Tony Ferrer and the 200 films that made him an icon

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Jan 23 2021 05:07 PM

Tony Ferrer starred in over 200 films, including the James Bond-inspired Agent X-44 film series. Courtesy of Video48

If Hollywood has its James Bond, the Philippines managed to produce its successful counterpart, Tony Falcon or more popularly known as Agent X-44 in the film series. Local showbiz fans certainly know that is action star Tony Ferrer Jr., Antonio Laxa in real life.

Undoubtedly, Ferrer had a prolific acting career as he made over 200 films as an actor. He worked with big named stars, as well as respected directors who managed to bring out the best in him as a performer.

Born on June 12, 1934 in Macabebe, Pampanga, Ferrer was the youngest brother of lawyer Espiridion Laxa, producer of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions and EDL Pictures.

In 1969, Ferrer worked with actress Imelda Ilanan in two films – Armando Herrera’s “The Gunman” and Abraham Gregorio’s Agent X-44 story, “Seven Deadly Roses.” Ilanan became the mother of Ferrer’s eldest child, Maricel Laxa.

In 1971, Ferrer starred with beauty queen Alice Crisostomo, who became his leading lady in Armando De Guzman’s “The Golden Child,” with Snooky Serna in the title role. The following year, Ferrer tied the knot with Crisostomo.

The couple had two children, actress-beauty queen Mutya Laxa Buensuceso and brother Falcon (Laxa), named after Ferrer’s screen character. The actor’s youngest son, Mark Laxa, is with a non-showbiz partner, Pinky Poblete.

When Ferrer turned octogenarian on June 12, 2014, his loved ones led by his two daughters, Laxa and Buensuceso, gathered to throw a birthday party for him. He showed up in his trademark white suit and glasses as spy and agent Tony Falcon or Agent X-44.

In the party, Buensuceso tearfully rendered “In My Life,” as her dad watched clips of his old films with the guests.

Although largely known for his action films as Agent X-44, Ferrer won best actor in 1970 at the Quezon City Film Festival for De Guzman’s dramatic film, “Sapagkat Sila’y Aming mga Anak,” with Boots Anson Roa and the young loveteam of Vilma Santos and Edgar Mortiz then.

Ferrer received best actor nominations from the FAMAS for Eddie Garcia’s X-44 action opus, “Sabotage” (1966) and Emmanuel H. Borlaza’s “I Love Mama, I Love Papa” (1971), with the young Serna who played his daughter. Ferrer worked again with Serna in De Guzman’s “The Golden Child” (1971).
    
Ferrer started his acting venture as early as 1960, when he made his big screen debut in the Fernando Poe, Jr. action-drama, “Kilabot sa Barilan,” megged by Alex Sunga.

At the start of his acting career, Ferrer starred in many of Poe, Jr.’s action films, including Sunga’s “Dakilang 9,” Garces’ “Baril sa Baril,” “Ikaw o Ako,” “Matapang sa Matapang” and “Mga Tigreng Taga-Bukid.”

On his first year alone in the acting arena, Ferrer already charted seven on his filmography. He worked with the big name stars then. He acted alongside Joseph Estrada in Efren Reyes’ “Cuatro Condenados” (1962), Jess Lapid in Garces’ “Pitong Makasalanan,” that starred a bevy of actresses including Lolita Rodriguez, Paraluman, Rita Gomez, Lilia Dizon and Perla Bautista.

In Reyes’ “Ang Babaeng Isputnik” (1963), Ferrer already shared stellar billing alongside Nida Blanca, who played the title role. That same year, he returned for the film’s sequel, Natoy Catindig’s “Isputnik vs. Darna,” with Blanca and Liza Moreno.

The year was 1964 when Ferrer was given his solo action starrer, Garces’ “Markong Bagsik,” with Divina Valencia as his leading lady. That same year, Ferrer also starred with Jun Aristorenas in Garces’ “Dugong Tigre.”

The following year (1965) saw the big screen birth of Ferrer’s iconic Tony Falcon Agent X-44 character in Eddie Garcia’s “G-2.” That same year, Garcia lost no time in working at the helm of yet another Agent X-44 film, “Kalaban ng Sindikato,” followed by “Interpol: Hadlang sa Manlulupig,” “Contra Senas” and “Mastermind.”

Apparently, Agent X-44 became such a big hit character for Ferrer that he didn’t stop churning out action starrers playing Tony Falcon. In 1966, Garcia directed Ferrer anew in “Trapped,” “Blackmail” and “Sabotage,” while Abraham Cruz worked at the helm of “Boomerang,” “Karate Kid” (1967) and “The Strategist” (1971).

George Rowe directed Ferrer’s Agent X-44 in “Code Name: Octopus” (1966) and “Solo Flight” (1967). De Guzman worked in “Kill… Tony Falcon,” Leody M. Diaz in “Frame Up” and “Blue Seal Mataharis” (1969)

Garcia worked with Ferrer anew as director of “The Assassin” (1967), “Modus Operandi” (1967) and “Crisis” (1970).

Garces handled Ferrer as Agent X-44 in “Crack Down” (1967). Gregorio megged “The Specialists” (1968), “The Infiltrators” (1969), “Seven Deadly Roses” (1969), “The Mad Killers” (1969).

Romeo Galang directed “Secret Witness” (1972) and “Magnum 44” (1974), while Efren C. Piñon worked in “Last Target” (1978) and “Sabotage 2” (1979).

In between portraying Tony Falcon and his other big screen roles, Ferrer managed to act in memorable drama, comedy and even musical projects. Starting in the mid-sixties, Ferrer topbilled films and attached his bankable name in every project, making as many as 13 starrers a year.

The actor worked with leading actresses of his era, like Lotis Key and Rosanna Ortiz in Herrera’s “Walang Duwag sa Kayumanggi” (1975), Gina Pareño in Leonardo Garcia’s “Mission: Get Killers on the Loose” (1975), Chanda Romero in Pierre Salas’ “Alat” (1975) and Alma Moreno in Eliseo Corcuerra’s real-life tale, “Jail Break” (1976).
    
Musicals did not escape Ferrer’s filmography. He starred with Helen Gamboa in Diaz’s “Target: A-Go-Go Generation” (1967), with Santos, Mortiz and Serna in Armando de Guzman’s “The Wonderful World of Music” (1971).

Ferrer worked at the helm of a musical-drama, too, the film debut of the popular disco-pop group, Hagibis in “Legs, Katawan, Babae” (1981), which Ferrer also bankrolled. The film also featured actresses Myrna Castillo, Laarni Enriquez and Dinah Dominguez.

Daisy Romualdez was Ferrer’s leading lady in Cruz’s “Bisig ng Lipunan” (1967), Garces’ “The Blackbelter” (1967), Abraham Gregorio’s “The Master Liquidators” (1967) and Diaz in “Alyas Bagsik” (1971).

With director Pablo Santiago, Ferrer did “Metrocom” (1967), “Mine Hunter” (1968) and “Bagsik ng Kamao” (1970).

Ferrer also got the chance to appear in foreign films, like Jeremy Summers’ “The Vengeance of Fu Manchu” (1967) with Christopher Lee, Bobby Suarez’s “Cosa Nostra Asia” (1974) with Chris Mitchum, Cirio H. Santiago’s “Cover Girl Models” (1975) with Pat Anderson and Efren C. Pinon’s “Blind Rage” with Fred Williamson (1978).

Ferrer was paired with Alicia Alonzo in Diaz’s “The Bandits” (1969), Marissa Delgado in Gregorio’s “The Sinners” (1969), Hector Molina’s “Daigdig ng mga Halang” (1970) and Nilo Saez’s “Master Key” (1971);

Divina Valencia in Diaz’s “Kidnappers” (1970) and “Pag-ibig ng mga Salarin” (1970), Rita Gomez in Diaz’s “Lihim ng mga Makasalanan” (1970) and Leonardo Garcia’s “The Corruptors” (1971).

With the Child Wonder of the seventies, Niño Muhlach, Ferrer starred in “Wonder Boy” (1970), jointly megged by Garces and Nilo Saez.

In 1980, two action heroes – Poe, Jr. and Ferrer – starred in the memorable screen team-up, Armando Herrera’s “Ang Agila at ang Falcon,” to fight a crime syndicate.

Ferrer’s last screen appearance as Agent X-44 was when Vhong Navarro reprised the character in the latter’s comedy-action portrayal, directed by Joyce Bernal in 2007.