FILM REVIEW: DAHIL MAHAL KITA THE DOLZURA CORTEZ STORY

ARTICLES - Vi in Dolzura Cortez

The Plot: “Dahil Mahal Kita (Because I Love You): The Dolzura Cortez Story 1994, This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands.” – Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide, The New York Times (READ MORE)

The Reviews: This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands. It was the first movie on AIDS in the Philippines that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination. – You and Aids web-site

The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination.

Responding to a newspaper advertisement looking for a person with AIDS, Ms. Dolzura Cortez agreed to have her life story serialized in print and later developed into a movie. The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was subsequently produced as the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS which documented the real experiences of a person living with AIDS in the country. The author reports findings from a study conducted to determine the social impact of the movie as perceived by some health care personnel. Specifically, it aimed to identify the messages that health care providers derived from watching the movie and to make recommendations on how this and subsequent films could serve as an effective tool for AIDS education. 134 health care personnel representing 13 regional hospitals from all over the country watched the film, then answered a questionnaire. The sample was of mean age 35.6 years, 84.3% female, and with mean experience of 10.1 years. 20.1% were doctors, 21.6% nurses, 32.4% social workers, and 25.4% other health personnel. 22.9% had direct experience caring for persons with AIDS and 32.8% knew someone with AIDS. Although these participants perceived some simple and subtle messages from the movie, they also noted its shortcomings. The movie lacked realism; overemphasized the dangers of having multiple sex partners at the expense of warning about other risk factors for HIV transmission; the counsellor pressured the patient and failed to provide enough information on infection control; the psychosocial, economic, and spiritual concerns of people with AIDS were not addressed; and there were some misinterpretations and twisted truths about AIDS facts and the story itself. The respondents suggested that health care providers and people directly involved in AIDS education and counseling be involved in the production of such movies. Moreover, documentary pictures and testimonial footage of the woman would have added realism, while additional basic information about AIDS could have been mentioned in either the movie or a trailer. – NCBI

‘Dolzura Cortez Story’ is an artistic and brilliant film from Manila’s finest director. The movie’s leading actress, Ms. Santos, played her part so powerfully, and is very convincing as Dolzura, the first Filipino HIV/AIDS patient to come- out to the public. The movie is a thought- provoking film, ready to challenge the Filipino idea of what is right and what is wrong. – Jonard, “A thought- provoking, honest film from Philippine’s finest director,” IBDB, March 11, 2000

“…In 1992, wala ni isang pelikulang tinampukan si Nora, samantalang si Vilma starred in only one: Maryo J. delos Reyes’ Sinungaling Mong Puso, na hindi niya pinagtamuhan ng anumang major Best Actress award. In 1993, gumawa si Vilma ng pelikula na ang kuwento’y base sa unang Pilipinang nag-reveal ng pagkakaroon niya ng AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), si Dolzura Cortez. Directed by Laurice Guillen for Octoarts Films, Dahil Mahal Kita (The Dolzura Cortez Story) won Vilma the Best Actress honors at the 1993 Manila Film Festival, Star, Gawad Urian and FAP…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“Still bearing activist weight is Vilma’s effort in Laurice Guillen’s Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story in which she fleshes out a body and a mind for a person with AIDS. This initiative constitutes an advocacy not only for people afflicted with the dreaded pandemic, but also for women who have to overcome strata of ostracism in the process of survival and resist their being reduced to an aberration, in this case, a pathology.” – Patrick Flores, Manila Standard Today Jan 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Previously, HIV/AIDS “victims” were seen either as homosexual men, or women who worked in the sex industry. The former stereotype was even turned into a mainstream 1993 Hollywood movie Philadelphia that won a best actor Academy Award for Tom Hanks. The latter, on the other hand, was the subject of a 1993 Filipino film The Dolzura Cortez Story starring Vilma Santos. As a disease, AIDS was highly misunderstood two decades ago. Religious fanatics considered it “a punishment from God” for the sexual excesses of its victims. While a complete falsehood, there was some truth to the other mistaken belief about AIDS—that it would lead to certain death for whoever had the disease, which had no known cure. Fast forward to 2013 and Filipinos still generally remain in the dark about HIV/AIDS…” – Beting Laygo Dolor, Manila Times, 14 August 2013 (READ MORE)

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