Filmography: T-Bird at Ako (1982)

“Hindi naman ako ipokrita…ke tomboy ka, bakla ka, ok lang sa akin yon! Pareho lang yon! Kung saan ka maligaya duon sila…huwag na nating pakialamanan…alam mo kung nuong una sinabi na niya sa akin kung ano siya hindi na kami nagkaganito eh…akala ko tutoong tao siya!” – Isabella

“Putik nga ito! Pero kahit ganito ako, nagsisimba ako kahit papaano!…ang sabi ng nasa itaas, ang sala sa lamig, sala sa init, iniluluwa ng langit, isinusuka ng diyos!” – Isabella

“…ano ba naman ‘to katawan lang ‘to, ‘konting tubig, ‘konting sabon, wala na…tapusin na natin ang kaso, pagkatapos sabihin mo kung kailan, saan…darating ako, ang katawan ko!” – Isabella

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Basic Information: Directed: Danny Zialcita; Portia Ilagan; Screenplay: Danny Zialcita, Portia Ilagan; Cast: Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Dindo Fernando, Tommy Abuel, Tony Carreon, Baby Delgado, Rosemarie Gil, Suzanne Gonzales, Odette Khan, Liza Lorena, Alvin Enriquez, Adul de Leon, Rustica Carpio, Anita Linda; Original Music: Butch Monserrat; Cinematography: Felizardo Bailen; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Sr.; Sound: Rudy Baldovino; Theme Songs: “Hiwaga ng Pag-ibig” performed by Nora Aunor

Plot Description: An interesting and witty play of events and characters directed by avant garde filmmaker Danny Zialcita. The story of a woman confused of her sexuality (played by Nora Aunor) who worked in a man’s world as a lawyer. A chance meeting with a bar girl (played by Vilma Santos) who would change the course of her life. The film portrays a woman who runs and holds her life, but when matters of the heart are concerned, she just lets fate takes it toll. She believes to be in love with the bar girl, or she thinks she is! At the end, a sudden twists explodes making her more vulnerable that she has ever imagined. A parody on the comic love and life of people caught up in a the middle of strange questions of gender issues. A seriously funny picture of the drama of life! – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Lesbian lawyer Nora, tried to assist the accused dancer, Vilma with her legal battles and unexpectedly, falls in love with her. The poorly written plot compensate with crisped dialogues and fast paced editing from one of the most finest commercial director of the 80s, Danny Zialcita.

Confused lawyer Sylvia Salazar (Nora Aunor) is infatuated by the oozing charm of ago-ago dancer Isabel (Vilma Santos) whom she has volunteered to defend in a criminal case. Sylvia’s persistent and dedicated suitor (Tommy Abuel), another lawyer of intelligence and a strong conviction, however, does not give up on her and resolves to pursue her or wait for that time when she will be more receptive to a man’s affections. Also stars Dindo Fernando, Liza Lorena, Baby Delgado, Leila Hermosa, Suzanne Gonzales and Odette Khan. Written by Portia Ilagan and directed by Danny L. Zialcita for Film Ventures, Inc. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: The fourth Vilma Santos-Nora Aunor films (the other films are: Young Love, Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig, Ikaw Ay Akin.

Film Reviews: “…The remastered version of Danny Zialcita’s T-Bird AT Ako is clearly something that we can be proud of. At an age of total enlightenment, we no longer need to know who’s better between Aunor and Santos. What matters now is that we have a film we can return to, so we can once again, embrace the magic of cinema and understand why it continually touches our lives. Apart from a salute to a director, who has once graced our taste and tickled our sensitivities as Filipinos, it is also a celebration of two great actresses who will ceaselessly make us smile every time we wonder what magic they have that makes us submit to their bidding…”- Orly S. Agawin, Jellicle Blog, 26 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…The restoration campaign focuses on directors primarily. In the case of the 33-year old ‘T-Bird at Ako,’ it’s vintage Danny Zialcita with his snappy dialogue and witty repartee. It’s also the last time that Nora and Vilma co-starred in a movie and with such a daring theme for its time. “T-Bird at Ako” tells the story of a sexy dancer (Santos) accused of homicide. She is defended by a female lawyer (Aunor) who tries to keep their relationship professional as the latter struggles with confusion as to her sexual preference. T-Bird at Ako is among the 75 films restored by ABS-CBN Film Archives, in collaboration with Central Digital Labs, since it started its restoration project in 2011. Some of these restored films were already screened internationally via film fests, screened locally via red carpet premieres, aired on free-to-air and cable television, viewed via pay-per-view and video-on-demand, distributed on DVD, and downloadable even on iTunes…” – LionhearTV, 26 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…The 1982 blockbuster T-Bird At Ako was not the first movie to star rival screen icons Nora and Vilma, but it played up the rivalry of the two, even coming up with a circular “billing” so you couldn’t tell whose name appeared first. It also has a titillating premise: Nora Aunor plays Sylvia, a successful lawyer who finds herself sexually attracted to Vilma Santos’s Isabel, a nightclub dancer/hostess accused of murder. The movie is absolutely delightful, and its two stars never looked better, but if you’re looking for a serious discussion of LGBT issues, look elsewhere. As writer Portia Ilagan said in her introduction, she and the director had a spat over the “redeeming” ending, which in the tradition of old Tagalog movies suggests that homosexuality is a temporary phase that can be cured…In T-Bird at Ako, every character is a character, and even the most minor characters get to unleash verbal zingers. Many of these zingers seem like throwaway remarks, so you need to pay close attention. “Saan tayo?” says the taxi driver. “Sa impyerno,” says Vilma Santos, and the movie doesn’t make room for the audience’s laughter but barrels right into the next scene. It occurred to me that Danny Zialcita’s movies, which were marketed as melodramas, are really screwball comedies, the genre I love most in the world. The plots are preposterous, the story is only loosely related to real life, and everyone is clever. It doesn’t try to be like the actual world, it wonders why the world isn’t more fun like a movie…”

“…Nora Aunor has the more difficult role. Her Sylvia is a cerebral woman who has never paid much attention to her feelings and suddenly finds herself swamped with them. Could she be a lesbian? The movie’s timidity and its fear of offending the traditionalist audience doesn’t help her: she is reduced to being petulant and jealous when Vilma’s Isabel stays out late at night. But Nora uses her famous power of understatement to convey the confusion, discomfort, and amazement of emotional awakening. It’s also refreshing to see her play an established, affluent character whom no one would think of oppressing. Make her api at your own risk. Vilma Santos is in her element playing the quintessential Vilma role: the woman of feeling who has no qualms about expressing them. She also has a nightclub dance sequence that, far from portraying her as a downmarket floozy, makes her look like she should be headlining a TV variety show. Oh right, she’s done that. And her line readings are hilarious. Under cross-examination by Tommy Abuel, who asks if she can understand his questions in English, she says, “Opo, hindi naman malalim ang English niyo.” Offhandedly, without turning it into a moment…” – Jessica Zafra, Interaksyon, 27 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Ang husay talaga ng director na si Danny Zialcita. And the actors in the movie were equally good. Sa court scene, hindi nagpatalo sina Johnny Wilson at Tommy Abuel as the prosecutors. Ang gagaling nilang magbitaw ng mga dialouges. At hindi rin nagpatalo ang Superstar as the defense lawyer. Superb ang exchange words sa court room. We wondered kung sino ang scriptwriter ng pelikula. But Manay Ethel Ramos said na si Danny Zialcita is an expert on that area. Halos hindi maalis ang tutok ng lahat kay Ate Vi with her sexy dance number and she was in a red skin tight outfit with the lower part exposing very shapely thighs and legs. Sabi nga ng anak naming si Julienne who was with us during the viewing of the film, “Ang ganda ni Vilma lalo na ‘yung ilong niya. Girl na girl talaga siya. Ang ganda rin ni Nora pero pang-masa talaga ang dating niya. Very convincing siya as t-bird. Paglabas ko, Mommy, ng film center, tumatak sa akin na t-bird talaga siya.” Nandun sina Aiza Seguerra at Liza Dino to support the film since the film is about same sex relationship. Nandun din si Direk Perci Intalan who is, as everywone knows, married to writer Jun Lana. Kay Portia Ilagan (the right hand of Sen. Bong Revilla) pala ang kuwento ng T-Bird at Ako. Kuwento diumano ito ng buhay niya. Dahil yung same sex relationship ay hindi pa masyadong accepted nung time na ginawa ang movie, sa ending, hindi nagkatuluyan sina Vilma at Nora. May mga dialouges pa si Ate Vi na “Nandidiri ako sa ‘yo.” nung mag-attempt si Ate Guy na haplusin siya. So, sa ending si Nora ay napunta kay Tommy Abuel at si Vilma naman kay Dindo Fernando. Sey kuno ni Portia sa isa namaing kasamahan sa panulat na nag-interview sa kanya, ang ayaw niya sa ending ay pinag-bestida raw si Ate Guy. She accepted the ending na napunta si Ate Guy kay Tommy Abuel pero ang di niya nagustuhan ay pinagsuot ito ng bestida. In real life kasi, never sigurong nagsuot ng dress si Kabsat Portia…” – Len Ramos Llanes, Bulgar, 27 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Na-miss ng film critics at ng showbiz industry ang style ng yumaong Danny Zialcita sa pagdi-direk. Ilan sa kanyang mga obra ay ang Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi at marami pang iba tulad ng T-Bird at Ako na ipinalabas sa UP Film Center las February 25. Ang bida ng classic film na ito ni Danny ay ang dalawang superstars ng local film na sina Vilma Santos at Nora Aunor. Ang said film ay ilan lang sa mga restored film into its original na gawa ng ABS-CBN Film Restoration. Ang mga nauna nang restored films na ipinalabas sa said venue ay ang tatlong pelikula ni Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto like Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa at Anak. Anyway, dumating si Nora sa UP Film Center nang mas maaga sa takdang oras ng palabas na 6pm. Unfortunately, walang Vilma na dumating although nagpasabi ito sa kanyang mga Vilmanians na hindi siya makakarating due to important committment sa Batangas. Bagama’t wala si Ate Vi, kumpleto pa rin ang Vilmanians sa pangunguna ni Jojo Lim na siyang nag-asikaso sa mga press people na kanyang inimbitahan. Pagkatapos ng welcome speech ni Leo Katigbak, ang head ng Kapamilya Film Restoration, sumunod na nagpasalamat si Ate Guy sa mga dumalo sa event, maka-Nora man o Maka-Vilma. Nasa 4th row nakaupo si Ate Guy habang ongoing na ang viewing. Binulungan kami ng aming katabing isang radio host-columnist na “Tumatakas na si Nora.” True, napansin ng lahat na nu’ng ipinapakita ng ilaw, bakante na ang kinauupuan ng Superstar. Tuloy, ‘di na naman nakalusot sa intriga ang bulilit aktress at biro ng aming katabi, “Nag-walkout yat? e, kasi nga, kahit wala si Vilma, mas malakas ang palakpakan sa kanya,”sey ng aming katabi. Bago pa ang screening ng T-Bird at Ako sa UP Film Center, nagpaunlak ng pahayag si Nora at naitanong ng katotong Morly Alinio kung papayag ba ito sakaling magkaroon ng T-Bird At Ako part 2 kahit na pareho na silang may edad? Sagot ni Ate Guy, “Why not? Depende siguro ‘yun sa istorya,” sey sa amin. “Wala namang problema sa amin ng mare ko,”na tinutukoy ay ang Star for all Seasons…” – Ador Saluta, Bulgar, 27 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Ang kuwento ng T-Bird At Ako ay tungkol sa isang dancer (Vilma) na naakusahan ng homicide. Ipagtatanggol siya ng isang abogada (Nora) na susubukang panatilihing propesyunal ang kanilang ugnayan habang nilalabanan ang pagkalito sa kanyang sexual preference. Si Portia Ilagan ang sumulat ng script ng T-Bird At Ako at ayon sa kanya, magkakaroon daw ito ng remake. Ang gusto niyang magbida sa bagong version ng pelikula ay sina Angel Locsin (dancer) at Bea Alonzo (lawyer). Gusto rin niyang maging part ng pelikula sina Vilma at Nora, Aiza Seguerra at asawa nitong si Liza Dino…” – Leo Bukas, Journal, 28 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Humahantong ang resolusyon ng pelikula sa antas nang mapilitang magkasundo ang mga magkakatunggali. Sa pagtatapos nito ay bumalik si Aunor sa tunay na esensya ng kanyang pagkababae. Nagmula ito sa matagumpay na babaeng nagpasimula sa pagtagumpay ng mga tradisyonal na pagpapahalagang pang-kababaihan. Tulad ng inaasahan, napapalooban ang T-Bird At Ako ng mga kapani-paniwalang pagganap at pagtatapat. Higit na epektibo si Nora Aunor bilang isang lesbiyana sa pagpapahayag ng komplikasyon sa tauhang kanyang ginagampanan. Lubha namang nakakapagod ang pagganap ni Vilma Santos sa pelikula. Hindi makaramdam ng simpatiya ang manonood dito dahilan sa karton ang kanyang karakter. Samantala magiting ang suportang ipinamalas ni Tommy Abuel bilang matiyagang manliligaw ni Aunor, gayundin sina Dindo Fernando at Suzanne Gonzales. Sa maikling paggnap ay lubhang katangi-tangi sina Anita Linda at Odette Khan. Masasabing masinop ang mga elemento ng pelikula sa T-Bird At Ako, maliksi ang galaw ng mga biswal at masigla ang paggamit ng tunog upang mabisang mailarawan ang mundong ginagalawan ng mga tauhan nito.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Danny Zialcita’s T-Bird at Ako is entertaining cannot be doubted. The plot situations are funny. The lines are witty. The pacing is fast. The lesbian love of Nora Aunor for Vilma Santos, moreover, is extremely clever, since the two superstars in real life would not be caught dead in such a relationship. Zialcita has made a career of doing impossible things. He made he-man Dindo Fernando a homosexual in the Mahinhin series. He now makes Aunor a lesbian. When he tries to make Santos a low-class beerhouse dancer, however, he fails. That makes his record two out of three impossible things, not bad for normally sedate local cinema. This film shows Zialcita at his best – irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, unconcerned with larger themes, focused on obsessive sexual relationships. Let’s take the dialogue first, which cleverly juxtaposes the fiction of the film with the reality of the careers of the two superstars. Thus references are made to Santos’ being a “burlesque queen.” One character is even named “Rubia,” after Rubia Servios (1978), Santos’ competition film against Aunor’s Atsay (1978). More than these allusions, however, the film features sparkling exchanges between Santos and Aunor. Most impressive of all the lines perhaps are those in the court room sequence, since the opposing arguments are easy to follow, yet logical in structure. The direction is tight and masterful. Although one always gets reminded in a Zialcita film of sequences from foreign films, there is a minimum of unmotivated blocking in this film. Each sequence contributes to the whole film (if there is copying, in other words, and I do think there is in this film, the copying is not done simply to be cute or clever, but in accordance with the logical requirements of the plot). The performances, as expected of a Zialcita film, are excellent. Aunor is more effective as the confused lesbian, primarily because Santos is not able to get the rough and ready quality of low-class hospitality girls. Tommy Abuel is terrific in his role as the patient suitor. Fernando is given too little space to develop his character, but what he has, he makes good use of. Captivating is Suzanne Gonzales, though she has to learn to use her face a bit more to express varying emotions. In their brief roles, Anita Linda and Odette Khan are delightful.” – Isagani Cruz, September 22, 1982, Movie Parade Magazine

No More Superstar Image – “…Isa iyong ikslusibong pakikipanayam sa aktress sa set ng “T-Bird,” isang pelikulang tumatalakay sa mariing iksistensiya ng isang tomboy, at sa pagkakataong ito, muli na naman siyang makakasama ang kaytagal na niyang kakontemporaryong aktress, si Vilma Santos. Sa intriga’t kontrobersiya ng naturang pelikula, (sapagkat kamuntik nang hindi matuloy ang proyekto) nagpapasalamat si Nora at nagkaroon din iyon ng katuparan. Nagtapat siya: “Malaki rin ang naitulong nang pagkikita namin ni Vi sa Manila International Film Festival. Kasi, magkatabi kami. Kinabukasan nun, Saturday, meron nang shooting…Tapos, ang laki rin ng tulong nu’n kasi nagkakuwentuhan na rin kami, ang sarap! Ewan ko, ang sarap talaga ng pakiramdam kung halimbawang magkalaban kayo sa career…magkalaban, pagkatapos ang tagal-tagal n’yo, ‘yung ganu’n. ‘Yong bang hindi mo akalain…Kahit nga mga problema nag-kakuwentuhan din kami, eh…So, ‘nu’nung shooting namin, medyo hindi rin ako masyadong nahirapan sa pag-a-adjust…” Ang totoo, ayon kay Nora, medyo ayaw din niyang tanggapin noong una ang papel na iyon sa “T-Bird.” Unang-una naipangako niya sa sariling gagawa lamang siya ng tatlong pelikula para sa 1982, at hindi nakalinya ang obrang iyon ni Danny Zialcita. Isan linggo niyang pinag-isipan ang alok na iyon ay gumuhit nang malalim ang isang intrigang kanya rin napaglabanan, pagkatapos. “Kasi, unang-una, iniisip ko rin naman, siyempre maraming tao na mag-iisip na naman, magsasalita na naman ‘O baka naman tinatanggap ni Nora ‘yan kasi kakapit sa pangalan ni Vilma dahil alam na down na down na siya!…So, ‘yon, nag-worry ako pero pagkatapos kong pagaralan, naisip ko, bakit ko naman pakikialaman ‘yung ibang tao? Sa ngayon naman, nag-matured na kami. Wala na ‘yung mga batang isipan d’yang Superstar image. Unang-una nga, magsasama kami ngayon as actresses. Hindi na mga dating pa-bandying-bandying ang mga pelikula ngayon…saka isa pa, bakit ko ba iintindihin ang mga sasabihin ng tao? Kung maraming mga detractors ang magsasalit at mag-iisip nang ganun, hindi maiiwasan ‘yon. Maski anong paliwanang ang gawin mo, andu’n pa rin ‘yung kaumakalaban sa iyo…” Isang seryosong pelikula ang “T-Bird” at isang seryosong direktor naman si Danny Zialcita. Ang kay Nora ay ang maranasan ang pagpapel ng isang tomboy hindi sa paraang kumedya kundi sa isang paraang dramatika. Gusto rin niyang maranasan kung paano maiderihe ni Danny sa unang pagkakataon…” – Arthur Quinto, photos by Fely Igmat, Artista Magazine, 04 March 1982, Re-posted by James DR, Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

#noraaunor, #VilmaSantos, #TBirdatAko1982, #DannyZialcita

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Filmography: Aida Macaraeg Adultery Case No. 7892 (1984)

“Huwag mo nang itanong. Baka mas masakit kung malaman natin ang sagot.” – Aida Macaraeg

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Basic Information: Directed: Lino Brocka; Story: Aida Sevilla Mendoza; Screenplay: Jose Javier Reyes; Cast: Vilma Santos, Phillip Salvador, Menggie Cobarrubias, Tita De Villa, Alvin Enriquez, Anita Linda, Mario Montenegro, Deborah Sun; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Lutgardo Labad; Cinematography: Conrado Baltazar; Film Editing: Rogelio Salvador; Production Design: Joey Luna

Plot Description: 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-in with her boyfriend Carding, whom she believes could give her salvation. But her plan only gives her more misfortunes. Carding gets jailed for drug peddling. Aida opts for an abortion. She later lives with a wealthy man to feul her ambition. Carding is released from prison and finds out about his wife’s illicit affair. – ctfabian (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

Film Achievement: 1984 Star Awards Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos

Film 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, Lessons From The School of Inattention, Oggs’ Movie Thoughts (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. – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash May 31, 1983

“…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-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos’ restrained acting in Adultery: Aida Macaraeg 7892 was due to Brocka’s expert direction. We wish he did the same thing to Tolentino and Bonneive in this film. But then, Maging Aking Ka Lamang is a big box-office success. Brocka probably feels that it’s high time he gives the masses what they want. And on this score, Brocka succeeds enormously…” – Luciano E. Soriano, Manila Standard, May 19 1987 (READ MORE)

“…Statistically, there are really more husbands who betray their wives than the other way around. And since films basically mirror life, there are more movies about philandering husbands than adulterous wives. In the eternal love triangle of Eddie Rodriguez, Lolita Rodriguez and Marlene Dauden, it is always the man who is at fault. And then, there are those film bios of our super cops who are always portrayed as having mistresses – like Joe Pring (played by Phillip Salvador), who had a legal wife in the film (portrayed by Aurora Sevilla) and yet maintained a mistress (Maila Gumila) on the side. Films about wives fooling around are actually fewer. However, these movies seem to be more exciting because they often have drama and suspense. This is likely because the adulterous character has to dangerously tread on the ego of the husband. In local cinema, I remember a few films about women characters playing with fire. Amalia Fuentes playing a married actress in love with co-star Eddie Rodriguez in Pag-ibig Mo, Buhay Ko; Hilda Koronel (married to an older man, Mario Montenegro), who falls for the charms of Orestes Ojeda in Marupok, Mapusok, Maharot; Vilma Santos agreeing to become the mistress of Mario Montenegro in order to have a better life – in spite of being married to Phillip Salvador in Adultery; Vilma Santos again, bored with her old husband (Eddie Garcia) and carries on an affair with Gabby Concepcion in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Anna Marie Gutierrez in the aptly titled Unfaithful Wife…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

“…When Aida (Vilma Santos), in Adultery (Aida Macaraeg Case No. 7892) (1984), offends the pride of her husband, he invokes the law to punish her. This mother, however, does not just accept the status quo. She actively fights for her rights — up to the extent possible for a woman judged by men — within the four walls of the courtroom which is ruled by patriarchal ideology. The mother finally reunites with her son in the end, notably, not because her husband pities her, but because her husband understands her as a person who fights for her rights…” – Jose C. Gutierrez III (READ MORE)

Working title – “Obsession (Separasyon Legal)” – “…By the time they got to be thirty, unti-unti nang nawala ang kanilang charisma sa publiko, at hindi na kagaya ng dati. Pero hindi ito nangyari kay Vilma. It is a fact na kung kailan pa siya nagkakaedad ay saka pa siya lalong tumatatag, lumalakas. And by almost all indications, it seems like magtatagal pa ito. Take a look at her harvest this year: “Ayak Kong Maging Querida,” “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap?,” “Broken Marriage,” “Obsession (Separasyon Legal),” “Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan Ang Nakaraan” and “Sor Stella L.” Although it appears na tila dalawang pelikula ang maaaring hindi na maipalabas sa taong ito (Obsession and Sor Stella L), hindi na rin maikakaila from the list above that Vilma Santos is still the biggest star of the season and the busiest among her contemporaries. At mayroon pa siyang mga nakatakdang gagawin sa pagpasok ng bagong taon. At the time when most stars are already collecting memoirs and reminiscing fond memories of past glories, Vilma is still soaring into newer heights as she goes from one competent film director to another and manages to become the highest paid actress in the country today. From Ishmael Bernal (Broken Marriage) to Lino Brocka (Obsession) to Marilou Diaz-Abaya (Misan Pa Nating Hagkan Ang Nakaraan) to Mike de Leon (Sor Stella L), the reigning movie queen is getting most of the choicest assignment these days and with the accompanying royal treatment…” – Julio Cinko N., Movie Flash Magazine, December 8 1983 (READ MORE)

“…Malalaking komplikasyon ang kinasuotan sa buhay ng isang babaeng nabilanggo ang asawa at naging kerida ng isang mayaman at may edad na lalaki. Ang tinamasang seguridad ni Aida Macaraeg, ang pangunahing tauhan sa istorya sa piling ng kanyang pangalawang “asawa” ay biglang naglaho ng lumabas sa piitan ang kanyang tunay na asawa. Humantong sa hukuman ang kaso, hanggang sa di-inaasahang masayang pagtatapos ng istorya, na lubhang taliwas sa mga naunang obra ni Brocka…Sa aspektong teknikal, superor ang pelikulang ito, ebidensiya ng mabusising pagkahawak ni Brocka ng renda niya bilang direktor. Ang akting ng mga pangunahing tauhan ay kapansinan din ng tatak Brocka. Tulad ng nangingislap na mata ni Phlip habang nagbibitiw ng mga mabibigat na linya, ng sinukat sa tiyempong pagpatak ng luha sa kaliwang gilid ng kaliwang mata ni Vilma Santos, ng masusing pagkaka-orkestrang komprontasyon ng dalawa mula sa salas hanggang kuwarto at maraming maliliit na tagpong dramatiko ang lapat…Kasabay ng kanyang pag-alsa bilang reyna ng takilya (si Vilma Santos), ay ang nakakakumbinse niyang pagganap sa no mang tauhang binibigyan niya ng buhay sa sinema. Sa hanay ng mga pelikulang ginawa niya sa nakaraang taon, namumukod ang kinang niyang iyon…sa “Adultery,” kung saan siya naging biktima ng isang materyalistikong kapaligiran…” – Star Awards 1984