Ate V x 3

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UP Honors Vi – “…The University of the Philippines Film Institute honors Gov. Vilma Santos with the screening of three of her acclaimed movies restored in high definition: “Anak” directed by Rory Quintos, “Kapag Langit ang Humatol” by Laurice Guillen and “Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa” by Chito Rono. UP Film Institute Head Nonoy Lauzon announces: “For UP Diliman Month, coinciding with the National Arts Month, UP Film Institute celebrates the Vi that stands for Victory for All Seasons, Ate Vi times 3. This is in honor of Philippine cinema and popular culture’s true artist for a sovereign and empowered nation, Vilma Santos – the first UP Gawad Plaridel Awardee for Film and Recipient of UP Film Institute’s Diwata Award for Distinguished Achievement in Women’s Cinema.” The movies will be screened at UP Film Institute on February 5, Thursday: “Anak” at 2:30 PM, “Kapag Langit” at 5 PM and “Bata, Bata” at 7:30 PM. For inquiries, get in touch with UP Film Institute at or tel: 9262722; 9263640. This is in cooperation with the UP College of Mass Communication, ABS-CBN Film Restoration, UP Center For Women’s Studies The National Commission for Culture and the Arts and Philippine Commission on Women…” – Mario Bautista, Showbiz Portal, 25 January 2015 (READ MORE)

“Anak” 2:30PM, Thursday Feb 5 – directed by Rory Quintos (READ MORE)

Plot Description: – “…A mother in anguish makes a last-ditch effort to piece back together the broken fragments of her shattered family. After ten years of working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong, she comes home to Manila but not to be greeted with a joyful reunion with her loved ones. She longs for her late husband who was kind and loving but not a good provider. Her firstborn has run wild for lack of guidance. Her only son is in deep trouble in school. Her youngest doesn’t even recognize her. She comes to realize that her children harbor resentment toward her as she left for abroad despite pleas for her not to and for the crucial fact that she missed their father’s funeral five years ago. Despite all indications to the contrary, she is determined to overcome all hindrances to still succeed in her maternal role…” – UP Shots 6 Film Artists from Diliman (READ MORE)

Film Achievement:

  • Philippines’ Official Entry to the Foreign Language Film Category to 73rd Academy Awards (OSCAR)
  • Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2001 Fukuoka Asian Film Festival
  • Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2001 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
  • Philippines’ Official Entry to the 2001 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival
  • 2000 Philippine Movie Press Club STAR Awards Best Actress – Vilma Santos
  • 2000 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Screenplay – Ricardo Lee, Raymond Lee
  • 2000 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Supporting Actress – Amy Austria
  • 2000 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos
  • 2000 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Picture nomination – Star Cinema
  • 2000 Catholic Mass Media Awards Best Picture – Star Cinema
  • 2000 PASADO Best Picture – Star Cinema
  • 2000 PASADO Best Actress – Vilma Santos
  • 2000 GMMSF Box Office Queen – Vilma Santos
  • 2000 Gawad Urian Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos
  • 2000 Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Baron Geisler
  • 2000 Film Ratings Board – Rated B
  • Record-breaking box office revenue of 2000 – 160 Million
  • The 2014 Cinema One Originals Film Festival – Digitally Restored Selection
  • Special Selection – 5th Philippine Film Festival 2014 (Hong Kong)

Film Review: – “…A topical dilemma for Filipinas — whether to take lucrative long-term jobs abroad and provide for their families’ future or stay home and play a more active role in their children’s lives — propels “Anak”, femme helmer Rory B. Quintos’ seventh feature. Vivid hook for domestic conflict makes this well-acted drama compelling until hitherto restrained approach succumbs to bathos in the last quarter. Offshore, best prospects outside fest circuit lie in TV sales. Bubbly, indomitable Josie (Vilma Santos) is thrilled to be returning home at last, having spent several years as a live-in nanny for Hong Kong yuppies — and enduring some serious mistreatment in that capacity. Loaded with presents and savings to invest in a business scheme, she gets a big welcome from everyone but her own children. Latter three have grown up without her, suffering especially since their father died in a workplace accident. While little Daday (Shiela May Alvero) and teenage Michael (Baron Geisler) soon get over their initial awkwardness, eldest offspring Carla (Claudine Barretto) remains bitterly resentful toward mom’s perceived abandonment. She goads Josie with serial boyfriends and open hostility before running away, straight into drug-abusive squalor. Limning complex emotions with subtlety and humor, pic resists melodrama until the dam abruptly burst after 90 minutes; ill-judged pileup of crying scenes, plot crises and more crying ensues. Josie’s final decision to leave for H.K. once again makes little sense, beyond its providing an excuse for “Anak’s” fourth hysterical-sobbing-at-the-airport sequence. That’s too bad, since early reels observe parent-child relationships with considerable delicacy. Quintos’ fluid handling of potentially claustrophobic, mawkish material underplays script’s more obvious gambits until they overwhelm pic. Veteran local star Santos is in fine form, while Barretto lends impressive shading to what might have been a stock sexy “bad girl” role. Tech package is polished…” – Dennis Harvey, Variety Magazine, 19 March 2001 (READ MORE)

“Kapag Langit ang Humatol” 5:00PM, Thursday Feb 5 – directed by Laurice Guillen (READ MORE)

Plot Description: – “…An oppressed housemaid has transformed herself into a wealthy and powerful business mogul through sheer dint of talent, ambition and driving need to avenge herself on her tormentors. She comes back to the scene of her most abject debasement with the sole intent of humiliating the family who once made her life such a living hell. Unknowingly, she gets to exact revenge on the very person who turns out to be her own daughter by the son of her former mistress…” – Database of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

Film Achievement:

  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Direction – Laurice Guillen
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Editing – Efren Jarlego
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Cinematography – Romeo Vitug
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Picture Nomination – Vision Films
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Production Design Nomination – Edgar Martin Littaua
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Screenplay Nomination – Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Salvador Royales
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Kristine Garcia
  • 1990 Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Carmina Villaroel
  • 1990 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Cinematography – Romeo Vitug
  • 1990 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Story Adaptation – Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Salvador Royales
  • 1990 FAMAS Best Child Actor Nomination – Terence Baylon
  • 1990 FAMAS Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Jeffrey Santos
  • The 2014 Cinema One Originals Film Festival – Digitally Restored Selection

Film Review: – “…director Laurice Guillen has more faith in her material, more respect. For she has not only come up with a beautifully-photographed, well-edited and generally superbly-acted melodrama. She has also held up to us a mirror of the dreams and aspirations, the frustrations, suffer¬ing and uncomplicated lifestyle of the so-called masa. Moments of the heroine’s unmitigated oppres¬sion in the hands of her evil mistress is age-old reality in Philippine life and, quite logically, litera¬ture. Her soul nearly scarred by her excruciating, degrading experience, she somehow manages not only to survive but also to rise from her humble, bleak origins, when she leaves the hellhole and finds hope and rewards in the city. In true melodramatic fashion, she plots out her revenge, but alas, even in carrying it out, she must pay dearly, nearly tragically. Feminist observers may easily notice that in this picture – as in, they would say, Philippine society -it is the women who run things. They domineer and dominate, manipulating the men, even the men they love. True enough, from the very beginning, it is the mistress and her poor servant who move things, decide, and tell men what to do. It is they who plot out schemes and plan their destiny. The same is true even with the minor characters, those played by Kristine Garcia (who virtually drags the farm stud into a stormy affair and pushes him to run away with her), Eula Valdez (who pulls the trigger that ends a chapter in the drama), Charo Santos (the single mother and self-made tycoon) and Carmina Villarroel (the young woman who tries to extricate herself from the mess which her quarreling mother and grandmother have created). For their part, the men are pushed around, fooled and overtaken by events: the weakling lover (Gomez), the perpetually horny stablehand (William Lorenzo) and the young and rich heir (Jeffrey Santos). All in all, it is a glossy and well-crafted movie, with marvelous performances by Ms. Santos and Ms. Romero…” – Mario A. Hernando, Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino (READ MORE)

“Bata, Bata Paano Ka Ginawa” 7:30PM, Thursday Feb 5 – directed by Chito Roño (READ MORE)

Plot Description: – “…The movie is about Lea, a mother of two kids with different fathers. Lea, works in an NGO (non-government organization), which deals with human rights violation committed against women. Ogie and Maya are Lea’s children. Ogie’s father, Raffy, leaves them when he had to work in the province of Surigao. Lea together with his son Ogie, did not join Raffy for Lea has a job in Manila which she did not want to leave. Maya, whose father is Ding lives with them, together with Ogie. Things start to get worse when Raffy arrives in Manila. Raffy, meets with Lea for him to see his son, Ogie. As days went on, Ogie regularly sees his father and sometimes spends some time in his house together with his new wife who is pregnant with there first child. Raffy, realizes that he has a lot of shortcomings as a father to Ogie. Raffy tells Lea that he will take Ogie with him to the United States after his wife gives birth. Lea doesn’t know what to do…” – Skynet (READ MORE)

Film Achievement:

  • 1999 Brussels International Festival of Independent Films Best Actress – Vilma Santos
  • 1999 International Festival of Independent Films Best Director – Chito S. Roño
  • 1999 Asia-Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award – Chito S. Roño
  • 1998 FAMAS Best Child Actor – Carlo Aquino
  • 1998 FAMAS Best Child Actress – Serena Dalrymple
  • 1998 FAMAS Best Story – Lualhati Bautista
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Actress – Vilma Santos
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Picture – Star Cinema
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Supporting Actor – Carlo Aquino
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Supporting Actress – Serena Dalrymple
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Actress – Vilma Santos
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Picture – Star Cinema
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actress – Serena Dalrymple
  • 1998 Philippine Movie Press Club STAR Awards Actress of the Year – Vilma Santos
  • 1998 Philippine Movie Press Club STAR Awards Child Performer of the Year – Carlo Aquino
  • 1998 Philippine Movie Press Club STAR Awards New Movie Actress of the Year – Serena Dalrymple
  • 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Film – Star Cinema
  • 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Performer – Vilma Santos
  • 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista
  • 1998 PASADO Best Picture – Star Cinema
  • 1998 PASADO Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista
  • 1998 PASADO Best Actress – Vilma Santos
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Cinematography nomination – Charlie Peralta
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Editing nomination – Jaime Davila
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Production Design nomination – Manny Morfe
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Screenplay nomination – Lualhati Bautista
  • 1998 Film Academy of the Philippines’ Luna Awards Best Supporting Actor nomination – Albert Martinez
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Best Editing nomination – Jaime Davila
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Music nomination – Jessie Lasaten
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Sound nomination – Albert Michael Idioma
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Carlo Aquino
  • 1998 Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Raymond Bagatsing
  • Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa became a stage play in 1999

Film Review: – “…In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?…” – The 35th Chicago International Film Festival (READ MORE)

Related Reading:

#VilmaSantos, #DigitallyRestoredAnak, #Anak, #RoryQuintos, #DigitallyKapagLangitAngHumatol, #KapagLangitAngHumatol, #LauriceGuillen, #DigitallyBataBataPaanoKaGinawa, #BataBataPaanoKaGinawa, #ChitoRoño

Vilma, Vilma, Ang Sarap Mong I-direk

ARTICLES - Directors

Sa langit-langitan ng pagganap sa pelikula ay walang aktres ang makakatapat kay Vilma Santos sa husay at versatility nito. Maging si Nora Aunor na mahigpit niyang karibal sa larangang ito ay nagsimulang nagpakita ng gilas at halos pinaluhod ang QueenStar noong ginawa niya ang Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo, Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, Bona at Ina Ka ng Anak Mo. Sa katunayan, unang narecognize si Nora sa Urian at sa international film community sa Cairo Film Festival kung saan hinangaan siya sa Flor Contemplacion Story at nakopo niya ang best actress award, mula YCC hanggang sa Cairo nga. Ito lang ang tanging grand slam niya. Hindi nagpatalbog ang former Scream/Gripo Queen kay forever Ice/Eye/Diin Queen by reinventing herself magmula noong mapangahas niyang pagganap sa Burlesk Queen at nang talunin siya ni Nora sa 1978 MMFF kung saan nilampaso siya ng Atsay at umuwi siyang luhaan like Rubia Servios. As fate would have it, at dahil na rin sa kanyang competitive spirit at nerve of steel, she re-grouped and vowed never to be second banana sa kapuwa bulilit niyang karibal. “Anything she can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than her.” Yes, I can, oh yes I can!” ang bulalas ng most awarded actress and mayor ng bansa sa sarili. And she did it. By George, she got it! And she could dance all night, along with her millions of fans. Nag-aral siya, nagmasid, nagtanong, nagtiyaga, ibinuhos ang kaalaman niya sa sining, at inalagaan ito ng husto. At mula noong naka-grand slam siya sa Relasyon in 1982 ay para bang nabuksan ang langit at ang mga paghihirap at tiyaga niya ay tinumbasan ng walang katapusang ulan ng mga tropeo, honors and citations bilang pinakamahusay na aktres ng kanyang henerasyon, at possible sa buong kasaysayan ng pelikulang Pilipino. Na-validate pa nga ito ng pagkawagi niya as exemplary media practitioner for film via the prestigious U.P. Gawad Plaridel Award recently. Nominations pa nga lang ay eliminated na kaagad ang supposedly strong contender na si Nora Aunor.

Napasama ang Reyna sa last three finalists at mantakin mong sina Mike De Leon at Eddie Romero ba naman ang kahelera mo at talunin mo ay daig pa ang manalo ka sa lotto. Talagang hindi basta-basta aktres ang the longest reigning movie and box-office queen of Philippine Cinema: Isa na talaga siyang icon or national treasure ng bansa. Kasunod na kaya ang National Artist Awsrd? Abangan! Nakagawa na siya ng mahigit 200 na pelikula, kasama na ang mga special guesting niya, at nagtamo nga ng pinakamaraming acting awards, mula sa Trudis Liit hanggang sa Mano Po 3 – My Love. Kamanghamangha talaga! Atin ngayong suriin kung sinu-sinong director ang pumiga sa Meryl Streep of the Philippines at sa the Filipino Cinematic Diva (ayon sa U.S. Variety magazine) at tuloy ay nagkamit ng mga di matatawarang karangalan sa kahusayan sa pagganap. Sa mga batikang director natin, tanging sina Lino Brocka (SLN) at Marilou-Diaz Abaya ang di pinalad na panalunin si La Vilma sa mga klasikong Rubia Servios, Adultery and Hahamakin Lahat for Brocka, at Alyas Baby Tsina naman kay Abaya. At ang mga ilan sa matitinik nating direk na di nakatrabaho ng Reyna ay sina Lupita Kashihawara at Mario O’Hara na pawing identified kay Nora Aunor. Malay natin, baling araw ay may mga pelikula na silang gagawin. Narito ang talaan ng mga director na nagpanalo sa Greatest Actress of Philippine Cinema…

  • Jose de Villa – in 1963 for Trudis Liit. Vilma’s first acting trophy (FAMAS best child actress).
  • Luis Enriquez (aka Eddie Rodriguez, SLN) – 1968 best supporting actress for Kasalanan Kaya? mula sa San Beda College Awards; 1975 best actress for Nakakahiya?, Bacolod City Film Festival. The most successful May December acting team in Philippine Cinema, ever.
  • Emmanuel Borlaza – 1972 FAMAS best actress (her first as an adult actress and her one of five from the FAMAS), for Dama De Noche.
    Celso Ad. Castillo – 1977 best actress, MMFF, for Burlesk Queen. Her change of image changed everything. The best career move she ever did. There was no looking back.
  • Danny Zialcita – 1981 MMFF and Cebu City Film Festival for Karma.
    Elwood Perez – 1981 FAMAS best actress (Pakawalan Mo Ako) and 1988 FAMAS best actress (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos).
  • Ishmael Bernal (SLN) – hold your breath! 1982 Grand slam for Relasyon (her first of four grand slams, a record!); 1983 Urian best actress, Broken Marriage; 1989 Urian best actress, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga. Sayang at pumanaw na si ‘Ishma” – ang dami pa sana nilang pelikulang pagsasamahan. The most successful actress/director collaboration in Pinoy Cinema. Pinasabog na ang takilya, inulan pa ng awards.
  • Maryo J. De Los Reyes – 1987 FAMAS best actress, Tagos ng Dugo; 1992 New Fame Mag Readers’ Choice Award for best actress, Sinungalinng Mong Puso. Sana matuloy iyong Vilma-Christopher project sa Violet Films’ Huwag Hatulan ang Puso. Sana. It’s time for a Maryo J. and a Vilma reunion – perfect for each other – they’ll make a splash at the local and foreign markets. Abangan!
  • Mike de Leon – 1984 Urian best actress, Sister Stella L. In the recent U.P. Gawad Plaridel award for exemplary film practitioner, La Santos bested De Leon. Whew! Will Mike lure Vilma or vice-versa to make a movie together? Heaven, must be missing an angel: Mr. Mike De Leon, that is. It’s time for a reunion. Isa pa nga, oh! Hold your breath. I can see it coming. Mover over, Madam Auring!
  • Laurice Guillen – ah, the woman’s director – who better understands women but the outstanding actress cum director herself, Laurice? Her presence at Vilma’s coronation at the U. P. last July 4 is proof that Ms. Guillen is a true-blue Vilmanian. She gave the Queen two best actress awards: 1993 Grand slam (her second) for Dolzura Cortez; and in 1991 at the Urian for Ipagpatawad Mo, halting Nora’s almost second grand slam win for Pacita M. Laurice’s presence at the U.P. Cine Adarna is, probably, an open invitation for Ms. Versatile Vilma to say – OK – to Guillen’s script about a woman who spent most of her life taking care of family business, only to be abandoned or dumped like a hot potato by the ones she loved to death – with nowhere to go – no career/office skills – nothing. Do I hear a fifth grand slam? Aw, c’mon, Vilma, grab the script before it lands in another’s lap. Si Guillen yata iyan! Atat na ata na, umoo ka na, oh!
  • Chito Rono – is he Bernal II? His approach, his dark comedy, his overall style is vintage Bernal, yet very original, with Chito’s stamp of excellence all over it. Two grand slams for Vilma, for a total of four grand slams, plus 2 international acting trophies from the Brussels and CineManila, (1998’s Bata-bata and 2002’s Dekada ’70), is not bad. Is there a reunion in the offing? Direk Rono: “Vi, gawin na natin iyong script, bago ni Lualhati, bagay sa iyo iyon?” Vilma: “Naku, Chito, litung-lito na ako sa dami ng offers. Di ko alam ang uunahin. Ang hirap i-pass by. Nakapanghihinayang. Kung puede ko lang i-clone ang sarili ko, gagawin ko lahat ng offers sa akin. Kaso mo, so many good movies, so little time.” Chito: “Ako hintay sa iyo. Ayaw ko sagot mo Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng tagak. Basta ako hintay sa iyo.”
  • Rory Quintos – Anak shattered box-office records in 2000 and was the highest-grossing Pinoy film ever until Ang Tanging Ina (Solid Vilmanian Ai-Ai) zoomed to the top of the box-office. The 2000 best actress awards from the PMPC Star and PASADO are puede pasar, but millions of ‘luhaang’ viewers swear she should have brought home the bacon. All they were saying, please give Glo a chance! Sige na nga, senior citizen kasi eh. Doon nga sa Urian when Ms. Gloria Romero gave her speech: “I-share this award with Vilma who was so good in Anak.” BOW! Respect begets respect. Biglang sing si Aretha Franklin ng R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  • Joel Lamangan – the newest Vilma convert after he made Vilma grab best actress awards in the 2004 MMFF (Mano Po III), at the PMPC Star (her sixth), Tanglaw (her second) and Gawad Suri. He was so impressed by the QueenStar that he offered her a script she couldn’t resist, about the slums, a role to die for. Vi: “Joel, ang hirap naman, awa ako time. Gulong-gulo nga ang isip ko kung ano ang tatanuan ko eh. Puede bang next year na lang iyan?” – Mario O. Garces (READ MORE)

2006 Diwata Awards

The Diwata Awards – “…The Diwata Award recognizes and honors women and bestows this award to women who have successfully contributed original text to the growing materials and narratives on women sensibilities that aim to empower women who have been marginalized in the traditional film text. It also pays tribute to their outstanding contributions to their field of cinema. The Diwata in Philippine folklore is likened to the muse that inspires artists in crystallizing ideas, concepts, and conversations as they interact with their materials…”

March 8, 2006 – “…Vilma Santos had a meeting with her Vilmanians the other Friday at Max’s Libis. She reported that she had finally finished shooting her Maalaala Mo Kaya episode with Ricky Davao and Maja Salvador, directed by Olive Lamasan. “One year in the making ito, bale two episodes, but it’s really worth it and I’m impressed with the work of Direk Olive,” she says. “It’s based on the true story of a woman from Lipa.” She said she got an offer to do a stage play at the CCP. She’s willing to try the theatre but when she was told she has to rehearse for two months, she had to turn it down as she still has her duties as Lipa City mayor to attend to. She revealed she has new movie offers, but most of them are heavy drama. She wants to do something lighter that will be more appealing to the masa. Last March 8, Vilma was given the First Diwata Award in celebration of International Women’s Day. That coincided with the 16th International Women’s Film Festival by the UP Film Institute, the longest-running women’s filmfest in the country. She was cited for her roles in films like Sister Stella L, Relasyon, The Dolzura Cortez Story, Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? and Dekada ’70, which are about women empowerment. She was honored with Lily Monteverde, Charo Santos-Concio and writer Lualhati Bautista. Vilma was warmly applauded by an adulating crowd and she delivered a very inspirational message, saying: “I strongly believe in these films with strong messages. It’s about time men believe in women empowerment. Don’t underestimate us, women and artists!” Ate Vi left Thursday with husband Sen. Ralph Recto to attend the investiture rites of our new cardinal in Rome (she was personally invited). After that, she will take a cruise with Ralph and meet with her family in Los Angeles…” – Mario Bautista, People’s Journal March 26 2006 (READ MORE)

University of the Philippines – “…In 2005, the University of the Philippines conferred to her the Gawad Plaridel Award for her achievements and contributions both as an actress and a public servant. In the same year, she was conferred an honorary doctorate degree (honoris causa) in humanities by the Lipa City College. She was again honored in 2006 by the University of the Philippines as one of the four awardees in UP’s First Diwata Awards. “Ako’y napakarelihiyosong tao sa maniwala ka o hindi. Sa aking kalooban, inaalay ko sa Diyos ang aking mga tagumpay at mga suliranin. Nagpapasalamat ako sa Kanya sa mga magaganda’t mabubuting nangyari sa akin. Kung hindi naman, iniaalay ko pa rin sa Kanya kung iyon ang kalooban Niya. Ang hinihiling ko lamang sa Kanya’y tamang patnubay (“I’m a very religious person, whether you believe it or not. Deep inside, I offer all my success and problems to God. If they’re beautiful and good, I thank Him. If they aren’t, I still offer them to Him if that is what He wants to happen. What I only ask from Him is proper guidance),” she said…” – Rogelio Constantino Medina (READ MORE)

The Awardees – “…The following are the distinguished women who were awarded the Diwata Award…Ms. Charo Santos-Concio, Ms. Vilma Santos, Ms. Lily Monteverde, Ms. Lualhati Bautista, Ms. Laurice Guillen, Ms. Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Ms. Bella Flores…”

Vilma Santos, is the Philippines’ most awarded and critically acclaimed actress and longest reigning box office queen. One of the original Philippine movie queens, she rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” and more recently “Woman for all Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles. She is currently in politics as the Governor of Batangas province, Philippines. She was also formerly Mayor of Lipa City, Batangas. – Agimat (READ MORE)

Maria Rosario Santos known as Charo Santos-Concio or Charo Santos (born October 27, 1953) is a Filipina television executive, host, actress, and film producer who hosts the network’s longest-running drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya. She is the President of ABS-CBN Corporation, and plays a powerful role in TV and film production in the Philippines. On March 3, 2008, Ms. Charo Santos-Concio was promoted as 5th president of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation and in charge of the company’s total business portfolio, taking over from interim president Eugenio Lopez III. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Lily Monteverde – Lily Yu Monteverde (nickname Mother Lily) is a prominent Filipino film producer and businesswoman. Lily Monteverde has produced nearly 300 films in the Philippines since the early 1960s. She operated Regal Films, in the Philippines for many years. In August 1996 she invested much of her substantial wealth into hotels in Quezon City. She opened the Imperial Palace Suites on the site of an old gasoline station at the corner of Tomas Morato and Timog avenues in Quezon. In 2000, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Cinemanila International Film Festival. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Lualhati Torres Bautista (born Manila, Philippines December 2, 1945) is one of the foremost Filipino female novelists in the history of contemporary Philippine Literature. Her novels include Dekada ’70, Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?, and ‘GAPÔ. Bautista was born in Tondo, Manila, Philippines on December 2, 1945 to Esteban Bautista and Gloria Torres. She graduated from Emilio Jacinto Elementary School in 1958, and from Torres High School in 1962. She was a journalism student at the Lyceum of the Philippines, but dropped out even before she finished her freshman year. Despite a lack of formal training, Bautista as the writer became known for her honest realism, courageous exploration of Philippine women’s issues, and her compelling female protagonists, who confront difficult situations at home and in the workplace with uncommon grit and strength. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Laurice Guillen is a Filipino actress and director. Guillen studied at St. Theresa’s College, Cebu City, before working on a Masters in Mass Communication at Ateneo de Manila University, followed by a television production course under Nestor Torre, in 1967. She then began work as an actress, starring in productions of Mrs. Warren’s Profession, before crossing over to film and television work, playing a seductress in Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, and Corazon Aquino in the drama A Dangerous Life. In 2009 she accepted a role in the indie film Karera, her first role in an independent production. Other credits include in the film Sister Stella L and Moral. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Marilou Diaz-Abaya (March 7, 1955 – October 8, 2012) was a multi-awarded film director in the Philippines. She was the founder and president of the Marilou Diaz-Abaya Film Institute and Arts Center, a film school based in Antipolo City, Philippines. She was the director of the 1998 film José Rizal, a biopicture on the Philippines’ national hero. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Bella Flores – “…She is Bella Flores and proud that she has played the wicked tormentor of children from Tessie Agana in 1951 in Roberta, to Vilma Santos in Trudis Liit in 1963, to Maricel Soriano in Inday Bote in 1970. “I walk alone. I pray alone. I talk to God na huwag ako pababayaan. There are times I feel lonely, natural lang yun. I know God is always with me.” While she relates her story, of how she distrusts everyone which is why she opts to live alone and refuses to hire a live-in driver, there is something in her demeanor that tells you it is possibly just another role she is playing. “I don’t have close friends. We meet on the set, then go home. But there are people like Susan Roces, Gloria Romero, Pablo Gomez whom I like. Friends are the ballroom dancing friends, although I stopped dancing in 2002 when I became very busy,” she continues sounding much like the sure-fire recipe on how to be hated by an audience…” – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Star, 14 March 2008 (READ MORE)

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Laurice Guillen’s Vilma Santos Films

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204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success. – RV (READ MORE)

Guillen gave Vilma her fifth and sixth Gawad Urian Best Actress awards for 1991′s Ipagpatawad Mo and 1993′s Dolzura Cortez. The later also gave Vilma her second grand slam, winning all the best actress awards from local award giving bodies. – RV (READ MORE)

Kapag Langit Ang Humatol (1990) – “…Fortunately, director Laurice Guillen has more faith in her material, more respect. For she has not only come up with a beautifully-photographed, well-edited and generally superbly-acted melodrama. She has also held up to us a mirror of the dreams and aspirations, the frustrations, suffer¬ing and uncomplicated lifestyle of the so-called masa. Moments of the heroine’s unmitigated oppres¬sion in the hands of her evil mistress is age-old reality in Philippine life and, quite logically, litera¬ture. Her soul nearly scarred by her excruciating, degrading experience, she somehow manages not only to survive but also to rise from her humble, bleak origins, when she leaves the hellhole and finds hope and rewards in the city. In true melodramatic fashion, she plots out her revenge, but alas, even in carrying it out, she must pay dearly, nearly tragically. Feminist observers may easily notice that in this picture – as in, they would say, Philippine society -it is the women who run things. They domineer and dominate, manipulating the men, even the men they love. True enough, from the very beginning, it is the mistress and her poor servant who move things, decide, and tell men what to do. It is they who plot out schemes and plan their destiny. The same is true even with the minor characters, those played by Kristine Garcia (who virtually drags the farm stud into a stormy affair and pushes him to run away with her), Eula Valdez (who pulls the trigger that ends a chapter in the drama), Charo Santos (the single mother and self-made tycoon) and Carmina Villarroel (the young woman who tries to extricate herself from the mess which her quarreling mother and grandmother have created). For their part, the men are pushed around, fooled and overtaken by events: the weakling lover (Gomez), the perpetually horny stablehand (Wil¬liam Lorenzo) and the young and rich heir (Jeffrey Santos). All in all, it is a glossy and well-crafted movie, with marvelous performances by Ms. Santos and Ms. Romero.” – Mario A. Hernando (READ MORE)

Ipagpatawad Mo (1991) – “…The movie is poignant, nevermushy. It isnotthe run-of-the-mill tearjerker that relies on maudlin theatrics and melodramatic devices to touch the hearts of moviegoers. Surprisingly, despite the frustrating problem facing the movie couple, moviegoers did not seem to be depressed by the movie. Attempts to “commercialize” the film may be seen in the comic relief provided by the protracted spats between the two kids’ yayas (Ruby Rodriguez and Jinky Oda). But the heavy subject and the conditions in the local film industry allow us to accept the filmmakers’ decision to inject such crowd-pleasing elements. Though the late Lino Brocka has made a posthumous telemovie on the same subject autism — with a similar dramatic situation in the still-unreleased “Lampang Kerubin,” this is the first time in recent memory that a Filipino movie tackles the subject with seriousness and compassion…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993) – “…Taong 1993, nang gawin naman nila ang award winning movie na “Dahil Mahal Kita, Dolzura Cortez” sa ilalim ng OctoArts films at sa pamamahala ni direk Laurice Guillen na nagbigay kay Ate Vi ng ikalawang Grand Slam Best Actress award…” – Willie Ferrnandez (READ MORE)

Laurice Guillen is a Filipino actress and director. A protege of Lino Brocka, Guillen began her first major work as a director with Init sa Magdamag. In 1984 she directed Salome, which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and described as “the kind of cinematic discovery that single-handedly justifies the festival’s existence”. Ipagpatawad Mo was also directed by Guillen, as was Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story in 1993, before her retirement from filmmaking. Dedicating herself to the Marian movement, Guillen made pilgrimages to churches and cathedrals throughout the Philippines with her husband, believing that Mary had called on her to experience a spiritual renewal. By 1998 she was thinking about returning to filmmaking, and following a good reception of Ipagpatawad Mo by a group of priests, who encouraged her to back into filmmaking, along with an appearance on Kris Aquino’s talk show, she did so. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Related Reading
FAP: Laurice Guillen’s Filmography
Women of Power, Women of Substance
Laurice Guillen recalls her fondest memory of late husband Johnny Delgado
Laurice Guillen stars in Tanghalang Ateneo’s “The Glass Menagerie”
Clips – Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story – Vilma Santos
Clips – Ipagpatawad Mo (Video)
Top 10 Film Directors (Video)

Vilma S. Meet the Real Sister Stella L.

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Those who have seen “Sister Stella L.” in its various previews and premieres nights are one the same in their opinion: it is indeed Vilma Santos’ best screen portrayal in the history of her long moive career! Si Vilma mismo ay inamin sa amin ito: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime movie role na talagang puedeng ipagmalaki ng kahit na sinong artista. Ang tagal bago tuluyang naisapelikula at natapos ang “Sister Stella L.” pero talagang mula nang ialok sa akin ‘yan, hindi na naalis sa isip ko. Kung kani-kaninong producer na nga inalok ‘yan. Like sa Viva noon na akala ko’y matutuloy na, pero hindi pa rin pala. Kaya’t kahit anong pelikula ang ginagawa ko noon, at the back of my mind, talagang nakareserba pa rin ang “Sister Stella L.” Itinatabi ko talaga ko ‘yan. Parang dream role na lagi kong binabalik-balikan. At finally, nang gawin na namin sa Regal, nabuhos na talaga ang buong atensiyon ko, ang lahat ng panahon ko. Ang now, after hearing all the favorable comments about the movie, and siyempre about me and my performance too, talagang tumataba ang puso ko at maha-high ako.

First and foremost, talagang it’s a great honor na makatrabaho ang isang direktor like Mike de Leon. Dati ko na siyang nirerespeto, pero after working with him and making “Stella L.”, lalo pang tumaas ang pagtingin ko sa kanya, First rate talaga!” Vilma recognizes the fact that without Mike’s help, she will not be able to give the right characterization that her role required. “Kaya paulit-ulit ko isyang tinatanong kung tama ang mga kilos ko bilang isang madre,” aniya. “and maniniwala ka ba, I met the real Sister Stella L.!” Nakakataw niya pahayag. Nagulat kami. You mean, sabi namin sa kaya, this is really a true story? Na ang kuwento ng madreng naging aktibista sa pelikula ay talagang ibinatay sa totoong tao? Akala namin kasi ay fiction lamang ito. “From what I heard,” sabi ni Vilma, “may kaibigan talagang madre si Mike na siyang naka-inspre sa kanya para gawin ang pelikulang ito. One day, dumating si Mike sa set na kasama niya. She is very pretty. Sa ganda, parang hindi madre.” Akala mo raw ay isa itong socialite. Ayaw sanang ipasabi ni Vi ang tunay na pangalan nito, pero we personally feel na wala namang masama dahil dapat pa nga siyang purihin sa kanyang prinsipyo. Kaya ire-reveal namin sa inyo ang tunay niyang identity. Her name is Sister Consuelo Ledesma, anak ng pinagpipitaganang si Pura Kalaw Ledesma at pamangkin ng ating current censors chief na si Maria Kalaw Katigbag or MKK. Now, isn’t that a very interesting sidelight of the movie? Ayon kay Vilma, tuwang-tuwa siya dahil naaprubahan ang pelikula nang walang anumang putol. “That means the censors now are broadminded enought to realize na wala namang talagang masama sa pelikula,” aniya. “Noon pa man, sinasabi ko nang ang ipinakikita lang ng movie, ‘yung totoong nangyayari, ‘yung mga prinsipyo lang ng taop ngayon. Like ‘yung mga strikes, manonood ka nga ng newscast sa TV, di ba makakapanood ka rin ng mga ganyan? Kaya I’m really very happy na it was passed without any cuts.

Kung pinutulan kasi, parang makukulangan na ‘Yung pelikula.” How does it feel when people keep on saying na siguradong mananalo na naman siya ng best actress award ss susunod na taon? “Naku, ha,” natatawa niyan wika, “ang layu-layo pa noon. Siyempre pa I’m flattered, pero ayaw ko munang isipin ‘yon. Ang tagal pa bago matapos ng 1984 at maraming-marami pang puedeng ibang mangyari. Malay natin kung marami pang ibang magagandang pelikula ang magawa featuring the equally good performaces ng ibang mga artista? Basta natutuwa ako’t ngayon pa lang, may panlaban na ko. ‘Yong lang.” With her fine performances in “Adultery” and “Sister Stella L.”, marami ngang movie insiders ang nagpapalagay that Vilma can easily rest on her laurels for this year. Sabi pa nila: “Maski huwag na siyang gumawa ng ibang pelikula at next year na uli siya magkaroon ng bagong release, okay lang.

For this year, talagang she has already proven herself.” We Believe similarly, too, but Vilma is apparently not content with just two good movies this year kaya she is on her way to making a third one. She is currently doing “Alyas Baby Tsina” for Viva Films. This time, reunited siya with Famas best director Marilou Diaz Abaya. “It’s a period movie, set in 1969-70 when unrest was at its peak,” ani ni Vi. “We’ve started shooting pero ilang ulit ding na-delay dahil ulang nang ulan, e. Tapos, nagkasakit pa ako for three days.” She will be completely deglamorized in the movie. Ang papel niya ay isang babaing naging puta at nabilanggo sa correctional kung kaya’t nilagyan doon ito ng tattoo. In several scenes, wala siyang make-up at ipinakikitang naglilinis ng kubeta. Clearly, this is another challenging acting vehicles for Vilma. Kaya nga may katwiran talagang magreklamo yung mga ibang artistang babae natin. How come she is getting the best roles in the best projects? What did she do to deserve such a wonderful, enviable fate? Vilma dismisses all these with a simple shrug of her frail-looking shoulders. ” I guess I’m just lucky,” aniya. “Talagang Somebody up there loves me. Wala naman kasi akong atraso sa kanya eh.” The bloom in Vilma these days is unminstakable. Talagang lalo siyang gumanda. And whatever joys and good fortune she is enjoying these days, we are sure she deserves all that bounty. – Mario Bautista MovieLIFE Magazine 1984

Sweet sweep for Stella

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It was a sweet sweep for Sister Stella L., the movie which garnered ten of the twelve trophies at stake during Friday night’s 9th Urian Awards rites. The Regal Films production was hailed the Best Fil; Sister Stella L., herself Vilma Santos, Best Actress; Jay Ilagan, Best Actor; Mike De Leon, Best Director; Laurice Guillen, Best Supporting Actress; and Tony Santos, Sr., Best Supporting Actor; Still Stella L’s Jose Lacaba, Jose Almojuella, and Mike De Leon were cited for the Best Screenplay category; Jess Navarro, for Best Editing; Ding Achacoso, for Best Music; and Ramon Reyes, for Best Sound. This is more than enough to compensate for its poor performance at the box office. ECP’s Misteryo sa Tuwa went home with two remaining awards for Best Production Design by Don Escudero and Rodel Cruz; and for Best Cinematography by Rod Ilacad. For his outstanding contribution to the film industry, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino bestowed a special award to William Smith for bringing into the country the first colored film laboratory. Some people could use a lesson in courtesy. At his age, Smith, understandably, could harlly walk, speak well or display clarity of thought, therefore, the need for him to read his remark of thanks from a piece of paper. While national artist Lamberto Avellana and veteran actress Mary Walter paid due respect for Smith, a young man seated beside us took note of this and declared, “Pare, ‘yung speech niya binabasa pa niya, o!” Although the presentation ran smoothly and briefly (yes, of long waits and intermission), notable was the marked seriousness about the atmosphere that night. Champoy’s twosome’s (emcee Cherie Gil and Noel Trinidad) efforts to perk up the audience were futile. The Urian show, furthermore, lacked star luster. Several guest stars failed to attend the ceremony as shown by the many vacant seats. Some presentors even had to go upstage twice. Have we suddenly grown weary of awards rites? Even the major awardees were not present to claim their trophies, thus, only Vilma posed for photographers at the end of the show. (Photos: Luis Garcia Jr.)


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If we do not act, who will act? If not now, when?

The Plot: Sister Stella L. is the award-winning masterpiece by Mike De Leon. It’s about a nun, Sister Stella Legaspi, who becomes involved in labor strikes after learning about the government’s neglect of the poor and the working class. Her sworn duty to fight for the poor and the oppressed turns personal when her journalist friend Nick Fajardo is tortured and the union leader Dencio is kidnapped and killed. What follows is her eye-opening and the tear-jerking battle against cruelty and injustice. The film broke censorship barriers back in 1984, during the final years of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship, for its realistic portrayal of labor struggles, and extrajudicial killings, hauntingly mirroring the reality of Philippine society today under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. – Filipinas for the Rights and Empowerment

The Reviews: Hindi kami nakakilos sa aming inuupuan matapos panoorin ang “Sister Stella L”. Para kaming sinampal, tinamaan ng kidlat right between the eyes. Masyado kaming naapektuhan. Gusto naming sumigaw. Talagang gagalitin ka ng pelikula. Kay raming eksena ang talagang titiim ang bagang mo. Manggigigil ka, magngingitngit ka. At pahahangain ka. Gusto mong sigawan ng bravo, yakapin at suubin ng papuri ang mga gumawa nito. Si Mike de Leon na siyang direktor. Si Lily Monteverde na naglakas-loob na i-produce ito. Ang scripwriters, ang mga artista, at lahat na ng kaugnay sa pelikula. Alam mong itinataya nila ang kanilang kaligtasan sa paggawa ng ganitong uri ng pelikula. At bilang manunulat, naroon ang hangarin mo upang tulungan ang pelikulang ito na mapanood ng lalong nakararaming mga pilipino. ..nang walang putol!

Ang “Sister Stella L” ay kasaysayan ng isang madre, ng isang Pilipino, at ang pagkakamulat ng kanyang mga mata sa mga kaapihang sosyal na nagaganap sa kanyang paligid. Sa pagsisimula ng istorya as siyam na taon nang naglilingkod sa kumbento ng Caritas si Sister Stella Legaspi (Vilma Santos). Guidance counselor siya sa mga taong may problema na tulad ni Gigi (Gina Alajar), isang unwed mother. Minsa’y dinalaw siya ni Nick Fajardo (Jay Ilagan), isang peryodistang dati niyang katipan. May sinusulat itong artikulo tungkol sa mga aktibistang pari at madre. Agad inamin ni Stella na siya’y “walang masyadong alam sa socio-political involvement ng mga madre at pari.” Siya ang ginawang ehemplo ni Nick sa artikulo nito ng mga madreng kulang sa kamulatan. Nag-react dito si Stella at sinabi sa kanya: “ Hindi ba involvement din ang trabaho ko rito sa Caritas?” Madalas ma-depress si Gigi at kay Stella ito sumasandal. Nang minsang sabihin sa kanya ni Stella na kaya niyang dalhin ang kanyang mga problema ay sinumbatan siya nito: “Madaling magsalita. Hindi naman ikaw ang nahihirapan. Paano mo alam, hindi ka naman dumaan sa hirap? Nagbuntis ka na ba? Laging masakit ang suso mo. Nahihirapan kang tumae.” At nang patuloy pa ring malamig si Stella ay sinabi nito: “Bakit hindi ka gumaya sa ‘kin? Nagagalit, nagmumura, nagpapabuntis?”

May kaibigang madre si Stella, si Sister Stella Bautista (Laurice Guillen). Involved ito sa social action work at kasalukuyang tumutulong sa Barrio Agoho, isang factory town, na kung saan ang mga manggagawa sa Republic Cooking Oil ay nagbabantang mag-aklas. Naakit si Stella L. na tingnan ang uri ng trabaho roon ni Stella B. Sa araw ng kanyang pagdalaw sa Agoho ay tiyempo namang pagsisimula ng welga roon. Tuwang-tuwa si Stella B. Sumasama raw siya sa picket line dahil “pag may mga madre at pari sa picket line, nahihiyang pumasok ang mga eskirol.” Sa paglapit niya sa picket ay naabutan si Stella L. ng placard at siya man ay napabilang na rin sa welga. Puno pa siya ng mga katanungan: “Ano ba ‘tong napasukan ko? Anong gagawin ko?” Sabi naman ni Stella B.: “Basta gawin mo lang ang gagawin ko.” Sa paglipas ng oras ay nakausap niya ang mga manggagawang nagwewelga, nakitulong siya sa pagsandok ng kanin, sa paghugas ng plato. Nakilala niya ang lider ng mga welgista na si Dencio (Tony Santos) at ang asawa nitong si Auring (Anita Linda). Nang makita ni Nick ang mga larawang kuha sa welga at kabilang doon si Stella, nasabi nito sa kanyang editor (Liza Lorena): “Kilala ko si Stella. Madali siyang maimpluwensiyahan. Baka kung ano na ang napulot noon sa tokayo niyang radikal.” Nagsimula namang kuwestiyunin ni Stella ang trabaho niya sa Caritas. Binalaan siya ng kanyang superyorang si Juaning (Adul de Leon): “Hindi social action ang linya natin. At tandaan mo ang sabi ng Papa: huwag tayong humalo sa politika.” Sa kanyang mga alinlangan kung tama ang pasiya niyang maglingkod sa Agoho, ito ang payo ni Stella B.: “Paano mo malalaman kung hindi mo susubukan? Hindi ang mga tao ang dapat makinig sa ‘yo, ikaw ang dapat makinig sa kanila.” Dahil sa kanyang karanasan sa Agoho, nasabi ni Stella kay Gigi: “Ang kahirapang nababasa’t naririnig ko lamang ay naging buhay na sa akin. Ako pala’y nangangapa ring tulad mo.” Namulat ang mata niya sa “pang-aabuso sa mga naaapi” at na-touch siya ng “pag-aasikaso ng mga ito.” Aniya: “Sila na ang nangangailangan ay kami pa ang kanilang iniintindi.”

Duda pa rin si Nick sa involvement niya sa welga. Pasulpot-sulpot lang daw siya roon, patulong-tulong. “Kapag nagsawa ka,” anito, “uuwi ka rin sa komportableng kumbento.” Si Stella B. ay kinailangan namang magpunta sa Davao upang tumulong sa isa pa nilang kasamahan doon, lalong nangamba si Stella L. na iiwanan siya nito sa Agoho. “Baka hindi ko kaya,” aniya. Sabi naman ni Stella B. “Puro ka baka, e, kailan mo pa malalaman?” Pinatawag uli si Stella ni Juaning. Sabi nito: “Hindi payag ang kongregasyon sa trabaho mo sa Barrio Agoho.” Sa pagbabalik niya sa Caritas, nagpatiwakal naman si Gigi. Lalong naguluhan si Stella. “Parang bumaliktad ang mundo ko,” aniya. “Marami akong tinatanong. Bakit nga ba ako nag madre?” Sabi naman ni Stella B.: “Madreng lansangan ka pa rin hanggang mamatay ka.” Natuloy ang pag-alis nito, na ang akala’y pinoproblema niya na baka may pagtingin pa rin siya kay Nick. Bilin pa nito: “Kung mahal mo siya, sundin mong feeling mo. Marami namang paraan ngpaglilingkod sa Diyos.” Si Nick ay nagkaroon din ng problema sa trabaho niya. Isang artikulo niya tungkol sa karanasan ni Stella B. sa Isabela na pinamagatan niyang “A Nun’s Story: Military Atrocities” ang hindi pinalathala ng kanilang publisher. “I-rewrite mo,” sabi ng editor niya. “Bawasan mo’ng tapang.” “Ano?” balik niya. “Gawin kong love story?” “Sabi ko, i-rewrite mo, hindi babuyin,” anang editor. Pero sa bandang huli ay nag-give up na rin ito. Tanggapin na raw lamang ang kanilang mga limitasyon. “Hindi lahat ng legal ay makatarungan.” Nagbitiw si Nick sa trabaho niya sa Tribune at lumipat ng pagsusulat sa Malaya.

Nagbalik si Stella L. sa Agoho at naging mas aktibo na siya sa picket line. Nang minsang lalabas ang trak ng mga produkto mula sa pabrika ay siya pa ang nag wika: “Mga kasama, magkapit-bisig tayo.” Samantala’y nagsimula ang pangha-harass kay Dencio at sa pamilya nito. Una’y ginulpi ang anak niyang si Roger, pagkatapos ay binaril ang bahay nila. Ang huli’y kinidnap si Dencio. Nang papaalis na sina Stella at Nick upang humingi ng tulong, sila man ay kinidnap din. Nakita nila ang pagpapahirap kay Dencio. Sila man ay sinaktan din at si Stella ay binastos pa ng mga sanggano. Pinakawalan din sila. Di naglaon, ibinalik si Dencio. Patay na. Sa harap ng mga manggagawa, ipinahayag ng asawa nitong si Auring na tuloy ang welga. Nagsalita rin si Stella at sinabi niya: “Ilang beses akong pinaalalahanan na ako’y isang madre lamang. Pero una sa lahat, ako’y isang tao, ako’y isang Kristiyano.” At isinigaw niya: “Katarungan para kay Ka Dencio. Mabuhay ang uring manggagawa.” Sa last scene ng pelikula’y nagsasalita ng diretso si Stella L. sa mga manonood: “Marami pa akong hindi alam at dapat malaman tungkol sa kasalukuyang kalagayan ng ating sistema ng lipunan. Kailangan pa ‘kong patuloy na mag-aral at matuto. Pero ang mahalaga’y narito na ako ngayon, hindi na nanonood lamang. Nakikiisa sa pagdurusa ng mga di makaimik, tumutulong sa abot ng aking makakaya. Kung hindi tayo ang kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa?”

More than anything else, ipinakita ni Mike de Leon bilang isang socially committed at responsible na director ang iba pang posibilidad ng pelikula bilang art at bilang medium of communication. ‘Yung mga laging pumipintas sa pelikulang lokal at nagsasabing walang kuwenta’t saysay ang mga ito, panoorin ninyo and “Sister Stella L” for it is Filipino moviemaking at its best: aware, concerned, and with a universally relevant message. It also shows that an artistic film can be entertaining and as a matter of fact, is necessarily intellectually entertaining (but an entertaining film is not necessarily an artistic one).

The movie succeeds in delivering its message because all the elements that went into its completion are excellently executed. It is that rare kind of movie which has no false moves. The screenplay is brilliantly developed and constructed by Pete Lacaba, Jose Almojuela (who is also the assistant director), and Mike de Leon himself. The cinematography of Rody Lacap deserves nothing but superlatives and the musical score by Ding Achacoso is served in a silver platter (napakagaganda ng mga awiting “Sangandaan” at “Aling Pag-ibig Pa” na nilikha niya para sa pelikula). The editing by Jess Navarro and the production design by Cesar Hernando also deserve the highest commendation. We cannot help but gush dahil lahat ng aspeto ng produksiyong ito ay maganda.

The movie is sure to elicit all sorts of reactions from various quarters. The bigoted and the narrow-minded will no doubt readily brand it as the work of communists and subversives. The involved will merely find it interesting. But the enlightened will declare it as a socially committed work of art. No doubt that some concerned quarters will be offended. Some of the speeches are so frank and fearless. Dencio says in a May 1st rally: “Ang mga manggagawa ang lumilikha ng yaman ng bansa. Panahon na para ipakita ang lakas ng ating pagkakaisa, na makamtan ng bayan ang tunay na kalayaan. Ang manggagawa ang nagpapaandar ng makina, nagpapalago ng puhunan.” Pero ano ang nangyayari? Tayo ang namamatay sa gutom, ang naghihikahos. Hindi magbabago ang ating lipunan kung uupo lang tayo sa isang sulok at maghihimutok. kundi tayo ngayon kikilos, kailan pa?” Nang mamatay siya, sabi naman ng asawa niyang si Auring: “Noon, ang paniwala ko talaga, gano’n ang buhay, may nasa itaas, may nasa ibaba. May nag-uutos at may nagsisilbi. Pero kung tatahimik ka na lang lagi, ang konting meron ka, aagawin pa sa ‘yo. Patay na nga si Dencio pero tuloy ang welga.” Sabi naman ng anak niyang si Roger: “Kung kikilos tayo, dapat ngayon na. Ngayon pa lang, pinapatay na kami. Kaya mas mabuti pang mamatay ng lumalaban kaysa habang buhay kang nagtitiis.”

To make a film like this comes under the heading “they said it couldn’t be done.” Mike de Leon does it, splendidly. In these days when local film faces such problems as exorbitant production cost, commercialism, lack of an intelligent and responsive audience, and censorship, it is heartening to note that movies like this are still being made. Matthew Arnold said that art and society shape each other so artists should deal with serious subjects of moral and social value. This is exactly what Stella L. accomplished, for it allows the viewer to meditate on life and help him gain some insights. Surely no film is an island entire of itself because each movie is made by several men, but the distinguishable personality of an exceptional director is almost always imprinted on his film. We have never really liked the works of Mike de Leon that much and his movies (like “Itim”, “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising”, and “Kisapmata”) seemed nothing more to us as exercises in self-indulgence. Starting with “Kakaba-kaba Ka Ba?” though, he demonstrated a newfound cause in making movies, which is further reinforced by “Batch ‘81”. Now, Stella L., offers the pleasure of watching a director as he is hitting full stride, his craft and competence marching in step with history. His deft hand is quickly evident in the cinematography. There is no imposed prettiness in the photography, no straining for arty effects, but the texture is rich and palpable to validate reality, with the effective use of color-acting on the viewer to reinforce the temper and tenor of the story.

De Leon handles his intimate and delicate material powerfully, persuasively and penetratingly. He not only executes the technical aspects marvelously but also knows how to work with his actors, both individually and in the here all-important ensembles. The crowd scenes are a delight, with some sequences presented with the veristic quality of a documentary, and each scene is played for maximum impact, immaculately crafted and made with care and conscience, with dedication and devotion. If we now sound so much like an avid de Leon fan, it is because Stella L. is the kind of work that makes a reviewer long for new adjectives of praise. One knows very well that de Leon works for reasons other than money. This makes the strength, sensitivity and symetry of his direction deserve the highest praise and the sweet of music of thunderous applause for it is just better than perfect. Local cinema gives us very few occasions to rejoice and this is one of them.

In the large and uniformly excellent supporting cast, Laurice Guillen stands out as Sister Stella B. She is one film director and actress who is really ablaze with talent. As the instrument to Stella L.’s involvement in a much more worthy cause, she imbuesher role with just the right mixture of intensity and charm. Equally memorable are Tony Santos as the beleaguered labor leader, Anita Linda as his courageous wife, and Liza Lorena as the sympathetic magazine editor who is willing to compromise. Gina Alajar is very effective in a very short role as the unwed mother. In the male lead role, Jay Ilagan proves once more that he is indeed one of our most competent young actors available.

And now, Vilma Santos. Playing the title role, Vilma tries a part that is totally different from her past roles and proves that she has indeed become a highly skilled professional. Her role is somewhat reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn’s in Fred Zinnermann’s “The Nun’s Story”, where a young nun discovers in a hospital at the Congo that she is first a nurse and only second a religious. But Stella’s awakening is much more vital and revolutionary than that of Sister Luke in the Hepburn movie. Vilma’s transformation from an innocent bystander to that of an active participant who is audacious enough to be in the thick of battle is truly quite awesome to behold. We could almost see and feel the internal changes in her. In a sense, the role is somewhat tailor made for her because her beauty is appropriate to the part of Stella L., but she also succeeds in transcending her established personality, delivering her lines and gestures with vigorous conviction and playing it to perfection that one can safely predict that she will again be running in the best actress derby come next year. And so, to Vi, Mike and Mother Lily, our heartfelt gratitude for giving us a film that has the power to cause insomnia. – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

Must the ability to entertain the audience be the constant guiding criteria in the film and in the performing arts? While certainly, one does not minimize the importance of the entertainment function of the arts, the film Sister Stella L shows that it is not much the ability to entertain that is crucial as the ability to stir and maintain interest. For, as in this film, one cannot really say that the audience is entertained, regaled with spectacular sights, provided a pleasant diversion or titillated by teasing or amusing scenes, but the audience is invited, through the skills of the performers and director, to engage in immediate issues which concern us today. This film thus poses a challenge to our usual notions and expectations of Philippine cinema, as it is not a romantic or domestic drama, a comedy or an action film. The fact that such a film as this appears at this point implies a belief in the development and maturity of the local audience who can, at least from the responses of previewers so far, be receptive to harder stuff.

Sister Stella L deals with the contemporary social issues through the experience of various characters, among them Sister Stella L (Vilma Santos) and Nick, her former boyfriend now a journalist (Jay Ilagan), Sister Stella B (Laurice Guillen), the union leader Ka Dencio (Tony Santos) and his wife (Anita Linda). Again, the film differs from most productions nowadays in its immersion in contemporary social reality. The characters, too, possess a strong active aspect of people engaged in a meaningful cause, the people’s struggle for social justice. The nun that Sister Stella B portrays typifies in her strength and honesty the person who has gone beyond purely personal and selfish concerns to embrace the larger role of service to the people. No doubt, it is a refreshing and exhilarating experience to see characters who realize themselves fully as human beings by transcending petty selfish interest and giving of themselves to people in need of support and protection. Because of this, the spirit of the film is highly optimistic and reassuring because it makes us strongly aware of the forces in our midst working for change and of the fact that history is moving forward with these forces assuming the active role.

The central issue of the film has to do with the involvement of religious like Sister Stella L and her senior, Sister Stella B, in socio-political affairs. We know, for instance, that one point of view will have priests and religious secluded behind convent walls where their activity is restricted to praying. They are to have nothing to do with life around them as social and political concerns are thought to corrupt their purity and bring in wordly moral dangers and temptations. Or that priests and religious should remain apolitical, not taking sides in socio-political issues, but as men of God, considering all men as brothers who will, in the end, become docile and receptive to preachings of love and unity. The other point of view believes that it is not as simplistic as all that. In fact, it believes that the adoption of a neutral attitude can only serve to dull one’s moral sensibilities and because one shirks from making moral choices, one also renouces one’s responsibility as a human being. In truth, it is of utmost importance, perhaps particularly so for religious, to have a fine and acute sense of moral discernment as applied to social relations, in which the idea of truth and justice operate. The religious who makes grand sermons on love and unity may not himself understand the meaning of truth and justice, because love and unity do not exist in the abstract but are social ideals possible of attainment – only and only when exploitative relationships are destroyed. Otherwise, one contents oneself with hypocrisies. What for instance, would be the love of the rich factory owner intent on profits for the worker, and vise versa. Workers’ wages are only to keep workers alive and in a measure of health for him to have enough strength to operate the machines of work in the fields. Is it enough for factory owner and worker to meet in church and perhaps occupy the same pew – or will religious feel sufficiently edified at the sight? But priests and nuns are citizens of this country as much as any of us and are thus part of the body politic in which they have the right to take active part. Likewise, they are as human as anyone else, and as human beings, they have the drive toward concreteness and totality realized only in social interaction. The Church, too, cannot afford to take a position of alienation and withdrawal, because by doing so it will only continually lose its influence in a time of urgent and pressing realities; otherwise, it will only end up as an outmoded medieval institution. The Church is continually called upon to make moral decisions, and it is through these that the people will know whether it truly supports their cause or whether it only acts as a liaison for exploitative interests.

In the film, for instance, there is a conflict between Sister Stella L and her superior who wants her to stay in the convent to act as guidance counsellor and not to engage in labor activities in Barrio Agoho where a strike in an oil factory is taking place. For a while, she obeys her superior to be spiritual adviser to an unwed mother, portrayed by Gina Alajar, who, however, throws her back the question of what does she know at all, as a nun, of human suffering. The task of counselling this individual soul lost in her private hell is fruitless and Gina eventually commits suicide, which serves to show the nun the narrow limitation of such a task. Sister Stella L henceforth knows that she must make the choice of the larger and more challenging field of the workers in struggle. It is also important to note that Sister Stella B tells her fellow nun that although her immediate superior may not approve of her social participation, it is possible that higher superiors will – thus showing that such is still possible within the fold of the congregation. Also, at one time, there arises the question of whether Sister Stella L will stick it out as a religious or continue her activities outside the convent. Upon consultation with her friend, Sister Stella B, she decides to carry on the struggle as a nun, and by so doing, show the importance of such a function for her fellow religious, as well as its validity as a position within the religious orders.

The central event in the film is the strike of workers in an oil factory in Barrio Agoho where nuns show their support for the workers by participating in the picket, thereby lending valuable protection. The factory owner (Ruben Rustia) sends goons to harass the picket line, and makes use of the military, which readily lends itself to protect the minority interests of wealthy property owners against the majority interests of the workers. When the strike continues despite inclement weather and hunger, the factory owner resorts to kidnapping the union leader, Sister Stella L, and her journalist friend. All are maltreated and tortured, but the old union leader is finally “salvaged” and thrown into a dump. In the confrontation between the factory owner and Sister Stella L, the former shows himself to be hostile to the workers and to the participation of the nuns: “Kung pati ang mga madre ay nagpapagamit sa mga Komunista, mabuti pang magbago na lang ako ng relihiyon.” To which the nun answers: “Mabuti na ngang magbago kayo ng relihiyon upang hindi parehong Diyos ang sambahin natin.” The murder of the union leader, Ka Dencio, only lends more fuel to the workers’ resolve to continue the strike, which is now led by his wife, with the militant participation of Sister Stella L. The latter’s exhortation to the workers – and by extension to the audience – to engage in the struggle ends the film.

A secondary theme is the issue of press freedom, which is explored, in the first-hand experience of Nick, the young journalist. He writes a series on the politicization of the religious and their active participation in mass actions. In the beginning, his motivations are somewhat confused – and this his editor points out clearly to him – because he may be using this as an excuse to follow and communicate with Sister Stella L, who used to be his girlfriend. The journalist, however, understands the futility of the religious confining themselves within convent walls and poses the challenge for involvement. Sister Stella L takes up the challenge – in fact, the journalist’s articles contribute to her politicization. When she gets more and more involved, he becomes protective and anxious for her safety. His articles on the subject barely squeeze through censorship and he experiences increasing difficulty in getting published. Sister Stella L and he are kidnapped by goons and they are physically assaulted even as they witness the torture of the union leader. Instead of intimidating them, the experience completes their politicization and in the end Sister Stella, militant and committed, finds her true social role.

Because this movie deals with issues, it has more than the usual amount of dialogue compared with other films. This, however, does not work against it. Since what is talked about is drawn from the very stuff of social reality and thus concerns a large number, it is able to sustain interest. Too much dialogue would be a defect if it dwelt on banalities or inanities or if it narrated incidents rather than portrayed them. In this case, dialogue is necessary for the exploration of issues, as well as for the portrayal of how the characters reckon with ideas and develop in their social consciousness. The audience is not bored provided the things talked about in the film have a bearing on their lives. Filipinos, after all, are a talky lot (think of the large amounts of time spent in coffee shops over coffee or beer). Moreover, these are talky times, because the larger public is rapidly developing critical awareness, and there is now a greater need for interaction and exchange in the interest of survival. There are references in the film which may, at first, seem extraneous, such as Sister Stella B’s mission to Davao where she joins a fact-finding group. However, such references serve to extend the “area of responsibility,” if we may borrow the expression, from Manila to the far-flung provinces. Thus, the unity of the film is not only in the events that engage the characters in Manila but also in a larger over-all spirit of solidarity in which vibrations of sympathy throughout the islands give strength and comfort to those of a common cause. For a heart-warming film, the entire cast deserves congratulations, particularly Vilma Santos who reveals another aspect of her multi-faceted talent. From her usual soft and sweet romantic roles, she can be transformed into a strong and militant woman without losing any of her charm and beauty. Jay Ilagan, Tony Santos, Anita Linda and Liza Lorena are also in their best form. Mike de Leon as director, Jose F. Lacaba as scriptwriter are likewise to be congratulated for making a truly human film and for contributing to the cause of workers for justice and of the religious for the recognition of their social role. Not to be overlooked is the producer Lily Monteverde of Regal Films who has this time shifted from puerile erotic dramas to make a courageous film for which she will always be well remembered. – Alice G. Guillermo, Who Magazine May 30, 1984 (READ MORE)

THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN two important Filipino films in this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival: Sister Stella L., directed by Mike de Leon and Kapit sa Patalim, directed by Lino Brocka. Both smuggled out to France and both vitally political in thrust, the two films were reportedly disowned by the Philippine embassy in France. Supposedly under instructions from the Philippine goverment, the embassy sent the following disclaimer to the festival directorate: “There are no Filipino films in the Cannes Film Festival.” The two films nevertheless made it to the festival site, though only one was screened as scheduled. Brocka’s film was in the category “In Competition,” and was tested against the works of such eminent directors as Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Satyajit Ray. Early on, Kapit sa Patalim (which acquired a second title, Bayan Ko, in deference to another film project which had been approved before Brocka’s project) was rumored to be a strong contender for the Best Film award. Critic Bertrand Tavernier was quoted as saying, “It’s a toss-up between Wim Wenders’ Paris Texas and Brockas’s Bayan Ko.” De Leon’s film was to have had special screenings, on the unanimous request of the Cannes’ board of critics. Sister Stella L., however, suffered from the rush of subtitling work that descended upon Cannes’ select group of translators and De Leon opted not to show the film without subtitles. He nevertheless had the distinct honor of holding a retrospective under the sponsorship of the French Cinematheque right after the festival. The film eventually competed at the Venice Film Festival. Under its original title Sangandaan (Crossroads), Sister Stella L. was invited to the Venice Film Festival in 1984, the second Filipino film (after Genghis Khan in 1951) to be honored with such recognition. – – Agustin L. Sotto and Pet Cleto, Philippine Panorama Dec 02 1984 (READ MORE)

“…Sister Stella L is undeniably, an angry film. It reeks of the pungency of a dictatorial regime and immersed in the canker of political and social repression. It is Jose F. “Pete” Lacaba’s film more than it is Mike de Leon’s. It is ideologically furious and liberalistic that you might surmise the film as left-leaning rather than simply a hard nudge at the Marcos government. Interesting to note of Lacaba’s background in the underground movement after the imposition of Martial Law in 1972, which, as most of the intellectually enlightened ended being rounded up by the military, thus his exclamation is compellingly evident in Sister Stella L…in the film’s first minutes, we witness a kind of relevancy we could not deny exists nowadays: the separation of the Church and the state, particularly on affairs that have a lasting effect on the people. “Hindi ang mga tao ang dapat makinig sa yo, ikaw ang dapat makinig sa kanila” (“The people should not be the ones listening to you, instead, you should be the one listening to them”), Sister Stella Bautista quietly ripostes, summarizing the supposedly inherent role of the laity in its profession of faith and service. A reversal of such an adage practically prevails in the Church’s current social rearings, despite the invisible boundary. But is activism a justification for the intrusion? Probably dependent on the circumstances. The motivation is noble and not of selfish traditionalism, that the film likewise bestows the necessity of religious congregations to act as a force to mobilize. Maybe the film is too radical in its approach, and frankly, Mike de Leon would possibly agree to that. Like most people would notice, Sister Stella L. is undoubtedly, not a Mike de Leon film. He has a hand in its production, but it is certainly not his. It has all the footprints of Pete Lacaba firmly planted in, from its conception to structure, similarly like what he did with Lino Brocka’s hard-line Bayan Ko…Kapit sa Patalim (1985) and Orapronobis (1989).” – Etchie (READ MORE)

“…In Mike de Leon’s “Sister Stella L,” Vilma Santos plays Catholic nun Sister Stella Legaspi. Searching for meaning behind the words in the Bible that teach people to serve the poorest of the poor, she is led to the picket line of striking workers. Gradually, she begins to see her role as a Christian to be amongst the poor and the oppressed in society. Eventually, the management (and military?) try to break the strike through terror and torture, something that is happening to this day. Different strategies of the strike are debated as well as the “sides” between the workers and capitalists. Although there is a simplistic framing of the “evil capitalist,” the issues raised by the union leaders ring very true today, especially in this economic crisis. No Filipino movie could be complete without a love story, or at least the background of one which thankfully doesn’t dominate this movie. Vilma Santos shines as the unsure but strong-willed nun in the beginning to a militant defender of the people by the end. It is a similar role she plays 18 years later in “Dekada ’70.” The movie ends in an almost-cheesy PSA but the message is clear and bold coming out after the Ninoy Aquino assassination. “If we do not act, who will act? If not now, when?…” – Identity & Consciousness (READ MORE)

“…Nearly a day after watching Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s deliverance of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Manila, Filipinos in New York, unconvinced by Arroyo’s speech, gathered for a in-door forum to discuss “the REAL State of the Nation Address” (SONA) at the BAYANIHAN Filipino Community Center followed by an outdoor march along Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside, Queens. Amongst the special guest speakers at the forum was none other than the real-life inspiration for the 1984 Filipino film “Sister Stella L” featuring actress Vilma Santos, Mother Mary John Mananzan…Aside from serving as the Chairperson for the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), Mananzan has the distinguished title of Chairperson Emeritus of GABRIELA Philippines, the largest federation of women’s organizations in the country working for fundamental economic and social reforms. While in New York, Mananzan was happy to be joined by fellow members of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), one of only a handful of Filipino women’s organizations in the US that are also members of GABRIELA-USA….” – Anakbayan New York-New Jersey (READ MORE)

“…When “Sister Stella L.” starring Vilma Santos was shown in 1984 by Regal Films, it was up against Viva’s new Sharon Cuneta komiks mo-vie, “Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala,” which clobbered it at the box office. Although it didn’t succeed at the box office, “Sister Stella L,” the story of a sheltered nun who becomes an activist, withstood the test of time. It won many awards and has been constantly praised through the years for being an excellent example of socially relevant filmmaking. Last Friday, the UP Film Institute (the haven of pornographic gay films) did something right and paid tribute to “Sister Stella L” on its 25th anniversary. Ate Vi, now Gov. Vi of Batangas, was candid enough during the open forum that at the time she did the movie when she was about 28 years old, the political issues that were delineated in the film (made at the time that the protest rallies against the Marcos regime was raging after the murder of Ninoy Aquino) were not really that clear to her. “Hindi ko pa talaga ganap na naiintindihan ang mga sitwasyon noon,” she says. “Basta ginawa ko lang ang pinaaarte sa akin ng director naming si Mike de Leon. But now, I’m more aware of the conditions shown there. Talaga ngang relevant pa rin up to now ang “Sister Stella L.” dahil ang mga sitwasyon na pinakikita roon, lalo na ang labis ng kahirapan ng mga manggagagawa, nangyayari pa rin hanggang ngayon sa ating paligid. It was only when I ran for mayor in Lipa City that I came to understand what “Sister Stella L.” was all about. Kaya proud akong kahit hindi maganda ang naging resulta nito sa takilya, heto’t patuloy pa rin siyang pinupuri at pinararangalan ng future generations. Hindi gaya ng ibang movies na nakalimutan na. I’m really proud na sa career at buhay ko, nagkaroon ako ng chance na gampanan si “Sister Stella L.”. Hanggang ngayon, gaya ng tauhan doong si Ka Dencio, marami pa rin tayong kababayan na naghahanap ng katarungan. Sabi nga sa movie, “kung hindi tayo ang kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kundi ngayon, kailan pa?” In the panel discussion that preceded the showing of the film, the resource persons aside from Gov. Vi were Mother Lily Monteverde (the film’s producer), Pete Lacaba (the film’s scriptwriter), Laurice Guillen (who won best supporting actress for her role as the other Sister Stella in the film), production designer Cesar Hernando, and critics Mario Hernando and Roland Tolentino, with Prof. Ed Piano as moderator who cited Gov. Vi’s numerous accomplishments…” – Mario Bautista, People’s Journal March 25 2009 (READ MORE)

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Basic Information: Directed: Mike De Leon; Story: Jose Almojuela, Mike De Leon, Jose F. Lacaba; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Jay Ilagan, Gina Alajar, Laurice Guillen, Tony Santos Sr., Anita Linda, Liza Lorena, Ruben Rustia, Eddie Infante, Adul de Leon, Rody Vera, Pen Medina; Executive producer: Lily Y. Monteverde; Original Music: Ding Achacoso; Cinematography: Rody Lacap; Film Editing: Jess Navarro; Production Design: Cesar Hernando; Sound: Ramon Reyes; Theme Songs: “Sangandaan”, “Aling Pag-ibig Pa?” performed by Pat Castillo

Plot Description: Labor, politics and religion are the issues that come in conflict in Sister Stella L. The film tells the story of Sister Stella Legaspi, a nonpartisan religious, whose pacifist stance is challenged by an older radical colleague, her namesake, and Nick Fajardo, a concerned journalist, her ex-boyfriend, in response to the injustice being perpetrated on a group of factory workers in Barrio Aguho. When a strike is declared at the local oil factory, the young nun is thrown into the thick of the strike and leaves her convent work to help the workers in their efforts against unfair labor practices. While she looks upon the matter as an opportunity to put into practice the teachings of Christ, the strikers on the other hand are quick to realize the strategic advantage of having nuns at the picket line. This utilitarian stage gradually develops into a relationship of deep involvement. Sister Stella begins to think like a worker. She learns to identify with their cause. Denounced by corporate officials, the strikers and the nuns align themselves together to fight off harrassment from management and, para-military agents. On order from higher-up, the group’s labor leader, Ka Dencio, is abducted, tortured, and killed. But his death fails to destroy the spirit of the protest. The workers, Sister Stella L, and the journalist, resolve to carry on the fight. – MPP



ARTICLES - Vi in Dolzura Cortez

The Plot: “Dahil Mahal Kita (Because I Love You): The Dolzura Cortez Story 1994, This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands.” – Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide, The New York Times (READ MORE)

The Reviews: This Philippine drama chronicles the colorful life of Dolzura Cortez, the first publicly recognized AIDS patient in the Philippines. The film begins with a brief examination of Cortez’s pre-AIDS life. Initially she lived in a small village with her cruel husband and three kids. The spunky woman leaves them and moves to the big city where she engages in several affairs. Her second marriage to a rich foreigner does not last long. To support her children, Dolly begins an all woman “contract worker” agency. This also serves to facilitate her love of night-life. Tragedy comes to Dolzura after she collapses on a dance floor one night and learns that she has full-blown AIDS. At a Manila hospital she meets ex-lover Paulo, an AIDS researcher who encourages to tell her story publicly. The courageous woman does and she becomes instrumental in spreading AIDS awareness to the islands. It was the first movie on AIDS in the Philippines that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination. – You and Aids web-site

The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS that provided ‘a name and a face’ among the 50 recorded lives that were lost to AIDS in 1992. This movie was utilized as a focus of discussion by some health care personnel to express their thoughts, opinions and recommendations regarding the use of cinema as a powerful tool for AIDS information dissemination.

Responding to a newspaper advertisement looking for a person with AIDS, Ms. Dolzura Cortez agreed to have her life story serialized in print and later developed into a movie. The “Dolzura Cortez Story” was subsequently produced as the Philippines’ first movie on AIDS which documented the real experiences of a person living with AIDS in the country. The author reports findings from a study conducted to determine the social impact of the movie as perceived by some health care personnel. Specifically, it aimed to identify the messages that health care providers derived from watching the movie and to make recommendations on how this and subsequent films could serve as an effective tool for AIDS education. 134 health care personnel representing 13 regional hospitals from all over the country watched the film, then answered a questionnaire. The sample was of mean age 35.6 years, 84.3% female, and with mean experience of 10.1 years. 20.1% were doctors, 21.6% nurses, 32.4% social workers, and 25.4% other health personnel. 22.9% had direct experience caring for persons with AIDS and 32.8% knew someone with AIDS. Although these participants perceived some simple and subtle messages from the movie, they also noted its shortcomings. The movie lacked realism; overemphasized the dangers of having multiple sex partners at the expense of warning about other risk factors for HIV transmission; the counsellor pressured the patient and failed to provide enough information on infection control; the psychosocial, economic, and spiritual concerns of people with AIDS were not addressed; and there were some misinterpretations and twisted truths about AIDS facts and the story itself. The respondents suggested that health care providers and people directly involved in AIDS education and counseling be involved in the production of such movies. Moreover, documentary pictures and testimonial footage of the woman would have added realism, while additional basic information about AIDS could have been mentioned in either the movie or a trailer. – NCBI

‘Dolzura Cortez Story’ is an artistic and brilliant film from Manila’s finest director. The movie’s leading actress, Ms. Santos, played her part so powerfully, and is very convincing as Dolzura, the first Filipino HIV/AIDS patient to come- out to the public. The movie is a thought- provoking film, ready to challenge the Filipino idea of what is right and what is wrong. – Jonard, “A thought- provoking, honest film from Philippine’s finest director,” IBDB, March 11, 2000

“…In 1992, wala ni isang pelikulang tinampukan si Nora, samantalang si Vilma starred in only one: Maryo J. delos Reyes’ Sinungaling Mong Puso, na hindi niya pinagtamuhan ng anumang major Best Actress award. In 1993, gumawa si Vilma ng pelikula na ang kuwento’y base sa unang Pilipinang nag-reveal ng pagkakaroon niya ng AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), si Dolzura Cortez. Directed by Laurice Guillen for Octoarts Films, Dahil Mahal Kita (The Dolzura Cortez Story) won Vilma the Best Actress honors at the 1993 Manila Film Festival, Star, Gawad Urian and FAP…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“Still bearing activist weight is Vilma’s effort in Laurice Guillen’s Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story in which she fleshes out a body and a mind for a person with AIDS. This initiative constitutes an advocacy not only for people afflicted with the dreaded pandemic, but also for women who have to overcome strata of ostracism in the process of survival and resist their being reduced to an aberration, in this case, a pathology.” – Patrick Flores, Manila Standard Today Jan 11, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…Previously, HIV/AIDS “victims” were seen either as homosexual men, or women who worked in the sex industry. The former stereotype was even turned into a mainstream 1993 Hollywood movie Philadelphia that won a best actor Academy Award for Tom Hanks. The latter, on the other hand, was the subject of a 1993 Filipino film The Dolzura Cortez Story starring Vilma Santos. As a disease, AIDS was highly misunderstood two decades ago. Religious fanatics considered it “a punishment from God” for the sexual excesses of its victims. While a complete falsehood, there was some truth to the other mistaken belief about AIDS—that it would lead to certain death for whoever had the disease, which had no known cure. Fast forward to 2013 and Filipinos still generally remain in the dark about HIV/AIDS…” – Beting Laygo Dolor, Manila Times, 14 August 2013 (READ MORE)

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