June 13, 2024

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Artists Group To Pay Tribute to a Bicolano Actor in Philippine Cinema

Undated Portrait of Alexander Flores Despi

By Kurit-Lagting Art Collective

Sorsogon, Philippines- Artists and writers belonging to a group of filmmakers and art collectives in Sorsogon are planning to organize an online event to pay homage to Bicolano actor and stuntman, Alexander Flores Despi more famously known by his screen name, Alex Flores.

In the upcoming Pagbutwa II virtual exhibit this April by the Kurit-Lagting Art Collective in partnership with UAPSA Area B District 5, and the Sorsogon Initiatives for Culture and Arts Development, a video will be shown containing Despi’s filmography and short bio. According to UAPSA District Director and Kurit-Lagting member Robert Marticio, it is of utmost importance to recognize the contributions as one of the pioneers of stunt making in Philippine Cinema.

Bicolano actor, Alex Flores Despi (middle) during a scene in the American horror movie, Superbeast (1972).

Alexander Flores Despi was born on February 27, 1939 in Sampaloc, Sorsogon City in the province of Sorsogon to fisherfolk parents, Modesto Despi and Hilaria Flores. He was in his early teens when he went to Manila to find work. During his stint as a movie extra and stuntman, he trained and co-founded a group of stuntmen who provided their services to action movies in the 60s.

“He was a judo master, so the stunts that he performed were all the result of his training. He was one of the first to do stunts that involved jumping from a cliff and a waterfall. As a son of a fisherman, he was a skilled boatsman so he was also one of the very few stuntmen who’s able to paddle a bamboo raft while standing,” said his daughter, Ma. Dolores Despi who is now a teacher at the Sorsogon Pilot Elementary School.

A cropped photo from http://video48.blogspot.com/ of a promotional movie poster for Hari ng Lansangan; Credited as Alex Flores

“ I hope that my father gets credit for his works. After numerous stuntworks, he became a character actor and starred alongside many famous actors including Eddie Garcia, Fernando Poe Jr., Jun Aristorenas, Lolita Rodriguez, Max Alvarado, and Joseph Estrada during the Golden Ages of Philippine Cinema in the 60s and 70s,” she added.

“We would like to honor the works of a man who was obscured from the limelight. Coming from a rural beginning in the province then from being a stuntman to a character actor and working with the big names in the film industry is no ordinary feat. He struggled a lot by providing for his own food, attire, and costumes when he was just starting out,” said Kurit-Lagting co-founder, Geri Matthew Carretero.

Alexander Flores Despi (first row, 2nd from the left) with stuntmen, OMS survivors

Among his notable films were Hari ng Lansangan (1962), Showdown (1966), Apat na Bagwis (1972), and many more. Some of the movies he was involved in also represented and explored the plight of the marginalized and underprivileged sectors of Filipino society.

During the 80s and 90s, Despi continued to dabble in supporting roles and stuntworks including the american movie, The Fighter (1989) and Ang Leon at Tigre (1991) starring Maricel Soriano and Rene Requiestas.

Alex Flores Despi died of throat cancer in Sorsogon City on May 20, 1996.

Apat na Bagwis (1972) credited as Alex Flores (http://video48.blogspot.com/)