cages.

One of his unfinished projects was the late Fernando Poe, Jr.'s Juan de la Cruz in 1972.


  • “'Bahay-Kubo'” (lit. “'Nipa' Hut”; 1939) - directorial debut
  • “'Prinsesa ng Kumintang'” (lit. “Princess of Kumintang”; 1940 by LVN Pictures)
  • “'Estrellita'” (lit. “Little Star”; 1940 by Sampaguita Pictures)
  • “'Colegiala'” (1940 by Sampaguita Pictures)
  • “'Maestra, Ang'” (lit. “Teacher, The”; 1941 by RDR)
  • “'Panambitan'” (lit. “Yearnings”; 1941)
  • “'Anong Ganda Mo'” (lit. “What's Your Beauty?” which is actually “You are So Beautiful” 1942 RDR)
  • “'Liwayway ng Kalayaan'” (lit. “Dawn of Freedom”; 1944) – director was listed as Are Yukata.
  • “'Tatlong Maria'” (lit. “Three Marys”; 1944) – re-released after the Japanese occupation as “'Sa Libis ng Nayon'” (“Back to the Farm”)
  • “'Orasang Ginto'” (lit. “Golden Clock”; 1946 by LVN Productions)
  • “So Long America” (1946 by Sampaguita Pictures)
  • “'Isumpa Mo, Giliw'” (lit. “Make a Vow, My Love”; 1946 by Sampaguita Pictures)
  • “'Mameng, Iniibig Kita'” (lit. “Mameng, I Love You”;1947 by Sampaguita Pictures)
  • “'Ikaw Ay Akin'” (lit. “You are Mine”; 1947 by LVN Pictures)
  • “'Tayug, Ang Bayang Api'” (lit. “Tayug, The Oppressed Town”; 1947 by Pedro Vera Pictures)
  • “'Bulaklak at Paruparo'” (lit. "Flower and Butterfly"; 1948 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Kumander Sundang'” (lit. "Commander 'Sundang'"; 1949 Premiere Productions)
  • “'Padre Burgos'” (lit. "Father Burgos"; 1949 Premiere Productions)
  • “'48 Oras'” (lit. “48 Hours”; 1950 Premiere Productions)
  • “'Doble Cara'” (1950 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Ang Kampana ng San Diego” (lit. "The Bell of San Diego"; 1950 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Kamay Ni Satanas'” (lit. “The Hand of Satan”; 1950 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Sisa” (1951 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Diego Silang'” (1951 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'10th Battalion sa Korea'” (lit. “10th Battalion at Korea” 1951 by by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Bagong Umaga'” (lit. “New Morning”;1952 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Python at the Old Dome” (also “'Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo'”; 1952 by Manuel Vistan Productions/Premiere Productions)
  • “'Ang Bagong Maestra'” (“Cinemasters of the Philippines”; 1953)
  • “Dyesebel” (1953 by Premiere Productions/Manuel Vistan Jr.)
  • “'Banga Ni Zimadar'” (lit. “Zimadar's Jar”; 1954 by Manuel Vistan Productions)
  • “'Eva at si Adam'” (lit. “Eve and Adam”; 1954 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Pedro Penduko” (1954 by People's Pictures/Premiere Productions) – based on the Liwayway Maganize comics of the same name by Francisco V. Coching
  • “Ifugao” (1954 by People's Pictures/Premiere Productions)
  • “Sanda Wong” (1955 by Premiere Productions/Vistan-Chapman)
  • “'Higit sa Lahat'” (lit. “Most of All”; 1955 LVN Pictures)
  • “Huk!” (1956 by Pan Pacific Productions/United Artists)
  • “'4 na Kasaysayang Ginto'” (lit. “4 Golden Histories”; 1956 by People's Pictures) – made into 4 segments:
    • “Ngoyor”
    • “Luis Sacramento”
    • “30 Sandals”
    • “'Hating-Gabi'” – written and directed by Gerardo de Leon
  • “'Medalyong Perlas'” (lit. “Pearl Medal”; 1956)
  • “Saigon/Lebran's Saigon” (1956 by Lebran)
  • “Bella Filipina” (1956 by People's Pictures)
  • “Simaron” (1956 by Everlasting Pictures)
  • “'Walang Panginoon'” (lit. “No God”; 1956 by Everlasting Pictures)
  • “'Ang Buhay at Pag-ibig ni Dr. Jose Rizal'” (lit. “The Life and Love of Dr. Jose Rizal” by 1956)
  • “Mr. and Mrs.” (1956 by People's Pictures)
  • “'Kamay ni Cain'” (lit. “The Hand of Cain”; 1957 by People's Pictures)
  • “Day of the Trumpet” (also "Cavalleria Commandos"; 1957 by Premiere Productions) - released in the US in 1963 as "Cavalry Command".
  • “Bicol Express” (1957 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Sweethearts” (1957 by Cirio Santiago Film Organization)
  • “'Bakya mo, Neneng'” (lit. “Your Wooden Clogs, Neneng”; 1957 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Hanggang sa Dulo ng Daigdig'” (lit. “Until the Ends of the Earth”; 1958 by PMP)
  • “Shirley, My Darling” (1958 by People's Pictures)
  • “'Obra Maestra'” (lit. “Masterpiece”; 1958 by People's Pictures)
  • “Terror is a Man” (1959 by Valient Films) – re-released by Hemisphere Pictures in 1968 as “Blood Creature”
  • “Surrender – Hell!” (1959 by Cory Film Corporation/Allied Artists Pictures)
  • “'Aawitan Kita'” (lit. “I will Sing for You”; 1959 by People's Pictures)
  • “'Huwag mo akong limutin'” (lit. “Never Forget Me”; 1960 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Viuda De Oro'” (1960 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Touch Me Not” (lit. “Noli Me Tangere”; 1960 by Bayanihan Arriva Productions)
  • “Apollo Robles” (1961 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Moises Padilla Story” (1961 by MML Productions/Larry Santiago Productions)
  • “'El Filibusterismo'” (1962 by Arriva Productions)
  • “I Am Justice” (also “'Ako ang Katarungan'”; 1962 by Premiere Productions)
  • “'Barilan sa Pugad Lawin'” (lit. “Shooting Affray at the Hawk's Nest”; 1963 by People's Pictures)
  • “'Magandang Bituin'” (lit. “Beautiful Star”; 1964 by People's Pictures)
  • “'Intramuros'” (1964 by Hemisphere Pictures/Filipinas Productions) – released in the US as “The Walls of Hell”
  • “'Anak ni Dyesebel'” (1964 by People's Pictures)
  • “'Ang Daigdig ng mga Api'” (lit. “The World of the Oppressed”; 1965 by Cinemasters Inc.)
  • “'Kulay Dugo ang Gabi'” (lit. “Blood is the Color of the Night”; 1964 by People’s Pictures/Hemisphere Pictures) – released in the US in 1966 as “The Blood Drinkers” and 1971 as “The Vampire People”
  • “'Tagumpay ng Mahirap'” (lit. “Success of the Poor”; 1965 by Cinemasters Inc)
  • “'Tatlong Kasaysayan ng Pag-ibig'” (lit. “Three History of Love”; 1966 by AM Productions/Lea Productions)
  • “'Ibulong Mo sa Hangin'” (lit. “Whisper to the Wind”; 1966 by AM Productions) – released in the US as “Curse of the Vampires” and “Blood of the Vampires” and “Creatures of Evil” in the UK by Independent International/Hemisphere Pictures on 1971
  • “Wanted: Johnny L” (1966 by People's Pictures)
  • “Gold Bikini” (1967 Lea Productions)
  • “Mad Doctor of Blood Island” with Eddie Romero (1968 by Hemisphere Pictures/Independent International Pictures Corp) – Also known as “Blood Doctor”, “Grave Desires”, “Tomb of the Living Dead”
  • “Brides of Blood” (lit. “'Mga Nobya ng Dugo'”; 1968)
  • “Brownout” (also “Blackout”; 1969 by Adroit Films)
  • “Lilet” (1971 by Velarde & Associates Productions)
  • “Women in Cages” (1971 by New World Pictures) – released in US cinemas as “Bamboo Dollhouse” and on VHS as “Women's Penitentiary III”
  • “Playpen” (1974)
  • “Fe, Esperanza, Caridad” (1975 by Premiere Productions)
  • “Banaue” (also “Banawe”; 1975 by NV Productions)
  • “Juan de la Cruz” (1976 by FPJ Productions) – Unfinished


Gerardo de León died on 25 July 1981 in Manila. In recognition of his legacy to the Philippine film industry, he was named the 1st Filipino National Artist of Cinema in 1982.


De Leon is generally regarded as a master Filipino film maker. His works were showcased in Los Angeles in the UCLA Filipino Film Festival from 10 to 12 May 2002.


  • “Filipino Film Festival at UCLA a Big Success.” UCLA International Institute. [1] (Accessed on 21 June 2010).
  • “Gerardo de Leon.” Filipino Famous Artists. [2] (Accessed on 21 June 2010).
  • “Gerardo de Leon: Two Vampire Films.” Critic After Dark. [3] (Accessed on 21 June 2010).
  • “Gerardo de Leon Filmography.” [4] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • Torre, Nestor U. “Tribute to Best-ever Filipino Film Directors.” ''. [5] (Accessed on 21 June 2010).



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