FILM REVIEW: PAANO BA ANG MANGARAP

The Plot: “Despite their different social backgrounds, Lisa (Vilma Santos) and Benny (Jay Ilagan) have found their match in each other. Unfortunately, Benny dies before they could marry, and Lisa is left with no choice but to seek the help of Benny’s parents. But their arrogance is as lofty as their fortune, and to them, Lisa is nothing but an opportunist. Their only concern is their late son’s unborn child that Lisa is carrying in her womb. The only person who treats Liza with kindness is Eric (Christopher de Leon), Benny’s brother, who has secretly fallen in love with her…” – Kabayan (READ MORE)

“Despite their different social backgrounds, Lissa and Benny have found their match in each other. Unfortunately, Benny dies before they could marry, and Lissa is left with no choice but to seek the help of Benny’s parents. But their arrogance is as lofty as their fortune, and to them, Lissa is nothing but an opportunist. Their only concern is their late son’s unborn child that Lissa is carrying in her womb. The only person who treats Lissa with kindness is Eric, Benny’s brother, who has secretly fallen in love with her, Eric even made a promise to Benny that he would find Lissa & take good care of her, a promise that Eric vowed he will never break.” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “Paano ba ang mangarap?” rates high for its slickness and production gloss, something that its producers, Viva Films, shouldn’t hope would last them more than two seasons.

Eddie Garcia is a good director. He stages his scenes well, with a minimum of fuss and a modicum of winning faith in narrative primacy. Viva’s movies are well-structured, well-paced, and at their best show how the cosmopolitan Filipino behaves under romantic stress. But if you get past that level and dig into substance, you encounter that self-same compost pit wherein all the biodegradable scraps of melodrama you can find southeast of your favorite mother’s kitchen have been thrown.

Such is the case, to a most lamentable extreme, with Paano Ba ang Mangarap? It’s well-acted, well-done, tastefully correct in elementary mode. But it is strictly local comics fare, this well-wrought turn of circumstantial twist and escalating conflicts which all spell high drama. Viva makes films that are at best our answer to Hollywoodian slick, the stuff of which The Other Side of Midnight and Imitation of Life are prime generational examples. The Barbra Cartlands and Harold Robbinses turned celluloid; Mills and Boon on the big screen.

Here you have two fine actors, Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos, waxing once again with their special chemistry. Boyet is so good he can, by merely varying his inflection, go through a simple line like “Tama na..” three times and prove positively sensitive and believable each time. Subtlety of feeling is shared equally well by Vilma Santos. They are both aware of the value of underplaying their emotional scenes, so much so that in any confrontation with other thespians who play their role to the hilt, these two, Boyet and Vilma, come out on top through the simple process of undercutting.

Vic Silayan and Perla Bautista are equally good in Paano Ba ang Mangarap?, but it is Moody Diaz who wins us over by applying a different tack in her “mayordoma” role, something that is usually played for laughs and other such effects by less gifted, or less imaginative, performers. Armida Siguion-Reyna is hampered by her termagant mother-in-law role, the catch-all character of cruelty spawned by all the soap opera dramas of Philippine comics and radio serials. And she plays this thoroughly unbelievable character, typecast as she already is, much to the hilt. That fantasy scene where she makes out like a satanic figure, though well-shot by Romy Vitug, is quite embarrassing for a picture like this, except of course we know that it is based on a comics serial where such fictive excesses may appear.

Here is where this otherwise finely-crafted film suffers. Viva knew it had to be faithful to the comics serial, so in effect opted for the surefire commercial draw at the expense of a truly artistic, credible film. I’m not saying that a character like Mrs. Monteverde does not, or cannot, exist. Perhaps one in a million. Filipino mothers can be as overbearing, prejudiced, unfeeling, and downright cruel. But to have a situation where an improbable character like her meets up with other improbable characters like the one Vilma and Christopher play, is stacking up the cards too much on the side of atrocious melodrama.

Vilma is the martyr type who would subject herself to indignities just so her coming child can have a name and possibly better upbringing. Boyet is the unloved son who would ditch his sophisticated girlfriend (Amy Austria, who is still uncomfortable in such role, so she doesn’t fare too well here) for this martyr-type who’s been impregnated by his brother. Now, any of these characters may exist, if by a long chance. But to have them all together living under the same roof is stretching the bounds of possibility much too much.

Furthermore, it could have been a better ending had the Viva bosses decided to stop at that scene where Vilma finds herself left alone on Christmas in the rich surroundings she has always dreamt of. Now only the household help can give her token solace by way of a collective gift. It is a poignant scene, stylistically done to proper effect with the usual Viva-film theme wafting through in support of silent montage. It could have been a good open ending, with overtones of irony laying themselves squarely on Vilma’s character. But no, of course one can’t disappoint the followers of the original comics serial. So the story goes on through further typical maneuverings until we’re given at least a semblance of a happy ending. A missed chance, I say. – Alfred A. Yuson, Philippines Daily Inquirer July 17 1983 (READ MORE)

“A true blooded Vilmanian will not forget the time when a teaser (a very brief trailer) was shown to the theatres in the summer of 1991. It was Viva films’ “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap?” Another box office hit from Vilma Santos and Christopher DeLeon. The teaser (almost worth the whole movie ticket) was the scene where Lisa, played by Vilma discovered that her son (to Eric’s brother , Jay Ilagan) was gone courtesy of her evil rich mother-in-law (Armida Sigueon Reyna). Here’s the lines and the explosive acting of the Queen. The scene: After running around looking for the baby in all the rooms in second floor of of this huge mansion, Lisa confronted Eric who were stunned to find Lisa’s hysterics. Lisa: “Dinaya n’yo ako! Saan n’yo dinala ang anak ko?!!!” Eric: “Hindi ko alam!” Lisa: “Hindi mo alam…Sinungaling!” Eric: “Lisa, makinig ka muna” Lisa: “Kasabwat ka ng ina mo! Alam ko matagal n’yo nang plano ito!” Eric: “Ano bang pinagsasabi mo?” Lisa: “Dinaya n’yo ako! Mga Traydor Kayo! Traydor kayong lahat!” Eric: “Lisa, huminahon ka baka mapaano ang bata!” Lisa: “Wala akong pakialam! Ibalik mo sa akin si Jun Jun! Ibalik mo sa akin ang anak ko! Ibalik mo sa akin si Jun Jun! Ibalik mo sa akin! AHHHH! (mahuhulog sa hagdanan)” Just this scene alone, Vilma should be rewarded that year’s best actress award! Bravo!” – RV (READ MORE)

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