FILM REVIEW: PAGPUTI NG UWAK PAGITIM NG TAGAK

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“…sabi mo pa nga nuon mahal na mahal mo ako…sabi mo pa na hindi magbabago ang pagtingin mo sa akin…dahil papaano mo papatayin ang hangin? Paano mo papatayin ang ulan? Paano mo papatayin ang araw? Sabi mo pa nga hindi mo na ako iiwan kahit na anong mangyari…kaya naisip ko nuon magpaligaw na ako sa’yo…kahit hindi pa pumuputi ang uwak, o umi-itim ang tagak…” – Julie

The Plot: “Pag-puti ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak” is a pulsating love story that recaptures the nostalgic fifties, the exciting era of mass hysteria, and the golden years of the rock and roll fever inflicted by screaming, wiggling hip-shaking foreign pop idols dominated by Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Pat Boone, Doris Day and the Platters. “Pag-puti ng Uwak,Pag-itim ng Tagak” is more than a love story. It is also a commentary – a satire rich with humor injected into a moral, psychological, sociological, and cultural aspect, outlook, and values of the said bygone era. “Pag-puti ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak”, is a poigant rich-girl-meets poor boy love story of Julie Monserat and Candido Ventura – two love-struck starry eyed youths who fought for their right to love each other, here is a story that touches social conflict – the perennial clashes and discrimination between the rich and the poor. Julie grew up under the custody of her two wealthy spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela Monserrat. Julie enjoyed everything, except the right to love her own father – Maestro Juan Roque, the poor town teacher. Julie met Dido a student-combo player. They fell in love with each other and had secret affairs. The aunts hated Dido for his ” lowly breeding and ear-splitting music”, thus rejecting him in favor of the town mayor’s son. Julie eventually got pregnant. They planned an elopement but was foiled. The conflict between the lovers and the Monserrat exploded into a series of scandals that rocked the whole town of Sta. Inez…” – Celso Ad Castillo (READ MORE)

“…Malakas ang deconstruction ng “Romeo and Juliet” sa obra na ito. Maraming reference (pinaka-given na siguro na ang pangalan ni Vilma Santos dito ay Julie) sa tragedy ni Shakespeare. Dito ko nakita si Celso Ad in a different light. Nage-gets ko ang poesiya ng mga nature shots n’ya sa ibang pelikula pero rito, klarong klaro ang pagkahilig n’ya sa literary classic. Pinakagusto kong shot eh ‘yung terrace scene na malakas maka-tribute. Wala kasi akong katiting na abiso tungkol sa pedigree ng pelikula at masayang naglalaro sa isip ko ang mga reference hanggang sa sumabog ito sa dulo na nagbigay konklusyon sa mga hinagap. Maraming eksena na may kilometric line si Vilma rito. Napaalala rin sa akin ang era kung saan ang sukatan ng isang pagiging aktres ay nasa haba ng mga linya na kayang mamemorya. Pinagsamang sensuality at controlled acting ang pinamalas n’ya. Maigting din ang chemistry nila ni Bembol Roco rito…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 02 August 2013 (READ MORE)

Kuwento ng magkasintahang pinaghiwalay, na ipinaloob sa isang panahong dinadaluyong ang lipunang Pilipinong rebelyong Hukbalahap. Iyan ang buod ng ‘Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak’. Dekada ng 1950 noon, at sa pista ng matandang bay an ng Santa Ines ay nagkatagpu-tagpo sina Julie Monserrat (Vilma Santos), Dido Ventura (Bembol Roco) at Maestro Juan Roque (Joonee Gamboa). Mula sa mayaman at makapangyarihang pamilya si Julie, isang ulilang pinalaki at pinapag-aral sa Maynila ng kanyang mga tiyang matandang dalagang sina Beatriz (Adul de Leon) at Miguela (Angie Ferro). Si Dido ay maralitang binatang ang Ina (Mona Lisa) ay may iwing poot sa mga Monserrat na kumamkam sa kanilang lupain at naging dahilan ng kanilang paghihirap. Si Maestro Roque naman ay kilalang kompositor at biyolinista na umuwi sa Santa Ines upang tapusin ang kanyang sarsuwelang pinamagatang “Pangarap ng Bagong Umaga.” Sa unang pagkikita pa lamang ay napusuan ni Dido si Jutie. Nagkahulihan ng loob ang dalawa, at isang gabi’ypinangahasang akyatin ni Dido si Julie sa kuwarto nito. Ang kanilang pagtatalik ay humantong sa pagtatanan. Nang magbalik ang magkasintahan upang humingi ng pahintulot na sila’y pakasal, si Julie ay pinamili ng kanyang mga tiya sa maginhawang buhay na kanyang kinagisnan, at sa walang-katiyakang hinaharap bilang asawa ni Dido. Nagdalawang-isip si Julie, at pinili niyang manatili sa pangangalaga ng kanyang mga tiya.

Masamang-masama ang loob ni Dido sa nangyari. Nang siya ay laitin ng kanyang kasintahang si Cristy (Olivia O’Hara), sinaktan niya ito. Nalaman ni Claro (Robert Talabis) ang ginawa ni Dido sa kanyang kapatid, at nagharap ang dalawa sa isang labanang mano-a-mano. Napatay ni Dido si Claro. Alkalde ng bayan ang ama (Mervin Samson) nina Cristy at Claro, kaya’t pinakitos nito ang mga pulis upang iligpit si Dido. Nang gabing lihim na kunin si Dido sa kulungan upang patayin, inambus ng mga Huk ang sasakyan ng mga pulis. Tiyo ni Dido ang pinuno ng mga Huk na si Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures). Sumamang namundok si Dido sa kanyang Tiyo. Minsang dumalaw sa bahay ng mga Monserrat si Maestro Roque, siya ay hinamak ng magkapatid na Beatriz at Miguela. Mula na rin sa mga tiya ni Julie, natuklasan niya na anak pala niya si Julie sa patay nang si Ana Monserrat. Nang magkahiwalay sina Julie at Dido, nalaman ni Maestro Roque na buntis si Julie. Ito ay dinalaw niya sa konserbatoryong pinag-aaralan ng dalaga sa pagka-biyolinista. Ipinagtapat niyang siya ang ama ni Julie. Tinalikdan ni Julie ang kanyang ama, subalit ang pagdalaw na iyon ang naging dahilan upang magpasiya ang dalaga na huwag ipaampon ang kanyang anak na isisilang. Nilakad ni Maestro Roque na pagtagpuing muli sina Julie at Dido. Isang gabi ng Mahal na Araw, nagkita ang magkasintahan at nakilala ni Dido ang kanyang anak kay Julie. Natunugan ng mga espiya ng gobyerno ang pagbaba sa bayan ng mga rebeldeng pinamumunuan ni Kumander Salome. Ang uha ng anak nina Julie at Dido ay nangibabaw sa masinsing putukang lumipol kina Dido at mga kasama. – Manunuri (READ MORE)

It is the 1950’s at the height of the Huk (local Communist armed forces) movement, in a part of the country beset with agrarian unrest. During the town fiesta of Santa Ines, Julie Monserrat is introduced to Dido Ventura and Maestro Juan Roque, an old musician. Julie, an orphan who comes from the local aristocracy, is on vacation from school in Manila, and is staying with her two spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela. Dido Ventura, a young man from a poor family, lives with his mother who nurses an old grievance against the Monserrats; she believes they grabbed the Ventura’s property. Maestro Juan Roque, a well-known composer and violinist, has just returned to Santa Ines to finish a zarzuela he has been planning to write for a long time. Dido falls in love with Julie at their first meeting. One night, he sneaks into the spinsters’ house and spends a passionate night with Julie. The brief liaison leads to their elopement. When the two lovers return to ask for the aunts’ blessing, Julie is made to choose between a life of poverty and uncertainty with Dido, or a life of comfort and respectability with her aunts. Julie chooses to stay with her aunts. Dido is shaken by the turn of events.

He meets Cristy, his girlfriend, who insults him for the embarrassing situation he has gotten himself into. Dido turns roughly against the girl and beats her up. Cristy’s brother finds out about this and challenges him to a fist fight. Dido kills Cristy’s brother. Cristy’s father, who is the town mayor, decides to dispose of Dido immediately. But when his secret police nab Dido one night, the jeep taking them to Dido’s execution is ambushed by a band of Huk rebels led by Kumander Salome, Dido’s uncle. Saved, Dido decides to join his rebel uncle in the mountains. Meanwhile, Maestro Roque, on a visit to the spinsters’ old house to talk about Julie’s violin lessons, finds out that Julie is actually his own daughter by one of the Monserrat sisters now deceased. Julie herself is pregnant with Dido’s child. The old musician’s visit to her house and the ensuing revelatin make he decide to keep the baby. Maestro Roque arranges for Julie and Dido to meet again. On the night of Good Friday, Dido leaves the rebel camp to see his newborn child. Kumander Salome decides to go along with the young man. Government spies learn of this and an ambush is set. The child of Julie and Dido is the only survivor and witness of the masscre that ends the film. – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…Compared to Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak is less of a technical mess. Particularly exceptional are the shots of rustic religious rituals; unfortunately their use does not progress beyond the literal level. This makes for increasing predictability toward the picture’s end, as when the preparations for a military massacre are intercut with recitations of the tribulations of Jesus Christ. Attempts at authenticity appear to have been assiduous, but the project may have also proved too ambitious in this aspect. Thus one can find high-tension wires and Scotch-tinted car windows, not to mention recent beautification accomplishments, making their way into a 1950s period movie. Performance-wise Pagputi ng Uwak leaves a lot more to be desired. Among the cast, only Mona Lisa manages to pull off a convincing characterization as Bembol Roco’s mother. Angie Ferro and Adul de Leon, as Vilma Santos’ spinster aunts, are no better than caricatures: funny maybe, but quite incredible. Joonee Gamboa has mellowed since his rudimental portrayal of an impresario in Burlesk Queen; his role, however, is far less significant this time, reduced as it is to playing the intermediary between star-crossed characters. Executive producer Vilma Santos does better outside camera range. Her production is financially and artistically liberal, the sort the local audience has been deprived of since the dissolution of the previous censors board. Her performance though is about as effective as that of a drama guild’s star performer: she renounces her lover like she would a final exam, and later professors love for him like she would a teen idol. The same applies to Bembol Roco, about whose character more will be said later; suffice it to say that he still has yet to employ under-acting to his advantage. Meanwhile he and Santos are the industry’s star couple, and there one has the trappings of the star system at work again. Is there nothing at all to be said in favor of the movie? Come to think of it, Burlesk Queen did have a saving grace, and it is this same virtue – intention – which redeems Pagputi ng Uwak. In his works Castillo the artist seeks to depict the Filipino as only a fellow Filipino will understand, particularly in terms of pride and sentiment – values associated in Western aesthetics with melodrama. Which is what makes Castillo easy prey for local culture vultures: with technical excellence as a basic requisite for deserving favor, he falls short at first try; infatuation with alien modes of behavior further ensures their alienation from the obviously progressive statements he wishes to make…” – Joel David, Philippine Collegian/The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, 26 July 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Castillo-watchers who had to cringe at the amount of its acting that Castillo allowed or demanded from his actors and actresses, will be gratified at the quiet intensity of the performances in Pagputi ng Uwak. Although one is never convinced that Vilma Santos can indeed bow music out of violin, her characterization of Julie displays the maturing talent of an actress fast learning to explore and shape her emotional resources in creating a character. Bembol Roco is disadvantaged by the script’s focus on Julie, but he impressively communicates the change in Dido from reckless teenager to hardened rebel. The acting highlights in the film, however, are provided by the three capable stage performers playing supporting roles. At long last Jonee Gamboa has been allowed to shed the irritatingly mannered caricatures he has been made to do in his previous films. As Maestro Juan Roque, he gives a serene portrait of a man who sublimates the turmoil of his inner life into the music he plays and composes in a performance memorable for its restraint and sincerity. Angie Ferro tends to be over-empphatic in places, but her portrayal of Miguela effectively keeps the role from degenerating into a contra vida stereotype by touching it up with humor that is broad yet never out of character. It is Adul de Leon, however, who emerges luminously as a character actress of the first magnitude. Her interpretation of Beatriz is a piece of complex character portraiture all the more admirable for having made a role of rather limited range so persuasively human. Good performances are not unusual in Filipino movies. What is rare is that coming together of temperaments and skills that make film art possible. In Pagputi ng Uwak, Castillo’s work does not display anything that he has not already shown in his previous films. The fondness for story material that reeks of social overtones, the lyrical exuberance with which he invests starkly realistic situations, and the intensely theatrical confrontations among his characters – these have been qualities evident even in Castillo’s lesser works, where they are often pushed to absurd lengths. What has happened in Pagput ng Uwak is that the director has been able to bring to a focus his varied talents, and found fellow artists with temperaments congenial to his. With cinematographer Romy Vitug and musical director George Canseco, he seem to have found working partners who share his penchant for the poetic, and their collaboration has resulted in a film where narrative imagery and music fuse into a memorable whole…” – Bienvenido Lumbera (READ MORE)

Putting in place a dialectic that analyzes social reality as at once a corrupted condition and a transformable possibility. In this situation, Dido’s idealism is undercut as an illusion by Julie (Vilma Santos), a jaded but nevertheless sensible young woman who in turn opens herself up to a revision of consciousness. This dialectic, or reflexive reflection is important to scan the contradictions of milieu and to probe the context of whatever human action plays out. Without such dynamic, which eludes most films which dare to tackle historical reality of epochal significance, all manner of practice is ultimately facile and anomalous and rendering romance as a vital agent in the articulation of difference, the engagement with a higher force and the summoning of a love that transcends the limitations of conspiratorial cacophony. A film nourished by this premise cannot fail. The personas of spinster sisters Beatriz (Angie Ferro) and Miguela (Adul de Leon) along with Joonee Gamboa as music teacher and violinist Roque San Victores are rounded out. And society is a charged terrain of armed revolt, state control and resistance. Direction, screenplay, cinematography, editing, production design, music and the performance of a sensitive cast contribute to the comprehensive competence of Pagputi Ng Uwak… Pag-Itim Ng Tagak…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…This is the one film this year that could have made it to the classics, given good material, Romeo Vitug, and some good acting (Joonie Gamboa and Adul De Leon are stands out). There is too much background however; a weak establishment of relationship; an incredible move from the rebel group risking their lives for a solitary personal interest; the failure to bring out the Maestro’s (Joonie) reaction to the tragedy in an affair in which he is greatly involved. The triangle here is fascinating: arts, politics, and the heart. The maestro’s art recovers for him what frustrations of the heart reduce: the lover’s taking to underground activities plays a similar role; the woman’s art provides escape from emotional confusion. The heart, neglected, must sooner or later take its toll – and politics, strangely, because the least developed angle in the film (Bembol’s character is insufficiently portrayed), simultaneously takes its toll, in tragic proportions. It would be excellent if it were within the directorial intention to comment that, in fact, neglect of the political ultimately destroys everything. Such an extent, however, is believed by the fact that the ideal political figure in the film condones the needless risking of an entire group for a single romantic resolutions. Art, politics, and love come to a bad end, but what are the tones of this fatality? Or is it indeed fatality in the director’s vision? Let us close up on this vision. There are touches that have poetry and economy. The development of the courtship into a certain depth of involvement (undialogued lyrical scenes between Vilma and Bembol); a poignant moment of the affair is visually emphasized in a shot of the stairway, now empty, by which the woman seeks the lover she had just rejected; the agitation and the impending bid for resolution by the two aunts in the car coming from Manila where the heroine had refused to let them have their way in her affair as her mother before her had been too weak to do) – to name a few. It is discordant in a directorial angle that controls such elements rather well to splash local color profusely and allow the heroine’s talky summary in the end. If this show of extremes is calculated, an indication, let us say, of the nature of the Filipino character, the act of indicating is not established. That is, if the Filipino, as Castillo sees in him, is unfortunately often swamped by ceremonies, traditions and the like so much that he loses sense of self-direction, etc., this must be developed, and not slumped upon the final scene when the love-resolution is intruded upon by the pasyon, and finally by the deadly dogma of politics. Of course, again, it might be that this is how the view from the angle is, where by all comes to a tragic end, firstly, against all human idealism and praxis (an option that is too anti-man); sporadic superfluity which gives nothing, not even meaning. Many may not accept this as a valid realism. And, in any case, what happens then to art as an instrument not only of image-reflectiions, but also of reconstruction?” – Petronila Cleto, Pelikula, Atbp (READ MORE)

“…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

Advertisements

Film Review: Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw


The Plot:
 “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” directed by Celso Ad Castillo started with Nanette (Vilma Santos) meeting Rod (Christopher Deleon) while vacationing in their rest house along the beach. It was clear to both that it was love at first sight but this instant chemistry ended when they discovered they are first cousins. Faith continued to play an important role to their initial attraction as Rod joined Nanette along with her parent to Manila where Rod was permitted by his parent to continue his study. Rod and Nanette at first decided to resist their feeling for each other by dating other people but their love for each other are more intense than what their mind dictates. The two started to have a secret affair culminating to a hot sex when they came back to the rest house when another summer arrives. As expected Nanette gets pregnant and the problem to expose, their taboo affair is ticking. Worst, Nanette’s morning sickness was noticeable to her suspicious mother played wonderfully by Lorli Villanueva. When finally Nanette’s family found out her condition, she was beaten by her angry father but she remained tight lipped to tell who impregnated her. As Rod tried to remained his calm, Nanette’s family locked her to her room until she’s ready to talk. Rod climbed to the balcony to speak to her and that’s when Nanette’s family discovered who is the father. As Rod came down to the balcony, he was cursed by both parents and was beaten by them as Nanette beg for mercy. Rod was hospitalized as his parent came from the province and beg for forgiveness to the angry Julio (Eddie Garcia), Nanette’s father. Julio was fuming and throws the couple out the house. He also mentioned that they are planning to abort Nanette’s baby. When Rod found out from his parents the planned abortion, he left the hospital and went back to his uncle’s house. Very timely, Rod arrives as Nanette together with her family was headed to the abortion clinic. With the help of two security guards, Rod was controlled as his uncle’s car passed him and Nanette cried for intervention. Rod followed the car and was almost successful as the car stopped for the traffic lights. But his attempt failed as the car continued its destination. The end.

The Review: The Catholic Church prohibits marriage between first cousins and it is considered a sin. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw successfully tackles this topic with convincing scenarios and believable characters. Celso Ad Castillo’s style remained true to many films in the 60s with canned music and repetitive voice over by its two main characters. One scene you will hear Christopher narrates his feelings and the next scene it was Vilma’s turn to speak. Most of this narration or voice over while they are playing in the rain on the streets or on beach. This is the first film by Vilma Santos and Christopher Deleon and it was clear that the two have that chemistry on screen. The film ensemble was quite impressive starting with Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva as Nanette’s parents. As Julio, Eddie Garcia was animated at times but his character balances out the mother role of Lorli Villanueva. Joseph Sytanco’s role as Nanette brother was minimal and he doesn’t have enough lines but his quiet scenes were effective. Johnee Gamboa and Odette Khan’s performance as Rod’s parents were excellent. The agony on Odette’s voice as Johnee, her husband begs for forgiveness on behalf of their son was very believable. The two main characters, Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos obviously carried the film with surprising maturity. Considering this was their first team-up and both were very young. In 1975, both were still in transitions, from teenybopper stars of the musical era to serious actors. Christopher Deleon’s performance was quite impressive as the apologetic Rod, except for some scenes where you can see his nostril moves, he gave a very affecting performance. Vilma Santos equally balance the equation with a touching show of emotions that we seldom see in her early films that are mostly musicals, fantasy or comedies. Three scenes stand out. First was in the bus where she confronted her “Kuya Rod” to not to give-up on their relationship. Second when her parents caught them in the balcony. She begs them to stop beating up her “Kuya Rod.” And then finally, the driving to the abortion clinic scene, she cried her heart out begging them to stop and cried for help to her “Kuya Rod,” who was running behind and trying very hard to stop the car. Celso Ad Castillo successfully gave us a very moving film.

Even with the very annoying number of voice-over scenes, scenes that you will hear the two main characters talks but you will see them not opening their mouth, the film has so many good qualities that you will forgive these flaws. We probably attributed these flaws to the style of many films in the 60s and 70s. Ricardo David’s cinematography was excellent particularly the many scenes on the streets. You can see many spontaneous shots of people that were gawking at Christopher Deleon running like a maniac. David’s very intricate camera work inside the car, dinner table and at the living room while Nanette’s mother was playing piano adds to the intense mood of the film, this is despite some shot where you can see the shadow of the camera particularly when Christopher left the house because he can’t stand to see Nanette being slap repeatedly by her angry father. The film was fast paced, thanks to Augusto Salvador’s editing. There are many scenes where the background music matches the mood like the choir/choral-like music at the very end of the film but Ernani Cuenco used so many canned music that sometimes it was very distracting. Like the voice over style used by Castillo, the musical score used in this film was typical of the 60s and 70s. Even the excellent Lino Brocka film, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” used this kind of style. Overall, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw was a superb film that highlighted the potential on screen chemistry and talents of the screen team of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos. For their fans, I would recommend to have a copy of this classic film. – RV (READ MORE).

“…Celso Ad Castillo: I see the movie in my mind even before I start shooting. I’m meticulous. I control everything on the set, even during post-production — from editing and music to sound. My audience knows my style. It’s like painting: You discover your style, then you do it. I caught “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” with Vilma Santos and Boyet de Leon on Cinema One the other day, and I clearly saw my own style, in terms of sensitivity, shots and drama. – Ronald Mangubat, Inquirer, 06/09/2007

“…The problem of love in Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw stems not from the lovers per se but from their ill fate as cousins. The factors are both socially dictated and morally stringent, situations that they cannot change no matter what they do. Even if they go on living together, they will still be hounded by the truth. Wherever they go, that truth cannot be proven false. Fate did two unpardonable things to them: bring them together and break them up. It is inevitable to question if it was their fault—or if their love was a fault at all, or if it was the society’s fault, for imposing the way things should be. The film makes a point of raising doubts on our moral attitudes and obligations, without telling us what is right or wrong but simply showing what happens when the doors of people’s minds are closed forever—when refusal to understand ruins happy couples’s lives. All desperation peaks in the end. The heartbreaking ten-minute chase stands as a powerful statement on what love can do in the harshest of circumstances. It is a perfectly executed sequence, that aside from showing the extent of possibilities that they are willing to get themselves into just to be together, it also delivers the horror of the couple’s misery, of the inability of their love to win –of losing each other forever.

First we see Nanette being dragged down the stairs by her father and brother as she begs for her child not be aborted. Rod, coming from the hospital, arrives and screams for mercy. Not to be moved by their plea, the father drives the car out of the house. Rod runs after it, limping, and chases the car in the middle of the road until he catches up. He hits the car, kicks it, and breaks the window. A lot of bystanders look after them. When he is able to jump into the rear of the car, he struggles to hold onto it, as the father willfully swerves the car to drop him behind. He kisses the window. Nanette struggles against her mother and brother holding her. She tries to touch his face in the window. And he falls—he falls hard on the ground. Getting up, he runs again. Levi Celerio’s “‘Yan Ba’y Kasalanan” plays in the background. Everything feels so real and timeless, it can only be real and timeless….” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

“…Ad Castillo’s Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw (Monsoon Rain in Summer, 1975) is about a young man (Christopher de Leon) who dorms with his uncle and aunt and falls in love with his cousin (played by a waiflike Vilma Santos). Ad Castillo tackles the sensational subject of incest by framing the two lovers’ relationship as a kind of innocent affair, taking place in a countryside Eden. It’s the kind of hackneyed concept that really shouldn’t work; the result ought to be less like D.H. Lawrence and more like Emmanuelle. But Ad Castillo happens to have one of the most prodigiously talented eye in all of Philippine cinema, and the heedlessly lyrical manner in which he shot Tag-Ulan transforms softcore porn into something like art. Every rainfall, every shaft of light, every leafy shadow caught by his largely handheld camera makes you catch your breath; there is lovemaking without nudity, yet Ad Castillo shoots with such throbbing intensity you are nevertheless aroused…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

Filmography: Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (1975)

“Kuya Rod…ayokong magsisi ka…nasasaktan ako…basta’t mahal kita, mahal na mahal kita, basta’t mahal mo ako, hindi tayo dapat magsisi, hindi tayo dapat mahiya!” – Nanette

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed, story: Celso Ad. Castillo; Screenplay: Mauro Gia Samonte; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Eddie Garcia, Lorli Villanueva, Joseph Sytangco, Joonee Gamboa, Odette Khan, Pedro Faustino, Alma Moreno, Rez Cortez, Soxy Topacio, Eva Darren, Edna Diaz, Nympha Bonifacio; Executive producer: Lourdes S. Sevilla; Original Music: Ernani Cuenco; Cinematography: Ricardo M. David; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Baby Alvarez; Sound: Manuel Daves; Released date: 24 October 1975

Plot Description: First cousins, Rod (Christopher Deleon) and Nanette (Vilma Santos) fell in love. The result was an unwanted pregnancy and a scandal that their family have to endured and ended into a trip to the abortion clinic. RV

A young co-ed (Vilma Santos) falls in love with her first-degree cousin (Christopher De Leon), who stays with her family while studying in Manila. Their forbidden affair, which they keep secret from their family, is revealed when she becomes pregnant. For the scandalized family, abortion is the only solution left, which the two lovers resist. – ABS-CBN (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: The very first film of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos, considered as one of the most successful love team Philippine cinema ever produced. As of 2008, Deleon and Santos has twenty-three films under their belt.

Film Review: The film “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” directed by Celso Ad Castillo started with Nanette (Vilma Santos) meeting Rod (Christopher Deleon) while vacationing in their rest house along the beach. It was clear to both that it was love at first sight but this instant chemistry ended when they discovered they are first cousins. Faith continued to play an important role to their initial attraction as Rod joined Nanette along with her parent to Manila where Rod was permitted by his parent to continue his study. Rod and Nanette at first decided to resist their feeling for each other by dating other people but their love for each other are more intense than what their mind dictates. The two started to have a secret affair culminating to a hot sex when they came back to the rest house when another summer arrives.

As expected Nanette gets pregnant and the problem to expose, their taboo affair is ticking. Worst, Nanette’s morning sickness was noticeable to her suspicious mother played wonderfully by Lorli Villanueva. When finally Nanette’s family found out her condition, she was beaten by her angry father but she remained tight lipped to tell who impregnated her. As Rod tried to remained his calm, Nanette’s family locked her to her room until she’s ready to talk. Rod climbed to the balcony to speak to her and that’s when Nanette’s family discovered who is the father. As Rod came down to the balcony, he was cursed by both parents and was beaten by them as Nanette beg for mercy. Rod was hospitalized as his parent came from the province and beg for forgiveness to the angry Julio (Eddie Garcia), Nanette’s father. Julio was fuming and throws the couple out the house. He also mentioned that they are planning to abort Nanette’s baby.

When Rod found out from his parents the planned abortion, he left the hospital and went back to his uncle’s house. Very timely, Rod arrives as Nanette together with her family was headed to the abortion clinic. With the help of two security guards, Rod was controlled as his uncle’s car passed him and Nanette cried for intervention. Rod followed the car and was almost successful as the car stopped for the traffic lights. But his attempt failed as the car continued its destination. The end.

The Catholic Church prohibits marriage between first cousins and it is considered a sin. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw successfully tackles this topic with convincing scenarios and believable characters. Celso Ad Castillo’s style remained true to many films in the 60s with canned music and repetitive voice over by its two main characters. One scene you will hear Christopher narrates his feelings and the next scene it was Vilma’s turn to speak. Most of this narration or voice over while they are playing in the rain on the streets or on beach.

This is the first film by Vilma Santos and Christopher Deleon and it was clear that the two have that chemistry on screen. The film ensemble was quite impressive starting with Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva as Nanette’s parents. As Julio, Eddie Garcia was animated at times but his character balances out the mother role of Lorli Villanueva. Joseph Sytanco’s role as Nanette brother was minimal and he doesn’t have enough lines but his quiet scenes were effective. Johnee Gamboa and Odette Khan’s performance as Rod’s parents were excellent. The agony on Odette’s voice as Johnee, her husband begs for forgiveness on behalf of their son was very believable.

The two main characters, Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos obviously carried the film with surprising maturity. Considering this was their first team-up and both were very young. In 1975, both were still in transitions, from teenybopper stars of the musical era to serious actors. Christopher Deleon’s performance was quite impressive as the apologetic Rod, except for some scenes where you can see his nostril moves, he gave a very affecting performance. Vilma Santos equally balance the equation with a touching show of emotions that we seldom see in her early films that are mostly musicals, fantasy or comedies.

Three scenes stand out. First was in the bus where she confronted her “Kuya Rod” to not to give-up on their relationship. Second when her parents caught them in the balcony. She begs them to stop beating up her “Kuya Rod.” And then finally, the driving to the abortion clinic scene, she cried her heart out begging them to stop and cried for help to her “Kuya Rod,” who was running behind and trying very hard to stop the car. Celso Ad Castillo successfully gave us a very moving film. Even with the very annoying number of voice-over scenes, scenes that you will hear the two main characters talks but you will see them not opening their mouth, the film has so many good qualities that you will forgive these flaws. We probably attributed these flaws to the style of many films in the 60s and 70s.

Ricardo David’s cinematography was excellent particularly the many scenes on the streets. You can see many spontaneous shots of people that were gawking at Christopher Deleon running like a maniac. David’s very intricate camera work inside the car, dinner table and at the living room while Nanette’s mother was playing piano adds to the intense mood of the film, this is despite some shot where you can see the shadow of the camera particularly when Christopher left the house because he can’t stand to see Nanette being slap repeatedly by her angry father.

The film was fast paced, thanks to Augusto Salvador’s editing. There are many scenes where the background music matches the mood like the choir/choral-like music at the very end of the film but Ernani Cuenco used so many canned music that sometimes it was very distracting. Like the voice over style used by Castillo, the musical score used in this film was typical of the 60s and 70s. Even the excellent Lino Brocka film, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” used this kind of style. Overall, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw was a superb film that highlighted the potential on screen chemistry and talents of the screen team of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos. For their fans, I would recommend to have a copy of this classic film. Special thanks to Liam Tayag for downloading this film via Youtube. RV

Celso Ad Castillo: I see the movie in my mind even before I start shooting. I’m meticulous. I control everything on the set, even during post-production — from editing and music to sound. My audience knows my style. It’s like painting: You discover your style, then you do it. I caught “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” with Vilma Santos and Boyet de Leon on Cinema One the other day, and I clearly saw my own style, in terms of sensitivity, shots and drama. – Ronald Mangubat, Inquirer, 06/09/2007

Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw is the first screen team-up of Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon. That fact alone gives the film a unique importance. This partnership paved the way for a string of memorable films together. They played notable roles, shared celebrated scenes, delivered unforgettable dialogues, and reaped acclaim for their performances. Theirs is the ripest love team in Philippine cinema, transcending cheap romance in exchange of maturity, often appearing as a couple in the hardest of circumstances. In Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw, they play cousins who fall in love with each other, and knowing it is socially unacceptable, they try to fall out of it. It seems awkward for a first team-up, considering its taboo subject, but seeing young Vilma and Boyet weep as they fight for their impossible love story, it only shows that they only get better the harder their roles are.

It is already clear in the beginning that their romance is doomed. Rod and Nanette meet in a beach house owned by her parents, who bring Rod along to stay in their place in Manila to study. It is love at first sight—Rod sees her playing along with her friends in the beach and as she runs to get her dog, they exchange names, glances, and affection. Right that very moment, they are in love. They walk around the place, holding hands, sharing their surprise on how comfortable they already are with each other. There is nothing really malicious about it. We all know that their affection is sincere. They have longed for it—and it came. – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (Read More)

Noel insisted that I watch Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw, a Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon movie from the 70s. Hadn’t realized it was written and directed by Celso Ad. Castillo, the demented genius of Philippine cinema. I used to see the movie on TV ages ago, and I’ve never forgotten the final scene in which Vilma’s parents are taking her away, Christopher is chasing the car on foot, and at every stoplight he hurls himself at the car, smashing the windows and bouncing off the hood. It was intense and oddly, not laughable. Nenet (Santos) and Rod (De Leon) are cousins who fall in love at first sight before they learn that they are first cousins. Rod has come to Manila to attend university; he lives in the house of Nenet’s parents. The parents are played by Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva, and their hamminess fits the movie perfectly. They’re not the villains: there is no villain, the culprit is passion. Rod does the decent thing: he avoids Nenet and tries to move out of the house. But this is first love of the hysterical kind, the passion that drives the young insane, and the actors are so committed to their roles that you believe every cheesy line they utter. Their love overrides all rational thought. In one scene Nenet confronts Rod on the bus—she always calls him “Kuya Rod”, reminding everyone of the incest—and in front of all the passengers, declares that she doesn’t care if they’re cousins, she loves him. Instead of eliciting giggles, the scene is genuinely disturbing. These young lovers are beyond silliness: they are in a delirium. Celso Ad. Castillo is a master at creating and drawing out emotional tension—as Noel pointed out, it’s almost like watching a horror movie. The lovers can’t abide parental counsel; what they need is an exorcist because they are possessed. There’s even a balcony scene, a demented reference to Romeo and Juliet. The copy is gray and brown with age, unrestored, lacks opening and closing credits, and don’t even mention subtitles or special features. We’re just glad it still exists. Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw is available at video stores; Raymond found his copy on sale for 100 pesos. – Jessica Zafra (READ MORE)

“…Ad Castillo’s Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw (Monsoon Rain in Summer, 1975) is about a young man (Christopher de Leon) who dorms with his uncle and aunt and falls in love with his cousin (played by a waiflike Vilma Santos). Ad Castillo tackles the sensational subject of incest by framing the two lovers’ relationship as a kind of innocent affair, taking place in a countryside Eden. It’s the kind of hackneyed concept that really shouldn’t work; the result ought to be less like D.H. Lawrence and more like Emmanuelle. But Ad Castillo happens to have one of the most prodigiously talented eye in all of Philippine cinema, and the heedlessly lyrical manner in which he shot Tag-Ulan transforms softcore porn into something like art. Every rainfall, every shaft of light, every leafy shadow caught by his largely handheld camera makes you catch your breath; there is lovemaking without nudity, yet Ad Castillo shoots with such throbbing intensity you are nevertheless aroused…” – – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

Forest of the Heart – “…The best way to learn how to write is to keep on reading and writing. That was the advice I got from the late Vicente Rivera Jr., Literary Editor of the Weekly Graphic Magazine in 1965. Evidently concerned that I might be getting discouraged by the avalanche of rejections of my contributions to his section, Vic would write me such notes and attach them to the manuscripts that he sent back. Finally out of school, having permanently aborted my engineering studies, I was then working as a stay-in janitor-messenger in a travel agency in Binondo. That stay-in status gave me whole nights of pounding the typewriter for churning out short story manuscripts so endlessly it must seem that a friend of the agency owner who was doing PR for a brewery company would taunt me with ridicule: “The only good thing you are doing is you are helping the paper industry.” I would gape at the remark, quite baffled. And he would blurt out in harsh laughter, saying, “Imagine the tons of bond paper that you consume with what you are doing.” “Just you wait, Jimmy Boy. Just you wait.” At this point, I am constrained to flash forward. The time was 1970. That guy Jimmy had been waiting at the editorial offices of the Makabayan Publishing Corporation, publisher of the Weekly Nation, one of three leading magazines during the period. He did take time to wait, three, four hours maybe, so as to get an appointment for Luis Nepomuceno, producer of the Nepomuceno Productions of which he was the PRO, with the entertainment editor of the Weekly Nation — named Mauro Gia Samonte. Vic Rivera’s advice had borne fruit. I had kept reading and writing until, at long last, in 1965 I had my first-ever short story published in the Weekly Graphic, “Forest of the Heart.” That story would, a decade later, form the core of the screenplay of “Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw,” the Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon blockbuster film that I would write for direction by Celso Ad. Castillo. And the performance of the movie would tee me off in a career, both in screenwriting and in film direction, successful enough for Tatay to say he had not waited in vain. He got the pleasure of being included together with Nanay in one of the movies I directed. But didn’t I say, “If I were a fish”? I did, indeed. And as a fish, I was gasping for breath when Henry Sy suddenly dealt the Philippine film industry a death blow by banning adult movies in SM theaters, which comprise 80 percent of movie exhibition outlets; and adult movies were what the Philippine cinema was mainly about…” – Mauro Gia Samonte, Manila Times, 11 October 2016 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Ophelia and Paris (1973)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Celia Diaz Laurel; Story: Mars Ravelo; Cast: Victor Laurel, Vilma Santos, Marissa Delgado, German Moreno, Rodolfo Boy Garcia, Mary Walter, Subas Herrero, Jose Villafranca, Joonee Gamboa, Andres Centenera, SOS Daredevils, Celia Diaz Laurel, Ronald Remy; Executive producer: Victor Laurel; Original Music: Ryan Cayabyab

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Achievement: The first movie of Vilma Santos and Cocoy Laurel, the other films are: Disco Fever and Pinay American Style.

Film Review: “…As an actor, he has an enviable filmography. Among his films are “Pinay, American Style” (1979), “Disco Fever” (1978), “Waikiki: Sa Lupa Ng Ating Mga Pangarap” (1980), “Bawal: Asawa Mo, Asawa Ko” (1974), “Ophelia at Paris” with Vilma Santos, “Oh, Margie, Oh” with Margie Moran, “Impossible Dream,” “Till Death Do Us Part” and his last movie, Huwad Na Mananayaw…” – Gypsy Baldovino (READ MORE)

“…Mars Ravelo’s Ophelia at Paris: Prinsipe Paris Walang Kaparis (December 10, 1973) ay handog ng VL Productions na tinampukan nina Vi, Victor Laurel, Marissa Delgado, German Moreno, Rodolfo Boy Garcia, Mary Walter, Subas Herrero, Joonee Gamboa, Celia Diaz Laurel at Ronald Remy sa direksiyon ni Celia Diaz Laurel…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (1978)

“…sabi mo pa nga nuon mahal na mahal mo ako…sabi mo pa na hindi magbabago ang pagtingin mo sa akin…dahil papaano mo papatayin ang hangin? Paano mo papatayin ang ulan? Paano mo papatayin ang araw? Sabi mo pa nga hindi mo na ako iiwan kahit na anong mangyari…kaya naisip ko nuon magpaligaw na ako sa’yo…kahit hindi pa pumuputi ang uwak, o umi-itim ang tagak…” – Julie

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed, story: Celso Ad. Castillo; Screenplay: Celso Ad. Castillo, Iskho Lopez, Lando Jacob, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Cast: Vilma Santos, Bembol Roco, Robert Talabis, Joonee Gamboa, Angie Ferro, Olivia O’Hara, Mona Lisa, Mario Escudero, Fred Panopio, Adul de Leon, Lito Anzures, Miniong Alvarez, Andres Centenera, Carpi Asturias, Filing Cudia, Yolanda Luna, Mervyn Samson, Dolores Pobre, Jennifer Cortez, Diomedes Maturan; Executive producer: Vilma Santos; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Romeo Vitug; Film Editing: Celso Ad. Castillo; Production Design: Peter Perlas; Sound: Gaudencio Barredo; English Title: “When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black”; Soundtracks: “Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak” Sung by Belinda Jimenez; Lyrics & Music by George Canseco

Plot Description: It is the 1950’s at the height of the Huk (local Communist armed forces) movement, in a part of the country beset with agrarian unrest. During the town fiesta of Santa Ines, Julie Monserrat is introduced to Dido Ventura and Maestro Juan Roque, an old musician. Julie, an orphan who comes from the local aristocracy, is on vacation from school in Manila, and is staying with her two spinster aunts Beatriz and Miguela. Dido Ventura, a young man from a poor family, lives with his mother who nurses an old grievance against the Monserrats; she believes they grabbed the Ventura’s property. Maestro Juan Roque, a well-known composer and violinist, has just returned to Santa Ines to finish a zarzuela he has been planning to write for a long time. Dido falls in love with Julie at their first meeting. One night, he sneaks into the spinsters’ house and spends a passionate night with Julie. The brief liaison leads to their elopement. When the two lovers return to ask for the aunts’ blessing, Julie is made to choose between a life of poverty and uncertainty with Dido, or a life of comfort and respectability with her aunts. Julie chooses to stay with her aunts. Dido is shaken by the turn of events.

He meets Cristy, his girlfriend, who insults him for the embarrassing situation he has gotten himself into. Dido turns roughly against the girl and beats her up. Cristy’s brother finds out about this and challenges him to a fist fight. Dido kills Cristy’s brother. Cristy’s father, who is the town mayor, decides to dispose of Dido immediately. But when his secret police nab Dido one night, the jeep taking them to Dido’s execution is ambushed by a band of Huk rebels led by Kumander Salome, Dido’s uncle. Saved, Dido decides to join his rebel uncle in the mountains. Meanwhile, Maestro Roque, on a visit to the spinsters’ old house to talk about Julie’s violin lessons, finds out that Julie is actually his own daughter by one of the Monserrat sisters now deceased. Julie herself is pregnant with Dido’s child. The old musician’s visit to her house and the ensuing revelatin make he decide to keep the baby. Maestro Roque arranges for Julie and Dido to meet again. On the night of Good Friday, Dido leaves the rebel camp to see his newborn child. Kumander Salome decides to go along with the young man. Government spies learn of this and an ambush is set. The child of Julie and Dido is the only survivor and witness of the masscre that ends the film. – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Official Selection – 1983 Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines”; Official Philippines Entry – The Latin American Film Festival – Sao Paolo, Brazil; Official Philippines Entry – The 1981 Asean Film Conference; 1978 FAMAS: Best Picture – Vilma Santos (producer);  Best Art Direction – Peter Perlas; Best Cinematography – Romeo Vitug; Best Director – Celso Ad. Castillo; Best Music – George Canseco; Best Story – Celso Ad. Castillo, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Supporting Actress – Angie Ferro; Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Screenplay Nomination – Castillo, Jacob, Iskho Lopez, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Joonee Gamboa; 1978 Gawad URIAN: Best Director – Celso Ad. Castillo; Best Picture – Vilma Santos (producer); Best Screenplay – Castillo, Lando Jacob, Iskho Lopez, Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Best Sound – Gaudencio Barredo; Best Supporting Actor – Joonee Gamboa; Best Cinematography Nomination – Romeo Vitug; Best Music Nomination – George Canseco; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Adul de Leon

The Reviews: “…Compared to Burlesk Queen, Pagputi ng Uwak is less of a technical mess. Particularly exceptional are the shots of rustic religious rituals; unfortunately their use does not progress beyond the literal level. This makes for increasing predictability toward the picture’s end, as when the preparations for a military massacre are intercut with recitations of the tribulations of Jesus Christ. Attempts at authenticity appear to have been assiduous, but the project may have also proved too ambitious in this aspect. Thus one can find high-tension wires and Scotch-tinted car windows, not to mention recent beautification accomplishments, making their way into a 1950s period movie. Performance-wise Pagputi ng Uwak leaves a lot more to be desired. Among the cast, only Mona Lisa manages to pull off a convincing characterization as Bembol Roco’s mother. Angie Ferro and Adul de Leon, as Vilma Santos’ spinster aunts, are no better than caricatures: funny maybe, but quite incredible. Joonee Gamboa has mellowed since his rudimental portrayal of an impresario in Burlesk Queen; his role, however, is far less significant this time, reduced as it is to playing the intermediary between star-crossed characters. Executive producer Vilma Santos does better outside camera range. Her production is financially and artistically liberal, the sort the local audience has been deprived of since the dissolution of the previous censors board. Her performance though is about as effective as that of a drama guild’s star performer: she renounces her lover like she would a final exam, and later professors love for him like she would a teen idol. The same applies to Bembol Roco, about whose character more will be said later; suffice it to say that he still has yet to employ under-acting to his advantage. Meanwhile he and Santos are the industry’s star couple, and there one has the trappings of the star system at work again. Is there nothing at all to be said in favor of the movie? Come to think of it, Burlesk Queen did have a saving grace, and it is this same virtue – intention – which redeems Pagputi ng Uwak. In his works Castillo the artist seeks to depict the Filipino as only a fellow Filipino will understand, particularly in terms of pride and sentiment – values associated in Western aesthetics with melodrama. Which is what makes Castillo easy prey for local culture vultures: with technical excellence as a basic requisite for deserving favor, he falls short at first try; infatuation with alien modes of behavior further ensures their alienation from the obviously progressive statements he wishes to make…” – Joel David, Philippine Collegian/The Urian Anthology 1970-1979, 26 July 1978 (READ MORE)

“…Malakas ang deconstruction ng “Romeo and Juliet” sa obra na ito. Maraming reference (pinaka-given na siguro na ang pangalan ni Vilma Santos dito ay Julie) sa tragedy ni Shakespeare. Dito ko nakita si Celso Ad in a different light. Nage-gets ko ang poesiya ng mga nature shots n’ya sa ibang pelikula pero rito, klarong klaro ang pagkahilig n’ya sa literary classic. Pinakagusto kong shot eh ‘yung terrace scene na malakas maka-tribute. Wala kasi akong katiting na abiso tungkol sa pedigree ng pelikula at masayang naglalaro sa isip ko ang mga reference hanggang sa sumabog ito sa dulo na nagbigay konklusyon sa mga hinagap. Maraming eksena na may kilometric line si Vilma rito. Napaalala rin sa akin ang era kung saan ang sukatan ng isang pagiging aktres ay nasa haba ng mga linya na kayang mamemorya. Pinagsamang sensuality at controlled acting ang pinamalas n’ya. Maigting din ang chemistry nila ni Bembol Roco rito…” – Manuel Pangaruy Jr., Tagailog Specials Presents, 02 August 2013 (READ MORE)

“…Pagputi Ng Uwak, Pagitim Ng Tagak is another ambitious epic movie that succeeds on many film levels. The story is about the love affair between a young woman belonging to a rich and powerful family, and a poor man whose mother is still bitter about having her land property snatched from her by the other family. This simple conflict develops into bigger, more significant ones, and they are all integrated within the framework of the story and the different elements of the film. It opens on a festive scene that seems to go on foreever, but this gradually changes the mood of the story until it ends a bloody climax. Indulgent as the individual aspects of the film may be, they all fit director Castillo’s grand and elaborate design at story-telling, encompassing various Filipino seasons, holidays and range of experiences. Romy Vitug’s cinematography is spectacular, and the cast, headed by Vilma Santos and Rafael Roco, Jr., are marvelous…” – Expressweek, Urian – Kolum ng Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, January 10, 1980 (READ MORE)

“…Kuwento ng magkasintahang pinaghiwalay, na ipinaloob sa isa ng panahong dinadaluyong ang lipunang Pilipinong rebelyong Hukbalahap. Iyan ang buod ng ‘Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak’. Dekada ng 1950 noon, at sa pista ng matandang bay an ng Santa Ines ay nagkatagpu-tagpo sina Julie Monserrat (Vilma Santos), Dido Ventura (Bembol Roco) at Maestro Juan Roque (Joonee Gamboa). Mula sa mayaman at makapangyarihang pamilya si Julie, isang ulilang pinalaki at pinapag-aral sa Maynila ng kanyang mga tiyang matandang dalagang sina Beatriz (Adul de Leon) at Miguela (Angie Ferro). Si Dido ay maralitang binatang ang Ina (Mona Lisa) ay may iwing poot sa mga Monserrat na kumamkam sa kanilang lupain at naging dahilan ng kanilang paghihirap. Si Maestro Roque naman ay kilalang kompositor at biyolinista na umuwi sa Santa Ines upang tapusin ang kanyang sarsuwelang pinamagatang “Pangarap ng Bagong Umaga.” Sa unang pagkikita pa lamang ay napusuan ni Dido si Jutie. Nagkahulihan ng loob ang dalawa, at isang gabi’ypinangahasang akyatin ni Dido si Julie sa kuwarto nito. Ang kanilang pagtatalik ay humantong sa pagtatanan. Nang magbalik ang magkasintahan upang humingi ng pahintulot na sila’y pakasal, si Julie ay pinamili ng kanyang mga tiya sa maginhawang buhay na kanyang kinagisnan, at sa walang-katiyakang hinaharap bilang asawa ni Dido. Nagdalawang-isip si Julie, at pinili niyang manatili sa pangangalaga ng kanyang mga tiya. Masamang-masama ang loob ni Dido sa nangyari. Nang siya ay laitin ng kanyang kasintahang si Cristy (Olivia O’Hara), sinaktan niya ito. Nalaman ni Claro (Robert Talabis) ang ginawa ni Dido sa kanyang kapatid, at nagharap ang dalawa sa isang labanang mano-a-mano. Napatay ni Dido si Claro. Alkalde ng bayan ang ama (Mervin Samson) nina Cristy at Claro, kaya’t pinakitos nito ang mga pulis upang iligpit si Dido. Nang gabing lihim na kunin si Dido sa kulungan upang patayin, inambus ng mga Huk ang sasakyan ng mga pulis. Tiyo ni Dido ang pinuno ng mga Huk na si Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures). Sumamang namundok si Dido sa kanyang Tiyo. Minsang dumalaw sa bahay ng mga Monserrat si Maestro Roque, siya ay hinamak ng magkapatid na Beatriz at Miguela. Mula na rin sa mga tiya ni Julie, natuklasan niya na anak pala niya si Julie sa patay nang si Ana Monserrat. Nang magkahiwalay sina Julie at Dido, nalaman ni Maestro Roque na buntis si Julie. Ito ay dinalaw niya sa konserbatoryong pinag-aaralan ng dalaga sa pagka-biyolinista. Ipinagtapat niyang siya ang ama ni Julie. Tinalikdan ni Julie ang kanyang ama, subalit ang pagdalaw na iyon ang naging dahilan upang magpasiya ang dalaga na huwag ipaampon ang kanyang anak na isisilang. Nilakad ni Maestro Roque na pagtagpuing muli sina Julie at Dido. Isang gabi ng Mahal na Araw, nagkita ang magkasintahan at nakilala ni Dido ang kanyang anak kay Julie. Natunugan ng mga espiya ng gobyerno ang pagbaba sa bayan ng mga rebeldeng pinamumunuan ni Kumander Salome. Ang uha ng anak nina Julie at Dido ay nangibabaw sa masinsing putukang lumipol kina Dido at mga kasama…” – Manunuri

“…Furor is really an understatement. “Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight), ” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk as the most beautiful Filipino film” past, present and future.” Vi’s turnaround: Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new Vilma Santos “from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk?” – “It marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978.  “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends.” Burlesk and Pagputi brought a lot of honor to me…” – Bayani San Diego Jr. (READ MORE)

“…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his frist critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo’s Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) injects political overtones into its story, about a poor young man (Bembol Roco) who, when abandoned by his upper-class lover (Vilma Santos), joins the Hukbalahap rebels. Ad. Castillo in this film demonstrates an amazing visual language–not flashy, but quietly, lyrically brilliant. He also demonstrates a more masterful grasp of music and song than possibly any other Filipino director–the film is a model on how to use kundimans, ballads, pop songs to differentiate social classes, to satirize and comment on the narrative action.” – Noel Vera

“…Celso Ad Castillo’s epic masterpiece of romantic love, family relationships, class struggle and political rebellion, Vilma Santos star as Julie Monserrat, a music-loving provincial lass raised by her two prudish, wealthy spinsters aunt (Adul De Leon and Angie Ferro) Julie falls in love w/ Dido Ventura (Bembol Rocco) the poor son of embittered woman (Mona Lisa) who holds grudge against the Monserrats for wrong doing several years earlier. Other memorable characters populate this beautifully photographed drama, among them Maestro Roque (Jhoonee Gamboa) a composer-violinist and huk Kumander Salome (Lito Anzures), Dido’s freedom-fighting uncle. rich in texture and full color, charm love and joy, tenderness, violence and despair and hope. The movie won critics awards and stars Yolanda Luna, Marvin Samson, Mario Escudero, Olivia O’ Hara and Robert Talabis. Cinematograhy by Romy Vitug. Produced by VS film…” – IMDB

“…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” (When the Crow Turns White, When the Heron Turns Black) for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo, known as L’Enfant Terrible of Philippine Cinema, was best remembered with his fully independent spirit and out of the box ideas both on narrative and style. I always remember an Ad. Castillo film watching was always crazy in different ways. From the mock-tribal language of Snake Sisters (1984), the living house in Mga Lihim ng Kalapati (1987), to his melodramas charged with socio-political statements (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979), Burlesk Queen, (1977)). His ideas has always been crazy and there are some of those “first” experiences that was only given by his films: the first to see Fernando Poe Jr. die on a film (Asedillo), the first surrealist Filipino film I saw (Mga Lihim ng Kalapati(1987)), and also the first to see historical parallelism realized on both narrative and it’s image (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979)) which he probably used on remaking his own films (Nympha (1971, 2003), Ang Lihim ni Madonna (1979)). Being a lover and creator of Genre, he thinks that aiming for box office success was never a hindrance to make a good film. This he has proven on his body of work. I remember Burlesk Queen as one the film with the best performances ever, both from Vilma Santos and Joonie Gamboa. Especially Joonie Gamboa. Santos starred as Chato, once was an assistant of a dancer on a burlesque bar dreams also of being in the limelight even though her father won’t approve. Chato went from this dilemma to failed relationships until finally realizing her dream. Contains a lot of powerful scenes that would drove my emotions into a mixed state. Burlesk Queen is the proof of Celso’s vision: a success on the artistry and mass reception. Other Celso Ad. Castillo Films to prioritize: Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan, Payaso, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, Asedillo…” – Epoy Deyto, Kawts Kamote, September 12, 2013 (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

Filmography: Burlesk Queen (1977)

“Kung Inutil kayo, Di Inutil kayo. Wala naman tayong magagawa kung yan ang gusto ng Diyos para sa inyo.” – Chato

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Basic Information: Directed: Celso Ad Castillo; Story: Mauro Gia Samonte, Celso Ad Castillo; Screenplay: Mauro Gia Samonte; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rolly Quizon, Rosemarie Gil, Leopoldo Salcedo, Roldan Aquino, Chito Ponce Enrile, Dexter Doria, Yolanda Luna, Joonee Gamboa; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Film Editing: Abelardo Hulleza, Joe Mendoza; Production Design: Jose Tamayo Cruz; Sound: Gregorio Ella

Plot Description: To support her paralytic father, Chato (Vilma Santos) works as a utility girl at Inday Theater for a burlesque star Virgie Nite (Rosemary Gil). Chato desperately wants to earn money to help her ailing and paralyzed father. When Virgie gets drunk on the night of her scheduled show, Chato pitches in for her, and she becomes an instant sensation. Enthused by the initial acceptance of the audience, she defies her father’s admonitions and presents herself to the manager, thus, becoming the new burlesque queen. The aberrant lifestyle of a burlesque performer leads Chato to a misguided existence. She becomes pregnant and is abandoned by the father of her baby. Desperate for cash, she agrees to appear in a lavish stage show. In front of a screaming male audience, Chato bumps and grinds in a tour de force performance, unaware of the danger to her pregnancy. – wikipilipinas

Film Achievements: Philippines’ Official Entry to the 1978 Berlin Film Festival (official citation not verified); Official Entry to the 1978 Festival del film Locarno (Switzerland); 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival: Festival Revenue Top Grosser; Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Picture – Ian Films; Best Actor – Rolly Quizon; Best Director – Celso Ad Castillo; Best Supporting Actress – Rosemarie Gil; Best Supporting Actor – Johnee Gamboa; Best Screenplay – Celso Ad Castillo, Mauro Gia Samonte; Best Production Design – Jose Tamayo Cruz; Editing – Abelardo Hulleza, Joe Mendoza; Best Musical Score – George Canseco; 1977 FAMAS: Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Rosemarie Gil; 1977 Gawad Urian: Best Picture Nomination – Ian Films; Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Director Nomination – Celso Ad Castillo; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Rosemarie Gil; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Rolly Quizon; Best Screenplay Nomination – Mauro Gia Samonte; Best Music Nomination – George Canseco; Best Sound Nomination – Gregorio Ella

Film Review: “…Celso Ad. Castillo’s Burlesk Queen (Burlesque Queen) is most famous for Vilma Santos’ noteworthy performance. She plays Chato, daughter of crippled Roque (Leopoldo Salcedo). She works as assistant to Virgie (Rosemarie Gil), current star of the burlesque stage (the film opens with Gil gyrating to the rapid beatings of drums, to the ecstasy of her numerous patrons). Resisting the lofty wishes of her father, Chato succumbs to the lure of the stage and the money it would bring her. It really is a grand performance as Santos was able to deliver the physical requirements of the role with her inate charismatic aura (a skill that earned the actress legions of fans and eventually elected to public office). Santos’ Chato is servile to the men around her (her father, Louie the theater manager (played by Joonee Gamboa in the film’s other equally terrific performance) and Jessie (Rolly Quizon), her boyfriend) but when she dances onstage, it doesn’t come off as merely sensual and titillating. She dances burlesque to make a statement (if there is such a thing), a statement important enough to die for…Burlesk Queen is much more than a gripping commercial melodrama. It is also a scathing commentary on the sarcastic sexual politics that has become the atmosphere of Philippine society: of hardworking women and the good-for-nothing men they serve (in other words, a patriarchal society gone awry). It is also a fervent reminder of the redemptive and equalizing power of art, which is the reason why it will always be a threat to those who hold power. Multi-faceted, committedly acted, and very well-directed, Burlesk Queen, I opine, is an unsung masterpiece…” – Francis “Oggs” Cruz, Lesson from The School Innattention (READ MORE)

“…Simple lamang ang plot. Isang tinedyer si Vilma Santos na alalay ng isang original burlesk queen, si Rosemarie Gil. May tatay na lumpo si Vilma, si Leopoldo Salcedo. Si Rosemarie naman ay may kabit na isang hustler, si Roldan Aquino. Nang iwanan ni Roldan si Rose, nagwala ang huli. Naging lasengga siya at tumangging magsayaw sa tanghalan. Mabibitin ang palatuntunan, kaya’t si Vilma na talaga namang may ambisyong magsayaw ang pumalit. Hit naman sa manonood si Vilma. Sa bahay, pilit kinukumbinsi ni Vilma si Pol na payagan na siyang maging full time dancer. Ayaw ni Pol, mas mahalaga sa kanya ang prinsipyo at delikadesa. Sapagkat wala namang ibang pagkakakitaan, si Vilma rin ang nasunod sa bandang huli. Nag-suicide si Pol nang hindi na niya masikmura ang pasiya ng anak. Si Rollie Quizon naman ang binatilyong masama ang tama kay Vilma. Nagtanan sila at nagsama. Pero hindi sanay sa hirap si Rollie. Sa pagpili sa pag-ibig o ginhawa sa buhay, ang huli ang pinahalagahan niya. Nagkataon namang buntis na si Vilma. Sa pag-iisa sa buhay, nagbalik siya sa pagsasayaw. Nagsayaw siya ng nagsayaw hanggang duguin siya sa tanghalan at malaglag ang kanyang dinadala…Kung matino ang kaanyuan ng pelikula, ay ganoon din ang masasabi sa nilalaman. Makatotohanan at masinop ang pagtalakay sa buhay ng isang abang mananayaw. Tinalakay rin dito kung paano siya tinatanggap ng lipunan at inuusig ng mga tagapangalaga raw ng moralidad. Maging ang empresaryo ng tanghalan na ginampanan ni Joonee Gamboa ay may konsiyensiya rin at nagtatanong sa atin kung anong panoorin ang dapat ibigay sa isang ordinaryong Pilipino na hindi kayang pumunta sa mga mamahaling kainan upang manood tulad halimbawa ng Merry Widow at Boys in the Band. Sila, aniya ng mga ‘dakilang alagad ng moralidad na nagdidikta at kumu-kontrol sa moralidad ng komunidad’, katapat ng munting kasiyahan ng isang Pilipinong hindi ‘kaya ang bayad sa mga ekslusibong palabas ng mayayaman.’ Samantala’y busy tayo sa paglilibang at sa kanila’y walang pakialam ngunit may handang pintas at pula sa mangahas lumabas sa batas ng moralidad ng lipunan…” – Jun Cruz Reyes, Miyembro, Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, Manila magazine December 1977 (READ MORE)

“…Furor is really an understatement. “Burlesk” swept the awards in that year’s MMFF, resulting in a controversy that led to the wholesale return of trophies. In spite of the scandal, “Burlesk” is still regarded by critics as the “quintessential” Filipino film. “Hinamon ni Brocka si Tinio ng suntukan (Lino Brocka dared Rolando Tinio to a fight),” Celso remembers. “Tinio, who was the head of the jury, heralded “Burlesk as the most beautiful Filipino film” past, present and future.” Vi’s turnaround: Adding fuel to the fire, “Burlesk” had stunned moviegoers because it unveiled a new “Vilma Santos” from ingénue to wanton woman. Vilma says of “Burlesk” – “It marked a transition in my career. Working with Celso Kid is a privilege. He’s a genius.” With good humor, Vilma recalls a “quarrel” on the set of “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” which she produced in 1978. “It took so long to finish. I lost money on that. But we’re still friends.” Burlesk and Pagputi brought a lot of honor to me…” – Bayani San Diego Jr. (READ MORE)

“…It was 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his first critical recognition. Entered in that year’s Metro Manil Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won forhim a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told a young girl in Manila in the 50’s who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in this film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delievered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which had set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among the country’s most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen. To prove to them his worth, Castillo did Pagputi ng Uwak, a 50’s epic set in his favorite Southern Tagalog locale. It was the most lavish of all his productions and had all the elements of a “great” Filipino film. He exploited the many religious and social rituals typical of the region. The film featured the two most critically acclaimed performers of the time, Bembol Roco, Jr. and Vilma Santos, with the cinematography of Romy Vitug complementing Castillo’s visual sense. And it touched on civil unrest to underline the film director’s social awareness. Pagputi ng Uwak was a visual fest, an artistic and socially responsive film aimed at the critics. It was also Castillo’s first commercial failure after a string of more than 20 minor and major box-office hits…In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting filmmakers in the Philippines today…” – Rosauro de la Cruz (READ MORE)

Restoration – “…Two decades ago, it would have cost P15 million to restore an old movie; but with digital technology, the cost of saving our cinematic gems has become less prohibitive. Leo Katigbak, head of ABS-CBN Film Archives, had always wanted to upgrade the network’s library, home to such classics as Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata” and Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala.” He recalled, “It always boiled down to a question of costs…One film that can never be restored, sadly, is Celso Ad. Castillo’s “Burlesk Queen,” starring Vilma Santos. “The only remaining copy we have of ‘Burlesk Queen’ is on video,” said Katigbak. We can’t restore material that’s on video. We have to go back to the negatives or master print…” – Bayani San Diego Jr. (READ MORE)

Devoid of the “pang-FAMAS” – “…The 1977 Urian Awards further established the reputation of the Manunuris as discoverers of new or ignored talents. Word spread around that “you don’t have to spend a cent for PR to win in the Urian” after Daria Ramirez (Sino’ng Kapiling, Sino’ng Kasiping) bested formidable co-nominee Vilma Santos (Burlesk Queen) for the best actress plum. The choice of Ramirez was not a popular one either, for her portrayal of a middle-class wife was devoid of the “pang-FAMAS” hysterics usually equated with good acting in Philippine movies…” – The Urian Anthology 1970-79 (READ MORE)

“…On Burlesk Queen. “Yes, I will never forget that seven-minute dance in the movie. I postponed the shoot of the scene five times. I was so afraid. I performed the dance in front of a real burlesk show audience. I remember the controversy about the Metro Manila Film Festival Awards and the squabble between Rolando Tinio and Lino Brocka. They wanted us to return the trophies. I didn’t return mine. I deserved it. I worked hard for that trophy…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

“…This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker’s eyes. His “Burlesk Queen” and “Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak,” for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It’s Rossellini, you would say? Think again…Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981…” – Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

“…One of the first Filipino filmmakers to invade foreign film festivals abroad with such output as Burlesk Queen and Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Berlin Film Festival and World Film Festival in Montreal) and Nympha (Venice Film Festival), among others, Celso The Kid returned to his hometown Siniloan, Laguna where he led a quiet life while working on his autobiography…His 1977 film, Burlesk Queen, won 10 out of the 11 awards of the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival but the results were contested by Lino Brocka and defended by juror Rolando Tinio (now National Artists for Film and Theater), respectively. He reflected: “I wanted to vindicate myself as a filmmaker in this movie. The media referred to me as a reluctant artist and a filmmaker who has yet to arrive. Not only did the film run away with awards. It was also the top grosser. It broke the myth that quality films don’s make money in the box-office and commercial films don’t win awards…” – Pablo A. Tariman, The Philippine Star, 28 November 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Rosemarie Gil, like her daughter Cherie, was known for her rich socialite-villain roles, but surprisingly, she was introduced in a religious movie in 1958, in the title role of “Santa Rita de Casia (Patrona ng Imposible)”, opposite Lauro Delgado, who portrayed the saint’s wayward husband. This movie turned out to be a hit, but in the 60s, she married Eddie Mesa (Eddie Eigenmann, in real life), putting her stardom on hold, while her husband, known as the Philippines’ Elvis Presley, enjoyed a flourishing career as a singer and actor. The couple would eventually settle in the U.S., separate and then reconcile. Rosemarie went back to make movies for international release in the 1970s, starting with “Manda” (1970), “Night of the Cobra Woman” (1972), “Master Samurai” (1974), and the remake of “Siete Infantes de Lara” (1973). It was in 1977 that she made her presence felt in the 1977 critically-acclaimed “Burlesk Queen”, starring Vilma Santos. For her role as Virgie Nite, Rosemarie earned a Gawad Urian nomination the following year…” – Alex R. Castro, Views from Pangpang, Feb 21 2011 (READ MORE)

“…Celso Ad. Castillo, known as L’Enfant Terrible of Philippine Cinema, was best remembered with his fully independent spirit and out of the box ideas both on narrative and style. I always remember an Ad. Castillo film watching was always crazy in different ways. From the mock-tribal language of Snake Sisters (1984), the living house in Mga Lihim ng Kalapati (1987), to his melodramas charged with socio-political statements (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979), Burlesk Queen, (1977)). His ideas has always been crazy and there are some of those “first” experiences that was only given by his films: the first to see Fernando Poe Jr. die on a film (Asedillo), the first surrealist Filipino film I saw (Mga Lihim ng Kalapati(1987)), and also the first to see historical parallelism realized on both narrative and it’s image (Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (1979)) which he probably used on remaking his own films (Nympha (1971, 2003), Ang Lihim ni Madonna (1979)). Being a lover and creator of Genre, he thinks that aiming for box office success was never a hindrance to make a good film. This he has proven on his body of work. I remember Burlesk Queen as one the film with the best performances ever, both from Vilma Santos and Joonie Gamboa. Especially Joonie Gamboa. Santos starred as Chato, once was an assistant of a dancer on a burlesque bar dreams also of being in the limelight even though her father won’t approve. Chato went from this dilemma to failed relationships until finally realizing her dream. Contains a lot of powerful scenes that would drove my emotions into a mixed state. Burlesk Queen is the proof of Celso’s vision: a success on the artistry and mass reception. Other Celso Ad. Castillo Films to prioritize: Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan, Payaso, Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, Asedillo…” – Epoy Deyto, Kawts Kamote, September 12, 2013 (READ MORE)

“…As for his masterpiece Burlesk Queen (1977)–here’s an excerpt of what I wrote about a moment in the film (Chato’s deflowering), for Chris Fujiwara’s The Little Black Book of Movies: “Celso uses Jessie’s smooth back as both veil and metaphor for Chato’s nudity, the clothes dropping from overhead hangers as metaphor for her failing inhibitions; what makes the scene erotic and nakedly emotional is Chato’s face, glimpsed over Jessie’s left shoulder as terror (the widened eyes), greed (the remote expression, as if she were a starving man wolfing down a steak), pain (the startled look of one who has been kicked in the crotch), guilt (the tears) and finally pleasure (the bit lower lip) flit across and mingle in her eyes.” Ad Castillo was not a genius; he was more interesting than that. His films were often incoherent, often inconsistent, sometimes because he didn’t have the money, sometimes because he told stories that way–apparently narrative was secondary to him, an excuse to flex his prodigious filmmaking muscles. Of his greatest works–which include but are not limited to Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan; Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak; and Burlesk Queen–his imagery burned incandescent, his filmmaking technique was second to none. If Mike De Leon is Philippine Cinema’s mad intellectual, Lino Brocka its fiery social realist, Ishmael Bernal its skeptic-satirist, Mario O’Hara its nightmare scenarist, Celso was its poet laureate–his images were Filipino lyricism incarnate. His passing is an unimaginable loss…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

RELATED READING: