|Perla Adea (third from right, in white blouse), Romy Mallarin on Perla's right side, Dolly Favorito in pink blouse.
In the late ‘60s, one of ABS-CBN’s entertainment flagship shows on radio was “Operetang Putol-Putol”. It was a program bastardized as modern opera dedicated to the fans of teenyboppers. It made some obscure, young but talented artists into superstars.
The show, a brainchild of radio icon Johnny de Leon, included regulars Esperanza Fabon, Perla Adea, Joe Alvarez, Dolly Favorito, Danny Taguiam, Danilo Jurado, Elizabeth Ledesma, and some pinch hitters.
Once in a while, Nora Aunor and Jay Ilagan, two of the original members of the show, appeared on the butchered musical in their own convenient time, especially when they had free time since they were hooked to a number of commitments.
“Operetang Putol-Putol” was definitely a household byword among the masses not only in the city but mostly in the grassroots whose cheap diversion was AM radio.
The weekly extravaganza was a mix of comic strip, a little drama, and a lot of singing of the idols of the impoverished. It was a loosely-structured script, mostly on teenage life in school, at home and in the community, and it was read by these teens as voice actors. It was an entertaining venture.
Where have all the mainstays of the show gone?
Ilagan is gone forever, while Aunor is still in the US waiting for an official green card.
How about the rest?
A birthday celebration last Tuesday of a veteran showbiz fixture, erstwhile talent coordinator-turned-movie scribe Virgie Balatico gathered some of the “Operetang Putol-Putol” stars. The event was held in Latin-inspired Cuba Libre Bar in Starmall in Shaw Boulevard.
Espie Fabon came in her most dignified self. Yes, the petite screen partner of the late Eddie Peregrina deserves all the respect and adulation, being one of the fighting judges in the Pasig City Regional Trial Court.
A mass communication graduate of the Faculty of Arts and Letters at the UST, Judge Esperanza Fabon-Victorino has promulgated some of the most sensational and controversial court cases in the country, and these have made her a hot item.
Does she eat death threats for breakfast? No, she doesn’t mind the security risks, she said.
“I don’t go out with close-in aide or a bodyguard. I drive by myself. I only employ a companion when I feel I would suffer vertigo,” she said.
A widow, Espie is happy with her kids, and although she has no in-laws yet, she isn’t in a hurry to be a grandma at this point in her exciting career.
Colleague Perla and husband Romy Mallari, himself a matinee idol during the late sixties and early seventies, are a twosome wherever they go. Adea seems always rejuvenated. “I am happy with my love life. I have a very healthy family,” she exclaimed. Mallari is the typical responsible pillar of the family.
The Mallaris are a big clan considering their still growing number of grandchildren.
Perla, who’s also in real estate and Romy, who still dabbles in film and TV acting, are consultants in Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista’s Cultural Affairs Office.
Dolly Favorito, a small but terrible torch singer who was famous for her rendition of “Kansas City,” wasn’t around, but she surely sent her warm greetings to the celebrator who has been taking care of them ever since they entered show biz. Favorito is busy teaching young people music.
Danny Taguiam, a veteran “Opereta…” character, has a business, but he still runs around with his co-stars whenever he has the time, while Danilo Jurado, the gay pal in the show, is now a movie scribe and an entertainment editor of a tabloid.
Joe is abroad, still very active in music, while Ledesma died some four ago due to ovarian cancer.
“It’s good to see them together,” said German Moreno, the Master Showman himself, who despite his being in a competing TV network during the “Opereta…” days. He sees to it that Esperanza, Perla, Danny, Dolly and the other living cast are intact.
“Madalas mag-reunion ‘yang mga yan kasama ang kanilang ina-inahan na si Tessie Lagman,” said German.