|Former type||film production|
|Fate||absorbed by Unitel Pictures|
|Headquarters||New Manila, Quezon City, Philippines|
|Key people||Vera-Perez family|
Sampaguita Pictures was a Philippine film production company. It was named for the Philippine national flower, sampaguita. The company has been defunct since the 1980s with Mike de Leon's classic Batch '81 being the last film released. Though no longer functioning, the company's Sampaguita Compound remains in Quezon City.
Sampaguita Pictures was established in the last quarter of 1937. Its first feature length film was Bituing Marikit, starring Elsa Oria and Rogelio dela Rosa. It was a box-office hit. The company has continued to make films in the action, musical, horror and suspense genres.
Before the Second World War began, and the Japanese occupied Manila, several Sampaguita films enjoyed box office success in the region. Some of them employed the famous tandem of Carmen Rosales and Rogelio dela Rosa, like Panambitan, Pagsuyo, Jazmin and many more. But the first film made at the Sampaguita studio by Carmen and Rogelio was Takipsilim.
After the war ended, Sampaguita made several war pictures in 1946, including Guerilyera, with Carmen and newcomer Celso Baltazar, Maynila, the comeback picture of Corazon Noble and featuring a little girl Tita Duran, and Isumpa mo Giliw, with husband-and-wife team Angel Esmeralda and Corazon Noble.
After several war musicals became popular, and the studio created a new star team with real husband and wife Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran. They made several hits including Bulaklak na Walang Pangalan, Huwag Ka ng Magtampo, Sa Isang Sulyap mo Tita, and Sa Isang Halik mo Pancho.
In 1950, the studios were hit by fire and hundreds of film prints were destroyed. But in 1951, they top-billed the unknown little girl, Tessie Agana, the daughter of Linda Estrella, in her first lead role in Roberta, with another child actor Boy Alano and the movie was one of the biggest hits of the year.
In the early fifties several actors appeared in the studio's productions, including Alicia Vergel and her husband César Ramírez in Ukkala, Diwani, the Philippine folk hero Bernardo Carpio, MN and many more.
The infamous tandem of husband and wife duo Lolita Rodriguez and Eddie Arenas made some dramas together, like Kundiman ng Puso, Busabos, Cicatriz and Mapait na Lihim. The two later divorced. Arenas is still active in Philippine cinema while Rodriguez moved to the United States.
Susan Roces took her first lead role as a boxer in Sabungera opposite Luis Gonzales, but the movie was not a box office hit. Fuentes and Roces are famous for their rivalry when they made the movie Cover Girls in the 1960s.
By that time, a new manager, Dr. Jose R. Perez, took over the reins of Sampaguita.
In 1971, the studio was merged with that of Vera-Perez Productions to form Sampaguita-Vera Perez pictures, but despite its fling with musicals, especially with the Nora Aunor-Tirso Cruz III tandem culminating in the 1971 movie Guy and Pip, the studio closed a decade later after its last success Batch 81. The company has been absorbed by Unitel Pictures, where Sampaguita's film library resides.
In 1995, the company ventured into television with GMA Network; they produced the drama anthology Pira-pirasong Pangarap which lasted until 2003, which started another co-production Nagmamahal, Manay Gina. The TV shows were hosted by Gina de Venecia.
All movies were aired on television via GMA News TV's Pinoy Cine Klasika every Sunday afternoons. Starting May 2011, selected movies from Sampaguita Pictures aired worldwide on GMA Life TV, under the movie blocks: Reel Life, Pinoy Cine Klasika and Ginintuang Telon.
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