FILM REVIEW: BATA, BATA…PAANO KA GINAWA?

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The Plot: “A women’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a woman’s crisis center. Soon though, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother when her children’s fathers return to accuse her of neglect.” – The NY Times (READ MORE)

“Lea is a mother of two children from different fathers. She works in a woman’s shelter and helps victims of domestic violence. Her sons are hurt riding their bikes. At the hospital, her principles are threatened when both fathers question her ability as a parent. This film is based on the best-selling Philippine novel of the same name and takes a look at the problems of single mother’s trying to balance work with family.” – Fukuoka (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “Sa tingin ko, sa Bata, Bata… pinakamagaling si Vilma Santos. Sa dami ng kanyang award, may ibubuga pa pala siya. Iba ang akting niya rito…Halatang feel na feel ni Vilma Santos ang kanyang papel dahil, gaya ng karakter ni Lea Bustamante, dalawa ang anak ni Vilma sa magkaibang lalake.” – Marra Pl. Lanot, Diario Uno, Sept. 1998 (READ MORE)

“…Ang international fame, bilang Best Actress, ay nakamit ni Vilma in 1999, when her Star Cinema headliner Bata … Bata … Paano Ka Ginawa? – directed by Chito Rono – was entered as competition entry sa Brussels Film Festival. Released in 1998, Bata won for Vilma the Best Actress honors at the Star Awards, FAP and Gawad Urian, as well as the Best Performance award from the YCC-Film Desk. Dahil nahalal na alkalde ng Lipa City sa Batangas si Vilma Santos-Recto (she married then Batangas Congressman, now Senator Rafael ‘Ralph” Recto in December 1992), naging mas madalang ang paggawa niya ng pelikula. Pero hindi pa rin magmimintis si Vilma na manalo ng acting trophy, kapag din lang may panlabang pelikula, as in 2000 when she did Star Cineman’s Anak by Rory Quintos. Nanalo siyang Best Actress sa Star Awards…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“…And Vilma Santosis more than up to the challenge. Gone are the hysterically flapping hands, the melodramatic emoting, all the trademark acting tics. In their place is a heartfelt performance that distills Lea’s essence to an exquisite point-no movements are wasted, no gestures are overwrought. …Vilma rolls them on her tongue like the finest wine; when Lea is on the verge of breaking down, Vilma remains true to the spirit of her character… If the Lipa City mayor decides never to do another movie again, she can retire assured that her last performance-in a career already studded with formidable portrayals-may conceivably have been her best…” – Andrew E. Pardes, Manila Times, Sept 1998 (READ MORE)

“A fiercely independent and unflinchingly candid woman connected with a women’s crisis and survival center has to raise her two kids with different fathers. Her first husband has left her when their career options failed to converge. She is now stuck in an extramarital arrangement with another man who cannot bring himself to respect and commit to their quite unorthodox relationship. – Databases of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

“A women’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a woman’s crisis center. Soon though, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother when her children’s fathers return to accuse her of neglect.” – Baseline Studio Systems (READ MORE)

“The movie “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa?” is a movie which deals not only with the pains a mother and a wife goes through but also with the people around her as well. The movie which was originally based on the novel of the same title written by Lualhati Bautista, is such a wonderful story. Though it was written during the 1980’s, the material still hasn’t lost it’s appeal and connection to the people, considering that were almost entering the new millenium. What fascinates about the movie is that it did not only revolve around Lea but with the other characters as well. I really felt that all of the actors and actreses in the movie connected with one another. Each of the actors and actresses in the movie had a different story to tell. The movie would not have been as wonderful as it is, had it not been for the stellar performances given by the actors and actresses in the movie. There would be no question in terms of Vilma Santos’ acting prowess. Indeed she has proven be one of the fine actreses this country could ever had. I believe that nobody could ever give justice to the role of Lea had it been portryed by another actress other than Vilma Santos. Most noticeable were the performances given by the two kids. Serena Dalrymple and Carlo Aquino’s performance were just unbelievable. Considering that the two kids’ age and considering that there just neophytes in the acting scene.” – Skyinet (READ MORE)

“In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?” – The 35th Chicago International Film Festival (READ MORE)

“…Lea’s Story, based on Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel “Bata, bata paano ka ginawa,” tells the story of Lea, a strong and independent woman who defiantly rejects social conventions to live life on her own terms. Lea, a woman’s rights activist and single mother of two, struggles desperately to provide for her children by working at a woman’s crisis center. Soon her job and romance with a co-worker are threatened when her estranged husband comes back into Lea’s life, accusing her of neglect and abuse. Last year, Lea’s Story swept the Filipino Academy Awards by winning Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director. It stars the Philippines’ top actress and actor, Vilma Santos and Raymond Bagatsing respectively…” – Asian American Film News (READ MORE)

“…As much as people think that this is Vilma Santos’ movie, I beg to disagree. Me thinks it was the children’s show. Serena Dalrymple and Carlo Aquino gave two of the best child acting performances ever. Serena as Maya was a chatty young kid, whose bluntness, frankness, and honesty come across as cute and comical however one can still question as to how she was brought up. Carlo Aquino’s Ojie is a more mature kid, he understood what was going on and was rebelling to the fucked-up-ness of their situation. What pisses me off is that today, there hardly is a movie that Carlo Aquino is in, except maybe for last year’s “Carnivore, “where he was superb in again. Aquino is one of the few great young actors of his time that still is a great actor up to know. He is just not that present anymore. And I kinda wish that he makes more movies, because I know that he is a superb actor…” – Douglas Racso (READ MORE)

“…A free-spirited woman and madre de familia runs her life and raises her children unconventionally. It is one of the best films that espouses feminism without being didactic and self-righteous. Humorous, poignant and insightful, it features a yet-another dazzling performance by Vilma Santos…” – Mario A. Hernando (READ MORE)

“…To best understand how Filipino women have changed in the course of time, let us quote Lea’s final words: “OO, natuklasan ko ang mga bagay na hindi ko siguro natuklasan kung pinahawakan ko lang sa iba ang pagkatao ko. Hindi ako nagpakulong, sinikap kong lumaya. At mula sa paglaya ko sa makitid na papel ng isang babae, natiyak ko na ang kalayaan nga pala, sa higit na pangmalawakang kahulugan nito, ay hindi nahihingi kundi ipinakikipaglaban. Hindi lahat ng hinuhuli’y kriminal, at hindi lahat ng diyos ay may dangal! Hindi ako natatako. Babae ako at malakas ako. Ako ang tagapagsilang ng tao, pambuhay ng sanggol ang dibdib ko. Hindi porke ina na ‘ko’y tumigil na ‘ko sa paglaki. Hindi porke babae ako’y maiiwan ako sa labanan. Para sa kaligtasan ng lipunan at kinabukasan ng mga anak ko sa digmaan ng mga uri’t prinsipyo, sa mapayapa man o madugong pagbabago, magtiwala kayo…sasama ako!” We need more Josies adn Leas in our society tody, The time is ripe for Filipino women to rise above the society’s traditional views and coventions. Although ultimate freedom and due recognition of gender equlity remain a struggle and a serious concern, Filipino women are slowly gaining a strong foothold. In a book dedication written by Bautista to this writer, she wroteL “Ang mga kamay na nag-uugoy ng duyan ay kaya ring magtumba ng alon sa dagat.” And we belive that a freer woman is better mother. And every Filipino family needs her. Every family must have her. We remember what Vilma said in our interview with her during the last shooting day of her film “Bata, Bata…” “I would like to be remembered as a mother who would give her life to her children anytime…” She’s an accomplished actress, and many will remember her for that. But Vilma would rather be a mother in her films, in her life…” – Veron Dionisio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 29, 2000 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998)

“Namputang Itlog yan, gawing mong manok!” – Leah

“Sister nain-love ka na ba? Hindi yong Love kay Kristo ha, yong love na may sex!” – Leah

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Basic Information: Directed: Chito S. Roño; Story: Lualhati Bautista; Screenplay: Lualhati Bautista, Chito S. Roño; Cast: Vilma Santos, Albert Martinez, Carlo Aquino, Serena Dalrymple, Angel Aquino, Cherry Pie Picache, Raymond Bagatsing, Ariel Rivera, Rosemarie Gil, Andrea Del Rosario, Dexter Doria, Cita Astals, Ronalissa Cheng, Carmen Serafin; Executive producer: Charo Santos-Concio, Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Jessie Lasaten; Cinematography: Charlie Peralta; Film Editing: Jaime Davila; Production Design: Manny Morfe; Sound: Albert Michael Idioma; Theme Songs: “Kumusta Ka” performed by Nonoy Zuniga

Plot Description: Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel was adapted to the big-screen with brilliant results: the casting (specially Mayor Vilma Santos as the strong-willed Leah Bustamante) is perfect; Bautista’s script is filled with comic and dramatic undertones. 8 year-old Serena Dalrymple provided most of the laughs as the innocent child who serves as Leah’s mirror of her personality. Everything in the film is a labor of love and art, and it deserves to be a classic. – IMDB

A fiercely independent and unflinchingly candid woman connected with a women’s crisis and survival center has to raise her two kids with different fathers. Her first husband has left her when their career options failed to converge. She is now stuck in an extramarital arrangement with another man who cannot bring himself to respect and commit to their quite unorthodox relationship. – Database of Philippine Movies

The movie is about Lea, a mother of two kids with different fathers. Lea, works in an NGO (non-government organization), which deals with human rights violation committed against women. Ogie and Maya are Lea’s children. Ogie’s father, Raffy, leaves them when he had to work in the province of Surigao. Lea together with his son Ogie, did not join Raffy for Lea has a job in Manila which she did not want to leave. Maya, whose father is Ding lives with them, together with Ogie. Things start to get worse when Raffy arrives in Manila. Raffy, meets with Lea for him to see his son, Ogie. As days went on, Ogie regularly sees his father and sometimes spends some time in his house together with his new wife who is pregnant with there first child. Raffy, realizes that he has a lot of shortcomings as a father to Ogie. Raffy tells Lea that he will take Ogie with him to the United States after his wife gives birth. Lea doesn’t know what to do. – Skynet

Film Achievement: 1999 Brussels International Festival of Independent Films Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1999 International Festival of Independent Films Best Director – Chito S. Roño; 1999 Asia-Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award – Chito S. Roño; 1998 FAMAS Best Child Actor – Carlo Aquino; 1998 FAMAS Best Child Actress – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 FAMAS Best Story – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 FAP Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1998 FAP Best Picture – Star Cinema; 1998 FAP Best Supporting Actor – Carlo Aquino; 1998 FAP Best Supporting Actress – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 Urian Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1998 Urian Best Picture – Star Cinema; 1998 Urian Best Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 Urian Best Supporting Actress – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 Star Awards Actress of the Year – Vilma Santos; 1998 Star Awards Child Performer of the Year – Carlo Aquino; 1998 Star Awards New Movie Actress of the Year – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Film – Star Cinema; 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Performer – Vilma Santos; 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 PASADO Best Picture – Star Cinema; 1998 PASADO Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 PASADO Best Actress – Vilma Santos

Other Film Achievements 1998 FAP Best Cinematography nomination – Charlie Peralta; 1998 FAP Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño; 1998 FAP Best Editing nomination – Jaime Davila; 1998 FAP Best Production Design nomination – Manny Morfe; 1998 FAP Best Screenplay nomination – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 FAP Best Supporting Actor nomination – Albert Martinez; 1998 Urian Best Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño; 1998 Urian Best Best Editing nomination – Jaime Davila; 1998 Urian Best Music nomination – Jessie Lasaten; 1998 Urian Best Sound nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; 1998 Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Carlo Aquino; 1998 Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Raymond Bagatsing; Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? Became a stage play in 1999

Film Reviews: Motherhood. Womanhood. It has long been believed that the former is the be-all and end-all of the latter. Our culture dictates this. Our society has its own standard boxes of what constitutes a good woman and of what necessitates a good mother. If you don’t fit this box, then you suffer the consequences. Lea Bustamante (Vilma Santos), a mother of two and a woman who chooses to live differently, is learning how to deal with these consequences. Her eldest is OJIE (Carlo Aquino), an outspoken boy on his peak of puberty. Her youngest is Maya (Serena Dalrymple), a precocious and equally outspoken six-year old. Both have different fathers. Neither is married to Lea. Lea was once married to Ojie’s father, Raffy (Ariel Rivera). But he had to leave for his job and she had to stay for hers. Hence, they separated. Now, Lea lives with Maya’s father, Ding (Albert Martinez), a mama’s boy who is constantly at the beck and call of his mother. This infuriates Lea because it reminds her that Ding is not married to her and they are not his priority. Nevertheless, Lea is sure she can handle herself and her children without anyone’s help.

Her world gets shaken however when Raffy goes back to the Philippines. She knows she still loves him but that there is no chance for a reconciliation. Raffy came back with a new wife on the family way. Ojie begins to see his father during weekends. Lea sees how father and son thirst for the bond they should have started forming a long time ago. She also sees how much Maya misses her brother so much whenever he spends his time with his father. Matters get worse when Raffy voices his desire to take Ojie with him and his new wife to America. With a fearful heart and a great respect for her son, Lea leaves the decision to Ojie. Before he even makes a decision, he and Maya suffer an accident. The mother gets blamed. Her job gets blamed. Lea works in a survival center for women in crisis and is continually exposed to the adverse effects of how society can become a victim of its own ideology. Lea considers herself emancipated from these labels. She has her own sense of motherhood, of womanhood, of what is true and good and beautiful. But now, she is being accused by both fathers of not being a good mother, and of being a woman of twisted priorities. In this susceptible state, Lea finds solace in the company of Johnny (Raymond Bagatsing), a colleague and a friend from the center. As if her life wasn’t complicated enough, she receives yet another bomb. Ding breaks up with her after a long absence, apparently after getting married to a girl he got pregnant. Ding wants to take Maya too. With a broken spirit, a confused heart and great reverence for Maya as with Ojie, Lea lets her children decide about their life. In these moments of vulnerability, Lea confronts her worth and the needs of her soul which the men in her life never really fulfilled – her being a woman and a mother. Is living the life she wants worth losing the children she loves? With a broken spirit, a confused heart and great reverence for Maya as with Ojie, Lea lets her children decide about their life. In these moments of vulnerability, Lea confronts her worth and the needs of her soul which the men in her life never really fulfilled – her being a woman and a mother. Is living the life she wants worth losing the children she loves? – Star Cinema

“A women’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a woman’s crisis center. Soon though, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother when her children’s fathers return to accuse her of neglect.” – Baseline Studio Systems (READ MORE)

“In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?” – The 35th Chicago International Film Festival (READ MORE)

“…Lea’s Story, based on Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel “Bata, bata paano ka ginawa,” tells the story of Lea, a strong and independent woman who defiantly rejects social conventions to live life on her own terms. Lea, a woman’s rights activist and single mother of two, struggles desperately to provide for her children by working at a woman’s crisis center. Soon her job and romance with a co-worker are threatened when her estranged husband comes back into Lea’s life, accusing her of neglect and abuse. Last year, Lea’s Story swept the Filipino Academy Awards by winning Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director. It stars the Philippines’ top actress and actor, Vilma Santos and Raymond Bagatsing respectively…” – Asian American Film News (READ MORE)

“Sa tingin ko, sa Bata, Bata… pinakamagaling si Vilma Santos. Sa dami ng kanyang award, may ibubuga pa pala siya. Iba ang akting niya rito…Halatang feel na feel ni Vilma Santos ang kanyang papel dahil, gaya ng karakter ni Lea Bustamante, dalawa ang anak ni Vilma sa magkaibang lalake.” – Marra Pl. Lanot, Diario Uno, Sept. 1998 (READ MORE)

“…Ang international fame, bilang Best Actress, ay nakamit ni Vilma in 1999, when her Star Cinema headliner Bata … Bata … Paano Ka Ginawa? – directed by Chito Rono – was entered as competition entry sa Brussels Film Festival. Released in 1998, Bata won for Vilma the Best Actress honors at the Star Awards, FAP and Gawad Urian, as well as the Best Performance award from the YCC-Film Desk. Dahil nahalal na alkalde ng Lipa City sa Batangas si Vilma Santos-Recto (she married then Batangas Congressman, now Senator Rafael ‘Ralph” Recto in December 1992), naging mas madalang ang paggawa niya ng pelikula. Pero hindi pa rin magmimintis si Vilma na manalo ng acting trophy, kapag din lang may panlabang pelikula, as in 2000 when she did Star Cineman’s Anak by Rory Quintos. Nanalo siyang Best Actress sa Star Awards…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“…And Vilma Santosis more than up to the challenge. Gone are the hysterically flapping hands, the melodramatic emoting, all the trademark acting tics. In their place is a heartfelt performance that distills Lea’s essence to an exquisite point-no movements are wasted, no gestures are overwrought. …Vilma rolls them on her tongue like the finest wine; when Lea is on the verge of breaking down, Vilma remains true to the spirit of her character… If the Lipa City mayor decides never to do another movie again, she can retire assured that her last performance-in a career already studded with formidable portrayals-may conceivably have been her best…” – Andrew E. Pardes, Manila Times, Sept 1998 (READ MORE)

“…To best understand how Filipino women have changed in the course of time, let us quote Lea’s final words: “OO, natuklasan ko ang mga bagay na hindi ko siguro natuklasan kung pinahawakan ko lang sa iba ang pagkatao ko. Hindi ako nagpakulong, sinikap kong lumaya. At mula sa paglaya ko sa makitid na papel ng isang babae, natiyak ko na ang kalayaan nga pala, sa higit na pangmalawakang kahulugan nito, ay hindi nahihingi kundi ipinakikipaglaban. Hindi lahat ng hinuhuli’y kriminal, at hindi lahat ng diyos ay may dangal! Hindi ako natatako. Babae ako at malakas ako. Ako ang tagapagsilang ng tao, pambuhay ng sanggol ang dibdib ko. Hindi porke ina na ‘ko’y tumigil na ‘ko sa paglaki. Hindi porke babae ako’y maiiwan ako sa labanan. Para sa kaligtasan ng lipunan at kinabukasan ng mga anak ko sa digmaan ng mga uri’t prinsipyo, sa mapayapa man o madugong pagbabago, magtiwala kayo…sasama ako!” We need more Josies adn Leas in our society tody, The time is ripe for Filipino women to rise above the society’s traditional views and coventions. Although ultimate freedom and due recognition of gender equlity remain a struggle and a serious concern, Filipino women are slowly gaining a strong foothold. In a book dedication written by Bautista to this writer, she wroteL “Ang mga kamay na nag-uugoy ng duyan ay kaya ring magtumba ng alon sa dagat.” And we belive that a freer woman is better mother. And every Filipino family needs her. Every family must have her. We remember what Vilma said in our interview with her during the last shooting day of her film “Bata, Bata…” “I would like to be remembered as a mother who would give her life to her children anytime…” She’s an accomplished actress, and many will remember her for that. But Vilma would rather be a mother in her films, in her life…” – Veron Dionisio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 29, 2000 (READ MORE)

“…Nora’s performance in ‘Sidhi” is touted to be the answer to Vilma Santos’ hysterical outing in “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?’ If only ‘Sidhi’ came out during last year’s cut-off period, then Nora would definitely give Vilma another tough fight in the awards derby this year. “Let’s stop it,” Ate Guy shakes her head as she shows her lack of interest in the rivalry. “As far as we’re concerned, things like that, you know, that phase is over. Let’s not talk about those things anymore.” Nora knows her rivalry with Vilma would linger for a long time. But personally, she thinks they have developed a different level of friendship through the years. “Movie projects offered to Vilma are different from those I accept. So you really can’t accept films just to compete with her. If I don’t want something, I won’t do it,” Nora further explains…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Mano Po III: My Love (2004)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her scene in Tagaytay Highland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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