Vilma Santos sa Puting Tabing: Ikaw, Siya, Tayo – My Film 100 professor had said that when you see Vilma Santos in person, it’s really hard not to get starstruck with her stellar appeal. UP Diliman Chancellor Francis Sergio Cao agrees. In his opening remarks at the Gawad Plaridel 2005 Awarding and Lecture, he confessed it was still his first time to see the famed actress in person and just how “starstruck” he was to be near her (two seats away); yeah, I could almost hear him jittering. Well, good for them; they got to be a meter or two away from this still youthful even in her golden age film icon. Me, the closest that I could get was just around 8-10 meters. I was in awe, of course, to have seen one of my favorite older actresses. But not much awe for me to be considered starstruck. I was just way beyond the “Starstruck Radius”.
Multi-awarded Filipino actress Vilma Santos is this year’s UP Gawad Plaridel awardee. The UP College of Mass Communication (my college!) gave her this award for her innumerable and invaluable contribution to the film industry, and mass communication as a whole. Santos was given the award at the Cine Adarna (formerly UP Film Center) just this afternoon, where she also delivered a half-hour lecture, reminiscing her almost fifty-year life as an actress and speaking strongly against the problems that plague the film industry today (lets give one of them a name: piracy). Ms. Santos’ speech, for me, was very profound and candid. I always had great respect and admiration for her as a person, public servant, and actress. After the lecture, that respect and admiration hot-air-ballooned. It became clear to me that even if this person is now worthy of having a constellation named after her, she is still as human and feet-on-the-ground as possible. During the reminiscing part of her speech, she told us about her humble beginnings as an artist, and about her mistakes and the challenges that spiced up her life. There was that time, she confided, when she had just won grandslam best actress and she was filming another movie and she sort of…”laxed” a bit. Her director, whom she had previously worked with, scolded her saying, “di dahil nanalo ka na ng grandslam e magaling ka na!” The director had Vilma Santos jog for 10 minutes to awaken her from her “illusion.”
But aside from Vilma Santos, many prominent people were also present in the occasion. Here’s a list of those I can remember: Sen. Ralph Recto, UP President Emerlinda Roman, National Artist Napoleon Abueva (who sculpted the Gawad Plaridel trophy), ABS-CBN boss Charo Santos-Concio, Eugenia Apostol (Philippine Daily Inquirer founding chairperson and last year’s Gawad Plaridel awardee) and Film director Chito Roño. Members of the media were also there. I even got to see Mario Dumaual, that showbiz reporter in ABS-CBN! It was him whom I got to see closest; he and his crew were shooting a mere meter in front of me. That portion where he is talking, with the stage and the lecturing Ate Vi in the background–I was right at the back of the cameraman. Vilma Santos’ mother was also there. There sure were many film producers and directors present in the affair, it’s just that I forgot their names or they were not acknowledged at all. Students and faculty members from different universities and colleges occupied most of the theater’s seats. And yes, magpapahuli ba ang mga die-hard Vilmanians? They occupied the middle seats; you’ll know its them with their distinctive gray hair. PS. I don’t have a camera to prove that what I say is true (but trust me, it really is true). Thankfully, in less than two months, I’m having my first digital camera! My aunt in Ohio is sending me one (bless her) after a month of grueling “courtship.” So you might as well expect a photoblog from me in August. – Ringhithion, Monday, July 04, 2005.
How I wish there were more intelligent and passionate individuals like her in local show biz. – My long overdue visit to my beloved alma mater, UP’s College of Mass Communication and our tambayan, the Broadcasting Association, was a dejavu of sorts for me, and an overall enjoyable afternoon. Besides seeing the newer breed of young “broad-assers” as we call them (pardon the term of endearment), as well as my close professor-associates, I also witnessed the awarding of the Gawad Plaridel to the country’s premiere actress, Lipa Mayor Vilma Santos, which my friend Rome Jorge talks about in today’s banner story. Instead, let me fill you in on the glittering list of Ate Vi’s well-wishers that day—from her industry colleagues to the academic multitude to her loyal Vilmanians—who all gave the gem of an artist a standing ovation at the end of her 45-minute speech.
She had of course her husband the Senator Ralph Recto to escort her. I meanwhile, had the privilege of attending the event with the head of the Film Institute Prof. Ed Lejano and his brilliant namesake, my fave, Prof. Ed Piano. The audience, meanwhile, had such bigwig names like Atty. Esperidion Laxa, ABS-CBN and Star Cinema executive Charo Santos-Concio, film director Chito Roño, scriptwriters Ricky Lee and Pete Lacaba, fellow actor Tirso Cruz III, film critics Bienvenido Lumbera and Mario Hernardo, and National Artist Napoleon Abueva, who is the sculptor of the highly revered Gawad Plaridel trophy. To say that Ate Vi’s lecture was powerful is an understatement, as Rome will no doubt tell you. How I wish there were more intelligent and passionate individuals like her in local show biz. Inspiring rather than . . . never mind! Let’s just get on with my prowl! – Amiel Martin Cabanlig
UP honors Vilma Santos with Gawad Plaridel – She was unforgettable as Burlesk Queen, as Sister Stella L and as Dolzura Cortez. On Monday, however, she was Vilma Santos, the artist. “Ako po pala ay nakapag-ambag na sa industriya,” said Rosa Vilma Santos as she accepted the Gawad Plaridel, a citation given by the University of the Philippines to media practitioners who excel in their profession. The award was named after Filipino propagandist Marcelo del Pilar who used the pen name Plaridel. “Paulit-ulit ko pong binasa ang citation,” Santos said. She is the first artist to receive the award for her contribution to the movie industry. In her lecture on the relevance of the film industry on society, Santos said actors can be role models through the various roles they play. She said she was able to internalize her role in the movie “Sister Stella L.,” a story of a nun who became an activist during the martial law years.
“Totoong-totoo ‘yong sinabi ko sa Sister Stella L. na ngayon hindi na lang ako nanonood. Nakikisama na ako at tumutulong sa abot ng aking makakaya,” Santos said. She called on the public to support the local film industry. Santos, who acted in over 200 movies, said she owes her success to the film industry. She is now mayor of Lipa City in Batangas and is supporting the movie business by lowering the amusement tax in Lipa from 30 percent to 15 percent. She started her career when she was nine years old in the movie “Trudis Liit.” She, however, said the turning point came when she did “Burlesk Queen” when she was 23 years old. It was a tough decision, she said. She used to attend a school run by nuns. But it was a good choice, she said. “Ang pelikula pong ito ang nagpamulat sa akin sa maraming bagay,” she said. “Burlesk Queen,” shown in 1970, was a social commentary of the country’s patriarchal society.
Santos movie career, however, was not always happy endings. “Sister Stella L.,” for instance, did not rake in profits compared to the movies of Sharon Cuneta during those days. “Nilangaw po ang pelikula ko,” Santos said, adding that she cried over the box-office flop. It was worth the gamble, however. The movie is now considered a classic. Acting is an endless process of learning, Santos said. Despite the many awards she got she always remembers that she still needs to learn a lot. During the shooting of the movie “Relasyon,” director Ishmael Bernal told her: “Tanggalin ang ilusyon sa iyong sarili.” He ordered her to jog inside the toilet for ten minutes to internalize her role. Santos said she is grateful to the directors who megged her most unforgettable films. She thanked directors Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Mike de Leon, Laurice Guillen, among other. Among the films that made marks in her acting career were: “Relasyon,” “Broken Marriage,” “Sister Stella L,” “The Dolzura Cortez Story,” “Anak,” and “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?” Bravo Ate Vi! – Vanessa Bago, ABS-CBN News
Recognizing Vilma Santos, thespian and nationalist – She is the grieving mother of sons to the struggle, linking arms and manning the front lines of a peaceful revolt. She is the mistress demanding the dignity deserving of a wife, a friend and a woman. She is the nun preaching the gospel of liberation against a dictatorship. She is the stripper dancing in tears as she lets go a love and a life never meant for one such as her. She is the single mom struggling to keep her wits amid domestic, financial and romantic dilemmas. She is the overseas worker facing down AIDS and its inevitable consequences. And she is Darna, a superhero fighting the giants, saving Ding and flying off to the stars. Burlesk Queen, Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, Sister Stella L, Imortal, Dahil Mahal Kita: Dolzura Cortez Story, Bata, Bata . . . Paano Ka Ginawa?, Dekada ’70, not to mention Darna at Ding are just some of her countless films.
Vilma Santos is all these and more. From the every woman to the other woman, she elevates every role as worthy of a superstar and every character as deserving of precise and passionate acting. She braves patriarchal traditions and murderous dictatorships to play burlesque dancers, mistresses and activist nuns. “She gambles her popularity to widen her scope as an actress,” proclaims Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, Dean of the College of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines (UP). He adds, “She proves popularity and ratings need not degrade the craft.” For that and more, Vilma Santos wins the 2005 UP Gawad Plaridel Award. Santos received the award designed by National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva on July 4 in ceremonies at the Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute. Besides speeches, renditions of original movie soundtracks from Santos’s best loved films, as well as an insightful audiovisual presentation directed by Jun Austria, regaled audiences comprised of students, entertainment industry luminaries and fans who packed the venue. The Gawad Plaridel is an annual award to honor the exemplary media practitioners of the highest professional integrity in the interest of public service. Adopting the pen name of propagandist and La Solidaridad publisher Marcelo H. del Pilar, the award recognizes those who, like del Pilar, use the media to advocate libertine principles. Newspaper publisher Eugenia Apostol is the award’s first recipient. Now Vilma Santos joins the highly esteemed ranks of nationalist media professionals.
Beyond celebrity – She won despite being a star. Bookish and unglamorous academics instinctively scornful of celebrities and politicians bowed to her stellar performance as thespian, woman, politician, and yes, superstar. Dr. Sergio Cao, chancellor of UP Diliman confessed being a star-struck fan, “I had to nebulize before coming here; I couldn’t breath.” He later thrilled to busing her on the cheek. Nevertheless, Cao sermonized, “Star power is real power. It is the power to move people to tears, to make them cry and laugh and urge them to by with endorsements. It is to make them think what you want them to think, to make them feel what you feel. They should use it wisely, make people do good and aspire for better lives.” The Gawad Plaridel validated that Santos has done just that. Her multifaceted portrayals of strong independent women have inspired those she has mirrored. Her portrayals of antidictatorship advocates have immortalized unsung heroes of the movement for generations to come. Her fearless gambles at parlaying her celebrity to triumph at portraying the most challenging of roles have set the mark for generations of actors.
Vilma Santos is a class act, not by any accident of pedigree, but rather by the brilliance of her artistry and the strength of her convictions. Santos herself credits her success to “nonstop learning.” She remembers basking in the glow of a grand slam win at every major award-giving body for best actress with the movie Burlesk Queen. On her next movie with director Ishmael Bernal, she recalls a humbling experience she remembers to this day: “I took seven takes just for the first scene on the first day. I wasn’t focused. Bernal trapped me in the toilet and ordered me to jog in place to work off many illusions from my grand slam win.” The Gawad Plaridel recognizes Santos as a consummate thespian and nationalist. In an industry marred by dubious awards, it is the academe that remains the unimpeachable judges of exceptional talent and principle.
Tough times – Vilma Santos, ever fearless, used her time at the podium not only to thank the industry and her supporters for her awards; she enumerated specific problems besetting the local cinema and television industry, and more importantly, specified solutions for the current crisis. The problems include the huge entertainment taxes imposed by government; digital video piracy; the lack of spending power of the masses; competition from foreign films that open on the same time as local films; and foreign television drama series that producers find cheaper to import instead producing ones locally. Santos proposes reducing taxes on films and television productions to bring down costs; better scripts and original stories that are distinct from foreign counterparts; lower talent fees for superstars—”Show me the script and we’ll talk about the talent fee,” Santos dares independent filmmakers; and Sen. Ralph Recto, Santos’s husband, passed a law that offers 10- to 50-percent tax rebates on film of worth and quality as adjudged by the Film Rating Board. “We can still overcome,” Santos rallies the Gawad Plaridel audiences. From superstars such as her to the new crop of independent filmmakers now with immortal lines from Sister Stella L. “Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino? Kung hindi ngayon, kalian pa?” – Rome Jorge (READ MORE)
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