Luis Nepomuceno, who as the son of Jose Nepomuceno, otherwise known as the Father of Philippine Cinema, carved his own name in the local film industry as an accomplished producer and director in the 60s, died yesterday, April 28. He was 89.
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Born to Jose Nepomuceno and Isabel Acuña, as well as to the colorful world of movie-making, it was inevitable that Luis himself would enter this world of make-believe by taking the helm of Nepomuceno Productions—though prior to this he was heavily involved in advertising films through his company Film Advertising Media Exhibition or FAME.
His debut film was Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak (1967), a tribute to his father. It starred Charito Solis, Ric Rodrigo, Paraluman, and Rod Navarro, with Liza Lorena in her first starring role. The film holds the distinction of being the first local movie shot in color by Deluxe and the first Filipino film entry to the 40th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.“Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak was written by my father,” notes Luis in his last published interview for Southern Living in 2015. “But he never got a chance to make it because he wanted it [viewed] in color.”
Bulaklak’s box-office success, coupled with the acclaim and awards it received including the best actress plum for Solis in the Asian Film Awards, paved the way for more releases from Nepomuceno, including Manila: Open City, which is Eddie Romero's WWII movie, Langit sa Lupa, Pipo, Ang Pulubi, The Hunted, Pacific Connection and Igorota. He favored ambitious projects and had lofty ambitions for his movie business. He wanted projects with international appeal. His movie premieres were glittering major industry events.
The imposition of Martial Law in 1972, however, and an unexpected run-in early on with the powers that be due to his involvement in the 1970 film Maharlika starring American starlet Dovie Beams saw the untimely closure of his production outfit, and along with it his dreams of producing 35 other films as well as opening branch offices across Asia.
The younger Nepomuceno eventually turned his back on filmmaking and led a reclusive life in Tagaytay, in a lodge-like home close to nature. He died peacefully at his daughter Maria Amparo's house in Alabang yesterday evening and was cremated this morning, according to his grandson, the photographer Artu Nepomuceno.
“In his final moments, I was told he was talking to his dad,” Artu tells ANCX. “My mom said that he said ‘Papa’ as if he saw him. It felt like a full cycle since he was the one who followed in his dad’s footsteps.”
Images courtesy of Artu Nepomuceno.