Tony Ferrer, ‘James Bond of the Philippines,’ dies at 86

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2021 04:00 PM | Updated as of Jan 23 2021 04:32 PM

Screen veteran Tony Ferrer was dubbed the Philippines’ own James Bond. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Tony Ferrer, the action hero who distinguished himself as Tony Falcon in the Filipino spy movie series “Agent X-44,” passed away on Saturday in Pasig City after a lingering illness.

Mark Laxa told ABS-CBN News that his father died peacefully at home at 7:25 a.m., Saturday due to complications of his advanced age. He was 86.

His daughter, former beauty queen Mutya Buensuceso, said Ferrer was “surrounded by the care of his family, the love of his children, and the joy and songs of his grandchildren” during his final days.

“He was a remarkable, selfless man who always thought of others first, impacting a lot of lives on and off screen. We shall all remember him with fondness,” Buensuceso wrote on Facebook.

An online memorial is still being finalized by the family, according to Buensuceso. Ferrer, she added, had requested that there be no public viewing of his remains.

Antonio Laxa in real life, Ferrer started out as a supporting actor in the early 1960s, playing second fiddle to the likes of Fernando Poe Jr. and Joseph Estrada.

His career took an upswing when he played the title role in the James Bond-inspired spy character Tony Falcon, Agent X-44 in “Sabotage” (1966), directed by Eddie Garcia.

The prolific Agent X-44 series spawned more than 20 films through the decades in action-thrillers such as “Interpol,” “Trapped,” and “Modus Operandi.” The series culminated in the 2007 Star Cinema revival starring Vhong Navarro, where Ferrer had a cameo role. 

ABS-CBN News last covered Ferrer at his grand 80th birthday celebration in 2014, one of his last public appearances. 

Still wearing his trademark white suit and glasses, an emotional Ferrer thanked his daughters, Maricel Laxa Pangilinan and Buensuceso. In attendance were former partner Imelda Ilanan, the mother of Laxa Pangilinan, as well as former leading lady Divina Valencia.

During the celebration, Buensuceso tearfully sang “In My Life” as Ferrer watched clips of his old movies, which made his celebrity synonymous with being the Philippines’ own James Bond. 

In a past interview, Ferrer acknowledged the importance of his screen look and persona. He said, “Let’s face it, I’m not as handsome as the other matinee idols of the 60s, but because I’m Agent X-44, girls got attracted to me.”

“I thought of wearing all white suits in these movies, and they became my trademark!”