We listed Vilma’s ten best films and matched it with Nora’s. We then came up with analogy of who did well in terms of credible performances. We also tried to switch the roles and see if both actress remained credible. The outcome was incredible. Boxing Matches Continues with….
Andrea, Paano Ba Ang Making Isang Ina? versus Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? – Both films, Andrea Paano Ba Ang Maging Isang Ina? and Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? earned Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos grand slam wins. Nora Aunor won the 1990 Best Actress from the Metro Manila Film Festival and then swept the best actress honor from Urian, FAP, Star, Famas, and Young Critics Circle. Adding to the significance of this grand slam wins was her elevation the Famas Hall of Famer. This was her fifth Famas best actress which as stupid as can be required her to be elevated and disqualified her with future wins. In addition to this wonderful honors was the film received its deserving best picture trophies from FAMAS, STAR and of course at the MMFF.
Butch Francisco wrote in his Philippine Star article: “..It is a powerful film mainly because of the performances of the cast and the basic conflict found in the movie. As Andrea, Aunor is a teacher who has chosen the difficult and perilous but crusading path of armed social rebel whose husband is a comrade in the underground. When it is time for her best friend, Gina Alajar, who is married to a guy Lloyd Samartino, who has absolutely no sympathy for the cause which his wife’s friend is fighting for. Childless, Lloyd and Gina get emotionally attached to the baby, especially after the mother temporarily leaves the infant to look into the circumstances of her guerilla husband’s death in the hands of the military. Unfortunately, before she could return to her baby, Nora is arrested and detained in a safe house by military men, who torture her mercilessly. Having lost contact with the freedom-fighter and presuming her to have been killed, the surrogate parents have decided to keep the child as their own and bring him to the United Sates for seven years. When they return to the Philippines for a visit, Nora confronts them and tries to claim her child back. “Andrea” has a most chilling, moving and harrowing climax, one of the best in local movies. Its fearless account of military abuses in both Marcos and Aquino administrations is admirable. From start to finish, it mirrors present Philippine conditions, with special focus on the problems afflicting educators and the government’s counter-insurgency campaign…The film’s cohesive material is given justice by the sterling performances of Nora Aunor and Gina Alajar, both perfectly cast.”
In 1998, Vilma’s Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa grossed on its opening day of showing a whooping P 5.2 million pesos. A tabloid article headlined: “Ate Vi sinagip ang naghihingalong movie industry!” A feat that she will surpassed with the another super blockbuster film, Anak the following year. A worthy note, Vilma’s closest rival, Nora Aunor on the other hand was clearly on decline mode as her followed up films after the successful Flor Contemplacion failed miserably at the box office, one film after the other. Nestor Torre, Nora’s ardent supporter wrote down for Philippine Daily Inquirer “Vilma scores with “Bata, Bata, Paano ka Ginawa?” He elaborated: “…the film based by Lualhati Bautista on her own novel that was published in the ‘80s, Vilma Santos plays Lea Bustamante, an “ordinary” woman who turns out to be an extraordinary Filipina because she has liberated herself from the restrictions that hold some other women back from coming into their own up to this day. She separated from her husband (Ariel Rivera) because he wanted her to subsume her personal goals in his favor. She had a son (Carlo Aquino) by him, and later lived in with another cad (Albert Martinez), who fathered her daughter (Serena Dalrynple). Unhappy with Albert, Vilma fantasizes about getting it on with a third guy (Raymund Bagatsing), but he doesn’t accede to her forthright invitation for them to get between the sheets. That’s one thing with Lea that surprises and perhaps even shocks some members of the audience. Unlike some other women who keep their sexy thoughts to themselves, she articulates them in colorful language, without blushing. This forthrightness has a positive if sometimes “embarrassing” effect on her children, who have been brought up to be similarly forthright and argumentative. Lea also wears her heart on her sleeve in relation to her work, which involves her in helping aggrieved and battered women fight for their rights. Writer Lualhati Bautista and director Chito Rono’s telling and prismatic depiction of Lea’s character is worthy of praise because it is full-bodied and filled with surprises, unlike most other local film characterizations, which are two-dimensional and predictable. The audience’s hearty response to Vilma’s spirited portrayal of Lea is a big change from viewer’s knee-jerk responses to most lead characterizations on the local screen, which fail to delight and surprise because they follow tired, old formats so automatically.”
Torre praised Lualhati Bautista admirable script with…”…Bautista’s plotting is also admirable. She includes many elements from Lea’s personal and working lives and is able to integrate these diverse bits into a fairly unified whole – a tough task for any screenwriter. Lea’s first husband comes back after many years, hoping to take his son with him to the States. Lea’s live-in partner becomes jealous, and yet the two men gang up on Lea when the children are hurt in an accident. Things come to a head until the children have to choose whether to stay with their mother or join their respective father’s new families. Through all of this, Lea has her crying jags, but otherwise remains strong and secure in her self-worth. This is the all-important role model that the character of Lea holds up to the less secure women watching awe-struck in the dark movie house. Let’s hope that at least some of them learn from her example. Of course, the film would have been of greater service to its audience if it had showed why, despite her strength and wisdom, Lea still fell for the self-centered cads with whom she shared her bed.”
He then described Vilma’s performance as…”…But these weaker elements pale in comparison to the movie’s admirable strengths, led by its insightful script and direction, excellent performances by Vilma Santos and Carlo Aquino, and most significant of all, the movie’s evocation of real life being lived with courage and zest….” I can’t agree more… With this description came Vilma Santos third grand slam best actress. Even the pro-Nora Aunor group, Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle or YCC for short confirmed Vilma as their best of 1998. The year gave Vilma her seventh Gawad URIAN as well as the trophies from Star Awards, Film Academy of the Phils., Gawad Sineng-Sine PASADO Awards, Siasi, Jolo. Critics Awards and because she already a Famas Hall of Famer she’s disqualified in their category. But her disqualification were compensated as she received their Lifetime Achievement Award.
The courageous and unconventional performance of Vilma Santos was again rewarded the following year as she won the top plum award from the Brussels International Film Festival. Armida Siguion-Reyna in her article for People’s Journal wrote: “…Congratulations to Vilma Santos for winning the Best Actress Award and to Chito Rono for the Best Director Award in the 1999 Brussels International Film Festival! Their film “Bata, Bata…Paano ka Ginawa?” (Lea’s Story) is one of the many films now touring the international film festival circuit passed during the term of the present board. Some people feel that the movie could not have been done nor would have passed uncut the MTRCB previously, because of its theme and use of language. Its principal character (played by Vilma) is a mother to two kids by two different men, now seeking solace in the company of a third.” She pointed out…”…The victories of Vilma and Chito could not have come at a better time for the Filipino movie industry and only shows that the Filipino film artist can meet and even surpassed international standards when given the creative freedom to do so. Of course, we recognize that last year, Albert Martinez, Jun Lana and Ditsi Carolina also won awards in the same festival. I hope the do-gooders who look at the Filipino movie industry with disdain are reading!” Vilma’s Bata was also exhibited at the 44th Asia-Pacific Film Festival in Bangkok , Thailand in November of 1999. The film earned a Special Jury Award – For awareness on woman’s status in Asia-Pacific. Vilma Santos was also nominated as well as Serena Dalrymple as best supporting actress.
Switcheroo – Would Vilma Santos be as successful as Nora in Andrea? And would Nora do the unthinkable as Lea in bata? By this time, both are now matured capable actresses. The only difference was that Vilma Santos remained a bankable star. As we all know Andrea was just a mild hit, a pale in comparison with the outcome of Bata. Would Andrea be more successful at the box office if Vilma was in the lead instead of Nora, a higher feasibility is in order. Nora was already in decline in 1990, the previous year she did only one movie, the mild hit Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit with Tirso Cruz III. She did three more films, all were a dismal failure until she hit a jackpot via Flor Contemplacion in 1995. After Flor her career went downhill. She never recovered even with the two trendy digital offerings. Meanwhile Vilma remained bankable. The end of the 80s gave her opportunity to do only serious films. Even mediocre films like Lipa Masacre was a major hit. The only dent in her strong box office record was the dismal bombed of her film with FPJ in 1996, Ikaw ang mahal ko. But she nicely recovered with a string of hits like Hanggang Ngayon Ika’y Minamahal, Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Anak, Dekada 70 and Mano Po 3. The question now is if Nora can do such type of role, a liberated matured Lea. Would it fit her image and would the masses like her in such role? A formidable task. Then we can also asked the same with Vilma. Would she performed as intense as Nora in Andrea?
Reality Checks – In 1990, Vilma was clearly the picture of a fine versatile actress. She can do any roles from a militant nun to a cancer stricken career woman to a sympathetic mistress. The Andrea role will add some variety in her already long history of successful roles. We can conclude that she will be successful as Andrea in Andrea Paano Ba Ang Maging Isang Ina. These scenario will even add some glitter to the box office outcome of the film reversing its dismal result under a Nora Aunor starrer. Meanwhile in 1998, Nora Aunor was already in a decline mode. After the successful box office result of the critically acclaimed Flor Contemplacion, the strings of dismal flops in the box office followed. Muling Umawit Ang Puso, Bakit May Kahapon Pa, Mama Dito Sa Aking Puso, Babae and Sidhi all laid an egg at the box office. She eventually decided to try her luck in America. Playing Lea in Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa would be a change from her long lists of similar typecasted roles but the outcome would be questionable as we elaborate above. The role will required her to be as liberated, contradicting her virginal, conservative image. The role will also required her to be sexually active, well impliedly and this might turned off her fans and even herself. Nora will not jumped to an unfamiliar territory.
Boxing Results – Vilma win, Nora loss again. Vilma 10, Nora 2 – To be continued…
IMDB: Nora Aunor
IMDB: Vilma Santos
Official Web-site: Vilma Santos Recto
Official Web-site: Nora Aunor ICON
Facebook: Vilma Santos Recto
Facebook: Nora Aunor
Nora & Vilma No Longer a Rivalry (a special magazine)
Boxing Matches 1/7
Vilmanians and Noranians Surveyed
About “Larawan” and Nick Joaquin
Nora at Vilma sa Gitna ng Basura
Very Long Rivalry (Repost)
Sino ba talaga ang mas mahusay umarte, si Vilma o si Nora?
May be the Philippines’ best film actress of all time 1/3
Vilma-Nora Then, Nora-Vilma Now (Repost)