Pugo (Mariano Contreras), also known as Mang Nano…


Pugo (Mariano Contreras), also known as Mang Nano…


Pugo (Mariano Contreras), also known as Mang Nano…

Pugo (Mariano Contreras), also known as Mang Nano, was a stage, film, radio, and television actor, and film director. He was born on 12 July 1910. He died on 12 December 1978. Considered the “Original King of Philippine Comedy,” he began acting on stage as one-half of the comedy team Pugo and Togo (also spelled Tugo, real name Andres Solomon) in the 1930s. Before World War II, they appeared in a dozen movies including Ang Lihim ng Lumang Simbahan (The Secret of the Old Church), 1940, and Binibiro Lamang Kita (I Was Only Joking), 1941. During the war, when Japan occupied the Philippines, the duo had to change their names to Puging and Tuging because of the similarity of the name Togo to Tojo, the Japanese prime minister. They performed a comedy sketch on stage imitating Japanese soldiers who wore several wristwatches at the same time. As a result, they were reportedly brought into Fort Santiago for questioning.


After the war Pugo and Togo resumed their film career, appearing together in several movies until Togo’s death in 1952. Without a partner, Pugo’s movie roles were as sidekick to other actors such as Nestor de Villa or as father to Lou Salvador Jr and Luz Valdez. Moviegoers, however, did not appreciate his comedy routines as much as when he was with Togo until he met the actor Bentot in the late 1950s, whose standard role for the rest of his career was as Pugo’s overgrown dim-witted son. Pugo and Bentot became the new comedy duo. The two then ventured into radio and later into television.


Pugo and Bentot were first cast in the DZRH sitcom Sebya, Mahal Kita (Sebya, I Love You) with Sylvia La Torre in the title role, Eddie San Jose, and Rosa Aguirre. The popular radio program, where Pugo played the role of Sebya’s father, Don Mariano Batekabesa, was made into a film with the same title in 1957. The film version had Pugo and Bentot as supporting actors to Nida Blanca and de Villa. The original radio cast was then used in the movie My Little Kuwan (My Little Something), 1958, with the same storyline. Following the success of Sebya, DZRH produced the sequel Tang-Tarang-Tang, 1961-74, where Pugo played the central character of Don Mariano. The show was also produced for television in 1963, airing on ABS-CBN Channel 3. A later offshoot was Si Tatang Kasi (Blame It on Father), 1974, which again starred Pugo in the title character, this time with the character name of Mang Nano.


Pugo’s other sitcoms were Wanted: Boarders, Alright, Okay, and My Son, My Son. He also hosted the amateur radio and television singing contest Tawag ng Tanghalan in the 1960s with comedian Patsy after the demise of Patsy’s co-host Lopito. In 1962, he directed “Sepulturero” (Gravedigger), a segment in the comedy-horror movie Kababalaghan o Kabulastugan? (Mystery or Mischief?). Pugo appeared in at least 30 more movies after Togo’s death, including the film versions of his popular sitcoms, but it was through his radio and television shows that audiences heard and watched him regularly.



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