8 PMPC Star Awards for TV – Best Musical Variety Show

Musical Variety Genre – “…Vilma Santos long successful television career started with musical variety show, The Sensations with love team, Edgar Mortiz and other teen singing sensations like Perla Adea, Esperanza Fabon, Rommy Mallari and Eddie Perigrina. She followed this up, with a drama anthology in Dalambuhay ni Rosa Vilma. The mid to late 70s, Vilma ventured again into the musical variety genre with a string of shows like, Ayan Eh, Vilma Santos Special Engagements and Vilma In Person until settling down with her top rated long-running show, Vilma! Vilma! became one of the most successful TV show in Philippines television history. Armed with its lavish opening production number, it became the highest rated and advertisement haven from early to late 1990s. Vilma’s decision to settled down with her marriage to Senator Ralph Recto and her pregnancy with her youngest son, Ryan Christian halted the success of Vilma! and eventually resulted to the shows ending…” – RV (READ MORE)

From Luzon to Mindanao, and even in the U.S. “…The Madonna Material Girl number, which would make Madonna proud. She sashays, gyrates and pirouettes ala Tina Turner for Vilma’s version of Private Dancer.? (“I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money, do what you want me to do?” Talbog ang Burlesk Queen! My most memorable Maribeth B. and Vilma Santos sexy number was when they showed their legs and swing those hips as the Swing Out Sisters belt out their number one hit Breakout… The “A Chorus Line” ensemble, “On Broadway” with Queen Vilma leading the group with a hat, gloves, a cane and a glossy costume. Who would ever forget her swing number with then sweetheart Ralph Recto? Or a dance number with the late Nida Blanca? Or a naughty, haughty dance number La Conga, sung by Gloria Stefan? And many, many more production numbers that were shot from Luzon to Mindanao, and even in the U.S., like The Raging Waters in California…” – Mar Garces, V Magazin, Volume1, Issue 2 2006 (READ MORE)

Vilma Santos’ PMPC Star for TV Recognition: 1987 – 88 – Best Musical Variety Show Host – Vilma Santos; 1988 -1992, 1994 – Best Musical Variety Show – Vilma! – RV (READ MORE)

Vilma! is a Friday Primetime musical variety show formerly aired by GMA Network from 1986 to 1995 hosted by Vilma Santos. Formerly known as Vilma In Person, Vilma! (also known as Vilma on Seven) was debuted on August 8, 1986, the pilot episode is shown from the Metropolitan Theater as a temporary studio where Vilma Santos and the VIP Dancers are performed there. Until 1987, the Friday Primetime musical variety show moved to Broadway Studios as a new location and it is shown on the first StereoVision format which features dance and love song performances. Vilma! was competed by two other variety shows Loveli-Ness and Dance-2-Nite of ABS-CBN (originally debuted in 1987) as rivals, but the variety show maintained its ratings. Vilma! received four nominations in the PMPC Star Awards for TV from 1988 to 1990, 1992 and 1994, as well as Best Female Musical Variety Show Host from 1987 to 1988, they also produced anniversary and birthday specials from 1987 to 1994 as well. After nine years, Vilma! produced the 479th and the last episode on September 29, 1995, brought many fans and supporters bade farewell to the Star for all seasons, and made as the longest-running Musical Variety Show. Truly, Vilma! was ended on September 29, 1995 and it was replaced by Bubble Gang. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

PMPC Star Awards for TV is annual award giving body recognizing the outstanding programming produced by the several TV networks every year. It was founded by the association of the Philippine Movie Press Club in 1987. These are the award categories to be given away yearly. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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First Female Governor of Batangas (Philippines)

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The current governor of Batangas is Vilma Santos-Recto, former Lipa City Mayor and movie/television actress who took oath on June 30th, 2007 as the first lady governor of the province. She is the first woman governor of the province. She was previously the first woman mayor of Lipa City. – Batangas Now (READ MORE)

First Female Governor – “…Gov. Vi’s devotion to her role as mother of the province has resulted in numerous awards and citations. These, she shares with the men and women in her administration, who work tirelessly toward the accomplishment of projects being undertaken; and all Batangueños, who continuously support her administration and believe in her capabilities as an honest and dependable leader…” – Batangas.gov.ph (READ MORE)

“…Governor Vi, as she is now fondly called, was the first woman mayor of Lipa, Batangas. She served for three consecutive terms. She also became the first female governor of Batangas Province and was re-elected for her second term during the May 2010 elections. Many people know of her acting awards, but Gov. Vi has also been getting recognition for her unrelenting service to Batangas and the people. She has been recognized as Most Outstanding Mayor four times during her term by the Civil Service Commission and numerous organizations. She has also been part of the Ten Outstanding Young Leaders in the country and has brought many distinctions to the City of Lipa. Despite these, Gov. Vi has worked silently and has focused her time and energy in developing Batangas. Here accomplishment can be seen in the development of her territory. As Governor, she has launched her H.E.A.R.T.S. Program which aims to improve Health, Education, Agriculture, Roads and Tourism of Batangas…” – Joey Concepcion (READ MORE)

Barako Country – “…Pagkatapos ng termino niya bilang Batangas governor, ang pagiging senador o vice president ng bansa ba ang sunod na tatakbuhin niya?
“Hindi,” tanggi ni Governor Vi. “Wala. I swear. Wala talaga akong plano. Maniwala kayo. Kung saan ako dadalhin, okey. Kung hindi na rin, okey din. I don’t plan things… when it comes to politics lang naman. Pero inilagay Niya ako rito, so may purpose Siya. Kaya ang dasal ko lang lagi, ‘I-guide Mo lang ako. Kasi, hindi madali ang politics. Hindi madali. Naku, maniwala kayo! Although ang pinaka… lagi kong guide, para mapaganda ko ‘yong trabaho ko, ang guide ko lang dito—hindi lahat, pinagkakatiwalaan ng ganyan. Yon na lang ang bayad ko, e. Lalo na ang Batangas, barako country. First woman mayor, first woman governor. Para pagkatiwalaan ka ng ganyan, legacy mo na ‘yan, e. Iyon na lang ang pinanghahawakan ko, e, di ba? Kapag naramdaman niyang may calling para tumakbo siyang senador, tatanggapin niya? Hindi ko alam kung kakayanin ko ‘yong trabaho. Sana. Kasi, iba na ‘yan. Pag inilgay ako, okey. Pero hindi natin masabi, e. Pero ang point ko kasi, kung bakit hindi ako nagsasalita nang patapos, iba kasi ‘yong nagpaplano. Alam mo ‘yong ibig kong sabihin? Iba ‘yon, e. Na pagkatapos nito, ‘eto. Hindi, e. Ako, wala. You still want me? Vote for me. I’ll serve …” – Ruben Marasigan (READ MORE)

The Dawning of the New Day – “…At exactly eight in the morning, as the returning sun beats with a vengeance down on the crowd gathered at the lawn in front of the Capitol building for the first official flag ceremony, VILMA SANTOS RECTO takes her place among the leaders, old and new, of Batangas. The employees, most of them who have grown up watching the governor take on her many roles as an actress, are skittish and excitable. You get a sense that, for them, the petite, five-feet-flat actress is just portraying one of her award-winning roles. No, she isn’t really going to be the governor. Look, she’s beside the more imposing ex-governor Antonio Leviste and the suave, smooth-talking provincial administrator. It still feels surreal. Cameras from cellphones flash, and even during the somber flag-raising, all eyes are trained on her. She’s aware of this, even if at the moment, she doesn’t let on. “Every day is still a learning process for me,” the newly-appointed governor shares thoughtfully a few hours later, back at the cool confines of her office. “I’m apprehensive about the expectations. I just want to be magnanimous about the victory I got. People need to understand my priorities, support them, and do what they need to do. This is not even for me, you know?” Judging from the still star-struck faces of most, it’s a reality that may take a while to set in, but the tough politician who’s turned a city around is not one to easily give up. When she takes the stand to speak for the very first time as their governor, a quiet, expectant hush falls over the crowd. You could hear a pin drop. And then Vilma, who never disappoints, gravely said, “We’re all in this together. Kami dito sa stage walang payong, kaya ibaba ninyo ang mga payong ninyo. Kung kami maiinitan, lahat ay maiinitan (We don’t have umbrellas here, so fold yours. If we take the heat, so should you.)” There’s a moment of silence before giddy laughter erupts and then from somewhere, scattered burst of applause cracks the stillness until the whole plaza joins in, and as they have always been since she was nine, people unwittingly feel under Vilma Santos Recto’s magic spell. The first lady governor of Batangas smiles triumphantly, surveys her audience with a fond look, and steps up to the dais, bravely facing the dawning of the new day…” – Krizette Laureta (READ MORE)

“…Batangas is a first class province of the Philippines located on the southwestern part of Luzon, kilala bilang “Industrial Port City of Calabarzon”. Isa rin ito sa pinaka popular tourist destination near Metro Manila. Hindi lang beaches ang panghikayat sa mga turista. Kabilang dito ang mga diving spots ng Anilao, Matabungkay (madalas venue ng seminar ng FSC at PMPDA) Punta Fuego, Calatagan and Laiya. Kung pagkain naman ang pag-uusapan, there are lots of Batangas food you’ll love. Batangueños are skilled cooks and fiestas around the towns and barrios will show their expertise in cooking…Kung showbiz personalities naman ang pag-uusapan hindi rin papahuli ang Batangas dyan. Nagunguna sa listahan si Congressman Manhik-Manaog o Don Robert Dinero sa telebisyon. Ito’y wala ng iba kundi si Leo Martinez. Di nga bat nai-feature pa ang bagoong balayan sa kanyang music album….Vilma Santos—Recto, though she was born in Bamban, Tarlac, eh naging Mayor ng Lipa City where she won by landslide victories in three consecutive elections. Siya lang naman ang kauna-unahang babaeng Mayor at kasalukuyang Governor ng Batangas…” – Julie Ann Nunez (READ MORE)

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International Film Festival Recognition 2/2

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Other International Film Festival Recognition

Official Entry – Festival del film Locarno Switzerland (1978) – Burlesk Queen (1977) – “…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

Official Entry – 1978 Berlin Film Festival (official citation not verified) – Burlesk Queen (1977) – “…One of the first Filipino filmmakers to invade foreign film festivals abroad with such output as Burlesk Queen and Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Berlin Film Festival and World Film Festival in Montreal) and Nympha (Venice Film Festival), among others, Celso The Kid returned to his hometown Siniloan, Laguna where he led a quiet life while working on his autobiography…His 1977 film, Burlesk Queen, won 10 out of the 11 awards of the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival but the results were contested by Lino Brocka and defended by juror Rolando Tinio (now National Artists for Film and Theater), respectively. He reflected: “I wanted to vindicate myself as a filmmaker in this movie. The media referred to me as a reluctant artist and a filmmaker who has yet to arrive. Not only did the film run away with awards. It was also the top grosser. It broke the myth that quality films don’s make money in the box-office and commercial films don’t win awards…” – Pablo A. Tariman, The Philippine Star, 28 November 2012 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – ASEAN Film Festival, Sydney Austarlia (1981); Official Selection – Asia-Pacific Film Festival, Taipei Taiwan (1978) – Masarap, Masakit ang Umibig (1977) – “…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979). 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)

Official Entry – 1979 The Latin American Film Festival Sao Paolo, Brazil (official citation not verified) – Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) (1978) – “…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…”Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

Official Entry – 1981 Asean Film Conference (official citation not verified) – Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) (1978) – “…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…”Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines” (1983) – Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978) – “…Furor is really an understatement. “Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight), ” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk as the most beautiful Filipino film” past, present and future.” Vi’s turnaround: Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new Vilma Santos “from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk?” – “It marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978. “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends.” Burlesk and Pagputi brought a lot of honor to me…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Inquirer (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines” (1983) – Relasyon (1982) – “…Patrocinio and Bernal’s own mother, Elena, could very well have been Ishmael’s inspiration for several classics of Philippine movies. In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (Two Nest, One Bird), Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Manuel L. Quezon University, Bernal as Auteur: Primary Biographical Notes, 2012 (READ MORE)

Philippine Film Week Moscow, Russia (1984) – Broken Marriage (1983) – “…Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera (READ MORE)

Prague International Film Festival (1984) (citation needed) – Broken Marriage (1983) – “…Vilma Santos is not about to be a letdown, not this time when the most important female roles are coming her way. A new intelligence she infuses in the character Ellen. Like De Leon, she turns Ellen into a woman-child, but the stress is less on her part as she has done similar roles before. Her beautiful face is flush receptive: the quiet moments of just observing the people around her are moments of perfect acting. Her body moves with an agility that is both funny and dramatic. Her two monologues – the first with her friends in the cafe when she informs them that she is bored, and the second with Rene when she tells him that they are not children anymore – are her best scenes: the camera lingers upon her countenance and she enunciates in return with ironic ease. She should watch out for next year’s awards race – there is simply no stopping her at the moment…” – Joselito Zulueta, Sine Manila – 1983 (READ MORE)

Vienna International Film Festival (1984) (citation needed) – Broken Marriage (1983) – “…Though in the last cited awards, Karnal did not make it as best films, it nevertheless gave Broken Marriage a tough fight for the honor, in fact winning more nominations than Berna’s films. It evetually won prizes for performances, cinematography, music and editing…A product of film schools, Marilou earned her M.A. in Film and Television from Loyola Marrymount College in Los Angeles and received a diploma in film from the London Film School. In May, she will be flying to Moscow to attend the Philippine Film Week, where Karnal, Broken Marriage and Soltero will be exhibited. Then it will be Prague and Vienna for both Karnal and Broken Marriage. Her earlier work, Brutal has also been invited to Tokyo’s Pia Film Festival, which is sponsored by critics and journalist to showcase the works of young directors from 10 countries. International may have come her way, but at the moment, Marilou is earnestly preoccupied with starting her latest project, Baby Tsina, which will star two-time Urian best actress Vilma Santos, and written by Marilou’s signature scenarist Ricky Lee. In a few days, the camera are set to start grinding for the director’s new film…” – Justino Dormiendo, Movie Flash Magazine, April 26, 1984 (READ MORE)

Official Entry – Venice International Film Festival (1985)  – Sister Stella L. (Sangandaan /Incroci /Crossroad) (1984) – “…There would have been two important Filipino films in this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival: Sister Stella L., directed by Mike de Leon and Kapit sa Patalim, directed by Lino Brocka. Both smuggled out to France and both vitally political in thrust, the two films were reportedly disowned by the Philippine embassy in France. Supposedly under instructions from the Philippine goverment, the embassy sent the following disclaimer to the festival directorate: “There are no Filipino films in the Cannes Film Festival.” The two films nevertheless made it to the festival site, though only one was screened as scheduled. Brocka’s film was in the category “In Competition,” and was tested against the works of such eminent directors as Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Satyajit Ray. Early on Kapit sa Patalim (which acquired a second title, Bayan Ko, in deference to another film project which had been approved before Brocka’s project) was rumored to be a strong contender for the Best Film award. Critic Bertrand Tavernier was quoted as saying, “It’s a toss-up between Wim Wenders’ Paris Texas and Brockas’s Bayan Ko.” De Leon’s film was to have had special screenings, on the unanimous request of the Cannes’ board of critics. Sister Stella L., however, suffered from the rush of subtitling work that descended upon Cannes’ select group of translators and De Leon opted not to show the film without subtitles. He nevertheless had the distinct honor of holding a retrospective under the sponsorship of the French Cinematheque right after the festival. The film eventually competed at the Venice Film Festival. Under its original title Sangandaan (Crossroads), Sister Stella L. was invited to the Venice Film Festival in 1984, the second Filipino film (after Genghis Khan in 1951) to be honored with such recognition…” – Agustin L. Sotto and Pet Cleto, Philippine Panorama, Dec 02 1984 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Asia-Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award (1999) – Chito S. Roño – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…The film “Bata, Bata…Paano ka Ginawa?” was also given a Special Jury Award for Women’s Awareness at the Asia Pacific Film Festival held in Bangkok, Thailand from Nov. 22-26, 1999. Ms. Santos was a Best Actress nominee…” – Eric Nadurata (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 35th Chicago Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?…” – CIFF (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Pusan International Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…As much as people think that this is Vilma Santos’ movie, I beg to disagree. Me thinks it was the children’s show. Serena Dalrymple and Carlo Aquino gave two of the best child acting performances ever. Serena as Maya was a chatty young kid, whose bluntness, frankness, and honesty come across as cute and comical however one can still question as to how she was brought up. Carlo Aquino’s Ojie is a more mature kid, he understood what was going on and was rebelling to the fucked-up-ness of their situation. What pisses me off is that today, there hardly is a movie that Carlo Aquino is in, except maybe for last year’s “Carnivore, “where he was superb in again. Aquino is one of the few great young actors of his time that still is a great actor up to know. He is just not that present anymore. And I kinda wish that he makes more movies, because I know that he is a superb actor…” – Douglas Racso (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Temecula Valley International Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…A free-spirited woman and madre de familia runs her life and raises her children unconventionally. It is one of the best films that espouses feminism without being didactic and self-righteous. Humorous, poignant and insightful, it features a yet-another dazzling performance by Vilma Santos…” – Mario A. Hernando (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Hawaii International Film Festival (1999) – Bata, Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998) – “…Chito Rono’s telling and prismatic depiction of Lea’s character is worthy of praise because it is full-bodied and filled with surprises, unlike most other local film characterizations, which are two-dimensional and predictable. The audience’s hearty response to Vilma’s spirited portrayal of Lea is a big change from viewer’s knee-jerk responses to most lead characterizations on the local screen, which fail to delight and surprise because they follow tired, old formats so automatically…” – RV (READ MORE)

Philippines’ Official Entry to the Foreign Language Film Category – 73rd Academy Awards (OSCAR) – Anak (The Child) (2000) – “…Mas mahusay para sa amin ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma Santos sa “Anak” kaysa sa “Bata, Bata…Paano ka Ginawa?”. Hindi malayong humakot na naman siya ng award rito…But the film still belongs to Vilma, who goes through an entire spectrum of varied emotions as Josie, mula sa katuwaan at excitement niya sa pagbabalik sa Pilipinas (natural na natural ‘yung pagiging aligaga niya habang namamahagi ng pasalubong sa mga anak niya), ang disappointment niya nang matanto niyang hindi na niya kilala ang mga batang binalikan niya, hanggang sa finally ay sumambulat siya sa tagpong pinagsasampal na rin niya si Claudine at pinalalayas. It’s a bravura sequence and the performance is magnificent…” – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Fukuoka Asian Film Festival (2001) – Anak (The Child) (2000)- “…Children feel they are abandoned by their mother even they know their daily life is supported by her remittance. Mother’s love ends up with broken relationship. What a tragedy! The life of the family looks not bad in Philippine standard. In fact their house is large enough even in Japanese standard. However, their father, who looks a good man, do not have stable job, if not minimal income which is hard to afford their life. In fact, even working abroad as a maid is a kind of status. I don’t understand why the mother does not cancel going to Hong Kong and choose yet another life, to live with her family with less income, after reconciliation with her daughter. Unless Filipinos decide to quit working overseas for little money, I think this country would not become better. By the way, this is the first film I saw Vilma Santos. Her performance is superb. Few actresses can act both comical and serious sides of the same character…” – Furuya Shiro (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 2001 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festiva1 (2001) – Anak (The Child) (2000) – “…Josie’s final decision to leave for H.K. once again makes little sense, beyond its providing an excuse for “Anak’s” fourth hysterical-sobbing-at-the-airport sequence. That’s too bad, since early reels observe parent-child relationships with considerable delicacy. Quintos’ fluid handling of potentially claustrophobic, mawkish material underplays script’s more obvious gambits until they overwhelm pic. Veteran local star Santos is in fine form, while Barretto lends impressive shading to what might have been a stock sexy “bad girl” role. Tech package is polished…” – Dennis Harvey, Variety Magazine, 19 March 2001 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – San Francisco Asian American Film Festival (2001) – Anak (The Child) (2000) – “…The slick production is turned into art by its star Vilma Santos. Her magnetic star quality makes her look so wrong for the part and yet she makes it all her own. She’s a natural comedianne and a great tragedienne-her look of resignation is heartbreaking. Vilma discards the glittering clothes and make-up for Anak, but she still looks youthful. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the sensitive young actor playing her son would go on to play her leading man a few years from now…” – Dennis Ladaw (READ MORE)

Philippines’ Official Entry to the Foreign Language Film Category – 76th Academy Awards (OSCAR) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…For ten consecutive years from 1995 to 2004, the Philippines submitted films for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscar Awards. But up to this point of film history, we remain in the list of countries who has never won nor nominated for this award…The next year 2003, the country’s entry was Dekada ’70, directed by Chito S. Rono based on the novel Dekada ’70 of Lualhati Bautista. It tells the story of a middle-class Filipino couple (Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos) and their five sons during a tumultuous decade of the martial law regime. The sons were played by Piolo Pascual, Carlos Agassi, Marvin Agustin, Daniel Barrios and John Wayne Sace…” – FAP (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Asian Pacific Film Festival (2003) – Dekada 70 (2002) “…The acting is generally impressive, most especially that of lead actress Santos, who gives a luminous, sensitive performance. Santos essays the transformation of Amanda so effectively that we do see clearly at the end of the film that there has been a fundamental change in her character…” – Antonio D. SisonAntonio D. Sison, Katholieke Universiteit Nijimegen, Journal of Religion & Film, University of Nebraska (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Hawai International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Four local movies have so far been chosen by Christian Gaines of the Hawaii International Film Festival for exhibition in the prestigious event in November. Four more will be picked in July when Gaines returns to Manila. Hawaii filmfest ’99 is focused on the Philippines.  The first four movies selected were Chito Roño’s “Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa?,” Joel Lamangan’s “Sidhi,” Carlitos Siguion Reyna’s “Kahapon May Dalawang Bata,” and Gil Portes’ “Saranggola.”  Of the four, only “Saranggola” has not yet been commercially released. Gaines viewed a rough copy (interlock) of “Saranggola” whose post-production work is yet unfinished. “Saranggola” stars Ricky Davao and Lester Llansang as father and son. Script by Butch Dalisay.  Also being eyed for Filipino movies’ participation is the Sundance (Utah) filmfest (Robert Redford’s very own project), where Gaines is in charge of the world cinema division. “Saranggola” is an aspirant to the June Manila Film Festival.  Gaines is inviting Cesar Montano as juror and Vilma Santos as special guest to the Hawaii filmfest, where “Jose Rizal” was shown last year…” – Sol Jose Vanzi, April 17, 1999 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Quebec City International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada 70 (2002) – “…There are touches of seventies style Filipino humor that foreign audiences might miss; they effectively establish that this is a real, average Filipino family trying to navigate through the eye of the political storm. The acting is generally impressive, most especially that of lead actress Santos, who gives a luminous, sensitive performance. Santos essays the transformation of Amanda so effectively that we do see clearly at the end of the film that there has been a fundamental change in her character. If there is something to be faulted about the film, it is Roňo’s failure to keep melodramatic moments in check. The funeral sequence of one of Amanda’s sons, for instance, becomes an over-extended session of copious tears. The rich story material of Dekada 70 could do away with such “in your face” paroxysms, which only work to dull the film’s cutting edge political trajectory. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Roňo had created a noteworthy, epic-scale Filipino film, and on a Third World budget at that. It also cannot be denied that Roňo had not forgotten the sentence of history on his home country…” – Antonio D. Sison, Insititute for Pastoral Initiatives University of Dayton (READ MORE)

Official Selection – The World International Film Festival of Montreal (2003) – Dekada 70 (2002) – “…The reason “Sister Stella L” will probably end up better appreciated is that the movie was shown during the martial law era. The movie was relevant to the times and Vilma was portraying an activist nun, a role not usually associated with the Star for all Seasons… As the mother, Vilma does justice to her character, holding back her strong emotions until the end, when she finally confronts Christopher de Leon and wants to break up with him. Despite the many tragic events that befall her character, Vilma chooses to underplay her role except at key points towards the end of the movie. Boyet is his usual competent self as the chauvinistic husband of Vilma who is forced to change when his wife breaks out of her shell. Piolo Pascual also deserves mention for his realistic portrayal of the activist turned NPA rebel…” – Edmund L. Sicam, Philippine Daily Inquirer (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 15tth Ankara International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…during the first half of the film, Vilma’s character occasionally felt unhappy, taken for granted or unappreciated as a person, but she held her emotions in check to keep the peace in the family. It was only later, when the national trauma of martial law rule affected her sons in various tragic ways, that she found the voice and rediscovered the heart to assert herself as a person and to give her emotions full play. We submit that Vilma’s portrayal is excellent precisely because she vivified he character as the wife and mother was in the ‘70s. Her thematic and emotional high points towards the end of the film rivetting, but it was her quieter, more controlled moments that showcased Vilma’s true gift as an actress. During those moments, Vilma didn’t just observe what was going on, she was constantly conflicted only, she had been programmed not to speak out because it wasn’t her “place”. Thus, when she finally changes and expresses herself in the end, the contrast makes her transformation all the more stunning…” – Nestor Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer (READ MORE)

Special Exhibition: Cannes International Film Festival (2005) – Dekada 70 (2002) – “…At the center of the film and the family is Amanda (Filipino cinematic diva Vilma Santos) who vicariously experiences living under a dictatorship through her husband and five sons’ different reactions before coming into her own as a person. Her husband, Julian (Christopher De Leon), seems a walking contradiction: He offers rationalizations for the government while supporting his eldest son’s revolutionary activities, but has a fit when his wife wants to get a job. As for the sons, firstborn son (Piolo Pascual) joins the guerillas in the mountains. The second son (Carlos Agassi), forced into a shotgun wedding, defiantly works for the American Navy. The third son (Marvin Augustin) writes journalistic exposes he can’t publish, while the fourth son (Danilo Barrios) is a mystery to his family until his brutal, motiveless murder (probably by police) reveals a lost girlfriend. The fifth son (John W. Sace) is still a boy. Santos’ Amanda effortlessly and movingly chronicles the changed consciousness of the family and the country, with understatement her most reliable tool. Pic begins and ends with images of Santos at the forefront of a political demonstration, and nothing, from first image to last, for 128 minutes, is allowed to spontaneously or slyly deviate from the logic of her consciousness-raising…” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety Magazine (READ MORE)

Official Selection – Palm Spring International Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…In Chito S. Roño’s superb “Dekada ’70,” a family in the Marcos-era Philippines has a domineering father and five sons, but it is the mother (Vilma Santos) who provides the mental stamina. She fights for her family in ways the father can’t even dream of. “To give birth to these children isn’t enough,” she says. “You have to defend them, protect them.” That’s the ’70s. In 30 years, that kind of woman will deal with difficult questions of divorce and motherhood, one in which women want freedom, yet must be willing to share blame when something goes wrong. The young woman who leaves her husband and thinks about aborting her pregnancy in South Korean filmmaker Gina Kim’s “Invisible Light” is an experimental example. Moon’s great performance in “A Good Lawyer’s Wife” almost makes you believe wrong is right, and, taken with her much-lauded portrayal of a girl with cerebral palsy in “Oasis,” reveals her as one of the world’s best actresses. Hollywood, take note. – No stereotypes of Asians here…” – G. Allen Johnson, Festival Celebrates Real Women, San Francisco Chronicle March 4, 2004 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 22nd San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Last seen in Anak (SFIAAFF ‘01), Vilma Santos delivers an understated, profoundly moving performance as the matriarch whose awakening redefines the traditional mother and wife role she donned for years. This is the story of an incredible character that survived an unforgettable decade…” – Michael Magnaye, San Francisco Premiere (READ MORE)

Official Selection – UCLA Filipino Film Festival – Classics of the Filipino Film (2002) – Sister Stella L. (1984) – “…The final film was “Sister Stella L.” 1984, directed by Mike de Leon. Produced and shown during the Martial Law period of Ferdinand Marcos, this film is the story of a nun who is conscienticized and begins to identify wit the cause of the striking laborers. It won ten Urian awards and was chosen as one of the ten best films of the 1980s by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino…” – Barbara Gaerlan (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 6th San Diego Asian Film Festival (2003) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Santos’ performance is so vivid and insightful that we can see her changing in front of our very eyes… We were enthralled…we were moved. And we valued the film’s important contribution to the very urgent task of reminding everyone of the trauma in our collective lives that was the martial law period of the ’70s,” noted Nestor Torre of Inquirer News Service. Chito Rono’s Dekada ‘70 made its world premier at the Asian American International Film Festival in June of 2003. The film has also won numerous domestic awards. The Young Critics Circle voted Dekada ‘70 Best Film of the Year (2002), Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Performance in a tie between actress Vilma Santos (Amanda) and Piolo Pascual (Amanda’s eldest son). The Best Film of the Year award is reserved for the director, such that no separate prize for direction is needed. The Best Performance award is the most coveted as it is conferred on the performer whether male or female, adult or child, individual or ensemble in leading or supporting role. Vilma Santos also received an award for Best Actress from Star Awards for Movies, Film Academy of The Philippines, and Gawad Urian Awards. Piolo Pascual also received an award for Best Supporting Actor from the Young Critics Film Circle, Metro Manila Film Festival, Star Awards for Movies, Film Academy of the Philippines, FAMAS Awards, and Gawad Urian Awards. The Gawad Urian Awards also presented Dekada ’70 with the award for Best Screenplay…” – Sara Stokoe, Asia Pacific Arts (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 8th Shanghai International Film Festival (2005) – Mano Po III: My Love (2004) – “…As a love story, it is romantic as romantic can be – passionate even. And you really have to give it to the durable love team of Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon to be able to pull off a material like Mano Po 3 and give the kilig effect of expected by most viewers and fans of love stories. It is handsomely-mounted, glossy and very entertaining. Its production values are far more superior compared to other local movies…” – Butch Francisco, Philippine Star (READ MORE)

Official Selection – The International Cannes Film Festival – Cinemas of the World (2005) – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…On May 20, the Philippine films listed below were exclusively screened in a newly built theater within the Cannes Festival area: named All Cinemas in the World Theater, a new section in the International Cannes Film Festival where only seven countries including the Philippines , out of 125 countries, were invited to send their films. Feature Films…Dekada 70, Stars: Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon; Director: Chito Rono…There was a long red carpet leading to the All the Cinemas in the World Theater. The exhibition of our films were well attended and appreciated. In fact, some of those who saw them commented that our films are better than some of the films in competition. This was confided to Mr. Robert Malengreau, an officer of the Brussel Film Festival and widely-respected film journalist, who enjoyed mentioning repeatedly said comment to us…” – Atty. Espiridion D. Laxa, Chairman FAP, Jun 1, 2005 (READ MORE)

Official Selection – 25 Filipino films shown at Lincoln Center (2010) – Sister Stella L (1984) and Relasyon (The Affair) (1982) – “In celebration of the 100th year of Philippine Independence, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, IFFCOM, the Philippine Information Agency, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York and the Philippine Centennial Coordinating Council – Northeast USA, presented a series of Filipino films at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center. Slated July 31 through August 20, and with a line-up of about 25 films, the series was the most extensive Filipino film retrospective ever to take place in the United States. All prints are subtitled in English. By including old classics as well as contemporary films, the three-week festival brought the country’s centennial commemoration into sharper historical focus. It also featured some of the best works by acclaimed director Lino Brocka, and concluded with the award-winning short films and videos of young, upcoming Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers. The members of the film selection committee were Richard Peña (Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Domingo Hornilla, Jr., Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, and Agustin “Hammy” Sotto. Some of the titles shown in the festival were: In the Classics Category…two films by Mike De Leon: Sister Stella L. starring Vilma Santos and Batch ’81 starring Mark Gil; and three works by Ishmael Bernal namely Nunal sa Tubig (A Speck in the Water) starring Daria Ramirez, Aliw starring Suzette Ranillo and Relasyon starring Vilma Santos…Among Brocka’s films being spotlighted were Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Insiang, Tinimbang Ka Nguni’t Kulang (You Were Weighed But Was Found Wanting) and Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter)…” – Seapavaa Bulletin (READ MORE)

Official Selection: Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now 2012, December 4 to 9 2012 – Dekada ’70 (2002) – “…Moviemov will also feature five Filipino films, including the newly restored Genghis Khan (1950) by Manuel Conde, which was “lost” in the 1950s and was restored in digital, high definition format through a collaborative effort of the FDCP, National Film Archive of the Philippines, Venice Film Festival and L’Immagine Ritrovata. Other Filipino films to be feted in Moviemov this year are Dekada ’70 by Chito Roño, The Mistress by Olivia Lamasan, Qiyamah by Gutierrez Mangansakan, and the winner of the FDCP’s National Film Festival in Davao City. For this year’s Moviemov, the youth is a special focus. Students from Makati public schools will be watching the films. “Cinema is the greatest art,” Bettini says. “Unfortunately, nowadays, youth are educated by TV. Tastes have been changing. It’s very important to have cinema brought to the youth, because it defines taste and educates conscience and will inform them in a deeper way…” – Michele Logarta, The Philippine Star, Dec 02 2012 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:Toronto International Film FestivalContemporary World Cinema Programme September 5-15, 2013 – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Told with an eye for the ludicrous excesses and stresses of TV work (one director is tasked with shooting forty set-ups in two days) and the inherently existential comedy of being a stand-in, Jeturian’s film never misses a target. One overly nervous extra loses her dentures during shooting; a neophyte shows up to play a peasant wearing enough makeup to shame RuPaul. At the same time, the film is buoyed with ample affection for the characters’ dreams. After working all day and into the night, the inevitably cheerful Loida is capable of pontificating about the important role the extras play. Skilfully directed by Jeturian, and driven by Santos’ courageous performance and peerless comic timing, The Bit Player is also a kind of tribute to Loida. Even at her lowest point, she never gives up…” – Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, TIFF (READ MORE)

At the sold-out premiere in Toronto, many in the long lineup awaiting the film’s start were excited to watch it given the critical acclaim at Cinemalaya. Arnold Manalac, a big Santos fan, organized about 20 of his friends to come watch the film. “These are all my college friends, friends here in Toronto, some of my relatives,” he said while pointing out the smiling faces with him, “so we organized and came up with a small group to support this film. The crowd of mostly Filipino-Canadians was abuzz with anticipation, including the very first people in the line, Danny Ong and Ricardo Obusan, who came to support independent Filipino films. Jeturian signed autographs before and after the film’s screening and took questions from the audience. The final showing of Ekstra at TIFF is Sept. 15, but the movie will have a theatrical release in eight Canadian cities including Mississauga and Scarborough from Sept. 13 to 26…” – Dyan Ruiz, The Philippine Reporter, 13 Sept 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection Asia Pop! 2013 San Diego Asian Film Festival (Nov 7-16 2013) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…In a way, Santos can be compared to Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange; both thespians employ their entire body to bring out the internal turmoil of their characters if necessary. Santos impassioned performance in classic films such as “Broken Marriage” and “Relasyon” demands certain explosiveness. Santos has always played the fighter, never the silent suffering victim. Even powerless, Santos’ characters have trudged on despite obvious defeat. She has always embodied the ferocious female spirit, which I grew up witnessing from the strong females in my family. Fight, survive at all cost. Similarly, Santos can also quietly stand still and let her face do the exposition, “Sister Stella L.” is a perfect example. In both commercially melodramatic and critically acclaimed films, all of the characters in Santos wide repertoire refused to go without a good fight. I have heard other critics call her the “feminists’ actor,” but do not take our word for it, you need to watch her films to verify that. In her latest movie, “Ekstra” (The Bit Player), Santos is back to form after her commercially successful but critically disappointing horror film, “The Healing.” Santos plays Loida, a bit player dreaming of becoming a star despite working in the industry for so long. At first glance, Santos seemed to be miscast as a bit player because she is too fair and beautiful to stay a bit player that long; however, thanks to Jeffrey Jeturian’s clever direction, Santos transcends the obvious. The Santos celebrity persona disappears and we see the face of a bit player being used as a mere tool by an industry hell bent on producing crap. Loida’s triumph lies in Jeturian’s blatant critique of the industry that exploits people for commercial purposes. Loida is not just a real character, she is a symbol. The delightful irony of “Ekstra” is using one of the biggest stars in the industry to play it small…” – Rob San Miguel, Brun Philippines, 18 August 2013 (READ MORE)

Special Selection: 2013 NuCinema: NUVALI Outdoor Film Festival (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Vilma Santos may have been the film’s initial main attraction, but we can’t deny the fact that this is the best comedy-drama of the year. Santos proved her star-for-all-seasons status was far from waning, but Jeffrey Jeturian’s film itself is a brilliant achievement. Its portrayal of the television industry’s bit players is both honest and hilarious. With its small scale and grand ambitions, Ekstra brings a different flavor to the usual tale of the downtrodden…” – Paul G. Alcantara, Kara B. Chung, The Guidon on line, 30 December 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection: World Cinema Section of 2013 International Film Festival of India Goa, India (2013) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…The International Film Festival in Goa in November 2013 came alive with young audiences from across the country patiently standing in long lines to watch serious world cinema. They were the real stars of this festival. In many shows, disappointed audiences were turned away because every seat was taken. There is a new audience out there, ready for new ideas, new film grammar, and new reflective cinema. The time is long overdue for a publically financed network of art theatres in every city in the country. In my three days in Goa, I spent most time with the Soul of Asia segment, which introduced me to some fine films described in an earlier column. I recall here a few other films which remain with me even as the weeks pass after the festival…Adopting a diametrically opposite idiom of exuberant comic irony is Philippine director Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra (Extra), an affectionate salute to the underdog. It follows one day in the life of a middle-aged woman extra, a bit player in television soap operas, after she is woken in the early hours of the morning one day to drive to a location shoot in the neighbouring countryside. The director subversively casts one of the Philippines’ best-loved actors, Vilma Santos, in the role of the extra. The viewer for once roots for the anonymous crowd — the farmer on the fields, the domestic help patiently waiting, and the guests in the background of a wedding — while the lead players strut and recite their lines. We watch the class system in the enormous gaps in food and lodging between stars and extras. The film mocks the hilarious script trajectories of the soap opera, and the vanity and fragile egos of its lead players. I often felt that if just the names were changed in the film’s script, it could have been located in India with no substantial changes…” – Harsh Mander, The Hindu, 28 Dec 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection: The 18th International Film Festival of Kerala (2013) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…I am aware of the Filipino culture and their language which could be one of the reasons why I happened to be amused by Jeffrey Jeturian’s “EKSTRA (The Bit Player)” when I caught it at the 6th Bengaluru Film Festival. But, that is not entirely the reason why the movie works big time! The prime reasons in that order would be…Vilma Santos, a sensational performer. She lives the character of an extra artiste in television soaps. Flawless, compelling and award-worthy, is her turn…To sum it up, Ekstra – The Bit Player is a poignant film which is certainly worth your time…” – Tusshar Sasi, Romancing Cinema, 27 Dec 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection NETPAC Award Winners: The 2013 Bangalore International Film Festival Bangalore, India (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…The unshakable optimism of a middle-aged extra is the warm heart driving “The Bit Player,” an appealing dramedy that pokes plenty of good-natured fun at TV soap operas. Anchored by a glowing central performance by Filipino screen queen Vilma Santos as the single mother who smiles her way through work-related indignities in order to pay for her daughter’s education, the pic reps a fine feather in the cap of veteran helmer Jeffrey Jeturian. Winner of the audience award for best film in its category at Cinemalaya and a hit in domestic release in August, this crowdpleaser launches on limited North American screens on Sept. 13…Constant chuckles and a fair supply of big belly laughs are the order of the day as Loida, Venus and a lovable collection of fellow nameless wannabees are herded like cattle by Josie, acid-tongued assistant director Vincent (Vincent de Jesus, hilarious) and the super-stressed-out director (Marlon Rivera) of “You Were Mine First.” As expected, much of the fun derives from scenes being shot for the wildly melodramatic “You Were Mine First.” To that end, Jeturian gets great value from guest appearances by a host of big-name local stars including hunky matinee idol Piolo Pascual as troubled groom-in-waiting Brando, Pilar Pilapil as severe matriarch Dona Esmerelda and a wonderfully over-the-top Cherie Gil as gun-toting super-bitch Dona Beatriz. For all the merriment on display, the screenplay never loses sight of the economic and emotional imperatives propelling Loida’s uncomplaining acceptance of her place at the bottom of the entertainment-industry food chain. It’s no surprise when Loida finally gets a chance to make a mark with big speaking role in “You Were Mine First,” but the manner in which this plays out is surprising and genuinely touching…” – Richard Kuipers, Variety Magazine, 11 Sep 2013 (READ MORE)

In competition: The Boréal Audience Award Festival International de Films Independants Geneve – The 15th Black Movie Festival Geneva, Switzerland (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “… As Loida Malabanan, Ate Vi shines even in anonymity. She is supposed to fade into the background, not outshine the “stars” and just do what is assigned her- to be a bit player. But even in the crowd, Ate Vi makes Loida stand out. She gives Loida the bit player enough motivation, and a poignant love for the acting craft that she has forever changed the image of the bit player, in the same way that she redefined the term “mistress” when she did Ishmael Bernal’s RELASYON way back. For the director, the staff and the big stars, Loida is a nobody. But for us, the audience, we recognize Loida’s magnanimity. Watch out for that pivotal scene in the third act where Loida, and us the audience learns the true meaning of ingratitude in the media. Ekstra is Vilma’s movie. We cannot imagine any other actress for her role. At the end of the day, as Loida descends from the jeepney, and prepares to go to bed just about when everyone is supposed to go to work, we feel exhausted. It’s not the physical work that made us tired, but the system of a dog eat dog society. Filmmaker Jeffrey Jeturian, through Loida exposes the hypocrisy of the thankless and unjust world of entertainment, and after that whole bout of laughing and laughing and crying afterwards, we are forever changed. Yeah right, like you didn’t already know you were gonna cry after seeing the trailer…” – Macky Macarayan, Death of Traditional Cinema, 30 July 2013 (READ MORE)

Philippine’s Official Entry:Dhaka International Film Festival Dhaka, Bangladesh (Jan 10-18 2014) – Winner of Best Actress – Vilma Santos, Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…The irony of Santos, Philippine media’s “Star for All Seasons,” playing a bit player adds to both the film’s hilarity and meaning. It’s almost as if the film is asking this: if seeing someone as respected as Vilma Santos marginalized could only elicit sympathy, what can the people sans Santos’ credentials possibly do to invite empathic thought? The film ended with a question: “Sinong namatay?” It was addressed to Loida but it could possibly be for the audience. It is easy to know who literally dies in a teleserye because it shows it. In real life, those figuratively murdered is silenced to anonymity. What socio-realist films like Ekstra thrive in is lending voice to people and realities made silent. What these films need and have always needed is an audience that will listen. Their taking action is the next best thing.” – Chryssa Celestino, The Lasallian, 4 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:Women of the World/Pacific PearlsThe 38th Cleveland International Film Festival (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Ekstra” is a very entertaining film that brings us into the world of a bit player or “ekstra” in the punishing world of television soap operas, where hectic daily shooting deadlines are the norm. This was not only a glimpse for the audience, but more of an immersion. We get an in-depth, no-holds-barred, brutally frank expose on how bit players are treated on and off the set of a location shoot. Loida Malabanan has been a bit player for many years already. This job, however unstable, had enabled her to get her daughter through college even as a single mother, albeit barely…Ms. Vilma Santos is the heart and soul of this film, and she was such a paradox in this role. She portrays her role in the most natural and realistic way, yet we know the character was so NOT her. Ms. Vilma was already the lead star in her very first film, “Trudis Liit”! Incredibly, she was able to successfully dim her megawatt star power to appear inferior in stature to stars like Marian Rivera and Piolo Pascual who were the lead stars of the soap being shot, yet Ms. Vilma still manages to outshine them all. Her most effective scenes had no spoken lines at all. Ms. Cherie Gil was so deliciously campy good in her villainous Doña Beatriz character. Tart Carlos, more popularly known for her role as the ditsy maid Doris on TV’s “Be Careful With My Heart,” has a marked role playing Loida’s friend and co-extra, where her skills in comedy shone. Musical director Vincent de Jesus was very effective as the harried assistant director, scrambling to accomplish all the orders of the impatient director….” – Fred Hawson, ABS-CBN News, 29 July 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:15th Rainbow Film Festival London, UK (May 25-June 1 2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…I was worried coming in that Ekstra was just going to be a less interesting version of 2011’s Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay. It turns out that the fears were unwarranted. The film takes a fairly different approach, following one extra (played by the inimitable Vilma Santos) as she goes through one whole day of being a talent on the set of a popular soap opera. The film is as much about the absurdities that go into the production of one of these shows as it is about its titular subject, spending a good chunk of its time railing against the rampant disregard for any sort of quality on these productions. The film ends up depicting a hierarchy of suffering, with the extras at the bottom rung of a seemingly endless ladder to an unknowable top. The film could probably stand to be a little shorter, perhaps a little more economical in its criticism of the industry. But it’s hard to complain when Jeturian’s satirical instincts are so on point, and Vilma Santos is so affecting…” – Philbert Ortiz Dy, Click The City, 30 July 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:Southeast Asian Film Festival Singapore 11 April – 4 May 2014 – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…We laughed and guffawed at such acting antics, scenes both startling and familiar, stereotypical of TV soaps, with lines we have even come to memorize. But watch out for sly, self-referential moments. When Doris tries to discourage Loida from nursing dreams of eventual stardom, she makes mention of the “typical” talents who make it big in the biz: tall, fair with sharp noses. “But what about Nora Aunor?” asks Loida, to which Doris grants grudging assent. That the line is uttered by Vilma Santos, who for decades has been forced into a running competition against the “Superstar,” is all the more delicious. In fact, Jeturian, in an interview, admits that “Ekstra” could kick-start once more the legendary rivalry between the two. If so, I as a fan of both welcome such a development. As movie audiences we could be in for a rich and satisfying round of out-of-the-box roles for the still-reigning queens of local cinema…” – Rina Jimenez-David, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 19 Aug 2013 (READ MORE)

Special Screening:Honolulu Museum of Art Honolulu, Hawai Apr 4, 9, 15 2014 – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…In the Directors’ Showcase, Jerrold Tarog’s Sana Dati (literal translation is “Wish It Were Like Before”), swept eight awards, including Best Film and Best Director. Set during a wedding ceremony, a bride disappears to meet her previous true love. Although well crafted and having an interesting premise, I do not think it deserved that many awards. The other real contender in the section was Jeffrey Jeturian’s new film, Ekstra (Bit player), an enjoyable comedy, which paid a sympathetic homage to the shadow “bit players” (or extras) in TV soaps. The film was lifted by the emphatic character of Loida, which was nicely acted by super star Vilma Santos (now Governor of the Batangas province!). Ekstra grabbed the Special Jury prize, Best Actress (Vilma Santos, known as “Ate Vi”), Best Supporting Actress (Ruby Ruiz), and also the Netpac award for that section. The main Jury (Peque Gallaga, Carlitos Siguion Reyna, Ditsi Carolino from the Philippines, Maggie Lee from Hong Kong and Bastian Meiresonne from France) decided not to award the Best Actor prize this year…I have mixed feelings for this edition of Cinemalaya: films were of uneven quality; jury awards were not well distributed. I am glad the Audience awards were given to Ekstra (Directors’ Showcase), Transit (New Breed) and Taya (Shorts). Whatever may happen, Cinemalaya remains the most important cinematic event in the Philippines and all other subsequent festivals are only variations on the format (whether it be Cinema One, Sineng Pambansa, and now Cine Filipino, in September). Let’s just hope that Cinemalaya’s budget will not be shrinking further, as it is the case for many festivals in the world. That would endanger its very existence…” – Max Tessier, NETPAC Bureau, 01 September 2013 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:24° Edizione del Festival Cinema Africano, Asia e America Latina (May 6 – 12, 2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Overall, I like this film. It didn’t feel dragging. It’s a very energetic film with a hilariously written script. The ending may feel abrupt as I felt that too. But after thinking about it for creative reasons, I think it’s the most fitting way to end the day of a bit player. Loida’s emotion alone in that scene summarizes it all. Verdict: With Vilma Santos and her lively supporting cast, you might find Ekstra something worthwhile to see…” – John Albert Villanueva, Orange Magazine (READ MORE)

Official Selection:40th Seattle International Film Festival (May 15 – June 8, 2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…It’s not easy being an extra. While vital to the authenticity to a filmed project—be it a movie, TV show, or music video—extras, or bit players, are regularly relegated to the sidelines, where they are subjugated, mistreated, underfed, and disrespected, working long hours without any promises of fame, fortune, or respectable paychecks. Such is the life of middle-aged single mother Loida (Vilma Santos), who has yet to catch her big break. Waking up at the crack of dawn, she and a dozen other extras pack themselves like sardines into a van and head out to a remote location shoot for the nightly TV soap opera “Nauna kang nagging Akin” (or “You Were Mine First”). Upon their arrival, they find the set in complete disarray, a frenzied circus of diva behavior, rain delays, and prop mishaps. Over the course of one very long shooting day, the behind-the-scenes chaos become as dramatic, if not more, than the soap opera unfolding before the cameras, but Loida, ever committed to her craft, discovers what could be a glimmer of hope in the form of a small, available speaking role. Santos, who ironically is a cinema megastar in her home country, gives one of the best performances of the Festival, imbuing Loida with a dogged tenacity lying just beneath the surface of her kind but world-weary visage. The film itself strikes a wonderful balance between a screwball showbiz comedy and a compassionate socio-realist drama about the exploitation of labor, equally harsh and hilarious…” – SIFF 2014 (READ MORE)

Official Selection:New Filipino Cinema 2014 YBCA (2014) – Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – “…Vilma Santos, the legendary grand dame of Philippine cinema, stars in this bittersweet comedy. A clever satire of the telenovela formula, The Bit Player tells the story of a group of extras on a soap opera, as they patiently wait to be cast as anonymous background actors or in tiny speaking roles. At the very bottom of the showbiz hierarchy (working extremely long hours for very little pay), these extras turn out to be far more dedicated to their work than the egotistical, unreliable stars who are highly paid and constantly fawned over…” – YBCA New Filipino Cinema 2014 (READ MORE)

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International Film Festival Recognition 1/2

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21st Festival Internationale Du Film Independant in Brussels, Belgium (Nov. 09-14, 1999)

1999 Brussels International Festival of Independent Films Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Director – Chito S. Roño – “…21st Festival Internationale Du Film Independant in Brussels, Belgium unanimously voted Ms. Santos as Best Actress for the movie “Bata, Bata… Paano ka Ginawa?”. The movie also won the Best Director award for Mr. Chito Rono. Its just to bad that Ms. Santos was not able to attend the said festival. The Jurors were: Aung Ko (Myanmar), Jacqueline Pierriex (Belgium), Mel Tobias (Philippines), Larissa Delcourt (Belgium), Xie Fie (China), Steve Montal (USA). The festival director is Mr. Robert Malengreau….” – Eric Nadurata (READ MORE)

Brussels International Film Festival Best Actress – “…Here is a much-deserved birthday gift for Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos: she has just won the Best Actress award at the just-concluded Brussels International Film Festival for her portrayal as a single mother in Star Cinema’s Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa. The film’s director, Chito Roño, was named Best Director in the same event. “Bata, Bata” was Vilma’s only movie for 1998. It was shown four months after she was elected Lipa City Mayor. Before it went to Brussels, Bata, Bata won for Vilma the Best Actress trophy at the Urian Awards, the Star Awards and the Film Academy Awards. She could have also won the FAMAS award, but as a member of the FAMAS Hall of Fame, Vilma is disqualified from competing in the FAMAS Best Actress category. The story was written by Lualhati Bautista, also the author of the controversial “Sutla,” starring Priscilla Almeda…” – Sol Jose Vanzi, Nov. 16, 1999 (READ MORE)

Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story) (1998): – “…This long narrative also became a film, where the Philippine actress Vilma Santos (who went on to become the first female governor of Batangas) took the role of the character Lea in 1998, together with Filipino actor Raymond Bagatsing. The transformation of the story from novel to film was under the direction of Chito S. Roño. After winning recognition by the Filipino Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director) in the Philippines, Lea’s Story – the film version of Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa? – was shown in Manhattan in 2000 as a part of a “bi-monthly series of Asian and Asian American film screenings at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

5th CineManila International Film Festival (Aug. 07-24, 2003)

2003 CineManila International Film Festival Best Actress – “…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…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Aug 24 2003 (READ MORE)

2003 CineManila International Film Festival Life-time Achievement Award – “…With a screen career spanning five decades, Vilma outshines her peers. She has proven herself not only as a consummate actress but also more importantly, a role model and enduring inspiration. The Gawad Plaridel is just the latest in the string of lifetime achievement awards Vilma has received in the course of her stellar career. It was the Film Academy of the Philippines that first extended Vilma such great honor in the early 1990s followed by the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences later in the decade and then the Cinemanila International Film Festival a couple of years back…” – Nonoy L. Lauzon (READ MORE)

“…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)

2003 CineManila International Film Festival NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film – Chito S. Roño – “…Roño gave Vilma Santos her first international recognition winning the best actress in 1999 Brussels International Festival of Independent Films. At the same time, he was recognized as the festival’s Best Director both for Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa. The film also gave Vilma Santos her third grand slam winning all the best actress awards from several local award giving bodies. In 2003, Vilma received another international recognition, this time from Cinemanila International Film Festival winning the Best Actress for Dekada 70. The film was screen in the international film festival circuit and was the official entry of the Philippines in the 76th Academy Awards (OSCAR) for the best foreign language film category…” – RV (READ MORE)

Dekada 70 (2002) – “…Santos’ Amanda effortlessly and movingly chronicles the changed consciousness of the family and the country, with understatement her most reliable tool. Pic begins and ends with images of Santos at the forefront of a political demonstration, and nothing, from first image to last, for 128 minutes, is allowed to spontaneously or slyly deviate from the logic of her consciousness-raising…” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety Magazine (READ MORE)

“……Two Filipino films will have their world premiere in international film festival this year. Chito Rono’s “Dekada ’70” will be featured at the Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFf) this month, according to the filmmaker himself. Maryo J. de los Reyes’ “Magnifico” will be showcased at the Montreal World Film Festival in August, according to production designer and line producer Tatus Aldana…”Dekada ’70” is the story of a family caught in the middle of the tumultous Seventies. At the 26th Gawad Urian awards last May 17, it tied with Gil Portes’ “Mga Munting Tinig” for best picture. It earlier won the best picture award, too, from the Star Awards. “Dekada ’70” also won for Piolo Pascaula all the best supporting actor awards from the award-giving bodies. The grand slam put him in the same league as “Dekada” costar Vilma Santos, who swept all the best actress awards in 1982 for her performance in “Relasyon,” and Sharon Cuneta, who achieved the same feat in 1996 for Madrasta…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 2, 2003 (READ MORE)

13th Dhaka International Film Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Jan 10-18, 2014)

13th Dhaka International Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos “…The jury this year also failed to select the best film out of 23 entries of the main competition section of the 13th Dhaka International Film Festival that ended in the National Museum auditorium on Saturday. Like the previous edition held in 2012, the organisers remained satisfied giving awards in rest of the five categories of the Australasian competition. The jury composed of three foreigners and two Bangladeshis selected the Iranian filmmaker Parviz Shahbazi as the best director for his film Trapped. The Iranian actor Levon Hafevan and the Philippino actor Vilma Santos won the best actor and best actress awards for their performances in Parviz and Ekstra. Hiroyuki Tanaka won the best screenplay writer award for the Japanese film Miss Zombie while Geoffrey Simpson got the best cinematographer award for the Australian entry Satellite Boy…” – Ershad Kamol (READ MORE)

“…The unshakable optimism of a middle-aged extra is the warm heart driving “The Bit Player,” an appealing dramedy that pokes plenty of good-natured fun at TV soap operas. Anchored by a glowing central performance by Filipino screen queen Vilma Santos as the single mother who smiles her way through work-related indignities in order to pay for her daughter’s education, the pic reps a fine feather in the cap of veteran helmer Jeffrey Jeturian. Winner of the audience award for best film in its category at Cinemalaya and a hit in domestic release in August, this crowdpleaser launches on limited North American screens on Sept. 13…Constant chuckles and a fair supply of big belly laughs are the order of the day as Loida, Venus and a lovable collection of fellow nameless wannabees are herded like cattle by Josie, acid-tongued assistant director Vincent (Vincent de Jesus, hilarious) and the super-stressed-out director (Marlon Rivera) of “You Were Mine First.” As expected, much of the fun derives from scenes being shot for the wildly melodramatic “You Were Mine First.” To that end, Jeturian gets great value from guest appearances by a host of big-name local stars including hunky matinee idol Piolo Pascual as troubled groom-in-waiting Brando, Pilar Pilapil as severe matriarch Dona Esmerelda and a wonderfully over-the-top Cherie Gil as gun-toting super-bitch Dona Beatriz. For all the merriment on display, the screenplay never loses sight of the economic and emotional imperatives propelling Loida’s uncomplaining acceptance of her place at the bottom of the entertainment-industry food chain. It’s no surprise when Loida finally gets a chance to make a mark with big speaking role in “You Were Mine First,” but the manner in which this plays out is surprising and genuinely touching…” – Richard Kuipers, Variety Magazine, 11 Sep 2013 (READ MORE)

“…I am aware of the Filipino culture and their language which could be one of the reasons why I happened to be amused by Jeffrey Jeturian’s “EKSTRA (The Bit Player)” when I caught it at the 6th Bengaluru Film Festival. But, that is not entirely the reason why the movie works big time! The prime reasons in that order would be…Vilma Santos, a sensational performer. She lives the character of an extra artiste in television soaps. Flawless, compelling and award-worthy, is her turn…To sum it up, Ekstra – The Bit Player is a poignant film which is certainly worth your time…” – Tusshar Sasi, Romancing Cinema, 27 Dec 2013 (READ MORE)

“…Ekstra, which means bit player is a tribute to the nameless characters in Philippines cinemas who are paid a measly sum per day, and less often than not, graduates with “supporting” roles. Dhaka’s is Vilma’s third international Best Actress award. She first won at the Brussels International Film Festival with ‘Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?’, followed by her popular film, Dekada ’70 at the Manila-based CineManila International Film festival. This year’s DIFF is the 13th edition of the annual festival held at the National Museum Auditorium in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Six of the twenty awards (including Best Director and Best Actor) went to the entry from Iran. There was no Best Picture winner since, according to the jurors as quoted in the Dhaka Tribune story, “no film stood out…” – Ely’s Planet, January 21, 2014 (READ MORE)

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ARTICLES - Doctorate in Humanities

3rd Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa – Batangas State University (April 2014)

“Pinangunahan ni Batangas State University President Nora Lumbera Magnaye kasama ang BSU Board of Regents ang Conferment Ceremony of Degree of Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa kay Batangas Governor Vilma Santos Recto para sa kanyang adbokasiya ng malinis at makataong pamamahala bilang Gobernador ng lalawigan ng Batangas. Ang tagpong ito ay naganap sa isinagawang BSU 46th Commencement Exercise na may temang “Global Mobility; BatStateU Quest towards Excellence” noong ika 2 ng Abril 2014 sa BSU Main campus, Batangas City.” – Elfie ilustre, Province of Batangas, Photo: Edwin Zabarte, 02 April 2014 (READ MORE)

“…Congratulations to Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos who was conferred a Degree of Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa by the Batangas State University for her clean-governance and humanitarian advocacy. The award was given to her during the university’s 46th Commencement Exercises (with the theme “Global Mobility; BatStateU Quest Towards Excellence”) last April 2 in Batangas City…” – Rikcy Lo, , The Philippine Star, 05 April 2014 (READ MORE)

2nd Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa – Univ of North Eastern Philippines Iriga City, Camarines Sur

UNEP to Confer Honorary Degree to Batangas Governor – This City of Superstar will have, as its guest another superstar as the University of Northeastern Philippines (UNEP) is set to confer to Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities in recognition of her exemplary contributions to Philippine cinema and government service during a fitting ceremony on Nov. 20 at the university gymnasium here. Lawyer Remelisa Alfelor-Moraleda, UNEP president, said the conferment of the honorary degree to Governor Santos was approved by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) during the commission’s executive board meeting on Feb. 11 this year. Moraleda said UNEP is bestowing the doctor of Humanities, honoris causa to the multi-awarded actress and provincial chief executive as she embodied the true ideals of an empowered woman, who used the powerful medium of cinema for social awakening and as a governor, she exercises the same power to effect positive transformation in the lives of his constituents in the province of Batangas. The Star for All Seasons as the Batangas governor is known in Philippine cinema is a FAMAS Hall of Fame awardee, having been awarded the coveted and prestigious award as Best Actress for five consecutive years. Ate Vi as Governor Vilma Santos- Recto is fondly called by her loyal and avid fans, is also the only actress who was twice given the FAMAS Circle of Excellence Award. Ate Vi is also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Film Academy of the Philippines in 1996 to 1998.Aside from these awards, the Samahan ng Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (URIAN) honored her as Best Actress in 1982,1983 and 1984. She also received five other similar awards from different award giving bodies including one in 1998 from the Belgium International Film Festival.

An accomplished and famous actress, Ate Vi’s outstanding performance in government service was also widely recognized. She served for three consecutive terms as mayor of Lipa City and now on her second term as governor of Batangas. Among the awards and recognitions she received as a public servant were: Most Outstanding Mayor given by the Civil Service Commission in 2000; Outstanding Mayor in Region IV from the Asusasyon ng Komentarista at Anaunser sa Pilipinas; Best Over-all Local Council Performance by the Boy Scout of the Philippines in 2000; Sandugo Outstanding Local Government Executive from the Department of Health in 2002; Gawad Parangal Award from the Presidential Commission for Urban Poor in 2003; Hall of Fame Regional Sandugo Outstanding Mayor from the Department of Health Region IV-A in 2005; and Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran-Component City Category from the Department of Interior and Local Government Region IV-A in 2005. But it is her being an empowered woman that makes her come into full circle as a person and as an artist. For in this newly found arena called politics, there are no scripts, no rehearsals, no cuts or retakes, For here she was to be judged for her worth beyond the help of makeup, props and sets, magical lights and special effects. For here she was to be measured by the strength of character, drive for competence, and will for compassion. Delicia Alfelor-Tibi, UNEP executive vice president, was all praised to Ate Vi saying that she serves as an exemplar of an empowered career woman whose character as an artist and leader is beyond question.

“In politics, there are no scripts, no rehearsals, no cuts or retakes, here she is to be judged for her worth beyond the help of makeup, props and sets, magical lights and special effects. Here she is to be measured by the strength of character, drive for competence, and will for compassion. Ate Vi passed those tests with flying colors,” Tibi said. She added that UNEP is truly honored and privileged to confer the honorary degree to Ate Vi as it will serve as a motivation and inspiration to the students to emulate her achievements as a Filipina who triumphed over the countless trials and challenges in her life. “Ate Vi is the epitome of what UNEP stands for. Just like her, we want our students not only to become global achievers but to achieve whatever they desire,” Tibi said. – Vox Bikol, November 19, 2009 (READ MORE)

Mayor Vilma Santos-Recto (she is now, the Governor of Batangas) was given an honorary degree of Doctor in Humanities by the Lipa City Public College (LCPC) last November 10, 2005. The Doctorate degree was given after resolution no. 01-05 of the Academic Council was passed. The head of the Academic Council, Dr. Armando Badillo and the Board of Trustees, including City Adminstrator Mr. Pedrito Martin M. Dijan, approved the resolution. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) also approved the resolution on May 11, 2005. The resolution states that they acknowledge the leadership and talent of Mayor Vi not only in the art of Film, but also her sincerity and effective management as a Mayor and for being a good role model for a new Filipina, beautiful inside and out. It is further stressed in the resolution that the life of Mayor Vi as a public servant and as a multi-awarded actress clearly mirrors her deep understanding of how she can serve the public, her respect for human dignity and her genuine belief in the goodness of men to serve and help one another. Dr. Cristeto Pamplona, Schools division superintendent of DepEd Lipa; Atty. Joel Montealto, City Legal Officer; Lipa City Councilor Romy Macasaet and Ronaldo de Castro, City Personnel Officer completes the LCPC Academic Council. – Eric Nadurata, V magazine Vol 2 No 6 The Valentine’s Day Issue 2005

1st Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humanities by the Lipa City Public College

International Actress

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The Longest Hundred Miles (1967)

Basic Information – Directed: Don Weis; Story: Hennie Leon; Screenplay: Paul Mason, Winston Miller; Cast: Doug McClure, Katharine Ross, Ricardo Montalban, Ronald Remy, Helen Thompson, Berting Labra, Loaki Bay, Vilma Santos, Danilo Jurado, Debra Gaza, Juan Marcelo, Danny Tariuam, Tom Bismark, Victor Vematsu, Bill Dunbar; Executive producer: Jack Leewood; Original Music: Franz Waxman; Cinematography: Ray Flin; Film Editing: Richard G. Wray; Art Design: Russ Lacap; Sound: Joseph Keener

About the film: – “…During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, an assorted group of refugees, including an American soldier, an Army nurse, a priest and a group of local children, try to make their getaway aboard a rattletrap, creaky bus. The Longest Hundred Miles was among the first feature films produced specifically for television. Doug McClure stars as an American GI, stationed in the Philippines during World War II. Reluctantly, McClure is persuaded by army nurse Katharine Ross and local priest Ricardo Montalban to transport a bus load of native children across enemy lines. Filmed inexpensively on the Universal back lot, the film is distinguished by the musical score of Oscar-winning composer Franz Waxman. The Longest Hundred Miles debuted January 21, 1967. Vilma Santos’ first film for international release; Entry to the 1967 Manila Film Festival.

Twin Fist of Justice (Wild Whirlwind) (1974)

Basic Information – Directed: Yang Shih Chin, Danny Ochoa; Screenplay: Yang Shih Chin; Cast: Meng Fei, Vilma Santos, Philip Gamboa; Cinematography: Ho Huk Wai, Remigio Young

About the film: – Directed by Danny Ochoa and Ching-Yang Chen (stars – Phillip Gamboa, Vilma Santos and Meng Fei). When a poor wretch to his heir apparent of a large fortune, he finds himself in a web of intrigue. Nothing is what it seems when he receives the key to bring him to his wealth. Criminals sit on his heels and when he seeks help from justice appears to be corrupt. He will do everything possible and literally have to fight for his inheritance.

Anak (The Child) (2000)

Basic Information – Directed: Rory B. Quintos; Story: Raymond Lee, Ricardo Lee; Screenplay: Raymond Lee, Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Claudine Barretto, Joel Torre, Amy Austria, Cherry Pie Picache, Baron Geisler, Leandro Muñoz, Gino Paul Guzman, Sheila Mae Alvero, Tess Dumpit, Jodi Sta. Maria, Cris Michelena, Hazel Ann Mendoza, Daniel Morial, Odette Khan, Troy Martino, John Lapuz, Jojo Saguin, Archie Adamos, Jiro Manio, Don Laurel, Nellie Sy, Andrew Chua, Jet Filipino, Manny Mendoza, Ron Christopher Flores, Mark Anthony Madronio, Aida Espiritu, Macy Masucol, Me-an Vargas, Girlie Alcantara, Jessette Prospero, Lawrence A. Roxas, Lui Villaruz, Sarji Ruiz, Mark De Guzman, Yiu Pong Lau, Zott Vincent Cailipan, Renan Giljang, Butch Jarlos, Aimee Marasigan, Ailyngail Mary Navarro; Charo Santos Concio, Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Jessie Lasaten; Cinematography: Joe Batac; Film Editing: George Jarlego; Production Design: Danny Santiago, Nuel C. Naval; Sound: Ramon Reyes; Theme Songs: “Anak” written and composed by Freddie Aguilar, sung by Sharon Cuneta

About the film: – The main character is a Filipina Overseas Contract Worker, one of the many residents of the archipelago who is forced to leave her family and take a higher paying job in a more prosperous Asian country. While she is working her employer refuses to let her take a vacation, nor does he deliver her mail to her. She is unaware, therefore, that her husband has died. When she finally returns to the Philippines, she is met with resentment and hatred by her children. The movie studies how she overcomes these feelings and rebuilds the relationship with her family.

Philippines’ Official Entry to the Foreign Language Film Category to 73rd Academy Awards (OSCAR); Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2001 Fukuoka Asian Film Festival; Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2001 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival; Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2001 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival

In My Life (2009)

Basic Information – Directed: Olivia M. Lamasan; Story: Raymond Lee, Olivia M. Lamasan; Screenplay: Raymond Lee, Senedy Que, Olivia M. Lamasan; Cast: Vilma Santos, John Lloyd Cruz, Luis Manzano, Tirso Cruz III; Executive producer: Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Nonong Buencamino; Cinematography: Charlie Peralta; Film Editing: Marya Ignacio; Production Design: Elfren Vibar; Theme Song: “Something New In My Life” Performed by Sarah Geronimo

About the film: – Santos plays Shirley, a public school librarian who wants to be in control of everything. Her unwarranted intervention in the lives of her children and their families leads to their emotional detachment from each other. Feeling she has lost her command over her children, she flies to New York to reunite with his estranged son, Mark (Manzano) only to find out that her son is gay and she has to live with him and his lover, illegal immigrant Noel (Cruz). As Shirley struggles to deal with the situation and with living in the Big Apple, she discovers that being gay is not the only huge secret that Mark is keeping. Discovering what this is will change Shirley’s life forever. In My life screened in selected cities in United States and Canada in October of 2009 with huge success.

Ekstra: The Bit Player (2013) – Basic Information – Direction: Jeffrey Jeturian; Story and Screenplay: Zig Madamba Dulay, Antoinette Jadaone, Jeffrey Jeturian; Cast: Nenita Deanoso, Karen Leslie Dematera, Boobsie Wonderland, Cris Castillo, Raymund Ocampo, Abi Niesta, Cherry Pie Picache, Zyrus Imperial, Richard Yap, Ruby Ruiz, Vilma Santos, Ronaline Ronn Enriquez, Rita Rosario G. Carlos, Antonette Garcia, Linda Villalobos, Marlon Rivera, Vincent de Jesus, Piolo Pascual, Marian Rivera, Cherie Gil, Eula Valdez, Pilar Pilapil, Olive Cruz, Tom Rodriguez, Terence Baylon; Executive Producers: Joji Alonso, Jeffrey Jeturian; Associate Producer: Ron Gabriel Capili; Line Producer: Charyl Chan; Producer: Ferdinand Lapuz, Malou N. Santos, Vilma Santos, Charo Santos-Concio, John Victor Tence; Music: Vincent de Jesus; Cinematography: Lee Meily; Film Editing: Zig Madamba Dulay, Glenn Ituriaga; Production Design: Ericson Navarro; Art Direction: Erwin Sanchez; Production Co: Cinemalaya Foundation, Quantum Films; Release Date: 14 August 2013; Internationally released under the title, “The Bit Player” (IMDB)

LATEST NEWS 26 Ekstra at USTAbout the film: – “…Ekstra” is a very entertaining film that brings us into the world of a bit player or “ekstra” in the punishing world of television soap operas, where hectic daily shooting deadlines are the norm. This was not only a glimpse for the audience, but more of an immersion. We get an in-depth, no-holds-barred, brutally frank expose on how bit players are treated on and off the set of a location shoot. Loida Malabanan has been a bit player for many years already. This job, however unstable, had enabled her to get her daughter through college even as a single mother, albeit barely…Ms. Vilma Santos is the heart and soul of this film, and she was such a paradox in this role. She portrays her role in the most natural and realistic way, yet we know the character was so NOT her. Ms. Vilma was already the lead star in her very first film, “Trudis Liit”! Incredibly, she was able to successfully dim her megawatt star power to appear inferior in stature to stars like Marian Rivera and Piolo Pascual who were the lead stars of the soap being shot, yet Ms. Vilma still manages to outshine them all. Her most effective scenes had no spoken lines at all. Ms. Cherie Gil was so deliciously campy good in her villainous Doña Beatriz character. Tart Carlos, more popularly known for her role as the ditsy maid Doris on TV’s “Be Careful With My Heart,” has a marked role playing Loida’s friend and co-extra, where her skills in comedy shone. Musical director Vincent de Jesus was very effective as the harried assistant director, scrambling to accomplish all the orders of the impatient director…” – Fred Hawson, ABS-CBN News, 29 July 2013

“…Ekstra, which means bit player is a tribute to the nameless characters in Philippines cinemas who are paid a measly sum per day, and less often than not, graduates with “supporting” roles. Dhaka’s is Vilma’s third international Best Actress award. She first won at the Brussels International Film Festival with ‘Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?’, followed by her popular film, Dekada ’70 at the Manila-based CineManila International Film festival. This year’s DIFF is the 13th edition of the annual festival held at the National Museum Auditorium in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Six of the twenty awards (including Best Director and Best Actor) went to the entry from Iran. There was no Best Picture winner since, according to the jurors as quoted in the Dhaka Tribune story, “no film stood out…” – Ely’s Planet, January 21, 2014 (READ MORE)

3 Days Box-Office Gross in North America (September 13-15) = $43,000; Total 3 day gross in North America is US$141,000.00 (P5,922,000.00) Source: Leonard Klady, Movie City News, 13-15 Sep 2013 (READ MORE)

Everything About Her (2016) – Basic Information – Direction: Joyce Bernal; Screenplay: Irene Villamor; Story: Mia Concio; Cast: Vilma Santos, Angel Locsin, Xian Lim, Michael De Mesa, Nonie Buencamino, Khalil Ramos, Devon Seron, Alexa Ilacad, Jana Agoncillo, Vangie Labalan, Buboy Villar, Niña Dolino, Dante Ponce, Bart Guingona, Sharmaine Buencamino; Executive Producers: Malou N. Santos, Charo Santos-Concio; Production Company: Star Cinema; Official music video of the movie ‘Everything About Her’ titled ‘Something I Need,’ performed by Piolo Pascual and Morissette, Arranged by Paulo Zarate, Mixed and Mastered by Dante Tañedo; Original Song from band, One Republic; Music Production by Jonathan Manalo; Language: Tagalog, English; Release Date: 27 January 2016; Country: Philippines; Also Known As: All of My Life

About The Film – The film earned ₱15 million on its first day of release; As of February 5, 2016 the film has earned ₱100 million; The film is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) and is rated PG (Parental Guidance) by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (Wikipedia); All-Time U.S. and Canada Box Office – Weekend of Feb. 12, 2016 -Feb. 14, 2016 Weekend Gross #32 $245,000; Cumulative Gross for two weeks: $1,248,700 (59,474,956.65 Philippine Peso); # of Theaters: 50 (NY Times); Star Cinema’s most heartwarming movie of the season, “Everything About Her,” has already earned P208M worldwide since it opened in cinemas. Star Cinema Ad Prom director Roxy Liquigan posted the good news via his Twitter account last February 16. (Star Cinema ABS-CBN)

“…The story is simply told thus giving it a natural flow. The direction makes the film appealing for both millennials and non-millennials alike. You are almost tempted to wish and hope the film would end ala-Ishmael Bernal or ala-Lino Brocka. But Direk Bernal is into her own generation and knows her present audiences at the palm of her hand. Some dramatic scenes actually ended up funny but the actors were so versatile you end up laughing and in tears at the same time. Indeed, the performances of both lead actors and supporting cast were so compelling you felt almost everyone in the cast deserved an acting award. The surprise actor in the cast was Xian Lim who delivered not just a focused performance but a highly stirring one. His hospital scene with Vilma Santos was a stand-out one could hear people quietly sobbing behind me. Angel Locsin has no match as a supporting actress, the part of Nonie Buencamino (as the padre de familia) has all the hallmark of a good actor and the part of Shamaine Centenera Buencamino and Vangie Labalan (no matter how brief) registered with layers of pathos. Most of all, this could be Vilma Santos’ best performance to date. The transition of her character from corporate mogul to repentant mother revealed the true artist in her. The musical scoring blended with the story but my favorite part is the household scenes with the character of Vilma Santos noting the significance of the chandelier in the living room with a movement from Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 in the background. The grandness of the music matched the leading character’s grand ambition. It is also gratifying to find classical music find its way in a family drama…” – Pablo A. Tariman, Arts News Service, 6 February 2016

1972 Best Actress

Leading Roles – The year was 1972, FAMAS was still considered the only credible award giving body in the Philippines. The musical still rampant but slowly but surely the young rivalry of Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos is forming another path. The race for who is the better actress started with both teen stars venturing to dramatic film roles. With Nora’s And God Smiled At Me and Vilma’s Dama De Noche, the fight went from box office queens, miss Philippines movies into a more serious title of best actress. The hype started with both entering their films to 1972 Quezon City Film Festival. Nora won the best actress despite a heated protest from Vilma’s camp. Indeed, Nora’s machine of supporters were on top of things. She will venture into several film projects under her own film outfit NV productions and she is well positioned to emerge on top come the yearly acting race. Come, 1973, the 21st FAMAS was indeed a fight between the young stars. Nora wasn’t nominated for And God Smile At Me, instead she was nominated for A Gift of Love, the best actress went into a tie. Considered a veteran, Boots Anson Roa, winner for her comedic performance opposite the very young and still leading actor of this time, Joseph Estrada in Tatay Na Si Erap. Roa shared the honor with Vilma Santos for her portrayal of opposite character twin sister in Dama De Noche. The very first best actress award for Vilma, it was a sweet revenge from the very first battle at the QFF and there will be more to come, not only from FAMAS but the other award giving bodies that will follow. A small note, Nick Romano won best supporting actor for another Vilma Santos film, Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma (READ MORE).

This is it folks! Nora Aunor vs. Vilma Santos, And God Smiled at Me vs. Dama de Noche. Which one will the FAMAS bless? The awards of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences are still far away though. But not the Quezon City filmfest awards which will be known tonight at the Nation Cinerama theater. One persistent prediction in showbiz is that Vilma will make it, hands down. However, Nora watchers are just as insistent that her ‘inspired’ performance in And God Smiled at Me is simply ‘super’ and worth no less than a best actress award. Dama de Noche is showing in three theaters– Remar, Delta and Sampaguita. 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. Dama de Noche is Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Production’s entry in the QC filmfest which started on Oct.15. It is a very simple story, almost run-of-the-mill, but Nestor Torre, Jr. who wrote the screenplay saved it with his meaningful and amusing lines. However, the movie is occasionally dragging with the Filipino moviemania for spoonfed sequences. Will the memorable Rosanna win for Vilma the most coveted award tonight? Or will Nora the Superstar make it? The die is cast and tonight is the NIGHT. New Frontier Cinema in Cubao was never before so loaded that the fire exits had to be opened to let in air. It was so badly jampacked, one swore it couldn’t be worse. But it was, a ‘stand-mate’ (there were no seats) quipped, ‘Noong first day, mas grabe.’ And so through a snail-pacing 20-yard pila and after exactly one hour, one got inside the theater, at last!

On the screen: La Aunor doing her thing– praying. A few steps away from the chapel, in their home in Davao, her mother (Naty Santiago) lies dying. Damian (Luis Gonzales) sits by the sickbed, comforting his wife, assuring her she is the only woman he has ever truly loved. The good woman dies and Celina (Nora) is bitter. She had prayed so hard, had run so fast from the chapel home, only to find the elder women reciting the litany of the dead. Here, the first sobs from a woman stand-mate as Celina pounds clenched fists on the door. After the burial, father tells daughter the well-kept secret of her being illegitimate. Celina shows bitterness again, but the good daughter that she is, she soon gets over from the shock and decides to live with it. Damian brings Celina to Manila as his ‘inaanak.’ They’ll wait for the perfect timing, he says and then he’ll tell his wife Olga (Lucita Soriano) everything. The perfect timing never comes. One morning, Celina just can’t help calling him ‘Itay,’ telling him she loves him very much and that he must come home at once, please. The tender moments take too long, and everybody in the theater knows Damian is ‘tsk, tsk, tsk, mamamatay.’ Everybody is right. At the hospital, the secret lets loose as Celina jerks in agony. ‘Itay, Itay,’ she sobs, in the presence of Damian’s wife and two adopted daughters. Here, Nora’s bid for a best actress award really begins.

The three witches (oh, how the fans hated them) now maltreat Celina all the more, slapping her, pulling her hair, kicking her right in the tummy. All through these, Celina’s only consolation is her love for Carding (Tirso Cruz III), the laundry-woman’s (Nenita Jana) son. He is blind. He is desperate. He loves Celina very much but ‘wala akong karapatang umibig.’ And so he contemplates suicide, sneaking out one night, begging between yells of ‘Gusto ko nang mamamatay,’ for a vehicle to run over him. An irked driver shouts at him: ‘Ano ka ba, bulag?’ A woman fan shouted too: ‘wag kayong tumawa, serious yan.’ And then, what do you know, another death: not the blind leading man (that would’ve been a blunder) but his mother, who had followed him. After so much unbearable beating and tearful moments between the lovers, Celina delivers her ultimate prayer — she can’t take it anymore. AND GOD SMILES AT HER. God grants her a golden voice (for a while one thought that was only the beginning of the movie, after no less than two-and-a-half hours) and she sings all her heart at the foot of the altar. And this is not the end of it. Nora Aunor won the Quezon City Film Festival Best Actress award and her movie, “And God Smiled at Me” also took home seven more including the Best Picture and Best Actor awards. In reaction to the article above and the filmfest award results, a reader sent an open letter to the QC Filmfest Judges. Read the text in full and be the judge yourself. However, in 1973, Vilma Santos received the FAMAS Best Actress award (in a tie with Boots Anson-Roa in “Tatay na si Erap”) in the movie “Dama de Noche,” thus avenging her loss to perennial rival, Nora Aunor in the Quezon City Film Festival (READ MORE).

“…I didn’t expect to win, although marami ang nagsasabi sa akin na malaki ang pag-asa ko. Ako naman, I don’t believe anything unless talagang nangyayari. Kasi noon, I expected to win, sa film festival din sa Quezon City, but somebody else did. I was very disappointed. Noong awards night nga, I wasn’t convinced I would win hanggang hindi ko pa hawak ‘yong trophy…” – Ricardo F. Lo, Expressweek Magazine January 19, 1978 (READ MORE)

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Ang Gabi ng Parangal (THE AWARDS NIGHT)
The 21st FAMAS Award Winners
FAMAS Recognitions
List of Neminees and Winners for 1972 FAMAS
The First FAMAS Grand Reunion of Awardees
The 1972 7th Manila Film Festival
And God Smiled at Me vs. Dama de Noche
IMDB: Dama de noche (1972)
IMDB: Emmanuel H. Borlaza
IMDB: Edgar Mortiz
Vilma-Nora Then, Nora-Vilma Now
Filmography: Dama De Noche (1972)
Official Web-site: Nora Aunor ICON
IMDB: Nora Aunor
IMDB: Vilma Santos
Wikipedia: Vilma Santos
Wikipedia: Nora Aunor
Nora Aunor Film Actress
Vilma Santos Film Actress

Awards and Recognitions in Socio-Civic/Public Service

Awards and Recognitions in Socio-Civic/Public Service 

1975 Local Government of Nueva Ecija Most Oustanding Nueva Ecijana
1992 Quezon City Jaycees TOYA – Ten Young Acievers Award
1994 (Citation Needed) Parangal ng Bayan Award
1997 Dove Foundation Celebrity Mother of Gintong Ina Award
1998 City of Manila Most Oustanding Manileno
2000 Boy Scout of the Philippines Best Over-All Local Council Performance
2000 AKAP Outstanding mayor in Region IV
2000 Civil Service Commission Outstanding City Mayor
2000 GMMSF Recognition Award in Government Service
2001 Dept. of Health Outstanding Local Executive
2002 Presidential Award The Cleanest & Greenest Local Gov’t
2002 Ten Outstanding Young Achievers Young Achievers Awardee
2003 Mary Kay Philippines Woman With a Heart
2003 Pulse Asia, inc. Most admired Filipino Men & Women – #6
2004 BizNewsAsia Magazine Power 100: Most Powerful Filipino #86
2005 Gawad Suri Award Exemplary Public Servant
2005 Government of Jersey City, NJ, USA Honorary Key to the city of Jersey City (USA)
2005 International Association of Pediatric Dentistry Exemplary Public Servant
2005 Bright Smiles Bright Futures (Australia) Bright Smiles Bright Futures Award
2005 UP College of Public Health Alumni Society Honorary Member
2005 Pamilyang Pilipino Organization Inc (Ateneo) Huwarang Pilipino Award
2005 Regional Sandugo Outstanding Mayor Hall of Fame
2005 Lipa City Public College (Batangas, Phils) Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa
2006 Unlad Pilipinas Award Unlad Pilipinas Award
2006 Survey among Filipino students Ranked No. 1 – Positive Youth Role Model
2006 Dept. of Social Welfare & Development Outstanding City Mayor
2006 National Association of Dental Trade Inc. Gawad Munting Ngiti Awardee
2007 People Asia Magazine People of the Year
2007 BAYI Exemplary Women
2007 The National Voluntary Blood Services Outstanding Local Government Executive
2008 FAMAS Exemplary Award
2009 University of North Eastern Philippines (Iriga) Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa
2009 Malacanang Palace One of the “Culture Friendly” LGUs
2009 PEMSEA Recognition of Local Government
2010 Reader’s Digest Asia Most Trusted Filipino in Survey – #17
2010 NCCT and the Department of Education Lifetime Achievement Award
2010 Gawad Suri Exemplary Award
2011 Go Negosyo, Babae Kapuso Ka ng Bayan Starpreneur Awardee

Source: Awards and Recognitions in Socio-Civic/Public Service

Vilma Santos Nakataya ang Buhay para sa Paglilingkod sa Lipa City (Pilipino Reporter, April 24, 1998)

Collection of brief articles (repost)

Vilmanians, diehard fans of Vilma Santos, 45, the renowned actress-politician and the longest-reigning box-office queen in the Philippines. Last year, hundreds of screaming Vilmanians jammed the Quezon City tax office as Santos showed up to pay delinquent taxes. Many of them had come to seek her authograph. Santos, whose full name is Rosa Vilma Tuazon Santos-Recto, began her career as an award-winning child actress and singer in 1963. In 1992, she married Ralph Gonzalez Recto, scion of a famous political clan in Batangas province, just south of Manila. Recto, then only 28, parlayed his wife’s name to win a congressional seat in Batangas. He ran as “Mr. Vilma Santos.” Last year, Santos herself contested and won the elections for mayor of Lipa City in Batangas. She has denied accusations that her family is trying to build a political dynasty. People vote for the Recto clan, she said in a television interview before the elections, because “they had done a good job in the province.” Vilmanians would unhesitatingly agree. – June 25, 1999 Asiaweek

Vilma Santos ranked 86th in BizNewsAsia Magazines’ 100 Most Powerful Filipinos – Education: Crash course on local governance, primary health care, human resource development and fiscal administration, UP. The Star for all season has proved cynics wrong that movie people have little between their ears, aside from a beautiful face or a handsome profile. As mayor of burgeoning Lipa, she has been chosen “most outstanding city mayor” in 2000 by the Civil Service Commission. Her popularity helped her husband Ralph Recto win a senate seat in 2001, and she can easily win a senate seat for herself if she gets tired of running Lipa city. The mayor with an ageless face received the Ten Young Achievers award in 1992. – BizNewsAsia Magazine, June 2004

Charito Solis: “Vilma is a better actress than Nora” – OOPS! Keep your cool, dear Noranians, and listen to Charito Solis’ explanation before you accuse her of being, uh, “maka-Vilma.” “Vilma has a wider range as an actress while Nora is limited and typecast in certain roles,” Charito said in a tone devoid of intrigue, answering our question in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner. “Si Vilma, puede kahit anong role, kahit bold. You can’t imagine Nora doing a bold role, can you?” But, and that’s the big but, “Nora has more depth than Vilma,” Charito added, “and it’s because of her expressive eyes. Nora is very effective in scenes where she doesn’t say anything, just act with her eyes, at ‘yan ang kulang ni Vilma. Vilma has to say something to be effective.” Charito has worked with Vilma twice (in “Mga Tigre ng SierraCruz” and “Modelong Tanso”) and with Nora once (“Minsan May Isang Ina”). Speaking in general now, said Charito, “Vilma is the better actress.” We asked Charito that ticklish question during the lunch presscon for her latest movie, the star-studded Mother’s Day offering of Regal Films titled “Dear Mama”, which also stars Gloria Romero, Laurice Guillen, Snooky, Janice de Belen, Julie Vega, Manilyn Reynes, Jaypee de Guzman, Rey “PJ” Abellana and Alicia Alonzo in the title role. Our own personal opinion somehow jibes with that of Charito whose “throne”, I suppose, will be inherited by Vilma (while Nora will inherit the “throne” of the other drama queen, Lolita Rodriguez). – Funfare by Ricardo F. Lo, The Phil. Star – 03 April 1984

Vilma is the first Filipino actress to be featured in Time Magaziine. – The Philippines: Let Them See Films. When politics became pretty much a one-man show in the Philippines, the people lost a prime source of entetainment. Part of the gap has been filled by a burhome-grown film industry, which displayed nine of its new productions at the Manila Film Festival last month. Some 2 million moviegoers saw the films. Some of the movies were historical dramas pointing up the search for a Filipino identity during the long years of Spanish rule. But the most acclaimed were contemporary stories with a heavy populist touch. The festival’s smash hit was Burlesk Queen, starring Filipino Superstar Vilma Santos. It tells the syrupy tale of a poor girl who turns to burlesque dancing to support a crippled father. She falls in love with the son of a politician, elopes with him, and then tragically loses him back to his possessive mother. The treacle is supplemented with some gritty argument about the rights and wrongs of burlesque, with a lefthanded dig at censors. Huffs the burlesque impresario at one point: “Who are they to dictate what the people should see?” – Time Magazine Feb. 13, 1978 Vol. 111 No. 7

Actress-politician Vilma Santos Recto receives a picture frame containing her image and that of the gumamela named after her, Hibiscus-Rosasinensis, from plant breeder Reynold Pimentel.

Manila – TV artist Mari-Len Martinez’ single debut on Villar is “If You Could Read My Mind.” her signing fee is one fo the highest here….Jean Young, another TV artist whose national breakout years ago was “Nikki Hoeki,” also was signed by Villar. Formerly, she was recording artist of Jonal, now in the verge of closing up…The new male contractees of Villar are the Two of Us (Jojit Paredes and Ronnie Henares) and balladeer Jun Polistico. Single debut of the Two of Us is “Snow Queen of Texas” while Polistico’s is “Theme from “Godfather.” Alice Mendez, grand national champion of the institurional “Tawag ng Tanghalan” radio-TV amateur program, debuted in the release of a “A House is Not a Home” on Pioneer, a label of Vicor Music. The song was her winning piece last year…Vicor is preparing the album debut on Badjaoof TV host and columnist Justo C. Justo. The LP will be in the Visayas-Mindanao region of the Philippines. Film artist Walter Navarro (Vicor) will have his first LP, “King of Balladeer,” this month. He is a contract star of Lea Productions and principal mainstay of the El Bodegon Club. Navarro is doing a film musical with Vilma Santos (Wilear’s) with Mirick Productions…the film musical “Winter Holiday,” which stars Nora Aunor (Alpha) and Tirso Cruz III (Vicor) was second top grosser in the recently concluded Manila Film Festival. The team’s movie musical “Guy and Pip” was the top grosser last year…”Remembrance,” another film musical, was chosen “best musical” in the Manila Film Festival. The film stars Vilma Santos (Wilear’) and Edgar Mortiz (Wilear’s). The film also won in the categories of best film editing, best sound and best script…Vicor artist Victor Laurel will do a film with Lea Productions opposite Hilda Koronel. – Oskar Salazar, Billboard July 29 1972

The First Grand Slam Best Actress in the Philippines

Figure 1: Best Actress from FAMAS, Gawad Urian, Film Academy of the Philippines, and CMMA

Figure 1: Best Actress from FAMAS, Gawad Urian, Film Academy of the Philippines, and CMMA

The oldest award giving body in the Philippines was the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences simply called FAMAS. It was launch two years after the Maria Clara awards folded in 1951. FAMAS shared the same name with the American film academy; AMPAS until the later complained and the Filipino organization have to change theirs into the current acronym. FAMAS created a history of controversies throughout their more than sixty years in award-giving business mostly due to their questionable selection of winners. In 2006, FAMAS experienced another setback when two groups divided the organization due to a controversial election of its officers. As the legal battle settled, the battling groups decided to just hand out their own awards, one used the name FAMAS and the other the Maria Clara Awards. Like its infancy, the Maria Clara Awards did not reach its maturity and died the second time. This is not the first time FAMAS experience disgruntled “break-away” members forming their own award. Prior to 1976, FAMAS retained their status as the most prestigious recognition a Filipino actor could have. Charito Solis, who won best actress at the Asian Film Festival in 1967 used to proudly bring her FAMAS trophies on the film set to intimidate starlets and to instigate professionalism. The breakaway group of critics wish to distinguish themselves from FAMAS by successfully branded their award as not for actors who overtly act in films, they catered to the ones who are restrained and controlled. Hence, the term “Pang-FAMAS na acting” was born, which means over-acting.

The new group of practicing critics handed out their first award in 1976 and called themselves as the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (The Filipino Film Critics) and their awards as Gawad Urian. The critics created a name for its credible choices of winners throughout the years. This untainted reputation made the Gawad Urian, the most sought after award in the Philippines.

Two years after the critics handed out their Gawad Urian, the Catholic Church joined the derby by handing out their own version of movie awards. The Catholic Mass Media Awards came to fruition in 1978 with the late Cardinal Jaime Sin in charge of the ceremony. CMMA honour not only films but also television, print, radio, and recently advertisement.

Five years afterwards, came the establishment of the Philippines’ counterpart of OSCAR. Consists of different guilds, the very first academy awards, now called Luna Awards, handed out in 1983. After 25 years, the Luna Awards cemented a reputation as “the popularity contest awards,” which means each guild votes for their favourites and not necessarily about merits. They tried very hard to adopt a new set of voting rules including different nominating group that represented each guild to resolve this issues but like the OSCAR, the results are sometimes questionable. The common consensus was that the Luna Awards remained far behind Gawad Urian. Two years after the creation of Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna awards, another group joined the award giving business.

The Philippines Movie Press Club or the PMPC handed out their first Star awards in 1985. The Star awards were considered the Philippines’ counterpart of the Golden Globes. And like the Golden Globes, the Star also honours television. The only difference is that the Star Awards hands out their film and televisions ceremonies separately. Consists of publicists and entertainment writers, who are member of PMPC (Philippine Movie Press Club) the Star Awards followed the footsteps of Gawad Urian with very credible choices of winners but just like FAMAS, the Star Awards experienced the same fate with a disgruntled members formed their own version of the same awards. The Entertainment Press Society was born with their Golden Screen Awards in 2004.

Today, in addition to the Gawad Urian, FAMAS, Luna, CMMA, Star Awards, and Golden Screen, we also have the PASADO awards from an organization of academics; the YCC, Young Critics Circle Awards from a group of film students; the Gawad Tanglaw from an organization of film and arts’ instructors. Lately, the OMG Awards by the internet company, Yahoo Philippines, and the MTRC Awards by the board of censors joined the now, overcrowded award giving bodies.

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 actresses 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 its 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 films 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 only 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 imitating 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 is 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 Once),” 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 did not 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 “gaga” 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, once in a while, Vilma “transcends her physical limitations, as in Rubia Servios…” – Nestor Torre Jr. (film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983

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

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

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 sour grapes.

Body of Work – 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 of 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 result 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 partly 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 sculpted trophy was in the bag already. By the way, who are these critics anyway?

Practicing Film Critics – Movie writer, Billy R. Balbastro described the Manunuris: “…The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Filipino…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)…”

The 1973 Scandal – 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. Because of the popular nominees with their loyal supporters, the tie in the 1973 best actress category became a hot topic with both Boots Anson-Roa (Tatay Na Si Erap) and Vilma Santos (Dama De Noche) 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…”

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.

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 cherry to an already sumptuous 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 disappointments 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 the former first lady, Madame 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 politically 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 craftsmanship 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 former 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 Tolentino (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 best actress award. And like when Nora received her TOWNS award, the former first lady, Imelda Marcos handed out the very first Academy award best actress to Vilma.

Vilma won her third major best actress in 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 fanfare.

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 winning 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, “Let’s 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 film fest 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 papel 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 at least two significant contributions. Nominees for…best actress…are Gina Alajar (Init o Lamig, Pusong Uhaw), Nora Aunor (Uod at Rosa, 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…”

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 chosen 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 disappointment, 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 accolade to 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.

The history continues – Three years after Vilma Santos registered the very first grand slam win, Philip Salvador replicated the honours by winning all the best actor in 1985 via Lino Brocka’s political drama, ‘Bayan Ko kapit sa Patalim.’ Salvador won five majors as Star Awards were added to the four. The next year, 1986, Nida Blanca followed suit with a best supporting actress grand slam for her outstanding performance in the film, “Magdusa Ka.” Then four years after Blanca’s came the most awaited turn for Vilma’s rival.

Noranians were ecstatic as their idol claimed all the best actress hardwares of 1990 for “Andrea Paano Ba Ang Maging Isang Ina.” A deserving consolation as the film bombed at the box office. Nora’s stiffest competition came from Vilma’s two films, Lino Brocka’s “Hahamakin Lahat,” and Laurice Guillen’s “Kapag Langit ang Humatol.” But the table was turned and Nora claimed almost all of the major awards except from CMMA where she was declared runner up to Gina Alajar.

By 1990, CMMA was relegated into the minor league of award giving bodies replaced by much more popular Star Awards. Two years after Nora Aunor claimed the honour as grand slam winner, Lorna Tolentino took the crown for her effective performance in 1992′s “Narito Ang Puso Ko.”

Then back to Vilma again. – In 1993, Vilma Santos successfully relived the life of the first PWA in Laurence Guillen’s “Dahil Mahal Kita: Dolzura Cortez Story.” Not only the film recorded the second grand slam win for Vilma as best actress of 1993, the film was also a smashed hit. The two years intervals prove to be a normal pattern as Vilma’s closest rival took all the trophies again in 1995.

Nora Aunor hit the jackpot via true to life film, the “Flor Contemplacion Story.” And not only did she won the grand slams, she added an international recognition winning the best actress at Cairo International Film Festival. In addition to the majors, Aunor also received the best performer from YCC and the box office queen title from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (GMMSFI).

The next years, two actresses claimed the grand slam honours. Sharon Cuneta as best actress for her effective performance in “Madrasta (the Stepmother)” and the best supporting actress awards for Gina Alajar in “Mulanay, Sa Pusod Ng Paraiso.”

Then back to Vilma Santos again after two years for the third time. Vilma Santos won all the best actress awards for 1998′s “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa (Lea’s Story)”. Then like Aunor in 1995, she added an international recognition with her grand slam win. Vilma was cited as the best actress at the Brussels International Film Festival. And also received the YCC-Film Desk’s best performer award.

By 1999, the grand slams wins were alive and kicking. Elizabeth Oropeza won all the best actress hardwares for her very intense performance as a prostitute in 1998′s “Bulaklak Ng Maynila.” The same year, an unknown actress Glydel Mercado, surprised everyone as she won all the best supporting actress awards coincidentally from a Nora Aunor comeback vehicle, “Sidhi.”

Then in 2002, Vilma Santos for the fourth time claimed the grand slam title by winning all the best actress awards for her superb performance in the film, “Dekada 70 (the seventies).” At the same time, Vilma’s co-star, Piolo Pascual declared his arrival to the big league of fine acting by winning all the best supporting actor awards. The film also gave Vilma her second international recognition winning the best actress from Cinemanila International Film Festival. In addition, she also received hardwares from PASADO (Pampelikulang Samahan ng mga Dalubguro) and YCC-Film Desk in its annual Circle Citations.

In Conclusion – For Noranians, Nora Aunor should be given the honour as the very first grand slam win in 1976 as they argued Aunor won the best actress from FAMAS and Gawad Urian, the only major award giving bodies back then. Unfortunately, this wins didn’t create the tag line, grand slam. Also, Vilma Santos, as film producer won all the best picture award in 1978 for Pagputi ng Uwak Pagitim ng Tagak from FAMAS and Gawad Urian, still the only major award giving bodies. Unfortunately, no one said this is a grand slam win.

It was only when Vilma Santos won four majors in 1983 did the tag line “grand slam” came to its birth at least in Philippine award giving film history. And so, history will record Vilma’s achievements as the very first actress who claimed all four major best actresses in one calendar year based on the true meaning of the word “grand slam.” She is also the current record holder of the most grand slam wins, four [Relasyon (1982); Dahil Mahal Kita – The Dulzora Cortez Story (1993); Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998); and “Dekada 70” (2002)]. – Florencio “Rendt” Viray, V Magazine 2007, (READ MORE)

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