204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success. – RV (READ MORE)
His films lack the arthouse style and social relevance that critics loves most in a Brocka or Bernal films but who cares about the critics when the paying public loves them. And the producers demand his service, from Doc Perez of Sampaguita Pictures, Atty. Esperidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions and later on, Vic Del Rosario of Viva Films and Lily Monteverde of Regal Films. Clearly, his films exists with one purpose, to entertain the masses not to depress or remind them with the country’s sad fate of economy or the below poverty line lives of many. The success of the Vilma-Borlaza films gave Vilma Santos versatility and preparation to a more serious acting career. It also narrowed the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor. These are perhaps, the most significant contributions of Emmanuel Borlaza to Vilma’s career. Vilma who was considered only second to Nora couldn’t matched her singing talent and so, Borlaza countered this lack of singing with films that showcased Vilma’s acting versatility.
From the folklore mermaid in Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe to fighting giants in Darna and the Giants to a fast-talker-gossip-mongering vendor in Tsismosang Tindera and to good-hearted prostitutes in Mga Rosas sa Putikan, Borlaza let Vilma Santos experience a wide range of roles, from comedic fantasy to dramatic adult roles. These experiments prepared her to a later more serious and versatile acting career. Their success made other directors interested in giving her roles oftenly considered for her closest rivals. Projects lined up and awaits her availability. Borlaza and Santos’ collaboration produced a string of box office hits from early 70s’ Dama De Noche to their last outing in late 80s’ Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Bukas. Their success established their career as one of the most bankable and in-demand director/actor team, making her the longest reighning box office queen of all time and him a money maker director.
When time for Vilma to moved on with other collaborators, Borlaza handled other stars with much success! He directed Alma Moreno in smash hit, Eva Fonda 16; Sharon Cuneta in her memorable rag to riches films, Bituin Walang Ningning and Bukas Luluhod Ang Mga Tala; Snooky Serna in her fantasy hit, Blusang Itim and Marecel Soriano as the spoiled brat in Yesterday Today and Tomorrow. These films gave us some of the most memorable movie lines that most Filipinos would still remember like Cherie Gil’s campy dialouge: “You’re Nothing but second rate Trying hard, Copy Cat!” or Sharon’s promise of revenge: “pinapangako ko inay…bukas luluhod ang mga tala! (I’ll promise you mother, tommorow the stars will kneel down, something to that effect, litterally.)” – RV (READ MORE)
Teen Films “…By late 1969, movie producers had been tapping a Vilma Santos-Edgar Mortiz love team. Edgar was a Tawag ng Tanghalan winner. They started to be together in the movies, My Darling Eddie (1969) and The Jukebox King (1969)…In 1970, the love team of Vilma Santos and Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz was officially launched in the movie Young Love, together with the another popular love team during that time, Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III. The Vi and Bot love team went on to do 14 more movies in 1970—The Young Idols, Songs and Lovers, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Love Letters, Love is for the Two of Us, Mga Batang Bangketa, My Pledge of Love, Renee Rose, Baby Vi, Because You Are Mine, Edgar Loves Vilma, From the Bottom of My Heart, and I Love You Honey. All did well at the box-office…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)
“…Noong Dekada ’70, ang mga young stars ay kailangang marunong kumanta dahil yun ang uso kaya naman nagtayo ng sariling recording company ang nasirang manager ni Vi na si William Leary dahil ayaw niyang pahuhuli sa uso ang kanyang alaga. Ilan sa mga naging recording artists ng WILEARS RECORDS bukod kay Vi ay sina Edgar Mortiz, Ed Finlan, Sahlee Quizon, Hilda Koronel at Esperanza Fabon. According to Vi, kapag nagrerecord siya ng kanta ay nakatalikod siya sa dingding ng recording company at si Bobot ang umaalalay sa kanya. Ang SIXTEEN, na sinulat ni Danny Subido ang unang recording na ginawa ni Vi at ito ay flipsided by It’s So Wonderful To Be In Love. Ang SIXTEEN ay agad naging gold record at dahil dito ay gumawa ng pelikula ang Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions, ang home studio ni Vi at ito ay ginawa nilang pamagat katambal si Edgar Mortiz. Hindi nyo naitatanong, muntik nang manalo si Vi bilang most promising singer sa AWIT AWARDS noong early ’70s…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)
“…Si Edgar Mortiz ang unang nakapareha ni Vilma Santos as a teen star. Nakilala sila as the “Subok na Matibay, Subok na Matatag” loveteam called Vi and Bot at naging magka-steady sila sa tunay na buhay. Marami silang ginawang pelikula as teen stars in the early 70s…” – Showbiz Portal (READ MORE)
“…Sa tuwing sumasapit ang Christmas at valentine’s Day ay nagtatapatan ang mga pelikula nila. Nang ginawa nina Guy at Pip sa Hawai ang pelikulang Blue Hawai, hindi nagpatalo ang Vilma at Edgar. Nagtungo rin sila sa Hawai at ginawa nila ang pelikulang Aloha, My Love bilang pantapat sa pelikula nina Nora at Tirso. Ganyan talaga kainit ang labanan noon ng dalawang parehang ito. Pagkatapos ipalabasa ang mga pelikulang Blue Hawai at Aloha My Love na parehong kumita sa takilya, nagtungo rin ang dalawang pangkat sa USa para gawin naman nila ang pang-Valentine’s Day offering nila. Don’t Ever Say Goodbye ang kina Vilma at Edgar, samantalang ang kina Guy at Pip naman ay ang Gift of Love. Hindi lang iyan. Tuwing sasapit naman ang Metro Manila Film Festival ay nagkakaroon din sila ng kanya-kanyang entry under their respective production companies – ang Tagalog Ilang Ilang for Vi and Bot at Sampaguita Pictures kina Guy at Pip. Halos sila na lang ang siyang pinapanood at iniidolo ng fans…” – Ely S. Sablan (READ MORE)
“..I didn’t expect to win, although marami ang nagsasabi sa akin na malaki ang pag-asa ko. Ako naman, I don’t believe anything unless talagang nangyayari. Kasi noon, I expected to win, sa film festival din sa Quezon City, but somebody else did. I was very disappointed. Noong awards night nga, I wasn’t convinced I would win hanggang hindi ko pa hawak ‘yong trophy…” – Ricardo F. Lo (READ MORE)
“…Pagkagaling nila Vi & Bot sa Amerika para sa shooting ng “Don’t Ever Say Goodbye”, ay sinayaw ni Vi sa The Sensations ang The Shaft na usong sayaw noon sa U.S., agad nagustuhan ng mga tao ang dancing skills ni Vi at nauso lagi ang mga sayaw ni Vi at mula noon ay kinilala ang charisma, grace, at natural dancing prowess ni Vi na later on ay pinakita niya at tampok lagi at inaabangan ng mga tao sa kanyang top rated musical variety shows na ang pinakahuli ay ang Vilma!…” – Jojo V. Lim (READ MORE)
“…Remembrance,” another film musical, was chosen “best musical” in the Manila Film Festival. The film stars Vilma Santos (Wilear’) and Edgar Mortiz (Wilear’s). The film also won in the categories of best film editing, best sound and best script…” – Oskar Salazar (READ MORE)
Fantasy Films “…Sine Pilipino got then hot young star Vilma Santos to essay the role of Darna. But the problem was, Vilma was hesitant to wear the two-piece costume. So, during their photo shoot for the publicity photos of the new Darna movie, she wore the Darna costume on top of her body stocking. Vilma was finally convinced by producers Douglas Quijano and William Leary to lose the body stocking and wear just the costume on the day of the press conference. The press people were surprised on seeing how sexy Vilma was in her Darna costume, which was back to the original red bikini and gold stars. Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973) is the first and only trilogy of the superheroine. It was a box-office hit on its first day of showing and considered a turning point in Vilma’s career. It was also the first Darna movie where Darna and Narda was played by the same actress. Unfortunately, there is no existing copy left of this classic film. Vilma starred in three more Darna films: Darna and the Giants (1974) and Darna vs. the Planetwomen (1975), which were both under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and Darna and Ding (1980) under Niño Muhlach’s D’Wonder Films. Darna and the Giants was the continuation of Vilma’s first Darna movie and Darna again wore the gold bikini costume, while Darna vs. the Planetwomen was a rebooted version of the Darna origin, with Vilma’s Narda this time portrayed as a crippled teenager who was given a magical stone by a mysterious source. The costume is back to red this time with the stars on Darna’s bra also colored red and the headpiece, all gold. Darna and Ding was the last time Vilma played Darna. Her costume this time was sexier and more revealing. In this movie, she was joined by Ding who now has his own superpowers…” – Rico J Rod (READ MORE)
“The quintessential action-fantasy Pinoy flick that appeals to all ages, from generation to generation. This movie is a major milestone for Vilma because it proved that she could really carry a solo movie and bring in the dough (up to now of course!). Vilma’s Darna franchise is the most memorable and successful of all Pinoy fantasy-action genres. Imitated but never equalled, Vilma’s Darna lives on. Unforgettable. Memorable. It grows on you. No Pinoy kid ever grows up without being a part of the Darna magic. The enormous success of Lipad, Darna, and Lipad led to three more Darna movies with Vilma Santos. As a result, the star for all seasons became the star for all Darnas—Santos played her four times, more than any other actress in the super heroine’s history…” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)
Maturing Dramas“…In 1980, Ate Vi married budding actor Edu Manzano in Las Vegas, USA, while shooting the film, “Romansa.” She was pregnant with Lucky (now called Luis) when she did “Pakawalan Mo Ako” in 1981, for which she won her second FAMAS best actress award. In 1984, her marriage to Edu ended in separation, and she did movies that mirrored her real-life affairs, “Hiwalay” and “Ex-Wife,” both big hits…” – Mario Bautista (READ MORE)
“…To recall, the senior and junior movie queens appeared in these movies: Bulaklak at Paru-paro (1970), Mga Reynang Walang Trono(1976) and Asawa Ko, Huwag Mong Agawin (1986). Amalia directed Vilma’s episode in Mga Reyna and agreed to second billing to Vilma in Asawa Ko. No doubt about it, Amalia Muhlach Sumilang Fuentes, is a Vilmanian. To seal their sisterhood and camaraderie, Vilma is Ninang to Liezl Martinez and to the latter’s son Alfonso. Why, Liezl even sang a song ’’Wind Beneath My Wings’ to her surprised mother that night which drove the strong-willed and still beautiful Amalia to tears. A Kodak moment, indeed. Priceless! While interviewing the three Muhlach generations, Fuentes, Liezl and young daughter Aliyanna, Amalia revealed to Vilma that she is protective of her ’unica hija’ Liezl. ”Ay naku, I think I also have become like my Mom, I’m also very protective of my children,” Liezl remarks…” – Mario O. Garces (READ MORE)
“…Why Borlaza? Because Emmanuel H. Borlaza is a formula director, a tried and tested moneymaker for local film companies and an example of a commercial success who also hungers for artistic fullfillment. It was Maning Borlaza who directed the box-office hit revival of Darna and Dyesebel, those heroines of less demanding times, and followed of less demanding times, and followed them with more Vilma Santos-Edgar Mortiz starrers and such crowd-drawers as Kapatid Ko Ang Aking Ina; Artista And Aking Asawa; and I Love Mama, I Love Papa. Very recently, despite his many obvious fumblings, his Mrs. Eva Fonda, 16 raked in the moolah, as entertainemtn columnist would put it. Whether the lure was really Borlaza and not Vilma (as Darna) or Alma (as Eva), one would still not find out in Makahiya at Talahib, the Goodwill production that Maning is directing as a filmfest bet. Vilma is starring, you see, opposit Rudy Fernandez who portrays the man on the run. Maning, however, has been quoted to have said that “My next 20 years are modestly provided for, I don’t think I will live more than that. Henceforth, I will split my movie work to what I want to do and what the public likes. He wants, it seems, to recover his old self, the Borlaza who filmed Pyscho-Maniac, a suspense thriller which cast Divina Valencia, Dindo Fernando and Ray Marcos and won him the Academy’s best screenplay award in ’68, who packed so much good action in Mindanao, the movie that bagged four statuettes in the Manila Filmfest of the same year, and who directed Vilma Santos’s way to the FAMAS best actress award for the performance in Dama de Noche. And yet, he is not that keen to do films that might suffer the fate of O’Hara’s Mortal or Bernal’s Nunal sa Tubig. “Their box-office results are not encouraging,” says Maning. He admits he still goes a little commercial. That is why there is a love scene between Vilma and Rudy in Makahiya that Maning expects people might be talking about, more than the torrid shots of Rudy and Trixia Gomez. The 41-year old director also wrote the story and screenply of Makahiya. Writing was something that didn’t interest Maning while he was enrolled in Dr. Severino Montano’s Arena theater at the same time that he was majoring in English at the Manuel Luis Quezon University.
“Dr. Montano was the rave of the drama world at that time,” recalls Maning. “That’s where I bumped into Lino Brocka, Behn Cervantes, Joonee Gamboa…they were coming in when I was leaving the group. I got much too engrossed in acting becaused I got good roles I didn’t write anything.” From acting in theater, however, Borlza switched to writing in the movies. To his credit are some 300 stories and screenplays from which Sampaguita stalwarts Carlos Vander Tolosa and Octavio Silos directed. But after 12 long years of scriptwriting, Maning struck up a partnership with ’60s bombshell Divina Valencia and formed the Queen Vi production on which he now says he lost a lot of money. Their first movie, Psycho-Maniac, was also Maning’s first directorial attempt. Another person would have thought things over and concentrated on scriptwriting instead after a victory like that but Borlaza was decided: he was going to make movies, not just write them. Nowadays, he even makes two pictures at a time. “I just finished Makahiya and Teatro Manila. It’s cheaper that way. You don’t waste any calendar day. No stars available for Makahiya, we would work on Teatro.” Work means gearing up in a sleeveless top and a pair of short shorts that expose his long smooth legs. Maning, in case you didn’t hear his very casual cofession on Inday Badiday’s Nothing But the Truth, is “gay.” “That was the first time I opened up to the public,” he explaines. I thought if I didn’t open up, what’s the use of coming to a show like that?” Homosexuals are actually spilling all over the movie world, just as they do in other creative fields. One of these days, Emmanuel H. Borlaza might just completea consciousness-raising classic and we’ll say it can happen to anyone regardless of sex…” – Chelo R. Banal, Philippine Panorama Magazine, 26 December 1976 (READ MORE)
Emmanuel H. Borlaza aka Maning Borlaza is a 1957 Palanca Awardee for “May Pangako ang Bukas” and theaterical drama trained by National Artist Severino Montano. Appointed by Pres. Noy Aquino as Movie and Television Review and Classifications Board (MTRCB) Vice Chairman this year, Borlaza directed 24 films with Vilma Santos and was credited with her transformation to a reluctant singing competitor of Nora Aunor to bankable superstar with such hits like Dyesebel, Lipad Darna Lipad, Darna and the Giants. – IMDB (READ MORE)
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