Burlesk Queen, Reyna ng Pelikulang Pilipino

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen surpasses past attempts to integrate cinematic qualities in a film and Castillo’s own previous experiments, which critics found bombastic and purely commercial. Like no other film by Castillo or other directors, Burlesk Queen, with its synchronized techniques and the significance of its message successfully gives substance to the trendy subject of sex-for-sale. The movie tells of a teen-age burlesque dancer in the ’50s, who suffers deprivation, personal crises, alienation, and in the end, an abortion as she dances her grand finale for survival. With such a simple plot, the movie laudably brings together the talents of director Castillo, screenwriter Mauro Gia Samonte, musical director George Canseco, actors Vilma Santos, Rollie Quizon and Roldan Aquino, cinematographer Ben Lobo, and editor Abelardo Hulleza. Castillo’s creativity is seen in the use of radio darma and music, meaningful gestures, and visual metaphors or allusions to give added psychological and emotional dimensions to dramatic situations. Lucid exposition and delineation of the conflict are carried out through particular techniques like ensemble acting to reveal the individual characters’ needs, emphasis on visual details rather than talky dialogues to drive home a point, and active camera movements (cuts) to suggest the passage of time in the burlesque dancer’s career. The tragic ending is prepared for by a logical presentation of what happens eventually to all the characters. Artistic form and meaningful content merge to convey the film’s statement on society’s view of low-class entertainment. Moralist censure burlesque dancing, but as the stage impressario in Burlesk Queen asks, what form of entertainment then should be given to ordinary people who cannot afford to watch shows which are exclusively for the rich who dictate the community’s morals? The irony lies in the fact that while audiences are entertained, the performers’ lives are none of their concern. For these cheap entertainers who dare to live outside society’s moreal laws, there is only condemnation. – Jun Cruz Reyes, The URIAN Anthology 1970-79, reported by Simon Santos, Video48 Blogspot, 27 August 2018

Maraming reklamo ang tagasubaybay ng pelikulang Pilipino. ‘Yun nga namang mga paksa noong “nineteen forgotten” at panahon ng kopong-kopong tulad ng pag-iibigan ni mahirap at ni mayaman ay siya pa ring kinagigiliwang tema hanggang ngayon. Sabi nga, ang mga ganitong pelikula ay maikukumpara sa mga dulang panradyo. Puwedeng ipikit ang mga mata sa loob ng sinehan at pakinggan na lamang ang usapang kinargahan ng waring walang katapusang “ngunit papa” at hagulhulan. Kung nakakaasar ang pelikulang mala-radyo ay ganoon din ang pelikulang mistulang pang-TV naman. Ito ang klase ng pelikula na ang mga tauhan ay pirming nasa sala at nagwawalis habang nag-uusap dahil wala nang ibang set na mapuntahan. Sa ganitong pelikula ay waring tinatamad ring kumilos ang isa o dalawang kamera. Sa dalawang salita, ito ang klase ng pelikula na tinipid at pinag-ubra. At siyempre ang resulta ay basta-basta. Mayroon ding pelikula na para namang komersiyal na dadaanin ka sa ganda ng sinematograpiya na sa biglang akala’y parang maganda, pero tulad ng paninda’y walan naman palang lasa. Sa madaling salita nawawala ang tinatawag na pelikulang de-kalidad at ang sangkap nitong “refreshing touch.” Sa pag-eeksperimento ng mga direktor, may ilang nakahulagpos sa pelikulang mala-radyo at mala-pang-TV. Gayumpaman, marami sa nag-eksperimento ang hindi makakapa ng tamang pormula, ang pagtutulungan ng maraming tauhan sa paggawa ng pelikula, tulad ng kombinasyon ng magandang istorya, mahusay na direktor, makinis na sinematograpiya, matinong editing, mahusay na set, angkop na tugtugin at mahusay na pag-arte. Kapag napag-isa ang mga sangkap na ito, nakakapanood na nga tayo ng isang mahusay o namumukod-tanging pelikula.

Si Celso Ad. Castillo ay marami nang naunang ekspiremento. Pero pumaltos sa pamantayan ng mga manunuri. Maraming nagsuspetsa na may ibubuga siya, pero hindi lang talaga maibuga nang nasa tiyempo. Malimit ang kanyang pelikula ay maingay at maraming sobra. Halimbawa, maraming karahasan na wala namang katuturan ang kanyang Madugong Daigdig ni Salvacion, seksing walang kadahilanan (pinagandang garapal) ang kanyang Pinakamagandang Hayop Sa Balat Ng Lupa, numero unong manggagaya ang kanyang Maligno, at sabog-sabog ang kanyang pinakamagandang nagawa, ang Daluyong at Habagat. Kung may magkamali mang pumuri kay Celso, iyon nama’y halos pakunsuelo-de-bobo lamang, at hindi ito sapat para itaas ang kanyang pedestal sa ranggo nina Bernal, Brocka at Romero. Wari ngang napako sa komorsiyalismo ang direktor na inaabangang maglalabas ng natatagong talino. Lalong nagduda sa kanyang kakayahan ang mga kritiko nang kumalat ang balita na gagawa siya ng serye sa TV na ala-Cleopatra Jones na papamagatan naman niyang O’Hara. Pero ang direktor na ipinapalagay na laos ay biglang pumalag nang walang kaabog-abog. Bigla’y nabalitang may inihanda raw itong pang-festival na ikinataas na naman ng kilay ng kanyang mga kritiko. “Aber tingnan,” ang pasalubong sa balita. At sa preview ng kanyang Burlesk Queen, biglang napa-mea culpa ang ayaw maniwalang may ibubuga nga si Celso. Tiyak na naiiba ang Burlesk Queen, kahit ikumpara sa mga naunang trabaho ni Celso at sa iba pang direktor na nagtangkang tumalakay sa paksang ito. Matagal-tagal na rin namang nauso ang kaputahan sa pelikula, pero walang nakapgbigay ng katarungan sa lahi ni Eva bialng Pilipina at bilang puta. Sa Burlesk Queen, para kay Celso ay hindi nangangahulugan ng pagpapakita lamang ng utong, puwit, o singit, kung hindi isang kapani-paniwalang dahilan na nangyari sa isang makatotohanang kapaligiran.

Sa kanya, ang tao ay hindi bast maghuhubad at magtatalik. Maraming pangyayari sa buhay ang dapat munang linawin at unawain, at iyon ang basehan ng kasaysayan. Simple lamang ang plot. Isang tinedyer si Vilma Santos na alalay ng isang orihinal na burlesk queen, si Rosemarie Gil. May tatay na lumpo si Vilma, si Leopoldo Salcedo. Si Rosemarie naman ay may kabit na hustler, si Roldan Aquino. Nang iwanan ni Roldan si Rose, nagwala ang huli. Naging lasengga siya at tumangging magsayaw sa tanghalan. Mabibitin ang palatuntunan, kaya’t si Vilma na talaga namang may ambisyong magsayaw ang pumalit. Hit naman sa manonood si Vilma. Sa bahay, pilit kinukumbinsi ni Vilma si Pol na payagan na siyang maging full-time danser. Ayaw ni Pol, mas mahalaga sa kanya ang prinsipyo at delikadesa. Sapagkat wala namang ibang pagkakakitaan, si Vilma rin ang nasunod sa bandang huli. Nag-suicide si Pol nang hindi na niya masikmura ang pasiya ng anak. Si Rollie Quizon naman ang binatilyong masama ang tama kay Vilma. Nagtanan sila at nagsama. Pero hindi sanay sa hirap si Rollie. Sa pagpili sa pag-ibig o ginhawa sa buhay, ang huli ang pinahalagahan niya. Nagkaton namang buntis na si Vilma. Sa pag-iisa sa buhay, nagbalik siya sa pagsasayaw. Nagsayaw siya nang nagsayaw hanggang duguin siya sa tanghalan at malaglag ang kanyang dinadala. Bagama’t simple ang plot ay hindi naman masasabing simple ang pamamaraang ginawa rito ni Celso. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay nangyari sa isang pelikula ang pagsasama-sama ng magandang istorya, mahusay na direksiyon, magaling na pag-arte ng mga tauhan, masinop na musika, magaling na editing at angkop na sinematograpiya.

Sa Burlesk Queen ay nagsama-sama ang talino ni Celso (direktor), Mauro Gia Samonte (story and screenplay), George Canseco (musical director), Ben Lobo (cinematographer), at Abelardo Hulleza (editor). Kung may ipipintas sa pelikula, iyon ay ang hindi malinaw na pagbuhay sa panahon na nangyari ang kuwento. Kung minsa’y maiisip na nangyari ito sa panahon ng kasikatan ni Elvis noong 1950s. Pero kapag pinansin na maraming ekstrang may mahabang buhok, may wall paper at sintetikong sako ang bahay nina Vilma ay maari namang sabihing baka naman pa-Elvis craze lamang ang mga tao roon. Pero may pulitiko, at Yabut, at may dagdag pang Connie Francis bukod sa motorsiklong Lambretta at mga kotseng Buick. Kunsabagay, maliliit na detalye lamang ito na agad makakalimutan kapag ang inasikaso ay pagbubuklat sa magagandang punto ng istorya. Tingnan natin ang ilang magagandang eksena sa pelikula. Sa ikalawang eksena ay nagtatanong si Vilma kay Rosemarie kung puwede rin siyang maging danser. Walang malinaw sa sagot ni Rose, pero ang timing ng background music na “It’s Now or Never” ay makahulugan. It’s Now or Never nga, payo ni Elvis. At kung kailan siya maaaring mag-umpisa. Tomorrow, sabi ng kanta. Ang ganitong sagot ay nasa mukha ni Rose, pero hindi na kailangang sabihin.

Ang ganitong pamamaraan ay tinatawag na creativity ng direktor, na nagdagdag ng ibang pamamaraan sa paghahayag ng damdamin ng tauhan. Sa paglakad ng istorya, dapag ding pansinin kung paano ang karakterisasyon ay binubuhay dito. Halimbawa, sa isang eksena na nangyari sa isang patahian ay nag-abot sina Dexter Doria, ang bagong kabit ni Roldan Aquino, at si Rose. Naroroon din si Vilma at sa hindi kalayuan ay si Rollie. Maliwanag na may kaniya-kaniyang pangangailangan ang mga tauhan at magkakasama sila sa iisang eksena. Walang nakawan ng eksena na naganap dito. Nag-insultuhan sina Dexter at Rose, natameme si Roldan at waring walang pakialam sina Rollie at Vilma na panay-na-panay ang kindatan. Lalo namang walang pakialam ang dalawang pulubi na tumutugtog ng biyolin (na siya ring background music) sa mga nagyayari. Limos ang mahalaga sa kanila. Sa eksenang ito’y may gamit ang lahat ng tauhan, wala sa kanilang nagsilbing dekorasyon, walang nag-o.a. at pare-pareho nilang ginawang makatotohanan ang komprontasyon. Magandang halimbawa ito ng orchestrated acting. Kung allusions naman ang pag-uusapang, marami ritong mga sariwang metapora na mababanggit. Isa rito ang mahusay na pagpapakita ng birhen pa si Vilma sa sex act nila ni Rollie. Habang sa likod ng tanghalan ay may nagaganap sa magkasintahan, sa tanghalan ay nang-aaliw naman ang mga akrobat na sinundan na isang madyikero na tumutusok ng sariling noo, nagbabaon ng pako sa ilong at lumululon ng espada. Masakit tingnan iyon. At ganoon din ang nararanasan ni Vilma sa likod ng tanghalan sa piling ni Rollie. Hindi rin madaldal ang pelikula. Kung itatanong kung paano tinanggap ni Pol ang pasiya ng anak, nagtulos na lamang siya ng isang makahulugang kandila sa altar na para na ring sinabing “bahala na ang Diyos sa iyo.”

Kung paano naman ipinakitang naging mananayaw na nga si Vilma, sapat nang ipakita ang isang trak na nagbababa ng isang wheel chair na ipapalit sa lumang tumba-tumba ng ama. Maging ang paglakad ng panahon ay nararamdaman din ng manonood kahit hindi ikuwento o ipakita ang kinagawiang pamamaraan at ulat ng “nalalaglag na dahon ng kalendaryo o dahon ng puno kaya.” Sunod-sunod na cuts na nagpapakita sa uri ng palabas sa tanghalang kinabibilangan ni Vilma ang ginawa ni Celso. Saka ito sinundan ng kuha naman sa bahay nina Vilma at Rollie. Nag-iinit ng tubig si Vilma habang nakikinig ng dula sa radyo tungkol sa buhay ng isang asawang tamad at ireponsable. Ganoon nga ang nangyayari sa buhay ng dalawa, at may kasunod ring “abangan sa susunod kabanata.” Sa paghihiwalay ng dalawa, sapat na ring iparinig ang awiting “You’re All I Want for Christmas” para buhayin ang irony na nagaganap sa relasyon ng dalawa. Kung makinis ang eksposisyon at pagbuhay sa tunggalian ng istorya, malinaw rin ang paghahanda sa wakas ng pelikula. Si Rose na laos na ay naging mumurahing puta. Si Dexter kahit hindi ipakita ay maliwanag na sumama na sa ibang lalaki. Si Roldan ay may bago nang kabit at napatay sa spiral staicase ng tanghalan na siya rin niyang dinadaanan sa paghahatid sa dalawang naunang kabit. Si Rollie, ang mama’s boy, ay natural bawiin ng ina. Si Vilma ay nagsayaw nang nagsayaw. Sa simula’y mahinhin at nakangiti at kaakit-akit hanggang sa pagbilis ng pulso ng tambol at pompiyang balakang, upang sa pagbuhay sa damdamin ng manonood ay siya namang maging dahilan ng pagkalaglag ng sanggol na kanyang dinadala. Sa labas, matapos ang pagtatanghal, may tatlong bagabundong naiwan na nakatanghod sa larawang pang come on ng burlesk queen, habang ang kadilima’y bumabalot sa kapaligiran. Kung matino ang kaanyuan ng pelikula, ay ganoon din ang masasabi sa nilalaman. Makatotohanan at masinop ang pagtalakay sa buhay ng isang abang mananayaw. Tinatalakay rin dito kung paano siya tinatanggap ng lipunan at inuusig ng mga tagapangalaga raw ng moralidad. Maging ang empresaryo ng tanghalan na ginampanan ni Joonee Gamboa ay may konsiyensiya rin at nagtatanong sa atin kung anong panoorin ang dapat ibigay sa isang ordinaryong Pilipino na hindi kayang pumunta sa mga mamahaling kainan upang manood halimbawa ng Merry Widow at Boys in the Band. Ang stage show ang munting kasiyahan ng isang Pilipinong hindi “kaya ang bayad sa mga eksklusibong palabas ng mayayaman.” Samantala’y abala tayo sa paglilibang at sa kanila’y walang pakialam ngunit may handang pintas at pula sa mangahas lumabas sa batas ng moralidad sa lipunan. – Jun Cruz Reyes, The URIAN Anthology 1970-79, reported by Simon Santos, Video48 Blogspot, 27 August 2018 (READ MORE)

1977 MMFF

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The 3rd Metro Manila Film Festival was held in the year 1977. Previously known as Metropolitan Film Festival, it was changed to Metro Manila Film Festival. Burlesk Queen grabbed most of the awards. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Controversial Awards Night – “…In 1977, it was apparent that the actress in Vilma Santos fully emerged when she won the MMFF Best Actress award for the controversial Celso Ad Castillo period drama Burlesk Queen. Unfortunately, her winning was marred by nasty talks (na kesyo binawi ang mga napanalunan ng pelikula, including Vi’s trophy or medallion.) It seems nakaapekto ‘yun sa awarding na pambuong taon: at the FAMAS, Vilma lost to Susan Roces (for Maligno, also by Castillo); and, at the Gawad Urian, to Daria Ramirez (for Eddie Romero’s Sino ’ng Kapiling, Sino’ng Kasiping?). As for Nora Aunor, matapos ang grand entrance niya sa big league bilang major award-winning actress (with a double victory, unmatched at the time), isang actionromance- drama ang kanyang nagging panlaban: Augusto Buenaventura’s Bakya Mo Neneng, which paired her off with Tirso Cruz III and Joseph Estrada. The film won as Best Picture sa FAMAS. Nora’s and Vilma’s starrers were big moneymakers at the 1977 MMFF…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“…Look ninyo kung paanong nag-away at nag-gantihan ang dalawang maka-Nora at maka-Vilma! In 1977, pinakyaw ng Burlesk Queen ni Vilma Santos ang halos lahat ng awards. May tumutol, nag-ingay at nag-away-away (Hello, Lolit! Ang Scam!) kaya nag-utos si Madam Imelda na bawiin ang mga award! Wala namang kumuha uli nu’ng mga tropeo. Parang Vangie Pascual na tumangging bumalik sa Miss World contest to claim her crown bilang pamalit sa nanalong “Miss World” na may anak na pala! Snob?…And so, pinakyaw nga ng Burlesk Queen (1977) ang mga award. Gumanti ng sumunod na taon ang Noranians! Para lang matalbugan at mas mataasan ang napakyaw na awards ni Vilma Santos at ng Burlesk Queen, only a single acting award was given the following year; Best Performer award for Nora Aunor in Atsay! Walang Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress. Wala. Sabi nang isang award lang ang ibinigay na para bang encompassing ang performance ni Ate Guy more than Ate Vi. Galing?!…” – Alfie Lorenzo, Abante Tonite (READ MORE)

“…Naalaala namin ang “gulo” rin noong 1977 na open ang awayan ni Lino Brocka na director ng Inay at ni Rolando Tinio na isang juror. Muntik pa silang magsuntukan after the awards. Ang dahilan: Nanalo ang Burlesk Queen ni Celso Ad Castillo ng lahat ng awards except three (art direction at cinematography na punta sa Mga Bilanggong Birhen nina Tita Midz at best technical film ni Mike de Leon, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising). May favoritism daw. Hate daw ng ilang jurors si Brocka. Dahil sa ingay ng print media, winidraw ng MMDA (si Mrs. Imelda Marcos ang big boss) ang mga tropeo. Ewan kung naisauli nina Celso, Vilma Santos, Rollie Quizon, Joonee Gamboa, Rosemarie Gil at producer Romy Ching ang mga tropeo nila na ‘binale-wala’ ng MMFF 1977 committee. Mabilis ang desisyon. Walang umangal…” – Billy Balbastro, Abante Tonite (READ MORE)

“…On its third year in 1977, the awards – won mostly by Burlesque Queen, were recalled by the organizer, then called the Metro Manila Commission, over some minor furor. I wouldn’t want to elaborate on this scandal anymore because most of the personages involved in the issue have long passed on to the other world. It’s not even clear to this day, in fact, if that recall was official because no trophies were returned and the festival’s annual souvenir program (at least the last time I saw one) still carries Burlesque Queen in its honor roll…” – The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

Award Winners:

Time Magazine – “…The Philippines: Let Them See Films. When politics became pretty much a one-man show in the Philippines, the people lost a prime source of entetainment. Part of the gap has been filled by a burhome-grown film industry, which displayed nine of its new productions at the Manila Film Festival last month. Some 2 million moviegoers saw the films. Some of the movies were historical dramas pointing up the search for a Filipino identity during the long years of Spanish rule. But the most acclaimed were contemporary stories with a heavy populist touch. The festival’s smash hit was Burlesk Queen, starring Filipino Superstar Vilma Santos. It tells the syrupy tale of a poor girl who turns to burlesque dancing to support a crippled father. She falls in love with the son of a politician, elopes with him, and then tragically loses him back to his possessive mother. The treacle is supplemented with some gritty argument about the rights and wrongs of burlesque, with a lefthanded dig at censors. Huffs the burlesque impresario at one point: “Who are they to dictate what the people should see?…” – Time Magazine, Feb. 13, 1978 Vol. 111 No. 7 (READ MORE)

Vi on Burlesk Queen – “…Yes, I will never forget that seven-minute dance in the movie. I postponed the shoot of the scene five times. I was so afraid. I performed the dance in front of a real burlesk show audience. I remember the controversy about the Metro Manila Film Festival Awards and the squabble between Rolando Tinio and Lino Brocka. They wanted us to return the trophies. I didn’t return mine. I deserved it. I worked hard for that trophy…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

Foreign Festival – “…One of the first Filipino filmmakers to invade foreign film festivals abroad with such output as Burlesk Queen and Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Berlin Film Festival and World Film Festival in Montreal) and Nympha (Venice Film Festival), among others, Celso The Kid returned to his hometown Siniloan, Laguna where he led a quiet life while working on his autobiography…His 1977 film, Burlesk Queen, won 10 out of the 11 awards of the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival but the results were contested by Lino Brocka and defended by juror Rolando Tinio (now National Artists for Film and Theater), respectively. He reflected: “I wanted to vindicate myself as a filmmaker in this movie. The media referred to me as a reluctant artist and a filmmaker who has yet to arrive. Not only did the film run away with awards. It was also the top grosser. It broke the myth that quality films don’s make money in the box-office and commercial films don’t win awards…” – Pablo A. Tariman, The Philippine Star, 28 November 2012 (READ MORE)

Film Entries:

    • Bakya Mo Neneng – Direction: Augusto Buenaventura; Story & Screenplay: Augusto Buenaventura, Diego Cagahastian; Cast: Joseph Estrada, Nora Aunor, Tirso Cruz III, Gloria Sevilla, Angelo Castro Jr., Ramon D’Salva, Angelo Ventura, Romy Medalla, Ernie Zarate, Olivia Sanchez, Ernie Ortega, Boyet Arce, Francisco Cruz, Paquito Salcedo; Original Music: Ernani Cuenco; Cinematography: Fred Conde; Film Editing: Edgardo Vinarao; Production Design: Vicente Bonus; Sound: Gregorio Ella; Production Co: JE Productions
    • Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising – Direction: Mike De Leon; Story & Screenplay: Mike De Leon, Rey Santayana; Cast: Christopher De Leon, Hilda Koronel, Laurice Guillen, Moody Diaz, Danny Javier, Boboy Garovillo, Bibeth Orteza, Briccio Santos, Oya de Leon, Archie Corteza, Erwin Kilip, Jayjay de los Santos, Bert Miranda, Don Escudero, Sally Santiago, Marietta Sta. Juana, Belen Perez, Wilma Gacayan, Tess Dumo, Carol Gamiao, Joseph Olfindo, Wilma Cunanan, Alfie Alonso, Jojo Nacion, Dorai Montemayor, Annie Lazaro, Rikki Jimenez, Guiller Magalindal, Francis Escaler, Aida Rabara, Carmen Gayman; Executive Producer: Manuel De Leon, Narcisa de Leon; Original Music: Jun Latonio; Cinematography: Mike De Leon, Francis Escaler; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Mel Chionglo; Music: Nonong Buencamino; Production Co: LVN Pictures
    • Inay – Direction: Lino Brocka; Story & Screenplay: Jose Dalisay Jr.; Cast: Alicia Vergel, Dindo Fernando, Chanda Romero, Orestes Ojeda, Laurice Guillen, Ace Vergel, Dexter Doria, Fred Montilla; Original Music: Ernani Cuenco; Cinematography: Joe Batac; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Fiel Zabat; Production Co: Lotus Films
    • Banta ng Kahapon – Direction: Eddie Romero; Story & Screenplay: Eddie Romero; Cast: Vic Vargas, Bembol Roco, Roland Dantes, Chanda Romero, Lito Legaspi, Roderick Paulate, Ruben Rustia, Karim Kiram, Romeo Rivera, Henry Salcedo, Olivia O’Hara, Celita DeCastro; Executive Producer: Antonio Co, Dennis Juban, Jun C. Tavera, Beth Verzosa; Original Music: Vic Santiago, Berg Villapando, Marilyn Villapando; Cinematography: Justo Paulino; Film Editing: Ben Barcelon; Production Design: Gay Dolorfino; Sound: Angel Avellana; Production Co: Hemisphere Pictures
    • Babae… Ngayon at Kailanman – Direction: Joey Gosiengfiao; Story & Screenplay: Amado Daguio, Alberto Florentino, Nick Joaquin, Jose F. Lacaba, Wilfrido Nolledo; Cast: Charito Solis, Gloria Diaz, Chanda Romero, Vivian Velez, Dindo Fernando, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel; Original Music: Lutgardo Labad; Cinematography: Jose Austria; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Betty Gosiengfiao; Production Co: Melros Productions
    • Walang Katapusang Tag-araw – Direction: Ishmael Bernal; Story & Screenplay: Ishmael Bernal, Oscar Miranda; Cast: Charito Solis, Eddie Garcia, Mat Ranillo III, Liza Lorena, Ruel Vernal, Ingrid Salas, Veronica Palileo, Rustica Carpio, Catherine Santos, Ernie Zarate; Original Music: Willy Cruz; Cinematography: Jun Rasca; Film Editing: Nonoy Santillan; Production Design: Mel Chionglo; Production Co: Lea Productions
    • Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa – Direction: Gil Portes; Story and Screenplay: Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr.; Cast: Mat Ranillo III, Bembol Roco, Chanda Romero, Julie Ann Fortich, Paul Lacanilao, Mely Tagasa, Bongchi Miraflor, Mart Martel, Cris Vertido, Peng Olaguera, Ral Arando, Fred Param, Telly Babasa, Tommy Yap; Original Music: Ramon Santos; Cinematography: Arnold Alvaro; Film Editing: Ben Barcelon; Production Design: Dez Bautista; Production Co: Silangan Films International
    • Mga Bilanggong Birhen (Captive Virgins) – Direction: Mario O’Hara, Romy Suzara; Story and Screenplay: Mario O’Hara; Cast: Alma Moreno; Trixia Gomez; Rez Cortez; Armida Siguion-Reyna; Mario Montenegro; Barbara Luna; Ruffy Mendoza; Leroy Salvador; Monang Carvajal; Rodel Naval; Panggoy Francisco; Ronnie Lazaro; Producer: Armida Siguion-Reyna; Original Music: Ryan Cayabyab; Cinematography: Romeo Vitug; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Laida Lim-Perez; Production Co: Pera Films
    • Burlesk Queen – Direction: Celso Ad Castillo; Story: Mauro Gia Samonte, Celso Ad Castillo; Screenplay: Mauro Gia Samonte; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rolly Quizon, Rosemarie Gil, Leopoldo Salcedo, Roldan Aquino, Chito Ponce Enrile, Dexter Doria, Yolanda Luna, Joonee Gamboa; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Film Editing: Abelardo Hulleza, Joe Mendoza; Production Design: Jose Tamayo Cruz; Sound: Gregorio Ella; Production Co: Ian Films

The Metro Manila Film Festival-Philippines (MMFF-P) is the annual film festival held in Manila. The festival, which runs from the 25th of December to the first week of January, focuses on locally-produced films. The MMFF was established in the year 1975, during which Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa (Water the Thirsty Earth with Dew) by Augusto Buenaventura won the best film award. During the course of the festival, no foreign movies are shown across the Philippines (except for 3D theaters and IMAX theaters). Moreover, only films approved by the jurors of the MMFF will be shown. One of the festival highlights is the parade of floats during the opening of the festival. The floats, each one representing a movie entry for the festival, parade down Roxas Boulevard, while the stars for films ride on them. On the awards night, the Best Float award is also announced, together with the major acting awards. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

ARTICLES - MMFF 1977 7Related Reading:

Remembering Celso Ad Castillo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Castillo gave Vilma Santos her first mature role in Burlesk Queen resulting with her first local film festival best actress award. He also directed Pagputi Ng Uwak Pagitim Ng Tagak where Vilma Santos starred and produced. The film received several best picture awards and was considered one of Castillo’s best works. Total Number of collaboration with Vilma Santos: 3 (Burlesk Queen 1977, Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak 1978, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw 1975)

The “Bomba” Movies – “…In the early seventies, these magazines showed a certain boldness in publishing sex-oriented stories, with accompanying explicit illustrations. The big companies reluctantly ignored these stories, and it was the independent film producers who dared bring them to the screen. The bomba movie was born, shaking the whole industry to its very foundations. New directors were tried out. And a new breed of actors and actresses, who were willing to do anything in front of the camera, threatened to put the more established crowd-drawing out of business. Sex became the staple of the film industry. It was during this time that a new film director surfaced – Celso Ad. Castillo, then in his twenties. His vehicle, Nympha, was the simple story of a girl from a very religios family who ran away and got involved with four men. This story has been done over and over again in a number of forgettable movies and is a staple of the comic magazines. In its attempt to ride the bomba bandwagon, it featured enough sex scenes to satisfy the male audiences who expected every new movie to be still more daring. But Castillo had more to offer than steamy sex. He told his story in such a way that details previously considered taboo were exploited. In one of the first scenes, Nympha, the cooped-up virgin, is shown praying with her spinster aunt, when her attention is caught by the illicit coupling between two young lovers just outside their window. The scene of the novena is intercut with the groaning and moaning couple. At the end of the novena (coinciding with the consumation of the sexual act), the image of Christ is shown staring down at her, reprimanding her for her sin. The movie ends with an abortion scene shown in all its gory details, a literal bloodbath which causes the death of the girl. In a strictly Catholic society like the Philippines, a film like Nympha was bound to create a sensation. It was, for the younger generation of Filipinos who missed the so-called Golden Age of Philippine movies in the 50s, their first auteur film. Castillo showed a flair for visual narrative, emphasis and texture never before seen on screen…” – Rosauro de la Cruz, Focus On Filipino Films, A Sampling 1951-1982 (READ MORE)

“The Messiah” – “…Castillo said he had his hair completely shaved to insure the completion of “Pagputi.” The film had been so plagued by problems – production delays, unavailability of stars, bad weather, that they were all set up to give up. He had to stay put in Laguna and finish all the remaining scenes, fearing he might not have the energy and enthusiasm to return to the location sites should he leave for Manila. An effective way of nailing him down in one place was parting with his hair. “It was also a symbolic act of himility, of shedding my vanity,” Castillo added. Which was unusual for one who proclaimed himself “The Missiah and The Uncrowned.” “But they were not meant to be taken seriously. Of course I was kidding when I called myself “The Messiah.” Castillo said. The money and the effort, not to mention frayed nerves and emotions, tears and high blood pressure, poured into “Pagputi” is paying off. The film is making money and reaping accolades from critics and moviegoers alike. The latter are almost unanimous in saying that “Pagputi” is one of the most meaningful film in years and most probably the best of 1978…In fairness to director Castillo, it must be said he could make films, good films, without waiting for over two years (as the case in “Pagputi”) and depleting the producers’ pocketbooks. He finished “Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa” in one month, “Burlesk Queen,” the top grosser in last year’s Metro Manila Filmfest, was made in two months. He admitted however that he does not follow scripts rigidly, (even if its his own scripts), but rather improves and relies on his instincts right on the set. He refuses to resort to shortcuts and daya. It may not be the most economical and ideal way of filmmaking, but judging from the results (artistic and money wise) of his movies, it had served director Castillo well…” – Ronald K. Constantino, Expressweek Magazine, 03 August 1978 (READ MORE)

The Vindication – “…As soon as his schedule will permit, he’ll go to Hong Kong and seek a job with Run Run Shaw. He believes this wil pave new roads for him, hopefully a Hollywood assignment. At the moment there’s nothing more he’d like to do than get out and run away from everybody, friends and foes alike, donning the thickest, darkest glasses, bumming around as is his won’t. The film has given him tremendous self-confidence. “I can take it easy now,” he stresses. “After doing Burlesk I won’t have to prove myself to anyone anymore. He talked about the film again, very obviously so close to his heart. “With it I wanted to show some kind of heroism,” he explained. “In the movie Vilma is pregnant and she knows very well that by dancing the striptease she runs the risk of losing not only her baby but her own life. Yet, she goes on, dying in the end. I want to tell the audience – The show is over but the show must go on. Before doing it anything, one should ask himself, ‘Is it worth it?” Vilma loses her life – is it really worth it?” What he fears most now is the sweet smell of success. “I couldn’t imagine myself moving around in a plane or speedboat. When I do this, I will have finally prostituted my art.” Still and all, he coundn’t be happier with the way Burlesk Queen has turned out. “Ngayon, malalaman na kung sinong tunay o hindi,” he gloated…” – Robert Q. Castillo, MOD Magazine, Jan 6 1978 (READ MORE)

Dalang-dala si Leopoldo – “…The last film of Vilma and Leopoldo. He played the crippled father who is against his dauther working as a burlesque dancer. Writer, Ricardo Lee interviewed director Celso Ad Castillo about the directing Salcedo and Santos: “…Tuloy-tuloy ‘yun…(the hospital scense with Vilma and Leopoldo Salcedo) nag-experiment ako noong una, kumuha ako ng second take, pero di ko na rin tinapos. Perfect na iyong una. Alam mo bang nang gawin namin ang eksenang iyon tatlo kaming umiiyak sa set? Ako, si Vilma, at si Leopoldo? Dalang-dala si Leopoldo sa pagsasalita ni Vilma, lumuha siya kahit patay siya dapat doon. Buti na lang di siya nakuha ng kamera…(Kung Nahirapan ka ba kay Vilma?) …Oo, hindi sa acting dahil mahusay talaga siya kundi sa scheduling. Alam mo kasi it takes time before I can really get into the mood of a picture, mga two weeks, tapos kapag nandiyan na, that’s the stage when I’m ready to give my life to the project. Tapos biglang walang shooting ng two weeks dahil busy siya sa ibang pelikula…” – Ricardo Lee, Manila Magazine, Dec 1- 31, 1977 (READ MORE)

“Aktres” Na Talaga – “…“I was shocked,” said Vilma who played the title role in the movie that marked the turning point in her career. “He was too young to go…Celso Kid was the first director who told me na aktres na talaga ako after we shot Burlesk Queen,” added Vilma who won Best Actress at the 1977 Metro Filmfest, but the same award, including those for Best Director and Best Film, were taken back after a controversial Awards Night. “That was the turning point of my career,” said Vilma. After Burlesk Queen, Vilma worked again with Celso in Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak which took three years to finish, causing a big rift between them. “I didn’t only star in the movie, I was also its producer,” recalled Vilma. “I remember Celso Kid as a genius, an intense director. We have forgotten our differences and we resumed our communication. I knew that he was sick. Only a few days ago, I was coordinating with him for his book. He was asking for pictures for the book’s cover. I will pray for the repose of his soul and for his family. I just hope that he was able to finish the book.” Celso also directed Vilma in Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw,” the movie that launched Vilma’s long-running team-up with Christopher de Leon (they have starred in more than two dozen movies since then)…” – Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, 27 Nov 2, 2012 (READ MORE)

The wisdom and intellect of the Filipino moviegoers – “…”…So the premise goes like this: If it’s good (the film) then why does it fail (at the box-office)? A film makes money because it is effectively communicated visually with its basic intent and purpose within the framework of desired entertainment value, simply saying that if you’re smart, they why aren’t you rich? Also I believe that it is the ultimate idiocy to regard a film as artistic or commercial during the stage of its conception. So that no one may classify a film before or during or after its principal photography. A film only becomes commercial when it has achieved the desired box-office results and only destiny and its timelessness can make a film an art. I dare again say that “classics are not product of presents times but are babies of tomorrow.” And yes, Viriginia, we have indeed in our midst a new breed of moviegoers. In fact it has outgrown our movie industry which up to now still clings to the traditional star and producership systems of the 50’s. The industry still sells the recycled films smorgasbord of Dona Sisang and Dr. Perez to a public has been educated tremendously (sic) by the technology of the 20th century communication arts. Damn those people who insists that the wisdom and intellect of the Filipino moviegoers did not progress even as man had already set foot on the moon and the revolution of modern man had already happened in Asia! For after a thorough theoretical evaluation we can not dismiss the wisdom of acceptance that what precipitated the great awakening of the Filipinos to aesthetic appreciation of modern cinema are: the invasion of television sets in our living rooms which is tantamount to day-to-day exercise of our visual appreciations, the prerogative to chose our line of vision through betamax and the great exports of Filipinos in any capacity to that their return to our homeland bring with them a more civilized attitude towards the intellect of both personal and cinematic arts of existence…” – JC Nigado, Manila Standard, 12 Feb 1987 (READ MORE)

Celso Ad Castillo – “…Born in Siniloan, Laguna 12 Sept 1943. Movie director, scriptwriter, actor. He is the son of Atty. Dominador Ad Castillo, lawyer/writer, and Marta Adolfo. He studied at Manuel L. Quezon University and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature in 1964. Castillo started as a writer for a komiks magazine. With the help of his father, he published his own magazine where he wrote all the stories from cover to cover, using different names as authors. A movie producer commissioned him to write a script on the character of ” James Bandong.” named after Britain’s superspy. The film made money and it was followed by a sequel, “Dr. Yes,” 1965, a spoof on the British film, Dr. No. He wrote and directed his first movie, “Misyong Mapanganib” (Dangerous Mission), in 1966. The most memorable of his earlier films is “Asedillo,” 1971, based on a Filipino rebel of the 1920s who was hunted down as a bandit by the American colonial government. With this film, Fernando Poe, Jr. acquired the image that was to set him off as a legendary gunslinger, a defender of the poor and oppressed. Castillo also made Ang Alamat (The Legend), 1972, with Poe as a reluctant hero who battle a whole private army all by himself to defend his townfolks. Succeeding Castillo films aspired towards thematic originality: small-town perversion in Ang Madugong Daigdig ni Salvacion (The Bloody World of Salvacion), 1975; incest in Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (Rainy Days in Summer), 1975; political and period gangsterism in Daluyong at Habagat (Tall Waves, Wild Wind), 1976. Even his sex films had a to message to tell. One finds spiritual undertones in the story of an oversexed girl in “Nympha” (Nymph), 1971; a struggle of conscience in a stripteaser who laughed on the outside but cried on the inside in “Burlesk Queen” (Burlesque Queen), 1977; tribal conflict in “Aliw-iw,” 1979; a conflict of family values in “Snake Sisters,” 1983; and the politics of domination in “Isla” (Island), 1983…Castillo won the Filpino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) awards for best director and best story for “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black), 1978, and also won the Urian awards for best director and best screenplay for the same picture. He shared the story credits with Ruben Nicdao, and the screenplay credits with Lando jacob, Ishko Lopez and Ruben Nicdao. He won the FAMAS best director trophy again in 1985 for “Paradise Inn,” a Lolita Rodriguez-Vivian Velez starrer. He also has a FAMAS best supporting actor award, for “Sampung Ahas ni Eba” (Ten Snakes of Eve), in 1984…” – Excerpts from Encyclopaedia of Philippine Arts by L. Pareja, Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

Related Reading:

Special Film: Burlesk Queen

Burlesk Queen is a 1977 drama film directed by Celso Ad Castillo about a poor girl who finds herself working in the world of burlesque performers in order to alleviate her family’s poverty. The lead role is masterfully played by Vilma Santos, who sheds her good girl image for the first time in this role. To support her paralytic father, Chato (Vilma Santos) works as a utility girl at Inday Theater for a burlesque star Virgie Nite (Rosemary Gil). Chato desperately wants to earn money to help her ailing and paralyzed father. When Virgie gets drunk on the night of her scheduled show, Chato pitches in for her, and she becomes an instant sensation. Enthused by the initial acceptance of the audience, she defies her father’s admonitions and presents herself to the manager, thus, becoming the new burlesque queen. The aberrant lifestyle of a burlesque performer leads Chato to a misguided existence. She becomes pregnant and is abandoned by the father of her baby. Desperate for cash, she agrees to appear in a lavish stage show. In front of a screaming male audience, Chato bumps and grinds in a tour de force performance, unaware of the danger to her pregnancy. – Wikipilipinas (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)

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)

Queen Vi (Repost)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Scene: struggling with her emotion, she kneels beside the bed where her father lies dead. The crippled old man couldn ’t accept the fact that his daughter was dancing for a living. Earlier, they had a quarrel and when she left the house, the old man had killed himself. “Bakit naman hindi n’yo ako hinintay?” she’s now whispering to him in remorse, “hindi naman talaga ako galit sa ‘yo, a. Di ba kayo rin kung minsan nakapagsasalita kayo ng masakit sa akin pero naintindihan kita dahil alam ko galit ka at hindi mo sinasadya. Dapat naman sana naintindihan mo rin ako,” she continues, breaking into sobs, “dadalawa na nga lang tayo sa buhay iniwanan mo pa ako. Hindi naman tama ‘yon!” And with the camera fixed on her in a semi-closeup shot, she weeps through her kilometric dialogues with startling spontaneity, the scene lasting all of ten minutes.

The scene is one of Vilma Santos’ high moments in Burlesk Queen, Celso Ad. Castillo’s magnum opus which earned for Vilma the Best Actress award in the Metro Manila Film Festival concluded last week. It’s a difficult scene and an actress of lesser skill could have buckled along the way and wasted rolls of precious film, but not Vilma who acquitted herself beautifully well in just one take. “Halos wala kaming rehearsal,” Vilma recalls, “kasi si Direk ayaw ng masyadong rehearsal dahil nagiging mechanical daw ang labas. Gusto niya after one rehearsal, take na kaagad because he believes that the first take is always the best.” Then she adds as an afterthought: “Nakakapagod ang eksenang ‘yon. Emotionally, that is.” Had she done the role of a burlesque dancer three years ago, Vilma would have stirred a big hornet’s nest among her loyal diehards… she would have been burned in effigies in indignant rallies all over the country… but no such untoward reaction happened, thank heavens. “My fans have grown up with me,” Vilma says, “they have matured. Besides, I’m already 24 and I’m not getting any younger. Ayoko naman nang palagi na lang akong naka-ribbon sa buhok at nalo-lollipop. Hindi na ako ang dating sweet-sweet. Come to think of it, mas mahirap mag-maintain ng sweet image dahil kaunting mali mo lang nama-magnify na kaagad, pinalalaki kaagad.”

Her metamorphosis began in late 1976 when she agreed to be kissed by Rudy Fernandez in Makahiya at Talahib. It was a “feeler” of sort and when the public clacked its tongue in obvious approval, Vilma shelved her lollipops-and-roses image and proved that she, too, could be a woman – a wise move indeed because at that time her career was on a downswing and her movies were not making money. Then she did Mga Rosas sa Putikan for her own VS Films where she played a country girl forced into prostitution in the big city. The movie did fairly well at the tills. Good sign. And came her romance with Romeo Vasquez, boosting both their stocks at the box office (thier two starrers, Nag-aapoy na Damdamin and Pulot-Gata where Vilma did her own wet style, were big moneymakers). The tandem, although it did help Vilma, actually helped Vasquez more in re-establishing himself at the box office (without Vilma, his movies with other leading ladies hardly create any ripple). In Susan Kelly, Edad 20, Vilma played a notorious-woman role that required her to wear skimpy bikini briefs in some scenes, following it up with two giant sizzlers (Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon and Masarap, Masakit ang Umibig) that catapulted her as the newest Bold Queen. Then came Burlesk Queen.

Scene: she comes home one night to find the mother of her week-old husband packing his clothes. He has eloped with her but he’s a Mama’s boy, a backbone-less guy when face-to-face with his mother, and he has now agreed to go home with Mama. She couldn’t persuade him to stay. As mother and son descend the long flight of stairs, the burlesk queen is left all alone in her room, in tears, with nothing and no one to clutch on to. At first she pleads with him but realizing the futility of it all, she proceeds to mock him and humiliate him, “Sige, she yells at him, “magsama na kayong dalawa, magsiping pa kayong dalawa, wala na akong pakialam. Ikaw, Jessie, wala ka namang paninindigan. Sige, magsama na kayo ng mama mo. Sige, gawin mong babae si Jessie, gawin mo siyang bakla!” Vilma’s change of image is part of her newly-found “liberation.” Liberation from what? “From many things,” Vilma answers. “From fear of being criticized, from fear of what people would say about me, from certain restrictions and inhibitions, from everything that was slowly choking me.” That exactly was how she felt early last year: all choked up.

So she slipped into a private hole after a quarrel with her Mama, refusing to be seen in public and thus setting off speculations that she was in hiding because she was on the family way. “No such thing,” says Vilma who had posed in a pair of bikinis to disprove the rumor. “Na-rumor pa na nagpa- abort daw ako at kung anu-ano pa, na nagwawala na raw ako. Pero ako naman hindi ko na iniintindi ang mga tsismis, bale wala na sa akin. Basta ako, I tell the truth and if people don’t believe me, okay lang. Dati-rati, nagri-react kaagad ako, pero ngayon, sanay na ako.” She was so confused and depressed at that time, “so filled up to my neck with problems and the pressure of too much work,” that Vilma was all set to kiss the movies goodbye. “Nakahanda na akong mamuhay ng tahimik noon, as an ordinary person.”

And how was he able to overcome that blue period? “Well, when they let me alone, nang payagan akong magsarili, that’s when everything seemed to loosen up. That’s the time I really felt free. Now, I have all the privacy I want, sa bahay ko, that is.” Although she now lives by herself in a single-girl’s pad, Vilma still runs home to Mama and Papa when she has to make important decisions. When Burlesk Queen was offered to her, Vilma bided her time until she talked with her parents. “Okay,” her Mama agreed, “as long as the sexy scenes would be treated well.” Says Vilma: “I am liberated in the sense that I have moved out of the family residence. Why did I do it? Because I feel I am old enough to take care of myself, gusto ko namang masubukan ang independence. I feel that I am old enough to know what I want. “Ngayon,” she adds, “anu’t-ano pa man ang mangyari, buhay ko na ito. Kung madapa man ako, sisikapin ko nang bumangon ng sarili ko.” Her kind of liberation includes freedom to choose her dates and to go out unchaperoned. To criticisms about her going out with a married man, Vilma snorts: “Ako naman, I don’t care whether a man is a sinner or a saint. Basta niri-respeto niya ako at ang pamilya ko, niri-respeto ko rin siya.”

Scene: She emerges on stage in a lace gown and, gradually, as the music gets hotter and hotter and the audience’s applause louder and louder, she unwraps herself and starts the greatest performance of her life. She has lost her father and her lover Jessie and she has nothing more to live for. The baby in her womb has to go, there shouldn’t be any memory of Jessie. And she dances on and on and on until she collapses in a bloody heap. The dance lasts for 17 minutes. It is her dance of death. Vilma almost backed out of the tree-fourths finished movie when she learned about the finale sequence. No, she wouldn’t do it, she couldn’t do it. She ignored call slips and went into hiding. Poor Celso, he was drowning in his own tears of desperation and banging his head against the wall.

Burlesk Queen was his “last card”, he wanted to retrieve his dwindling popularity, he wanted to save face and if he didn’t get what he wanted now, he would be finished. Finally one day, he received a basketful of fruits – “Peace offering,” Celso calls it, “from Vilma.” “It took us almost seven nights, shooting straight, to finish that sequence. I learned the dance from an expert real-life burlesque dancer. During shootings, palaging close-door. My God, I couldn’t have done it with so many people around.” She had to take several shots of brandy before the shooting. “Otherwise, I could have died from nervousness. ”According to Romy Ching, producer of Burlesk Queen, he didn’t really have the Metro Filmfest in mind because he had a November 25 playdate. But when he saw the rushes, he changed plans. “Hindi ka magsisisi na tinanggap mo ito,” he told Vilma, “it will be worth it.” Says Vilma: “I didn’t expect to win, although marami ang nagsasabi sa akin na malaki ang pag-asa ko. Ako naman, I don’t believe anything unless talagang nangyayari. Kasi noon, I expected to win, sa film festival din sa Quezon City, but somebody else did. I was very disappointed. Noong awards night nga, I wasn’t convinced I would win hanggang hindi ko pa hawak ‘yong trophy.”

After the award, Vilma has understandably upped her asking price.  She’s now worth only P300,000, may kaunting tawad pa if the role is good and the director is good. That business-and pleasure trip to Europe with Vasquez shall have to wait while Vilma is fulfilling her previous commitments. The morning after the awards night, tempting offers swamped Vilma, P300,000 and all, but she is not about to grab them all. She wants first to resume the shooting of her own outfit’s much delayed project, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, where she co-stars with Bembol Roco and has for director, yes, Celso Ad. Castillo. “We want to make it as good as, if not better than, Burlesk Queen,” Vilma and Celso promise. It better be. – Ricardo F. Lo, Expressweek Magazine January 19, 1978

RELATED READING:

The Vindication of Celso Ad Castillo

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

‘Twas two weeks before Christmas – and Metro Manila Filmfest time. With the exception of Armida Siguion Reyna’s Mga Bilangong Birhen, all the contending films had either been premiered or previewed, various places yet: at Magnatech, Greenhills, San Miguel Auditorium, Phil-Am Laboratories, Ocean Cinema. Some of the films, such as Sugapa and Banta ng Kahapon had been shown twice, thrice already. That early one film had very surprisingly become heavy favorite – Celso Ad Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. Its inclusion in the Filmfest was in itself a big surprise since only very few knew it was in the running. Everyone who saw the film had noticed at least one good point, sending many people’s careers soaring. Even before the film had its regular run it was already being rumored that Vilma Santos had upped her price from P100,000 to thrice that much. Can anyone beat that? What about Celso Ad Castillo, Burlesk’s creator? How was he taking all the praises, the excitement his film had generated? We found him drinking and smoking in his office, which looked like it did a year ago except for some new pictures on the walls, blow-up stills of Vilma doing a striptease. Celso was taking everything so nonchalantly, so unlike him. “If I were my usual self, I would be most mayabang now,” he very casually admitted. “I’m taking all of it silently and that takes a lot of effort.” He laughed, long and hard. He was with his wife and kids in the States when he decided to do the film. It was some sort of reenactment of a part of Celso’s childhood, particularly the days he spent watching burlesque dancers at the Inday Theater. “This is where I lost my virginity,” he chuckled, making us doubt whether he was serious or not. “Burlest is very special to me,” Celso expressed. “For the first time in my life since I did Nympha I was being faithful to myself.”

As long as he could, he stayed away from the finished product, seeing it only in its entirety during the premiere and only because he had to. That is because he wants to be a “virgin” every time he starts a film, unencumbered by the glories and/or defects of his past films. “Burlesk is the work of an auteur,” he eulogized. “I practically did everything in the movie. It was from me the plot came, I did half of the script, I personally supervised the editing, recording, even the mixing and the dubbing.” What’s more, he even sang the theme song, a George Canseco composition; he even played a bit part. Except for the financing, he encountered no problem in doing the movie. The censors frowned on the title at first, considering it too risque for popular consumption, but Celso explained his purpose, settling for no compromises, requesting that the title be judged from the torality of the picture. Burlesk didn’t only retain its title – it was even passed by the Filmfest screening committee without any cuts. Celso hadn’t had a single headche with his crew, his stars. This has been so because he personally chose the men he was to work with, from the leads, the extras, down to the lowliest member of the crew. Expectedly, Celso was raving about Vilma Santos. “I’m in love with Vilma,” he confessed. “No, no, I don’t mean I want to go to bed with her, ” he qualified. “I simply care for her. I have to care for my star to be able to do beautiful things with her for the movie. “Vilma has arrived,” he continued. “Burlesk is her signature picture. From now on, she’s Number One. The way she did the climatic striptease act is tantamount to doing seven extremely difficult scenes.” It took Celso exactly seven days – nights – to shoot this particular part. “For six nights, Vilma refused to do the scene,” Celso recalled. “She was there all right, advancing one lame reason after another.

I was slowly losing my cool, till it came to a point that I refused to talk to her. Feeling my fury she gifted me with a bilao full of fruits. When she reported to the set the next day she was all ready, very willing. And she didn’t disappoint me a bit. She’s a born actress. Acting for her is no more difficult than brushing her teeth, going to the toilet. She uses Method acting without her knowing it.” For the benefit of two other men in the room, Celso explained what this Method thing is. Another performer Celso’s so proud of is Joonee Gamboa. “He’s the greatest character actor who ever lived in the country,” he swooned. Of all the players, however, it was Rollie Quizon who represented him. “Like the character he played, I used to be a weakling,” he explained. “It’s only now that I’m accepting responsibility, that I’m letting my inner self come out, that I’m really letting go.” It was money matters which troubled him a lot. Such as the time when he needed gifts as props, and there was no money to buy these with. Such as the time when he needed a generator and there wasn’t a drop of gasoline around. “If this happened to me when I was younger, say two years ago, I would have abandoned the project completely. I have changed considerably, if I say so myself. I am more mature now. What matters now is finishing the film I’m doing, nothing else.” What expectations does he have for his film? Celso face lit, giving the sweetest smile. “It will shock and shatter the whole country,” he said, “the very same way that Rocky, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Carrie shocked and shattered the whole world. I expect it to give the local industry a much-needed shot in the arm. My Pinakamagandang Hayop Sa Balat Ng Lupa introduced such a thing as the wet look and it gave everybody a chance to make money.

I hope Burlesk will accomplish the same.” Expectedly, directorial offers have been pouring in – Paraisong Kristal, Kandilang Bubog, Nang Ang Mundo’y Naging Laman at Dugo, being just a few of them. He has a personal project which he plans to film next year, something called Noche de Ronda. If he has his way he direct nothing but films showing the common man – “the girl who works in a siopao take-home counter, someone who is just about to die,” he cited as examples. As soon as his schedule will permit, he’ll go to Hong Kong and seek a job with Run Run Shaw. He believes this wil pave new roads for him, hopefully a Hollywood assignment. At the moment there’s nothing more he’d like to do than get out and run away from everybody, friends and foes alike, donning the thickest, darkest glasses, bumming around as is his won’t. The film has given him tremendous self-confidence. “I can take it easy now,” he stresses. “After doing Burlesk I won’t have to prove myself to anyone anymore. He talked about the film again, very obviously so close to his heart. “With it I wanted to show some kind of heroism,” he explained. “In the movie Vilma is pregnant and she knows very well that by dancing the striptease she runs the risk of losing not only her baby but her own life. Yet, she goes on, dying in the end. I want to tell the audience – The show is over but the show must go on. Before doing it anything, one should ask himself, ‘Is it worth it?” Vilma loses her life – is it really worth it?” What he fears most now is the sweet smell of success. “I couldn’t imagine myself moving around in a plane or speedboat. When I do this, I will have finally prostituted my art.” Still and all, he coundn’t be happier with the way Burlesk Queen has turned out. “Ngayon, malalaman na kung sinong tunay o hindi,” he gloated. – Robert Q. Castillo, MOD Magazine, Jan 6 1978 (READ MORE)

Celso Ad Castillo’s Vilma Santos Films

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“…Mr. Castillo, who directed more than 60 movies including “Asedillo” in 1971 and “Burlesk Queen” in 1977, died in his home in Siniloan, Laguna. In 2007, Mr. Castillo was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer. Born in Siniloan in Sept. 12, 1943, Mr. Castillo is the son of lawyer Dominador Ad Castillo and Marta Adolfo. He graduated in 1964 from the Manuel L. Quezon University with a degree in English Literature. Mr. Castillo started as a writer for a komiks magazine, until he was commissioned to write a script for a spoof of the British superspy James Bond in 1965. He directed his first movie, Misyong Mapanganib in 1966. But it was the film Asedillo in 1971 that made Mr. Castillo popular. Based on the story of a Filipino rebel of the 1920s who was hunted down as a bandit by the American colonial government, the movie gave its lead actor, Fernando Poe, Jr. his second Best Actor trophy from the Film Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS)…Before he died, he has just launched his tell-all book Celso Ad Castillo: An Autobiography and His Craft…” – Jeffrey O. Valisno (READ MORE)

Castillo gave Vilma Santos her first mature role in Burlesk Queen resulting with her first local film festival best actress award. He also directed Pagputi Ng Uwak Pagitim Ng Tagak where Vilma Santos starred and produced. The film received several best picture awards and was considered one of Castillo’s best works. – RV (READ MORE)

Tag-ulan sa tag-araw (1975) – “…The two main characters, Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos obviously carried the film with surprising maturity. Considering this was their first team-up and both were very young. In 1975, both were still in transitions, from teenybopper stars of the musical era to serious actors. Christopher Deleon’s performance was quite impressive as the apologetic Rod, except for some scenes where you can see his nostril moves, he gave a very affecting performance. Vilma Santos equally balance the equation with a touching show of emotions that we seldom see in her early films that are mostly musicals, fantasy or comedies. Three scenes stand out. First was in the bus where she confronted her “Kuya Rod” to not to give-up on their relationship. Second when her parents caught them in the balcony. She begs them to stop beating up her “Kuya Rod.” And then finally, the driving to the abortion clinic scene, she cried her heart out begging them to stop and cried for help to her “Kuya Rod,” who was running behind and trying very hard to stop the car. Celso Ad Castillo successfully gave us a very moving film. Even with the very annoying number of voice-over scenes, scenes that you will hear the two main characters talks but you will see them not opening their mouth, the film has so many good qualities that you will forgive these flaws. We probably attributed these flaws to the style of many films in the 60s and 70s…” – RV (READ MORE)

Burlesk Queen (1977) – “…Burlesk Queen is much more than a gripping commercial melodrama. It is also a scathing commentary on the sarcastic sexual politics that has become the atmosphere of Philippine society: of hardworking women and the good-for-nothing men they serve (in other words, a patriarchal society gone awry). It is also a fervent reminder of the redemptive and equalizing power of art, which is the reason why it will always be a threat to those who hold power. Multi-faceted, committedly acted, and very well-directed, Burlesk Queen, I opine, is an unsung masterpiece.” – Francis Cruz (READ MORE)

Pagputi ng uwak, Pag-itim ng tagak (1978) – “…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 (READ MORE)

Celso Ad. Castillo began directing films mid-60′s at an early age, but he has since then gained reputation for many other aspects of the craft particularly scriptwriting and acting. In the Filipino movie industry, he holds the unique repuation of being controversial, trendsetter,enfant terrible and messiah of Philippine cinema, and his track record justifies it: he introduced artistry and commercialism in sex films (nympha) when the two were considered incompatible, and introduced sex in artistic projects ( Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa/The Most Beautiful Animal on Earth)when moralistic repression was in vogue. An unfortunate and unfair consequence of the controversy is the recognition due him as one of the finest film commentators on the Philippine social scene, with a visual fluency unmatched by any other contemporary filipino film director. – Celso Ad Castillo Web-site (READ MORE)

Related Reading