FILM REVIEW: Kampanerang Kuba’s religious rituals and miracles

Kampanerang Kuba started with Andang (Vilma Santos), a hunch back bell-ringer running away from the people in the market. She was accuse of stealing. When she got back from the church (where she lives and work), she was confronted and physically assaulted by Tateng (Celia Rodriguez) for no justifiable reason. Thankfully, Father Damian, the old sick priest intervened. He has long been her protector. Andang felt sad when she found out that Father Damian is leaving. On his absence, a young priest, Father Agaton (Edgar Mortiz) will take over. Aside from ringing the bell, Andang clean and feed the piglets (owned by Ellen and Tateng, they are the church’s caretakers). She normally eats with her bare hands while talking to her patron saint, Saint Martin. She talks and treats the idol along side the church’s bell towers like they are humans. Meanwhile, Tateng, the daughter of the head caretaker, Ellen (Patria Plata), is a sex maniac who loves to abuse Andang. She also seduce men in exchange of material things like jewelry.

One time Andang caught Tateng having sex with Crispin (Dindo Fernando) inside the church, when Tateng found out that she was around, she physically abuse her. Then the following day, while feeding the piglets, Tateng verbally abuse her. Andang retaliate and the two had mud-wrestling inside pig pen. Tateng’s mother Ellen was about to join the fight when Father Agaton arrived and intervened. The next day, a group of women arrived and accused Tateng of accepting gifts from their husband that they own. When Tateng overheard the loud complaints, she quickly went to Andang and pretended she wanted to make amends and gave her a necklace. When the group of women finally faced Tateng, she lied and told them to look for the jewelry at Andang.

The women then went to Andang and accused her of stealing. Afraid of her safety, Andang went to the church’s roof telling them that if they will not stop, she will jump. Tateng convinced Andang not to jump and that she is her friend. The trusting Andang came back and was welcome by the women with physical assaults. They tied her down with a long rope and dragged her on the ground until Crispin, who riding the horse (where Andang was tied down) reached the town’s mountain hill where he threw Andang’s lifeless body. When Andang miraculously regained consciousness, she was seen talking to her patron saint, Saint Martin. He blessed her and was able to bring her back to the church. There, she was blessed by the Virgin Mary. A holy miracle happened, flower petals falls down from the sky and holy lights beams Andang. She slowly changed from the ugly hunch back girl into a beautiful woman. As turned out she became Sandra Belmonte. A woman long gone and who were once the topic of town gossips. Sandra’s two sister found her into the church the next day. Surprised and very thankful, they brought her back to their big home. Andang now assumed the identity of Sandra. Sandra as it turned out has suitor, Roel (Ernie Garcia) who she didn’t like. She also discovered that she missed her life as Andang and now sure that she is in love with Father Agaton.

Can’t control her feelings anymore, she went to the church for the Catholic ritual of confession. And with Father Agaton, she confess her love for him. Tateng overheard this, and coerced the priest to have sex with her in exchange for her silence but failed. In retaliation, she spread this information to the town’s people. Headed by Tateng’s admirer, Max Alvarado, the priest was confronted by the angry people. The priest denied the affair. The town’s people decided to tied the priest into a post and burn him. This is because the priest doesn’t want leave the church. When Sandra who was with Roel, discovered what was happening, she luckily escape madness and went inside the church to pray to Saint Martin. Her pray were answered by the sudden ringing of the church’s bells followed by a loud thunder. It started to rain killing the fire and saving the poor priest. It was a miracle. Tateng’s sinful mind cleared and she ask Father Agaton’s forgiveness, who gladly obliged. Father Agaton then search for Sandra when her suitor Roel appeared. They both went to the church tower and saw Andang instead. The end.

Kampanerang Kuba’s convoluted long story maybe attributed to the original comics material written by Pablo Gomez. A good director should iron out all the unbelievable plots specially all the one-dimensional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that viewer might wonder why she is so mean. Also, with her tower-nesque beauty, why she decided to remained in a town where everything seems to be so trivial and everyone seems loves to gossip, even the men. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal wrote the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuriating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Andang. With limited dialogue, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos, both did what they can to portrayed their respective roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. She appeared to be gearing up for more versatile roles that requires her not to sing but to act. – RV

RELATED READING:
Kampanerang Kuba (1974)
Pinoy Classics Review: Kampanerang Kuba (1973)

Filmography: Phantom Lady (1974)

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Basic Information: Director: Leonardo L. Garcia; Writers: Cora M. Crisol (story), Nilo Saez (screenplay); Cast: Vilma Santos, Nick Romano, Paquito Diaz, Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia, Cristina Reyes, Max Alvarado, Angero Goshi, Angel Confiado, Bino Garcia, Greg Lozano, Francisco Cruz, Angelito, Steve Alcarado, Pons De Guzman, Edward Torres, Jack Montes, SOS Daredevils, Pmp Commandos; Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Ricardo Herrera; Production Co: Silver Film Productions; Released Date: 28 February 1974 (Philippines) (IMDB)

Plot Description: Blind Vilma fights bad guys as Phantom Lady!

Film Achievement: Box Office Hit of 1974

Film Review: “…There was a time in the 70s, particularly in 1973 and 1974, when a spate of Pinoy fantasy films featuring Pinoy superheroes graced our big screens. I think it was Vilma Santos’ Lipad Darna Lipad that started it all. It ushered in this wave of so-called trend in fantasy movies. Besides Darna, Vilma came up with Wonder Vi (1973), Phantom Lady (1974) and Vivian Volta (1974); Nora Aunor had Super Gee (1973) based on a popular komik serial; Superman and Batman had their local counterparts in Zoom, Zoom Superman (1973) with Ariel Ureta and Fight Batman Fight with Victor Wood. Vilma came out with another sequel of Darna titled Darna and the Giants, also in 1973; Dolphy had his own version of Captain Barbell in Captain Barbell Boom (1973). It was the movie, Supergirl (1973) which starred Pinky, that made a major impact among the moviegoers that time. It was a surprise hit that year. It was reshown several times due to insistent public demand…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

Filmography: Kampanerang Kuba (1974)

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Basic Information: Directed: Nilo Saez; Story: Pablo S. Gomez; Screenplay: Nilo Saez, Jose Flores Sibal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Celia Rodriguez, Dindo Fernando, Rosanna Marquez, Perla Bautista, Max Alvarado, Ernie Garcia, Tony Santos, Jr., Patria Plata, Metring David, Greg Lozano, Joaquin Fajardo, Steve Alcarado, Romy Luartes, Francisco Cruz, Carmen Romasanta, Danny Rojo, Edwin Cruz, SOS Daredevils, P I Boys; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo

Plot Description: Kampanerang Kuba (lit. Hunchbacked Lady Bellringer) was a fantasy soap opera television series broadcast by ABS-CBN in the Philippines. It was inspired by 1973 film with same title, which was starred by Vilma Santos and Bobot Mortiz. It was tagged as Pinoy Disney. It was originally based from a comic book series written by Pablo Gomez. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Film adapted from comics written Pablo S. Gomez; Illustrated by Alex Nino for Planet Komiks, 1971; Remade into TV series in 2005 by ABS-CBN and starring Anne Curtis, Luis Manzano, Jomari Yllana with Edgar Mortiz and directed by Wenn Deramas, Andoy Ranay.

Film Review: Kampanerang Kuba’s convulated, long story maybe attributed to the original comics material of Pablo Gomez. A good director should ironed out all the twists and turns and all its one-dimenssional characters. For example, Celia Rodriguez character, Tateng. She is so masochistic that it is just right to know why she is so mean and that with her towernesque beauty, she decided to remained in the town where everything seems to be so tribial. Nilo Saez (with Jose Flores Sibal adapted the script) failed miserably in this regard. Shot in Nagcarlan Laguna, Kampanerang Kuba showcased the old Filipino beliefs in patron saints, religious rituals and miracles. It also demonstrates that people can be so cruel, can passed judgement, and can asked for forgiveness that quick when confronted with truth. All will be forgiving without taking into account all the harm that they have done. In the real world, these people will be punished. Celia Rodriguez seems to be wooden in so many scenes but equally infuririating when she started to do her verbal and physical abuse of Anda. With limited dialouge, a young Dindo Fernando portrayed Tateng’s lover convincingly. All the other supporting roles including Perla Bautista, Ernie Garcia and others gave a forgettable performances. About the two main lead, Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos did what they can to portrayed their roles. Edgar Mortiz seems to be trying very hard to be effective as the priest but acting is clearly not his forte. Would this be different if Jay Ilagan did this role? Vilma Santos succeed more with her solo scenes, talking to the patron saints and the bell tower, eating with her bare hands and trying to beautify her ugly face. – RV, (READ MORE)

“Despite of (or perhaps because of) her hideous appearance, she is held dear by the parish priest Padre Damaso but abhorred by the church caretaker, Edeng who maltreats her at every opportunity. Andang is ugly, ugly, ugly and deserves all the pain she can get…don’t think Mang Martin will give the miracle for free. Vilma emerges as the ugly hunchback Andeng! Sandra is gone! Death to fantasy!…” – Silver Screen Surfer, (READ MORE)

Feast for Eyes, Soul – “With only a little over an hour spent on the road, Lenten pilgrims can explore the heritage churches of Laguna province for the traditional “visita iglesia” (church visit) today. Laguna has 86 Catholic churches, 26 of these built between the 16th and 19th centuries. The churches give pilgrims glimpses of the Catholic faith’s beginnings and its role in the spiritual and cultural development of Laguna. Jerry Gaela, 51, a parish priest administering St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral in San Pablo City, said that while visita iglesia was not a required practice among Catholics, it was “additional devotion for personal and spiritual growth.” Visita iglesia is traditionally done on the night of Maundy Thursday when the Blessed Sacrament is displayed in the churches. People used to visit seven churches, but now, they would go to as many as 14 churches and pray at the Stations of the Cross. The spirit is “to accompany the Lord in his Passion,” Gaela said. These are seven of Laguna’s heritage churches worth a visit today…San Bartolome Apostol Church, Nagcarlan town, The baroque church, 15 km from San Pablo, was first built in 1583 using light materials. It was in 1752 when the second church was built from stone and brick. However, the structure was damaged by a fire in 1781. A choir loft was added when the church was rebuilt in 1845 by Rev. Vicente Velloc, who also built the nearby Nagcarlan underground cemetery. The church was featured in the 1974 film, “Kampanerang Kuba,” starring now Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, and the film’s 2005 television remake of the same title, starring Anne Curtis…” – Kimmy Baraoidan, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 April 2017 (READ MORE)

Filmography: King Khayam and I (1974)

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Basic Information: Directed: Cesar Gallardo; Story, screenplay: Nestor U. Torre Jr.; Cast: Joseph Estrada, Vilma Santos, Rod Navarro, Marissa Delgado, Lucita Soriano, Rossana Marquez, Lorli Villanueva, Ike Lozada, Anita Linda, Ruben Rustia, Greg Lozano, Jose Villafranca, Rudy Manlapaz, Avel Morado, Romy Nario, Robert Talby, Arturo Moran, Robert Miller, Delia Victorino, Carmen Romasanta, Elizabeth Vaughn, SOS Daredevils, Dondon Nakar, Winnie Santos, Princess, Big 3 Sullivans, Metring David, Bayani Casimiro, Mary Walter, Ronald Rei, Boy Marco; Executive producer: Espiridion Laxa; Original Music: Restie Umali, Levi Celerio

Plot Description: King Kayam’s search for another wife brought him the escapee, Princess Gracia. She doesn’t want to be wed to a man, she doesn’t love so she left her kingdom and ended up in King Kayam’s kingdom. They met and fell in love.

Film Achievement: Vilma and Joseph’s first film together as an adult actors and third overall. Their first film was “Batang Iwahig,” where Vilma was just a child star. The other film was “Dugo at Pag-ibig sa Kapirasong Lupa” where they did not share any screeen time.

Film Review: The film started promising with funny scenes of Joseph Estrada facing his people seeking his advice or help. One was when a man presented his new product, a flying magic carpet but when the carpet didnt fly, Estrada suggested a lighter weight rider. Then veteran actress and much younger, Mary Walter in a cameo role, brought her just bought magic lamp. She complained to the king that the seller fooled her to buy the lamp and wanted a refund. She then caress the lamp and the gennie came out but instead of the expected giant gennie, a midget dwarf came out. Then from this moment the film went downhill. A singing bird, a transexual Ike Lozada being auctioned, Rod Navarro’s over the top villain antics, all failed to sustained our attention. The weak storyline did not help. Patterned with the Hollywood film, King Kayam & I’s only saving grace was the acting of its lead stars. Joseph Estrada’s precense was commanding and convincing as the playboy king and Vilma’s charming innocense despite the sexy dance number at the end complimented Joseph’s macho image. The two did three films, although they didn’t shared a single scene in Dugo at Pagibig sa Kapirasong Lupa, King Kayam was their only film together as mature actors. Their first outing was Batang Iwahig, when Vi was just a childstar and Joseph was in his early years as a bankable action star. Produced by Experidion Laxa of Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Production, the film was just a mild hit, probably the main reason why there was no follow-up project for the two. Two reasons why the film failed was probably the cheap set decorations and the weak story/screenplay of Nestor U Torre, Jr. The song lyrics of Levi Celerio can’t salvaged the mostly canned music of Resti Umali either. This was despite the splendid musical number in the kitchen (when Vilma protested to the cooks that she was a princess and should be treated like one). Die-hard Vilmanians would probably considered Vilma’s dance number at the very end as the hightlight of the film. – RV, (READ MORE)

“…Naging very successful ang unang pagtatambal nina Vilma Santos at Joseph Estrada sa pelikulang King Khayam And I ng TIIP. Kahit bumabagyo ay hugos pa rin ang tao upang mapanood lang ang napabalitang pelikulang ito. Subalit nitong mga huling araw ng pagtatanghal ng nasabing pelikula, medyo naging mahina ang pasok ng tao. may nagsasabing talagang ganito lang ang panahon kapag magpapasko, sa halip na manood ýung iba, ipinamimili muna ng kanilang pamasko ang mga mahal nila sa buhay. At least, ang kaunting salaping gugugulin nila sa entertainment ay ipinagdaragdag nila sa kanilang Christmas savings…” – Levi, Modern Romances and True Confessions Magazine, 16 December 1974

Filmography: Basta’t Isipin Mong Mahal Kita (1975)

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Basic Information: Directed: Armando De Guzman; Cast: Vilma Santos, Eugene Torre, Panchito, Coney Reyes, Roldan Aquino, Teroy De Guzman, Teddy Blarmino, Ellen Esguerra, Ponga, Greg Lozano, Rhonna Mercado, Golay, Menggay, Marlyn Pastera, Ursula carlos; Theme Songs: “Isipin mong Mahal Kita” performed by Vilma Santos

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: No Available Data

Film Review: “…Eugene Torre: “…Medyo mahirap kasi (It was quite difficult because) I played a poor man and a rich man at the same time…I had to wear a tuxedo in some scenes then plain clothes the next. It was hard to make the switch…” – Manolo Pedralvez, Rappler, 28 June 2014 (READ MORE)

“…And so, to prove them wrong, Vilma’s manager smartly plotted follow-up recordings. Not only did Vilma record her follow-up album, she recorded a string of mini-LPs. Mini-LPs are shorter version of the big vinyl record with two songs on each side. She ventured into Tagalog songs, recording six songs that include instants hits like Isipin Mong Basta’t Mahal Kita, a theme song to a film she did opposite Filipino chess grand master, Eugene Torre; Palong-Palo, where she received a golden record award in 1974 and an up-tempo opm, Tok-Tok Palatok, another theme song from one of her comedy film with the same title opposite Jojit Paredes…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…Coney made her movie debut in “Return of the Dragon” in 1975. She has been hosted for Student Canteen since its first airing on GMA Network in 1975. In 1982, Coney Reyes left Studio Canteen for Eat Bulaga on RPN. In exchange, Chiqui Holmann-Yulo filled the slot vacated by Reyes. Coney’s hosting stint with Eat Bulaga opened more opportunities for her and has been co-starred with Dolphy, Fernando Poe Jr., Vilma Santos, Lorna Tolentino, Maricel Soriano, Helen Vela, Aiza Seguerra and Vic Sotto among others in several movies and TV programs…” – Wikipilipinas (READ MORE)

“Eugenio Torre (born November 4, 1951) is a chess Grandmaster (GM). He is considered the strongest chess player the Philippines has ever produced during the 1980s and 1990s period, following the heels of Fischer-era Filipino chess champions National Master (NM) Ramon Lontoc, International Master (IM) Renato Naranja, IM Rodolfo Tan Cardoso and GM Rosendo Balinas, Jr. Super GM Wesley So is currently the top Philippine chess player. GM Torre shot to prominence in 1976 as a possible future title challenger after winning a strong four-man tournament in Manila ahead of world champion Anatoly Karpov – thus becoming the first player to finish ahead of Karpov in a tournament since the latter became world champion. The high-point of his career came in the early 1980s when he was ranked world No.17; successfully going on to qualify to be a candidate for the world championship after tying for first with Lajos Portisch during the 1982 Toluca Interzonal. Torre has the distinction of being the first Asian player to earn the title of International Grandmaster. He qualified for the Candidates Matches for the 1984 World Championship. In that preliminary stage, the contenders play matches against each other to determine who will challenge the world champion. Torre was eliminated when he lost his match against Zoltán Ribli by a score of 6-4. After losing his quarter-final candidates match to Zoltán Ribli in 1983, Torre became disillusioned with chess and more or less went into semi-retirement. He went on to become a minor celebrity due to his daily one hour TV programme Chess Today…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Cariñosa (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Romy Susara; Story: Nestor Torre Jr.; Screenplay: Nestor Torre Jr.; Cast: Vilma Santos, Manny De Leon, Yoyoy Villame, Chanda Romero, Virginia Montes, Patria Plata, Ven Medina, Tito Arevalo, Ruth Farinas, Romeo Miranda, Elizabeth Vaughen, Doming Viray, Romy Luartes, Pons De Guzman, The Bordon Sisters, Greg Lozano, Beth Manlongat, Angelito; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin Lobo

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: Second Vilma Santos-Manny De Leon film.

Film Review: “…Besides teaming up with Edgar Mortiz during her teen years, Vilma Santos also starred and appeared in many movies opposite other leading men…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

“…He became the leading man of Nora Aunor after Tirso Cruz III. Theirs was also a popular tandem. Decades later, when I finally got to talk to Nora during an interview, she revealed that their working relationship wasn’t really all that pleasant. Manny disappeared from the scene when Nora moved on to become a more serious actress. Whatever happened to Manny de Leon? When last heard from — many, many years ago — it was full of speculations and, sadly, those bits of information about him were unpleasant…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

“…Romy Suzara comes back with Tinik. The film, which stars Raymond Bagatsing and Hayden Kho, tells the story of a middle-aged couturier who faces the many problems of being gay, and in the midst of all his struggles, tries to hold on to his own dignity. Romy rose to fame in the early ’70s with movies like Tatlong Mukha ni Rosa Vilma and Cariñosa, both starring Vilma Santos…” – The Philippine Star), 06 September 2013 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Dyesebel At Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story: Mars Ravelo; Cast: Vilma Santos, Romeo Miranda, Divina Valencia, Mina Aragon, Rossana Marquez, Chanda Romero, Joseph Sytangco, Elizabeth Vaughn, Patria Plata, Lito Calzado, Ricky Valencia, Greg Lozano, Chris Santos, Dave Esguerra, Romy Luartes, Doming Viray, SOS Daredevils; Original Music: Tito Arevalo; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Editing: Gervacio Santos; Art Direction: Honorato Dela Paz; Sound: Angel Avellana

Plot Description: A Mars Ravelo classic about a young mermaid named Dyesebel who lives in an undersea kingdom with other mermaids. They are outcasts, not wanted on earth, believing their presence is bad luck. But when she falls in love with a human being, she vows to do everything yto have legs and become a part of her earthly love’s world… even if it means risking her life. – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

One of the most popular and best-loved creatures of local folk mythology, Dyesebel is reincarnated in the person of winsome superstar Vilma Santos. The mermaid is driven from the deep sea literally into the arms of a mortal ashore, the good-looking and moreno Fredo, played by singer, Romeo Miranda, whose fascination for her turns to love. Against all odds, their love for each other is put to a series of tests as they face a shocked and disbelieving human society and the dangers and intrigues in dry land. A funny, sad, suspenseful, wonderful and infinitely entertaining movie. Also starring Ike Lozada, Mina Aragon, German Moreno, and Divina Valencia. Produced by Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions under the direction of Emmanuel H. Borlaza. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: 2nd Top Grosser of the 8th Manila Film Festival; Best Sound Recording – Angel Avellana

For the record: – “…FPJ Productions’ Ang Agila at ang Araw with a total gross receipt of P561,128 was adjudged the top grosser of the festival. Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions’ Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, the first day top grosser came in close second with P499,463. Roda Productions’ Nueva Vizcaya was third with P461,405…” – VIdeo48 (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…On Darna and Dyesebel. “Darna (she did four Darna movies) and Dyesebel were very difficult to do. I wore body stockings underneath the Darna costumes. Just before I was presented to the press in my Darna costume, Douglas Quijano, Alfie Lorenzo and William Leary convinced me that the body stockings didn’t look good and there was nothing to be afraid of because, I had good skin. I took off the stockings and since then I wore the Darna costume without them. Dyesebel was harrowing. It took 10 people to help me into the costume and out of it. If I needed to go to the toilet, they created a hole on the costume to make my life bearable. When I did these movies, we weren’t as wired as we are today. In Darna, I was tied and lifted to simulate flying. It was physically punishing…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

In the 1973 Dyesebel movie, Dyesebel lives in an undersea kingdom of mermaids far from the land of humans because the humans believe that the mermaids are the cause of misfortune. Dyesebel fell in love with a male human being. In order to be with the man that she likes, she swore to find a way to be transformed into a female human being. In the movie, “Si Dyesebel at Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe,” the role of Dyesebel was played by Vilma Santos and Fredo was played by Romeo Miranda. – Jun B (READ MORE)

“…1973’s Dyesebel (aka Si Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe, or “Dyesebel and the Magic Conch”) is what would today be referred to as a reboot, with beloved Filipino star Vilma Santos taking over in the title role. Mars Ravelo would make 1973 a very busy year for Santos, as she had also made her debut as Darna that year, in Lipad, Darna, Lipad!, and would go on to complete a second Darna feature before the year was out. As did the Darna pictures, this Dyesebel benefits greatly from the undeniable raw charm of Santos, who, in place of Edna Luna’s ethereal glamour, provides a likeable and approachable portrayal of the mermaid heroine as a loveable and trouble prone naïf. This new Dyesebel, directed by Emmanuel H. Borlazza, takes even further than its predecessor the idea of the mermaids as something feared and reviled by the human world. This is illustrated in a scene where a group of them comes ashore only to be met by a maniacal, sword-and-pitchfork wielding mob. A graphically violent fight follows, with much blood spilled and many a fin brutally slashed (I think that would count as “HMV” for “Human on Mermaid Violence”, for those keeping track.) In addition to this bracing infusion of gore, Dyesebel also welcomes us to the 1970s with a generous display of boobs (none of them Santos’s) and an absurdly confident rolling out of bush league special effects. Among these last are a giant seahorse upon which Dyesebel and Fredo (Romeo Miranda) ride during a romantic interlude and an adorable giant octopus from which Dyesebel is saved by a helpful swarm of puppet electric eels…” – Todd, Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! (READ MORE)

“…The mermaid character, presumably inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid, was conceived by Mars Ravelo, serialized in Pilipino Komiks in 1952-53 and illustrated by Elpidio Torres. It has nothing to do at all with the 1938 Hollywood classic Jezebel (starring Bette Davis) except that the titles are soundalike. The first Dyesebel movie was made by Manuel Vista Production/Premiere Productions in 1953, with Edna Luna in the title role, directed by Gerardo de Leon. The leading man was Jaime dela Rosa as Fredo. If memory serves, Hollywood has so far done only two mermaid movies, Splash, with Darryl Hannah in the title role and Tom Hanks as co-star and an animated feature. Other actresses who have played Dyesebel include: Eva Montes in Anak ni Dyesebel (1964); Vilma Santos (1973); Alma Moreno in Sisid, Dyesebel, Sisid (1978); Alice Dixson (1990); and Charlene Gonzalez (1996). On TV, Marian Rivera played it, with Dingdong Dantes as leading man. In the ABS-CBN version, Dawn Zulueta will play Dyesebel’s mother with Sam Milby and Gerald Anderson as leading men. The Fredo character has been played by Romeo Miranda (with Vilma), Matt Ranillo III (Alma), Richard Gomez (with Alice) and Matthew Mendoza (with Charlene)…” – Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, 10 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

“…Aside from the three most popular characters from the pages of “Komiks,” Ravelo is also behind the superheroes Lastikman, Dragonna, Flash Bomba, Tiny Tony, Trudis Liit, Kapitan Boom, and Jack and Jill, among others. Since her 1947 comicbook debut, Darna has been played by over 15 different actresses in TV and films, with Vilma Santos’ 1970s portrayal considered to be the most iconic take…” – ABS-CBN News, 12 Jan 2014 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Darna and the Giants (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Cast: Vilma Santos, Helen Gamboa, Loreta Marquez, Rosanna Marquez, Romeo Miranda, Desiree Destreza, Florence Aguilar, Ike Lozada, Pepito Rodriguez, Cesar Ramirez, Zandro Zamora, Max Alvarado, Renato Robles, Protacio Dee, Chris “Bhuda” Cruz, Jing Caparas, SOS Daredevils, Greg Lozano, Ricky Valencia, Dave Esguerra, Robert Miller, Karlo Vero, Lorelei, Carina Zawalsky, Lorna Locsin, Nita Lincoln, Elizabeth Vaughn, Christine Soriano, Danny Rojo; Cinematography: Ben Lobo

Plot Description: The second film after the massive success of Lipad Darna Lipa (Fly Darna Fly), Vilma Santos returned as Darna/Narda in Darna and the Giants. Directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Giants was about X3X (Helen Gamboa) who infected ordinary people with serum that made them giants. The giants played havoc to the city and thank goodness Darna eliminated them before demonic X3X conquered the whole world. Now paired with Don Don Nakar as Ding, Vilma radiated the screen for the second time. Kudos to the tricky special effects that made the giants realistic. Ike Lozada stole the film though. His scenes were the funniest in years. Darna used a huge church bell to defeat him. It was unclear why the fat giant, Ike, were allergic to the sound of the church bell. Darna rung the bell to great effects, making the giant Ike felt excruciating pain in his ears. Darna then threw the bell on Ike’s head suffocating him to his immediate death. That alone made everyone’s theatre tickets worth every penny! And lots of pennies as the film became the top grosser of the 1974 Christmas festival. – RV

Vilma Santos Stars in “Darna and the Giants” – Darna fights Alien Invaders and battles “X3X”, an intergalactic Warrior-Queen whose science performs genetic engineering on earthlings and turns them into Giants to bring the Planet Earth to it’s knees. Until Darna eventually kicks the crap out of her and the Giants. – International Hero (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Top Box Office Film of 1973 Metro Manila Film Festival

Film Review: Sine Pilipino got then hot young star Vilma Santos to essay the role of Darna. But the problem was, Vilma was hesitant to wear the two-piece costume. So, during their photo shoot for the publicity photos of the new Darna movie, she wore the Darna costume on top of her body stocking. Vilma was finally convinced by producers Douglas Quijano and William Leary to lose the body stocking and wear just the costume on the day of the press conference. The press people were surprised on seeing how sexy Vilma was in her Darna costume, which was back to the original red bikini and gold stars. Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973) is the first and only trilogy of the superheroine.

It was a box-office hit on its first day of showing and considered a turning point in Vilma’s career. It was also the first Darna movie where Darna and Narda was played by the same actress. Unfortunately, there is no existing copy left of this classic film. Vilma starred in three more Darna films: Darna and the Giants (1974) and Darna vs. the Planetwomen (1975), which were both under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and Darna and Ding (1980) under Niño Muhlach’s D’Wonder Films. Darna and the Giants was the continuation of Vilma’s first Darna movie and Darna again wore the gold bikini costume, while Darna vs. the Planetwomen was a rebooted version of the Darna origin, with Vilma’s Narda this time portrayed as a crippled teenager who was given a magical stone by a mysterious source. The costume is back to red this time with the stars on Darna’s bra also colored red and the headpiece, all gold. Darna and Ding was the last time Vilma played Darna. Her costume this time was sexier and more revealing. In this movie, she was joined by Ding who now has his own superpowers. – Rico J Rod (Read More)

“…Unang ginampaman ni Vilma Santos ang papel ni Darna sa Lipad, Darna Lipad! (Sine Pilipino, 1973). Isang pelikulang may tatlong kasaysayan kung saan nakaharap nito ang palagiang kalabang sina Valentina, Ang Babaeng Lawin at ang Impakta. Sa pagkakataong ito ay mga higante naman ang kinaharap ni Darna. Masasabing, sa pagganap ng aktres bilang Darna tuluyang bumulusok ang kanyang kasikatan. Tunay na akmang-akma dito ang pisikal na kaanyuan ni Darna. Nabigyan din ito ng panibagong bihis nang umpisahan ng aktres ang paglabas sa papel ni Darna. Sa mga naunang pelikula, kadalasa’y dalagita si Narda, at nag-iibang anyo lamang ito kung nilunok na ang batong nagbibigay kapangyarihan bilang Darna. Dahilan sa si Vilma Santos ang naatasang gumanap bilang Darna ay kinailangang ito rin ang lumabas bilang Narda. Sinimulan ng nobelistang si Mars Ravelo ang pagsusulat ng Darna taong 1947 sa magasing Bulaklak. Unang isinapelikula ito ng Royal Films noong 1951 na nagtampok kay Rosa del Rosario samantalang ginampanan naman ni Cristina Aragon ang papel ni Valentina at si Mila Nimfa naman ang gumanap na Narda. Masasabing tanging si Vilma Santos lamang ang nag-iisang aktres na gumanap bilang Darna sa apat na pagkakataon. Isang uri ng pagganap na tunay na nagluklok kay Darna bilang malaking bahagi ng kulturang Pilipino. Sa bawat pagkakataong ito ay tunay na inangkin ni Vilma Santos ang katauhan ni Darna na patuloy na nagbigay aliw sa mga manonood ng sineng Pinoy.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“Due to the Internet, one day soon I’m sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it’s still wonderful to uncover a country’s hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet. Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo’s Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto’s fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn’t realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen. Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes – Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame…Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived – the condition of the Vilma Santos’ early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops. Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based – but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973’s Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go…” – Poptique (READ MORE)

Most Popular Darna “…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…The film was released just two years after president Ferdinand Marcos instituted martial law in the Philippines. The resulting censorship of opposition opinions in the media (scripts for films had to be screened by the government before production was allowed to begin) would have prevented direct opposition to Marcos’ methods to be espoused, but the simple story of a 006giant army trampling on the rights of the general populace could easily have slipped by as pure fantasy. Even if not directly relatable to that contemporary situation, the conflict undoubtedly played well with a country occupied in the past by everyone from the Spanish to the English to the imperial Japanese. This was the big Christmas season release for Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and it’s obvious that a good deal of money was put into it. The plentiful special effects moments were devised by effects man Jessie Sto. Domingo and special photographer Tommy Marcelino. The giants are brought to life through simple photographic effects and, more frequently, the use of massive forced-perspective setups requiring hundreds of extras to run about in the background while the giants stand among scaled miniatures in the foreground. It all looks pretty quaint by the industry standards of today, but the shear enthusiasm of those involved is deserving of admiration all the same. I imagine this was quite a succesful domestic release in its time, the star power of the beautiful Vilma Santos being more the enough to guarantee healthy ticket sales. The rest of the cast is full of recognizable industry regulars. Divina Valencia [Pussy Cat, Queen of the Wild Bunch] receives second billing in spite of her few lines, but has definite screen presence as a giant in a Viking helmet. Max Alvarado, who seems to be in just about every Filipino film production since 1950, has a prominent role as a giant as well – a role he would reprise in the fantastic opener for Darna at Ding…” – Kevin Pyrtle, WTF-FILM (READ MORE)

Darna is Not a ‘Rip-off” of Wonder Woman – “…Because of the character’s immense popularity, several other studios would license the character and produce more Darna movies throughout the next several decades. After Rosa Del Rosario, Vilma Santos (who first played Darna in 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”) would be the most well known and the most in demand to play the character. She starred in a total of 4 Darna movies. Her 4th and final one being in 1980. For years after that, no more Darna movies were produced…” – Raffy Arcega, Comic Book Movie (READ MORE)

Intergalactic Warrior – “…There were comic-inspired franchises that never travelled beyond their own borders, such as the Darna series from the Philippines in the 1970s – she was an intergalactic warrior disguised as an earthling – and which helped actress Vilma Santos turn the fame she achieved into a political career that still sees her serving as governor of Batangas province…” – Matt Scott, South China Morning Post, 20 April, 2014 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Anak ng Asuwang (1973)

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Basic Information: Directed: Romy Susara; Story: Tommy Marcelino; Screenplay: Nilo Saez; Cast: Vilma santos, Gloria Romero, Daisy Romualdez, Rosanna Marquez, Lucita Soriano, Edgar Mortiz, Nick Romano, Leopoldo Salcedo, German Moreno, Larry Silva, Francisco Cruz, Pons De Guzman, Roger Saulog, Totoy Laki, Angel Comfiado, Romy Luartes, Chito Guerrero, Greg Lozano, Oscar Ramirez, SOS Daredevils, Elizabeth Vauchen, Lolet Garcia, Lita Rodriguez; Original Music: Tito Arevalo

Plot Description: Vampire Gloria Romero terrorizes Vilma Santos, veteran actor, leopoldo Salcedo played Vilma’s father.

Film Achievement: One of Vilma Santos and Gloria Romero 13 films – (Anak ang Iyong Ina, Iginuhit ng Tadhana, De Colores, Pinagbuklod ng Langit, Anak ng Aswang, Lipad Darna Lipad, Happy Days are Here Again, Karugtong ang Kahapon, Nakakahiya?, Hindi Nakakahiya, Makahiya at Talahib, Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig?, Kapag Langit Ang Humatol) – RV (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…featuring the Vilma/Gloria mother and daughter team had to be made. Gloria reprised her role as the vampire minus Darna. Vilma was her “doomed” daughter. Gloria was so identified as Impakta that when the second Darna flick cameabout she have to do do a cameo appearance!…” – Mario Garces (READ MORE)

“…Noong 1973 ay naglitawan sa mga tabloids ang allegedly nakitang aswang o bampira. Yun pala ay ipapalabas ang Anak Ng Aswang ni Vilma Santos. Kasama sa nasabing pelikula sina Gloria Romero, Daisy Romualdez, Rosanna Marquez at Edgar Mortiz…” – Tess Clarin, FAP, Nov 27, 2009 (READ MORE)

“Impakta” or an “Asuwang” Roles – “…Eric C: Vilma, You have done every role already except playing “Impakta” or an “Asuwang”. Would you consider playing a Darna villainess like what Gloria Romero did? Vilma: Yikes! Do I already look like a Vampire? (Laughs out loud) Actually I starred in a Vampire movie already “Anak ng Aswang” (Vampire’s Child) but I was not the Vampire. Gloria Romero played the Vampire. Actually I think that’s an interesting role and I don’t mind playing a Villainess as long as it’s a good story…” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)

Nang ginagawa ni Vilma ang Lipad, Darna, Lipad sinasabi niyang marahil iyon na ang pinakamahirap at challenging pic niyang nagawa. Kasi, dito’y nabilad siya ng husto sa init ng araw. Nalubog pa sa putik. Alam naman ninyo ang balat ng top superstar…manipis, maputi at sensitive. Tinubuan siya tuloy ng skin rashes. Sa Lipad, muntik na rin magkaroon ng nervous collapse si Vi. Dahil sa pakikipaglaban niya sa maliit na sawa. Heaven knows na gaano na lang ang takot ni Vi sa tulad nito and other slimy, crawling things. And so, akala nga ni Vi ay ang Lipad na ang pinakamahirap niyang pic na nagawa. But she was wrong. Pagkat, sa Dyesebel ay lalong hirap ang inabot niya. Nabilad siya rito sa init ng araw, nababad pa siya nang todo sa tubig. Ang God! ang difficulties niya sa paglipat-lipat sa sets. Paano siya makakakilos e, naka-buntot siya? At matatandaan pa ba ninyo na ilang ulit na naospital ang top superstar pagka’t nanganib na mapulmonya? Kaya minsan pa’y nasabi ni Vi na ang Dyesebel na ang pinakamahirap na pic niyang nagawa. Nguni’t sa paggawa niya ng Anak ng Asuwang para sa Roma Films, tambak na hirap na naman ang inabot niya. Masasabi ninyong hindi naman gaano marahil. Pagka’t dito’y hindi naman naka-costume ang superstar di tulad sa Lipad at Dyesebel. – Cleo Cruz, Bulaklak Magazine, 1973

Filmography: Mga Reynang Walang Trono (1976)

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Basic Information: Direction: Fely Crisostomo and Amalia Muhalch; Cast: Amalia Fuentes, Vilma Santos, Eddie Gutierrez, Robert Arevalo, Rudy Fernandez and Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Greg Lozano, Mar F. Cornes; Story: Rino Fernan Silverio; Screenplay: Toto Belano; Cinematography: Hermo U. Santos; Production Company: AM Productions; Release Date: February 26, 1976; Serialized in Bondying Weekly Movie Specials – Video48

Plot Description: A story of two women who lived and reigned as queen in their own world. Dureza (Vilma Santos) a poor lass who got married to a rich man, Don Mauricio (Eddie Garcia) whom she does not love, but just to give comfort to her family. Amanda (Amalia Fuentez) a popular actress, whom people look up to, but due to unavoidable circumstances killed her husband. Both women end up in jail to pay for what they have done. Also stars, Rober Arevalo, Rex Cortez, Greg Lozano. Directed by Amalia Fuentes and Fely Crisostomo for AM Productions. – Trigon Video Distributor

Film Achievement: Film directed by two female, movie queen Amalia Fuentez and veteran director Fely Crisostomo; Originally written by Rico Fernan Silverio for Bondying Movie Special comics (1974-1975) and illustrated by Hal Santiago.

Film Review: “…By mid decades, Vilma Santos’ career was gradully moving into dramas catering the adult audience and films with social-adult issues. She did the sequel “Hindi Nakakahiya” and “Nagaapoy na Damdamin” about the affair of a young woman with an older man and “Mga Rosas Sa Putikan” about the lives of prostitutes. Aside from these films, she also did four light comedies and two notable ones: “Mga Reynang Walang Trono” a comedy with movie queen Amalia Fuentez and “Bato Sa Buhangin,” the box office hit that reunited her with the late Fernando Poe Jr. Bernal on the other hand, cemented his reputation as one of the most serious director with critically appreciated hit films, “Ligaw Na Bulaklak” staring the young sexy star, Alma Moreno and the drama film that featured two dramatic stars, Daria Ramirez and Elizabeth Oropeza in “Nunal Sa Tubig.” He also directed a light comedy, “Tisoy,” Christopher De Leon in title role…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…To recall, the senior and junior movie queens appeared in these movies: Bulaklak at Paru-paro (1970), Mga Reynang Walang Trono(1976) and Asawa Ko, Huwag Mong Agawin (1986). Amalia directed Vilma’s episode in Mga Reyna and agreed to second billing to Vilma in Asawa Ko. No doubt about it, Amalia Muhlach Sumilang Fuentes, is a Vilmanian. To seal their sisterhood and camaraderie, Vilma is Ninang to Liezl Martinez and to the latter’s son Alfonso. Why, Liezl even sang a song ’’Wind Beneath My Wings’ to her surprised mother that night which drove the strong-willed and still beautiful Amalia to tears. A Kodak moment, indeed. Priceless! While interviewing the three Muhlach generations, Fuentes, Liezl and young daughter Aliyanna, Amalia revealed to Vilma that she is protective of her ’unica hija’ Liezl. ”Ay naku, I think I also have become like my Mom, I’m also very protective of my children,” Liezl remarks…” – Mario O. Garces (READ MORE)