Filmography: Lipa Massacre (1994)

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Basic Information: Directed, story, screenplay: Carlo J. Caparas; Cast: Vilma Santos, Joel Torre, John Regala, Charina Scott, Angelica Panganiban, Robert Arevalo, Perla Bautista, Phillip Gamboa, Liezel Martinez, Ronnie Lazaro, Mia Gutierrez, Tony Mabesa; Executive producer: Carlo J. Caparas, Vic del Rosario Jr., Donna Villa; Cinematography: Boy Dominguez; Film Editing: Abelardo Hulleza

Plot Description: Story of Ronald Arandia who came back home after working overseas and found out his family was murdered, based on a true to life story of a massacre in Lipa City, Batangas. – Jagger Kieth (READ MORE)

A family of an overseas Filipino worker is murdered in their own home in Lipa City. While boarding a plane bound for the Philippines, Mr. Arandia is shocked to see his family in the front page of a newspaper. – ABS-CBN (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1994 FAMAS: Best Director – Carlo J. Caparas; Best Actor nomination – Joel Torre; Best Child Actress nomination – Charina Scott

Film Review: Vilma Santos portrayed the role of Mrs. Helen Arandia, wife of an Overseas Filipino Worker in Saudi Arabia. The Star for All Seasons starred with John Regala, Joel Torre, and then-child actors Charina Scott and Angelica Panganiban in this 1994 movie. While boarding a plane back to the Philippines, Mr. Ronald Arandia (played by Joel Torre) was shocked when he saw his murdered family on a newspaper’s front page. The killer (John Regala) visited Mrs. Arandia at their home in Lipa City, Batangas, and brutally murdered her and her two daughters, aged 8 and 6. The film directed by Carlo Caparas won Best Picture and Best Director at the 43rd Famas Awards (1994). Jagger Kieth (READ MORE)

“…Mula 1994 hanggang 2003 ay hindi na nagkatunggali sa Best Actress award sina Nora at Vilma. Early 1994 nang huling magkasabay as contenders for the acting plum sina Nora (Inay) at Vilma (Dahil Mahal Kita). For the whole year, Nora didn’t topbill any movie. She hosted Modern Romance sa Telebisyon on GMA 7 and the monthly special Superstar Beyond Time on RPN 9, and appeared on several telesines and a successful two-night concert at the Mandarin Hotel Ballroom. Naulit ang pangyayari noong 1992 na walang pelikula si Nora (she only appeared in her second stage play, DH, na nag-world-tour in 1993) and this will be repeated 10 years later, when she did the ABS-CBN 2 drama series Bituin that aired from September 2002 to May 2003 and several concerts. Vilma notched two films: Regal’s Nag-iisang Bituin (by Joey Reyes) and Golden Lions’ Lipa Massacre (by Carlo J. Caparas), which won as Best Picture sa FAMAS…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“Vilma Santos finally gets her wish to star in a massacre movie under director Carlo Caparas with her role as Helen Arandia in the Lipa Massacre. The film is about the Arandia family tragedy (a mother and her two daughters were killed by a neighbor while Mr. Arandia was abroad). Congressman Ralph Recto plays himself in the movie. Vilma had to forego a trip abroad to shoot another film just to help promote this massacre movie. Producer Donna Villa is all praises for Vi’s professionalism and her concern for this movie. Playing Mr Arandia is Joel Torre, who has become a favorite of the Golden Lions couple after he worked with them in the Antipolo Massacre. The Lipa Massacre movie will have a playdate on November 9. Donna and Carlo are now ready with their new movie…” – Norma Japitana, Manila Standard, Nov 2 1994 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Mano Po III: My Love (2004)

“Aalis ka rin ba, Judith? Naiintindihan mo ba kung para saan yung ginawa nila?…sanay akong tinatalikuran at iniiwanan. Alam mo bang yan ang istorya ng buhay ko.” – Lilia Chiong Yang

“Pinuntahan n’yo ba ako rito para awayin?…silang dalawa,,,mahal ko silang dalawa, bago ko pa man naging boyfriend si Michael, naging asawa si Paul, magkakasama na kami, kaya mahal ko silang dalawa, mahirap bang intindihin ‘yon?…walang batas na nagsasabing bawal magmahal ng dalawa….” – Lilia Chiong Yang

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Basic Information: Directed: Joel Lamangan; Story: Lily Monteverde, Roselle Monteverde-Teo, Roy Iglesias, Joel Lamangan; Screenplay: Roy C. Iglesias; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Jay Manalo, Boots Anson-Roa, Carlo Aquino, Amy Austria, Sheryl Cruz, Eddie Garcia, Jean Garcia, Patrick Garcia, Karylle, Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban, Allan Paule, Cherry Pie Picache, John Prats, Dennis Trillo, Gardo Versoza; Executive producer: Charo Santos-Concio, Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Jesse Lucas; Cinematography: Rolly Manuel; Film Editing: Tara Heinberger; Production Design: Rodell Cruz; Sound: Albert Michael Idioma; Theme Songs: “Pagbigyan Ang Puso Ko” composed by Ito Rapadas, sung by Karylle and Jerome John Hughes and produced by Bella Tan’s Universal Records, music video was directed by Jeffrey Tan

Plot Description: Anti-crime crusader Lilia Chiong Yang (MISS VILMA SANTOS) seems to have everything a woman could want and need: a husband (JAY MANALO) who pampers her; children (PATRICK GARCIA, KARYLLE, ANGEL LOCSIN) whom any parent would be proud of; and the respect & admiration of the most powerful people in the land. But just as Lilia prepares for her 25th wedding anniversary celebration, a chance encounter in Thailand with her first love Michael (CHRISTOPHER DE LEON) throws Lilia’s life into chaos. So begins the resumption of a relationship that threatens to unravel the delicate threads connecting Lilia to the other people in her life. “Mano Po 3” is a heartfelt tearjerker which was declared Best Picture at the 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Philippines. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon also won well-deserved awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively, in this moving film about the choices we must make for the sake of those we love. Also starring: Karylle, Angel Locsin, Patrick Garcia, Angelica Panganiban, Carlo Aquino, John Prats & Dennis Trillo – Regal Films

Film Achievement:  2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture – Mac Productions; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actor – Christopher de Leon; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Story – Lily Monteverde, Roselle Monteverde-Teo, Roy Iglesias, Joel Lamangan; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Production Design – Rodell Cruz; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Original Theme Song – Ito Rapadas; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Festival Parade Float – Mac Productions; 2004 STAR Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2004 STAR Best Supporting Actor – Jay Manalo; 2004 STAR Best Theme Song – Ito Rapadas; 2004 FAMAS Best Musical Score – Jesse Lucas; 2004 Philippine Official Entry – 2005 8th Shanghai International Film Festival; 2004 Gawad Suri Best Picture – MAQ Productions; 2004 Gawad Suri Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2004 Gawad Suri Best Director – Joel Lamangan

Other Film Achievements: 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival, Male Star of the Night – Christopher de Leon; 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival, Female Star of the Night – Vilma Santos; 2004 FAP Best Actor nomination – Christopher De Leon; 2004 FAP Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos; 2004 FAP Best Screenplay nomination – Roy C. Iglesias; 2004 FAP Best Supporting Actor nomination – Eddie Garcia; 2004 URIAN Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos; 2004

Film Reviews: They say if you strike the third time, you’re out. Thank goodness, it’s not a strike the third time, instead, it’s a homerun hit for the third sequel of this franchise. “Mano Po 3: My Love” was as grand as the first two but with simple well-written story line. The film managed to iron out the past and present events through flashbacks and thanks to the editor (Tara Heinberger), the continuity of each scene were smooth. Mano Po 3: My Love is a life story of Chinese-Filipino anti-crime crusade, Lilia Chiong Yang. A Chinese couple who left Fujian, China in 1959, brought her here. Her mother beg this couple to bring her with them because she’s going to be put into the orphanage just because she is a girl and having so many baby girl, the Chinese government will not support them financially. Living now in the Philippines and now a young adult (Angelica Panganiban), Lilia met and fell in love with Michael (Cogie Domingo), her classmate and fellow activist. Together with Paul (Patrick Garcia), their classmate, they engaged into activism during the martial law. One night, during the curfew hours, they got into trouble and were hunted down by the military. Michael sacrificed himself and was caught. Lilia was pregnant with Michael’s child but he already left the country and so, Lilia fell to the hands of Paul.

Now, a mature Lilia (Vilma Santos), her quiet life was rattled when Michael (Christopher DeLeon) came back. They accidentally met in Thailand; Michael decided to win her back. Both were surprised to learn that Paul (Jay Manalo) deceived them by not giving all of Michael’s letters to Lilia when he left the country. With Lilia being a popular media personality, people have started talking, gossiping about Lilia’s secret affair with another man particularly in the Chinese community. It also added stress to her family and eventually they turned their back to their own mother. Finally, it all comes down to Lilia making decision on which man to choose. She finally decided to stay with her husband despite her undying love for Michael. Then the tragic end. Lilia’s anti-crime activism created her enemies. One of them tragically killed Paul. Again, her family blamed her. The end part of the film was a typical Regal tradition – that of reconciliations. Lilia’s family accepted her again and all wounds got heal. And what happened to Lilia and Michael? They remained friends as Lilia realized they are not really meant for each other.

People are saying that her scene in the car where Paul (Jay Manalo) was shot was reminiscent of her death scene in “Relasyon.” Yes, there was a touch of it but the scene in MP3 was more intense because it’s shorter and the pacing was faster. Christopher as Michael deserves his best actor award during the film festival. Finally, Lamangan managed to control Christopher’s dialogue mannerism. Christopher has the tendency to starts his line with “well….” Probably because the MP3’s script was tighter and requires him to follow strictly each lines because each lines most of the time have other meanings. For example, when the three of them finally met, Christopher said: “Isa sa mga natutunan ko nuon sa kilusan is Honesty.” Which he is actually saying to Paul that he is dishonest and deceitful; particularly for not giving to Lilia, all of his letters when he left the country during the martial law years. As Paul, Jay Manalo, despite his young look managed to convinced us with his restraint performance. I wonder if Philip Salvador would give as strong performance as Jay Manalo in this role. Jay showed us that he’s indeed one of our great actors today. Sheryl Cruz didn’t do much as Bernadette. Her performance was one dimensional, a trap for villain roles. And all can be blamed to the three writers – Roy Iglesias, Lily Monteverde and Joel Lamangan. Maybe because they concentrated their efforts to established the three main characters and so they neglected the others. Eddie Garcia and Boots Anson Roa played the usual supporting roles but Boots gave us the most memorable lines in all of the movies showed in 2004: “hindi ka puedeng magmahal sa dalawa lalake…” of course, with her Chinese accent.

Vilma also will not be far behind with her lines: “hindi ka ba sasama sa kanila Judith? Alam mo ba kung para saan ang kanilang ginawa?… sanay na akong tinatalikuran at iniiwanan yang ang storya ng buhay ko…” Vilma’s performance here was an example of how she matured and became an A1 actress. From the start to the end, she transformed herself to be the character. She became Lilia Chiong Yang.  Here are the highlights…

Her scene in Tagaytay Highland.

Her breakfast scene with her family, where all except for one, left her.

The scene where she and Paul finally met Michael in a restaurant was full of irony and sarcasm.

The scene where Bernadette and three other relatives one of them was Boots Anson Roa confronted Lilia. Like a true fighter and speaking in Mandarin, she told them, she’ll be back in five minutes and if they’re all still in her office they will see the worst of her.

The scene where Lilia and Paul were in a middle of an argument and suddenly they calmed themselves down because their dressmakers arrived (to measure their sizes for the clothes their going to wear on their wedding anniversary) was poignant and funny at the same time.

Then Paul’s death scene that followed the hospital scene.

All in all, a controlled, restraint, riveting performance. How can someone not noticed? If I will evaluate “Mano Po 3: My Love”, I will give the film an A for its excellent production and magnificent performances.

Vilma versus Nora – In seeing both films, Vilma gave a far more superior performance than Nora Aunor’s “Naglalayag.” Again, how can anyone not noticed? I mean, it could probably be blamed to their directors. Lamangan able to come up with a far more superior script and direction than De Los Reyes. Vilma’s role composed of so many highlights that are so hard to pick which one is the best compare to one from Nora’s film. Funny both Vilma and Nora’s film has some similarities. Both have a scene were they both accepted an award and they have to do speeches in front of adoring audiences. Another similarities, the two characters have to dealt with the gossiping and the bad publicity that their personal lives creates affecting their respective communities. Although in Naglalayag, Nora’s character wasn’t fully established as how’s her overall standing/status in the community. Now the difference, Vilma’s crisped delivery of lines came as natural, even when she talks in Tagalog, English or Cantonese/ Mandarin but Nora’s delivery of lines were as awkward as a kid trying to learn how to speak English for the first time. Her tendency to make “SSSS” sound in every English word she has on her lines were very distracting to audience and at times laughable. Her clothes are dated too, for a rich judge, one may wonder if she’s just a thrifty judge or just don’t know how to dress up, the opposite can be said with Vilma, her pink/orangey gown on the death scene was elegant. Admittedly, both Vilma and Nora have no fear of showing their age. There was a scene in both movies where they didn’t wear any make up and their faces showed their real ages. Overall, Nora’s performance lacks control and finesse while Vilma’s performance excels in restraints and effectiveness. Nora’s not credible as Dorinda, the judge while Vilma became Lilia Chiong Yang, the anti-crime crusade activist and businesswoman. – RV

Other Reviews: The performances of Christopher De Leon and Vilma Santos are great. It’s a great movie, the director made a good job. The flow of events and the pace of the story are nicely plotted. You won’t feel unease when Michael Lim (Christopher) come back to Lilia Chiong (Vilma) and interfered with her “happy” married life. Compare to the passed 2 Mano Po movies, Mano Po 3 doesn’t have enough Chinese tales, it can stand alone as a pure love story movie without involvement of Chinese culture. In my personal opinion, if Christopher De Leon character was a pure Filipino, and if the reason why he was separated from Vilma was due to rejection from Vilma’s Chinese parents, and Vilma was arranged-marriage “kai-siaw” to Paul (Jay Manalo), then this would be a better Chinese foundation as the background for Christopher and Vilma to met after 25 years. It might not be a happy ending, but it was a rational ending given the circumstances of the events. This movie will definitely make you cry in the end. – IMDB

Some people were pointing out that there was nothing new shown in this movie that was not already shown in previous films. However since this is the first Mano Po movie I have watched I actually found the screenplay satisfactory. Nothing great but nonetheless it was ample. One thing that I found refreshing was the fact that this film was less of a mellow dramatic soap opera type of drama, which is prevalent in Philippine movies. Yes there are no shouting and slapping matches in this one. There were some sub-plots, which seemed unnecessary such as the story of the children of Lilia. In terms of performances, I thought that the lead actors did a splendid job in acting out their roles. Vilma Santos did a great job and really deserved her best actress honour at the MMFF. Certainly her efforts overshadowed those of here co-stars, Christopher De Leon and Jay Manalo. It’s a shame really that her duties in Lipa are keeping her from other movies. Eddie Garcia, I thought could have done a better job in delivering his lines. I realize that he is playing a character that was not that fluent in Filipino but some of his words were just garbled and found it hard to understand. My only gripe maybe in the casting of Jay Manalo as the husband of Lilia. In the story Manalo is portrayed as the same age as De Leon and Santos which frankly I find hard to believe since Manalo looks many years younger. In terms of production, I thought Regal Films did a good job in setting an overall atmosphere by bringing in good costumes and props. It was also nice to see them speaking in Chinese so as to make the situations more authentic and believable. – IMDB

It is indeed a sad day in Philippine cinema when this movie, mano po 3 (which is an installment in a series of stories, totally unconnected with each other, about filipino-Chinese in the Philippines), won in the Metro Manila Film Festival. It is as if the film festival has turned into an award giving that celebrates mediocrity. What ever happened to the high standards that the film fest clung to in the past? Indeed, it is sad to see GERIATRIC actors Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon portray roles that they have exceptionally portrayed before in their lustrous 40 years in Philippine show business. To even think of casting these superb actors in roles that are at least 15 years their junior, that defies their age, is indeed insulting to the intelligence of the Filipino viewers. But hey! Nobody’s complaining! Right? In fact, they both won the Best Actors awards in the said film fest! Sad, sad, sad… (Trivia: It seems that Vilma Santos cannot appear in any movie without clinging to a white hankie, see for yourself!) Question: Is there a dearth of good Filipino actors? Why can’t the director, Joel Lamangan, cast actors that befit the role… I used to admire Mr. Lamangan but after seeing this movie, I don’t know anymore…And the movie is just a futile exercise in method acting, and is just full of empty rhetorics. I’m sure the Chinese community in the Philippines were scandalized by this shallow portrayal of their values, of their identity and of their personalities! I mourn for Philippine cinema! I’m sure Lino Brocka must be turning in his grave now for the sad state of the movies in the Philippines. – IMDB – Matthew Ashley from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

“Mano Po 3: My Love” is far better off than the previous Mano Po movies. If the other to MP movies talked about family and home, this 3rd franchise talks about the most universal language of all: Love. This is about Lilia Chiong-Yang (Vilma Santos) a Chinese-Filipino woman. She was torn from her first and only love, and ended up marrying the person she didn’t want (Jay Manalo). One faithful day, she met up with her old love Michael (Christopher De Leon) and things began to get rocky then. He wanted her to choose between her family and the only man she truly loved. The good thing about this movie is she made a decision in the end. For me, this third and last installment was the best among the rest. The movie made me laugh, cry, angry, sad and everything else. That’s really rare the Philippines’ movie industry now. Vilma Santos did a wondrous job in portraying her role. After her 2-year absence in the movie industry, she still had the touch. The only thing i didn’t like about the movie was Jay Manalo. He really was too young to be Vilma’s husband in the movie. They were supposed to be the same age though, but remarkably he did a very good job playing his role as well. How can we not forget Boyet? He was marvelous! Without him, this movie wouldn’t be the best one yet. People say this is such an ordinary love story, but in my eyes, this is the best Filipino movie ever made in my time. Teenagers like me and adults could easily understand the plot. I’m not surprised why when I tried to watch the movie, it was sold out. It’s THAT good. – IMDB

The measure of a good movie is if it can transport you to another world or another time and make you forget na hindi pala totoo ang nakikita mo on screen. Dahil sa magagaling at pinagkaka-gastusan na pelikula abroad, we have higher standards each year, even for our own Metro Manila Film Festival. Mano Po III, My Love is one of the entries of Regal Entertainment. Regal’s matriarch Lily Monteverde says the film outfit really spent for this movie kasi last na ito sa Mano Po series.

It is a love story that spans generations. Lilia Chiong (Vilma Santos) is born in China to a poor family. Ipinanganak siya sa isang family na marami ng anak na babae, something that was considered a curse in China at that time. Her mother gave her away to spare her life, and she ended up with a couple who brought her and raised her in the Philippines. The young Lilia (played by Angelica Panganiban) has a childhood sweetheart Michael Lim (the young one is played by Carlo Aquino). The two are inseperable and vow eternal love against the wishes of their loved ones. Their best friend Paul Yang (John Prats) helps them through troubled times. During Martial Law, the three friends are in danger of being caught by the military and Michael sacrifices himself for his friends. Michael leaves the country and is never heard from again. Since Lilia is carrying his child, Paul marries her and cares for their eldest (Patrick Garcia) as his own.

In present-day Philippines, Lilia is a prominent anti-crime advocate. Her life in endangered when she pinpoints police officers involved in crime. Meanwhile, on a business trip in Thailand, Lilia meets up with Michael after many years. In their reminiscing they discover that Michael had been writing Lilia for a long time but Paul (older version played by Jay Manalo), out of love for Lilia, hid his letters from her. Since Paul’s wife had since died, Lilia is now struggling about whether she should leave her faithful (yet deceptive) husband of 25 years. In the meantime, she is losing her family with the rumors going around about her and Michael. The best part about this film is the decision Lilia makes in the end so I will not spoil that for you.

The film is shot in the Philippines, China and Thailand and all its sets are remarkably authentic. The bluish hue in the shots in old-time China give it a sad feeling of poverty and hardship. The bright colors and amazing scenery of Thailand give the sense of excitement and anticipation. Parts of the film were also taken in tagaytay Highlands, a perfect site for Michael to profess his love for Lilia. Also notable are the shots of traditional Chinese theater performances and festivities like the dragon dance. Karylle, who plays Lilia’s daughter, does a song and dance number with traditional Chinese dress.

Authentically Chinese –I noted that there were some Filipino-Chinese members of the audience who were delighted at some phrases used in their language. I was amazed at how convincingly the cast spoke although I’m no expert. What is truly portrayed is the Chinese love for family and respect for tradition. The role of Eddie Garcia, who plays Lilia’s devoted adoptive father, is one of the most touching in the film. Though not her biological father, the Chiong patriarch is loving, faithful and understanding of his daughter to the very end.

Undying love – Mano Po III is definitely a showcase for Philippine cinema. It is basically a love story, but without any melodrama. Kudos for Joel Lamangan who brings out much emotion without ranting and violent tears that other filmmakers find so necessary to tell a story. Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos are both subdued but effective in their portrayal of restrained lovers. One particular scene with Christopher, Vilma and Jay is a highlight of the film. It is a scene where the three are having a seemingly innocent conversation about business but with underlying dialogues about love and betrayal. The screenplay written by Roy Iglesias is exceptional, witty and effective. The credible acting would not be possible without such a script. In all, Mano Po is a must-see this filmfest. It was sold out the first time I tried to see it, but it was worth the wait. – ABS-CBN

“For the purported final entry in an envisioned trilogy. Regal matriarch Lily Monteverde has pulled out all the stops. The story is centered squarely on Mayor Vi and Boyet, whose cozy chemistry still crackles with a romantic thrill even after 24 movies together.” – Andrew Paredes, Manila Standard

“As a love story, it is romantic as romantic can be – passionate even. And you really have to give it to the durable love team of Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon to be able to pull off a material like Mano Po 3 and give the kilig effect of expected by most viewers and fans of love stories. It is handsomely-mounted, glossy and very entertaining. Its production values are far more superior compared to other local movies.” – Butch Francisco, Philippine Star

“Kahanga-hanga ang ipankitang pagpapahalaga ng pelikula sa pamilya at pagaasawa.” – CINEMA  (Catholic Initiative for Enlightened Movie Appreciation)

MAQ Productions’ “Mano Po 3: My Love,” starring the legendary screen pairing of Mayor Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, began principal photography last week. The energy of the cast and crew was electric, everyone knows that there is something unique and special about the project. Directed by Joel Lamangan from a screenplay by Roy Iglesias, “MP3” will be the last in executive producer Lily Yu Monteverde’s anthology of dramatic, culturally-enriching films about the experiences of Chinese-Filipinos of Chinoys in the Philippines. “Mano Po 3” also stars the most popular artists of film and television, including Boots Anson-Roa, Sheryl Cruz, Jay Manalo, Carlo Aquino, John Prats, Angelica Panganiban, Angel Locsin, Dennis Trillo, Karylle, Patrick Garcia, and Eddie Garcia.

The main cast members recently returned from an exhausting but creatively rewarding pictorial in Beijing, China to shoot publicity stills and scenes to be used in the movie. The photogenic actors were filmed in distinctly Chinese environs such as Wangfujiang Street, the Summer Palace, Ming�s Tomb and the Great Wall of China. MAQ is proud to share these exclusive photographs with this publication. The beautiful photos were taken by award-winning lensman Raymond Isaac under the creative supervision of Jun Poblador. Ace photographers Richard Chen and Jay Alonzo shot second unit stills. The general public will also have a chance to see the best photographs from the film in the special “Mano Po 3” exhibit which will coincide with the film’s release this Christmas.

Currently, the inspired cast & crew are working non-stop to bring Mother Lily’s unique vision to the screen in time for the Metro Manila Film Festival, and she’s sparing no expense to bring her most personal project to the screen. In between shooting, the stars are learning how to speak Fookien and Mandarin Chinese from linguist Jubilee Ong. In terms of the sets, an authentic Chinese village is being erected at a cost of over three million pesos. Conceived and executed by award-winning production designer Rodell Cruz, the expensive set will be seen in the film’s opening scenes. “I’m going all out with “Mano Po 3,” declares Mother Lily. “The moviegoers deserve the best movie we can give them, and if that means spending more money, so be it.” The script for “Mano Po 3: My Love” was ranked first among all scripts submitted to the Metro Manila Film Festival Philippines (MMFFP) Committee. – “MP3: A vision becoming a reality”- Manila Bulletin

“Mother (Lily) and I haven’t even discussed money matters yet!” That, according to Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, is the truth (and nothing but?) about her and the Regal Matriarch. You see, a minor issue cropped up about Vilma’s talent fee for Mano Po 3, intended by Regal Films for the Metro Manila Filmfest in December. Was Vilma really asking for P7 million (later reduced to P4 million)? That was the ticklish P7-million question. “As I was saying,” Vilma said during a phone chat with Funfare (she was in Lipa City busy with the preparations for the celebration of the city’s 57th foundation this week), “ang usapan namin ni Mother ay hindi pa umaabot sa talent fee ko. So far, we’ve been discussing only the script.” But Vilma admitted that she “got hurt” when the matter about her talent fee leaked to the press. “What I know is that I gave a copy of my Star Cinema contract to Regal so more or less they’d know,” said Vilma. “Everything was supposed to be confidential. I don’t know kung paano nakarating sa press.” Vilma added that she was touched when Mother Lily called her up to say she felt sorry for the incident. “How nice of her,” said Vilma. All’s well that ends well.

“The project goes on,” assured Vilma who will play the matriarch (similar to those played by Boots Anson-Roa and Susan Roces in Mano Po parts 1 and 2 respectively) of a Chinese clan, with Judy Ann Santos as one of her children. “May konting inaayos na lang sa script. I have to do the movie because it’s my commitment to Mother. Si Mother pa!” Cameras are expected to, hopefully, start grinding for Mano Po 3 first week of September and principal photography will, hopefully, be finished in time for the Metro Filmfest. “We’re again going to shoot some scenes in Shanghai,” said Mother Lily, “just like we did for Mano Po 1 and 2. Ate Vi will be in those scenes.” Last seen in Star Cinema’s Dekada ’70 (shown at the 2001 Metro Filmfest), Vilma has been begging off from doing movies because of her pressing obligations as Lipa City mayor. But Mano Po 3 is too good a project to let pass. “Besides,” said Vilma, “commitment ko kay Mother, e!” – Ricardo F. Lo, Philippine Star,  August 10, 2004

Joel Lamangan’s Mano Po, My Love dominated the Metro Manila Film Festival awards Wedenesday evening when it won all the top awards – Best Picture, Best Actor (Christopher de Leon), Best Actress (Vilma Santos) and Best Director (Lamangan). In the Philippine movie industry, the term Best Picture actually means the least bad movie of the crop. By that measure, Mano Po 3 perhaps does deserve the award. At least Mano Po 3 is slickly and tastefully produced. It boasts of a prestigious cast and tries to address a few pressing issues that affect the Chinese community in the Philippines. All the looks good on paper and the movie does look good most of the time but the resulting movie, like its two predecessors, falls short on expectations….Without the Chinese trappings, Mano Po 3: My Love is a typical Vilma Santos movie designed to highlight all the wonderful elements that make her a star for all seasons. Again, she sobs, laughs and acts pensive in that distinctive fashion Santos is famous for in one sudsy scene after another. Yet even as an emblematic Vilma Santos movie, Mano Po 3 is below par. The Star was better in other films that had better material. In this movie, screenwriter Roy Iglesias and director Joel Lamangan shamelessly force the star to imitate Meryl Streep in a scene stolen from Clint Eastwood’s Bridges of Madison County (1995). And like the two first installments, Mano Po 3 features some strange casting. Jay Manalo is supposed to be a contemporary of de Leon and Santos but when you see them together, Manalo looks more like their son than a classmate. Lamangan’s storytelling is fluid and deliberate but being deliberate can be deadly when almost every scene is all talk. Talk is fine if the words are inspiring but when the lines are pallid and of the telenovela variety, we’s just rather stick to the Korean soap they show on TV. While actors deliver modulated performances, this writer feels that Christopher de Leon’s role is too small to warrant a best actor nomination and award. I think he should have listed in the supporting category but I’m opening a can of worms here. Let’s just be thankful that this is the last Mano Po movie to be ever made. (Star rating: one star 1/2 out of four) – Dennis Ladaw, The Manila Times, Feb 28, 2005 (READ MORE)

“…Lamangan seems to be fond of this. In Mano Po 3, the teary scene in the car where Vilma Santos must eventually make her choice between Jay Manalo and Christopher de Leon, is an unabashed copying of a similar scene in The Bridges of Madison Country, where Meryl Streep must also make her choice between her husband and Clint Eastwood. Needless to say, Eastwood’s film has more resonance…” – Ian Rosales Casocot, Eating The Sun, blog, Nov 2005 (READ MORE)