Vilma Valera (Judy Johnson, Bicolis, Philippines, 2 July 1945 - 21 September 2018) was a 1960's Filipino actress and singer. She sang in the film Boogaloo, a movie made in the Philippines around 1968 that shattered the World’s Record for mascara. Vilma Valera recorded several albums before her retirement from show business in the early 1970s.
She is a “tisay” (short for mestiza). Her father, Vincent Johnson, is an American while her mother, Judy San Jose, is a Filipina from Bicol. She grew up in Manila. She spent many years in a convent in Quezon City which was ran by Irish sisters. She spent her years there until her third year in high school. Like many movie stars, she became preoccupied with her acting, which prevented her from finishing high school. It was when she moved to the United States, that she was finally able to complete high school and pursue higher education. Vilma’s biggest break was in 1964 in the movie, “Salambao” with Eddie Rodriguez and Van de Leon as her co-stars.
She was nominated as FAMAS best actress in “Salambao.” She was versatile as an actress that landed her in several roles in action, drama, comedy, musical with top actors at that time as her leading men: Ronnie Poe, Jr., Dolphy, Eddie Mesa, Eddie Gutierrez, among others. When LVN studio closed shop, Vilma signed a contract with Larry Santiago Production. She decided to join Larry Productions upon the invitation of Pablo Santiago, who was then the boyfriend of Vilma’s aunt Cielito Legaspi. Although Vilma had an exclusive contract with Larry Santiago Productions, she was allowed to do movies with other companies like Sampaguita Pictures and Sultana Productions. When we talked about the movie, “Pogi” (1967), which she did with Eddie Gutierrez, I couldn’t help but ask Vilma if there was any truth to the rumors back then that she got romantically involved with Eddie. She responded, “Nung magkasama kami sa “Stop, Look, and Listen,” naging close kami. Lahat ng problema ko, at kung ano-ano pa, siya ang binubulungan ko, Vilma continued. “Sa studio, laging naka-akbay sa akin si Eddie. Akala ng mga fans ko may affair kami. Hindi nila alam cover-up lang ako ng relationship nya kay Pilita Corrales. When Pilita needed to take a leave from her TV show, Eddie wanted her to take the place of Pilita. “Ako ang gusto ni Eddie na pumalit kay Pilita,” she added. “Nung pumalit ako kay Pilita, akala ng mga fans ko, kami na ni Eddie. Ang hindi nila alam, pakulo lamang namin yon.”
…Among the movies she made where she had the title role were “Reyna ng Tundo” (1964), with Amado Cortez, Van de Leon, Charlie Davao, Vic Diaz, and Willie Sotelo; “Pitong Desperada” (1964) with Liza Moreno, Miriam Jurado, Stella Suarez, Mila Montanez, Juvy Cachola and Zeny Zabala; “Mamatay sa Laban” (1964) with Willie Sotelo, Cynthia Lopez, and Eddie Rodriguez; “Naligaw na Angel” (1964) with Willie Sotelo, Maggie de la Riva, Vilma Santos and Van de Leon; “Let’s Go” (1964) starring Eddie Mesa, Jose Mari, Helen Gamboa, Reycard Duet, Elizabeth Ramsey, and Jerry Pons; “Danilo Ronquillo: Cavite Boy” (1965) starring Jun Aristorenas, Van de Leon and Ponga; “Kay Tagal ng Umaga” (1965) with Lolita Rodriguez, Marlene Dauden, Eddie Rodriguez with special participation of Vilma Santos. “”Pogi” (1967) with Eddie Gutierrez and Nora Aunor as guest star; “Shake-a-Boom” (1997) with Dolphy, Merci Molina, Ike Lozada, and Norma Ledesma; “Way Out in the Country” (1967) with Bert Leroy, Jr. Blanca Gomez, Gina Pareno, Edgar Salcedo and Ricky Belmonte; “Batang Matadero” (1969) with Fernando Poe, Jr.; “Nardong Kutsero” (1969) with Fernando Poe, Jr., Paquito Diaz, Pablo Virtuoso, and Dencio Padilla’ “Boogaloo” (1968) with Helen Gamboa, Bobby Gonzales, and Roger Calvin.
…Vilma was not only a movie star but also a singer. She remembers well her years as a choir member while she was at the convent. That was how she developed her singing talent, which later on became part of her career. “I really wanted to be a singer, so I joined a band,” she said. She put up her own band, “R-Gents Band” (so named because all the names of the members of the band started with letter “R.” She studied how to play the drums. Eventually she was not only the band’s soloist singer but also a drum player. The band performed in Hawaii, Okinawa, and Asian countries. At one event, she had a concert with Eddie Mesa. In between her concert tours, she would make movies. Vilma recorded several albums before her retirement from show business. Her signature songs were “It Must Be Him” and “One Day…”
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