Emmanuel H. Borlaza directed 24 films with Vilma Santos, mostly during the musical era of the 70s and in the 80s where movies were predominantly adapted from serialized comics/novel. His films became a lucrative moneymaker that he was allowed to brand them with the tag line: “an Emmanuel H. Borlaza film.” From musical, drama, comedy, fantasy, sex or horror genres, name it and Borlaza did them all.
His films lack the arthouse style and social relevance that critics loves most in a Brocka or Bernal films but who cares about the critics when the paying public loves them. And the producers demand his service, from Doc Perez of Sampaguita Pictures, Atty. Esperidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions and later on, Vic Del Rosario of Viva Films and Lily Monteverde of Regal Films. Clearly, his films exists with one purpose, to entertain the masses not to depress or remind them with the country’s sad fate of economy or the below poverty line lives of many.
The success of the Vilma-Borlaza films gave Vilma Santos versatility and preparation to a more serious acting career. It also narrowed the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor. These are perhaps, the most significant contributions of Emmanuel Borlaza to Vilma’s career. Vilma who was considered only second to Nora couldn’t matched her singing talent and so, Borlaza countered this lack of singing with films that showcased Vilma’s acting versatility.
From the folklore mermaid in Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe to fighting giants in Darna and the Giants to a fast-talker-gossip-mongering vendor in Tsismosang Tindera and to good-hearted prostitutes in Mga Rosas sa Putikan, Borlaza let Vilma Santos experience a wide range of roles, from comedic fantasy to dramatic adult roles. These experiments prepared her to a later more serious and versatile acting career. Their success made other directors interested in giving her roles oftenly considered for her closest rivals. Projects lined up and awaits her availability. Borlaza and Santos’ collaboration produced a string of box office hits from early 70s’ Dama De Noche to their last outing in late 80s’ Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Bukas. Their success established their career as one of the most bankable and in-demand director/actor team, making her the longest reighning box office queen of all time and him a money maker director.
When time for Vilma to moved on with other collaborators, Borlaza handled other stars with much success! He directed Alma Moreno in smash hit, Eva Fonda 16; Sharon Cuneta in her memorable rag to riches films, Bituin Walang Ningning and Bukas Luluhod Ang Mga Tala; Snooky Serna in her fantasy hit, Blusang Itim and Marecel Soriano as the spoiled brat in Yesterday Today and Tomorrow. These films gave us some of the most memorable movie lines that most Filipinos would still remember like Cherie Gil’s campy dialouge: “You’re Nothing but second rate Trying hard, Copy Cat!” or Sharon’s promise of revenge: “pinapangako ko inay…bukas luluhod ang mga tala! (I’ll promise you mother, tommorow the stars will kneel down, something to that effect, litterally.)”
In 2003, Borlaza who was trained by National Artist, Severino Montano, received recognitions from his peers with the Gawad Direk award from the Directors Guild of the Philippines. He lamented, “If I were to live my life again, I would still choose the same line of work. It is now payback time to the industry that gave me the best years of my life.” Referring the “pay back time” with trying to do more for the industry who gave so much blessing in his career as he retired his director’s chair. He continue his “pay back” with his involvement with two organizations thats very dear to him, the directors and screenwriters guilds. In most recent years, he became more involve through his work for the NMPP or Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the united workers of Filipino films). One of NMPP initive, a project that Borlaza worked so hard was to have a low cost housing for movie industry workers. This year, he was appointed by President Aquino as the deputy chaiman of the Movie and Television Rating and Classification Board.
AWARDS: Palanca Awardee; DGPI’s 2003 Gawad Direk; FAMAS 1969 Best Screenplay – Pinagbuklod ng Langit (Heaven’s Fate); FAMAS 1968 Best Screenplay – Psycho Maniac; FAMAS 1988 FAMAS Best Director Nominations – Paano Tatakasan Ang Bukas?; FAMAS 1971 FAMAS Best Director Nominations – I Love Mama, I Love Papa; FAMAS 1969 FAMAS Best Director Nominations – Kapatid Ko Ang Aking Ina; FAMAS 1968 FAMAS Best Director Nominations – Psycho Maniac; FAP 1990 Best Story Adaptation – Kapag langit ang humatol; FAP 1988 Best Director – Paano Tatakasan Ang Bukas?; Gawad Urian 1994 Best Screenplay Nominations – Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang?; Gawad Urian 1990 Best Screenplay Nominations – Kapag langit ang humatol
Some Trivia: (1) In addition to the box office hit films, Borlaza gave Vilma her very first best actress award via Dama De Noche. (2) They did two films in the USA, Aloha My Love and Don’t Ever Say Goodbye. Both films paired Vilma with on and off the screen love team, Edgar Mortiz. (3) Later on, Borlaza and Vilma did another film in the USA, Romansa, with now ex-husband, Edu Manzano. (4) Vilma did four Darna movies, two of which was directed by Borlaza and were considered the most successfull in terms of revenue. (5) Lipa Darna Lipad was considered the most memorable of the four. Unfortunately, there is no copies of the film in existence today. (6)The Darna role has been re-invented and redone so many time by so many local actresses but the most memmorable and considered the best Darna ever is Vilma Santos.
FILMS BY THE NUMBERS
NUMBER ONE: WITH 24 FILMS! EMMANUEL H. BORLAZA – 1970 I Love You, Honey; 1970 Renee Rose; 1971 Angelica; 1972 Aloha, My Love; 1972 Dama De Noche ; 1972 Don’t Ever say Goodbye; 1972 Leron, Leron, Sinta; 1972 Remembrance; 1973 Darna and the Giants; 1973 Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe; 1973 Lipad, Darna, Lipad; 1973 Maria Cinderella; 1973 Tsismosang Tindera; 1976 Makahiya at Talahib; 1976 Mga Rosas sa Putikan; 1978 Bakit Kailangan Kita?; 1978 Kampus; 1979 Coed; 1980 Gusto Ko Siya, Mahal Kita; 1980 Romansa; 1980 Yakapin Mo Ako, Lalaking Matapang; 1986 Asawa ko, Huwag Mong Agawin; 1986 Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; 1987 Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Bukas
…and other directors!
8 Films: ISHMAEL BERNAL- 8 (Broken Marriage, Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Good Morning Sunshine, Ikaw ay Akin, Inspiration, Now and Forever, Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga, Relasyon); LEONARDO L. GARCIA- 8 (Edgar Loves Vilma, Nag-aapoy na Damdamin, Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig, Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida, Eternally, Little Darling, Phantom Lady, Pulot-gata Pwede Kaya?)
7 Films: LUIS ENRIQUEZ – 7 (Ex-Wife, Halik sa Kamay Halik sa Paa, Hindi Nakakahiya, Ikaw Lamang, Kasalanan Kaya?, Nakakahiya?, Simula ng Walang Katapusan); ELWOOD PEREZ – 7 (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos, Lipad Darna Lipad, Magkaribal, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Pinay American Style)
6 Films: ROMY SUSARA – 6 (Anak ng Aswang, Ang Kundoktora, Carinosa, Hiwalay, Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma, Vilma and the Beep Beep Minica); EDDIE GARCIA – 6 (Imortal, Paano Ba ang Mangarap?, Palimos Ng Pag-ibig, Pinagbuklod ng Langit, Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig?, Sinasamba Kita); ARMANDO DE GUZMAN – 6 (Basta’t Isipin mong Mahal Kita, Mga Batang Bangketa, Naligaw na Anghel, Sa Bawat Pintig ng Puso, Sapagkat Sila’y Aming mga Anak, Wonderful World of Music)
5 Films: PABLO SANTIAGO – 5 (Batang Iwahig, Bato sa Buhangin, Batya’t Palu-Palo, Big Ike’s Happening, Vilma Viente Nueve); JOSE DE VILLA – 5 (Give Me Your Love, Iginuhit ng Tadhana, Mother Song, Sixteen, Trudis Liit); FELY H. CRISOSTOMO – 5 (Karugtong ang Kahapon, Love is for the Two of Us, May Hangganan ang Pag-Ibig, Mga Reynang Walang Trono, Tok, Tok, Palatok)
4 Films: JOEY GOSIENGFIAO – 4 (Hatinggabi Na, Vilma, Lipad Darna Lipad, Promo Girl, Takbo Vilma Dali); DANNY ZIALCITA – 4 (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?, Karma, Langis at Tubig, T-Bird at Ako); CONSUELO P. OSORIO – 4 (I Do Love You, Mardy, My Darling Eddie, The Jukebox King); CIRIO H. SANTIAGO – 4 (Ang Galing-galing Mo Mrs. Jones, Ging, Happy Days are Here Again, Modelong Tanso)
3 Films: NILO SAEZ – 3 (Biktima, Kampanerang Kuba, Pag-ibig ko sa iyo lang Ibibigay); MAR S. TORRES – 3 (Anak ang Iyong Ina, King and Queen for a Day, Iginuhit ng Tadhana); LUCIANO B. CARLOS – 3 (Let’s Do the Salsa, Pag-Ibig, Masdan ang Ginawa Mo, Teribol Dobol); LINO BROCKA – 3 (Adultery: Aida Macaraeg, Hahamakin Lahat, Rubia Servios); LEODY M. DIAZ – 3 (Because You’re Mine, Dulce Corazon, Sweethearts); LAURO PACHECO – 3 (Hindi Nahahati ang Langit, Kay Tagal ng Umaga, Mga Mata Ni Angelita); LAURICE GUILLEN – 3 (Dahil Mahal Kita The Dolzura Cortez Story, Ipagpatawad Mo, Kapag Langit Ang Humatol); CHITO S. RONO – 3 (Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa?, Dekada’70, Ikaw Lang); CELSO AD CASTILLO – 3 (Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw); A. GREGORIO – 3 (From the Bottom of my Heart, My Pledge of Love, Songs and Lovers)
2 Films: VICENTE DE VILLA – 2 (Aninong Bakal, Larawan ng Pag-ibig); TONY SANTOS – 2 (The Sensations, Young Lovers); TONY CAYADO – 2 (Kamay na Gumagapang, Young Love); TITO C. SANCHEZ – 2 (Bertang Kerengkeng, Ibong Lukaret); MARYO J. DELOS REYES – 2 (Sinungaling Mong Puso, Tagos ng Dugo); MARILOU DIAZ ABAYA – 2 (Minsan pa Natin Hagkan Ang Nakaraan, Alyas Baby Tsina); MARIA SARET – 2 (Amorseko: Kumakabit Kumakapit, Susan Kelly Edad 20); MANING SONGCO – 2 (Sweet Sweet Love, Dalagang Nayon); JOSE MIRANDA CRUZ – 2 (Duelo sa Sapang Bato, Eagle Commandos); JOSE ‘PEPE’ WENCESLAO – 2 (Baby Vi, Teen-Age Senorita); GIL M. PORETES – 2 (Miss X, Never Ever Say Goodbye); DING M. DE JESUS – 2 (Maria Cecilia, Sino ang may Karapatan?); CESAR GALLARDO – 2 (Ito ang Pilipino, King Khayam and I); CARLO J. CAPARAS – 2 (Lipa: Arandia Massacre, Rizal Alih, Zamboanga Massacre); ARMANDO GARCES – 2 (Darna vs. the Planetwoman, De Colores); AL QUINN – 2 (Disco Fever, Swing it Baby);
1 Film: YANG SHIH CHIN – 1 – Twin Fists for Justice; WENN V. DERAMAS – 1 – D’ Lucky Ones; TONY CRUZ – 1 – Ikaw Ang Mahal Ko; RORY B. QUINTOS – 1 – Anak; RONALD REMY – 1 – Sa Baril Magtutuos; PABLO S GOMEZ – 1 – Ding Dong; OSCAR MIRANDA – 1 – Rock, Baby, Rock; OLIVIA M. LAMASAN – 1 – In My Life; MIKE RELON MAKILING – 1 – Doctor, Doctor, We Are Sick; MIKE DE LEON – 1 – Sister Stella L.; LEROY SALVADOR – 1 – Muling Buksan ang Puso; JOSE JAVIER REYES – 1 – Nag-iisang Bituin; JOEL LAMANGAN – 1 – Mano Po 3 My Love; J. ERASTHEO NAVOA – 1 – Darna at Ding; IKE JARLEGO JR – 1 – Hanggang Ngayon Ika’y Minamahal; G. F. C. – 1 – Mapagbigay ang Mister Ko; FRANK GRAY JR. – 1 – Buhay Artista, Ngayon; DON WEIS – 1 – Longest Hundred Miles; DANNY OCHOA – 1 – Twin Fists for Justice; DANILO CABRERA – 1 – Relaks ka Lang, Sagot Kita; CONRADO CONDE – 1 – Iginuhit ng Tadhana; CLOYD ROBINSON – 1 – Darna at Ding; CELIA DIAZ LAUREL – 1 – Ophelia at Paris; GENEROSA SANTIAGO – 1 – Big Ike’s Happening; BOBBY SANTIAGO – 1 – Vivian Volta; BEN FELEO – 1 – The Young Idols; AUGUSTO BUENAVENTURA – 1 – Mga Tigre ng Sierra Cruz; ARSENIO BAUTISTA – 1 – Wonder Vi; ARMANDO HERRERA – 1 – Dugo at Pag-Ibig sa Kapirasong Lupa; ANTONIO JOSE PEREZ – 1 – Haplos; AMALIA MUHLACH – 1 – Mga Reynang Walang Trono; ABRAHAM CRUZ – 1 – Love Letters; (no data available: directors unknown) – Ito ang Dahilan, Hampaslupang Maton, Vilma My Darling, Morena Martir, Love at First Sight, Nobody’s Child, Our Love Affair, Bulaklak at Paru-paro