They started as bit players, extras with walk-on parts or cameos until they graduated into characters who have speaking lines. Patiently, they worked their way up through the studio system until they got their big break and finally saw their names on the marquee. Here are some of them:
1) Jun Aristorenas
This action star loved playing cowboys and started his career in 1955 as an extra for Sampaguita Pictures’ “Lupang Kayumanggi.” It took 10 years before he got the lead role in “Dugong Tigre” in 1965.
2) Nida Blanca
Dorothy Jones joined LVN when she was 14. Delia Razon, one of the senior stars of the studio then, took her to meet LVN matriarch Doña Sisang (Narcisa de Leon) who gave her her first role in “Reyna Elena” in 1951.
This rubber-faced comedian was first hired as an extra by Fernando Poe Sr. in “Death March” in 1947, before being introduced as part of a comedy team with Ben Cosca (Bentot) in “Ganyan Ka Pala” (1956).
4) Glaiza de Castro
She started as an extra at age 12, and went on to become the body and stunt-double for a movie star whom she resembled, Angel Locsin. Her first major role was playing the lead in the TV series “Grazilda” in 2010.
5) Joseph Estrada
The former Philippine President started as an extra in the 1950s against his family’s wishes. He first appeared in the movies “Kandilang Bakal” (1954) and LVN’s “Sampung Libong Pisong Pag-ibig” (1957). Estrada is best known for his portrayal of “Asiong Salonga” (1962).
6) Lito Lapid
The senator started his career as a stuntman and production technical worker at LVN before starring in the movie, “The Jess Lapid Story,” a true-to-life story of the first movie stuntman in Philippine cinema to eventually become a box-office action star.
7) Jess Lapid
He first appeared as an extra in Premiere Productions’ “Larawan ng Buhay” in 1952 before getting his big break as a villain in the FPJ starrer “Pasong Diablo” in 1965.
8) Fred Montilla
He started as an extra in Vicente Salumbides’ “Florante at Laura” and is best remembered for his portrayal of “Bondying,” for which he won the Famas best actor award in 1954.
9) Fernando Poe Jr.
Believe it or not, FPJ started as a stuntman for Everlasting Pictures, and worked as Lilia Dizon’s double in “Simaron” (1955), before starring in “Lo” Waist Gang” (1956), his biggest break. His first solo movie was “Tough Guy” (1957).
10) Gloria Romero
This cinema icon was spotted by studio bosses at Sampaguita on Christmas Day and was asked to play an extra in Eddie Romero’s musical, “Kasintahan sa Pangarap” (1951). Her first big break was in “Monghita” in 1952, where she played the lead role.
11) Delia Razon
Spotted during a visit to the Sampaguita studios, she was initially cast as an extra in “Apat na Bulag” in 1948 before starring as Rogelio de la Rosa’s leading lady in “Prinsipe Amante” (1950).
12) Rosa Rosal
At 15, she was spotted by producer Luis F. Nolasco and offered a screen test in the movie, “Fort Santiago” (1946), where she was an extra. Her first starring role was in the comedy “Biglang Yaman” in 1949.
Sources: Inquirer Archives, CCP Encyclopedia, pep.ph