Amalia Fuentes: the girl who got lost and found stardom

by Rommel R. Llanes
Oct 8, 2019
Lost inside the Sampaguita Studio, all 15-year-old Amalia Amador Muhlach wanted was to find her mother. The studio employees who saw her, on the other hand, found their new star. This is how Amalia Fuentes transformed from a lost girl to a legend.
Video: Rommel Llanes.

In 1955, the three biggest movie productions at that time—Sampaguita Pictures, LVN Pictures, and Premiere Productions—threw their doors open to the public for an event they called "Trip To Movieland" day.

Among those who jumped at the opportunity to see the studios was Amalia Amador Muhlach, a pretty senior high school student chaperoned by her mother, Concepcion Amador-Fuentes.

Wandering around the Sampaguita Studios, the teenager was separated from her mother, became frantic, and started to cry.

Her cries attracted three Sampaguita employees—Joe Tabirara, the studio timekeeper; Joseph Straight, chief of the sound department, and Nestor Robles, musical director.

The three calmed her down, and asked would she want to appear in movies?

"I thought they were wolves. But they were insistent in taking my pictures so I posed for laughs," related Amalia in her Philippine Free Press October 1958 issue interview with journalist and broadcaster Jose A. Quirino.

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Her photos were later shown to Sampaguita Pictures boss Dr. Jose "Doc" Perez who commented, "This girl looks like Elizabeth Taylor. Get her at once."

But the studio had a hard time convincing her to screen test for the role of the fairy in the movie Prince Charming.

She was not interested in becoming an actress. She was supposed to go to the States to study on a scholarship grant after her high school graduation. Plus, at 15, all that Amalia wanted was to become a flight stewardess.

But after winning Sampaguita's popularity search, Mr. and Miss Number One, together with newcomer Juancho Gutierrez, Amalia's entry in showbiz became inevitable.

The public wanted to see more of Mr. Number One and Miss Number One, proving Sampaguita's gimmick of letting fans choose their new screen idols had worked.

After four movies, their proper screen names were finally revealed in the film Rodora (1956). Mr. Number One was Juancho Gutierrez and Miss Number One was Amalia Fuentes.

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Amalia used her pastor stepfather's last name instead of her real surname Muhlach.

More than five decades and over a hundred films later, Amalia became a legend and an icon.

Often referred to as "The Elizabeth Taylor of the Philippines," Philippine Cinema is grateful for her contributions as an actress, producer, writer, and director.

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