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Moviemakers: The Making of Tamaraw Studios

With more than a hundred films under its catalogue, Tamaraw Studios made a mark in the Philippine movie history.

Filipinos who have seen No Way Out and Kahariang Bato may be familiar with one of the biggest movie houses in the Philippines during the ‘50s, Tamaraw Studios, owned by the Joseph brothers George, John, Albert, Robert, and Michael. 

Nestled on a two-hectare lot in Marulas, Polo, Bulacan, the studio has the best movie equipment during those days, backed with reliable technicians. 

At its heydey, Tamaraw Studios was one of the biggest production outfits in the country, with over a hundred titles on its catalog.
At its heydey, Tamaraw Studios was one of the biggest production outfits in the country, with over a hundred titles on its catalog.
“The history of it, even before it was called Tamaraw Studios, my grandfather imported the distributor Devry.  It was a projector for sound, that was way before the war and the Josephs had 28 movie theaters. Kaya lang, noong pumasok ang giyera, naubos lahat, ni wala kaming pang-backpay,” says Robert “Bobby Joseph, now a businessman. 

Tamaraw then had three units so that they could shoot in different locations. It became the launchpad of the now Senator Bong Revilla’s acting career in the movieNardong Putik. 

 I used to go to shooting noon, sinasama ako ng daddy ko, mga comedy, horror, nandoon sina Oscar Obligacion, Chiquito, Chicay, Aruray, and Patsy. Minsan nasa sementeryo pa kami nagshu-shoot. Tapos ang films noon four in one, kaya madaming artista kasi apat na istorya.”

After the war, the father of Bobby Joseph and Joe de Venecia would love watching movies and then they decided to put up the Joseph brothers movie company and started producing films. 

“Those were the films that came out after the war until 1970. During that time, we were producing over 200 movies, we were the largest filmmaker, next to India and the United States. My father, together with Mayor Villegas then started the Metro Manila Film Festival.”

Robert "Bobby" Lim Joseph and his brothers founded Tamaraw Studios
Robert "Bobby" Lim Joseph and his brothers founded Tamaraw Studios
In 1963, Tamaraw Studios partnered with Korea in producing the war movie No Way Out, starring Leopoldo Salcedo, Ronald Remy, Lalaine Bennett, and Lou Salvador, Jr. It introduced the Korean stars Kim Sung Ho, Park Noh Shik, Choi Ji Hee, and Kim Un Hee. It was directed by Lamberto V. Avellana.

“The first kissing scene in a Filipino movie was in No Man is an Island, starring Jeffrey Hunter, Marshall Thompson, and Barbara Perez. To show you that it was very conservative, Barbara’s request was that no kissing scene to come out in the Philippines. Barbara was the Audrey Hepburn of the Philippines,” says Bobby.

In 1970, the competition became very fierce. “Ang kalaban mo kasi artista na. Paano mo lalabanan sina Fernando Poe, Jr., Aristorena, the Lapids, the Gonzales. So they just decided to lease the property, services, and editing facilities but still had several projects with Lamberto Avellana. We would see Eddie Garcia. That was part of the growth.”

“What killed the movie industry was the 35 percent amusement tax tapos magbabayad ka pa ng sinehan. It’s easier now to produce a film kasi phone camera lang puwede na, noon hindi eh, magdadala ka ng camera mo, ang daming ilaw, ang laki-laki ng power generator mo na ilalayo mo pa para hindi marinig kaya ang lalaki ng cablemo. The movie industry is very alluring, its lessons of ups and downs. Yung films ngayon, you can easily copy, dati binibisikleta pa yan eh. Ang distribution and marketing noon napakahirap, ngayon showing agad in more than 400 theaters nationwide,” he says.

Seeing the behind the scenes of creating a movie from then until now, Bobby fell in love with the industry. He even shared that he wanted to go into acting but his father did not allow him. Now, on his free time, he loves watching Filipino TV shows which he believes has affected the culture of the Filipinos. 

“Now, during my free time, I like watching Ang Probinsyano and Sandugo. Most movies now even promote various tourist spots in the Philippines. It has greatly affected our culture, nakita mo naman ang ginagawa sa Ang Probinsyano, may values, may dasal. Ang mga bata noon natuto mag-English sa Sesame Street. Sa kultura, kasama din ang values, language, and history,” Bobby ends. 

Topics: Tamaraw Studios , Philippine movie , No Way Out ,  Kahariang Bato , Joseph brothers , Robert “Bobby Joseph
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