FILM REVIEW: IKAW AY AKIN

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The Plot: “Botanist, Tere’s (Nora Aunor) long stable relationship with business executive Rex (Christopher Deleon) was shaken when Sandra (Vilma Santos) came into their lives. A pill popping liberal career minded, Sandra made Rex’s monotonous life colourful and exciting. He later realized that both women complete his existence.” – RV (READ MORE)

“An unusual story of three people caught in the unexplainable intricacies of love and need. The five year old relationship of Rex and Tere is put to a test as Sandra, the kooky, talented and aggressive designer rocks the picture perfect and peaceful relationship. The solid and unruffled engagement cracks as Rex is immediately smitten by Sandra’s dynamic persona. The film features the superstar team-up of award winning artists Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos and the drama king, Christopher de Leon.” – Database of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

“Ang ‘Ikaw ang Akin’ ay tungkol sa isang paboritong paKsa sa ating puting-tabing: ang trianggulo ng pag-ibig. Si Rex (Christopher de Leon) ay batambatang tagapamahala ng isang pagawaan ng dyipni. Limang taon na silang magkatipan ni Tere (Nora Aunor), isang dalubhasa sa paghahalaman. Mapayapa at maayos ang kanilang pagsasama hanggang makilala ni Rex si Sandra (Vilma Santos), isang designer. Nagsimulang magkaroon ng sigalot ang pagsasama nina Rex at Tere. Hindi makapagpasiya si Rex kung sino ang pipilijn sa dalawa na kapwa naging matimbang sa kanya. Sa huli, nataios ni Rex na ang pag-ibig at pag-aangkin sa isang nilalang ay isang masalimuot na damdaming hindi nararapat sarilinin ng isang tao lamang.” – Manunuri (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…After 37 years, Ikaw Ay Akin becomes a materialist indictment of the patriarchal deceit cisgender passion must contend with, opening up the queerness that emerges from feminine confidence as zone of alternative feelings. And, of course, Nora still punctures the assault with an imperturbable will to punctuate the sentence, despite the adages of her time failing to utter competitive affection, convincing Vilma that the encounter isn’t just about female rivalry, but also masculine decadence…” – J. Pilapil Jacobo, Young Critics Circle Film Desk, 21 November 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Bernal, testing the tensions of triangular love (for geometry books, one of his characters wittily says) for some time now, plunges deeper into character analysis and metaphorizing. In Lumayo, Lumapit ang Umaga, the triangle was unevenly explored: the first love was sketchily drawn. Dalawang Pugad, Isang become a choice for a more stable relationship. Walang Katapusang Tag-araw was a strange reverse of characters for two women and an unusual development of love into hatred and hatred into love, where therefore the triangle was essentially illusions. Ikaw ay Akin finally sets an interlocked triangle on its bases and looks at it (from all 3 angles) squarely in the face. Except for some scenes with overdrawn energy, the viewing is intelligent entertainment. However, after an interesting beginning and development one feels the resolution is too simplified…and too calculated. Charing (Nora) is the confident, authoritative, ultra-responsible mother-figure who fits very nicely with Rex’s (Boyet) tentative character: orphan-psyched, retreating… an incomplete figure. Sandra (Vilma) outs a very colorful character: agressive, creative, lively – but underneath it all, essentially a clinging vine. They are such convincing characters, and all their needing and suffering come accross very easily from the celluloids. With just a few scenes they are rounded out. Charing and her orchids – a reflection of her care for Rex and her discerment between experiment and commitment; Rex and his parachute – a give-away of his secret longing to get away from all the givens of his life (the inherited business, cons of orphan’s loneliness even his 5-year relationship with Charing!) Sandra and her designs – creating is at once product of her character and a need (initiating a realtionship with Rex is expression of need more than any romantic feeling). When Rex, balancing the triangle, verbalizes all these into a very basic “She needs me; I need her needing me plus your caring for me,” clearly sided heavily on Sandra’s side, it is unbelievable that it should all boil down to plain need, that decisions on love could be made this easily. Questions: While one is at verbalizations, why not mention the giving side of love, appraise or even applaud it a little instead of leaving it implicit in Charing’s character – which could be, come to think of it, the key out of tanglejails of possession? Ofcourse Bernal might have been considering less subtlety in a bid for a more popular style. Granting that, one may still appreciate the five selections of environmental details that areally delineate characters and character development – a fine effort to bring setting characters and action into a unified direction – but are triangles the curret favorite in the moviemarket? If this means it is a main concern in many lives today, then…what a hell!…” – Petronila Cleto, Pelikula, Atbp (READ MORE)

“…Unlike other superstar team-ups that fail to exploit the golden opportunity of pulling in sure audiences to watch a serious work, Bernal’s greatest achievement lies not so much in putting his three big stars together but in making use of them to lure their fans and followers intos eeing a mature, sensible film. And his cast serves Bernal very well. In the hands of a capable director, Christopher de Leon proves that his forgettable appearance in such odious films as “Topo-Topo Barega” and “Disco Fever” are mere lapses in judgment that do not entirely discredit his craft. He also shows enough gallantry by not getting into the way of his leading ladies, whose roles are undoubtedly more demanding than his. As the uptight Sandra, Vilma Santos has the script’s choicest, wittiest lines. She makes the most of them and succeeds in giving a fairly accurate portrait of an emotionally insecure young woman. And when she tells Rex: “sabi nila liberated ako, front lang. Kalog daw, front din. Alam mo namang kulang-kulang ako. Pag wala ka, magkakalat ako. Para akong manok, takbo ng takbo wala namang ulo.” She likewise handles her final breakdown exceedingly well. Nora has less lines but she nevertheless manages to conveys her emotions very effectively. In that family reunion-party which is so engrossed in gossip and banter, she remains so detached, speaking nary a word — a triumph for both Bernal and her. The hurt in her eyes continues to build up until that disrupted dinner scene where she rushes to her room and, unable to contain herself, finally cries. The most stable of the three, you could really believe her when she tells Rex: “Galit ako sa ‘king sarili, dahil sinasaktan mo na ako nang todo-todo pero lalo ka namang napapamahal sa akin.” The film is greatly enhanced by Jose Carreon’s vibrant script, Mel Chionglo’s superb production design, the Vanishing Tribe’s fine musical score, and Augusto Salvador’s brisk editing (few scenes last longer than a couple of minutes). But the lion’s share of credit goes to Bernal. I particularly like his splendid use of meaningful pauses and oppressive silences, as in Sandra and Tere’s accidental first meeting at Rex’s house, Sandra’s soundless dinner with her father that leads to her breakdown, and the long, quiet ending scene where Sandra and Tere never say a word and yet succeed in finally communicating with each other. Our viewers are discomfited by this exhausting process, what with the underdeveloped tastes of our mass audience perpetuated by irresponsible irectors. But one fervently hopes for Bernal, who apparently believes he owes the audience his best even if they are more likely to love his third best more, that they would get the film’s message and, perhaps, even accept and like it.” – Mario E. Bautista, Philippine Daily Express, 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Mas challenging ang role ni Ate Vi rito kumpara kay nora…mas magaganda ang mga dialogues ni Ate Vi na nakakatuwa at magaling ang pagkakadeliver niya ng mga linya. Sexy siya ha at magaganda ang mga damit na ginamit niya rito. Maigsi ang buhok na medyo curly. Bagay na bagay sa kanya. Komento ko lang ay medyo matinis pa ang boses ni Ate Vi rito…Vilma-Nora Scenes: a) sa sine parang sa tingin ko ay di sabay ito kinunan sa tingin ko lang ay di sila magkaeksena rito bagamat pareho silang nasa sinehan. b) bahay scene – ang ikli ng pagsasama nilang dalawa rito na parang pinasabik ang mga manonood kung may iringan ba or acting sa acting ang magaganap, pero walang naganap na ganun! c) No Dialogue Scene – Grabe!! Ang galing ng eksenang ito. First time kong makanood ng ganitong ending…walang salitaan, sagutan, walang murahan, walang away, wala as in wala except labanan ng facial expression, eye acting ika nga. Kainis lang ang director na ito kasi pinaglaruan lamang ang imahinasyon ng mga manonood at ng mga Vilmanians-Noranians!…” – Dream Forest, V Magazine Issue No. 7 Literary Issue 2006 (READ MORE)

“…Makikita sa Ikaw Ay Akin ang dalawang magkaibang estilo ng pagganap na ipinamalas nina Nora at Vilma at kapwa akmang-akma ito sa buong katauhan ng mga karakter na kanilang ginampanan. Sino ang mas mahusay sa kanilang dalawa? Kani-kaniyang opinyon, depende sa mga nakapanood ng pelikula. Maraming nagsabing mas pinaboran daw ni Bernal si Vilma sa dahilang mas maramin itong mabibigat na eksena kaysa kay Nora, ngunit paano makakalimutan ang huling tagpo sa Ikaw Ay Akin kung saan mahabang katahimikan ang naging daan upang higit na magkaintindihan sina Tere at Sandra tungkol sa kanilang pag-ibig kay Rex. Kung totoong mas pinaboran ng direktor si Vilma ay nakabawi naman ito ng husto kay Nora pagdating sa nabanggit na eksena. Kakaiba din ang husay na ipinamalas ni Christopher de Leon, maaring alam niyang ang Ikaw Ay Akin ay pelikula ng dalawang malalaking aktres kung kaya tama lamang ang bigat ng pagganap na ipinamalas ng aktor sa papel ni Rex. Napagwagihan ni Christopher ang Pinakamahusay Na Pangunahing aktor mula sa Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino nang sumunod na taon samantalang kapwa nakatanggap ng nominasyon bilang Pinakamahusay Na Pangunahing Aktres sina Nora at Vilma sa Ikaw Ay Akin ngunit kapawa sila natalo ni Beth Bautista para sa kanyang mahusay na pagganap sa Hindi Sa Iyo Ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna. Hindi matatawaran ang tagumpay ng mga manlilikhang bumuo sa Ikaw Ay Akin na nagtaas ng kalidad ng dramatikong pelikulang Pilipino, nagturong umintindi ng husto sa damadamin ng mga taong tunay na nagmamahalan.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…While the previous year was less productive in terms of quantity, Vilma Santos came back with a big bang the following year with twelve films. Most of these films were adult dramas. Three notable films were the critically acclaimed “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” directed by Celso Ad Castillo and produced by Vilma herself. The local film festival entry, “Rubia Servios” directed by the late Lino Brocka. And lastly, “Ikaw ay Akin” directed by Bernal. “Ikaw ay Akin” reunited Vilma with rival, Nora Aunor. The film also featured Christopher De Leon, who won the local critics’ best actor and best actress nominations for Aunor and Santos as well as best director nomination for Bernal. Aside from Ikaw, Bernal also did two other films, both starring Alma Moreno, “Lagi na lamang ba akong babae?” and “Isang gabi sa iyo Isang gabi sa akin” with Elizabeth Oropeza…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…“Ikaw Ay Akin,” 1978, Ishmael Bernal. A refreshing change of role for the superstar, cast here as a smart and sophisticated horticulturist at odds with best friend and real-life rival Vilma Santos. Notable for its experimental and long closing shot of the two friends’ reunion, with only their eyes talking…” – Mario A. Hernando, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 01 October 2011 (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: PINAY AMERICAN STYLE


The Plot: PX, short for Paula Xavier (Vilma Santos) was an illegal alien in New York City. She’s broke and waiting for fiancé, Cocoy laurel to fulfill his promise of marriage despite the fact that Cocoy has already married an American to secure a green card. Hiding from the authorities, PX met two men who are willing to take care of her but conflicts arise as the two wanted to maintain a serious relationship with her. Played wonderfully by Christopher Deleon and Bembol Roco, the film resolved the love quadrangle between ex-fiancé, Cocoy Laurel and the two brothers when the jealous Cocoy reported Vilma to the immigration authorities. PX was deported back to the Philippines. But the films didn’t end in a sour note, PX found herself reunited with Christopher Deleon when the later followed her in the Philippines. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Shot in New York City and directed by Elwood Perez, this film seems to be a precursor to Miss X (1980) ’Merika (1984) starring Nora Aunor and Milan (2004), even Anak (2000) and Dubai (2005). Talaga bang masarap ang buhay sa ibang bansa? Bakit nagpapakamatay sa green card ang mga Pinoy? PX, mahal na mahal kita, PX, I love you walang iba. Paula Xavier or PX (Vilma Santos) is a TNT like boyfriend Victor Laurel (what an effective undersated performance) who leaves her as his live-in to be engaged to an American to get a green card who promises Vilma to divorce the White girl and to marry PX so they could live happily forever after. Not. Vilma is pissed that Laurel dropped her for good and he left her with unpaid rent and a broken heart. Enter Boyet De Leon, as Vilma’s next boyfriend who has two jobs who has been around long enough to know what he wants in life – women and the American Dream. Enter Bembol Roco, in a great performance as Boyet’s Kuya who is a bagito green card holder in America. He was in the opening scene of the movie where he owns his business and lives comfortably even have someone to make him coffee. Rosa Mia are Roco and De Leon’s battered mother who suffers from the physically abusive second husband (a geriatric Irishman), and verbalized regrets for leaving the Philippines. She has the best lines in the movie and summarized the movie’s theme: “Kung uuwi ako sa Pilipinas ay kung patay na ako. Ayokong umuwi ng buhay at malaman nila na ang hirap ng buhay dito – kayod ka talaga to survive, at di pinupulot ang dolyar, ubas at mansanas sa daan. Ang dami kong dinaanang hirap para lang magka green card.” Vilma Santos as PX is most effective in her scenes as a dumped/bitter girlfriend of Laurel, as a conflicted girlfriend of De Leon, and as a grateful soul who thank Roco for saving her from paying her overdue rent to her white landlord. Her PX is a toned down Sandra of Ikaw Ay Akin. She says to Roco: “Dati, sa konting pagkain, I offer myself to be laid. Napakabait mo.” Roco answers back: “Hindi ganoon kababa ang tingin ko sa sarili ko.” You see, Roco falls for the beautiful PX too and was upset to learn that PX is already making it with his brother, which drove him to drink and was depressed for a while. Panoorin na lang ninyo ang movie. The movie’s hopeful view of America begins with Perry Como singing White Christmas as Roco, in a dream scene, cavorts in the snow in slow motion. In his dying scene in the arms of his brother De Leon, Roco whispers “ni hindi ko man lang nakita ang snow and the above Winter Wonderland scene was replayed, while Boyet’s cry for help fell on deaf American ears. Vilma was deported after Laurel clandestinely reported her to the INS which arrested her at her birthday party. Her farewell scene with De Leon, handcuffed and all in a train station was one of the best scenes in the movie. The movie has a happy ending, with De Leon finding Santos, a flower picker amidst a field of white daisies with Benguet/Baguio as a backdrop. In a typical Elwood Perez slow mo fashion, amidst the daisy flower plantation, the box office love team of all time hugged and lived happily ever after. As credits rolled, Florante’s song Pinay played on. Pinay, American Style. Ang ganda! Vilma Santos yata iyan! – Mario O. GArces, V Magazine Issue No. 6 2006 (READ MORE)

Vilma was obviously under utilized as PX in these Elwood Perez experiment. Despite this predicament, Vilma was able to give us a splash of her abilities. While Nora was in full bloom as Mila in these quiet Portes film. She gave us a convincing portrayal of lonely woman who realized that she was being used by a man she truly loves. The contrast of style was the main point why I matched these two roles. As PX, Vilma was talkative, hiding her insecurity and vulnerability with her fragile disguise pretending to be a rich New Yorker with almost caricature gestures.

Regal films’ Pinay American Style was as commercial as one can imagine. Regal films producer, Lily Monteverde hired three leading men to support the most bankable actress of 1979, Christopher DeLeon, Bembol Rocco and Victor Cocoy Laurel. It was a period in Vilma’s career where she is doing one commercial films after the other. Two dance/musical hits Swing it Baby and Rock Baby Rock and a string of sexy films like Rubia Servious the previous year, Coed and Magkaribal mostly targeting the mature adult audience established her status as the number one box office superstar of 1978-79. Vilma in 1979 was a picture of self-assured bankable star. She did two movies with Elwood Perez, Magkaribal and Pinay American Style both were box office hits. She also produced an Eddie Rodrigues starrer Halik sa Paa Halik sa Kamay, and teamed-up with comedy king, Dolphy in Buhay Artista. As the year 1979 ends, she battled the drama queen Charito Solis in the local festival entry, Modelong Tanso. The end of the decade marked her stronghold as the box office queen. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ versatility as an actress was the secret weapon of her box office success. And this weapon was in full display in Pinay American Style.

Pinay American Style was the story of PX, an illegal alien or TNT – “tago ng tago.” Her boyfriend played by Victor Laurel abandoned her for a rich American girl mainly to secure a green card. PX met an Americanized Filipino, Christopher DeLeon but found him not serious of having her as a steady girlfriend. It just so happened that PX also met Christopher’s brother, Bembol Rocco, a new immigrant. PX and Bembol fell for each other. And a love triangle surfaced the screen. Adding to the drama was Victor Laurel’s enraged, jealous appearances. Laurel eventually tipped the police ending PX stays in New York. As Bembol Rocco realized that America doesn’t fit his lifestyle, he reconciled with his brother and advised him to follow PX in the Philippines. Christopher and Vilma reconciled in a farm field in the Philippines. The end.

The film was so forgettable that the critics didn’t even bother to write any reviews. The lack of enthusiasm on the part of the critics was compensated with the box office success of the film. Vilma fits the role as the illegal alien, PX. Her attempt to speak fluent English and pretend that she’s rich when she met the boyish looking Christopher was funny and poignant. She was given enough scenes to shine. One was when she was harassed by her landlady, she promised her the rent money the next day and when she’s gone, she opened her refrigerator and found a staled piece of bread. She took bottled water and ate the staled bread, went to the bedroom and found her mom’s letter. Lying down in bed, she started to break down. A quiet scene without dialogue. A contrast from the earlier scenes where she was talkative as she tried to impress Christopher and telling him she’s rich and from a well-known family. It was obvious in 1979, Elwood Perez wasn’t the kind of director you will expect to produce a serious output. He wasn’t a Bernal or Brocka. He’s a commercial director. It was a better effort though, compared to a much more convoluted Magkaribal or their past successful projects like Nakawin natin ang bawat sandali and masakit masarap ang umibig. In Pinay, Toto Belano’s script wasn’t efficient in ironing out the “love quadrangle” plot twists and establishing the characters of four actors. So the blame can’t be put to solely to Perez’ shoulder. There was a scene were Vilma Santos and Christopher were watching a concert which was obviously not part of the script. – RV (READ MORE)

“…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979). The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other director, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit Box-office Film. They follow this up with a more mature projects as Vilma started to switched her image from sweet to a mature versatile actress, pairing her with Christopher DeLeon in five films starting with Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig in 1977. The Perez-Santos-DeLeon team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards that secured her elevation to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award. She won in 1979 for Pakawalan Mo Ako and 1988 for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos…” – RV (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: DAHIL MAHAL KITA THE DOLZURA CORTEZ STORY

ARTICLES - Vi in Dolzura Cortez

The Plot: “Dahil Mahal Kita (Because I Love You): The Dolzura Cortez Story 1994, This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands.” – Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide, The New York Times (READ MORE)

The Reviews: This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands. It was the first movie on AIDS in the Philippines that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination. – You and Aids web-site

The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination.

Responding to a newspaper advertisement looking for a person with AIDS, Ms. Dolzura Cortez agreed to have her life story serialized in print and later developed into a movie. The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was subsequently produced as the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS which documented the real experiences of a person living with AIDS in the country. The author reports findings from a study conducted to determine the social impact of the movie as perceived by some health care personnel. Specifically, it aimed to identify the messages that health care providers derived from watching the movie and to make recommendations on how this and subsequent films could serve as an effective tool for AIDS education. 134 health care personnel representing 13 regional hospitals from all over the country watched the film, then answered a questionnaire. The sample was of mean age 35.6 years, 84.3% female, and with mean experience of 10.1 years. 20.1% were doctors, 21.6% nurses, 32.4% social workers, and 25.4% other health personnel. 22.9% had direct experience caring for persons with AIDS and 32.8% knew someone with AIDS. Although these participants perceived some simple and subtle messages from the movie, they also noted its shortcomings. The movie lacked realism; overemphasized the dangers of having multiple sex partners at the expense of warning about other risk factors for HIV transmission; the counsellor pressured the patient and failed to provide enough information on infection control; the psychosocial, economic, and spiritual concerns of people with AIDS were not addressed; and there were some misinterpretations and twisted truths about AIDS facts and the story itself. The respondents suggested that health care providers and people directly involved in AIDS education and counseling be involved in the production of such movies. Moreover, documentary pictures and testimonial footage of the woman would have added realism, while additional basic information about AIDS could have been mentioned in either the movie or a trailer. – NCBI

‘Dolzura Cortez Story’ is an artistic and brilliant film from Manila’s finest director. The movie’s leading actress, Ms. Santos, played her part so powerfully, and is very convincing as Dolzura, the first Filipino HIV/AIDS patient to come- out to the public. The movie is a thought- provoking film, ready to challenge the Filipino idea of what is right and what is wrong. – Jonard, “A thought- provoking, honest film from Philippine’s finest director,” IBDB, March 11, 2000

“…In 1992, wala ni isang pelikulang tinampukan si Nora, samantalang si Vilma starred in only one: Maryo J. delos Reyes’ Sinungaling Mong Puso, na hindi niya pinagtamuhan ng anumang major Best Actress award. In 1993, gumawa si Vilma ng pelikula na ang kuwento’y base sa unang Pilipinang nag-reveal ng pagkakaroon niya ng AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), si Dolzura Cortez. Directed by Laurice Guillen for Octoarts Films, Dahil Mahal Kita (The Dolzura Cortez Story) won Vilma the Best Actress honors at the 1993 Manila Film Festival, Star, Gawad Urian and FAP…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“Still bearing activist weight is Vilma’s effort in Laurice Guillen’s Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story in which she fleshes out a body and a mind for a person with AIDS. This initiative constitutes an advocacy not only for people afflicted with the dreaded pandemic, but also for women who have to overcome strata of ostracism in the process of survival and resist their being reduced to an aberration, in this case, a pathology.” – Patrick Flores, Manila Standard Today Jan 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Previously, HIV/AIDS “victims” were seen either as homosexual men, or women who worked in the sex industry. The former stereotype was even turned into a mainstream 1993 Hollywood movie Philadelphia that won a best actor Academy Award for Tom Hanks. The latter, on the other hand, was the subject of a 1993 Filipino film The Dolzura Cortez Story starring Vilma Santos. As a disease, AIDS was highly misunderstood two decades ago. Religious fanatics considered it “a punishment from God” for the sexual excesses of its victims. While a complete falsehood, there was some truth to the other mistaken belief about AIDS—that it would lead to certain death for whoever had the disease, which had no known cure. Fast forward to 2013 and Filipinos still generally remain in the dark about HIV/AIDS…” – Beting Laygo Dolor, Manila Times, 14 August 2013 (READ MORE)

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FILM REVIEW: IPAGPATAWAD MO


The Plot: A married couple who try to make their marriage work despite the fact that both of them are career-oriented and that there are tensions created by the prescence of their first-born child, Mike Jr., who turns out to be autistic. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…At first, their marriage is close to being one made in heaven. Mike Esquivel (Christopher) is a successful lawyer, while Celina (Vilma) is a popular talkshow hostess. Celina gives up her career to devote fall time as mother to Junjun, the autistic child, played well by both Bennett Ignacio (when Junjun is three years old) and Terence Baylon (when the boy is seven years old). The husband, however, is totally unsympathetic and even considers the child a disgrace. With the wife spending practically all her waking hours to attend to her “special” child, the marriage expectedly begins to crumble. They only give themselves a second chance when Celina finds out that she is again pregnant. The second child – to father Mike’s relief – turns out to be a normal, healthy boy. But with Mike still unable to accept the first child, the marriage is on the rocks once more. The situation worsens when Mike -driven by the abnormal conditions at home and his own self-centeredness – starts an extramarital affair with a balikbayan named Monique (Bing Loyzaga). Finally, a near tragic incident gives Mike another chance to prove himself a worthy husband to Celina and even worthier father to his kids, especially the autistic one. The movie is poignant, nevermushy. It isnotthe run-of-the-mill tearjerker that relies on maudlin theatrics and melodramatic devices to touch the hearts of moviegoers. Surprisingly, despite the frustrating problem facing the movie couple, moviegoers did not seem to be depressed by the movie…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

“What?s the critics said: Payak, makabuluhan ngunit kakaibang pelikula ang ?Ipagpatawad Mo? ng Viva Films. Sapat ngang ipakipaglaban ng Vilma Santos at Christopher de Leon tandem ang paghahanap ng ibang klaseng script na lalo pang mapatingkad sa status nila bilang mga aktor sa makatuturang kahulugan nito. Mapalad sila sa panulat ni Olivia lamasan ng isang story na tumatalakay sa reaksiyon ng isang pamilya sa pagkakaroon ng abnormal na anak. Hinugot ni Ms. Lamasan ang autism syndrome na first time na inilantad sa Pilipino screen, bagamat tinangka na rin itong ipaliwanag sa ?Rain Man? ni Dustin Hoffman sa Hollywood. Sa story, sina Vilma at Christopher ay intelihente (TV broadcaster at lawyer respectively) at matagumpay na indibidwal. Maykaya sila sa buhay ngunit nagkaanak ng autistic. (Ang autism, ayon sa mga modren psychologists na sina Bernard Rimiand at lauretta bender, ay isang uri ng infantile psychosis na kung saan ang sinasapian ay nagwi-withdraw sa reyalidad ng buhay. Nananatili sila sa sariling daigdig na nilikha ng isip at pantasya.) dahil sa autistic child (Edward Carlos Garcia) unti-unting nawasak ang pamilya nina Vilma. Vilma vowed to protect and care for the child because she felt this is the only way a mother can assure herself that everything can be given to the son. (Pinatunayan nga ng pelikula na mas apt ang title na Paano Ba Ang Maging Ina rito kaysa roon sa ginawa ni Nora Aunor). On the other hand, nire-reject ni Chris at ng kanyang family (Delia Razon, et al) ang bata dahil nakababawas ito sa dignidad ng family stature nila. The conflict progresses to give us the different views on how to accept the frailties of people within our family. Para bang kung paano tatanggapin ng magulang na may anak siyang may butas sa puso or worst bakla. The father and mother image were deliberately explored at sa tuwing mag-aaaway sina Vi at Boyet, parang nakikita natin ang ating mga magulang na nagtatalo. the scenes were too real for comfort.

Nadale ng Viva ang kiliti ng masa. Hindi mo nga kailangang bigyan ng heavy stuff ang tao para masabing matino ang pelikula. Tama na nga sa mga politicized films or pa-social relevance. Bugbog na bugbog na ang ganitong tema sa mga diyaryo at sensayunalismo ng TV Patrol ng Channe 2. Mas kinagugusto ng balana ang mga pelikulang nakasentro sa mga karaniwang problema ng tao, lalo na?t may kinalalaman sa ordinaryong relasyong pantao. Napapanahon ang story ng ?Ipagpatawad?. Simple. Natural na pinakilos ng mga tauhan ng dula na halos parang hindi mo namamalayang pelikula lang pala ito. Aakalain mo ngang nakikinood ka lang sa isang scenario sa buhay ng kapitbahay mo. Ganito katindi ang tama ng pelikula sa manonood. This is indeed a very special movie for Boyet and Vi. Santos is again in the running for Best Actress. She was able to sink her teeth to the role of a disturbed mother torn in the love and responsibilities for her husband and the abnormal child. Except for some restless gesticulation of the hands, damang-dama mong buong katawan niya ay nilukuban ng kaakuhan ng role. All her scenes can be considered highlights, because she was consistently good in them. Her duro scene with Boyet was satisfactorily blocked and orchestrated. So far here, Vilma has an edge over Ruffa Gutierrez, Mona Liza, Janice de Belen and Lorna Tolentino in the acting derby next year. De leon was able to regain his acting brilliance in this movie. hindi puwersado. Cool, less facial contortion which became evident in some recent films he made. I like him better here than in ?Salingin? and ?Makiusap sa Diyos?. Nakababagbag-damdamin ?yung paghingi niya ng tawad sa anak. The monologue, which started sa pasakalye to reconcile ended in pained catharsis, that even a man with a heart of stone whould melt in depression. As a team, gamay na gamay na nina Vi at Boyet ang isa?t isa. Actually. sa tender moments nila, you don?t see them as the stars. You are made to believe they were really husbadn and wife.They were too relaxed. Their movements were free and natural. This is really what we call team acting. Walang sapawan.

The movie added more luster with the convincing portrayal of the kids. (Edward Garcia, Bennet Ignacio at Terence Baylon) who played Vi?s children. Special mention dito si Garcia na gumanap na 3-year old Junjun. Ang nuances niya ng ritualistic hand movements and echolalic sppech (symptom ng autism) ay talagang believable. He is not even conscious of the camera. Not to be outdone ay ang great support nina Charito Solis, as the choleric mother of Vi: Joonee gamboa, as the phlegmatic father; Ruby Rodriguez, as the yaya na talagang agaw-eksena, lalo na sa carnival scene; Bing Loyzaga, na mas improved and better version ni Gretchen Barretto sa movie; at Vivian Foz, as the wronged confused sister of Vi. Exceptional din ang cinematography and lighting works ng movie. As usual, expected sa Viva melodrama ang glossy, fabulous setting na nag-capitalized sa affluent house interior. kaya lang, parang di tugma ang theme song ni Janno Gibbs sa story. But more than this, laudable ang script ni Ms. Lamasan. Veritable na may research work ang writer. Dahil na-inform niya nag madla tungkol sa autism na dominant sa mga batang lalaki ngayon. Naipabatid niya na autism is detectable at the first two years, when the child is suffering from hearing and speech impairment In-insinuate din niya na the birth delivery (as specified in the opening scene) can cause oxygen deprivation that may affect the brain development of the child, thus creating immaturity in vasomotor coordination such as hearing, speech and hand movement. nilinaw rin niya na ang emotional refrigeration (yaong rejection nina Chris, Delia at Vivian) can cause the intensification of the disease. However, na-establish din niya ang love and care ng parents (ni Vilma) at sibling (ng kapatid na normal) will be more than enough to push the child to develop little by little. This time Laurice Guillen has hit the pot. The movie turned out to be artistically made and yet the commercial value of it did not suffer. Bumalik na ang aesthetic eye ni Direktora Guillen. Thank God, a film like this comes once in a while to give us enter-educational (learning with pleasure) millieu.” – Ces Ysobel Orsal (READ MORE)

“…The 1990s saw Charito Solis graduate to mother and grandmother roles, which she had done with frequency in the 1980s. In another nod to her age, she finally allowed herself to be billed above Vilma Santos, then acknowledged as the Longest-Reigning Box Office Queen of Philippine Movies, albeit above-the-title in films such as Ipagpatawad Mo (1992) and Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993)…” – Gypsy Baldovino and Yolly Tiangco (READ MORE)

“So much has been said and written about Enter-Educate (Entertainment for Education) but does anyone really know what it all means? As their ad says people in the entertainment industry who ascribe to Enter Education use their appeal to inculcate positive values. Quickly applying this in the movies, It’s the difference between Ipagpatawad MO (Viva Films) and Disgrasyada (Regal Films) both showing at your favorite theaters. Ipagpatawad Mo is a movie about how a family copes with autisitc children. Value: The Family. I haven’t seen Disgrasyada, but given Regal’s track record for gadawful movies, this movie will probably have Ruffa Gutierrez rompling around (wet, most likely) in Mother Lily’s famous kamison. Value: Magic Kamison. I am not saying that Viva makes better movies than Regal. Viva is the same company which brought you Humanap ka ng Panget and Andrew Ford Medina. But it is making an effort to entertain and educate. Which is more than I could say for other movie companies. Ipagpatawad Mo (Direction: Laurice Guillen) is like a training film for parents of autistic children, with lots of drama and fine acting from two name stars. Before anything else, this is the first time I’ve seen a cellular phone (not cordless) in a Filipino movie. (Puh-leeze, I can’t stand people who use cellular phones in their cars, in restaurants, in movie houses, even in church. I hereby propose cellular phone-free zones). This is observation has nothing to do with the rest of this review. In the movie, Vilma Santos plays a successful TV journalist (Must everyone play Loren Legarda in the movies?) while Christopher is a successful lawyer. Everything is perfect until their son Junjun turns three (Are the two children who played Junjun, age 3 and age 8, autistic in real life, or are they actors?) They find out from Lorli Villanueva, who plays a psychiatrist, not a laudrywoman that their son is autistic. Christopher wants to put Junjun in an institution (ala-Rainman).

Instead Vilma takes Junjun to her parent’s house. She gives up her job, stops playing attentive wife to Christopher, and dutifully takes Junjun to a special school. Christopher complaints that Vilma doesn’t pay enough attention to him anymore. Vilma complains that Christopher has forsaken his duties as a father. They breakup, almost. But they reconcile because Vilma is pregnant. She has given birth to Paolo, a normal child. Understandably, Christopher is proud of Paolo and ashamed of Junjun. He doesn’t want his friends to know he has a “defective” son. One day, Junjun humiliates his father in a party. Christopher scolds him, but Junjun doesn’t understand. Instead, he starts to draw his father with a tail and horns. Christopher has an affair with Bing Loyzaga, who tries very hard to do a Nanette Medved, but ends up looking like Gloria Estefan in that Pepsi commercial. Vilma discovers the affair and moves out of the house. Christopher doesn’t want to lose his family so he breaks up with Bing. He begs Vilma to come back and promises to make an effort to accept Junjun. They take a vacation and finally Christopher comes to terms with his feeling for his autistic son. In a touching scene, Christopher and Junjun sit together, but apart in the living room. He tells his son how excited he was when he was born. How he had such great hopes for him. How dissapointed he was when he found out he was autistic. And that he really doesn’t know what to do with him. But he loves him very much. Christopher cries, Vilma, who has eavesdropped, cries too. Junjun who has been toying with a ball, stands up and leaves the room. I guess this sums up the whole situation of what it’s like to be a parent of an autistic child.

Christopher redeems himself from his bad performance in the movie Huwag Mong Salingin ang Sugat ko, shown last week. He is in top form here, and portrays a gamut of emotions, as a father who could not accept that his son is autistic; as comfused husband who turns to another woman for comfort; as a desperate man who implores his wife to give him another chance; and as a transformed father who finally accepts his son is autistic. Vilma is exceptional, as usual. The two stars look good together. (I cannot imagine Christopher and Nora Aunor together). Although, they looke visibly – dare I say it? – old. Not even the soft-focus lens could disguise the bags under their eyes and the lines on their cheeks. Good thing Ipagpatawad Mo is a movie which deals with a more sophisticated subject, other than a man who meets a woman and they fall in love, or a married man falls-in-love with another woman and vice versa. In the future, I would like to see less cellular phones and more mature movies like this, please.” – Elvira Mata, Manila Standard, Oct 23 1991 (READ MORE)

“Countless subjects have been written about this star for all seasons – a fascinating character to her fans. Her calm composure even in the midst of brickbats thrown her way by some members of the press, her acting talents attested by the 16 best actress trophies and her screen image are reasons enough why she has gained a strong foothold in the hearts of the moviegoers. “Being popular in one’s profession or let’s say being successful, is not a shield against the wounds of life. On the contrary, principles come more often and go deeper if one is successful and popular,” she told us when we chanced to talk toher on the set of her latest movie, Ipagpatawad Mo with Christopher de Leon. Moviegoers have always accepted the team-up of Vi and Boyet, acting and box office wise. This is their 16th partnership. Their first was in Tagulan sa Tagaraw.

So what else is new? “There was a time na parang sawa na kami sa subject ng movie namin. Relasyon, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Imortal, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig, etc. are just some of them. So when we read the script, we said na sana bago naman ang story, not just a love triangle, or legal separation and such subjects. This is the first time in out picture togethertaht involved our child who is autistic. Not many people or only a few of our parents know what an autistic child is. Akala nila mentally retarded na ang mga yon. Which is definitely not true. Autistic children can be taught, can be improved but it takes a lot of patience and determination to make them so. In this movie, Boyet could not believe that he has such a child and he rejects him. But I could not, and that is the bane of our everyday quarrel. I fiercely defend out son here saying to all and sundry that he is not mentally retarded. How did you tackle the subject of autism? “Boyet and I read books about it, saw a movie with its theme, visited a special school for such children in Forbes Park, and spoke to parents of these children.

Ninety percent of these autistic children are very good-looking and are good in numbers but they have a world of their own. If you teach them something, yon kung ang alam nila, no other world exists. Autism is like virus and it is not hereditary. Hindi malalaman na autistic ang isang bata until they are about three or four years old. But doctors know, when a baby is born that he or she is autistic, only they don’t dare tell the parents about it. This movie should be an eye opener for such doctors and parents.” How is it that you and Boyet are so compatible with each other as a love team? To our knowledge, no other team-up has endured such long partnership. “Maybe it’s because we’re comfortable with each other. And one thing more, the moviegoers accepted our team because there’s no personal involvement between us. It’s not necessary that there’s love angle between us. Ang sa amin platonic lang. Not only that, we’re the best of friends. Do you know that Boyet was the first leading man to whom I confided that I’m going to marry Edu? He was also the first to whom I broke the news that I’m pregnant with Lucky. That’s how firm our friendship is.”

In all the years that you’ve been together in the movies, did Boyet ever court you? I heard before that wen you we’re filming a movie with Eddie Rodriguez, he sent you three red roses. “Naku ha! That’s just his way of affirming our friendship. Walang malisya youn.” If in real life, you’re really husband and wife, do you think your marriage will also endure up to the present? ” I just can’t tell, ha. But Boyet and I are both Scorpions. We have the same strong personalities. Siguro magka-clash kami. But in our scenes in the movies, It’s wonderful if Boyet is my partner, because kung intense at high ang feelings ko, kaya ni Boyet na saugtin kung ano ang sinasabi ko with the same intense feeling.” And with the others? “No comment.” In Ipagpatawad Mo, Vi portrays a mother’s love for her child. “I know the feeling because I am a mother. I’ll fight tooth and nail for the care and well-fare of my son, Lucky.” Vi is going full ahead of her movie schedules next year. After this movie, she’ll be shooting Sinungaling na Puso (temporary title), for Regal’s tehn one with Armida’s Reyna Films (The Heiress), and another one schedule for Vision Films.” – Nena Z. Villanueva, Manila Standard, Oct 28 1991 (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: MASARAP MASAKIT ANG UMIBIG

Plot Description: A wealthy couple’s sacrificing adopted son, Alonso (Christopher de Leon) and wayward biological son, Alvaro (Mat Ranillo III) vie for the love of the same woman, Estella (Vilma Santos).

Film Reviews: “…Walang ipinagkaiba ang pelikula sa ibang mga sineng tinalakay ang mga suliranin ng pag-ibig at pamilya. Makikitang pinagtuunan ng pansin ni direktor Elwood Perez ang disenyo ng pelikula ngunit hindi naging epektibo ang paggamit nito upang maiusad ang kuwento. Kahit sa pagganap ng mga pangunahing tauhan, animo sila’y nasa entablado. Nanlilisik ang mga mata, walang katapusang pagsisigawan, pagtutulakan at pagbubugbugan. Sa pelikulang ito, unang ipinamalas ang senswalidad ni Vilma Santos. Maraming eksenang sekswal ang aktres at maaari talaga siyang makipagsabayan sa mga tulad nina Alma Moreno at Trixia Gomez. Karamihan ng mga sitwasyong ibinigay sa kanyang karakter ay hindi kapani-paniwala. Nariyang gawin siyang modelo, sa ilang piling tagpo ipinakita din ang pagiging estudyante ni Estella ngunit hindi naman tinahak ang mga ito sa kabuuan ng pelikula. Hindi rin maikakaila ang husay ni Christopher de Leon bilang aktor ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay nasayang lamang ang kanyang pagganap. Hindi nabigyan ng tamang direksyon ang aktor kung kaya’t lumabas na sabog ang kanyang karakterisasyon. Si Mat Ranillo III naman ay tila hindi na natutong umarte. Kadalasa’y pinaghuhubad siya ng direktor sa mga eksena upang mabigyang pansin. Masyadong mahaba ang pelikula dahil na rin siguro sa panghihinayang ni direk Elwood na masayang ang magagandang eksenang kanyang nakunan ngunit hindi naman nakaapekto ang mga ito sa takbo ng istorya. Kadalasa’y nakababad lamang ang kamera at nakatanghod sa susunod na gagawin ng mga artista. Hindi ito nakatulong upang mapabilis ang takbo ng pelikula, nakakainip panoorin ang ganitong mga eksena. Ang Masarap, Masakit Ang Umibig ay basurang nababalot sa kinang ng makintab na sinematograpiya, disenyo at musika na nagbabalatkayong masining na pelikula.” Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Her metamorphosis began in late 1976 when she agreed to be kissed by Rudy Fernandez in Makahiya at Talahib. It was a “feeler” of sort and when the public clacked its tongue in obvious approval, Vilma shelved her lollipops-and-roses image and proved that she, too, could be a woman – a wise move indeed because at that time her career was on a downswing and her movies were not making money. Then she did Mga Rosas sa Putikan for her own VS Films where she played a country girl forced into prostitution in the big city. The movie did fairly well at the tills. Good sign. And came her romance with Romeo Vasquez, boosting both their stocks at the box office (thier two starrers, Nag-aapoy na Damdamin and Pulot-Gata where Vilma did her own wet style, were big moneymakers). The tandem, although it did help Vilma, actually helped Vasquez more in re-establishing himself at the box office (without Vilma, his movies with other leading ladies hardly create any ripple). In Susan Kelly, Edad 20, Vilma played a notorious-woman role that required her to wear skimpy bikini briefs in some scenes, following it up with two giant sizzlers (Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon and Masarap, Masakit ang Umibig) that catapulted her as the newest Bold Queen. Then came Burlesk Queen…” – Ricardo F. Lo, Expressweek Magazine January 19, 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979). The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other director, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit Box-office Film. They follow this up with a more mature projects as Vilma started to switched her image from sweet to a mature versatile actress, pairing her with Christopher DeLeon in five films starting with Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig in 1977. The Perez-Santos-DeLeon team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards that secured her elevation to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award. She won in 1979 for Pakawalan Mo Ako and 1988 for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos…” – RV (READ MORE)

Relasyon (Videos)


Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Ricardo Lee; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencion, Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Jimi Melendez, Ernie Zarate, Lucy Quinto, Manny Castañeda, Beth Mondragon, Bing Fabregas, Olive Madridejos, Augusto Victa, Dante Castro, Tony Angeles, Thaemar Achacoso; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Winston Raval; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Benjie De Guzman; Art Direction: Dennis Cid; Sound: Vic Macamay; Theme Songs: “Relasyon” performed by Eva Eugenio

Plot Description: He sees nothing wrong in having a wife and a mistress. She would do anything to make him happy, including putting up with his idiosyncrasies, babysitting his child, and finding loopholes in the law so she could be with him. The characters are so familiar and so realistic that you might see yourself. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon star in this very touching story about two people who truly love each other but are trapped by the circumstances. Relasyon is another fine motion picture from director Ishmael Bernal. – Regal Films

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Vilma Santos’ MMFF recognitions

Aside from Gawad Urian, Star Awards, Film Academy Awards and FAMAS, the annual local festival, called MMFF or Metro Manila Film Festival has become a part of Vilma Santos’ film career. From the 70s to the new millennium, Vilma Santos was able to entered memorable films that earned her awards, record-breaking ticket revenues, career breakthrough performances and even some memorable heartache. Spanning four decades, the MMFF earned Vilma 7 acting nominations with four wins.

The Martial Law established the amalgamation of the surrounding cities in Manila. Prior to 1975, three local film festivals showcase Filipino films, Quezon City and Manila each has their own festivities and another one in Southern part of the country, Bacolod City. The local festivals started the acting competition between rival, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor. In 1970 Manila Film Festival, Nora’s Nora in Wonderland and Young Heart compete with Vilma’s sole entry, Love Letters. Two years afterwards, the acting race will heat up in Quezon City Film Festival when the two collided with Nora’s And God Smiled at Me and Vilma’s Dama De Noche. After the Martial Law, cities were amalgamated with Manila. And the Quezon City Film Festival and the Manila Film Festival ends creating the December festival in 1975. Occasionally, Manila will have their own festival every summer in connection to city’s “Araw Ng Manila” celebration. Tthe last time Vilma entered a film at MFF was in 1993 via Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story where she won the best actress. Meanwhile, Nora Aunor’s last venture to MFF was in 2004’s Naglalayag where like Vilma, she won the best actress too.

The Metropolitan Manila Film Festival, now simply called, MMFF, (the “politan” was dropped eventually) or Metro Manila Film Festival exhibits only local films in all its theatres from Christmas Eve to the first week of the following New Year. The festival has its street parade at the eve of Christmas Day and each films contesting for best float. The festival has its awards night at the third or fourth nights.

Not surprisingly, both Nora and Vilma have competed in the first MMFF. Nora’s entry was her self-produced film directed by Luciano B. Carlos, Batu-Bato sa Langit and Vilma’s entry was the melodrama, Karugtong ang Kahapon. The big winner was the pre-presidential, Joseph Estrada. Directed by Augosto Bunaventura, Estrada’s Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa won the major awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Best Actress went to Charito Solis for Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi.

The second year, the festival was noticeably the precursor to the awards race. It was a showcase of who’s who in the local film industry. Lino Brocka, Eddie Romero, Lupita Concio were among the big name directors competing. Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon dominated the awards night winning the best director and Christopher de Leon the best actor. Hilda Koronel was proclaimed the best actress for her impressive performance in Insiang. Concio’s Minsa’y Isang Gamo-gamo, Brocka’s Insiang and Romero’s Ganito will be the top films competing for the first Gawad Urian.

The third MMFF, brought controversy to Vilma Santos. Now starting to accept offbeat roles and learning to adopt versatility to her arsenal, she bravely entered the festival with Celso Ad Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. The gamble paid off as the film became the top grosser and won eight awards out of ten. Burlesk won best picture and best in direction, lead actor, actress, screenplay, supporting actress/actor and cinematography.

Burlesk defeated Lino Brocka’s Inay, Mario O’Hara and Romy Suzara’s Mga Bilanggong Birhen, Mike de Leon’s Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, Eddie Romero’s Banta ng Kahapon, Ishmael Bernal’s Walang Katapusang Tag-araw, Joey Gosiengfiao’s Babae, Ngayon at Kailanman, Gil Portes’ Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa. A very impressive list, no wonder some critics loudly complained about the awards results. And according to Armida Sigueon Reyna, in her newspaper column, Brocka walked out the awards night in protest and even cursed the juror on the way out ot the auditorium. It was also reported that the organizer asked the winners to return their medals (they hand out medals that year) but no such things happened, Vilma still has her medal in her fully loaded cabinet of hardwares.

The success of Burlesk Queen commercially and critically brought down some senses to some Nora Aunor followers. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ willingness to accept mature and offbeat roles became a threat to Nora Aunor’s standing as the number one actress. Vilma Santos’ entry was Lino Brocka’s true to life film about rape victim, Rubia Servios. Critics and media have predicted Vilma was dead lock for the best actress. Come awards night, the juries’ award Nora’s film about a maid abused by her employer, Atsay won the major awards including best picture and best director for Eddie Garcia. The top acting award was changed to best performer that Nora Aunor won. A vindication from last year’s result? Wait, there wasn’t even an Aunor film last year. For some consolation, Rubia won two technical awards, one for editing and screenplay for Mario O’Harra. The film also became the top grosser of the festival even with the lost to Aunor. According to Isagani Cruz on his TV Times article in 1979: “…Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and Rubia is a much more demanding and difficult role….Overall, Atsay may be much more impressive than Rubia Servios. In terms of challenging our moral and legal convictions, however, Rubia Servios is much more significant.”

1979 brought the tandem of Charito Solis & Vilma Santos versus Lolita Rodrigues and Nora Aunor. The clear winner was the latter team. Although Solis and Santos film did much better at the box office. Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo, a much better film, directed by Lino Brocka won the major awards, best picture, director and acting awards for Raul Aragon and Nora Aunor. For film aficionado, the scene where Solis slapped Santos in Modelong Tanso was memorable. Many reprised that scene, Vilma did it in Anak (with Claudine) and recently Sharon Cuneta with Heart Evangelist in the recent Mano Po.

By 1980, Nora Aunor kept on pushing for festival supremacy and like last year, she entered two films. This time, with Lino Brocka’s Bona and Laurice Guillen’s Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. Vilma’s lone entry was Danny Zialcita’s Langis at Tubig. Nora came up short, as both of her film missed the major awards. The big winner was Christopher De Leon and Bembol Roco’s film Taga Sa Panahon. Taga won the top awards while Marilou Diaz Abaya’s film Brutal won directing and best actress for Amy Austria. Langis At Tubig won best actor Dindo Fernando.

After winning in 1977 and a big loss in 1978, Vilma’s enthusiasm in winning at the MMFF subsided significantly. Her film entries were now focused on entertainment value aimed at getting commercial success instead of awards. 1980 and 1981 was a big example. Danny Zialcita’s Langis At Tubig did very well at the box office in ’80 and her entry the following year was a glossy production, Karma. Karma was a big hit and earned nominations but one film dominated all the 1981’s MMFF, Kisap Mata, directed by Mike De Leon won eight out of ten awards except for best actress, that award went to Vilma Santos. Vilma didn’t attend the ceremony, her co-star, Chanda Romero, accepted the award.

Nora’s absence in 1981 add motivation to her camp, she entered the festival with the epic film, directed by Ishmael Bernal, Himala, now considered by many as one of the best Filipino film of all time. Himala won seven major awards including best picture, director, screenplay and actress. Vilma’s entry Haplos was a distant third, with a win for lead actor, Christopher De Leon. The following year, Himala harvested nominations from four award-giving bodies particularly the best actress nominations for Nora but failed to win any, all the trophies went to Vilma, earning her first grand slam best actress. The next six years, no film by Vilma Santos in the festival. The big winners during these years are: 1983 – Karnal, 1984 – Bulaklak ng City Jail, 1985 – Paradise Inn, 1986 – Halimaw sa Banga, 1987 – Olongapo, 1988 – Patrolman.

The 1989 MMFF brought back the team of Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon. Viva film’s Immortal directed by Eddie Garcia won major awards including best picture, director and the acting for Christopher and Vilma. Not to be undone, Nora Aunor entered the race the following year via Elwood Perez’ Andrea Paano ba ang Maging Isang Ina. The film won best picture, director and actress for Nora. Best actor went to Dolphy for Espadang Patpat. Then 1991 was a repeat for Nora as her film, again directed by Perez, Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M. won major awards.

The next twelve years seems to be non-existent for Vilma followers as there were no entries from Vilma Santos in these years. There were no films that stands out compare to the high caliber films entered during the peak of the Vilma-Nora rivalry. There are six films that were praised by the critics though, Chito Rono‘s films Nasaan ang Puso (1997) and Bagong Buwan (2001), Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Jose Rizal (1998) and Muro-ami (1999) and Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman (2000). In the acting category, only Elizabeth Oropesa win in 1999 for Bulaklak ng Maynila and Gloria Romero’s win in 2000 for Tanging Yaman stands out.

By 2002, it was déjà vu all over again, Vilma Santos convinced by many as a sure bet for the best actress lost again for her festival entry, Dekada 70. The award was given to Ara Mina for her supposed to be supporting role in the very first Mano Po. Dekada will dominate the awards race the following year, Vilma will win several best actress awards. Vilma’s co-star, Piolo Pascual will win all the best supporting actor making him a grand slam winner. The next year, Crying Ladies, starring Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Koronel and Angel Aquino won the best picture, best actor for Eric Quizon, best supporting actress for Hilda while Maricel Soriano snatched the best actress for Filipinas. The next year, Vilma came back again with Regal’s third installment to the Mano Po series. Titled, Mano Po 3: My Love and directed by Joel Lamangan, the film won best picture and the lead acting for Vilma and Christopher De Leon. Cesar Montano’s self-produced and directed film, Panaghoy sa Suba won best actor.

No Vilma Santos or Nora Aunor films the next five years. Vilma visibly concentrated with her political career and Nora retired in the United States. The film festival continued its annual fan fare with some memorable films. Zsazsa Padilla and Cherry Pie Picache continued the Mano Po series with a comedy, Ako Legal Wife, Mano Po 4 won the female acting awards in 2005. Judy Ann Santos comedy film, directed Joey Reyes, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo top the 2006 festival. Maricel Soriano received another best actress the following year for Bahay Kubo, The Pinoy Mano Po. Anne Curtis arrived in the big league as she wins best actress for Baler in 2008 and then this year, Bong Revilla won best actor for Ang Panday and Sharon Cuneta best actor for Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love, both first time winner.

Vilma Santos’ MMFF Best Actress from 1975 to 2008

For some, Vilma Santos MMFF recognitions in terms of awards wasn’t as significant compare to lets say, her number of URIAN or FAMAS awards but all the shortcomings were forgotten when you think about the successful recorded revenue of her festival entries.  From Burlesk Queen, Rubia Servios, Karma, Langis at Tubig and to her last one, Mano Po 3, all did very well.  At the end of the day, producers would still prefer a little profit than trophies. – RV

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Relasyon (Still Photos)

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Plot Description: He sees nothing wrong in having a wife and a mistress. She would do anything to make him happy, including putting up with his idiosyncrasies, babysitting his child, and finding loopholes in the law so she could be with him. The characters are so familiar and so realistic that you might see yourself. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon star in this very touching story about two people who truly love each other but are trapped by the circumstances. Relasyon is another fine motion picture from director Ishmael Bernal. – Regal Films

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Vi and Boyet: A Loveteam that Endures (Repost)


The Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon love team is the most enduring tandem in local cinema. They were first paired in 1975 in Celso Ad. Castillo’s Tag-ulan sa Taga-araw, as first cousins who fall in love with each other. This was followed by Masarap Masakit ang Umibig, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali, Ikaw ay Akin (with Nora Aunor, megged by the late Ishmael Bernal), Pinay American Style (shot in the US), Disco Fever, Magkaribal, Gusto Kita, Mahal Mo Siya (with Romeo Vasquez), Pakawalan Mo Ako, Karma, Sinasamba Kita, Relasyon, Haplos, Broken Marriage, Paano Ba ang Mangarap, Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan, Imortal, Ipagpatawad Mo, Dahil Mahal Kita, Dolzura Cortez Story, Nag-iisang Bituin (with Aga Muhlach), Hanggang Ngayon Ika’y Minamahal, and Dekada 70.

Mano Po 3, My Love is Vilma’s 23rd film with Boyet and her 190th major movie in her filmography. She also did guest appearances for friendship’s sake in films like Roderick Paulate’s Charot, German Moreno’s Payaso and Jinggoy Estrada’s Erpat Kong Astig. What is the secret of her successful team up with Boyet?

“You know, it’s amazing because we’ve never been linked to each other and yet the public loves seeing our movies together. Siguro it’s because we have this unbelievable chemistry. We know each other so well that tinginan lang on screen, we already know what to do to make a take very good.”

Ate Vi turned 51 on Nov. 3 and it’s to her credit that she can manage to look half her age. What is her secret?

“I exercise everyday. If I don’t, I’d get sick. When I feel down or I’m angry about something, I exercise and it makes me feel better. As a mayor, I get invited to a lot of dinners and they’d feel slighted if I don’t honor their invitation. So can you imagine what would happen to me kung kain ako nang kain and I don’t exercise? Also, I never abuse myself. Wala naman akong vices like drugs or alcohol. Clean living. I also have a positive attitude in life. I don’t dwell on negative things as it’s not healthy.”

Did she have a hard time playing the role of a Chinese woman in Mano Po 3? “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.”

Why did she choose Mano Po 3 to be her comeback film after a three-year hiatus? “You know, I’ve done some of my best award-winning films with Regal, like Relasyon, Broken Marriage, Sister Stella and Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, so when Mother Lily offered this project to me, which was originally Soong Sisters pero hindi natuloy, I accepted it. I’ve seen the first Mano Po, also directed by Joel Lamangan, and I liked it, so sabi ko, why not do the last installment in the series? Also, here, I get to play a glamorous woman once again. In my last films like Anak, Bata, Bata and Dekada, I play a plain housewife kaya most of the time naka-duster lang ako. For a change, sabi ko, I want to play the role of a well-dressed executive once again. Then there’s the prospect of working with direk Joel Lamangan for the first time.”

How is it being directed by Lamangan, who got more identified with Nora Aunor after such award-winning films as Flor Contemplacion Story and Bakit May Kahapon Pa?

“We got along well, kahit alam kong malapit siya kay kumareng Guy. We never felt awkward on the set since he’s very understanding, considering that my schedule allows me to shoot only on weekends. After doing a dramatic scene, he’d even kiss me on the forehead to express his approval. Mano Po 3 is one film I can be proud of. One thing that surprised me is he’s such a fast worker. With other directors, we shoot only one or two sequences a day. With him, we shoot eight to nine sequences a day. And you should be prepared with all your lines and your costume and makeup when you get to the set as he does only one rehearsal and take na kaagad. For this movie, iba ang pinagawa niyang atake namin ni Boyet compared to our past films before. I’m sure the audience will appreciate because it’s really something different.”

She’s working with many young stars in the film. How did she get along with them? “With Carlo Aquino and Angelica Panganiban, no problem as they played my kids in Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa and Lipa Massacre. Pero sina Karylle, Angel Locsin, Patrick Garcia, John Prats, Dennis Trillo, and even Jay Manalo, ngayon ko lang nakatrabaho. When we all went to Beijing, I noticed parang nahihiya sila sa akin so I took the initiative of talking and embracing all of them. By the time we started shooting, they were relaxed and comfortable with me na. It’s fun working with them as they’re all professional and responsible.”

How does she feel about the sudden demise of Fernando Poe Jr.? “I really felt very sad as he’s one of the kindest men I ever met. We’ve done three films together. The first one was when I was only 19-years-old, Batya’t Palo-Palo, a big hit. He was the one who taught me how to swim while we were shooting that movie. Before that, I did Dyesebel where I played a mermaid but I didn’t even know how to swim. This was followed by Bato sa Buhangin. Our last film together was Ikaw ang Mahal Ko, which I did after I gave birth to Ryan Christian. Kuya Ronnie is a gentleman in the strictest sense of the word. Talagang maasikaso siya sa lahat ng kasama niya sa shooting and he feeds everyone with great food all the time. He’s fun to work with kasi palabiro siya at masaya talaga kasama. The whole industry will miss him.”

We saw Christopher de Leon at the wake of Fernando Poe Jr. at Sto. Domingo with his wife Sandy Andolong and he, too, feels sad about Da King’s passing away. He has worked with FPJ only once, in Agila (1980), where they played father and son.

“But I used to be part of his FPJ all star basketball team that played in various parts of the county,” he says. “FPJ is a very caring person. He acts like an adviser when it comes to one’s career. He’d tell me, I saw the trailer of your movie, dapat ganito ang ginawa mo. All his comments are constructive. You know he wants to be of help to you.”

Boyet didn’t have a single movie this year except for Mano Po 3. His last one was Mano Po 2 in last year’s filmfest. “I got busy with TV work. I did the soap Hanggang Kailan and the sitcom All Together Now on GMA 7. Now, I’m also busy as juror in Starstruck.”

How different is his role in Mano Po 3 from Mano Po 2? “There’s a big difference. In Mano Po 2, I was the family patriarch with three wives. Here, I’m a lover boy. Vilma Santos and I were sweethearts during our college days. My whole family was deported abroad by the Marcos regime so we got separated without me knowing she’s already pregnant. Several years later, we meet again while we’re both attending a conference in Thailand and our love for each other blooms once more. This starts the conflict in the film because she’s already married to Jay Manalo. Ako naman, widower na. Making this film brought me to Beijing and the beautiful ancient city of Ayutthaya in Thailand which is one and a half hours away from Bangkok.”

Why does he think his partnership with Vilma continues to thrive even after 30 years? “I just love working with Vi because she is such a giving co-actor. Hindi siya nang-aagaw ng eksena. If the scene is yours, susuportahan ka niya nang husto for you to shine. You can’t help but get carried away kapag siya ang kaeksena mo dahil sa husay niya.”

Boyet has just taped a real-life episode with wife Sandy for Magpakailanman. “We play Claro and Carmelita. They’re not celebrities pero maganda ang story nila. I play the role of a blind man. This is my first time in Magpakailanman and I’m glad I’m doing it with Sandy with whom I haven’t worked for a long time.”

Next year, he’s going to the US to visit his son, Miguel, 18, who is studying computer graphics in New Jersey. “There’s also an offer for me to do a show with Nora Aunor while I’m there.”

We ask Vi and Boyet if they expect their film to win come filmfest awards night.

“It’s nice to win but I don’t want to expect anything,” says Boyet. “I’m just happy with the thought that we are able to do this kind of movie and we gave our best to our respective roles to please the viewers.”

“More than the awards, I want the film to make money at the box office and be appreciated by people from all walks of life,” says Vilma. “At the core of the film is a beautiful love story and a woman’s love for her family. I’m sure a lot of couples will be able to identify with it.”

Source: Written by Mario E. Bautista, The Star, December 24, 2004 NEWSFLASH


The Films of Christopher De Leon and Vilma Santos from SFAS – VSR on Vimeo.


The Films of Christopher and Vilma from SFAS – VSR on Vimeo.