Katy De La Cruz
Catalina “Katy” Mangahas was born on February 13, 1907. Her path to stardom as Bodabil queen started when she was only seven years old.
Katy quit school after completing first grade. She focused on singing and became a frequent attraction in public gatherings like town fiestas. It was during one of these fiestas that a theater owner named Henry Brown saw her and was amazed by her talent.
After signing her first contract as a singer at age 7, Katy began singing during intermissions in between movie screenings. At age 13, she started making her mark as the country’s queen of bodabil — the popular form of entertainment that emerged in the 1920s and exposed Filipinos to American jazz music.
Katy immortalized the naughty song Balut, with her unique singing style. Due to her immense popularity, she was considered the “flag bearer” of the Victor recording company. After performing with fellow stars including the Queen of Kundiman, Atang de la Rama, she began singing on her own and eventually became the highest-paid star at the Savoy, one of the biggest movie houses in Manila.
Aside from gracing the bodabil stage and releasing several recordings, Katy was a frequent presence on the radio, on television, and in movies. She received the best supporting award from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) for her performance in the 1953 movie, Inspirasyon. She also performed in different parts of the world, including Southeast Asia, the United States, Hong Kong, China, and Australia.
She eventually resided in the United States, but visited the Philippines in 1989 to watch a musical based on her life story. Entitled Katy!, the musical featured music by Ryan Cayabyab and a libretto by Jose Javier Reyes. Mitch Valdes played the bodabil queen.
Katy died at the age of 97 on November 10, 2004.
Tiongson, Nicanor (Ed.). (1994). CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (Vol. 7: Philippine theater). Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Lo, Ricky F. (2009, September 5). Katy De La Cruz: remembering Mommy Kate. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from http://www.newsflash.org/2004/02/sb/sb003517.htm.