The Kid Uninterrupted, Celso Ad Castillo (Sep 12 1943 – November 26, 2012)

ARTICLES - Remembering Castillo 11Note: With so many format errors, we decided to reprint and repost this article as a tribute to the Kid. “Fair disclosure” in in effect here, infringement is not intended and no commercial profit gained in republishing this piece. Celso Ad Castillo was born on September 12, 1943, he died November 26, 2012 on apparent heart attack. During that time, he was reportedly working on his autobiography, which was released last year and promoted by his son, Christopher Castillo.

“As a child, he had the second-run theater circuit in downtown Manila as playground; his first “playmates” were King Kong, Suzie Wong and Gene Kelly. “I could barely understand American slang, but I was mesmerized by the light and shadows, the framing, the composition, the rhythm, the editing,” recalls acclaimed filmmaker Celso Ad. Castillo. Before young Celso even started school, his father Dominador had taken him to watch Hollywood movies “from MGM musicals to Elia Kazan” dramas.

“He was a film buff,” recounts Direk Celso, known as The Kid of Philippine Movies. “My aunt and uncles were also crazy about movies.” Dominador, who was also a lawyer, komiks novelist and producer for Larry Santiago Productions, was hesitant to allow young Celso to join show business. Teenaged Celso protested that he was merely following in his father’s footsteps. Dominador had created the classic komiks heroine “Cofradia,” immortalized by Gloria Romero in the Sampaguita film version in 1953 and Gina Alajar in the 1970s.

ARTICLES - Remembering Castillo 14Like father… – “I started out as a komiks illustrator,” Celso relates. “I’m also fond of drawing.” He eventually wrote the komiks novels “Tartaro,” “Vampira” and “Palalong Kuba.” After all, he notes, stories about dragons, mermaids and vampires were “part of my childhood memories.” He acknowledges that his komiks sojourn primed him for filmmaking: “It taught me how to visualize the frame.” Yes, komiks panels were the first storyboards for this English Literature graduate. “Komiks also taught me how to choose commercially viable projects.”

From there, Celso, at the tender age of 18, crossed over to the movies as scriptwriter. “I started by doing spoofs of James Bond films. For Chiquito, I wrote “James Bandong, Secret Agent 02-10.” For Dolphy, “Dr. Yes.” VM Cinematic Films took notice because these movies had done very well at the tills. “VM gave me my first break, “Misyong Mapanganib” in 1965. It starred Tito Galla, Ruby Regala, and Helen Gamboa in her first starring role,” Celso says. “Local movies” whiz kid was also a law student at the time. “My father allowed me to direct only because I promised to continue my law studies.”

Potboilers – He churned out six potboilers, one after the other, among them “Zebra Jungle Girl” with Ruby Regala and “Mansanas sa Paraiso” with Stella Suarez. He admits that, inevitably, both his legal and film endeavors suffered. “I was flunking in school and my first seven movies were half-baked. I had to make a choice.” Celso’s gambit yielded his first critical success, “Nympha,” a black-and-white bomba film starring Rizza. “I wanted to prove that sex films could be artistic if they didn’t offend the sensibilities and intelligence of moviegoers,” he explains. The cache brought about by “Nympha” allowed him to make “The Virgin,” again with Rizza. “[It was] my first avant-garde movie,” he remembers fondly. “Eighty percent of the film had no dialogue. The story was told through ballads.”

Alas, “The Virgin” wasn’t as profitable as “Nympha.” With candor, he says, “It was a big flop. It was ahead of its time. Moviegoers were stumped “they couldn’t understand why no one was talking!” The indie maverick then surprised the industry by plunging head first into the mainstream. After megging “Ang Gangster at ang Birhen” (with Dante Rivero and Hilda Koronel) for Lea Productions, Celso caught the eye of Fernando Poe Jr.

Da King’s Direk – “At 26, I was directing the King of Philippine movies,” he reminisces with pride. “Asedillo,” his first outing with Da King, was not just a box-office smash; it also won a Famas Best Actor trophy for FPJ in 1972. “That movie started our collaboration. In a span of two years, we made three more movies: “Santo Domingo,” “Ang Alamat” and “Esteban.” Working with Da King, Celso felt obliged to prove his worth because, “You had to earn his respect.”

After those four action movies, Celso was itching for another change of pace. “I wanted to go freelance to do my kind of movies, innovative and experimental films that are commercial at the same time.” His next gambit, “Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Pedro Penduko,” starring Ramon Zamora, hit the jackpot as well. “I never wanted to be boxed in one genre. So I followed up the fantasy movie “Penduko” with a kung-fu flick, “Return of the Dragon,” also with Ramon. I also made a zombie film with Alona Alegre entitled “Kung Bakit Dugo ang Kulay ng Gabi.”

In 1974, he crafted the horror hit “Patayin Mo sa Sindak si Barbara,” for FPJ’s wife, Susan Roces. They followed it up with “Maligno,” for which Susan won Famas Best Actress in 1978. Celso says, “When it was first shown, people didn’t know what to make of “Maligno.” But I recently caught it on cable. I almost cried at the end. It was surreal and grotesque.” By then, Celso had become the master of the unexpected. After casting sweet Sampaguita star Susan in gothic tales, he re-imagined Miss Universe Gloria Diaz into “Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa,” in 1975.

Wet Look – Celso wistfully describes “Hayop” as “the killer” because it started the “wet look trend and single-handedly demolished the predominantly macho star system.” He remembers that, before “Hayop,” female stars were mere “adornment” in local movies. “Pang-display. “Hayop” [changed that].” He continued to give prominence to women in his films, most notably “Burlesk Queen,” an entry in the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival. “That movie created a furor at the film fest,” he says. “Furor” is really an understatement.

“Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight),” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk” as the most beautiful Filipino film past, present and future.”

In Memoriam 2012 8 - Celso Ad CastilloVi’s Turnaround – Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new Vilma Santos?from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978. “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends. “Burlesk” and “Pagputi” brought a lot of honor to me.”

Gloria Diaz agrees: “Not too many people [would appreciate] his style [of filmmaking]. He’s a no-nonsense guy kasi. I consider myself lucky that I got to work with the best.” In “Burlesk” and “Pinakamagandang Hayop,” as in all his films, Celso challenged his stars to improvise, “not to stick to the script [and] say the lines… from the hearts.”

Love Letter – In the case of “Burlesk,” that’s because it was, for him, a love letter to his youth. “That was about my adolescence. I was a regular in Clover, Inday Theater, Grand Opera House. I watched Canuplin and Bayani Casimiro. I witnessed both the peak and the decline of bodabil,” he remarks. If there’s a common thread in his 61 movies, he points out, it’s that each one seeks to capture on film “a time of transition.”

He expounds: “Burlesk” was about the end of the bodabil era; “Pagputi,” the Huk movement; “Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan,” the Philippine revolution. Coincidentally “Julian Makabayan” signaled Celso’s own personal transformation. “In 1983, I attended the Asean Film Festival in Malaysia, where “Julian” was an entry. In my brief stay there, I discovered Islam. Six years later, I returned to Malaysia, to convert.”

Islam, he says, allowed him to “mellow and discover myself. Islam is a tough religion. Perfect for the hard-headed.” The serenity that he thus found can be gleaned from his subsequent choice of address: Siniloan, Laguna, location for his major works. He waxes poetic here: “Siniloan was where I was born. That place has everything, ricefields, mountains, rivers.” Nowadays, he spends most of his time in his chestnut farm there. At the time of this conversation (just before the recent holidays) he is ready to harvest. “I’m always busy with something,” he insists.

ARTICLES - Remembering Castillo 18Lifetime Achievement – Being the recipient of two Lifetime Achievement honors in 2007 (from the Famas and the Film Academy of the Philippines), Celso thought it was also apropos to pick up a long-shelved project: His biography, “Celso Kid of the Philippine Movies” by independent filmmaker Ron Bryant. “Ron was my student in the Celso Ad. Castillo Filmmaking Institute in 1999,” he says. Celso played the role of Epy Quizon’s paralytic father in Ron’s award-winning Cinemalaya film, “Rotonda,” in 2006. “He’s a very professional actor,” Ron says of his mentor. “He never meddled in my directing and remained focus on his acting.”

Ron, however, points out that the Celso book project has evolved into a “documentary.” “The scope is too wide, especially in the context of 1970s Filipino cinema,” Ron explains. He hails Celso as a true vanguard of “the indie spirit.” “He made inventive films on a shoestring budget.” Coming full circle, Celso is now tinkering with digital technology, with two indie movies in the works “Sanib 2” and “OFW.”/p>

The technology is new, but trust Celso to rely on the same “improvisational” tricks with his actors. “OFW” actor Coco Martin says he finds The Kid’s method exciting. “On the set, we keep improving the dialogue. It’s a different experience. Direk Celso is so cool!” Proof that Direk Celso is hip and happening still can very well rest in the fact that his old films are continuously being remade on both the big and small screens.

After “Pedro Penduko,” his “Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara” and “Maligno” have been turned into teleseryes by ABS-CBN 2. His “Pinakamagandang Hayop” has also been snapped up by GMA 7. If you ask him, reviving his old movies is the ultimate tribute. As bonus, his 1984 film “Snake Sisters” has been picked up by British firm Mondo Macabro for DVD distribution abroad.

ARTICLES - Remembering Castillo 2Dream Project – Says critic Pete Tombs of Mondo Macabro: “I think he’s one of the most visually gifted filmmakers to come out of the Philippines. A true original.” Celso is positive, “I’m far from slowing down. I’m more aggressive now. My goal is to make an international movie soon!”

That dream project would be “Where Willows Grow,” which is set in the Land Down Under and tells the story of a Filipino mail-order bride who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of her Australian husband. “My wish,” he concludes, “is for my films to transcend their ethnic origin and merge with different cultures of the world.” – Bayani San Diego Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 January 2008 (READ MORE)

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1977 MMFF

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

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

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

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

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

Award Winners:

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

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

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

Film Entries:

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

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

ARTICLES - MMFF 1977 7Related Reading:

Remembering Celso Ad Castillo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Queen Vi (Repost)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filmography: Payaso (1986)

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Basic Information: Directed: Celso Ad. Castillo; Story & Screenplay: Celso Ad. Castillo; Cast: German Moreno (Payaso); Gene Palomo, Monique Castillo, Strawberry, Cris Castillo, Bong Agustin, Jograd de la Torre, Mon Alvir, Gary Lising, Julie Ann Juco, Troy Castillo, Dino Castillo, Darling Sumayao, Ruthie Ann Talplacido, Marife Montilla, Divine Grace Gallardo, Jaycee Castillo, Dave Bronson Tolentino, Myra Rigs Rinion, Wynette Bernardo, Arrizon Matienzo, Dania De Jesus; Guest Roles: (listed alphabetically): Jestoni Alarcon, Jojo Alejar, Nora Aunor, Inday Badiday, Ramon Christopher, Sheryl Cruz, Ricky Davao, Janice de Belen, Pops Fernandez, Rudy Fernandez, Eddie Garcia, Janno Gibbs, Eddie Gutierrez, Michael Locsin, Ike Lozada, William Martinez, Jovit Moya, Arlene Muhlach, Martin Nievera, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Kristina Paner, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., Manilyn Reynes, Ronnie Ricketts, Susan Roces, Miguel Rodriguez, Gloria Romero, Vilma Santos, Snooky Serna, Maricel Soriano, Mely Tagasa, Gary Valenciano, Helen Vela, Ronel Victor, Ivy Violan; Original Music: Vehnee Saturno; Cinematography: Romeo Vitug; Film Editing: Abelardo Hulleza; Production Design: Rod Feleo; Sound: Gaudencio Barredo; Visual Effects: Bobbit Pascual, Boy Quilatan; Stunts: Rod Francisco (IMDB)

Plot Description: “…St. Peter inadvertently lost his heavenly keys that the Almighty sends his jester (German Moreno) on planet earth of all places to search for the misplaced keys. Wandering the streets, the petulant clown is greatly grieved by poverty and the moral degradation of man. Worse, the melancholy clown meets his adversary the red devil armed with supernatural powers. Vulnerable and dejected, the harlequin loses his faith and begrudges his master for flaunting his ministration and faithfulness. He demands to see his master and even dares Him to make his presence felt…” – TFC Now (READ MORE)

Film Accomplishments: 1986 MMFF Best Cinematography – Romeo Vitug

Film Reviews: “…The 1986 Metro Manila Film Festival was considered the worst in the 12-year history of the annual 10-day festival of local films, but it set a precedent; it did not give out the traditional first and second best picture awards. Only a third best picture was cited…Romy Vitug won the best cinematography award for Celso Ad Castillo’s Payaso…No awards were given in two other categories, best story and best screenplay. According to Tingting Cojuangco, one of the jurors, the board decided that not one of this year’s seven official entries deserved these awards. The unprecedented move, according to another juror, Nick Deocampo, was arrived at after a heated discussion. An insider said it was spearheaded by Deocampo and another juror, Justino Dormiendo of the Manunuri. In a prepared statement read by Cojuangco during the ceremonies, the board of jurrors announced: “We, the members of the Board of Jurors of the 1986 Metro Manila Film Festival, would like to express our concern over the current state of the Philippine movie industry as reflected in the entries to this year’s MMFF. It added that the entries “failed to reinforce and inculcate positive Filipino values by portraying negative stereotypes, imitating foreign films and perpetuating commercially-oriented movies. “It is in this light that we, therefore, appeal to the Filipino filmmakers to explore other directions of this powerful medium to entertain, enlighten, educate and become a potent force in social change,” the jurors said…” – J C Nigado (READ MORE)

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In Memoriam

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Dolphy – Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr., OGH (July 25, 1928 – July 10, 2012), known by his screen names Dolphy, Pidol, and Golay (1944), was a Filipino comedian-actor in the Philippines. He is widely regarded as the country’s “King of Comedy” for his comedic talent embodied by his long roster of works on stage, radio, television and movies. Dolphy was born on July 25, 1928 in Calle Padre Herrera (now P. Herrera St.) of Tondo, Manila. His father was Melencio E. Quizon, a ship engine worker in the Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company of Manila, and the son of Modesto Quizon and Adorable Quizon (née Espinosa). His mother was Salud V. Quizon (née Vera), the daughter of Maximo Vera and Ninay Vera (née de la Rosa). He was the second eldest of ten children. Dolphy sold peanuts and watermelon seeds at movie theaters as a boy, which enabled him to watch movies for free. He was about thirteen when World War II started. He did odd jobs including shining shoes; attaching buttons at a pants factory; sorting bottles by size; working as a stevedore at the pier; trading; and driving calesas. In his free time he regularly watched stage shows at the Life Theater and the Avenue Theater. His favorite performers included the comedy duo Pugo and Togo, and the dancers Benny Mack and Bayani Casimiro. He started performing onstage during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Dolphy was turning 17 when Benny Mack got him a job as a chorus dancer for a month at the Avenue Theater and subsequently on the Lyric Theater. He also appeared in shows at the Orient Theater. Golay was his first stage name. During air raids, they would interrupt the show and run for the air-raid shelter in the orchestra section together with the audience. If no bombs exploded, the show resumed…Dolphy died on July 10, 2012, 20:34 (Philippine time, 01:34 UTC), at the age of 83 due to multiple organ failure, secondary to complications brought about by pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and acute renal failure. President Benigno Aquino III declared July 13, 2012 as “National Day of Remembrance” in honor of Dolphy’s contributions to the Philippine showbiz industry. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…Dolphy and Vilma Santos did four films together. The first one was in her first year in show biz and in a Dolphy-Chichay film. After six years, the two reunited in one of early films of Nida Blanca and Dolphy. The film was sort of about family planning and birth control. Vi was in minor role and one of the child actors featured in the film. They followed this up with minor roles in the Cirio Santiago’s all-star-cast film. By later part of 1970s, both Dolphy and Vilma became a regular staples in award shows receiving several trophies as box office king and queen. Finally, after almost a decade from their last outings and no longer his film daughter, Dolphy and Vilma did their last film (to this day), this time, Vilma played the leading lady, in a film, ironically, about show business. Also, that year, Doply became the only male actor who portrayed Darna, the female comic-super-heroine in Darna Kuno. Not to be undone, Vilma will reprise the role the following year in her fourth and final film as Darna in Darna at Ding. At present time, both superstars made headlines as contenders for Philippines’ National Artists honors. Vilma respectfully and publicly asked for Dolphy to confer the title ahead of her…” – RV (READ MORE)

Mario O’Hara (Director, Writer (Rubia Servios) – Mario Herrero O’Hara (born April 20, 1946 – died 26 June 2012) was an award-winning Filipino film director, film producer and screenwriter known for his sense of realism often with dark but realistic social messages. He was born in Zamboanga City on April 20, 1946. His mother was Basilisa Herrero, who has Spanish lineage and hails from Ozamis Oriental. His father Jaime O’Hara was the son of Irish-American Thomasite; Jaime was a member of the UP Dramatic club. Mario had eight brothers and three sisters. Because Jaime was the son of an American citizen, Mario’s family was eligible to apply for US citizenship; however, Mario rejected any such offers…He was born in Zamboanga City on April 20, 1946. His mother was Basilisa Herrero, who has Spanish lineage and hails from Ozamis Oriental. His father Jaime O’Hara was the son of Irish-American Thomasite; Jaime was a member of the UP Dramatic club. Mario had eight brothers and three sisters. Because Jaime was the son of an American citizen, Mario’s family was eligible to apply for US citizenship; however, Mario rejected any such offers. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…In 1978, he wrote the screenplay for Lino Brocka’s Rubia Servos. This led to the first award in his film career (Best Screenplay at the Metro Manila Film Festival)…” – Wikipedia

Marilou Diaz-Abaya is a multi-awarded film director in the Philippines. She is the founder and current president of the Marilou Diaz Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center, a film school based in Antipolo City, Philippines. She is the director of José Rizal, a biopicture on the Philippines’ national hero…Diaz directed and released her first feature film, Tanikala (Chains) in 1980. Since then, she has been one of the most active and visible directors in Philippine cinema…Her early films Brutal, Karnal (Of the Flesh), and Alyas Baby Tsina, sharply condemn the oppressive social system during the administration of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. When the Marcos was deposed in 1986, Diaz left filmmaking. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…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)

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

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

Luís Mercado (August 8, 1928 – March 15, 2012) also known as Luís Gonzales, is a Filipino actor who appeared in more than 100 films during his career, most of them by Sampaguita Pictures. Raised in Tondo, Manila, Gonzales may be best known for his portrayals of former President Ferdinand Marcos in two biographical films in the 1960s: Iginuhit ng Tadhana (“Marked by Fate”, 1965), a political propaganda film; and a dramatic film, Pinagbuklod ng Langit (“Heaven was Gathered”, 1965). Actress Gloria Romero starred opposite him as Imelda Marcos in both films. Gonzales and Romero starred in numerous other films together as well. They first worked together on the 1955 film, Despatsadora. In December 2010, Gonzales received a star of the Eastwood Walk of Fame, which marked his last public appearance. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…Pero higit na tumatak si Luis nang gampanan niya ng dalawang beses si Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos. Ito’y sa kontrobersyal na pelikulang “Iginuhit ng Tadhana” bago tumakbo si Marcos bilang presidente noong 1965. Sinundan ito ng “Pinagbuklod ng Langit” noong 1969. Si Imee Marcos, na ginampanan noon ni Vilma Santos, naalala ang galing ni Luis na mahirap na daw tapatan ngayon. “His acting was understated. A great actor and a good friend. He played a big role in our lives. Halos naniniwala na ako na tatay ko siya dahil sa boses. Mahal na mahal namin si Luis Gonzales,” sabi ni Imee. Ayon sa kanyang kabiyak, huling hiling ni Luis na ipa-cremate ang kanyang labi…” – Mario Dumaual (READ MORE)

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The Vindication of Celso Ad Castillo

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

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

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

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