A Very Long Rivalry – 1979

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Pre-1979 – 1978 was a very productive for both Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. Nora did eleven films (Atsay; Bakekang; Das A Las of Nonsense; Huwag Hamakin: Hostess; Ikaw ay Akin; Isinilang Ko ay Hindi Ko Tunay na Anak; Jack N Jill of the Third Kind; Mahal Mo Mahal Ko; Mga Mata ni Angelita; Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig; Sa Lungga ng mga Daga) and Vilma, thirteen (Mga mata ni Angelita; Amorseko: Kumakabit, Kumakapit; Bakit Kailangan Kita?; Kampus; Disco Fever; Ikaw ay Akin; Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali; Pag-ibig ko sa iyo lang Ibibigay; Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak; Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig; Promo Girl; Rubia Servios; Simula ng Walang Katapusan). They also did four films, Bernal’s “Ikaw ay Akin,” the forgettable “Pinagbuklod ng Pagibig” and two cameo roles, both did “Mga Mata ni Anghelita,” where they did separate episodes and lastly, Vilma appeared in the Alma Moreno-Nora Aunor flop, “Huwag Hamakin Hostess.”  From the looks of it, Vilma dominated the year with one hit after another despite the commercial disappointment of critics’ favorite “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak.”  Meanwhile Nora’s momentum seem to surged with the film adaptation of comic hit, “Bakekang.”  She also had a hit with her second film with Dolphy, “Jack and Jill of the Third Kind.”  Come, December, the question remained, after the success of last year’s “Atsay,” where she won the lone acting award, would Nora repeat her success at the local festival?  When the news of Brocka doing a Lolita-Nora film, Vilma’s camp answered back with a Charito-Vilma project.  Critics noted that the festival is gearing up to be the battle of “dramatic superstars.”  Also, the critics noted the director of each project, Brocka is still at his prime as the country’s top director, would Cirio Santiago, a director of previous decades, match up with Brocka?  Would it be different if Bernal handled the Solis-Santos project?

Nora-Lolita vs Charito-Vilma – “…In 1979, 1980 and 1981, kapwa maningning ang mga pangalan nina Nora Aunor at Vilma Santos bilang box-office stars at awardwinning actresses. Pero hindi kahigpitan ang labanan nila sa iba’t ibang parangal. May panahong nananalo si Nora na ibang aktres ang mahigpit na kalaban; ganu’n din si Vilma. Nang ma-handle si Nora ni Brocka (in 1979’s Ina Ka ng Anak Mo, produced by Premiere Productions and written by Jose Dalisay Jr.), she was pitted with the formidable Lolita Rodriguez and it was to Nora’s credit na pumantay siya sa parangal – bilang MMFF Best Actress. Sa 1979 FAMAS, Nora bested Lolita, who, with her performance in Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, beat Aunor in 1974. Ang “katapat” ng Nora-Lolita duo ay ang acting tandem nina Vilma Santos at Charito Solis in Bancom Audiovision’s Modelong Tanso, directed by Cirio Santiago. Sa 1979 Gawad Urian, it was neither Nora nor Lolita as Best Actress; the award instead went to Charito Solis for Brocka’s Ina, Kapatid, Anak…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

Nora Aunor’s Films (8): (Ang Tsimay at ang Tambay; Annie Batungbakal; Bakit May Pag-ibig Pa; Disco King; Dobol Dribol; Ina Ka ng Anak Mo; Kasal-Kasalan Bahay-Bahayan; Si Mahal, Nakialam Na Naman) – Nora ventured into the dance-craze genre, with “Annie Batungbakal” that even the Santos camp, knowing that Nora can’t dance, were surprised that the film was big hit. She also did few comedies, “Ang Tsimay at ang Tambay,” “Dobol Dribol;” “Kasal-Kasalan Bahay-Bahayan; and “Si Mahal, Nakialam Na Naman,” all were quite a disappointments. Her only serios project was the Brocka film.

Vilma Santos’ Films (8): (Buhay Artista, Ngayon; Coed; Halik sa Kamay, Halik sa Paa; Magkaribal; Modelong Tanso; Pinay, American Style; Rock, Baby, Rock; Swing it, Baby) – For Vilma, after the disappointment of last year’s festival, atleast in the award contest, she concentrated in making sure her film become commercial success, giving what her fans wanted. It showed with all her projects, most were box office hits.  The top three were, “Pinay, American Style;” “Rock, Baby, Rock;” and “Swing it, Baby.”  The only exception to this were the critic’s favourite, “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak” her reunion film with “Burlesk Queen” director, Celso Ad Castillo.  Aside from doing the Charito Solis project, she also did a film with Dolphy, her first after co-starring with him when she was just a child actress.

Nora Aunor’s 1979 acting recognition (3) – Best Actress from Metro Manila Film Festival and FAMAS; and a nomination from URIAN, all for “Ina Ka ng Anak Mo.”

Vilma Santos’ 1979 acting recognition (1) – Best Actress nomination from FAMAS for “Halik sa Kamay, Halik sa Paa.”

Full Confrontations – “…Filipino movies are nothing if they do not have confrontations, and Ina Ka ng Anak Mo has one confrontation after another. The best one occurs when Aunor sees Rodriguez and the baby for the first time. Aunor silently moves from shock to hurt to rage to hysterics.The scene is spoiled only at the end, when she bursts out that she will see the pair in court; in the heat of such passion, no Filipina will think of impersonal legal proceedings. More characteristic would have been a search for a weapon or for an exit door. Brocka specializes in acting vehicles. Aunor clearly deserves the Best Actress Award. In fact, she deserves it more than Rodriguez, if only because she is younger and has less experience. Before Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo, only Charito Solis could stand up to Rodriguez; now Aunor is on par with both veteran actresses. Even Aragon, not one of our best actors, gives an adequate performance opposite the two women; his success must be largely due to Brocka’s direction…” – Isagani R. Cruz, TV Times, January 20 -26, 1980 (READ MORE)

Good Model – “…Another “good” movie is “Modelong Tanso” directed by Cirio Santiago. It is based on a novel by Nerissa Cabral. This movie has one hell of a different plot: that of an obsessed woman who would get wealth and power against odds. The woman (ably portrayed by Charito Solis), forsakes husband, morals, children, for the sake of the over-riding ambition. The driving force is rooted in an impoverished childhood. She had to beg for food. She would get out of her squalid surroundings by any means. Only trouble was, she was still at it, long after she had left the barung-barong. Ang bigat ng paper ni Solis dito. At believeable siya. The conflict in this film comes off naturally. No issue is forced each incident is the result of a logical buildup in the plot. Vilma Santos, who marries a filthy rich fag in this movie, sees that she is starting to take up to her mother’s ways and stops, in this time, Solis, however, remains “unreconstructed” up to the very last. As the movie ends, she has assumed command of an even bigger business empires. Nagustuhan ko ang pelikulang ito dahil may sinasabi. It should have won some awards. The fact that it didn’t again speak of the “consistency” of the judges…” – Ros H. Matienzo, JEH Jan 21 1980 (READ MORE)

Post-1979 – The December festival favoured Lolita and Nora, both were recognized in the festival awards Night.  Their rival Charito and Vilma take the consolation of the fact that their film remained one of the top revenue earner.  It’s the end of the decade and both Nora and Vilma are looking forward to a brighter career.  Both wanted to remain as bankable and popular.  For Nora, the end of the 70s cemented her reputation as an actress.  For Vilma, the end of the decade seem to be a disappointment, at least in awards derby, as she seems to be snub by the award giving organizations several times.  She has promised herself not to expect to win any award.

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