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Cirio H. Santiago photograph

Cirio H. Santiago

Cirio H. Santiago Life story

Cirio Hermoso Santiago was a prolific Filipino film producer, director and writer. He used the screen names Cirio Santiago, Cirio H. Santiago and Leonard Hermes.

Cirio Hermoso Santiago (January 18, 1936 – September 26, 2008) was a prolific Filipino film producer, director and writer. He used the screen names Cirio Santiago, Cirio H. Santiago and Leonard Hermes.

Life and career

Santiago was born on January 18, 1936 in Manila, Philippines to Dr. Ciriaco Santiago, the founder of Manila's Premiere Productions, and his wife Adela Hermoso. He had two siblings, Danilo H. Santiago and Digna H. Santiago. He studied Economics and Marketing at the Ateneo de Manila University.

After starting out as a movie trailer editor and later as a producer of dozens of local films in Tagalog for his father's studio in the 1950s and 1960s, he went on writing scripts for such notable films as National Artist Gerardo de Leóns award-winning Ifugao (1954). Working intensively with de Léon and acclaimed director Eddie Romero on many projects motivated him to finally take over director's chores. His first directorial work was the film Paltik (1955) which went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the 1956 FAMAS awards.

Very early on, Santiago recognized the potential of producing films for the international market, cast with international actors. With the war drama Cavalry Command (1958), which was shot in English, he made a first timid attempt. However, it would be several years before he was able to establish himself in international productions. His breakthrough came with his collaboration with B-movie king Roger Corman, for whose New World Pictures he initially served as production supervisor on hits like Big Doll House (1971) with Pam Grier. His first credit as a director for Corman was Savage! (1973). The strong business relationship between Corman and Santiago grew into a close friendship over the years. Santiago even became the godfather of Corman's children.Many more productions for Corman or other U.S. production companies followed soon after including Blaxploitation classics such as TNT Jackson (1975), The Muthers (1976) and Death Force (1978). By the 1980s, Santiago was almost working exclusively on international productions of various genres. A particularly fruitful period was his 3 picture collaboration with West Indian film distributor Anthony Maharaj, during which Santiago often had larger budgets at his disposal resulting in significantly better production values. These films include the First Blood rip-off Final Mission (1984) or the rape-revenge drama Naked Vengeance (1985) that both enjoyed a worldwide theatrical release.His later career was dominated by war films such as Eye of the Eagle (1987) with Robert Patrick, Firehawk (1993), martial arts action such as Bloodfist (1989, producer), and post-apocalyptic thrillers such as Dune Warriors (1991) with David Carradine, made directly for video, of which his output sometimes peaked at four releases a year. In the late 1990s, with the decline of the video store era, his output dwindled. His final credit is Water Wars (2014). Santiago was forced to leave the set after only three days of shooting and was admitted to the hospital where he died soon after. Jim Wynorski stepped in to finish the project.Over time, Santiago has had the opportunity to work with numerous U.S. directors notably Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, Curtis Hanson and Carl Franklin, some of whom made their first experiences at the helm on a Cirio Santiago set.

Other activities

From 1986 to 2001, Santiago held the role of Chairman of the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines. At the time of his death he was also chairman of the Laguna Lake Development Authority.


Cirio Santiago died September 26, 2008 in Makati City, Metro Manila from lung cancer. He left behind his wife Annabelle and his children Christopher, Cathy, Claudine, and Cirio Jr. His third son Cyril died just a few months earlier.


Quentin Tarantino counts Santiago among his influences. He owns an extensive collection of Cirio H. Santiago movies and based some of the characters in Kill Bill on Santiago's Death Force (1978).According to David Renske in his book, Santiago met Steven Spielberg in his mum's L.A. restaurant "The Milky Way" expecting Spielberg wanting to collaborate with him on a project. To Santiago's astonishment, Spielberg merely inquired whether Nam Angels (1989) had really only cost 400,000 USD. Spielberg did, however, offer the film's leading man, Brad Johnson, a considerable role in his romantic drama Always (1989).

Awards and nominations





External links

Cirio Santiago at IMDb

News about Cirio H. Santiago


Cirio H. Santiago Photos

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