FILM REVIEW: GING

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The Plot: A young Vilma Santos starred as Ging. A smart mouth street kid who have to beg for money to support her crippled mother. She was adopted by a deceitful couple who heard her sing in a restaurant. The couple made Ging into a singing sensation but abuse her, limiting her food intake and sleep to prevent her to grow. Ging eventually left them and surprisingly discovered her father. She reconciled with him and her crippled mother.

The Reviews: Ang sarap balikan ng mga pelikula ng the Premier Acress of the Land. Mga pelikulang may mga temang napapanahon kahit sabihin pang luma na ang mga ito. May tatak Vilma Santos. GING (1964) – all of 11 years, here is the newly-crowned FAMAS best child actress sa isa sa mga title roles niya bilang anak ng laos na artista (Olivia Cenizal) na nalumpo after she gave birth to Ging (Vilma). Ang ama ni Ging ay isang bit player na Mama’s boy, si Jose Padilla, Jr.(SLN) whose mother is the screen’s perennial conravida, Etang Discher (SLN), mother of the late Panchito. Padilla abandoned Ging and her mother on her mother’s wishes so he won’t be dropped from her “pamana” (will). Mother and daughter lived in a slum area. Their squalid lives are made bearable with the presence of a cantankerous neighbor Aruray and her son who was sired by a black G.I. named George. Aruray’s son is about Ging’s age. They practically were street urchins who beat the other kids in soliciting alms, thanks to Ging’s histrionics: she would fake syncope (play dead) and “kawawa” by relating her sad plight as an abandoned poor daughter with a paraplegic of a mother – through a song that would drive her audience at a restaurant to tears and pity – and would give her free food and money. The ploy works all the time. Little did Ging realize that an unscupulous couple, racketeers Ramon D’Salva and Carol Varga were observing her in a restaurant and saw in her a goldmine: they would adopt her and make them rich as her talent manager. Talk of child exploitation. Reluctant at first, Ging agrees to go with the evil couple provided she would go to shool and that they would send her alcoholic mother (bagay na bagay ito sa isang artista) to the hospital for treatment. Of course, the evil and scheming couple reneged on their promises. They exploited Ging by forcing her to work overtime and would starve her so she wouldn’t grow up and lose her audience. Luckily, she has a guardian angel in Georgie Quizon, Dolphy’s erthswhile brother who, along with Aruray provided comic relief, and who would protect Vilma from her exploiters. Young Vilma’s raw, innate talent surfaces most especially in her scenes where she vacllates or mulls in leaving her mother. Her final goodbye scene with her mother is heartbreaking, enough a motivation for a Vilma fan Nora Aunor in Iriga city to follow in her footsteps. “One day, I wanna be like Vilma, I will sing and make people cry. Love that “gripo” princess to death. Idol ko siya.” Shot in black and white and adapted from the comics to the screen by Mars Ravelo, the movie was directed by Cirio Santiago and Teodorico Santos. The movie is a must have for any true blue Vilmanian. Listang-lista at ang husay ni Vilma rito. Naroong kumanta siya (the voice over seemed like her singing voice), sumayaw at nagdrama. Luma si Madonna doon sa isang parang La Isla Bonita number niya. One memorable scene was when she was singing her signature song to the audience of her longing to see her mother and her father – the camera captures her pain and agony and the deep wound she suffers from her abusers – a poignant scene, complete with tears and and a well-internalized acting. Bravo! Karapat-dapat na U.P. Gawad Plaridel Awardee – maliit pa lang ang dyaske, ang husay talaga. Sa katunayan, some scenes from Ging were included in the audio-visual presentation at both the FAMAS Hall of Fame awards and the recent U.P. Gawad Plaridel coronation of the Summa Cum Laude of All Philippine Actors. Ang galing-galing mo talaga, Rosa Vilma Tuazon Santos-Recto! – Mario Garces, V magazine 2006

All Vilmanians and even those who just love watching old Tagalog movies must have been glued to their TV screens last Thursday afternoon when Channel 9’s “Premiere Pilipino Klasiks” aired “Ging”, Vilma Santos’ follow-up movie after she was introduced in Sampaguita Pictures’ “Trudis Liit.” Produced by Premiere Productions when Vilma was only 10 (circa 1963), “Ging” casts the now-Star for All Seasons (and Batangas Governor, too!) as a street child who is in charge of taking care of her invalid mother, played by Olivia Cenizal. In flashback fashion, we find out that Ms. Cenizal was once a big movie star who fell in love and married a young rich man (portrayed in the film by Jose Padilla, Jr.) Padilla’s aristocratic mother (Etang Discher), unfortunately, breaks up the union and the two lovers go their separate ways. Vilma, as Ging, was born shortly after. While begging for food scraps from customers at the restaurant of the Chinese Ponga (I doubt if today’s generation have any idea who he is or how he looks like), she is spotted by Ramon D’Salva and his wife, Carol Varga. The couple immediately express their wish to adopt her. Vilma was hesitant at first at the idea – until she was promised by D’Salva that she would be sent to school, and her mother, to the hospital for medical treatment. Once she is in the D’Salva home, the couple show their true colors. They exploit her by making her perform in vaudeville presentations. Although she is a hit and a top money maker, she is still badly treated by Varga. For one, she is not given proper nutrition to stunt her growth (child stars are supposed to be cute and small). Little Vilma rebels when she finds out that D’Salva does not fulfill his promise of sending her mother to the hospital for treatment. She runs away and in the process bumps into people related to her biological father. Padilla and Cenizal are reunited and the little heroine lives happily ever after with her parents. “Ging” was directed by Cirio Santiago and Teodorico Santos. Although it was made in the old-fashioned way of making films (the flashback scenes in particular), the material used here is timeless – especially since there are more street children in our midst now more than ever. As far as the showbiz scene is concerned, there are still a lot of heartless impresarios today exploiting young talents in the business. But what really made “Ging” a delight to watch was the performance of the very young Vilma Santos. Even at the early age, it was clear that she was already brimming with talent. Vilma, apparently, was born into this world to perform, entertain and make people happy. She was utterly convincing in the dramatic scenes and thoroughly graceful in her musical numbers. Listang-lista – as we’d say in the vernacular. Even then, she was already living up to her showbiz title of “Star for All Seasons” because her performance in “Ging” is not only brilliant, but timeless as well. – Butch Francisco, People’s Journal March 04 1999

RELATED READING:
Ging (film) From Wikipedia
Vilma Santos – The Child Star
Vilma Santos in Mars Ravelo’s “Ging” (1963): Komiks Serial and Movie Adaptation
The Quixotic Quizons of R.P. Movies

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