Emerenciana Ortiz Santos [1](July 21, 1937 – August 8, 2017) professionally known as Zeny Zabala, was a Filipina actress. Born and raised in Marikina, she was known as the villain of Sampaguita Pictures for her frequent roles as a villainess in her films.

Zeny Zabala
Emerenciana Ortiz Santos

(1937-07-21)July 21, 1937
DiedAugust 8, 2017(2017-08-08) (aged 80)
Resting placeLoyola Memorial Park, Marikina
Years active1954–2013
(m. 1964; died 2011)
RelativesJohnny Delgado (stepson)

Early life


The fourth child among nine siblings,[citation needed] Zabala was born in Marikina to shoemaker Enrique Santos and Ursula Ortiz.[2]



She was discovered when she was accompanying her sister Caridad who was then in the film industry in 1953.[2] Her first role was as a mother in the 1953 film Siga-Siga who dies giving birth to the character of Anita Linda.[2] As a result of her film career, she was forced to drop out from high school in her 2nd year.[2] Her first movie for Sampaguita Pictures was Binibining Kalog opposite Lolita Rodriguez and Ramon Revilla,[citation needed] and she later married actor Rodolfo "Boy" Garcia on June 30, 1958.[3]

In 1963, Zabala became a freelance actress.[4] In 1964, Zabala earned her first FAMAS acting nomination as Best Supporting Actress for Ang Bukas Ay Akin!, topbilled by Charito Solis and Nestor de Villa. In the same year, she remarried with director Ben Feleo.

In the mid-1960s, Zabala began establishing businesses in Marikina outside her film career, such as a restaurant called Zeny Zabala's Canteen near the town's Shoe Trade Fair, a shoe-making shop called LeConstant Shoe Shop, and a furniture store.[5] Zabala is soon offered by businessman Narciso G. Isidro, the grandfather of singer Agot Isidro, a lead role in the film Ruby, to be produced by his newly established film studio in Marikina called NGI Productions.[5]

In the 1980s, she continued to appear in more Dolphy films such as Kalabog en Bosyo Strike Again (1985) and her last known big screen appearance, Tataynic (1998), both directed by her husband Ben, who died in 2011. She co-starred with Vilma Santos in Marilou Diaz-Abaya's Baby Tsina in 1984 and appeared as Santos' cruel mother-in-law in Chito Roño's Ikaw Lang in 1991.[1]

She joined the cast of John en Marsha in 1982 as the mother of Madel, Rolly Puruntong's wife.

Personal life and death


In 1964, She married director Ben Feleo; they met in 1962. She is the stepfather of Feleo's son Johnny Delgado from his previous marriage. He died by a stroke in September 2011.

She died on August 8, 2017, aged 80 in Quezon City, Philippines.




Year Title Role Note(s) Ref(s).
1954 Siga-Siga
1954 Lourdes
Milyonarya at Hampaslupa
1955 Pandora
Binibining Kalog
1956 Prince Charming
1957 Sino ang Maysala?
Pasang Krus
Pretty Boy
Prinsesang Gusgusin
1958 Mga Reyna ng Vicks
Berdaderong Ginto
1963 Dance-O-Rama
Ang Bukas Ay Akin
1964 Ang Mahiwagang Pag-ibig ni Lola Cinderella
1965 Ana-Roberta
1966 Viva Ranchera Esmeralda
1967 The Sunjuka Master
Ruby Ruby
1968 Mindanao
Room for Rent
1969 Kalinga
Luzviminda: Inang Pilipinas Luzviminda
1970 Our Lady of Peñafrancia (Patroness of Bicolandia)
1984 Baby Tsina
1985 John en Marsha '85
1987 My Bugoy Goes to Congress
1991 Ikaw Lang Martha
Contreras Gang Chinese wife
1993 Gagay: Prinsesa ng Brownout Aling Huling
1995 Okey si Mam
1996 Neber2Geder
1997 Extranghero Doña Isabel
1997 Strict ang Parents Ko! Doña Felicidad Zaragoza
1998 Tataynic Doña Isabel


  1. ^ a b "Zeny Zabala, actress known for antagonist roles, passes away". Interaksyon.com. 9 August 2017. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Quirino, Joe A. (April 1957). "Zeny Zabala: Gentle "villainess"". Literary Song Movie Magazine. pp. 40–41.
  3. ^ "Sulyap sa anim na taong nakalipas" [A look into the past six years]. Tagumpay (in Tagalog). June 17, 1964. p. 33. Ang kaakit-akit na Zeny Zabala, ang mabuting maybahay ni Boy Garcia.
  4. ^ Parawan, Mila A. (June 27, 1966). "Zeny Zabala: Mabuway ang hanapbuhay ng artista". Tagumpay (in Tagalog). p. 37. Dumating din ang pagkakataong hinihintay ni Zeny nang maging freelancer siya noong 1963.
  5. ^ a b Galang, Romy (March 19, 1969). "Zeny Zabala: Lalong humuhusay" [Zeny Zabala: Becoming more adept]. Pilipino (in Tagalog). Philippines Free Press, Inc. pp. 14–15, 88.
  • Biodata, newsflash.org; accessed 22 August 2017.
  • The mark of ZZ, asianjournal.com; accessed 22 August 2017.