ARTICLES - Vi in Dolzura Cortez

The Plot: “Dahil Mahal Kita (Because I Love You): The Dolzura Cortez Story 1994, This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands.” – Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide, The New York Times (READ MORE)

The Reviews: This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands. It was the first movie on AIDS in the Philippines that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination. – You and Aids web-site

The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination.

Responding to a newspaper advertisement looking for a person with AIDS, Ms. Dolzura Cortez agreed to have her life story serialized in print and later developed into a movie. The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was subsequently produced as the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS which documented the real experiences of a person living with AIDS in the country. The author reports findings from a study conducted to determine the social impact of the movie as perceived by some health care personnel. Specifically, it aimed to identify the messages that health care providers derived from watching the movie and to make recommendations on how this and subsequent films could serve as an effective tool for AIDS education. 134 health care personnel representing 13 regional hospitals from all over the country watched the film, then answered a questionnaire. The sample was of mean age 35.6 years, 84.3% female, and with mean experience of 10.1 years. 20.1% were doctors, 21.6% nurses, 32.4% social workers, and 25.4% other health personnel. 22.9% had direct experience caring for persons with AIDS and 32.8% knew someone with AIDS. Although these participants perceived some simple and subtle messages from the movie, they also noted its shortcomings. The movie lacked realism; overemphasized the dangers of having multiple sex partners at the expense of warning about other risk factors for HIV transmission; the counsellor pressured the patient and failed to provide enough information on infection control; the psychosocial, economic, and spiritual concerns of people with AIDS were not addressed; and there were some misinterpretations and twisted truths about AIDS facts and the story itself. The respondents suggested that health care providers and people directly involved in AIDS education and counseling be involved in the production of such movies. Moreover, documentary pictures and testimonial footage of the woman would have added realism, while additional basic information about AIDS could have been mentioned in either the movie or a trailer. – NCBI

‘Dolzura Cortez Story’ is an artistic and brilliant film from Manila’s finest director. The movie’s leading actress, Ms. Santos, played her part so powerfully, and is very convincing as Dolzura, the first Filipino HIV/AIDS patient to come- out to the public. The movie is a thought- provoking film, ready to challenge the Filipino idea of what is right and what is wrong. – Jonard, “A thought- provoking, honest film from Philippine’s finest director,” IBDB, March 11, 2000

“…In 1992, wala ni isang pelikulang tinampukan si Nora, samantalang si Vilma starred in only one: Maryo J. delos Reyes’ Sinungaling Mong Puso, na hindi niya pinagtamuhan ng anumang major Best Actress award. In 1993, gumawa si Vilma ng pelikula na ang kuwento’y base sa unang Pilipinang nag-reveal ng pagkakaroon niya ng AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), si Dolzura Cortez. Directed by Laurice Guillen for Octoarts Films, Dahil Mahal Kita (The Dolzura Cortez Story) won Vilma the Best Actress honors at the 1993 Manila Film Festival, Star, Gawad Urian and FAP…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“Still bearing activist weight is Vilma’s effort in Laurice Guillen’s Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story in which she fleshes out a body and a mind for a person with AIDS. This initiative constitutes an advocacy not only for people afflicted with the dreaded pandemic, but also for women who have to overcome strata of ostracism in the process of survival and resist their being reduced to an aberration, in this case, a pathology.” – Patrick Flores, Manila Standard Today Jan 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Previously, HIV/AIDS “victims” were seen either as homosexual men, or women who worked in the sex industry. The former stereotype was even turned into a mainstream 1993 Hollywood movie Philadelphia that won a best actor Academy Award for Tom Hanks. The latter, on the other hand, was the subject of a 1993 Filipino film The Dolzura Cortez Story starring Vilma Santos. As a disease, AIDS was highly misunderstood two decades ago. Religious fanatics considered it “a punishment from God” for the sexual excesses of its victims. While a complete falsehood, there was some truth to the other mistaken belief about AIDS—that it would lead to certain death for whoever had the disease, which had no known cure. Fast forward to 2013 and Filipinos still generally remain in the dark about HIV/AIDS…” – Beting Laygo Dolor, Manila Times, 14 August 2013 (READ MORE)

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All about awards

Our maiden issue (V Mag) is about “Awards”; it is very timely since its still award season in our country. We are very hopeful that Ate Vi will reaped more awards due to her impressive performance in MP3. Who can forget 1983? It’s probably the ultimate win for our idol. 1982 ended with Nora Aunor winning the December film festival (for Himala) and everyone were predicting about her winning all the awards for that year. But Vilma is Nora’s true tormentor because as the award season in 1983 begins (remember they honoring the films from the previous year), all award giving bodies lined up and unanimously gave the best actress awards to Vilma! Bernal may have been a true actor’s director but without ate Vi’s maturing talent, no one can perform Marilou as effective as Vilma in Relasyon! And FAMAS, CMMA, URIAN and FAP, all agreed resulting a true GRAND SLAM! Impressive indeed. This is a vindication of all the heartaches she suffered in the 70s.

The Milestone Move – No longer a sweet teenager, Vilma’s milestone, career move was through Burlesk Queen. By 1977, Vilma’s transformation began with her feminist look at her personal life. She no longer care about the gossips/bad publicity created with past relationships concentrating instead with serious projects. Vilma accepted daring roles like “Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon,” “Nag-aapoy Na Damdamin,” “Tagulan sa Tag-araw.” And also, as producer, she created some of the best films of that decade, like “Mga Rosas Sa Putikan,” “Halik sa Paa, Halik sa Kamay,” and the ultimate, “Pagputi Ng Uwak, PagItim ng Tagak” (an almost grand slam winner for best picture). She is one of the very first independent producer in the country. But the most daring of them all was Burlesk Queen. Ian films bet all of its money to this project and it paid off because not only it is the top grosser of the film festival it also reaped almost all of the festival’s awards! Sourgraping, the Nora Aunor camp complained but to no avail, all awards were never returned as what the news said few days after it was given. Burlesk Queen established Vilma Santos name as the number one actress in the Philippines. She was featured in Times Magazine in its coverage of the news around the globe.

The hurtful Lost – Ironically, the following year Ian films went to the other camp and produced one of the most stereotypical film of all times, “Atsay.” Directed by Eddie Garcia, Nora Aunor gave her most over rated performance of all time. Avoiding the scandal of the previous years and aim at vindicating Nora Aunor, the local festival judges gave her the best performer award over Vilma Santos’ impressive performance in “Rubia Servios.” Isagani Cruz, a well respected critics during that time emphasized that Rubia was far more superior than Atsay. Cruz even pointed out that although “Nora and Vilma both gave splendid performances, Vilma’s role was far more demanding and difficult.” And so, as history will tell, it was the “sweetest” victory of Nora Aunor and Noranians over us (the Vilmanians). It was also hurtful because as the victory spread around the archipelago, the news about Ate Vi committing suicide came out. True it was a big disappointment and Marichu Vera Perez attested, she and Vilma cried all night after the awards night but the suicide rumor was just a myth. Vilma will learned from this lost and as we all remember, “lesson learned,” she will never expect to win. She’ll do her job and let them (or fate) decide if she is deserving of their accolades. The 80’s will proves to be more fruitful and kind. Her film efforts gave her fans and movie aficionados every cent of the movie tickets they buy.

From fantasy to reality – As the 70’s Box Office Queen, Vilma reinvented herself so many times. She was the disco queen (Rock Baby Rock, Good Morning Sunshine, Disco Fever), the action hero (Darna, Vivian Volta, Wonder Vi), a hunch back bell ringer (Kampanerang Kuba), and a mermaid (Dyesebel) to name a few. But her most significant career changes was her decision to accept mature roles. Roles that gave her gave her so many acting awards (almost 70 to this date!). Speaking of these roles, theres an intrinsic value, most can be viewed as feminism. Roles that gave way for activism and advocacy to further the cause of women, particularly Filipino women. From the ill fated dancer, Chato in “Burlesk Queen,” to the liberal-minded, suicidal designer, Sandra in “Ikaw Ay Akin” to rebellious-wife, Ellen in “Broken Marriage,” Vilma gave us a true-to-life depictions of what are the most common sufferings of Filipino women.

She also educated us with societal social afflictions with her tour de force portrayals of a modern mistress in “Relasyon,” an activist nun in “Sister Stella L,” a cancer-stricken-career woman in “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga,” a mother of autistic child in “Ipagpatawad Mo,” an AIDS patient in “Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story,” and an awakened mother in “Dekada 70.” From fantasy to reality, her body of works deserves the most important award, the National Artist honor.

The Future – As we all know Vilma has surpassed all of her contemporaries, including Nora Aunor. The future for our idol has become more exciting than ever. Vilma admittedly said that she wanted to stay in show business for as long as she still enjoys it, just like her idol, Gloria Romero, playing grandmother roles. But that’s not gonna happen right now, Vilma still commands the leading roles. She can still carry a film and projects are still pouring-in. And again, unlike her contemporaries, she remained choosy and committed to do “never been done” projects, a well-known secret of her longevity. Indeed, her future remained bright and truly exciting! – RV (READ MORE)


PMPC STAR and Vilma Santos

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In 1985, the Philippine Movie Press Club initiated the Star Awards for Movies and Television, which is currently the Philippines’ Golden Globes’ counterpart. The very first recipient of Star best actress was Nora Aunor for Merika while Vilma’s movie Sister Stella L. received the movie of the year award. Vilma Santos was nominated for Palimos Ng Pag-ibig in 1986 but failed to win the best actress. Unfaithful Wife was judged the STAR best picture of this year. The next year, Vilma’s film, Saan nagtatago ang pag-ibig was proclaimed the movie of the year. Vilma received a best actress nomination for her FAMAS winning film, Tagos Ng Dugo. The fifth year, Vilma was nominated again, this time for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos.

PMPC finally gave the trophy to Vilma in 1989 Star Awards. Vilma’s Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga four major awards: actress of the year for Vilma, supporting actor for Eric Quizon, director of the year for Ishmael Bernal, and Movie of the year for Regal films. Pahiram also won technical awards for cinematography, musical score, and production design. The following year, Snooky Serna won the supporting actress for Vilma’s “Hahamakin Ang Lahat.” Vilma was nominated for Hahamakin but the Star went to Nora Aunor for Andrea paano ba ang maging isang ina. Despite the lost, Vilma received a very special award from the PMPC, the “Darling of the Press” award. The next year, 1991, Nora Aunor again received the Star Award Actress of the Year for Ang totoong buhay ni Pacita M. Vilma was nominated for Ipagpatawad Mo.

In 1992, Vilma was nominated again, for Sinungaling Mong Puso that Lorna Tolentino won for Narito ang puso ko. After winning her first Star Award in 1989 and nominated three consecutive years, Vilma finally win her second Star in 1993 for Dahil mahal kita: Dolzura Cortez Story. The next year, Vilma was nominated for Nagiisang Bituin but Dawn Zulueta took home the trophy for Buhay ng buhay ko.

In 1995, Nora Aunor was the big winner again with her film, Flor Contemplacion Story. Then in 1996 was Sharon‘s grand slam year. She won the Star for Madrasta with co-star, Christopher De Leon taking the actor of the year. In 1997, Zsa Zsa Padilla defeated Nora, Vilma, Marecel and Sharon for actress of the year for Batang PX. Vilma was nominated for Hanggang Ngayon Ika’y Minamahal. Vilma was the big winner in ’98 for her film, Bata bata paano ka ginawa. She won actress of the year while co-star Serena Dalrymple won the supporting actress. Elizabeth Oropesa followed Vilma’s win the following year via Bulaklak ng Maynila. The new millennium brings another Star to Vilma as she claimed her fifth actress of the year for her film, Anak. The next year the Tuhog was the top film while Snooky Serna won the actress of the year for Habang kapiling ka.

Vilma won her sixth actress of the year from Star in 2002 for the film, Dekada ’70. She will win her seventh Star again in 2004 for Mano po III: My love in 2004. The next three years, Judy Ann Santos (Kasal, kasali, kasalo – 2006); Ai-Ai de las Alas (Ang cute ng ina mo! – 2007) and Sharon Cuneta (Caregiver – 2008) received the Star actress of the year. Vilma Santos received the lifetime achievement award in the 2008 Star Awards while Nora Aunor’s film Himala was given a special citation award. By 2010, Vilma received her 18th best actress nominations (surpasing Meryl Streep’s historical 17th OSCAR nominations) and won another STAR for her 2009 film, In My Life. – RV (READ MORE)


1981 FAMAS Best Actress

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Bumandila na anaman ang JE Productions sa nakaraang FAMAS awards night nang makopo nila ang tatlong pinakamalalaking tropeo ng karangalan kabilang na ang Best Picture para sa Kumander Alibasbas, Best Actor para kay Joseph Estrada at sa Best Director para kay Augusto “Totoy” Buenaventura sa sermeonyang ginanap sa Metropolitan Theatre. Ito ang ikalimang karangalan natamo ni Erap sa iisang kategorya na nag-akyat sa kanya sa tinatawag na Hall of Fame, at siya rin ang kauna-unahang aktor na hall of famer sa best actor category. Natamo ni Erap ang unang best actor award noong 1962, Patria Adorada at ngayong 1981, Kumander Alibasbas. Ito namang Kumander Alibasbas ang ikatlong best director award na natamo ni Totoy Buenaventura. Una ay ang Kill the Pushers noong 1971 at Bakya Mo Neneng noong 1978. Sa best screenplay award ay hall of famer na si Buenaventura. Sobra pa nga sa quota ang natamong karangalan ni Buenaventura sa dapat na maging hall of famer. Anim na best screenplay awards na ang kanyang natatamo sa FAMAS: Kalibre .45 noong 1956, Psycho Sex Killer, 1968, Patria Adorada, 1969, Tatay na si Erap, 1970, Kill the Pushers, 1971, Bakya Mo Neneng, 1978.

Ang Kumander Alibasbas din ang isa sa mga box-office hit nang nakaraang taon. Kasaysayan ng isang rebel leader sa gitna ng tinatawag na labor unrest sa Central Luzon before Martial Law, ang Kumander Alibasbas ay naging kontroberyal sapagkat tumalakay rin ito sa ilang political problems ng bansa. Tinatayang may maselang tema, subalit mahusay na nailarawan nang walang “nasagasaan.” Umiiral ang cinematic effects ng pelikula na siyang nakatawag ng pansin sa mga humusga. Ang aktress na si Vilma Santos naman ang nagkamit ng Best Actress award dahilan sa makatotohanan niyang pagganap sa pelikula ng MVP na Pakawalan Mo Ako na tumatalakay sa tatsulok na pag-ibig na kung saan ay nakapareha niya sina Christopher de Leon at Anthony Castelo sa direksiyon ni Elwood Perez. Nakamit ni Chanda Romero ang Best Supporting Actress award sa pelikulang Karma na siya rin pinagwagihan sa best supporting actor award ni Tommy Abuel. Tatlong award rin ang natamo ng FPJ para sa pelikulang Ang Pagbabalik ng Panday: Best Art Direction, Rolando Sacristia; Best Sound para kay Cesar Lucas at Best Cinematography para kay Vir Reyes. Tuwang tuwa ang mga fans ng bulilit na si Sheryl Cruz na hinirang bilang Best Child Actress para sa Basang Sisiw at ang Best Child Actor ay natamo ng isang baguhang si Mark Versoza para sa pelikulang I Confess. Si Sheryl ay anak ng magasawang artistang sina Ricky Belmonte at Rosemarie Sonora. Sabi nga ni Inday Badiday, naunahan pa ni Sheryl na magka-award sina Ricky at Rosemarie. Dalawang award naman ang natamo ng pelikulang Init o Lamig; Best Editing for Edgardo Vinarao at Best Story for Baby Nebrida. Bukod kay Vilma Santos, ang Pakawalan Mo Ako ay nagkamit din ng dalawa pang award: Best Theme Song for Louie Ocampo at Jimmy Santiago at Best Music for Lutgardo Labad.

Nakamit ni Mother Lily Monteverde ang special award na Cirio Santiago Memorial Award; kay German Moreno ang Jose R. Perez Memorial Award; at Marichu Vera Perez ang Gregorio Valdez Memorial Award. Stage emcees sina Bert “Tawa” Marcelo at Coney Reyes-Mumar at achor woman naman si Helen Vela. Naging performer sina Rico J. Puno, Sharon Cuneta, Ivy Violan, Something Special, Lirio Vital, at Obusan Dance Troupe. Matabang mataba marahil ang puso ng presidente ng FAMAS na si Ros H. Olgado, sampu ng mga opisyales at kasapi ng akademiya dahil sa talumpati ng guest of honor na si Ms. Imee Marcos, ang direktor general ng Experimental Cinema of the Philippines. Lalo na nang ipahayag niya ang pagnanasang makapagpatuloy pa ang FAMAS sa pagkakaloob ng prestihiyosong awards ng tulad nang ipinamahagi nang gabing iyon. Sinabi pa ni Imee na kung nagkakaroon man ng krisis sa FAMAs, iyon ay bahagi ng pagunlad. Aniya, parang puno ng kawayan ang FAMAS na maaaring humahapay kapag may malakas na unos subalit makaraan ang unos na ‘yon ay muling titindig na tila aabutin pati ang langit. Ayon sa mga observer, ang nakaraang awards night ay lalong nagpatunay na ang FAMAS ay matibay pa rin at may prestihiyo at ito pa lamang ang kaisa-isang award giving body na nirerespeto at pinagsisikapang makamit ng mga taga-industriya. Sa lahat ng mga awardee, congratulations and mabuhay kayong lahat! – Mar D’Guzman Cruz, Pelikula ATBP (READ MORE)

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Grand Slam Best Actress

Before 1982, the word grandslam were only used in sports. The term grandslam according to Wikipedia in terms of tennis is a singles player or doubles team that wins all four major tournaments (Australian, French, Wimbledon, US) in the same calendar year, is said to have achieved the “Grand Slam” or a “Calendar Year Grand Slam,” just like what Steffi Graf, the retired German tennis superstar did in 1988. Meanwhile the American Heritage dictionary described the term “grand slam” as follows: first, the winning of all the tricks during the play of one hand in bridge and other whist-derived card games. Second, the winning of all the major or specified events, especially on a professional circuit. And third, in baseball, a home run hit when three runners are on base. From this set of definitions comes the term “grand slam best actress” which basically winning all the best actress awards from all major award giving bodies. And in 1983, the four majors were FAMAS, Gawad Urian, CMMA, and the FAP (or Luna now).

The Beginning – The Marcos administration created the Film Academy of the Philippines in 1981 under the guidance of first lady Imelda Marcos and Imee Marcos as Experimental Cinema of the Philippines’ director-general. ECP started to ambitiously produced films to showcase local talents for its inaugural Manila International Film Festival. The organization produced two memorable films, Peque Gallaga’s period film, “Oro, Plata, Mata” and Ishmael Bernal’s French influenced film, “Himala.” Come Gawad Urian night, both films received it’s stiff competitions from three other films, Mike Deleon’s “Batch ’81,” Lino Brocka’s “Cain at Abel” and Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Moral.” For the Manunuri, the previous year produced only two stand out films, Mike De Leon’s Kisap Mata and Laurice Guillen’s Salome. A big contradiction this year, as not only they have the tasks of sorting out the best in each categories from these five films mentioned above but also other worthy films. Famous with their long heated debates, the local critics added the following fims in their list of best films: Nora Aunor’s “Mga Uod at Rosas,” Vilma Santos’ “Relasyon” and Hilda Koronel’s “PX.” The three were cited not ony for the overall production but also for the performances of the film’s lead actresses. Also cited were, ECP’s delicate horror film, “Haplos” directed by Jose Perez and two Lino Brocka films, the comedy “Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit” and the drama “In this Corner.”

For Vilma Santos, The previous year, Pakawalan Mo Ako was a huge summer hit that earned Vilma a surprised best actress in FAMAS. That year also released Ex-Wife and Hiwalay, about marital problems. Art immitating life, as there were reports that Vilma and now, ex-husband, Edu Manzano were having some marital problems. But Vilma as trooper as she is, any personal troubles were not publicly noticeable as she goes on with her work, business as usual. Also, Vilma gave birth to her eldest son Luis “Lucky” Manzano.

By December of 1981, her film festival entry, Karma earned her another surprise best actress trophy after the FAMAS gave her the nod for Pakawalan Mo Ako. In an unrelated news, the entertainment industry were shocked to found that matinee idol, Alfie Anido died on Dec 31st. Like the death of Julie Vega and Rico Yan, it is still unknown the reason behind Anido’s death.

She’s determined to make 1982 another successful year. She released a total of six films, out of six, two were certified record breakers, “Sinasamba Kita (I Idolized You)” released in August and “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (How Many Times is Onced),” released in November, both produced by Viva Films. The other four films (Relasyon, T-Bird at Ako, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Haplos) were mild hits. All of her hard work paid off because as early as January of the 1983 she was already poised to reap major awards.

Meanwhile for Nora Aunor, 1982 were a mixed bag of mild hits and failed opportunities. “Mga Uod at Rosas,” her collaboration with Lorna Tolentino and director Romy Zusara produced a mixed reviews from the critics. Her excellent performance did not help as the film were just mild hit with the audience. Her follow up films, “Annie Sabungera” and “Palenke Queen” both comedies also didn’t do well at the box office making the expectation from her next film higher, as she teamed-up with the hottest star of 1982, her closest rival, Vilma Santos in Danny Zialcita’s fast paced film, “T-bird at Ako.” T-bird’s high expectation wasn’t realized as the film earned just a modest income.

By December, all eyes were focused again on Nora and her most ambitious project to date, Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala,” produced by the Imee Marcos’ Experimental Cinema of the Philippines. The film was an entry to the Metro Manila film festival. Nora Aunor was again proclaimed the “queen of local festival” as she won her third Metro Manila Film Festival best actress. Nora’s momentum was rising and she was conditioned to make some serious dent in the following year’s award giving seasons. Critics were all going “gagah” with Aunor’s gigantic performance as Elsa. They said, Himala was very effective in communicating its film’s message, it has moving moments and raw power.

Communicated It Really Well – “…Nestor Torre…he finds Batch ’81 the best movie made in 1982. “The movie had something very important to say and it communicated it very well…As for the best actress, it’s Nora Aunor in Himala. “It was a good role, and she communicated it very well. At least, Nora wasn’t api here for a change, It was quite a complicated role, but she handled it very well….Other choices were Gina Alajar and Lorna Tolentino in Moral…Vilma Santos, Nestor notes, is admittedly a “very hard worker but her physical structure really makes it difficult for her to be really effective—hindi malalim—and her voice is not that expressive.” Nestor adds, though, that, once in a while, Vilma “transcends her physical limitations, as in Rubia Servios…” – Nestor Torre Jr. (film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983 (READ MORE)

Moving Moments – “…Best Films: (in the order of preference) 1. Oro, Plata, Mata and Batch ’81; 2. Relasyon and Himala; 3. Moral. Best Directors: (in no particular order) 1. Ishmael Bernal for Relasyon and Himala; 2. Peque Gallaga for Oro Plata Mata; 3. Mike de Leon for Batch ’81. Actresses: 1. Vilma Santos for Relasyon; 2. Nora Aunor for Himala and Uod at Rosas; 3. Sandy Andolong for Moral and Oro Plata Mata; 4. Gina Alajar for Moral. Actors: 1. Mark Gil for Batch ’81 and Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit; 2. Joel Torre for Oro Plata Mata; 3. Christopher de Leon for Relasyon. Most movies are usually flawed, and those in my list are no exception. However, apart from the standard criteria I am applying to them (the classic from and content balance), I am giving much weight on impact and emotional power. So, my top two are Oro and Batch. Himala is an ambitious film and much flawed, but it has visual beauty and emotional wallop. Relasyon is more modest in scope, but I think is more successful on its own terms. Moral has many good things going for it, from direction and writing, to performances, but it does not match the four other films in impact (though it has some moving moments) and originality…” – Mario Hernando (film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983 (READ MORE)

Raw Power – “…Ding Nolledo…confesses to liking Himala “very much” but mentions that he hasn’t seen Oro Plata Mata…because the film exudes “raw power,” not to mention the excellent acting and the direction, which was like early Fellini, especially the middle part…Ding doesn’t agree with Moral’s rave reviews because “I’ve seen Moral in about 369 other films.” It’s not that original, he implies. As for best actress, it’ll have to be Nora in Himala. “She reminds me of the young Anna Magnani. Besides, the script fitted her to a T. The role practically coincides with what she is in real life…” – Wilfrido Nolledo (novelist, screenwriter, film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983 (READ MORE)

Himala won nine out of eleven local festival awards. A sort of repeat of what Vilma’s “Burlesk Queen” achieved in 1977 but without the complaints or sourgrapes.

The success of Himala in the December festival has been overshadowed by the commercial success of Vilma Santos’ body of work. In fact, on Dec 14, 1982, Channel 9’s talk show, Let’s Talk Movies recognized Vilma Santos as their best actress for her body on work. Nora Aunor was nominated for her films excluding her epic movie Himala which was not qualified due to the show’s fiscal year requirements which covers December 1981 to November 1982 (More about this below).

On January 20, 1983, Vilma was crowned the Box Office Queen by the Metro Manila Theaters Association in their very first The 1st Cinehan Awards. Reporter Meg Mendoza wrote in an article for Prime Magazine, “…Vilma gave Viva Films its first biggest hit in Sinasamba Kita earning over P7M in Metro Manila alone. Then came T-Bird at Ako (a mild hit), Never Ever Say Goodbye (a sorry miss), Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (her biggest hit for that year) and Haplos. As early as January 20, 1983, Vilma began to reap several victories when she was awarded by the Metro Manila Theaters Association on their first Cinehan Awards together with Fernando Poe, Jr. held at the Philippine Plaza. National Artist Nick Joaquin, in an article that came out in the Bulletin Today on February 11, 1983 wrote: “By emerging as box-office queen, Vilma Santos proved herself to be the Philippine Cinema’s Superstar – a title, it’s to be realized now, that can be bestowed only by the Cinehan.” So, on Cinehan Awards Night, Vilma was the very picture of the conquering heroine, drawing all eyes as she glowed and glittered, a rapture of radiance in her strapless white gown with lilac sash – and in white gloves yet! In her triumph joined both cinema and cinehan. Her pictures were all well done – and they also did very well at the box-office. In the same awards night, Ambassador Jaime Zobel de Ayala, another recipient of the Cinehan, upon receiving his award from Dean Lucresia Kasilag said: “I’m only a little bit sorry that Vilma didn’t give me the award. But it’s all right, I’ll try again next year. You’re my favorite star, you’re my muse! I’ll suffer in silence…”

Ironically, few weeks after her crowning as box office queen, Vilma released Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida, the results was average, proving the Romeo Vasquez and Vilma Santos screen charisma has subsided immensely.

Not to be outdone with Vilma’s latest feat, Nora’s “Himala” competed in the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival the following month. The film was the Philippines’ sole entry. The rave reviews were solid, Aunor’s performance was recognized by a nomination but unfortunately, according to Bernal, she lost the race by a mere vote. Would a similar fate awaits Aunor as the local award giving seasons begins?

First Major – By late February, the award-giving season in the country started. In their website, the Catholic Mass Media Awards recalled, “…The Archdiocese of Manila, through His Eminence Archbishop Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, organized the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 1978, in observance of the International Social Communication Day (established by the Universal Church to stress the importance of mass media and to instill a sense of responsibility in communicators). An outstanding way, in radio, print, advertising, television, and film. It was first given out in 1978; since then the CMMA was held every year onwards. In 1980, His Holiness Pope John Paul II graced the awarding ceremonies. Handing out personally the trophies to the winners, the Pontiff illustrated the significant place of mass media in today’s society, and its pervasive influence in the lives of the people…”

Just the previous year, the CMMA praised Nora Aunor’s acting in the late Mario O’harra film, “Bakit Bughaw ang Langit?” and she was adjudged their best actress. There is a great chance that Nora would repeat the feat, as many expected the church would favor a well-crafted film with religious theme.

On February 29, 1983, the fight between Nora Aunor’s “goliath” type of performance in “Himala (Miracle)” versus the “davidian” type of performance in Vilma Santos’ “Relasyon (the affair)” begins. The media were patly right, CMMA gave their best picture, screenplay, supporting actor/actress to Himala. But despite its, taboo story of a mistress, the Catholic Church’s award giving body favoured Vilma’s sympathetic performance.

Vilma won the first bout. Nora left empty-handed. The first blood has been drawn and Noranians, Nora Aunor’s fanatic fans were furious. The fight didn’t stop at the Catholic Mass Media Awards. The next one was a big one.

Second Major – Noranians expected a third Urian best actress considering the magnitude of Aunor’s performance in Himala and the positive reviews it received. Positive reviews that were written by the Manunuri critics themselves. Noranians dismissed Vilma’s win at the CMMA and expected that metal sculted trophy was in the bag already. By the way, who are these critics anyway?

Practicing Film Critics – Writer, Billy R. Balbastro described the Manunuris, “…The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Filipino, on the other hand, is an organization of practicing film critics established in 1976. Most came from the Academe then with Nestor U. Torre becoming its first president. The Manunuri had its Gawad Urian in simple one hour-long rites at the CCP then. Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera Jr. became its second president. Other presidents include: Mario Hernando, Butch Francisco, Agustin “Hammy” Sotto, Gigi Javier Alfonso of UP. Each critic-member is expected to write regularly film reviews or film criticism which must be published in national publications. Each year too they give out awards for achievements in the movie industry, thus joining the FAMAS, the Film academy of the Philippines and the Philippine Movie Press Club’s Star Awards in this aspect of endeavor. During their first decade (1976 to 1985), they also came up with their Stars of the Decade: Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Vic Silayan and Phillip Salvador. The members of the Manunuri are: Mario Hernando (editor of Sunday Malaya), Bienvenido Lumbera Jr.(1993 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for journalism, literature and creative communication), Nicanor Tiongson (former artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and former MTRCB chair), Butch Francisco (TV personality), Agustin “Hammy” Sotto (founding president of the Society of Film Archivists), Paul Daza (columnist), Gigi Javier Alfonso (dean of the UP-Diliman Open University and professor at the UP College of Mass Communication –UP-CMC), Ellen Paglinauan (dean of UP-CMC), Bro. Miguel Rapatan (DLSU), and Lito Zulueta (Inquirer sub-editor and faculty member of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters)…”

On April 15, 1983, the Gawad Urian was set to give out their hardware. It was known by many, that the critics or the Manunuris were pro-Nora Aunor. They gave Aunor their very first best actress award in 1976 for her excellent performance in “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (three years without God)”. They also gave Aunor a second nod in 1980 in her wonderful performance in “Bona” with Gina Alajar as co-winner.

Speaking of co-winner or “tie,” writer Rolfie Velasco pointed out in his article, “…FAMAS was the sole award-giving body for film in the Philippines from 1952 until 1976, when the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) formed the Gawad URIAN (FAMAS was also contested by the Manila Film Festival, established in the 1960s, but a film festival cannot be considered as a major award-giving body). From 1952 to 1976, FAMAS alone has awarded the most foremost performers and craftsmen of Filipino films, from screen legend Rosa Rosal to master director Gerardo de Leon. Winning a FAMAS Award became the target obsession for many film craftsmen, for it was, after all, the Philippines’ counterpart of the Oscars. The awards itself, then held mostly in the Manila Hotel, was the biggest annual event in the Philippine movie industry…In 1973, the FAMAS was rocked by a terrible scandal. It awarded the first tie in the lead categories in the history of Philippine cinema. Before this, the only recorded tie was in 1968, when Tito Arevalo and Tony Maiquez shared the Best Musical Score honors and also the tie in the best actress category, with both Boots Anson-Roa and Vilma Santos sharing the honors. Because a tie in the lead categories was unheard of, the public dissented the vote. Therefore, for the next years, the FAMAS invited film critics to be members of its nominating and awarding committee. These critics left the FAMAS in 1976 to form MPP and subsequently, the Gawad Urian (Urian Award), named after the Tagalog word for gold standard…”

When the winner was read, even Vilma was surprised. After so many years of snubs, she finally received the recognition she truly deserved. The critics finally came to their senses and recognized Vilma’s explosive and giant killer performance.

By winning the Gawad Urian, Vilma defeated not only Nora but also Lorna Tolentino and Gina Alajar both equally gave a felt performance in the feminist film, “Moral.”

Adding chery to an already sumptous plate, at the same night, on April 15, 1983, Vilma have to rush to another ceremony, she was crowned by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation as the 1982 – 83 Box Office Queen of Philippine Movies at the Celebrity Sports Plaza with Fernando Poe Jr as the Box Office King, her second crown/title after January’s Cinehan Awards.

This was Vilma’s second major best actress wins in the same calendar year. She was half way there. People are now starts talking about the possibility of Vilma winning all the best actress awards.

Not to be outdone, Noranians regained from their dissapointments as Nora Aunor received an award from a socio-political group, the TOWNS on April 23, 1983. Nora Aunor received (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service) or simply TOWNS award from no less than the then tirst lady, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine Convention Center. With the first lady handing out the TOWNS to Nora, people are started to insinuate that Nora Aunor’s defeat in two previous majors are polically motivated.

Third Major – The next race was the very first Luna Awards, back then, simply called the Film Academy Awards, Philippines’ counterpart of OSCAR.

On April 27, 1983 the First Film Academy of the Philippines Awards were held at the Manila Film Center. The FAP official web-site provided some basic information about The Luna Awards, “…Established in 1981 as mandated by Executive Order No. 640-A, the Academy has been able to forge an alliance among the various guilds of the movie industry. Serving as the umbrella organization, the Film Academy oversees the welfare of the guilds thru an assortment of subsidies, projects and opportunities that would bring about the upgrading of the knowledge and expertise of the guild members. The principal function of the Academy is to give awards in recognition of the artistic and technical excellence of the performances and to accentuate the value of quality works of the people behind the outstanding films shown during the year. The Annual Luna Awards is intended to provide the necessary motivation in enhancing the craftmanship of movie industry workers that will eventually uplift the quality of local films. The Academy also assists in the staging and managing of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival from which proceeds the Film Academy gets a share. Delegates to foreign film festivals are primarily sent thru the intercession of the Academy. The Academy also spearheads the collaboration of the movie industry with government agencies in order to gain opportunities for the guilds and its members…”

Academy insider, Jose N. Carreon wrote: “…At seven o’clock on a Wednesday evening on April 27, 1983, the Film Academy of the Philippines held its first ever awards night for distinguished works and performances in films exhibited in 1982. The venue was the Manila Film Center, one of the cultural edifices that were constructed under the auspices of then First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos…The first ever Academy award winner was the late Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia who was adjudged the best supporting actor for his role in Ito Ba ang Ating mga Anak?…Liza Lorena was best supporting actress for her role in Oro, Plata, Mata…The late Vic Macamay won the best sound award for Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?…The best cinematography award was won by Romy Vitug for Sinasamba Kita…Sinasamba Kita by the late George Canseco was voted the best original song…The late Orlando Nadres won the best screenplay adaptation for Sinasamba Kita…Romy Suzara won as best director for Uod at Rosas…Manay Ichu’s MVP Pictures’ Batch ’81 was voted the first best picture of the academy awards…With the stage overflowing with showbiz people, the best actor and best actress awards were announced. Philip Salvador (for Cain at Abel) was declared best actor over Robert Arevalo (Santa Claus is Coming to Town), Mark Gil (Batch ’81), Christopher de Leon (Relasyon) and Joel Torre (Oro, Plata, Mata). The last winner of the night turned out to be Vilma Santos who was best actress for her performance in Relasyon. The other aspirants were Gina Alajar (Moral), Nora Aunor (Himala), Coney Reyes-Mumar (Pedring Taruc) and Lorna Tolention (Moral). Then everything was history. After 25 years, we remember and we celebrate and we recommit ourselves for another quarter of a century. The Film Academy of the Philippines and its Luna Awards live on…”

Vilma Santos faces again a stiff resistance from Nora Aunor. In the end, Vilma received her fourth majors from non other than the first lady Imelda Romouldez Marcos. Like Nora in TOWNS, the first lady, Imelda Marcos handed out the very first Academy award best actress to Vilma.

Vilma won her third major best the same calendar year. One short of a complete overhaul.

Fourth Major – The award season of 1983 ended with the handing out of the FAMAS. The Manila Film Center was jam packed with not only celebrities but also a boisterous group of Noranians and Vilmanians. Unfortunately, Nora Aunor wasn’t nominated for her gigantic role of Elsa in “Himala” instead, she was nominated for her portrayal of an underdog lover of the late Johnny Delgado in Romy Zusara’s “Mga Uod at Rosas (the worms and roses)”. The competition didn’t stop with Vilma’s “Relasyon,” Noranians were worried about the other nominees too. Hilda Koronel was cited for her solo starrer, “PX” and Alma Moreno was nominated for her daring role as Cristina Gaston in the “Diary of Cristina Gaston.” The list of Nominees were completed with the inclusion of two veterans: Mona Lisa for her supposed to be supporting role in “Cain at Abel” and Liza Lorena for her surprising role in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” With this list comes a lesser expectation from Noranians, as Nora wasn’t nominated for her more intense role as Elsa. But this didn’t bother them as they raided the Manila Film Centre with so much fan fare.

The unofficial FAMAS website declared the winners, “…The 31st FAMAS Awards was held at the Manila Film Center on May 28, 1983. The Best Picture went to Cine Suerte’s Cain at Abel defeating Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan [Viva Films], Himala [Experimental Cinema of the Philippines], Ang Panday: Ikatlong Yugto [FPJ Productions] and Sinasamba Kita [Viva Films]. The Best Actor went to Anthony Alonzo for Bambang defeating Christopher de Leon for Relasyon, Dolphy for My Heart Belongs to Daddy, George Estregan for Lalaki Ako, Dindo Fernando for Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan, Fernando Poe, Jr. for Ang Panday: Ikatlong Yugto, and Philip Salvador for Cain at Abel. The best supporting Actor went to Tommy Abuel for Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan while the best supporting Actress went to Sandy Andolong for Moral. Eddie Garcia won the best director Sinasamba Kita defeating Marilou Diaz-Abaya for Moral, Ishmael Bernal for Himala, Lino Brocka for Cain at Abel, Fernando Poe, Jr. for Ang Panday: Ikatlong Yugto and Danny Zialcita for Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan. Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan also won the best story for Tom Adrales; best screenplay for Tom Adrales and Danny Zialcita; best editing for Ike Jarlego, Jr.; best musical score and theme song for George Canseco and best sound for Vic Macamay. Joseph Estrada received the Hall of Famer Award for winnign five times as producer. The most anticipated award was for best actress which went to Vilma Santos for Relasyon defeating Nora Aunor for Mga Uod at Rosas, Hilda Koronel for PX, Mona Lisa for Cain at Abel, Liza Lorena for Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Alma Moreno for The Diary of Cristina Gaston ..”

Unfortunately, for Noranians, their idol went empty handed again for the last time. Vilma claimed her fourth major best actress in one calendar year. The night for Vilmanians didn’t stop from Vilma’s win. Eddie Garcia won the best director award for a Vilma Santos’ blockbuster film, “Sinasamba Kita.”

Noranians were all mad as hell. Writer Bum D. Tenorio Jr., in his article for Philippine Star, described how the feisty Noranians reacted on Vilma’s win on their home turf, the Gawad Urian, “…Talk about Himala, it was because of this movie that two ladies in my neighborhood got into a nasty hair-pulling fight. Nora could have won the grand-slam for Best Actress in all the award-giving bodies for this movie in 1982 except that her archrival and now Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos won for the movie “Relasyon” in the Gawad Urian. The feisty Noranians in the neighborhood could not accept this, while the Vilmanians gloated. This irreconcilable difference unfortunately turned ugly. In those days, fans were fiercely loyal. When Vilmanians talked about “Wonder V,” expect Noranians to come up with “Super G.” When Vilmanians mentioned how they got scared in “Phantom Lady,” expect a multitude of Noranians to thwart their claim by discussing “Fe, Esperanza, Caridad,” Nora’s suspense thriller. Even when Nora and Vilma starred together in a movie, say “Pinagbuklod ng Pag-Ibig” or the legendary “T-Bird at Ako,” competition between fans of both camps still raged. But in my community, the Noranians always prevailed!…”

Paranoia seeped in their brain as they hypothesized the reasons why Nora failed to win any awards. Sabotage according to them was the only reason. The political repercussion of the film being made under the Marcos administration resulted Nora Aunor being ignored by all award-giving bodies! Never mind that Vilma Santos deserved all the wins. Vilma Santos swept the entire best actress in four major award-giving bodies in one calendar year. The tag line “grand slam” was born.

In addition to the above majors, talk show, “Lets talk movies” came up with their own film awards on its anniversary presentation at the end of 1982. The hosts, Behn Cervantes (filmmaker, film critic), Armida Siguion Reyna (film actress, producer) and Mario Bautista (movie reporter, critic, columnist) were quoted as who they think deserve the year’s accolade.

Behn Cervantes: “…Behn’s choice for best movie of 1982 comes easy, with one qualification (he has not seen Oro, Plata, Mata). “It’s Batch ’81 because it was innovative and more daring…As for the choice of best actress, “mahirap iyan,” Behn admits spontaneously. “It’s a difficult choice between Gina Alajar in Moral and Nora Aunor in Himala. Gina was beautifully flamboyant and effective as the funky character in Moral, while Nora was very cinematic in Himala. Nora is one actress who knows how to use her medium…Vilma is also good. She knows her craft, but somehow, at the moment of truth, physically she doesn’t quite hit me. There’s something very cutesified about it…”

Armida Siguion Reyna: “…Armida has said it in her TV show Let’s Talk Movies and she’s saying it again: her choice for best movie not only for the filmfest but for the entire 1982 is Moral. “It’s very ‘today,’ NOW. You really get to identify with the characters in the movie…After Moral, Armida chooses Oro, Plata, Mata and Cain at Abel, respectively, as among 1982’s best…Armida chooses Vilma Santos as best actress for her performance in Relasyon. “I can’t explain my choice in the beautiful language of the Manunuri but I go by gut and alam kong maganda.” She is also more inclined toward Vilma because the actress made a number of good movies last year…”

Mario E. Bautista: “…For us, sinuman ang manalo kina Vilma Santos o Lorna Tolentino ay okey lang. Both Gina and Nora have won the Urian best actress awards twice. Gina for Brutal and Salome, Nora for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and Bona. Napakagaling ni Gina in portraying the role of the trying hard Kathy in Moral. Hindi biru-biro ang ganoong character na gagawin mong sympathetic dahil mas malamang na lumabas itong ridiculous lang kaysa nakakakuha ng simpatiya. But Gina succeeded in making her Kathy both ridiculous and sympathetic. As Elsa, Nora’s case is that of star and role merging into one, fitting into each other perfectly dahil alam nating ang karisma ni Guy sa kanyang fans ay siya ring karisma ni Elsa sa kanyang naging followers. Pero palagay namin, kung hindi magta-tie sina Lorna at Vilma, mananalo ng solo si Vilma Santos. Vi has never won the Urian. She should have gotten it in 1977 for Burlesk Queen but the trophy went to Daria Ramirez in Sinong Kasiping. Maraming acting highlights ang paper ni Vi bilang Marilou sa Relasyon. Sa confrontation scenes nila ni Boyet, superb siya roon sa tagpong sinusumbatan niya ito dahil ginagawa na lamang siyang tau-tauhan. Ang acting niya sa death scene ni Boyet na hindi malaman ang gagawin sa katarantahan is also awesome to behold…”

Unfortunately, despite their highly praises of Nora Aunor, the talk show hosts gave their nod to Vilma Santos due to their technical rules. An article from Movie Flash explained: “…In celebration of its first anniversary, Channel 9’s Let’s Talk Movies will have a special presentation on December 14 from 9:30 to 11:30 pm. The talk show hosted by Armida Siguion-Reyna, Behn Cervantes and Mario E. Bautista will distribute seven major awards to deserving artists who excelled in local pictures shown from Dec, 1981 to November, 1982. The Let’s Talk Movies awards differ from those of other award-giving bodies in that they honor a director or performer not for just a single work or performance in one movie but for a body of outstanding works or performances shown during the said fiscal year. This is in line with the show’s aim to help uplift local movies. To qualify, a nominee should have atleast two significant contributions. Nominees for…best actress…are Gina Alajar (Init o Lamig, Pusong Uhaw), Nora Aunor (Uod at Rosad, T-bird, Rock ‘n Roll, Palengke Queen), Amy Austria (Katas ng Langis, Waywaya, Pusong Uhaw), Vilma Santos (Karma, Relasyon, T-bird, Sinasamba Kita, Never Ever Say Goodbye) and Maricel Soriano (Galawgaw, Mother Dear, Schoolgirls)…An award for best producer will be given to the company which has produced the most number of outstanding films during the year. Special citations will be given to movie personnel who made worthy contributions to the industry during the year…” (READ MORE)

While Vilmanians celebrated their idol’s historical win, Nora Aunor redeemed their broken ego by lining up to the 1983 Manila International Film Festival on June 24th, Himala was choosen as the opening gala film together with Hollywood film, Gandhi as the closing.

After the awards season of 1983, Vilma Santos released three more films after the dissapointment, Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida.

On June 9th, Viva Films released Paano Ba ang Mangarap? that turned out to be another box office hit. Few months afterwards Regal films released Bernal’s Broken Marriage, the follow-up film after the successful grand slam film, Relasyon.

Finally, four days after Vi’s birthday, Viva Films released Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s drama, Minsan pa Natin Hagkan Ang Nakaraan, another box office hit. This film plus the two films mentioned above confirmed her bankable status.  Not to be outshine again, “Himala” continued its relentless fight for recognition, winning the bronze prize at the 1983 Chicago International Film Festival on November of 1983 (Nov 4-18 1983).

Vilma Santos made history. The first grand slam win of Vilma Santos was repeatedly analyzed over and over again. Mostly to give credit to the loser, Nora Aunor.

Joel David, in his article titled “Performances of the Age” wrote: “…the outstanding performance of the period belongs to that of Nora Aunor in Himala, which was honoured only by the MMFF….In Himala the director and writer seemed to have agreed to a mutual stand-off, thus amplifying the theatrical potential of an expansive locale with a protracted takes; stage-trained talents ensured the competent execution of histrionic stylizations, with the climax set on an open-air platform before a hysterical audience. It was a truly great actress’ opportunity of a lifetime, and Nora Aunor seized it and made it not just her role, but her film as well. Not since Anita Linda in Gerardo de Leon’s Sisa (circa the first Golden Age) had there been such a felicitous exploitation by a performer of ideal filmmaking conditions – and in this instance, Himala has the decided advantage of being major-league and universal….”

Arnel Resma Ramos’ article titled “Himala Revisited” praised Nora’s complex role: “…we believe that Nora Aunor should have swept all the best actress awards for that particular year…Aunor had the more complex role and only an actress of her calibre 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…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.”

In recent years, Himala was recognized in many film exhibitions around the world. Even international television network fell on the prey and held an international internet poll, raising Himala to its highest glory, proclaiming the film as one of Asia’s best film. They hail, finally, Aunor were given the citations its truly deserved!

Again, never mind that Vilma Santos gave the most effective performance in the history of local movie screen. The fact is, no matter what they do or say they can’t change history. Vilma Santos was the very first “grand slam” best actress winner.


Vilma Santos’ MMFF recognitions

Aside from Gawad Urian, Star Awards, Film Academy Awards and FAMAS, the annual local festival, called MMFF or Metro Manila Film Festival has become a part of Vilma Santos’ film career. From the 70s to the new millennium, Vilma Santos was able to entered memorable films that earned her awards, record-breaking ticket revenues, career breakthrough performances and even some memorable heartache. Spanning four decades, the MMFF earned Vilma 7 acting nominations with four wins.

The Martial Law established the amalgamation of the surrounding cities in Manila. Prior to 1975, three local film festivals showcase Filipino films, Quezon City and Manila each has their own festivities and another one in Southern part of the country, Bacolod City. The local festivals started the acting competition between rival, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor. In 1970 Manila Film Festival, Nora’s Nora in Wonderland and Young Heart compete with Vilma’s sole entry, Love Letters. Two years afterwards, the acting race will heat up in Quezon City Film Festival when the two collided with Nora’s And God Smiled at Me and Vilma’s Dama De Noche. After the Martial Law, cities were amalgamated with Manila. And the Quezon City Film Festival and the Manila Film Festival ends creating the December festival in 1975. Occasionally, Manila will have their own festival every summer in connection to city’s “Araw Ng Manila” celebration. Tthe last time Vilma entered a film at MFF was in 1993 via Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story where she won the best actress. Meanwhile, Nora Aunor’s last venture to MFF was in 2004’s Naglalayag where like Vilma, she won the best actress too.

The Metropolitan Manila Film Festival, now simply called, MMFF, (the “politan” was dropped eventually) or Metro Manila Film Festival exhibits only local films in all its theatres from Christmas Eve to the first week of the following New Year. The festival has its street parade at the eve of Christmas Day and each films contesting for best float. The festival has its awards night at the third or fourth nights.

Not surprisingly, both Nora and Vilma have competed in the first MMFF. Nora’s entry was her self-produced film directed by Luciano B. Carlos, Batu-Bato sa Langit and Vilma’s entry was the melodrama, Karugtong ang Kahapon. The big winner was the pre-presidential, Joseph Estrada. Directed by Augosto Bunaventura, Estrada’s Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa won the major awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Best Actress went to Charito Solis for Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi.

The second year, the festival was noticeably the precursor to the awards race. It was a showcase of who’s who in the local film industry. Lino Brocka, Eddie Romero, Lupita Concio were among the big name directors competing. Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon dominated the awards night winning the best director and Christopher de Leon the best actor. Hilda Koronel was proclaimed the best actress for her impressive performance in Insiang. Concio’s Minsa’y Isang Gamo-gamo, Brocka’s Insiang and Romero’s Ganito will be the top films competing for the first Gawad Urian.

The third MMFF, brought controversy to Vilma Santos. Now starting to accept offbeat roles and learning to adopt versatility to her arsenal, she bravely entered the festival with Celso Ad Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. The gamble paid off as the film became the top grosser and won eight awards out of ten. Burlesk won best picture and best in direction, lead actor, actress, screenplay, supporting actress/actor and cinematography.

Burlesk defeated Lino Brocka’s Inay, Mario O’Hara and Romy Suzara’s Mga Bilanggong Birhen, Mike de Leon’s Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, Eddie Romero’s Banta ng Kahapon, Ishmael Bernal’s Walang Katapusang Tag-araw, Joey Gosiengfiao’s Babae, Ngayon at Kailanman, Gil Portes’ Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa. A very impressive list, no wonder some critics loudly complained about the awards results. And according to Armida Sigueon Reyna, in her newspaper column, Brocka walked out the awards night in protest and even cursed the juror on the way out ot the auditorium. It was also reported that the organizer asked the winners to return their medals (they hand out medals that year) but no such things happened, Vilma still has her medal in her fully loaded cabinet of hardwares.

The success of Burlesk Queen commercially and critically brought down some senses to some Nora Aunor followers. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ willingness to accept mature and offbeat roles became a threat to Nora Aunor’s standing as the number one actress. Vilma Santos’ entry was Lino Brocka’s true to life film about rape victim, Rubia Servios. Critics and media have predicted Vilma was dead lock for the best actress. Come awards night, the juries’ award Nora’s film about a maid abused by her employer, Atsay won the major awards including best picture and best director for Eddie Garcia. The top acting award was changed to best performer that Nora Aunor won. A vindication from last year’s result? Wait, there wasn’t even an Aunor film last year. For some consolation, Rubia won two technical awards, one for editing and screenplay for Mario O’Harra. The film also became the top grosser of the festival even with the lost to Aunor. According to Isagani Cruz on his TV Times article in 1979: “…Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and Rubia is a much more demanding and difficult role….Overall, Atsay may be much more impressive than Rubia Servios. In terms of challenging our moral and legal convictions, however, Rubia Servios is much more significant.”

1979 brought the tandem of Charito Solis & Vilma Santos versus Lolita Rodrigues and Nora Aunor. The clear winner was the latter team. Although Solis and Santos film did much better at the box office. Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo, a much better film, directed by Lino Brocka won the major awards, best picture, director and acting awards for Raul Aragon and Nora Aunor. For film aficionado, the scene where Solis slapped Santos in Modelong Tanso was memorable. Many reprised that scene, Vilma did it in Anak (with Claudine) and recently Sharon Cuneta with Heart Evangelist in the recent Mano Po.

By 1980, Nora Aunor kept on pushing for festival supremacy and like last year, she entered two films. This time, with Lino Brocka’s Bona and Laurice Guillen’s Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. Vilma’s lone entry was Danny Zialcita’s Langis at Tubig. Nora came up short, as both of her film missed the major awards. The big winner was Christopher De Leon and Bembol Roco’s film Taga Sa Panahon. Taga won the top awards while Marilou Diaz Abaya’s film Brutal won directing and best actress for Amy Austria. Langis At Tubig won best actor Dindo Fernando.

After winning in 1977 and a big loss in 1978, Vilma’s enthusiasm in winning at the MMFF subsided significantly. Her film entries were now focused on entertainment value aimed at getting commercial success instead of awards. 1980 and 1981 was a big example. Danny Zialcita’s Langis At Tubig did very well at the box office in ’80 and her entry the following year was a glossy production, Karma. Karma was a big hit and earned nominations but one film dominated all the 1981’s MMFF, Kisap Mata, directed by Mike De Leon won eight out of ten awards except for best actress, that award went to Vilma Santos. Vilma didn’t attend the ceremony, her co-star, Chanda Romero, accepted the award.

Nora’s absence in 1981 add motivation to her camp, she entered the festival with the epic film, directed by Ishmael Bernal, Himala, now considered by many as one of the best Filipino film of all time. Himala won seven major awards including best picture, director, screenplay and actress. Vilma’s entry Haplos was a distant third, with a win for lead actor, Christopher De Leon. The following year, Himala harvested nominations from four award-giving bodies particularly the best actress nominations for Nora but failed to win any, all the trophies went to Vilma, earning her first grand slam best actress. The next six years, no film by Vilma Santos in the festival. The big winners during these years are: 1983 – Karnal, 1984 – Bulaklak ng City Jail, 1985 – Paradise Inn, 1986 – Halimaw sa Banga, 1987 – Olongapo, 1988 – Patrolman.

The 1989 MMFF brought back the team of Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon. Viva film’s Immortal directed by Eddie Garcia won major awards including best picture, director and the acting for Christopher and Vilma. Not to be undone, Nora Aunor entered the race the following year via Elwood Perez’ Andrea Paano ba ang Maging Isang Ina. The film won best picture, director and actress for Nora. Best actor went to Dolphy for Espadang Patpat. Then 1991 was a repeat for Nora as her film, again directed by Perez, Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M. won major awards.

The next twelve years seems to be non-existent for Vilma followers as there were no entries from Vilma Santos in these years. There were no films that stands out compare to the high caliber films entered during the peak of the Vilma-Nora rivalry. There are six films that were praised by the critics though, Chito Rono‘s films Nasaan ang Puso (1997) and Bagong Buwan (2001), Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Jose Rizal (1998) and Muro-ami (1999) and Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman (2000). In the acting category, only Elizabeth Oropesa win in 1999 for Bulaklak ng Maynila and Gloria Romero’s win in 2000 for Tanging Yaman stands out.

By 2002, it was déjà vu all over again, Vilma Santos convinced by many as a sure bet for the best actress lost again for her festival entry, Dekada 70. The award was given to Ara Mina for her supposed to be supporting role in the very first Mano Po. Dekada will dominate the awards race the following year, Vilma will win several best actress awards. Vilma’s co-star, Piolo Pascual will win all the best supporting actor making him a grand slam winner. The next year, Crying Ladies, starring Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Koronel and Angel Aquino won the best picture, best actor for Eric Quizon, best supporting actress for Hilda while Maricel Soriano snatched the best actress for Filipinas. The next year, Vilma came back again with Regal’s third installment to the Mano Po series. Titled, Mano Po 3: My Love and directed by Joel Lamangan, the film won best picture and the lead acting for Vilma and Christopher De Leon. Cesar Montano’s self-produced and directed film, Panaghoy sa Suba won best actor.

No Vilma Santos or Nora Aunor films the next five years. Vilma visibly concentrated with her political career and Nora retired in the United States. The film festival continued its annual fan fare with some memorable films. Zsazsa Padilla and Cherry Pie Picache continued the Mano Po series with a comedy, Ako Legal Wife, Mano Po 4 won the female acting awards in 2005. Judy Ann Santos comedy film, directed Joey Reyes, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo top the 2006 festival. Maricel Soriano received another best actress the following year for Bahay Kubo, The Pinoy Mano Po. Anne Curtis arrived in the big league as she wins best actress for Baler in 2008 and then this year, Bong Revilla won best actor for Ang Panday and Sharon Cuneta best actor for Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love, both first time winner.

Vilma Santos’ MMFF Best Actress from 1975 to 2008

For some, Vilma Santos MMFF recognitions in terms of awards wasn’t as significant compare to lets say, her number of URIAN or FAMAS awards but all the shortcomings were forgotten when you think about the successful recorded revenue of her festival entries.  From Burlesk Queen, Rubia Servios, Karma, Langis at Tubig and to her last one, Mano Po 3, all did very well.  At the end of the day, producers would still prefer a little profit than trophies. – RV



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“…From 1972 to 1988 Vilma Santos were nominated twelve times. Most critics considered this as a huge accomplishments, she won for 1988 (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos), 1987 (Tagos ng Dugo), 1982 (Relasyon), 1981 (Pakawalan Mo Ako), 1972 (Dama de Noche), but some were worried that this is premature as they expected more breakthrough performances from her young career. Now, 37, Vilma is still honing her craft. The 38th FAMAS Awards held again at the Fiesta Pavilion of Manila Hotel on May 19, 1990 was not only memorable for Vilma Santos but also for her rival, Nora Aunor. Vilma relegated to hall of famer, disqualify her to compete with Nora. Not surprisingly, Nora won her fifth best actress, which also automatically qualifies her as next year’s hall of famer…” – RV (READ MORE)

The Award: The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences bestows the Hall of Fame Award to individuals who have displayed mastery over their craft and artistry over their chosen fields in the Philippine motion picture industry. First given in the 24th FAMAS Awards (1975) in 1976 to actor Eddie Garcia, sound engineers Angel Avellana and Demetrio de Santos, director Gerardo de Leon, cinematographer Felipe Sacdalan and musical scorer Tony Maiquez for winning five or more FAMAS Awards in their respective categories, the Hall of Fame Award is a gold-plated FAMAS statuette with two semi-circles of laurel leaves anchored to each of her shoulders and her base. The cylindrical base, on the other hand, contains a gold leaf at the front, which contains the acronym “FAMAS” in big bold letters, the winner’s name, the category in which he or she has won the Hall of Fame Award and the year in which it was given. The original Hall of Fame statuette presented in 1976 was almost identical to the present one, except that the laurel leaves only arched up until the FAMAS lady’s hips. In the 1980s, the redesigned Hall of Fame Award contained the FAMAS lady standing atop a trapezoidal pedestal with two semi-circles of laurel leaves anchored to each of her shoulders and base. The trapezoidal base bore a gold scroll where FAMAS’ name, the name of the winner, the year of bestowing and the category in which it was won was written.

The bestowing of a Hall of Fame Award is determined by the number of FAMAS awards won by a certain individual in a category. To win a Hall of Fame Award, one must have won five FAMAS Awards for a certain competitive category. The Hall of Fame Award is given to an individual on the next awards ceremony following his/her fifth FAMAS Award on a certain category. A Hall of Fame Award signifies the end of one’s chances of nomination for the same category and thus, the end of one’s chances of winning a FAMAS Award for the same category, with the exception of the Best Picture category, since the merits of a Best Picture nomination and win depends on the collaborative effort of many movie artisans rather than a single effort of an individual, which is awarded in the rest of the other categories. This explains why Premiere Productions, Producer Hall of Famer, still had FAMAS Best Picture nominations beyond 1977, its year of receiving the Hall of Fame. The following individuals (and production company) were bestowed a Hall of Fame Award. Each Hall of Fame inductee are grouped according to the category in which they won the award and the calendar year in which they have received their Hall of Fame Award. – FAMAS (READ MORE)

Dama de Noche (1972) “…It is, Vilma was quoted as saying, her dream role fulfilled. The very professional Vilma has come out with the resolution than henceforth she will demand to see the script and also see that the script is demanding— or she’ll say nix. Well, Dama de Noche is exactly just that: demanding. In it she delineates the twin-sister roles of sweet Armida and deranged Rosanna. Vilma sobs and screams, giggles, and crazy-dances, claws and clowns, sobs again and screams some more. But she does more than all these things. She acts. In the Filipino movieworld where crying is synonymous with acting, that certainly is being ahead of one’s kind. Vilma as Armida is drab and dry, almost a movie prop. It is in the portrayal of Rosanna that Vilma would tear one’s heart away. The many close-ups so effectively used throughout the movie show the unglamorous Vilma: her frowns, her lip-twitching, her uninhibited and stifled sobs. But Vilma is less successful with the shifty look that is the distinctive trait of the deranged. She compensates for this in the ‘betrayal’ scene when Rosanna suspects that Leo, Armida and the psychiatrist (Fred Montilla) all conspired to imprison her in the hospital. Another outstanding feat is the subdued scene where Rosanna learns that Leo has gone to the Lerma villa to meet Armida. The vivacious Rosanna is just as winsomely pathetic. Watching her is just like seeing a bosom friend trying to pretend she’s happy when both of you know she’s not only in this case, Rosanna is truly happy. Her non-knowledge of her plight is what is particularly heart-curling…” – The Times Journal (READ MORE)

Pakawalan Mo Ako (1981) “…Mula umpisa hanggang sa huli’y umiikot ang istorya sa karakter ni Vilma bilang si Ana, isang escort girl. Markado ang papel ni Vilma at makikita ito sa mga eksena sa kulungan at hukuman. Ang Pakawalan Mo Ako ay mula sa panulat ni Pete Lacaba at iskrinplay nina Pete Lacaba, Mao Gia Samonte at Isko Lopez. Kung ikukumpara sa mga ibang pelikula ni Elwood Perez mas pulido at makatotohanan ang mga eksena’t dialouge ng pelikula. Tulad ng konprontahin nga ma ni Bernard si Ana sinabi nito na: “Puta, Puta! Puta! Hindi lang naman kayo ang unang nagparatang sa akin ng ganyan! Puta! Puta! Putang Ina n’yong lahat…” At nang unang dalhin ni Bernard si Ana sa bahay nito at pagtangkaang gahasain, pumiglas si Ana at sabay kuha sa pera at sabay sabing: “kukunin ko ang bayad sa halik may sukli ka pa!” At siyempre ang eksena sa hukom kung saan paulit ulit niyang sinasabi ang salitang: “Sinungaling!…” Ang musika ni Lutgardo Labad ay minsan nakakaabala sa tunay na eksena ngunit angkop na angkop ang theme song ng pelikula, ang “Dati” na kinanta mismo ni Antony Castelo. Merong mahahabang linya si Christopher DeLeon sa bandang huli at nakuha naman niyang bigyan ng buhay ang papel niya bilang abogado ng taga-usig kahit na parang pilit ang pagpapalit niya ng panig para sa tagapagtanggol sa bandang huli, sa kanyang closing remarks. Alam niya marahil na talagang pelikula ito ni Ate Vi…” – RV (READ MORE)

Relasyon (1982) “…Like 1972 of the previous decade, 1982 turned out to be a repeat in terms of success for Vilma Santos. If critics took noticed in 1972, her performance in Dama De Noche, a decade after, the critics went gagah over her performance in ”Relasyon,” directed by Bernal. The film earned Vilma all the local best actress trophies from all award-giving bodies. Aside from this success, she will also be crowned as the box office queen of 1982 (the next year for her body of work this year) because of the financial success of her six films notably, “Sinasamba Kita” a film directed by Eddie Garcia and “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?’ directed by Danny Zialcita. Bernal on the other hand not only was credited for Vilma success for “Relasyon” he also received accolades for “Himala” a film by Nora Aunor, Vilma’s rival. Both “Himala” and “Relasyon” were considered two of Bernal’s signature films. In addition to this, he did two Marecel Soriano films, the comedy “Galawgaw” and the drama, “Hindi Kita Malimot” and finally another Cherrie Gil film, “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak…Bernal gave Vilma Santos her first grandslam best actress awards and consecutive Gawad Urian best actress (1982 and 1983). Their first film together was Inspiration (1972) and last was Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (1989).” – RV (READ MORE)

Tagos ng Dugo (1987) “…So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation. A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness…Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse. . . . There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated. And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film….As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems…” – Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III (READ MORE)

Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos (1988) “…Vilma hit the jackpot. After 11 nominations with four wins, her twelfth nomniation produced her an unexpected win. It elevated her to the hall of fame status. All artist who wins five automatically put them to the hall of fame list. It is a big honour but prohibit any one on the list to compete in the future for the same category. Regal films’ Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos, directed by Elwood Perez was a surprised winner. Not only it earned Vilma her fifth award as best actress, it also gave the late Miguel Rodriguez a best supporting actor award and the best director for Perez. Technical awards were also given to Ricardo Jacinto, cinematography, Rey Maliuanag, production design, Gary Valenciano, theme song, and George Jarlego, editing. The late Nida Blanca was also nominated for best supporting actress…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films. The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other director, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit Box-office Film. They follow this up with a more mature projects as Vilma started to switched her image from sweet to a mature versatile actress, pairing her with Christopher DeLeon in five films starting with Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig in 1977. The Perez-Santos-DeLeon team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards that secured her elevation to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award. She won in 1979 for Pakawalan Mo Ako and 1988 for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…A series of unfortunate events seemed to hound Nora’s career up to this point. October 1, 1989 was to be the last airing date of the 22-year-old musical-variety show Superstar on RPN 9. A month later, it was revived on IBC 13 with a new title, The Legend … Superstar, but this was short-lived lasting only up to early 1990. Naging mas masuwerte si Vilma Santos sa hinu-host na Vilma! on GMA 7, which started in 1981 as VIP (Vilma in Person) ng lumang BBC 2 (naibalik sa Lopez owners ang ABS-CBN after the EDSA Revolution). Nagbida si Vilma sa isa sa mga pinakaimportanteng pelikula ng Dekada ‘80: Regal Films’ Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (by Ishmael Bernal), na sinimulan in 1988 at ipinalabas in early 1989. In December 1989, Vilma headlined a period romance-drama (Viva Films’ Imortal, megged by Eddie Garcia) at nanalo sila ng kaparehang si Christopher de Leon ng acting plums sa MMFF. Sa awardings for that year, si Vilma ang nanalong Best Actress sa Star Awards (for Pahiram), her first form the Philippine Movie Press Club. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” nasabi ni Vilma as she accepted her trophy. Later, it was Nora’s turn to get a Best Actress trophy for the first time from the Film Academy of the Philippines, for Elwood Perez’s three-year-in-the-making Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” sabi rin niya in her acceptance speech. Na-elevate si Vilma sa FAMAS Hall of Fame, for having bagged five Best Actress statuettes: Dama de Noche, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, and Elwood Perez’s Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos. Nora won her fourth Best Actress plum sa FAMAS, also for Bilangin. Walang itulak-kabigin sa dalawa, kaya marapat lang na mag-tie sila for Best Actress, as in the 1990 Gawad Urian, na ‘pantay na parangal ”ang ipinagkaloob ng Manunuri kina Nora (for Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit) at Vilma (for Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga)…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival Best Actress

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The 5th Makati Cinemanila Film Competition is at its most exciting yet, with 16 films from around the globe competing for the top prizes. Awards at stake are the Grand Prize Lino Brocka Award, to be conferred by an international jury of prominent film personalities, the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award, the Grand Jury Prize, the Ishmael Bernal Award for Young/Alternative Cinema, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Documentary, Best Short Film, Best Screenplay, and the Special Jury Prize. The 5th Makati Cinemanila International Film Festival will be formally opened with the awarding of Lifetime Achievement Awards to Filipino-American Hollywood Stars Lou Diamond Philips, Tia Carrere, Rob Schneider, Dean Devlin and Fritz Friedman for their efforts in the plight of Filipino war veterans and their outstanding careers in world entertainment. The opening films are Filipino-American director Gene Cajayon’s “The Debut” and the Philippine premiere of “City of God” by Fernando Meirelles from Brazil. Fellow Lifetime Achievement Awardees are the Star for All Seasons Philippine actress Vilma Santos and Indonesian actress and activist Christine Hakim. Other special guests at this year’s festival are Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles and Czech director Petr Zelenka, Malaysian director U-wei Haju Saari, Scripwriter Prabda Yoon from Thailand, Indonesian director Garin Nugroho and many more. – Makati Cinemanila Film Competion, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 7, 2003 (READ MORE)

Cinemanila best actress and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos says she has three options for 2004: to run for reelection, to run for governor of Batangas province, or not to run at all. The Star for all Seasons said this Thursday night after she won the best actress prize for her performance in Chito Rono’s “Dekada ’70,” during Thursday night’s Makati 2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival awards at Onstage in Greenbelt, Makati. Santos said she is taking her time to decide about her political plans, “because being a public official is not an easy job.” “I also have other roles in life that are equally demanding and tiring,” she said in Pilipino. “If I ran in 2004, that would mean I have to prepare myself physically and emotionally for another three years of public service,” Vilma later told Inquirer Entertainment, in a telephone interview the day after the awards night. “It’s not that easy becauise I am also a mother to two boys, and a wife to a senator,” pointed out the wife of Senator Ralph Recto. She and the senator have a 7-year-old son, Ryan Christian. VJ and television host Luis Manzano, 22 is Santos’ son with actor Edu Manzano. Recto was congressman of the fourth and largest district of Batangas province from 1992 to 2001 before he was elected senator in 2001. “As an actress, I am also constrained to my fans, who have stood by me through the years,” said Santos. “That’s why I choose my movies very carefully. I make sure the movies I make have social relevance.” Her best actress win for “Dekada ’70” is her second international acting trophy. She was also the best actress at teh 1999 Brussels International Film Festival in Belgium, for “Bata Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?” which Rono also directed. “I’m very thankful that people appreciate my work, even if I only make one movie a year, by honoring me with awards like this,” Santos said of her triumph in the Cinemanila film fest. She said that a new movie, which is not as “heavy” as “Dekada ’70” and “Bata, Bata,” is now being planned for her. – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 24 2003 (READ MORE)

“There is a great need for films that reflect the current human condition,” said National Artist for Film Eddie Romero, guest of honor of the Makati Cinemanila 2003 International Film Festival awards ceremony last Thursday. “Film is the most powerful medium of the century. It is the great gulf that divides countries, but is also the great thing that binds them together.” Romero led other filmmakers, critics and film producers from different parts of the world in paying tribute to films on life’s various realities, during the two hour awards show at Onstage theater in Makati. Vilma Santos won the Best Actress award for her portrayal of the timid mother empowered by the death of her son in Chito Rono’s period drama, “Dekada ’70.” She acknowledged the film’s producer, Star Cinema, for continuously producing “non-traditional” films like “Dekada ’70,” and Lualhati Bautista, who wrote the screenplay.

Shared honors: Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ “City of God,” set on the mean streets of a Rio de Janeiro slum in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) housing project, shared the Grand Jury Prize with Sabu’s “Blessing Bell” of Japan, about a man’s journey from poverty to riches, and from honor to despair. The Turkish film “Distant (Usak),” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, copped the grand prize, the Lino Brocka Award, for feature films. “Distant,” about the relationship between a melancholic and obssessive middle-aged photographer and his cousin, an unemployed country boy who comes to Istanbul to look for a job on a ship, was also the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival earlier this year.

Israel, India: “Dekada ’70” also won the Net-work for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (Netpac) Special Jury Award for Rono, who shared the honor with Elia Suleiman, director of the silent comedy “Divine Intervention,” which talks of living in Israel in time of war. Suleiman shared the Best Screenplay Award with India’s Apama Sen, director and writer of “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.” which tackles India’s religious and ethnic violence.” Australian actor David Gulpelil was Best Actor for his portrayal of the resourceful aboriginal tracker in pursuit of a man accussed of the murder of a white woman in Rolf de Heer’s “The Tracker.” Niki Caro’s coming-of-age film, “Whale Rider,” took home the Special Jury Prize. A social commentary on police brutality, “Binyag (Baptism),” won the Ishmael Bernal Award for Young Cinema. The 15-minute films by Mariami Tanangco shows the dark side of the police force where summary execution is said to be practiced.

Lifetime achievements: Sockie Fernandez’s “Flames” won the best short film award, and Ditsi Carolino’s “Life on Tracks” (Riles) the best documentary award. Carolino, whose work was first screened at the Brussels film fest in 1996, said she and her crew lived for four months in the slums in Balic-balic in Manila to do the documentary. Indonesian actress Christine Hakim received a lifetime achievement award. Hakim, who has appeared in over 30 films, founded a non-goverment organization bearing her name which gives milk to undernourished Indonesian schools and assists poor Indonesian teachers. Host Eddie Mercado entertained the audience during the show’s many awkward gaps, with very litle help from co-hosts Nanette Inventor and Paulo Trillo, who both seemed to read from their cue cards too much. Members of the rock legend Asin band showed young singer Jay-R and the quartet Streamline how to hold the audience in the palm their hads through their songs from “Pag-ibig, Pagbabago, Pagpapatuloy…,” the first Asin album since 1983. Actress Ara Mina kept the audience expecially the males, enthralled, not so much with her singing of “Ayayay Pag-Ibig” but with her tight-fitting top and pants. – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 24 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos, winner of seven best actress awards from Urian, five from the Famas where she is also a Hall of Famer, and various Star and Film Academy of the Philippines awards, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 5th Makati Cinemanila International Film Festival, during the opening rites last Thursday at Onstage in Greenbelt 1, Makati. Santos’ film career spans several decades starting with “Trudis Liit” at age nine for Sampaguita Pictures. She metamorphosed into a popular star in the ’70s, rivaled only by the Superstar Nora Aunor, and went on to become a highly respected multi-awarded actress. Some of her memorable films are “Relasyon,” “Broken marriage,” “Ikaw ay Akin,” “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga,” all directed by the Ishmael Bernal; “Sister Stella L, ” by Mike de Leon; “Rubia Serbios,” by the late LIno Brocka; “Ipapatawad Mo,” by Laurice Guillen; “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak,” and “Burlesk Queen,” by Celso Ad Castillo; “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa,” and “Dekada ’70” by Chito Rono which will be reshown at Cinemanila. She has also appeared in films by Eddie Garcia, Elwood Perez, Emmanuel Borlaza, Rory Quintos and Marilou Diaz Abaya. On television, Santos had one of the longest running musical variety shows, as well as a TV drama series. Married to Sen. Ralph Recto, she has two sons and is on her second term as mayor of Lipa City, Batangas. She was joined at Cinemanila’s opening rites by Fil-Am actors from Hollywood Tia Carrere and Lou Diamond Phillips and Indonesian actress Christine Hakim, the first Indonesian to sit on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. They were also awarded lifetime achievement award. The 5th Makati Cinemanila Itnernational Film Festival runs from Aug. 7-24, at the Greenbelt Cinemas, Ayala Center, Makati…” – Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 8, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Actress and Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, whose film career spans several decades starting when she was 9 in “Trudis Liit,” also received a lifetime achievement award on Thursday…Carrere, the first Filipino-American actress to become a Hollywood star, appearing with the likes of Arnold Schqarzeneger and Sean Connery in the movies, said her rise to stardom had been difficult. “Its was not easy fighting prejudice against the color of our skin,” she said as she accepted her award. “I work hard to represent you out there.” Carrere, who born to a Filipino father from Cebu, has more than 40 movies to her name and a hit US television series, “Relick Hunter.” Phillips dedicated his award to his mother, saying “I’d like to believe that I’m one her lifetime achievements.” The actor, who was born in Subic Bay Freeport in Zambales, starred in “The Big Hit,” “Bats,” “La Bamba,” and played with A-list actors Denzel Washington and Meg Ryan in “Courage Under Fire.” Also present during the ceremony was Filipino-American director Gene Cajayon. His feature film “The Debut” is the first Filipino-American movie released by Sony Pictures. It was shown for the first time in the Philippines as the opening film of the festival…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 10, 2003 (READ MORE)

Wow! Ang Bigat! 2/2

UP honors Vilma Santos with Gawad Plaridel – She was unforgettable as Burlesk Queen, as Sister Stella L and as Dolzura Cortez. On Monday, however, she was Vilma Santos, the artist. “Ako po pala ay nakapag-ambag na sa industriya,” said Rosa Vilma Santos as she accepted the Gawad Plaridel, a citation given by the University of the Philippines to media practitioners who excel in their profession.

The award was named after Filipino propagandist Marcelo del Pilar who used the pen name Plaridel. “Paulit-ulit ko pong binasa ang citation,” Santos said. She is the first artist to receive the award for her contribution to the movie industry. In her lecture on the relevance of the film industry on society, Santos said actors can be role models through the various roles they play. She said she was able to internalize her role in the movie “Sister Stella L.,” a story of a nun who became an activist during the martial law years. “Totoong-totoo ‘yong sinabi ko sa Sister Stella L. na ngayon hindi na lang ako nanonood. Nakikisama na ako at tumutulong sa abot ng aking makakaya,” Santos said. She called on the public to support the local film industry. Santos, who acted in over 200 movies, said she owes her success to the film industry. She is now mayor of Lipa City in Batangas and is supporting the movie business by lowering the amusement tax in Lipa from 30 percent to 15 percent. She started her career when she was nine years old in the movie “Trudis Liit.” She, however, said the turning point came when she did “Burlesk Queen” when she was 23 years old. It was a tough decision, she said. She used to attend a school run by nuns. But it was a good choice, she said. “Ang pelikula pong ito ang nagpamulat sa akin sa maraming bagay,” she said. “Burlesk Queen,” shown in 1970, was a social commentary of the country’s patriarchal society.

Santos movie career, however, was not always happy endings. “Sister Stella L.,” for instance, did not rake in profits compared to the movies of Sharon Cuneta during those days. “Nilangaw po ang pelikula ko,” Santos said, adding that she cried over the box-office flop. It was worth the gamble, however. The movie is now considered a classic. Acting is an endless process of learning, Santos said. Despite the many awards she got she always remembers that she still needs to learn a lot. During the shooting of the movie “Relasyon,” director Ishmael Bernal told her: “Tanggalin ang ilusyon sa iyong sarili.” He ordered her to jog inside the toilet for ten minutes to internalize her role. Santos said she is grateful to the directors who megged her most unforgettable films. She thanked directors Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Mike de Leon, Laurice Guillen, among other. Among the films that made marks in her acting career were: “Relasyon,” “Broken Marriage,” “Sister Stella L,” “The Dolzura Cortez Story,” “Anak,” and “Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?” Bravo Ate Vi! – Vanessa Bago

Recognizing Vilma Santos, thespian and nationalist – She is the grieving mother of sons to the struggle, linking arms and manning the front lines of a peaceful revolt. She is the mistress demanding the dignity deserving of a wife, a friend and a woman. She is the nun preaching the gospel of liberation against a dictatorship. She is the stripper dancing in tears as she lets go a love and a life never meant for one such as her. She is the single mom struggling to keep her wits amid domestic, financial and romantic dilemmas. She is the overseas worker facing down AIDS and its inevitable consequences. And she is Darna, a superhero fighting the giants, saving Ding and flying off to the stars.

Burlesk Queen, Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, Sister Stella L, Imortal, Dahil Mahal Kita: Dolzura Cortez Story, Bata, Bata . . . Paano Ka Ginawa?, Dekada ’70, not to mention Darna at Ding are just some of her countless films. Vilma Santos is all these and more. From the every woman to the other woman, she elevates every role as worthy of a superstar and every character as deserving of precise and passionate acting. She braves patriarchal traditions and murderous dictatorships to play burlesque dancers, mistresses and activist nuns. “She gambles her popularity to widen her scope as an actress,” proclaims Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, Dean of the College of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines (UP). He adds, “She proves popularity and ratings need not degrade the craft.” For that and more, Vilma Santos wins the 2005 UP Gawad Plaridel Award.

Santos received the award designed by National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva on July 4 in ceremonies at the Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute. Besides speeches, renditions of original movie soundtracks from Santos’s best loved films, as well as an insightful audiovisual presentation directed by Jun Austria, regaled audiences comprised of students, entertainment industry luminaries and fans who packed the venue. The Gawad Plaridel is an annual award to honor the exemplary media practitioners of the highest professional integrity in the interest of public service. Adopting the pen name of propagandist and La Solidaridad publisher Marcelo H. del Pilar, the award recognizes those who, like del Pilar, use the media to advocate libertine principles. Newspaper publisher Eugenia Apostol is the award’s first recipient. Now Vilma Santos joins the highly esteemed ranks of nationalist media professionals.

Beyond celebrity – She won despite being a star. Bookish and unglamorous academics instinctively scornful of celebrities and politicians bowed to her stellar performance as thespian, woman, politician, and yes, superstar. Dr. Sergio Cao, chancellor of UP Diliman confessed being a star-struck fan, “I had to nebulize before coming here; I couldn’t breath.” He later thrilled to busing her on the cheek. Nevertheless, Cao sermonized, “Star power is real power. It is the power to move people to tears, to make them cry and laugh and urge them to by with endorsements. It is to make them think what you want them to think, to make them feel what you feel. They should use it wisely, make people do good and aspire for better lives.”

The Gawad Plaridel validated that Santos has done just that. Her multifaceted portrayals of strong independent women have inspired those she has mirrored. Her portrayals of antidictatorship advocates have immortalized unsung heroes of the movement for generations to come. Her fearless gambles at parlaying her celebrity to triumph at portraying the most challenging of roles have set the mark for generations of actors. Vilma Santos is a class act, not by any accident of pedigree, but rather by the brilliance of her artistry and the strength of her convictions. Santos herself credits her success to “nonstop learning.” She remembers basking in the glow of a grand slam win at every major award-giving body for best actress with the movie Burlesk Queen. On her next movie with director Ishmael Bernal, she recalls a humbling experience she remembers to this day: “I took seven takes just for the first scene on the first day. I wasn’t focused. Bernal trapped me in the toilet and ordered me to jog in place to work off many illusions from my grand slam win.” The Gawad Plaridel recognizes Santos as a consummate thespian and nationalist. In an industry marred by dubious awards, it is the academe that remains the unimpeachable judges of exceptional talent and principle.

Tough times – Vilma Santos, ever fearless, used her time at the podium not only to thank the industry and her supporters for her awards; she enumerated specific problems besetting the local cinema and television industry, and more importantly, specified solutions for the current crisis. The problems include the huge entertainment taxes imposed by government; digital video piracy; the lack of spending power of the masses; competition from foreign films that open on the same time as local films; and foreign television drama series that producers find cheaper to import instead producing ones locally. Santos proposes reducing taxes on films and television productions to bring down costs; better scripts and original stories that are distinct from foreign counterparts; lower talent fees for superstars—”Show me the script and we’ll talk about the talent fee,” Santos dares independent filmmakers; and Sen. Ralph Recto, Santos’s husband, passed a law that offers 10- to 50-percent tax rebates on film of worth and quality as adjudged by the Film Rating Board. “We can still overcome,” Santos rallies the Gawad Plaridel audiences. From superstars such as her to the new crop of independent filmmakers now with immortal lines from Sister Stella L. “Kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino? Kung hindi ngayon, kalian pa?” – Rome Jorge

Vilma Santos: Plaridel Awardee 2005 – The UP Gawad Plaridel Awards 2005 is the only award in the University of the Philippines bestowed to outstanding media practitioners. It honors Filipino media practitioners in print, film, radio, television and new media, who have excelled and performed with the highest professional integrity and in the interest of public service. National Artist Napoleon Abueva conceptualized and molded the Plaridel trophy showing Marcelo H. del Pilar (the crusading journalist and editor of the vernacular section of Diariong Tagalog, the first Philippine bilingual newspaper, and the La Solidaridad, the reformist newspaper), which will be given to the awardee plus P100,000. Last year’s awardee was editor and publisher Mrs. Eugenia Duran-Apostol. This year, a film practitioner was to be distinguished among our many outstanding film practitioners.

Vilma Santos was declared the Plaridel awardee for 2005. The actress, now mayor of Lipa City, has received 65 awards from different award-giving bodies including the best actress in the Brussels International Film Festival in 1999, 10 awards from FAMAS, and another 10 best actress Urian awards from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino. The other awards are from FAP, the Manila Film Festival, the Metro Manila Film Festival, Star Awards, Catholic Mass Media Awards, CineManila International Film Festival and many others. Her first film, Trudis Liit, garnered for her the best child actress plum 41 years ago, and the rest is “herstory.” She declared that she was very nervous the day she received it. The award, she thought, was so prestigious that it carried with it a lot of responsibilities. But it seems Vilma Santos is used to handling responsibilities. Aside from being an active movie personality, she takes her tasks as city mayor of Lipa seriously.

Sen. Ralph Recto attended the awarding like a proud husband would, attentive in the front row of the theater beside Vilma’s mother as UP President Emerlinda Roman, UP Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao and Dean Nicanor Tiongson bestowed the Plaridel Award 2005 to Ms. Vilma Santos. President Roman, in her message, said “Because of her dedication to her craft and her portrayal of roles important to women and society, Ms. Santos deserves recognition not only from the viewing public, but also from the academic community.” UP Diliman Chancellor Cao said that he was starstruck and that it was the first time he had seen Vilma in person, adding, “More importantly, Ms. Santos has used her status as celebrity to pursue public service. As mayor of Lipa City, she has proven that art and politics do not exist in separate plains. She has shown us that women artists can transform society in more ways than one.” College of Mass Communications Dean Nicanor Tiongson said, “Traditionally, the academe has always kept a discreet distance from show business and for good reason. For one, academics have always emphasized critical thinking and professional integrity, both of which seem to be rare commodities in a movie world obsessed with instant gold and glamour. For another, the popularity of a movie star, to be sure an unwanted legacy from Hollywood, has been used by producers to cover up for a multitude their cinematic sins. Stardom is not a sin in itself. In the hands of film actors who are sincerely committed to their art, popularity can be harnessed to uplift the standards of the whole film industry. In choosing Vilma Santos as the UP Gawad Plaridel Awardee for Film, the College of Mass Communications would like to offer to film and media industries incontrovertible and living proof that popularity and ratings need not lead to the degradation of media tastes and standards.”

After receiving her trophy, Vilma Santos delivered her Plaridel lecture. She shared her experiences in the industry that she truly loves and expressed her concern for the high taxes on film, dwindling audiences of Filipino films, piracy and the strong competition from foreign films. She spoke to a very attentive audience. The Cine Adarna of the UP Film Institute, which can seat almost a thousand people, was SRO. Ms. Santos has over 200 movies to her name. Some of the more notable ones are: Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, Ikaw ay Akin, Rubia Servios, Broken Marriage, Relasyon, Sister Stella L, Dahil Mahal Kita, Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa, Anak and Dekada 70. Many recognize the value of this “Star for All Seasons.”Writer Lualhati Bautista says, “As an actress Vilma gets into the character she is playing, goes through her experiences and pain.” Feminist Mara Lanot says that, “In all the roles Vilma has played in her films and real life, she chose for herself and got what she wanted, and these characters are strong.” Scriptwriter Ricky Lee explains that “Vilma, by embodying the different images of the Filipina as victim and fighter in the span of three decades, has consistently molded the image of the woman and society that moves forward.” Another writer, Pete Lacaba, admires Vilma for her fearless portrayal of Sister Stella L during martial law years when it could have affected her career and her personal life at the time, and also for courageously using her clout as a big star in the movies to perform roles that are different.

Vilma has worked with many of our reputable directors. Chito Rono sees her as a consummate actor who brings brilliance to her performances, saying, “Sometimes an ordinary role becomes a diamond when she portrays the role.” Maryo de los Reyes says, “As an artist, she has nurtured an aesthetic refinement and has continuously searched for the beauty and the enhancement of her craft. She has maintained her ‘pagiging tao,’ being ‘makatao’ and ‘pakikipagkapwa-tao’ all these years.” Critic Bien Lumbera calls her an “auteur,” one who leaves the mark of her personality in the roles she plays. In her performances, he adds, she manages to bring her audience together with her character’s experiences and ways of looking at things. Another critic, Butch Francisco, explains that, “Vilma took a long time to be recognized as a serious actress. Through the collaborative efforts with top directors, she became one of the greatest actors of Philippine cinem. She tackles scripts with social issues and often times was experimental with her roles.” Producer Atty. Espiridion Laxa says Vilma “has reached this incomparable height of success because of several good traits: her discipline, her determination to excel in her acting profession and her knack for choosing the right roles.” Producer/actress Charo Santos-Concio speaks of her as a “passionate thespian, her filmography boasts of a list of films that are audacious, artistic, classic and socially relevant. Inevitably, she has brought to the limelight ordinary people with extraordinary lives and has created awareness of various socio-political issues.”

Her frequent leading man in her films, Christopher de Leon, has good words to say about her, too: “Vilma Santos is not a selfish actor. For example, if I have a scene that is really meant for me, she will make me shine; she is a very gracious actor. ” He explains that the brilliant performances of the actors who interact with her are evident in her films. To Vilma, congratulations! – Philippine Daily Tribune, July 07 2005 Global Vilmanians

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Wow! Ang Bigat! 1/2

When Vilma Santos or Ate Vi, to most of us, was handed the trophy as the 2005 UP Gawad Plaridel awardee, she exclaimed “Wow! Ang Bigat!” I’m sure she meant it literally but it can also mean figuratively. The trophy designed and made by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva, was made of bronze and was really heavy. This is the third Abueva designed trophy that ate Vi has received. She earlier received Abueva made trophies from the CineManila International Film Festival as Best Actress and as Lifetime Achievement awardee. The trophy may be heavy but the prestige that goes with it is heavier! As what the citation says, Gawad Plaridel is the sole award in the University of the Philippines (UP) system given to outstanding media practioners. For this year, the recipient is from film, next year will be from radio, next is television, then new media, print and after 5 years back to film again. Ate Vi is the very first awardee in film and it will take 5 long years before this feat will be duplicated.

The awards rite is scheduled to start at 2pm, and we, my mother and a cousin, whom I asked to take video of the event, arrived just a few minutes before 2. We were welcomed by no less than the Dean of UP-CMC, Dr. Nick Tiongson, ( I must admit, I’m impressed with his memory, dahil natandaan niya ako kahit minsan pa lang kami nag-meet ng ihatid naming ni Jojo (Lim) ang mga materials for lobby display and for the souvenir program), sabi ni Dean, “O, kumusta ka na?” Sagot ko naman, “Heto ho, nanlalamig sa nerbiyos.” Talagang ninenerbiyos ako dahil alam kong hindi lang ito isang ordinaryong award para kay ate Vi. To some extent, kasing ka-prestigious na ito ng National Artist Award. Imagine, ang mga bumoto para sa gawad na ito ay mga professor ng UP na halos lahat ay may PhD! Sumunod na sumalubong ang mga kasamahang vilmanians na sina Jojo, Cesar at Noel, binibiro nga nila ako na nagpa-star for all seasons daw ako. Sabi ko “Bakit andyan na ba si ate Vi?” Chorus nila “Andyan na! 10 minutes ago!” Sa loob-loob ko naman, ganito pala ang feeling ng mag-grand entrance!

Cesar lead us to our assigned seat. Malapit lang kami sa stage which is good para makalapit agad kami ng Mama ko kay Vi after the awards rite. I didn’t know na may naka-assign pala akong seat na mas malapit sa stage, sa tabi nina Jojo at Paolo. This is reserved for those who in one way or the other, have helped in the mini exhibit and the materials used in the souvenir program. Anyways, after my mom was settled sa upuan niya, I went outside of the theatre to buy the souvenir program. The souvenir program is a collector’s item para sa mga Vilmanians at para sa mga Vilma followers. It was very tastefully done, gold ang kulay ng cover at nakasulat lang ang “UP Gawad Plaridel 2005 – College of Mass Communication. Naka-emboss sa cover ang logo ng UP. While reading the messages sa souvenir program, I can’t help but feel very proud of being a vilmanian. Very glowing ang mga messages nila! On my way back to the theatre, naka sabay ko na sina ate Vi escorted by Sen. Ralph. I greeted both of them, na in-acknowledge naman nila, with ate Vi’s very warm smile on her lips. I went inside before them dahil they will march going into the theatre. The processional will start at the back of the theatre going to the stage. First in the processional, were the professors of the College of MassCom, followed by Dean Tiongson, then UP Chancellor Mr. Sergio Cao and UP President Ms. Emerlinda Roman. Next is last year’s awardee Ms. Eugenia Apostol, then this year’s awardee Ms. Ate Vi, no less escorted by her husband, Sen. Ralph Recto.

The program was emceed by Prop. Jane Vinculado, director, Office of Extension and External Affairs. After the National Anthem was sung, nagbigay ng opening remarks si Dr. Tiongson, after which ay naghatid naman ng kanyang mensahe si Dr. Sergio S. Cao, PhD. In his speech, he said that “This is the first time that I saw Ms. Santos in person and I’m starstruck! You are so beautiful!” He even kidded that he had to go to the infirmary to use the nebulizer, dahil nagsikip ang dibdib niya after makita niya si ate Vi! While listening to his speech, I was teary-eyed. Dahil mga salita ito na nagmumula sa isang hindi ordinaryong tao! He said that he was awed by what ate Vi has accomplished both as an actress and as a mayor. He also said that he has not watched many of ate Vi’s films, in fact, he hadn’t seen much Filipino movies, but of the few that he saw, he likes ate Vi’s acting very much, and he specially mentioned “Ikaw ay Akin”, where he said that ate Vi was marvelous! After his speech, ng pabalik na siya sa upuan niya tumayo si ate Vi to greet and thank him, and he planted a kiss on ate Vi’s cheek to the delight of the crowd who cheered him on.

The audience was composed of students from UP, Ateneo, Mirriam College, La Salle-Lipa, PUP, UE and Trinity College, of course hindi mawawala ang mga over loyal, over true Vilmanians. The theatre’s capacity is 800 at punong-puno ang theatre, marami pa ang mga nakatayo sa magkabilang aisle. Sabi nga ng isang staff ng UP, had they known na ganito karami ang attendees, sana ang UP Theatre na lang ang ginamit, which is much bigger. Among the celebrities spotted were Tirso Cruz III and wife Lyn, Charo Santos-Concio, Ricky Lee, Chito Rono, Atty. Laxa, Jerry Sineneng, Laurice Guillen and Chit Guerrero among others. The press was also there led by Ricky Lo, Mario Dumaual, Lhar Santiago, Morly Alinio and Ambet Nabus.

Next in the program, was a song number by Ms. Katrina Saporsantos, a soprano who sang “Ipagpatawad Mo”, next is Dean Ramon Acoymo, a tenor who sang the most moving version of “Sana Maulit Muli”. They then, sang together a medley of “Bato sa Buhangin”, “Tubig at Langis” and “Sinasamba Kita” all theme songs from Vilma’s movies. They were accompanied in the piano by Mr. Jeremiah Calisang.

Next is the documentary entitled “Vilma sa Putting Tabing: Ikaw, Siya, Tayo” . Medyo misty eyed na naman ako dito sa portion na ito dahil sa mga testimonials nina Atty. Laxa, Christopher de Leon, Marra Lanot and others. Meron din portion na in-interview ang kasama nating vilmanians like Jojo Lim, Remy, Cora and Zeny aka Pitimini (ni Kuya Ike Lozada). I wish I can ask for a copy of this docu, sana rin malinaw ang register sa video na nakuhanan namin.

After this documentary, ay iginawad na kay ate Vi ang parangal nina Drs. Roman, Cao and Tiongson. After which ay nagbigay na si ate Vi ng kanyang lecture/speech. She started her speech by saying na kinakabahan siya. Sabi niya sa presentation na ginawa nila para sa kanya, overwhelmed siya talaga! Para daw siyang presidente! She acknowledge all who attended the event, and started to look back on her 42 glorious years in the business. She enumerated some of her landmark films and some notes that go with them, like when Burlesk Queen was offered, she said “Diyos ko, paano ako magsasayaw ng burlesk eh nag-aaral ako sa mga madre!” She was a product of the RVM Sisters which ran the St. Mary’s Academy where she studied from kinder to high school. She also recalled that after winning her very first grandslam for Relasyon, she was scheduled to shoot for another Bernal film, Broken Marriage. Sa isang eksena nila ni Boyet de Leon, naka take 7 siya! Sabi raw ni Bernal, “Ano ka ba, Vi, dapat malungkot ka dito sa eksena eh bakit may stars ang mga mata mo?” Paalala sa kanya ni Bernal, “Hindi por que naka-grandslam ka na ay ikaw na ang pinakamahusay”. Pinapasok daw siya ni Bernal sa comfort room at pinag-jogging siya for 10 minutes, bago kuhanan muli ang eksena which turned out to be perfect. At ito raw ang hanggang sa ngayon ay naging guide niya, kaya hanggang sa ngayon ay patuloy pa rin siyang nag-aaral sa kanyang propesyon. Sabi niya ang pag-arte ay walang katapusang pag-aaral. Kahit daw sa panonood ng news sa TV, iba iba ang pag-iyak ng mga tao, at pinag-aaralan niya ito para hindi rin pare-pareho ang kanyang style ng pag-iyak.

She also recalled how she went to Mother Lily after hearing reports that her Sister Stella L was not as well accepted as Sharon’s Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala, on which mother Lily anwered “ganyan talaga ang buhay”. She also said that malayong-malayo ang estado ng pelikula noong nagsisimula pa lamang siya at sa ngayon. She said that we used to produced more than 200 movies a year pero last year it was down to just a little more than 50. Sinabi niya na marami sa mga kasamahan niya sa industriya ang walang trabaho. Ang iba nga raw ay nagpupunta pa sa kanya sa Lipa upang humingi ng tulong. Sinabi niya na dapat daw ay mas bigyan ng priority ang ating mga pelikula kaysa sa dayuhang pelikula. She cited Spiderman 2 na nasabay sa isang local movie, syempre panalo ang Spiderman 2 with more than P20M gross sa first day nito sa Metro Manila alone, samantalang ang nakasabay na pelikulang pilipino ay nagpasalamat na sa P5M first day gross nito. Sana raw ay huwag naman sabayan ang playdate ng mga pelikulang pilipino ng malalaking pelikulang dayuhan, after all wala namang pinapalabas na pelikulang tagalog every week. Isa pang problema ng pelikulang pilipino ay over-taxation, mahigit daw 50% ng gross ng pelikulang pilipino ay napupunta sa tax.

Sinabi niya na sila sa Lipa ay nagpasa ng batas na from 35% ay 15% na lang ang ibubuwis sa mga pelikulang pilipinong ipalalabas sa kanilang lunsod, while si Sen. Ralph ay nagpasa ng batas sa senado para sa Film Ratings Board, na nagbibigay ng 100% tax rebate sa rated A films, 50% sa rated B at 25% sa rated C. Sinabi rin niya na willing siyang magbaba ng kanyang talent fee basta maganda at makabuluhan ang proyekto, na sinalubong ng mainit na palakpakan. She also mentioned the problem of film piracy. Kung minsan daw nauuna pa ang pirated VCDs sa commercial theatres, kaya talagang apektado ang mga pelikula. A director once told her that his movie can easily gross an additional 20M if not for the pirated VCD that came ahead of its commercial run. Sa pagtatapos ng kanyang lektyur, binigkas niya uli ang kanyang dialogue sa Sister Stella L – “Na marami pang siyang dapat matutuhan, ngunit hindi na siya nagmamasid lamang. Sabi nga ni Ka Dencio, kung hindi tayo ang kikilos, sino ang kikilos, kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?”

Umugong ang malakas na palakpakan at karamihan pa ay hindi napigilan ang pagtayo bilang pagbibigay pugay sa isang aktres na naiiba, nag-iisa at patuloy na ginagamit ang kanyang talino para sa kapakanan ng mas nakararami. And mind you, hindi lang mga Vilmanians ang nag-standing ovation! Tunay ka! Iba ang isang Vilma Santos!

Who and How they Voted? – The Second U.P. Gawad Plaridel (2005, Film)For 2005, the award is given to an outstanding film practitioner.The U.P. CMC received nine nominations from various media organizations and academic institutions on April 8, 2005, the deadline for nominations. The nine nominees were Nora Aunor, Celso Ad. Castillo, Ricky Lee, Mike de Leon, Lily Monteverde, Eddie Romero and Vilma Santos.

The first round of deliberations was held on April 19, 2005. The screening committee was composed of the following: Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Dean, U.P. CMC), Dr. Rolando B. Tolentino (Acting Director and Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Dr. Grace J. Alfonso (Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Ms. Eliza Cornejo (Instructor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Anne Marie G. de Guzman (Assistant Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Roehl J. Jamon (Assistant Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Eduardo J. Lejano (Assistant Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Eduardo J. Piano (Assistant Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Arminda V. Santiago (Assistant Professor, U.P. Film Institute). This committee recommended three nominees, Mike de Leon, Eddie Romero and Vilma Santos as finalists for the awards.

The second screening with the representatives of the three departments of the U.P. CMC took place on May 11, 2005. The body, known as the U.P. CMC Gawad Plaridel Faculty Committee, was composed of the following: Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson (Dean, U.P. CMC and Chair, CMC Faculty Committee), Dr. Lourdes M. Portus (College Secretary, U.P. CMC), Dr. Rolando B. Tolentino (Acting Director and Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Eduardo J. Lejano (Assistant Professor, U.P. Film Institute), Prof. Victor C. Avecilla (OIC, Dept. of Broadcast Communication), Mr. Fernando A. Austria (Instructor, Dept. of Broadcast Communication), Prof. Ma. Cristina I. Rara (Assistant Professor and Chair, Dept. of Journalism), Prof. Luis V. Teodoro, Jr. (Professor, Dept, of Journalism), Dr. Aleli A. Quirante (Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication Research), Ms. Alexandra More M. San Joaquin (Instructor, Dept. of Communication Research) and Prof. Elizabeth L. Enriquez (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Graduate Studies). After deliberating on the credentials of the three finalists, the committee chose Ms. Rosa Vilma Santos as the recipient of the U.P. Gawad Plaridel for 2005. She is scheduled to received the U.P. Gawad Plaridel trophy and deliver the Second Plaridel Lecture on July 4, 2005 at the Cine Adarna of the U.P. Film Institute.

Message from the Dean of UP-CMC – Traditionally, academia has always kept a discreet distance from show business, and for good reason. For one, academics have always emphasized critical thinking and professional integrity, both of which seem to be rare commodities in a movie world obsessed with instant gold and glamour. For another, the popularity of a movie star, to be sure an unwanted legacy from Hollywood, has been used by producers to cover up for a multitude of their cinematic sins, such as the lack of intelligent scripts, competent directors, and solid production values.But stardom is not a sin in itself. In the hands of film actors who are sincerely committed to their art, popularity can be harnessed to uplift the artistic standards of the whole film industry. In fact, it can contribute significantly and directly to the development of a Filipino national cinema, if the movie star, with cunning and imagination, can use his or her popularity as a way of pressuring filmmakers to create screen characters and stories that reflect and interpret urgent issues and concerns in contemporary Philippine society.In choosing Vilma Santos as the U.P. Gawad Plaridel Awardee for film, the College of Mass Communication would like to offer to the film and media industries incontrovertible and living proof that popularity – and ratings – need not lead to the degradation of media tastes and standards. In fact, they can inspire media practitioners to compete with each other to be the best that they can be and encourage filmmakers to create films that liberate and transform the many levels of consciousness of the Filipino people. – Nicanor G. Tiongson, Dean, College of Mass Communication.

Message from UP Chancellor – Every year the U.P. Gawad Plaridel honors the media person whose work successfully merges the artist and the public servant, and constantly raises standards of artistry by being true to the craft while at the same time challenging the conventional notions of art as being merely “for art’s sake.” This year’s awardee, Ms. Vilma Santos, is one such media person. She has earned recognition here and abroad for her fine and powerful performances as wife, mother, lover, NGO worker, and OFW in films that are now considered modern classics. In the process, she has also redefined womanhood, questioned traditional gender roles, and clarified the relationship of an individual to her society.More importantly perhaps, Ms. Santos has used her status as a celebrity to pursue public service. As Mayor of Lipa City, she has proven that art and politics do not exist in separate planes. She has shown us that women artists can transform society in more ways than one.Congratulations, Ms. Vilma Santos. – Sergio S. Cao, Chancellor, U.P. Diliman.

Gawad Plaridel Citation – Gawad Plaridel CitationFor crafting and creating her varied cinematic roles with consummate artistry, making us empathize with whatever character she is portraying by delineating for us the character’s history, problems, and aspirations, in dynamic interaction with the film’s ensemble of other characters;For bravely using her popularity as an actor to choose roles which brings to the public attention an astounding range of female experiences as well as an array of problems confronting women of different classes and sectors in contemporary Filipino society, even if these experiences or problems would not only not enhance but could even detract from her mass appeal;For bringing to life on screen characters whose stories have the effect of raising or transforming the consciousness of women, leading them a few steps closer to a deeper understanding of their situation vis-à-vis the patriarchy and to the ability to control their own lives and make choices of their own;For courageously playing maverick characters which dared to speak the truth in a period of intense political repression and reprisal, thereby showing a concern not for her own self but for a Filipino society fighting for basic human rights under a dictatorial regime;For building a brilliant career which saw her grow from popular icon to professional actor through self-discipline and tireless honing of her craft, thereby challenging writers, directors, and producers to come up with films that would be worthy of her enormous artistic resources and repaying their efforts with some of the most unforgettable performances in Filipino cinema;For showing that the movie star can place the stamp of her own individuality and talent on the films she choose to make, thereby proving that the star can be regarded as an auteur in her own right;For excellence, integrity, and social responsibility which have distinguished her major performances, and for being a model of professionalism to other actors and technicians engaged in the creation of a Filipino national cinema;The U.P. Gawad Plaridel 2005 is given to Rosa Vilma Santos on the 4th day of July 2005 by the U.P. College of Mass Communication at the Cine Adarna, U.P. Film Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. – Signed by: Emerlinda R. Roman, Ph.D.President, University of the Philippines; Sergio S. Cao, Ph.D.Chancellor, U.P. Diliman; Nicanor G. Tiongson, Ph.D.Dean, U.P. College of Mass Communication.

Vilma Santos sa Puting Tabing: Ikaw, Siya, Tayo – My Film 100 professor had said that when you see Vilma Santos in person, it’s really hard not to get starstruck with her stellar appeal. UP Diliman Chancellor Francis Sergio Cao agrees. In his opening remarks at the Gawad Plaridel 2005 Awarding and Lecture, he confessed it was still his first time to see the famed actress in person and just how “starstruck” he was to be near her (two seats away); yeah, I could almost hear him jittering. Well, good for them; they got to be a meter or two away from this still youthful even in her golden age film icon. Me, the closest that I could get was just around 8-10 meters. I was in awe, of course, to have seen one of my favorite older actresses. But not much awe for me to be considered starstruck. I was just way beyond the “Starstruck Radius”.

Multi-awarded Filipino actress Vilma Santos is this year’s UP Gawad Plaridel awardee. The UP College of Mass Communication (my college!) gave her this award for her innumerable and invaluable contribution to the film industry, and mass communication as a whole. Santos was given the award at the Cine Adarna (formerly UP Film Center) just this afternoon, where she also delivered a half-hour lecture, reminiscing her almost fifty-year life as an actress and speaking strongly against the problems that plague the film industry today (lets give one of them a name: piracy). Ms. Santos’ speech, for me, was very profound and candid. I always had great respect and admiration for her as a person, public servant, and actress. After the lecture, that respect and admiration hot-air-ballooned. It became clear to me that even if this person is now worthy of having a constellation named after her, she is still as human and feet-on-the-ground as possible. During the reminiscing part of her speech, she told us about her humble beginnings as an artist, and about her mistakes and the challenges that spiced up her life. There was that time, she confided, when she had just won grandslam best actress and she was filming another movie and she sort of…”laxed” a bit. Her director, whom she had previously worked with, scolded her saying, “di dahil nanalo ka na ng grandslam e magaling ka na!” The director had Vilma Santos jog for 10 minutes to awaken her from her “illusion.”

But aside from Vilma Santos, many prominent people were also present in the occasion. Here’s a list of those I can remember: Sen. Ralph Recto, UP President Emerlinda Roman, National Artist Napoleon Abueva (who sculpted the Gawad Plaridel trophy), ABS-CBN boss Charo Santos-Concio, Eugenia Apostol (Philippine Daily Inquirer founding chairperson and last year’s Gawad Plaridel awardee) and Film director Chito Roño. Members of the media were also there. I even got to see Mario Dumaual, that showbiz reporter in ABS-CBN! It was him whom I got to see closest; he and his crew were shooting a mere meter in front of me. That portion where he is talking, with the stage and the lecturing Ate Vi in the background–I was right at the back of the cameraman. Vilma Santos’ mother was also there. There sure were many film producers and directors present in the affair, it’s just that I forgot their names or they were not acknowledged at all. Students and faculty members from different universities and colleges occupied most of the theater’s seats. And yes, magpapahuli ba ang mga die-hard Vilmanians? They occupied the middle seats; you’ll know its them with their distinctive gray hair. PS. I don’t have a camera to prove that what I say is true (but trust me, it really is true). Thankfully, in less than two months, I’m having my first digital camera! My aunt in Ohio is sending me one (bless her) after a month of grueling “courtship.” So you might as well expect a photoblog from me in August.

On The Prowl Article: How I wish there were more intelligent and passionate individuals like her in local show biz. My long overdue visit to my beloved alma mater, UP’s College of Mass Communication and our tambayan, the Broadcasting Association, was a dejavu of sorts for me, and an overall enjoyable afternoon.

Besides seeing the newer breed of young “broad-assers” as we call them (pardon the term of endearment), as well as my close professor-associates, I also witnessed the awarding of the Gawad Plaridel to the country’s premiere actress, Lipa Mayor Vilma Santos, which my friend Rome Jorge talks about in today’s banner story. Instead, let me fill you in on the glittering list of Ate Vi’s well-wishers that day—from her industry colleagues to the academic multitude to her loyal Vilmanians—who all gave the gem of an artist a standing ovation at the end of her 45-minute speech.

She had of course her husband the Senator Ralph Recto to escort her. I meanwhile, had the privilege of attending the event with the head of the Film Institute Prof. Ed Lejano and his brilliant namesake, my fave, Prof. Ed Piano. The audience, meanwhile, had such bigwig names like Atty. Esperidion Laxa, ABS-CBN and Star Cinema executive Charo Santos-Concio, film director Chito Roño, scriptwriters Ricky Lee and Pete Lacaba, fellow actor Tirso Cruz III, film critics Bienvenido Lumbera and Mario Hernardo, and National Artist Napoleon Abueva, who is the sculptor of the highly revered Gawad Plaridel trophy. To say that Ate Vi’s lecture was powerful is an understatement, as Rome will no doubt tell you. How I wish there were more intelligent and passionate individuals like her in local show biz. Inspiring rather than . . . never mind! Let’s just get on with my prowl! – Amiel Martin Cabanlig Global Vilmanians (to be continued)

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