Top 100 Vilma Santos Films (part nine)

Spanning five decades with 197 films credits and almost two hundred awards, Vilma Santos’ filmography is a kaleidoscope picture of changes in times. Different genres, from teen musicals, folksy fantasies, campy horrors, animated actions to mature adult dramas, her films demonstrated her inner acting talents honed by directors, maneuvered by film producers/benefactors (who some are no longer with us) and supported by her ever loyal fanatics. The results were a long list of film titles that covered several social relevance that capture each decades. A long list of record-breaking box office returns that gave her the title, “the longest reigning box office queen of all time.” A long list of films that sustained her career to different transformation, ensuring her longevity no other Filipino movie queen ever enjoyed. We have painstakingly choose the best of the best. Basing our selection with three criteria. First, the financial success of the film. Cliche it maybe, financial success sustained her bankability and longevity. Second is the critical recognitions the film received. Third, is the other factors that contribute to the overall success of the film, namely, relevance, entertainment value, and the question of, is this film a career milestone or is this film contributed to her popularity. Here are Vilma Santos’ top 100 films.

Total score consists of (A) 10 points for box office records, (B) 10 points for critics recognitions, (C) 10 relevance/longevity, (D) “other factors” that contribute to overall success, gives us total score of 30 points.

RANK, MOVIE TITLE, YR, DIRECTOR’S NAME, SCORE = (A) + (B) + (C) + (D)

20.  Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw 1975
SCORE: 8(A) + 10(B) + 7(C) + 0.4(D) = 25.4(T)
Directed by Celso Ad. Castillo, co-starring:  Christopher De Leon, Eddie Garcia, Joseph Sytangco, Lorli Villanueva, Odette Khan, Alma Moreno, Eva Darren, Edna Diaz, Nympha Bonifacio, Joonee Gamboa, Rez Cortez, Soxy Topacio.  The first film of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos, as of 2008, total 23 films. – MORE INFO

19.  Sinasamba Kita 1982
SCORE: 7(A) + 10(B) + 8(C) + 0.5(D) = 25.5(T)
Directed by Eddie Garcia, co-starring:  Christopher Deleon, Philip Salvador, Lorna Tolentino, Irene Celebre, Loleta Abesamis, Norma Blancaflor, Moody Diaz, Luz Fernandez, Kristina Paner, Yvonne, Ramil Rodriguez, Danny De Cordova, Larry Leviste, Fanny Serrano.  Written by Gilda Olvidado.  1982 Top Box Office Record Breaker.  The original film became a TV movie in 2007 by GMA Network, directed by Joel Lamangan, starring Sheryl Cruz as Divina and Valerie Concepcion as Nora. – MORE INFO

18.  Paano Ba ang Mangarap? 1983
SCORE: 7(A) + 10(B) + 8(C) + 0.6(D) = 25.6(T)
Directed by Eddie Garcia, co-starring:  Christopher Deleon, Jay Ilagan, Amy Austria, Perla Bautista, Armida Siguion Reyna, Vic Silayan.  Written by Nerissa Cabral.  Broke box office record of 1983 – MORE INFO

17.  Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982
SCORE: 8(A) + 10(B) + 7(C) + 0.7(D) = 25.7(T)
Directed by Danny Zialcita, co-starring:  Dindo Fernando, Hilda Koronel, Chanda Romero, Suzanne Gonsales, Tommy Abuel, Mark Joseph Enriquez.  Broke box office record of 1982, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila – MORE INFO

16.  Trudis Liit 1963
SCORE: 7(A) + 10(B) + 8(C) + 0.8(D) = 25.8(T)
Directed by Jose De Villa, co-starring: Luis Gonzales, Lolita Rodriguez, Connie Angeles, Bella Flores, Charlie Davao, Ramon D’Salva.  Written by Mars Ravelo.  This film is immortalized in small screen in 2010 by GMA 7 .  A remake was filmed in the 1990s.  Vilma Sanots won a FAMAS Best Child Actress.  – MORE INFO (no available video)

15.  Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak 1978
SCORE: 10(A) + 5(B) + 10(C) + 0.9(D) = 25.9(T)
Directed by Celso Ad. Castillo, co-starring:  Bembol Roco, Angie Ferro, Olivia O’Hara, Mona Lisa, Robert Talabis, Joonee Gamboa, Mario Escudero.  As the film producer, Vilma received the highest recognition for best film of the year FAMAS and Gawad URIAN.  She also received a nomination for best actress from FAMAS. – MORE INFO

14.  Adultery: Aida Macaraeg 1984
SCORE: 10(A) + 8(B) + 8(C) + 0.6(D) = 26.6(T)
Directed by Lino Brocka, co-starring:  Phillip Salvador, Anita Linda, Deborah Sun, Alvin Enriquez, Mario Montenegro.  Vilma received best actress nomination from PMPC Star Awards. – READ MORE

13.  Tagos ng Dugo  1987
SCORE: 8(A) + 10(B) + 8(C) + 0.7(D) = 26.7(T)
Directed by Maryo J. De los Reyes, co-starring:  Caridad Sanchez, Lucita Soriano, Alicia Alonzo, Mia Gutierrez, Raquel VillavicencioMichael De Mesa, Miguel Rodriguez, Francis Arnaiz, Richard Gomez, Mark Joseph, Lito Pimentel, Joey Hipolito, Joey Marquez, Tony Santos Sr.  Vilma Santos won the 1987 FAMAS and CMMA Best Actress awards.  She also received nomination from FAP. – MORE INFO

12.  Anak 2000
SCORE: 8(A) + 10(B) + 8(C) + 0.8(D) = 26.8(T)
Directed by Rory B. Quintos, co-starring: Claudine Barretto, Amy Austria, Cherry Pie Picache, Sheila Mae Alvero, Tess Dumpit, Jodi Sta. Maria Joel Torre, Baron Geisler, Leandro Muñoz, Gino Paul Guzman, Cris Michelena.  Philippines’ official entry to 73rd best foreign language OSCAR.  Philippines’ official entries to 2001 international film festivals including Fukuoka, San Francisco.  Vilma received the 2000 PMPC STAR award for best actress as well as the 2000 PASADO and nomination from FAP.  She was also crowned the 2000 GMMSF Box Office Queen.  – MORE INFO

11.  Imortal 1989
SCORE: 8(A) + 10(B) + 8(C) + 0.9(D) = 26.9(T)
Directed by Eddie Garcia, co-starring:  Christopher De Leon, Tommy Abuel, Ricky Davao, Gelli De Belen, Cherie Gil, Jacklyn Jose, Liza Lorena Richard Reynoso, Roi Vinzon.  Written by Orlando Nadres.  Vilma won the 1989 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. –  MORE INFO

RECAP:
20. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw 1975
19. Sinasamba Kita 1982
18. Paano Ba ang Mangarap? 1983
17. Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982
16. Trudis Liit 1963
15. Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak 1978
14. Adultery: Aida Macaraeg 1984
13. Tagos ng Dugo 1987
12. Anak 2000
11. Imortal 1989

…continue with countdown, CLICK HERE!

Top 100 Vilma Santos Films (part four)

Spanning five decades with 197 films credits and almost two hundred awards, Vilma Santos’ filmography is a kaleidoscope picture of changes in times. Different genres, from teen musicals, folksy fantasies, campy horrors, animated actions to mature adult dramas, her films demonstrated her inner acting talents honed by directors, maneuvered by film producers/benefactors (who some are no longer with us) and supported by her ever loyal fanatics. The results were a long list of film titles that covered several social relevance that capture each decades. A long list of record-breaking box office returns that gave her the title, “the longest reigning box office queen of all time.” A long list of films that sustained her career to different transformation, ensuring her longevity no other Filipino movie queen ever enjoyed. We have painstakingly choose the best of the best. Basing our selection with three criteria. First, the financial success of the film. Cliche it maybe, financial success sustained her bankability and longevity. Second is the critical recognitions the film received. Third, is the other factors that contribute to the overall success of the film, namely, relevance, entertainment value, and the question of, is this film a career milestone or is this film contributed to her popularity. Here are Vilma Santos’ top 100 films.

Total score consists of (A) 10 points for box office records, (B) 10 points for critics recognitions, (C) 10 relevance/longevity, (D) “other factors” that contribute to overall success, gives us total score of 30 points.

RANK, MOVIE TITLE, YR, DIRECTOR’S NAME, SCORE = (A) + (B) + (C) + (D)

70.  Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 1986
SCORE: 6(A) + 8(B) + 6(C) + 0.4(D) = 20.4(T)
Directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, co-starring: Snooky Serna, Maricel Soriano, Liza Lorena, Chanda Romero, Deborah SunGabby Concepcion, Richard Gomez, Eddie Garcia, Jimi Melendez – MORE INFO

69.  Kay Tagal ng Umaga 1965
SCORE: 6(A) + 8(B) + 6(C) + 0.5(D) = 20.5(T)
Directed by Lauro Pacheco, starring: Lolita Rodriguez, Eddie Rodriguez, Marlene Dauden with Vilma Valera. Film adaptation of Aning Bagabaldo’s radio drama broadcasted on DZRH. – MORE INFO (no available video)

68.  Anak, ang Iyong Ina 1963
SCORE: 7(A) + 8(B) + 5(C) + 0.6(D) = 20.6(T)
Directed by Mar S. Torres, co-staring: Gloria Romero, Rita Gomez, Mario Montenegro, Eddie Garcia – MORE INFO (no available video)

67.  Ging 1964
SCORE: 6(A) + 8(B) + 6(C) + 0.7(D) = 20.7(T)
Directed by Cirio H. Santiago, co-starring: Carol Varga, Olivia Cenizal, Jose Padilla jr, Ramon D’Salva. Written by Mars Ravelo. – MORE INFO

66.  Karugtong ang Kahapon 1975
SCORE: 5(A) + 8(B) + 7(C) + 0.8(D) = 20.8(T)
Directed by Fely H. Crisostomo, co-starring: Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez, Patria Plata, Edgar Mortiz, Eddie Garcia, Jay Ilagan, Romy Mallari, Joseph Sytangco. Entry to the 1975 MMFF. Film was written by Nerissa Cabral. – MORE INFO (no available video)

65.  Nag-iisang Bituin 1994
SCORE: 7(A) + 7(B) + 6(C) + 0.9(D) = 20.9(T)
Directed by Jose Javier Reyes, co-starring: Christopher De Leon, Aga Muhlach with Cherrie Pie Picache, Amy Perez, Jao Mapa, Orestes Ojeda. Vilma received a best actress nomination from PMPC’s 1994 Star. – MORE INFO (no available video)

64.  Takbo, Vilma, Dali 1972
SCORE: 5(A) + 10(B) + 6(C) + 0.04(D) = 21.04(T)
Directed by Joey Gosiengfiao, co-starring: Rita Gomez, Paquito Diaz, Max Alvarado, Romeo Rivera, Ernie Garcia – MORE INFO (no available video)

63.  Vilma Viente Nueve 1975
SCORE: 5(A) + 10(B) + 6(C) + 0.05(D) = 21.05(T)
Directed by Pablo Santiago, co-starring: Anita Linda, Jun Aristorenas, Max Alvarado, Lito Legaspi, German Moreno, Martin Marfil – MORE INFO (no available video)

62.  Ibong Lukaret 1975
SCORE: 6(A) + 10(B) + 5(C) + 0.06(D) = 21.06(T)
Directed by Tito C. Sanchez, co-starring: Alona Alegre, Marissa Delgado, Daria Ramirez, Lucita Soriano, George Estregan, Nick Romano, Rudy Fernandez, Arnold Mendoza – MORE INFO (no available video)

61.  Bertang Kerengkeng 1976
SCORE: 6(A) + 10(B) + 5(C) + 0.07(D) = 21.07(T)
Directed by Tito C. Sanchez, co-starring: Edna Diaz, Lito Anzures, Rudy Fernandez, Greg Lozano – MORE INFO (no available video)

RECAP:
70. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 1986
69. Kay Tagal ng Umaga 1965
68. Anak, ang Iyong Ina 1963
67. Ging 1964
66. Karugtong ang Kahapon 1975
65. Nag-iisang Bituin 1994
64. Takbo, Vilma, Dali 1972
63. Vilma Viente Nueve 1975
62. Ibong Lukaret 1975
61. Bertang Kerengkeng 1976

…continue with countdown, CLICK HERE!

FILM REVIEW: IN MY LIFE


The Plot: “…In My Life offers you a different Vilma Santos, a different John Lloyd Cruz and a different Luis Manzano,” said the film’s director, Olivia Lamasan, the woman behind the blockbusters Milan, Sana Maulit Muli, Got 2 Believe and Madrasta. “You have to see the genuine chemistry among these three actors who are together for the first time in a movie. This is also a unique film because it presents a mother in her 50s, thinking that she’s been through all and seen it all, when in actuality, a new chapter in her life is just beginning.” Santos plays Shirley, a public school librarian who wants to be in control of everything. Her unwarranted intervention in the lives of her children and their families leads to their emotional detachment from each other. Feeling she has lost her command over her children, she flies to New York to reunite with his estranged son, Mark (Manzano) only to find out that her son is gay and she has to live with him and his lover, illegal immigrant Noel (Cruz). As Shirley struggles to deal with the situation and with living in the Big Apple, she discovers that being gay is not the only huge secret that Mark is keeping. Discovering what this is will change Shirley’s life forever…” – Manny the Movie Guy (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…The woman who plays the mother tries hard to be young, which might be the pattern of her recent films. It is not a bad path after all, for one has to graduate from doing the same things for a long time. She has comedic timing, and she has dramatic prowess. When she complains, “Ginagawa niya akong turista! Ikaw ang pinunta ko rito, hindi ‘yung tour!” we laugh because she is witty. When she throws a tantrum after getting lost in the subway, we hate her. Apart from knowing that it was her fault, we can’t stand the charming partner being blamed despite his niceness by an ingrate. It crossed my mind to call her character one of the weakest roles ever written for her, but that’s just because Shirley Templo isn’t too likable. She is repulsive most of the time. Reflecting, the actor has portrayed “unlikable” characters before, even taboo roles for that matter, yet we still like her. But in In My Life, her role tends to go beyond understanding; you just need to be her to understand her. Yet the actor delivers; she deceives us. But the blood of the film flows from the actor who plays the son’s partner. Amid the histrionics and uneven noise of the film in general, he shows his restraint without fuss. Apparently the writers intend to make his character subdued. He exists in the periphery without losing his grip. When he cries at his partner’s back as he hugs him on the bridge, he is the equivalent of sacrifice. Never show the pain, never show the loneliness. That’s us, on the screen. The brief exposure of his family’s life is enough for us to connect with him. Contrary to the emphasis given to the mother’s family, we would like to know him more, know if the lump in his mother’s breast is just a false alarm, know if he’s just fine after crying overnight. We learn about his troubles in staying in the States, how he juggles work and hobby, how he struggles to earn for his marriage. God forbid, we don’t want him to fall into the arms of Pamela. His issues are more interesting, yet what makes him special is that like most people around us, we only get to know him up to a certain extent. He comes and goes. We miss him. We want to see if he’s fine. His distance unsettles us, in a good way…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

“…For its exceptional casting alone, In My Life is amazing. Vilma aside, my heart goes out to John Lloyd, that rare dramatic actor who can make you cry just by seeing his eyes well up with tears. He portrays a lover quietly suffering Shirley’s tantrums with restraint and grace, but at the same time, he makes it heartfelt and sincere. I was surprised by John Lloyd and Luis’ screen dynamic as a gay couple. They call each other as Babe, display very romantic photos in their apartment and as the movie ends, they share a tender kiss on Brooklyn Bridge. Onscreen, their love is sweet, hushed and terribly romantic; even more effective and memorable than most hetero screen pairings. As for JLC and Luis being typecast in gay roles or catching social stigma, I have serious doubts about that, for onscreen, they are still as masculine and virile. As for Vilma, she portrayed a multi-dimensional mother who learns to get off her high horse and deal with displaced motherly pride. Later in the movie, Shirley realizes that that even if she’s done everything for her children, she failed to know them as persons. Unlike other mother roles she has done in the past, the Star for All Seasons depicts a flawed mother who eventually finds peace with herself and her past mistakes. Not to be missed is Shirley and Noel’s confrontation wherein the traditional sampalan was reinvented and Noel throws in the lines: “Anak mo lang siya, hindi mo siya pag-aari. Kung ano ang naging siya, dahil ‘yon sa mga taong pumaligid sa kanya, at isa ka lang doon…” – Czeriza Valencia (READ MORE)

“…In “Direk Olive’s ‘In My Life’ is bold and fresh,” by Walden Sadiri (Manila Bulletin, 2009), its director Olive Lamasan is quoted as saying that she helped Santos “rehearse how a librarian walks and looks ‘losyang.’” If this were an article for a scholarly journal, I suppose some questions that could be asked are: Is there such a thing as a “librarian walk”? Are all librarians losyang (Tagalog slang for unglamorous)? But it probably isn’t fair to ask such questions of an article that only seeks to promote the release of a soon-to-be shown film. I think it’s important to remember that Lamasan is talking about a specific character in a particular film. And that it would be a mistake to focus only on this one phrase in the 20-paragraph article or judge the entire movie based on how the librarian is portrayed. I don’t think there was any intention to characterize ALL librarians as losyang. But we also cannot deny that this stereotypical librarian exists. I look at the photo above and remember that more than a few librarians I’ve met dress exactly that way. Should the director perhaps have made sure that all kinds of librarians were represented in her film? It’s not her responsibility to do so and that’s not really how movies are made….” – Filipino Librarian (READ MORE)

“…John Lloyd Cruz as Noel is the archetypal leading man of Star Cinema: a man who loves unconditionally, who suffers for his love, who also happens to be devoted to his parents. He’s predictably given moments to bare his heart out. But Manzano as Mark is the more interesting creation. He’d rather go to the gym than spend time with his Mom, and he makes that strange proposal to her (I won’t give away the surprise), tapping into a son who’s both practical and caring, tough and sweet. Plus, with all that missing sex in the movie, Manzano manages to hint at someone who’s comfortable with it, next to Cruz’s somewhat frozen take on man-to-man touching. But what little gay moments that are permitted to slip through are strong. In one scene, Shirley (Santos) complains that her son never even “came out” to her. In defense, Mark points out the double standard: If his straight siblings were never obligated to declare their straightness, why should he announce his gayness? Lamasan’s co-writers, Raymond Lee and Senedy Que, are minds behind two of the most progressive queer films of our time. (Lee produced Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros; Que wrote and directed Dose.) Like those films, In My Life belies a fierce intelligence, wisdom that comes from a place of experience, at least whenever it’s allowed. The film’s most special move is that it roots Mark’s anxiety — He’s never good enough for Mom — to that moment in adolescence when he felt his homosexuality was a disappointment. Like that scene, the best moments in the film are those which meld specific personal experience to the anyone-can-relate universal — which is really the aim of the genre of melodrama. Santos may be a mother to a gay son, but she’s really just any parent who wants to say sorry for her mistakes. Dimples Romana, in a great supporting performance, is any daughter (or son) who felt like a failure. But the makers don’t know when to ease up on the melodramatic conventions, which stall the movie here and there. Shirley’s journey is marked with obvious, rigid plotpoints. She spends the first part whining about America with a capital A, then finds mini-success as a career woman, complete with feel-good montage. There’s an old-fashioned, weary mannerism to Lamasan’s approach, not helped by her visual team. New York is a flat, gray city in the eyes of cinematographer Charlie Peralta, and lifeless and generic according to production designer Elfren Vibar…” – Franc, The Bakla Review (READ MORE)

“…So in the movie, Vilma is “Shirley Templo” (methinks the joke in the character name will be wasted on many of the audience), a separated lady being convinced to sell an old house officially bequeathed to her by her late father-in-law. Knowing this, she buys herself a plane ticket (on a librarian’s salary) to see her gay son in New York, and forces herself upon his life. The writers do their hardest to show that Luis, who plays Vilma’s son, Mark is the busiest man on their side of the planet. But for the most part, Mark (a.k.a. “Lucky”) just succeeds in looking constipated most of the time. Speaking of constipated, Vilma Santos seems to have over-acted in this movie… there’s grit and nails all over the scene whenever she’s there. Even if grit and nails aren’t necessary for the supposed scene. The forced comedy of some parts were obviously…forced…” – Jasper Greek Lao Golangco (READ MORE)

“…We really wanted “In My Life” to be one of the few films that we will always look back on and cherish as a film that brings a glimmer in our eyes. Unfortunately, that dream won’t happen. So what made “In My Life” bad? First, it was definitely not the acting. We all have praises for the three main protagonists. Vilma was just at her best here and John Lloyd showed how much drama he can show out. Luis needs more improvement but he actually performed well being a homosexual so still, props to him. Second, it also wasn’t the lack of drama thereof. There were oodles upon oodles of scenes where tears will fall and we also liked the occasional break from all the heaviness with light comedic scenes scattered all over the film. Unfortunately, even with all the topnotch acting and drama, the simple truth is that “In My Life” left out one big aspect in a film and that is the story/plot. The story of “In My Life” was just too much for us too digest as there are a lot of unnecessary subplots happening all over the place (especially by the end of the film). As a viewer, we just wanted it to end but the film just gave more, more and more. We think the writers just forced it to have lots of dramatic avenues just for the sake that people will cry. As the saying goes, too much of anything is bad and this holds true here as they do not mesh well. Cry you will but you will might also wonder why. Even though it had unusual twists, it will make you think if it was really necessary to have them happen that way as an effective means to move the story forward. For us, they were not…” – Jed and Vit (READ MORE)

“…A mainstream Filipino film “In My Life” that stars the Philippines’ multi-awarded veteran actress Vilma Santos will premiere on September 27 at the Fox Theater in Redwood City at 2pm. The film also stars Santos’ real life son Luis Manzano and Manila’s matinee idol John Lloyd Cruz. The gay-themed movie was filmed both in Manila and in New York City. The setting, which has the backdrop of the Big Apple and the outskirts of Manila revolves around a doting mother and her gay son, who is not out to her yet. She visits the gay son and finds out he lives with a “Best Friend.” The mother cloys and clings with the son until finally the son gives in with a blow of his ailment. A powerful scene between the mother and her son’s partner will surely wrench the viewers’ hearts when they see the movie…” – Marconi Calindas (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos has become the poster girl for these cinematic suffering mothers, having played the progressive mother of children from different fathers in Chito Roño’s Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story, 1998), the maltreated maid from Hong Kong who returns to Manila to ungrateful children in Anak, and the indefatigable mother in Roño’s 2003 adaptation of Lualhati Bautista’s famous novel Dekada ’70, where a middle class family wades through the turbulent decade and evolves from convenient apathy to activism and awareness. In Olivia Lamasan’s In My Life, she plays Shirley Templo, an effective yet stubborn mother to openly gay Mark (Luis Manzano, Santos’ son in real life). Shirley Templo is the culmination of all the mothers that Santos has played: assured because she can pinpoint every little comfort and pleasure that she dutifully has given up for her children and because of that, feels entitled to her children’s undivided loyalty and attention. Thus, when Shirley decides to move to New York City with Mark after learning that her daughter (Dimples Romana, who does wonders in the little role she has; that scene where she laments of her dissolved dream of becoming a doctor is precious) has decided to migrate elsewhere, Noel (John Lloyd Cruz), Mark’s overly loyal boyfriend who is staying illegally in the United States, suddenly becomes the third wheel in Shirley’s belated attempt to reconnect with her son. There is no denying that Santos is a terrific actress. Recently however, she has limited herself to roles that are quite unvaried, to the point of Santos becoming a predictable if not mechanical performer. Her Shirley Templo, while an always entertaining presence because of her amusing quirks (Santos has exquisite comedic timing) and the skill and experience that Santos gives her during the many emotional highlights in the film, feels more like a derivative of everything the actress has done in the last decade. Fortunately, Cruz, who has graduated from playing charming yet soulless boys next door in the many romantic comedies he starred in, gives formidable support to Santos. The methodical manner Cruz gives life to Noel (the extra split seconds that he has his mouth open after every word that is shouted with subtle inflection; the slight gestures that hint of the femininity underneath the masculine exterior) is complemented by the sensitivity and charisma that the actor naturally exudes. Manzano, although largely inconsistent, does quite well, even alongside more talented and more experienced actors like Santos and Cruz…” – Oggs Cruz (READ MORE)

“…Hindi ko rin talaga alam ito sa pagkakaalam ko kasi magsi-celebrate lang ako ng simple lang. Monday kasi is a working day nagkataon lang na exact date ito ng mismong birthday ko ang dami pala nilang preparation na ginawa. So I’m very, very thankful mga Mayors na andito, department heads at halos lahat ng mga empelyado ay narito at nakiisa sa akin,” masayang panimula iyon ni Ate Vi habang pawisan dahil noong mga sandaling kausapin namin siya ay abala ito sa paglilibot sa mga mesa na kung saan naroon ang kanyang mga kaibigan at kasama sa pulitika. “Now that I’m turning 38 I’m so happy,” biro pa ni Ate Vi. Ayon kay Ate Vi walang pagsidlan ang kanyang kaligayahan dahil hindi daw niya talaga alam na bibigyan siya nang bonggang party ng mga taong nagmamahal sa kanya. At dahil dito ay ipinangako niya na kung paano siyang minamahal ng mga taga Batangas ay higit pa run ang pagmamahal at pagsiserbisyong ibibigay niya sa kanyang mga kababayan. “Nakakahiya naman siguro kung alam mong mahal ka ng mga tao at sinusuportahan tapos wala kang gagawin sa kanila, ‘ay hindi naman siguro puwede ang ganun., Bilang Gobernadora ng bayang ito nais kong ipakita sa kanila at ipadama na rin na ako ay karapat-dapat sa pagtitiwalang ibinigay nila sa akin kung kayat marami pa rin akong magagandang plano sa Batangas, At hindi ko ito basta magagawang mag-isa kung hindi nila ako tutulungan.” Maraming wish si Ate Vi pero hindi para sa pansarili kundi para sa bayan at isa dito ay ang kasaganahan at katahimikan hindi lang ng buong lalawigan ng Batangas kundi nang buong bansa…” – Morly Alinio (READ MORE)

“…This begs the question: should we expect this kind of progressive view on homosexuality from the mainstream in general and In My Life in particular? Perhaps not. In an industry dominated by conservative values—rooted in the ideal economic feasibility of a G-rated film—In My Life’s gay publicity is simply a ruse, the film’s bid to package itself as daring and sensitive, as is fitting for the Star of All Seasons. Vilma Santos’s comeback cannot be centered on anything but her. The film must project Vilma as a daring actress (and liberal-minded politician) willing to tackle controversial roles, while maintaining her palatable sensitivity as the ordinary matriarch of Anak and Dekada ’70 fame. In My Life, then, is ultimately a film about mothers. Though packaged as a queer film, it is actually a family movie, the much-publicized homosexual angle between Cruz and Manzano just one of the many issues mothers like Shirley have to deal with in these times…” – Edgar Allan Paule, Viewer Discretion, 14 Oct 2009 (READ MORE)

Filmography: In My Life (2009)

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Basic Information: Official IML web-site; Directed: Olivia M. Lamasan; Story: Raymond Lee, Olivia M. Lamasan; Screenplay: Raymond Lee, Senedy Que, Olivia M. Lamasan; Cast: Vilma Santos, John Lloyd Cruz, Luis Manzano, Tirso Cruz III; Executive producer: Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Nonong Buencamino; Cinematography: Charlie Peralta; Film Editing: Marya Ignacio; Production Design: Elfren Vibar; Theme Song: “Something New In My Life” Performed by Sarah Geronimo

Plot Description: Santos plays Shirley, a public school librarian who wants to be in control of everything. Her unwarranted intervention in the lives of her children and their families leads to their emotional detachment from each other. Feeling she has lost her command over her children, she flies to New York to reunite with his estranged son, Mark (Manzano) only to find out that her son is gay and she has to live with him and his lover, illegal immigrant Noel (Cruz). As Shirley struggles to deal with the situation and with living in the Big Apple, she discovers that being gay is not the only huge secret that Mark is keeping. Discovering what this is will change Shirley’s life forever. – Manny The Movie Guy (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Star Awards: Movie of the Year – Star; Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Actor – John Llyod Cruz; Best Supporting Actor – Luis Manzano; Best Screenplay – Lee, Que, Lamasan; Best Cinematography Nomination – Charlie Peralta; Best Editing Nomination – Marya Ignacio; Best Musical Score Nomination – Nonong Buencamino; Best Production Design Nomination – Efren Vivar; Best Sound Nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; Gawad Tanglaw: Best Film – Star Cinema; Best Actress – Ms. Vilma Santos; Best Actor – John Lloyd Cruz; Best Supporting Actor – Luis Manzano; Best Director – Olivia Lamasan; Golden Screen: Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Actor Nomination – John Llyod Cruz; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Luis Manzano; Best Motion Picture Drama Nomination – Star Cinema; Best Director Nomination – Olivia Lamasan; Best Screenplay Nominations – Lee, Lamasan, Que; Best Cinematography Nomination – Charlie Peralta; Best Editing Nomination – Marya Ignacio; Best Production Design Nomination – Elfren Vivar; Best Sound Nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; Best Musical Score Nomination – Nonong Buencamino; Gawad Urian: Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Actor Nomination – John Llyod Cruz; FAMAS: Best Picture Nomination – Star Cinema; Best Actor Nomination – – John Lloyd Cruz; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Luis Manzano; Best Director Nomination – Olivia M. Lamasan; Best Cinematography Nomination – Charlie Peralta; Best Sound Nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; Best Screenplay and Story Nominations – Raymond Lee/Olivia Lamasan; Best Musical Score Nomination – Nonong Buencamino; Best Art Direction Nomination – Elfren Vivar

‘In My Life’ Earns a Record on First Day – Star Cinema’s “In My Life,” the ABS-CBN movie outfit’s grandest film offering for 2009, earned a record P20 million in ticket sales on its first day of screening on Wednesday. This was according to the data released by Star Cinema’s Booking and Distribution Department, “SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon” reported. Under the direction of well-acclaimed director Olivia Lamasan, “In My Live” is posing to surpass the total earnings of Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos’ 2002 Star Cinema film, “Dekada ’70.” “Dekada ’70” was Santos last film project before she agreed to do “In My Life.” “In My Life” lead stars Luis Manzano, John Lloyd Cruz and Santos were grateful to all moviegoers who supported their film. “Maraming salamat po sa inyo. It’s a happy movie. Medyo may kurot sa puso. Buhay niyo po ito, iyong nanay niyo at kung paano magmahal nang unconditional,” Santos said. Cruz added: “Sa totoo lang hindi ako makapaniwala na natapos ko itong movie at naka-trabaho ko si Ate Vi, si inang (Lamasan). I will be forever grateful sa naabot kong ito.” Manzano also thanked all those who commended him for his genuine portrayal of a gay man. “Hindi po biro ang pinanggalingan naming lahat. So the fact na masabi iyon na I gave justice to Mark’s role, napakalaking bagay na po noon para sa akin. Thank you very much,” Manzano said. – ABS-CBN NEWS 09/17/2009

In My life screened in selected cities in United States and Canada in October of 2009 with huge success; Ranked 13th on the All-time highest-grossing local films, earning 2.89M US$ (135.74M PH)

kabahan ka – “…Veteran actresses Anita Linda and Rustica Carpio, who play two elderly women at opposing ends of a murder case in the Brillante Mendoza drama “Lola,” shared the Best Actress award at the 33rd Urian Awards given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino on Thursday night. “Lola” tells the story of grandmothers who find themselves at opposite ends of a murder case involving their grandsons. “Some people told me, ‘You’re nominated for Best Actress pero kalaban mo si (but you’re running against) Vilma (Santos for ‘In My Life’) kaya dapat kabahan ka na (so you should be nervous). Everybody knows how good an actress she is.’ To be nominated alongside Vilma and the other ladies, panalo na agad ako (already makes me a winner),” Linda told the Inquirer shortly after the awards show held at the UP Cine Adarna at University of the Philippines compound in Diliman, Quezon City…” – Marinel Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 05/01/2010 (READ MORE)

Film Review: The Librarian Review: “Losyang” Librarian? – In My Life, which stars Vilma Santos as a librarian, opens on September 16 and, predictably enough, articles about the film are beginning to appear. In “Direk Olive’s ‘In My Life’ is bold and fresh,” by Walden Sadiri (Manila Bulletin, 2009), its director Olive Lamasan is quoted as saying that she helped Santos “rehearse how a librarian walks and looks ‘losyang.'” If this were an article for a scholarly journal, I suppose some questions that could be asked are: Is there such a thing as a “librarian walk”? Are all librarians losyang (Tagalog slang for unglamorous)? But it probably isn’t fair to ask such questions of an article that only seeks to promote the release of a soon-to-be shown film.

I think it’s important to remember that Lamasan is talking about a specific character in a particular film. And that it would be a mistake to focus only on this one phrase in the 20-paragraph article or judge the entire movie based on how the librarian is portrayed. I don’t think there was any intention to characterize ALL librarians as losyang. But we also cannot deny that this stereotypical librarian exists. I look at the photo above and remember that more than a few librarians I’ve met dress exactly that way. Should the director perhaps have made sure that all kinds of librarians were represented in her film? It’s not her responsibility to do so and that’s not really how movies are made.

Librarians can probably condemn the movie and/or call for a boycott, but what will that accomplish? I think it’s much better to take this opportunity to say that, yes, there is an existing stereotype, but there are so many different kinds of librarians AND promote what these librarians are doing that do not fit the stereotype. The reason the image of the losyang librarian persists is that people do not see any other kind of librarian in media. This is the reason I always identify myself as a librarian AND started putting my photo on my blog. If we do not present alternative images of librarians, there is no way the stereotype will be replaced. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

We can’t just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that’s why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish. We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It’s not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs =)

An article entitled “It’s hip to be a librarian” appeared in the same newspaper last month. A few weeks before that, the influence of Reynaldo G. Alejandro as a librarian on a young boy was specifically mentioned by the grown journalist who benefited from his guidance. It is my hope that more journalists will consider doing more stories about non-stereotypical librarians on TV and in print. And that librarians will be more conscious about promoting their profession as well. – The Filipino Librarian (READ MORE)

The best thing about it is that it got made. Star Cinema, the most mainstream of movie studios in the country, lagged behind the so-called gay bandwagon, perhaps by strict design: It’s not supposed to be their territory. Homosexuality, believed to be a niche concern, presumably falls outside the realm of Star Cinema’s broad, PG-13 market. Yet by some dint of miracle, it casts Vilma Santos, one of the biggest stars ever, and a present provincial governor no less, in the main role of a mother to a gay son, played by Luis Manzano, Santos’ real life son. And then, oh boy, in the role of Manzano’s lover, the country’s current most bankable romantic leading man, John Lloyd Cruz. It’s directed by Olivia Lamasan, whose female-centered melodramas have come to emblematize the Star Cinema brand. With such trusted names, is there still reason for the public to shy away from the gay topic?

The uncanny hat-trick of In My Life is that the bandwagon it jumps is not the gay one, but still the female-centered family melodrama that Star Cinema helped galvanize, and also the OFW movie — a drama mapping the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers and their families — perhaps one of only two originally Filipino genres to emerge from our lifetime. (The other one is the macho dancer movie.) This one is largely set in New York City, and it’s centrally the woman’s story, with the gay elements tempered and almost subliminal. That is the film’s winning strategy, but also its debilitating blind spot.

What suffers is specificity. What do we know of the two guys’ relationship? Most of it is left to the imagination, or, more accurately, to That Which We Know But Never Show Or Talk About. Is their relationship even sexual? The film’s one kiss, which arrives late in the movie, is a swift, barely-brushed lip-to-limp. It’s also meant to express apology and forgiveness — you know, the wholesome, Catholic facet of love. It’s hard for me to muster enough love for a movie that’s intentionally castrated and guilty.

But it’s not just the sex that’s missing. I vaguely get to understand the lives of these two gay men in New York City. For example, what is Mark’s job and why is he so damn busy? There’s also a gay bar, but we barely see what goes on there, or what the interior even looks like. And the ultimate missing information: Is Noel gay, bi, confused, pretending, or maybe just another straight guy who happens to love a gay guy? It’s up to the viewer to decide; Your Mom might have a different opinion than you. Cruz’s family-friendly persona is spared of the damage. Not to give away spoilers, but he does end up quite a chaste man by film’s end. All’s well in the happy sin-free world, where only one of two things can happen to a gay man: He either dies violently or just stops being gay.

Of course, John Lloyd Cruz as Noel is the archetypal leading man of Star Cinema: a man who loves unconditionally, who suffers for his love, who also happens to be devoted to his parents. He’s predictably given moments to bare his heart out. But Manzano as Mark is the more interesting creation. He’d rather go to the gym than spend time with his Mom, and he makes that strange proposal to her (I won’t give away the surprise), tapping into a son who’s both practical and caring, tough and sweet. Plus, with all that missing sex in the movie, Manzano manages to hint at someone who’s comfortable with it, next to Cruz’s somewhat frozen take on man-to-man touching.

But what little gay moments that are permitted to slip through are strong. In one scene, Shirley (Santos) complains that her son never even “came out” to her. In defense, Mark points out the double standard: If his straight siblings were never obligated to declare their straightness, why should he announce his gayness? Lamasan’s co-writers, Raymond Lee and Senedy Que, are minds behind two of the most progressive queer films of our time. (Lee produced Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros; Que wrote and directed Dose.) Like those films, In My Life belies a fierce intelligence, wisdom that comes from a place of experience, at least whenever it’s allowed. The film’s most special move is that it roots Mark’s anxiety — He’s never good enough for Mom — to that moment in adolescence when he felt his homosexuality was a disappointment. But the makers don’t know when to ease up on the melodramatic conventions, which stall the movie here and there. Shirley’s journey is marked with obvious, rigid plotpoints. She spends the first part whining about America with a capital A, then finds mini-success as a career woman, complete with feel-good montage. There’s an old-fashioned, weary mannerism to Lamasan’s approach, not helped by her visual team. New York is a flat, gray city in the eyes of cinematographer Charlie Peralta, and lifeless and generic according to production designer Elfren Vibar. Somewhere in this movie is a shining work of art, but it’s shrouded in mediocrity. GRADE: B – The Bakla Review (READ MORE)

It is easy to blame it on distance. They say distance kills families. Distance breeds rebellious children who account their parentless childhood for lack of love towards them. It breeds children who don’t finish school and do drugs instead. It breeds children who would rather party all night than call their parents and ask them how they’re doing. It breeds children who complain they can’t find time to call their parents because it’s so late, why don’t they just call me instead? And when the parents call, Oh, shit, tell them I’m busy. Studying. These children who have always thought that the lack of attention given to them, like Claudine Barretto’s character in Anak, is more important than the attention given to them. They don’t need material things, they don’t need tuition for school, they don’t need extra allowance, they don’t need a secure home and steady future: what they need is the only thing not given to them. Their parents rearing them, being with them, seeing them everyday.

Like that scene, the best moments in the film are those which meld specific personal experience to the anyone-can-relate universal — which is really the aim of the genre of melodrama. Santos may be a mother to a gay son, but she’s really just any parent who wants to say sorry for her mistakes. Dimples Romana, in a great supporting performance, is any daughter (or son) who felt like a failure. That response to parental distance is not exactly wrong, but the movies made out of it make it appear that distance is the only reason why families break up, and why children lose their lines of communication with their parents. No one wants to go away, no one wants to work abroad and leave their children behind, no one wants to see them brought up by somebody else. But a family has to eat, kids have to go to school, young ladies need nice clothes for the prom, boys need boy things, the house must be repaired, your cousin Boyet has cancer, your Lolo Tasyo died and we have to pay for the coffin and the funeral parlor, and so on and so forth. Necessities pile up, so parents try their luck abroad and stay there for years. Children are left to stay with their lolos and lolas, or titos and titas. Parents send money once or twice a month, send boxes of imported goods, chocolates, clothes, love letters. Years go by. They go back. They see the worth of their sacrifice. Their children have all grown up. They don’t even recognize them, even if they send pictures once a year on their birthdays. But some things are lost, some things are left unsaid between them, or rather, some things are preferred not to be said. The distance mattered. From geographical to emotional, the distance continues to separate them.

But as I said, it is easy to hold the distance responsible. The homebreaker. The murderer of good relationships. We are so acquainted with these overseas worker stories that we tend to limit our understanding and segregate them into labeled “lucky” and “unlucky” boxes. In My Life closes the deal for me upon setting this matter straight. In this case, the son works abroad and the mother follows him, initially for a vacation. After mulling things over, or as it seems, she plans to stay for good. She thinks she has nowhere to go. Her daughter is migrating to Australia. Her former husband and her children prod her to agree to sell the house more than its worth. Staying in New York wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially that she is an American citizen by birth.

The baggage of family problems she carries dents the narrative. Apparently, working in another country is an issue here. But it is not what keeps her family apart. For one, her daughter and her family want to stay in Australia holding on the promise of better life. Her son works in New York after an opportunity given to him by his employer. Or—he chooses to stay because he wants the hell out of his boring life in the Philippines. Or—sounding more judgmental, maybe he just wants to have fun, collect strangers, knit love stories out of them and make himself happy. Or—we just don’t know how many reasons we can come up with. But I wish to raise my tone here. Distance is not the problem. It is the mother’s failure to bring up her children well.

As you see, the same producers who gave us Milan, Dubai, and Caregiver also made For The First Time and Love Me Again. Once love and work are set in another place, they become special. And In My Life is special in the virtue of the mother’s character as a failed one. She spent time with her children trying to raise them like any good mother does. She hardly listened to what they wanted because she thought she knew what’s best for them. She was there, as they all grew up. Along the way, her children made choices, and she was unaware that she was neglecting things that were important to them. Her son’s sexuality, her daughter’s dream of becoming a doctor, her husband’s unknown reason for splitting up. In defense of her character, she did her best. But she failed, and it took its toll on her. Gravely.

She had to realize it—so there goes the fish-out-of-the-water setup in New York. She meets her son’s partner who willingly guides her in the city. The partner is heavily used as a device to reveal her nature. Personally, it is the mother’s relationship with him—as opposed to the mother-son or mother-daughter or mother-herself relationship—that is integral to the film’s premise. The most beautiful part of the film is not when her son confesses to her about his childhood, but when she and her son’s partner exchange snide remarks after the wake, and they argue and throw rocks of guilt at each other. From then on the doubt we raised on her character becomes truth. She has no one to blame for her suffering but herself.

The woman who plays the mother tries hard to be young, which might be the pattern of her recent films. It is not a bad path after all, for one has to graduate from doing the same things for a long time. She has comedic timing, and she has dramatic prowess. When she complains, “Ginagawa niya akong turista! Ikaw ang pinunta ko rito, hindi ‘yung tour!” we laugh because she is witty. When she throws a tantrum after getting lost in the subway, we hate her. Apart from knowing that it was her fault, we can’t stand the charming partner being blamed despite his niceness by an ingrate. It crossed my mind to call her character one of the weakest roles ever written for her, but that’s just because Shirley Templo isn’t too likable. She is repulsive most of the time. Reflecting, the actor has portrayed “unlikable” characters before, even taboo roles for that matter, yet we still like her. But in In My Life, her role tends to go beyond understanding; you just need to be her to understand her. Yet the actor delivers; she deceives us.

But the blood of the film flows from the actor who plays the son’s partner. Amid the histrionics and uneven noise of the film in general, he shows his restraint without fuss. Apparently the writers intend to make his character subdued. He exists in the periphery without losing his grip. When he cries at his partner’s back as he hugs him on the bridge, he is the equivalent of sacrifice. Never show the pain, never show the loneliness. That’s us, on the screen. The brief exposure of his family’s life is enough for us to connect with him. Contrary to the emphasis given to the mother’s family, we would like to know him more, know if the lump in his mother’s breast is just a false alarm, know if he’s just fine after crying overnight. We learn about his troubles in staying in the States, how he juggles work and hobby, how he struggles to earn for his marriage. God forbid, we don’t want him to fall into the arms of Pamela. His issues are more interesting, yet what makes him special is that like most people around us, we only get to know him up to a certain extent. He comes and goes. We miss him. We want to see if he’s fine. His distance unsettles us, in a good way.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these locations that the producers choose are just a way to make more money. They could show it abroad and Filipinos there would flock to the theaters, filled with expectations of connecting with the film one way or another, see their lives projected on screen, see themselves in the characters. It’s some sort of self-discovery. They want to be intimate with themselves, see how it works, see their situations from afar, observe how other people react. Their identification with the characters is what they paid the tickets for. If they don’t shed a tear, that’s disappointment. But more often they just find ways to connect. They look at the nuances with affection, checking if the characters reacted the same way they did in similar situations. Audiences seek connection, and if they don’t find it, they create it. Even if the film is more of an examination of their faults as parents and children than the circumstances that brought them where they are. – Written by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi, Queer – Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos seldom appears in movies anymore, so when she does it is an event. In My Life is a good choice because she is allowed to act her age. Her character Shirley Templo (great name) is cute but frequently unsympathetic and even irritating, the way fussy old people who are set in their ways, who are resistant to anything new and never admit their own mistakes, are irritating. A human being! Wow. But she is still Ate Vi so there will be dancing. The bagel guy, though: too ancient. The extras: Please…” – Jessica Zafra (READ MORE)

“…Her last film project In My Life told of a mother (Vilma Santos) coming to terms with her son’s (Luis Manzano) gay lifestyle, understanding the emotions of his lover (John Lloyd Cruz) and accepting her own defects as a person and mother. One reviewer stated that the story of In My Life was just too much to digest with a lot of unnecessary subplots. Another said that the acting was fine but it didn’t need to be shot in New York. Still another complained that it was the mother’s story with the gay relationship glossed over. It was obvious they weren’t ready for the film…” – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Philippine Star, August 31, 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos chose this as her comeback film in lieu of Raya Martin’s Independencia. The latter film is among the best films released so far this year, while In My Life will soon be forgotten after the media hype whimpers down. The blurbs boldly scream… Passionate scene of John Lloyd Cruz and Luis Manzano! Acting showdown between Cruz and Vilma!! 16th Anniversary Presentation of Star Cinema! The prolific production company should have selected a better story for the triumvirate of Vilma, Cruz, and Manzano…The much-hyped passionate scene is a dud. If you blink, then you will probably miss it. The beautiful shot before the kissing scene is the one that should have been talked about. We see Noel hugging Mark while a tear drop rolls down his cheek. Now, that is a passionate person who is very much in love! There are directing and script flaws that bother me. The travelogue scenes diminish the impact of the fish-out-of-the-water concept. The initial scenes give the impression that Shirley is very much adapted to the city. Also, Shirley is not a bumbling moron. She is an educated person and a librarian at that. The wacky scenes are completely out of line. The film seems to be about how a mother comes to grips with her homophobia. Well, it turns out, that she is not only distant to her son but also to her two daughters. She is not homophobic. She is plainly a bad mother. How she ended up being a bad mother was not tackled at all. The film was so caught up with other topics such as marriage for convenience, and gay couples that it forgot the major topic…” – Film Angel (READ MORE)

“…Vilma said she chose In My Life as her comeback movie because she feels “challenged” to do it. “Kung wala yung excitement, hindi challenging yun sa iyo. Pero once na na feel mo na you’re excited, the whole thing from the script actors shooting hanggang ipalabas na yan yung excitement mo nandun. That’s very, very challenging for an artist,” she said. However, it took a while for her to accept the project, because it meant spending time away from her duties as the governor of Batangas. When Star Cinema offered the movie to her two years ago, she said she had to say no to it because she had just won the government seat. “E, kung gagawin po namin yun at that time wala pa kong isang taon nagsisilbi as governor. Kaya nakiusap po ako baka puwedeng maka-isang taon lang po akong governor bago natin magawa uli,” Vilma explained. After some years of serving as the provinces’ mother, Vilma finally said yes to play another one-of-a-kind mom role. She said she can never leave the biz. “Kahit po siguro ngayong nasa pulitika na ko hindi po talaga maaalis talaga yung dugo kong artista. Talagang hinahanap ko po. Kapag nanonood ako ng TV hinanahanap ko talaga,” the veteran actress explained. In My Life, for her, is a very different experience. “First time ako nagkaton ng ganitong itsura sa pelikula. And second, parang may pagka-comedy ba, yung character niya pero hindi naman siya nagpapatawa,” she said. When the children of Shirley (Vilma’s character) grow up and begin to have lives of their own, she thinks that nobody loves her anymore. “Yung character ko dito lihis na lihis sa totoo kong character sa buhay. Yung feeling ko dito hindi siya mahal. Cold. Parang may laging iniisip na negatibo. Which is kabaligtaran ng totoong character ko sa buhay,” Vilma explained…” – Mark Angelo Ching, 02 Sep 2009 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos has become the poster girl for these cinematic suffering mothers, having played the progressive mother of children from different fathers in Chito Roño’s Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story, 1998), the maltreated maid from Hong Kong who returns to Manila to ungrateful children in Anak, and the indefatigable mother in Roño’s 2003 adaptation of Lualhati Bautista’s famous novel Dekada ’70, where a middle class family wades through the turbulent decade and evolves from convenient apathy to activism and awareness. In Olivia Lamasan’s In My Life, she plays Shirley Templo, an effective yet stubborn mother to openly gay Mark (Luis Manzano, Santos’ son in real life). Shirley Templo is the culmination of all the mothers that Santos has played: assured because she can pinpoint every little comfort and pleasure that she dutifully has given up for her children and because of that, feels entitled to her children’s undivided loyalty and attention. Thus, when Shirley decides to move to New York City with Mark after learning that her daughter (Dimples Romana, who does wonders in the little role she has; that scene where she laments of her dissolved dream of becoming a doctor is precious) has decided to migrate elsewhere, Noel (John Lloyd Cruz), Mark’s overly loyal boyfriend who is staying illegally in the United States, suddenly becomes the third wheel in Shirley’s belated attempt to reconnect with her son. There is no denying that Santos is a terrific actress. Recently however, she has limited herself to roles that are quite unvaried, to the point of Santos becoming a predictable if not mechanical performer. Her Shirley Templo, while an always entertaining presence because of her amusing quirks (Santos has exquisite comedic timing) and the skill and experience that Santos gives her during the many emotional highlights in the film, feels more like a derivative of everything the actress has done in the last decade. Fortunately, Cruz, who has graduated from playing charming yet soulless boys next door in the many romantic comedies he starred in, gives formidable support to Santos. The methodical manner Cruz gives life to Noel (the extra split seconds that he has his mouth open after every word that is shouted with subtle inflection; the slight gestures that hint of the femininity underneath the masculine exterior) is complemented by the sensitivity and charisma that the actor naturally exudes. Manzano, although largely inconsistent, does quite well, even alongside more talented and more experienced actors like Santos and Cruz…” – Oggs Cruz, Oggsmoggs, 22 Sep 2009 (READ MORE)

“…This begs the question: should we expect this kind of progressive view on homosexuality from the mainstream in general and In My Life in particular? Perhaps not. In an industry dominated by conservative values—rooted in the ideal economic feasibility of a G-rated film—In My Life’s gay publicity is simply a ruse, the film’s bid to package itself as daring and sensitive, as is fitting for the Star of All Seasons. Vilma Santos’s comeback cannot be centered on anything but her. The film must project Vilma as a daring actress (and liberal-minded politician) willing to tackle controversial roles, while maintaining her palatable sensitivity as the ordinary matriarch of Anak and Dekada ’70 fame. In My Life, then, is ultimately a film about mothers. Though packaged as a queer film, it is actually a family movie, the much-publicized homosexual angle between Cruz and Manzano just one of the many issues mothers like Shirley have to deal with in these times…” – Edgar Allan Paule, Viewer Discretion, 14 Oct 2009 (READ MORE)

“…Perhaps one of the most rare and unforgettable showcases of a librarian in the history of Philippine movies was Vilma Santos, known as Philippine’s Star for All Seasons. Vilma had a stint in the movie In My Life released in 2009. The film was about the struggles of a mother, Shierly Templo, feeling alone and left out of her brood, with her daughter expressing the desire to migrate to Australia and her gay son already working in New York…The movie was really not that descriptive of the librarian role as the main character only showed up in library and school scenes in just few frames. No scene firmly suggests her activities inside the library except her acts of hissing students. She can be identified as a stereotypical librarian complete with her glasses and her choice of classic cardigans and coats; a staple to stereotypical librarian fashion. She was also punningly recognizable in the way the character shushes her workmates in the restaurant where she worked later in New York…” – InterLibnet, 08 May 2015 (READ MORE)

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