Leopoldo Salcedo ("Pol" or "Poldo"to his family and close friends) was born in Cavite Puerto (now Cavite City ) on 13 March, 1912 to Juan Salcedo y Mayobre and Basilia Red Ganal. He was the 2nd child and had 5 siblings, Magdalena (the eldest who later became a nun and took the name Sor Agustina), Virginia (a former businesswoman now living in New York), Milagros, Delfin (who died at the tender age of 14) and Salvador.
His father, Juan Salcedo, was born in the Philippines but whose family originally hailed from Spain . The Salcedos were aristocrats. They were descendants of Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.In fact, Juan Salcedo's paternal grandfather was Don Juan Salcedo y Mantilla de los Rios,the famous Spanish politico military governor of Cavite (1880-1886). A carpenter by profession and a gifted musician,Juan refused to return to Spain with his parents and 2 siblings (also named Leopoldo and Magdalena). Later ,he met and married Basilia Red Ganal, a pretty lass from Binakayan ,Cavite during the early 1900s. She was a fisherman’s daughter and sold fishes and fruits in the market.
Leopoldo Salcedo’s family was very poor when he was young.But his was a family that stuck together due to the kindness and guidance of his mother.His father was very strict.This strictness was tempered by his mother’s gentle and loving ways. Unfortunately, she died in 1933 due to a liver illness.She didn’t live to see his son become a famous actor.
He was a naughty lad prone to mischief. He was not a good student.In fact, he dropped out and never finished. But he had many friends and was popular among the ladies. He claimed to have lost his virginity at 14.
In his youth, he performed in school plays. Later, he worked as a “ballyhoo man”, the prewar term for people who wore placards to advertise products. He also would ride a horse wearing a king or sultan’s costume to announce the coming attraction in movie theaters. In those days when stage shows were the rage, he acted or sang in “prologo” or front act for the main act of the show. He had a good singing voice and started out as a singer before becoming a full pledged actor.
He got his first break as second lead to Rogelio dela Rosa in “Sawing Palad” in 1934. Actress Alma Bella saw him and introduced him to producer Nepomuceno who immediagely cast him in this film. His first lead role was in “Santong Diablo” .But it was in the film,”Gamugamong naging Lawin” where he became a superstar. During the war, he acted on stage shows mostly as a guerilla, his fine acting shining through and giving hope of freedom for the Filipinos. However, these stage shows were scripted subtly in order not to enrage the Japanese conquerors.
In 1950, Salcedo set up his own movie company LGS Films (Leopoldo Ganal Salcedo Films) and came up with such good films as ,”Highway 54”,”La Roca Trinidad “(the name of his home) and “Tampalasan”.
Salcedo went on to make films for a span of 60 years (1930s to 1990s). His was a splendid career ,winning several awards and recognition of his fine acting ability.He also directed and co directed a few of his films, mostly uncredited.
He was a ladies’ man and ,as the saying goes,”had a girl in every port!”
He fathered several children and had 6 significant women in his life. Although his personal life left little to be desired (he was neither a good father nor husband), the same can not be said of him as an artist for he was an excellent and talented performer (stage or screen).
He died on 10 June, 1998 due to complications from heart attack. He was 86 years old.
That famous Salcedo profile!
With his beloved wife Trinidad Salas in the 50s.
A young and very handsome Pol Salcedo.
Leopoldo Salcedo marries Trinidad Salas in San Roque Church, Cavite City in 1949
At the funeral of his wife,Trinidad Salas in 1953.
With Nela Alvarez
(all photos courtesy of his daughter Ellen Salcedo)