The Passing of Marie Balbacui, A Vilmanian

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Paalam Marie – “…Nagulat ako sa biglaang pamamaalam ni Marie Balbacui na kapanabayan namin every Sunday sa Custodial sa Camp Crame nu’ng nakakulong pa doon sina Sen. Jinggoy at Sen Bong. Hindi pumapalya si Marie tuwing Linggo sa Crame. Natagpuan daw na patay na sa kanyang tinutuluyan somewhere sa Sampaloc. Ang pakikiramay sa kamag-anakan. Fan ‘yan ni Vilma Santos noong kabataan niya…” – Joe Barrameda, Abante, 05 March 2019 (READ MORE)

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Vilma On The Go

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Aminado si Vilma Santos na ang 1982 ay naging banner year para sa kanya. Bago pumasok ang taon ay napili siyang best actress sa Metro Manila Filmfest dahil sa pagkakaganap niya sa Karma. Kalahatian ng taon ay nahirang naman siyang Famas best actress para sa performance niya sa Pakawalan Mo Ako. At bago natapos ang taon ay nagwagi siya bilang unang best actress ng Let’s Talk Movies for her body of work sa mga pelikulang Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, Never Ever Say Goodbye, T-Bird at Ako at Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? And very recently, tinanghal din siyang box office actress of 1982 sa kauna-unahang Cinehan Awards na ipinamigay ng Metro Manila Theatres Association. Ito’y dahil sa katotohanang ang mga pelikula niyang Sinasamba Kita at Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? ang siyang biggest blockbusters of the year.

Maulit kaya ang winning streak na ito ni Vi ngayong 1983? Isang matamis na ngiti ang agad na isinukli ni Vi sa aming tanong. “Sana,” aniya. “Kung patuloy na susuportahan ng publiko ang mga pelikula ko.” From all indications, hindi malayong maulit sa taong ito ang mga tagumpay na natamo niya noong kalilipas na taon. Katatapos lamang niya gawin sa Amerika ang Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida with erstwhile beau, Romeo Vasquez. Hindi matatawaran ang naging resulta sa takilya ng mga una nilang pagtatambal sa Nag-aapoy na Damdamin at Isang Pugad, Dalawang Ibon kaya’t malamang na muling tangkilikin ng madla ang muli nilang pagpapareha. Sinimulan na niya ang shooting ng Broken Marriage para sa Regal at ng Paano Ba Ang Mangarap? para sa Viva. Dito, ang makakatambal naman niya ay ang perennial box-office mate niyang si Christopher de Leon. With such project in hand, how can she afford to lose? Then, there’s the project Director Mike de Leon has planned for her. Hindi na ito ang Sister Stella L na tungkol sa isang rebeldeng madre.

Na-shelve na iyon dahil sa inaasahang magiging problema sa censors. Mike now wants her to do a romance-drama and we heard na baka sa bakuran din ng Viva gawin ang proyektong ito. Sa mga pelikulang nagawa niya recently at maging sa mga susunod pa niyang projects, nalilinya si Vi sa roles ng “the other woman.” A lot of people says it’s the kind of role she does best. Ano kaya ang opinyon tungkol dito? “Tutoong I’ve played the role of the other woman several times na,” tugon niya. “But it’s portrayed not in the usual way na nang-aagaw ako ng asawa kundi in a more sympathetic, understanding manner. Ang ikinatutuwa ko nga is the fact that the public has learned to accept me doing all sort of roles, like the mature roles na ginagawa ko ngayon. Even the sexy scences I did in some of my films. Kung hindi nila tinanggap ang transition ko from being a mere movie star to a serious actress tackling more demanding roles, I doubt very much kung nandito pa rin ako hanggang ngayon. They’ve been very kind to me and for that, it’s only proper that I should be grateful.” Kumusta naman ang current trip niya sa states? “Well, it was very fulfilling.

Talagang balak kong pumunta roon before the year ended para magbakasyon nga at tuloy dalawin ang mama ko at ang sister kong si Winnie. It so happened na nataon naman ang offer sa ‘kin ni Atty. Laxa to do a movie there kaya’t magkasamang pleasure at trabaho ang pagpunta ko roon.” Bakit na-delay ang kanyang pag-uwi? “We’re supposed to stay there sana talaga for fifteen days lang. Kaso mo, bumagyo naman habang nandoon kami. Imagine, ang tagal-tagal hindi bumabayo sa Los Angeles, tapos, nataon pang nandoon kami saka dumating ang ulan. So we had to stop shooting until the weather cleared up. In a way, talagang we took out time na rin. Nandoon na rin ako so I decided to spend Christmas with my mom. Matagal din kaming hindi nagkasama kaya missed na missed ko na silang talaga. Ang cute-cute ng second baby ni Winnie at buntis na na naman siya ngayon. Pangatlo na nila ni Bong! And they look very happy. Si Bong works at MacDonal’s while Winnie stays at home and attends to their kids.” Masayang-masaya raw ang kanyang pasko sa L.A. pero iisang bagay lamang ang talagang labis niyang ikinalungkot. At ito’y ang absence ng tanging anak niyang si Lucky sa kanyang tabi sa pagsapit ng kapaskuhan.

“Talagang-talagang hindi ko na ulit iiwan si Lucky kapag umalis uli ako,” aniya. “Akala ko kasi, sandali lang kami. Pero inabot ng one month and one week. There were times na gusto kong biglang umuwi para makita lang siya. Kaya lang, kailangang tapusin ang commitments ko roon. And what made me worry less is the fact that Lucky is with his father. Alam kong hindi siya pababayaan ni Edu and he’s in good hands. Pagkataon din naman npara magkasama silang mag-ama nang matagal-tagal. But the first thing I did pagdating ko rito e ipatawag agad siya.” Kumusta naman ang mga kasama niya sa Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida? “Okey si Carmi (Martin). Masarap siyang kasama. Maging si Direk Leonardo Garcia. Ilang beses na rin naman kaming nagkasama sa pelikula. Walang hassles sa shooting. Even the Filipinos there were all very cooperative.” And…how about Bobby Vasquez? Did sparks fly sa muli nilang pagkikita as some quarters predicted? Was there any talk about reconciliation? Napatawa agad si Vi as if she was expecting the question. “Bobby is an old friend,” and take note sa emphasis niya sa salitang “friend.” “We’re happy to see each other again at wala kaming naging problema sa trabaho.

But everything is strictly work na lang. We did go out once as a group. We’re caual friends na ngayon.” Vi admits that Bobby is slimmer now and is even more attractive than before, pero isa na nga naman siyang taong may asawa’t anak at ang priority na laging laman ng isip niya ay si Lucky. Malakas daw ang ugong na baka siya ang manalo sa Urian at Academy Awards dahil sa performance niya sa Relasyon. Ano ang reaksiyon niya rito? “Naku, ha,” napapatawa niyang pahayag. “Ayoko nang ganyan. Mahirap ang umasa. I admit, matagal ko nang gustong manalo ng Urian and it’s indeed a great honor to win sa Academy Awards dahil it’s a recognition from your peers. Kung darating, okey lang. Pero ayokong umasa, mahirap masaktan, e. Basta all I can say is lalo kong pagbubutihin ang aking pag-arte sa mga pelikulang gagawin ko this year. Buti ‘yung may panlaban ka taun-taon, di ba?” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash Magazine, February 17, 1983, reposted by James Dela Rosa, Pelikula Atbp, 25 May 2017 (READ MORE)

News Clippings Collection is Back!

When it Rains, It Pours – “…Ate Vi to fans and friends, the enduring actress was born in 1953. She turns 64 on her birthday counting more years of contribution to society both as a public servant and as movie queen…Incidentally, Caveat was one of the few friends from the press made to sit with the audience during the taping, giving ample time to exchange pleasantries with the actress while she was in the holding area. The conversation meandered to her recent tour de force performance in “Everything About Her” which earned her Best Actress Award from the 1st Eddys Award given to her by the Society of Philippine Entertainment Editors or SPEED. This was followed by another Best Actress Award for the same film bestowed on her by the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) Star Awards for Movies…It is also worth mentioning that the Star for All Seasons was also bestowed Best Actress Award for the same film by Tony Awards Philippines from its founder and fearless film critic Tony Aguilar. The critic, who also comes out annually in his entertainment column with a list of worst films and worst performers, even thinks “Everything About Her” would have stood a bigger chance at the Oscars than the “Birdshot” of Mikhael Red. Other Best Actress Awards that Vilma Santos earned for “Everything About Her” included the 1st Guild of Educators & Mentors (GEM) Awards, Gawad Tanglaw, Pasado Award, and Philippine Entertainment Portal ( PEP’s) List of Awardees. Indeed, in a manner of speaking, when it rains awards it pours as well…” – George Vail Kabristante, Manila Times, 27 October 2017 (READ MORE)

Gigi – “…The role of Gigi was meant to conunterpoint the labor problem. Other scenes could have been included which would highlight that Vilma had some success with her counselling job.” May mga puna sa pelikula, tulad ng mga may pagka-talky raw ito? “Yeah, napansin din ng iba ito. I was worried that the film was becoming more talky as we went on, pero sabi ni Mike, talk is as important as the visuals.” May pagka-claustrophobic daw ang effect ng pelikula? “I think it was deliberate. I can remember Mike telling our production designer, Cesar Hernando, to give a claustrophobic effect to the sets, particularly the interiors. With regard to the criticism na ang mga workers ay malilinis, ang masasabi ko, ang mga trabahador sa isang factory ng cooking oil ay malilinis naman.” Pagkapanood mo ng pelikla, anong bahagi ang nais mo pang baguhin? “Maaari kong dagdagan ang mga eksena sa Caritas na ipinapakita ang ibang alaga roon, at gusto ko ring ipakita ang relasyon ni Vilma sa kanyang pamilya. Kung tatanungin ako, na kung dapat inabuso pa si Vilma sa kamay ng mga goons, hindi yon totoo, wala pa naman akong nalalaman na ginagawa yon sa mga madre, sa aking pagkakaalam.” Anong mga reaksiyon ng mga nanood na sa pelikula? “Generally positive. That is as far as the selected audiences where the pricture was shown. Generally, sabi nila, masakit daw, nakakakonsyensiya daw, nakakagalit. May kanyang pala-palagay sa mga detalye.” Personally, what is the merit of the film? “I hope it can change the perceptions of people with regard to certain realities, open their eyes probably. Well, the censors felt it was not subversive, not anti-government. Sana hindi mangyari sa pelikula ang ginawa nila sa pelikulang Sakada…” – Mike Feria, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, 06 July 1984, Posted by James DR, 21 July 2016 (READ MORE)

Vilma’s “Katuparan” on GMA-7 Tonight – Vilma Santos’second venture into television production, the tele-movie “Katuparan” is scheduled for telecast tonight on Channel 7, 8 to 10. “Katuparan” teams up Vilma for the first time with action star Ronnie Ricketts (with Vilma above). Together, they pit acting talents with veteran actor Dante Rivero. Ronnie plays Vilma’s ex-boyfriend and Dante plays Ronnie’s older brother who married Vilma. Adapted from the foreign telemovie “The Fulfillment of Mary Gray,” “Katuparan” is directed by Marilou Diaz Abaya and written by Raquel Villavicencio. – Mike Herrera, from Facebook.

Superb Child Star – ” Vilma Santos started her movie career in 1963 at a young age of 9 in a movie, “Trudis Liit,” which she topbilled along with veteran stars Lolita Rodriguez and Luis Gonzales. She won the FAMAS Best Child Actress for her superb performance in that movie…At the age of 9, Vilma was tapped to star opposite Gloria Romero & Rita Gomez in the movie “Anak, ang Iyong Ina.” She was discovered by her uncle Mr. Amaury Agra, who was a cameraman at the Sampaguita Studios. When she, together with her mother went to the Sampaguita compound to report, an audition was going on. Seeing the more than a hundred kids auditioning, Vi went and watched. Dr. Jose Perez, producer of Sampaguita, saw the little Vi and asked her to join the audition. Vi was hesitant because she know that she’s there for a different movie, but she was prodded to join. When her turn came, she acted with veteran Bella Flores. All the people were impressed, much more Dr. Perez! Vilma got the title role for the movie “Trudis Liit.” So, that at age 9, she was making two movies at the same time! She continued doing movies as daughter of big stars Gloria Romero, Lolita Rodriguez, Rita Gomez, Marlene Dauden, Eddie Rodriguez and a lot more. In 1968, at the age of 15, she got the Best Supporting Actress award from the San Beda College awards for the movie “Kasalanan Kaya?” She was also nominated for a FAMAS award…” – Eric Nadurata, Reposted by Simon Santos, Video48, 04 November 2007 (READ MORE)

Guaranteed Immortality – “The year was 1982, exactly two decades ago, and we well remember being enthralled by the sheer force of its powerful images and quietly devastating performances. We are one of the blessed few who own a video tape copy of the film that has remained, through the years, Nora Aunor’s signature film. The pint-sized superstar delivered a miracle of a performance as Elsa, the false visionary. Perhaps, the finest performance by a Filipino actor ever recorded on celluloid. If the diminutive multimedia luminary ever decides to leave the movies for good, Himala is enough reason to guarantee her of immortality…we believe that Nora Aunor should have swept all the best actress awards for that particular year. She was pitted against Vilma Santos’ heartfelt portrayal of the mistress in Relasyon and the latter scored a grandslam. This is not to belittle Santos’ portrayal but if one were to be objective, it would be easy to see that Aunor had the more complex role and only an actress of her caliber can pull off the part with much persuasion. It calls for a restrained, self-effacing acting style. And Aunor, the consummate actress that she was (take note that we used the past tense because the more recent film outings of the actress are far from her best. She has become very florid, like a bad version of a hysterical Charito Solis), strikes not a false note in her performance. It is, in one word, mesmerizing. And Himala is without a scintilla of a doubt the pinnacle of her cinematic achievements…” – Arnel Resma Ramos, reposted by Simon Santos, Video48, 29 December 2007 (READ MORE)

Fernado Poe Jr. and Vilma Santos: 1974 Box Office King and Queen – “Action King Fernando Poe, Jr. and Vilma Santos were awarded the Box-Office King and Queen in 1974. That year, both stars starred and appeared in the movie, “Batya’t Palu-Palo,” a sensational hit.” – Simon Santos, FPJ-daking, 26 March 2009, Photo credit: Eric Nadurata (READ MORE)

For Miss X: Off to Amsterdam With Vilma Santos and Party – “Miss Vilma Santos and her entourage which includes her mommy and daddy flew off to Amsterdam one Sunday afternoon para sa pelikulang Miss X ng Sining Silangan which will be shot ther in entirety. The group who saw them off at the airport was headed by Jesse Ejercito and some Sining Silangan bigwigs, fans of Vilma at ilang close friends from the press. Nauna rito ay nagkaroon ng ilang tenaw moments ang mga tao sa likod ng proyektong ito nang kung ilang ulit na mabalam ang pagalis ni Vi. We understand from some sources that the company was about to make a sudden change of decision kaugnay ng roles ni Vi nang biglang makahulagpos ang superstar sa kanyang mga commitments dito at ipasiyang lumipad na nga patungong Amsterdam. Ayon sa aming balita, matapos ang shooting doon ay tutuloy sa Los Angeles si Vi together with her parents upang duon idaos ang kanyang birthday, Nov. 3. This decision of hers of course saddened many of fans here pero parang higit diumano ang axiety ngayon ng Bancom, Regal at Lea dahil umano’y slated si Vi na gumawa ng pelikula sa kanila. Bancom for one is pinning their hopes on the early return of Vi dahil ang pelikulang ito si Charito Solis at siyang isasagupa sa tambalang Nora-Lolita Rodriguez naman ng para rin sa festival.” – Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, October 29, 1979, Posted by James DR, 28 October 2017 (READ MORE)

Vilma Santos: From Trudis Liit to Aida Macaraeg

From Trudis Liit to Aida Macaraeg spans 21 long years and that covers the film career of top actress Vilma Santos until now. Trudis Liit has already become synonymous with the famous actress’ name in the same manner that Darna (which she starred with Rosa del Rosario, Liza Moreno, Evan Montes, Gina Pareño, Lorna Tolentino -on TV- Rio Locsin, and would you believe, even Dolphy in Darna Kuno?), Dyesebel (which she aldo shared with Edna Luna, Eva Montes – did she or didn’t she – and Alma Moreno), Wonder Vi, Maria Sinderela, (in Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Maria Sinderela), Susan Kelly (in Susan Kelly, Edad 20), Rubia Servios and Miss X have been identified with her. And now Aida Macaraeg. Aida Macaraeg: Adultery Case No. 3690 is the new and hopefully the final title of Vilma’s latest Regal film which is directed by Lino Brocka. Ilang beses ding nagpalit-palit ng titulo ang pelikulang ito ni Vilma starting out with Obsession as its working title, then it was changed to Separasyon Legal, and still to Paano Kita Mamahalin? before finally setting for Aida Macaraeg: Adultery Case No. 3690. Maganda na sana ang unang titulo nito, ang Obsession. Bagay na bagay ito sa tema ng kuwento about an obsessed lover kaya lang medyo apprehensive ang pamunuan ng Regal na baka hindi ito bumenta sa mga probinsiya dahil masyadong high sounding ang tilulong Obsession at hindi ito maintindihan. The most likely thing to happen ay maipagkakamali itong isang foreign film with the same title shown several years ago. That film was directed by Brian de Palma and it starred Genevieve Bujold.

The change from Obsession to Separasyon Legal did not satisfy the Regal boss, Lily Monteverde, because the new title sounded like a take-off from two of Vilma’s most successful films, Relasyon and Broken Marriage. So they thought of another title and conisdered Paano Kita Mamahalin. Pero and Paano Kita Mamahalin? ay parang kapareho ng titulo ng pinakamalaking hit na pelikula ng Viva Films na major competitor ng Regal. Ito iyong Paano Ba Ang Mangarap? na pinangunahan din ni Vilma Santos. Matagal nang tapos ang pelikula at umalis at dumating na mula sa abroad ang direktor nitong si Lino Brocka ay hindi pa mapagpasiyahan ang talagang ipapamagat dito. So, nag-meeting uli ang mga taga-Regal and after a thorough brainstorming session may nag-suggest ng pangalang Aida Macaraeg (according to reports ay si Ronald Carballo raw ang nagbigay ng pangalang iyon) at dinagdagan na lang iyon ng Adultery Case No. 3690 dahil nga tungkol sa isang true-to-life adultery case ang pelikula na hango sa files ng manunulat na si Aida Sevilla-Mendoza. Finally, napagkasunduan na rin ang huling titulo at ito’y iri-release na tentatively in January 1984. The new title reminds one of the film Rubia Servios which was also a true-to-life account of a celebrated case (this time rape) and featured the successful triumvirate fo Vilma Santos, Philip Salvador and Lino Brocka. Maalala na sa pelikulang Rubia Servios nakaranas at natamo ng aktres ang pinaka-heartbreaking na kabiguan sa kanyang entire career during the 1978 Metro Manila Film Festival.

Sa nasabing festival, matunog na matunog ang pangalan ni Vilma – with the moviegoing audience, the film enthusiasts and the film critics – at hinulaan pa ngang siya ang mananalo pero nang dumating ang awards night ay si Nora Aunor ang nagwagi para sa pelikulang Atsay. Sabi pa nga noon ni Vilma: “Talagang doon ako sa pelikulang iyon umasa nang malaki at nabigo. Pagkatapos noon, parang nagkaroon na ako ng phobia na magdadalo sa mga awards night at lalong hindi na ako umaasa nang ganoong katindi. Kaya laking gulat ko nang mapanaluhan ko ang lahat ng mga Best Actress awards sa taong ito dahil ayoko na talagnag umasa.” Ang naging malaking konsolasyon lang ni Vilma sa Rubia Servios ay ang tinamong tagumpay nito sa takilya na kahit tapos na ang festival ay patuloy pa ring ipinapalabas sa mga sinehan at humakot ng marami pang manonood long afer it’s rival films were already withdrawn from exhibition. After Rubia and after a peropd of five years ngayon lang muling nagkasama sa pelikula sina Vilma Santos at Lino Brocka. Although there was a time before that the director wanted the actress for one of his films (Kontrobersiyal), hindi nagkaroon ng katuparan iyon dahil sa very hectic na schedule ni Vilma nuon at hindi na nakapaghintay si Lino. The role eventually went to Gina Alajar and the film became one of Lino’s most underrated movies. Sa Aida Macaraeg, muli na namang tatalakayin ang tungkol sa infidelities ng marriage na naging tatak na ng mga pelikula ni Vilma.

Sa pagkakataong ito, hindi na siya ang “Kabit” kundi siya na ang magkakaroon ng extra-marital relations o sa madaling sabi, siya na ang magkakaroon ng “kabit.” Nangyari na rin tio sa ilang pelikula ni Vilma kung saan ginampanan niya ang papel ng isang babaing my asawa at nagkaroon siya ng loverl tulad sa Hiwalay, Karma, at Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan Ang Nakaraan. Pero kakaiba ang mangyayari sa kanya sa Aida Macaraeg dahil dito ay madedemanda siya. How the actress will handle the role which in real life is the exact opposite of herself is something too watch especially now that husband Edu Manzano is back after almost a year of estrangement. For a superstar and a highly successful actress who tries so hard to hold on to her married life like their is no other, playing an adulterous wife is almost a life-like departure for her. As she has always said time and again: “I’m trying my best to make my marriage work. Kahit ano pa mang pambabatikos ang gawin nila hindi ko hahayaang masira ang aking married life nang ganoon na lang. Ang pinakamahalaga sa aking ngayon ay ang aking asawa’t anak. Sila ang dahilan kung bakit kinakaya ko ang lahat. Sabi nila, hindi raw puwedeng pagsabayin ang movie career at marriage. But I will try my best that what happened to most of my colleagues will not happen to me. I am willing to compromise fo the sake of my marriage. I have always belived in my husband at kung kinakailangang isakripisyo ko ang aking movie career ay gagawin ko huwag lang masira ang aming magandang pagsasama. Hindi ko basta-basta isusuko na alng ang lahat. Mahal na mahal ko sial.” With that kind of belief and devotion, siguro wala nang makakapigil pa sa aktres na itaguyod ang kanyang sariling pamilya. Wala na. Not even her movie career. What a woman! This Trudis Liit now transformed into the “biggest” women in local film history namely Aida Macaraeg, Sister Stella L and Baby Tsina. With that kind of revoluntionary women’s role in recent history, who needs a husband? Only Vilma Santos! – Julio Cinko N., Movie Flash, 05 January 1984, Posted at Facebook