Magkaribal is 36 (Videos)

FILMS - Magkaribal 6

Released Date: August 17, 1979

Plot Description: A story of a woman whose closest friend became her worst rival. They were once very close to each other-almost like sisters. She even confides all her troubles and heartaches to this friend. Later, she sensed some changes in her friend’s attitude towards her which became obvious when this friend of hers tried to outshine her in everything. She tried not to mind this but worse came to worst when she discovered that the other woman in her love one’s life is the very same friend thus a never-ending conflict arised. It stars: Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon, Alma Moreno. – Trigon Video

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32nd Year Anniversary of Haplos (Photos)

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Released: December 25, 1982

Plot Description: Al (Christopher De Leon) is a balikbayan who returns to his former hometown where his mother is buried. There he meets his childhood friend Cristy (Vilma Santos) who works as a counselor for family planning. Eventually they develop a romantic relationship and end up as a couple. However, a mysterious lady appears one day while Al tends to his mother’s grave. Al falls in love with the stranger and is now torn between her and Cristy. Haplos is another cinematic masterpiece by famed screenwriter Ricardo Lee. It is the official entry to the 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival. With Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon in the lead roles and supported by Rio Locsin, Haplos is a brilliant movie with a mind-boggling twist in the story. It’s a must-see for all Pinoy film buffs. – neTVision

Watching Vilma’s Films

FILMS - Lipad  Darna Lipad

The Beginning – When I was a little kid, I remember watching my very first Vilma movie with my aunt. It was “Lipad Darna Lipad.” The theatre was Cinerama on Claro M Recto near the underpass headin’ towards Quiapo. I remember the crowded theatre. The carpeted floor and velvet curtains. With no more seats and an SRO crowd, we sat on the stairs near the balcony area. People were screaming and into each fight scenes. I remember vividly how my aunt almost got into a fight because she wanted me to sit on one of the seat that was vacated and a man standing in front of us wanted the seat too. Celia Rodriguez was really scary with her head covered with snakes and her voice was so icy cold. Liza Lorena didn’t registered much on me but Gloria Romero was even scarier! This film brought me some nightmares but it also gave me and my cousins something to play about every afternoon after school.

FILMS - Pakawalan Mo Ako 1Pakawalan – The second memorable film experience for me was during early 80s where I saw the free sneak preview of “Pakawalan Mo Ako” at Gotesco Theatre near University of the East. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get in. My college mates weren’t. They got stocked in the pandemonium outside. I was worried sick as I took the long escalator and saw them being crashed by the crowed. The security guards have to closed the gate of the lobby. Fans became so restless and broke the glass windows (where they displayed posters and still photos) . Inside, It was crowded, hot and wild. We were seeing a more mature Vilma Santos. From the very beginning, the crowed went along the story until one of the climatic scene – the courtroom scene where she cried and swear! Oh my god I still remember the crowd swearing and cursing too! It was so wild!

ARTICLES - Sister Stella L 1OF2 (6)Activism – The third movie experience was when I saw Sister Stella L at Capri near the Philippine Rabbit Bus Station on Rizal Avenue (it is always called Avenida). Now, the total opposite happened to me. The theatre was half empty but most of the people I noticed were students and office workers. This film affected me so much and I started to join rallies and demonstration along Mediola and at our school. I also remember that Sharon Cuneta had a film showing at the same time, and most of my friends watched this film instead. I was so disappointed that they decided to see this film instead of SSL. This film also became my mantra at school. It inspired me to take issues and voice out what I think, I became militant. I rebelled against my family who I believe were too strict. I wanted my freedom and so this film inspired me. The end result was my independence. Up to this day, I will never forget the time when I had an argument with my grandfather, it wasn’t funny back then. I told him: “Tama na, panahon na, hindi habang panahon pipigilan n’yo ako sa pagsasalita” – the line from SSL.

FILMS - Rubia Servios 12Why does he have to rape Rubia? – Another memorable experience was when my aunt got into a huge fight in front of Galaxy Theatre on Avenida. Being a true Vilmanians and with her deadly weapon, her umbrella, my aunt pulled the hair of this two crazy Nora Aunor fans. This was after the two said nasty things about Vilma while passing on in front of the theatre. I ended up on the cement floor hiding near the newspaper stands. Thank god she always came up on top because we were always able to go home uninjured. Rubia Servios was showing at the Galaxy Theatre back then. Again we have to sat down on floor, my aunt’s realized that she can’t put me on her lap anymore as I am a bit heavier now. As I observe, people are more serious this time. No shouting but silence as the story being told to us. The crowd was so into it too but no shouting instead a feeling of sighs and sadness. My aunt cried as she watched Rubia crawled on the sandy side of the beach. Rubia Servious was for adults only but my aunt’s sister was the ticket collector or “takilyera”. So I was able to get in. Philip Salvador was so “hot” in his black swimming trunk, I dreamt of him a number of times. As we watched the film, I remember asking my aunt about why does he (Philip) have to rape Darna? My aunt patiently explained, about love and lust. My innocent mind were corrupted that day. Eventually, I got over that rape scenes but revenge when Vilma killed Phillip using a boat paddle still stucked on my mind.

FILMS - Magkaribal 2Naked Christopher – Lastly, the one that was so special to me, was when I saw Magkaribal at Luneta theatre. I went to so many theatres to get in but at last the woman at the box office was so busy reading comics that she didn’t even bother to ask about my age. The film was “For Adults Only” and I agreed. Christopher De Leon here was so sexy, riding a horse, naked. And Alma Moreno was so young and thin. Even her boobs here are well proportioned to her body, although its already huge. And ate Vi here was at her best, acting wise. The crowd here are more mature, a combination of college students and office workers. The theatre was not SRO but all the seats are taken and it was obvious that the film was catered to couples.  – RV

Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon (Photos)

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Christopher de Leon (born October 31, 1956) is a Filipino film actor and politician. De Leon appeared on the gag show Going Bananas and has appeared in over 120 films since the early 1970s. On July 1, 2010, he was sworn into office as the board member of the 2nd district of Batangas. He studied Fine Arts at the University of the East in Manila. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

FILMOGRAPHY: RELASYON (PHOTOS)

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“Ang hirap dito sa relasyon natin, puro ikaw ang nasusunod, kung saan tayo pupunta, kung anong oras tayo aalis, kung anong kakainin natin, kung anong isusuot ko sa lahat ng oras, ako naman sunod ng sunod parang torpeng tango ng tango yes master yes master!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

“Ano ba ako rito istatwa? Eh dinadaan daanan mo na lang ako ah, hindi mo na ako kinakausap hindi mo na ako binabati hindi mo na ako hinahalikan ah…namputsang buhay ‘to. Ako ba may nagawa akong kasalanan hah? Dahil ang alam ko sa relationship, give and take. Pero etong atin, iba eh! Ako give ng give ikaw take ng take! Ilang taon na ba tayong nagsasama? Oo, binigyan mo nga ako ng singsing nuong umpisa natin, pero pagkatapos nuon ano? Wala na! Ni-siopao hindi mo ako binigyan eh dumating ka sa bahay na ito ni butong pakwan hindi mo ako napasalubungan sa akin eh kaya kung tiisin lahat pero sobra na eh…hindi naman malaki hinihingi ko sayo eh konti lang… alam ko kerida lang ako…pero pahingi naman ng konting pagmamahal…kung ayaw mo ng pagmamahal, atleast konsiderasyon man lang. Kung di mo kayang mahalin bilang isang tunay na asawa, de mahalin mo ako bilang isang kaibigan, Kung ayaw mo pa rin nun bigyan mo na lang ako ng respeto bilang isang tao hindi yung dadaan daanan mo lang sa harapan na para kang walang nakikita!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

Emil, a young executive, and his mistress Marilou, a planetarium guide, decide to be live-in partners. In the process, they discover each other’s failing, which result in the strain in their relationship, bringing about their temporary separation. When they finally decide to resume their relationship, under a set-up wherein the man devides his time between his family and mistress, he dies frpm an attack of cerebral aneurysm. The woman decides to start a new life abroad, finding strength in the Jove of her departed lover. – Manunuri web-site

RELATED READING:
Relasyon, Ishmael Bernal (1982)
Nora at Vilma… Ang RELASYON Ng HIMALA
IMDB: The Affair
Relasyon (Photos)
Relasyon (1982)
Wikipedia: Ishmael Bernal
Ishmael Bernal (1938-1996)
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1971-79, Part One
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1980-94, Part Two
Tribute to Ishmael Bernal
Ishmael Bernal (1938-1996)
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa1980-96, Part Two
Remember The Face: Bernal Film Director
The Bernal-Santos Collaborations
Relasyon

FILM REVIEW: IMORTAL


The Plot: The first time they laid eyes on each other, they knew from that very moment that they were destined to be together. But their love was not meant to be consummated instantly-they had to wait. But their waiting spanned not just year but lifetimes. The time comes that they meet again. But now, they must break the walls that have for so long kept them apart. They must fight for their love because now is their last chance. – Viva Films

The Reviews: We saw the movie “Imortal” starring Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, and directed by Eddie Garcia, which won most of the awards in the last Metro-Manila Festival. It was awful. People who make such movies, and those who hand out awards to them, thoroughly deserve each other. In its asinine plot, “Imortal” tells of the immortal love between two siblings with a common father — a doctor Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos who becomes a nun, wife of an impotent husband, adulteress and a whore. They never make it because movie censor Manoling Morato would have gotten mad, but in the next generation, the daughter of the whore with foreigner (without AIDS, we hope) — also played by a younger Vilma Santos — marries the son of the doctor, played by a young Christopher de Leon, in a psychedelic wedding in the year 2016 AD. In the year 2016, youngsters Vilma (with brown skin and blue eyes) and Boyet are singing Happy Birthday to the father Old Christopher, a senile old man in a wheel chair. “Happy Birthday, Papa,” says Vilma as she kisses him on the cheek; he does not respond so she panics: “Papa… Papa… PAPA!” He does not answer because he is dead. According to the movie script, the father Christopher was born in 1954, which makes him in 2016 only 62 years of age — much younger than Director Eddie Garcia or even Dolphy, hardly an age to be senile and dying.

There are other laughable scenes. Vilma says, “My husband is (music rises ominously) — my husband is (music again) IMPOTENT (music rises to a climax)!” You’d think the husband just contracted the AIDS virus or got castrated by Sparrow units! Shucks, I know several husbands who just can’t do it anymore, and I hear no heavy music when their wives complain. As a matter of fact, wives prefer their husbands to be impotent, rather than be sexually active with other women. Another terrible scene. The car ridden by Christopher and wife Cherie Gil falls off a cliff. Cherie who is pregnant is mortally wounded and dies. And Christopher looks at his dead wife, and holds aloft a new born baby complete with umbilical cord. This is absurd without a caesarian operation by a doctor. The worst scene is when Christopher digs up the corpse of Vilma at the cemetery, amidst thunder, lightning, wind and rain, and embraces her passionately, while she exhibits no rigor mortis, and apparently no smell of formalin. You don’t find this kind of idiocy in a television commercial. Most of my grandchildren, including Angeli who is only four months of age, enjoy commercials more than dramas.

Some TV commercials can tell the story vividly, memorably, with impact in 30 seconds, better than two hours of unmitigated nincompoopery in filmed dramas. A simple love story is telescoped into a heartwarming half a minute of the Lizl Lebron commercial for San Miguel — boy meets girl against the parents’ wishes, in the tennis court, Fort Santiago in the rain, in the balcony — and ends as he gives her a engagement ring. Actresses with a roomful of acting awards can never match the birth of love and passion in the virginal innocence of this young girl. The same love story is retold in the Ligaw ad of Jollibee chronicling the Filipino traditional courtship — the chaperoned visit, permission to take the girl out for a snack, “Sigurado ka bang sa Jollibee?” the first tentative holding of hands, and the sudden appearance of papa — a slice of true life experience every young person can identify with, more than the bizarre events of “Imortal.” Movies are a director’s medium, the stage is an actor’s medium, a TV commercial is the medium of the advertiser who pays for the ad. The advertiser conducts enough studies to justify the expenditure in a logical way: product and consumer research to determine the most compelling reason to buy the product; careful attention to story boards, makeup, hair style, with no waste, irrelevances or digressions — long before shooting even starts.

A commercial of 30 seconds takes from P800,000 to P2 million to produce or as much as P67,000 per second. A movie of two hours or 9,600 seconds may take P5 million to produce, or P520 per second. A commercial costs as 128 times as much as a movie. Del Monte’s Spaghetti Sauce’s Godfather ad, mechado sauce’s Candida ad, and ketchup’s Family Dinner ad; the San Miguel series with Fernando Poe Jr., Tawa Marcelo and Freddie Aguilar; Jollibee’s Lola ad; and the Sarsi ad — are technical and artistic masterpieces. The Hope cigarette ads are colonial, sexist and insulting to the intelligence, as are those of Vos Brandy, White Castle Whisky and Old Captain Rum. But even the worst TV ad is better than “Imortal.” – Hilarion M. Henares Jr., Jan 14, 1990, Philippine Daily Inquirer READ MORE

Watching Imortal on ABS-CBN was purely out curiosity. At first I thought it was a remake of the old Vilma Santos-Christopher De Leon movie entitled Imortal. Gosh. Then only to find out the teleserye is about feuding wolves and vampires. You don’t have to be Twilight fan to realize how Twilight-y the plot is not even halfway into the first episode. And like any other Pinoy plot, the story line is just so darn predictable! The first episode isn’t over yet but you already know how it’s going to end. Why is it always like that? Can’t the writers think of new twists and be creative for once? (I’m already in my late 30s and they’ve been at it since I was in grade school.) Or is it that unpredictable twists don’t sell to the masses? Most probably! Either way, don’t blame me for being ‘unpatriotic’ because I get more satisfaction watching reruns of good old foreign films. – READ MORE

Related Reading:
IMDB: Imortal (1989)
Metro Manila Film Festival Recognitions
The 1989 Metro Manila Film Festival: “Imortal” Sweeps Awards
Pinoy Musicians: George Masangkay Canseco
Top 100 Vilma Santos Films (part nine)
Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors (part three)
Eddie Garcia, FAMAS Three Time Hall of Fame Awardee
A look at the past MMFF controversies
“Imortal”: Worst TV ad is better than best movie
Eddie Garcia: Actor, director, icon, Philippine cinema’s one-man totem pole

FILM REVIEW: MANO PO 3 MY LOVE

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

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

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

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

Vilma also will not be far behind with her lines: “hindi ka ba sasama sa kanila Judith? Alam mo ba kung para saan ang kanilang ginawa?… sanay na akong tinatalikuran at iniiwanan yang ang storya ng buhay ko…” Vilma’s performance here was an example of how she matured and became an A1 actress. From the start to the end, she transformed herself to be the character. She became Lilia Chiong Yang. Here are the highlights: Her scene in Tagaytay Highland: Her breakfast scene with her family, where all except for one, left her; The scene where she and Paul finally met Michael in a restaurant was full of irony and sarcasm; The scene where Bernadette and three other relatives one of them was Boots Anson Roa confronted Lilia. Like a true fighter and speaking in Mandarin, she told them, she’ll be back in five minutes and if they’re all still in her office they will see the worst of her; The scene where Lilia and Paul were in a middle of an argument and suddenly they calmed themselves down because their dressmakers arrived (to measure their sizes for the clothes their going to wear on their wedding anniversary) was poignant and funny at the same time; Then Paul’s death scene that followed the hospital scene. All in all, a controlled, restraint, riveting performance. How can someone not noticed? If I will evaluate “Mano Po 3: My Love”, I will give the film an A for its excellent production and magnificent performances…” – RV (READ MORE)

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

“…Vilma Santos did a great job and really deserved her best actress honour at the MMFF. Certainly her efforts overshadowed those of here co-stars, Christopher De Leon and Jay Manalo. It’s a shame really that her duties in Lipa are keeping her from other movies. Eddie Garcia, I thought could have done a better job in delivering his lines. I realize that he is playing a character that was not that fluent in Filipino but some of his words were just garbled and found it hard to understand. My only gripe maybe in the casting of Jay Manalo as the husband of Lilia. In the story Manalo is portrayed as the same age as De Leon and Santos which frankly I find hard to believe since Manalo looks many years younger. In terms of production, I thought Regal Films did a good job in setting an overall atmosphere by bringing in good costumes and props. It was also nice to see them speaking in Chinese so as to make the situations more authentic and believable.” – IMDB (READ MORE)

“…actors Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon portray roles that they have exceptionally portrayed before in their lustrous 40 years in Philippine show business. To even think of casting these superb actors in roles that are at least 15 years their junior, that defies their age, is indeed insulting to the intelligence of the Filipino viewers. But hey! Nobody’s complaining! Right? In fact, they both won the Best Actors awards in the said film fest! Sad, sad, sad…” – IMDB (READ MORE)

“…This is about Lilia Chiong-Yang (Vilma Santos) a Chinese-Filipino woman. She was torn from her first and only love, and ended up marrying the person she didn’t want (Jay Manalo). One faithful day, she met up with her old love Michael (Christopher De Leon) and things began to get rocky then. He wanted her to choose between her family and the only man she truly loved. The good thing about this movie is she made a decision in the end. For me, this third and last installment was the best among the rest. The movie made me laugh, cry, angry, sad and everything else. That’s really rare the Philippines’ movie industry now. Vilma Santos did a wondrous job in portraying her role. After her 2-year absence in the movie industry, she still had the touch. The only thing i didn’t like about the movie was Jay Manalo. He really was too young to be Vilma’s husband in the movie. They were supposed to be the same age though, but remarkably he did a very good job playing his role as well. How can we not forget Boyet? He was marvelous! Without him, this movie wouldn’t be the best one yet. People say this is such an ordinary love story, but in my eyes, this is the best Filipino movie ever made in my time…” – IMDB (READ MORE)

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

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

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

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

A week before Christmas, the Star for All Seasons, Vilma Santos, shared with us her thoughts on son Luis and her first film in three years, “Mano Po 3.” She is thankful for the support of her family. When “Mano Po 3” was offered to her, Vilma sought the advice of husband Ralph and son Luis. They need the script, and exchanged views on scenes that they found objectionable. In everything she does, communication lines with son are open.

Fullfiling task: For, Vilma, raising her sons Luis and Ryan is a most fulfilling tasks. “My parents taught me to be God-fearing, respectful, responsible and law-abiding. Luis has never given me headaches. I am very liberal, but once you betray my trust, mag-ingat ka! Scorpio trait ito. Luis knows that, at binusog ko siya sa pangaral. I always tell him that he is old enough to differentiate right from wrong, so he should never do something that he’d regret later on,” she says.

No secrets: Although Luis has his own condo, he stays with Vi most of the time. There are no secrets between mother and son – – according to Vi, Luis tells her everything! On a few occassions, he’d introduce a girl to Vilma, and she’d know instantly if she was special to him or not. Vilma observes that Luis is more focused now. He dreams of owning his own restaurant-bar. And she’s surprised at how thrifty Luis has become – a trait that the actress also possesses. The Lipa City Mayor ends the year with her filmfest entry, “Mano Po 3.” In this last compilation of Tsinoy tales, Vilma is cast as a crusader, a mother of three children and supportive wife to Paul Yang, her devoted husband of 23 years. Then, her first love, Michael Lim (now a widower) resurfaces, and she finds herself in love again.

Three reasons Vilma cited three reasons why she accepted “Mano Po 3:” It gave her the opportunity to work with Christopher de Leon again; she couldn’t say no to Mother Lily, who has produced some of Vilma’s unforgettable movies (“Sister Stella L.,” “Broken Marriage,” and “Relasyon”), and the film’s interesting story centers on a fmily collapses due to infidelity. – Remy Umerez, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec 25 2004 (READ MORE)

Short and sweet. – Make that short and sedate. The awards ceremony for the 30th Metro Manila film Festival, now called MMFF Philippines, on Wednesday night was over in three hours, where it used to take twice as long. It was also less colorful than last year’s edition and the one before that, which more spontaneous action – a flea market and an auction of movie memorabilia – happening right outside the venue, the Aliw Theatre at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Even the “Stars of teh Night,” Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, wore back and grey. A series of technical problems early on in the show was the closest that the evening got to be “eventful.” There were no walkouts, no brickbats, no exposed breasts. In short, the proceedings were orderly and the sexy starlets behaved. Juliana Palermo – she who flaunted her assets without breast-beating at a previous showbiz events – was in a cover all debutante-pink gown that was almost puritan acceptance speech – for her MAQ Films’ “Mano Po 3” as Best Picture – was met with no more than polite applause. “I’ve not been making money from producing,” Monteverde said, “but I continue to make movies because I love the industry.” Four of the eight festival entries were reportedly made by her companies.

FPJ in the house Perhaps the fact that the program had been dedicated to the memory of Fernando Poe Jr. contributed to the somber atmosphere. Elizabeth Poe received the posthumous “Idolo ng Masa” award for “Da King” of Philippine Movies, who died earlier this month. “I call on the people to not abadon his dream,” Elizabeth said, “to continue to fight.” Apparently touched, the audience took a few seconds before applauding. Director Joel Lamangan’s fiery acceptance of the Best Picture award alongside Monteverde – in which he ranted against taxes and government’s “neglect” of the industry – failed to rouse as much enthusiasm in his listeners. Producer and festival committee member Espiridion Laxa received a lifetime achievement award. He dedicated it to Vilma Santos and FPJ…”and to Erap (former President Joseph Estrada).” “Da King” starred in the first seven films that Laxa made under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions. Santos, who was also named Best Actress for “Mano Po 3,” led the standing ovation for Laxa. The Vilmanians in the hall must have thought their idol was getting another award, as they led the screaming in return.

No teleprompter Cesar Montano, winner of the Best Director trophy for his CM Films’ “Panaghoy sa Suba,” won the women’s hearts, too. He was the perfect gentleman and escort to his wife Sunshine Cruz, who needed help with her petticoat as they went up and down the stage to receive awards for absent cast and crew members. The banter among the three emcees – Judy Ann Santos, Jomari Yllana and Marvin Agustin – was light and breezy, although they had to do without teleprompers. This means they read from cue cards, which kept them from maintaining precious eye contact with the audience. Young screen love teams Angel Locsin and Richard Guttierez, stars fo the TV hit series “Mulawin,” and Mark Bautista and Sarah Geronimo, stars of “Lastikman,” turned heads, as did reel-and real-life partners Mark Herras and Jennylyn Mercado, who were inseparable.

7 awards each “Mano Po 3” and “Panaghoy sa Suba” each won seven awards. Veteran stage and movie actor Cris Vertido bagged the Best Screenplay trophy for “Panaghoy.” He was happy, and it showed. “I’ve been acting for 40 years and never won anything,” he said. “I write my first screenplay and I get this.” Santos and de Leon won acting awards for their roles in “Mano Po 3.” MAQ Films got the Best Float trophy. De Leon would admit later that he considered Montano, as his stiffest rival for the award. “I thought it would be him (the winner),” De Leon said.

“A” rating Rebecca Lusterio, also of “Panaghoy,” was cited as Best Supporting Actress. The Cinema Evaluation Board, in giving the movie an “A” rating, earlier singled out the teenage performer as “silent and powerful, full of conviction and charm.” Other winners were Dennis Trillo, Best Supporting Actor for “Aishite Imasu 1941”; Ella Guevarra, Best Child Performer for “Sigaw”; Manny Dayrit, Best Editing, “Sigaw,” Best Sound Recording, “Sigaw”; Best Musical Score, “Panaghoy”; and Best Visual; Effects, Roadrunner Network Inc., for “Lastikman.” – Marinel R. Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec 31, 2004 (READ MORE)

Joel Lamangan’s Mano Po, My Love dominated the Metro Manila Film Festival awards Wedenesday evening when it won all the top awards – Best Picture, Best Actor (Christopher de Leon), Best Actress (Vilma Santos) and Best Director (Lamangan). In the Philippine movie industry, the term Best Picture actually means the least bad movie of the crop. By that measure, Mano Po 3 perhaps does deserve the award. At least Mano Po 3 is slickly and tastefully produced. It boasts of a prestigious cast and tries to address a few pressing issues that affect the Chinese community in the Philippines. All the looks good on paper and the movie does look good most of the time but the resulting movie, like its two predecessors, falls short on expectations. The Mano Po series was designed to present the travails of today’s Chinese. Most of the problems they face today are rooted from old traditions that originate from the great land they had come from. In the third movie, Vilma Santos plays Lilia Chiong Yang, a successful real-estate developer who does some important civic work on her free time. She helps the police capture kidnap gangs although it’s never explained how she assists them. She’s only shown accepting awards of grattitude for her courageous fight against crime.

Lilia’s perfect life is shattered when she bumps into the real love of her life, Michael Lim (Christopher de Leon). They went to school together but being an activist, he was compelled to flee the country to avoid being persecuted by the Marcos regime. Not long after Lilia marries Michael’s best friend, Paul yang (Jay Manalo). Of course, a flame is reignited when they meet again and plans for the 25th wedding anniversary of Lilia and Paul are shattered. Such soapy contretemps are old hat and it has nothing relevant to say about the Chinese. Consequently, the Chinese connection feels tacked on – the audience is sporadically reminded of Lilia’s heritage through elaborate scenes (the birth of Lilia in a small village in China) and some colorful costumes and Chinese dragon parades. Frankly, you’ll learn more about Chinese tradition from Mark Meily’s classic film Crying Ladies (2003). Likewise, the film’s social commentary is contrived and rings false, what with the stilted, elementary dialogue the actors have to deliver. Without the Chinese trappings, Mano Po 3: My Love is a typical Vilma Santos movie designed to highlight all the wonderful elements that make her a star for all seasons.

Again, she sobs, laughs and acts pensive in that distinctive fashion Santos is famous for in one sudsy scene after another. Yet even as an emblematic Vilma Santos movie, Mano Po 3 is below par. The Star was better in other films that had better material. In this movie, screenwriter Roy Iglesias and director Joel Lamangan shamelessly force the star to imitate Meryl Streep in a scene stolen from Clint Eastwood’s Bridges of Madison County (1995). And like the two first installments, Mano Po 3 features some strange casting. Jay Manalo is supposed to be a contemporary of de Leon and Santos but when you see them together, Manalo looks more like their son than a classmate. Lamangan’s storytelling is fluid and deliberate but being deliberate can be deadly when almost every scene is all talk. Talk is fine if the words are inspiring but when the lines are pallid and of the telenovela variety, we’s just rather stick to the Korean soap they show on TV. While actors deliver modulated performances, this writer feels that Christopher de Leon’s role is too small to warrant a best actor nomination and award. I think he should have listed in the supporting category but I’m opening a can of worms here. Let’s just be thankful that this is the last Mano Po movie to be ever made. (Star rating: one star 1/2 out of four) – Dennis Ladaw, The Manila Times, Feb 28, 2005 (READ MORE)