Sunday, January 29, 2017


MOTHER AND CHILD, With daughter Ana Lisa, Print Ad, 1959.

The leading milk brand in the late 1950s was DARIGOLD MILK, which had been advertising since 1953. It was produced in the Philippines beginning in 1957, under the Seattle-based dairy agricultural marketing cooperative, Darigold Inc. Advertising began in 1958, and it would find stiff competition from Liberty Milk for over two decades.

At the peak of its popularity, DARIGOLD had a commanding presence on TV (remember “Darigold Jamboree” hosetd by Eddie Ilarde, Leila Benitez and Bobby Ledesma?), Radio ( on DZXL, it sponsored Darigold Daily Jamboree and Darigold Jumbo Jamboree) as well as Print.

ARMI AND SON, JUSSI, Darigold Print Ad, 1959.

DARIGOLD scored a coup when it enlisted the very first Miss Universe 1952, Armi Kuusela to appear in its print ads that began appearing in 1959. By then, the Finnish world beauty had already been married to millionaire businessman, Virgilio Hilario for 7 years. Their fairytale romance began when Kuusela visited the country as guest of the First Philippine International Fair, where the Filipino swain swept her off her feet. Ten months into her reign, Kuusela resigned from her Miss Universe job to marry Hilario in Tokyo.

ARMI WITH SON JUSSI, Darigold print Ad, 1961.

In 1959, the Hilarios were raising 4 kids—Arne, Anna-Lisa, Jussi and Eva-Maria (they would have one more boy—Mikko), which made Armi a perfect choice as celebrity mother-endorser. (arch rival Liberty Milk had the iconic Paquita Goyena as model).

The DARIGOLD print series that you see here—all in color-- ran from 1959 to 1961. The ads not only featured Armi, but also her children and husband, Virgilio.The campaign further boosted the milk brand’s popularity to greater heights,

BEST FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. Darigold Print Ad, 1961.

Everything was going for the brand—from its familiar red and white logo with a blue diamobg in the center to its far-reaching media visibility. Its commercial jingle resonated with kids :  “Gusto ko ng gatas ng DARIGOLD, DARIGOLD, DARIGOLD, …DARIGOLD ang inyong bilhin!”.

ALL IN THE FAMILY, "Kuusela-Hilario Family", Darigold Print Ad, 1961

But in the 1970s, the local  DARIGOLD partner—Consolidated Dairy Products Inc.—figured in a dispute with the mother company, and the two were soon locked in a bitter legal bottle. This would lead to the discontinuation of the production of DARIGOLD MILK in the Philippines in 1976. We have these print ads as reminders of DARIGOLD's glory days--when it persuaded the most beautiful girl in the Universe to push the milk that's " so good for babies..and best for the whole family!"

Monday, January 23, 2017

92. 1974 MISS UNIVERSE ARUBA and SWEDEN, as Print Ad Models

THE TWO WHO STAYED. Ava Vieira and Roempke were two Miss Universe Beauties who found
love in the Philippines, and enjoyed short careers in the advertising and showbiz industry.

As the present Miss Universe mania continues to grip the country, we look back at  the very first time that the most prestigious pageant in the world was held in the Philippines-also the first time in Asia-- 43 years ago, thanks to the victory of Margie Moran. By a curious twist of faith, a Filipina crowned Amparo Muñoz, a daughter of Spain, the country's former colonizer.

But there were other delegates that made lasting impressions on Filipinos—one, was the petite and popular Miss Aruba, Maureen Ava Vieira (adjudged fifth in the contest ) and the blond 19 year-old, Spanish-speaking  Swedish beauty, Eva Christine Roempke. In fact, the two would similar destinies---they would win the hearts of two scions of affluent Filipino families, and would get married within the year--Ava Vieira to Philip Ysmael, Roempke to Marcos Prieto Roces. In the short time that they resided in the Philippines, Ava Vieira and Roempke did a bit of commercial modeling; the former forayed into movies as well.

BARBIZON AD, with Ava Vieira. 1974.

Ava Vieira showed off her curves in BARBIZON ads, that featured a line of brassieres, girdles and panties, distributed by Bonito Enterprises in Divisoria. From 1974-75, BARBIZON stuck to this format, using beauty queens that included Ava Vieira from the Miss Universe Contest, and winners of Miss Asia Quest, as signature models.  This is the only known ad that Ava Vieira appeared in.

MAGNOLIA YOGHOURT AD, with Eva Roempke, 1975.

MAGNOLIA YOGHOURT, on the other hand,  featured the lithe and slim Roempke  in bigger testimonial ads that saw print in select women’s magazines. The previous year had Miss Universe Margie Moran endorsing the same product.

Unfortunately, the marriages of Ava Vieira and Roempke proved to be short-lived. These two ads—one for BARBIZON intimate apparel for Ava Vieira and MAGNOLIA YOGHOURT for Roempke—are  the only surviving reminders of their brief modelling career here in the Philippines. The products, on the other had, are still very much around.

2016 photo of M. Ava Vieira: Marcos Hirakawa FB photo post
2016 photo of E. Roempke: Townee Paat, E.C. Roempke-Stefan FB page.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

91. Beauty Queens as Ad Models: LALAINE BENNETT, Miss Universe 3rd Runner Up

GENERAL TEXTILES INC. was one of the most popular brands of fabrics in the country in the early 1960s. With offices in Libis, Quezon City, GENTEX products were promoted not only through traditional media but also via sponsorships of fashion and beauty shows. One such event that GENTEX sponsored was the 1963 search for Miss Philippines to the Miss Universe, staged by impresario Alfredo Lozano at the Philamlife Auditorium.

Of the 24 candidates , a Gaddang-speaking Filipina-American mestiza from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya  was crowned Miss Philippines—Lalaine Betia Bennett, a 5’9” stunner who had finished as a runner-up to Cynthia Ugalde in another pageant in 1962. Bennett went on to compete at the Miss Universe Pageant in Miami Beach and copped 4th place from 49 other beauties.

This was the very first placement of the Philippines at the Miss Universe, and so, when Bennett came home, she was welcomed with warm adulation. Offers for her to appear as a celebrity endorser for a number of products poured in, magazines sought her as their cover girl, and even movie producers came-a calling.

GENTEX, having been a sponsor of the local Miss Philippines tilt, was one of the first advertisers to get Lalaine’s services. In fact, a new fabric brand was named after her—LALAINE FABRICS. The line-cotton fabric blend are soft, light and pastel colored. It also possess the GENTEX  crease-free and color-fast quality.

“Fashioned for flattery”—LALAINE FABRICS hit the stores in 1964, and promoted in print ads as “the choice of the nation’s fairest”. Lalaine would go on and also promote other products like Radiowealth and Pepsi, and would even star in her own movie,”Lalaine, Mahal Kita”. As for LALAINE FABRICS, the product was only as good as Lalaine’s popularity, as by 1964, another beauty took over the limelight —Gemma Cruz, who finally won a world crown as Miss International 1964. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

90. Where Are They Now?: Nestlé Vita Kid, JUN KING AUSTRIA

NESTLE VITA LAUNCH AD, starred Jun King Austria, who would go on to
 be a child star and a successful commercial film director.

 Sometime in 1986, TV viewers were introduced to a new product of Nestlé Philippines  that incorporated chocolate, milk, sugar and soya in one health drink—NESTLÉ VITA. Nestlé believed in the potential of soya as the answer to the search for more affordable nutrition sources for Filipino children, resulting in the production of the revolutionary powdered drink.

NESTLE VITA PRODUCT AD, 1986. Alex R. Castro Collection

While NESTLÉ VITA generated initial interest, it was the performance of the little boy in a lab coat, with moptop hair and glasses that captivated millions of TV viewers. The commercial conceived by ad agency Ace-Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising shows a boy genius type working in a lab setting, trying to mix the perfect formula for a chocolate health drink. But the multitude of ingredients needed to concoct the drink only served to faze him (“Sugar, milk, ice, hooooo hirap!").

2-PAGE LAUNCH AD, featuring Jun King Austria

Until—the boy discovers Nestlé VITA that only needed water to create the perfect chocolate health drink to his liking. He ends his “experiment” with the line—“I therefore conclude that no other chocolate drink is more complete as  NESTLÉ VITA”.

TAPE ROLLING! Nestle Vita Boy gives another good take.

The precocious little boy who charmed his way to the audience’s heart was JUN KING AUSTRIA, son of Ernesto Austria and Liwliwa Villa Agustin of Manila. Early on, he caught the eye of TV and movie casters, with his little boy “bibo” looks—that earned him tickets to casting auditions and even minor TV appearance. Jun King amazed agency people with his ability to take directions and his cheerful disposition.

ERNESTO "Jun King" AUSTRIA II. In 1982.

He started bagging commercial assignments, doing ads for Colgate, Ajax Detergent, Knorr, Sunny Dew Orange, Hybrid 5 Chicken and Kraft Eden Cheese. But it was his solo lead performance in that NESTLÉ VITA launch commercial that brought him more recognition.

THIS BOY IS A PRO! Another TVC shoot for Jun King Austria.

The ad was directed by the notable Jun Urbano (later known as the comedian “Mr. Shooli” and son of screen icon, Manuel Conde), who shot the ad for just half a day in the old Filmex studio near Broadway Centrum. Director Urbano recalls that it was one of the quickest commercial he has done—Jun King impressed the veteran director by hitting all his cues perfectly, and his segment took only an hour to complete.

Later that year, Jun King did a second NESTLÉ VITA TV ad, a promo commercial that advertised free plastic VITA shakers. Jun King was supported in this song-and-dance commercial by child actress Gladys Reyes, whom he became fast friends with.

JUN KING transitioned to mainstream TV, starring in popular telenovelas.

He would do a dozen more commercials until showbiz discovered him. That started when he got a call from a common friend of producer Mother Lily (Monteverde) and his ‘ninang’, who asked if he wanted to act on TV. Apparently, Mother Lily was looking for a child actor to portray the young Albert Martinez in a TV project.

He and his Dad (his mother was in the that time) agreed to do an audition at Regal Films that same afternoon, and next thing they knew, Jun King was shooting the movie “Lilac”, starring Snooky Serna, Albert Martinez and Gloria Romero.

"LILAC", Jun King's first teleserye; he appeared as the young Albert Martinez.

After “Lilac”, his TV assignments just poured on. He was on “Flor de Luna”, “Tanikalang Buhangin”, and “Verdadero” , where he played the role of Moses (later, the series was repackaged as “Tungkod ni Moises”). He also became a mainstay for “Kulit Bulilit” for a year.

JUN KING AUSTRIA, early teens, and a "That's Entertainment" 90s member.

Pretty soon, German Moreno (“Kuya Germs”) came a-calling and included Jun King in his very popular “That’s Entertainment” daily afternoon show. He joined the Friday group with contemporaries Jessa Zaragosa, Fred Moore de los Santos, Bamba and Strawberry. Jun King never stopped his schooling while in showbiz from where he took a 2-year break when he reached that so-called awkward stage.

JUN KING AUSTRIA, a new career behind the camera.

Sometime in 2002 while doing a commercial for Bayantel’s “Zippedee” directed by Teddy Catuira, he was coached by assistant director Melvin Lee. Jun King expressed his interest to foray into directing, and Lee agreed to take him as his assistant for a major project—Mark Meily’s “Crying Ladies” (2003). That movie provided him the training ground that led him to embark on a lifelong career in directing.

DIREK JUN KING, in action.

Jun King today is very much in demand as assistant director for TV commercials, as well as films (100, Downtown, Sign Seeker ). He occasionally acts in films (Flotsam, 2015; Kimmy Dora, 2013; La Visa Loca, 2005).  On the side, his love for cars jumpstarted a business which he put up with friends, supplying prop cars for television commercials.

KING OF THE WORLD. The Austria Family: son Ernesto III, Jun King
and  wife Verna.

Jun King Austria is married to Verna Primicias, with whom he has a son, Ernesto III. As a kid herself, wife Verna had seen the NESTLÉ VITA commercial, and had developed a big crush for the Vita boy, whom fate decreed later to be her husband.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: Then: Jun King and father, Ernesto I" Now:
Ernesto III with father Jun King,
When asked if he is still recognized for that role today, Jun King says, “Not anymore. “But when I mention my name especially to people 45 years old and older, they would light up and say—HAH?? IKAW NA YUN?

THIS BOY IS KING: Commercial Talent, Child Actor, Film and Commercial Director, Businessman
 * * * * * * 

MANY THANKS TO MR. JUN KING AUSTRIA, for the online interview.
ALL PICTURES, courtesy of Jun King Austria's Facebook Page, unless otherwise noted.