“When you talk about Bernard Bonnin, you remember Palos,” said the man who put the word Palos in the Tagalog lexicon. Parang sa kabayo, matulin tumakbo.” With his sheer good looks, a career in entertainment industry seemed inevitable. Bernard is second to the youngest in a brood of four boys and four girls.
“Alyas Palos” made Bernard Bonnin a household name. Bernard is lucky to have inherited the fine genes of his father, Juan S. His father came to the Philippines when he was sixteen. At 14, he was already five feet and seven inches tall, and it was hard not to notice his handsome profile.
Bernard’s difficulty in speaking the dialect was taken cared of by a tagalog coach provided by the lady producer. Before every take, I and Joseph would rehearse under a tree.
“Joseph de Cordova, a very fine character actor, was my tagalog tutor. It was so difficult because all my lines were literally memorized.
But what makes the three characters so distinguishable is the fact that they were portrayed by just one actor—the dashing six-foot nino bonito of the silver screen, Bernard Bonnin.
Unlike other successful film franchise like Darna, Dyesebel and Captain Barbel that have seen several remakes but were portrayed by different movie stars, Palos was played only by Bernard Bonnin, not once, not twice, but an astounding eight times starting with “Alyas Palos” in 1962.
He (Palos) is similar to James Bond, a mercenary with an excellent skill in opening state-of-the art vaults. Because of Palos, the ‘pretty boy’ became an action star.” Bernard Bonnin hails from Negros. (Father Remy Monteverde, who later tapped him to do movies for Regal Films, was a fellow athlete.) “I was the fastest runner in San Beda,” recalled Bernard. Soon, the high –school athlete found his way to the doors of film studios.
However, good looks alone couldn’t ensure long-time success. Donya Sisang probably saw my potential as an action star and she assigned me to do Alyas Palos.” The rest is, of course, history. Aside from Palos, Bernard also immortalized the Gagamba character. Before Spiderman came out, meron na akong “Bakas ng Gagamba.” It was directed by Virgilio Redondo.” Soon, Bernard was the toast of movies that celebrated superheroes. For example, in doing “Captain Karate,” he went through a rigorous karate training.“I love the Philippines,” he said, “but I would also like to know more about my roots in Spain.” Bernard has five children—beauty queen turned actress Charlene Gonzales; erstwhile actor Richard Bonnin, who will be coming back to the country to pursue his studies; Gabby, who is doing well in Australia; Vincent, who is in London; and 17 year-old France, who is also bound for London to study mass communication. Their parents are residing here in Abu Dhabi and it so happened that nobody is available to take them here that time. I was teaching in a public school in Manila and lucky me(second time) April is summer and vacation time, No need to take leave or anything. There are plenty of unknown species outside waiting at the arrival. It’s like the smell of a T-shirt worn a 100 of times. (Please try not to imagine..) We stayed for a night in a villa in Dubai where my cousins husband is staying. Thanks to his background as a school athlete, he was ready for the next big step in his film outing. Bernard feels he owes so much from the Palos character, he had it copyrighted in 1974. Yung pinaninindigan ko lang ang pagkatao ko.” The rumor mill is indeed ripe of his many exploits off the screen —the real battles he fought in defense of his principles. Up to this time, no actor can claim, na natupi nila ako” he said. I’m the type of man who will put himself in harm’s way to defend a friend. Bonnin has done a hundred and fifty films as a leading man, and thirty more, as the nemesis of the lead character. And I have a loving wife, Digna, who is taking good care of me.“Palos made me, and I felt I have to protect the franchise,” he confirmed. But as soon as he developed an interest in the craft, there was no turning back. However, I won’t also allow anyone to do something to me that isn’t right.” Respect is foremost in his list. Among his films are: Masikip sa Dibdib (2004), Ako ang Lalagot sa Hininga Mo (1999), Code Name: Bomba (1998), Seth Corteza (1996), Apoy sa Lupang Hinirang (1990), Ibabaon Kita sa Lupa (1990), Buy One, Take One (1988) opposite Susan Roces, Tatlong Patak ng Dugo ni Adan (1980), Women in Cages (1971), The Arizona Kid (1971), Bart Salamanca (1968), Target: Captain Karate (1968), Walang Duwag na Bisaya (1965) , Sandata at Pangako with Fernando Poe Jr and Charito Solis (1961) and Mga Anak ni Waray (1959) . But there’s a saying that ‘once an actor, always an actor.’ So, I still welcome offers as long as the role suits me”, said Bernard.