Filmography: Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978)

“…sabi mo pa nga nuon mahal na mahal mo ako…sabi mo pa na hindi magbabago ang pagtingin mo sa akin…dahil papaano mo papatayin ang hangin? Paano mo papatayin ang ulan? Paano mo papatayin ang araw? Sabi mo pa nga hindi mo na ako iiwan kahit na anong mangyari…kaya naisip ko nuon magpaligaw na ako sa’yo…kahit hindi pa pumuputi ang uwak, o umi-itim ang tagak…” – Julie

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Basic Information: Directed, story: Celso Ad. Castillo; Screenplay: Celso Ad. Castillo, Iskho Lopez, Lando Jacob, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Cast: Vilma Santos, Bembol Roco, Robert Talabis, Joonee Gamboa, Angie Ferro, Olivia O’Hara, Mona Lisa, Mario Escudero, Fred Panopio, Adul de Leon, Lito Anzures, Miniong Alvarez, Andres Centenera, Carpi Asturias, Filing Cudia, Yolanda Luna, Mervyn Samson, Dolores Pobre, Jennifer Cortez, Diomedes Maturan; Executive producer: Vilma Santos; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Romeo Vitug; Film Editing: Celso Ad. Castillo; Production Design: Peter Perlas; Sound: Gaudencio Barredo; English Title: “When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black”; Soundtracks: “Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak” Sung by Belinda Jimenez; Lyrics & Music by George Canseco

Plot Description: It is the 1950’s at the height of the Huk (local Communist armed forces) movement, in a part of the country beset with agrarian unrest. During the town fiesta of Santa Ines, Julie Monserrat is introduced to Dido Ventura and Maestro Juan Roque, an old musician. Julie, an orphan who comes from the local aristocracy, is on vacation from school in Manila, and is staying with her two spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela. Dido Ventura, a young man from a poor family, lives with his mother who nurses an old grievance against the Monserrats; she believes they grabbed the Ventura’s property. Maestro Juan Roque, a well-known composer and violinist, has just returned to Santa Ines to finish a zarzuela he has been planning to write for a long time. Dido falls in love with Julie at their first meeting. One night, he sneaks into the spinsters’ house and spends a passionate night with Julie. The brief liaison leads to their elopement. When the two lovers return to ask for the aunts’ blessing, Julie is made to choose between a life of poverty and uncertainty with Dido, or a life of comfort and respectability with her aunts. Julie chooses to stay with her aunts. Dido is shaken by the turn of events.

He meets Cristy, his girlfriend, who insults him for the embarrassing situation he has gotten himself into. Dido turns roughly against the girl and beats her up. Cristy’s brother finds out about this and challenges him to a fist fight. Dido kills Cristy’s brother. Cristy’s father, who is the town mayor, decides to dispose of Dido immediately. But when his secret police nab Dido one night, the jeep taking them to Dido’s execution is ambushed by a band of Huk rebels led by Kumander Salome, Dido’s uncle. Saved, Dido decides to join his rebel uncle in the mountains. Meanwhile, Maestro Roque, on a visit to the spinsters’ old house to talk about Julie’s violin lessons, finds out that Julie is actually his own daughter by one of the Monserrat sisters now deceased. Julie herself is pregnant with Dido’s child. The old musician’s visit to her house and the ensuing revelatin make he decide to keep the baby. Maestro Roque arranges for Julie and Dido to meet again. On the night of Good Friday, Dido leaves the rebel camp to see his newborn child. Kumander Salome decides to go along with the young man. Government spies learn of this and an ambush is set. The child of Julie and Dido is the only survivor and witness of the masscre that ends the film. – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Official Selection – 1983 Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines”; Official Philippines Entry – The Latin American Film Festival – Sao Paolo, Brazil; Official Philippines Entry – The 1981 Asean Film Conference; 1978 FAMAS: Best Picture – Vilma Santos (producer);  Best Art Direction – Peter Perlas; Best Cinematography – Romeo Vitug; Best Director – Celso Ad. Castillo; Best Music – George Canseco; Best Story – Celso Ad. Castillo, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Supporting Actress – Angie Ferro; Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Screenplay Nomination – Castillo, Jacob, Iskho Lopez, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Joonee Gamboa; 1978 Gawad URIAN: Best Director – Celso Ad. Castillo; Best Picture – Vilma Santos (producer); Best Screenplay – Castillo, Lando Jacob, Iskho Lopez, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Sound – Gaudencio Barredo; Best Supporting Actor – Joonee Gamboa; Best Cinematography Nomination – Romeo Vitug; Best Music Nomination – George Canseco; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Adul de Leon

The Reviews: “…Compared to Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak is less of a technical mess. Particularly exceptional are the shots of rustic religious rituals; unfortunately their use does not progress beyond the literal level. This makes for increasing predictability toward the picture’s end, as when the preparations for a military massacre are intercut with recitations of the tribulations of Jesus Christ. Attempts at authenticity appear to have been assiduous, but the project may have also proved too ambitious in this aspect. Thus one can find high-tension wires and Scotch-tinted car windows, not to mention recent beautification accomplishments, making their way into a 1950s period movie. Performance-wise Pagputi ng Uwak leaves a lot more to be desired. Among the cast, only Mona Lisa manages to pull off a convincing characterization as Bembol Roco’s mother. Angie Ferro and Adul de Leon, as Vilma Santos’ spinster aunts, are no better than caricatures: funny maybe, but quite incredible. Joonee Gamboa has mellowed since his rudimental portrayal of an impresario in Burlesk Queen; his role, however, is far less significant this time, reduced as it is to playing the intermediary between star-crossed characters. Executive producer Vilma Santos does better outside camera range. Her production is financially and artistically liberal, the sort the local audience has been deprived of since the dissolution of the previous censors board. Her performance though is about as effective as that of a drama guild’s star performer: she renounces her lover like she would a final exam, and later professors love for him like she would a teen idol. The same applies to Bembol Roco, about whose character more will be said later; suffice it to say that he still has yet to employ under-acting to his advantage. Meanwhile he and Santos are the industry’s star couple, and there one has the trappings of the star system at work again. Is there nothing at all to be said in favor of the movie? Come to think of it, Burlesk Queen did have a saving grace, and it is this same virtue – intention – which redeems Pagputi ng Uwak. In his works Castillo the artist seeks to depict the Filipino as only a fellow Filipino will understand, particularly in terms of pride and sentiment – values associated in Western aesthetics with melodrama. Which is what makes Castillo easy prey for local culture vultures: with technical excellence as a basic requisite for deserving favor, he falls short at first try; infatuation with alien modes of behavior further ensures their alienation from the obviously progressive statements he wishes to make…” – Joel David, Philippine Collegian/The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, 26 July 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Malakas ang deconstruction ng “Romeo and Juliet” sa obra na ito. Maraming reference (pinaka-given na siguro na ang pangalan ni Vilma Santos dito ay Julie) sa tragedy ni Shakespeare. Dito ko nakita si Celso Ad in a different light. Nage-gets ko ang poesiya ng mga nature shots n’ya sa ibang pelikula pero rito, klarong klaro ang pagkahilig n’ya sa literary classic. Pinakagusto kong shot eh ‘yung terrace scene na malakas maka-tribute. Wala kasi akong katiting na abiso tungkol sa pedigree ng pelikula at masayang naglalaro sa isip ko ang mga reference hanggang sa sumabog ito sa dulo na nagbigay konklusyon sa mga hinagap. Maraming eksena na may kilometric line si Vilma rito. Napaalala rin sa akin ang era kung saan ang sukatan ng isang pagiging aktres ay nasa haba ng mga linya na kayang mamemorya. Pinagsamang sensuality at controlled acting ang pinamalas n’ya. Maigting din ang chemistry nila ni Bembol Roco rito…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 02 August 2013 (READ MORE)

“…Pagputi Ng Uwak, Pagitim Ng Tagak is another ambitious epic movie that succeeds on many film levels. The story is about the love affair between a young woman belonging to a rich and powerful family, and a poor man whose mother is still bitter about having her land property snatched from her by the other family. This simple conflict develops into bigger, more significant ones, and they are all integrated within the framework of the story and the different elements of the film. It opens on a festive scene that seems to go on foreever, but this gradually changes the mood of the story until it ends a bloody climax. Indulgent as the individual aspects of the film may be, they all fit director Castillo’s grand and elaborate design at story-telling, encompassing various Filipino seasons, holidays and range of experiences. Romy Vitug’s cinematography is spectacular, and the cast, headed by Vilma Santos and Rafael Roco, Jr., are marvelous…” – Expressweek, Urian – Kolum ng Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, January 10, 1980 (READ MORE)

“…Kuwento ng magkasintahang pinaghiwalay, na ipinaloob sa isa ng panahong dinadaluyong ang lipunang Pilipinong rebelyong Hukbalahap. Iyan ang buod ng ‘Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak’. Dekada ng 1950 noon, at sa pista ng matandang bay an ng Santa Ines ay nagkatagpu-tagpo sina Julie Monserrat (Vilma Santos), Dido Ventura (Bembol Roco) at Maestro Juan Roque (Joonee Gamboa). Mula sa mayaman at makapangyarihang pamilya si Julie, isang ulilang pinalaki at pinapag-aral sa Maynila ng kanyang mga tiyang matandang dalagang sina Beatriz (Adul de Leon) at Miguela (Angie Ferro). Si Dido ay maralitang binatang ang Ina (Mona Lisa) ay may iwing poot sa mga Monserrat na kumamkam sa kanilang lupain at naging dahilan ng kanilang paghihirap. Si Maestro Roque naman ay kilalang kompositor at biyolinista na umuwi sa Santa Ines upang tapusin ang kanyang sarsuwelang pinamagatang “Pangarap ng Bagong Umaga.” Sa unang pagkikita pa lamang ay napusuan ni Dido si Jutie. Nagkahulihan ng loob ang dalawa, at isang gabi’ypinangahasang akyatin ni Dido si Julie sa kuwarto nito. Ang kanilang pagtatalik ay humantong sa pagtatanan. Nang magbalik ang magkasintahan upang humingi ng pahintulot na sila’y pakasal, si Julie ay pinamili ng kanyang mga tiya sa maginhawang buhay na kanyang kinagisnan, at sa walang-katiyakang hinaharap bilang asawa ni Dido. Nagdalawang-isip si Julie, at pinili niyang manatili sa pangangalaga ng kanyang mga tiya. Masamang-masama ang loob ni Dido sa nangyari. Nang siya ay laitin ng kanyang kasintahang si Cristy (Olivia O’Hara), sinaktan niya ito. Nalaman ni Claro (Robert Talabis) ang ginawa ni Dido sa kanyang kapatid, at nagharap ang dalawa sa isang labanang mano-a-mano. Napatay ni Dido si Claro. Alkalde ng bayan ang ama (Mervin Samson) nina Cristy at Claro, kaya’t pinakitos nito ang mga pulis upang iligpit si Dido. Nang gabing lihim na kunin si Dido sa kulungan upang patayin, inambus ng mga Huk ang sasakyan ng mga pulis. Tiyo ni Dido ang pinuno ng mga Huk na si Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures). Sumamang namundok si Dido sa kanyang Tiyo. Minsang dumalaw sa bahay ng mga Monserrat si Maestro Roque, siya ay hinamak ng magkapatid na Beatriz at Miguela. Mula na rin sa mga tiya ni Julie, natuklasan niya na anak pala niya si Julie sa patay nang si Ana Monserrat. Nang magkahiwalay sina Julie at Dido, nalaman ni Maestro Roque na buntis si Julie. Ito ay dinalaw niya sa konserbatoryong pinag-aaralan ng dalaga sa pagka-biyolinista. Ipinagtapat niyang siya ang ama ni Julie. Tinalikdan ni Julie ang kanyang ama, subalit ang pagdalaw na iyon ang naging dahilan upang magpasiya ang dalaga na huwag ipaampon ang kanyang anak na isisilang. Nilakad ni Maestro Roque na pagtagpuing muli sina Julie at Dido. Isang gabi ng Mahal na Araw, nagkita ang magkasintahan at nakilala ni Dido ang kanyang anak kay Julie. Natunugan ng mga espiya ng gobyerno ang pagbaba sa bayan ng mga rebeldeng pinamumunuan ni Kumander Salome. Ang uha ng anak nina Julie at Dido ay nangibabaw sa masinsing putukang lumipol kina Dido at mga kasama…” – Manunuri

“…Furor is really an understatement. “Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight), ” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk as the most beautiful Filipino film” past, present and future.” Vi’s turnaround: Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new Vilma Santos “from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk?” – “It marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978.  “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends.” Burlesk and Pagputi brought a lot of honor to me…” – Bayani San Diego Jr. (READ MORE)

“…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo’s Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) injects political overtones into its story, about a poor young man (Bembol Roco) who, when abandoned by his upper-class lover (Vilma Santos), joins the Hukbalahap rebels. Ad. Castillo in this film demonstrates an amazing visual language–not flashy, but quietly, lyrically brilliant. He also demonstrates a more masterful grasp of music and song than possibly any other Filipino director–the film is a model on how to use kundimans, ballads, pop songs to differentiate social classes, to satirize and comment on the narrative action.” – Noel Vera

“…Celso Ad Castillo’s epic masterpiece of romantic love, family relationships, class struggle and political rebellion, Vilma Santos star as Julie Monserrat, a music-loving provincial lass raised by her two prudish, wealthy spinsters aunt (Adul De Leon and Angie Ferro) Julie falls in love w/ Dido Ventura (Bembol Rocco) the poor son of embittered woman (Mona Lisa) who holds grudge against the Monserrats for wrong doing several years earlier. Other memorable characters populate this beautifully photographed drama, among them Maestro Roque (Jhoonee Gamboa) a composer-violinist and huk Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures), Dido’s freedom-fighting uncle. rich in texture and full color, charm love and joy, tenderness, violence and despair and hope. The movie won critics awards and stars Yolanda Luna, Marvin Samson, Mario Escudero, Olivia O’ Hara and Robert Talabis. Cinematograhy by Romy Vitug. Produced by VS film…” – IMDB

“…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo, known as L’Enfant Terrible of Philippine Cinema, was best remembered with his fully independent spirit and out of the box ideas both on narrative and style. I always remember an Ad. Castillo film watching was always crazy in different ways. From the mock-tribal language of Snake Sisters (1984), the living house in Mga Lihim ng Kalapati (1987), to his melodramas charged with socio-political statements (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979), Burlesk Queen, (1977)). His ideas has always been crazy and there are some of those “first” experiences that was only given by his films: the first to see Fernando Poe Jr. die on a film (Asedillo), the first surrealist Filipino film I saw (Mga Lihim ng Kalapati(1987)), and also the first to see historical parallelism realized on both narrative and it’s image (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979)) which he probably used on remaking his own films (Nympha (1971, 2003), Ang Lihim ni Madonna (1979)). Being a lover and creator of Genre, he thinks that aiming for box office success was never a hindrance to make a good film. This he has proven on his body of work. I remember Burlesk Queen as one the film with the best performances ever, both from Vilma Santos and Joonie Gamboa. Especially Joonie Gamboa. Santos starred as Chato, once was an assistant of a dancer on a burlesque bar dreams also of being in the limelight even though her father won’t approve. Chato went from this dilemma to failed relationships until finally realizing her dream. Contains a lot of powerful scenes that would drove my emotions into a mixed state. Burlesk Queen is the proof of Celso’s vision: a success on the artistry and mass reception. Other Celso Ad. Castillo Films to prioritize: Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan, Payaso, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, Asedillo…” – Epoy Deyto, Kawts Kamote, September 12, 2013 (READ MORE)