FILM REVIEW: KARMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filmography: Batya’t Palu-Palo (1974)

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Basic Information: Directed: Pablo Santiago; Screenplay: Fred Navarro; Cast: Fernando Poe Jr., Vilma Santos, Fred Montilla, Mila del Sol, Dencio Padilla, Robert Talabis, Vic Varrion, Janine Frias, Lorna Tolentino, Phillip Salvador, Liza Anzures, Angge, Paquito Diaz, Max Alvarado, Lito Anzures; Executive producer: Fernando Poe Jr.; Original Music: Ernani Cuenco; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Pete Herrera; Sound: Angel Avellana, Jun Ella; Release Date:4 May 1974 (Philippines); Production Co: FPJ Productions – (IMDB)

Plot Description: “Batya’t Palu Palo,” is a situation comedy about a rich heiress, Estella (Vilma Santos), who disguises as a lowly washerwoman in order to find out for herself the true meaning of love that she found in Berting (Fernando Poe Jr).

Film Achievement: The success of this film resulted with a follow-up film, Bato sa Buhangin (1976), the OPM hit, used as the theme song or soundtrack of this 1974 Box Office Hit. Total Number of Fernando Poe Jr. and Vilma Santos Films: 5 – Batya’t Palu-Palo, Bato sa Buhangin, Ikaw ang Mahal Ko, Dugo At Pag-ibig sa Kapirasong Lupa, Mga Mata ni Angelita

Film Review: “…Recently, we spent an entire afternoon watching replays of three shows from Palibhasa Lalake and one from FPJ. Titled Batya’t Palo-palo, the FPJ film stars Fernando Poe Jr. with Vilma Santos as his leading lady. It presents a love story between Ronnie (Poe’s nickname) who plays a tubero working in the hacienda of the rich Saavedra family whose daughter (Vilma) he meets while she is cleaning her clothes by the river. The twist in the story comes when Ronnie mistakes Vilma for a laundry woman and she plays along, asking the women in the hacienda not to reveal her secret. Ronnie and Vilma begin to take a liking to each other while Vilma’s friends as well as Ronnie’s man Friday cooperate in keeping her secret. The parents of Vilma get wind of the situation, and are outraged that their daughter could fall for a man not in their class. Ronnie, who is unaware of all this secrecy, leaves the farm to board a bus for Manila. Vilma follows him to the station and while the bus is leaving, they get on board to their happy ending. We enjoyed this simple love story with only minimal fight scenes expected of a Ronnie Poe picture. Without question, there was definite magic in the Ronnie-Vilma team-up which kept us glued to the screen…Since these stories are re-runs of those produced many years ago, we can expect negative reactions from today’s young audience. We can already hear the words “unlikely storyline,” “ridiculous costuming” and “outdated locations.” We agree with all these accusations. However, to us such stories represent a period gone by, a part of our history that we should appreciate and be happy that some people took the pains to preserve…” – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Philippine Star, 11 March 2015 (READ MORE)

Two newly-proclaimed box office champions of Philippine movies star in FPJ Productions’ upcoming 13th anniversary presentations, “Batya’t Palu Palo,” a situation comedy about a rich heiress who disguises as a lowly washerwoman in order to find out for herself the true meaning of love. Dilineating the lead roles are Fernando Poe Jr. and Vilma Santos who star for the first time together. Now being filmed among the lush greens of Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, “Batya’t Palu Palo” hopes to make people forget the humdrum activities of this world. A wholesome family entertainment, the flick will have Ronnie step down from his throne as the country’s number one action star to the down-to-earth role of Berting, a haceinda hand who nevertheless, catches the attention of the young rich and quiete spolied Estella. Directed by ace meg man Pablo Santiago, “Batya’t Palu Palo” is scripted by Fred Navarro, base on a story by Ronwaldo Reyes. – FPJ-Da King Blogspot (READ MORE)

“…Memories! I started reminiscing instantly. I want to ask Ate Susan (Roces, FPJ’s wife) nga for DVD copies of our three movies. I was only 21 when we made “Batya.” Ninety percent of the movie was shot in Hacienda Luisita (Tarlac) where we stayed for two months. He taught me how to swim in the hacienda’s swimming pool. We were with (co-star) Lorna Tolentino then. I admit that I didn’t know how to swim when I did “Dyesebel.” But the most memorable scene [from “Batya”] was the ending, where I ran after him, while he was aboard a train….” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Nang magkita sina Ronnie at Vilma sa first shooting day sa Montalban, Rizal, halos hindi mapatid ang batian, katiyawan at biruan. Pareho silang masayang-masaya. Sapagka’t at long last daw, natuloy din ang kanilang pagtatambal pagkalipas ng halos kulang sa isang taong paghihintay na ma-vacant si Vilma sa dami ng pelikulang ginawa. As sa simula ng siyuting, akala mo hindi sila magkakilala. Dibdiban ang acting at dialogue. Sunod-sunod ang take ng iba’t ibang angulo. Kalahating araw silang walang biruan at nang matapos ang maraming eksena ay saka lamang sila muling nagtawanan. “Mahirap na,” sabi ni Vi, “Kailangang makarami ng scenes para naman makabawi sa akin ang FPJ. Biruin naman ninyong ang tagal din ang ipinaghintay nila sa akin. Nagpapasalamat ako sa napakahabang patience nila. Kung tulad ng iba, baka pinalitan na lamang ako ng ibang leading lady. Masyado silang professional sa pakikipag-deal, lalo na si Ronnie kaya nahihiya man ako sa atraso, hindi naman makapag-back out doon sa mga naka-schedule ko na. Dapat na tapusain ko rin para walang magalit na producer sa akin…” Letty G. Celi (READ MORE)

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#BatyatPaloPalo, #FPJ, #FernandoPoeJr, #VilmaSantos

Filmography: Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (1977)

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Basic Information: Direction, Screenplay and Original Story: Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Romeo Vasquez, Vilma Santos, Mat Ranillo III, Ana Gonzales, Anita Linda, Fred Montilla, Mary Walter, Laila Dee, Roldan Rodrigo, Ann Villegas, Ernie Zarate, Catherine Santos, Val Mallari, Oscar Miranda, Ursula Carlos, Rene Magno, SOS Daredevils, Danie Ramirez, Danny Franco and Rheez Chua’s Models; Art Director: Bobby Bautista; Assistant Art Directors: Emiliano Gonzales, Virgilio Sanchez, and Bert Isleta; Electricians and Gripmen: Corpuz, Romeo Dueñas, Narsiso David, Mariano Guzman, Irinio Flores; Unit Driver: Jose Maigapo; Color Processed: LVN Laboratory; Director of Cinematography: Nonong Rasca; Assistant Cameraman: Felizardo Anastacio; Sound: Luis Reyes; Field Soundman: Jose Fortuno; Boomman: Alberto Dueñas; SFX Technician: Jun Martinez; Film Editor: Nonoy Santillian; Senior Editor: Ruben Pantua; Assistant Editors: Rico Salas, Ariel Quicho, Jun Calaguan; Music: The Vanishing Tribe; Theme Songs: “Puso’y Alinlangan” performed by Vilma Santos, “Torn Between Two Lovers” performed by Gracie Rivera, Dyna Records; Guest Choroeographer: Peter Estocado; Make-up Artists: Dading Ravela and Virgie F. Capulong; Legman: Rodolfo Basco; Publicities: Teresa Santos Blas, Beth Castillo; Stills: Ben Nollora and Lito Morales; Layout Artist: Hannibal Cambel; Title Designer: Marvin B. Panganiban; Production Manager and Assistant Director: Dante Javier; Production Staff: Nelson Sia, Ruben Fernandez, Gloria B. Agustin; Administrative and Sales: Jon Santos Blas, Estrella T. Mendoza, Lea Santos, Fidelio Santos, Julie S. Enriquez; Executive Production: T. Buhain Santos; Executive Producer: Emilia Santos Blas; Produced by Lea Production; 15th Years Anniversary Production; Film Poster Archived: Video48

Plot Description: Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon is a 1977 drama film directed by Ishmael Bernal. The film analyzes adultery in a mature way and presents reasons why many modern marriages in bourgeois families slowly dissipate into alienation and lead to adultery. The movie’s main plot involves a fashion model (Vilma Santos) who is torn between two men: her young boyfriend, who is a self-centered, airheaded fashion model (Mat Ranillo III), and an older married man (Romeo Vasquez), who is estranged from his domineering wife (Anna Gonzales). – Wikipilipinas

Film Achievement: 1977 Gawad Urian: Best Director – Ishmael Bernal; Best Editing Nomination – Nonoy Santillan; Best Picture Nomination; Best Production Design Nomination – Bobby Bautista; Best Screenplay Nomination – Ishmael Bernal; Best Sound Nomination – Luis Reyes; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Mat Ranillo III

Film Review: “…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…” – Petronila CletoPelikula, Atbp (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)

“Sometime in the mid 70s, matinee idol Romeo Vasquez returned to the movie scene after a long absence, his movie career in limbo after his failed marriage with popular actress Amalia Fuentes. His teamup with Vilma Santos somehow rekindled and revived his career. Their first movie together, Nag-aapoy na Damdamin in 1976 turned out to be a big hit. Despite their age gap, reel and real life sweetheart, Romeo, 34 and Vilma, 23, soon became the hottest love team, doing one hit movies after another…” – Video 48 (READ MORE)

“…Romeo Vasquez is an oddity in Vilma’s life. Hindi akalain ng lahat na ang isang notorious playboy and balikbayan actor would capture the heart of the then elusive Ate Vi. Nagkaroon sila ng affair which lasted for more than a year. Kilala si Bobby sa pagiging bohemyo kaya naman walang kakilala si Ate Vi na bumoto sa aktor. Ate Vi was love struck at talagang na head-over heels in love. Nagsimula ang kanilang affair sa set ng kanilang pelikulang “Nag-aapoy na Damdamin”. True to this title, nagliyab silang dalawa at tunay ngang nag-apoy ang kanilang damdamin. May plano pa nga sila ni Bobby na magpakasal sa Europe. Talagang Ate Vi was ready to give up her life as an actress and would settle with the actor abroad. And with herb relationship with Bobby, nag-surface ang bagong Vilma Santos.Ate Vi realized that she cann’t sacrifice everything for love. Nagising siya sa katotohanan at nagkamali kung kaya nagdesisyon siyang kumalas sa bohemyong aktor…” – Willie Fernandez (READ MORE)

“…But it was with handsome actor Romeo Vasquez that Vilma Santos had her most controversial relationship. Romeo was the former husband of Philippine movie queen Amalia Fuentes. He and Vilma first paired in the movie Nag-aapoy na Damdamin (1976). It was also during this year that they became a couple. They made several movies together, all of which did well at the box-office. Vi and Bobby (Romeo’s nickname) became the most-talked about reel and real love team at the time. The relationship was always on the pages of showbiz magazines and tabloid entertainment section pages because of the intrigues and the personalities who got involved with them…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)

The first nine months fo 1977 saw the release of bad local movies that are unbelievable for their sheer contempt of the moviegoer and even more unbelievable for their increasing popularity. The few decent ones include Robert Arevalo’s Hubad na Bayani, Eddie Romero’s Sinong Kapiling, Sinong Kasiping, Manuel Cinco’s Hostage…Hanapin si Batuigas, Briccio Santos’ Manikang Papel and Luis Enriquez Malayo Man Malapit Din. These are films that respect their audiences and treat them not just paying patrons but also as thinking individuals. For the past two weeks, however, a film that say something and says it right have been packing moviehouses in competition with the James Bond movie, other “adults” local picture and the Dolphy-Nida comedy. This is a cheerful occassion for the local movie industry because rarely does a director hit two birds with one stone; that is Dalawang Pugad…Isang Ibon, a love-triangle drama that was a pre-sold on account of the publicity generated by the oprivate lives of its two principal stars. Its director and scriptwriter, Ishmael Bernal, however, deserves the greater part of the credit for the picture’s commercial and artistic success. For Beranal has done what was dismissed before as an impossibility – a good Vilma Santos-Romeo Vasquez movie. Dalawang Pugad is not just a good movie, it is a superior movie and the year’s best so far (and take this from one who earlieer wanted to avoid the movie like the plague). It has uniformly good performance by the cast, which includes Mat Ranillo III, Anita Linda, Fred Motnilla, Anna Gonzales, Laila Dee, Mary Walter, Ann Villegas, and the two lead, Vasquez and especially Vilma Santos who has done a surprisingly intelligent and affecting character portrayal.

Not since Romero’s Sinong Kapiling have we seen screen characters who think and behave and react to situations and problems like mature, sensitive and intelligent people. The characters do give way to occassional hysterical outbursts, but they somehow wake up to their senses before they forget themselves completely. And they are people in believable situations with real problems and genuine emotions. When they talk, they are seldom silly, and when they are silly, they are aware of it. But even when they’re silly or trite, they are never unsympathetic. Their conversations, in fact, are the most sophisticated heard in a local movie in a long time – shrewd, wry, loving, crisp and smart. You have to hand it to Bernal for making even a casual advertisement for motorcycle brand sound so much like an indispensable part of the dialogue. The story is simple enough, but the details can be so complicated. Twenty three year old Terry (Vilma) abandons her immature boyfriend and runs away with a married man against the vehement protestations of her parents. This is a common plot reworked to death in other movies. In another writer-director’s hans, the story would walk the tightrope between stale romantic melodrama and sensationalized New Morality expose, but Bernal invests it with such subtlety, sympathy, affection and full understanding, though inevitably with some slight cynicism, too, that he actually elevates the story into a search by intelligent people for meaning in human and personal relationships. – Mario A. Hernando, The Philippines Daily Express, Oct 21 1977 (READ MORE)

“…The 1977 Urian Awards further established the reputation of the Manunuris as discoverers of new or ignored talents. Word spread around that “you don’t have to spend a cent for PR to win in the Urian” after Daria Ramirez (Sino’ng Kapiling, Sino’ng Kasiping) bested formidable co-nominee Vilma Santos (Burlesk Queen) for the best actress plum. The choice of Ramirez was not a popular one either, for her portrayal of a middle-class wife was devoid of the “pang-FAMAS” hysterics usually equated with good acting in Philippine movies. The most significant event of 1977, however, was the debate on which criterion should take precedence in choosing the best film: cinematic style or filmic content? It had been decided before that if two films were equally well-made, the film with the more significant content would be chosen. But the application of the criterion became very difficult with the two films being deliberated on: Robert Arevalo’s Hubad na Bayani and Ishmael Bernal’s Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon. Hubad is a truthful portrayal of the peasant uprisings of the 30’s, but it was marred by technical flaws. Dalawang Pugad, centering on the problem of infidelity, was narrower in scope but was just as truthful in its portrayal. Hubad had its good moments but was uneven as a whole, while Dalawang Pugad had a tighter orchestration of cinematic elements. Which film should be given more weight? To an observer, the answer would have been obvious, but, taken in context, at the time when so many tired formula films on “the other woman” were being made, the achievement of Bernal’s film could not be underestimated. The upshot was that Hubad won as best picture and Bernal was awarded best director for Dalawang Pugad…” – The Urian Anthology 1970-79, Video 48, 24 May 2011 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Ex-Wife (1981)

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Basic Information: Directed: Eddie Rodriguez; Cast: Beth Bautista, Raul Aragon, Michael de Mesa, Eddie Garcia, Liz Alindogan, Wendy villarica, Rosemarie Gil, Lucita Soriano, Fred Montilla

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement:  No Available Data

Film Review: Luis Enriquez aka Eddie Rodriguez first directed a young Vilma Santos in 1968 Kasalanan Kaya, another love triangle genre starring the dramatic trio of Marlene Dauden, Eddie Rodriguez and Lolita Rodriguez. Vilma received an early acting recognitions from this film by receiving a FAMAS Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. When Enriquez directed Vilma again, it was a calculated risk that allowed a still young Vilma into a bikini-clad lead role opposite his director himself, Eddie Rodriguez. The film, Nakakahiya, a may-december affair between an older man and a young woman was an entry to 1975 Bacolod City Film Festival. Aside from making the the film a smash hit, Vilma received the festival’s Best Actress. Enriquez will direct Vilma in five more films, the last one was ExWife in 1981 where surprisingly Luis used in film credits his screen name, Eddie Rodriguez. Theri total number of colloborations were seven (Ex-Wife 1981, Halik sa Kamay Halik sa Paa 1979, Hindi Nakakahiya 1976, Ikaw Lamang 1971, Kasalanan Kaya? 1968, Nakakahiya? 1975, Simula ng Walang Katapusan) – RV (READ MORE)

“…In 1980, Ate Vi married budding actor Edu Manzano in Las Vegas, USA, while shooting the film, “Romansa.” She was pregnant with Lucky (now called Luis) when she did “Pakawalan Mo Ako” in 1981, for which she won her second FAMAS best actress award. In 1984, her marriage to Edu ended in separation, and she did movies that mirrored her real-life affairs, “Hiwalay” and “Ex-Wife,” both big hits…” – Mario Bautista (READ MORE)

“…The birth of Vilma’s son, Lucky, on April 21, 1981 seemed to have harbored more luck for the actress’ career. After Lucky’s birth, more awards and blockbuster movies followed. Her movie Ex-Wife was shown the day after her son was born when all the newspapers in town were carrying Vilma’s delivery on the frontpage, and the movie was an instant hit. How’s that for perfect timing? The string of hits for that year included Pakawalan Mo Ako (where she won her second FAMAS best actress award; the first one for Dama de Noche she received several years earlier – in 1972), Hiwalay and Karma, a festival entry which won for her another best actress trophy…” – Meg Mendoza, Prime Magazine, 14 Nov 1985 (READ MORE)

“…Perhaps Eddie Rodriguez’ best film as director, Ex-Wife was actually a psychological drama about marriage and its players. A woman who became victim to a series of bad relationships. Vilma showcased her acting maturity by portraying a bruised woman. Her scene in the end was reminiscent of Dama De Noche but this time, more restrained and controlled. She was seen, loosing her composure, crying and then laughing in a dinner table. She was a picture of defeat. Another wonderful performance too bad nobody took notice. In 1981, Vilma did four movies, Hiwalay, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Karma and Ex-wife. Pakawalan earned Vilma a FAMAS best actress while Karma gave her another Metro Manila Film Festival best actress. Of the four movies, she did, I believe Ex-Wife should be the one deserving of any awards not Pakawalan (although she’s really good in her court scene there) and not Karma…” – RV (READ MORE)

Filmography: Karma (1981)

“Ganuon naman pala eh, de alam mo na may asawa na ako…bitiwan mo ako…alright wise guy, gypsy pala ako nun hah…sinabi mo rin mahilig ako sa music, dancing, siguro may favourite song ako, huwag nang yung napakalayong kahapon, baka hindi mo mabasa eh, yun na lang natapos na kahapon, twenty, twenty five years ago…ano kayang favourite song ko?” – Sarah

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Danny Zialcita; Story: Sylvia Barreto; Cast: Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero, Christopher Deleon (guest appearance), Marianne Delariva, Dante Rivero, Aurora Salve, Suzanne Gonzales, Martha Sevilla, Odette Khan, Virginia Montes, Bella Flores, Etang Ditcher, Vic Silayan, Fred Montilla, Renato Robles, Ruel Vernal, Augusto Victa, Butch Aquino; Executive producer: Ernesto C. Rojas; Original Music: Gilbert Gregorio; Cinematography: Felizardo Baillen; Film Editing: Enrique Jarlego Sr.; Theme Songs: “Minsan Sa Isang Panahon” performed by Kuh Ledesma, “Its now or never”

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

Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when her scheduled flight is delayed. At a hotel where she is staying, she encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valez), a regular guest, who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiance, Alfredo (Tommy Abuel)whose dream of marrying a virgin is dashed. – Telebisyon.net (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1981 FAMAS Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Abuel; 1981 FAMAS Best Supporting Actress – Chanda Romero; 1981 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1981 Cebu City Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos

Film Review: “…Maituturing na head of his time ang mahusay at napaka-innovative na direktor na si Danny Zialcita. Lahat nang nanood ng 1981 movie na tinatampukan nina Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez at Chanda Romero, na ipinalabas ang restored version courtesy of the ABS-CBN Film Restoration last Friday sa Trinoma, ay sumang-ayon na very now pa ang tema ng pelikula. At very now pa rin ang approach niya sa pagsasa-pelikula nito. Bukod sa pagdidirek ng Karma, si direk Danny din ang sumulat ng story at script nito. Fresh from his performance bilang ama sa apat na ‘di magkasundong magkakapatid, hangga’t nalaman ng mga ito na malapit na siyang bawian ng buhay, sa blockbus­ter Star Cinema movie na Seven Sundays, Ronaldo already proved he was an actor to reckon with, yes, that early, sa pelikulang Karma. At kung looks ang pag-uusapan, sorry Janno Gibbs dahil mas guwapong ‘di hamak ang iyong ama. At the time na ginawa ni Ronaldo ang Karma, kaedad din niya si Janno. Of Ate Vi, dapat mapanood ng kanyang mga anak na sina Luis Manzano at Ryan Christian-Recto ang Karma. Pagkaganda-ganda ni Ate Vi sa said movie. Kasama rin sa pelikula si Tommy Abuel na isang lawyer sa tunay na buhay. Magaling siya sa kanyang role bilang mister ni Ate Vi, na hindi nito napatawad dahil sa hindi nito ipinagtapat bago sila ikinasal na hindi na siya virgin. Si Tommy ay napapanood pa rin paminsan-minsan sa mga teleserye at may nagsabing regular member ito ng Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). As to Ronaldo, he was at the screening of Karma. At gumawa talaga siya ng oras para bumati sa lahat ng audience bago sinimulan ang screening. Of direk Danny, he died in 2013…” – Baby E, Pang-Masa, 29 October 2017 (READ MORE)

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

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

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

“…Nang minsang makapanayam namin si Vi sa set ng Karma, sabi niya, “Masaya ako ngayon. Sa darating na Filmfest kasi, maganda ang panlaban kong pelikula. Kung nagustuhan ng mga manonood ang Langit at Tubig last year, mas magugustuhan nila ang Karma. Hindi kiyeme-kiyeme ang sinasabi ko. Nakita ko na kasi ang mga rushes, “I consider Danny as one of the best among our movie directors. Pulido siyang magtrabaho. Pari iyong mga bold scenes namin, talagang artistically done. All praises ako sa kanya. Nakasama ko na rin siya before and because of that, may inter-action kaming dalawa. Vibes na vibes kami. Sure ako, hindi ako mapapahiya sa filmfest entry ko. “Karma will be my Christmas gift to all my fans who, until now, have not stopped loving me. Ang pagtingin ko sa kanila ay extra special kaya naman, extra-special ang regalo ko…” – Manny A. Valera, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, December 28, 1981 (READ MORE)

“One of the most misundertood occult concepts. The nearest equivalent in European thought is contained in the idea of fate, though the oriental term indicates that fate is not a haphazard sequence of events of experiences, but is dependent on actions of previous lives or spiritual conditions. The idea is that a spirit undertakes to live in an earthy body for a given period of time, usually in order to learn in a disembodied state, and has to accept rewards and punishments for good and bad deeds committed in previous incarnations. In order that understanding may grow, any evil committed against another persons will have to be experienced by the perpetrator. The working out of Karma is not done consciously by ordinary people. The real reasons and relatinships may be understood only when the nature of their Karma is grasped -which is tantamount to saying that it is virtually impossible to understand or judge another person when seen in the context of one material lifetime only. Vilma Santos fits the role to a T. For the past years that she has suffered a string of misfortunes and setbacks in real and reel life, she has honed herself as promise, a common objective: to gove the viewing public what it wants – entertainment with a capital E. For Danny Zialcita, aside from having a good screenplay, good direction and brilliant actors and actresses, the movie should have artistic values…” – Bong de Leon, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, November 2, 1981 (READ MORE)

“…Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when her scheduled flight is delayed. At a hotel where she is staying Sarah encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valdez) a regular guest who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiance Alfredo (Tommy Abuel) whose dream of marrying a virgin is dashed. Strangely Sarah and Eric’s paths crossed again at a time when their respective marriages are in disarray. Their meeting strikes both as deja vu. Could it be that they have met each other in the past? Their suspicions are confirmed after Eric consults a psychic. As it turns out Sarah and Eric are the reincarnation of Guada and Enrico twol lovers who had an illicit affair 60 years ago. When Guada’s husband Limbo (Ruel Vernal) learned of her arffair he went on a murderous rampage. Now Sarah and Eric seem destined to follow the same path. But in whose spouse does the spirit of Limbo rest? Is it the disabled Alfredo? Or Enrico’s estranged wife Cristy?…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)