Special Film: Kampus? (1978)

“…But the biggest fear of Borlaza was when Agrix Films’ Kampus? (1978) was booked one week after the opening of VS Films’ Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak. The Celso Ad. Castillo film was an artistic triumph, and Borlza felt following it up with another Vilma-Bembol starrer would put them at a great disadvantage. The Vilma-Bembol fans might still be raving over Pagputi… instead of discussing Kamput? As it turned out, people let Pagputi…pass and waited for Kampus? judging from the comparative gate receiots of the two movies…Sabi ni Mama Santos, ako daw ang “pumatay” sa kanilang Pagputi…eto ang parusa ko, bigyan ko daw sila ng isang Kampus? so I’m making for them Coed. You see, when I was working on Kampus? at UP Los Banos, I realized their problems and lifestyle can be a source of even 10 movie materials. At kapag ang student force pala ang nag-patronize sa Tagalog movie, ang laki ng audience!” Borlaza revealed…I’m very meticulous about is: the audience were to identify itself with my main character, will it be happy with the poetic justice I execute? Will they find it correct and realistic? In Kampus? for instance, students who were pleased with the movie told me they liked the ending very much. They agreed with it. Vilma was bedded first by Mat Ranillo III, but ended up with Bembol who was the right choice after all. They say in real life, the man you walk down the aisle with is not necessarily the first man you had sex with. Also they say the dialouges were very in – like the way actual students would speak them. Siguro, once they sit in the theater, they are not bothered by such questions as ‘Why” or “how come?” Is the star value the main thing in selling movies? “In the case of Kampus?, yes, because Vilma Santos was my main star and she’s the current box office queen …” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, November 9, 1978 (READ MORE)

Source: gobitz69

FAIR USE NOTICE (NOT FOR COMMERCIAL USE): This site contains copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to preserve the film legacies of actress, Vilma Santos, and to make her career information available to future generations. We believe this is NOT an infringement of any such copyrighted materials as in accordance to the the fair dealing clauses of both the Canadian and U.S. Copyright legislation, both of which allows users to engage in certain activities relating to research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. We are making an exerted effort to mention the source of the material, along with the name of the author, performer, maker, or broadcaster for the dealing to be fair, again in accordance with the allowable clauses. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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FILM REVIEW: PINAY AMERICAN STYLE


The Plot: PX, short for Paula Xavier (Vilma Santos) was an illegal alien in New York City. She’s broke and waiting for fiancé, Cocoy laurel to fulfill his promise of marriage despite the fact that Cocoy has already married an American to secure a green card. Hiding from the authorities, PX met two men who are willing to take care of her but conflicts arise as the two wanted to maintain a serious relationship with her. Played wonderfully by Christopher Deleon and Bembol Roco, the film resolved the love quadrangle between ex-fiancé, Cocoy Laurel and the two brothers when the jealous Cocoy reported Vilma to the immigration authorities. PX was deported back to the Philippines. But the films didn’t end in a sour note, PX found herself reunited with Christopher Deleon when the later followed her in the Philippines. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Shot in New York City and directed by Elwood Perez, this film seems to be a precursor to Miss X (1980) ’Merika (1984) starring Nora Aunor and Milan (2004), even Anak (2000) and Dubai (2005). Talaga bang masarap ang buhay sa ibang bansa? Bakit nagpapakamatay sa green card ang mga Pinoy? PX, mahal na mahal kita, PX, I love you walang iba. Paula Xavier or PX (Vilma Santos) is a TNT like boyfriend Victor Laurel (what an effective undersated performance) who leaves her as his live-in to be engaged to an American to get a green card who promises Vilma to divorce the White girl and to marry PX so they could live happily forever after. Not. Vilma is pissed that Laurel dropped her for good and he left her with unpaid rent and a broken heart. Enter Boyet De Leon, as Vilma’s next boyfriend who has two jobs who has been around long enough to know what he wants in life – women and the American Dream. Enter Bembol Roco, in a great performance as Boyet’s Kuya who is a bagito green card holder in America. He was in the opening scene of the movie where he owns his business and lives comfortably even have someone to make him coffee. Rosa Mia are Roco and De Leon’s battered mother who suffers from the physically abusive second husband (a geriatric Irishman), and verbalized regrets for leaving the Philippines. She has the best lines in the movie and summarized the movie’s theme: “Kung uuwi ako sa Pilipinas ay kung patay na ako. Ayokong umuwi ng buhay at malaman nila na ang hirap ng buhay dito – kayod ka talaga to survive, at di pinupulot ang dolyar, ubas at mansanas sa daan. Ang dami kong dinaanang hirap para lang magka green card.” Vilma Santos as PX is most effective in her scenes as a dumped/bitter girlfriend of Laurel, as a conflicted girlfriend of De Leon, and as a grateful soul who thank Roco for saving her from paying her overdue rent to her white landlord. Her PX is a toned down Sandra of Ikaw Ay Akin. She says to Roco: “Dati, sa konting pagkain, I offer myself to be laid. Napakabait mo.” Roco answers back: “Hindi ganoon kababa ang tingin ko sa sarili ko.” You see, Roco falls for the beautiful PX too and was upset to learn that PX is already making it with his brother, which drove him to drink and was depressed for a while. Panoorin na lang ninyo ang movie. The movie’s hopeful view of America begins with Perry Como singing White Christmas as Roco, in a dream scene, cavorts in the snow in slow motion. In his dying scene in the arms of his brother De Leon, Roco whispers “ni hindi ko man lang nakita ang snow and the above Winter Wonderland scene was replayed, while Boyet’s cry for help fell on deaf American ears. Vilma was deported after Laurel clandestinely reported her to the INS which arrested her at her birthday party. Her farewell scene with De Leon, handcuffed and all in a train station was one of the best scenes in the movie. The movie has a happy ending, with De Leon finding Santos, a flower picker amidst a field of white daisies with Benguet/Baguio as a backdrop. In a typical Elwood Perez slow mo fashion, amidst the daisy flower plantation, the box office love team of all time hugged and lived happily ever after. As credits rolled, Florante’s song Pinay played on. Pinay, American Style. Ang ganda! Vilma Santos yata iyan! – Mario O. GArces, V Magazine Issue No. 6 2006 (READ MORE)

Vilma was obviously under utilized as PX in these Elwood Perez experiment. Despite this predicament, Vilma was able to give us a splash of her abilities. While Nora was in full bloom as Mila in these quiet Portes film. She gave us a convincing portrayal of lonely woman who realized that she was being used by a man she truly loves. The contrast of style was the main point why I matched these two roles. As PX, Vilma was talkative, hiding her insecurity and vulnerability with her fragile disguise pretending to be a rich New Yorker with almost caricature gestures.

Regal films’ Pinay American Style was as commercial as one can imagine. Regal films producer, Lily Monteverde hired three leading men to support the most bankable actress of 1979, Christopher DeLeon, Bembol Rocco and Victor Cocoy Laurel. It was a period in Vilma’s career where she is doing one commercial films after the other. Two dance/musical hits Swing it Baby and Rock Baby Rock and a string of sexy films like Rubia Servious the previous year, Coed and Magkaribal mostly targeting the mature adult audience established her status as the number one box office superstar of 1978-79. Vilma in 1979 was a picture of self-assured bankable star. She did two movies with Elwood Perez, Magkaribal and Pinay American Style both were box office hits. She also produced an Eddie Rodrigues starrer Halik sa Paa Halik sa Kamay, and teamed-up with comedy king, Dolphy in Buhay Artista. As the year 1979 ends, she battled the drama queen Charito Solis in the local festival entry, Modelong Tanso. The end of the decade marked her stronghold as the box office queen. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ versatility as an actress was the secret weapon of her box office success. And this weapon was in full display in Pinay American Style.

Pinay American Style was the story of PX, an illegal alien or TNT – “tago ng tago.” Her boyfriend played by Victor Laurel abandoned her for a rich American girl mainly to secure a green card. PX met an Americanized Filipino, Christopher DeLeon but found him not serious of having her as a steady girlfriend. It just so happened that PX also met Christopher’s brother, Bembol Rocco, a new immigrant. PX and Bembol fell for each other. And a love triangle surfaced the screen. Adding to the drama was Victor Laurel’s enraged, jealous appearances. Laurel eventually tipped the police ending PX stays in New York. As Bembol Rocco realized that America doesn’t fit his lifestyle, he reconciled with his brother and advised him to follow PX in the Philippines. Christopher and Vilma reconciled in a farm field in the Philippines. The end.

The film was so forgettable that the critics didn’t even bother to write any reviews. The lack of enthusiasm on the part of the critics was compensated with the box office success of the film. Vilma fits the role as the illegal alien, PX. Her attempt to speak fluent English and pretend that she’s rich when she met the boyish looking Christopher was funny and poignant. She was given enough scenes to shine. One was when she was harassed by her landlady, she promised her the rent money the next day and when she’s gone, she opened her refrigerator and found a staled piece of bread. She took bottled water and ate the staled bread, went to the bedroom and found her mom’s letter. Lying down in bed, she started to break down. A quiet scene without dialogue. A contrast from the earlier scenes where she was talkative as she tried to impress Christopher and telling him she’s rich and from a well-known family. It was obvious in 1979, Elwood Perez wasn’t the kind of director you will expect to produce a serious output. He wasn’t a Bernal or Brocka. He’s a commercial director. It was a better effort though, compared to a much more convoluted Magkaribal or their past successful projects like Nakawin natin ang bawat sandali and masakit masarap ang umibig. In Pinay, Toto Belano’s script wasn’t efficient in ironing out the “love quadrangle” plot twists and establishing the characters of four actors. So the blame can’t be put to solely to Perez’ shoulder. There was a scene were Vilma Santos and Christopher were watching a concert which was obviously not part of the script. – RV (READ MORE)

“…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979). The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other director, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit Box-office Film. They follow this up with a more mature projects as Vilma started to switched her image from sweet to a mature versatile actress, pairing her with Christopher DeLeon in five films starting with Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig in 1977. The Perez-Santos-DeLeon team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards that secured her elevation to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award. She won in 1979 for Pakawalan Mo Ako and 1988 for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos…” – RV (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: PAGPUTI NG UWAK PAGITIM NG TAGAK

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“…sabi mo pa nga nuon mahal na mahal mo ako…sabi mo pa na hindi magbabago ang pagtingin mo sa akin…dahil papaano mo papatayin ang hangin? Paano mo papatayin ang ulan? Paano mo papatayin ang araw? Sabi mo pa nga hindi mo na ako iiwan kahit na anong mangyari…kaya naisip ko nuon magpaligaw na ako sa’yo…kahit hindi pa pumuputi ang uwak, o umi-itim ang tagak…” – Julie

The Plot: “Pag-puti ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” is a pulsating love story that recaptures the nostalgic fifties, the exciting era of mass hysteria, and the golden years of the rock and roll fever inflicted by screaming, wiggling hip-shaking foreign pop idols dominated by Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Pat Boone, Doris Day and the Platters. “Pag-puti ng Uwak,Pag-itim ng Tagak” is more than a love story. It is also a commentary – a satire rich with humor injected into a moral, psychological, sociological, and cultural aspect, outlook, and values of the said bygone era. “Pag-puti ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak”, is a poigant rich-girl-meets poor boy love story of Julie Monserat and Candido Ventura – two love-struck starry eyed youths who fought for their right to love each other, here is a story that touches social conflict – the perennial clashes and discrimination between the rich and the poor. Julie grew up under the custody of her two wealthy spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela Monserrat. Julie enjoyed everything, except the right to love her own father – Maestro Juan Roque, the poor town teacher. Julie met Dido a student-combo player. They fell in love with each other and had secret affairs. The aunts hated Dido for his ” lowly breeding and ear-splitting music”, thus rejecting him in favor of the town mayor’s son. Julie eventually got pregnant. They planned an elopement but was foiled. The conflict between the lovers and the Monserrat exploded into a series of scandals that rocked the whole town of Sta. Inez…” – Celso Ad Castillo (READ MORE)

“…Malakas ang deconstruction ng “Romeo and Juliet” sa obra na ito. Maraming reference (pinaka-given na siguro na ang pangalan ni Vilma Santos dito ay Julie) sa tragedy ni Shakespeare. Dito ko nakita si Celso Ad in a different light. Nage-gets ko ang poesiya ng mga nature shots n’ya sa ibang pelikula pero rito, klarong klaro ang pagkahilig n’ya sa literary classic. Pinakagusto kong shot eh ‘yung terrace scene na malakas maka-tribute. Wala kasi akong katiting na abiso tungkol sa pedigree ng pelikula at masayang naglalaro sa isip ko ang mga reference hanggang sa sumabog ito sa dulo na nagbigay konklusyon sa mga hinagap. Maraming eksena na may kilometric line si Vilma rito. Napaalala rin sa akin ang era kung saan ang sukatan ng isang pagiging aktres ay nasa haba ng mga linya na kayang mamemorya. Pinagsamang sensuality at controlled acting ang pinamalas n’ya. Maigting din ang chemistry nila ni Bembol Roco rito…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 02 August 2013 (READ MORE)

Kuwento ng magkasintahang pinaghiwalay, na ipinaloob sa isang panahong dinadaluyong ang lipunang Pilipinong rebelyong Hukbalahap. Iyan ang buod ng ‘Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak’. Dekada ng 1950 noon, at sa pista ng matandang bay an ng Santa Ines ay nagkatagpu-tagpo sina Julie Monserrat (Vilma Santos), Dido Ventura (Bembol Roco) at Maestro Juan Roque (Joonee Gamboa). Mula sa mayaman at makapangyarihang pamilya si Julie, isang ulilang pinalaki at pinapag-aral sa Maynila ng kanyang mga tiyang matandang dalagang sina Beatriz (Adul de Leon) at Miguela (Angie Ferro). Si Dido ay maralitang binatang ang Ina (Mona Lisa) ay may iwing poot sa mga Monserrat na kumamkam sa kanilang lupain at naging dahilan ng kanilang paghihirap. Si Maestro Roque naman ay kilalang kompositor at biyolinista na umuwi sa Santa Ines upang tapusin ang kanyang sarsuwelang pinamagatang “Pangarap ng Bagong Umaga.” Sa unang pagkikita pa lamang ay napusuan ni Dido si Jutie. Nagkahulihan ng loob ang dalawa, at isang gabi’ypinangahasang akyatin ni Dido si Julie sa kuwarto nito. Ang kanilang pagtatalik ay humantong sa pagtatanan. Nang magbalik ang magkasintahan upang humingi ng pahintulot na sila’y pakasal, si Julie ay pinamili ng kanyang mga tiya sa maginhawang buhay na kanyang kinagisnan, at sa walang-katiyakang hinaharap bilang asawa ni Dido. Nagdalawang-isip si Julie, at pinili niyang manatili sa pangangalaga ng kanyang mga tiya.

Masamang-masama ang loob ni Dido sa nangyari. Nang siya ay laitin ng kanyang kasintahang si Cristy (Olivia O’Hara), sinaktan niya ito. Nalaman ni Claro (Robert Talabis) ang ginawa ni Dido sa kanyang kapatid, at nagharap ang dalawa sa isang labanang mano-a-mano. Napatay ni Dido si Claro. Alkalde ng bayan ang ama (Mervin Samson) nina Cristy at Claro, kaya’t pinakitos nito ang mga pulis upang iligpit si Dido. Nang gabing lihim na kunin si Dido sa kulungan upang patayin, inambus ng mga Huk ang sasakyan ng mga pulis. Tiyo ni Dido ang pinuno ng mga Huk na si Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures). Sumamang namundok si Dido sa kanyang Tiyo. Minsang dumalaw sa bahay ng mga Monserrat si Maestro Roque, siya ay hinamak ng magkapatid na Beatriz at Miguela. Mula na rin sa mga tiya ni Julie, natuklasan niya na anak pala niya si Julie sa patay nang si Ana Monserrat. Nang magkahiwalay sina Julie at Dido, nalaman ni Maestro Roque na buntis si Julie. Ito ay dinalaw niya sa konserbatoryong pinag-aaralan ng dalaga sa pagka-biyolinista. Ipinagtapat niyang siya ang ama ni Julie. Tinalikdan ni Julie ang kanyang ama, subalit ang pagdalaw na iyon ang naging dahilan upang magpasiya ang dalaga na huwag ipaampon ang kanyang anak na isisilang. Nilakad ni Maestro Roque na pagtagpuing muli sina Julie at Dido. Isang gabi ng Mahal na Araw, nagkita ang magkasintahan at nakilala ni Dido ang kanyang anak kay Julie. Natunugan ng mga espiya ng gobyerno ang pagbaba sa bayan ng mga rebeldeng pinamumunuan ni Kumander Salome. Ang uha ng anak nina Julie at Dido ay nangibabaw sa masinsing putukang lumipol kina Dido at mga kasama. – Manunuri (READ MORE)

It is the 1950’s at the height of the Huk (local Communist armed forces) movement, in a part of the country beset with agrarian unrest. During the town fiesta of Santa Ines, Julie Monserrat is introduced to Dido Ventura and Maestro Juan Roque, an old musician. Julie, an orphan who comes from the local aristocracy, is on vacation from school in Manila, and is staying with her two spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela. Dido Ventura, a young man from a poor family, lives with his mother who nurses an old grievance against the Monserrats; she believes they grabbed the Ventura’s property. Maestro Juan Roque, a well-known composer and violinist, has just returned to Santa Ines to finish a zarzuela he has been planning to write for a long time. Dido falls in love with Julie at their first meeting. One night, he sneaks into the spinsters’ house and spends a passionate night with Julie. The brief liaison leads to their elopement. When the two lovers return to ask for the aunts’ blessing, Julie is made to choose between a life of poverty and uncertainty with Dido, or a life of comfort and respectability with her aunts. Julie chooses to stay with her aunts. Dido is shaken by the turn of events.

He meets Cristy, his girlfriend, who insults him for the embarrassing situation he has gotten himself into. Dido turns roughly against the girl and beats her up. Cristy’s brother finds out about this and challenges him to a fist fight. Dido kills Cristy’s brother. Cristy’s father, who is the town mayor, decides to dispose of Dido immediately. But when his secret police nab Dido one night, the jeep taking them to Dido’s execution is ambushed by a band of Huk rebels led by Kumander Salome, Dido’s uncle. Saved, Dido decides to join his rebel uncle in the mountains. Meanwhile, Maestro Roque, on a visit to the spinsters’ old house to talk about Julie’s violin lessons, finds out that Julie is actually his own daughter by one of the Monserrat sisters now deceased. Julie herself is pregnant with Dido’s child. The old musician’s visit to her house and the ensuing revelatin make he decide to keep the baby. Maestro Roque arranges for Julie and Dido to meet again. On the night of Good Friday, Dido leaves the rebel camp to see his newborn child. Kumander Salome decides to go along with the young man. Government spies learn of this and an ambush is set. The child of Julie and Dido is the only survivor and witness of the masscre that ends the film. – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…Compared to Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak is less of a technical mess. Particularly exceptional are the shots of rustic religious rituals; unfortunately their use does not progress beyond the literal level. This makes for increasing predictability toward the picture’s end, as when the preparations for a military massacre are intercut with recitations of the tribulations of Jesus Christ. Attempts at authenticity appear to have been assiduous, but the project may have also proved too ambitious in this aspect. Thus one can find high-tension wires and Scotch-tinted car windows, not to mention recent beautification accomplishments, making their way into a 1950s period movie. Performance-wise Pagputi ng Uwak leaves a lot more to be desired. Among the cast, only Mona Lisa manages to pull off a convincing characterization as Bembol Roco’s mother. Angie Ferro and Adul de Leon, as Vilma Santos’ spinster aunts, are no better than caricatures: funny maybe, but quite incredible. Joonee Gamboa has mellowed since his rudimental portrayal of an impresario in Burlesk Queen; his role, however, is far less significant this time, reduced as it is to playing the intermediary between star-crossed characters. Executive producer Vilma Santos does better outside camera range. Her production is financially and artistically liberal, the sort the local audience has been deprived of since the dissolution of the previous censors board. Her performance though is about as effective as that of a drama guild’s star performer: she renounces her lover like she would a final exam, and later professors love for him like she would a teen idol. The same applies to Bembol Roco, about whose character more will be said later; suffice it to say that he still has yet to employ under-acting to his advantage. Meanwhile he and Santos are the industry’s star couple, and there one has the trappings of the star system at work again. Is there nothing at all to be said in favor of the movie? Come to think of it, Burlesk Queen did have a saving grace, and it is this same virtue – intention – which redeems Pagputi ng Uwak. In his works Castillo the artist seeks to depict the Filipino as only a fellow Filipino will understand, particularly in terms of pride and sentiment – values associated in Western aesthetics with melodrama. Which is what makes Castillo easy prey for local culture vultures: with technical excellence as a basic requisite for deserving favor, he falls short at first try; infatuation with alien modes of behavior further ensures their alienation from the obviously progressive statements he wishes to make…” – Joel David, Philippine Collegian/The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, 26 July 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Castillo-watchers who had to cringe at the amount of its acting that Castillo allowed or demanded from his actors and actresses, will be gratified at the quiet intensity of the performances in Pagputi ng Uwak. Although one is never convinced that Vilma Santos can indeed bow music out of violin, her characterization of Julie displays the maturing talent of an actress fast learning to explore and shape her emotional resources in creating a character. Bembol Roco is disadvantaged by the script’s focus on Julie, but he impressively communicates the change in Dido from reckless teenager to hardened rebel. The acting highlights in the film, however, are provided by the three capable stage performers playing supporting roles. At long last Jonee Gamboa has been allowed to shed the irritatingly mannered caricatures he has been made to do in his previous films. As Maestro Juan Roque, he gives a serene portrait of a man who sublimates the turmoil of his inner life into the music he plays and composes in a performance memorable for its restraint and sincerity. Angie Ferro tends to be over-empphatic in places, but her portrayal of Miguela effectively keeps the role from degenerating into a contra vida stereotype by touching it up with humor that is broad yet never out of character. It is Adul de Leon, however, who emerges luminously as a character actress of the first magnitude. Her interpretation of Beatriz is a piece of complex character portraiture all the more admirable for having made a role of rather limited range so persuasively human. Good performances are not unusual in Filipino movies. What is rare is that coming together of temperaments and skills that make film art possible. In Pagputi ng Uwak, Castillo’s work does not display anything that he has not already shown in his previous films. The fondness for story material that reeks of social overtones, the lyrical exuberance with which he invests starkly realistic situations, and the intensely theatrical confrontations among his characters – these have been qualities evident even in Castillo’s lesser works, where they are often pushed to absurd lengths. What has happened in Pagput ng Uwak is that the director has been able to bring to a focus his varied talents, and found fellow artists with temperaments congenial to his. With cinematographer Romy Vitug and musical director George Canseco, he seem to have found working partners who share his penchant for the poetic, and their collaboration has resulted in a film where narrative imagery and music fuse into a memorable whole…” – Bienvenido Lumbera (READ MORE)

Putting in place a dialectic that analyzes social reality as at once a corrupted condition and a transformable possibility. In this situation, Dido’s idealism is undercut as an illusion by Julie (Vilma Santos), a jaded but nevertheless sensible young woman who in turn opens herself up to a revision of consciousness. This dialectic, or reflexive reflection is important to scan the contradictions of milieu and to probe the context of whatever human action plays out. Without such dynamic, which eludes most films which dare to tackle historical reality of epochal significance, all manner of practice is ultimately facile and anomalous and rendering romance as a vital agent in the articulation of difference, the engagement with a higher force and the summoning of a love that transcends the limitations of conspiratorial cacophony. A film nourished by this premise cannot fail. The personas of spinster sisters Beatriz (Angie Ferro) and Miguela (Adul de Leon) along with Joonee Gamboa as music teacher and violinist Roque San Victores are rounded out. And society is a charged terrain of armed revolt, state control and resistance. Direction, screenplay, cinematography, editing, production design, music and the performance of a sensitive cast contribute to the comprehensive competence of Pagputi Ng Uwak… Pag-Itim Ng Tagak…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…This is the one film this year that could have made it to the classics, given good material, Romeo Vitug, and some good acting (Joonie Gamboa and Adul De Leon are stands out). There is too much background however; a weak establishment of relationship; an incredible move from the rebel group risking their lives for a solitary personal interest; the failure to bring out the Maestro’s (Joonie) reaction to the tragedy in an affair in which he is greatly involved. The triangle here is fascinating: arts, politics, and the heart. The maestro’s art recovers for him what frustrations of the heart reduce: the lover’s taking to underground activities plays a similar role; the woman’s art provides escape from emotional confusion. The heart, neglected, must sooner or later take its toll – and politics, strangely, because the least developed angle in the film (Bembol’s character is insufficiently portrayed), simultaneously takes its toll, in tragic proportions. It would be excellent if it were within the directorial intention to comment that, in fact, neglect of the political ultimately destroys everything. Such an extent, however, is believed by the fact that the ideal political figure in the film condones the needless risking of an entire group for a single romantic resolutions. Art, politics, and love come to a bad end, but what are the tones of this fatality? Or is it indeed fatality in the director’s vision? Let us close up on this vision. There are touches that have poetry and economy. The development of the courtship into a certain depth of involvement (undialogued lyrical scenes between Vilma and Bembol); a poignant moment of the affair is visually emphasized in a shot of the stairway, now empty, by which the woman seeks the lover she had just rejected; the agitation and the impending bid for resolution by the two aunts in the car coming from Manila where the heroine had refused to let them have their way in her affair as her mother before her had been too weak to do) – to name a few. It is discordant in a directorial angle that controls such elements rather well to splash local color profusely and allow the heroine’s talky summary in the end. If this show of extremes is calculated, an indication, let us say, of the nature of the Filipino character, the act of indicating is not established. That is, if the Filipino, as Castillo sees in him, is unfortunately often swamped by ceremonies, traditions and the like so much that he loses sense of self-direction, etc., this must be developed, and not slumped upon the final scene when the love-resolution is intruded upon by the pasyon, and finally by the deadly dogma of politics. Of course, again, it might be that this is how the view from the angle is, where by all comes to a tragic end, firstly, against all human idealism and praxis (an option that is too anti-man); sporadic superfluity which gives nothing, not even meaning. Many may not accept this as a valid realism. And, in any case, what happens then to art as an instrument not only of image-reflectiions, but also of reconstruction?” – Petronila Cleto, Pelikula, Atbp (READ MORE)

“…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Kampus (1978)

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Basic Information: Directed: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story, screenplay: Tom Adrales, Allan Jayme Rabaya; Cast: Vilma Santos, Bembol Roco, Mat Ranillo III, Allan Valenzuela, Freddie Yance, Liza Lorena, Anita Linda, Lorli Villanueva, Ann Villegas, Angie magbanua, Rosemarie De Vera, Lito Lapid, Leo Pilapil; Original Music: Tito Sotto; Cinematography: Totoy Jacinto; Production Design: George Vail Kabristante

Plot Description: In the film “Kampus?” (1978), Suzette (Vilma Santos) thinks she’s liberated woman who doesn’t believe in marriage matrimony while his boyfriend, Norman keeps on proposing the sacredness of marriage vow. These are two conflicting beliefs of two students undoubtedly in love with each other. Their relationship was put to a test when Suzette met Manny (Matt) who happens to be in accordance with what she thinks she believes in. A campus experiment for Suzette and she was the first to be affected by it. Will she swallow that so called principle and be merry with the one she truly loves? – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

A cinematic view of campus life dealing with sexual permissiveness among teeners, dormitory life, fraternity affiliations and initiations, teenage crushes, among others. Vilma Santos is a coed torn between the man she really loves (Bemvol Roco) and the man she surrenders her virginity to (Mat Ranillo III), Liza Lorena is the teacher tormented by a student who has a terrible crush on her (Allan Valenzuela). An Emmanuel Borlaza film. – Century Video Inc.

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “…But the biggest fear of Borlaza was when Agrix Films’ Kampus? was booked one week after the opening of VS Films’ Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak. The Celso Ad. Castillo film was an artistic triumph, and Borlza felt following it up with another Vilma-Bembol starrer would put them at a great disadvantage. The Vilma-Bembol fans might still be raving over Pagputi… instead of discussing Kamput? As it turned out, people let Pagputi…pass and waited for Kampus? judging from the comparative gate receiots of the two movies…Sabi ni Mama Santos, ako daw ang “pumatay” sa kanilang Pagputi…eto ang parusa ko, bigyan ko daw sila ng isang Kampus? so I’m making for them Coed. You see, when I was working on Kampus? at UP Los Banos, I realized their problems and lifestyle can be a source of even 10 movie materials. At kapag ang student force pala ang nag-patronize sa Tagalog movie, ang laki ng audience!” Borlaza revealed…I’m very meticulous about is: the audience were to identify itself with my main character, will it be happy with the poetic justice I execute? Will they find it correct and realistic? In Kampus? for instance, students who were pleased with the movie told me they liked the ending very much. They agreed with it. Vilma was bedded first by Mat Ranillo III, but ended up with Bembol who was the right choice after all. They say in real life, the man you walk down the aisle with is not necessarily the first man you had sex with. Also they say the dialouges were very in – like the way actual students would speak them. Siguro, once they sit in the theater, they are not bothered by such questions as ‘Why” or “how come?” Is the star value the main thing in selling movies? “In the case of Kampus?, yes, because Vilma Santos was my main star and she’s the current box office queen …” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, November 9, 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Fate would have it that in the space of three days I watched Vilma Santos as June (in Kampus, 1978), the firm believer of ‘free love’ caught between the attentions of two men, and Angel Locsin as the fierce Ces, setting the terms of an affair with a man she decidedly resists. Four decades apart, these representations of strong, independent women caught within obstacles premised on love remain appealing to viewers. The conflicts faced by June and Ces are hinged on unconventional ideas about the conduct of heterosexual relationships. These women characters unequivocally distance themselves from the bind of traditional relationships and the expectations that burden it; June with sophisticated musing and Ces with stoic distance…While Vilma Santos’s June ponders her preference for ‘free love’ intelligently, weighs her dilemmas with pensive introspection, faces her hurdles with sarcasm and humour; Angel Locsin’s Ces is denied this chance, wallows instead in denial which became infuriatingly tiresome. This is not to blame Locsin’s abilities as an actor (adept at she is in portraying conflicted characters, torn in situations not of their making) but on the film’s failure to fully flesh out its characters. The film failed to grasp a deeper vein of feeling…” – Tessa Maria Guazon (READ MORE)

Free Love – “…Fate would have it that in the space of three days I watched Vilma Santos as June (in Kampus, 1978), the firm believer of ‘free love’ caught between the attentions of two men, and Angel Locsin as the fierce Ces, setting the terms of an affair with a man she decidedly resists. Four decades apart, these representations of strong, independent women caught within obstacles premised on love remain appealing to viewers. The conflicts faced by June and Ces are hinged on unconventional ideas about the conduct of heterosexual relationships. These women characters unequivocally distance themselves from the bind of traditional relationships and the expectations that burden it; June with sophisticated musing and Ces with stoic distance…While Vilma Santos’s June ponders her preference for ‘free love’ intelligently, weighs her dilemmas with pensive introspection, faces her hurdles with sarcasm and humour; Angel Locsin’s Ces is denied this chance, wallows instead in denial which became infuriatingly tiresome. This is not to blame Locsin’s abilities as an actor (adept at she is in portraying conflicted characters, torn in situations not of their making) but on the film’s failure to fully flesh out its characters. The film failed to grasp a deeper vein of feeling. Thus, when we find Ces and Macky in strained conversations grappling with their predicaments as individuals and lovers, why do they seem unconvincing, their loneliness and dilemmas so affected?” – Deborah Jermyn, 2011, posted by YCC (READ MORE)

Filmography: Promo Girl (1978)

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Basic Information: Direction: Joey Gosiengfiao; Writing credit: Wilfrido Nolledo; Cast: Vilma Santos, Ricky Belmonte, Roel Vergel de Dios, Bembol Rocco, Eddie Gutierrez; Release Date:8 September 1978 (Philippines); Production Company: Melros Productions – IMDB (READ MORE)

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: Joey Gosiengfiao films with Vilma Santos: Hatinggabi Na Vilma 1972; Takbo, Vilma, Dali 1972; Lipad, Darna, Lipad 1973; Promo Girl 1978 – RV (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…Joey Gosiengfiao’s films are anything but righteous, much less respectable. That was their glory and greatness, and the reason he could never win an award–Christ, I think, with his abhorrence of respectability, would like the man’s style. Take, for example, the scene between Eddie Gutierrez and Ricky Belmonte in Bomba Star (roughly translated, Porn Star, 1980). Belmonte and Gutierrez are working out in a gym; Gutierrez starts casting looks at Belmonte; Belmonte coyly returns his looks. The two start teasing each other, tickling each other, suddenly find themselves on the floor wrestling with each other…enter Gutierrez’s lover, played by Marissa Delgado–she doesn’t do anything, just strikes a glamour pose, a sardonic expression on her face and the world’s longest cigarette holder between her fingers. I wish I could explain why the moment is so irreducibly funny, but I can’t; if I could, I suspect it wouldn’t be funny at all…” – Noel Vera (READ MORE)

Filmography: Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978)

“…sabi mo pa nga nuon mahal na mahal mo ako…sabi mo pa na hindi magbabago ang pagtingin mo sa akin…dahil papaano mo papatayin ang hangin? Paano mo papatayin ang ulan? Paano mo papatayin ang araw? Sabi mo pa nga hindi mo na ako iiwan kahit na anong mangyari…kaya naisip ko nuon magpaligaw na ako sa’yo…kahit hindi pa pumuputi ang uwak, o umi-itim ang tagak…” – Julie

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Basic Information: Directed, story: Celso Ad. Castillo; Screenplay: Celso Ad. Castillo, Iskho Lopez, Lando Jacob, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Cast: Vilma Santos, Bembol Roco, Robert Talabis, Joonee Gamboa, Angie Ferro, Olivia O’Hara, Mona Lisa, Mario Escudero, Fred Panopio, Adul de Leon, Lito Anzures, Miniong Alvarez, Andres Centenera, Carpi Asturias, Filing Cudia, Yolanda Luna, Mervyn Samson, Dolores Pobre, Jennifer Cortez, Diomedes Maturan; Executive producer: Vilma Santos; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Romeo Vitug; Film Editing: Celso Ad. Castillo; Production Design: Peter Perlas; Sound: Gaudencio Barredo; English Title: “When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black”; Soundtracks: “Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak” Sung by Belinda Jimenez; Lyrics & Music by George Canseco

Plot Description: It is the 1950’s at the height of the Huk (local Communist armed forces) movement, in a part of the country beset with agrarian unrest. During the town fiesta of Santa Ines, Julie Monserrat is introduced to Dido Ventura and Maestro Juan Roque, an old musician. Julie, an orphan who comes from the local aristocracy, is on vacation from school in Manila, and is staying with her two spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela. Dido Ventura, a young man from a poor family, lives with his mother who nurses an old grievance against the Monserrats; she believes they grabbed the Ventura’s property. Maestro Juan Roque, a well-known composer and violinist, has just returned to Santa Ines to finish a zarzuela he has been planning to write for a long time. Dido falls in love with Julie at their first meeting. One night, he sneaks into the spinsters’ house and spends a passionate night with Julie. The brief liaison leads to their elopement. When the two lovers return to ask for the aunts’ blessing, Julie is made to choose between a life of poverty and uncertainty with Dido, or a life of comfort and respectability with her aunts. Julie chooses to stay with her aunts. Dido is shaken by the turn of events.

He meets Cristy, his girlfriend, who insults him for the embarrassing situation he has gotten himself into. Dido turns roughly against the girl and beats her up. Cristy’s brother finds out about this and challenges him to a fist fight. Dido kills Cristy’s brother. Cristy’s father, who is the town mayor, decides to dispose of Dido immediately. But when his secret police nab Dido one night, the jeep taking them to Dido’s execution is ambushed by a band of Huk rebels led by Kumander Salome, Dido’s uncle. Saved, Dido decides to join his rebel uncle in the mountains. Meanwhile, Maestro Roque, on a visit to the spinsters’ old house to talk about Julie’s violin lessons, finds out that Julie is actually his own daughter by one of the Monserrat sisters now deceased. Julie herself is pregnant with Dido’s child. The old musician’s visit to her house and the ensuing revelatin make he decide to keep the baby. Maestro Roque arranges for Julie and Dido to meet again. On the night of Good Friday, Dido leaves the rebel camp to see his newborn child. Kumander Salome decides to go along with the young man. Government spies learn of this and an ambush is set. The child of Julie and Dido is the only survivor and witness of the masscre that ends the film. – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Official Selection – 1983 Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines”; Official Philippines Entry – The Latin American Film Festival – Sao Paolo, Brazil; Official Philippines Entry – The 1981 Asean Film Conference; 1978 FAMAS: Best Picture – Vilma Santos (producer);  Best Art Direction – Peter Perlas; Best Cinematography – Romeo Vitug; Best Director – Celso Ad. Castillo; Best Music – George Canseco; Best Story – Celso Ad. Castillo, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Supporting Actress – Angie Ferro; Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Screenplay Nomination – Castillo, Jacob, Iskho Lopez, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Joonee Gamboa; 1978 Gawad URIAN: Best Director – Celso Ad. Castillo; Best Picture – Vilma Santos (producer); Best Screenplay – Castillo, Lando Jacob, Iskho Lopez, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Sound – Gaudencio Barredo; Best Supporting Actor – Joonee Gamboa; Best Cinematography Nomination – Romeo Vitug; Best Music Nomination – George Canseco; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Adul de Leon

The Reviews: “…Compared to Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak is less of a technical mess. Particularly exceptional are the shots of rustic religious rituals; unfortunately their use does not progress beyond the literal level. This makes for increasing predictability toward the picture’s end, as when the preparations for a military massacre are intercut with recitations of the tribulations of Jesus Christ. Attempts at authenticity appear to have been assiduous, but the project may have also proved too ambitious in this aspect. Thus one can find high-tension wires and Scotch-tinted car windows, not to mention recent beautification accomplishments, making their way into a 1950s period movie. Performance-wise Pagputi ng Uwak leaves a lot more to be desired. Among the cast, only Mona Lisa manages to pull off a convincing characterization as Bembol Roco’s mother. Angie Ferro and Adul de Leon, as Vilma Santos’ spinster aunts, are no better than caricatures: funny maybe, but quite incredible. Joonee Gamboa has mellowed since his rudimental portrayal of an impresario in Burlesk Queen; his role, however, is far less significant this time, reduced as it is to playing the intermediary between star-crossed characters. Executive producer Vilma Santos does better outside camera range. Her production is financially and artistically liberal, the sort the local audience has been deprived of since the dissolution of the previous censors board. Her performance though is about as effective as that of a drama guild’s star performer: she renounces her lover like she would a final exam, and later professors love for him like she would a teen idol. The same applies to Bembol Roco, about whose character more will be said later; suffice it to say that he still has yet to employ under-acting to his advantage. Meanwhile he and Santos are the industry’s star couple, and there one has the trappings of the star system at work again. Is there nothing at all to be said in favor of the movie? Come to think of it, Burlesk Queen did have a saving grace, and it is this same virtue – intention – which redeems Pagputi ng Uwak. In his works Castillo the artist seeks to depict the Filipino as only a fellow Filipino will understand, particularly in terms of pride and sentiment – values associated in Western aesthetics with melodrama. Which is what makes Castillo easy prey for local culture vultures: with technical excellence as a basic requisite for deserving favor, he falls short at first try; infatuation with alien modes of behavior further ensures their alienation from the obviously progressive statements he wishes to make…” – Joel David, Philippine Collegian/The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, 26 July 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Malakas ang deconstruction ng “Romeo and Juliet” sa obra na ito. Maraming reference (pinaka-given na siguro na ang pangalan ni Vilma Santos dito ay Julie) sa tragedy ni Shakespeare. Dito ko nakita si Celso Ad in a different light. Nage-gets ko ang poesiya ng mga nature shots n’ya sa ibang pelikula pero rito, klarong klaro ang pagkahilig n’ya sa literary classic. Pinakagusto kong shot eh ‘yung terrace scene na malakas maka-tribute. Wala kasi akong katiting na abiso tungkol sa pedigree ng pelikula at masayang naglalaro sa isip ko ang mga reference hanggang sa sumabog ito sa dulo na nagbigay konklusyon sa mga hinagap. Maraming eksena na may kilometric line si Vilma rito. Napaalala rin sa akin ang era kung saan ang sukatan ng isang pagiging aktres ay nasa haba ng mga linya na kayang mamemorya. Pinagsamang sensuality at controlled acting ang pinamalas n’ya. Maigting din ang chemistry nila ni Bembol Roco rito…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 02 August 2013 (READ MORE)

“…Pagputi Ng Uwak, Pagitim Ng Tagak is another ambitious epic movie that succeeds on many film levels. The story is about the love affair between a young woman belonging to a rich and powerful family, and a poor man whose mother is still bitter about having her land property snatched from her by the other family. This simple conflict develops into bigger, more significant ones, and they are all integrated within the framework of the story and the different elements of the film. It opens on a festive scene that seems to go on foreever, but this gradually changes the mood of the story until it ends a bloody climax. Indulgent as the individual aspects of the film may be, they all fit director Castillo’s grand and elaborate design at story-telling, encompassing various Filipino seasons, holidays and range of experiences. Romy Vitug’s cinematography is spectacular, and the cast, headed by Vilma Santos and Rafael Roco, Jr., are marvelous…” – Expressweek, Urian – Kolum ng Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, January 10, 1980 (READ MORE)

“…Kuwento ng magkasintahang pinaghiwalay, na ipinaloob sa isa ng panahong dinadaluyong ang lipunang Pilipinong rebelyong Hukbalahap. Iyan ang buod ng ‘Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak’. Dekada ng 1950 noon, at sa pista ng matandang bay an ng Santa Ines ay nagkatagpu-tagpo sina Julie Monserrat (Vilma Santos), Dido Ventura (Bembol Roco) at Maestro Juan Roque (Joonee Gamboa). Mula sa mayaman at makapangyarihang pamilya si Julie, isang ulilang pinalaki at pinapag-aral sa Maynila ng kanyang mga tiyang matandang dalagang sina Beatriz (Adul de Leon) at Miguela (Angie Ferro). Si Dido ay maralitang binatang ang Ina (Mona Lisa) ay may iwing poot sa mga Monserrat na kumamkam sa kanilang lupain at naging dahilan ng kanilang paghihirap. Si Maestro Roque naman ay kilalang kompositor at biyolinista na umuwi sa Santa Ines upang tapusin ang kanyang sarsuwelang pinamagatang “Pangarap ng Bagong Umaga.” Sa unang pagkikita pa lamang ay napusuan ni Dido si Jutie. Nagkahulihan ng loob ang dalawa, at isang gabi’ypinangahasang akyatin ni Dido si Julie sa kuwarto nito. Ang kanilang pagtatalik ay humantong sa pagtatanan. Nang magbalik ang magkasintahan upang humingi ng pahintulot na sila’y pakasal, si Julie ay pinamili ng kanyang mga tiya sa maginhawang buhay na kanyang kinagisnan, at sa walang-katiyakang hinaharap bilang asawa ni Dido. Nagdalawang-isip si Julie, at pinili niyang manatili sa pangangalaga ng kanyang mga tiya. Masamang-masama ang loob ni Dido sa nangyari. Nang siya ay laitin ng kanyang kasintahang si Cristy (Olivia O’Hara), sinaktan niya ito. Nalaman ni Claro (Robert Talabis) ang ginawa ni Dido sa kanyang kapatid, at nagharap ang dalawa sa isang labanang mano-a-mano. Napatay ni Dido si Claro. Alkalde ng bayan ang ama (Mervin Samson) nina Cristy at Claro, kaya’t pinakitos nito ang mga pulis upang iligpit si Dido. Nang gabing lihim na kunin si Dido sa kulungan upang patayin, inambus ng mga Huk ang sasakyan ng mga pulis. Tiyo ni Dido ang pinuno ng mga Huk na si Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures). Sumamang namundok si Dido sa kanyang Tiyo. Minsang dumalaw sa bahay ng mga Monserrat si Maestro Roque, siya ay hinamak ng magkapatid na Beatriz at Miguela. Mula na rin sa mga tiya ni Julie, natuklasan niya na anak pala niya si Julie sa patay nang si Ana Monserrat. Nang magkahiwalay sina Julie at Dido, nalaman ni Maestro Roque na buntis si Julie. Ito ay dinalaw niya sa konserbatoryong pinag-aaralan ng dalaga sa pagka-biyolinista. Ipinagtapat niyang siya ang ama ni Julie. Tinalikdan ni Julie ang kanyang ama, subalit ang pagdalaw na iyon ang naging dahilan upang magpasiya ang dalaga na huwag ipaampon ang kanyang anak na isisilang. Nilakad ni Maestro Roque na pagtagpuing muli sina Julie at Dido. Isang gabi ng Mahal na Araw, nagkita ang magkasintahan at nakilala ni Dido ang kanyang anak kay Julie. Natunugan ng mga espiya ng gobyerno ang pagbaba sa bayan ng mga rebeldeng pinamumunuan ni Kumander Salome. Ang uha ng anak nina Julie at Dido ay nangibabaw sa masinsing putukang lumipol kina Dido at mga kasama…” – Manunuri

“…Furor is really an understatement. “Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight), ” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk as the most beautiful Filipino film” past, present and future.” Vi’s turnaround: Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new Vilma Santos “from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk?” – “It marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978.  “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends.” Burlesk and Pagputi brought a lot of honor to me…” – Bayani San Diego Jr. (READ MORE)

“…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo’s Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) injects political overtones into its story, about a poor young man (Bembol Roco) who, when abandoned by his upper-class lover (Vilma Santos), joins the Hukbalahap rebels. Ad. Castillo in this film demonstrates an amazing visual language–not flashy, but quietly, lyrically brilliant. He also demonstrates a more masterful grasp of music and song than possibly any other Filipino director–the film is a model on how to use kundimans, ballads, pop songs to differentiate social classes, to satirize and comment on the narrative action.” – Noel Vera

“…Celso Ad Castillo’s epic masterpiece of romantic love, family relationships, class struggle and political rebellion, Vilma Santos star as Julie Monserrat, a music-loving provincial lass raised by her two prudish, wealthy spinsters aunt (Adul De Leon and Angie Ferro) Julie falls in love w/ Dido Ventura (Bembol Rocco) the poor son of embittered woman (Mona Lisa) who holds grudge against the Monserrats for wrong doing several years earlier. Other memorable characters populate this beautifully photographed drama, among them Maestro Roque (Jhoonee Gamboa) a composer-violinist and huk Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures), Dido’s freedom-fighting uncle. rich in texture and full color, charm love and joy, tenderness, violence and despair and hope. The movie won critics awards and stars Yolanda Luna, Marvin Samson, Mario Escudero, Olivia O’ Hara and Robert Talabis. Cinematograhy by Romy Vitug. Produced by VS film…” – IMDB

“…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo, known as L’Enfant Terrible of Philippine Cinema, was best remembered with his fully independent spirit and out of the box ideas both on narrative and style. I always remember an Ad. Castillo film watching was always crazy in different ways. From the mock-tribal language of Snake Sisters (1984), the living house in Mga Lihim ng Kalapati (1987), to his melodramas charged with socio-political statements (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979), Burlesk Queen, (1977)). His ideas has always been crazy and there are some of those “first” experiences that was only given by his films: the first to see Fernando Poe Jr. die on a film (Asedillo), the first surrealist Filipino film I saw (Mga Lihim ng Kalapati(1987)), and also the first to see historical parallelism realized on both narrative and it’s image (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979)) which he probably used on remaking his own films (Nympha (1971, 2003), Ang Lihim ni Madonna (1979)). Being a lover and creator of Genre, he thinks that aiming for box office success was never a hindrance to make a good film. This he has proven on his body of work. I remember Burlesk Queen as one the film with the best performances ever, both from Vilma Santos and Joonie Gamboa. Especially Joonie Gamboa. Santos starred as Chato, once was an assistant of a dancer on a burlesque bar dreams also of being in the limelight even though her father won’t approve. Chato went from this dilemma to failed relationships until finally realizing her dream. Contains a lot of powerful scenes that would drove my emotions into a mixed state. Burlesk Queen is the proof of Celso’s vision: a success on the artistry and mass reception. Other Celso Ad. Castillo Films to prioritize: Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan, Payaso, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, Asedillo…” – Epoy Deyto, Kawts Kamote, September 12, 2013 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Pinay, American Style (1979)

“I’m PX, short for Paula Xavier, I’m a Filipina…kyontiii…I can understand Tagalog but I’m having a hard time speaking it…actually, I’m not hungry…but on the second thought, why not?” – PX

“one-fourth Japanese, one-fourth Chinese, one-fourth Indonisian, one-fourth Filipino but I was born in Hongkong…you see my mom was a tourist in Hongkong when she met my Japanese father, my Chinese father, my Indonisian father and my Filipino father!” – PX

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Basic Information: Directed: Elwood Perez; Story, screenplay: Toto Belano; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Bembol Roco, Cocoy Laurel, Rosa Mia, Alexandra Dulaney, Nova Villa, Bella Flores, Angge, Filipino Lou, Gloria Gaynor; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Demetrio Velasquez; Cinematography: Felipe Sacdalan, Johnny Araojo; Editing: Rogelio Salvador; Sound: Luis Reyes, Ramon Reyes; Theme Songs: “Pinay” performed by Florante

Plot Description: PX, short for Paula Xavier (Vilma Santos) was an illegal alien in New York City. She’s broke and waiting for fiancé, Cocoy laurel to fulfill his promise of marriage despite the fact that Cocoy has already married an American to secure a green card. Hiding from the authorities, PX met two men who are willing to take care of her but conflicts arise as the two wanted to maintain a serious relationship with her. Played wonderfully by Christopher Deleon and Bembol Roco, the film resolved the love quadrangle between ex-fiancé, Cocoy Laurel and the two brothers when the jealous Cocoy reported Vilma to the immigration authorities. PX was deported back to the Philippines. But the films didn’t end in a sour note, PX found herself reunited with Christopher Deleon when the later followed her in the Philippines. – RV

Film Achievement: One of eight box office hit films Vilma Santos did in 1979

Film Reviews: Shot in New York City and directed by Elwood Perez, this film seems to be a precursor to Miss X (1980) ’Merika (1984) starring Nora Aunor and Milan (2004), even Anak (2000) and Dubai (2005). Talaga bang masarap ang buhay sa ibang bansa? Bakit nagpapakamatay sa green card ang mga Pinoy? PX, mahal na mahal kita, PX, I love you walang iba. Paula Xavier or PX (Vilma Santos) is a TNT like boyfriend Victor Laurel (what an effective undersated performance) who leaves her as his live-in to be engaged to an American to get a green card who promises Vilma to divorce the White girl and to marry PX so they could live happily forever after. Not. Vilma is pissed that Laurel dropped her for good and he left her with unpaid rent and a broken heart. Enter Boyet De Leon, as Vilma’s next boyfriend who has two jobs who has been around long enough to know what he wants in life – women and the American Dream. Enter Bembol Roco, in a great performance as Boyet’s Kuya who is a bagito green card holder in America. He was in the opening scene of the movie where he owns his business and lives comfortably even have someone to make him coffee. Rosa Mia are Roco and De Leon’s battered mother who suffers from the physically abusive second husband (a geriatric Irishman), and verbalized regrets for leaving the Philippines. She has the best lines in the movie and summarized the movie’s theme: “Kung uuwi ako sa Pilipinas ay kung patay na ako. Ayokong umuwi ng buhay at malaman nila na ang hirap ng buhay dito – kayod ka talaga to survive, at di pinupulot ang dolyar, ubas at mansanas sa daan. Ang dami kong dinaanang hirap para lang magka green card.”

Vilma Santos as PX is most effective in her scenes as a dumped/bitter girlfriend of Laurel, as a conflicted girlfriend of De Leon, and as a grateful soul who thank Roco for saving her from paying her overdue rent to her white landlord. Her PX is a toned down Sandra of Ikaw Ay Akin. She says to Roco: “Dati, sa konting pagkain, I offer myself to be laid. Napakabait mo.” Roco answers back: “Hindi ganoon kababa ang tingin ko sa sarili ko.” You see, Roco falls for the beautiful PX too and was upset to learn that PX is already making it with his brother, which drove him to drink and was depressed for a while. Panoorin na lang ninyo ang movie. The movie’s hopeful view of America begins with Perry Como singing White Christmas as Roco, in a dream scene, cavorts in the snow in slow motion. In his dying scene in the arms of his brother De Leon, Roco whispers “ni hindi ko man lang nakita ang snow”, and the above Winter Wonderland scene was replayed, while Boyet’s cry for help fell on deaf American ears. Vilma was deported after Laurel clandestinely reported her to the INS which arrested her at her birthday party. Her farewell scene with De Leon, handcuffed and all in a train station was one of the best scenes in the movie. The movie has a happy ending, with De Leon finding Santos, a flower picker amidst a field of white daisies with Benguet/Baguio as a backdrop. In a typical Elwood Perez slow mo fashion, amidst the daisy flower plantation, the box office love team of all time hugged and lived happily ever after. As credits rolled, Florante’s song Pinay played on. Pinay, American Style. Ang ganda! Vilma Santos yata iyan! – Mario O. Garces, V Magazine Issue No. 6 2006 (READ MORE)

Vilma was obviously under utilized as PX in these Elwood Perez experiment. Despite this predicament, Vilma was able to give us a splash of her abilities. While Nora was in full bloom as Mila in these quiet Portes film. She gave us a convincing portrayal of lonely woman who realized that she was being used by a man she truly loves. The contrast of style was the main point why I matched these two roles. As PX, Vilma was talkative, hiding her insecurity and vulnerability with her fragile disguise pretending to be a rich New Yorker with almost caricature gestures.

Regal films’ Pinay American Style was as commercial as one can imagine. Regal films producer, Lily Monteverde hired three leading men to support the most bankable actress of 1979, Christopher DeLeon, Bembol Rocco and Victor Cocoy Laurel. It was a period in Vilma’s career where she is doing one commercial films after the other. Two dance/musical hits Swing it Baby and Rock Baby Rock and a string of sexy films like Rubia Servious the previous year, Coed and Magkaribal mostly targeting the mature adult audience established her status as the number one box office superstar of 1978-79. Vilma in 1979 was a picture of self-assured bankable star. She did two movies with Elwood Perez, Magkaribal and Pinay American Style both were box office hits. She also produced an Eddie Rodrigues starrer Halik sa Paa Halik sa Kamay, and teamed-up with comedy king, Dolphy in Buhay Artista. As the year 1979 ends, she battled the drama queen Charito Solis in the local festival entry, Modelong Tanso. The end of the decade marked her stronghold as the box office queen. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ versatility as an actress was the secret weapon of her box office success. And this weapon was in full display in Pinay American Style.

Pinay American Style was the story of PX, an illegal alien or TNT – “tago ng tago.” Her boyfriend played by Victor Laurel abandoned her for a rich American girl mainly to secure a green card. PX met an Americanized Filipino, Christopher DeLeon but found him not serious of having her as a steady girlfriend. It just so happened that PX also met Christopher’s brother, Bembol Rocco, a new immigrant. PX and Bembol fell for each other. And a love triangle surfaced the screen. Adding to the drama was Victor Laurel’s enraged, jealous appearances. Laurel eventually tipped the police ending PX stays in New York. As Bembol Rocco realized that America doesn’t fit his lifestyle, he reconciled with his brother and advised him to follow PX in the Philippines. Christopher and Vilma reconciled in a farm field in the Philippines. The end.

The film was so forgettable that the critics didn’t even bother to write any reviews. The lack of enthusiasm on the part of the critics was compensated with the box office success of the film. Vilma fits the role as the illegal alien, PX. Her attempt to speak fluent English and pretend that she’s rich when she met the boyish looking Christopher was funny and poignant. She was given enough scenes to shine. One was when she was harassed by her landlady, she promised her the rent money the next day and when she’s gone, she opened her refrigerator and found a staled piece of bread. She took bottled water and ate the staled bread, went to the bedroom and found her mom’s letter. Lying down in bed, she started to break down. A quiet scene without dialogue. A contrast from the earlier scenes where she was talkative as she tried to impress Christopher and telling him she’s rich and from a well-known family. It was obvious in 1979, Elwood Perez wasn’t the kind of director you will expect to produce a serious output. He wasn’t a Bernal or Brocka. He’s a commercial director. It was a better effort though, compared to a much more convoluted Magkaribal or their past successful projects like Nakawin natin ang bawat sandali and masakit masarap ang umibig. In Pinay, Toto Belano’s script wasn’t efficient in ironing out the “love quadrangle” plot twists and establishing the characters of four actors. So the blame can’t be put to solely to Perez’ shoulder. There was a scene were Vilma Santos and Christopher were watching a concert which was obviously not part of the script. – RV

“…Pinay, American Style carries such attributes. Shot entirely in America, it depicts the plight of some Filipinos living there – Filipinos who are obsessed with amassing fortunres and landing high-paying jobs and enjoying the dolce vita in the muchballyhooed “land of the brave and home of the free” and the “land of the mighty dollar.” Compared to foreign movies with explicit sex scenes, Pinay… would not even deserve the “For Adults Only” tag or an “X-rated” classification, according to Elwood. Basically, the movie is a relfection of the typical plight of Filipinos living abroad. It is a plight that runs counter to the optimism and false hopes entertained by potential Filipino immigrants. Arriving in the U.S. as tourists, some Filipinos would choose to stay behind in their search for “greener pastures.” Having done so, they have to play hide-and-seek with immigration authorities, accept odd jobs to survive in the asphalt jungle, get married to ward off deportation, and similar evasive maneuvers. These same incidents are what the cast – Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon, Bembol Roco and Victor “Cocoy” Laurel – portray in Pinay. Pinay is Elwood’s second movie shot abroad after Lollipops…” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, July 12, 1979 (READ MORE)