FILM REVIEW: TAGOS NG DUGO

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The Plot – A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s…My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour – I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness….Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse….There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film….As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III (READ MORE)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better…” – Mar Garces, V Magazine 2006 (READ MORE)

“…A series of unfortunate events seemed to hound Nora’s career up to this point. October 1, 1989 was to be the last airing date of the 22-year-old musical-variety show Superstar on RPN 9. A month later, it was revived on IBC 13 with a new title, The Legend … Superstar, but this was short-lived lasting only up to early 1990. Naging mas masuwerte si Vilma Santos sa hinu-host na Vilma! on GMA 7, which started in 1981 as VIP (Vilma in Person) ng lumang BBC 2 (naibalik sa Lopez owners ang ABS-CBN after the EDSA Revolution). Nagbida si Vilma sa isa sa mga pinakaimportanteng pelikula ng Dekada ‘80: Regal Films’ Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (by Ishmael Bernal), na sinimulan in 1988 at ipinalabas in early 1989. In December 1989, Vilma headlined a period romance-drama (Viva Films’ Imortal, megged by Eddie Garcia) at nanalo sila ng kaparehang si Christopher de Leon ng acting plums sa MMFF. Sa awardings for that year, si Vilma ang nanalong Best Actress sa Star Awards (for Pahiram), her first form the Philippine Movie Press Club. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” nasabi ni Vilma as she accepted her trophy. Later, it was Nora’s turn to get a Best Actress trophy for the first time from the Film Academy of the Philippines, for Elwood Perez’s three-year-in-the-making Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” sabi rin niya in her acceptance speech. Na-elevate si Vilma sa FAMAS Hall of Fame, for having bagged five Best Actress statuettes: Dama de Noche, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, and Elwood Perez’s Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos. Nora won her fourth Best Actress plum sa FAMAS, also for Bilangin. Walang itulak-kabigin sa dalawa, kaya marapat lang na mag-tie sila for Best Actress, as in the 1990 Gawad Urian, na ‘pantay na parangal ”ang ipinagkaloob ng Manunuri kina Nora (for Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit) at Vilma (for Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga)…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

The Director – Maryo J. De los Reyes is a film and television director from the Philippines. He began his career in the 1970s(Wikipedia). Reyes’ most significant works are the critically acclaimed Magnifico (2004), Tagos Ng Dugo (1987) and the commercial hits, Bagets (1983), Annie Batungbakal (1979) (Wikepedia). In 1987 Maryo De Los Reyes directed Vilma Santos that critics considered one of the shocking film that year, Tagos Ng Dugo. The film was hailed as a feminist film and earned Vilma Santos her fourth FAMAS Best Actress. Ironically, the conservative church award giving body will agree and also gave their 1987 CMMA Best Actress to Vilma Santos. Reyes will again direct Vilma in 1992.  (Tagos ng Dugo 1987 and Sinungaling Mong Puso 1992)

The Most Colorful Film Character of the Year – “…The decision of the film critics to inhibit themselves from conferring their annual Urian Awards is unprecedented in the group’s 12-year history…But the case of film year 1987 is truly abysmal. It is, in fact, beyond salvation. True, there were number of worthwhile efforts, in such specific categories as editing, cinematography or sound but again, this is taking film as if it were a highly segmented form, instead of a holistic and integrated medium of communication. The area of screenplay was, to my mind, the most borely abused; I cannot recall any single film where this can be considered outstanding. Blame it on the producers who were more concerned with much momentary fancies as inane fantasies, sexploitation flicks and anachronistic melodramas. Blame it, too, on the governement which doesn’t seem to care and which doesn’t realize the power of the cinema in the value reformation of a natin long shackled in a despotic rule…Then there was the dismal and embarraing Brocka opus, Magin Akin Ka Lamang, which is a far cry from what the director used to do with komiks genre, having elevated it to a level of respectability in Tahan Na Empoy, Tahan and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, which is good enough melodrama. Even more sordid is his Pasan Ko ang Daigidg, which takes an egregiously compromising view of poverty with its Cinderella-like storyline. Even Ishmael Bernal was not spared of the spirit of idiocy which pervaded the past year and which threatens to hound us this year. Bernal, who often can be relied upon to transcend the limitations of the most trivial of storyline, simply failed to overcome the komiks convolutions of Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa. Also, quite unlucky was Peque Gallaga who was in bad shape in Kid, Huwag Kang Susuko, though he managed to score a few precious points in the action film genre. And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. DumaualManila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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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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Filmography: Relasyon (1982)

“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

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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: A young woman falls in love with a married man, and they eventually try to live together — may be tame for Western audiences, but director Ishmael Bernal made this film for the Philippines, where divorce is forbidden at this time. Marilou (Vilma Sanders works as a guide in a Planetarium and has an on-going affair with Emil (Christopher de Leon) that neither her family nor friends can condone — Emil is married and has two sons. But when his wife leaves him, Emil and Marilou move in together, and that is when the problems start. She tries to make everything work out perfectly, and Emil, in turn, shows an arrogance that was quite hidden before. Given society’s disapproval of their arrangement in the bargain, their future together hardly seems bright. Ishmael Bernal was one of the most prolific directors in Philippine film history, he died in 1996 after making more than 50 films. – Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide web-site

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

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 web-site

“…The story of an adulterous affair, and its implications for the families involved…” – British Film Institute (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1982 FAMAS Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Gawad URIAN Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Film Academy of the Philipiines Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Catholic Mass Media Awards Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 The very first “Grand Slam” for Best Actress in Philippine Entertainment history; 1982 RPN Channer 9’s Let’s Talk Movies Awards Best Actress for body of Works – Vilma Santos for Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, T-Bird At Ako, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? and Haplos; 1982 FAMAS Nomination Best Actor – Christopher De Leon; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Direction – Ishmael Bernal; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Picture; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Screenplay – Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencio, Ishmael Bernal

Official Selection – 1983 Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines”; 25 Filipino films shown at Lincoln Center – “In celebration of the 100th year of Philippine Independence, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, IFFCOM, the Philippine Information Agency, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York and the Philippine Centennial Coordinating Council – Northeast USA, presented a series of Filipino films at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center. Slated July 31 through August 20, and with a line-up of about 25 films, the series was the most extensive Filipino film retrospective ever to take place in the United States. All prints are subtitled in English. By including old classics as well as contemporary films, the three-week festival brought the country’s centennial commemoration into sharper historical focus. It also featured some of the best works by acclaimed director Lino Brocka, and concluded with the award-winning short films and videos of young, upcoming Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers. The members of the film selection committee were Richard Peña (Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Domingo Hornilla, Jr., Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, and Agustin “Hammy” Sotto. Some of the titles shown in the festival were: In the Classics Category…two films by Mike De Leon: Sister Stella L. starring Vilma Santos and Batch ’81 starring Mark Gil; and three works by Ishmael Bernal namely Nunal sa Tubig (A Speck in the Water) starring Daria Ramirez, Aliw starring Suzette Ranillo and Relasyon starring Vilma Santos…Among Brocka’s films being spotlighted were Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Insiang, Tinimbang Ka Nguni’t Kulang (You Were Weighed But Was Found Wanting) and Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter)…” – Seapavaa Bulletin (READ MORE)

Film Reviews: “…The notion of the martir resurfaces in Relasyon (1982), a stellar example of a mistress movie with genuine depth. It portrays Marilou (Vilma Santos) as not just a mistress, but also a servant for the chauvinistic Emil (Christopher De Leon). There is a poignant scene in the aforementioned: in spite of catering to her lover’s every need, she is still left alone in the house on Christmas Eve, because he really isn’t hers to begin with. Santos’ brilliant, appropriately emotive acting in the movie gave the star her big break. Filipino Department faculty member Jayson Jacobo, PhD expounds on Santos’ role in Philippine media. “[Her] middle period presents us a social sphere of material conditions which articulate the context of amorous situations that persuade a woman to enter and exit a relasyon.” Jacobo finds that more recent mistress films are devoid of the dramatic sophistication that these older films presented. He points out their key faults, saying, “These films of late are too concerned with the calisthenics of sexual encounter, the scandalous confrontation, the fashionable hysteria, the publicity of neurosis and the contrivance of normative resolution…” – Rissa A. Coronel, Katipunan The Guidon Magazine, 30 January 2013 (READ MORE)

Finally in Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon, we have a film made explicitly for adults. There is no explicit sex sequence (adults don’t really go for that sort of thing, only adolescent boys do). But the psychological problems faced by the film are comprehensible only to adults, those who know what it means to live with someone one loves (or, at least, used to love). This film is, thus, not entertaining in the usual prurient sense, but in a deeper, psychological, intellectual sense.

There are basically two themes that this film tackles: sex roles and divorce. – Vilma Santos represents womanhood in the film: Christopher de Leon represents manhood. The Filipina woman is commonly thought of as a martir or long-suffering masochist. Santos portrays a mistress who is an out-and-out martir. She serves De Leon hand and foot, ministering to his every need, including fetching beer for him, washing his clothes, serving as his shoulder to cry on, even baby-sitting his child. In return, all she gets from De Leon is chauvinistic love, void of tenderness, full of immature aggressiveness.

De Leon represents chauvinist maleness. He portrays a character who is totally insensitive to his woman’s needs. He wants the house done exactly to his own taste. He expects his woman to be there when he needs her, but does not even think that he should be there when she wants him. He finds nothing wrong with having a wife and a mistress at the same time. On the other hand, he sees everything wrong with Santos entertaining suitor Jimi Melendez in the house. He’s even jealous of Manny Castaneda, Santos’ gay acquaintance. In short, he is selfishness personified.

The trouble with sex roles in our society, the film argues, is that they are widely accepted without question. Men are suposed to have mistresses, and women are supposed to be faithful. Men are supposed to make the decisions (about where to live, what job to get, when to dine out), and women are supposed merely to follow. The Philippines may justifiably boast that, in politics, women are almost as powerful as men, but it is undeniable that in every other field including the home, it is the men who are the masters and the women who are the slaves.

The other theme tackled by the film is that of divorce. Again and again, the characters discuss the lack of divorce in the Philippines. If De Leon could only annul his marriage, if he could only divorce his wife, if he could only get to Las Vegas and marry Santos there… Such possibilities remain mere possibilities, because Philippine law, unfortunately, still does not allow for divorce. In the film, it is made clear that the marriage of De Leon and his wife is totally beyond repair. With De Leon, being the male chauvinist pig that he is, and with his wife, being the non-entity that she is, there is no hope for the loveless couple. On the other hand, Santos and De Leon clearly love each other, clearly deserve chance to be man and wife, clearly should be helped (not damned) by society. It is an implicit case for divorce, made even more convincing by the fact that the characters are so familiar, so realistic.

Technically, the film does not rank high in Ishmael Bernal’s canon of films. The production design, presumably middle class, raises questions (especially about the fact that Santos can withdraw a thousand pesos from a bank at a moment’s notice:lower middle class persons do not have that kind of instant money.) The music is undistinguished, and the cinematography sometimes places the actors in shadows. There is one technical achievement worth watching for: De Leon’s death scene, covering more than one minute, is taken with one continuous shot (no cuts). Otherwise, the editing is spotty, especially with one sequence completely out of its proper place (before Santos says in one sequence that they have been together only for eight months, a sequence is shown in which she asks De Leon how many years they have been together, even allowing for hyperbole, that is too much of an exaggeration). Santos’ acting is adequate and extraordinary. De Leon gives another of his solid performances, though he could have worked harder to show how inconsiderate his character is. The supporting cast do not stand out; since two of them are supposed to be mistresses themselves, and the third loses much of her credibility when she starts lecturing on man’s selfishness. – Isagani Cruz, Parade magazine, July 21, 1982

Thee film has unblushingly spoken for the Filipino urban society and its increasing acceptance of adultery as a social habit. It could have been a repetitious tale of a man with two women. But the writers have interestingly conducted the story through the precarious steps of a young, single, beautiful and supposedly decent girl. Marilou (Vilma Santos) has fallen helplessly in love with Emil (Christopher de Leon), a married man. When Emil’s wife decides to leave for Mindanao because she couldn’t stand him anymore, Marilou then decides for them to live together. Overjoyed with the prospect, she presses on to keep their relationship thrilling, warmer and stronger. But her efforts over the months only depresses her as she sees Emil gradually locking himself into a door she couldn’t enter. The mutual delights she had previously imbibed had soured into irritating silence and alienation. Her mounting disillusion flares up into throwing a couple of dishes. She opts for a separation only to yearn for him again. They go back to each other. She becomes pregnant. Suddenly, Emil suffers an attack and dies in her arms. Marilou whirls in grief for a time but bounces back to being “single”, attractive but perhaps no longer “decent”.

The writers have fed significance into the conversations by filling them with popular ideas on marriage and relationships, engaging the viewers to respond with their own beliefs. There is irony though in the confessions of Emil and Marilou – in happier times – that each had been a better person upon being loved by the other. But their life together contradicted that statement. Her selfishness is revealed. “Ikaw lang ang iniintindi mo” he says and it uncovered his insensitivity. “Ako rin, may ego”, She replies. Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting. Christopher de Leon has also been supportive in emphasizing the characterization of Marilou. He suitably complements Vilma’s acting. The director, Ishmael Bernal, displays his flair for taking scenes of Vilma putting on make-up. Unwittingly, he has suggested that whatever make-up is put on over adultery, it is still adultery. – Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly Magazine, July 1982

Isang mayamang karanasan ang panonood ng pelikula ni Ishmael Bernal. Kahit ikaw ay isang masugid na estudyante ng sining ng pelikula o isang karaniwang tagahanga lamang. Sinasabing ang pelikula ay salamin ng tunay na buhay. Ang mga pelikula ni Bernal ay malilinaw na salamin. Buhay na buhay ang mga tauhan, ang istorya ay pamilyar sa atin at ang leksiyong itinuturo ay simple lang pero hindi direktang isinisermon sa manonood. Ang mga pelikula ni Bernal ay realistikong drama ng buhay. Tulad nitong “Relasyon” na ang mga bida ay sina Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon at Jimi Melendez. Ito’y mula sa istorya at dulang pampelikula nina Ricky Lee, Ishamel Bernal at Raquel Villavicencio. Pang araw-araw ang drama ng “Relasyon”. Marahil mas komersiyal na titulo nito ang Kerida o kaya’y No. 2. Pero sa aming palagay ay mas makabuluhan ang pamagat na Relasyon dahil higit na malalim ang sinasakop nitong kahulugan. Simple lang ang istorya nito. Dalaga si Marilou (Vilma Santos). Liberated ang orientasyon. Nagtratrabaho sa Planetarium. May-asawa si Emil (Christopher de Leon). May isang anak na lalaki. Nagtratrabaho hanggang hapon, nagtuturo sa gabi. (Hindi tiniyak sa pelikula kung ano ang trabaho ni Christopher at kung ano ang kanyang itinuturo sa gabi.)

Hindi maayos ang takbo ng buhay nilang mag-asawa. Kaya nga bumaling si Emil kay Marilou na pinili ang may-asawa kaysa sa biyudong si Jun-jun (Jimi Melendez) na wala namang matatag na hanapbuhay. Sa simula’y patagpu-tagpo lang sa mga hotel sina Marilou at Emil pero higit na naging kumplikado ang kanilang buhay nang ipasiya nilang kumuha ng isang permanenteng bahay. Dito nagsimula ang kanilang tunay na relasyon. Sa umpisa’y para silang mga bagong kasal pero nang tumagal na, dahil kailangang magtrabaho nag husto si Emil upang masuportahan ang dalawang pamilya, ay naging parang mag-asawa na sila. Nang maging parang “misis” na siya ay doon nagkaproblema si Marilou. Sa paningin ni Emil ay naging mapaghanap ang babae at tinatangkang baguhin siya. Hindi nakatagal si Marilou sa isang relasyong “taken for granted” na siya. Naghiwalay ang dalawa. Bumalik ang asawa ni Emil. Pero dahil tunay na minamahal ni Marilou si Emil ay ipinasya na niyang maging kerida kaysa ganap na mawala ito sa kanyang buhay. Pero hindi lumigayang habang buhay si Marilou. Namatay si Emil at ang kanyang bangkay ay inangkin ng tunay niyang misis. Ipinasiya ni Marilou na humanap ng bagong buhay sa Amerika.

Makatotohanan ang akting sa pelikulang ito. Hindi sila caricature. Sila’y mga karakter na marahil ay mga kapitbahay natin. Muli na namang ipinamalas ni Bernal ang kanyang kakayahan sa pagpapagalaw ng mga artista. Hindi lang akting ang mapapanood mo. Ang nakikita mo ay ang tunay na takbo ng buhay. Nananatili si Christopher bilang isa sa iilan nating mahuhusay na kabataang actor. Makakalimutan mo na siya si Cris at ikaw ay ganap na mabibihag ng karakter na kanyang binubuhay sa aninong gumagalaw. Marahil, higit pa nating mauunawaan sana ang karakter na ginagampanan ni Chris kung nalaman natin kung ano ang kanyang propesyon at nagkaroon pa tayo ng ilang background ng kanyang buhay. Hindi tulad ni Vi na medyo kumpleto ang background. Kaisa-isa siyang anak. Edukada at masasabing liberated o mayroong malayang kaisipan. Sa pamamagitan ng konserbatibong ama ni Vi ay masusuri natin ang kanyang pamilya at kung paano niya haharapin ang mga situwasyon sa buhay. Sinasabi ng mga drumbeater ni Vi na ang kanyang role sa pelikulang ito ay pang-award, pang-FAMAS, pang-URIAN o pang-Film Academy Award kung matutuloy ito. Hindi kami tumututol sa kanilang palagay laluna’t napanood namin ang pelikulang ito. Masuwerte si Vi at sa ganitong maselang role ay dinirek siya ng isang katulad ni Bernal. Tulad nang binigyang diin namin sa unang bahagi, ang mga pelikula ni Bernal, ang “Pagdating sa Dulo”, “Nunal sa Tubig”, “Mister mo, Lover Boy ko” at “City after Dark” ay mga malinaw at makatotohang salamin ng buhay. Kaya sa “Relasyon” ay natural lamang na makakita tayo ng mga sitwasyong tila aktuwal na kinuha sa tunay na buhay at inilipat nang buong-buo sa puting tabing : Ang eksena sa kainan ng mga lovers na sina Vi at Cris; ang pagtratrabaho sa bahay ni Vi; ang usapan ni Vi at ng kanyang mga barkada; ang pagkabagot ni Vi samantalang gusto ng matulog ni Chris at iba pang eksena na karaniwan na sa tunay na mag-asawa.

Napakadramatiko ang pagkompronta ni Vi kay Chris sa direksyon ng kanilang relasyon. Higit sa lahat, sa pamamagitan ng huling eksena, ang pagsasara ni Vi sa pinto ng kanilang bahay, ang pugad ng kanilang “relasyon”, inihayag ni Bernal na ang ganitong relasyon ay may hindi maiiwasang magwakas tulad ng sa tunay na buhay. Maaaring kamatayan o isang panibagong relasyon. Kung ang isang lalaki ay may-asawa, at mayroon na siyang relasyon o nagbabalak pa lang magkaroon ng relasyon sa ibang babae, dapat niya itong panoorin ng dalawang beses. Una, kasama ang kanyang misis at ikalawa, kasama angkanyang no. 2 o magiging ka-relasyon. Sa mga babaing katulad ni Vi sa pelikulang ito, mabuting panoorin ninyo nang nag-iisa ang pelikulang ito upang higit na maunawaan ninyo ang inyong relasyon o magiging relasyon. – Mando Plaridel, Star Monthly Magazine July 10, 1982

Dalawang magagandang pelikula ang sabay na itinatanghal ngayon. Ito’y ang “Relasyon” ni Ishmael Bernal at “Hubad na Gubat” ng baguhang si Lito Tiongson. Sa taong ito, tatlo pa lamang ang talagang namumukod tangi para sa amin. Ang “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak” ni Bernal, “In This Corner” ni Brocka at ngayon nga’y ang “Relasyon” ni Bernal na naman. Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome”. This time, sigurado nang mano-nominate si Vilma sa Urian (ito lamang ang award na hindi niya napapagwagihan) at malamang na ang maging pinakamahigpit niyang kalaban dito ay si Nora Aunor na very demanding din ang role sa “Himala” (na si Bernal din ang direktor). Ito’y kung matatapos ang ECP project na ito sa taong ito na sa palagay nami’y hindi kahit gusto ng ECP na isali ito sa filmfest sa Disyembre. Dinalirot ng “Relasyon” ang lahat ng mga anggulong maaaring suutan ng isang babaing nagiging kerida. Maraming madamdaming tagpo sa pelikula, lalo na ang death scene ni Christopher de Leon na tuhog ang pagkakakuha. Bagay na bagay kay Jimi Melendez ang papel niya bilang torpeng talisuyo ni Vilma. Hit na hit siya sa audience.

Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na dumarag sa dito sa amin ang mga sulat na pumupuri sa acting ni Vilma Santos sa “Relasyon”. Sabi ni Nelda Santiago ng Arellano St., Marikina : “Napakagaling ni Vilma at kahit hindi pa ako nagiging kerida, para bang na identify ako sa kanya.” Sabi naman ni Hector Cruz ng 14 Malaya St., Q.C. : “Maraming nasasabi ang mga mata ni Vilma lalo sa mga eksenang wala siyang dialogue. Pati pilikmata niya ay umaarte. Dapat lang na magka award siya rito. Magaling din sina Jimi Melendez at Beth Mondragon.” Ayon naman kay H. Santillan III ng UP Village : Hindi kami fan ni Vilma pero kung ganito ng ganito ang performances niya, dapat siguro’y maging fan na nga niya kami. Tour de force ang acting niya at dapat ilagay sa textbook on acting. Hindi mapapantayan ang rapport nila ni Christopher de Leon.” May iba pang mga sulat pero hindi na namin masisipi sa kakulangan ng espasyo. – Mario E. Bautista, People’s Journal, July 1982

“…Sa kabuuan, mahusay ang pagsasalarawan ni Vilma Santos ng kanyang papel bilang Marilou ngunit hindi ito maihahanay sa ibang pelikula kung saan kinakitaan ang aktres ng kaibahan sa kanyang pagganap tulad ng ating nasaksihan sa Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (1977) at Broken Marriage (1983). Samantalang ibayong talino naman ang ipinamalas ni Christopher de Leon bilang Emil. Naipahiwating lang sana ng maayos ang motibo ni Emil sa pakikisama nito kay Marilou. Hindi maitutulad ang aspetong teknikal ng Relasyon sa ibang obra ni Bernal. Ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ni Benjie de Guzman ay hindi kapani-paniwala. Ipinakitang mababa ang estado ng kabuhayan ni Marilou ngunit madalian siyang nakakuha ng isang libong piso sa bangko. Ang mga tulad nito ay karaniwang walang natatagong ganoong kalaking halaga. Halos hindi marining ang musika ni Winston Raval habang ang sinematograpiya ni Sergio Lobo ay kadalasang nababalot ng dilim. Makikita din ang pagkakamali ng editing ni Augusto Salvador. Sa isang tagpo ay ipinakitang walong buwan nang nagsasama sina Marilou at Emil at nang sumunod na mga eksena, tinanong nito si Emil kung ilang taon na silang magkasama. Ngunit sa kabila ng mga pagkukulang na ito, naging matagumpay pa rin si direktor Ishmael Bernal sa kanyang paglalahad ng isang pelikulang sumubok sa ating mga kaalaman at paniniwala.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…For us, sinuman ang manalo kina Vilma Santos o Lorna Tolentino ay okey lang. Both Gina and Nora have won the Urian best actress awards twice. Gina for Brutal and Salome, Nora for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and Bona. Napakagaling ni Gina in portraying the role of the trying hard Kathy in Moral. Hindi biru-biro ang ganoong character na gagawin mong sympathetic dahil mas malamang na lumabas itong ridiculous lang kaysa nakakakuha ng simpatiya. But Gina succeeded in making her Kathy both ridiculous and sympathetic. As Elsa, Nora’s case is that of star and role merging into one, fitting into each other perfectly dahil alam nating ang karisma ni Guy sa kanyang fans ay siya ring karisma ni Elsa sa kanyang naging followers. Pero palagay namin, kung hindi magta-tie sina Lorna at Vilma, mananalo ng solo si Vilma Santos. Vi has never won the Urian. She should have gotten it in 1977 for Burlesk Queen but the trophy went to Daria Ramirez in Sinong Kasiping. Maraming acting highlights ang paper ni Vi bilang Marilou sa Relasyon. Sa confrontation scenes nila ni Boyet, superb siya roon sa tagpong sinusumbatan niya ito dahil ginagawa na lamang siyang tau-tauhan. Ang acting niya sa death scene ni Boyet na hindi malaman ang gagawin sa katarantahan is also awesome to behold…” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash Magazine, 1983 (READ MORE)

“…On Relasyon. “I won my first grand slam with this movie. I shot this two months after I gave birth to Lucky. I was besieged with enormous financial problems. I owed the BIR, the banks. Thank you to Manay Ichu and Atty. Esperidion Laxa who guided me through this difficult phase in my life. My loans were re-structured. I produced five films which lost a lot of money. One was Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak which we did in three years. Life was miserable. Hinarap ko lahat ang problema ko. Everything that I earned went straight to the banks to pay off my debts. And I paid all of them. Thank God. So when I was doing Relasyon, I was drawing a lot of emotions from the troubles, the pain I was experiencing. Yes, I will not also forget that tuhog scene I did with Boyet and his death scene. Ishmael Bernal our director was great. And Luis is really lucky…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

“…In the documentary, Santos admitted that working with Bernal brought out the best in her as an actress. “She made me do this scene in ‘Relasyon’ that was really tough as it was unpredictable. I think Bernal was the first director to risk putting the character of The Mistress as The Heroine. In the past, the roles of mistresses were mere punching bags of The Wives in many confrontation scenes in Filipino movies,” she added…” – Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files (READ MORE)

“…On a final note, it’s rather unfair that when it comes to actors, Brocka always gets the authority to be called the actor’s director. Not to discredit Brocka of course but Bernal always exceeds Brocka in terms of directing comedies. And humor is only as hard as drama can get; and oftentimes even harder. Ilagan, Andolong, Ranillo, and Locsin may not be the best to portray their roles but their characters don’t need the best—they need believability more, and their youth exudes that, more than their acting chops. They grip on their dialogues so much that watching them is such a delight. There’s this anecdote told by Vilma Santos when she won her grandslam for Relasyon that she walked into Bernal’s shoot a little unmotivated and still high after her big win. She couldn’t get her acting right. And then Bernal said to her, “O, bakit parang lutang ka diyan? Porke’t naka-grand slam ka, feeling mo, magaling ka na?” That’s one-big-“OH”. And to think that Ate Vi was already a big star that time, and getting bigger and bigger thanks to her roles, it does not only give an impression of “katarayan” on Bernal’s part, but more of brilliance. Salawahan is one of the many proofs…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

Musical Scorer – “…The final set briefly harkened back to Raval’s work in the Philippines. When he wasn’t performing at clubs and on the concert stage in the 1970’s and 80’s, Raval composed film scores, most notably for the great filmmaker Ishmael Bernal. He gave his audience on Sunday a taste of that when he played the theme from “Relasyon,” the 1982 film by Bernal that starred Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon and for which Santos won one of her many best actress awards. Adding an amusing touch to the numbers on Sunday were Raval’s stories of how they came to be and how he came up with the titles. But one song that gave Raval a hard time finding a name for was the first number in the final set—and that’s how he ended up calling it “What’s Your Name,” he said, to the guests’ amusement. “Just Another Standard” and “Rolling Hills, Layered Lives” (“I don’t know what that means,” Raval said cheekily of the song) rounded out the program…” – Lorenzo Paran III, Pinoy in America, Nov 24 2012 (READ MORE)

Querida – “…Patrocinio and Bernal’s own mother, Elena, could very well have been Ishmael’s inspiration for several classics of Philippine movies. In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (Two Nest, One Bird), Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Manuel L. Quezon University, Bernal as Auteur: Primary Biographical Notes, 2012 (READ MORE)

Hypocritical Religious Piety – “…In Relasyon [The Affair], for example, Marilou, the querida (“common-law wife”) was the conceptual opposite of the stereotype in Philippin movies. She was a home-builder rather than a wrecker, a victim and not a victimizer. Such characterization may be subversive to the Catholicized society outside Bernal’s home, but most family members had always shared those views anyway, and what was queer to them was that “others”failed to see the issues as the family had seen them. Again, in many if his films, Bernal had comically depicted hypocritical religious piety…In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon [Two Nests, One Bird], Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos, Jr., Kritika Kultura (READ MORE)

“…After years of this unfair competition, Vilma decided to stop playing the also-ran, and opted to essay the roles that Nora preferred not to do, -the other woman, rape victim, burlesque dancer, etc. Vilma’s sexy movies were more suggestive than anything else, but they gave her a new screen persona that made her a distinct movie entity from Nora. Fact is, Nora could also have played sensual characters, but she felt awkward doing so, and Vilma benefited from her reticence. In time, Vilma was also winning acting awards and starring in big hits, so the competition between her and Nora peaked…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2002 (READ MORE)

“…In my Tuesday column, I listed the names of some of the past Best Actor winners in the Gawad Urian. Below are the Manunuri’s Best Actress winners in the last 25 years:…Nora Aunor is clearly a Manunuri favorite. Most industry members (including Vilma Santos) are aware a lot of Manunuri members are “Noranians.” The Manunuri members, of course, do not necessarily operate on fan mentality. In the acting categories, they choose the ones who really deliver the outstanding performances of the year. In this sense, we can also call Gina Alajar a Manunuri favorite…Vilma Santos, unlike Nora, Gina, Jaclyn and even Chanda Romero (during the Manunuri’s early years), was never known to be a Manunuri favorite. Ironically, she is the one with the most number of Urian acting trophies, seven in all (as of 2013, she has 8). In the ’70s, Vilma a perennial Urian nominee; but also a perennial loser. In 1982, however, she won her first Urian (for Relasyon) and there was no stopping her after that. On record, she is the only actress who has won three Urian acting trophies in a row. After Relasyon she won successively for Broken Marriage and Sister Stella L. Later, she won four more for the following films: Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Ipagpatawad Mo (1991), Dahil Mahal Kita, The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993) and Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998). Like rival, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos was also declared Best Actress of the decade in the ’80s and ’90s…” – Butch Francisco, May 09, 2002 (READ MORE)

“…Wenn Deramas (Director; Ang Tanging Ina, Praybeyt Benjamin): “Si Vilma Santos ang buong pelikula, maaaring istorya or a day in the life lamang ito ng isang kabit, pero sa sobrang husay ng ibinigay ni Vilma, lumaki ang buong pelikula…” – SCL, “Greatest Pinoy Films Poll,” 07 May 2013, Pinoy films through Pinoy lenses, (READ MORE)

“… Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 08 April 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Relasyon remains in the Philippines, on the ground of facts. But the film does not end with social criticism. Behind the well-meaning film problem hiding an everyday epic of real existing love, so how and if it is to have in the wrong world. Sometimes this gets epic train of the film with its stated educational content in conflict. Marilou suggests that the advice of the well-informed uncle in the wind, of course, is unreasonable. But it is just their stubborn irrationality adverse circumstances over which so occupies us for it. Therein also lies the quiet, growing with each minute of film Would this really banal figure. At some point, it is sufficient Vilma Santos watch when make-ups – and the heart wants to rip one…” – Nicholas Perneczky, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

“…In Filipino melodramas, the heroines often lean on against a hostile environment. Some no less combative women have created a permanent place in the film industry of the country…Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal devoted themselves repeatedly with a strong social and political consciousness of the popular form of melodrama. More than Brocka himself Bernal frequently focused on strong female characters that need to manage their lives under unfavorable circumstances. In his films female stars in the spotlight, without the problems of everyday life would go by the board. With Vilma Santos in 1982 he turned Relasyon, wherein the main character wants to escape from a stifling marriage and not only emotionally, but also legally reaches its limits (a year later with Santos Bernal turned the thematically similar mounted Broken Marriage). Was produced Relasyon of Lily Monteverde , who plays an influential role in the Philippine film industry today. Already at the beginning of the 20th century there were in the studios and production companies in the country powerful women who ruled with a firm hand and were addressed by their subordinates even as mothers. “Mother Lily” made his mark as a hard nosed business woman, often more economic than artistic interests followed, understandably, not just friends. The young director Raya Martin let her in his short film Long Live Philippine Cinema! (2009) even to death to save the Philippine cinema…” – Michael Kienzl, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

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Filmography: Tagos Ng Dugo (1987)

“haaahhhh…haaahhhh….di ko sinasadya!…di ko sinasadya!” – Pina

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Basic Information: Directed: Maryo J. De los Reyes; Story: Via Hoffman; Screenplay: Jake Tordesillas; Cast: Vilma Santos, Michael De Mesa, Miguel Rodriguez, Francis Arnaiz, Richard Gomez, Mark Joseph, Lito Pimentel, Joey Hipolito, Joey Marquez, Tony Santos Sr., Caridad Sanchez, Lucita Soriano, Dante Castro, Bing Davao, Alicia Alonzo, Mia Gutierrez, Raquel Villavicencio; Executive producer: Via Hoffman; Original Music: Jaime Fabregas; Cinematography: Ely Cruz; Film Editing: Jess Navarro; Production Design: Cesar Hernando, Lea Locsin; Sound: Joe Climaco, Jun Martinez

Plot Description: A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV

Film Achievement: 1987 FAMAS Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1987 CMMA Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1987 FAP Best Musical Score – Jaime Fabregas; 1987 FAP Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos

Film Review: “…In Filipino movies, drama is synonymous with exaggeration. In many films, scenes of cruelty, violence and torrid sex are depicted with little restraint so that they border on distasteful. In Tagos ng Dugo (1987), a young girl is raped after her parents are mudered. While she’s being abused, blood from her murdered mother’s body drips through the ceiling and falls on her forehead. In Kapag Napagod and Puso (1988), a harassed movie director (Christopher de Leon) takes out his frustration on his young wife (Snooky Serna) by smashing her face, pounding her head on the wall and punching her pregnant body black and blue. Once it was sufficient to depict adult activities by implication. To speak of sex on screen, it was enough to show a couple closing a door as they entered a room. A passionate embrace or a kiss is always followed by a quick fade to black. But nowadays, with sexual liberation and the heightened sense of realism demanded by viewers, Filipino movies have become more graphic in their treatment of sexual matters. There is now a greater curiousity for the phenomenon of the woman’s body. It is a must to depict menstruation (Tagos ng Dugo), labor pains (Kapag Napagod ang Puso) and a miscarriage (Burlesque Queen, 1977) by showing blood stains on the garment near the area of the vagina and blood trickling down a woman’s leg. The first signs of pregnancy are always dramtized by showing a woman throwing up in asink (Pasan Ko ang Daigdig, 1987). Abortion scenes have a very clinical look: a woman must be shown lying down with her legs in stirrups as a doctor or quack performs the bloody operation. Since abortion is illegal in the Philippines, it is common to depict abortion scenes ending in tragedy. In Celso Ad. Castillo’s Nympha (1971), a woman is left to die naked, wallowing in her own blood on the floor after doctors fail to stop her bleeding following an abortion. Childbirth scenes are just as graphic. In Nunal sa Tubig (1977), a baby’s head is shown emerging from a vagina…” – Emmanuel Anastacio Reyes, Notes on Philippine Cinema (Collected Writings on Cinema)…” – Emmanuel Anastacio Reyes, Notes on Philippine Cinema Collected Writings on Cinema (READ MORE)

First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police record gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “its another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornograhy’s…”. My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets”.

Given this background, therefore, Tagos ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possiblities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be”, since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation. A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black” and Luis Benuel’s “Belle Du Joir” — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or Delos Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our macho’s regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole).

It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, man’s beastly) naturalness… Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “female’s weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse… There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated… And finally, there’s the possiblity that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film… As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence.

But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy ( including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Eric Nadurata

The story revolves around Pina, a woman haunted by her past traumatic experiences. She always feels afraid at the sight of blood. Whenever she is physically or emotionally injured, she experiences the so-called “post-traumatic syndrome,” which persuades her to kill every man who has hurt her. She disguises herself as a prostitute with different personalities, and becomes a mysterious murderer.

The Review – The future National Artist for Film and recent U.P. Gawad Plaridel and Gawad Suri awardee Vilma Santos has done a gamut of roles. She is the only Filipina actress on record who has the most impressive resume of great performances (and is credible in any role, including Darna, the Pinoy female version of Superman), and has amassed 50 plus acting trophies. The Variety magazine and the world film community has dubbed her the Filipino Cinematic Diva and the Meryl Streep of the Philippines. If her luck continues, she may end up in Guinness’ Almanac as an actor with the most number of acting awards. One of my favorite Vilma characters is that of Pina, a serial killer, in Tagos ng Dugo. Directed by Mario J. Delos Reyes, it won four best actress awards for Vilma: her second CMMA, fourth FAMAS, and two from magazine polls. When it comes to edgy, neurotic, complex roles, leave it to Versatile Vilma, the Meryl Streep-like cerebral and intuitive actress who was born to play them. Vilma’s foray into the “luka-luka” genre began in Dama De Noche where she plays twin sisters, one of which is, you bet, neurotic.

Bernal’s classic Ikaw Ay Akin is best remembered for the manic-depressive, chain-smoking, Valium-popping, liberated, free-spirit Sandra (Vilma). Says critic Mario Bautista in his review: As the uptight Sandra, Vilma Santos has the script’s choicest, wittiest lines. She makes the most of them and gives a fairly accurate portrait of an emotionally insecure young woman. She likewise handles her final breakdown exceedingly well. There is a common thread in classic films like Broken Marriage, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, Bata, Bata, Dolzura Cortez and Hahamakin Lahat. Outstandingfilms, thanks to Vilma’s perfect portrayal of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is no wonder that the late National Artist Lino Brocka quoted: “Vilma can do any role now. She registers like water, she has overtaken Nora Aunor.” The U.P. MassCom jurors concurred with Brocka and gave Vilma that seal of approval by giving her the National Artist award precursor, the prestigious U.P. Gawad Plaridel for excellence in film acting. And oh yes, let us not forget the Gawad Suri Award. In layman’s terms, she is the best in the business, period!

Back to Tagos ng Dugo. At best, it is Vilma’s most emotionally and physically, albeit, draining role. Maryo J. made Vilma succeed to say more with less as we will find out. In the opening scene, Pina’s medical history is revealed: schizophrenia, painful menstruation, manic-depressive. Then we see the pubescent Pina screaming and writhing in pain on her first menstruation, calls out to her mother: “Inay!” The luminous Alicia Alonzo plays her mother and tells her “dalaga ka na!” Menarche and puberty did not sit well with Pina. While menstruating, she discovers of her father’s affair with a circus girl who her father accidentally kills in the “knife roulette” show, as the victim’s blood spills on her face. The girl’s family gets even, kills her whole family one night, while she gets raped. Tagos ng Dugo. Here’s the message: hell hath no fury than a woman violated while having painful menstruation. She has bridges to burn and many losses in her life. She has become a lost and tormented soul. A victim. A monster is born. Oscar best actress Charleze Theron may have taken an inspiration from Vilma’s Pina. Flash forward: Orphan and just released from a mental institution, the grownup Pina is seen staying with her aunt Caridad Sanchez and her husband, a police officer, Tony Santos, Sr. This is where Pina’s “calvary” as victim (again) begins. So many men, so many abusers, or so we thought. Enter Michael De Mesa, Santos, Sr.’s nephew who has lust at first sight on Pina. “Malagu, ’ne?” (She’s beautiful), De Mesa gushes on the coy and evasive Pina. In Kapampangan, Tony tells De Mesa that she was just released from the mental hospital. Michael attempts to enter Pina’s room one night but is unsuccessful.

Next to Dekada ’70 perhaps, this is one movie where Vilma succeeded in quiet scenes, by just using her eyes. Whether she writhes quietly in pain during her period or is scared of the inevitable such as Michael’s evil intent, this is the vintage Vilma now. Less is more. The triumph of restraint and hard work. Versatile, Inc. She meets the nice and good-looking cop (Francis Arnaiz) in the police station where she works as a sloppy, unfocused canteen helper who gets easily rattled by men around her, earning the ire of her boss Lucita Soriano. “Ano ba Pina, ang tanga-tanga mo. Ang dami mo nang nabasag na baso, hah?” Arnaiz is different: caring, sensitive, a gentleman. She is Pina’s crush and hero. She steals her crush’s photo ID and in her secret hideaway, kisses the photo, followed by a nervous, hysterical laugher, reminiscent of her confrontation scene with Gloria Romero in Kapag Langit ang Humatol? Enter a notorious rapist who is now in jail who held Vilma by the neck and mashes her breasts. Vilma becomes hysterical and cries unconsolably even after Arnaiz and the cops come to her rescue. This scene is again Vintage Vilma. When the rapist is released from prison, he chooses Vilma as his first victim and in the rape attempt, Arnaiz shoots him dead. Again, blood droops on Pina’s face. Tagos ng Dugo. Next thing we know, De Mesa almost succeeds in raping her but falls off the window when Vilma fights back. She uses Michael’s knife to scare him off. Now wiser, stronger, sophisticated and smarter, Pina finds solace and a sanctuary in an abandoned house across from where she lives. She learns how to apply mascara and wig. A serial killer is born.

This is where she plans her revenge. So many men, so little time. It’s payback time. In the wise use of flashbacks, we learn that Pina is violated again and again by the very people who should be helping her cope with her unstable mental status, one of which is the evil warden Lito Pimentel. She falls in love with her therapist who politely turns her down. It is a series of painful abuse and rejection for the sad, sad life of Pina. We also learn that she has a brother/sailor who sends her monthly stipend which she never benefits from and in his last visit, Pina begs him to stay with him. In multiple flashbacks, we see a helpless victim, Pina crying out for love and acceptance. Nobody seems to listen. A dysfunctional family. Abused physically and emotionally. Neglected. Rejected. Unwanted. Tormented. Untreated chemical imbalance. A perfect scenario for the birth of a schizophrenic, manic-depressive serial killer. Disguised as a prostitute, she kills her tormentors one by one with a knife she steals from De Mesa, with the exception of a druggie, the excellent Richard Gomez in cameo role. Here is a performance that is Vilma Santos’ gift to the world, right there in the dark theatre and on the silver screen.

Are killers made or born? Is society or family to blame for sociopaths? Are menarche and the drive to kill symbiotic? In a touching scene where she literally shreds Arnaiz’s stolen photo with her teeth (Arnaiz reconciles with and will marry her fiancée) out of jealousy, and rejection, Pina plans to make it out with Arnaiz in a hotel where the cops hang out to have a good time and where Arnaiz will screw a prosti as the boys’ “gift” to him. Vilma is that prosti. When Aranaiz discovers it is the demented Pina, he takes pity on her and prepares to put on his clothes. What, rejected again? Pina pleads Arnaiz to love her, hug her, kiss her. She will take no for an answer. Like a raving lunatic, she strikes Arnaiz with the knife. Meanwhile, little did Pina know that Caridad and Santos, Jr. discovers her dark secret and desperately calls the boys to watch out for Pina, the deranged murderer who might be stalking on Arnaiz. Sanches and Santos, Jr. either fumbles with the phone number or gets a busy signal. Wala pa kasing cell phone noon, eh! Next thing we know, the cops run to save Arnaiz from Pina. The hunter is now the hunted. What they discover in the room is a wounded but still alive Arnaiz who cries: “Huwag!” as his colleagues aim their guns at the crazed woman with thick mascara and wig. In a memorable and touching scene, the camera pans on a screaming, out of control, bloodied, lost her sanity Pina, angry one moment, repentant (“di ko sinasadya!”) the next, and then mumbles incoherently. Prison bars are etched across her whole body, and the movie ends.

Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better. – “Tagos Ng Dugo: The original Naglalayag Revisited” by Mar Garces, published in V Magazine 2006

First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s . . .”. My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness. . . . Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse. . . . There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film. . . . As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – “Tagos Ng Dugo (1987): Maryo J. de los Reyes’ Jewel” by Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III Geocities web-site (VISV III, July 2002 – April 2004)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon.” – Jojo Devera, saringsinengpinoy.blogspot.com READ MORE

“…And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. Dumaual Manila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…At first, policemen manning the station likened Pina’s arrival in their canteen as a breath of fresh air in the dirty world they work in. Although she is not entirely all right up there she is pretty and quiet. An industrious helper she only absents herself once a month because of extreme dysmennorhea. Then men started getting killed within the vicinity of the police station. A vacationing overseas worker a prisoner on bail a handsome playboy a drug crazed youth… Is it only a coincidence that the murders seem to happen exactly on the days Pina is experiencing her very painful monthly period?…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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