Bagong Porma sa Lumang Pormula

Sa Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan?, Minsan pang pinatunayan ni Danny Zialcita ang kanyang pambihirang abilidad sa pagbibigay ng bagong treatment sa lumang tema ng pag-ibig, na kadalasa’y umiikot sa pormula ng trianggulo. (Hindi nga ba’t maging sa kanyang mga naunang obra tulad ng Hindi sa Iyo Ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna at Ikaw at ang Gabi, ay naitatak ni Zialcita ang kanyang makabagong sensibilidad sa pagtalakay sa mga kuwento ng pag-ibig?) Mula sa istorya ni Tom Adrales (na nagsilbing katulong ni Zialcita sa iskrip at sa direksiyon), ang Gaano Kadalas ay tungkol sa magkaibigang Lily (Vilma Santos) at Elsa (Hilda Koronel), na bagama’t kapwa nakaririwasa sa buhay ay magkaiba naman ng suwerte. Matapos magpatingin si Hilda sa doktor, nalaman niyang wala na siyang pag-asang magkaanak pa. Si Vilma nama’y may kaisa-isang anak nga sa pagkadalaga pero wala naman itong ama at mas grabe pa, may taning na ang buhay ng bata (may congenital heart desease ito). Minsan, nagkahingahan ng problema ang magkaibigan, at sa kanilang pag-uusapa, inalok ni Hilda si Vilma na gawing ama ng kanyang anak ang asawa nitong si Louie (Dindo Fernando). Bagama’t ipinalabas niyang mahal din niya ang bata at gusto niya itong mapaligaya kahit pansamantala lang, ang kanyang tunay na pakay ay mapaglapit ang kaibigan at ang asawa nang sa gayo’y magakaroon siya ng maaampong anak mula sa relasyon ng dalawang taong kapwa niya mahal.

Nagtagumpay ang tatlo sa kanilang pagpapanggap, at gay ng inaasahan, nagka-ibigan nga ang dalawa. Pagkatapos mamatay ang anak, nagbuntis si Vilma. Dahil delikadong manganak siyang muli (diumano’y may sakit siya sa puso), nagtangkang ipalaglag ni Vilma ang nasa kanyang sinapupunan. Napigilan siya ng kaibigang si Chanda Romero at ni Dindo mismo. Perso sa wakas, nang siyang magsilang, nawalan si Elsa ng asawa, kaibigan at anak. Mahusay ang pagkakadevelop sa kuwento ng Gaano Kadalas at epektibo ang direksiyon ni Zialcita. Nagawa nitong masangkot ang manonood sa problema ng mga tauhan. Absorbing ang naging tunggalian ng mga puso’t damdamin. Naipakitang may sapat na motibasyon ang kanyang mga tauhan para pumasok sa ganoong arrangement. Gayunman, may ilang katanungang hindi nasagot sa pelikula. Una, paano nakakasiguro si Hilda na ipagkakaloob sa kanya ni Vilma ang anak nito kay Louie sakali ma’t hindi namatay ang bata? Ikalawa, bakit masyadong naging hayagan ang relasyon nina Vilma’t Dindo lalo pa kung isasaalang-alang ang kanilang tayo sa sosyedad? Ikatlo, kung totoong mapera si Vilma, bakit nahirapan siyang kumontak ng abortionist at dahil nga dito’y isinugal pa ang buhay? Kung tutuusin, lalo pang naging prominente ang mga kakulangang ito dahil lubusang nag-rely ang pelikula sa samu’t saring medical convolutions ng plot: kesyo may anak nga si Vilma pero blue baby naman at kesyo hindi rin siya puwedeng manganak ulit dahil sa sakit niya sa puso (at ang mga ito ay nakapagtatakang hindi pa nalalaman ni Dindo).

Ang madalas magpaangat sa pelikula ay ang acting cast. Dahil mas malaman ang kanyang papel at tila naperfect na ni Vilma Santos and agony ng other woman mas nangibabaw ang kanyang performance kay Hilda Koronel. Kahit na mas marami ang nagsasabing si Hilda ang mas angat dito. Pasulpot-sulpot ang papel ni Hilda at may kahinaan ang motibasyon (isipin mong siya pa ang nagtulak sa sariling asawa sa ibang babae!). Medyo nakaka-distract ang kanilang mga kasuotan (mga gawa ni Christian Espiritu), gaya rin ng ayos ng mga bahay at kasangkapang tila nakikipagkumpetensiya sa tauhan. Epektibo rin ang pagganap ni Dindo Fernando bilang Louie na nakati ang puso para sa dalawang babae. Magagaling din ang supporting cast, lalo na si Suzzanne Gonzales, ang yayang sosyal at ang batang si Alvin Joseph Enriquez. Kahit maikli ang kanilang papel, mahusay rin ang rehistro nina Tommy Abuel, ang doktor na nanliligaw kay Vilma, at si Chanda Romero, bilang matalik na kabibigan ni Vilma. – Justino Dormiendo, Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine 1982, reposted by Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

Chanda Romero and Vilma Santos

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Good Karma – “…Sa taong 1981, nakopo ng pelikulang “Kisapmata” ng Bancom Audio Vision Corporation ang halos lahat ng awards kabilang na ang Best Picture, Best Director (Mike de Leon), Best Screenplay (Clodualdo de Mundo, Raquel Villavicencio & Mike de Leon), Best Actor (Vic Silayan), Best Supporting Actress (Charito Solis), Best Supporting Actor (Jay Ilagan), Best Story (Clodualdo del Mundo, Raquel Villavicencio & Mike de Leon) at Best Editing (Jess Navarro). Dito sa Kisapmata ay dalawang Asia’s Best Actress ang nagkasama (Charito Solis at Charo Santos). Tanging ang best actress award para kay Charo Santos ang hindi nila nakuha dahilan para magwala si Jay Ilagan. Ang Best Actress ay nakamit ni Vilma Santos para sa pelikulang “Karma” samantalang ang Best Child Performer ay si Dranreb Belleza para sa pelikulang Kapitan Kidlat. Ang pelikulang “Ang Babae Sa Ulog” ng Baby Pascual Films & Associates ang naging pangalawang Best Picture. Si Eddie Rodriguez ang naging presentor ng Best Actress Award na sinabing…..and the winner is….your favorite and mine…..Miss Vilma Santos. Si Chanda Romero, na kasama din ni Vi sa pelikulang Karma ang tumanggap ng award ni Vi at nagdayalog pa ng “Ang suwerte ni Vi dahil may Edu na, may Lucky pa at may award pa…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Chanda Romero Chanda Romero is a Philippine actress. She is mostly seen on GMA Network and appeared only once on ABS-CBN. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Chanda Romero and Vilma Santos

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (1986) – “…Often pitted against then-rival Maricel Soriano, she made numerous blockbuster movies with her in the ’80s like Underage, Schoolgirls, Story of Three Loves and Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday, among others. She also had her share of TV shows including the weekly musical variety ‘Always Snooky’ and weekly drama feature on ‘Regal Drama Presents: Snooky’ in ABS-CBN Channel 2. As a mature actress, she tackled roles which earned acting nominations from various award giving bodies. She was also in Kapag Napagod Ang Puso with Christopher de Leon and Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin (Harvest Home – official Philippine entry to the 1995 Oscars) but unfortunately was snubbed during awards night. Her other major films include Aabot Hanggang Sukdulan, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Hahamakin ang Lahat with Vilma Santos, the fantasy films Blusang Itim, Rosa Mistica, and Madonna: Ang Babaing Ahas. It was with Koronang Itim, that she finally won Best Lead Actress trophy. She has starred in over (80) films from 1970 to 2004…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Alyas Baby Tsina (1984) – “…Ang istoryang ito ay matagal nang ikinukuwento sa akin ni William. Wala pa akong asawa, pangarap na ni William na magawa ang pelikula. He had the story at hand. Siya talaga ang nag-negotiate para makuha ang istorya. Noong una nga raw, ayaw pumayag ni Baby Tsina at ng kanyang asawa dahil gusto na nilang kalimutan yun. Eh, si William alam ko yan kung magpilit, tsaka personal kasi niyang kilala si Baby Tsina, nakuha rin ang istorya,” salaysay ni Vilma…”Noong una kong mabasa ang script, ayoko sanang maniwala na nangyari talaga yun. Masyadong cinematic, eh. Para bang sa pelikula at sa komiks lang nangyayari. Until the day nga that I met the real Baby Tsina. Nang siya na ang makuwento sa akin ng naging buhay niya, lalo na after the crime at sa loob Correctional, saka ko lang nalaman na ang nakalagay sa script ay kulang pa pala. Mas matindi ang istorya niya, pero hindi na maaring isamang lahat sa pelikula. Baka namang masyadong humaba eh. Malakas ang istorya. I think the story alone will sell the movie. Lalo na kung iisiping isa itong celebrated case at nasundan ng mga tao noon sa mga diyaryo. Front page stories pa raw lagi iyang si Baby Tsina noon eh…” – Ariel Francisco (READ MORE)

Karma (1981) – “…During the MMFF when Ate Vi won in Karma. It was a triple tie between Ate Vi, Gina Alajar and Charo Santos. JQ as one of board of jurors defended why Ate Vi should win. On the second deliberation JQ convinced one of the jurors and Ate Vi won by 1 point. JQ lambasted on his TV program the jurors in the MMFF when Ate Vi was not even nominated for her performance in Langis At Tubig. The nominees are Nora Aunor for “Bona” and “Kung Akoy IIwan Mo” and Amy Austria for Brutal. Its good that Amy won. JQ said that Ate Vi is good in langis compared to Nora in “Kung Akoy IIwan.” Obiously that was manipulated by Dean Lukresia Kasilag who was the Board Chairman that time and a certified Noranian. Kawawa talaga si Ate Vi basta involved si Kasilag lagi syang nabibiktima. Remember Rubia Serbios and Atsay. JQ always regarded Ate Vi as the real Queen of Philippine movies and a certified box Office Queen…” – V Magazine (READ MORE)

Apoy sa ilalim, apoy sa ibabaw (1977) – “…Vilma herself gives the credit to her willingness to learn. The process was sometimes painful but, says Vilma, she knew it was all part of her education. I am now 28 years in this business and everything I have learned has made me a stronger woman. Even the troubles, the intrigues – they have made me a stronger woman. I’m always learning. For example, there was a part of my career that was for me a very expensive education.” She had set up a production company of her own that, it turned out, was mostly producing debts.‘ That was about 15 years ago. I tried producing and I made about five movies for VS Films, my own outfit. It was managed by my mother, not by me personally, and Mama is so good people take advantage of her. Before I knew it I was drowning in debt. I was pregnant at the time, 1980, when I learned I had a debt of six million pesos! And I didn’t even know if, after giving birth, audiences would still accept me. How was I to survive? I prayed; I told God I was willing to work, sarado ang mata, just to pay off all those debts. And with his blessings I was given a second chance. After giving birth to my son, my career got a second chance and became even more successful: not only did I continue to be box-office but I was winning awards right and left…” – Quijano De Manila (READ MORE)

Dyesebel At Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe (1973) – “…In the 1973 Dyesebel movie, Dyesebel lives in an undersea kingdom of mermaids far from the land of humans because the humans believe that the mermaids are the cause of misfortune. Dyesebel fell in love with a male human being. In order to be with the man that she likes, she swore to find a way to be transformed into a female human being. In the movie, “Si Dyesebel at Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe,” the role of Dyesebel was played by Vilma Santos and Fredo was played by Romeo Miranda…” – Jun B (READ MORE)

Tsismosang tindera (1973) – “…Jay Ilagan and Vilma Santos did twelve films with commercial success except for one, their most critically acclaimed film, Sister Stella L. Total Number of films: 12 (Inspiration, Ang Konduktora, Tsismosang Tindera, Ang Hiwaga ni Mariang Cinderella, Paano Ba Ang Mangarap, Sister Stella L, Coed, Leron Leron Sinta, Ito Ang Pilipino, Remembrance, Karugtong Ng Kahapon)…” – RV (READ MORE)

Cariñosa (1973) – “…He became the leading man of Nora Aunor after Tirso Cruz III. Theirs was also a popular tandem. Decades later, when I finally got to talk to Nora during an interview, she revealed that their working relationship wasn’t really all that pleasant. Manny disappeared from the scene when Nora moved on to become a more serious actress. Whatever happened to Manny de Leon? When last heard from — many, many years ago — it was full of speculations and, sadly, those bits of information about him were unpleasant…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

Lipad Darna Lipad (1973) – “…Top Record-Breaking Box-office Film of 1973; The first of four Darna films starring Vilma Santos; One of Vilma Santos and Gloria Romero 13 films – (Anak ang Iyong Ina, Iginuhit ng Tadhana, De Colores, Pinagbuklod ng Langit, Anak ng Aswang, Lipad Darna Lipad, Happy Days are Here Again, Karugtong ang Kahapon, Nakakahiya?, Hindi Nakakahiya, Makahiya at Talahib, Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig?, Kapag Langit Ang Humatol)…” – RV (READ MORE)

Ang Konduktora (1972) – “…Handog ng Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions…..”destination film with the versatile jet set tandem…..” Ang Konduktora (September 14, 1972) nina Vi at Jay Ilagan kasama sina Beth Manlongat, Ruben Tizon, Pepot, Greg Lozano, Chanda Romero at Patria Plata sa direksiyon ni Romy Suzara…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Related Reading:

Apoy Sa Ibabaw, Apoy Sa Ilalim (1977)


Basic Info: Screenplay, Director: Ben Feleo; Cast: Romeo Vasquez; Chanda Romero; Lorna Tolentino; Barbara Luna; Original Music: Demet Velasquez; Cinematography: Max de la Peña; Release Date: December 9 1977; Production Co: VS Films – IMDB

Plot Description: No information available except that the Vilma Santos’ birthday celebration was added as bonus feature of the film.

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “…Ate Vi made around 198 films from 1963 to 2002. This includes cameo appearances in Dugo at Pagibig sa Kapirasong Lupa, Mga Mata ni Angelita, Huwag Hamakin Hostess (with Nora Aunor and Alma Moreno with Vilma getting Orestes Ojeda in the end), Candy, No Other Love, Charot, Rizal Alih, Engkanto, and ‘Bukas Sisikat Din Ang Araw’, a Gabby-Snooky starrer, produced by friend Gabby Concepcion…” – The 28th (READ MORE)

Victoria Lorna Aluquin, better known as Lorna Tolentino, sometimes known as L.T., an abbreviation of her screen name (born December 23, 1961), is a Filipina actress, host, executive producer and widow of actor Rudy Fernandez. Together, they bore two sons named Ralph and Renz. She was born on December 23, 1961 in Concepcion, Tarlac and later moved to Manila. Her dad is from Liliw, Laguna. She is also the stepmother of actor Mark Anthony Fernandez. She is first cousin to actress Amy Austria and a niece of actor Jerry Pons. She was married to Rudy Fernandez from 1983 till his untimely death in 2008. They had two children. She attended the elementary grades at St. Anthony School where she also finished high school She took up a Bachelor of Arts course at St. Paul College in Quezon City, and also at the University of Santo Tomas and Maryknoll College. She started her career as a child actress. Later, she portrayed the young Susan Roces in Divina Gracia and has a total of at least 60 movies. She has won eight film awards and garnered 20 nominations (mostly for Best Actress in FAMAS). She’s also one of the Grandslam actresses in the Philippine Cinema together with Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos and Sharon Cuneta. She won her Grandslam Best Actress for Narito Ang Puso Ko (1993). – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: KARMA

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Plot Description: Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when she scheduled to flight was delayed. At a hotel where she is staying, Sarah encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valdez), a regular guest who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiancé, Alfredo (Tommy Abuel) whose dream of marrying a “virgin” is dashed. Strangely, Sarah and Eric’s paths cross again at a time when their respective marriages are in disarray. Their meeting strikes both as “déjà vu.” Could it be that they have met each other in the past? Their suspicious are confirmed after Eric consults a psychic. As it turns out, Sarah and Eric are the reincarnation of Guada and Enrico, two lovers who had an illicit affair sixty years ago. When Guada’s husband, Limbo (Ruel Vernal), learned of her affair, he went on a murderous rampage. Now Sarah and Eric seem destined to follow the same path. But in whose spouse does the spirit of Limbo rest? Is it the disabled Alfredo? Or Eric’s estranged wife Cristy (Chanda Romero)? – Viva Films

Film Review: The technical preview of “Karma” the other night was delayed for about an hour but I did not mind waiting because I was quite certain that I’d be seeing a fine film. To while away the time, “Firecracker,” co-starring American actors with local talents like Chanda Romero, Vic Diaz, and Rey Malonzo was shown. Chanda and Vic delivered their lines themselves but surprisingly Rey didn’t. Before one whole reel could roll, the prints of “Karma” arrived. “Don’t stop it yet, a bed scene is coming,” Mario Bautista protested. Happily, “Karma” turned out to be as good as I expected. It’s performers are first-rate – Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero – so their award-winning acting didn’t surprise me at all. The script was outstanding but even that was expected, coming from director Danny Zialcita. What impressed me was that minor parts were played by name actors. The housekeeper who appeared in one short sequence could have been played by any elderly woman but those who made the movie wanted nothing less than Etang Discher. The psychiatrist could have been played by any decent-looking man but they didn’t settle for anybody less than Vic Silayan. The male lover at the start of the story had to be acted out by Dante Rivero, that at the end by Christopher de Leon. The movie boasted of several bold scenes. Those involving Vilma weren’t much as we know for a fact that Vilma could show only so much. One scene showing Chanda was a different story. It showed her with absolutely nothing on, yet it didn’t offend anybody as it was executed in style, shot with great care. There was just one thing, which looked unnatural to me – the way in which one of the main characters killed himself. “That’s all right,” Danny assured me. “Before we shot it, we double-checked its possibility.” Reincarnation and transference are undoubtedly mind-boggling subjects but, to his utmost credit, Danny managed to present them simply, bringing them down for everybody to understand. “Bala lang yan. Katawan lang ito. Babalik at babalik kami sa mundong ito,” Dante vowed. Come back they did as they promised building the foundation of the story. – Bob Castillo, People’s Journal Dec. 12, 1981 (READ MORE)

Sa pagbabago ng estado ni Vilma Santos, tila nagbabago na rin ang kanyang approach sa kanyang career. Dahil hindi na career ang unang priority niya sa buhay, lalong nagiging professional ang kanyang tingin sa trabaho. Dahil hindi na twenty-four hours a day ang kanyang buhay artista, alam na niyang I-apportion ang bawat minuto na walang aksaya. Sa set ng Relasyon ni Ishmael Bernal, hangang-hanga ang director sa bagong pang-unawa ni Vilma sa trabaho. Dumarating sa oras, kabisado ang linya (memorizing lines for Vilma, of course, was never a problem even the days she was shooting five pictures simultaneously), full attention sa sinasabi ng direktor, walang problema. Kung pagbabasehan sa naging resulta ng Karma, lalong maganda ngayon si Vilma, mas mariin ang kanyang pagganap, mas mature ang kanyang approach at understanding sa kaniyang papel. Swerteng-swerte ang pagkapanalo niya ng best actress sa nakaraang Film fest. Sayang at wala siya upang tanggapin mismo ang tropeo. Pero lalong naging makabuluhan para sa kanya ang sinabi ng kapwa niya artista sa Karma nang sabihin ni Chanda Romero na “napakaganda naman ng karma ni Vilma. Mayroon na siyang Edu, mayroon siyang Lucky, ngayon ay mayroon pa siya nito (ang ibig sabihin ay ang best actress trophy),” sabay tilian ng mga fans sa loob ng Cultural Center, walang makapigil, walang makasaway. Pero, gaya ng dati, hindi naging madali kay Vilma ang pananalo. Nagpatas ang botohan ng dalawang beses – triple tie sila ni Gina Alajar at Charo Santos, hanggang ma-break ang deadlock at nakaungos ng isang boto si Vilma sa dalawa pa niyang kalaban. Tinawagan si Vilma ni Cirio Santiago, pinasundo sa isang limousine, pero nagdahilan ang Vilma. Ayaw niya sigurong umasa dahil minsan, sa isang awards night din, sinigurong siya ang mananalo pero hindi ganun ang nangyari. (I understand that Vilma really won but the verdict was changed afterwards through the representations and machinations of some influential press sectors.) Kunsabagay, wala rin si Charito Solis noong awards dahil sabi sa akin ni Chato, talagang hindi niya inaasahang manalo ang maliit na papel na iyon sa Kisapmata. Noon pa mang preview pa lamang, maugong na ang balitang baka si Charito ang manalo bilang supporting actress pero hindi niya yun pinansin dahil tiyak na tiyak siya na si Vic Silayan ang mananalo. Sinabi pa niya sa interview niya kay Armida Siguion-Reyna sa Let’s Talk Movies na napakagaling ni Vic. Sa set pa lamang daw, natitiyak na niya halos na si Vic ay mananalo sa Kisapmata. Sa naturan ding programa, sinabi ni Armida sa pagre-review niya ng Karma na talagang magaling ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma sa Karma na parang nakuha nitong punuan ang ilang mahalagang kakulangan ng pelikula. – Oscar Miranda (READ MORE)

“26 years after we first seen “Karma,” the film remained Vilmanians’ favorites and one of Dany Zialcita’s best film. Glossy with crisp dialouge, the film was a big hit at the 1981 Metro Manila Film Festival and earned Vilma the festival’s best actress. Here was what movie reporter Mario Bautista said about her acting: “Ibang-iba” rin ang Vilma Santos sa “Karma.” Subdued na subdued ang performance ni Vi rito unlike in other films na all out ang emoting niya. Dito’y restrained siay at napaka-effective. Halimbawa sa eksena after the rape sa kanya ni Ronaldo Valdez. Nang sabihin niyang siya’y patungo sa kasal niya’y halos hindi na marinig ang kanyang tinig pero talaga namang damang-dama mo ang kirot sa kanyang dibdib. O kaya’y sa mga tagpong sinusumbatan siya ni Tommy Abuel na nanatili siyang kalmado at soft-spoken. We never thought Vilma can be that versatile!” – RV (READ MORE)

Zialcita’s first movie with Vilma was the 1980 festival entry, a drama about bigamy, Langis at Tubig. The following year, Zialcita and Santos joined forces again in antoher festival entry, Karma. The film earned Vilma her second Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. The following year, Ziacita’s Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan broke box office record, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila and assured Vilma Santos the box office queen of 1982. The total number of Vilma Santos and Danny Zialcita colloborations were four (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, Karma 1981, Langis at Tubig 1980, T-Bird at Ako). – RV (READ MORE)

“One of the most misunderstood occult concepts. The nearest equivalent in European thought is contained in the idea of fate, though the oriental term indicates the fate is not a haphazard sequence of events of experiences, but is dependent on actions of previous lives or spiritual conditions. The idea is that a spirit undertakes to live in an earthy body for a given period of time, usually in order to learn something which cannot be learned in a disembodied state, and has to accept rewards and punishments for good and bad deeds committed in previous incarnations. In order that understanding may grow, any evil committed against another person will have to be experienced by the perpetrator. The working out of Karma is not done consciously by ordinary people. The real reasons for the majority of people’s actions and relationships may be understood only when nature of their Karma is grasped – which is tantamount to saying that it is virtually impossible to understand or judge another person when seen in the context of one material lifetime only. Vilma Santos fits the role to a T. For the past years that she has suffered a string of major misfortunes and setbacks in real and reel life, she has hone herself as promise, a common objective: to give the viewing public what it wants – entertainment with a capital E. For Danny Zialcita, aside from having a good screenplay, good direction and brilliant actors and actresses, the movie should have artistic values. Karma promises to be a very good vehicle not only for Zialcita but also for Vilma Santos and the rest of the cast. Will this movie be a good KARMA for director Danny Zialcita, Vilma Santos and the rest of the cast? Watch the movie! It’ll be a different kind of feeling you’ll get after viewing it.” – Bond De Leon (READ MORE)

“…First, Karma is a quality picture. According to Mr. Ernie Rojas ng Sining Silangan, it was produiced not only to make it good in the box-office kungdi maging sa mga awards. Kungsabagay, may laman ang sinabi ni Mr. Rojas simply because Langis at Tubig, which was also producede by Sining Silangan last year, placed second in the tops earners and bagged the Best Actor Award for Dindo Fernando. Second, matagal na ring naipalabas ang latest film ni Vi na Hiwalay. Samakatuwid, maganda ang spacing ng mga pelikula niya, ‘Ika nga, hindi over-exposed ang beauty ni Vi. Dahil dito, nandiyan pa rin ang pananabik ng manonood kaya’t siguradong dudumugin ang Karma. …” – Manny A. Valera (READ MORE)

“…In my limited understanding it takes lifetimes to work off one’s karma. Movies, however, only run for two hours so filmmakers have to take liberties. In Danny Zialcita’s 1981 film Karma the protagonists have the added advantage of knowing exactly who they were in their past lives, thanks to a psychiatrist (Vic Silayan) who practices regression hypnosis. Eric (Ronaldo Valdez, who is smoking, and not just in the library where he researches his former incarnation) and Sarah (Vilma Santos) have already met under awful circumstances, but it turns out they’ve known each other much longer than that. In the past they were Enrico and Guada, illicit lovers murdered by Guada’s husband, Limbo. Limbo vows to follow them to the next life, but which form does he take? Is he now Enrico’s mentally unbalanced, pathologically jealous wife Cristy (Chanda Romero), or Sarah’s cruel, sadistic husband Alfredo (Tommy Abuel). It’s not a whodunnit, it’s a who-will-do-it? Vilma Santos turns in another fine portrayal of emotional turmoil. Nora Aunor had the advantage of expressing volumes with her eyes; Vilma expresses with her face, hands, and entire body. Nora was inward, Vilma outward. Ronaldo Valdez gives an understated performance, coolly delivering lines like, “In love there’s no measure of time”. Tommy Abuel overacts ridiculously, even for a guy so suspicious that he has his wife examined by a gynecologist to see if she’s had sex. Chanda Romero is fabulous. Her Cristy is a psychotic who never raises her voice; you can tell she has tranquilizers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The first time Cristy and Sarah meet is at the antique store Sarah manages at the old Virra Mall. Cristy breezes in, picks out a bunch of stuff, and announces that she doesn’t carry cash or credit cards, just send the bill to her husband. She points to another piece she buys, and Sarah says, helpfully, “That’s P9,500.” “Ok lang,” Cristy says, “Nagtanong ba ako? (Did I ask?)” One thing about Danny Zialcita movies: his rich people looked and sounded like rich people. He made movies for sophisticated grown-ups. If they don’t make movies like Zialcita’s anymore, it’s because people are no longer that articulate. Nobody casually tosses off bon mots anymore, everything has to be overstated for the dim. So we Zialcita fans are reduced to reciting favorite lines from his movies: “Puede bang makausap ang asawa ko na asawa mo na asawa ng buong bayan?” (May I speak to my husband who’s your husband who’s everybody’s husband?)…” – Jessica Rules The Universe (READ MORE)

Filmography: Cariñosa (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Romy Susara; Story: Nestor Torre Jr.; Screenplay: Nestor Torre Jr.; Cast: Vilma Santos, Manny De Leon, Yoyoy Villame, Chanda Romero, Virginia Montes, Patria Plata, Ven Medina, Tito Arevalo, Ruth Farinas, Romeo Miranda, Elizabeth Vaughen, Doming Viray, Romy Luartes, Pons De Guzman, The Bordon Sisters, Greg Lozano, Beth Manlongat, Angelito; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin Lobo

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: Second Vilma Santos-Manny De Leon film.

Film Review: “…Besides teaming up with Edgar Mortiz during her teen years, Vilma Santos also starred and appeared in many movies opposite other leading men…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

“…He became the leading man of Nora Aunor after Tirso Cruz III. Theirs was also a popular tandem. Decades later, when I finally got to talk to Nora during an interview, she revealed that their working relationship wasn’t really all that pleasant. Manny disappeared from the scene when Nora moved on to become a more serious actress. Whatever happened to Manny de Leon? When last heard from — many, many years ago — it was full of speculations and, sadly, those bits of information about him were unpleasant…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

“…Romy Suzara comes back with Tinik. The film, which stars Raymond Bagatsing and Hayden Kho, tells the story of a middle-aged couturier who faces the many problems of being gay, and in the midst of all his struggles, tries to hold on to his own dignity. Romy rose to fame in the early ’70s with movies like Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma and Cariñosa, both starring Vilma Santos…” – The Philippine Star), 06 September 2013 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Tsismosang Tindera (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Cast: Vilma Santos, Jay Ilagan, Ike Lozada, German Moreno, Chanda Romero, Beth Manlongat, Romeo Miranda, Baby Alcaraz, Boyet Cruz, Angelito; Executive Producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Danny Subido; Cinematography: Benjamin Lobo

Plot Description: Gossipy street vendor Vilma found love (trouble!) Jay in this comedy directed by Borlaza!

Film Achievement: “…Borlaza gave Vilma Santos her very first best actress, winning the 1972 FAMAS for via Dama De Noche. He is also credited in narrowing the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor. Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 4 (#10 Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, #32 Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe 1973, #48 Darna and the Giants 1973, #49 Dama De Noche 1972)…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Jay Ilagan and Vilma Santos did twelve films with commercial success except for one, their most critically acclaimed film, Sister Stella L. Total Number of films: 12 (Inspiration, Ang Konduktora, Tsismosang Tindera, Ang Hiwaga ni Mariang Cinderella, Paano Ba Ang Mangarap, Sister Stella L, Coed, Leron Leron Sinta, Ito Ang Pilipino, Remembrance, Karugtong Ng Kahapon)…” – RV (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…Besides teaming up with Edgar Mortiz during her teen years, Vilma Santos also starred and appeared in many movies opposite other leading men…Jay Ilagan — Inspiration (1972), Ang Konduktora (1972), Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma (1972), Tsismosang Tindera (1973), Ang Hiwaga ni Maria Cinderella (1973)…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

“…His films lack the arthouse style and social relevance that critics loves most in a Brocka or Bernal films but who cares about the critics when the paying public loves them. And the producers demand his service, from Doc Perez of Sampaguita Pictures, Atty. Esperidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions and later on, Vic Del Rosario of Viva Films and Lily Monteverde of Regal Films. Clearly, his films exists with one purpose, to entertain the masses not to depress or remind them with the country’s sad fate of economy or the below poverty line lives of many. The success of the Vilma-Borlaza films gave Vilma Santos versatility and preparation to a more serious acting career. It also narrowed the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor. These are perhaps, the most significant contributions of Emmanuel Borlaza to Vilma’s career. Vilma who was considered only second to Nora couldn’t matched her singing talent and so, Borlaza countered this lack of singing with films that showcased Vilma’s acting versatility…” – RV (READ MORE)

Filmography: Now And Forever (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Tommy Abuel, Mercy Pantamaria, Lorli Villanueva, Ernie Zarate, Buth Josue, Jaime Asensio, Ed Villapol, Tony Carrion, Carmen Jiongco, Chito Guerero, Chanda Romero, Elizabeth Vaughn, Randy Robledo; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Cinematography: Benjamin Lobo

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: Total Number of Bernal directed films = 8 (Broken Marriage, Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Good Morning Sunshine, Ikaw ay Akin, Inspiration, Now and Forever, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, Relasyon)

Film Review: “…By late 1969, movie producers had been tapping a Vilma Santos-Edgar Mortiz love team. Edgar was a Tawag ng Tanghalan winner. They started to be together in the movies, My Darling Eddie (1969) and The Jukebox King (1969)…In 1970, the love team of Vilma Santos and Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz was officially launched in the movie Young Love, together with the another popular love team during that time, Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III. The Vi and Bot love team went on to do 14 more movies in 1970—The Young Idols, Songs and Lovers, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Love Letters, Love is for the Two of Us, Mga Batang Bangketa, My Pledge of Love, Renee Rose, Baby Vi, Because You Are Mine, Edgar Loves Vilma, From the Bottom of My Heart, and I Love You Honey. All did well at the box-office…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)

“…Noong Dekada ’70, ang mga young stars ay kailangang marunong kumanta dahil yun ang uso kaya naman nagtayo ng sariling recording company ang nasirang manager ni Vi na si William Leary dahil ayaw niyang pahuhuli sa uso ang kanyang alaga. Ilan sa mga naging recording artists ng WILEARS RECORDS bukod kay Vi ay sina Edgar Mortiz, Ed Finlan, Sahlee Quizon, Hilda Koronel at Esperanza Fabon. According to Vi, kapag nagrerecord siya ng kanta ay nakatalikod siya sa dingding ng recording company at si Bobot ang umaalalay sa kanya. Ang SIXTEEN, na sinulat ni Danny Subido ang unang recording na ginawa ni Vi at ito ay flipsided by It’s So Wonderful To Be In Love. Ang SIXTEEN ay agad naging gold record at dahil dito ay gumawa ng pelikula ang Tagalog Ilang Ilang Productions, ang home studio ni Vi at ito ay ginawa nilang pamagat katambal si Edgar Mortiz. Hindi nyo naitatanong, muntik nang manalo si Vi bilang most promising singer sa AWIT AWARDS noong early ’70s…” – Alfons. Valencia (READ MORE)

“…The loveteam of Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos endured a stiff competition from teeny bopper love team of Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III and came up with equal success with string of hit films during the musical era of the 70s. Together they did forgettable but commercial hits and also some hints of the years to come to Vilma Santos’ long career. The most notable one: Dama De Noche. Total Number of films with Vilma Santos – 25 (Young Love, Teenage Jamboree, Songs and Lovers, Renee Rose, My Pledge of Love, Mga Batang Bangketa, Love Is for the Two of Us, I Love You Honey, From the Bottom of My Heart, Baby Vi, Love Letters, The Wonderful World of Music, The Sensations, The Young Idols, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Leron-Leron Sinta, Edgar Love Vilma, Don’t Ever Say Goodbye, Dama de Noche, Anak ng Aswang, Because You Are Mine, Kampanerang Kuba, Kasalanan Kaya, Karugtong ang Kahapon…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…The following year, Santos made fourteen films, mostly forgettable musicals. It was also a year where her benefactor started to positioned her as more of a film actress than a singing film star. The results was successful experiments that showcased her comedic ability (Ang Kundoktora), screaming action stunts (Takbo Vilma Dali) and dramatic capability (Dama De Noche). Her followers was delighted when she earned her first acting recognition the next year receiving the FAMAS best actress via Dama De Noche. Most of her films in 1972 were directed by Emmanuel Borlaza however, she was able to do one film with Ishmael Bernal, “Inspiration” with the late Jay Ilagan, one of her regular film partner. According to Bernal, the film wasn’t as successful as what he expected, as the film flopped. Aside from Inspiration, Bernal did two other films, El Vibora (starring Vic Vargas and Boots Anson Roa) and Till Death Do Us Part (starring the young Hilda Koronel and Victor Laurel). 1973 turned out to be a banner year for Vilma Santos as she emerged on top with box office hits one film after another. Nine films altogether that featured her in different genres (comedy – “Tsismosang Tindera;” fantasy – “Maria Cinderella,” “Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe” and ”Ophelia at Paris;” action/fantasy – “Wonder Vi,” “Lipad, Darna, Lipad,” and “Darna and the Giants;” horror – “Anak ng Aswang” and teenybopper – “Carinosa” and “Now and Forever”). While Vilma was productive Bernal, like the past two years did only two films, one was the comedy fantasy starring television host and comedian Ariel Ureta in a spin off of Superman, “Zoom, Zoom, Superman!” and “Now and Forever” the film that reunited him with Jay Ilagan and Vilma…” – RV (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Dyesebel At Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story: Mars Ravelo; Cast: Vilma Santos, Romeo Miranda, Divina Valencia, Mina Aragon, Rossana Marquez, Chanda Romero, Joseph Sytangco, Elizabeth Vaughn, Patria Plata, Lito Calzado, Ricky Valencia, Greg Lozano, Chris Santos, Dave Esguerra, Romy Luartes, Doming Viray, SOS Daredevils; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Editing: Gervacio Santos; Art Direction: Honorato Dela Paz; Sound: Angel Avellana

Plot Description: A Mars Ravelo classic about a young mermaid named Dyesebel who lives in an undersea kingdom with other mermaids. They are outcasts, not wanted on earth, believing their presence is bad luck. But when she falls in love with a human being, she vows to do everything yto have legs and become a part of her earthly love’s world… even if it means risking her life. – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

One of the most popular and best-loved creatures of local folk mythology, Dyesebel is reincarnated in the person of winsome superstar Vilma Santos. The mermaid is driven from the deep sea literally into the arms of a mortal ashore, the good-looking and moreno Fredo, played by singer, Romeo Miranda, whose fascination for her turns to love. Against all odds, their love for each other is put to a series of tests as they face a shocked and disbelieving human society and the dangers and intrigues in dry land. A funny, sad, suspenseful, wonderful and infinitely entertaining movie. Also starring Ike Lozada, Mina Aragon, German Moreno, and Divina Valencia. Produced by Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions under the direction of Emmanuel H. Borlaza. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: 2nd Top Grosser of the 8th Manila Film Festival; Best Sound Recording – Angel Avellana

For the record: – “…FPJ Productions’ Ang Agila at ang Araw with a total gross receipt of P561,128 was adjudged the top grosser of the festival. Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions’ Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, the first day top grosser came in close second with P499,463. Roda Productions’ Nueva Vizcaya was third with P461,405…” – VIdeo48 (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…On Darna and Dyesebel. “Darna (she did four Darna movies) and Dyesebel were very difficult to do. I wore body stockings underneath the Darna costumes. Just before I was presented to the press in my Darna costume, Douglas Quijano, Alfie Lorenzo and William Leary convinced me that the body stockings didn’t look good and there was nothing to be afraid of because, I had good skin. I took off the stockings and since then I wore the Darna costume without them. Dyesebel was harrowing. It took 10 people to help me into the costume and out of it. If I needed to go to the toilet, they created a hole on the costume to make my life bearable. When I did these movies, we weren’t as wired as we are today. In Darna, I was tied and lifted to simulate flying. It was physically punishing…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

In the 1973 Dyesebel movie, Dyesebel lives in an undersea kingdom of mermaids far from the land of humans because the humans believe that the mermaids are the cause of misfortune. Dyesebel fell in love with a male human being. In order to be with the man that she likes, she swore to find a way to be transformed into a female human being. In the movie, “Si Dyesebel at Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe,” the role of Dyesebel was played by Vilma Santos and Fredo was played by Romeo Miranda. – Jun B (READ MORE)

“…1973’s Dyesebel (aka Si Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, or “Dyesebel and the Magic Conch”) is what would today be referred to as a reboot, with beloved Filipino star Vilma Santos taking over in the title role. Mars Ravelo would make 1973 a very busy year for Santos, as she had also made her debut as Darna that year, in Lipad, Darna, Lipad!, and would go on to complete a second Darna feature before the year was out. As did the Darna pictures, this Dyesebel benefits greatly from the undeniable raw charm of Santos, who, in place of Edna Luna’s ethereal glamour, provides a likeable and approachable portrayal of the mermaid heroine as a loveable and trouble prone naïf. This new Dyesebel, directed by Emmanuel H. Borlazza, takes even further than its predecessor the idea of the mermaids as something feared and reviled by the human world. This is illustrated in a scene where a group of them comes ashore only to be met by a maniacal, sword-and-pitchfork wielding mob. A graphically violent fight follows, with much blood spilled and many a fin brutally slashed (I think that would count as “HMV” for “Human on Mermaid Violence”, for those keeping track.) In addition to this bracing infusion of gore, Dyesebel also welcomes us to the 1970s with a generous display of boobs (none of them Santos’s) and an absurdly confident rolling out of bush league special effects. Among these last are a giant seahorse upon which Dyesebel and Fredo (Romeo Miranda) ride during a romantic interlude and an adorable giant octopus from which Dyesebel is saved by a helpful swarm of puppet electric eels…” – Todd, Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! (READ MORE)

“…The mermaid character, presumably inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, was conceived by Mars Ravelo, serialized in Pilipino Komiks in 1952-53 and illustrated by Elpidio Torres. It has nothing to do at all with the 1938 Hollywood classic Jezebel (starring Bette Davis) except that the titles are soundalike. The first Dyesebel movie was made by Manuel Vista Production/Premiere Productions in 1953, with Edna Luna in the title role, directed by Gerardo de Leon. The leading man was Jaime dela Rosa as Fredo. If memory serves, Hollywood has so far done only two mermaid movies, Splash, with Darryl Hannah in the title role and Tom Hanks as co-star and an animated feature. Other actresses who have played Dyesebel include: Eva Montes in Anak ni Dyesebel (1964); Vilma Santos (1973); Alma Moreno in Sisid, Dyesebel, Sisid (1978); Alice Dixson (1990); and Charlene Gonzalez (1996). On TV, Marian Rivera played it, with Dingdong Dantes as leading man. In the ABS-CBN version, Dawn Zulueta will play Dyesebel’s mother with Sam Milby and Gerald Anderson as leading men. The Fredo character has been played by Romeo Miranda (with Vilma), Matt Ranillo III (Alma), Richard Gomez (with Alice) and Matthew Mendoza (with Charlene)…” – Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, 10 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

“…Aside from the three most popular characters from the pages of “Komiks,” Ravelo is also behind the superheroes Lastikman, Dragonna, Flash Bomba, Tiny Tony, Trudis Liit, Kapitan Boom, and Jack and Jill, among others. Since her 1947 comicbook debut, Darna has been played by over 15 different actresses in TV and films, with Vilma Santos’ 1970s portrayal considered to be the most iconic take…” – ABS-CBN News, 12 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (1982)

“If he goes, you go, if he dies…dalawa na kayong nawala sa buhay ko.” – Lily

“You’re supposed to be the father of the sick boy, not the willing husband of the boy’s mother! That was the arrangement Louie!” – Elsa

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Basic Information: Directed: Danny Zialcita; Story: Tom Adrales; Screenplay: Tom Adrales, Danny Zialcita; Cast: Vilma Santos, Hilda Koronel, Dindo Fernando, Chanda Romero, Tommy Abuel, Mark Joseph Enriquez, Suzanne Gonsales; Executive producer: Vic del Rosario Jr.; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Jr.; Sound: Vic Macamay; Theme Songs: “Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan” performed by Pilita Corales, Basil Valdez; Released date: 25 November 1982

Plot Description: They are two women in love with one man. One is the wife, the other is the mistress. And between them, the man whose love and time they share. But even the most discreet of affairs can be laid open, and the most submissive of wives can lose her patience. Vilma Santos, Hilda Koronel and Dindo Fernando lend their thespic talents to this moving tale of love, betrayal and retribution.. – IMDB

Lily (Vilma Santos) and Elsa (Hilda Koronel) have been friends for a long time but they both share loads of life’s difficulties. Elsa is married to Louie (Dindo Fernando) but unfortunately couldn’t bear a child. Elsa on the other hand, had a son out of wedlock and worse, is afflicted with congenital heart disease. Lily and Louie eventually fell in love until they had a child. Elsa’s hidden intention is to adopt their child. Vilma Santos, Hilda Koronel and Dindo Fernando was able to portray their characters in a moving tale of love, betrayal and retribution. – Wikipilipinas

Film Achievement: 1982 FAP Best Sound – Vic Macamay; 1982 FAMAS Best Editing – Ike Jarlego, Jr.; 1982 FAMAS Best Musical Score – George Canseco; 1982 FAMAS Best Screenplay – Tom Adrales and Danny Zialcita; 1982 FAMAS Best Story – Tom Adrales; 1982 FAMAS Best Sound – Vic Macamay; 1982 FAMAS Best Theme Song – George Canceso; 1982 FAMAS nomination Best Actor – Dindo Fernando; 1982 FAMAS nomination Best Child Actor – Mark Joseph Enriquez; 1982 FAMAS nomination Best Director – Danny Zialcita; 1982 FAMAS nomination Best Picture; 1982 FAMAS nomination Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Abuel; Broke box office record of 1982, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila

Zialcita’s first movie with Vilma was the 1980 festival entry, a drama about bigamy, Langis at Tubig. The following year, Zialcita and Santos joined forces again in another festival entry, Karma. The film earned Vilma her second Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. The following year, Ziacita’s Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan broke box office record, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila and assured Vilma Santos the box office queen of 1982. The total number of Vilma Santos and Danny Zialcita colloborations were four (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, Karma 1981, Langis at Tubig 1980, T-Bird at Ako). – RV (READ MORE)

“…Gaano kadalas ang Minsan? Grossed 7.3 Million in its few days run in Metro Manila in 1982 outgrossing “Sinasamba Kita” for Philippine movies’ all-time box office tally. With inflation and currency rate in consideration that will be around 95 million. But that’s not the only exciting thing about these film. It was the only film that Vilma Santos and Hilda Koronel did while atleast when Hilda was still at her peak. Ofcourse, Ate Vi’s career remained as hot as ever while Koronel now accepts supporting roles. It was obvious that year that Hilda was also more glamourous than Vilma but looking at the two right now, Vilma maintained that slim, youthful look while Hilda struggled and visibly gained so much weight she can be mistaken as Ate Vi’s aunt or mother! After Gaano Kadalas, Hilda did a few more leading roles under Viva Films even co-starred with Nora Aunor but didn’t get the same results as Gaano. But like what William Leary says, “mahirap matalbugan si Vilma, Vilma is Vilma in any season and whatever movie!…” – MPL (READ MORE)

Film Review: Sa “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?,” minsan pang pinatunayan ni Danny Zialcita ang kanyang pambihirang abilidad sa pagbibigay ng bagong treatment sa lumang tema ng pag-ibig, na kadalasa’y umiikot sa pormula ng triangulo. (Hindi nga ba’t maging sa kanyang mga naunang obra, tulad ng “Hindi sa Iyo ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna” at “Ikaw at ang Gabi”, ay naitatak ni Zialcita ang kanyang makabagong sensibilidad sa pagtalakay sa mga kuwento ng pag-ibig? Mula sa istorya ni Tom Adrales (nagsilbing katulong ni Zialcita sa iskrip at sa direksyon), ang “Gaano kadalas” ay tungkol sa magkaibigang Lily (Vilma Santos) at Elsa (Hilda Koronel), na bagama’t kapwa nakaririwasa sa buhay ay magkaiba naman ang swerte. Matapos magpatingin si Hida sa doktor, nalaman niyang wala na siyang pag-asang magka-anak pa. Si Vilma nama’y may kaisa-isang anak nga sa pagkadalaga pero wala naman itong ama at, mas grabe pa, may taning na ang buhay ng bata (may congenital heart disease ito). Minsan, nagkahingahan ng problema ang magkaibigan, at sa kanilang pag-uusap, inalok ni Hilda si Vilma na gawing ama ng kanyang anak ang asawa nitong si Louie (Dindo Fernando). Bagamat ipinalabas niyang mahal din niya ang bata at gusto niya itong mapaligaya kahit pansamantala lang, ang kanyang tunay na pakay ay mapaglapit ang kaibigan at ang asawa nang sa gayo’y magkaroon siya ng maaampong anak na mula sa relasyon ng dalawang taong kapwa niya mahal.

Nagtagumpay ang tatlo sa kanilang pagpapanggap, at gaya ng inaasahan, nagkaibigan nga ang dalawa. Pagkatapos mamatay ang anak, nagbuntis si Vilma. Dahil delikadong manganak siyang muli (diumano’y may sakit siya sa puso), nagtangkang ipalaglag ni Vilma ang nasa kanyang sinapupunan. Napigilan siya ng kaibigang si Chanda Romero at ni Dindo mismo. Pero, sa wakas, nang siya’y magsilang, nawalan si Elsa ng asawa, kaibigan at anak.

Mahusay ang pagkakdevelop sa kuwento ng “Gaano kadalas” at epektibo ang direksyon ni Zialcita. Nagawa nitong masangkot ang manonood sa problema ng mga tauhan. Absorbing ang naging tunggalian ng mga puso’t damdamin. Naipakitang may sapat na motibasyon ang kanyang mga tauhan para pumasok sa ganoong arrangement. Gayunpaman, may ilang katanungang hindi nasagot sa pelikula. Una, paano nakasisiguro si Hilda na ipagkakaloob sa kanya ni Vilma ang anak nito kay Louie sakali ma’t hindi namatay ang bata? Ikalawa, bakit masyadong naging hayagan ang relasyon nina Vilma’t Dindo lalo pa kung isasaalang-alang ang kanilang tayo sa sosyedad? At ikatlo, kung totoong mapera si Vilma, bakit nahirapan siyang kumontak ng abortionist at dahil nga dito’y isinugal pa ang buhay? Kung tutuusin, lalo pang naging prominente ang mga kakulangang ito dahil lubusang nagrely ang pelikula sa samut-saring medical convolutions ng plot: kesyo hindi pwede manganak si Hilda, kesyo may anak nga si Vilma pero blue baby naman at kesyo hindi rin siya pwedeng manganak ulit dahil sa sakit niya sa puso (at ang mga ito ay nakapagtatakang hindi pa nalalaman ni Dindo).

Ang madalas magpaangat sa pelikula ay ang acting ng cast. Dahil mas malaman ang kanyang papel at tila na perfect na ni Vilma Santos ang agony ng other woman, mas nangingibabaw ang kanyang performance kay Hilda Koronel. Kahit na mas marami ang nagsasabing si Hilda ang angat dito. Pasulpot-sulpot ang papel ni Hilda at may kahinaan ang motibasyon (isipin mong siya pa ang nagtulak sa sariling asawa sa ibang babae!). Medyo nakaka-distract ang kanilang mga kasuotan (mga gawa ni Christian Espiritu), gaya rin ng ayos ng mga bahay at kasangkapang tila nakikipagkumpetensiya sa tauhan. Epektibo rin ang pagganap ni Dindo Fernando bilang Louie na nahati ang puso para sa dalawang babae. Magaling din ang supporting cast, lalo na si Suzanne Gonzales, ang yayang sosyal, at ang batang si Alvin Joseph Enriquez. Kahit maikli ang kanilang papel, mahusay rin ang rehistro nina Tommy Abuel, ang doktor na nanliligaw kay Vilma, at si Chanda Romero, bilang matalik na kaibigan ni Vilma. – Justino Dormiendo, Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino

Ang pelikulang umiikot sa tatsulok ng pag-ibig ay isa na sa perennial favourites ng masang Pilipino. Maging ang kapanuhunan pa nina Rogelio dela Rosa at Carmen Rosales ay palasak na ito sa mga pelikulang tulad ng “Maalaala Mo Kaya”, “Tangi Kong Pag-ibig” at “Lydia”. Ang kadalasang katriangulo nila noon ay si Patria Plata o kaya’y si Paraluman. Nag boom ang love triangle movies noong 60’s matapos nag hit sa takilya at manalo ng katakut-takot na Famas awards ang “Sapagkat Kami’y Tao Lamang” na siyang naglunsad kina Eddie Rodriguez, Lolita Rodriguez at Marlene Dauden sa di-mabilang na mga pelikulang pawang ganito ang tema. Halimbawa’y ang “Kasalanan Kaya”, “Babae, Ikaw ang Dahilan” at “Ikaw”. Ngayo’y muli na namang na-resurrect ang triangulo ng pag-ibig sa “Gaano Kadals ang Minsan?” sa katauhan nina Vilma Santos, Hilda Koronel at Dindo Fernando. At sa tingin namin, sa mga nag-portray na ng ganitong klase ng roles lately, sila na ang pinakamalapit sa orihinal at tipong talagang magmamana ng trono nina Lolita, Marlene at Eddie. Ang istorya nga ng “Gaano kadalas” ay halos hawig din sa isang lumang pelikula nina Lolita, ang “Kapag Puso’y Sinugatan” na pinamahalaan ni Fely Crisostomo at nagwagi ng Famas best picture, best director at best actress awards (for Marlene) noong 1967. Mayroon din ditong batang may congenital heart defect na nasa sentro ng istorya. Hindi na rin bago sa direktor ng “Gaano Kadalas” na si Danny Zialcita ang love triangle. Ganito rin ang tema ng kanyang “Langis at Tubig” na nagpanalo kay Dindo ng dalawang best actor awards noong 1980. Pero dito sa “Gaano Kadalas” ay lalong tumingkad ang mahusay niyang pagha-handle, hindi lamang ng paksa kundi maging sa kanyang mga artista.

Magkaibigang matalik sina Lily (Vilma) at Elsa (Hilda). Nalaman ni Elsa na may sakit sa puso ang anak sa pagkakasala ni Lily at may taning na ang buhay nito. Gustong makita ng bata ang kanyang di-nagisnang ama at upang matupad ang huling hiling na ito ay ipinahiram ni Elsa ang asawa niyang si Louie (Dindo) kay Lily. Siyempre pa, ayaw ni Lily noong una pero alang-alang sa anak ay pumayag na rin siya (Noong una’y inakala naming magiging napaka weak ng bahaging ito ng istorya). Sino ba naman ang babaing buong pusong magpapahiram ng kanyang asawa sa ibang babae kahit na sabihin pa ngang best friend niya ito? Pero nalagyan nina Danny Zialcita at co-scriptwiter na si Tom Adrales ng justification ang pasiya ni Elsa. Talagang gusto niyang ibuyo si Louie kay Lily dahil natuklasan niyang siya’y baog at gusto niyang magka-anak ang kanyang asawa sa kanyang kaibigan. Without this ulterior motive on Lily’s part, magiging hindi kapani- paniwala ang buong pelikula. Tulad ng inaasahan ni Elsa, nagkaunawaan sina Louie at Lily habang nagsasama sa iisang bubong ang dalawa. Maganda ang pagkaka -develop ng pagkakalapit ng kanilang mga damdamin. Credible ang pagkakaroon nila ng affair dahil, to begin with, mukhang cold na asawa itong si Elsa (natitiis niyang magkalayo sila ni Louie nang matagal na panahon) at ito namang Lily ay may ekspiryensiya nang nabuntis ng lalaki kahit hindi sila kasal. Nang mamatay ang bata, nagbalik si Louie kay Elsa pero naging masalimuot ang lahat dahil nagdadalangtao na si Lily. Naging malungkot ang wakas para sa bawat tauhan, lalo na kay Elsa na siyang may pakana ng mga pangyayari. Sa tingin nga nami’y parang napakalupit ng ending para sa kanya.

Mahuhusay ang tatlong main stars. may kanya-kanya silang best scenes. Sina Dindo at Vilma sa unang komprontasyon nila matapos magbuntis ang huli nang mukhang hindi excited si Dindo sa pagdadalangtao nito. Si Hilda ay sa panunumbat niya kay Dindo matapos magbalik ito sa kanila, doon sa eksenang sinasabi niyang “That was the arrangement, Louie”. Pero sa lahat ng mga artista ay si Chanda Romero ang nagustuhan namin sa lahat. Kahit maikli’t halos supporting lamang ang role nito bilang kasosyo at confidante ni Vilma ay talagang markadongmarkado ang kanyang pagkakaganap. Napakaepektibo niyang magdeliver ng mga linya, lalo ng mga babala niya kay Vilma na tulad ng: “Huwag mo ng ituloy. Baka masaktan ka sa bandang huli. Babae ka, lalaki si Louie, siguradong gulo ‘yan.” Parang siya ang nag foreshadow sa mga sumunod na pangyayari sa buhay ni Lily. Nang magbuntis ito, siya rin ang nagbigay ng payo: “Pumatol ka rin. Pwede bang ikaw lang magdusa e kasama siya sa sarap?” Kaya’t siya ang nagsabi kay Louie na gustong magpa-abort ni Lily. Ang iba pang-guest supporting players ay magagaling din: si Ronaldo Valdez ay kwelang kwela sa dinner scene nilang apat nina Chanda, Vilma at Dindo; si Tommy Abuel ay napakagaling bilang doktor na may asawang nanliligaw kay Vilma; at si Gloria Romero bilang ina ni Hilda. Ang credit na ito sa pagkuha ng mga mahuhusay at kilalang artista kahit na halos guest role lang ang lalabasan ay dapat na mapunta sa direktor na si Danny Zialcita, na hindi nagtitipid sa pagkuha ng kung sinu-sinong ekstra na siyang kadalasang nangyayari sa ibang pelikulang lokal.

The lions’ share of credit should really go to Zialcita dahil nagawa niyang bigyan ng bagong bihis ang isang behikulong gamit na gamit na. As usual, naroon ang mga pakwelang dialogue na tatak niya. Halimbawa’y nang makita ni Hilda na nanonood si Vilma sa pagpapaalam niya kay Dindo: “Don’t look, Louie, but I think your wife is watching.” O nang sabihin ni Vilma kay Dindo: “Kung nagkataong ibang asawa mo, I’ll gladly be your willing mistress.” maganda rin ang sets, mga bahay at restaurant na ginamit sa pelikula. Mabilis ang pacing at mahusay ang editing, may eksenang out-of-focus si Felizardo Bailen pero as a whole ay mahusay ang trabaho niya. Nakatulong nang malaki sa ikagaganda ng pelikula ang madamdaming musical score at theme song na ginawa ni George Canseco. Sa lahat ng ginawang pelikula ng Viva Films, dito kami talaga nagenjoy. Ngayong nasa Viva na rin si Zialcita, dapat sigurong magpakitang gilas naman si Eddie Garcia na siyang dating solong direktor ng Viva. – Mario Bautista

“Gaano kadalas ang Minsan” Grossed 7.3 Million in its few days run in Metro Manila in 1982 outgrossing “Sinasamba Kita” for Philippine movies’ all-time box office tally. With inflation and currency rate in consideration that will be around 95 million. But that’s not the only exciting thing about these film. It was the only film that Vilma Santos and Hilda Koronel did while atleast when Hilda was still at her peak. Ofcourse, Ate Vi’s career remained as hot as ever while Koronel now accepts supporting roles. It was obvious that year that Hilda was also more glamourous than Vilma but looking at the two right now, Vilma maintained that slim, youthful look while Hilda struggled and visibly gained so much weight she can be mistaken as Ate Vi’s aunt or mother! After Gaano Kadalas, Hilda did a few more leading roles under Viva Films even co-starred with Nora Aunor but didn’t get the same results as Gaano. But like what William Leary says, “mahirap matalbugan si Vilma, Vilma is Vilma in any season and whatever movie!” – RV (READ MORE)

“…From 1979 to 1986, Zialcita was on a roll, doing one film after another, pulling off nine hits in a row beginning with Gaano Kadalas in 1981 up to his sex comedies that include May Lamok Sa Loob ng Kulambo. He could demand anything from a producer and his wish would be granted. When Viva Films asked him to do Gaano Kadalas, he told Vic and Mina del Rosario that he will only do it if they get George Canseco to write the theme song (most of his popular films had songs by Canseco), and that Hilda Koronel would be one of the leads. Viva granted him both—even if it had to pay more for Hilda than for Vilma. “May utang ako kay Hilda eh, I took her out of Langis at Tubig…” – Jerome Gomez (READ MORE)

#GaanoKadalasAngMinsan, #VivaFilms, #DindoFernando, #HildaKoronel, #VilmaSantos

Filmography: Alyas Baby Tsina (1984)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RELATED READING: Baby Tsina meets Baby Tsina