The dramatic life of Naty Crame Rogers

It was drama critic Gibbs Cadiz, now Opinion editor of the Inquirer, who eight years in the past requested me to interview legendary actress-director Naty Crame Rogers as her household and associates have been getting ready to have a good time her ninetieth birthday. And what a rewarding expertise it turned out to be.

The interview passed off in her residence in Barangay Kapitolyo, Pasig City, which was like a residing museum the place performs directed by Rogers (or Tita Naty, as everybody known as her) have been introduced.

She turned out to be a great interviewee. You simply needed to shoot one query to her and out would come a flood of recollections and reminiscences. And digressions. So typically you needed to gently carry her round to the problem at hand and to the clarifications you wanted. Her thoughts was nonetheless sharp and, like a superb actor, she may discuss a kilometer a minute.

Eventful life

Rogers as a blooming 17-year-old

The friendship continued and as I discovered extra about her eventful life, I requested if I may write her life story. She agreed! Unfortunately her stately house burned down, however she was in a position to save most of her lovely non secular photographs, classic pictures, memorabilia, posters, décor and antiques. And she moved to a extra modest residence within the subdivision.

The interviews continued, and I managed to finish a book-length manuscript titled “Naty Crame Rogers: A Life in Theater.” With all confidence I despatched it to Anvil Publishing, which had revealed 4 of my journey books below Karina Bolasco. Came the blow. Anvil stored me ready for months after which unceremoniously rejected the biography. (Bolasco was then on the purpose of retiring and had no say within the matter.)

The subsequent step was to ship the manuscript to the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, whose director was a sort of prótegé of Tita Naty. The response this time was, if I may revise and add to the fabric. Perfectly justifiable, I used to be positive. So at first I stated sure however then determined, no cube. It’s a psychological defect on my half. Once I’m by with a e book mission and it has been accredited by the shopper, I don’t need to return anymore to the manuscript, particularly when confronted by one other mission.

As Dr. Floriño Francisco, son of National Artist Lazaro Francisco, noticed to me as soon as, “even great and famous writers agree to having their works revised and improved.”

At this level Cathy Rodrigo, the hands-on niece of Naty who was her guardian throughout her ultimate years, intervened. She had the manuscript printed in a restricted version for household and associates; and he or she and her husband grew to become the publishers. The e book was lastly revealed and launched in November 2016.

Forever Naty

Rogers at UCLA instructing English as a Second Language in 1960. —COURTESY OF THE CRAME ROGERS FAMILY

Natividad (eternally often called Naty) Crame was born and raised in Manila, eldest of 5 daughters of Ramon Crame (nephew of Gen. Rafael Crame after whom Camp Crame was named), a “so handsome” Ilonggo, and Espectation Kabeza, a schoolteacher from Kawit, Cavite.

Because of the revolution, the mom’s household was anticlerical and inclined towards the Aglipayans. On the opposite hand, the daddy, a debonair man about city who performed the violin and piano, was a “rebellious Catholic.”

Torn between conflicting Christian religions, Naty finally embraced Roman Catholicism because the one true Church, maybe as a result of of its majesty and mysticism. Her religion deepened at St. Scholastica’s College Manila, an expertise which stayed together with her all her life. In reality, she and husband Lt. Col. Joe M. Rogers, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, celebrated their golden wedding ceremony anniversary at St. Scholastica in 1997.

In 1939, the 17-year-old enrolled on the University of the Philippines (UP), then in Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila. “At UP even then,” she recalled, “there was this feeling that if you were there you were very bright. [Yet] I found my work in UP very easy compared to what I had to go through in St. Scholastica (then under the German nuns).”

The roles she later made well-known have been that of Leonor Rivera, Rizal’s sweetheart, within the performs of Severino Montano, and of Paula, who offers in to the advances of the seducer Tony Javier in Nick Joaquin’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.” And among the many highlights of her profession was interacting with 4 National Artists: Montano, Lamberto and Daisy Avellana, and Rolando Tinio.

Naty was completely a theater actress (and later director), and her solely movie position was in Avellana’s “A Portrait…” This was shot in 1965 in an ancestral house in Biñan, Laguna, with just one digicam and some reels of movie. The home was haunted. A mysterious man appeared earlier than director Avellana in the future demanding to see the house owners. When instructed they weren’t round, he left in a huff. When Avellana reported the incident to the brand new proprietor, she solely laughed, “Oh that was my father (who was long dead).”

Naty exclaimed, “We were all experiencing some kind of phenomena.” At one time her scarf disappeared and he or she prayed to the spirits to please return it. When she rotated, she noticed the scarf draped over a chair. What was humorous was that one of the ghosts (a feminine or a homosexual one, I don’t know which) had fallen in love with the good-looking actor Conrad Parhan (who performed the seducer) and would repair his issues at evening. So that when he awoke within the morning he discovered the room nicely organized. And the ghost, after the capturing, even adopted Parhan house!

Naty Crame Rogers (left), Vic Silayan and Daisy H. Avellana in a scene from 1965’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino”

Always a pleasure

The theatrical poster for Nick Joaquin’s “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” in 1965

Naty additionally loved her stint with Tinio’s Teatro Pilipino on the Cultural Center of the Philippines. “It was always a joy because you looked forward to the costuming by Rolando,” she raved. “It was also a challenge because Rolando never hired Avon or any of those makeup people. You had to make yourself up, and the women were careful not to reveal their makeup secrets.”

One of the actors was Ding Navasero, who was very quiet however beloved to play methods on folks. At one time a brand new actress was solid in a lead position, and he or she was apparently turning into a prima donna. Annoyed, Navasero talked to the lightning man and in the course of the curtain name, when the actress was about to triumphantly take a bow, the lights all of a sudden went off!

“Only Navasero had the nerve to do that,” chortled Naty.

Tita Naty underwent the varsity of exhausting knocks within the theater with Montano and his Arena Theater, which broke new floor within the Nineteen Fifties together with the Avellanas’ Barangay Theater Guild. Montano was one of the authoritarian administrators of the late twentieth century. He would shout and make a scene. “When we started in 1953 the teachers were used to this kind of behavior,” she recalled. “You know, you have to be arrogant if you’re top dog.”

Naty, nonetheless, was not one to be cowed. When she felt she was in the proper she would stand as much as the director. Some folks, particularly the younger ones, thought they have been a pair. Not true in any respect; Montano was homosexual, though married. As he himself put it as soon as, his lead actress had “the heart of a man, the face of a woman” whereas he, the director and stage supervisor, “had the heart of a woman while physically a man.”

“I was his stage wife, if there is such a thing,” she quipped.

The final time I noticed Tita Naty was on Dec. 23, 2019, when niece Cathy organized a celebration for her to have a good time her 97th birthday. Obviously weakened, she didn’t say a lot however gave all people a half-smile and adopted this system with curiosity; and final Monday, Feb. 1, she went gently into the evening, to the sunshine.

Her credo was central to her life, to her persona. I wish to suppose that she needed to be remembered by her personal phrases: “We are children of the light—you and I. Every time we fully realize ourselves in drama and the theater, we feel our immortality. This is our mission. Together.”


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