A Very Long Rivalry – 1980

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Pre-1980 – The December festival favoured Lolita and Nora. In the festival’s awards Night both were recognized for their effective acting in Ina Ka ng Anak Mo. Meanwhile, their rival, Charito Solis and Vilma Santos, took consolation of the fact that their film, despite losing in the acting contest, 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, atleast in awards derby, as she seems to be ignored by the award giving organizations several times. She has promised herself not to expect to win any award but concentrate on box office results.

Snubbed by the Critics – “…In 1980, tatlong pelikula ni Nora Aunor ang maituturing na panlaban: two by Brocka (Nakaw na Pag-ibig and Bona) and the other by Laurice Guillen, Lea Productions’ Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. She won the Gawad Urian for Bona. Ang panlaban ni Vilma was Zialcita’s Langis at Tubig. Hindi taon ni Vilma ang 1980, which saw the emergence of other young and talented actresses like Gina Alajar (Brutal), naka-tie ni Nora sa Urian, and Amy Austria, na tumalo kay Aunor sa Metro Manila Film Festival. In the 1980 MMFF. Amy won with a lone entry, Brutal while Nora got nominated for Bona and Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. (A case of split votes.) Sa 1980 Gawad Urian, nominated sina Nora, Gina (eventual winners) at Amy, samantalang si Vilma was “snubbed by the critics…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

Nora Aunor’s Films (9): (Anak ng Atsay; Bona; Bongga Ka ‘Day; Candy; Darling, Buntis Ka Na Naman; Kastilyong Buhangin; Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo; Nakaw na Pag-ibig; Reyna ng Pitong Gatang) – After the successful project with Brocka in last year’s local festival, they reunited in two projects, “Nakaw na Pag-ibig,” with Philip Salvador and Hilda Koronel and another festival entry, “Bona.” Nora entered two films in 1980 MMFF, Brocka’s “Bona” and Laurice Guillen’s “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo.” With two entries, Nora find herself a stiff competition not from her close rival Vilma but from another Brocka protege, Amy Austria in Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Brutal.” For Nora, the first year of the new decade was a mix of hit and miss, “Bongga Ka Day” was a successful follow-up to “Annie Batungbakal” but overshadowed by the box office disappointments of “Anak ng Atsay,” “Darling, Buntis Ka Na Naman,” and “Reyna ng Pitong Gatang.”

Vilma Santos’ Films (8): (Ang Galing-galing Mo, Mrs. Jones; Darna at Ding; Good Morning, Sunshine; Gusto Ko Siya, Mahal Kita; Langis at Tubig; Miss X; Romansa; Yakapin Mo Ako, Lalaking Matapang) – For Vilma Santos, 1980 was an affirmation of her sexy image, with most of her projects has “adult” theme, “Mrs Jones” and “Miss X” were big hits despite its lack of weak production value. She even wore a sexier Darna outpit, in her fourth Darna franchise, Darna at Ding. Like Nora, she had her share of disappointments, her film with husband, Edu Manzano, “Romansa” was a big flop. Come December, Vilma concentrated on not thinking about winning the best actress award, instead, agreed to do a commercial film with Danny Zialcita, the result was the hit, “Langis at Tubig.” The film earned her some nominations and a best actor trophies to her leading man, Dindo Fernando.

Nora Aunor’s 1980 acting recognition (3) – Best Actress from URIAN and a nominations from the Metro Manila Film Festival and FAMAS, all for “Bona.”

Vilma Santos’ 1980 acting recognition (2) – Best Actress nominations from Metro Manila Film Festival and FAMAS both for “Langis at Tubig.”

Sociological Phenomenon – “…Brocka is one of the most physical of directors. His films are full of scenes of people touching — nervously, tentatively touching one another, and his rapport with actors is tremendous. Nora Aunor is a special case, she’s the Filipino’s favorite movie star, and more. Herself a slum child at 14, she won a singing contest and soon became a film personality, appearing in trivial, successful hit after hit; she now has her own weekly TV show. Aunor is a sociological phenomenon: the first dark-skinned superstar, idolized by the underclasses. Her fan’s devotion is unlimited. A score of them have come to live and work in her house as self-appointed servants. For many, she has the status of a saint. Her role in Bona in Brocka’s movie, which she produced out of her own pocket in order to appear in a serious film, is not unlike that of one of her own fan-servant-slaves. Aunor’s co-star is no less than Phillip Salvador’s glistening body (who was Stanley Kowalski in Brocka’s Tagalog production of Streetcar) which Brocka makes us to see with Bona’s eyes in a dozen bed and bathtub scenes. The camera observes Salvador’s body with something of the meticulous awe with which Von Sternberg and his lenses ogled La Grande Marlene…” – Elliot Stein, Village Voice, September 25, 1984 New York (READ MORE)

Handing Magparaya – “…Muli, binigyan ng magagandang linya si Vilma Santos mula sa umpisa kung saan kinompronta niya ang manloloko niyang ka-live in at sinabing: “namputsa naman nahuli ka na ayaw mo pang aminin” at sa bandang huli nang intindihin niya ang asawa at handing magparaya, sinabi niya “…handa akong magparaya, kung gusto niya isang lingo sa kanya, isang lingo sa akin…” Pero halatang ang pelikulang ito ay pelikula ni Dindo Fernando. Deserving si Dindo sa kanyang pagkapanalo sa Famas bilang pinakamahusay na actor bagamat nang taong ito’y mahusay rin si Christopher Deleon sa Aguila at Taga ng Panahon at Jay Ilagan sa Brutal. Tahimik lang ang pag-arte niya’t makikita ang kanyang intensity sa kanyang eksena kung saan nagtapat na siya sa asawang si Cory tungkol sa kanyang kaso. Mahusay rin siya nang hinarap niya si Pilar at sabihin niyang, “mahal ko kayong dalawa.” Maganda ang location ng pelikula. Makikita ang mga ordinaryong tanawin ng Albay sa Bicol at ang mga ordinaryong manggagawa rito mula sa mga nagtatanim ng palay hanggang sa mga nagtitinda ng mga paninda sa palengke ng bayan. Sa kabila ng ordinaryong istorya ng Langis At Tubig, ang mahusay na direksyon at mahusay na pagkakaganap ng mga artista rito’y nangibabaw ang tunay na karapatan nitong panoorin muli ng mga mahihilig sa pelikulang Pilipino. Sayang nga lang at hindi na gumagawa ng pelikula ang ang gumawa ng obrang ito…” – RV (READ MORE)

Post-1980 – As Brocka’s Bona toured the international festival, it looks like Nora was again in command with the acting contest and Vilma was content in making sure that her films were commercial success. By this time, Vilma’s tax problem has become a number one priority. No longer a teen pop star, both Nora and Vilma’s projects declined. It seems like yesterday, when in early 1970s both were releasing one or two films each month. Now, both have limited film projects and have to be selective to succeed at the box office.

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