Vilma Santos is a popular multi-awarded actress and politician in the Philippines. She's known as the "Queen of Philippine Movies," "Queenstar" and "Star for All Seasons." She is currently the Congresswoman of District of Lipa, Batangas (Philippines). This site is mostly about her film career.
The Plot: – Leron Leron Sinta stars Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Jay Ilagan, Florence Aguilar, Lillian Laing, Karlo Vero in this film that fuses music and film perfectly. Witness their characters explore the world of love and the beauty and madness that come with it. Watch them as they perform certain scenes with song numbers bringing pleasure and entertainment to the next level. – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)
The Reviews: – “Leron-leron Sinta” (1972) started when Gigi (Florence Aguilar) and Beth (Vilma Santos) moved to a new house and found new suitors, Spike (Jay Ilagan) and Noel (Edgar Mortiz). The two pairs swapped partners a couple of times that by the time they decided to elope they decided to stop their civil wedding at the last-minute after they realized they’re all not ready. Leron-Leron Sinta reminded us of Glee, with Florence Aguilar auditioning to a school choir and with several cover songs like Lennon’s “Imagine.” It also featured a funny scene where Edgar Mortiz did a duet with Florence, he, singing in his window while she answered back, singing in their house balcony. Feeling irritated, both Vilma and Jay sarcastically screamed, “wow! ala-Romeo and Juliet!” Leron is watchable but has some noticeable flaws. On the first part, suddenly, we see both Jay and Edgar cross-dressing and we realized that this was a continuity scene of the later part of the film, where Gigi and Beth decided to entertain other suitors (as both got fed up with Jay and Edgar’s courting antics). Like most musical films in the 70s, there’s the typical travelogue scenes. The film showcased the city of Antipolo while the four main characters did some sight-seeing, like tourists. As part of the story, the film showcase Edgar and Florence’s singing talents which were justifiable as both were member of their school’s choir unlike other musical films where the singing scenes were just added with no connections to the film’s story. This can be attributed to a much equipped team of writer, Nestor Torre Jr. and director, Emmanuel Borlaza, who also came up with Vilma’s first significant drama, Dama de Noche. But like so many film in this era, Leron-leron Sinta, also ended with a musical production number, this time, it’s a Christmas medley. Child star Beth Manlongat and Angelito provided some funny moments. And Lilian Laing too. But the one star who stole the film from the four main characters was veteran comedian, Bayani Casimiro who was very funny as the forgetful judge and who tried to marry the four undecided teens.
The Plot: – Pulot-gata, Pwede Kaya? (1977) – An intrigued filled love affair between Baby Abueva a poor lass of Baguio and Teddy Burgos a millionaire from Zamboanga. An affair married with the appearance of Lota. – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)
The Reviews: – Serialized in Wakasan Komiks Magazine published by Nestor Leonidez, and under the direction of one of the most workaholic director of the 70s, Leonardo L. Garcia, “Pulot-Gata, Pwede Kaya?” started with rich man Bobby, who is trying to live a new persona as a poor bell boy to lure a hotel receptionist Baby Abueva (Vilma Santos). Abueva won Baguio City’s 1977 Summer Girl. She then started some modeling gig while being pursued by the bell boy, Teddy/Bobby (Romeo Vasquez). Teddy’s assistant played by comedian, Tange, took Bobby’s identity and became the boss. They tried to cover up their secrets until Bobby’s long time ex-fiance, played by the young Suzanne Gonzales, found out what the two are up to. Suzanne then, concocted a plan to destroy Bobby’s new affair by asking Bobby’s opportunist attorney played by Rodolfo “Boy” Garcia to produce a fake marriage contract. She then confronted Baby with this document. As a result, Baby broke-up with Teddy/Bobby, who earlier proposed to marry her. Bobby discovered the fake marriage contract and fired his attorney. He then explained this to Baby and they reconciled. The End. Pulot-Gata was one of the several hit films of Romeo Vasquez and Vilma Santos. And one of the forgettable ones. It exploits their real and reel life relationships. Despite the film’s poor material, you can see their screen chemistry in several light comedic scenes. Ruel Vernal’s fight scene with Vasques can be shortened or edited out. Ditto with Susane Gonzales scenes in the hotel room, attempting to seduce back her ex-fiance. In addition to some comedic scenes that can be edited, Vilma’s dramatic scene near end, can also be shortened. A more watchable film of Vi and Romeo were “Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon” and “Nag-aapoy na Damdamin.” After watching “Pulot-Gata, Puede Kaya?” (literally means, “Sweet-Coconut, Can it be?” which can be assumed about the May-December affair of Santos and Vasquez), one can clearly say, “YES” to the real relationship of Vi and Romeo but NO to this films. – RV
The Plot: – In a strange turn of events, Dolores (Vilma Santos) moves in to live with her grandfather, who has sole custody of her ever since her mother was imprisoned for the murder of Dolores’ father. Mystery unfolds as Dolores stays with her grandfather when members of the household are murdered one by one. Will Dolores escape the chaos unraveling around her or will she be the next victim? – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)
The Reviews: – Hired by Don Rafael Valdez (Joe Sison), Attorney Andrade (Leopoldo Salcedo) finally convinced Dolores (Vilma Santos) to live with her rich grandfather, Don Rafael. This is despite the warning of her aunt, Tiya Dadeng (Patria Plata) and the warning of her mother, Lourdes (Perla Bautista) who is in prison. She was framed-up and wrongfully convicted of her father’s death. When Dolores came to her grandfather’s mansion, one by one, people are starting to die. This includes her grandfather’s young wife (Elizabeth Vaughn); Monica Valdez (Celia Rodriguez); Magda (Divina Valencia); the gardener (Yoyoy Villame); and Marita (Helen Gamboa). By the time the last victim died, the surprise killer was expose, the killer was Dolores. She tried to revenge her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s death. It was also revealed that her aunt’s husband (Bert Le Roy Jr.) was the one who killed her father. Her father tried to rape their grandfather’s nurse, Marita (Helen Gamboa), she fought hard and stabbed her father. Bert Leroy Jr. framed-up Dolores’ mother who was the first person on the scene of the crime. In exchange for his silence he blackmailed Marita with sexual favors. Marita didn’t know that Dolores’ father was still alive but Leroy finished the job by stabbing him more.
Written by Jose Flores Sibal with writing credit from the film’s lead star, Vilma Santos, Biktima was surprisingly watchable. Compared to other Vilma Santos films that Nilo Saez directed like Kampanerang Kuba, he did a convincing job in ironing out the many characters of the film (maybe except for Divina Valencia’s role who was one of the first to die). This is perhaps due to the excellent cast. The one who stands out more were Celia Rodriguez and Helen Gamboa. Both gave subdued performances. Edgar Mortiz’ role as assistant investigator was just to appeal to the loyal festival followers of Vi and Bot. By this time, it was clear that Vilma’s career are heading upward while Mortiz was heading to a different path. The ending of the film, showing a bald Vilma Santos in preparation for her demise was the film’s dramatic highlight.
Plot Description: Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when she scheduled to flight was delayed. At a hotel where she is staying, Sarah encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valdez), a regular guest who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiancé, Alfredo (Tommy Abuel) whose dream of marrying a “virgin” is dashed. Strangely, Sarah and Eric’s paths cross again at a time when their respective marriages are in disarray. Their meeting strikes both as “déjà vu.” Could it be that they have met each other in the past? Their suspicious are confirmed after Eric consults a psychic. As it turns out, Sarah and Eric are the reincarnation of Guada and Enrico, two lovers who had an illicit affair sixty years ago. When Guada’s husband, Limbo (Ruel Vernal), learned of her affair, he went on a murderous rampage. Now Sarah and Eric seem destined to follow the same path. But in whose spouse does the spirit of Limbo rest? Is it the disabled Alfredo? Or Eric’s estranged wife Cristy (Chanda Romero)? – Viva Films
Film Review: The technical preview of “Karma” the other night was delayed for about an hour but I did not mind waiting because I was quite certain that I’d be seeing a fine film. To while away the time, “Firecracker,” co-starring American actors with local talents like Chanda Romero, Vic Diaz, and Rey Malonzo was shown. Chanda and Vic delivered their lines themselves but surprisingly Rey didn’t. Before one whole reel could roll, the prints of “Karma” arrived. “Don’t stop it yet, a bed scene is coming,” Mario Bautista protested. Happily, “Karma” turned out to be as good as I expected. It’s performers are first-rate – Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero – so their award-winning acting didn’t surprise me at all. The script was outstanding but even that was expected, coming from director Danny Zialcita. What impressed me was that minor parts were played by name actors. The housekeeper who appeared in one short sequence could have been played by any elderly woman but those who made the movie wanted nothing less than Etang Discher. The psychiatrist could have been played by any decent-looking man but they didn’t settle for anybody less than Vic Silayan. The male lover at the start of the story had to be acted out by Dante Rivero, that at the end by Christopher de Leon. The movie boasted of several bold scenes. Those involving Vilma weren’t much as we know for a fact that Vilma could show only so much. One scene showing Chanda was a different story. It showed her with absolutely nothing on, yet it didn’t offend anybody as it was executed in style, shot with great care. There was just one thing, which looked unnatural to me – the way in which one of the main characters killed himself. “That’s all right,” Danny assured me. “Before we shot it, we double-checked its possibility.” Reincarnation and transference are undoubtedly mind-boggling subjects but, to his utmost credit, Danny managed to present them simply, bringing them down for everybody to understand. “Bala lang yan. Katawan lang ito. Babalik at babalik kami sa mundong ito,” Dante vowed. Come back they did as they promised building the foundation of the story. – Bob Castillo, People’s Journal Dec. 12, 1981 (READ MORE)
Sa pagbabago ng estado ni Vilma Santos, tila nagbabago na rin ang kanyang approach sa kanyang career. Dahil hindi na career ang unang priority niya sa buhay, lalong nagiging professional ang kanyang tingin sa trabaho. Dahil hindi na twenty-four hours a day ang kanyang buhay artista, alam na niyang I-apportion ang bawat minuto na walang aksaya. Sa set ng Relasyon ni Ishmael Bernal, hangang-hanga ang director sa bagong pang-unawa ni Vilma sa trabaho. Dumarating sa oras, kabisado ang linya (memorizing lines for Vilma, of course, was never a problem even the days she was shooting five pictures simultaneously), full attention sa sinasabi ng direktor, walang problema. Kung pagbabasehan sa naging resulta ng Karma, lalong maganda ngayon si Vilma, mas mariin ang kanyang pagganap, mas mature ang kanyang approach at understanding sa kaniyang papel. Swerteng-swerte ang pagkapanalo niya ng best actress sa nakaraang Film fest. Sayang at wala siya upang tanggapin mismo ang tropeo. Pero lalong naging makabuluhan para sa kanya ang sinabi ng kapwa niya artista sa Karma nang sabihin ni Chanda Romero na “napakaganda naman ng karma ni Vilma. Mayroon na siyang Edu, mayroon siyang Lucky, ngayon ay mayroon pa siya nito (ang ibig sabihin ay ang best actress trophy),” sabay tilian ng mga fans sa loob ng Cultural Center, walang makapigil, walang makasaway. Pero, gaya ng dati, hindi naging madali kay Vilma ang pananalo. Nagpatas ang botohan ng dalawang beses – triple tie sila ni Gina Alajar at Charo Santos, hanggang ma-break ang deadlock at nakaungos ng isang boto si Vilma sa dalawa pa niyang kalaban. Tinawagan si Vilma ni Cirio Santiago, pinasundo sa isang limousine, pero nagdahilan ang Vilma. Ayaw niya sigurong umasa dahil minsan, sa isang awards night din, sinigurong siya ang mananalo pero hindi ganun ang nangyari. (I understand that Vilma really won but the verdict was changed afterwards through the representations and machinations of some influential press sectors.) Kunsabagay, wala rin si Charito Solis noong awards dahil sabi sa akin ni Chato, talagang hindi niya inaasahang manalo ang maliit na papel na iyon sa Kisapmata. Noon pa mang preview pa lamang, maugong na ang balitang baka si Charito ang manalo bilang supporting actress pero hindi niya yun pinansin dahil tiyak na tiyak siya na si Vic Silayan ang mananalo. Sinabi pa niya sa interview niya kay Armida Siguion-Reyna sa Let’s Talk Movies na napakagaling ni Vic. Sa set pa lamang daw, natitiyak na niya halos na si Vic ay mananalo sa Kisapmata. Sa naturan ding programa, sinabi ni Armida sa pagre-review niya ng Karma na talagang magaling ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma sa Karma na parang nakuha nitong punuan ang ilang mahalagang kakulangan ng pelikula. – Oscar Miranda (READ MORE)
“26 years after we first seen “Karma,” the film remained Vilmanians’ favorites and one of Dany Zialcita’s best film. Glossy with crisp dialouge, the film was a big hit at the 1981 Metro Manila Film Festival and earned Vilma the festival’s best actress. Here was what movie reporter Mario Bautista said about her acting: “Ibang-iba” rin ang Vilma Santos sa “Karma.” Subdued na subdued ang performance ni Vi rito unlike in other films na all out ang emoting niya. Dito’y restrained siay at napaka-effective. Halimbawa sa eksena after the rape sa kanya ni Ronaldo Valdez. Nang sabihin niyang siya’y patungo sa kasal niya’y halos hindi na marinig ang kanyang tinig pero talaga namang damang-dama mo ang kirot sa kanyang dibdib. O kaya’y sa mga tagpong sinusumbatan siya ni Tommy Abuel na nanatili siyang kalmado at soft-spoken. We never thought Vilma can be that versatile!” – RV (READ MORE)
Zialcita’s first movie with Vilma was the 1980 festival entry, a drama about bigamy, Langis at Tubig. The following year, Zialcita and Santos joined forces again in antoher festival entry, Karma. The film earned Vilma her second Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. The following year, Ziacita’s Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan broke box office record, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila and assured Vilma Santos the box office queen of 1982. The total number of Vilma Santos and Danny Zialcita colloborations were four (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, Karma 1981, Langis at Tubig 1980, T-Bird at Ako). – RV (READ MORE)
“One of the most misunderstood occult concepts. The nearest equivalent in European thought is contained in the idea of fate, though the oriental term indicates the fate is not a haphazard sequence of events of experiences, but is dependent on actions of previous lives or spiritual conditions. The idea is that a spirit undertakes to live in an earthy body for a given period of time, usually in order to learn something which cannot be learned in a disembodied state, and has to accept rewards and punishments for good and bad deeds committed in previous incarnations. In order that understanding may grow, any evil committed against another person will have to be experienced by the perpetrator. The working out of Karma is not done consciously by ordinary people. The real reasons for the majority of people’s actions and relationships may be understood only when nature of their Karma is grasped – which is tantamount to saying that it is virtually impossible to understand or judge another person when seen in the context of one material lifetime only. Vilma Santos fits the role to a T. For the past years that she has suffered a string of major misfortunes and setbacks in real and reel life, she has hone herself as promise, a common objective: to give the viewing public what it wants – entertainment with a capital E. For Danny Zialcita, aside from having a good screenplay, good direction and brilliant actors and actresses, the movie should have artistic values. Karma promises to be a very good vehicle not only for Zialcita but also for Vilma Santos and the rest of the cast. Will this movie be a good KARMA for director Danny Zialcita, Vilma Santos and the rest of the cast? Watch the movie! It’ll be a different kind of feeling you’ll get after viewing it.” – Bond De Leon (READ MORE)
“…First, Karma is a quality picture. According to Mr. Ernie Rojas ng Sining Silangan, it was produiced not only to make it good in the box-office kungdi maging sa mga awards. Kungsabagay, may laman ang sinabi ni Mr. Rojas simply because Langis at Tubig, which was also producede by Sining Silangan last year, placed second in the tops earners and bagged the Best Actor Award for Dindo Fernando. Second, matagal na ring naipalabas ang latest film ni Vi na Hiwalay. Samakatuwid, maganda ang spacing ng mga pelikula niya, ‘Ika nga, hindi over-exposed ang beauty ni Vi. Dahil dito, nandiyan pa rin ang pananabik ng manonood kaya’t siguradong dudumugin ang Karma. …” – Manny A. Valera (READ MORE)
“…In my limited understanding it takes lifetimes to work off one’s karma. Movies, however, only run for two hours so filmmakers have to take liberties. In Danny Zialcita’s 1981 film Karma the protagonists have the added advantage of knowing exactly who they were in their past lives, thanks to a psychiatrist (Vic Silayan) who practices regression hypnosis. Eric (Ronaldo Valdez, who is smoking, and not just in the library where he researches his former incarnation) and Sarah (Vilma Santos) have already met under awful circumstances, but it turns out they’ve known each other much longer than that. In the past they were Enrico and Guada, illicit lovers murdered by Guada’s husband, Limbo. Limbo vows to follow them to the next life, but which form does he take? Is he now Enrico’s mentally unbalanced, pathologically jealous wife Cristy (Chanda Romero), or Sarah’s cruel, sadistic husband Alfredo (Tommy Abuel). It’s not a whodunnit, it’s a who-will-do-it? Vilma Santos turns in another fine portrayal of emotional turmoil. Nora Aunor had the advantage of expressing volumes with her eyes; Vilma expresses with her face, hands, and entire body. Nora was inward, Vilma outward. Ronaldo Valdez gives an understated performance, coolly delivering lines like, “In love there’s no measure of time”. Tommy Abuel overacts ridiculously, even for a guy so suspicious that he has his wife examined by a gynecologist to see if she’s had sex. Chanda Romero is fabulous. Her Cristy is a psychotic who never raises her voice; you can tell she has tranquilizers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The first time Cristy and Sarah meet is at the antique store Sarah manages at the old Virra Mall. Cristy breezes in, picks out a bunch of stuff, and announces that she doesn’t carry cash or credit cards, just send the bill to her husband. She points to another piece she buys, and Sarah says, helpfully, “That’s P9,500.” “Ok lang,” Cristy says, “Nagtanong ba ako? (Did I ask?)” One thing about Danny Zialcita movies: his rich people looked and sounded like rich people. He made movies for sophisticated grown-ups. If they don’t make movies like Zialcita’s anymore, it’s because people are no longer that articulate. Nobody casually tosses off bon mots anymore, everything has to be overstated for the dim. So we Zialcita fans are reduced to reciting favorite lines from his movies: “Puede bang makausap ang asawa ko na asawa mo na asawa ng buong bayan?” (May I speak to my husband who’s your husband who’s everybody’s husband?)…” – Jessica Rules The Universe (READ MORE)
“Totoong maraming magagandang pelikulang tagalog ang ginawa mula nung araw na nagsimula ito hanggang sa kasalukuyan. maraming mapagpipilian. Pero para masabing maganda ang isang pelikula at pagkalooban ito ng “Best Picture Award” ng mga award-giving ceremonies, ang inakala n’yang tatanghaling “Best Picture” ay hindi nananalo? Of course, kanya-kanyang taste, kanya-kanyang standard ang board of jurors, that’s why kung minsan, hindi tumatama ang prediction ng isang tao sa piniling “Best Picture” ng mga judges. Recently, sa ginawang review ng isang kritiko sa pelikulang “Batch ’81,” all praises ang naturang kritiko sa kagandahan ng pelikual. The best picture of all time raw. According naman sa isang veteran writer, ang pelikulang ito raw ang the best local movie ever produced in 25 years. Agree? Disagree? As we said earlier, maraming magagandang local films na mapapipilian. So, we decided, why not make sure on the Ten Best Local Films ever produced? This time, hindi namin isinali ang mga kritiko na nagri-review ng local films para mamili ng Test Best Pictures para sa kanila…Hermie Francisco (editor, his choices)…6. Karma, paano nagawa ni Danny Zialcita ang pagtagpi-tagpiin ang maraming bagay na hiwa-hiwalay sa istorya? Kung may “Somewhere in Time” sa Amerika, may “Karma” naman tayon. A little of fantasy pero, very entertaining talaga. Masarap umpisahan sa una at patuloy na panooring…” – Rowena Agilada, Zoom Magazine, 20 Decembe 1982, Posted by James DR, Pelikula Atbp, 10 February 2021 (READ MORE)
The Plot: – “…Arturo (Rudy Fernandez) is a convict on the run after being framed for rape. Aurora (Vilma Santos), a sculptress at odds with her overbearing mother (Gloria Romero), falls for him and is convinced of his innocence. When Arturo takes revenge on those who framed him, Aurora helps him plot his escape. This, while her sister Beatriz (Trixia Gomez) has a brief affair with Arturo…” – Music & Laughter TV (READ MORE)
The Reviews: – Produced by Goodwill Productions, Makahiya at Talahib (1976) featured Rudy Fernandez as Arturo Clemente, an escapee who was wrongly convicted for rape and murder of a child. He was rape in jail and psychologically tortured and successfully escaped. The film started with Arturo attempted hijacked a vehicle from two men. He took their clothes and truck while allowing them to run for their lives naked. He went back to his hometown and hide in the forest. The following scenes were the introduction of Aurora (Vilma Santos, whose voice was noticeably dubbed by someone), Arturo’s lover, a wood carver. While at work, she and Steve (Romeo Rivera) heard the news about Arturo’s escape. The radio broadcast mentioned the killing of a prison guard and that Arturo is armed and dangerous. Meanwhile, her sister Beatrice (Trixia Gomez) was seen making out with a man in the rice farm, an obvious ploy to get the attention of male movie goers, as even with this scenes deleted, it will not affect the movie’s main story.
The news of Arturo’s come back made the guilty party scared, Ingo (max Alvarado) and Steve together with their gang discussed their next move, both warned about Arturo’s possible revenge. Also worried is Aurora’s mother (Gloria Romero), she told her two daughters about the looming danger and reminded Aurora of not to get involve. Baldo, (Rocco Montalban) was the first goon to die. Arturo met him. They fought and Baldo, was seen collapsing. Arturo left assuming he killed the goon. The next day, Beatrice warned her sister that she still likes Arturo. Aurora found Arturo in the forest, she confronted him and realized that Arturo was confuse but convinced he is innocent. But she convinced him that he should turned himself in. She asked for their town’s parish priest help but it was too late. The real killer, Steve and his gang together with the town’s police group surrounded Arturo’s secret hide away. He was shot and killed. The end.
Written and directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Makahiya’t Talahib spooned-fed its story to its viewers. No element of surprise, as we already know from the very beginning that Arturo is innocent. It was obvious that the film tried to sell sex. The ending, showing the kissing scene of Rudy Fernandez and Vilma Santos despite it’s limitation was use as the film’s promo. Trixia Gomez’s several unnecessary sex scenes would be more fitting to entice the male movie goers. Unfortunately, Gomez’ daring scenes weren’t enough and even with Rudy and Vi’s tame sex scenes, the film failed both commercially and artistically. Although many considered this film as a prelude to Vilma’s career transformation the following year via “Burlesk Queen.” Testing her fans with her first screen kissing scene. But this milestone was eclipse by her decision to allow someone to dub her own voice. Meanwhile, Rudy Fernandez tried very hard to portrayed Arturo but lack the intensity. Like Aurora’s unfinished wood sculptures, the supporting cast needs more sculpting. Gloria Romero’s acting was ordinary. Trixia Gomez’s was bland. Romeo Rivera, Rocco Montalban and Max Alvarado were all stereotypically uneventful. It was reported that Borlaza was so in-demand, he was shooting two films at the same time while doing Makahiya. In an interview, he admitted “his film was more commercial than Brocka or Bernal but he’s not bother by this criticism. As he’s more concern on what his audience wants to see and making sure his producer made profit.” Unfortunately, “Makahiya at Talahib” needs more work to be credible and believable otherwise like what Aurora did on her wood carved sculpture in the end, the film should be throw and trash. – RV
The set-up – “In a time when the concept of divorce does not exist, much less imagined possible, we find Marilou, a planetarium guide who decides to pursue an affair with Emil, a college teacher sepatated from his wife. They seem perfect for each other, and soon decide to move in together. Their once happy affair turns sour as Marilou slowly discovers the real Emil, a chauvinistic, domineering, and emotionally abusive man who disctates everything to her, from how she should act and manage her life to the most inconsequentials details of running their house. They soon find themselves in an on-again, off – again relationship, with Malou going as for as laying a let’s meet only three times a week rule to protect herself.” – UP (READ MORE)
The Slam – “…1982, Nauso ang so-called Grand Slam Best Actress in 1983, nang manalo si Vilma Santos for Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon. That 1982 film was a small, low-budget drama of a husband and his mistress. Nag-hit ang tandem nina Vi at Christopher de Leon, starting in 1978, with Sampaguita Pictures’ Masarap … Masakit ang Umibig and Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali (both by Elwood Perez), after their first pair-up in Celso Ad Castillo’s 1975 romance-drama Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw. For Relasyon, Vilma won as Best Actress sa CMMA, Gawad Urian, FAMAS and the debuting Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Awards. Maging sa “minor” parangal, like the TV show Let’s Talk Movies ng RPN 9 (hosted by Armida Siguion Reyna, Behn Cervantes and Mario Bautista), si Vilma rin ang Best Actress for the Regal Films drama. With Nora Aunor as Vilma’s main competitor, it was an interesting, but utterly disappointing, acting duel. Sa FAMAS, Nora got nominated for Romy Suzara’s Mga Uod at Rosas – and lost. Sa ibang award-giving bodies, isang malaking pelikula at pagganap ni Nora – sa Himala, as the visionary Elsa – ang natalo kay Vilma. The Ishmael Bernal opus was produced by the Marcos government-established Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP). Some were of the opinion na may bahagi ng pulitika sa pagkatalo ni Nora; marami raw sa movie industry ang anti-administration, kabilang ang sympathizers ng Free the Artists Movement na anti-censors. May malaking rally noon na hindi dinaluhan ni Nora, samantalang nakiisa sa protesta si Vilma. Gayon man, may parangal na natamo si Nora para sa Himala: the 1982 MMFF Best Actress, where it won 9 out of 13 awards, including Best Direction and Best Picture. Naging opening Film ang Himala sa 1983 Manila International Film Festival – organized by then First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos – at inilahok sa Berlin International Film Festival in February 1983. Ayon kay Bernal, Nora lost in Berlin to a Russian actress by a mere vote. Sa 7th Gawad Urian in 1983, nominated in almost all major and minor categories ang Himala but never won a single award. Ilang taon ang lumipas, sa tuwing titingnan ko ang Honor Roll ng Manunuri sa ipinamamahaging souvenir program, sadyang “walang Himala” na nagtamo ng parangal. But in 2002, sa 25th year ng Gawad Urian, kabilang ang Himala sa Pinakamahuhusay (Best Films of the past three decades) na naparangalan, with Nora Aunor personally receiving the overdue award para sa isang totoong klasikong pelikulang Pilipino. At bigla ngang naghimala ang Himala!…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)
The Role – “…Sinasabi ng mga drumbeater ni Vi na ang kanyang role sa pelikulang ito ay pang-award, pang-FAMAS, pang-URIAN o pang-Film Academy Award kung matutuloy ito. Hindi kami tumututol sa kanilang palagay laluna’t napanood namin ang pelikulang ito. Masuwerte si Vi at sa ganitong maselang role ay dinirek siya ng isang katulad ni Bernal. Tulad nang binigyang diin namin sa unang bahagi, ang mga pelikula ni Bernal, ang “Pagdating sa Dulo”, “Nunal sa Tubig”, “Mister mo, Lover Boy ko” at “City after Dark” ay mga malinaw at makatotohang salamin ng buhay. Kaya sa “Relasyon” ay natural lamang na makakita tayo ng mga sitwasyong tila aktuwal na kinuha sa tunay na buhay at inilipat nang buong-buo sa puting tabing…” – Mando Plaridel, Star Monthly Magazine July 10, 1982 (READ MORE)
After the Slam – “…Like 1972 of the previous decade, 1982 turned out to be a repeat in terms of success for Vilma Santos. If critics took noticed in 1972, her performance in Dama De Noche, a decade after, the critics went gagah over her performance in ”Relasyon,” directed by Bernal. The film earned Vilma all the local best actress trophies from all award-giving bodies. Aside from this success, she will also be crowned as the box office queen of 1982 (the next year for her body of work this year) because of the financial success of her six films notably, “Sinasamba Kita” a film directed by Eddie Garcia and “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?’ directed by Danny Zialcita. Bernal on the other hand not only was credited for Vilma success for “Relasyon” he also received accolades for “Himala” a film by Nora Aunor, Vilma’s rival. Both “Himala” and “Relasyon” were considered two of Bernal’s signature films. In addition to this, he did two Marecel Soriano films, the comedy “Galawgaw” and the drama, “Hindi Kita Malimot” and finally another Cherrie Gil film, “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak…Bernal gave Vilma Santos her first grandslam best actress awards and consecutive Gawad Urian best actress (1982 and 1983). Their first film together was Inspiration (1972) and last was Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (1989).” – RV (READ MORE)
Still Relevant? – “Relasyon was the only film with three screenings at the on-going Pelikua at Lipunan last March 3, 2006. No other films hold this record. We were enthusiastic about the students who reviewed the film of more than two decades. Talagang relevant and timeless ang theme at plot ng nasabing pelikuka at maituturing na isa sa great films of Philippine Movie history. Before the screening of the film ay masaya kaming nag-uusap and at times our attention was called sa mga updates and or instructions ni Jojo Lim for the next group activity like March 8 sa U.P. sa Cine Adarna para sa Diwata Awards kung saan ay confirmed na darating si Ate Vi who is one of 4 distinguised honorees. Tumigil lang kami ng magsimula na ang screening. Wala ka ng makausap pa. Nakatuon lahat sa pelikula. Animo’y mga magagaling na kritiko ng gawad Urian na magre-review ng nasabing pelikula sa unang pagkakataon?! Hmp. For the film’s final highlight, we all sat in real silence. Motionless. Then, the expected tour de force/acting coup cum real drama essayed by Ate Vi. Her solitariness remained absolute in this particular scene with her heart wrenching monolgue. Then I thought I caught a glimpse of some of our co-Vilmanians wiping away “precious tears” in between sobs. Several more moments passed in silence. Tinapos namin ang panonood ng pelikula with an ovation. ’Di lang kaming mga Vilmanians ang pumalakpak! We hope ay nakapag-contribute ang mga Vilmanians in support of Mowelfunds worthy projects. Mabuhay Ms. VILMA SANTOS The Philippines Movie Queen For All Seasons. Mabuhay Vilmanians around the globe.” – June Sison, 5 Mar 2006 (READ MORE)
24 years after its release, Relasyon remained relevant and fresh due to its social topic (the flight of many mistresses in society) and Vilma Santos’ performance in this film made it possible for everyone to sympathize their (mistresses) flight. Even critics agrred Heres what one said: “…Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome.” This time, sigurado nang mano-nominate si Vilma sa Urian (ito lamang ang award na hindi niya napapagwagihan) at malamang na ang maging pinakamahigpit niyang kalaban dito ay si Nora Aunor na very demanding din ang role sa “Himala” (na si Bernal din ang direktor). Ito’y kung matatapos ang ECP project na ito sa taong ito na sa palagay namiy hindi kahit gusto ng ECP na isali ito sa filmfest sa Disyembre. Dinalirot ng “Relasyon” ang lahat ng mga anggulong maaaring suutan ng isang babaing nagiging kerida. Maraming madamdaming tagpo sa pelikula, lalo na ang death scene ni Christopher de Leon na tuhog ang pagkakakuha. Bagay na bagay kay Jimi Melendez ang papel niya bilang torpeng talisuyo ni Vilma. Hit na hit siya sa audience…” – Mario Bautista, Puna at Puri People’s Journal July 1982 (READ MORE)
The Plot: The first time they laid eyes on each other, they knew from that very moment that they were destined to be together. But their love was not meant to be consummated instantly-they had to wait. But their waiting spanned not just year but lifetimes. The time comes that they meet again. But now, they must break the walls that have for so long kept them apart. They must fight for their love because now is their last chance. – Viva Films
The Reviews: We saw the movie “Imortal” starring Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, and directed by Eddie Garcia, which won most of the awards in the last Metro-Manila Festival. It was awful. People who make such movies, and those who hand out awards to them, thoroughly deserve each other. In its asinine plot, “Imortal” tells of the immortal love between two siblings with a common father — a doctor Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos who becomes a nun, wife of an impotent husband, adulteress and a whore. They never make it because movie censor Manoling Morato would have gotten mad, but in the next generation, the daughter of the whore with foreigner (without AIDS, we hope) — also played by a younger Vilma Santos — marries the son of the doctor, played by a young Christopher de Leon, in a psychedelic wedding in the year 2016 AD. In the year 2016, youngsters Vilma (with brown skin and blue eyes) and Boyet are singing Happy Birthday to the father Old Christopher, a senile old man in a wheel chair. “Happy Birthday, Papa,” says Vilma as she kisses him on the cheek; he does not respond so she panics: “Papa… Papa… PAPA!” He does not answer because he is dead. According to the movie script, the father Christopher was born in 1954, which makes him in 2016 only 62 years of age — much younger than Director Eddie Garcia or even Dolphy, hardly an age to be senile and dying.
There are other laughable scenes. Vilma says, “My husband is (music rises ominously) — my husband is (music again) IMPOTENT (music rises to a climax)!” You’d think the husband just contracted the AIDS virus or got castrated by Sparrow units! Shucks, I know several husbands who just can’t do it anymore, and I hear no heavy music when their wives complain. As a matter of fact, wives prefer their husbands to be impotent, rather than be sexually active with other women. Another terrible scene. The car ridden by Christopher and wife Cherie Gil falls off a cliff. Cherie who is pregnant is mortally wounded and dies. And Christopher looks at his dead wife, and holds aloft a new born baby complete with umbilical cord. This is absurd without a caesarian operation by a doctor. The worst scene is when Christopher digs up the corpse of Vilma at the cemetery, amidst thunder, lightning, wind and rain, and embraces her passionately, while she exhibits no rigor mortis, and apparently no smell of formalin. You don’t find this kind of idiocy in a television commercial. Most of my grandchildren, including Angeli who is only four months of age, enjoy commercials more than dramas.
Some TV commercials can tell the story vividly, memorably, with impact in 30 seconds, better than two hours of unmitigated nincompoopery in filmed dramas. A simple love story is telescoped into a heartwarming half a minute of the Lizl Lebron commercial for San Miguel — boy meets girl against the parents’ wishes, in the tennis court, Fort Santiago in the rain, in the balcony — and ends as he gives her a engagement ring. Actresses with a roomful of acting awards can never match the birth of love and passion in the virginal innocence of this young girl. The same love story is retold in the Ligaw ad of Jollibee chronicling the Filipino traditional courtship — the chaperoned visit, permission to take the girl out for a snack, “Sigurado ka bang sa Jollibee?” the first tentative holding of hands, and the sudden appearance of papa — a slice of true life experience every young person can identify with, more than the bizarre events of “Imortal.” Movies are a director’s medium, the stage is an actor’s medium, a TV commercial is the medium of the advertiser who pays for the ad. The advertiser conducts enough studies to justify the expenditure in a logical way: product and consumer research to determine the most compelling reason to buy the product; careful attention to story boards, makeup, hair style, with no waste, irrelevances or digressions — long before shooting even starts.
A commercial of 30 seconds takes from P800,000 to P2 million to produce or as much as P67,000 per second. A movie of two hours or 9,600 seconds may take P5 million to produce, or P520 per second. A commercial costs as 128 times as much as a movie. Del Monte’s Spaghetti Sauce’s Godfather ad, mechado sauce’s Candida ad, and ketchup’s Family Dinner ad; the San Miguel series with Fernando Poe Jr., Tawa Marcelo and Freddie Aguilar; Jollibee’s Lola ad; and the Sarsi ad — are technical and artistic masterpieces. The Hope cigarette ads are colonial, sexist and insulting to the intelligence, as are those of Vos Brandy, White Castle Whisky and Old Captain Rum. But even the worst TV ad is better than “Imortal.” – Hilarion M. Henares Jr., Jan 14, 1990, Philippine Daily Inquirer READ MORE
Watching Imortal on ABS-CBN was purely out curiosity. At first I thought it was a remake of the old Vilma Santos-Christopher De Leon movie entitled Imortal. Gosh. Then only to find out the teleserye is about feuding wolves and vampires. You don’t have to be Twilight fan to realize how Twilight-y the plot is not even halfway into the first episode. And like any other Pinoy plot, the story line is just so darn predictable! The first episode isn’t over yet but you already know how it’s going to end. Why is it always like that? Can’t the writers think of new twists and be creative for once? (I’m already in my late 30s and they’ve been at it since I was in grade school.) Or is it that unpredictable twists don’t sell to the masses? Most probably! Either way, don’t blame me for being ‘unpatriotic’ because I get more satisfaction watching reruns of good old foreign films. – READ MORE
1. RELASYON (1982) – “Vilma Santos represents womanhood in the film…Santos portrays a mistress who is an out-and-out martir. She serves De Leon hand and foot, ministering to his every need, including fetching beer for him, washing his clothes, serving as his shoulder to cry on, even baby-sitting his child. In return, all she gets from De Leon is chauvinistic love, void of tenderness, full of immature aggressiveness… Vilma Santos’ acting is adequate and extraordinary…” – Isagani Cruz, Parade 01 July 1982.
“Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting. Christopher de Leon has also been supportive in emphasizing the characterization of Marilou. He suitably complements Vilma’s acting.” – Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly 10 July 1982
”Vilma Santos holds the first ace on acting this year with her terrific performance in Relasyon – the range is wide, the insight deep, hardly a false note in the entire performance – she was always in control, even when she seemed totally lost in her role…basta magaling si Vilma, tapos!“ – Ador Cs Tariman
FACTS: Vilma Santos’s first best actress grand slam win.
FICTION: Vilma Santos’ wins can be attributed to her connection to Imelda Marcos. (That’s absurd.)
2. BURLESK QUEEN (1977) – “…naiiba ang Burlesk Queen, kahit ikumpara sa mga naunang trabaho ni Celso at sa iba pang direktor na nagtangkang tumalakay sa paksang ito. Matagal-tagal na rin namang nauso ang kaputahan sa pelikula, pero walang nakapagbigay ng katarungan sa lahi ni Eba bilang Pilipina at bilang puta… para kay Celso…ang tao ay hindi basta maghuhubad at magtatalik. Maraming pangyayari sa buhay ang dapat munang linawin at unawain, at iyon ang basehan ng kasaysayan.” – Jun Cruz Reyes, MPP, Manila magazine Dec 1977
“(about the hospital scense with Vilma and Leopoldo Salcedo) Tuloy-tuloy ‘yun. nag-experiment ako noong una, kumuha ako ng second take, pero di ko na rin tinapos. Perfect na iyong una. Alam mo bang nang gawin namin ang eksenang iyon tatlo kaming umiiyak sa set? Ako, si Vilma, at si Leopoldo? Dalang-dala si Leopoldo sa pagsasalita ni Vilma, lumuha siya kahit patay siya dapat doon. Buti na lang di siya nakuha ng kamera…(Kung Nahirapan ka ba kay Vilma?) …Oo, hindi sa acting dahil mahusay talaga siya kundi sa scheduling. Alam mo kasi it takes time before I can really get into the mood of a picture, mga two weeks, tapos kapag nandiyan na, that’s the stage when I’m ready to give my life to the project. Tapos biglang walang shooting ng two weeks dahil busy siya sa ibang pelikula…” – Ricardo Lee, Manila magazine Dec. 1977
FACTS: The film won 10 out of 13 Awards at the 1977 Metro Manila film festival including Best Actress for Vilma Santos.
FICTION: All of the awards that’s been given to the film has been given back due to the investigation that the verdict were rigged. (Up to this date, Vilma still has her medal and award.)
3. RUBIA SERVIOS (1978) – “The second rape scene in “Rubia Servios” which stars Vilma Santos, is reminiscent of the rape scene in “Santiago”, shown in 1970. Instead of Caridad Sanchez as the wife who is assaulted in full view of husband Mario O’Hara, it has Vilma Santos and Mat Ranillo III. This coincidence is not surprising since Brocka also directed Santiago, and O’Hara, who has since graduated from supporting roles, is the scriptwriter for “Rubia Servios”. Vilma does not expose much skin and Philip Salvador (as the attacker) has his pants on, but the scene could well be one of the most realistic rape scenes on screen in a long, long time. The anguish in Vilma’s face and the lust in philip’s eyes blended so well the effect was dramatic rather than sensual. The real climax of the film, however, is the killing of Philip by Vilma with a paddle aboard a motorboat at sea. Lino Brocka, who directs Vilma for the first time, succeeded in muffling her sobs even in the most hysterical moments. To our mind, “Rubia Servios” is geared towards mature audiences. It is engrossing despite the lack of fancy camera shots and an almost chronological presentation.” – Ricky Lo
FACTS: Vilma Santos lost The Best Performer Award in this 1978 Metro Manila Film Festival to rival Nora Aunor. Admittedly, this was the most painful lost she experienced in her whole career. With its “For Adults Only rating” in consideration, the film still managed to end up as one of the Festival’s top grosser.
FICTION: Vilma committed suicide after her lost, luckily Manay Ichu, her Rubia Servios producer came and rescued her. (Both Manay Ichu and Vilma managed to get drunk but Vilma did not commit suicide.)
4. DOLZURA CORTEZ (1993) – Dahil Mahal Kita (Because I Love You): The Dolzura Cortez Story 1994, This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands. – Sandra Brennan, The New York Times
“Still bearing activist weight is Vilma’s effort in Laurice Guillen’s Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story in which she fleshes out a body and a mind for a person with AIDS. This initiative constitutes an advocacy not only for people afflicted with the dreaded pandemic, but also for women who have to overcome strata of ostracism in the process of survival and resist their being reduced to an aberration, in this case, a pathology.” – Patrick Flores, Manila Standard Today Jan 11, 2003
FACTS: Vilma Santos’ earned her 2nd Best Actress grand slam wins.
FICTION: Dolzura Cortez wanted Nora Aunor to play herself in this film. Aunor declined. (No. No. No. That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard – Simon Cowell from AI)
5. PAHIRAM NG ISANG UMAGA (1989) – “…a striking part of the movie (was when), Juliet watching intently as morticians work on her father’s remains, as everyone weeps when the coffin is lowered to its final resting place, and during the ritualistic pasiyam, the nine-day novena for the dead. It’s as though Juliet can see herself in her father’s lifeless body while mourners mill around it. The attempts to raise the level of the melodrama and present insights on life and death provide the movie its greatest strength – and wide appeal. How strangely ironic that a movie dealing with death could have so much life.” – Mario Hernando, Malaya 05 March 1989
“…Vi goes to the kitchen to prepare breakfast at habang nagbabati siya ng itlog, doon pa lang ipinakitang una siyang nag-breakdown. And this is shown nang nakatalikod siya sa camera. No overly ornate kind of emoting na akting na akting ang dating. Pero damang-dama mo pa rin…she becomes the part (lalo na sa eksena nila ni Gabby Concepcion sa simbahan na binalikan nila kung paano sila nagkasira), and if you notice that she is good, well, salamat po…Sa second viewing ng movie namin lalong napansin ang subtle nuances ng performance ni Vi, up to her death scene which confirms our supposition that the movie is not really so much about death than a celebration of life..’yan ang opinion namin…” – Mario Bautista
FACTS: Vilma Santos won her first PMPC Star Awards Best Actress.
FICTION: Mario Bautista fought hard to make sure Nora Aunor won the Star Awards. (It was actually the opposite!)
6. LIPAD, DARNA, LIPAD (1973) – “the quintessential actionfantasy Pinoy flick that appeals to all ages, from generation to generation. This movie is a major milestone for Vilma because it proved that she could really carry a solo movie and bring in the dough (up to now of course!). Vilma’s Darna franchise is the most memorable and successful of all Pinoy fantasy-action genre. Imitated but never equalled, Vilma’s Darna lives on. Unforgettable. Memorable. It grows on you. No Pinoy kid ever grows up without being a part of the Darna magic. Vilma, practically flew at the top of the box office in Sine Pilipino’s trend setting trilogy “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Many fans consider Lipad, Darna, Lipad, as one of the most entertaining Darna movies ever. After all, who could forget that climactic aerial battle scene between Darna and the Impakta (Gloria Romero)? That shot of Romero impaled in a giant crucifix ensconced on top of a church tops any gory scene in The Omen. The enormous success of Lipad, Darna, Lipad led to three more Darna movies with Vilma Santos. As a result, the star for all seasons became the star for all Darnas—Santos played her four times, more than any other actress in the superheroine’s history. “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” were divided into three separate segments, directed by three different directors. In Darna’s case, the three directors were Maning Borlaza, Joey Goesiengfao, and Elwood Perez—three names that promised an adventure that could do Andy Warhol proud.” – Eric Cueto
FACTS: Lipad Darna Lipad broke all box office records and made Vilma as the most successful Darna to date.
FICTION: Vilma was immediately wanted to wear the two-piece sexy Darna cutomes. (Vilma wore skin coloured suit on top of the Darna custom but after some people who works for TIIP and her entourage convinced her that it looks tacky, she agreed to wear the custom without it.)
7. ANAK (2000) – “Living complex emotions with subtlety and humor, pic resists melodrama until the dam abruptly burst after 90 minutes; ill judged pileup of crying scenes, plot crises and more crying ensues…That’s too bad, since early reels observe parent-child relationships with considerable delicacy… veteran local star Santos is in fine form, while barretto lends impressive shading to what might have been a stock sexy “bad girl” role…” -Dennis Harvey, Variety Magazine 19 March 2001
“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
FACTS: Official Philippine Entry to the 73rd Academy Awards Best Foreign Film. Anak grosses 14 Million Pesos, a record breaking for a Filipino film!
FICTION: Vilma can’t portray a poverty stricken maid or “atsay” role, that role only suited Nora! (Tell that to the marines!)
8. SISTER STELLA L. (1984) – “…For a heart-warming film, the entire cast deserves congratulations, particularly Vilma Santos who reveals another aspect of her multi-faceted talent. From her usual soft and sweet romantic roles, she can be transformed into a strong and militant woman without losing any of her charm and beauty. Jay Ilagan, Tony Santos, Anita Linda and Liza Lorena are also in their best form. Mike de Leon as director, Jose F. Lacaba as scriptwriter are likewise to be congratulated for making a truly human film and for contributing to the cause of workers for justice and of the religious for the recognition of their social role. Not to be overlooked is the producer Lily Monteverde of Regal Films who has this time shifted from puerile erotic dramas to make a courageous film for which she will always be well remembered.” – Alice G. Guillermo, Who Magazine 30 May 1984
“…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, Pet Cleto, Philippine Panorama 02 December 1984
FACTS: Vilma Santos admittedly confessed SSL was a flop at the box office.
FICTION: Vilma was overshadowed by the supporting cast of this film. (The Urian critics disagreed! They gave Vilma, her third consecutive best actress! Hah! Beat that!)
9. 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 “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, The 22nd San Fransisco Asian-American Film Festival 2004
“As Amanda, Vilma Santos shows again why Brocka, before he died, had likened her to water. “She can register anything,” he said. In “Dekada”, its the same Santos of vigor and transparency. The only difference is the depth, the resonance, and the greater confidence. Can she ever go wrong?” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer 30 December 2002
FACTS: Vilma Santos’ 4th Grand Slam wins for Best Actresses. The film was exhibited in last year’s “Cinema of the world” section at Cannes. Philippines’ Official Entry at the 76th Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film. Vilma’s 4th Grandslam Best Actress wins.
FICTION: Dekasa 70 was written by Lualhati Bautista for Nora Aunor.
10. BATA BATA PAANO KA GINAWA? (1998) – “Sa tingin ko, sa Bata, Bata… pinakamagaling si Vilma Santos. Sa dami ng kanyang award, may ibubuga pa pala siya. Iba ang akting niya rito…Halatang feel na feel ni Vilma Santos ang kanyang papel dahil, gaya ng karakter ni Lea Bustamante, dalawa ang anak ni Vilma sa magkaibang lalake.” – Marra Pl. Lanot, Diario Uno 16 Sept. 1998
”And Vilma Santosis more than up to the challenge. Gone are the hysterically flapping hands, the melodramatic emoting, all the trademark acting tics. In their place is a heartfelt performance that distills Lea’s essence to an exquisite point-no movements are wasted, no gestures are overwrought. …Vilma rolls them on her tongue like the finest wine; when Lea is on the verge of breaking down, Vilma remains true to the spirit of her character… If the Lipa City mayor decides never to do another movie again, she can retire assured that her last performance-in a career already studded with formidable portrayals-may conceivably have been her best.” – Andrew E. Pardes, Manila Times 13 Sept 1998
FACT: Opening gross was 5.2 million pesos. Another record breaking for Vilma. The film earned her a third grandslam best actress wins and her very first international recognition, winning the Brussel International film festival’s best actress award.
The Plot: Dreaming to be released from her miserable life of poverty, Aida, a waitress, abandons her bedridden father, her moralistic mother, her jobless brother and her good-for-nothing sister to live with her boyfriend Carding, who she believes will save her from her miserable life. In his desire to earn quick money, Carding gets involved with illegal drugs and is jailed. Aida is pregnant and while Carding is in jail, she has an abortion. She then marries another man. Carding is released from prison and finds out about his wife’s new life. He decides to sue her for adultery. – UP (READ MORE)
Aida Macaraeg’s only dream is to be released from her miserable life of poverty. She is sick and tired of working day and night as a waitress to be able to feed her jobless brother and his family, her good-for-nothing sister, moralistic mother and bedridden father. One day, Aida decides to turn her back on them and settles for a live-in arrangement with her boyfriend Carding, who gives her a short-lived salvation. But her first attempt to escape a misfortune only brings her face to face with one after another. Carding gets jailed for drug peddling. Aida finds out she is pregnant and opts for an abortion. Forced by need and fueled by ambition, she lives with a wealthy man and has a son by him. Carding is released from prison and finds out about his wife’s illicit affair. They finally see each other again, in court. – Database of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)
Aida Macareg (Vilma Santos) works as a waitress in a restaurant and is the lone breadwinner of her family. She goes berserk every time she comes home to an uncooperative sister, a jobless brother with a kid and a pregnant wife, a moralistic mother and a bedridden father. Aida longs for release from her situation. Her boyfriend, Carding (Phillip Salvador), still has to finish college. He acts as courier for Bombay (Rene Hawkins), a drug dealer, who is also into other illegal activities. He is made to promise to avoid Bombay, but the need for money keeps him going to him for odd jobs. One day, Aida turns her back on her family and asks Carding for a live-in arrangement. They move into an apartment they could hardly afford. He now depends on Bombay as their means of livelihood. He is able to buy appliances for her — and Aida is spared from working. However, Carding is caught red-handed and is implicated in the shooting of a policeman. Aida goes back to work as a waitress. She visits Carding regularly in prison. She discovers she is pregnant. They decide to get married. Carding is sentenced to fourteen years in prison. Aida realizes she cannot bear the child in her reduced circumstances. She opts for an abortion. Her sister, Miriam (Deborah Sun), tells Carding she had a miscarriage. In the restaurant, Aida meets Tito Pangilinan (Mario Montenegro) who is smitten with love for her. He is frank. He has a wife and three grown-up kids. Aida does not tell him the truth. Carding is transferred to Davao. He writes several letters to Aida but they are not answered. One day, he is told that his sentence has been commuted. After seven years, he is finally free and starts to look for Aida. He hears stories from his aunt but does not believe her. He is able to track down Miriam who, caught by surprise, gives him her address. It is a shocked Aida who meets Carding. She says she is keeping house for Miriam’s lover and child but this only makes him doubt her. The pieces do not fit and Carding discovers that the boy, Alvin, is Aida’s son. The relationship with Tito Pangilinan is revealed and Carding thinks the son is his. Upon the instigation of his aunt, Carding sues for adultery. Tito is disgusted with Aida’s lies and removes their son from her care. He wants him spared from the trauma of the forthcoming trial. The trial finally descends on the protagonists. The marriage is dissected; the past recalled. The question of his paternity props up, but Aida states to Carding’s chagrin, that he is not his child. His baby was aborted due to her hardships. The lawyer tells Aida that the trial will be resolved in Carding’s favor. She is advised to beg him to drop his suit so that she might be reunited with her son. She visits him in his aunt’s house but he is cool to her request. During the day of the verdict, Carding announces that he is withdrawing the lawsuit. Days later, Carding brings Alvin to his waiting mom. It seems he told Tito he would drop the case if he returns Alvin to her. Carding has now accepted the sad facts of the situation. He is leaving for Cebu where he will be in charge of some agricultural lands. Aida thanks him profusely. – Lino Brocka: The Artist and His Times, Posted by Video48 (READ MORE)
The Reviews: Adultery (Aida Macaraeg Case No. 7892) is not one of filmmaker Lino Brocka’s best works. It definitely cannot be lined alongside masterpieces like Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Weighed But Found Wanting, 1974), Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, 1975), and Insiang (1976). At best, Adultery is a well-made melodrama that puts a social issue, that of marital infidelity as escape from poverty, at the center of its affairs. Jose Javier Reyes’ well-crafted screenplay (the story is credited to Aida Sevilla Mendoza) is supposedly sourced from a real life account, but one wonders if convenient happy endings (which the film unfortunately struggles with) exist in these kind of cases, especially ones as emotionally charged as in the film. In the Philippines, adultery cases stretch for years and any emotion resembling marital love and concern is replaced with scorching hate, the primary ingredient that fuels litigation. Aida (Vilma Santos giving a very mature performance) is the sole breadwinner for her family, consisting of a bedridden father, a nagging mother, a good-for-nothing brother, his unemployed wife and baby. Unable to bear the hardships of living with her family, she takes the offer of her boyfriend Carding (Phillip Salvador) to simply live together, resisting his invitation to marry him despite the possible scandal that might arise out of their living arrangement. Carding gets caught peddling prohibited drugs and gets imprisoned, leaving Aida all alone to fend for herself. Years later, Carding gets released from prison and finds Aida, now a mistress of a wealthy executive (Mario Montenegro) and mother to a child that is not his. Aida is then sued for adultery by Carding, which if she is proven guilty would separate her from her son.
There’s one sequence in the film which clearly shows Brocka’s mastery. Aida visits Carding in prison, telling him of her pregnancy. Carding again offers to marry her, fearing that their child would be a bastard child. Supposedly out of pity, Aida agrees. The marriage is solemnized then and there. The prison chaplain officiates the ceremony where Aida is draped in an ordinary dress while Carding wears the orange colored uniform. Around are the witnesses of their marriage, felons all donning the same orange outfit Carding is wearing. Of course, these are mere background details, emphasizing the sullenness of the event that is ordinarily jovial and lively. Brocka concentrates on Aida. He closes up on her face, worried about the uncertainty of her future: she is after all pregnant and now married to a convict with absolutely no source of income. It is Aida’s point of no return and Brocka understands it as such, thus he presents it with understated elegance; no dialogue, just Lutgardo Labad’s swelling music and Brocka’s emphatic close-up of Vilma Santos’ apprehensive face.
The film attempts to criticize marriage, which is depicted not in its traditional sense (as the key to life’s bliss) but as a harrowing cage where women are left with no choices. It seems to advocate infidelity, especially when the requirements of life overtakes the facile concerns of societal and religious norms. Interestingly, Brocka does not antagonize any of his characters. Aida is a hardworking woman who we first see as the selfless sufferer who is charged with her family’s survival, a mere victim of fate and circumstance. Also, one cannot doubt Carding’s affection for Aida. His decisions in life may have been off, leading to his incarceration and Aida’s continuing suffering, but it cannot be denied that his love for his wife is indubitable. The blame does not go to any person but to the social institution of marriage, its sometimes shallow roots and the unbendable veneration the law and society gives to it to the detriment of the unique needs of individuals. I am impressed as to how Brocka directed the courtroom sequence, without the usual pomp and unnecessary drama. The courtroom sequence gives the impression as to how the justice is bookish and blind to personal plights. One lawyer asks Aida a question, and she shies away saying that the question is too personal. Of course, the judge demands that she answer the question, which she does so unwillingly. In the eyes of the law, emotions, circumstance, fate, and needs are denied materiality. This should have been the instance wherein we’ll fall for Aida’s plight: that despite her being guilty for adultery, she does not deserve to be punished because she was forced to infidelity not by innate evil but by circumstances in her life. However, instead of dishing out an ending that would operate as the culmination of such criticism, Brocka and Reyes decided to succumb to sentimentality. Husband forgives wife. Wife gets her son back. Everybody’s satisfied. Unfortunately, reality, which the film tried so hard to emulate, isn’t anything like that. – Oggs Cruz (READ MORE)
Dalawang pelikula ni Vilma Santos ang napanood namin sa special previews: Adultery at Sister Stella L. Pinatunayan ng mga pelikulang ito na Vi is still the leading actress of the season and performances in both movies make her again the actress to beat in next year’s award derbies. No doubt, Vilma, right now, is at her peak. Adultery is a well made melodrama deftly written by Jose Javier Reyes and masterfully directed by Lino Brocka. Ang pangunahing tauhan, si Aida Macaraeg, ay isang dalagang breadwinner ng kanyang pamilya. May sakit ang kanilang ama at siya ang bumibili ng mga gamot nito. Nag-asawa nang maaga ang kapatid niyang lalaki at siya ang nagpapakain pati sa asawa t anak nito. Siya rin ang nagpapaaral sa bunso nilang kapatid na babae. Receptionist sa isang restaurant, may boyfriend si Aida na wala namang regular na trabaho. Ito ay si Carding (Phillip Salvador) na kumikita lamang kapag sumasama sa mga illegal na gawain ng sangganong si Bumbay. Nang malaman ni Aida na nagdadalantao na naman ang asawa ng kapatid niya, niyaya niya si Carding na magsama na sila. May kapatid si Aida na isinumpa ng kanilang ina dahil nakisama ito sa isang lalaking may-asawa. Si Aida lamang ang nakauunawa kay Miriam (Deborah Sun) at wala siyang kamalay-malay susundan pala niya ang mga yapak nito. Akala niya’y malulutas ng pagsama niya kay Carding ang mga problema niya ngunit lalala lamang pala ito. Nahuli si Carding sa pagsama sa pangkat ni Bumbay at nabilanggo. Naiwang nagdadalantao si Aida. Nang malaman ito ni Carding ay pinilit siyang pakasal na sila para hindi maging bastardo ang isisilang niya. Ikinasal sila ng pari sa piitan.
Nagbalik si Aida sa kanyang trabaho ngunit natuklasan ng may-ari na buntis siya. Naiisip ni Aida na lalo lamang siyang maghihirap at nadadamay pa pati ang kanyang magiging anak kung itutuloy niya ang kanyang pagbubuntis kaya t ipinasya niyang ilaglag ito sa tulong ni Miriam. Nang magaling na siya y napasok siyang tagapamahala sa isang kantina at dito niya nakilala si Tito Pangilinan (Mario Montenegro). Nagsama sila at nagkaroon ng isang anak. Si Carding naman ay nalipat sa Davao Penal Colony at nagtaka na lamang siya nang huminto na sa pagsulat si Aida. Lumaya si Carding pagkaraan ngpitong taon at hinanap agad si Aida. Nakita niya ito at si Aida ay nagsimulang maglubid ng buhangin. Ang batang kasama niya’y anak daw ni Miriam at mahigpit ang bagong kinakasama nito kaya’t hindi sila maaaring laging magkita. Ngunit natuklasan ni Carding ang katotohanan at sa galit nito’y sinaktan si Aida. Inihabla siya ni Carding at ang kaso y humantong sa husgado. Mabibilanggo kaya si Aida sa salang adultery? That, you’d have to find out for yourself. Mawawala ang suspence kapag ibinunyag namin agad sa inyo ang ending.
Based on a true legal story, nagawa nina Reyes at Brocka na very convincing ang pagkakalahad ng kuwento. Maingat ang development at talagang magsi-sympathize ka sa mga tauhan. Ang kaso ni Aida ay isa ring moral dilemma. Dapat ba siyang sisihin sa kanyang ginawa? Sa kanyang paglalaglag sa sanggol and finding the easy way out through having an affair with a rich old man? Maraming katulad ni Aida sa ating lipunan sa ngayon. Nagipit sila, humanap ng lubid na makakapitan upang huwag tuluyang mahulog sa bangin, kasalanan ba ang kanilang praktikal na solusyon sa kanilang mga problema? Morally, masasabi agad na mali nga sila. Pero madaling humusga kung hindi ikaw mismo ang nakaharap sa mga problemang iyon. Tao lamang si Aida. At ang kahinaan niya ang siyang dahilan kung bakit naging very human ang istorya ng Adultery. Kung bakit naging tutoong-tutoo angmga sitwasyon at ang lahat ng characters dito. Alam mong melodramatiko ang kuwento pero alam mo ring nagaganap ang gayon sa tunay na buhay, na talagang maraming Aida Macaraeg sa ating paligid. Namumukod-tangi ang mga aspetong teknikal ng pelikula: ang sinematograpiya ni Conrado Baltazar, ang musika ni Lutgardo Labad, ang editing ni Rogelio Salvador, ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ni Joey Luna at pati pagkakalapat ng tunog.
Mahusay rin ang acting ng lahat ng tauhan: si Deborah Sun bilang Miriam, si Anita Linda bilang ina, si Tita de Villa bilang tiyahin ni Carding. Maikli lamang ang papel ni Mario Montenegro bilang Tito pero epektibo ang pagkakaganap niya, lalo sa tagpong sinumbatan niya si Aida: “Pitong taon na kitang tinutulungan at pitong taon mo na rin akong niloloko.” Napakahusay ni Vilma sa mga eksenang nagngingitngit siya sa mga kapatid niya sa pagkawala ng uniporme o muling pagbubuntis ng mga ito. You can really feel the sense of rage, and futility that she is experiencing. Pero maging sa iba pang quiet scenes ay mahusay rin siya, o kaya y maging doon sa eksenang muntik na siyang mabuko ni Mario, at nang magkomprontasyon na sila ni Phillip. Pero, sa tingin namin, mas lumutang si Phillip sa pelikulang ito at tiyak na in the running na naman siya for best actor next year. Kung minsan ay mata lamang ang kanyang pinaaarte at wala siyang dialogue (like nang mabasa niyang nakunan si Aida o nang makita niya itong sinasalubong si Mario sa gate). Very touching din ang final scene na tinanong siya ni Vi: “Ano ng nangyari sa ‘tin?” At sumagot siya ng: “Huwag mo nang itanong. Baka mas masakit kung malaman natin ang sagot.” Maraming iba pang magagandang touches ang pelikula, tulad ng pagdalaw ng mga babaing taga-block rosary kina Aida at ang sagutan sa court scenes.
The movie also offers another view of prison life. Sa mga pelikulang lokal na tungkol sa piitan, karaniwan nang nalalagyan ng tattoo ang bida, ginagahasa ng kapwa bilanggo at ginugulpi ng husto. Dito, maayos ang naging kalagayan ni Carding habang nasa bilangguan at wala siyang naenkwentrong mga problema na gaya ng usual na napapanood natin sa prison movies. Maganda talaga ang Aida Macaraeg. – Movie Review by Mario E. autista Movie Flash May 31, 1983 – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash May 31, 1983 (READ MORE)
“…Masinop ang mga elemento ng pelikula sa Adultery (Regal Films, Inc., 1984). Madulas ang daloy ng dulang pampelikula ni Jose Javier Reyes, konsistent ang disenyong biswal at sinematograpiya, malinis ang editing, akmang-akma ang tunog at musika. Ang maalam at matatag na pagganap ni Vilma Santos ay nagsasaad ng pagkaunawa at metodo sa layuning dramatiko ng kanyang pelikula. Ang pagganap ni Phillip Salvador bilang Carding ay nagpahayag ng mithiin sa lahat ng di magkatugmang aspeto nito at nagbigay ng naiibang sigla sa tradisyon ng pagganap sa pelikula. Sa halip na unidimensiyonal ang pagsasalarawan sa karanasan ng isang babae ay binigyan ito ng maramihang posibilidad sa pamamagitan ng sinematikong pagsasadula ni Lino Brocka, ang istereotipong ito ay isinalaysay sa paglalakbay ng kababaihan tungo sa sariling pagkilala at katuparan.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saringng Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)
The Plot: To support her paralytic father, Chato (Vilma Santos) works as a utility girl for a burlesque star Virgie Nite (Rosemary Gil). But when Virgie gets drunk on the night of her scheduled show, Chato pitches in for her. And she becomes an instant sensation. Enthused by the initial acceptance of the audience, she defies her father’s admonitions and presents herself to the manager. And thus, becoming the new burlesque queen. – IMDB
The Reviews: Si Celso Ad. Castillo ay marami nang naunang eksperimento. Pero pumaltos sa pamantayan ng mga manunuri. Maraming nagsuspetsa na may ibubuga siya, pero hindi lang talaga maibuga nang nasa tiempo. Malimit ang kanyang pelikula ay maingay at maraming sobra. Halimbawa, maraming karahasan na wala namang katuturan ang kanyang Madugong Daigdig ni Salvacion, seksing walang kadahilanan (pinagandang garapal) ang kanyang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa, numero unong manggagaya ang kanyang Maligno, at sabog-sabog ang kanyang pinakamagandang nagawa, ang Daluyong at Habagat. Kung may magkamali mang pumuri kay Celso, iyon nama’y halos pakunsuelo-de-bobo lamang, at hindi ito sapat para itaas ang kanyang pedestal sa ranggo nina Bernal, Brocka at Romero. Wari ngang napako sa komersiyalismo ang direktor na inaabangan maglalabas ng natatagong talino. Lalong nagduda sa kanyang kakayahan ang mga kritiko nang kumalat ang balita na gagawa siya ng serye sa TV na ala Cleopatra Jones na papamagatan naman niyang O’Hara. Pero ang direktor na ipinapalagay na laos ay biglang pumalag nang walang kaabog-abog. Bigla’y nabalitang may inihanda raw itong pang-festival na ikinataas na naman ng kilay ng kanyang mga kritiko. “Aber tingnan,” ang pasalubong sa balita. At sa preview ng kanyang Burlesk Queen, biglang napa-mea culpa ang ayaw maniwalang may ibubuga si Celso.
Tiyak na naiiba ang Burlesk Queen, kahit ikumpara sa mga naunang trabaho ni Celso at sa iba pang direktor na nagtangkang tumalakay sa paksang ito. Matagal-tagal na rin namang nauso ang kaputahan sa pelikula, pero walang nakapagbigay ng katarungan sa lahi ni Eba bilang Pilipina at bilang puta. Sa Burlesk Queen, para kay Celso ay hindi nangangahulugan ng pagpapakita lamang ng utong, puwit o singit, kung hindi isang seryosong pagtalakay sa damdamin ng mga tauhan sa isang kapanipaniwalang dahilan na nangyari sa isang makatotohanang kapaligiran. Sa kanya, ang tao ay hindi basta maghuhubad at magtatalik. Maraming pangyayari sa buhay ang dapat munang linawin at unawain, at iyon ang basehan ng kasaysayan. Simple lamang ang plot. Isang tinedyer si Vilma Santos na alalay ng isang original burlesk queen, si Rosemarie Gil. May tatay na lumpo si Vilma, si Leopoldo Salcedo. Si Rosemarie naman ay may kabit na isang hustler, si Roldan Aquino. Nang iwanan ni Roldan si Rose, nagwala ang huli. Naging lasengga siya at tumangging magsayaw sa tanghalan. Mabibitin ang palatuntunan, kaya’t si Vilma na talaga namang may ambisyong magsayaw ang pumalit. Hit naman sa manonood si Vilma. Sa bahay, pilit kinukumbinsi ni Vilma si Pol na payagan na siyang maging full time dancer. Ayaw ni Pol, mas mahalaga sa kanya ang prinsipyo at delikadesa. Sapagkat wala namang ibang pagkakakitaan, si Vilma rin ang nasunod sa bandang huli. Nag-suicide si Pol nang hindi na niya masikmura ang pasiya ng anak. Si Rollie Quizon naman ang binatilyong masama ang tama kay Vilma. Nagtanan sila at nagsama. Pero hindi sanay sa hirap si Rollie. Sa pagpili sa pag-ibig o ginhawa sa buhay, ang huli ang pinahalagahan niya. Nagkataon namang buntis na si Vilma. Sa pag-iisa sa buhay, nagbalik siya sa pagsasayaw. Nagsayaw siya ng nagsayaw hanggang duguin siya sa tanghalan at malaglag ang kanyang dinadala.
Bagamat simple ang plot ay hindi naman masasabing simple ang pamamaraang ginawa rito ni Celso. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay nangyari sa isang pelikula ang pagsasama-sama ng magandang istorya, mahusay na direksyon, magaling na pag-arte ng mga tauhan, masinop na musika, magaling na editing at angkop na sinematograpiya. Sa Burlesk Queen ay nagsama-sama ang talino ni Celso (direktor), Mauro Gia Samonte (story and screenplay), George Canseco (musical director), Ben Lobo (cinematographer), at Abelardo Hulleza (editor). Kung may ipipintas sa pelikula, iyon ay ang hindi malinaw na pagbuhay sa panahon na nangyari ang kuwento. Kung minsa’y maiisip na nagyari ito sa panahon ng kasikatan ni Elvis noong 1950s. Pero kapag pinansin na maraming long hair sa extra, may wall paper at synthetic na sako ang bahay nina Vilma ay maaari namang sabihing baka naman pa-Elvis craze lamang ang mga tao roon. Pero may pulitiko, at Yabut, at may dagdag pang Connie Francis bukod sa motorsiklong Lambretta at mga kotseng Buick. Kung sabagay, maliliit na detalye lamang ito na agad makakalimutan kapag ang inasikaso ay pagbuklat sa magagandang punto ng istorya. Tingnan natin ang ilang magandang eksena sa pelikula. Sa ikalawang eksena ay nagtatanong si Vilma kay Rosemarie kung puwede rin siyang maging dancer. Walang malinaw na sagot si Rose, pero ang timing ng background music na It’s Now or Never ay makahulugan. It’s Now or Never nga, payo ni Elvis. At kung kailan siya maaaring mag-umpisa, Tomorrow, sabi ng kanta. Ang ganitong sagot ay nasa mukha ni Rose, pero hindi na kailangang sabihin. Ang ganitong pamamaraan ay tinatawag na creativity ng direktor, na nagdagdag ng ibang pamamaraan sa paghahayag ng damdamin ng tauhan.
Sa paglakad ng istorya, dapat ding pansinin kung paano ang characterization ay binubuhay dito. Halimbawa, sa isang eksena na nangyari sa isang patahian ay nag-abot sina Dexter Doria, ang bagong kabit ni Roldan Aquino, at si Rose. Naroroon din si Vilma at sa hindi kalayuan ay si Rollie. Maliwanag na may kani-kanyang pangangailangan ang mga tauhan at magkakasama sila sa iisang eksena. Walang nakawan ng eksena na naganap dito. Nag-insultuhan sina Dexter at Rose, natameme si Roldan at waring walang pakialam sina Rollie at Vilma na panay na panay ang kindatan. Lalo namang walang pakialam ang dalawang pulubi na tumutugtog ng violin (na siya ring background music) sa mga nangyayari. Limos ang mahalaga sa kanila. Sa eksenang ito’y may gamit ang lahat ng tauhan, wala sa kanilang nagsilbing dekorasyon, walang nag-o.a. at pare-pareho nilang ginawang makatotohanan ang komprontasyon. Magandang halimbawa ito ng synchronized acting. Kung allusions naman ang pag-uusapan, marami ritong mga sariwang metaphor na mababanggit. Isa rito ang mahusay na pagpapakita na birhen pa si Vilma sa sex act nila ni Rollie. Habang nasa likod ng tanghalan ay may nagaganap sa magkasintahan, sa tanghalan ay nang-aliw naman ang mga acrobats na sinundan ng isang madyikero na tumutusok ng sariling noo, nagbabaon ng pako sa ilong at lumululon ng espada. Masakit tingnan iyon. At ganoon din ang nararanasan ni Vilma sa likod ng tanghalan sa piling ni Rollie. Hindi rin madaldal ang pelikula. Kung itatanong kung paano tinanggap ni Pol ang pasiya ng anak, nagtulos na lamang siya ng isang makahulugang kandila sa altar na para na ring sinabing “bahala na ang Diyos sa iyo”. Kung paano naman ipinakitang naging mananayaw na nga si Vilma, sapat nang ipakita ang isang trak na nagbababa ng isang wheel chair na ipapalit sa lumang tumba-tumba ng ama.
Maging ang paglakad ng panahon ay nararamdaman din ng manonood kahit hindi ikuwento o ipakita ang kinagawiang pamamaraan at ulat ng “nalalaglag na dahon ng kalendaryo o dahon ng puno kaya”. Sunod-sunod na cuts na nagpapakita sa uri ng palabas sa tanghalang kinabibilangan ni Vilma ang ginawa ni Celso. Saka ito sinundan ng kuha naman sa bahay nina Vilma at Rollie. Nag-iinit ng tubig si Vilma habang nakikinig ng dula sa radyo tungkol sa buhay ng isang asawang tamad at iresponsable. Ganoon nga ang nangyayari sa buhay ng dalawa, at may kasunod ring “abangan sa susunod na kabanata”. Sa paghihiwalay ng dalawa, sapat na ring iparinig ang awiting You’re All I Want For Christmas, para buhayin ang irony na nagaganap sa relasyon ng dalawa. Kung makinis ang exposition at pagbuhay sa conflict ng istorya, malinaw rin ang paghahanda sa wakas ng pelikula. Si Rose na laos na ay naging mumurahing puta. Si Dexter kahit hindi ipakita ay maliwanag na sumama na sa ibang lalaki. Si Roldan ay may bago nang kabit at napatay sa spiral staircase ng tanghalan na siya rin niyang dinadaanan sa paghahatid sa dalawang naunang kabit. Si Rollie, ang mama’s boy, ay natural bawiin ng ina. Si Vilma ay nagsayaw-nang-nagsayaw. Sa simula’y mahinhin at nakangiti at kaakit-akit hanggang sa pagbilis ng pulso ng tambol at pompiyang ay naubusan ng ngiti, tumagaktak ang pawis at manghina ang ligwak ng kanyang balakang, upang sa pagbuhay sa damdamin ng manonood ay siya namang maging dahilan ng pagkalaglag ng sanggol na kanyang dinadala. Sa labas, matapos ang pagtatanghal, may tatlong bagabundong naiwan na nakatangkod sa larawang pang ‘come on’ ng burlesk queen, habang ang kadilima’y bumabalot sa kapaligiran. Kung matino ang kaanyuan ng pelikula, ay ganoon din ang masasabi sa nilalaman. Makatotohanan at masinop ang pagtalakay sa buhay ng isang abang mananayaw. Tinalakay rin dito kung paano siya tinatanggap ng lipunan at inuusig ng mga tagapangalaga raw ng moralidad. Maging ang empresaryo ng tanghalan na ginampanan ni Joonee Gamboa ay may konsiyensiya rin at nagtatanong sa atin kung anong panoorin ang dapat ibigay sa isang ordinaryong Pilipino na hindi kayang pumunta sa mga mamahaling kainan upang manood tulad halimbawa ng Merry Widow at Boys in the Band. Sila, aniya ng mga ‘dakilang alagad ng moralidad na nagdidikta at kumu-kontrol sa moralidad ng komunidad’, katapat ng munting kasiyahan ng isang Pilipinong hindi ‘kaya ang bayad sa mga ekslusibong palabas ng mayayaman.’ Samantala’y busy tayo sa paglilibang at sa kanila’y walang pakialam ngunit may handang pintas at pula sa mangahas lumabas sa batas ng moralidad ng lipunan. – Jun Cruz Reyes, Manila magazine Dec. 1977 (READ MORE)
Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen (Burlesque Queen) is most famous for Vilma Santos’ noteworthy performance. She plays Chato, daughter of crippled Roque (Leopoldo Salcedo). She works as assistant to Virgie (Rosemarie Gil), current star of the burlesque stage (the film opens with Gil gyrating to the rapid beatings of drums, to the ecstasy of her numerous patrons). Resisting the lofty wishes of her father, Chato succumbs to the lure of the stage and the money it would bring her. It really is a grand performance as Santos was able to deliver the physical requirements of the role with her inate charismatic aura (a skill that earned the actress legions of fans and eventually elected to public office). Santos’ Chato is servile to the men around her (her father, Louie the theater manager (played by Joonee Gamboa in the film’s other equally terrific performance) and Jessie (Rolly Quizon), her boyfriend) but when she dances onstage, it doesn’t come off as merely sensual and titillating. She dances burlesque to make a statement (if there is such a thing), a statement important enough to die for. More remarkable than Santos’ portrayal of the doomed burlesque dancer, is Castillo’s filmmaking. Set within the very patriarchal lower class Manila, Castillo posits the burlesque theater as not merely, as impassioned Louie points out, a place for highbrow entertainment for the masses, but also the window for the film’s female lead to become superior to her male oppressors. It’s a difficult metaphor to execute but Castillo successfully does so. The dancer, scantilly clad amidst the cheers and jeers of horny men, is easily regarded as the victim of exploitation. But in the film’s case, the stage becomes the dancer’s opportunity for leverage which is impossible in the outside world. The stage provides Chato ease from the outside world’s patriarchal clutches. She becomes financially stable on her own, temporarily free from her father’s influences, and powerful over thousands of men.
Interestingly, Castillo stages a poetically sequenced scene of Chato’s devirginization within the theater. Jessie attempts to make love to Chato inside her dressing room, and the latter submits to the former’s sexual advances. Interspersed between their lovemaking (take note of the ballad that plays in the background as the lyrics talk of love amidst the entire world’s disapproval, very typical of the romantic declarations that inevitably falter over time) are scenes from the stage, a circus act of horrid penetrations: of a woman being juggled by a man, several magic acts, and more importantly, of a man hammering a nail inside his nostril, then puncturing his eye socket with a metal stick, finally commencing with him swallowing a long blade. Castillo’s juxtaposing Chato’s first sexual act with acts of unnatural and bizarre penetrations of the human body impart a clear message of invasion, of Chato’s theater where she is the goddess (her stage name is Tsarina the goddess) and almighty over all the men who watch her. The theater is no longer the same sanctuary; in a way, the theater’s magic has been tainted. She becomes pregnant and decides to stop dancing pursuant to her relationship with Jessie and pregnancy. Her devirginization within the theater becomes symbolic of her surrender to the outside patriarchal forces.
The burlesque is in its dying days. Submitting to the very same patriarchal forces that have established strict moral norms and economic systems, the government has deemed the dance to be lewd and illegal. Louis plans that the final burlesque performance be the best and we become witnesses to the plan’s grand execution: a judiciously edited montage of circus acts, musical numbers, costumed dances and finally Chato’s coup de grace to both the theater and to herself. In a hypnotized daze with spotlights concentrating on her rhythmic gyrations, she enchants her audience. Once more, she is a goddess, the most powerful person in that wide area full of men. Her reign is shortlived for she is pregnant with Jessie’s child and starts bleeding. Castillo cuts to Chato’s face, sweaty and in pain and we hear as her heavy breathing joins the rapid beating of the drums. The camera pans down, and we see her belly dangerously shaking as blood continuously flows down her thighs. This is Chato’s repentance, a fatal undoing of her naive betrayal of the stage to succumb to patriarchal forces. Chato reluctantly stops and presumably dies as the crowd cheers on.
A jovial and sweet melody replaces the hurried beating of the drums and the boisterous cheers. The theater is empty. The hundred or so seats have no eager men sitting on them. A dusty curtain covers the once vibrant stage. Pictures of the burlesque dancers, more prominently Chato, are on display. Outside, a couple of players, including the Filipino version of Chaplin (complete with the trademark hat and cane of The Tramp), are waiting. They stand up and trod through the alley. The film closes with them walking away from the theater, reminiscent of the bittersweet finales of Charlie Chaplin’s comedies (more specifically The Circus (1928) and Modern Times (1936)). Of course, Burlesk Queen is nowhere like Chaplin’s films yet the ending feels irresistably apt, an intriguingly ironic hommage. The living remnants of the theater, those bitplayers walking away, have no bright future. Like Chato, the theater is their sanctuary and survival. The real world, the desolate and unfair lower class Manila of which they are ultimately going to, has no place for them. The melody, the memories, and the transient burlesque queen that once charmed a thousand men with the movement of her hips have been drowned by hopelessness. They shall all remain tramps. Burlesk Queen is much more than a gripping commercial melodrama. It is also a scathing commentary on the sarcastic sexual politics that has become the atmosphere of Philippine society: of hardworking women and the good-for-nothing men they serve (in other words, a patriarchal society gone awry). It is also a fervent reminder of the redemptive and equalizing power of art, which is the reason why it will always be a threat to those who hold power. Multi-faceted, committedly acted, and very well-directed, Burlesk Queen, I opine, is an unsung masterpiece. – Max Blog (READ MORE)
“…I have my own orientation in film criticism…because we’re Third World, to me a film is, first of all, a social document, then an educational tool, and third, an aesthetic experience. If I have to name three important Tagalog movies of all time based on these criteria, they would have to be Brocka’s Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag – acutally I can name four – Castillo’s Burlesk Queen, Romero’s Aguila, Gallaga’s Oro, Plata, Mata.” – Rafael Ma. Guerrero, Film critic (READ MORE)
“…Tuloy-tuloy ‘yun…(the hospital scense with Vilma and Leopoldo Salcedo) nag-experiment ako noong una, kumuha ako ng second take, pero di ko na rin tinapos. Perfect na iyong una. Alam mo bang nang gawin namin ang eksenang iyon tatlo kaming umiiyak sa set? Ako, si Vilma, at si Leopoldo? Dalang-dala si Leopoldo sa pagsasalita ni Vilma, lumuha siya kahit patay siya dapat doon. Buti na lang di siya nakuha ng kamera…(Kung Nahirapan ka ba kay Vilma?) …Oo, hindi sa acting dahil mahusay talaga siya kundi sa scheduling. Alam mo kasi it takes time before I can really get into the mood of a picture, mga two weeks, tapos kapag nandiyan na, that’s the stage when I’m ready to give my life to the project. Tapos biglang walang shooting ng two weeks dahil busy siya sa ibang pelikula…” – Ricardo Lee, Manila Magazine, Dec 1- 31, 1977
“…More remarkable than Santos’ portrayal of the doomed burlesque dancer, is Castillo’s filmmaking. Set within the very patriarchal lower class Manila, Castillo posits the burlesque theater as not merely, as impassioned Louie points out, a place for highbrow entertainment for the masses, but also the window for the film’s female lead to become superior to her male oppressors. It’s a difficult metaphor to execute but Castillo successfully does so. The dancer, scantilly clad amidst the cheers and jeers of horny men, is easily regarded as the victim of exploitation. But in the film’s case, the stage becomes the dancer’s opportunity for leverage which is impossible in the outside world. The stage provides Chato ease from the outside world’s patriarchal clutches. She becomes financially stable on her own, temporarily free from her father’s influences, and powerful over thousands of men. Interestingly, Castillo stages a poetically sequenced scene of Chato’s devirginization within the theater. Jessie attempts to make love to Chato inside her dressing room, and the latter submits to the former’s sexual advances. Interspersed between their lovemaking (take note of the ballad that plays in the background as the lyrics talk of love amidst the entire world’s disapproval, very typical of the romantic declarations that inevitably falter over time) are scenes from the stage, a circus act of horrid penetrations: of a woman being juggled by a man, several magic acts, and more importantly, of a man hammering a nail inside his nostril, then puncturing his eye socket with a metal stick, finally commencing with him swallowing a long blade. Castillo’s juxtaposing Chato’s first sexual act with acts of unnatural and bizarre penetrations of the human body impart a clear message of invasion, of Chato’s theater where she is the goddess (her stage name is Tsarina the goddess) and almighty over all the men who watch her. The theater is no longer the same sanctuary; in a way, the theater’s magic has been tainted. She becomes pregnant and decides to stop dancing pursuant to her relationship with Jessie and pregnancy. Her devirginization within the theater becomes symbolic of her surrender to the outside patriarchal forces…Burlesk Queen is much more than a gripping commercial melodrama. It is also a scathing commentary on the sexual politics that has become the atmosphere of Philippine society: of hardworking women and the good-for-nothing men they serve; of a patriarchal society gone awry. It is also a fervent reminder of the redemptive and equalizing power of art. Multi-faceted, committedly acted, and very well-directed, Burlesk Queen, I opine, is an unsung masterpiece.” – Oggs Cruz (READ MORE)
“(about the hospital scense with Vilma and Leopoldo Salcedo) Tuloy-tuloy ‘yun. nag-experiment ako noong una, kumuha ako ng second take, pero di ko na rin tinapos. Perfect na iyong una. Alam mo bang nang gawin namin ang eksenang iyon tatlo kaming umiiyak sa set? Ako, si Vilma, at si Leopoldo? Dalang-dala si Leopoldo sa pagsasalita ni Vilma, lumuha siya kahit patay siya dapat doon. Buti na lang di siya nakuha ng kamera…(Kung Nahirapan ka ba kay Vilma?) …Oo, hindi sa acting dahil mahusay talaga siya kundi sa scheduling. Alam mo kasi it takes time before I can really get into the mood of a picture, mga two weeks, tapos kapag nandiyan na, that’s the stage when I’m ready to give my life to the project. Tapos biglang walang shooting ng two weeks dahil busy siya sa ibang pelikula…” – Ricardo Lee, Manila magazine Dec. 1- 31, 1977 (READ MORE)
“…When Burlesk Queen was offered to her, Vilma bided her time until she talked with her parents. “Okay,” her Mama agreed, “as long as the sexy scenes would be treated well.” Says Vilma: “I am liberated in the sense that I have moved out of the family residence. Why did I do it? Because I feel I am old enough to take care of myself, gusto ko namang masubukan ang independence. I feel that I am old enough to know what I want. “Ngayon,” she adds, “anu’t-ano pa man ang mangyari, buhay ko na ito. Kung madapa man ako, sisikapin ko nang bumangon ng sarili ko.” Her kind of liberation includes freedom to choose her dates and to go out unchaperoned. To criticisms about her going out with a married man, Vilma snorts: “Ako naman, I don’t care whether a man is a sinner or a saint. Basta niri-respeto niya ako at ang pamilya ko, niri-respeto ko rin siya…It took us almost seven nights, shooting straight, to finish that sequence. I learned the dance from an expert real-life burlesque dancer. During shootings, palaging close-door. My God, I couldn’t have done it with so many people around.” She had to take several shots of brandy before the shooting. “Otherwise, I could have died from nervousness. ”According to Romy Ching, producer of Burlesk Queen, he didn’t really have the Metro Filmfest in mind because he had a November 25 playdate. But when he saw the rushes, he changed plans. “Hindi ka magsisisi na tinanggap mo ito,” he told Vilma, “it will be worth it.” Says Vilma: “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)
“…When she cried foul when Rollie Quizon left her for his domineering mother in Burlesk Queen, Filipino women can relate with her anguish. A mama’s boy leaving his striper lover to go back to the luxury of home. Chato still very relevant today. The beerhouses and burlesk clubs no longer a major force in Ermita, now a toro-toro replaced them but the flight of Chato still very much existed with her story line of her decision to have an abortion symbolically reflected to its last few scenes. Her dancing to her death, bleeding to show the cruelty of her life. Vilma’s portrayal, subtle, physical and deeply emoted in her dialogues and eyes. Leopoldo Salcedo’s refusal to admit his daughter became like her mother but her disability and financial situation prevented him to control her dauther’s fate. Poverty one of issue that Mayor Vi has to tackled, very evident in Burlesk Queen….” – RV (READ MORE)
“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 wha the people should see?” ” – Time Magazine Feb. 13, 1978 Vol. 111 No. 7 (READ MORE)
“…Truly, indeed, as montage requires, a film to be art must conform to the law governing organic unity in natural phenomena. Lenin, the great leader of the Russian proletarian revolution under whose influence Eisenstein developed the montage theory, puts it this way: “…the particular does not exist outside that relationship which leads to the general. The general exists only in the particular, through the particular.” Hence in Burlesk Queen, scene after scene, and detail after detail to their minutest proportions within each scene, nothing exists that is not within the central theme of burlesque. In this dress shop sequence, Virgie makes like unaffected by Ander’s having completely abandoned her for the club hostess, but in the dressing room where she repairs to after the verbal clash, she gives vent to all her sorrow from having lost Ander forever. At precisely this point, Chato is exchanging love gazes with Jessie. Here we have a pretty lucid illustration of a rule in dramaturgy that has been a tradition of Greek tragedies whereby qualitative leaps in thematic development are always in the opposite. Chato’s joy at a nascent love affair with Jessie is contraposed to Virgie’s grief brought about by the end of her relationship with Ander. Yet though such qualitative leaps go separate ways, they stay confined within a seeming thematic parallel by which both leaps contribute to the building of a compositional structure necessary to maintain the organic unity begun earlier on at the opening. Virgie drops into depression and is so drunk during one burlesque presentation in the theater that she is not able to answer the call when her number comes. Now, who should come onstage to take Virgie’s place just so to placate a maddened crowd but a young dancer—Chato!…” – Mao Gia Samonte, Manila Times February 12, 2009 (READ MORE)
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