In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the big stellar rivalry I local show biz was between Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. The two female superstars have had quite a history together, and their instructive relationship remains interesting to this day.

Child Star – In the ‘70s, Vilma had a head start because she first entered show biz as a child star. By the time she became a teen star and was competing head-on with Nora, Vilma was already an established name and crowd drawer. And yet, the phenomenal Aunor quickly upstaged her. After Nora became the darling of the masses, Vilma had to cope with the harsh reality of playing second fiddle to the brash upstart who had captivated the nation with her golden voice, expressive eyes and volatile temperament. In those days, it looked like Nora could do no wrong. Even if she made quickie films, they would win awards over Vilma’s better-executed starrers. After years of this unfair competition, Vilma decided to stop playing the also-ran, and opted to essay the roles that Nora preferred not to do—the other woman, rape victim, burlesque dancer, etc.

Vilma’s “sexy” movies were more suggestive than anything else, but they gave her a new screen persona that made her a distinct movie entity from Nora. Fact is, Nora could also have played sensual characters, but she felt awkward doing so, and Vilma benefited from her reticence. In time, Vilma was also winning acting awards and starring in big hits, so the competition between her and Nora peaked. Then, in the ‘80s, Nora’s personal problems affected her career, while the more professional Vilma became producers’ actress of choice. Nobody doubted Nora’s talent, but Vilma had talent ‘and’ professionalism, so she soon streaked in front of her archrival. No longer did she compete in areas where she was ‘dehado,’ like singing. Instead, she stressed her dancing ability, sensuality and versatility, and truly came into her own.

Political phase – Then came the two rivals’ ‘political” phase, with Nora successfully boosting Joseph Estrada to the presidency while losing her own bid as governor. On the other hand, Vilma supported her husband’s bid for the senate ‘and” won as mayor of Lipa City. Even in politics, she showed she had the edge. That’s where the two rival superstars are today—Vilma flying high, while Nora is still trying to get her act together for the nth time. We wager, however, that if Nora regains her focus and determination, she can still give Vilma and other female stars a run for their popularity and awards.

First salvo – Nora’s new public service show on TV could be the first salvo in her current bid for recognition and respect in show biz. For her part, Vilma needs to give more importance to her acting career, which she’s tended to neglect in favor of her political obligations. The interesting thing is, all these years, the two archrivals have actually gone beyond competitiveness, and have forged a solid friendship, even if is one between opposites. The competition has just given added excitement to their ‘joint” careers and motivated their respective fans to support them with greater zeal. And both Nora and Vilma have become excellent actresses who still have a number of great performances left in them. May we see some of those memorable new portrayals on the big screen this year. Even better, Nora and Vilma should make another one of their infrequent films together. Now, that would be a great viewing experience that no local film buff would want to miss.  – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2002

Official Web-site: Vilma Santos Recto
Official Web-site: Nora Aunor ICON
Facebook: Vilma Santos Recto
Facebook: Nora Aunor
Wikipedia: Vilma Santos
Wikipedia: Nora Aunor
Superstar Nora Aunor
Star For All Seasons Vilma Santos
Nora Aunor Film Actress
Vilma Santos Film Actress
And God Smiled at Me vs. Dama de Noche
Vilma-Nora Then, Nora-Vilma Now
Will Vilma Santos do a Nora Aunor?
A Tale of Two Movie Queens
About “Larawan” and Nick Joaquin
T-Bird at Ako (1982) (Video)