Filmography: Miss X (1980)

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Basic Information: Directed: Gil Portes; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Mark Gil; Executive producer: Jesse Ejercito; Original Music: George Canseco; Theme Songs: “Dito Ba?” performed by Kuh Ledesma

Plot Description: Filipina prostitute living in red district of Amsterdam.

Film Achievement: 1980 FAMAS Best Musical Score – George Canseco

Film Reviews: “…Did you know that as early as the ’80s, nagsusulat na ang award-winning scriptwriter na si Ricky Lee tungkol sa plight ng ating mga OFW (overseas Filipino workers)? He started with “Miss X”, filmed in Amsterdam in The Netherlands with now Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos in the title role. For an entire month, namalagi sa Amsterdam si Ricky kasama ang cast and crew ng pelikula. Naging simula ang Miss X ng ilang collaboration sa pagitan nila ng equally award-winning director na si Gil Portes. Ang next movie together nila ni direk Gil was “Carnival In Rio”, which was filmed naman in Rio de Janeiro. Alma Moreno, who was at the height of her popularity as a bold star then, played the lead role. Then came “’Merika”, na isinapelikula naman sa New Jersey and New York with Nora Aunor playing the lead role. “Because of that movie,” ani Ricky, “I was able to explore New York, the city of my dream. After my travels to all these places, I wrote (direk) Gil a letter, thanking him for the rare chance he gave na marating ang mga lugar na ito na ’di ko Inakalang mararating ko,” pahayag ni Ricky. For Anak, which was filmed in Hong Kong, Ricky had the chance na makatrabaho muli si Vilma sa ibang bansa muli. This time, na-renew, wika nga, ang kanilang bonding. Ricky remembered that because Anak was a blockbuster, binigyan ng Star Cinema ng malaking bonus si Ate Vi. Nagulat daw siya when one day, he received a P40,000 check from the actress. Contribution daw ang pera ni Ate Vi sa isinagawa niyang workshop for aspiring scriptwriters….” – Nel AThe People’s Tonight, Aug 31 2005 (READ MORE)

“…For one, hindi masakit sa tenga ang musical scoring ni George Canseco sa pelikulang ito. Hindi yata niya ipinilit na gawing mas malakas pa kaysa mga dialogue ang music niya. Turned-on kami doon sa song na “Amsterdam” yata ang title. Hindi yata inilagay sa credit kung kaninong kanta ‘yun. O baka naman hindi lang namin napansin. Kung ang ultimate goal ng pelikulang ito ay i-discourage ang mga Pinoy from illegally working and living abroad, the movie is almost a complete failure. Ang nakuha naming impresyon ay enjoy na enjoy ang mga Pinoy doon sa Amsterdam. Ang pathetic scene lang nga talaga ay ‘yung bandang ending nang mabaril si…at mag-iiyak si…Madali namang intindihin kung bakit kapos ang mga eksenang nagpapakita ng pamumuhay ng mga Pinoy do’n. Magiging masyadong magastos ang pelikula. Mas marami ang mai-involve na cast. At dahil nga kokonti lang ang ginamit na Pinoy sa cast sa Amsterdam, parang walang relevance kung saan man ginawa ang pelikula. Amsterdam was not meaningfully integrated in the movie. Sure, may mga scenes ng mga windmills, mga flats, mga patio at electric trains, pero hindi ipinakita ng script kung paano nakakaapekto sa buhay ng mga Pinoy na naroroon ang atmosphere ng Amsterdam. It’s almost like the movie has no social-awareness at all. Kaya nga nanghihinayang ‘yung isang tagahanga ni Ricardo Lee sa script niya sa pelikulang ito. Well, it was a good try for Ricardo Lee and director Gil Portes, but there’s really nothing fantastic sa script and direction nilang dalawa. And it’s been a good vehicle for Vi and Mark. It’s also worth your P4.50 dahil hindi naman ito nakakairita tulang ng mga pelikula ni Cloyd Robinson. The movie is credible, despite the shaky script. Dapat panoorin!” – Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, 10 March 1980 (READ MORE)

“…The issue of film spectatorship is also a tenuous one. Gil Portes recalls that his own Munting Tinig (Little Voices, 2003) was not a box-office draw in the Philippines but it made good business abroad. He narrated how the mostly Filipino audience who watched the film when it was shown in New York and California, where a large contingent of Filipinos reside, were reduced to tears after the film screening. Portes himself lives half the time in New York and half the time shuttling between his Manila and Barcelona homes. He made what he considered the first diasporic film called Miss X in 1979, which was followed by his critically-acclaimed ‘Merika in 1982. Both films made box-office profits in the Philippine when they came out because of his strategic casting of two of Philippine cinema’s foremost actresses in both films – Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor. He maintains that his films occasionally borrow from foreign materials for inspiration but it is his job to imbue them with a sensibility that is “uniquely and distinctively Pinoy”. In the case of Munting Tinig, he said he was inspired by Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven (1997). Although he did not specify what constitutes the ‘Pinoy sensibility’ present in his films, he said that a Filipino film ‘can be shot abroad as long as it is distinctively Pinoy but with a universal message” (Portes interview, 2006). Film historian and self-described ‘filmologist’ Teddy Co insists that “there is no such thing as a pure, unfettered and essentialist Filipino film” because foreign influences are natural and real (Co interview, 2006)…” – Joseph Palis, Cinema Archipelago: A Geography of Philippine Film and the Postnational Imaginary 2008 (READ MORE)

“…In Gil Portes’ Miss X (1980), about a Filipino prostitute working in the red light district of Amsterdam, Gil was cast as the leading man to Vilma Santos, who at that time was already regarded as one of the Philippines’ best actresses. He ably fulfilled Portes’ requirements, churning out a performance that exemplified the grit that the material called for…” – Francis Joseph “Oggs” Cruz, Rappler, 02 Sep 2014 (READ MORE)

“…For the record, here is a quick rundown of last year’s most significant local films…Miss X – the screenplay by Ricky Lee worked despite director Gil Portes’ mangling of it. Vilma Santos gave a credible performance as the ill-fated seeker of fortune. The fact that the producer was willing to spend on a production filmed abroad augured well for the local film industry…” – Isagani R. Cruz, TV Times Magazine, 11-17 January 1980

RELATED READING: 26 Days in Amsterdam

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