A Very Long Rivalry – 2004

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Pre-2004 – After 1989, Vilma and Nora continue to fight for acting supremacy. In 1989, Vilma was elevated to the FAMAS Hall of Fame making her ineligible to compete with Nora. With this, Nora won her fifth trophies which also made her elegible for the Hall of Fame. Also this year, there’s “First” in both Vi and Guy. Vilma’s Star Award best actress was her first from the PMPC while Nora’s Luna Award best actress was her first academy award. At the URIAN, they tied as their best actress. When the award seasons ends, Nora and Vilma completed and releases three films, Nora Aunor released the much loved, “Andrea, Paano ba ang Maging Isang Ina” while Vilma tapped A-1 list directors, Lino Brocka for “Hahamakin Lahat” and Laurice Guillen for “Kapag Langit Ang Humatol.” It was a repeat in 1991, Vilma and Nora remained prominent in the acting contest, with Nora taking a landslide advantage for “Andrea…,” winning nine nods while Vilma recieved only four nominations. Then the next year, it was almost an even outcome for both, Nora’s “Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M.” earned her seven recognitions, six wins and a nomination from URIAN. The Urian award went to Vilma for “Ipagpatawad Mo.” She also received several nominations. The following year, Nora did not complete any film while Vilma releases “Sinungaling Mong Puso,” an acting triumph for Aga Muhlach. She also appeared in cameo role in fantasy festival film “Engkanto.” In 1993, both Nora and Vilma releases two films each. Nora did the forgettable “Inay” and the tired “Ligaw-ligawan, Kasal-kasalan, Bahay-bahayan.” Vilma was more successful with the socially relevant AIDS film, “Dahil Mahal Kita, The Dolzura Cortez Story” and her first Chito Rono film and the smash hit, “Ikaw Lang.”

The next year, Vilma Santos earned more trophies (seven best actress awards and two nominations) while Nora received a lifettime achievement at FAP and her sole acting trophy for “Inay” from the Young Critics Circle. Then in 1994 Vilma followed the massacre trend with “Lipa: Arandia Massacre,” a big hit and the forgettables, “Nag-iisang Bituin” and “Relaks ka Lang, Sagot Kita.” Theres no Nora movie in 1994. Her big screen absence were a blessing because the following year, she released two hit films, “Muling Umawit ang Puso” and “The Flor Contemplacion Story.” Theres No Vilma movie in 1995. As Nora Aunor reaped the rewards of the previous year, she won eight trophies plus international recognition, she released the critically acclaimed “Bakit May Kahapon Pa?” while Vilma teamed up for the last time with FPJ as her comeback movie after her absence in the forgettable and flop movie, “Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko.” The next year, Nora Aunor releases two film. She teamed up with Judy Ann Santos in the dissapointing film, “Babae” and much more dissapointing, “Mama Dito sa Aking Puso.” If 1997 was a big dissapointment for Nora, Vilma also has a film slump, her only film, “Hanggang Ngayon Ika’y Minamahal” with perennial love-team, Christopher de Leon was a big dissappointment too. There is no Nora movie the following year, while Vilma finally came-up with a more serious project, Lualhati Bautista’s “Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa?” and gamely appeared in a cameo role in “Ang erpat kong Astig.”

The following year, Vilma reaped more acting trophies plus international recognition for “Bata, bata…” and at the same time, becoming more like a seasoned politician as she entered politics during the last few years of this decade. For Nora, 1999 started her becoming the darling of indie films, she released “Sidhi” co-starring with Albert Martinez. While there is no Vilma movie in 1999, the coming of new millenium turned out to be a lucky year for her. She did “Anak” with Claudine Barretto, a record-breaking film of year. It was clear by this time that Nora Aunor’s film career is on decline, there is no film for her in the next three years. If Nora’s film career is on decline, it seems like Vilma’s film career is experiencing the same but her camp explained, due to her tight schedule as politician, her tight schedule doesn’t allowed her to do film projects. On occassion she find time to do special one, in 2002, she entered the local festival via Chito Rono’s in “Dekada 70,” in another Lualhati Bautista novel. Her rare film excursion were fruitful as she earned nine acting trophies and another international recognition in 2003. Despite this, theres no more new film for her and also for Nora. The following year, their fans rejoice as both came up with a respectable projects, an indie film for Nora and a commercial mainstream film for Vilma. Perhaps a final showdown is brewing?

Resurgence Rivalry – “…Vilma Santos’ triumph as Best Actress – for Mano Po 3 (My Love) at the Metro Manila Film Festival in December 2004 parallels her greatest rival Nora Aunor’s similar feat at the Manila Film Festival last June, where Nora won for Naglalayag. So it goes without saying Nora and Vilma will once again be major contenders for the top acting honors in this year’s awards season. Nora, for the Maryo J. delos Reyes opus in which she portrayed a lady judge who fell in love with a man half her age; while Vilma, for Joel Lamangan’s romance-drama about a Chinese anti-crime crusader torn between her family and a past love. Nora versus Vilma. Their acting duel is never ending. All these years, their fight for the Best Actress plum in practically all the local award-giving bodies has been much anticipated since…Kung susumahin, mahirap nang dagliang mabilang ang mga award nina Nora at Vilma, through the years, para sa mga pelikulang tinampukan nila. Ito rin ang puntong hindi ang pag-quantify sa mga natamong parangal ang mahalaga, kundi ang pagpapatunay na walang mintis sa kanya-kanyang laban, sa kahusayan, ang dalawang pinakamahigpit na magkaribal sa larangan ng pagganap pampelikula…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

Nora Aunor’s 2004 acting recognition (9) – Naglalayag – Best Actress from Brussels Independent Film Festival (Belgium); BALATCA (Batangas-Laguna Association of Teachers of Culture and Arts); Gawad Tanglaw Awards; Manila Film Festival; PASADO (Pampelikulang Samahan ng mga Dalubguro); S Magazine People’s Choice; YHC (Young Heart’s Club); 1st Cape Tip Festival; and a nomination from URIAN

Vilma Santos’ 2004 acting recognition (6) – Mano Po 3: My Love – Best Actress from MMFF; Gawad Suri Awards; Star Awards; Gawad Tanglaw Awards and nominations from FAP; URIAN

Pain and Courage – “…Nora Aunor delivers a remarkably competent and mature performance, exhibiting not only skill and talent but fine dramatic sensibility as well. Aunor envinces an acting style that is sure, keen and affecting. Her fortitude and daring to star in this type of film, manifests rare artistic insight into the problematics of social change. In the much talked about funeral scene, Aunor saturates the screen with the pain and courage of a woman on the brink of the darkest despair. Yul Servo’s smoldering passion and repressed aspirations lift the film to its heights, his performance in fact maps out the film’s journey from the thickets of conflict to a most soulful destination. Servo avoids the well trodden path of facile tearjerker techniques and cogently reiterates the tenderness, helplessness, violation and rage that consume his character. The writing merits of Naglalayag offers solid characterization that sustains momentum and surges into a tour de force conclusion. The screenplay’s achievement rests on its skillful appropriation of the conventions of a commercial feature in its earnest effort to come up with a truly artistic, purposive and serious motion picture. The film moreover exposes the complex processes by which people are lured into, weakened and trapped in a web of crime and poverty, from which death becomes the only possible escape…” – Jojo Devera (READ MORE)

Strange Casting – “…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…” – Dennis Ladaw, The Manila Times, Feb 28, 2005 (READ MORE)

No Fear – “…In seeing both films, Vilma gave a far more superior performance than Nora Aunor’s “Naglalayag.” Again, how can anyone not noticed? I mean, it could probably be blamed to their directors. Lamangan able to come up with a far more superior script and direction than De Los Reyes. Vilma’s role composed of so many highlights that are so hard to pick which one is the best compare to one from Nora’s film. Funny both Vilma and Nora’s film has some similarities. Both have a scene were they both accepted an award and they have to do speeches in front of adoring audiences. Another similarities, the two characters have to dealt with the gossiping and the bad publicity that their personal lives creates affecting their respective communities. Although in Naglalayag, Nora’s character wasn’t fully established as how’s her overall standing/status in the community. Now the difference, Vilma’s crisped delivery of lines came as natural, even when she talks in Tagalog, English or Cantonese/ Mandarin but Nora’s delivery of lines were as awkward as a kid trying to learn how to speak English for the first time. Her tendency to make “SSSS” sound in every English word she has on her lines were very distracting to audience and at times laughable. Her clothes are dated too, for a rich judge, one may wonder if she’s just a thrifty judge or just don’t know how to dress up, the opposite can be said with Vilma, her pink/orangey gown on the death scene was elegant. Admittedly, both Vilma and Nora have no fear of showing their age. There was a scene in both movies where they didn’t wear any make up and their faces showed their real ages. Overall, Nora’s performance lacks control and finesse while Vilma’s performance excels in restraints and effectiveness. Nora’s not credible as Dorinda, the judge while Vilma became Lilia Chiong Yang, the anti-crime crusade activist and businesswoman …” – RV (READ MORE)

Post-2004 – After a successful 2004 where she seem to reclaim the top spot by winning another international award, Nora Aunor released two indie film in 2006, Ingrata and Care Home both 2006. Unfortunately both films failed commercially. Meanwhile Vilma did “In My Life” in 2009 where she won six best actress (STAR, GMMSF, MTRCB, GTA, GSA, Gawad Genio) and two nominations (URIAN; EGSA).

2012 – “…The following year, 2005, both Nora and Vilma competed in every acting award contests. In the mix were Claudine Barretto for “Milan” and Judy Ann Santos for “Sabel.” Nora won a commanding lead with six wins and one international recognition over Vilma’s only four, plus Judy Ann and Claudine’s entry to the contest took some trophies out of the two veterans. There is no films for both veterans the following year. More so for Vilma who will not do another full length film until 2009, she appeared in a guest role as herself in 2006’s “D’Lucky Ones.”  For Nora, she came up with two respectable indie films in 2006, “Care Home” and “Ingrata” both were ignored by many critics and failed commercially.  She will not do another film until 2012, some considered her big comeback, a special role in period movie, “El Presidente” and the much praised, Brilliante Mendoza’s “Thy Womb.” Like Nora, Vilma is also absent on big screen for so long until her big mainstream film with son, Luis Manzano and John Lyod Cruz, Star Cinema’s “In My Life.” The film received a mix reviews but was a commercial success. Vilma again will not do another film until 2012, the horror film, “The Healing.”  Both “The Healing” and “Thy Womb” made history.  Nora won two international awards in Australia and Italy and a Manila Film Festival trophy, her historical eight best actress.  While Vilma’s movie did not earned her any acting trophy, the film was a commercial success ranking among top ten films that earned more than 100 Million Pesos in its exhibition and reviving the horror trend.

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