Kinakaharap at Hinaharap ng Industriya ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Established in 2004 by the University of the Philippines (U.P.) College of Mass Communication, the annual U.P. Gawad Plaridel is the sole award given in the U.P. System to outstanding Filipino media practitioners who have excelled in any of the media (print, radio, film, television, and new media) and have performed with the highest level of professional integrity in the interest of public service. The award is named after Marcelo H. del Pilar (nom de plume, Plaridel), the selfless propagandist whose stewardship of the reformist newspaper La Solidaridad helped crystallize nationalist sentiments and ignite libertarian ideas in the 1890s. Like Plaridel, the recipient of the award must believe in the vision of a Philippine society that is egalitarian, participative, and progressive, and in media that are socially responsible, critical and vigilant, liberative and transformative, and free and independent.

The first U.P. Gawad Plaridel was given to Eugenia Duran-Apostol in 2004 for her contributions to print media. For the year 2005, the award was given to an outstanding practitioner in film — Ms. Rosa Vilma T. Santos-Recto (aka Vilma Santos). She was chosen, among other reasons, for building a brilliant career which saw her grow from popular icon to professional actor through self-discipline and tireless honing of her craft; for bravely using her popularity as an actor to choose roles which bring to the public attention an astounding range of female experiences as well as an array of problems confronting women of different classes and sectors in contemporary Filipino society; and for bringing to life on screen characters whose stories have the effect of raising or transforming the consciousness of women, leading them a few steps closer to a deeper understanding of their situation vis-à-vis the patriarchy and to the ability to control their own lives and make empowered choices of their own.

As the 2005 awardee, Santos delivered this Plaridel Lecture during the U.P. Gawad Plaridel Paggawad at Lektyur on July 4, 2005 at the U.P. Film Institute Cine Adarna (formerly U.P. Film Center). More than 1,000 people attended the event, among them National Artist Napoleon V. Abueva (who sculpted the U.P. Gawad Plaridel trophy); Senator Ralph Recto; U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman; U.P. Diliman Chancellor Sergio S. Cao; 2004 U.P. Gawad Plaridel awardee Eugenia Duran Apostol; Film Development Council of the Philippines Chair Laurice Guillen-Feleo; Film Academy of the Philippines Chair Atty. Espiridion Laxa; ABS-CBN Executive Vice President Charo Santos-Concio; film directors Chito Roño and Jerry Sineneng; film critic Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera; writers Ricky Lee, Pete Lacaba, and Marra PL. Lanot; actor Tirso Cruz III; and faculty members and mass communication students from U.P. Officials, faculty members, and students from Miriam College, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, University of the East, Trinity College of Quezon City, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University (Lipa), and the Batangas State University were also present.

Kinakaharap at Hinaharap ng Industriya ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Vilma Santos, U.P. Gawad Plaridel 2005 Awardee Plaridel (February 2006)

Noong ginawa ko ang pelikulang Ging (1964), ako ay sampung (10) taong gulang. Mahigit kumulang 200 pelikula na ang aking nagawa. Kaya sa araw na ito, nais kong ibahagi ang naging karanasan ko at mga pananaw sa mahabang panahong ito sa daigdig na pinanggalingan ko: ang daigdig ng pelikulang Pilipino, ang daigdig din na naging dahilan kung bakit ako ay nasa harapan ninyo ngayon, ang daigdig na ang sabi ng iba ay naghihingalo na.

Malayong-malayo sa kasalukuyang paghihingalo ang industriya ng pelikula noong nagsisimula pa ako dito. Mula edad 9 hanggang 15 ay nakagawa na ako ng 25 pelikula, halos 5 pelikula bawat taon. Sa maagang panahong iyon, ako ay kumikita na. Ilan sa mga pelikulang ginawa ko noon ay ang Trudis Liit (1963), Anak, Ang Iyong Ina (1963) Naligaw na Anghel (1964), Hampaslupang Maton (1966) at De Colores (1968). Hindi ko alam kung ang mga ito ay dapat kong ipagmalaki, pero para sa akin, dito ako nag-umpisa, at maaayos at magagaling ang mga pelikulang ito. Nakakatawa lang ang mga titulo. Pero ipinagmamalaki kong sabihing kumita ang mga pelikulang iyan. Kasi, wala pang pirated CDs at DVDs noon, wala pang cable television. Madalang pa ang dating ng dayuhang pelikula. Noong mga panahong iyon, mga 10 taon pa lang ako ay may teleserye na ako. Ito ay Ang Larawan ng Pag-ibig. Primetime ito na ipinapalabas mula 6:00 hanggang 6:30 ng gabi.

Noong nagdadalaga na ako noong 1960s at unang bahagi ng 1970s, pakanta-kanta at pasayaw-sayaw naman kami ng aking kasamahan. Kung hindi sa loob ng studio ay ginagawa namin iyon sa ilalim ng punong mangga. Sa loob lamang ng dalawang linggo ay may bagong pelikula na namang ipalalabas at tinatangkilik naman ng mga fans. Ilan sa mga pelikulang ito ay ang Songs and Lovers (1970), I Love You Honey (1970), Edgar Loves Vilma (1970), Takbo, Vilma, Dali (1972), Hatinggabi Na, Vilma (1972), at Vilma and the Beep, Beep, Minica (1974). Totoo pong nakakatuwa ang mga titulo, pero noong mga panahong iyon, tuwang-tuwa ang mga fans, at lalo silang naligayahan noong ginampanan ko ang papel ng isang Dyesebel at nang ako ay naging Darna din.

Pambihira ang mga fans noong araw. Ang tawag sa kanila ay mga fanatics. Ang ginagawa nila ay ginugupit lahat ng artikulo ng kanilang mga idolo, nililinis, inaayos at inilalagay sa album. Hanggang ngayon, sa aking tanggapan sa Lungsod ng Lipa, ay nagpupunta pa rin sila sa akin, mga kasing-edad ko na rin at ipinapakita nila sa akin ang mga album – iyong iba’y kulay sepia na – at pinapapirmahan.

Pero dumating ang punto sa buhay ko na kailangan ko nang magpasya kung ano ang dapat na maging direksiyon ng aking buhay bilang isang artista. Ako ay ginabayan ng aking mga magulang at mga taong malalapit sa akin, tulad nina Atty. [Espiridion] Laxa, Manay [Marichu Maceda] at ang naging manager ko noon, ang yumaong si William Leary. Hindi naman maaaring habambuhay ay wala akong gagawin kundi magpa-cute sa mga papel na ginagampanan ko. Hindi na rin gaanong kinakagat ng mga tao noon ang mga love team. Noong mga panahong iyon, tumitindi na ang kompetisyon sa pag-arte. Naghahanap na rin ako ng mga pelikula na babagay sa edad ko, mga pelikulang masasabi kong puwedeng seryosohin. Naghahanap na ako ng matinong script, may istorya, may nilalaman, iyong maiintindihan ng mga tao, hindi hiwalay sa katotohanan. Nag-iisip na ako. At unti-unti nang nabubuo sa aking isip ang magiging direksyon ng buhay ko bilang isang artista.

At nag-umpisa akong tumanggap ng mga pelikulang mas malaman kaysa doon sa mga naunang pelikulang aking ginawa. Malaman dahil mas may script, mas may istorya at direksyon. Kabilang sa mga pelikulang ito ang Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (1975) at Nakakahiya (1975) at Nakakahiya II (1976) kung saan nakasama ko ang namayapang si Eddie Rodriguez. Nariyan din ang Isang Pugad, Dalawang Ibon (1977) na ginawa ko sa Lea Productions. Ang mga pelikulang ito at iba pang ginawa ko noon ay nakatulong sa akin para mahasa ko ang aking kakayahan sa pag-arte. Bukod dito, kumikita rin ang mga pelikula ko noon at napakahalaga para sa mga prodyuser at artistang katulad ko ang kumikitang pelikula. Hindi tayo nawawalan ng assignment. Noon na may nag-alok sa akin ng isang pelikulang naiiba sa lahat ng pelikulang ginawa ko – ang Burlesk Queen (1977).

Hindi ko pa nagagawa ang papel na ginampanan ko rito. Kinakailangan nito ang ibang klaseng tapang ng loob. Naitanong ko sa sarili ko noon: Tanggapin kaya ako ng mga manonood sa ganitong papel? Ano kaya ang sasabihin ng mga madre? Ako ay nag-aral sa St. Mary’s Academy sa ilalim ng RVM Sisters. Kay rami kong pagtatanong at pagdududa. Hanggang sa mabasa ko ang script. Kay ganda ng script! Nagpasiya akong sumugal dito. Dalawampu’t tatlong taong gulang ako noon.

Ang pelikulang ito ang nagmulat sa akin sa maraming bagay. Naging matagumpay ito. Pinilahan at pinuri pa ng mga kritiko. Binuksan pa nito ang isipan ng mga tao sa kalagayan at tibay ng loob ng isang babae.

Naisip ko rin na kung lalo kong pagbubutihin ang pagganap sa pelikula, kung magiging propesyunal ako sa aking pagtatrabaho, at kung pipili ako ng mahusay na script, may mararating ako sa larangan ng napili kong mundo – ang mundo ng pelikula.

Kaya lang puro mga commercial films ang dumadating sa akin noon, pero mga magagandang pelikula din naman. Ang mga ito ay hinango sa komiks at radyo, tulad ng Sinasamba Kita (1982), Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? (1982), Paano Ba Ang Mangarap? (1983). Kumita ang mga pelikulang ito. At kapag marami kang pelikulang kumikita ay talagang sikat ka at mas marami ang offers. Ang kasabihan noon ay sukatan daw ng kasikatan ng isang artista ang tinatawag na box-office appeal niya.

Mabuti na lamang at nariyan ang ating mga magagaling na direktor noong mga panahong iyon, katulad nina Ishmael Bernal, Lino Brocka, Mike de Leon, Laurice Guillen, at Marilou Diaz-Abaya.

At dumating na nga at inalok sa akin ang papel ng isang kerida sa pelikulang Relasyon (1982). Muli ko na namang tinanong ang aking sarili: Uubra ba ito sa mga tao? Kasi ang bida ay isang kerida. Pero may laman naman ang istorya. Maraming kababaihan ang makaka-relate sa papel na iyon at si Ishmael Bernal pa ang direktor. Tinanggap ko ang pelikula. Kinilala, kumita ang pelikula, at pinalad akong manalo ng award sa iba’t ibang award-giving bodies. Dito ko nakuha ang aking grand slam.

Pagkatapos ng Relasyon, kasunod agad na ginawa ko ang pelikulang Broken Marriage (1983). Si Ishmael Bernal muli ang nagdirek nito. Inilalarawan ng pelikulang ito ang nangyayari sa mag-asawang hindi pareho ang prayoridad sa buhay. Dahil dito ay nagkahiwalay sila at naapektuhan ang kanilang mga anak. Pero mayroon akong napakalaking natutunan sa paggawa ko ng pelikulang ito.

Noong nanalo ako ng mga awards – grand slam pa – sabi ko sa sarili ko: “Magaling na ako!” Pagkakuha ko ng isa sa apat na award, nag-unang shooting day na agad ang pelikulang Broken Marriage at drama agad ang unang eksena namin ni Christopher de Leon. Aba! Na-take 7 ako! Sabi sa akin ni Ishmael Bernal: “Bakit Vi, ano ba ang nangyayari sa iyo? Nagdadrama ka pero bakit may twinkle-twinkle ang mga mata mo?”.. Sabi ko: “Direk, umaarte naman po ako, ah.” Sinabihan ako ni direk ng “Anong arte yan!!!?” At ipinasok niya ako sa kubeta, at ako ay ikinulong niya dito. Pagkatapos ay pinag-jogging niya ako ng 10 minuto. Ang sabi niya sa akin: “Huwag kang mag-ilusyon! Hindi ibig sabihin na dahil tumanggap ka ng award, eh, magaling ka na! Mag-jogging ka diyan at tanggalin mo ang ilusyon na iyan sa iyong sarili!”

Pagkatapos ng insidenteng ito, natanim sa isip ko na ang pag-aaral pala, paghahasa at pagdagdag ng kaalaman sa larangang aking pinili, ay dapat tuluy-tuloy. Hindi ibig sabihin na dahil may best actress award ka ay ikaw na ang pinakamagaling at hindi mo na kailangang mag-aral. Maraming magagaling, kaya kailangan walang hinto ang pag-aaral. Ito ay patuloy kong ginagawa.

Pagkatapos ng pelikulang Broken Marriage, naging madre naman ako sa pelikula ni Mike de Leon na Sister Stella L. (1984). Kasabay nitong ipinalabas ang pelikula ni Ms. Sharon Cuneta. Hindi ko lang maalala ang titulo ng pelikulang ito ni Sharon, kung Bituing Walang Ningning (1984) o Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala (1984), pero sabay ang unang araw ng palabas ng aming mga pelikula at talaga napaluhod ang ningning ng tala ko dahil nilangaw ang pelikula ko! Umiiyak akong nagpunta kay Mother Lily [Monteverde], pero ang sabi lang niya: “Ganyan talaga ang buhay.”

Gayunpaman, ako ay labis na natutuwa – at aking ipinagmamalaki ito – sapagkat sa kabila ng mapait na nangyari sa pelikulang Sister Stella L., hanggang ngayon ay natatandaan pa ng mga tao ang pelikulang ito at itinuturing pang isa sa mga pinakamahuhusay na pelikula sa kasaysayan ng pelikulang Pilipino.

Napakatapang ng pelikulang Sister Stella L. Lakasan lang talaga ng loob. Marami talaga kaming itinaya sa pelikulang ito. Dalawampung taon na ang nakakaraan, ngunit sariwa pa sa akin ang mga eksena kong ginawa dito. Napaka-makatotohanan ang mga eksenang aming ginawa para sa mga manggagawa. Pero sa ngayon, makaraan ang 20 taon, parang iyong aming inilahad na mga problema noon ay siya pa ring mga problema natin ngayon. Parang walang nagbago.

Sa pelikulang Rubia Servios (1978) na ginawa namin ni Direktor Lino Brocka, biktima ng rape naman ako dito. Pero sa halip na manahimik at umasa na lang sa batas, ako ay naghiganti. Pinatay ko ang aking rapist na si Phillip Salvador. Natakot ako sa ending ng pelikula dahil baka kung ano na naman ang sasabihin ng mga makakapanood. Pero nakuha ko ang simpatiya ng mga manonood at tinangkilik ng mga tao ang aking pelikula. Marahil ay naging epektibo ang aking pag-arte dito at nagabayan ako ng husay ni Direk Lino Brocka.

May kasabihan kami sa industriya na sa pelikula, bawal na bawal patayin ang bida. Hindi raw nagugustuhan ng mga fans. Dahil dito, hindi raw kumikita ang pelikula. Pero may ginawa akong dalawang pelikulang talaga namang sumugal kami.

Katulad ng pelikulang Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989) na isinulat ni Jose Javier Reyes na ginawa namin ni Direk Ishmael Bernal noong 1989. Namatay ang karakter ko sa pelikulang ito pero kumita ito, taliwas sa tradisyunal na paniniwala ng ibang tao. Ngunit higit na mas mahalaga ang nilalaman ng pelikulang ito. Nadiskubre ng karakter ko sa pelikulang ito na mayroon siyang kanser at ilang buwan na lamang ay babawian na siya ng buhay. Pero naging matatag siya. Hinarap at inihanda niya ang kanyang sarili sa kahihinatnan niya at ng kanyang anak. Ipinakita nito ang katatagan at katapangan ng isang babae sa harap ng napakatinding krisis sa kanyang buhay.

Gayundin ang pelikulang Dahil Mahal Kita (The Dolzura Cortez Story) (1993) na hango sa tunay na buhay. Ginampanan ko ang papel ng isang biktima ng anti-immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) na namatay dahil sa sakit na ito. Ito ang kauna-unahang pelikulang Pilipino na tumalakay sa sakit na AIDS. Pumayag akong gawin ang pelikula dahil sa pamamagitan nito, mailalarawan namin ang tunay na nangyayari sa isang biktima ng AIDS at ang nagiging kalagayan niya sa ating lipunan. Noong isinali namin sa Manila Film Festival ang pelikulang ito, tinangkilik ito ng mga manonood. Nabuksan pa namin ang mga mata ng tao tungkol sa sakit na AIDS.

Sa pelikulang Ipagpatawad Mo (1991), sinikap naman naming talakayin ang isa pang uri ng sakit na hindi naman nakamamatay pero kailangang harapin at unawain lalo na ng isang magulang na may anak na nagtataglay ng ganitong sakit: ang autism. Ito ang unang pelikulang tumalakay sa sakit na ito. Sumugal kami dito at pinanood naman ito ng napakarami nating mga kababayan.

Sa pelikulang Anak (2000) naman, makatotohanan naming nailarawan ang mga problemang umuusbong sa pagitan ng anak at ng isang magulang, lalo na ng isang ina, na kailangang mangibang bansa para magtrabaho at masuportahan ang kanilang mga pangangailangan; ang hirap na dinaranas at tinitiis ng mga domestic helpers natin; ang kaawa-awang kalagayan ng mga anak na naiiwan nila; at ang katatagan ng isang babae bilang ina at asawa sa gitna ng kahirapan at mga pagsubok sa buhay. Isa rin ito sa mga pelikulang talagang tumatak sa akin. Hindi ko rin ito makakakalimutan.

Ganito rin halos ang mga karakter na aking binigyang-buhay sa mga sumunod kong pelikula. Katulad ng Bata-Bata… Paano Ka Ginawa (1998) ni Direk Chito Roño. Ginampanan ko ang papel ni Leah Bustamante na ayaw magpatali sa leeg at maging sunud-sunuran lang sa kinakasamang lalaki. Prangka. Matapang. May tiwala sa sarili. May sariling prinsipyo at pamantayan sa buhay bilang isang tao, bagama’t isa rin siyang ina. Samakatuwid, hindi siya ordinaryong babae.

Sa Dekada ’70 (2002), nagkasama kaming muli ni Direk Chito Roño. Ginampanan ko ang papel ng isang tahimik na ina na dahil sa kanyang personal na karanasan ay namulat sa hindi makatarungan, hindi makatao at mapang-aping elemento ng diktaduryang pamahalaan. Ipinakita rin dito ang pagkamulat ng isang tipikal na maybahay sa hindi pantay na pagtingin ng lipunan sa karapatan at kakayahan ng mga babae at ang pagbibigay-halaga niya sa kanyang sarili. Itong mga bagay na ito ang nagbunsod sa kanya na makiisa at makilahok sa mga pwersang nakikipaglaban para sa pampulitika at panlipunang pagbabago. Isa itong pelikula na akin ding ipinagmamalaki.

Kung naging matagumpay ang mga pelikulang nabanggit ko ngayon dito ay sapagkat naging mapalad ako at ako ay natulungan ng mga magagaling na direktor at manunulat tulad nina Pete Lacaba, Ricky Lee, Jose Javier Reyes, at Lualhati Bautista. Gusto ko ring pasalamatan ang mga aktor na nakasama ko na nagbigay ng kanilang suporta. Ang mga naglapat ng musika, mga editor, mga production designers, at lahat ng mga nakasama namin na tinatawag nilang technical staff o mga tao sa likod ng kamera. Higit sa lahat, gusto kong pasalamatan ang lahat ng aking naging mga prodyuser, sapagkat sila ang nagtiwala sa inyong lingkod at nagbigay sa akin ng mga pelikulang tunay na maipagmamalaki.

Kung may pagkakaisa talaga ang lahat, nagtatrabaho, nagtutulungan, may kakayahan at may direksyon ang kanilang pinaghihirapan, makakalikha talaga tayo ng isang pelikula na mataas ang kalidad at talaga namang kaya nating ipagmalaki.

Bagama’t wala na sa ating tabi ngayon sina Direktor Lino Brocka at Ismael Bernal at hindi na aktibo si Mike De Leon, marami pa rin tayong mga direktor na nagtataglay ng galing o talino. Nariyan sina Direk Chito Roño, Olive Lamasan, Jeffrey Jeturian, Jerry Sineneng, at marami pang iba. Marami rin tayong mga manunulat at teknisyan na malikhain, mahuhusay, at propesyunal na nakakalikha ng mataas na uri ng pelikula. Kailangan lamang na mabigyan sila ng sapat at angkop na pagkakataon at suporta upang maipakita at lalong mapagyaman ang mga katangiang ito. Kaya sana, sa panahong ito, sumugal tayo sa kanilang talento.

Subalit maraming problemang kinakaharap ngayon ang ating industriya. Marami sa mga kasamahan namin sa industriya ang wala nang hanapbuhay ngayon. Katunayan, marami akong mga kasamahang aktor at direktor na dumadalaw sa aking tanggapan sa Lipa para humingi ng tulong. Halos telebisyon na lamang ang bumubuhay sa kanila. Ngunit ang karamihan ay wala na talagang trabaho.

Ayon sa Newsbreak, noong 1971 ay nakagawa ng 251 pelikula ang ating mga prodyuser. Subalit, ayon sa Film Academy of the Philippines, halos 164 pelikula lamang taun-taon ang nagawa mula 1996 hanggang 1999 at bumaba pa lalo ito sa mga 82 pelikula taun-taon noong 2000 hanggang 2003.

Noong nakaraang taon, 55 pelikula na lang ang nagawa ng ating mga prodyuser. At hindi lahat ng mga pelikulang ito ay kumita. Maraming dahilan kung bakit paunti nang paunti ang gumagawa ng pelikula.

Una, halos 50% ang ipinapatong na buwis sa ating pelikula. Pangalawa, hindi pa naipapalabas sa mga sinehan ang isang pelikula, napapanood na agad ito sa pamamagitan ng mga pirated CDs at DVDs. Ayon sa isang prodyuser ng pelikula, kikita pa sana ng mga karagdagang 20 hanggang 30 milyong piso ang kanilang pelikula kung wala sanang lumabas na pirated CDs ng pelikula bago ito ipalabas sa mga sinehan.

Pangatlo, kung noong araw ay marami ang tumatangkilik sa ating mga pelikulang Pilipino, ngayon ay halos hindi na makayanang gumugol ng pera sa panonood ng sine. Mahal na ang tiket. Noong nag-umpisa ako ay 7.50 lang yata ang tiket. Ngayon ay 80 hanggang 150 pesos na. Ngayon, ang mga sine ay nakikita na lamang sa mga mall. Ang mga sinehan na sinasabi nating mga pang-masa kung saan sila ay kumportableng pumupunta katulad ng Odeon, Cinerama, Roxan, Galaxy, at iba pa ay sarado na yata lahat ngayon. Isa pa sa nagpadagdag ng hirap ay ang pagtaas ng pamasahe. Nagmahal na rin ang mga pagkain sa mall.

Pang-apat, masyadong matindi na ang kompetisyon ngayon. Mas tinatangkilik at kumikita ngayon ng malaki ang mga dayuhang pelikula. Katunayan, ayon kay Jose Javier Reyes, ang pelikulang Spiderman 2 (2004) ay kumita ng 27 milyong piso sa Metro Manila sa kauna-unahang araw pa lamang pagkatapos ng Metro Manila Film Festival. Anong pelikula natin noong nakaraang festival na ito ang kumita ng ganito kalaki sa isang araw? Noong film festival, hanggang walong pelikula ang ating ipinalabas at iyon ang araw ng mga lokal na pelikula. Pero walang kumita ng ganoon sa isang araw. Kumita lamang ng 5 o 10 milyong piso, parang napakasaya na.

At dahil mas madali, mas mura, at mas malayo na malugi ang mag-import ng dayuhang pelikula kaysa gumawa ng pelikula dito sa ating bansa, may mga prodyuser na itinutuon na lamang ang kanilang pansin sa pag-import ng mga pelikula. At nangyayari na rin ito sa ating telebisyon. May mga prodyuser tayo na nagiimport na lamang ng mga telenovela mula sa Korea, Taiwan, at Mexico. Mas mura ito kaysa magprodyus ng lokal na telenovela. Pero sa dakong huli, ano ang mapait na nangyayari? Marami sa mga kababayan natin ang nawawalan ng trabaho, mula direktor, aktor, manunulat, teknisyan, hanggang sa mga maliliit na manggagawa katulad ng mga ekstra, karpintero, pintor, at mga mananahi na kailangan sa production design. At sino ang binibigyan natin ng trabaho? Ang kumikita po ngayon ay mga taga-ibang bansa pa.

Ako’y labis na nalulungkot sa katayuan ngayon ng ating industriya ng pelikula. Ngunit sa kabila nito, ako’y naniniwala na kaya pa nating sagipin ang industriya. Sa palagay ko, dapat pagaralan ng ating pamahalaan kung paano mababawasan ang buwis na ipinapataw dito. Napakabigat nito. At napakataas na at pataas pa nang pataas ang production cost ng paggawa ng pelikula. Kaya nagiging matamlay ang ating mga prodyuser na gumawa ng pelikula, katulad ng nangyayari. Pito-pito na lang daw. Pero hindi sila masisi dahil negosyo din ang paggawa ng pelikula.

Kailangan ding pag-aralan ng ating pamahalaan ang paglalagay ng regulasyon sa pagpasok ng mga dayuhang pelikula. Hindi naman pipigilan ang pagpasok nila. Ang sinasabi ko lang ay bigyan namang prayoridad, pagmalasakitan naman natin ang sariling produkto. Nais ko ring idagdag na kailangan din naman pagbutihin ang mga istorya sa paggawa ng pelikula. Hindi iyong nangongopya na lamang. Kailangan namang de-kalidad. May tatak Pinoy.

Ngunit sa kabila ng lahat, mayroon pa ring gumagawa sa atin ng pelikula na mataas ang kalidad, maipagmamalaki, nakikipagsabayan at kinikilala sa ibang bansa. Ang ibig sabihin ay may pag-asa, may ibubuga. Pero iilan na lang sila.

Ako naman ay handang ibaba ang aking talent fee. Ang kondisyon ko lang naman ay gusto kong makitang may laman ang iskrip. Katunayan, may nag-aalok sa akin na gumawa ng pelikula para sa isang independent film producer. At tinatanong ako kung magkano ang talent fee ko. Ang sabi ko sa kanila ay ipakita muna nila ang iskrip sa akin. Madaling pag-usapan ang talent fee. May mga lumalapit sa amin ni Senator [Ralph] Recto upang humingi ng tulong at suporta. Si Senator Recto ay isa sa mga awtor ng pagtatayo ng Films Rating Board na nagbibigay ng insentibo sa mga pelikulang mataas ang kalidad.

Sa amin sa Lipa, nagpasa kami ng isang batas na nagbabawas ng amusement tax mula 30% to 15% sa lahat ng pelikulang Pilipino na ipapalabas sa mga sinehan sa aming bayan. Ang buhay o ikabubuhay ng pelikulang Pilipino ay nasa ating mga kamay mismo. Nasa ating pamahalaan, sa ating mga prodyuser ng pelikula, sa atin mismong mga manonood, sa atin mismong naririto ngayon. Tulungan nating makabangon ang industriya ng pelikula. Lahat – kasama ako – ay kailangan talagang makiisa!

Sa pelikula nagkakatagpo-tagpo ang iba’t ibang uri ng sining – ang panitikan, performing arts, musika, potograpiya, at iba pa. Kaya napakabisang instrumento ito sa pakikipagtalastasan at pakikipagugnayan sa mga tao.

Hindi nakapagtataka kung bakit napakalakas ng impluwensya ng sining na ito sa ating mga kababayan. Kadalasan, dito nila idinidikit ang mga desisyon nila sa buhay. Kaya sa pamamagitan sa pelikula, mas epektibo nating napapa-unlad, napapalawak at nabubuksan ang kaisipan ng mga manonood natin tungkol sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng ating buhay at sa lipunang ating ginagalawan na dapat ay nasasalamin dito. At dahil dito, mas napabubuti nila ang pagdedesisyon sa buhay, ang pakikitungo sa kapwa, ang partisipasyon sa paglikha ng isang lipunang maunlad, malaya at matatag at may malasakit sa kapwa. Kaya dapat nating alagaan at ingatan ang ating pelikula.

Marami at mabigat ang problema ng ating industriya ng pelikula. Marami at mabigat din ang mga problemang kinakaharap ng ating mga mamamayan at ating pamahalaan, na ang iba ay masasalamin sa ating mga pelikula. Kailangang pag-isipan natin ang mga ito. Kumilos tayo batay sa ikabubuti ng higit na nakararami habang may panahon pa.

Naalala ko po tuloy ang sinabi ng karakter ko sa pelikulang Sister Stella L. Bilang pangwakas, uulitin ko ito sa inyo dahil gusto kong ipaalam sa inyo na ngayon na ako’y naging isang punonglungsod at naharap na sa realidad ng buhay, ngayon ay mas naiintindihan ko na ang mga salitang ito:

Marami pa akong hindi alam at dapat malaman tungkol sa mga kasalukuyang kalagayan ng mga sistema ng lipunan. Kailangan ko pang patuloy na mag-aral at matuto. Pero ang mahalaga, ako ay narito na ngayon, hindi na lamang nanonood, kundi nakikiisa sa pagdurusa ng mga hindi nakakarinig, tumutulong sa abot ng aking makakaya. Kaya kung hindi tayo kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? – Honourable Congresswoman, Lipa City Representative Vilma Santos-Recto, Plaridel, Vol 3 Issue No. 1 2006 (READ MORE, To Download,click here)

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“Wow! Ang Bigat!”

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When Vilma Santos or Ate Vi, to most of us, was handed the trophy as the 2005 UP Gawad Plaridel awardee, she exclaimed “Wow! Ang Bigat!” I’m sure she meant it literally but it can also mean figuratively.

The trophy designed and made by National Artist for Sculpture, Napoleon Abueva, was made of bronze and was really heavy. This is the third Abueva designed trophy that ate Vi has received. She earlier received Abueva made trophies from the CineManila International Film Festival as Best Actress and as Lifetime Achievement awardee. The trophy may be heavy but the prestige that goes with it is heavier! As what the citation says, Gawad Plaridel is the sole award in the University of the Philippines (UP) system given to outstanding media practioners. For this year, the recipient is from film, next year will be from radio, next is television, then new media, print and after 5 years back to film again. Ate Vi is the very first awardee in film and it will take 5 long years before this feat will be duplicated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Message from the Dean of UP-CMC 31 May 2005

Office of the Dean – MESSAGE: Traditionally, academia has always kept a discreet distance from show business, and for good reason. For one, academics have always emphasized critical thinking and professional integrity, both of which seem to be rare commodities in a movie world obsessed with instant gold and glamour. For another, the popularity of a movie star, to be sure an unwanted legacy from Hollywood, has been used by producers to cover up for a multitude of their cinematic sins, such as the lack of intelligent scripts, competent directors, and solid production values.But stardom is not a sin in itself. In the hands of film actors who are sincerely committed to their art, popularity can be harnessed to uplift the artistic standards of the whole film industry. In fact, it can contribute significantly and directly to the development of a Filipino national cinema, if the movie star, with cunning and imagination, can use his or her popularity as a way of pressuring filmmakers to create screen characters and stories that reflect and interpret urgent issues and concerns in contemporary Philippine society.In choosing Vilma Santos as the U.P. Gawad Plaridel Awardee for film, the College of Mass Communication would like to offer to the film and media industries incontrovertible and living proof that popularity – and ratings – need not lead to the degradation of media tastes and standards. In fact, they can inspire media practitioners to compete with each other to be the best that they can be and encourage filmmakers to create films that liberate and transform the many levels of consciousness of the Filipino people. –  Nicanor G. Tiongson, Dean, College of Mass Communication, Message from UP Chancellor, 31 May 2005

Office of the Chancellor – MESSAGE – Every year the U.P. Gawad Plaridel honors the media person whose work successfully merges the artist and the public servant, and constantly raises standards of artistry by being true to the craft while at the same time challenging the conventional notions of art as being merely “for art’s sake.” This year’s awardee, Ms. Vilma Santos, is one such media person. She has earned recognition here and abroad for her fine and powerful performances as wife, mother, lover, NGO worker, and OFW in films that are now considered modern classics. In the process, she has also redefined womanhood, questioned traditional gender roles, and clarified the relationship of an individual to her society.More importantly perhaps, Ms. Santos has used her status as a celebrity to pursue public service. As Mayor of Lipa City, she has proven that art and politics do not exist in separate planes. She has shown us that women artists can transform society in more ways than one.Congratulations, Ms. Vilma Santos. – Sergio S. Cao, Chancellor, U.P. Diliman, Gawad Plaridel Citation, 31 May 2005

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

Source: Transcribed and written by Eric Nadurata Published in V Magazine May 31, 2005 To download v magazine issue 03 – click here –

Related Reading:

Gawad Plaridel Award (Other Articles)

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

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

But aside from Vilma Santos, many prominent people were also present in the occasion. Here’s a list of those I can remember: Sen. Ralph Recto, UP President Emerlinda Roman, National Artist Napoleon Abueva (who sculpted the Gawad Plaridel trophy), ABS-CBN boss Charo Santos-Concio, Eugenia Apostol (Philippine Daily Inquirer founding chairperson and last year’s Gawad Plaridel awardee) and Film director Chito Roño. Members of the media were also there. I even got to see Mario Dumaual, that showbiz reporter in ABS-CBN! It was him whom I got to see closest; he and his crew were shooting a mere meter in front of me. That portion where he is talking, with the stage and the lecturing Ate Vi in the background–I was right at the back of the cameraman. Vilma Santos’ mother was also there. There sure were many film producers and directors present in the affair, it’s just that I forgot their names or they were not acknowledged at all. Students and faculty members from different universities and colleges occupied most of the theater’s seats. And yes, magpapahuli ba ang mga die-hard Vilmanians? They occupied the middle seats; you’ll know its them with their distinctive gray hair.  PS. I don’t have a camera to prove that what I say is true (but trust me, it really is true). Thankfully, in less than two months, I’m having my first digital camera! My aunt in Ohio is sending me one (bless her) after a month of grueling “courtship.” So you might as well expect a photoblog from me in August. – Ringhithion, Monday, July 04, 2005.

How I wish there were more intelligent and passionate individuals like her in local show biz.  –  My long overdue visit to my beloved alma mater, UP’s College of Mass Communication and our tambayan, the Broadcasting Association, was a dejavu of sorts for me, and an overall enjoyable afternoon.  Besides seeing the newer breed of young “broad-assers” as we call them (pardon the term of endearment), as well as my close professor-associates, I also witnessed the awarding of the Gawad Plaridel to the country’s premiere actress, Lipa Mayor Vilma Santos, which my friend Rome Jorge talks about in today’s banner story.  Instead, let me fill you in on the glittering list of Ate Vi’s well-wishers that day—from her industry colleagues to the academic multitude to her loyal Vilmanians—who all gave the gem of an artist a standing ovation at the end of her 45-minute speech.

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

UP honors Vilma Santos with Gawad Plaridel – She was unforgettable as Burlesk Queen, as Sister Stella L and as Dolzura Cortez. On Monday, however, she was Vilma Santos, the artist.  “Ako po pala ay nakapag-ambag na sa industriya,” said Rosa Vilma Santos as she accepted the Gawad Plaridel, a citation given by the University of the Philippines to media practitioners who excel in their profession.  The award was named after Filipino propagandist Marcelo del Pilar who used the pen name Plaridel. “Paulit-ulit ko pong binasa ang citation,” Santos said. She is the first artist to receive the award for her contribution to the movie industry. In her lecture on the relevance of the film industry on society, Santos said actors can be role models through the various roles they play. She said she was able to internalize her role in the movie “Sister Stella L.,” a story of a nun who became an activist during the martial law years.

“Totoong-totoo ‘yong sinabi ko sa Sister Stella L. na ngayon hindi na lang ako nanonood. Nakikisama na ako at tumutulong sa abot ng aking makakaya,” Santos said. She called on the public to support the local film industry. Santos, who acted in over 200 movies, said she owes her success to the film industry. She is now mayor of Lipa City in Batangas and is supporting the movie business by lowering the amusement tax in Lipa from 30 percent to 15 percent.  She started her career when she was nine years old in the movie “Trudis Liit.” She, however, said the turning point came when she did “Burlesk Queen” when she was 23 years old. It was a tough decision, she said. She used to attend a school run by nuns. But it was a good choice, she said.  “Ang pelikula pong ito ang nagpamulat sa akin sa maraming bagay,” she said.  “Burlesk Queen,” shown in 1970, was a social commentary of the country’s patriarchal society.

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

Recognizing Vilma Santos, thespian and nationalist – She is the grieving mother of sons to the struggle, linking arms and manning the front lines of a peaceful revolt. She is the mistress demanding the dignity deserving of a wife, a friend and a woman. She is the nun preaching the gospel of liberation against a dictatorship. She is the stripper dancing in tears as she lets go a love and a life never meant for one such as her. She is the single mom struggling to keep her wits amid domestic, financial and romantic dilemmas. She is the overseas worker facing down AIDS and its inevitable consequences. And she is Darna, a superhero fighting the giants, saving Ding and flying off to the stars.  Burlesk Queen, Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, Sister Stella L, Imortal, Dahil Mahal Kita: Dolzura Cortez Story, Bata, Bata . . . Paano Ka Ginawa?, Dekada ’70, not to mention Darna at Ding are just some of her countless films.

Vilma Santos is all these and more. From the every woman to the other woman, she elevates every role as worthy of a superstar and every character as deserving of precise and passionate acting. She braves patriarchal traditions and murderous dictatorships to play burlesque dancers, mistresses and activist nuns. “She gambles her popularity to widen her scope as an actress,” proclaims Dr. Nicanor Tiongson, Dean of the College of Mass Communication of the University of the Philippines (UP). He adds, “She proves popularity and ratings need not degrade the craft.” For that and more, Vilma Santos wins the 2005 UP Gawad Plaridel Award.  Santos received the award designed by National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva on July 4 in ceremonies at the Cine Adarna, UP Film Institute. Besides speeches, renditions of original movie soundtracks from Santos’s best loved films, as well as an insightful audiovisual presentation directed by Jun Austria, regaled audiences comprised of students, entertainment industry luminaries and fans who packed the venue.  The Gawad Plaridel is an annual award to honor the exemplary media practitioners of the highest professional integrity in the interest of public service. Adopting the pen name of propagandist and La Solidaridad publisher Marcelo H. del Pilar, the award recognizes those who, like del Pilar, use the media to advocate libertine principles. Newspaper publisher Eugenia Apostol is the award’s first recipient. Now Vilma Santos joins the highly esteemed ranks of nationalist media professionals.

Beyond celebrity – She won despite being a star. Bookish and unglamorous academics instinctively scornful of celebrities and politicians bowed to her stellar performance as thespian, woman, politician, and yes, superstar. Dr. Sergio Cao, chancellor of UP Diliman confessed being a star-struck fan, “I had to nebulize before coming here; I couldn’t breath.” He later thrilled to busing her on the cheek.  Nevertheless, Cao sermonized, “Star power is real power. It is the power to move people to tears, to make them cry and laugh and urge them to by with endorsements. It is to make them think what you want them to think, to make them feel what you feel. They should use it wisely, make people do good and aspire for better lives.”  The Gawad Plaridel validated that Santos has done just that. Her multifaceted portrayals of strong independent women have inspired those she has mirrored. Her portrayals of antidictatorship advocates have immortalized unsung heroes of the movement for generations to come. Her fearless gambles at parlaying her celebrity to triumph at portraying the most challenging of roles have set the mark for generations of actors.

Vilma Santos is a class act, not by any accident of pedigree, but rather by the brilliance of her artistry and the strength of her convictions. Santos herself credits her success to “nonstop learning.” She remembers basking in the glow of a grand slam win at every major award-giving body for best actress with the movie Burlesk Queen. On her next movie with director Ishmael Bernal, she recalls a humbling experience she remembers to this day: “I took seven takes just for the first scene on the first day. I wasn’t focused. Bernal trapped me in the toilet and ordered me to jog in place to work off many illusions from my grand slam win.” The Gawad Plaridel recognizes Santos as a consummate thespian and nationalist. In an industry marred by dubious awards, it is the academe that remains the unimpeachable judges of exceptional talent and principle.

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

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