|Born||Florence Lansang Danon
October 16, 1931
Manila, Philippine Islands
|Children||Toni Rose Gayda|
|Awards||FAMAS Best Actress
1955 Sonny Boy
Florence Danon Gayda (born October 16, 1931), better known as Rosa Rosal, is a FAMAS award-winning Filipino film actress dubbed as the "original femme fatale of Philippine cinema". She is also known for her work with the Philippine National Red Cross. For her humanitarian activities, she received the 1999 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, an award widely considered as Asia's Nobel Prize. She is the mother of TV host Toni Rose Gayda.
Rosal was born Florence Danon in Manila. Her mother hailed from Santa Rita, Pampanga, while her father was of French and Egyptian descent. Her half-brother, Don Danon, once acted as a stand-in for the Hollywood actor Rudolph Valentino.
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Rosal worked as a newsreader in a Japanese-run radio station. Shortly after the end of the war, Rosal worked part-time at the San Lazaro Hospital. One night, she was passing by a film shooting as she was walking home, and she was spotted by the film's producer, Luis Nolasco. She was offered a film contract by Nolasco, who headed his own outfit, the Nolasco Brothers Studio.
The Nolasco Brothers Studio cast Rosal in Fort Santiago (1946). Her screen name was taken from the Tagalog words for "rose" and "gardenia". In 1947, Rosal was cast opposite Leopoldo Salcedo in Kamagong (1947). Her performance drew the attention of the other major film studios, and she was signed to a contract with LVN Pictures by the studio head, Doña Sisang de Leon. She was cast by LVN Pictures in her first starring role in the 1949 film Biglang Yaman.
Throughout the 1950s, Rosal starred in costume dramas such as Prinsipe Amante sa Rubitanya (1951), and in such neo-realist dramas as Lamberto Avellana's Anak Dalita (1956), Tony Santos's Badjao (1956), and Manuel Silos's Biyaya ng Lupa (1959), which she cites as the best film she has ever made. For her role in Anak Dalita, Rosal would receive a citation from President Ramon Magsaysay. She was named FAMAS Best Actress in 1955 for Sonny Boy, and would be nominated three other times, for Dagohoy (1953), Biyaya ng Lupa, and Ang Lahat ng Ito Pati na ang Langit (1989).
Notwithstanding her serious roles, Rosal would become best known in the 1950s for her daring appearances in film. She had no qualms appearing onscreen in bathing suits, engaging in kissing scenes or in playing villainous roles. Offscreen, Rosal led a quiet and private life. She enrolled in night classes at the Cosmopolitan Colleges and obtained a degree in Business Administration in 1954. She was married briefly in 1957 to an American pilot, Walter Gayda, with whom she had a child, Toni Rose, who later became a television host.
In the 1960s, Rosal became one of the first leading Filipino actors to appear regularly on television. She was a fixture on Cecille Guidote Alvarez's dramatic series Balintataw on ABC-5 (now TV5). In the 1970s, Rosal starred in Iyan ang Misis Ko, a family-oriented sitcom with Ronald Remy. In 1976, Rosal would also appear in Behn Cervantes's Sakada, a film which was banned by the martial law government of President Ferdinand Marcos.
two public service shows where people in need of assistance came to ask Rosa's help
- Ulila (Forsaken) Rosa Rosal's weekly drama anthology over BBC-Channel 2 (1976–1980)
- "Anak nila ang anak ko" (Their child is my child)
- "Sa bawa't araw" (At the end of each day)
- "Goodbye, House"
with Hero Bautista & Mervyn Samson
- "Ampon" (Adopted Child)
- "Dalawang Ina" (Two mothers)
- "Walang hanggan ang dilim ng gabi" (Endless Night)
- "Ang Kanilang Ama" (Their father)
- "Bulag" (Blind)
with Lito Anzures
- "May isang anak" (There was a daughter)
- "Ako ba ay isang ina?" (Am I a mother?)
with Gina Alajar
- "Best Actress"
- "Dapit-hapon" (sunset)
- "Marami ang landas ng Buhay" (There are many paths in life)
- "Bantayog" (Statue)
Rosal joined the Philippine National Red Cross as a volunteer-member of its Blood Program in 1950, and was elected to its Board of Governors in 1965. Rosal has become widely known for her efforts to promote blood donation in the Philippines. She helped initiate Red Cross programs that set up bloodletting sessions inside campuses and military camps, including the American military base at Clark. She lobbied political leaders and foreign embassies for donations to upgrade Red Cross facilities.
Rosal also established a Women's Crisis Center within the Philippine National Red Cross. The Center was aimed at assisting unwed and needy pregnant mothers, as well as finding homes for unwanted children. With donations obtained from the pork barrel funds of members of Congress, Rosal has also run in her personal capacity a college scholarship fund for poor but deserving students.
In 1999, Rosal was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. She was cited for "her lifetime of unstinting voluntary service, inspiring Filipinos to put the needs of others before their own."
In the 1950s, while in her mid-twenties, Rosal declined President Ramon Magsaysay's offer to appoint her as head of the Social Welfare Administration, the predecessor-agency of the cabinet-level Department of Social Welfare and Development.
In November 2008, Rosal was awarded the Ading Fernando Lifetime Achievement Award at the 22nd PMPC Star Awards For TV.
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