A (new) Collection of Brief Articles

Enjoy! – Fernando Po Jr. gets a big kick watching Vilma Santos does the laudry in FPJ Productions’ rollicking comedy, “Batya’t Palu Palo,” which Pablo Santiago directs. Starring Dencio Padilla, Roberto Talabis, Angge, Royal Dahlen and the mainstays of FPJ. “Batya’t Palu Palo” is filmed in full color and will be shown sometime in April.

In Her Own Words – “…Kapag natatalo ka naman, especially that time (before her first Urian victory in 1982), talagang sumasama loob ko. Kasi nag-e-expect ka, ang kasunod nun, sana manalo ako. Kapag natalo, ang sakit. Pero ngayon, kahit paano natikman ko na naman yung mga awards na iba-iba. Kung hindi ka ma-recognize, fine. It’s an honor to have eight Urian Best Actress. Isa sa ginagalang talaga na award giving body is Urian. The judges there, aminin natin hindi basta-basta, mga critics talaga. Korona ‘yon sa akin. Achievement na malaki. Peron ngayon, nilalagay ko sa isip ko na hindi ibig sabihin na ikaw ang pinakamaraming natanggap na Urian eh ikaw ang pinakamagaling. Sinuwerti lang yun per movie na ginagawa mo, kung paano mo ginagampanan yung role mo. But at the end of the day, after the awards night, pantay-pantay ulit tayo…” – Starsstudio Magazine, July 2011

No Dragon lady Joel Lamangan’s Mano Po, My Love dominated the Metro Manila Film Festival awards Wedenesday evening when it won all the top awards – Best Picture, Best Actor (Christopher de Leon), Best Actress (Vilma Santos) and Best Director (Lamangan). In the Philippine movie industry, the term Best Picture actually means the least bad movie of the crop. By that measure, Mano Po 3 perhaps does deserve the award. At least Mano Po 3 is slickly and tastefully produced. It boasts of a prestigious cast and tries to address a few pressing issues that affect the Chinese community in the Philippines. All the looks good on paper and the movie does look good most of the time but the resulting movie, like its two predecessors, falls short on expectations. The Mano Po series was designed to present the travails of today’s Chinese. Most of the problems they face today are rooted from old traditions that originate from the great land they had come from. In the third movie, Vilma Santos plays Lilia Chiong Yang, a successful real-estate developer who does some important civic work on her free time. She helps the police capture kidnap gangs although it’s never explained how she assists them. She’s only shown accepting awards of grattitude for her courageous fight against crime.

Lilia’s perfect life is shattered when she bumps into the real love of her life, Michael Lim (Christopher de Leon). They went to school together but being an activist, he was compelled to flee the country to avoid being persecuted by the Marcos regime. Not long after Lilia marries Michael’s best friend, Paul yang (Jay Manalo). Of course, a flame is reignited when they meet again and plans for the 25th wedding anniversary of Lilia and Paul are shattered. Such soapy contretemps are old hat and it has nothing relevant to say about the Chinese. Consequently, the Chinese connection feels tacked on – the audience is sporadically reminded of Lilia’s heritage through elaborate scenes (the birth of Lilia in a small village in China) and some colorful costumes and Chinese dragon parades. Frankly, you’ll learn more about Chinese tradition from Mark Meily’s classic film Crying Ladies (2003). Likewise, the film’s social commentary is contrived and rings false, what with the stilted, elementary dialogue the actors have to deliver. Without the Chinese trappings, Mano Po 3: My Love is a typical Vilma Santos movie designed to highlight all the wonderful elements that make her a star for all seasons.

Again, she sobs, laughs and acts pensive in that distinctive fashion Santos is famous for in one sudsy scene after another. Yet even as an emblematic Vilma Santos movie, Mano Po 3 is below par. The Star was better in other films that had better material. In this movie, screenwriter Roy Iglesias and director Joel Lamangan shamelessly force the star to imitate Meryl Streep in a scene stolen from Clint Eastwood’s Bridges of Madison County (1995). And like the two first installments, Mano Po 3 features some strange casting. Jay Manalo is supposed to be a contemporary of de Leon and Santos but when you see them together, Manalo looks more like their son than a classmate. Lamangan’s storytelling is fluid and deliberate but being deliberate can be deadly when almost every scene is all talk. Talk is fine if the words are inspiring but when the lines are pallid and of the telenovela variety, we’s just rather stick to the Korean soap they show on TV. While actors deliver modulated performances, this writer feels that Christopher de Leon’s role is too small to warrant a best actor nomination and award. I think he should have listed in the supporting category but I’m opening a can of worms here. Let’s just be thankful that this is the last Mano Po movie to be ever made. (Star rating: one star 1/2 out of four) – Dennis Ladaw, The Manila Times, Feb 28, 2005 (READ MORE)

Love-Hate drama between “martyr” mother and “rebel” daughter – Star Cinema should be commended for deciding to make a film about a Filipino overseas contract worker who periodically leaves her family to ears much-needed dollars abroad. “Anak: is a bittersweet account of a mother’s dilemma: the money she brings in assures her children’s physical well-being, but her absence during their crucial growing years leaves them with a shaky foundation that takes its terrible toll on them, asw well as on her, when she finally decides to come home. Rory B. Quintos’ films hits intense emotional highs, especially in scene involving its veteran lead player, Vilma Santos, who feels her role so much that she comes across as a symbol of all mothers torn between their love for their children, and their need to earn money by working abroad to give their children a better life. Her pain is exarcerbated when they show their resentment over her long absences, as though she didn’t suffer from the separation as much as or even more than they. And everything comes to a head when eldest child (Claudine Battetto) flaunts her wayward life and vices in her mother’s face, to hurt her as much as she feels she has been hurt by her “uncaring” parent.

In addition, the film gains in significance by touching on some less personal issues related to the huge problems of our overseas contract workers and the families they leave behind: terrible working conditions, psyhological trauma, low self-image, the wearing down of traditional values, etc. Unfortunately, the production’s decision to focus on the mother-daughter conflict deprives the movie of enough time to dramatize these issues in an insightful way. Thus, the interesting characters played by Amy Austria and Cherry Pie Picache, who are cast as Vilma’s worker-friends, are glossed over and mainly used for “color” and as shoulders to cry on. This is a pity, because they too have compelling, instructive stories to tell, which could have lent greater texture and substance to the film’s handling of the complex OCW syndrome. Instead, the movie keeps harping on the love-hate drama between “martyr” mother and “rebel” daughter, with Claudine’s character sinking deeper into her pit of anger and recrimination. All too soon, the pattern becomes tedious, and we keep hoping that the movie discovers other, more productive dramatic and thematic avenues to explore. To make things worse, Claudine acts her guts out in her “hurt and angry” scenes, but she can’t seem to rise to the thespic occassion.

This may be because her character’s acts of rebelliosness are presented in too strident a fashion, making it difficult for the young actress to be truly sensitive to her character’s core of genuine pain. It’s also possible that Claudine has been acting too much of late, what with her daily TV soaps that require her to play triplets, so she has prescious little that’s fresh and real to give to her role in this film. Whatever the reason, she falls short of the mark, particularly in her demanding confrontation scenes with Vilma. For her part, the veteran actress is given major dramatic challenges in this movie, and she meets them with her intensity and commitment. More, she embraces them, pushing her scenes “beyond acting,” into emotional reality that is truly moving. If only her young costar had been as insightful, sensitive and giving… So, we thank Star Cinema for the good things in “Anak,” but we regret its deficiencies, which not even a Vilma Santos can fully compensate for. More films on our OCW’s are needed to truly do justice to their immense problems, and to their quiet heroism for love ones and coutry. – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 14, 2000 (READ MORE)

Resigned – Roderick Paulate finally resigned last Friday from GMA-7’s Vilma! which he co-hosts with formeer good friend Vilma Santos. As adult stars, Paulate’s regulaar tv association with Santos started with the erstwhile VIP (Vilma In Person) almost four years ago in the now defunct City 2 of Broadcast City.- Manila Standard, , Mar 29, 1987 (READ MORE)

Kamust na si Vi? – I have a “new” job and in keeping with its requirements I tried to circulate these past few days. One does not go through life being an entertainment editor alone so I figured I must do something else. Or so I thought. Imagine when during my first meeting with some people who I thought were not in anyway connected, or interested, in showbiz I was initially confronted with the question: “Kamusta si Vi?” I was flabbergasted. “Pati ba naman kayo?” I would have proceeded to my usual defense spiel but on second thought I decided it was quite an edge, to begin with. I turned out one of them’s a true-blue Vilmanian and he claimed he “knew” me from way back. Now, that poses a problem. What if some of them are Noranians? Or avid supporters of Maricel Soriano, Sharon Cuneta and Snooky Serna? Would that jeopardize my new job? At any rate, the foregoing is nothing but an excuse to grant a request from someone who sells this paper and to accomodate a press release sent by Nestor Pulido, GMA-7’s vice president for publicity and promotions. Kamusta si Vi? Read on. Local television’s No 1 musical variety show, Vilma, scores a first when it holds this year’s summer show at the Raging Waters Resort in Los Angeles California.

According to Ray J. Benaza, president and general manager of Pride of Philippine Television, Inc. – the outfit responsible for this event – Vilma Santos has formally agreed to bring her show to the Filipinos in L.A. Dubbed “Pistahan sa Raging Waters with Vilma” the show will have a Filipiniana theme. The show will climax a week-long stay in L.A. of the country’s premiere actress along and tv performer along with her party from May 15 to 22. Among the activities lined up for the superstar are courtesy calls with Philippine Consul General Anolin and Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley; tours of Universal Studios, Disneyland, Rodeo Drive, and Sea World in San Diego; meetings and autograph-signing with “kababayans;” and interviewing Filipino celebrities now residing in L.A. The grand show will be held at the Raging Waters Resort from 1 to 3 p.m. on May 21, Saturday (LA time). Among the guests who have agreed to perform in the show are Louie Reyes, Willie Nepomuceno and Mitch Valdez. Santos will also be doing production numbers with a Los Angeles dance group. Ariel Ureta co-hosts the affair. A victory party follows the show, with singing and other entertainment numbers, at the Camp Bonneli park and there will be a pitching of several tents in the campsite and declare the press as “Vilma Camp.” Choice video footage of the party and Santos’ other activities wil be shown in succeeding episodes of Vilma as soon as the group is back from L.A. – JC Nigado, Manila Standard, Apr 8, 1988 (READ MORE)

Star Awards – “…But the loudest screams were reserved for the arrivals of Sharon Cuneta and Vilma Santos…Vilma’s portion was very Hollywoodish. She sang and danced with a dozen dressed almost like her. The she proceeded to do her emceeing job with Christopher de Leon as partner…Other winners..best picture: Gaano Kita Kamahal…best director: Butch Perez; best actor – a tie, Christopher de Leon and Philip Salvador and best actress, Vilma Santos…” – Norma Japitana, Manila Standard, Mar 15, 1994 (READ MORE)

Para Hindi Pagsawaan – Ronnie Ricketts has earned his spurs as an action star. His movies earn millions so that producers, astute businessmen that they are, have been willing to stake their millions on his films, confident that their investment can be recouped in no time at all. But Ronnie is also shrewd when it comes to his career, and carefully chooses the films to star in. As a result, Ronnie is now in the league of such local biggies as Rudy Fernandez, Bong Revilla and Philip Salvador. Moviestars Productions’ Ikaw Lang is a far cry from the usual stories Ronnie had starred in. It is a love-drama, but Ronnie nonetheless accepted it because of the welcome change. First, it headlines him opposite the “Star for all Seasons,” Vilma Santos, one of the very top actresses he hasn’t done a move with. He had worked with Vi in a telemovie the much-awarded actress produced years ago, but this is the first time they’re together in a film. Ikaw Lang is a welcome departure from a long spate of action flicks he has been identified with. “So people would not get tired watching me in one action picture from another. Para naman hindi pagsawaan.” Ronnie is under contract with Movie Stars Productions and can’t say no to Mrs. Fely Ong, his producer in Pacwood Films, who gave him one of his best movie in years, Anak ng Dagat. She has been very supportive and treats him like a son. Since action is Ronnie’s forte, there are scenes in Ikaw lang, about 20 percent of the movie are scenes where he does a bit of action to please his loyal followers. “Its still action for me anytime. But sometimes, like this one, daopat mayroong change. Para naman hindi magsawa ang mga fans,” Ronnie explained.- Manila Standard, Jan 6, 1993 (READ MORE)

Nora Out, Vilma In! – “Superstar out; Vilma! and The Sharon Cuneta Show are in. This is according to the latest PSRC survey of the top 20 shows for January. Topping the list in the once-a=week evening program is Ramon Revilla Blockbuster in PPP on Channel 13 with a rating 51.7 percent…The Sharon Cuneta Show (13), 35 percent…Vilma! (7), 26.3 percent…” – Baba Flores, Manila Standard, Feb 25, 1987 (READ MORE)

Chicago International Film Festival – An invitation was extended to either Armida Siguion-Reyna or Vilma Santos to sit as a juror at the Chicago International Film Festival in October where two Filipino films will be in competition, Regal Films’ Ang Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion (directed by Lav Diaz) and Seiko Films’ Burlesk King (by Mel Chionglo). Armida told Funfare that she has accepted the invitation. However, Vilma turned it down because she’s pressed for time. She has started shooting Star Cinema’s Anak (with Claudine Barretto as her daughter) and after that, she’ll start work on Peligro for Viva Films, with Christopher de Leon as leading man and director. Vilmanians will be happy to know that the Chicago Filmfest bigwigs have described Vilma as “the Meryl Streep of the Philippines” in the invitation. Take a bow, Meryl Streep, er, Vilma Santos! – Ricky Lo, August 9, 1999, Reposted by: Sol Jose Vanzi (READ MORE)

FAP – “Vilma Santos and Philip Salvador won the top awards at the 12th Annual Academy Awards of the Film Academy of the Philippines conducted at the reception hall of the Philippine International Convention Center Saturday night. Ms Santos won the best actress for the role she portrayed in the Dolzura Cortez Story. She portrayed the role of a woman dying of acquire immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Philip Salvador won the best actor award for his role in Masahol pa sa Hayop which was also judged best picture of the year…” – Manila Standard, April 26, 1994 (READ MORE)

Is Ralph Recto Married? – Is Ralph Recto, Vilma Santos’ current boyfriend, married? Is the woman and the baby beside him in the Recto family portrait that came out on March 26 issue of teh Philippine Star his wife and his child? These are but two of the question rained by people who saw the same photo in the said newspaper. Santos, on the other hand, does not hide the fact, that she is supporting her boyfriend’s father, senatorial aspirant Rafael Recto. A look at her car, which carries the candidate’s poster is enough proof. – Manila Standard, May 4, 1987 (READ MORE)

The Latest from Vilma Santos – On her trip to the U.S.A.: “Heaven! A complete rest na matagal ko nang hinahanap.” Nang bumili siya ng house & lot sa Los Angeles: “A very good investment. Pagkatapos ng commitments ko rito, babalik ako roon para magbakasyon ng six months.” On love and marriage: “Tipong talagang hindi ko pa natatagpuan ang lalaking hinahanap ko but definitely, hindi ako magiging old maid!” On Nora Aunor: “Kanya-kanyang suwerte lang. Kung medyo angat ako sa kanay ngayon gaya nang sinasabi ng iba, masaya. Palagay ko, suwerte lang ang nagdadala!” – Kislap Magazine, July 27, 1978


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