Filmography: Ang erpat kong Astig (1998)

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Basic Information: Directed: Felix E. Dalay; Cast: Jinggoy Estrada, Carmina Villaroel, Rufa Mae Quinto, Bea Bueno, Melisse Santiago, Efren Reyes Jr., Caridad Sanchez, Dick Israel, Alicia Lane, Veronica Veron, Benedict Aquino, Bernard Fabiosa, Gerald Ejercito, Jam Melendez, Martin Gutierrez, Bebong Osorio, Boy Gomez, Resty Hernandez, Manny Pungay, Falcon Laxa, Pong Pong, Nash Espinosa; Vilma Santos; Producer: Vic del Rosario Jr.

Plot Description: At a relatively young age, Joe Cuartero (Jinggoy Estrada) is already a widower.

Film Accomplishments: No Available Data

Film Reviews: Watch for the funny opening scene featuring Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz and Edu Manzano playing rival lawyers and Vilma as the presiding judge!

“…At a relatively young age Joe Cuartero (JinggoyEstrada) is already a widower. With his wife gone Joe’s life is now centered on his young daughter Tweety (Bea Bueno). But Tweety is under the care of his bothersome in-laws and for Joe to get back his child he must send Tweety to a private school. The devoted father that he is Joe agrees and does everything he can to provide Bea with good education. Bea for her part starts looking for someone who could be her second mother and she takes a special liking on Ms. Celia (Carmina Villaroel) her teacher. Everything seems to be going well for both father and daughter but one day Joe figures in a case of mistaken identity…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Takot ako, eh! (1987)

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Basic Information: Director: Mario O’Hara; Writing credits: Mario O’Hara, Tito Rey; Cast: Ian De Leon, Lotlot De Leon, Matet De Leon, Caridad Sanchez, Jaime Fabregas, Richard Merck, Ronel Victor, Marilyn Villamayor, Kiko De Leon, Vida Verde, Irma Alegre, Vilma Santos, German Moreno, Romnick Sarmenta, Zorayda Sanchez, Dan Alvaro, Mario Escudero, Tony Angeles, Nora Aunor, Nanette Inventor, Maritess Ardieta, Arthur Cassanova, Lady Guy, Lucy Quinto, Josie Galvez, The Ramon Obusan Dancers, Remy Tabones; Producer: Nora C. Villamayor; Original Music: Demet Velasquez; Cinematography: Johnny Araojo; Art Direction: Julius Dubal; Sound: Antonio Acurin

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Accomplishments: 1988 FAMAS Best Child Actor Nomination – Ian De Leon

Film Reviews: “…The only evidence that Takot Ako, Eh! could not have been made by just anyone with the right money and resources lies in one extremely exclusive instance. This would take a whole lot of paring down and possibly a radical revision of the exposition, but if our point of reference is Halimaw, then you’d now have the best installment available for that omnibus product. I’m referring to the subplot involving Caridad Sanchez as a way-out househelp, not quite in her right mind yet not quite obtrusive enough to arouse anyone’s suspicions. Before the time machine brings back the Nora Aunor character it first spews out Dracula (a wonderfully with-it Richard Merck), who like all the previous males on the scene doesn’t really fall for the maid’s advances, but, unlike the rest, doesn’t have the advantage of remaining intact during daytime and going without blood. When Sanchez starts turning on the charm for her captive lover, all hell, for him at least, breaks loose, and one wishes for the most part that the final Countdown hadn’t been sooner. And to return to where we started: wasn’t this the kind of role – the maid, I mean in particular – that Nora Aunor became famous for? A character performer like Caridad Sanchez can think of nothing about shifting from serious to comic interpretations within more or less similar characterizations (check out two temporally disparate Lino Brocka films, Santiago and Ano ang Kulay ng Mukha ng Diyos?, plus her critically underrated salvo in Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Alyas Baby Tsina, for a sober accounting of the lady’s prowess); on the other hand, a Nora Aunor can only work on a highly involved plane of acting, in fact as in film. Forced to a distance (considering her bygone stature as the superstar of Cebuano cinema), Sanchez takes full advantage by playing to the hilt, damn the consequences, and involves everyone else in her having fun even at her own expense; Nora Aunor offers a weak substitute of herself, four of them in fact, and politely takes her place in the background. Somewhere there’s a metaphor for the human capacity for excessive celebrity, and the sadness of losing a precious sort of genius when the condition begins to take its toll…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 25 November 1987 (READ MORE)


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FILM REVIEW: TAGOS NG DUGO

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The Plot – A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s…My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour – I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness….Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse….There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film….As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III (READ MORE)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better…” – Mar Garces, V Magazine 2006 (READ MORE)

“…A series of unfortunate events seemed to hound Nora’s career up to this point. October 1, 1989 was to be the last airing date of the 22-year-old musical-variety show Superstar on RPN 9. A month later, it was revived on IBC 13 with a new title, The Legend … Superstar, but this was short-lived lasting only up to early 1990. Naging mas masuwerte si Vilma Santos sa hinu-host na Vilma! on GMA 7, which started in 1981 as VIP (Vilma in Person) ng lumang BBC 2 (naibalik sa Lopez owners ang ABS-CBN after the EDSA Revolution). Nagbida si Vilma sa isa sa mga pinakaimportanteng pelikula ng Dekada ‘80: Regal Films’ Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (by Ishmael Bernal), na sinimulan in 1988 at ipinalabas in early 1989. In December 1989, Vilma headlined a period romance-drama (Viva Films’ Imortal, megged by Eddie Garcia) at nanalo sila ng kaparehang si Christopher de Leon ng acting plums sa MMFF. Sa awardings for that year, si Vilma ang nanalong Best Actress sa Star Awards (for Pahiram), her first form the Philippine Movie Press Club. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” nasabi ni Vilma as she accepted her trophy. Later, it was Nora’s turn to get a Best Actress trophy for the first time from the Film Academy of the Philippines, for Elwood Perez’s three-year-in-the-making Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” sabi rin niya in her acceptance speech. Na-elevate si Vilma sa FAMAS Hall of Fame, for having bagged five Best Actress statuettes: Dama de Noche, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, and Elwood Perez’s Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos. Nora won her fourth Best Actress plum sa FAMAS, also for Bilangin. Walang itulak-kabigin sa dalawa, kaya marapat lang na mag-tie sila for Best Actress, as in the 1990 Gawad Urian, na ‘pantay na parangal ”ang ipinagkaloob ng Manunuri kina Nora (for Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit) at Vilma (for Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga)…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

The Director – Maryo J. De los Reyes is a film and television director from the Philippines. He began his career in the 1970s(Wikipedia). Reyes’ most significant works are the critically acclaimed Magnifico (2004), Tagos Ng Dugo (1987) and the commercial hits, Bagets (1983), Annie Batungbakal (1979) (Wikepedia). In 1987 Maryo De Los Reyes directed Vilma Santos that critics considered one of the shocking film that year, Tagos Ng Dugo. The film was hailed as a feminist film and earned Vilma Santos her fourth FAMAS Best Actress. Ironically, the conservative church award giving body will agree and also gave their 1987 CMMA Best Actress to Vilma Santos. Reyes will again direct Vilma in 1992.  (Tagos ng Dugo 1987 and Sinungaling Mong Puso 1992)

The Most Colorful Film Character of the Year – “…The decision of the film critics to inhibit themselves from conferring their annual Urian Awards is unprecedented in the group’s 12-year history…But the case of film year 1987 is truly abysmal. It is, in fact, beyond salvation. True, there were number of worthwhile efforts, in such specific categories as editing, cinematography or sound but again, this is taking film as if it were a highly segmented form, instead of a holistic and integrated medium of communication. The area of screenplay was, to my mind, the most borely abused; I cannot recall any single film where this can be considered outstanding. Blame it on the producers who were more concerned with much momentary fancies as inane fantasies, sexploitation flicks and anachronistic melodramas. Blame it, too, on the governement which doesn’t seem to care and which doesn’t realize the power of the cinema in the value reformation of a natin long shackled in a despotic rule…Then there was the dismal and embarraing Brocka opus, Magin Akin Ka Lamang, which is a far cry from what the director used to do with komiks genre, having elevated it to a level of respectability in Tahan Na Empoy, Tahan and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, which is good enough melodrama. Even more sordid is his Pasan Ko ang Daigidg, which takes an egregiously compromising view of poverty with its Cinderella-like storyline. Even Ishmael Bernal was not spared of the spirit of idiocy which pervaded the past year and which threatens to hound us this year. Bernal, who often can be relied upon to transcend the limitations of the most trivial of storyline, simply failed to overcome the komiks convolutions of Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa. Also, quite unlucky was Peque Gallaga who was in bad shape in Kid, Huwag Kang Susuko, though he managed to score a few precious points in the action film genre. And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. DumaualManila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Teribol Dobol (1975)

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Basic Information: Directed: Luciano B. Carlos; Story, screenplay: Bert R. Mendoza; Cast: Chiquito, Vilma Santos, Walter Navarro, Caridad Sanchez, Lorlie Villanueva, Roderick Paulate, Tony Carrion, Robert Miller, Jesse O’Neil, James O’Neil, Raquel Montesa, Nympha Bonifacio, Joe Garcia, SOS Daredevils; Executive producer: Emilia Blass; Original Emie Munji; Cinematography: Ricardo Periodica

Plot Description: Teribol Dobol is a classic comedy movie. Maritess (Vilma Santos) asked for help from Frankie (Chiquito) a private investigator to investigate her father, who’s foolishly in love with a young lady. This lady & her family only wanted the wealth and fortune of her father. They will plan to poison Don Cosme (father of Maritess) and accuse Maritess for the caused of his death. Will they succeed to bring Maritess to jail? – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “If one is not enough, two can’t be too much!…..” Teribol Dobol (June 27, 1975) ng Lea Productions na pinangunahan nina Vi, Chiquito, Walter Navarro, Caridad Sanchez, Lorli Villanueva, Roderick Paulate, Tony Carrion, Robert Miller, Racquel Montesa at Nympha Bonifacio sa panulat at iskrip ni Bert R. Mendoza at sa direksiyon ni Luciano B. Carlos. – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

“Lights…camera…action…yan ang sigaw ng mga film director kapag nagsushooting ng pelikula. Masasabing ang film director ang tumatayong “captain of the ship” dahil sila ang responsable sa camera angles, lens effects, lighting at set design. Sila din ang nagsisilbing story teller. Malaki din ang role ng film director sa post-production ng pelikula. Ngayong buwan ng Agosto…..sa ating ALAM NYO BA? Part 74 ay bigyang daan naman natin ang mga naging director ng Star for All Seasons na si Ms. Vilma Santos sa kanyang mga naging pelikula. Sa mahigit sa apat na dekadang pamamalagi sa larangan ng pelikula…..humigit kumulang sa dalawang daang pelikula din ang nagawa ni Vi sa mahigit na pitumpong direktor na nagdirek sa kanya…Nakagawa din si Vi ng pelikula na si Luciano B. Carlos ang direktor at ito ay sa mga pelikulang Pag-ibig Masdan Ang Ginawa Mo (1969), Teribol Dobol (1975) at Let’s Do The Salsa (1976)…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Let’s Do the Salsa (1976)

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Basic Information: Directed: Luciano B. Carlos; Story: Bert Mendoza; Cast: Vilma Santos, Walter Navarro, Rolly Quizon, Ronnie Henares, Chichay, Caridad Sanchez, Roderick Paulate, Arnold Gamboa, Winnie Santos, Maribel Aunor, Ike Lozada, Raul Aragon, Lorli Villanueva, Eddie Mercado, German Moreno, Trixia Gomez; Original Music: Dominic Valdez; Cinematography: Arnold Alyao

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: Ranked 64th on Top-US-Grossing Tagalog-Language Feature Films Released In 1976

Film Review: “…Ate Vi thus became the chief opponent of Nora Aunor as the movie queen of the 1970s. Her edge is that she also became the queen of hit disco movies filled with singing and dancing, like “Swing It, Baby,” “Disco Fever,” “Rock Baby Rock,” “Let’s Do the Salsa,” and the movie she did with Latin idol Junior, “Good Morning Sunshine…” – Mario Bautista (READ MORE)

“…I credit Ronnie Henares for discovering me,” said Geleen. “He saw me in a fashion show in Hyatt in 1978. John Gaddi, my first dancing partner, and I were modeling na pa-sayaw-sayaw. I guess natuwa sa akin si Ronnie so he got me into Penthouse 7 hosted by Archie Lacson…I was Vilma’s choreographer for her movies (Disco Fever, Good Morning Sunshine, etc.) and at the same time I was also choreographing for Nora on her show Superstar. When Vilma had her own TV show, she got me as choreographer but I stayed with her for only one month. The network bosses told me that I shouldn’t be handling two superstars at the same time. Nora was on Channel 9 and Vilma was on Channel 13. Because of loyalty, I chose to stay with Nora kasi mas nauna naman ako sa kanya. I was with her for four years na at that time. But first, I talked to Vilma who is a ninang of my son Miggy. I left Vilma with a heavy heart…” – Ricardo F. Lo (READ MORE)

“…Very few probably are aware that Ronnie was once a matinee idol in the music profession. He was the other half of the famous singing duo called The Two of Us. His partner was Jojit Paredes, the cousin of Jim Paredes, who was also a kilabot ng mga colegiala as part of the Apolinario Mabini Hiking Society, now better known as the APO. Ronnie and Jojit were schoolmates in La Salle grade school, while Jim and his then large group were from rival Ateneo…After The Two of Us, Jojit eventually disappeared from the scene (he is now in L.A. married to an American and works as an assistant administrator in a hospital), while Ronnie’s popularity lingered, especially when he and Vilma Santos began dating. Ronnie also joined Penthouse 7 as executive producer/dancer and also part of the group was Ida Ramos, who many years later would become his wife. (Ida Henares now heads GMA Artist Center.) In between, he also hosted his own variety shows on TV, primarily in the Broadcast City stations…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

“…This being Vilma Santos’ 50th year in show business (she started as a child star in 1963 with the dramatic tearjerker, “Trudis Liit”), her loyal fans are perfervidly recalling the highlights of her “golden” acting career…By 1976, Vilma was “going musical” again with “Let’s Do the Salsa,” unveiling the dancing ability that the would land her a long-running hit show on television years later. But, she also made sure to come up with dramas like “Makahiya at Talahib,” and romances like ‘Bato sa Buhangin’…What’s up next for everybody’s Ate Vi? Higher political office, quite logically and obviously. But, we hope against hope that, every couple of years or so, she will continue to gift us with another memorable screen portrayal, to further enhance her already exceptional filmography. She’s simply too good a thespian to surrender completely to politics…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 03 August 2012 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Alyas Baby Tsina (1984)

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Basic Information: Directed: Marilou Diaz-Abaya; Story: William C. Leary; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rez Cortez, Rolando Tinio, Zeny Zabala, Cecille Castillo, Chanda Romero, Len Santos, Raquel Villavicencio, Johnny Delgado, Phillip Salvador, Caridad Sanchez, Maria Isabel Lopez, Dindo Fernando, Dexter Doria, Mary Walter, Vangie Labalan, Harlene Bautista; Executive producer: Vic del Rosario Jr.; Original Music: Willy Cruz; Cinematography: Manolo Abaya; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Fiel Zabat; Art Direction: Charlie Arceo, Melchor Defensor, Jay Lozada; Sound: Vic Macamay

Plot Description: A woman hardened by the underworld, Elena Duavit falls in love with Roy, a notorious gang leader. Elena is raped by members of a rival gang who are killed in a gun battle with the police. Implicated, she goes into hiding with her boyfriend but is captured, resulting to a death sentence for Baby Tsina. This tested team-up of award-winning performers Vilma Santos and Philip Salvador gives credence to this true story that hit the headlines in the 60’s. From the educated direction of Marilou Diaz-Abaya and the cinematography by Manolo Abaya, the story is by perennial contest awardee Ricky Lee. – Pinoy Torrentz (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1984 FAP: Best Musical Score – Willy Cruz; Best Production Design – Fiel Zabat; 1984 FAMAS: Best Actor Nomination – Phillip Salvador; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Dindo Fernando; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Caridad Sanchez; 1984 Gawad Urian: Best Actor Nomination – Phillip Salvador; Best Cinematography Nomination – Manolo Abaya; Best Director Nomination – Marilou Diaz-Abaya; Best Editing Nomination – Ike Jarlego Jr.; Best Music Nomination – Willy Cruz; Best Production Design Nomination – Fiel Zabat; Best Sound Nomination – Vic Macamay; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Dindo Fernando; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Len Santos

Film Reviews: “…Ang istoryang ito ay matagal nang ikinukuwento sa akin ni William. Wala pa akong asawa, pangarap na ni William na magawa ang pelikula. He had the story at hand. Siya talaga ang nag-negotiate para makuha ang istorya. Noong una nga raw, ayaw pumayag ni Baby Tsina at ng kanyang asawa dahil gusto na nilang kalimutan yun. Eh, si William alam ko yan kung magpilit, tsaka personal kasi niyang kilala si Baby Tsina, nakuha rin ang istorya,” salaysay ni Vilma…”Noong una kong mabasa ang script, ayoko sanang maniwala na nangyari talaga yun. Masyadong cinematic, eh. Para bang sa pelikula at sa komiks lang nangyayari. Until the day nga that I met the real Baby Tsina. Nang siya na ang makuwento sa akin ng naging buhay niya, lalo na after the crime at sa loob Correctional, saka ko lang nalaman na ang nakalagay sa script ay kulang pa pala. Mas matindi ang istorya niya, pero hindi na maaring isamang lahat sa pelikula. Baka namang masyadong humaba eh. Malakas ang istorya. I think the story alone will sell the movie. Lalo na kung iisiping isa itong celebrated case at nasundan ng mga tao noon sa mga diyaryo. Front page stories pa raw lagi iyang si Baby Tsina noon eh…” – Ariel Francisco (READ MORE)

“…You know, I did a movie before, Baby Tsina, but I wasn’t really Chinese there. In Mano Po 3, I play Lilia Chong-Yang, a socially conscious anti-crime crusader and I get to know more about Chinese culture. We were even taught how to speak Fookien Chinese by a private tutor. Sa dubbing, the coach was there to make sure we’re perfect with our pronunciation of all our Chinese lines…” – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

“…Marilou Diaz-Abaya will forever live with her magnum opuses like Brutal, Moral, Karnal, Muro Ami, Baby Tsina, Sa Pusod ng Dagat, Bagong Buwan and the multi-awarded period masterpiece Jose Rizal released in the ’90s and still gets screened to this day in schools and historical festivals even abroad…” – Ricardo F. Lo (READ MORE)

“…What Marc found out only recently was that none of the original copies of the films Marilou directed in the 1980s had been preserved. “While movies like ‘Moral’ (1982) and ‘Baby Tsina’ (1984) were all on VCDs, their original reels are nowhere to be found. It’s frustrating. Archiving is really bad here in the Philippines,” he said. Marilou’s debut film, “Tanikala,” was released in 1980…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 30, 2012 (READ MORE)

Like A Mother – “…Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, who was directed by Diaz-Abaya in one of her landmark films, said, “Direk Marilou was like a mother to me, especially on the set of ‘Baby Tsina.’ I remember that she would always bring for the cast members pandesal and Spanish sardines, which we ate before shooting. “I love her and her husband, Direk Manolo, who I always requested to be my cinematographer in all of my Eskinol commercials before. “The last time I saw Direk Marilou was at the wake of actor Johnny Delgado. She was already sick then. She was a fighter. She told me, “kaya ko ‘to! I pray for her family and for the eternal repose of her soul…” – Philippine Daily Inquirer, Oct 09 2012 (READ MORE)

“…All the performances in Baby Tsina leave vivid portraits in the mind. Under Abaya’s direction, the actors and actresses do not seem to act, rather we seem to discover them as human beings whom the camera has espied. Vilma Santos projects a lusty but touching portrait of Baby, a victim who greedily looks forward to deliverance from the night-to-night struggle for customers, thrashing about wildly when her savior is killed initiating her into an even more debasing condition. Phillip Salvador weaves in and out of the story capturing the sinister charm of the grubby but good-looking creatures of Manila’s underbelly. Dindo Fernando’s Jorge engages our attention in a portrayal that is by turns comic, caustic and warm indicating an actor governed by intelligence and respect for the dignity of the character he is playing. As Baby’s mother Nena, Caridad Sanchez radiates a tenseness that effectively projects her determination to keep her dignity against all odds. With Abaya as the controlling intelligence behind husband Manolo Abaya’s camera, Fiel Zabat’s sharp eye for the authentic look and detail of the period, the shanties and apartments, the restaurants and the dives, the streets and the alleyways and the teeming crowds that come and go, these are familiar images in Philippine art and life that in Baby Tsina appear more real and feel more real…” – Jojo Devera, Sari-Saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…While there is a palpable sense of femininity in these movies, Abaya abstains from sanctimonious pageantry and puts things in perspective. She raises concerns of women and the violence committed to them, but she also recognizes their shortcomings and susceptibility to moral hypnosis, their fates determined by their resolve or lack thereof. The world is unfair to women, but so is to men.Karnal, for instance, has a strong and suffocating depiction of patriarchy, the overbearing father played by Vic Silayan controlling not just the women of the house but also the men. It’s a horrifying picture of a family maddened by circumstances, and the woman whose importance in the story is emphasized leaves a disturbing impression of subsistence, coming out alive in the end but bereft of spirit. By contrast, Moral is a lighter but sharper piece, one whose observations on the struggles of present-day women, lost in the mazes they create for themselves, are relevant up to now. WhereasBrutal and Alyas Baby Tsina dwell on the criminal and psychological, overplaying hopelessness and suffering, Moral rims its characters by emphasizing their faulty nature, placing them in more realistic situations but with less defined solutions to their problems…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula, Oct 23 2012 (READ MORE)

Grueling Finale – “…Apolinario’s second feature can be regarded as an affirmation of heritage, that of Philippine cinema. Beholding the film’s exposition of life in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, one is reminded that this film operates in Daboy (Rudy Fernandez) territory — wherein the outsider holds his individuality and his dignity amid the dehumanizing confines of prison, and its extension that is Philippine society. Yet for all its filth and insidious atmosphere of violence, there is nothing in this picture that is as harrowing as the prison life one sees in Mario O’Hara’s “Bulaklak sa City Jail,” or in the grueling finale of Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Alyas Baby Tsina.” The solitary confinement endured, in one interlude, by Dingdong Dantes, Patrick Bergin and Joey Paras could have echoed the grimy horror of such detention as portrayed in “Baby Tsina,” to which its heroine (Vilma Santos) responds with a quiet, defiant fortitude — yet another striking facet of her long career with its comprehensive portrayal of the modern Filipina. Dingdong Dantes and Patrick Bergin, the renowned Irish actor, convey that Vilmanian, shall we say, serenity, amid their harsh confines — which, however, doesn’t look too harsh in this film, when one beholds that beautiful frame of a cockroach in its slow crawl on the dim prison floor…” – Ricky S. Torre, Rappler, 13 June 2013 (READ MORE)

Porcelain Skin – “…This is based on the story of Evelyn Duave, a woman who got sucked into a life of crime and eventually got jailed for murder. The Star For All Seasons plays the woman who was dubbed, “Baby Tsina” (or “Baby China” in court documents), simply because she looked Chinese. Other than that, there are no other Chinese references in the movie. Although, we have to say that Santos can easily pass for Chinese with her petite frame, porcelain skin, and delicate features. However, the movie is anything but delicate—what with the violent content…” – Spot, 23 Jan 2012 (READ MORE)

Production Values – “…Abaya and Lee’s next project, Alyas Baby Tsina/Alias Baby China (1984) was also based on a true legal story, that of Evelyn Duave Ortega, aka Baby Tsina. (She was called this alias in court documents because she looked Chinese. Otherwise there are no references to anything Chinese in her story or the film.) Duave was found guilty in 1971 of murder, and several appeals while on death row culminated in a Supreme Court decision seven years later that declared her innocent and released her from prison. A producer for major production company Viva had purchased the story rights and long wanted to turn the Duave story into an award-winning vehicle for superstar Vilma Santos. Abaya signed on and brought in Lee to adapt the story for film. As it turned out, as happens so often, the film strayed so far from the actual story, the producers might as well have spared themselves from paying story rights in the first place. The documents record that an Alfredo Bocaling was killed one night in a dark street by stabbing and hitting with blunt instruments. Accused of the killing were Baby China, a call girl, and her three male friends. She had allegedly told the men that Bocaling and his friend raped and robbed her and she wanted revenge. Their guilt by murder, adjudged by the Courts of First Instance and Appeal because of the consistency and corroborative nature of the three men’s confessions, were overturned by the Supreme Court due mainly to the inadmissibility of their extra-judicial confessions. The Supreme Court commuted their verdict from murder to homicide and their sentence from death penalty to reclusion perpetua. Baby herself, who did not confess, was found innocent after the extra-judicial confessions of the three men were rejected. One of course should never expect fidelity to an original story source, only a sense of integrity and believability in the adaptation. Did this adaptation succeed?In the struggle to fashion a crowd-pleasing story with an overarching social theme and an award-worthy role for its lead star, the film invented a number of characters and devices not in the actual story.

Baby’s lover Roy (Philip Salvador), with whom she plans to start a new life in America is fictional, and so is Roy’s death by shooting in a chase by rival gang members. In the real story all the principals were apprehended by the police while they were still in hiding. The Bocaling character has morphed into the film’s Toto (Johnny Delgado), a leader of an extortion syndicate that visits a sweeping wave of mass killings and rapes on Baby Tsina and her prostitute friends. The homicide scene of the real Bocaling is pumped up here into a chase and mass confrontation between gun-wielding gangs and the police. Neither did the real Baby (and Roy) seek refuge at the home of a lawyer friend, Jorge (played as an abugadong pulpol/cheap lawyer with sly wit by Dindo Fernando) where they debate the difference between what is law and what is right. When the fictional Baby is eventually committed to prison, she takes on a noble new role as resolute and impassioned advocate of more humane prison treatment for women, at one point making a speech before the whole prison population that spells out her message: “We are not robots that can be switched on and off! … We should be treated like human beings!” The film was a serious attempt to produce a work with significant social import that would be commercially entertaining all at the same time. But shoehorning the original into overused plotlines involving gang rivalries and populist heroine versus the system, add to this the blatant underlining of the “social message,” and credibility is lost, provoking instead a wearying wariness throughout the film. What succeeds in Baby Tsina is the care in production values that became such a prominent hallmark of Abaya’s works. It instilled trust in her, in that whether one liked her latest film or not, the keen attention to production design, lighting and photography at least showed that here was someone who took her craft and her audience seriously. With Baby Tsina, it is this gleaming surface, arising specially from Zabat’s production design and Manolo’s mood-infused lighting, that hints at authenticity and conviction that the narrative glaringly lacks…” – Asian Cine Vision (READ MORE)

Re-shoot of Alyas Baby Tsina – “…Ang payat mo” ang bungad naming bati sa kanya. “Kailangan kasi,” was her reply. “Medyo tumaba na nga ako ngayon. nahinto kasi ang shooting namin ng ilang days. You should’ve seen me a week ako. mas payat ako noon.” But it become her. Mas mukha siyang teenager. She sure that by now, alam na niyang kailangang lang magpapayat ni Vilma Santos para sa kanyang pelikulang ginagawa ngayon, ang Alyas Baby Tsina. Since she is in between pictures, kakaunti ang makikitang artikulo ngayon sa kanya. That’s why we have to write this progress report on her latest films. We asked her kung malapit nang matapos ang Baby Tsina. “Malayo pa eh,”she replied. “Ang dami kasi naming re-shoot. Sabi ni Marilou (Abaya, her director), May nasira raw ang ilang negatibo kaya’t kailangang ulitin. At last week of September, tapos na siguro. Did she like the movie? “Naku, malaking pelikula.”sambit niya. “Three acts kasi ‘yon. Inuna naming i-shoot ‘yung third act nang nakakulong na si Baby sa Correctional. Tapos we went back to perion noong prostiture pa lang siya. Ang hirap maging prostitute! Ngayon, we’re on the second act, love triangle kami nina Dindo Fernando at Philip Salvador…” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash, 1984

“…Isa pang kasaysayan hango sa tunay na buhay, ang pelikulang ito ni Marilou Abaya. Bawat tagpo ay pinalabukan ng mabusising sinematograpiya at detalyadong disenyong pampelikula…” – Star Awards 1984

RELATED READING: Baby Tsina meets Baby Tsina

Filmography: Tagos Ng Dugo (1987)

“haaahhhh…haaahhhh….di ko sinasadya!…di ko sinasadya!” – Pina

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Basic Information: Directed: Maryo J. De los Reyes; Story: Via Hoffman; Screenplay: Jake Tordesillas; Cast: Vilma Santos, Michael De Mesa, Miguel Rodriguez, Francis Arnaiz, Richard Gomez, Mark Joseph, Lito Pimentel, Joey Hipolito, Joey Marquez, Tony Santos Sr., Caridad Sanchez, Lucita Soriano, Dante Castro, Bing Davao, Alicia Alonzo, Mia Gutierrez, Raquel Villavicencio; Executive producer: Via Hoffman; Original Music: Jaime Fabregas; Cinematography: Ely Cruz; Film Editing: Jess Navarro; Production Design: Cesar Hernando, Lea Locsin; Sound: Joe Climaco, Jun Martinez

Plot Description: A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV

Film Achievement: 1987 FAMAS Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1987 CMMA Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1987 FAP Best Musical Score – Jaime Fabregas; 1987 FAP Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos

Film Review: “…In Filipino movies, drama is synonymous with exaggeration. In many films, scenes of cruelty, violence and torrid sex are depicted with little restraint so that they border on distasteful. In Tagos ng Dugo (1987), a young girl is raped after her parents are mudered. While she’s being abused, blood from her murdered mother’s body drips through the ceiling and falls on her forehead. In Kapag Napagod and Puso (1988), a harassed movie director (Christopher de Leon) takes out his frustration on his young wife (Snooky Serna) by smashing her face, pounding her head on the wall and punching her pregnant body black and blue. Once it was sufficient to depict adult activities by implication. To speak of sex on screen, it was enough to show a couple closing a door as they entered a room. A passionate embrace or a kiss is always followed by a quick fade to black. But nowadays, with sexual liberation and the heightened sense of realism demanded by viewers, Filipino movies have become more graphic in their treatment of sexual matters. There is now a greater curiousity for the phenomenon of the woman’s body. It is a must to depict menstruation (Tagos ng Dugo), labor pains (Kapag Napagod ang Puso) and a miscarriage (Burlesque Queen, 1977) by showing blood stains on the garment near the area of the vagina and blood trickling down a woman’s leg. The first signs of pregnancy are always dramtized by showing a woman throwing up in asink (Pasan Ko ang Daigdig, 1987). Abortion scenes have a very clinical look: a woman must be shown lying down with her legs in stirrups as a doctor or quack performs the bloody operation. Since abortion is illegal in the Philippines, it is common to depict abortion scenes ending in tragedy. In Celso Ad. Castillo’s Nympha (1971), a woman is left to die naked, wallowing in her own blood on the floor after doctors fail to stop her bleeding following an abortion. Childbirth scenes are just as graphic. In Nunal sa Tubig (1977), a baby’s head is shown emerging from a vagina…” – Emmanuel Anastacio Reyes, Notes on Philippine Cinema (Collected Writings on Cinema)…” – Emmanuel Anastacio Reyes, Notes on Philippine Cinema Collected Writings on Cinema (READ MORE)

First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police record gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “its another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornograhy’s…”. My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets”.

Given this background, therefore, Tagos ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possiblities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be”, since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation. A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black” and Luis Benuel’s “Belle Du Joir” — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or Delos Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our macho’s regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole).

It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, man’s beastly) naturalness… Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “female’s weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse… There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated… And finally, there’s the possiblity that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film… As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence.

But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy ( including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Eric Nadurata

The story revolves around Pina, a woman haunted by her past traumatic experiences. She always feels afraid at the sight of blood. Whenever she is physically or emotionally injured, she experiences the so-called “post-traumatic syndrome,” which persuades her to kill every man who has hurt her. She disguises herself as a prostitute with different personalities, and becomes a mysterious murderer.

The Review – The future National Artist for Film and recent U.P. Gawad Plaridel and Gawad Suri awardee Vilma Santos has done a gamut of roles. She is the only Filipina actress on record who has the most impressive resume of great performances (and is credible in any role, including Darna, the Pinoy female version of Superman), and has amassed 50 plus acting trophies. The Variety magazine and the world film community has dubbed her the Filipino Cinematic Diva and the Meryl Streep of the Philippines. If her luck continues, she may end up in Guinness’ Almanac as an actor with the most number of acting awards. One of my favorite Vilma characters is that of Pina, a serial killer, in Tagos ng Dugo. Directed by Mario J. Delos Reyes, it won four best actress awards for Vilma: her second CMMA, fourth FAMAS, and two from magazine polls. When it comes to edgy, neurotic, complex roles, leave it to Versatile Vilma, the Meryl Streep-like cerebral and intuitive actress who was born to play them. Vilma’s foray into the “luka-luka” genre began in Dama De Noche where she plays twin sisters, one of which is, you bet, neurotic.

Bernal’s classic Ikaw Ay Akin is best remembered for the manic-depressive, chain-smoking, Valium-popping, liberated, free-spirit Sandra (Vilma). Says critic Mario Bautista in his review: As the uptight Sandra, Vilma Santos has the script’s choicest, wittiest lines. She makes the most of them and gives a fairly accurate portrait of an emotionally insecure young woman. She likewise handles her final breakdown exceedingly well. There is a common thread in classic films like Broken Marriage, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, Bata, Bata, Dolzura Cortez and Hahamakin Lahat. Outstandingfilms, thanks to Vilma’s perfect portrayal of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is no wonder that the late National Artist Lino Brocka quoted: “Vilma can do any role now. She registers like water, she has overtaken Nora Aunor.” The U.P. MassCom jurors concurred with Brocka and gave Vilma that seal of approval by giving her the National Artist award precursor, the prestigious U.P. Gawad Plaridel for excellence in film acting. And oh yes, let us not forget the Gawad Suri Award. In layman’s terms, she is the best in the business, period!

Back to Tagos ng Dugo. At best, it is Vilma’s most emotionally and physically, albeit, draining role. Maryo J. made Vilma succeed to say more with less as we will find out. In the opening scene, Pina’s medical history is revealed: schizophrenia, painful menstruation, manic-depressive. Then we see the pubescent Pina screaming and writhing in pain on her first menstruation, calls out to her mother: “Inay!” The luminous Alicia Alonzo plays her mother and tells her “dalaga ka na!” Menarche and puberty did not sit well with Pina. While menstruating, she discovers of her father’s affair with a circus girl who her father accidentally kills in the “knife roulette” show, as the victim’s blood spills on her face. The girl’s family gets even, kills her whole family one night, while she gets raped. Tagos ng Dugo. Here’s the message: hell hath no fury than a woman violated while having painful menstruation. She has bridges to burn and many losses in her life. She has become a lost and tormented soul. A victim. A monster is born. Oscar best actress Charleze Theron may have taken an inspiration from Vilma’s Pina. Flash forward: Orphan and just released from a mental institution, the grownup Pina is seen staying with her aunt Caridad Sanchez and her husband, a police officer, Tony Santos, Sr. This is where Pina’s “calvary” as victim (again) begins. So many men, so many abusers, or so we thought. Enter Michael De Mesa, Santos, Sr.’s nephew who has lust at first sight on Pina. “Malagu, ’ne?” (She’s beautiful), De Mesa gushes on the coy and evasive Pina. In Kapampangan, Tony tells De Mesa that she was just released from the mental hospital. Michael attempts to enter Pina’s room one night but is unsuccessful.

Next to Dekada ’70 perhaps, this is one movie where Vilma succeeded in quiet scenes, by just using her eyes. Whether she writhes quietly in pain during her period or is scared of the inevitable such as Michael’s evil intent, this is the vintage Vilma now. Less is more. The triumph of restraint and hard work. Versatile, Inc. She meets the nice and good-looking cop (Francis Arnaiz) in the police station where she works as a sloppy, unfocused canteen helper who gets easily rattled by men around her, earning the ire of her boss Lucita Soriano. “Ano ba Pina, ang tanga-tanga mo. Ang dami mo nang nabasag na baso, hah?” Arnaiz is different: caring, sensitive, a gentleman. She is Pina’s crush and hero. She steals her crush’s photo ID and in her secret hideaway, kisses the photo, followed by a nervous, hysterical laugher, reminiscent of her confrontation scene with Gloria Romero in Kapag Langit ang Humatol? Enter a notorious rapist who is now in jail who held Vilma by the neck and mashes her breasts. Vilma becomes hysterical and cries unconsolably even after Arnaiz and the cops come to her rescue. This scene is again Vintage Vilma. When the rapist is released from prison, he chooses Vilma as his first victim and in the rape attempt, Arnaiz shoots him dead. Again, blood droops on Pina’s face. Tagos ng Dugo. Next thing we know, De Mesa almost succeeds in raping her but falls off the window when Vilma fights back. She uses Michael’s knife to scare him off. Now wiser, stronger, sophisticated and smarter, Pina finds solace and a sanctuary in an abandoned house across from where she lives. She learns how to apply mascara and wig. A serial killer is born.

This is where she plans her revenge. So many men, so little time. It’s payback time. In the wise use of flashbacks, we learn that Pina is violated again and again by the very people who should be helping her cope with her unstable mental status, one of which is the evil warden Lito Pimentel. She falls in love with her therapist who politely turns her down. It is a series of painful abuse and rejection for the sad, sad life of Pina. We also learn that she has a brother/sailor who sends her monthly stipend which she never benefits from and in his last visit, Pina begs him to stay with him. In multiple flashbacks, we see a helpless victim, Pina crying out for love and acceptance. Nobody seems to listen. A dysfunctional family. Abused physically and emotionally. Neglected. Rejected. Unwanted. Tormented. Untreated chemical imbalance. A perfect scenario for the birth of a schizophrenic, manic-depressive serial killer. Disguised as a prostitute, she kills her tormentors one by one with a knife she steals from De Mesa, with the exception of a druggie, the excellent Richard Gomez in cameo role. Here is a performance that is Vilma Santos’ gift to the world, right there in the dark theatre and on the silver screen.

Are killers made or born? Is society or family to blame for sociopaths? Are menarche and the drive to kill symbiotic? In a touching scene where she literally shreds Arnaiz’s stolen photo with her teeth (Arnaiz reconciles with and will marry her fiancée) out of jealousy, and rejection, Pina plans to make it out with Arnaiz in a hotel where the cops hang out to have a good time and where Arnaiz will screw a prosti as the boys’ “gift” to him. Vilma is that prosti. When Aranaiz discovers it is the demented Pina, he takes pity on her and prepares to put on his clothes. What, rejected again? Pina pleads Arnaiz to love her, hug her, kiss her. She will take no for an answer. Like a raving lunatic, she strikes Arnaiz with the knife. Meanwhile, little did Pina know that Caridad and Santos, Jr. discovers her dark secret and desperately calls the boys to watch out for Pina, the deranged murderer who might be stalking on Arnaiz. Sanches and Santos, Jr. either fumbles with the phone number or gets a busy signal. Wala pa kasing cell phone noon, eh! Next thing we know, the cops run to save Arnaiz from Pina. The hunter is now the hunted. What they discover in the room is a wounded but still alive Arnaiz who cries: “Huwag!” as his colleagues aim their guns at the crazed woman with thick mascara and wig. In a memorable and touching scene, the camera pans on a screaming, out of control, bloodied, lost her sanity Pina, angry one moment, repentant (“di ko sinasadya!”) the next, and then mumbles incoherently. Prison bars are etched across her whole body, and the movie ends.

Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better. – “Tagos Ng Dugo: The original Naglalayag Revisited” by Mar Garces, published in V Magazine 2006

First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s . . .”. My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness. . . . Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse. . . . There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film. . . . As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – “Tagos Ng Dugo (1987): Maryo J. de los Reyes’ Jewel” by Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III Geocities web-site (VISV III, July 2002 – April 2004)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon.” – Jojo Devera, saringsinengpinoy.blogspot.com READ MORE

“…And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. Dumaual Manila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…At first, policemen manning the station likened Pina’s arrival in their canteen as a breath of fresh air in the dirty world they work in. Although she is not entirely all right up there she is pretty and quiet. An industrious helper she only absents herself once a month because of extreme dysmennorhea. Then men started getting killed within the vicinity of the police station. A vacationing overseas worker a prisoner on bail a handsome playboy a drug crazed youth… Is it only a coincidence that the murders seem to happen exactly on the days Pina is experiencing her very painful monthly period?…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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