Toast of The Manunuri on 40th Year is Brilliant Actress and Unfading Star

Butch Francisco, Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino, 2017

It Took her almost a decade to win her first acting trophy from the Gawad Urian from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) which was created in 1976. Vilma Santos got her first Urian best actress award in 1982 (for Relasyon) – when both Nora Aunor and Gina Alajar had already won two trophies each. Vilma was already a superstar and a much-awarded actress then. The long wait gave her the impression that she wasn’t a “Manunuri favorite.”

“But it was only after I got the award from the Manunuri that I felt na actor na ako,” reveals Vilma. “Totoo ‘yan!”

She never could have guessed then that after her initial victory she was going to set a record by winning the Urian best actress award three years in a row and now holds the distinction of having the most number of Urian trophies: 11 in all – eight as best actress, two as best actress of the decade and one as producer of the 1978 best picture, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak.

And as the MPP turns 40, Vilma Santos is given the organization’s highest honor, the Natatanging Gawad Urian – a fitting tribute to an actress who has displayed unparalleled excellence in her movies.

She is not the first in her clan to make it big in show business. Forties and Fifties superstar Carmen Rosales, like her, a legendary movie queen, was a grand aunt on her father’s side (esteemed movie journalist Ronald Constantino is also an uncle).

Vilma fondly remembers how Ms. Rosales – a recluse in her late years – would visit her at her Magallanes village home in the ‘70’s. “Lola mo ‘ko, ha!” Carmen would remind Vilma, who was always all ears, listening to her grand aunt’s tales and tips on “how to choose the right men.”

Oddly enough, the two women were unable to trace familial roots while they were both in Sampaguita Pictures, and Carmen, then one of the most influential women in showbiz, had no hand in Vilma’s entry to the movies.

It was cinematographer Amaury Agra who was instrumental in bringing Vilma to Sampaguita. The ace lensman, noted for his expertise with the hand-held Agriflex camera, was a regular guest at the Santos home during the La Loma fiesta. He noticed Vilma’s eagerness to perform before her parents’ visitors. Would she care to come with him to Sampaguita and get an audience with star-builder Dr. Jose Perez? The studio was about to start another drama, Anak, ang Iyong Ina. Maybe Vilma, then nine, could get a part in the film.

Her parents initially weren’t receptive to the idea. They didn’t’ see Vilma working at such an early age. They weren’t rich, but they could provide for their children’s needs, especially since both of them were gainfully employed. Vilma’s father, Amado, was working for the GSIS, while her mother, the former Milagros Tuazon, had a stable job at Aguinaldo’s department store (today’s version of Rustan’s). Eventually, they agreed to indulge the daughter’s dream of joining show business.

As per Agra’s instruction, Vilma was simply to present herself to Dr. Perez, who was going to check her out for a possible part in Anak, ang Iyong Ina. When she and her mother reached the Sampaguita compound, there was a long line and Vilma joined the queue along with the other children, who were trying out for a small melodrama Trudis Liit.

She didn’t stay in the long line, though. Vilma even then already stood out from the rest of the crowd and was plucked from that long queue by the audition masters Bella Flores, Boy Alano and Dr. Perez himself. Vilma was made to cry and was instructed to memorize a dialogue. “Not only did I delivered the line. Nag-adlib pa ‘ko!”

For playing the title role in Trudis Liit, Vilma was paid P700. Part of the package included a whole fried chicken for lunch, plus an apple.

Vilma also shot Anak, ang Iyong Ina with Rita Gomez and, later, went to Premiere Productions to play another title role – Ging, with the studio’s resident villainess Carol Varga and comedians Aruray and Georgie Quizon.

While studying with the RVM nuns at St. Mary’s, Vilma appeared in the TV soap, Mga Batong Buhay, and co-starred with Katharine Ross and Doug McLure in the Hollywood B-movie The Longest Hundred Miles, which had principal location in Bicol.

In 1965, she was cast as First Daughter Imee Marcos in the Ferdinand Marcos biopic Iginuhit ng Tadhana and in 1969 the sequel, Pinagbuklod ng Langit.

In between, she appeared mostly as the teenage daughter of lead stars in dramatic movies and received a best supporting actress prize (for Kasalanan Kaya) in a film event organized by San Beda College.

By the late ‘60s, Nora Aunor had paved the way for a new generation of young female stars: petite and not necessarily of Castilian extraction. Nora was so popular that she was given two leading mean: Tirso Cruz III and Edgar Mortiz. Maybe because Nora and Tirso were truly in love with each other, Edgar was shut out from this love triangle. Edgar needed a new leading lady and it was Cornelia “Angge” Lee, a studio hanger-on back then, who suggested the name of Vilma.

Not quite 16, Vilma was chubby, had baby fat, but was gifted with translucent fair skin. More importantly, she had charisma. She was then doing radio with teen partner Jay Ilagan. “Nagtampo pa nga si Jay nu’n. He said: ‘Di ba tayo ang mag-partner? Bakit ka sasama du’n?’” Vilma recalls their parting.

The Vilma-Edgar tandem developed its own following and was pitted against Nora and Tirso. The rivalry was so intense between the two love teams that during the staging of one Mr. & Miss RP Movies tilt (the forerunner of today’s Box-Office Awards) at the Araneta Coliseum, Vilma was horrified to see fans hurling chairs and empty bottles at one another. At one premier night, she was pricked with a pin by a fan, obviously from the rival camp.

Although Vilma admittedly was behind Nora in terms of popularity, the people running her career made sure she stayed in the race. Nora’s obvious edge over Vilma then was in the field of singing and singing was never Vilma’s forte. But she was made to wax records anyway – which all sold! “Never underestimate this voice! Naka-gold record ‘to!” Vilma says, laughing at herself.

After a string of Vilma-Edgar movie hits, producers tried pairing her with other leading men – with equal success. Her FAMAS win as best actress for the 1972 film Dama de Noche helped boost her stock even further. It wasn’t long before she reached Nora’s level of popularity.

Vilma started attracting moviegoers who did not necessarily belong to the so-called “bakya crowd” (hoi polloi). The Filipino middle class who otherwise would not be caught dead watching Tagalog pictures patronized her Takbo, Vilma series, Dyesebel, and several editions of her Darna, movies. At an early age, she was a master of reinvention.

Viewers admits intrigued with Nakakahiya 1 & 2 (where she romances with an older, married man) and Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (about kissing cousins) signaled a fully grownup mature actress who appealed strongly to Filipino women who were still tradition-bound in spite of the women’s liberation movement that was sweeping western countries.

She was then ready for the most daring role of her career – that of a burlesque dancer and stripteaser in Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. “That was the most difficult movie I ever did,” says Vilma.

The finale, re-shot four times and using multiple cameras, showed her gyrating on stage in a bikini for several agonizing minutes until she bleeds to death. It is a delicate scene that has her dancing half-naked in front of an all-male audience. The location was a theater in Cubao that featured real stripteasers.

That scene caused delays in production. Vilma kept begging off. Her mother mediated on her behalf: “Maybe my daughter is still young to do that!” The producer promised her everything – the moon, the stars, plus a brand-new Mercedes Benz – just for her to do the scene. The answer was still no. She relented when she was threatened with a lawsuit.

In the end, the film turned out to be the turning point of her career. It was box-office bonanza and she won as best actress at the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival and gained the reputation of a serious performer. As for the Mercedes Benz, it was never delivered, prompting her to buy a blue Benz for herself.

The following year, she hoped for a two-in-a-row win as film fest best actress. Her entry was Lino Brocka’s Rubia Servios, where she plays a rape victim.

Everyone said she was a shoo-in for best actress. Even fortune tellers were unanimous in saying this at a gossip show on television. Her producer, Marichu Maceda, was so sure of her victory that she gifted the actress with a P10,000 dress to wear during the Gabi ng Parangal, an amount that could cover an entire bridal entourage.

But come awards night, Mrs. Maceda got hold of a copy of the winners before the show and broke to her the news: “Talo ka.” At the moment, she still had the option to leave, but graciously stayed on to watch arch rival Nora Aunor ascend the stage as the winner (for Atsay). After the show, she and Mrs. Maceda proceeded to the actress’ Makati condo and got drunk on champagne.

Things went downhill from there. Her career was rocked with a Betamax scandal which wouldn’t raise eyebrows in the more jaded early 21st century. Supposedly the video was in wide circulation but nobody really saw it. No copy ever surfaced because there was never one. Ironically, years later, Vilma truly became a Betamax Queen when videos of her Viva and Regal movies became the best sellers in video shops here and in Filipino communities in the US.

After the Betamax issue, she went through another trial: she found herself buried in debt. Vilma always had faith in real estate and had invested well in choice properties but dipping her hands into movie producing was a faux pas. While proud of her movie venture Pagputi, the production cost of the film wiped out her finances. For one, it took the director, Celso Ad. Castillo, three years to finish the project. “First time kong nagkaroon ng kaaway – at nabato ko pa si Celso,” grimaces Vilma.

And then, an aide she thought could trust mishandled her finances. Bills that were supposed to be settled remained unpaid – until the interest started accumulating. And in the meantime, BIR duties were neglected. She mortgaged properties, only later to be repossessed. Her posh Dasma residence, house in Marikina and Tahanan Village, plus a three-hectare lot in Tanay that had 52 mango trees – were all taken away from her. The Magallanes Village home where she lived that time was saved – “pero may utang pa rin du’n.” She lost even her blue Mercedes.

It was Mrs. Maceda and he late Atty. Espiridion Laxa who helped fix her money mess. First, the P80,000 monthly household was trimmed down to P5,000. “I practically measured even the patis (fish sauce) she used in the kitchen,” volunteers Mrs. Maceda, who also trafficked all talent fees from Vilma’s projects. “Many Ichu would only show me my cheques: ‘O, this was what you earned from making this movie.’ And then derecho pambayad na ng utang ‘yun. Never ko na-enjoy ‘yung kinita ko doing those films,” recalls Vilma of that dark period that went on for years.

By God’s grace, she remained a bankable star all throughout. There was even a bright light in this chapter of her life: She met her first husband and father of her first child.

It was the height of the disco craze when she was introduced to Edu Manzano. She and director Elwood Perez had gone discoing that night and had repaired to the Manila Pen for an early breakfast. Edu, a top model then, asked Elwood to introduce him to Vilma.

A short courtship followed until Edu, then already an actor, followed Vilma to the US (where she was doing two movies) and proposed marriage. “Edu arrived in LA, rented a car and off we went to Las Vegas to get married.”

While honeymooning in the US, they did one movie together (Romansa) before returning to Manila where Edu bade the movies goodbye in favor of office work. While Edu did not exactly expect Vilma to quit showbiz, he expressed his wish for her to at least slow down a bit. But how could she when she still had to settle her debts that by then had ballooned to about P8-M due to compounded interest?

To her relief, she never lost her fans in spite of the fact that she was already married with one kid (Luis, currently the busiest host on TV). She did Relasyon not only because she liked the story (about the sacrficies of a mistress), but also because – “pambayad din ng utang ‘yun.”

“And I won my first Urian there,” Vilma says with pride.

Although it was a grand-slam win for her, “pinaka-precious sa akin ‘yung Urian.” To her frustration, she wasn’t even able to deliver an acceptance speech. She had come from Celebrity Sports Plaza where she was crowned Box-office Queen. Hosts Behn Cervantes and Tessie Tomas were already wrapping up the show by the time her car pulled over at the Manila Film Center where the Urian was held. As soon as she entered the hall, the earth shook – literally – from some minor tremors. She was unfazed by the earthquake and as she charged in, she kept crying: “Bernie! Bernie!” (her director in Relasyon) sand cried on his shoulder.

Her marriage to Manzano had already totally collapsed by the time she worked on Broken Marriage, which gave her her second Urian. Vilma was still deep in debt that time and had to continue working. There was no time for domestic bliss, except to attend to the needs of her child, Luis.

To be fair to Edu, he offered to help settle her debts, but his income from office work was not enough to solve his wife’s financial problems. (He only returned to the movies in 1984, finally tasting showbiz success via Bernal’s Working Girls.)

By the mid-‘80s, Vilma could already command a salary of P700,000 per film. For Mayro J. de Los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, she was paid a million pesos.

Although her financial recovery was already in sight, she still smarted from her broken marriage – until she decided to snap out of it. While getting ready for her VIP variety show one Sunday, she waited for Luis to come home from a father-son bonding with Edu. Rushing into her arms, Luis reported to his mother his pizza date with his father – “and some tita.” “Hmm, so there is already a tita,” Vilma muttered to herself.

After her show that evening, she decided “to have some fun” – clean fun, actually, since her dates were Charito Solis, long-time confidante Chit Guerrero and her VIP staff. They met up at the King Kong disco of Marilou Abaya and Ishmael Bernal, probably the most wholesome watering place that time since it was right across St. Paul College at Doña Hemady corner Aurora Boulevard.

Early in the night, a 21-year old La Salle college student approached Vilma and introduced himself as Ralph Recto. May he dance her? Vilma gave her a curt “later.”

Ralph kept coming back to her table every hour, but her answer was the same. At 4 a.m., a sleepy and exasperated Charito told Vilma: “Isayaw mo na nga para makauwi na tayo!” Ralph lost no time wooing her after.

All throughout the courtship, Ralph would watch over Vilma during shoots that lasted till the wee hours of the morning. They waited till Ralph had finished school and had himself elected as Batangas congressman before they got married – in grand fashion at the Lipa Cathedral in 1992.

The year after, she did The Dolzura Cortez Story and the experience was a bittersweet one for her. Sweet because she got the Urian one more time and eventually ended up with another grand-slam. It was bitter because she lost a baby (a case of ectopic pregnancy) while doing the movie.

The next time she got pregnant, she gave up all her work including her award-winning Vilma show, and stayed in bed for five months. That sacrifice gave her and her husband a very healthy boy they named Ryan Christian, now 21 and graduating from college.

In 1998, she entered politics, first as Lipa mayor, a job that kept her away from the movies and even posed a threat to her life. When the 2nd Urian anthology (with her on the cover) was launched in 2002, Vilma was all set to grace the event. But shortly before the affair, she had a shabu laboratory raided (with the help of the DILG). It was a major drug bust that yielded P1.5-B worth of shabu. She received a death threat and was not allowed to go out in public for quite some time and, was in fact, forbidden to talk about the incident.

After three terms as mayor, she completed another three terms as Batangas governor. In 2016, she was elected congresswoman representing the 6th district of the province. She humbly admits, “It was only when I was already a politician that I began to fully appreciate my lines in Sister Stella L.” In the Mike de Leon film, she played the role of a timid nun who grows into a militant labor activist.

As a public official, her name has remained untainted. In the movies, she is forever admired and respected for her artistry and her immeasurable contribution to the industry.

Screenwriter Ricardo Lee, a staunch Noranian, once shared how Vilma would hand him a cheque, telling him: “Ricky, para sa (writing) workshop mo.”

As a superstar, she lent her clout in the industry to make it possible for local directors to attain their dream projects, a lot of which turned out to be among cinema’s best. In fact, seven of her films were Urian best picture winners.

And even while at the throes of financial distress, she risked essaying roles that were not necessarily viable at the box-office, but gave her the chance to create fresh and strong characters, mostly championing the rights of women.

She agreed to do Sister Stella L, a film with strong anti-establishment sentiments, even while Marcos was still in power. Vilma also agreed to do something that was a-no-no in star vehicles – die in Pahiram ng Isang Umaga and in Dolzura Cortez, two films about death and illnesses, subjects that never appealed to moviegoers. Playing the mother of an autistic child in Ipagpatawad Mo was also a gamble given its depressing story.

During the few and rare times she had the opportunity to make movies, given her punishing schedule as a public servant, instead of choosing surefire box-office formulas, she experimented with sociopolitical films like, Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa and Deka 70, both of which earned her more Urian best actress awards.

For the acting brilliance she displayed in all those films – from Relasyon, Tagos Ng Dugo, and Sister Stella L, to Deka 70 and the more recent Ekstra – she enjoys the Manunuri accolade as best actress both officially and unofficially, raising the level of film acting to unprecedented heights. (READ MORE)

Video credit: VSSI Global

Video credit: VSSI Global

Video credit: My Movie World

About Butch Francisco – Butch Francisco writes a column for Philippine Star. He has hosted TV programs and shows. He was the editor of TV Times, Parade Magazine, and We Forum, among others. He was part of the cast of Tukhang, a crime drama series.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to preserve the film legacy of actress, Vilma Santos, and to make her career information available to future generations. We believe this is NOT an infringement of any such copyrighted materials as in accordance to the fair dealing clauses of both the Canadian and U.S. Copyright legislation, both of which allows users to engage in certain activities relating to non-commercial/not for profit research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. We are making an exerted effort to mention the source of the material, along with the name of the author, performer, maker, or broadcaster for the dealing to be fair, again in accordance with the allowable clauses. – Wikipedia

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The First Grand Slam Best Actress in the Philippines

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The oldest award giving body in the Philippines was the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences simply called FAMAS. It was launch two years after the Maria Clara awards folded in 1951. FAMAS shared the same name with the American film academy; AMPAS until the later complained and the Filipino organization have to change theirs into the current acronym. FAMAS created a history of controversies throughout their more than sixty years in award-giving business mostly due to their questionable selection of winners. In 2006, FAMAS experienced another setback when two groups divided the organization due to a controversial election of its officers. As the legal battle settled, the battling groups decided to just hand out their own awards, one used the name FAMAS and the other the Maria Clara Awards. Like its infancy, the Maria Clara Awards did not reach its maturity and died the second time. This is not the first time FAMAS experience disgruntled “break-away” members forming their own award. Prior to 1976, FAMAS retained their status as the most prestigious recognition a Filipino actor could have. Charito Solis, who won best actress at the Asian Film Festival in 1967 used to proudly bring her FAMAS trophies on the film set to intimidate starlets and to instigate professionalism. The breakaway group of critics wish to distinguish themselves from FAMAS by successfully branded their award as not for actors who overtly act in films, they catered to the ones who are restrained and controlled. Hence, the term “Pang-FAMAS na acting” was born, which means over-acting.

The new group of practicing critics handed out their first award in 1976 and called themselves as the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (The Filipino Film Critics) and their awards as Gawad Urian. The critics created a name for its credible choices of winners throughout the years. This untainted reputation made the Gawad Urian, the most sought after award in the Philippines.

Two years after the critics handed out their Gawad Urian, the Catholic Church joined the derby by handing out their own version of movie awards. The Catholic Mass Media Awards came to fruition in 1978 with the late Cardinal Jaime Sin in charge of the ceremony. CMMA honour not only films but also television, print, radio, and recently advertisement.

Five years afterwards, came the establishment of the Philippines’ counterpart of OSCAR. Consists of different guilds, the very first academy awards, now called Luna Awards, handed out in 1983. After 25 years, the Luna Awards cemented a reputation as “the popularity contest awards,” which means each guild votes for their favourites and not necessarily about merits. They tried very hard to adopt a new set of voting rules including different nominating group that represented each guild to resolve this issues but like the OSCAR, the results are sometimes questionable. The common consensus was that the Luna Awards remained far behind Gawad Urian. Two years after the creation of Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna awards, another group joined the award giving business.

The Philippines Movie Press Club or the PMPC handed out their first Star awards in 1985. The Star awards were considered the Philippines’ counterpart of the Golden Globes. And like the Golden Globes, the Star also honours television. The only difference is that the Star Awards hands out their film and televisions ceremonies separately. Consists of publicists and entertainment writers, who are member of PMPC (Philippine Movie Press Club) the Star Awards followed the footsteps of Gawad Urian with very credible choices of winners but just like FAMAS, the Star Awards experienced the same fate with a disgruntled members formed their own version of the same awards. The Entertainment Press Society was born with their Golden Screen Awards in 2004.

Today, in addition to the Gawad Urian, FAMAS, Luna, CMMA, Star Awards, and Golden Screen, we also have the PASADO awards from an organization of academics; the YCC, Young Critics Circle Awards from a group of film students; the Gawad Tanglaw from an organization of film and arts’ instructors. Lately, the OMG Awards by the internet company, Yahoo Philippines, and the MTRC Awards by the board of censors joined the now, overcrowded award giving bodies.

Before 1982, the word grandslam were only used in sports. The term grandslam according to Wikipedia in terms of tennis is a singles player or doubles team that wins all four major tournaments (Australian, French, Wimbledon, US) in the same calendar year, is said to have achieved the “Grand Slam” or a “Calendar Year Grand Slam,” just like what Steffi Graf, the retired German tennis superstar did in 1988. Meanwhile the American Heritage dictionary described the term “grand slam” as follows: first, the winning of all the tricks during the play of one hand in bridge and other whist-derived card games. Second, the winning of all the major or specified events, especially on a professional circuit. And third, in baseball, a home run hit when three runners are on base. From this set of definitions comes the term “grand slam best actress” which basically winning all the best actresses awards from all major award giving bodies. And in 1983, the four majors were FAMAS, Gawad Urian, CMMA, and the FAP (or Luna now).

Figure 1: Best Actress from FAMAS, Gawad Urian, Film Academy of the Philippines, and CMMA

Figure 1: Best Actress from FAMAS, Gawad Urian, Film Academy of the Philippines, and CMMA

The Beginning – The Marcos administration created the Film Academy of the Philippines in 1981 under the guidance of first lady Imelda Marcos and Imee Marcos as Experimental Cinema of the Philippines’ director-general. ECP started to ambitiously produced films to showcase local talents for its inaugural Manila International Film Festival. The organization produced two memorable films, Peque Gallaga’s period film, “Oro, Plata, Mata” and Ishmael Bernal’s French influenced film, “Himala.” Come Gawad Urian night, both films received its stiff competitions from three other films, Mike Deleon’s “Batch ’81,” Lino Brocka’s “Cain at Abel” and Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Moral.” For the Manunuri, the previous year produced only two stand out films, Mike De Leon’s Kisap Mata and Laurice Guillen’s Salome. A big contradiction this year, as not only they have the tasks of sorting out the best in each categories from these five films mentioned above but also other worthy films. Famous with their long heated debates, the local critics added the following films in their list of best films: Nora Aunor’s “Mga Uod at Rosas,” Vilma Santos’ “Relasyon” and Hilda Koronel’s “PX.” The three were cited not only for the overall production but also for the performances of the film’s lead actresses. Also cited were, ECP’s delicate horror film, “Haplos” directed by Jose Perez and two Lino Brocka films, the comedy “Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit” and the drama “In this Corner.”

For Vilma Santos, The previous year, Pakawalan Mo Ako was a huge summer hit that earned Vilma a surprised best actress in FAMAS. That year also released Ex-Wife and Hiwalay, about marital problems. Art imitating life, as there were reports that Vilma and now, ex-husband, Edu Manzano were having some marital problems. But Vilma as trooper as she is, any personal troubles were not publicly noticeable as she goes on with her work, business as usual. Also, Vilma gave birth to her eldest son Luis “Lucky” Manzano.

By December of 1981, her film festival entry, Karma earned her another surprise best actress trophy after the FAMAS gave her the nod for Pakawalan Mo Ako. In an unrelated news, the entertainment industry were shocked to found that matinee idol, Alfie Anido died on Dec 31st. Like the death of Julie Vega and Rico Yan, it is still unknown the reason behind Anido’s death.

She is determined to make 1982 another successful year. She released a total of six films, out of six; two were certified record breakers, “Sinasamba Kita (I Idolized You)” released in August and “Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (How Many Times is Once),” released in November, both produced by Viva Films. The other four films (Relasyon, T-Bird at Ako, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Haplos) were mild hits. All of her hard work paid off because as early as January of the 1983 she was already poised to reap major awards.

Meanwhile for Nora Aunor, 1982 were a mixed bag of mild hits and failed opportunities. “Mga Uod at Rosas,” her collaboration with Lorna Tolentino and director Romy Zusara produced a mixed reviews from the critics. Her excellent performance did not help as the film were just mild hit with the audience. Her follow up films, “Annie Sabungera” and “Palenke Queen” both comedies also did not do well at the box office making the expectation from her next film higher, as she teamed-up with the hottest star of 1982, her closest rival, Vilma Santos in Danny Zialcita’s fast paced film, “T-bird at Ako.” T-bird’s high expectation wasn’t realized as the film earned just a modest income.

By December, all eyes were focused again on Nora and her most ambitious project to date, Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala,” produced by the Imee Marcos’ Experimental Cinema of the Philippines. The film was an entry to the Metro Manila film festival. Nora Aunor was again proclaimed the “queen of local festival” as she won her third Metro Manila Film Festival best actress. Nora’s momentum was rising and she was conditioned to make some serious dent in the following year’s award giving seasons. Critics were all going “gaga” with Aunor’s gigantic performance as Elsa. They said Himala was very effective in communicating its film’s message; it has moving moments and raw power.

Communicated It Really Well – “…Nestor Torre…he finds Batch ’81 the best movie made in 1982. “The movie had something very important to say and it communicated it very well…As for the best actress, it’s Nora Aunor in Himala. “It was a good role, and she communicated it very well. At least, Nora wasn’t api here for a change, It was quite a complicated role, but she handled it very well….Other choices were Gina Alajar and Lorna Tolentino in Moral…Vilma Santos, Nestor notes, is admittedly a “very hard worker but her physical structure really makes it difficult for her to be really effective—hindi malalim—and her voice is not that expressive.” Nestor adds, though, once in a while, Vilma “transcends her physical limitations, as in Rubia Servios…” – Nestor Torre Jr. (film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983

Moving Moments – “…Best Films: (in the order of preference) 1. Oro, Plata, Mata and Batch ’81; 2. Relasyon and Himala; 3. Moral. Best Directors: (in no particular order) 1. Ishmael Bernal for Relasyon and Himala; 2. Peque Gallaga for Oro Plata Mata; 3. Mike de Leon for Batch ’81. Actresses: 1. Vilma Santos for Relasyon; 2. Nora Aunor for Himala and Uod at Rosas; 3. Sandy Andolong for Moral and Oro Plata Mata; 4. Gina Alajar for Moral. Actors: 1. Mark Gil for Batch ’81 and Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit; 2. Joel Torre for Oro Plata Mata; 3. Christopher de Leon for Relasyon. Most movies are usually flawed, and those in my list are no exception. However, apart from the standard criteria I am applying to them (the classic from and content balance), I am giving much weight on impact and emotional power. So, my top two are Oro and Batch. Himala is an ambitious film and much flawed, but it has visual beauty and emotional wallop.

Relasyon is more modest in scope, but I think is more successful on its own terms. Moral has many good things going for it, from direction and writing, to performances, but it does not match the four other films in impact (though it has some moving moments) and originality…” – Mario Hernando (film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983

Raw Power – “…Ding Nolledo…confesses to liking Himala “very much” but mentions that he hasn’t seen Oro Plata Mata…because the film exudes “raw power,” not to mention the excellent acting and the direction, which was like early Fellini, especially the middle part…Ding doesn’t agree with Moral’s rave reviews because “I’ve seen Moral in about 369 other films.” It’s not that original, he implies. As for best actress, it’ll have to be Nora in Himala. “She reminds me of the young Anna Magnani. Besides, the script fitted her to a T. The role practically coincides with what she is in real life…” – Wilfrido Nolledo (novelist, screenwriter, film critic), Parade Magazine, January 19, 1983

Himala won nine out of eleven local festival awards. A sort of repeat of what Vilma’s “Burlesk Queen” achieved in 1977 but without the complaints or sour grapes.

Body of Work – The success of Himala in the December festival has been overshadowed by the commercial success of Vilma Santos’ body of work. In fact, on Dec 14, 1982, Channel 9’s talk show, Let’s Talk Movies recognized Vilma Santos as their best actress for her body of work. Nora Aunor was nominated for her films excluding her epic movie Himala which was not qualified due to the show’s fiscal year requirements which covers December 1981 to November 1982 (More about this below).

On January 20, 1983, Vilma was crowned the Box Office Queen by the Metro Manila Theaters Association in their very first The 1st Cinehan Awards. Reporter Meg Mendoza wrote in an article for Prime Magazine, “…Vilma gave Viva Films its first biggest hit in Sinasamba Kita earning over P7M in Metro Manila alone. Then came T-Bird at Ako (a mild hit), Never Ever Say Goodbye (a sorry miss), Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? (her biggest hit for that year) and Haplos. As early as January 20, 1983, Vilma began to reap several victories when she was awarded by the Metro Manila Theaters Association on their first Cinehan Awards together with Fernando Poe, Jr. held at the Philippine Plaza.

National Artist Nick Joaquin, in an article that came out in the Bulletin Today on February 11, 1983 wrote: “By emerging as box-office queen, Vilma Santos proved herself to be the Philippine Cinema’s Superstar – a title, it’s to be realized now, that can be bestowed only by the Cinehan.” So, on Cinehan Awards Night, Vilma was the very picture of the conquering heroine, drawing all eyes as she glowed and glittered, a rapture of radiance in her strapless white gown with lilac sash – and in white gloves yet! In her triumph joined both cinema and cinehan. Her pictures were all well done – and they also did very well at the box-office. In the same awards night, Ambassador Jaime Zobel de Ayala, another recipient of the Cinehan, upon receiving his award from Dean Lucresia Kasilag said: “I’m only a little bit sorry that Vilma didn’t give me the award. But it’s all right, I’ll try again next year. You’re my favorite star, you’re my muse! I’ll suffer in silence…”

Ironically, few weeks after her crowning as box office queen, Vilma released Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida, the result was average, proving the Romeo Vasquez and Vilma Santos screen charisma has subsided immensely.

Not to be outdone with Vilma’s latest feat, Nora’s “Himala” competed in the 1983 Berlin International Film Festival the following month. The film was the Philippines’ sole entry. The rave reviews were solid, Aunor’s performance was recognized by a nomination but unfortunately, according to Bernal, she lost the race by a mere vote. Would a similar fate awaits Aunor as the local award giving seasons begins?

First Major – By late February, the award-giving season in the country started. In their website, the Catholic Mass Media Awards recalled, “…The Archdiocese of Manila, through His Eminence Archbishop Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, organized the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 1978, in observance of the International Social Communication Day (established by the Universal Church to stress the importance of mass media and to instill a sense of responsibility in communicators). An outstanding way, in radio, print, advertising, television, and film. It was first given out in 1978; since then the CMMA was held every year onwards. In 1980, His Holiness Pope John Paul II graced the awarding ceremonies. Handing out personally the trophies to the winners, the Pontiff illustrated the significant place of mass media in today’s society, and its pervasive influence in the lives of the people…”

Just the previous year, the CMMA praised Nora Aunor’s acting in the late Mario O’harra film, “Bakit Bughaw ang Langit?” and she was adjudged their best actress. There is a great chance that Nora would repeat the feat, as many expected the church would favor a well-crafted film with religious theme.

On February 29, 1983, the fight between Nora Aunor’s “goliath” type of performance in “Himala (Miracle)” versus the “davidian” type of performance in Vilma Santos’ “Relasyon (the affair)” begins. The media were partly right, CMMA gave their best picture, screenplay, supporting actor/actress to Himala. But despite its, taboo story of a mistress, the Catholic Church’s award giving body favoured Vilma’s sympathetic performance.

Vilma won the first bout. Nora left empty-handed. The first blood has been drawn and Noranians, Nora Aunor’s fanatic fans were furious. The fight didn’t stop at the Catholic Mass Media Awards. The next one was a big one.

Second Major – Noranians expected a third Urian best actress considering the magnitude of Aunor’s performance in Himala and the positive reviews it received. Positive reviews that were written by the Manunuri critics themselves. Noranians dismissed Vilma’s win at the CMMA and expected that metal sculpted trophy was in the bag already. By the way, who are these critics anyway?

Practicing Film Critics – Movie writer, Billy R. Balbastro described the Manunuris: “…The Manunuri ng Pelikulang Filipino…is an organization of practicing film critics established in 1976. Most came from the Academe then with Nestor U. Torre becoming its first president. The Manunuri had its Gawad Urian in simple one hour-long rites at the CCP then. Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera Jr. became its second president. Other presidents include: Mario Hernando, Butch Francisco, Agustin “Hammy” Sotto, Gigi Javier Alfonso of UP. Each critic-member is expected to write regularly film reviews or film criticism which must be published in national publications. Each year too they give out awards for achievements in the movie industry, thus joining the FAMAS, the Film academy of the Philippines and the Philippine Movie Press Club’s Star Awards in this aspect of endeavor. During their first decade (1976 to 1985), they also came up with their Stars of the Decade: Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Vic Silayan and Phillip Salvador. The members of the Manunuri are: Mario Hernando (editor of Sunday Malaya), Bienvenido Lumbera Jr.(1993 Ramon Magsaysay awardee for journalism, literature and creative communication), Nicanor Tiongson (former artistic director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and former MTRCB chair), Butch Francisco (TV personality), Agustin “Hammy” Sotto (founding president of the Society of Film Archivists), Paul Daza (columnist), Gigi Javier Alfonso (dean of the UP-Diliman Open University and professor at the UP College of Mass Communication –UP-CMC), Ellen Paglinauan (dean of UP-CMC), Bro. Miguel Rapatan (DLSU), and Lito Zulueta (Inquirer sub-editor and faculty member of the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters)…”

The 1973 Scandal – Speaking of co-winner or “tie,” writer Rolfie Velasco pointed out in his article, “…FAMAS was the sole award-giving body for film in the Philippines from 1952 until 1976, when the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (MPP) formed the Gawad URIAN (FAMAS was also contested by the Manila Film Festival, established in the 1960s, but a film festival cannot be considered as a major award-giving body). From 1952 to 1976, FAMAS alone has awarded the most foremost performers and craftsmen of Filipino films, from screen legend Rosa Rosal to master director Gerardo de Leon. Winning a FAMAS Award became the target obsession for many film craftsmen, for it was, after all, the Philippines’ counterpart of the Oscars. The awards itself, then held mostly in the Manila Hotel, was the biggest annual event in the Philippine movie industry…In 1973, the FAMAS was rocked by a terrible scandal. It awarded the first tie in the lead categories in the history of Philippine cinema. Before this, the only recorded tie was in 1968, when Tito Arevalo and Tony Maiquez shared the Best Musical Score honors. Because of the popular nominees with their loyal supporters, the tie in the 1973 best actress category became a hot topic with both Boots Anson-Roa (Tatay Na Si Erap) and Vilma Santos (Dama De Noche) sharing the honors. Because a tie in the lead categories was unheard of, the public dissented the vote. Therefore, for the next years, the FAMAS invited film critics to be members of its nominating and awarding committee. These critics left the FAMAS in 1976 to form MPP and subsequently, the Gawad Urian (Urian Award), named after the Tagalog word for gold standard…”

On April 15, 1983, the Gawad Urian was set to give out their hardware. It was known by many, that the critics or the Manunuris were pro-Nora Aunor. They gave Aunor their very first best actress award in 1976 for her excellent performance in “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (three years without God)”. They also gave Aunor a second nod in 1980 in her wonderful performance in “Bona” with Gina Alajar as co-winner.

When the winner was read, even Vilma was surprised. After so many years of snubs, she finally received the recognition she truly deserved. The critics finally came to their senses and recognized Vilma’s explosive and giant killer performance.

By winning the Gawad Urian, Vilma defeated not only Nora but also Lorna Tolentino and Gina Alajar both equally gave a felt performance in the feminist film, “Moral.”

Adding cherry to an already sumptuous plate, at the same night, on April 15, 1983, Vilma have to rush to another ceremony, she was crowned by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation as the 1982 – 83 Box Office Queen of Philippine Movies at the Celebrity Sports Plaza with Fernando Poe Jr as the Box Office King, her second crown/title after January’s Cinehan Awards.

This was Vilma’s second major best actress wins in the same calendar year. She was half way there. People are now starts talking about the possibility of Vilma winning all the best actress awards.

Not to be outdone, Noranians regained from their disappointments as Nora Aunor received an award from a socio-political group, the TOWNS on April 23, 1983. Nora Aunor received (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service) or simply TOWNS award from the former first lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez Marcos, at the Plenary Hall of the Philippine Convention Center. With the first lady handing out the TOWNS to Nora, people are started to insinuate that Nora Aunor’s defeat in two previous majors are politically motivated.

Third Major – The next race was the very first Luna Awards, back then, simply called the Film Academy Awards, Philippines’ counterpart of OSCAR.

On April 27, 1983 the First Film Academy of the Philippines Awards were held at the Manila Film Center. The FAP official web site provided some basic information about The Luna Awards, “…Established in 1981 as mandated by Executive Order No. 640-A, the Academy has been able to forge an alliance among the various guilds of the movie industry. Serving as the umbrella organization, the Film Academy oversees the welfare of the guilds thru an assortment of subsidies, projects and opportunities that would bring about the upgrading of the knowledge and expertise of the guild members. The principal function of the Academy is to give awards in recognition of the artistic and technical excellence of the performances and to accentuate the value of quality works of the people behind the outstanding films shown during the year. The Annual Luna Awards is intended to provide the necessary motivation in enhancing the craftsmanship of movie industry workers that will eventually uplift the quality of local films. The Academy also assists in the staging and managing of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival from which proceeds the Film Academy gets a share. Delegates to foreign film festivals are primarily sent thru the intercession of the Academy. The Academy also spearheads the collaboration of the movie industry with government agencies in order to gain opportunities for the guilds and its members…”

Academy insider, Jose N. Carreon wrote: “…At seven o’clock on a Wednesday evening on April 27, 1983, the Film Academy of the Philippines held its first ever awards night for distinguished works and performances in films exhibited in 1982. The venue was the Manila Film Center, one of the cultural edifices that were constructed under the auspices of former First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos…The first ever Academy award winner was the late Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia who was adjudged the best supporting actor for his role in Ito Ba ang Ating mga Anak?…Liza Lorena was best supporting actress for her role in Oro, Plata, Mata…The late Vic Macamay won the best sound award for Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan?…The best cinematography award was won by Romy Vitug for Sinasamba Kita…Sinasamba Kita by the late George Canseco was voted the best original song…The late Orlando Nadres won the best screenplay adaptation for Sinasamba Kita…Romy Suzara won as best director for Uod at Rosas…Manay Ichu’s MVP Pictures’ Batch ’81 was voted the first best picture of the academy awards…With the stage overflowing with showbiz people, the best actor and best actress awards were announced. Philip Salvador (for Cain at Abel) was declared best actor over Robert Arevalo (Santa Claus is Coming to Town), Mark Gil (Batch ’81), Christopher de Leon (Relasyon) and Joel Torre (Oro, Plata, Mata). The last winner of the night turned out to be Vilma Santos who was best actress for her performance in Relasyon. The other aspirants were Gina Alajar (Moral), Nora Aunor (Himala), Coney Reyes-Mumar (Pedring Taruc) and Lorna Tolentino (Moral). Then everything was history. After 25 years, we remember and we celebrate and we recommit ourselves for another quarter of a century. The Film Academy of the Philippines and its Luna Awards live on…”

Vilma Santos faces again a stiff resistance from Nora Aunor. In the end, Vilma received her fourth best actress award. And like when Nora received her TOWNS award, the former first lady, Imelda Marcos handed out the very first Academy award best actress to Vilma.

Vilma won her third major best actress in the same calendar year. One short of a complete overhaul.

Fourth Major – The award season of 1983 ended with the handing out of the FAMAS. The Manila Film Center was jam packed with not only celebrities but also a boisterous group of Noranians and Vilmanians. Unfortunately, Nora Aunor wasn’t nominated for her gigantic role of Elsa in “Himala” instead, she was nominated for her portrayal of an underdog lover of the late Johnny Delgado in Romy Zusara’s “Mga Uod at Rosas (The Worms and Roses)”. The competition didn’t stop with Vilma’s “Relasyon,” Noranians were worried about the other nominees too. Hilda Koronel was cited for her solo starrer, “PX” and Alma Moreno was nominated for her daring role as Cristina Gaston in the “Diary of Cristina Gaston.” The list of Nominees were completed with the inclusion of two veterans: Mona Lisa for her supposed to be supporting role in “Cain at Abel” and Liza Lorena for her surprising role in “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” With this list comes a lesser expectation from Noranians, as Nora wasn’t nominated for her more intense role as Elsa. But this didn’t bother them as they raided the Manila Film Centre with so much fanfare.

The unofficial FAMAS website declared the winners, “…The 31st FAMAS Awards was held at the Manila Film Center on May 28, 1983. The Best Picture went to Cine Suerte’s Cain at Abel defeating Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan [Viva Films], Himala [Experimental Cinema of the Philippines], Ang Panday: Ikatlong Yugto [FPJ Productions] and Sinasamba Kita [Viva Films]. The Best Actor went to Anthony Alonzo for Bambang defeating Christopher de Leon for Relasyon, Dolphy for My Heart Belongs to Daddy, George Estregan for Lalaki Ako, Dindo Fernando for Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan, Fernando Poe, Jr. for Ang Panday: Ikatlong Yugto, and Philip Salvador for Cain at Abel. The best supporting Actor went to Tommy Abuel for Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan while the best supporting Actress went to Sandy Andolong for Moral. Eddie Garcia won the best director Sinasamba Kita defeating Marilou Diaz-Abaya for Moral, Ishmael Bernal for Himala, Lino Brocka for Cain at Abel, Fernando Poe, Jr. for Ang Panday: Ikatlong Yugto and Danny Zialcita for Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan. Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan also won the best story for Tom Adrales; best screenplay for Tom Adrales and Danny Zialcita; best editing for Ike Jarlego, Jr.; best musical score and theme song for George Canseco and best sound for Vic Macamay. Joseph Estrada received the Hall of Famer Award for winning five times as producer. The most anticipated award was for best actress which went to Vilma Santos for Relasyon defeating Nora Aunor for Mga Uod at Rosas, Hilda Koronel for PX, Mona Lisa for Cain at Abel, Liza Lorena for Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Alma Moreno for The Diary of Cristina Gaston ..”

Unfortunately, for Noranians, their idol went empty handed again for the last time. Vilma claimed her fourth major best actress in one calendar year. The night for Vilmanians didn’t stop from Vilma’s win. Eddie Garcia won the best director award for a Vilma Santos’ blockbuster film, “Sinasamba Kita.”

Noranians were all mad as hell. Writer Bum D. Tenorio Jr., in his article for Philippine Star, described how the feisty Noranians reacted on Vilma’s win on their home turf, the Gawad Urian, “…Talk about Himala, it was because of this movie that two ladies in my neighborhood got into a nasty hair-pulling fight. Nora could have won the grand slam for Best Actress in all the award-giving bodies for this movie in 1982 except that her archrival and now Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos won for the movie “Relasyon” in the Gawad Urian. The feisty Noranians in the neighborhood could not accept this, while the Vilmanians gloated. This irreconcilable difference unfortunately turned ugly. In those days, fans were fiercely loyal. When Vilmanians talked about “Wonder V,” expect Noranians to come up with “Super G.” When Vilmanians mentioned how they got scared in “Phantom Lady,” expect a multitude of Noranians to thwart their claim by discussing “Fe, Esperanza, Caridad,” Nora’s suspense thriller. Even when Nora and Vilma starred together in a movie, say “Pinagbuklod ng Pag-Ibig” or the legendary “T-Bird at Ako,” competition between fans of both camps still raged. But in my community, the Noranians always prevailed!…”

Paranoia seeped in their brain as they hypothesized the reasons why Nora failed to win any awards. Sabotage according to them was the only reason. The political repercussion of the film being made under the Marcos administration resulted Nora Aunor being ignored by all award-giving bodies! Never mind that Vilma Santos deserved all the wins. Vilma Santos swept the entire best actress in four major award-giving bodies in one calendar year. The tag line “grand slam” was born.

In addition to the above majors, talk show, “Let’s talk movies” came up with their own film awards on its anniversary presentation at the end of 1982. The hosts, Behn Cervantes (filmmaker, film critic), Armida Siguion Reyna (film actress, producer) and Mario Bautista (movie reporter, critic, columnist) were quoted as who they think deserve the year’s accolade.

Behn Cervantes: “…Behn’s choice for best movie of 1982 comes easy, with one qualification (he has not seen Oro, Plata, Mata). “It’s Batch ’81 because it was innovative and more daring…As for the choice of best actress, “mahirap iyan,” Behn admits spontaneously. “It’s a difficult choice between Gina Alajar in Moral and Nora Aunor in Himala. Gina was beautifully flamboyant and effective as the funky character in Moral, while Nora was very cinematic in Himala. Nora is one actress who knows how to use her medium…Vilma is also good. She knows her craft, but somehow, at the moment of truth, physically she doesn’t quite hit me. There’s something very cutesified about it…”

Armida Siguion Reyna: “…Armida has said it in her TV show Let’s Talk Movies and she’s saying it again: her choice for best movie not only for the film fest but for the entire 1982 is Moral. “It’s very ‘today,’ NOW. You really get to identify with the characters in the movie…After Moral, Armida chooses Oro, Plata, Mata and Cain at Abel, respectively, as among 1982’s best…Armida chooses Vilma Santos as best actress for her performance in Relasyon. “I can’t explain my choice in the beautiful language of the Manunuri but I go by gut and alam kong maganda.” She is also more inclined toward Vilma because the actress made a number of good movies last year…”

Mario E. Bautista: “…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 papel 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…”

Unfortunately, despite their highly praises of Nora Aunor, the talk show hosts gave their nod to Vilma Santos due to their technical rules. An article from Movie Flash explained: “…In celebration of its first anniversary, Channel 9’s Let’s Talk Movies will have a special presentation on December 14 from 9:30 to 11:30 pm. The talk show hosted by Armida Siguion-Reyna, Behn Cervantes and Mario E. Bautista will distribute seven major awards to deserving artists who excelled in local pictures shown from Dec, 1981 to November, 1982. The Let’s Talk Movies awards differ from those of other award-giving bodies in that they honor a director or performer not for just a single work or performance in one movie but for a body of outstanding works or performances shown during the said fiscal year. This is in line with the show’s aim to help uplift local movies. To qualify, a nominee should have at least two significant contributions. Nominees for…best actress…are Gina Alajar (Init o Lamig, Pusong Uhaw), Nora Aunor (Uod at Rosa, T-bird, Rock ‘n Roll, Palengke Queen), Amy Austria (Katas ng Langis, Waywaya, Pusong Uhaw), Vilma Santos (Karma, Relasyon, T-bird, Sinasamba Kita, Never Ever Say Goodbye) and Maricel Soriano (Galawgaw, Mother Dear, Schoolgirls)…An award for best producer will be given to the company which has produced the most number of outstanding films during the year. Special citations will be given to movie personnel who made worthy contributions to the industry during the year…”

While Vilmanians celebrated their idol’s historical win, Nora Aunor redeemed their broken ego by lining up to the 1983 Manila International Film Festival on June 24th, Himala was chosen as the opening gala film together with Hollywood film, Gandhi as the closing.

After the awards season of 1983, Vilma Santos released three more films after the disappointment, Ayaw Kong Maging Kerida.

On June 9th, Viva Films released Paano Ba ang Mangarap? that turned out to be another box office hit. Few months afterwards, Regal films released Bernal’s Broken Marriage, the follow-up film after the successful grand slam film, Relasyon.

Finally, four days after Vi’s birthday, Viva Films released Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s drama, Minsan pa Natin Hagkan Ang Nakaraan, another box office hit. This film plus the two films mentioned above confirmed her bankable status. Not to be outshine again, “Himala” continued its relentless fight for recognition, winning the bronze prize at the 1983 Chicago International Film Festival on November of 1983 (Nov 4-18 1983).

Vilma Santos made history. The first grand slam win of Vilma Santos was repeatedly analyzed over and over again. Mostly to give accolade to Nora Aunor.

Joel David, in his article titled “Performances of the Age” wrote: “…the outstanding performance of the period belongs to that of Nora Aunor in Himala, which was honoured only by the MMFF….In Himala the director and writer seemed to have agreed to a mutual stand-off, thus amplifying the theatrical potential of an expansive locale with a protracted takes; stage-trained talents ensured the competent execution of histrionic stylizations, with the climax set on an open-air platform before a hysterical audience. It was a truly great actress’ opportunity of a lifetime, and Nora Aunor seized it and made it not just her role, but her film as well. Not since Anita Linda in Gerardo de Leon’s Sisa (circa the first Golden Age) had there been such a felicitous exploitation by a performer of ideal filmmaking conditions – and in this instance, Himala has the decided advantage of being major-league and universal….”

Arnel Resma Ramos’ article titled “Himala Revisited” praised Nora’s complex role: “…we believe that Nora Aunor should have swept all the best actress awards for that particular year…Aunor had the more complex role and only an actress of her calibre can pull off the part with much persuasion. It calls for a restrained, self-effacing acting style. And Aunor, the consummate actress that she was…strikes not a false note in her performance. It is, in one word, mesmerizing. And Himala is without a scintilla of a doubt the pinnacle of her cinematic achievements.”

In recent years, Himala was recognized in many film exhibitions around the world. Even international television network fell on the prey and held an international internet poll, raising Himala to its highest glory, proclaiming the film as one of Asia’s best film. They hail, finally, Aunor were given the citations its truly deserved!

Again, never mind that Vilma Santos gave the most effective performance in the history of local movie screen. The fact is, no matter what they do or say they can’t change history. Vilma Santos was the very first “grand slam” best actress winner.

The history continues – Three years after Vilma Santos registered the very first grand slam win, Philip Salvador replicated the honours by winning all the best actor in 1985 via Lino Brocka’s political drama, ‘Bayan Ko kapit sa Patalim.’ Salvador won five majors as Star Awards were added to the four. The next year, 1986, Nida Blanca followed suit with a best supporting actress grand slam for her outstanding performance in the film, “Magdusa Ka.” Then four years after Blanca’s came the most awaited turn for Vilma’s rival.

Noranians were ecstatic as their idol claimed all the best actress hardwares of 1990 for “Andrea Paano Ba Ang Maging Isang Ina.” A deserving consolation as the film bombed at the box office. Nora’s stiffest competition came from Vilma’s two films, Lino Brocka’s “Hahamakin Lahat,” and Laurice Guillen’s “Kapag Langit ang Humatol.” But the table was turned and Nora claimed almost all of the major awards except from CMMA where she was declared runner up to Gina Alajar.

By 1990, CMMA was relegated into the minor league of award giving bodies replaced by much more popular Star Awards. Two years after Nora Aunor claimed the honour as grand slam winner, Lorna Tolentino took the crown for her effective performance in 1992′s “Narito Ang Puso Ko.”

Then back to Vilma again. – In 1993, Vilma Santos successfully relived the life of the first PWA in Laurence Guillen’s “Dahil Mahal Kita: Dolzura Cortez Story.” Not only the film recorded the second grand slam win for Vilma as best actress of 1993, the film was also a smashed hit. The two years intervals prove to be a normal pattern as Vilma’s closest rival took all the trophies again in 1995.

Nora Aunor hit the jackpot via true to life film, the “Flor Contemplacion Story.” And not only did she won the grand slams, she added an international recognition winning the best actress at Cairo International Film Festival. In addition to the majors, Aunor also received the best performer from YCC and the box office queen title from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (GMMSFI).

The next years, two actresses claimed the grand slam honours. Sharon Cuneta as best actress for her effective performance in “Madrasta (the Stepmother)” and the best supporting actress awards for Gina Alajar in “Mulanay, Sa Pusod Ng Paraiso.”

Then back to Vilma Santos again after two years for the third time. Vilma Santos won all the best actress awards for 1998′s “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa (Lea’s Story)”. Then like Aunor in 1995, she added an international recognition with her grand slam win. Vilma was cited as the best actress at the Brussels International Film Festival. And also received the YCC-Film Desk’s best performer award.

By 1999, the grand slams wins were alive and kicking. Elizabeth Oropeza won all the best actress hardwares for her very intense performance as a prostitute in 1998′s “Bulaklak Ng Maynila.” The same year, an unknown actress Glydel Mercado, surprised everyone as she won all the best supporting actress awards coincidentally from a Nora Aunor comeback vehicle, “Sidhi.”

Then in 2002, Vilma Santos for the fourth time claimed the grand slam title by winning all the best actress awards for her superb performance in the film, “Dekada 70 (the seventies).” At the same time, Vilma’s co-star, Piolo Pascual declared his arrival to the big league of fine acting by winning all the best supporting actor awards. The film also gave Vilma her second international recognition winning the best actress from Cinemanila International Film Festival. In addition, she also received hardwares from PASADO (Pampelikulang Samahan ng mga Dalubguro) and YCC-Film Desk in its annual Circle Citations.

In Conclusion – For Noranians, Nora Aunor should be given the honour as the very first grand slam win in 1976 as they argued Aunor won the best actress from FAMAS and Gawad Urian, the only major award giving bodies back then. Unfortunately, this wins didn’t create the tag line, grand slam. Also, Vilma Santos, as film producer won all the best picture award in 1978 for Pagputi ng Uwak Pagitim ng Tagak from FAMAS and Gawad Urian, still the only major award giving bodies. Unfortunately, no one said this is a grand slam win.

It was only when Vilma Santos won four majors in 1983 did the tag line “grand slam” came to its birth at least in Philippine award giving film history. And so, history will record Vilma’s achievements as the very first actress who claimed all four major best actresses in one calendar year based on the true meaning of the word “grand slam.” She is also the current record holder of the most grand slam wins, four [Relasyon (1982); Dahil Mahal Kita – The Dulzora Cortez Story (1993); Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998); and “Dekada 70” (2002)]. – Florencio “Rendt” Viray, V Magazine 2007, (READ MORE)

Related Reading:

#FirstGrandSlamBestActressPhilippines, #VilmaSantos, #GrandSlam, #BestActress, #Philippines, #Relasyon, #Himala, #FAMAS, #GawadUrian, #FAP, #LunaAwards, #CMMA

Gawad URIAN and Vilma Santos

On May 1, 1976, ten Filipino critics agreed to discuss the annual award-giving situation in the local industry. All in agreement that there must be an alternative to FAMAS, the only award giving body in the Philippines. The ten critics, mostly academics, were Pio de Castro, Behn Cervantes, Pete Daroy, Mario Hernando, Bien Lumbera, Doy del Mundo, Manny Pichel, Nick Tiongson, Gino Dormiendo, and Nestor Torre. Most of them were part of FAMAS roster of judges. Most, questioned the recent years winners. According to the website, Wikepedia: “The 1972 best actress “tie” that materialized between major star Boots Anson-Roa and then-rising star Vilma Santos was a good example of the disillusionments experienced by the academics. according to them, the two winners was unheard of at that time, which resulted in accusations of lessening “credibility and prestige.” Ironically, Gawad will have numerous ‘tie” winners in their future set of winners, including a string of ‘tie” involving their early favorite, Nora Aunor. Headed by Nestor Torre, the nine critics agreed to review films and release quarterly film citations with the final nominations and winners announce at the end of the year.

Over the years, the Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino, MPP, (translates – Filipino Film Critics and considered the equivalent of the USA’s New York Film Critics Circle), established themselves as the most credible award giving bodies in the Philippines. They are known for having a long discussion for each of their award categories resulting sometimes in heated debate and unfortunately resulting with the unavoidable “ties” winners. Since 1976, the group has eluded controversies that rival groups endured. The oldest award, FAMAS has experienced two renegade or break away groups resulting in costly legal battles and low television ratings. Another group, the Philippine Movie Press Club is considered second to Gawad Urian, their Star Awards had a similar fate, they also had a break away group, creating their own awards, the Golden Screen Awards. With the advent of new awards, now ten, and still counting. Gawad Urian remained strong and the most sought after. Currently, the Manunuri are consists of: Rolando B. Tolentino, Grace Javier Alfonso, Butch Francisco, Mario A. Hernando, Bienvenido Lumbera, Miguel Q. Rapatan, Benilda S. Santos, Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson, Tito Genova Valiente and Lito B. Zulueta.

Vilma Santos has become a big part of Gawad Urian. Although she wasn’t considered their early favourite, they developed a long fondness to the actress, many considered as the Meryl Streep of the Philippines cinema. Fourteen best actress nominations spanning three decades and eight wins starting in 1982’s Relasyon. She also recieved a Gawad Urian best picture award in 1978, as film producer for the film, Pagputi Ng Uwak Pagitim Ng Tagak.

In 1981 Gawad Urian cited four films for their best picture category, Romy Suzara’s Pepeng Shotgun, Mel Chionglo’s Playgirl, Mike de Leon’s Kisap Mata and Laurice Guillen’s Salome. Salome was the winner. The four directors were also nominated for best director together with Ishmael Bernal for Pabling. Guillen was the winner for Salome. In addition to picture and director awards, Salome also won the best screenplay for Ricardo Lee and the best actress award for Gina Alajar. Alajar’s strong competitors were Charito Solis for Playgirl and Nora Aunor for the forgettable Bakit Bughaw ang Langit. Vilma Santos were again got the cold shoulder from the Manunuri as she wasn’t even cited for any of her films, Pakawalan Mo Ako where she won a FAMAS, Hiwalay, a Romy Suzara directed film, Karma where she won the best actress from Metro Manila Film Festival or Ex-Wife, an Eddie Rodriguez directed film co-starring her with Beth Bautista.

But a turned of events the following year. MPP considered 1982 a good harvest with a string of high quality films: Batch ’81, Himala, Moral, Oro Plata Mata and Relasyon, all vying for the best pictures Urian. Oro Plata Mata edged out the other four. It also won the best director honour for Peque Gallaga. Gallaga defeated Marilou Diaz-Abaya (Moral), Ishmael Bernal (Himala and Relasyon), Lino Brocka (Cain at Abel) and Mike de Leon (Batch ’81). The writing category went to Clodualdo del Mundo, Raquel Villavecencio at Mike de Leon for Batch ’81. Noticeably ignored many times by the Manunuri, Vilma Santos was nominated for her sympathetic mistress role in Relasyon. She is up against Nora Aunor’s epical role for Himala, Gina Alajar and Lorna Tolentino were nominated for their feminist film Moral completed the nominees. The Manunuri surprised everyone by declaring Vilma Santos as their 7th best actress winner. The other award giving bodies (FAMAS, Film Academy of the Philippines and CMMA) also declared Vilma Santos as their best actress and the term “grand slam” were born atleast in local entertainment industry. As for the other acting categories, Philip Salvador won the lead actor and Baby Delgado, supporting actress both for Cain At Abel, and Mark Gil won the supporting actor for Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit. The Manunuri gave the Natatanging Gawad Urian to veteran actress, Anita Linda, who is still very active today and who worked with Vilma several times.

Proving that her win wasn’t just a fluke, Santos won the next two years for Broken Marriage and Sister Stella L both from Regal Films. Four years afterwards her three wins, she again got the best actress with co-winner, Nora Aunor in 1989’s Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga. She followed this with wins in 1991 (Ipagpatawad Mo), 1993 (Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story), 1998 (Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa), and 2002 (Dekada 70). She also received the the Actress of the Decade 1990s award in 2000. – RV (READ MORE)


The Gawad Urian Through The Years 3/3

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The Best Actresses and their First Gawad Urian

2011 – Maja Salvador for “Thelma” – “…Ganito pala ang pakiramdam,” said Maja as tears streamed down her face during her acceptance speech. Gawad Urian, maraming-maraming salamat po. Sampung taon na ‘ko sa industriya, ngayon lang ako nanalo ng Best Actress award. Sa mga producers, maraming salamat sa tiwala dahil sa akin ninyo ibinigay ang Thelma. Sa aking director na si Paul Soriano, maraming salamat. Sa aking managers, Tita Mariole [Alberto], Mr. M [Johnny Manahan], sa mama ko, sa papa ko na nasa heaven na, para sa Kanya ito.” Maja then thanked her make-up artist who gave her a vote of confidence that night. “Salamat sa pag-makeup mo. Sabi niya, ‘Papagandahin kita, baka manalo ka. Siguro nga, nagandahan sila sa akin kaya ako nanalo. Salamat po, Gawad Urian, maraming-maraming salamat.” After the awarding ceremony, Maja told the press: “Lahat ng hirap ko sa paggawa ng pelikula, lahat yun nawala dahil may nakapansin po ng talento. Maraming salamat po…” – Jocelyn Dimaculangan, PEP, June 14, 2012 (READ MORE)

2009 – Rustica Carpio for “Lola” – “…Anita Linda and Rustica Carpio, both past their physical primes, may have just given their more-than-impressive swan songs. Director Mendoza, who is not that much known on squeezing out pure performances from his actors/actresses (as his characters usually just blend in into the realistic palette of the surroundings), handled may be the two most astounding ones from aged performers. In some ways, it’s almost a miraculous feat on his part (and cinematographer Odyssey Flores) in terms of enhancing Anita Linda and Rustica Carpio’s natural and honest evocation of suppressed sufferings and prolonged sacrifices as impoverished grandparents through a panoramic view of the present social state of those inflicted with destitution. But the real highlight is of course from the two brave, nagging, and at times, swindling heroines who will do just about anything not just to resolve their numerous woes, mostly involving money, but also to unconsciously prove their ‘worth’. Throughout the film, as the camera follows them both, we see them express stern authority to younger people, ask for directions and assistance like one, and show extreme determination like middle-aged fellows…” – Ivan6655321 (READ MORE)

2006 – Gina Pareño for “Kubrador” – “…Veteran actress Gina Pareño led the awards for Kubrador with her win in the Best Actress category. She was already honored at the Golden Screen Awards earlier this year, as well as numerous citations from international film festivals. “Apat na dekada bago ko napanalunan ang tropeo ng Gawad Urian. Sa wakas, nagkaroon din ako ng pag-aari na ganito… Napakasarap na nandito ako sa Pilipinas. Nanalo ako sa bayan ko,” she said in her speech. Kubrador won in five out of the ten categories it was nominated. It won Best Picture for MLR Films as well as Best Director for Jeffrey Jeturian. It also took home Best Production Design for Leo Abaya and Best Cinematography for Roberto ‘Boy’ Yñiguez…” – Philippine Entertainment Portal (READ MORE)

2005 – Hilda Koronel (best supporting) for “Nasaan Ka Man” – “…In 1975 and 1976, she starred in the Lino Brocka classics Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag which won six FAMAS awards in 1976 and Insiang which received FAMAS and Gawad Urian awards in 1977. It was Lino who turned her into a high-caliber actress with movies like Santiago, Tubog sa Ginto, Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Tatlo Dalawa Isa, Init, Insiang, etc. Insiang is the first Filipino film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978 where both Lino and Hilda earned rave reviews from the international film community. Her illustrious career was highlighted with her winning the Best Supporting Actress awards from the FAP, Gawad Urian and Maria Clara for Nasaan Ka Man (2006); Best Performance by Male or Female, Adult or Child, Individual or Ensemble in Leading or Supporting Role from the Young Critics Circle for Tanging Yaman (2001); and Best Actress from the MMFF for Insiang (1976)….” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, 30 August 2012 (READ MORE)

2004 – Judy Ann Santos for “Sabel” – “…Complementing Judy Ann’s excellent performance are Wendell Ramos as the ex-convict who rapes and hopelessly falls in love with her (this early, I can say he’s already assured of an acting nomination in next year’s awards race), Rio Locsin as the mother who can’t get along with her headstrong daughter, Iza Calzado as the writer Wendell eventually marries, Sunshine Dizon as the lesbian lover of Sabel, Jeffrey Hidalgo as Sabel’s ex-boyfriend, and even Jim Pebanco as the wayward priest (I just don’t know how the Catholic Church would react the way he blabbers about Sabel’s secrets—all revealed within the confines of the confessional box)…” – Butch Francisco, The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

2003 – Cherrie Pie Picache for “Bridal Shower” – “…Cherry Pie has won two Best Actress awards from the Urian, first for the comedy “Bridal Shower” in 2003, and then for “Foster Child” in 2007. Both movies were directed by Jeffrey Jeturian. Cherry Pie won the same award (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) for “Bridal Shower” from the Golden Screen Awards (given by the Entertainment Press Society) and in 2007, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (drama) for “Foster Child.” These were Cherry Pie’s first awards from the distinguished award-giving bodies. In addition to that, she also won the Best Supporting Actress award from the Golden Screen Awards in 2006 for her outstanding performance in “Twilight Dancers.” Cherry Pie’s latest film project is “Isda,” which is about a woman who gives birth to a fish. The movie is being directed by Adolf B. Alix Jr., who also directed “Donsol,” “Kadin,” “Presa,” “Muli” and other noteworthy indie films…” – Crispina Martinez-Belen (READ MORE)

2001 – Rosanna Roces for “La Vida Rosa” – “…I’m not saying this only because we work together in a television show. If you don’t believe me, see the movie yourself once it opens in downtown theaters within the next few weeks and I think you will agree with me that she had already ensconced herself as one of the best actresses in Philippine movies because of this film. Insome of her scenes, in fact, she reminds me of a young Rosa Rosal (one of the greatest we have) in the classic film, Anak-Dalita. Actually, even in her old, sex films like Basa sa Dagat and Patikim ng Piña, Rosanna was already showing flashes of brilliance – which was quite a feat considering that those movies were, well, trashy and exploitative. Fortunately, she had her chance to redeem herself as an actress in Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin and in Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya under the guidance of Carlos Siguion Reyna. In fact, I thought that those two films would already be the pinnacles of her film career. I was wrong. Here in La Vida Rosa, she even gives an even more sterling (and far more colorful) performance compared to both Selya and Ligaya. Her best scene in the film is the part where she confronts Pen Medina and, later, drops one of her delicious trademark Osang one-liners. If only for this scene, La Vida Rosa is already worth watching…” – Butch Francisco, The Philippine Star, 06 September 2001 (READ MORE)

2000 – Gloria Romero for “Tanging Yaman” – “…As with all films that are inspired with overly good intentions, Tanging Yaman is enveloped by an atmosphere that predictably directs the narrative towards its amiable conclusion. From the light effects that drown the face of Romero during her moment of self-sacrifice that has been done and redone in various films for comedic effect to the use of mass songs to provide a sense of overt religiosity in the plot, the film is too littered with significant details that nearly push the film from being merely a portrait of a family nearly torn to pieces by greed and envy into a proselytizing sermon that seeks for its audience a result that is more likely achievable in a sharing session than inside the darkened halls of a movie theater. Thankfully, the film is balanced enough to be enjoyed even from the perspective of a viewer who has no intention of being pulled into religious didactics. It is exquisitely put together. Guillen, who has always laced her films with a certain sensuality that can only be fleshed out by a feminine mind, only subtly suggests that kind of sensuality here. In one scene, Hilda Koronel’s character talks of her dreams of travelling to the United States to her humble husband, dancing with her husband to the romantic song from the radio. The scene by itself seems very ordinary, but as framed by Guillen, and as acted by both Koronel and Delgado with enough levels of playfulness and domestic mischief, it results in something subtly sweet and tender…” – Oggs Cruz (READ MORE)

1996 – Sharon Cuneta for “Madrasta” – “…Madrasta is very special to me. It was not only my first time to work with Star Cinema, it was also my first time to work outside Viva. Meaning it was the first movie I did without the professional advice of the people I grew up with, the people who have handled my career since Day One. It was the first time I ventured out on my own – made a decision solely by myself, for myself. And the gambit paid off. God has been so good…The first time I won at the Star Awards, I cried because when I looked at the audience, I saw fellow actors and actresses cheering me on. They were so happy to see me onstage. It felt good because I’m not really that close to them. It felt great because they were some of the best performers in the industry…It had a good effect on me. It didn’t change me as a person per se. But I think it changed something in me, in the sense that it inspires me to want to do better. Now, I am trying to find a way to take care of all the wonderful things I’ve been blessed with…” – The Movie Queen (READ MORE)

1995 – Helen Gamboa for “Bagong Bayani (OCW)” – “…This powerful docu-drama by Tikoy Aguiluz attempts to seek answers to the question raised by the murder of Delia Maga and the execution of Flor Contemplation – two of the countless Filipina OCWs who are forced to leave their children for better opportunities in life, only to end up lost and hlepless in hostile lands. The heartbreaking plight of the overseas contract workers is dramatized in the tragic tale of Flor Contemplacion – the Filipino domestic helper in Singapore convicted of murder and condemned to death. Accounts culled from reports of Amnesty International as well as classified info gathered in the Asian city-state itself are combined with actual footages and recreated scenes of events leading to the heroine’s execution…” – Database of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

1992 – Lorna Tolentino for “Narito ang Puso Ko” – “…The 48-year-old star is best remembered for having portrayed many strong characters in unforgettable movies like Maging Akin Ka Lamang, Nagbabagang Luha, and Narito Ang Puso Ko. But according to Lorna, she still found her role as Amanda in Sa ‘Yo Lamang challenging to do. “Ang role ng isang may asawa at ina ‘yun ang talagang hawig sa mga nagawa ko dati. Pero ‘yung role ko talaga na Amanda dito e kakaiba. Iba ang pinagdaanan niya kesa sa mga babaeng roles na ginawa ko. Si Amanda mas malalim na ‘yung pagiging ina niya, asawa, at bilang tao. Siyempre noon mas bata pa kami kaya kung ikukupara mo sa mga characters namin ngayon mas malalim na…” – Star Times (READ MORE)

1986 – Jaclyn Jose for “Takaw tukso” – “…Its sexual dynamics bears a striking resemblance to Scorpio Nights, Peque Gallaga’s 1985 film about a student bedspacer peeping through a hole on the floor and fancying the sight of a woman in her lingerie, whom he eventually sleeps with. Both movies depict the claws of darkness that hovers around the setting, particularly the bedroom, and in Takaw Tukso’s case, the car repair shop. These confined spaces breathe a life of their own and provide a distinct mood of claustrophobia. Debbie, Boy, Nestor, and Letty get trapped in some sort of black hole: they act according to their instincts and turn into animals when provoked. Lao is less conscious about the scruples of morality than the logic of dramaturgy, putting danger signs everywhere, and keeping track of each character’s misstep. Like most directors of Lao’s scripts, Pascual allows himself to be controlled and overpowered, yet there are crucial scenes in the film whose strength comes from his directorial command, most especially the confrontations among the four characters. The manner in which the acting is delivered to perfection—the vulnerability that warrants an explosion anytime—owes a lot to his discipline as a director…” – Richard Bolisay (READ MORE)

The Gawad Urian Awards are annual film awards in the Philippines held since 1977. It is given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the Filipino Film Critics) and is currently regarded as the counterpart of the United States’ New York Film Critics Circle. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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The Gawad Urian Through The Years 2/3

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The Best Actresses and their First Gawad Urian

1986 – Pilar Pilapil for “Napakasakit Kuya Eddie” – “…By the mid-’80s, Pilar agreed to do mother roles and was amply rewarded for her efforts. In 1986, she and Aga Muhlach played mother and son in the Lino Brocka film Napakasakit Kuya Eddie and were declared Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor the following year in the Urian. She also played mother to Lorna Tolentino in 1989 in another Brocka film, Kailan Mahuhugasan ang Kasalanan, and received an acting nomination from the Manunuri. (In 1997, she was excellent in her portrayal of a Mrs. Robinson type of character in Star Drama Theater Presents Diether)…” – The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

1986 – Anita Linda (supporting actress) for “Takaw tukso” – “…Anita Linda is the recipient of several acting awards, among them, Best Actress of the Maria Clara Awards in 1951 for Gerardo de Leon’s Sisa, where she played the title role, which she considers her most challenging and memorable. “Of course when I made Sisa…Sisa, the crazy woman, in our Noli Me Tangere written by Jose Rizal is a role I can’t forget. It’s my first award – the Maria Clara award…it’s very intense…Sisa in our history represents the Philippines itself (because) Sisa was …being maltreated by the Spanish…She represents the country itself, ‘yung kanyang pinagdaanan (what she had gone through). Iyon ang feeling ko (That was how I felt).” She again won critical acclaim in the role she played for director Lino Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Nguni’t Kulang (You Were Weighed But Found Wanting) 1974; Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa (Three, Two, One), 1974; and Jaguar 1979, the first Filipino film to compete at the Cannes Film Festival. Other leading films she had appeared in the 80s and 90s included Mike de Leon’s Sister Stella L., 1984; William Pascual’s Takaw Tukso (Flirting with Tempation), 1986; Chito Rono’s Itanong Mo sa Buwan (Ask the Moon), 1988; Brocka’s Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak (A Dirty Affair) 1990; and Mario O’Hara’s Ang Babae Sa Bubungang Lata (Woman on a Tin Roof)1998…” – Mila Astorga-Garcia, The Philippine Reporter, 16 September 2008 (READ MORE)

1985 – Nida Blanca for “Miguelito, Ang Batang Rebelde” – “…I did, however, have the privilege of writing the scripts for two movies in which she acted–Miguelito, ang Batang Rebelde (1985), where she played a young Aga Muhlach’s oppressed mother, and Tayong Dalawa, a few years later, where she played the comic foil as housemaid to career girl Sharon Cuneta. She won a raft of well-deserved awards for her performance in Miguelito, which was a relatively low-budget movie that the late Lino Brocka had been asked by Aga’s dad to do to launch his teenage son’s career, and which turned out to be one of my personal favorites among the 14 or 15 scripts I wrote for Lino…” – Butch Dalisay (READ MORE)

1982 – Vilma Santos for “Relasyon” – “…Noticeably ignored many times by the Manunuri, Vilma Santos was nominated for her sympathetic mistress role in Relasyon. She is up against Nora Aunor’s epical role for Himala, Gina Alajar and Lorna Tolentino’s feminist film Moral. The Manunuri surprised everyone by declaring Vilma Santos as their 7th best actress winner. The other award giving bodies (FAMAS, Film Academy of the Philippines, CMMA) also declared Vilma Santos as their best actress and the term “grand slam” were born in local entertainment industry. As for the other acting categories, Philip Salvador won the lead actor and Baby Delgado, supporting actress both for Cain At Abel, and Mark Gil won the supporting actor for Palipat-lipat, Papalit-palit. The Manunuri gave the Natatanging Gawad Urian to veteran actress, Anita Linda, who is still very active today. She starred in this year’s Venice Film Festival entry, Lola…” – RV (READ MORE)

1981 – Gina Alajar for “Brutal” – “…Alajar was already recognized for her acting talent even when she was a child star. In the mid—’70s, Sampaguita Pictures tried to launch her as a teen star via a remake of Cofradia, but this film bombed at the box-office. In 1980, Regal took a chance on her by re-launching her in Diborsyada, a certified box-office hit. While she gave a decent performance here (she’s always good at anything she does on screen), the very exploitative material that capitalized on her even then shaky marriage didn’t sit well with the critics. Two months after the commercially successful exhibition of Diborsyada, however, Brutal was entered in the Metro Filmfest and she won Best Supporting Actress for playing the liberated friend of the heroine (Amy Austria). In the Gawad Urian, a few months later, she was adjudged Best Actress for the same film and she was on her way to becoming one of the finest actresses produced by the Philippine movie industry. Salome – Prior to the 1981 Gawad Urian, Armida Siguion-Reyna, who produced Salome, was already predicting that Gina Alajar was going to be a runaway winner for Best Actress in this film. Armida didn’t have to be a psychic to know that because that was really an unbeatable performance that Ms. Alajar gave in this Laurice Guillen movie where she played a femme fatale. True enough, she was proclaimed Best Actress (the first to win two years in a row) by the Manunuri…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

1979 – Charito Solis for “Ina, Kapatid, Anak” – “…the film that defined her 1970s career was not an adult film, but a dramatic film, her specialty. Pitted with the “other dramatic empress” Lolita Rodriguez, she contrasted her usual acting style with Rodriguez’ restrained, quiet style in Ina, Kapatid, Anak (1979). At that time already acknowledged as Philippine Cinema’s Hall of Famer for Best Actress, Charito Solis showed her acting prowess in a way that did not swallow Rodriguez nor did not allow to be shadowed by Rodriguez’ subtle style. Come FAMAS time, she had another Best Actress nod but lost to Nora Aunor for Ina Ka ng Anak Mo, but the “other” awards, the Gawad Urian, granted her its Gawad para sa Pinakamahusay na Pangunahing Aktres (Best Actress). Interesting enough, her penchant for top-billing persisted: the usual tool for billing two actresses demanding top billing was employed (see left). She also appeared with Vilma Santos in Modelong Tanso, a pale competitor to Rodriguez’ and Nora Aunor’s Ina Ka ng Anak Mo. Because Vilma Santos was another actress known for her penchant with billing, the same tool was used…” – Gypsy Baldovino and Yolly Tiangco, Philippine Daily Inquirer; IMDb (READ MORE)

1979Amy Austria for “Jaguar” – “…The 49-year-old actress claimed spotlight after joining Lino Brocka’s “Jaguar” in 1979 where she won Gawad Urian best supporting actress award. Meanwhile, Austria’s outstanding performance for film “Brutal” made her clinched her first best actress award for Film Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) and Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). The pride of Tondo was part of notable movies “Hinugot sa Langit”, “Anak”, “Bagong Buwan”, “Muro Ami” and “Beautiful Life.” Aside from her drama classics, Austria joined several hit TV series including “Walang Kapalit”, “Bituing Walang Ningning” and “Pangako Sa’yo.” Austria was previously married to late actor Jay Ilagan. She later settled down with Filipino-Korean Duke Ventura…” – ABS-CBN News, 13 December 2010 (READ MORE)

1978 – Chanda Romero (supporting actress) for “Boy Pana” – “…The last time I bumped into Chanda Romero, she was socializing with friends at the Cebu Country Club. My niece, Rovi, asked me, “Le conoces (Do you know her)?,” after the award-winning Cebuana actress greeted me rather fondly. “Yes.” I replied. “We go back a long way.” I can’t remember which Joey Gosiengfiao or Elwood Perez film I first appeared in with Chanda, as the flamboyant filmmakers had the “habit” of casting me in their productions, either as a temperamental director or a bitchy movie critic. With Chanda, the film I remember most is Eddie Romero’s multigenerational tale, “Aguila,” shot in 1979 and considered the epic to end all screen epics. Fernando Poe Jr., then the country’s Box Office King, was cast as the lead character. Appearing with him and Chanda were many other screen luminaries, like Amalia Fuentes, Elizabeth Oropesa, Jay Ilagan, Christopher de Leon, Charo Santos, Orestes Ojeda, Joonee Gamboa and Roderick Paulate. (I think even Aga Muhlach appeared in it as the young Ronnie)…” – Behn Cervantes, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 09 July 2011 (READ MORE)

1978 – Beth Bautista for “Hindi Sa Iyo Ang Mundo, Baby Porcuna” – “…If Zialcita was the master of improvisation on the set, he also had the knack for casting the right actors, choosing the right material, and pleasing his producers. One of his favorite actors was Dindo Fernando whom he termed “the compleat actor” and cast him in such movies as Langis at Tubig, Karma, Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan, Mahinhin at Mahinhin, its sequel Malakas, si Maganda at si Mahinhin and Ikaw at ang Gabi which gave Dindo his first Urian Best Actor trophy. Other favorites were Vilma Santos cast in Karma, T-Bird at Ako, Langis at Tubig; Pinky de Leon; Laurice Guillen; Ronaldo Valdes; and Beth Bautista who won Best Actress award in Hindi sa Iyo ang Mundo Baby Porcuna…” – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Star, 12 May 2008 (READ MORE)

1977 – Daria Ramirez for “Sino’ng Kapiling, Sino’ng Kasiping” – “…“…The 70s saw the rise of several talented and sexy stars besides the so-called Crown Seven beauties namely Chanda Romero, Elizabeth Oropesa, Daria Ramirez, Alma Moreno, Lorna Tolentino, Beth Bautista and Amy Austria. Stars like Vivian Velez, Leila Hermosa, Carmen Ronda, Barbara Luna, Janet Bordon, Trixia Gomez and Rio Locsin also made their mark in the movie world in the 70s. They were launched to stardom though most of them had a brief and short movie career…” – Simon Santos, Video 48 (READ MORE)

1976 – Yvonne (supporting actress) for “Ligaw na bulaklak” – “…Yvonne, one of the most daring stars during the “bomba” films period in the 1970s, is back on the movie screen after 30 years. Yvonne, who was named best supporting actress by the Gawad Urian in 1976 for her performance in Ishmael Bernal’s “Ligaw na Bulaklak,” finished shooting an independent film with Eddie Garcia and Boots Anson Roa about senior citizens. Directed by Neal “Buboy” Tan, “Talo, Tabla, Panalo” features Yvonne, 59, in the role of a nun. “Imagine, madre ang role ko. Hindi ba kapani-paniwala?” Yvonne said in an exclusive interview with Yvonne gained notoreity when she walked to a movie house in Manila during the pre-Martial Law days in her naked glory and proclaimed to all and sundry that she shaves her pubic hair….” – ABS-CBN News, 04 July 2012 (READ MORE)

1976 – Maya Valdez (supporting actress) for “Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules, Huwebes, Biyernes, Sabado, Linggo” – “…Actor and singer; her roots began in the theatre, working as props person, costume mistress, and stage manager before she became an actor. She won acclaim for her acting and singing as Magdalene in the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), directed by Behn Cervantes. She made her mark as a comedian in the television shows Super Laff-ins (1971-72); Cleofatra (1974); Champoy (1980) and U.F.O. (Urbana, Felisa, and Others) (mid-1980s). After a period of lull in her career, she appeared in the musical stand-up comedy act Tit for Tat (1984-85), the first in the string of hit shows with singer-comedian Nanette Inventor. Valdes’ first appearances in the movies were in roles, which displayed her comedic prowess, like Hoy, Wala Kang Paki and Anomalya ni Andres de Saya. She showed she was equally good as a dramatic actor in films such as Oro Plata Mata (1982) and then in Bulaklak sa City Jail (1984). She showed she could combined her considerable talents as actress and singer in her highly praised performance as Katy de la Cruz in the hit musical Katy! (1988), staged at the Rizal Theatre and later at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo, under the direction of Nestor U. Torre. Valdes won the best supporting actress award from the Urian for the Lino Brocka film, Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules, Huwebes, Biyernes, Sabado, Linggo in 1976. At present she is the president of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM)…” – he Performers’ Rights Society of the Philippines (READ MORE)

1976 – Nora Aunor for “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” – “…The Manunuris further enhanced their image as “champions of the underdog” with the following selections: bomba star Yvonne, as best supporting actress (Ligaw na Bulaklak); stage actress Maya Valdez, as best supporting actress (Lunes, Martes. . .), and villain-type Ruel Vernal, as best supporting actor (lnsiang). The most significant choice, however, was Nora Aunor, who was voted best actress for her performance in “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos” (directed by Mario O’Hara). The Manunuri can claim without blushing that the Urian made Nora Aunor and Nora Aunor made the Urian. Her winning emphasized the group’s complete disregard for stereotypes. Aunor’s image as “bakya” idol had typecast her as a non-actress, but this did not hinder the Manunuri’s collective judgment that she had the makings of a serious actress. With her triumph, the critics clarified their standard of performance and accidentally won over the obstinate movie scribes…” – The Urian Anthology 1970-79 (READ MORE)

The Gawad Urian Awards are annual film awards in the Philippines held since 1977. It is given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the Filipino Film Critics) and is currently regarded as the counterpart of the United States’ New York Film Critics Circle. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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The Gawad Urian Through The Years 1/3

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1977 – 2002 – “…When the first Gawad Urian was staged in late February 1977, the awards presentation was held at the CCP Little Theater which has a seating capacity of about 700 people (if I’m not mistaken). The awards show had no TV coverage and the first time a television producer dared to touch it was only in 1980 – when Armida Siguion Reyna bought the TV rights for P25,000 (quite a sum in those days). Armida – I’d like to say again – was one of the few producers who did not rip off the Manunuri members (who all have a bad business sense) when it came to financial dealings. In 1983, the Gawad Urian was moved to the Manila Film Center (a mild earthquake shook the city as Best Actress winner, Vilma Santos, walked into the venue). The awards show was produced by a civic organization and I was told (I was not a member yet that time) that this group didn’t bother to pay the Manunuri members for the TV coverage. The following year, the awards presentation was moved to the Rizal Theater, but I’m not sure if that was ever televised. The late Pio de Castro’s wife, the former Joy Soler (the Manunuri First Lady) supposedly stopped the TV coverage because the producer had not given any downpayment minutes before showtime. The awards night returned to the CCP Little Theater in 1985 despite the then oppositions’ call to boycott the Imelda Marcos venues. On the Manunuri’s 10th year in 1986, the awards show was held at the Philamlife Theater because – for the first time – it was held on the month of May and CCP is always closed for renovation during this month (The awards presentation was delayed because of the events before and after EDSA). It was back to the CCP Little Theater the following year, but the year after that, there was no Urian because some (only some) members of the group didn’t think there was any film worthy of an award. The Catholic Mass Media Awards held its own awards night, but did not name a Best Picture that year. After a year’s absence, the Urian returned in 1989 and the show was produced by Dr. Grace Javier Alfonso, who – two years later – would join the group as a member (Starting with her, the Manunuri never had problems anymore collecting payments for TV rights). In 1990, the group took a deep breath and staged the awards presentation at the CCP main theater. To the surprise of even the members, the venue was filled to capacity. The producer that year was Tessie Celestino Howard and she would produce it for the next 12 years. During those 12 years, I have to say that Tessie (with the help of director Al Quinn) did a wonderful job producing the Urian awards night. …” – Butch Francisco, The Star, 11 May 2002 (READ MORE)

Numerous ‘TIEs” – “…On May 1, 1976, ten Filipino critics agreed to discuss the annual award-giving situation in the local industry. All in agreement that there must be an alternative to FAMAS, the only award giving body in the Philippines. The ten critics, mostly academics, were Pio de Castro, Behn Cervantes, Pete Daroy, Mario Hernando, Bien Lumbera, Doy del Mundo, Manny Pichel, Nick Tiongson, Gino Dormiendo, and Nestor Torre. Most of them were part of FAMAS roster of judges. Most, questioned the recent years winners. According to the website, Wikepedia: “The 1972 Best Actress tie that materialized between major star Boots Anson-Roa and then-rising star Vilma Santos” was a good example of the disillusionments experience by the academics. “…the tie was unheard of at that time, which resulted in accusations of lessening prestige on the part of FAMAS.” Ironically, Gawad will have numerous ‘tie” winners in their future set of winners, including a string of ‘tie” involving their early favorite, Nora Aunor. Headed by Nestor Torre, the nine critics agreed to review films and release quarterly citations of best films with the final nominations and winners announce at the end of the year. Over the years, the Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino (Filipino Film Critics) considered the equivalent of the United States’ New York Film Critics Circle, established themselves as the most credible award giving bodies in the Philippines. They are known for having a long discussion for each of their award categories resulting sometimes in heated debate and unfortunately the unavoidable “tie” between nominees. Since 1976, the group has eluded controversies that rival groups endured. The oldest award, FAMAS has experienced two renegade or break away groups resulting in costly legal battles and low television ratings. Another group, the Philippine Movie Press Club is considered second to Gawad Urian, Star Awards had experience a similar fate, they also had a break away group, creating their own awards, the Golden Screen Awards. With the advent of new awards, now ten, and still counting. Gawad Urian remained strong and the most sought after. Currently, the Manunuri are consists of: Rolando B. Tolentino, Grace Javier Alfonso, Butch Francisco, Mario A. Hernando, Bienvenido Lumbera, Miguel Q. Rapatan, Benilda S. Santos, Dr. Nicanor G. Tiongson, Tito Genova Valiente and Lito B. Zulueta…” – RV (READ MORE)

Pang-FAMAS vs Pang-Urian – “…It was in 1977 that the Manunuris began assigning movies for viewing to each member, to make sure‘that the group would not miss any of the 150 or so films being produced every year. The critics watched on their own time and budget, and recommended for group viewing any film which had any merit at all. To systematize the listing of films the group felt had achievements in any artistic or technical aspect, the MPP began to come out with their quarterly list of citations. 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 Urian Anthology 1970-79 (READ MORE)

First Televised – “…It was in 1978 when the MPP reached out towards a larger audience. For one, that year’s Urian awards was televised, giving the Gawad Urian a greater impact on the public and introducing the Manunuris to a bigger audience. For another, it was the year when the Manunuris launched the Urian Film Festival. Co-sponsored by the Cultural Research Association of the Philippines, a group of teachers and scholars of Philippine culture, the festival aimed to show the possibilities of the Filipino film to students of the U.P. and the Ateneo (most of whom ignored the “bakya” Filipino film), and to convince them to support it. Before each screening of the eight Urian-Award-winning films, a Manunuri read a critique of the film explaining to the audience the merits of the film which made it win an Urian award. Eight award-winning films of the first two Urian years composed the line-up of the first Urian Film Festival, while the second film festival held in 1980 included some films nominated that year…” – The Urian Anthology 1970-79 (READ MORE)

Lino Brocka’s Rejection – “…The most severe attack on the Manunuris, however, came at the 1979 Awards night when Lino Brocka ascended the stage not to receive the directorial award for Jaguar, but to reject it. Reading from a prepared speech, he accused the group of prejudice, saying that “under the guise of impartiality they practice their prejudices anyway.” It is more difficult, he said, to combat prejudice than corruption. You can fight money with more money, but how can you, he asked, fight prejudice? He then refused all further awards and nominations from the Manunuris. The magazine and newspaper articles that came out on Lino Brocka’s rejection of the Urian Awards for the next so many months did the Manunuri a lot of good. First, it made the MPP realize that the attack was partly due to the fact that most Manunuris were no longer writing, so that the opinions of the few Manunuris were taken to be the group stand on films reviewed. Second, far from degrading the group, Lino Brocka made the Manunuri a household word….” – The Urian Anthology 1970-79 (READ MORE)

Noranians vs Vilmanians – “…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…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…” – Butch Francisco, The Star, 09 May 2002 (READ MORE)

The Gawad Urian Awards are annual film awards in the Philippines held since 1977. It is given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (the Filipino Film Critics) and is currently regarded as the counterpart of the United States’ New York Film Critics Circle. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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1998 Gawad Urian and Star Awards

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Vilma, Nida Share top acting honors – “…Vilma Santos shared the coveted Movie Actress of the Year award with Nida Blanca in last Saturday’s Star Awards, the local counterpart of Hollywood’s Golden Globe, at a jampacked UP Theater in Diliman, Quezon City. Santos was honored for her role in Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa?, a movie written for the screen by Lualhati Bautista based on her own novel and directed by Chito Roño for Star Cinema. Blanca, meanwhile, won her acting trophy for her role in the obscure Sana Pag-ibig Na by first-time director Jeffrey Jeturian for Golden Harvest. The two bested three other nominees: Elizabeth Oropeza (Tasulok), Rosanna Roces (Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya), and Sharmaine Arnais (Sagad sa Init). In the male actor category, the members of the Philippine Movie Press Club gave Cesar Montano his second acting trophy for playing Dr. Jose Rizal in the multi-million peso production Jose Rizal that Marilou Diaz-Abaya made for GMA Films. It was an expected win that no one, even the other nominees in the Movie Actor of the Year: Raymond Bagatsing (Kriminal ng Baryo Concepcion), Ricky Davao (Ang Lalake sa Buhay ni Selya), Richard Gomez (Babae sa Bintana), and Eric Quizon (Pusong Mamon). Montano won the same honors in the Metro Manila Film Festival. Apart from the Actor of the Year, Jose Rizal bagged eight other trophies including Movie of the Year. Star also honored the film in directing (Diaz-Abaya), acting (Jaime Fabregas, in supporting role), screenplay adapted from another material (Ricky Lee, Jun Lana, and Peter Ong Lim), production design (Leo Abaya), film editing (Jess Navarro and Manet Dayrit), music scoring (Nonong Buencamino).

Jose Rizal is only the second movie produced by the fledgling GMA Films and cost the new movie outfit some P80 million, making it the most expensive film made in this part of the globe. It already grossed to date, according to reports, close to a hundred million. Sa Pusod ng Dagat, its first venture into serious film making, didn’t have much luck in the box office, but won Star honors in the original screenplay category for writier Jun Lana and cinematography Romy Vitug. Star Cinema’s bet for major awards, Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa?, seemed to have failed to impress the movie press. It only collected three trophies, for Santos’ performance and the two child actors Serena Darlymple, proclaimed New Movie Actress of the Year, and Carlo Aquino cited as Child Performer of the Year…The Star Awards for Movies is handed out annually by the Philippine Movie Press Club, It kind…Starting as an alternative to the macho-dominated Famas 15-years ago, it eventually became the event to watch. During its early years, its choices caused a lot of raised eyebrows, especially among the more academically equipped group of movie writers and critics. Fractured by a split in membership when a faction opted to take a leave and eventually resign amid a feud between the writers’ group and ABS-CBN last year, the remaining members of the PMPC remained undaunted. These days, there seem to be peaceful co-existence between the group and the network that questioned publicly its credibility in handing out awards of excellence. Last Saturday marked the return of Star Cinema;s acknowledgement of PMPC and Star Awards as something the industry can do without. Representatives from the film company accepted the trophies for winners who failed to make it to the show, like Carlo Aquino. In contrast to the conciliatory moves of Star Cinema;s management, actors, and technicians whose chances of victory are uncertaine chose not to make an appearance.

Movie Actress of the Year nominee Rosanna Roces was nowhere in sight. So was Richard Gomez. Even Movie Supporting Actress winner Anita Linda didn’t bother to come and accept her trophy. Yet, others showed their support to the PMPC by their sheer presence, making the Star Awards still the most star-studded annual awards show were Christopher de Leon, Pops Fernandez, Regine Velasquez, Daisy Ryes, Keempee de Leon, Geneva Cruz, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Troy Montero, Ralion Alonzo, Vina Morales, Carol Banawa, Jolina Magdangal, and Antoinette Taus who performed in the usual musical numbers and broke the monotony of the awards. Other probably came for the P10,000 cash prize for the Male and Female Star of the Night Award given to those the PMPC members decided looked best during the show. And the award went to Albert Martinez and Glydel Mercado. Some members of the audience though thought Sunshine Cruz in a see-through gown looked more fabulous. Starlet Bernadette Allyson also attracted attention and won Fairest Skin of the Night. And Eric Quizon was voted Darling of the Press. Quizon was also one of the hosts of the show. Joining him were Ronnie Ricketts and Vilma Santos whose fans punctuated the show with screams, cheers and applause. A female fan was reportedly escorted out of the theater by security guards aftersome members fo the audience complained that she has making too much noise. If the Vilmanians were rowdy, the Noranians was the opposite side of the theater were ferocious. They trooped to the theater when they learned Nora Aunor would make an appearance to present the Ulirang Artista Award to her friend Caridad Sanchez. They broke in wild cheers when their idol chilled out of the stage wing and stood on the right end of the stage. Vilma was on the opposite side waiting for her cue to introduce Nora. It was all right until the Mayor of Lipa announced Nida Blanca instead.

The Noranians were irked and incensed and objected with catcalls. Vilma was compelled to make a public apology, saying she was merely reading a cue card given to her by the show’s writer. Nora was also the recipient of a special award, cited by the PMPC for bringing the local movie industry honors in international film festivals. She won Best Actress at Penang, Malaysia for her role in 1997’s Bakit May Kahapon Pa? The superstar’s acceptance speech was short, saying only, “Maraming salamat!” Many speculated that she must have been incensed by the earlier faux pas committed by her perennial rival. In justifying the mistake, the PMPC said that Nora was not really expected to arrive. But they were glad she made it. In case she didn’t, Nida Blanca had agreed to make the presentation of the Ulirang Artista Award which was already written on the cue card. The question though remained, “Didn’t Vilma notice Nora coming in?” If she didn’t she should have taken the cue from the screams of the Noranians. The incident reignited the heated rivalry of these two stars and made the Star Awards a peewee exciting…” – Isah V. Red, Photographs by Mike de Juan, Manila Standard, Mar 14, 1999 (READ MORE)

Urian’s Choices“…Another major upset was Nida Blanca’s failure to clinch top acting honors. Her perfromance in Sana Pag-ibig Na by another first-time director Jeffrey Jeturian was considered by many worthy of an Urian trophy and could give popular choice Vilma Santos a tough time in all of the awards this year. Blanca shared the same honors with the Mayor of Lipa City earlier in Star Awards. Seventy-six-year-old-actress Mona Lisa was this year’s recipient of Natatanging Gawad Urian presented to her by Insiang co-star Ruel Vernal and Manunuri’s Grace Javier Alfonso. The actress recent work is a role in Nick DeOcampo’s Mother Ignacia. This is the 22nd year the Manunuri group have been handing out trophies to honor outstanding work of actors, directors, writers, film editors, sound engineers and music scorers in Filipino movies…The show looked like most local awards shows with musical numbers that has no relevance to the film medium punctuating the monotony of introducing the nominees and annoucing the winners. Rosanna Roces’ licentious humor somehow livened up the perfunctory intros of presentors and performers. Osang was resplendent in an off-shoulder tangerine ballroom gown at the beginning and changed into a heavily beaded and sequined pience with partly see-through skirt. Many in the audience wondered if she was wearing a wig. With Osang as co-hosts were a slimmer Rustom Padilla and Albert Martinez who was struggling with an astma attack and had to leave even before the show was over.

The stage was dressed up like a courtyard with facade of turn of the century houses as background. Rep. Imee Marcos presented the five nominated pictures wearing initally an outfit made from indigenous fibers and then later a Filipiniana-inspired two-piece number…As usual in local award shows, the bigger stars come in very late, just in time for the annoucement of the nominations in their respective category. Vilma Santos came in at 10:30 p.m. escorted by husband and Batangas congressman Ralph Recto and followed by an entourage of bodyguards and her personal assistants. In her acceptance speech, she apologized for her tardiness saying she had to attend the graduation from high school of Luis Philip Manzano, aka Lucky, her son by former husband Edu Manzano. She also announced that the follwing day, her son by Ralph, Ryan Christian Recto, would be celebrating his birthday. Vilma’s fans once more showed their undying support for their idol, screaming at every instance the actress’ name is mentioned and holding up paper placards, on which they screamed their affection for her. When her name was announce winner of the most coveted award, they went gaga jumping out of their seats to cheer her as if they were watching a basketball game. This is the kind of awards show that somehow masks the sad realities in an industry struggling to survive the worst economic crisis ever and the continued and growing alienations of the middle class now more inclined to watch English-language movies from Hollywood on either the VHS and DVD formats in the comfort of their airconditioned bedrooms….” – Manila Standard, Mar 31, 1999 (READ MORE)

2000 Gawad Dekada

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Gawad Dekada “…The Gawad Dekada will also name the top actors and actresses of the ’90s. In the running are the Gawad Urian best acting winners in lead and supporting roles. They include Vilma Santos (“Ipagpatawad Mo,” “Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story,” and “Bata, Batra”)…Expect the Nora Aunor-Vilma Santos rivalry to heat up to the Gawad Dekada. It is without question the two dominated the ’90s as far as the Gawad Urian was concerned, with each winning three best actress plums that decade. It is notable, however, that on two of those three occassions, Nora had to share the trophy with another actress – in 1993 with Helen Gamboa, who essayed Flor Contemplacion in Tikoy Aguiluz’s “Bagong Bayarni” (quite an irony sice Nora won her trophy for playing the same role in Joel Lamangan’s “The Flor Contemplacion Story), and in 1996 with Sharon Cuneta, who won for Madrasta (Nora won for “Bakit May Kahapon Pa?”). In contrast, Vilma did not share her trophies with anyone. But as one critic of the critics said, those were the rare times when the Manunuri made up their minds. In most instances, they couldn’t. That’s why the Gawad Urian has become noted for its surprising ties, which aren’t surprising anymore…” – Marinel R. Cruiz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, March 18, 2001 (READ MORE)

Freedom of Expression – While the country’s film critics protested the current clampdown on freedom of expression, movie stars, led by the inimitable Rosanna Roces, had a ball poking fun at the system during the recent Urian awards night. Osang, the evening’s lone female host, brimmed with naughty retorts and double entendres on and off the air while hosting the five-hour show with filmdoms’s leading heartthrobs led by Richard Gomez. Goma also expressed his indignation by wearing a black armband like the rest of the members of Manunuri. Other hosts in the stellar lineup were Diether Ocampo, Rustom Padilla and Dingdong Dantes. “Do you want me to stage a live show, Diet (Ocampo)? Osang, clad a revealing white gown by Maxi Cinco, asked in Filipino. “Please, no,” said Diether, feigning alarm. “Let’s just introduce our next set of nominees who are good at cutting films. And they’re not from MTRCB, Osang.” Diether was acturally referring to contenders in the best editing category. Speaking of cuts outrageously high to reveal her ample waist and thighs. A thin rhinestone-studded belt held the dress together. Photographers scrambled for the best positions as Osang emerged in Cinco’s creations. She earlier wore a more decent red gown by Rajo Laurel that covered her vital statistics. But trust Osang not to let the ngiht past without ruffling the feathers of “moral terrorists,” as former MTRCB chair and Manunuri member Nicanor Tiongson described his detractors. Osang tried to appear nonchalant at first, but seeing the swarm of photographers pointing their cameras her way during a commercial break, she gamely tilted her body to one side to reveal her flawless gams. “O, sige na nga,” she giggled, before a burst of flashbulbs greeted her. “This is waht you call freedom of expression,” she winked, as she leaned again to reveal her other side. Richard, who was beside her, could only smile and shake his head.

Five-minute break – Members of the Manunuri deemed it wise to give themselves and their guest a five-minute break halfway into the nearly five-hour show. It was the first time in our long years of covering such marathon events that both fans and celebrities received such courtesy. All of them, of course, show a deep respect for Filipiniana and the performing arts. This was literally reflected in a stage featuring a Filipino-Spanish inspired home, garden and trellis covered with real and artificial greens. Gardeners later took advantage of a lull in the show to sprinkle the plants. A number of the Manunuri members reportedly protested the producer’s choice of Ruffa Gutierrez, who annotated the Gawad Dekada in taped snippets during certain portions of the show. Principled souls were said to have deemed Ruffa, who was embroiled in theinfamous Manila Film Festival scam seven years ago, unacceptable. Lorna Tolentino, also a taped annotator like Ruffa, was said to have declined the job soon after learning that she wasn’t in the best circle. Friends and supporters reportedly prevailed upon her to put her tampo aside.

Noranians vs Vilmanians – As usual, die-hard Noranians and Vilmanians managed to sneak in despite the presence of ushers and usherettes. Their admiration for their respective idols again degenerated into a shouting match. Both Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos were recipients of the Gawad Dekada for winning the highest number of best actress awards during the past decade – three each. Vilma caused a pandemonium as her eager fans cheered her arrival. Vilmanians positioned themselves on the left side of the theater, while Noranians, wearing identical aqua T-shirts, later occupied the other side. Richard egged them on. “Don’t worry, the other camp (Nora) is expected to arrive, too,” he said in Taglish. Rustome further fanned the rivalry by asking each of them to make their presence felt as he pointed from one group to another. Ofcourse, they lost no time shouting at the top of their lungs. Talent manager Douglas Quijano was rudely interrupted when Nora, wearing a black suit, marched into theater followed by her rowdy band of loyalists. They shouted and waved aqua banners at the mere mention of Nora’s name. A big placard held by one of the Superstar’s supporters screamed, “We love you, Ate Guy!!! – GANAP.” “Nora! Nora! Nora! they chanted like a mantra as she went up the stage to recieve her Gawad Dekada. Vilmanians didn’t take things sitting down. They also carried a set of similar posters that formed their idol’s name and a tagline, “D Real Queen.” Several diehards even held aloft campaign posters of senatorial wannabe Ralp Recto, Vilma’s better half. Noranians were stilled as Vilma, in a semi-beaded aqua gown that ironically matched the T-shirts worn by her archrival’s admirers, went onstage. It was the Star for all Season’s fans’ turn to chant her name: “Vilma! Vilma! Vilma!” For a few moments, members of the Manunuri dropped their clenched fists as people inside the theater became too enthralled by the spectacle. Not even Osang’s glib tongue and outrageous outfit could probably match that. – Alex Y. Vergara, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 02, 2003 (READ MORE)