Filmography: Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (1989)

“Irene…Di ko kaya ang walong buwan! Kung mamatay rin lang ako…mamatay na ako ngayon o bukas o sa linggo pero hindi ko kaya ang walong buwan!” – Juliet Espiritu

“…Irene, ayoko ng mahabang burol kung maari kinabukasan rin ipalibing mo na ako.” – Juliet Espiritu

“Ayoko ko pang mamatay…paano si Chad?…hahanapin ako ng anak ko, hindi siya sanay ng wala ako…Ariel…gusto ko pang mabuhay, kahit ilang araw lang, kahit konting oras lang, kahit isang umaga lang…” – Juliet Espiritu

“Ariel maliwanag na ba?…anong kulay ng langit?…at ang dagat?…ang mga mangingisda nandiyan na ba?…Ariel…ang ganda ng mundo!…ang sarap mabuhay!” – Juliet Espiritu

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Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story, screenplay: Jose Javier Reyes; Cast: Vilma Santos, Gabby Concepcion, Eric Quizon, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Billy Crawford, Olivia Cenizal, Tita Muñoz, Gil de Leon, Dexter Doria, Vicky Suba, Subas Herrero, Cris Vertido, Toby Alejar, Tony Angeles, Symon Soler, Gina Perez, Alma Lerma, Roy Alvarez, Becky Misa; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Willy Cruz; Cinematography: Manolo Abaya, Eduardo Jacinto, Nonong Rasca; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Elmer Manapul; Sound: Joe Climaco; Theme Songs: “Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga” performed by Zsa Zsa Padilla

Plot Description: Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (English title: “To Live Another Day,” “On Borrowed Time” or “Lend Me One Morning”) revolves around Juliet (Vilma Santos), who finds herself struggling against an ever-escalating series of problems. A determined single parent, she manages to raise a child while remaining successful in her career as an advertising executive. Everything in her life seems to go well until she is diagnosed with a terminal disease. For her son’s sake, and without revealing her condition, she is forced to resolve her most important life relations: rekindling first her connections with her parents, and then with the very man who fathered her son. In the twilight of her life, she meets and falls in love with a beleaguered artist, Ariel (Eric Quizon), who is constantly depressed and perpetually contemplating suicide. She slowly loses her health but unknowingly reawakens Ariel desire to live, and they both engage in a meaningful affair – one that makes each day they live through together more meaningful than the last. – DVD cover description

After getting bumped up to vice president at her advertising firm, Juliet (Vilma Santos) is floating on cloud nine, but fate soon delivers a brutal shock that knocks her off her perch: a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. With just eight months to live, Juliet embarks on a mental and physical journey to erase her regrets. Along the way, she meets a painter (Eric Quizon) who changes her outlook in this poignant drama. – Netflix

To Live Another Day (Pahiram ng Isang Umaga) revolves around Juliet, who finds herself struggling against an ever-escalating series of problems. A determined single parent, she manages to raise a child while remaining successful in her career as an advertising executive. Everything in her life seems to go well until she is diagnosed with a terminal disease. For her son’s sake, and without revealing her condition, she is forced to resolve her most important life relations: rekindling first her connections with her parents, and then with the very man who fathered her son. In the twilight of her life, she meets and falls in love with a beleaguered artist, Ariel, who is constantly depressed and perpetually contemplating suicide. She slowly loses her health but unknowingly reawakens Ariel’s desire to live, and they both engage in a meaningful affair – one that makes each day they live through together more meaningful than the last. – Cine Filipino/Unico Home Entertainment

Film Achievements: 1989 URIAN: Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Cinematography – Manolo Abaya, Eduardo Jacinto, Nonong Rasca; Best Director – Ishmael Bernal; Best Picture – Lily Monteverde, Regal Films; Best Screenplay – Jose Javier Reyes; Best Supporting Actor – Eric Quizon; 1989 STAR: Best Picture – Lily Monteverde, Regal Films; Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Cinematography – Manolo Abaya, Eduardo Jacinto, Nonong Rasca; Best Director – Ishmael Bernal; Best Musical Score – Willy Cruz; Best Supporting Actor – Eric Quizon; 1989 FAMAS: Best Musical Score – Willy Cruz; Best Theme Song – Willy Cruz; 1989 FAP: Best Sound – Joe Climaco

Other Film Achievements 1989 FAP: Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos; 1989 URIAN: Best Actor nomination – Gabby Concepcion; Best Editing nomination – Augusto Salvador; Best Music nomination – Willy Cruz; Best Production Design nomination – Elmer Manapul; Best Sound nomination – Joe Climaco; Best Supporting Actress nomination – Vicky Suba; 1989 FAMAS: Best Child Actor nomination – Billy Crawford; Best Director nomination – Ishmael Bernal; Best Picture nomination – Lily Monteverde, Regal Films; Best Supporting Actor nomination – Eric Quizon

Film Reviews: A Look at Death and the Affirmation of LifeWeepies are a common movie fare in the Philippines, along with extremely violent action thrillers and trite youth comedies. It is, therefore, a cause for cheer when a filmmaker tries to elevate the very common genre of the melodrama into a rich and intellectually rewarding film experience, such as director Ishmael Bernal has done with his Pahiram ng Isang Umaga.

Director Ishmael Bernal has seen in the material an opportunity to put substance to what has often been denigrated as the unthinking man’s entertainment, and to a considerable degree, his attempt has been a success. Pahiram is both effective as a tearjerker and meaningful as a depiction of people in crisis. Using a traditional element of the genre, the theme of death, Bernal and writer Jose Javier Reyes probe into the life of a woman who has been told that the end is near. Juliet (Vilma Santos, one of the two reigning Philippine female superstars for the past two decades now) is told that she has eight or maybe seven months to live. As a progressive advertising creative director who has been promoted (rather late) as vice president of her company, she has the means to attend to the less mundane demands of life, examine what may have been an unexamined life, and make the most of the limited time left.

In all these, Bernal explores the emotional and psychological condition of the person who lives on borrowed time. naturally visible here are the many symbols not only of death but also of life to serve as some kind of counterpoint or irony. Sometimes, they blend with each other, and at other times, they contradict. From the peasants’ ritualistic rice planting to the backyard harvesting of sun-dried patola cultivated as life-giving seedlings, the evidence of life renewing itself could hardly be ignored. Then there are the more obvious symbols of fire, daybreak and persistent rains (the latter of which are used to reinforce the gloomier mood at the second half of the movie, and also suggest the rains’ refreshing and replenishing results). But the most eloquent symbol here of life is the process of artistic creation, personified – again paradoxically – by the expressionist painter Ariel who befriends and then is smitten by Juliet.

There are ironies here. The painter creates life through his art, but at the same time, psychologically tormented, he wants to end his own life. Such a restless, free soul, grappling with the complexities of life, he has a whole life ahead of him, his artistic world limited only by his imagination, and yet he wants to quit. In contrast, Juliet who is dying, wants to live. Here is a woman who saves a man’s life (the artist’s) but cannot save her own. The idea of art as life or art vs. life is examined at length. Asked by the boy why he has to put on canvas the seascape, the artist makes the clarification that he is not copying the scenery. Ostensibly, he is recreating it on a different plane, art being something else, with a life of its own. This is suggested by the portrait the artist is making of Juliet. The model may soon die, as she will, but the portrait will live on. Life may indeed be short, an idea which used to be stated directly in previous Bernal movies, but art endures. It is the one thing in this world which is eternal. The briefness of life is suggested with the graphic sight of wet sand dripping down from the hand.

Bernal and Reyes go farther by including a scene in which the artist explains the origins of art. By the fireside at the beach, and watching the flame cast a glow on them, he notes that prehistoric men “discovered” art when they made outlines of shadows on the caves. Those artworks, though crude and primitive, still exist. Implicitly, Juliet’s death, no matter how saddening, is not going to be the end. Philosophical musings like these are not standard soap opera fare, and may alienate a lot of ordinary moviegoers (even the more cerebral ones who cannot accept the conventions of the soap opera genre). Woven unobtrusively into the plot, however, they add texture and enrich the drama. Juliet in a way will continue to live – in that portrait, in her young son who will survive her and hopefully continue her legacy whatever it may be, and in her good deeds. In the last scene, the imagery and symbolisms of life and death abound. Juliet dies at the break of dawn, the start of a new day (and life), but not without first making her last sentimental paean to life. Supported by the artist, her eyesight having failed completely and with the waves caressing their feet, the weak and dying cancer victim remarks how beautiful life is. True enough, this dying scene set on a beach, with the woman in white, dainty night gown, is one of the most exquisite, breathtaking moments in Philippine movies.

But before giving us this grand, highly emotional death scene, the director has gradually introduced various motifs of death, from the artist’s pet black bird which at one point he cruelly squeezes in his hand, to the funeral rituals for Juliet’s father. This is a striking part of the movie, Juliet watching intently as morticians work on her father’s remains, as everyone weeps when the coffin is lowered to its final resting place, and during the ritualistic “pasiyam,” the nine-day novena for the dead. It’s as though Juliet can see herself in her father’s lifeless body while mourners mill around it. The attempts to raise the level of the melodrama and present insights on life and death provide the movie its greatest strength – and wide appeal. How strangely ironic that a movie dealing with death could have so much life. - Mario A. Hernando, Malaya – 5 March 1989

“…Epektibo ang Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga bilang isang tuwirang dramatikong pelikula naglalahad ng suliranin ng mga taong pumapasailaim sa isang krisis. Sa paggamit ng tradisyonal na pamamaraaan ukol sa tema ng kamatayan, si Bernal at ang manunulat nitong si Jose Javier Reyes ay sumilip sa buhay ng isang babaeng nalalapit na sa kanyang huling hantungan. Napag-alaman ni Juliet (Vilma Santos) mula sa kanyang doktor na mayroon siyang pito hanggang walong buwang palugit sa kanyang buhay at ninais nitong isaayos ang mga suliraning bumabalot sa kanyang buong pagkatao sa loob ng maikling panahong ilalagi niya sa mundo. Lahat ng emosyonal at sikolohikal na kundisyon ng isang taong nabubuhay na lamang sa hiram na panahon ay tahasang ipinakita ni Bernal sa mga manonood. Mababanaag dito amg iba’t-ibang simbulo ng pumapaimbulog sa konsepto ng kamatayan. Kadalasa’y naangkop ito sa mga situwasyong dinaranas ng karakter ni Juliet at taliwas din kung minsan. Mula sa pagtatanim ng mga magbubukid hanggang sa pag-ani nito bilang simbulo ng pagkabuhay ay mahirap maitanggi. May mga tagpong ipnapakita ang paglubog ng araw, at ang walang patumanggang pag-ulan ay pagpapahiwatig ng pagbuhos ng bagong hinaharap. Ngunit isang mariing simbulong ginamit sa pelikula ay ang proseso ng paglikha ng sining sa katauhan ng pintor na si Ariel (Eric Quizon) na kinaibigan ni Juliet. Maraming maihahalintulad dito. Sinasalamin ng pintor ang buhay sa pamamgitan ng paglikha ng mga larawang kadalasan ay naglalahad ng gulo at pagkalitong umabot sa pagnanasa nitong kitlin ang sariling buhay, dahilan sa hindi niya makayanan ang pakikipagsapalaran sa buhay. Napapalibutan ng imahinasyon ang kanyang mundo ngunit nais pa rin niya itong talikuran. ito naman ang pagkakaiba ni Ariel kay Juliet na gagawin ang lahat upang madugtungan ang nauudlot na buhay…” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

Mas Mahusay si Vilma Kaysa kay Nora – Vi goes to the kitchen to prepare breakfast at habang nagbabati siya ng itlog, doon pa lang ipinakitang una siyang nag-breakdown. And this is shown nang nakatalikod siya sa camera. No overly ornate kind of emoting na akting na akting ang dating. Pero damang-dama mo pa rin…she becomes the part (lalo na sa eksena nila ni Gabby Concepcion sa simbahan na binalikan nila kung paano sila nagkasira), and if you notice that she is good, well, salamat po…Sa second viewing ng movie namin lalong napansin ang subtle nuances ng performance ni Vi, up to her death scene which confirms our supposition that the movie is not really so much about death than a celebration of life..’yan ang opinion namin…” – Mario Bautista, People Journal 1989

“…Topping Vilma Santos’ showbiz career for 1988 was her winning the “best tv host” title and her tv program Vilma as the best musical variety show from the Star Awards of the Philippine Movie Press Club. Vilma is a constant top rater. Nobody can question the result of the survey for its popularity, because everybody could see the glitter of the show with all the grand seting, artistic costumes, and selected celebrities as guests plus Santos’ vibrance, enthusiasm and untiring efforts in entertaining her audience. The actress is meticulous even in the selection of the color scheme of her costumes. For 1989, Santos promises a much better show for Vilma with more expensive props, more interesting musical numbers and some attractive numbers and novelties to render it a delightful viewing. The actress is now resuming shooting of Pahiram ng Isang Umaga which did not make it at the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival due to certain delays, like Ibulong Mo sa Diyos her current movie Pahiram… is supposed to be Regal Films’s first main attraction for 1989. Some of the scenes were filmed in the virgin forest of Botolan, Zambales. The serenity of the rustic place enabled the actress to re-evaluate her life before the New Year sets in. Santos has Gabby Concepcion and Eric Quizon for leading men in the movie. Quizon has admitted that so far this is his most challenging role in his entire movie career. The drama flick is expected to be another blockbuster and will reap acting honors for the actress. She is back with Ishmael Bernal in this movie, the same director who made possible her bagging all the best actress awards in 1982 for the movie Relasyon…” – Eddie O. Libo-on, Manila Standard, Jan 9, 1989 (READ MORE)

“…Koronel is all set to do a film for Viva and we’re sure her fans are all agog about it. Will she be a threat to the throne now occupied by Vilma Santos as “The Actress” to be reckoned with? If we’d make a guess, Lino Brocka’s the right director for the first comeback film of this actress. There’s a certain chemistry between them in the same way there’s an “artistic symbiosis” between Santos and Ishmael Bernal. And speaking of the last duo, we finally got to see “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga” and it’s true what they were all raving about. It’s Vilma’s best to date and we’re willing to bet that she’ll garner another grand slam next year for this movie. Ditto with Bernal. It’s not only an artistic movie; It’s very commercial. Only we should have brought a towel instead of a hankie…” – Nena Z. Villanueva, Manila Standard, Mar 2, 1989 (READ MORE)

“…Eric’s role in “Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga” is the manic-depressive love of Vilma Santos. He was contrapuntal to Vilma’s existence who wanted to prolong her life while he wanted to end his. But the Method Acting-oriented scribes at teh Philippine Movie Pres Club saw in Eric the mere physicality in his attack of the role. No anxiety in the eyes; all overt body movements to the point of the Nora Aunor anxiety-laden eyes. Eric rationalizes; “That was exactly how I was supposed to attack my role according to Direk Ishmael Bernal – overacting at physical level lang talaga. Wala nang pa-anxiety-anxiety pa. All the other major characters in “Pahiram…” were already making lupasay na with heavy emotions. From Vilma to Zsa Zsa Padilla to Vicky Suba to Gabby Concepcion – silang lahat emotionally loaded na. If I do the same, boring di ba? Ayaw ni Direk Bernal na pa-heavy emotion approach for my role. But you know my homework for that role was to watch several English sad movies on tapes and was told to cry with the characers if I wanted to or feel like crying. I felt so stupid talaga, but that exercise paid off I tell you.” If you have watched “Pahiram…,” the scene where Eric has to strangle a Myna bird was such a memorable highlight. Eric recalls; “I had to do an improvisation for that scene. Sabi ni Direk Bernal, don’t plan anything with the bird. Basta you just confront the bird at bahala ka na sa sarili mo. So what I did was to make mura and kind of strangle pero acting lang out of my supposed madness. You know what happened? The day after, nagpakamatay ‘yung bird. Nagtampo siguro ‘yun. Kasi raw ang Myna bird ay very sensitive, di ba? Sayang ‘yung bird, ano?…” – George Vail Kabristante, Manila Standard, Feb 20, 1990 (READ MORE)

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