FILM REVIEW: MANO PO 3 MY LOVE

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The Plot: Anti-crime crusader Lilia Chiong Yang (Vilma Santos) seems to have everything a woman could want and need: a husband (Jay Manalo) who pampers her; children (Patrick Garcia, Karylle, Angel Locsin) whom any parent would be proud of; and the respect & admiration of the most powerful people in the land. But just as Lilia prepares for her 25th wedding anniversary celebration, a chance encounter in Thailand with her first love Michael (Christopher De Leon) throws Lilia’s life into chaos. So begins the resumption of a relationship that threatens to unravel the delicate threads connecting Lilia to the other people in her life. “Mano Po 3” is a heartfelt tearjerker which was declared Best Picture at the 2004 Metro Manila Film Festival Philippines. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon also won well-deserved awards for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively, in this moving film about the choices we must make for the sake of those we love. – Regal Films (READ MORE)

The Reviews: They say if you strike the third time, you’re out. Thank goodness, it’s not a strike the third time, instead, it’s a homerun hit for the third sequel of this franchise. “Mano Po 3: My Love” was as grand as the first two but with simple well-written story line. The film managed to iron out the past and present events through flashbacks and thanks to the editor (Tara Heinberger), the continuity of each scene were smooth. Mano Po 3: My Love is a life story of Chinese-Filipino anti-crime crusade, Lilia Chiong Yang. A Chinese couple who left Fujian, China in 1959, brought her here. Her mother beg this couple to bring her with them because she’s going to be put into the orphanage just because she is a girl and having so many baby girl, the Chinese government will not support them financially. Living now in the Philippines and now a young adult (Angelica Panganiban), Lilia met and fell in love with Michael (Cogie Domingo), her classmate and fellow activist. Together with Paul (Patrick Garcia), their classmate, they engaged into activism during the martial law. One night, during the curfew hours, they got into trouble and were hunted down by the military. Michael sacrificed himself and was caught. Lilia was pregnant with Michael’s child but he already left the country and so, Lilia fell to the hands of Paul.

Now, a mature Lilia (Vilma Santos), her quiet life was rattled when Michael (Christopher DeLeon) came back. They accidentally met in Thailand; Michael decided to win her back. Both were surprised to learn that Paul (Jay Manalo) deceived them by not giving all of Michael’s letters to Lilia when he left the country. With Lilia being a popular media personality, people have started talking, gossiping about Lilia’s secret affair with another man particularly in the Chinese community. It also added stress to her family and eventually they turned their back to their own mother. Finally, it all comes down to Lilia making decision on which man to choose. She finally decided to stay with her husband despite her undying love for Michael. Then the tragic end. Lilia’s anti-crime activism created her enemies. One of them tragically killed Paul. Again, her family blamed her. The end part of the film was a typical Regal tradition – that of reconciliations. Lilia’s family accepted her again and all wounds got heal. And what happened to Lilia and Michael? They remained friends as Lilia realized they are not really meant for each other.

People are saying that her scene in the car where Paul (Jay Manalo) was shot was reminiscent of her death scene in “Relasyon.” Yes, there was a touch of it but the scene in MP3 was more intense because it’s shorter and the pacing was faster. Christopher as Michael deserves his best actor award during the film festival. Finally, Lamangan managed to control Christopher’s dialogue mannerism. Christopher has the tendency to starts his line with “well….” Probably because the MP3′s script was tighter and requires him to follow strictly each lines because each lines most of the time have other meanings. For example, when the three of them finally met, Christopher said: “Isa sa mga natutunan ko nuon sa kilusan is Honesty.” Which he is actually saying to Paul that he is dishonest and deceitful; particularly for not giving to Lilia, all of his letters when he left the country during the martial law years. As Paul, Jay Manalo, despite his young look managed to convinced us with his restraint performance. I wonder if Philip Salvador would give as strong performance as Jay Manalo in this role. Jay showed us that he’s indeed one of our great actors today. Sheryl Cruz didn’t do much as Bernadette. Her performance was one dimensional, a trap for villain roles. And all can be blamed to the three writers – Roy Iglesias, Lily Monteverde and Joel Lamangan. Maybe because they concentrated their efforts to established the three main characters and so they neglected the others. Eddie Garcia and Boots Anson Roa played the usual supporting roles but Boots gave us the most memorable lines in all of the movies showed in 2004: “hindi ka puedeng magmahal sa dalawa lalake…” of course, with her Chinese accent.

Vilma also will not be far behind with her lines: “hindi ka ba sasama sa kanila Judith? Alam mo ba kung para saan ang kanilang ginawa?… sanay na akong tinatalikuran at iniiwanan yang ang storya ng buhay ko…” Vilma’s performance here was an example of how she matured and became an A1 actress. From the start to the end, she transformed herself to be the character. She became Lilia Chiong Yang. Here are the highlights: Her scene in Tagaytay Highland: Her breakfast scene with her family, where all except for one, left her; The scene where she and Paul finally met Michael in a restaurant was full of irony and sarcasm; The scene where Bernadette and three other relatives one of them was Boots Anson Roa confronted Lilia. Like a true fighter and speaking in Mandarin, she told them, she’ll be back in five minutes and if they’re all still in her office they will see the worst of her; The scene where Lilia and Paul were in a middle of an argument and suddenly they calmed themselves down because their dressmakers arrived (to measure their sizes for the clothes their going to wear on their wedding anniversary) was poignant and funny at the same time; Then Paul’s death scene that followed the hospital scene. All in all, a controlled, restraint, riveting performance. How can someone not noticed? If I will evaluate “Mano Po 3: My Love”, I will give the film an A for its excellent production and magnificent performances…” – RV (READ MORE)

“The performances of Christopher De Leon and Vilma Santos are great. It’s a great movie, the director made a good job. The flow of events and the pace of the story are nicely plotted. You won’t feel unease when Michael Lim (Christopher) come back to Lilia Chiong (Vilma) and interfered with her “happy” married life. Compare to the passed 2 Mano Po movies, Mano Po 3 doesn’t have enough Chinese tales, it can stand alone as a pure love story movie without involvement of Chinese culture. In my personal opinion, if Christopher De Leon character was a pure Filipino, and if the reason why he was separated from Vilma was due to rejection from Vilma’s Chinese parents, and Vilma was arranged-marriage “kai-siaw” to Paul (Jay Manalo), then this would be a better Chinese foundation as the background for Christopher and Vilma to met after 25 years. It might not be a happy ending, but it was a rational ending given the circumstances of the events. This movie will definitely make you cry in the end.” – IMDB (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos did a great job and really deserved her best actress honour at the MMFF. Certainly her efforts overshadowed those of here co-stars, Christopher De Leon and Jay Manalo. It’s a shame really that her duties in Lipa are keeping her from other movies. Eddie Garcia, I thought could have done a better job in delivering his lines. I realize that he is playing a character that was not that fluent in Filipino but some of his words were just garbled and found it hard to understand. My only gripe maybe in the casting of Jay Manalo as the husband of Lilia. In the story Manalo is portrayed as the same age as De Leon and Santos which frankly I find hard to believe since Manalo looks many years younger. In terms of production, I thought Regal Films did a good job in setting an overall atmosphere by bringing in good costumes and props. It was also nice to see them speaking in Chinese so as to make the situations more authentic and believable.” – IMDB (READ MORE)

“…actors Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon portray roles that they have exceptionally portrayed before in their lustrous 40 years in Philippine show business. To even think of casting these superb actors in roles that are at least 15 years their junior, that defies their age, is indeed insulting to the intelligence of the Filipino viewers. But hey! Nobody’s complaining! Right? In fact, they both won the Best Actors awards in the said film fest! Sad, sad, sad…” – IMDB (READ MORE)

“…This is about Lilia Chiong-Yang (Vilma Santos) a Chinese-Filipino woman. She was torn from her first and only love, and ended up marrying the person she didn’t want (Jay Manalo). One faithful day, she met up with her old love Michael (Christopher De Leon) and things began to get rocky then. He wanted her to choose between her family and the only man she truly loved. The good thing about this movie is she made a decision in the end. For me, this third and last installment was the best among the rest. The movie made me laugh, cry, angry, sad and everything else. That’s really rare the Philippines’ movie industry now. Vilma Santos did a wondrous job in portraying her role. After her 2-year absence in the movie industry, she still had the touch. The only thing i didn’t like about the movie was Jay Manalo. He really was too young to be Vilma’s husband in the movie. They were supposed to be the same age though, but remarkably he did a very good job playing his role as well. How can we not forget Boyet? He was marvelous! Without him, this movie wouldn’t be the best one yet. People say this is such an ordinary love story, but in my eyes, this is the best Filipino movie ever made in my time…” – IMDB (READ MORE)

“…Mano Po III is definitely a showcase for Philippine cinema. It is basically a love story, but without any melodrama. Kudos for Joel Lamangan who brings out much emotion without ranting and violent tears that other filmmakers find so necessary to tell a story. Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos are both subdued but effective in their portrayal of restrained lovers. One particular scene with Christopher, Vilma and Jay is a highlight of the film. It is a scene where the three are having a seemingly innocent conversation about business but with underlying dialogues about love and betrayal. The screenplay written by Roy Iglesias is exceptional, witty and effective. The credible acting would not be possible without such a script. In all, Mano Po is a must-see this filmfest. It was sold out the first time I tried to see it, but it was worth the wait.” – ABS-CBN (READ MORE)

“For the purported final entry in an envisioned trilogy. Regal matriarch Lily Monteverde has pulled out all the stops. The story is centered squarely on Mayor Vi and Boyet, whose cozy chemistry still crackles with a romantic thrill even after 24 movies together.” – Andrew Paredes, Manila Standard (READ MORE)

““As a love story, it is romantic as romantic can be – passionate even. And you really have to give it to the durable love team of Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon to be able to pull off a material like Mano Po 3 and give the kilig effect of expected by most viewers and fans of love stories. It is handsomely-mounted, glossy and very entertaining. Its production values are far more superior compared to other local movies.” – Butch Francisco, Philippine Star (READ MORE)

“Kahanga-hanga ang ipankitang pagpapahalaga ng pelikula sa pamilya at pagaasawa.” – CINEMA (Catholic Initiative For Enlightened Movie Appreciation) (READ MORE)

A week before Christmas, the Star for All Seasons, Vilma Santos, shared with us her thoughts on son Luis and her first film in three years, “Mano Po 3.” She is thankful for the support of her family. When “Mano Po 3” was offered to her, Vilma sought the advice of husband Ralph and son Luis. They need the script, and exchanged views on scenes that they found objectionable. In everything she does, communication lines with son are open.

Fullfiling task: For, Vilma, raising her sons Luis and Ryan is a most fulfilling tasks. “My parents taught me to be God-fearing, respectful, responsible and law-abiding. Luis has never given me headaches. I am very liberal, but once you betray my trust, mag-ingat ka! Scorpio trait ito. Luis knows that, at binusog ko siya sa pangaral. I always tell him that he is old enough to differentiate right from wrong, so he should never do something that he’d regret later on,” she says.

No secrets: Although Luis has his own condo, he stays with Vi most of the time. There are no secrets between mother and son – – according to Vi, Luis tells her everything! On a few occassions, he’d introduce a girl to Vilma, and she’d know instantly if she was special to him or not. Vilma observes that Luis is more focused now. He dreams of owning his own restaurant-bar. And she’s surprised at how thrifty Luis has become – a trait that the actress also possesses. The Lipa City Mayor ends the year with her filmfest entry, “Mano Po 3.” In this last compilation of Tsinoy tales, Vilma is cast as a crusader, a mother of three children and supportive wife to Paul Yang, her devoted husband of 23 years. Then, her first love, Michael Lim (now a widower) resurfaces, and she finds herself in love again.

Three reasons Vilma cited three reasons why she accepted “Mano Po 3:” It gave her the opportunity to work with Christopher de Leon again; she couldn’t say no to Mother Lily, who has produced some of Vilma’s unforgettable movies (“Sister Stella L.,” “Broken Marriage,” and “Relasyon”), and the film’s interesting story centers on a fmily collapses due to infidelity. – Remy Umerez, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec 25 2004 (READ MORE)

Short and sweet. – Make that short and sedate. The awards ceremony for the 30th Metro Manila film Festival, now called MMFF Philippines, on Wednesday night was over in three hours, where it used to take twice as long. It was also less colorful than last year’s edition and the one before that, which more spontaneous action – a flea market and an auction of movie memorabilia – happening right outside the venue, the Aliw Theatre at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Even the “Stars of teh Night,” Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, wore back and grey. A series of technical problems early on in the show was the closest that the evening got to be “eventful.” There were no walkouts, no brickbats, no exposed breasts. In short, the proceedings were orderly and the sexy starlets behaved. Juliana Palermo – she who flaunted her assets without breast-beating at a previous showbiz events – was in a cover all debutante-pink gown that was almost puritan acceptance speech – for her MAQ Films’ “Mano Po 3” as Best Picture – was met with no more than polite applause. “I’ve not been making money from producing,” Monteverde said, “but I continue to make movies because I love the industry.” Four of the eight festival entries were reportedly made by her companies.

FPJ in the house Perhaps the fact that the program had been dedicated to the memory of Fernando Poe Jr. contributed to the somber atmosphere. Elizabeth Poe received the posthumous “Idolo ng Masa” award for “Da King” of Philippine Movies, who died earlier this month. “I call on the people to not abadon his dream,” Elizabeth said, “to continue to fight.” Apparently touched, the audience took a few seconds before applauding. Director Joel Lamangan’s fiery acceptance of the Best Picture award alongside Monteverde – in which he ranted against taxes and government’s “neglect” of the industry – failed to rouse as much enthusiasm in his listeners. Producer and festival committee member Espiridion Laxa received a lifetime achievement award. He dedicated it to Vilma Santos and FPJ…”and to Erap (former President Joseph Estrada).” “Da King” starred in the first seven films that Laxa made under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions. Santos, who was also named Best Actress for “Mano Po 3,” led the standing ovation for Laxa. The Vilmanians in the hall must have thought their idol was getting another award, as they led the screaming in return.

No teleprompter Cesar Montano, winner of the Best Director trophy for his CM Films’ “Panaghoy sa Suba,” won the women’s hearts, too. He was the perfect gentleman and escort to his wife Sunshine Cruz, who needed help with her petticoat as they went up and down the stage to receive awards for absent cast and crew members. The banter among the three emcees – Judy Ann Santos, Jomari Yllana and Marvin Agustin – was light and breezy, although they had to do without teleprompers. This means they read from cue cards, which kept them from maintaining precious eye contact with the audience. Young screen love teams Angel Locsin and Richard Guttierez, stars fo the TV hit series “Mulawin,” and Mark Bautista and Sarah Geronimo, stars of “Lastikman,” turned heads, as did reel-and real-life partners Mark Herras and Jennylyn Mercado, who were inseparable.

7 awards each “Mano Po 3” and “Panaghoy sa Suba” each won seven awards. Veteran stage and movie actor Cris Vertido bagged the Best Screenplay trophy for “Panaghoy.” He was happy, and it showed. “I’ve been acting for 40 years and never won anything,” he said. “I write my first screenplay and I get this.” Santos and de Leon won acting awards for their roles in “Mano Po 3.” MAQ Films got the Best Float trophy. De Leon would admit later that he considered Montano, as his stiffest rival for the award. “I thought it would be him (the winner),” De Leon said.

“A” rating Rebecca Lusterio, also of “Panaghoy,” was cited as Best Supporting Actress. The Cinema Evaluation Board, in giving the movie an “A” rating, earlier singled out the teenage performer as “silent and powerful, full of conviction and charm.” Other winners were Dennis Trillo, Best Supporting Actor for “Aishite Imasu 1941”; Ella Guevarra, Best Child Performer for “Sigaw”; Manny Dayrit, Best Editing, “Sigaw,” Best Sound Recording, “Sigaw”; Best Musical Score, “Panaghoy”; and Best Visual; Effects, Roadrunner Network Inc., for “Lastikman.” – Marinel R. Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec 31, 2004 (READ MORE)

Joel Lamangan’s Mano Po, My Love dominated the Metro Manila Film Festival awards Wedenesday evening when it won all the top awards – Best Picture, Best Actor (Christopher de Leon), Best Actress (Vilma Santos) and Best Director (Lamangan). In the Philippine movie industry, the term Best Picture actually means the least bad movie of the crop. By that measure, Mano Po 3 perhaps does deserve the award. At least Mano Po 3 is slickly and tastefully produced. It boasts of a prestigious cast and tries to address a few pressing issues that affect the Chinese community in the Philippines. All the looks good on paper and the movie does look good most of the time but the resulting movie, like its two predecessors, falls short on expectations. The Mano Po series was designed to present the travails of today’s Chinese. Most of the problems they face today are rooted from old traditions that originate from the great land they had come from. In the third movie, Vilma Santos plays Lilia Chiong Yang, a successful real-estate developer who does some important civic work on her free time. She helps the police capture kidnap gangs although it’s never explained how she assists them. She’s only shown accepting awards of grattitude for her courageous fight against crime.

Lilia’s perfect life is shattered when she bumps into the real love of her life, Michael Lim (Christopher de Leon). They went to school together but being an activist, he was compelled to flee the country to avoid being persecuted by the Marcos regime. Not long after Lilia marries Michael’s best friend, Paul yang (Jay Manalo). Of course, a flame is reignited when they meet again and plans for the 25th wedding anniversary of Lilia and Paul are shattered. Such soapy contretemps are old hat and it has nothing relevant to say about the Chinese. Consequently, the Chinese connection feels tacked on – the audience is sporadically reminded of Lilia’s heritage through elaborate scenes (the birth of Lilia in a small village in China) and some colorful costumes and Chinese dragon parades. Frankly, you’ll learn more about Chinese tradition from Mark Meily’s classic film Crying Ladies (2003). Likewise, the film’s social commentary is contrived and rings false, what with the stilted, elementary dialogue the actors have to deliver. Without the Chinese trappings, Mano Po 3: My Love is a typical Vilma Santos movie designed to highlight all the wonderful elements that make her a star for all seasons.

Again, she sobs, laughs and acts pensive in that distinctive fashion Santos is famous for in one sudsy scene after another. Yet even as an emblematic Vilma Santos movie, Mano Po 3 is below par. The Star was better in other films that had better material. In this movie, screenwriter Roy Iglesias and director Joel Lamangan shamelessly force the star to imitate Meryl Streep in a scene stolen from Clint Eastwood’s Bridges of Madison County (1995). And like the two first installments, Mano Po 3 features some strange casting. Jay Manalo is supposed to be a contemporary of de Leon and Santos but when you see them together, Manalo looks more like their son than a classmate. Lamangan’s storytelling is fluid and deliberate but being deliberate can be deadly when almost every scene is all talk. Talk is fine if the words are inspiring but when the lines are pallid and of the telenovela variety, we’s just rather stick to the Korean soap they show on TV. While actors deliver modulated performances, this writer feels that Christopher de Leon’s role is too small to warrant a best actor nomination and award. I think he should have listed in the supporting category but I’m opening a can of worms here. Let’s just be thankful that this is the last Mano Po movie to be ever made. (Star rating: one star 1/2 out of four) – Dennis Ladaw, The Manila Times, Feb 28, 2005 (READ MORE)

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FILM REVIEW: PINAY AMERICAN STYLE


The Plot: PX, short for Paula Xavier (Vilma Santos) was an illegal alien in New York City. She’s broke and waiting for fiancé, Cocoy laurel to fulfill his promise of marriage despite the fact that Cocoy has already married an American to secure a green card. Hiding from the authorities, PX met two men who are willing to take care of her but conflicts arise as the two wanted to maintain a serious relationship with her. Played wonderfully by Christopher Deleon and Bembol Roco, the film resolved the love quadrangle between ex-fiancé, Cocoy Laurel and the two brothers when the jealous Cocoy reported Vilma to the immigration authorities. PX was deported back to the Philippines. But the films didn’t end in a sour note, PX found herself reunited with Christopher Deleon when the later followed her in the Philippines. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Shot in New York City and directed by Elwood Perez, this film seems to be a precursor to Miss X (1980) ’Merika (1984) starring Nora Aunor and Milan (2004), even Anak (2000) and Dubai (2005). Talaga bang masarap ang buhay sa ibang bansa? Bakit nagpapakamatay sa green card ang mga Pinoy? PX, mahal na mahal kita, PX, I love you walang iba. Paula Xavier or PX (Vilma Santos) is a TNT like boyfriend Victor Laurel (what an effective undersated performance) who leaves her as his live-in to be engaged to an American to get a green card who promises Vilma to divorce the White girl and to marry PX so they could live happily forever after. Not. Vilma is pissed that Laurel dropped her for good and he left her with unpaid rent and a broken heart. Enter Boyet De Leon, as Vilma’s next boyfriend who has two jobs who has been around long enough to know what he wants in life – women and the American Dream. Enter Bembol Roco, in a great performance as Boyet’s Kuya who is a bagito green card holder in America. He was in the opening scene of the movie where he owns his business and lives comfortably even have someone to make him coffee. Rosa Mia are Roco and De Leon’s battered mother who suffers from the physically abusive second husband (a geriatric Irishman), and verbalized regrets for leaving the Philippines. She has the best lines in the movie and summarized the movie’s theme: “Kung uuwi ako sa Pilipinas ay kung patay na ako. Ayokong umuwi ng buhay at malaman nila na ang hirap ng buhay dito – kayod ka talaga to survive, at di pinupulot ang dolyar, ubas at mansanas sa daan. Ang dami kong dinaanang hirap para lang magka green card.” Vilma Santos as PX is most effective in her scenes as a dumped/bitter girlfriend of Laurel, as a conflicted girlfriend of De Leon, and as a grateful soul who thank Roco for saving her from paying her overdue rent to her white landlord. Her PX is a toned down Sandra of Ikaw Ay Akin. She says to Roco: “Dati, sa konting pagkain, I offer myself to be laid. Napakabait mo.” Roco answers back: “Hindi ganoon kababa ang tingin ko sa sarili ko.” You see, Roco falls for the beautiful PX too and was upset to learn that PX is already making it with his brother, which drove him to drink and was depressed for a while. Panoorin na lang ninyo ang movie. The movie’s hopeful view of America begins with Perry Como singing White Christmas as Roco, in a dream scene, cavorts in the snow in slow motion. In his dying scene in the arms of his brother De Leon, Roco whispers “ni hindi ko man lang nakita ang snow and the above Winter Wonderland scene was replayed, while Boyet’s cry for help fell on deaf American ears. Vilma was deported after Laurel clandestinely reported her to the INS which arrested her at her birthday party. Her farewell scene with De Leon, handcuffed and all in a train station was one of the best scenes in the movie. The movie has a happy ending, with De Leon finding Santos, a flower picker amidst a field of white daisies with Benguet/Baguio as a backdrop. In a typical Elwood Perez slow mo fashion, amidst the daisy flower plantation, the box office love team of all time hugged and lived happily ever after. As credits rolled, Florante’s song Pinay played on. Pinay, American Style. Ang ganda! Vilma Santos yata iyan! – Mario O. GArces, V Magazine Issue No. 6 2006 (READ MORE)

Vilma was obviously under utilized as PX in these Elwood Perez experiment. Despite this predicament, Vilma was able to give us a splash of her abilities. While Nora was in full bloom as Mila in these quiet Portes film. She gave us a convincing portrayal of lonely woman who realized that she was being used by a man she truly loves. The contrast of style was the main point why I matched these two roles. As PX, Vilma was talkative, hiding her insecurity and vulnerability with her fragile disguise pretending to be a rich New Yorker with almost caricature gestures.

Regal films’ Pinay American Style was as commercial as one can imagine. Regal films producer, Lily Monteverde hired three leading men to support the most bankable actress of 1979, Christopher DeLeon, Bembol Rocco and Victor Cocoy Laurel. It was a period in Vilma’s career where she is doing one commercial films after the other. Two dance/musical hits Swing it Baby and Rock Baby Rock and a string of sexy films like Rubia Servious the previous year, Coed and Magkaribal mostly targeting the mature adult audience established her status as the number one box office superstar of 1978-79. Vilma in 1979 was a picture of self-assured bankable star. She did two movies with Elwood Perez, Magkaribal and Pinay American Style both were box office hits. She also produced an Eddie Rodrigues starrer Halik sa Paa Halik sa Kamay, and teamed-up with comedy king, Dolphy in Buhay Artista. As the year 1979 ends, she battled the drama queen Charito Solis in the local festival entry, Modelong Tanso. The end of the decade marked her stronghold as the box office queen. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ versatility as an actress was the secret weapon of her box office success. And this weapon was in full display in Pinay American Style.

Pinay American Style was the story of PX, an illegal alien or TNT – “tago ng tago.” Her boyfriend played by Victor Laurel abandoned her for a rich American girl mainly to secure a green card. PX met an Americanized Filipino, Christopher DeLeon but found him not serious of having her as a steady girlfriend. It just so happened that PX also met Christopher’s brother, Bembol Rocco, a new immigrant. PX and Bembol fell for each other. And a love triangle surfaced the screen. Adding to the drama was Victor Laurel’s enraged, jealous appearances. Laurel eventually tipped the police ending PX stays in New York. As Bembol Rocco realized that America doesn’t fit his lifestyle, he reconciled with his brother and advised him to follow PX in the Philippines. Christopher and Vilma reconciled in a farm field in the Philippines. The end.

The film was so forgettable that the critics didn’t even bother to write any reviews. The lack of enthusiasm on the part of the critics was compensated with the box office success of the film. Vilma fits the role as the illegal alien, PX. Her attempt to speak fluent English and pretend that she’s rich when she met the boyish looking Christopher was funny and poignant. She was given enough scenes to shine. One was when she was harassed by her landlady, she promised her the rent money the next day and when she’s gone, she opened her refrigerator and found a staled piece of bread. She took bottled water and ate the staled bread, went to the bedroom and found her mom’s letter. Lying down in bed, she started to break down. A quiet scene without dialogue. A contrast from the earlier scenes where she was talkative as she tried to impress Christopher and telling him she’s rich and from a well-known family. It was obvious in 1979, Elwood Perez wasn’t the kind of director you will expect to produce a serious output. He wasn’t a Bernal or Brocka. He’s a commercial director. It was a better effort though, compared to a much more convoluted Magkaribal or their past successful projects like Nakawin natin ang bawat sandali and masakit masarap ang umibig. In Pinay, Toto Belano’s script wasn’t efficient in ironing out the “love quadrangle” plot twists and establishing the characters of four actors. So the blame can’t be put to solely to Perez’ shoulder. There was a scene were Vilma Santos and Christopher were watching a concert which was obviously not part of the script. – RV (READ MORE)

“…Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos colloborated in seven films (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979). The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other director, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit Box-office Film. They follow this up with a more mature projects as Vilma started to switched her image from sweet to a mature versatile actress, pairing her with Christopher DeLeon in five films starting with Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig in 1977. The Perez-Santos-DeLeon team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards that secured her elevation to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award. She won in 1979 for Pakawalan Mo Ako and 1988 for Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos…” – RV (READ MORE)

Relasyon (Videos)


Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Ricardo Lee; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencion, Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Jimi Melendez, Ernie Zarate, Lucy Quinto, Manny Castañeda, Beth Mondragon, Bing Fabregas, Olive Madridejos, Augusto Victa, Dante Castro, Tony Angeles, Thaemar Achacoso; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Winston Raval; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Benjie De Guzman; Art Direction: Dennis Cid; Sound: Vic Macamay; Theme Songs: “Relasyon” performed by Eva Eugenio

Plot Description: He sees nothing wrong in having a wife and a mistress. She would do anything to make him happy, including putting up with his idiosyncrasies, babysitting his child, and finding loopholes in the law so she could be with him. The characters are so familiar and so realistic that you might see yourself. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon star in this very touching story about two people who truly love each other but are trapped by the circumstances. Relasyon is another fine motion picture from director Ishmael Bernal. – Regal Films

RELATED READING:

Filmography: Pinay, American Style (1979)

“I’m PX, short for Paula Xavier, I’m a Filipina…kyontiii…I can understand Tagalog but I’m having a hard time speaking it…actually, I’m not hungry…but on the second thought, why not?” – PX

“one-fourth Japanese, one-fourth Chinese, one-fourth Indonisian, one-fourth Filipino but I was born in Hongkong…you see my mom was a tourist in Hongkong when she met my Japanese father, my Chinese father, my Indonisian father and my Filipino father!” – PX

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Basic Information: Directed: Elwood Perez; Story, screenplay: Toto Belano; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Bembol Roco, Cocoy Laurel, Rosa Mia, Alexandra Dulaney, Nova Villa, Bella Flores, Angge, Filipino Lou, Gloria Gaynor; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Demetrio Velasquez; Cinematography: Felipe Sacdalan, Johnny Araojo; Editing: Rogelio Salvador; Sound: Luis Reyes, Ramon Reyes; Theme Songs: “Pinay” performed by Florante

Plot Description: PX, short for Paula Xavier (Vilma Santos) was an illegal alien in New York City. She’s broke and waiting for fiancé, Cocoy laurel to fulfill his promise of marriage despite the fact that Cocoy has already married an American to secure a green card. Hiding from the authorities, PX met two men who are willing to take care of her but conflicts arise as the two wanted to maintain a serious relationship with her. Played wonderfully by Christopher Deleon and Bembol Roco, the film resolved the love quadrangle between ex-fiancé, Cocoy Laurel and the two brothers when the jealous Cocoy reported Vilma to the immigration authorities. PX was deported back to the Philippines. But the films didn’t end in a sour note, PX found herself reunited with Christopher Deleon when the later followed her in the Philippines. – RV

Film Achievement: One of eight box office hit films Vilma Santos did in 1979

Film Reviews: Shot in New York City and directed by Elwood Perez, this film seems to be a precursor to Miss X (1980) ’Merika (1984) starring Nora Aunor and Milan (2004), even Anak (2000) and Dubai (2005). Talaga bang masarap ang buhay sa ibang bansa? Bakit nagpapakamatay sa green card ang mga Pinoy? PX, mahal na mahal kita, PX, I love you walang iba. Paula Xavier or PX (Vilma Santos) is a TNT like boyfriend Victor Laurel (what an effective undersated performance) who leaves her as his live-in to be engaged to an American to get a green card who promises Vilma to divorce the White girl and to marry PX so they could live happily forever after. Not. Vilma is pissed that Laurel dropped her for good and he left her with unpaid rent and a broken heart. Enter Boyet De Leon, as Vilma’s next boyfriend who has two jobs who has been around long enough to know what he wants in life – women and the American Dream. Enter Bembol Roco, in a great performance as Boyet’s Kuya who is a bagito green card holder in America. He was in the opening scene of the movie where he owns his business and lives comfortably even have someone to make him coffee. Rosa Mia are Roco and De Leon’s battered mother who suffers from the physically abusive second husband (a geriatric Irishman), and verbalized regrets for leaving the Philippines. She has the best lines in the movie and summarized the movie’s theme: “Kung uuwi ako sa Pilipinas ay kung patay na ako. Ayokong umuwi ng buhay at malaman nila na ang hirap ng buhay dito – kayod ka talaga to survive, at di pinupulot ang dolyar, ubas at mansanas sa daan. Ang dami kong dinaanang hirap para lang magka green card.”

Vilma Santos as PX is most effective in her scenes as a dumped/bitter girlfriend of Laurel, as a conflicted girlfriend of De Leon, and as a grateful soul who thank Roco for saving her from paying her overdue rent to her white landlord. Her PX is a toned down Sandra of Ikaw Ay Akin. She says to Roco: “Dati, sa konting pagkain, I offer myself to be laid. Napakabait mo.” Roco answers back: “Hindi ganoon kababa ang tingin ko sa sarili ko.” You see, Roco falls for the beautiful PX too and was upset to learn that PX is already making it with his brother, which drove him to drink and was depressed for a while. Panoorin na lang ninyo ang movie. The movie’s hopeful view of America begins with Perry Como singing White Christmas as Roco, in a dream scene, cavorts in the snow in slow motion. In his dying scene in the arms of his brother De Leon, Roco whispers “ni hindi ko man lang nakita ang snow”, and the above Winter Wonderland scene was replayed, while Boyet’s cry for help fell on deaf American ears. Vilma was deported after Laurel clandestinely reported her to the INS which arrested her at her birthday party. Her farewell scene with De Leon, handcuffed and all in a train station was one of the best scenes in the movie. The movie has a happy ending, with De Leon finding Santos, a flower picker amidst a field of white daisies with Benguet/Baguio as a backdrop. In a typical Elwood Perez slow mo fashion, amidst the daisy flower plantation, the box office love team of all time hugged and lived happily ever after. As credits rolled, Florante’s song Pinay played on. Pinay, American Style. Ang ganda! Vilma Santos yata iyan! – Mario O. Garces, V Magazine Issue No. 6 2006 (READ MORE)

Vilma was obviously under utilized as PX in these Elwood Perez experiment. Despite this predicament, Vilma was able to give us a splash of her abilities. While Nora was in full bloom as Mila in these quiet Portes film. She gave us a convincing portrayal of lonely woman who realized that she was being used by a man she truly loves. The contrast of style was the main point why I matched these two roles. As PX, Vilma was talkative, hiding her insecurity and vulnerability with her fragile disguise pretending to be a rich New Yorker with almost caricature gestures.

Regal films’ Pinay American Style was as commercial as one can imagine. Regal films producer, Lily Monteverde hired three leading men to support the most bankable actress of 1979, Christopher DeLeon, Bembol Rocco and Victor Cocoy Laurel. It was a period in Vilma’s career where she is doing one commercial films after the other. Two dance/musical hits Swing it Baby and Rock Baby Rock and a string of sexy films like Rubia Servious the previous year, Coed and Magkaribal mostly targeting the mature adult audience established her status as the number one box office superstar of 1978-79. Vilma in 1979 was a picture of self-assured bankable star. She did two movies with Elwood Perez, Magkaribal and Pinay American Style both were box office hits. She also produced an Eddie Rodrigues starrer Halik sa Paa Halik sa Kamay, and teamed-up with comedy king, Dolphy in Buhay Artista. As the year 1979 ends, she battled the drama queen Charito Solis in the local festival entry, Modelong Tanso. The end of the decade marked her stronghold as the box office queen. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ versatility as an actress was the secret weapon of her box office success. And this weapon was in full display in Pinay American Style.

Pinay American Style was the story of PX, an illegal alien or TNT – “tago ng tago.” Her boyfriend played by Victor Laurel abandoned her for a rich American girl mainly to secure a green card. PX met an Americanized Filipino, Christopher DeLeon but found him not serious of having her as a steady girlfriend. It just so happened that PX also met Christopher’s brother, Bembol Rocco, a new immigrant. PX and Bembol fell for each other. And a love triangle surfaced the screen. Adding to the drama was Victor Laurel’s enraged, jealous appearances. Laurel eventually tipped the police ending PX stays in New York. As Bembol Rocco realized that America doesn’t fit his lifestyle, he reconciled with his brother and advised him to follow PX in the Philippines. Christopher and Vilma reconciled in a farm field in the Philippines. The end.

The film was so forgettable that the critics didn’t even bother to write any reviews. The lack of enthusiasm on the part of the critics was compensated with the box office success of the film. Vilma fits the role as the illegal alien, PX. Her attempt to speak fluent English and pretend that she’s rich when she met the boyish looking Christopher was funny and poignant. She was given enough scenes to shine. One was when she was harassed by her landlady, she promised her the rent money the next day and when she’s gone, she opened her refrigerator and found a staled piece of bread. She took bottled water and ate the staled bread, went to the bedroom and found her mom’s letter. Lying down in bed, she started to break down. A quiet scene without dialogue. A contrast from the earlier scenes where she was talkative as she tried to impress Christopher and telling him she’s rich and from a well-known family. It was obvious in 1979, Elwood Perez wasn’t the kind of director you will expect to produce a serious output. He wasn’t a Bernal or Brocka. He’s a commercial director. It was a better effort though, compared to a much more convoluted Magkaribal or their past successful projects like Nakawin natin ang bawat sandali and masakit masarap ang umibig. In Pinay, Toto Belano’s script wasn’t efficient in ironing out the “love quadrangle” plot twists and establishing the characters of four actors. So the blame can’t be put to solely to Perez’ shoulder. There was a scene were Vilma Santos and Christopher were watching a concert which was obviously not part of the script. – RV

“…Pinay, American Style carries such attributes. Shot entirely in America, it depicts the plight of some Filipinos living there – Filipinos who are obsessed with amassing fortunres and landing high-paying jobs and enjoying the dolce vita in the muchballyhooed “land of the brave and home of the free” and the “land of the mighty dollar.” Compared to foreign movies with explicit sex scenes, Pinay… would not even deserve the “For Adults Only” tag or an “X-rated” classification, according to Elwood. Basically, the movie is a relfection of the typical plight of Filipinos living abroad. It is a plight that runs counter to the optimism and false hopes entertained by potential Filipino immigrants. Arriving in the U.S. as tourists, some Filipinos would choose to stay behind in their search for “greener pastures.” Having done so, they have to play hide-and-seek with immigration authorities, accept odd jobs to survive in the asphalt jungle, get married to ward off deportation, and similar evasive maneuvers. These same incidents are what the cast – Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon, Bembol Roco and Victor “Cocoy” Laurel – portray in Pinay. Pinay is Elwood’s second movie shot abroad after Lollipops…” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, July 12, 1979 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Broken Marriage (1983)

“May mga anak ako, Nagtratrabaho ako, Nag-aaral ako tapos lagi pa kaming nag-aaway na mag-asawa. So tense, Minsan gusto ko ng tumalon sa bintana.” – Ellen

“Bakit nababawasan din naman ang pagkatao ko kapag sinisigawan mo ako!” – Ellen

“Ang marriage trinatrabaho yan…twenty four hours…” – Ellen

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Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Bing Caballero, Jose Carreon; Screenplay: Ishmael Bernal, Bing Caballero, Jose Carreon; Cast:Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Orestes Ojeda, Lito Pimentel, Tessie Tomas, Richard Arellano, Cesar Montano, Len Santos, Ray Ventura, Harlene Bautista; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Max V. Jocson; Cinematography: Manolo Abaya; Film Editing: Jess Navarro; Production Design: Len Santos; Sound: Rudy Baldovino; Production Co: Regal Films; Release Date: 2 September 1983 (Philippines) – IMDB

Plot Description: Trapped in a world of hectic schedules, pressure and little time for each other, Ellen (Vilma Santos) and Rene (Christopher de Leon) decided to have a temporary separation. One of the things that is against traditional Filipino culture is a marriage break-up. And that is what they went through as their maariage reaches one of its lowes points. Saddled by their two children, Ellen tried her best to live a normal life as possible, eventually finding a prospective lover (Orestes Ojeda). But something is missing from her life that not even a new flame could fill. A self-discovery both for Ellen and Rene, one great film that will surely make you realize the value of marriage. – Regal Films (READ MORE)

After ten years and two children, Rene and Ellen find their marriage on the brink of breaking up. They seem to have fallen out of love and life has become a series of verbal hussies and conflicts. They decide that the only way out is a temporary separation. Rene, a police reporter, and Ellen, who is a television production assistant, begin to live apart from each other. Rene moves into his friend’s apartment while Ellen has to cope with running a household by herself. But they soon begin to feel the effects of their separation. A series of events that follow drastically change their lives. Rene is mauled for his expose of a gambling casino owned by a high ranking government official. He is forced to stay temporarily in the house of Ellen’s mother. As he recuperates from his injuries, both he and Ellen attempt to rebuild their shattered relationship. – Manunuri

Rene (Christopher de Leon) is a police reporter for a daily newspaper married to Ellen (Vilma Santos) who works as TV production assistant. Both are full of enthusiasm, career-conscious individuals who have no time for each other or for their two children, until they are forced to try to live separately. Broken Marriage won awards from the 1983 Urian for best picture, (Ishmael Bernal), best actss (Vilma Santos), best screenplay (Jose N. Carreon), best editing (Jess Navarro), as well as several nominations from the Film Academy Awards and FAMAS. Music by Max Jocson and Cinematography by Manolo Abaya. Also stars Orestes Ojeda and Spanky Manikan. From Regal Films. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: 1983 Gawad Urian: Best Picture – Regal Films; Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Director – Ishmael Bernal; Best Editing – Jess Navarro; Best Screenplay – Jose Carreon, Bing Caballero, Bernal; Best Sound – Rudy Baldovino; Best Actor Nomination – Christopher De Leon; Best Cinematography Nomination – Manolo Abaya; Best Music Nomination – Max V. Jocson; Best Production Nomination – Len Santos; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Len Santos; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Ray Ventura; 1983 FAMAS: Best Actor Nomination – Christopher De Leon; Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; 1983 Best Child Actress Nomination – Harlene Bautista; Official Selection: 1984 Moscow Film Festival; Prague Film Festival; Vienna Film Festival

Film Reviews: “…Comparisons dawn inexorably: how does Broken Marriage fare as a follow-up to the bravura of Relasyon? This is tough inquiry. If intentions were to be the starting point, then the new movie is a better achievement. Relasyon, judging from its title, was supposed to be about a man and other woman relationship; but the feminist tendencies of our cinema had pinned the movie to a fateful drift: the travails of the modern mistress. Broken Marriage never swerves from its goal; from start to finish it is a portrait of two persons and the bond which they discover smothering and smoldering. But the ordinary moviegoer does not assess by artist’s intentions – he does not even care about the artist (I mean here the one behind the work. On one hand, the film in front of him is the present; and on the other hand, it is the past. Broken Marriage is made to appear to him as a sequel to Relasyon. The process of integrating the past and the present is a challenge for him. For him are opened two avenues: to start with past and proceed with present; or start with present and proceed with past. If he chose the former, the condemnation for Broken Marriage would clang like a wild cymbal. If he chose the latter, the outcome is a laudatory comment). Nonetheless, one has to prove that the new movie can stand on its own feet. What Relasyon sadly lacked (albeit not too sadly) was humor. Broken Marriage has tons of it – the caustic swaps, the funny characterizations, the clever plottings – so that the audience’s conditioned response for a supposedly serious movie shifts irrevocably to playful irreverence. Vintage Ishmael Bernal. It is a masterly stroke – the proverbial Bernal sleight-of-hand at work, this time with more gusto and style. If the Inquisition were still around, he would be branded and burned seven times as a heretic for turning a marriage gone sour into an off-beat frolic suddenly turned sweet – at least, to the viewer’s mirth-hungry belly.

But none may claim that Bernal’s treatment loses its mark of delineating the disadvantages of separation. The humor chisels the message so that it comes to us shining and double-edged, while doing its duty of alleviating an otherwise gloomy impression which accompanies every disillusioning subject matter. Not only does it come through humorously but also simply. Nowhere is the strain which anyone expects from grave subjects present here. It is as if the dreary topic had been borne on the Lord’s shoulders so that the yoke – and audiences love to be martyrs of maudlin tears – becomes, this rare time, light and easy…De Leon adds a boyish smile as if the lesson were amusing. We watch De Leon, elated and entertained: he is never so old as to appear too distant nor is he too young as to seem undocile. Broken Marriage is a gift to this actor. He is not propelled here to be more manly; since his character is made to contribute to a lot of oversights, De Leon’s doesn’t have to put a mask of strength: he just has to be himself and act with ease. Vilma Santos is not about to be a letdown, not this time when the most important female roles are coming her way. A new intelligence she infuses in the character Ellen. Like De Leon, she turns Ellen into a woman-child, but the stress is less on her part as she has done similar roles before. Her beautiful face is flush receptive: the quiet moments of just observing the people around her are moments of perfect acting. Her body moves with an agility that is both funny and dramatic. Her two monologues – the first with her friends in the cafe when she informs them that she is bored, and the second with Rene when she tells him that they are not children anymore – are her best scenes: the camera lingers upon her countenance and she enunciates in return with ironic ease. She should watch out for next year’s awards race – there is simply no stopping her at the moment…” – Joselito Zulueta, Sine Manila – 1983 (READ MORE)

“…Ang sensitibong paglikha ni Vilma Santos kay Ellen ay isang marubdob at personal na layon kung ihahambing sa kanyang pagsasakarakter ng papel ni Marilou bilang kerida sa Relasyon. Hinamon ni Ellen ang kumbensiyonal na depinisyon ng pagiging asawa at pagkaina sa paghahanap ng mga alternatibo sa gitna ng makainang pagpapalaki sa mga anak. Ginawan niya si Ellen ng sariling silid kung saan nakahanap ito ng solitaryong kanlungan nang hindi pinuputol ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa asawa. Iniugnay ni Ellen ang ang kanyang pribadong hapdi sa spectrum ng kanyang relasyon. Samantala, nakatutok ang tunggalian sa Broken Marriage hindi lamang kay Vilma Santos kundi kay Christopher de Leon. Nasa asawang lalaki ang bulto ng suliranin kaya sa kanya umiikot ang kuwento, ang relasyon ni Rene kay Ellen at ang relasyon ni Rene sa kanyang mga anak. Ang maalam na pagpasok ni de Leon sa katauhan ni Rene ang lumiligalig sa mga kontradiksiyong talamak sa sistemang patriarkal. Kaakibat ng Broken Marriage ang manipestasyon ni Bernal sa pagbibigay ng representasyon sa reyalidad at partikular na pagsasaayos ng iba’t-ibang elementong kaagapay sa masining na pagbuo ng pelikula.” – Jojo Devera, Saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Sa 1983, ang mga mapagpipilian lamang ay Broken Marriage…On a lower rank would be…Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan…Ang Broken Marriage ni Ishmael Bernal ay isang masusing pagsusuri sa lumabnaw na pagtitinginan ng isang young married couple; ang problema ng mag-asawa sa kani-kanilang trabaho, ang mga suliranin ng isang working mother, ang iba’t ibang uri ng relationship between spouses and friends, at ang unti-unti’y muling pagkakalapit ng naghiwalay na mag-asawa. Maraming nagrereklamo sa happy ending ng pelikula na para bang masama ang loob nila’t lumigayang muli ang mag-asawa. Pero sa amin, talagang napaghandaan ang masayang eksena sa beach ng buong pamilya dahil sa simula pa lamang ay inuungot na ng mga anak ang pagpunta roon. So, sa wakas, nakapunta rin sila sa beach and it’s a fitting end indeed……Now that we have discussed this year’s better films and the directors who made them, tunghayan natin ang listahan ng best screen performances…Susunod sa aming listahan ay sina Christopher de Leon, ang batambatang amang may problema sa kanyang pamilya sa Broken Marriage…Then there’s Vilma Santos as the working mother who does a tough balancing act in her dedication to her career and to her family in Broken Marriage… ” – Movie Flash Magazine, January 5, 1984 (READ MORE)

“…Though in the last cited awards, Karnal did not make it as best films, it nevertheless gave Broken Marriage a tough fight for the honor, in fact winning more nominations than Berna’s films. It evetually won prizes for performances, cinematography, music and editing…A product of film schools, Marilou earned her M.A. in Film and Television from Loyola Marrymount College in Los Angeles and received a diploma in film from the London Film School. In May, she will be flying to Moscow to attend the Philippine Film Week, where Karnal, Broken Marriage and Soltero will be exhibited. Then it will be Prague and Vienna for both Karnal and Broken Marriage. Her earlier work, Brutal has also been invited to Tokyo’s Pia Film Festival, which is sponsored by critics and journalist to showcase the works of young directors from 10 countries. International may have come her way, but at the moment, Marilou is earnestly preoccupied with starting her latest project, Baby Tsina, which will star two-time Urian best actress Vilma Santos, and written by Marilou’s signature scenarist Ricky Lee. In a few days, the camera are set to start grinding for the director’s new film…” – Justino Dormiendo, Movie Flash Magazine, April 26, 1984 (READ MORE)

“…On a final note, it’s rather unfair that when it comes to actors, Brocka always gets the authority to be called the actor’s director. Not to discredit Brocka of course but Bernal always exceeds Brocka in terms of directing comedies. And humor is only as hard as drama can get; and oftentimes even harder. Ilagan, Andolong, Ranillo, and Locsin may not be the best to portray their roles but their characters don’t need the best—they need believability more, and their youth exudes that, more than their acting chops. They grip on their dialogues so much that watching them is such a delight. There’s this anecdote told by Vilma Santos when she won her grandslam for Relasyon that she walked into Bernal’s shoot a little unmotivated and still high after her big win. She couldn’t get her acting right. And then Bernal said to her, “O, bakit parang lutang ka diyan? Porke’t naka-grand slam ka, feeling mo, magaling ka na?” That’s one-big-“OH”. And to think that Ate Vi was already a big star that time, and getting bigger and bigger thanks to her roles, it does not only give an impression of “katarayan” on Bernal’s part, but more of brilliance…” – Richard Bolisay (READ MORE)

“… Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 08 April 2012 (READ MORE)

“…In Filipino melodramas, the heroines often lean on against a hostile environment. Some no less combative women have created a permanent place in the film industry of the country…Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal devoted themselves repeatedly with a strong social and political consciousness of the popular form of melodrama. More than Brocka himself Bernal frequently focused on strong female characters that need to manage their lives under unfavorable circumstances. In his films female stars in the spotlight, without the problems of everyday life would go by the board. With Vilma Santos in 1982 he turned Relasyon, wherein the main character wants to escape from a stifling marriage and not only emotionally, but also legally reaches its limits (a year later with Santos Bernal turned the thematically similar mounted Broken Marriage). Was produced Relasyon of Lily Monteverde , who plays an influential role in the Philippine film industry today. Already at the beginning of the 20th century there were in the studios and production companies in the country powerful women who ruled with a firm hand and were addressed by their subordinates even as mothers. “Mother Lily” made his mark as a hard nosed business woman, often more economic than artistic interests followed, understandably, not just friends. The young director Raya Martin let her in his short film Long Live Philippine Cinema! (2009) even to death to save the Philippine cinema…” – Michael Kienzl, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

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Filmography: Relasyon (1982)

“Ang hirap dito sa relasyon natin, puro ikaw ang nasusunod, kung saan tayo pupunta, kung anong oras tayo aalis, kung anong kakainin natin, kung anong isusuot ko sa lahat ng oras, ako naman sunod ng sunod parang torpeng tango ng tango yes master yes master!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

“Ano ba ako rito istatwa? Eh dinadaan daanan mo na lang ako ah, hindi mo na ako kinakausap hindi mo na ako binabati hindi mo na ako hinahalikan ah…namputsang buhay ‘to. Ako ba may nagawa akong kasalanan hah? Dahil ang alam ko sa relationship, give and take. Pero etong atin, iba eh! Ako give ng give ikaw take ng take! Ilang taon na ba tayong nagsasama? Oo, binigyan mo nga ako ng singsing nuong umpisa natin, pero pagkatapos nuon ano? Wala na! Ni-siopao hindi mo ako binigyan eh dumating ka sa bahay na ito ni butong pakwan hindi mo ako napasalubungan sa akin eh kaya kung tiisin lahat pero sobra na eh…hindi naman malaki hinihingi ko sayo eh konti lang… alam ko kerida lang ako…pero pahingi naman ng konting pagmamahal…kung ayaw mo ng pagmamahal, atleast konsiderasyon man lang. Kung di mo kayang mahalin bilang isang tunay na asawa, de mahalin mo ako bilang isang kaibigan, Kung ayaw mo pa rin nun bigyan mo na lang ako ng respeto bilang isang tao hindi yung dadaan daanan mo lang sa harapan na para kang walang nakikita!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

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Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Ricardo Lee; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencion, Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Jimi Melendez, Ernie Zarate, Lucy Quinto, Manny Castañeda, Beth Mondragon, Bing Fabregas, Olive Madridejos, Augusto Victa, Dante Castro, Tony Angeles, Thaemar Achacoso; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Winston Raval; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Benjie De Guzman; Art Direction: Dennis Cid; Sound: Vic Macamay; Theme Songs: “Relasyon” performed by Eva Eugenio

Plot Description: A young woman falls in love with a married man, and they eventually try to live together — may be tame for Western audiences, but director Ishmael Bernal made this film for the Philippines, where divorce is forbidden at this time. Marilou (Vilma Sanders works as a guide in a Planetarium and has an on-going affair with Emil (Christopher de Leon) that neither her family nor friends can condone — Emil is married and has two sons. But when his wife leaves him, Emil and Marilou move in together, and that is when the problems start. She tries to make everything work out perfectly, and Emil, in turn, shows an arrogance that was quite hidden before. Given society’s disapproval of their arrangement in the bargain, their future together hardly seems bright. Ishmael Bernal was one of the most prolific directors in Philippine film history, he died in 1996 after making more than 50 films. – Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide web-site

Emil, a young executive, and his mistress Marilou, a planetarium guide, decide to be live-in partners. In the process, they discover each other’s failing, which result in the strain in their relationship, bringing about their temporary separation. When they finally decide to resume their relationship, under a set-up wherein the man devides his time between his family and mistress, he dies frpm an attack of cerebral aneurysm. The woman decides to start a new life abroad, finding strength in the Jove of her departed lover. – Manunuri web-site

He sees nothing wrong in having a wife and a mistress. She would do anything to make him happy, including putting up with his idiosyncrasies, babysitting his child, and finding loopholes in the law so she could be with him. The characters are so familiar and so realistic that you might see yourself. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon star in this very touching story about two people who truly love each other but are trapped by the circumstances. Relasyon is another fine motion picture from director Ishmael Bernal. – Regal Films web-site

“…The story of an adulterous affair, and its implications for the families involved…” – British Film Institute (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1982 FAMAS Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Gawad URIAN Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Film Academy of the Philipiines Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Catholic Mass Media Awards Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 The very first “Grand Slam” for Best Actress in Philippine Entertainment history; 1982 RPN Channer 9’s Let’s Talk Movies Awards Best Actress for body of Works – Vilma Santos for Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, T-Bird At Ako, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? and Haplos; 1982 FAMAS Nomination Best Actor – Christopher De Leon; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Direction – Ishmael Bernal; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Picture; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Screenplay – Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencio, Ishmael Bernal

Official Selection – 1983 Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines”; 25 Filipino films shown at Lincoln Center – “In celebration of the 100th year of Philippine Independence, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, IFFCOM, the Philippine Information Agency, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York and the Philippine Centennial Coordinating Council – Northeast USA, presented a series of Filipino films at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center. Slated July 31 through August 20, and with a line-up of about 25 films, the series was the most extensive Filipino film retrospective ever to take place in the United States. All prints are subtitled in English. By including old classics as well as contemporary films, the three-week festival brought the country’s centennial commemoration into sharper historical focus. It also featured some of the best works by acclaimed director Lino Brocka, and concluded with the award-winning short films and videos of young, upcoming Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers. The members of the film selection committee were Richard Peña (Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Domingo Hornilla, Jr., Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, and Agustin “Hammy” Sotto. Some of the titles shown in the festival were: In the Classics Category…two films by Mike De Leon: Sister Stella L. starring Vilma Santos and Batch ’81 starring Mark Gil; and three works by Ishmael Bernal namely Nunal sa Tubig (A Speck in the Water) starring Daria Ramirez, Aliw starring Suzette Ranillo and Relasyon starring Vilma Santos…Among Brocka’s films being spotlighted were Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Insiang, Tinimbang Ka Nguni’t Kulang (You Were Weighed But Was Found Wanting) and Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter)…” – Seapavaa Bulletin (READ MORE)

Film Reviews: “…The notion of the martir resurfaces in Relasyon (1982), a stellar example of a mistress movie with genuine depth. It portrays Marilou (Vilma Santos) as not just a mistress, but also a servant for the chauvinistic Emil (Christopher De Leon). There is a poignant scene in the aforementioned: in spite of catering to her lover’s every need, she is still left alone in the house on Christmas Eve, because he really isn’t hers to begin with. Santos’ brilliant, appropriately emotive acting in the movie gave the star her big break. Filipino Department faculty member Jayson Jacobo, PhD expounds on Santos’ role in Philippine media. “[Her] middle period presents us a social sphere of material conditions which articulate the context of amorous situations that persuade a woman to enter and exit a relasyon.” Jacobo finds that more recent mistress films are devoid of the dramatic sophistication that these older films presented. He points out their key faults, saying, “These films of late are too concerned with the calisthenics of sexual encounter, the scandalous confrontation, the fashionable hysteria, the publicity of neurosis and the contrivance of normative resolution…” – Rissa A. Coronel, Katipunan The Guidon Magazine, 30 January 2013 (READ MORE)

Finally in Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon, we have a film made explicitly for adults. There is no explicit sex sequence (adults don’t really go for that sort of thing, only adolescent boys do). But the psychological problems faced by the film are comprehensible only to adults, those who know what it means to live with someone one loves (or, at least, used to love). This film is, thus, not entertaining in the usual prurient sense, but in a deeper, psychological, intellectual sense.

There are basically two themes that this film tackles: sex roles and divorce. – Vilma Santos represents womanhood in the film: Christopher de Leon represents manhood. The Filipina woman is commonly thought of as a martir or long-suffering masochist. Santos portrays a mistress who is an out-and-out martir. She serves De Leon hand and foot, ministering to his every need, including fetching beer for him, washing his clothes, serving as his shoulder to cry on, even baby-sitting his child. In return, all she gets from De Leon is chauvinistic love, void of tenderness, full of immature aggressiveness.

De Leon represents chauvinist maleness. He portrays a character who is totally insensitive to his woman’s needs. He wants the house done exactly to his own taste. He expects his woman to be there when he needs her, but does not even think that he should be there when she wants him. He finds nothing wrong with having a wife and a mistress at the same time. On the other hand, he sees everything wrong with Santos entertaining suitor Jimi Melendez in the house. He’s even jealous of Manny Castaneda, Santos’ gay acquaintance. In short, he is selfishness personified.

The trouble with sex roles in our society, the film argues, is that they are widely accepted without question. Men are suposed to have mistresses, and women are supposed to be faithful. Men are supposed to make the decisions (about where to live, what job to get, when to dine out), and women are supposed merely to follow. The Philippines may justifiably boast that, in politics, women are almost as powerful as men, but it is undeniable that in every other field including the home, it is the men who are the masters and the women who are the slaves.

The other theme tackled by the film is that of divorce. Again and again, the characters discuss the lack of divorce in the Philippines. If De Leon could only annul his marriage, if he could only divorce his wife, if he could only get to Las Vegas and marry Santos there… Such possibilities remain mere possibilities, because Philippine law, unfortunately, still does not allow for divorce. In the film, it is made clear that the marriage of De Leon and his wife is totally beyond repair. With De Leon, being the male chauvinist pig that he is, and with his wife, being the non-entity that she is, there is no hope for the loveless couple. On the other hand, Santos and De Leon clearly love each other, clearly deserve chance to be man and wife, clearly should be helped (not damned) by society. It is an implicit case for divorce, made even more convincing by the fact that the characters are so familiar, so realistic.

Technically, the film does not rank high in Ishmael Bernal’s canon of films. The production design, presumably middle class, raises questions (especially about the fact that Santos can withdraw a thousand pesos from a bank at a moment’s notice:lower middle class persons do not have that kind of instant money.) The music is undistinguished, and the cinematography sometimes places the actors in shadows. There is one technical achievement worth watching for: De Leon’s death scene, covering more than one minute, is taken with one continuous shot (no cuts). Otherwise, the editing is spotty, especially with one sequence completely out of its proper place (before Santos says in one sequence that they have been together only for eight months, a sequence is shown in which she asks De Leon how many years they have been together, even allowing for hyperbole, that is too much of an exaggeration). Santos’ acting is adequate and extraordinary. De Leon gives another of his solid performances, though he could have worked harder to show how inconsiderate his character is. The supporting cast do not stand out; since two of them are supposed to be mistresses themselves, and the third loses much of her credibility when she starts lecturing on man’s selfishness. – Isagani Cruz, Parade magazine, July 21, 1982

Thee film has unblushingly spoken for the Filipino urban society and its increasing acceptance of adultery as a social habit. It could have been a repetitious tale of a man with two women. But the writers have interestingly conducted the story through the precarious steps of a young, single, beautiful and supposedly decent girl. Marilou (Vilma Santos) has fallen helplessly in love with Emil (Christopher de Leon), a married man. When Emil’s wife decides to leave for Mindanao because she couldn’t stand him anymore, Marilou then decides for them to live together. Overjoyed with the prospect, she presses on to keep their relationship thrilling, warmer and stronger. But her efforts over the months only depresses her as she sees Emil gradually locking himself into a door she couldn’t enter. The mutual delights she had previously imbibed had soured into irritating silence and alienation. Her mounting disillusion flares up into throwing a couple of dishes. She opts for a separation only to yearn for him again. They go back to each other. She becomes pregnant. Suddenly, Emil suffers an attack and dies in her arms. Marilou whirls in grief for a time but bounces back to being “single”, attractive but perhaps no longer “decent”.

The writers have fed significance into the conversations by filling them with popular ideas on marriage and relationships, engaging the viewers to respond with their own beliefs. There is irony though in the confessions of Emil and Marilou – in happier times – that each had been a better person upon being loved by the other. But their life together contradicted that statement. Her selfishness is revealed. “Ikaw lang ang iniintindi mo” he says and it uncovered his insensitivity. “Ako rin, may ego”, She replies. Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting. Christopher de Leon has also been supportive in emphasizing the characterization of Marilou. He suitably complements Vilma’s acting. The director, Ishmael Bernal, displays his flair for taking scenes of Vilma putting on make-up. Unwittingly, he has suggested that whatever make-up is put on over adultery, it is still adultery. – Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly Magazine, July 1982

Isang mayamang karanasan ang panonood ng pelikula ni Ishmael Bernal. Kahit ikaw ay isang masugid na estudyante ng sining ng pelikula o isang karaniwang tagahanga lamang. Sinasabing ang pelikula ay salamin ng tunay na buhay. Ang mga pelikula ni Bernal ay malilinaw na salamin. Buhay na buhay ang mga tauhan, ang istorya ay pamilyar sa atin at ang leksiyong itinuturo ay simple lang pero hindi direktang isinisermon sa manonood. Ang mga pelikula ni Bernal ay realistikong drama ng buhay. Tulad nitong “Relasyon” na ang mga bida ay sina Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon at Jimi Melendez. Ito’y mula sa istorya at dulang pampelikula nina Ricky Lee, Ishamel Bernal at Raquel Villavicencio. Pang araw-araw ang drama ng “Relasyon”. Marahil mas komersiyal na titulo nito ang Kerida o kaya’y No. 2. Pero sa aming palagay ay mas makabuluhan ang pamagat na Relasyon dahil higit na malalim ang sinasakop nitong kahulugan. Simple lang ang istorya nito. Dalaga si Marilou (Vilma Santos). Liberated ang orientasyon. Nagtratrabaho sa Planetarium. May-asawa si Emil (Christopher de Leon). May isang anak na lalaki. Nagtratrabaho hanggang hapon, nagtuturo sa gabi. (Hindi tiniyak sa pelikula kung ano ang trabaho ni Christopher at kung ano ang kanyang itinuturo sa gabi.)

Hindi maayos ang takbo ng buhay nilang mag-asawa. Kaya nga bumaling si Emil kay Marilou na pinili ang may-asawa kaysa sa biyudong si Jun-jun (Jimi Melendez) na wala namang matatag na hanapbuhay. Sa simula’y patagpu-tagpo lang sa mga hotel sina Marilou at Emil pero higit na naging kumplikado ang kanilang buhay nang ipasiya nilang kumuha ng isang permanenteng bahay. Dito nagsimula ang kanilang tunay na relasyon. Sa umpisa’y para silang mga bagong kasal pero nang tumagal na, dahil kailangang magtrabaho nag husto si Emil upang masuportahan ang dalawang pamilya, ay naging parang mag-asawa na sila. Nang maging parang “misis” na siya ay doon nagkaproblema si Marilou. Sa paningin ni Emil ay naging mapaghanap ang babae at tinatangkang baguhin siya. Hindi nakatagal si Marilou sa isang relasyong “taken for granted” na siya. Naghiwalay ang dalawa. Bumalik ang asawa ni Emil. Pero dahil tunay na minamahal ni Marilou si Emil ay ipinasya na niyang maging kerida kaysa ganap na mawala ito sa kanyang buhay. Pero hindi lumigayang habang buhay si Marilou. Namatay si Emil at ang kanyang bangkay ay inangkin ng tunay niyang misis. Ipinasiya ni Marilou na humanap ng bagong buhay sa Amerika.

Makatotohanan ang akting sa pelikulang ito. Hindi sila caricature. Sila’y mga karakter na marahil ay mga kapitbahay natin. Muli na namang ipinamalas ni Bernal ang kanyang kakayahan sa pagpapagalaw ng mga artista. Hindi lang akting ang mapapanood mo. Ang nakikita mo ay ang tunay na takbo ng buhay. Nananatili si Christopher bilang isa sa iilan nating mahuhusay na kabataang actor. Makakalimutan mo na siya si Cris at ikaw ay ganap na mabibihag ng karakter na kanyang binubuhay sa aninong gumagalaw. Marahil, higit pa nating mauunawaan sana ang karakter na ginagampanan ni Chris kung nalaman natin kung ano ang kanyang propesyon at nagkaroon pa tayo ng ilang background ng kanyang buhay. Hindi tulad ni Vi na medyo kumpleto ang background. Kaisa-isa siyang anak. Edukada at masasabing liberated o mayroong malayang kaisipan. Sa pamamagitan ng konserbatibong ama ni Vi ay masusuri natin ang kanyang pamilya at kung paano niya haharapin ang mga situwasyon sa buhay. Sinasabi ng mga drumbeater ni Vi na ang kanyang role sa pelikulang ito ay pang-award, pang-FAMAS, pang-URIAN o pang-Film Academy Award kung matutuloy ito. Hindi kami tumututol sa kanilang palagay laluna’t napanood namin ang pelikulang ito. Masuwerte si Vi at sa ganitong maselang role ay dinirek siya ng isang katulad ni Bernal. Tulad nang binigyang diin namin sa unang bahagi, ang mga pelikula ni Bernal, ang “Pagdating sa Dulo”, “Nunal sa Tubig”, “Mister mo, Lover Boy ko” at “City after Dark” ay mga malinaw at makatotohang salamin ng buhay. Kaya sa “Relasyon” ay natural lamang na makakita tayo ng mga sitwasyong tila aktuwal na kinuha sa tunay na buhay at inilipat nang buong-buo sa puting tabing : Ang eksena sa kainan ng mga lovers na sina Vi at Cris; ang pagtratrabaho sa bahay ni Vi; ang usapan ni Vi at ng kanyang mga barkada; ang pagkabagot ni Vi samantalang gusto ng matulog ni Chris at iba pang eksena na karaniwan na sa tunay na mag-asawa.

Napakadramatiko ang pagkompronta ni Vi kay Chris sa direksyon ng kanilang relasyon. Higit sa lahat, sa pamamagitan ng huling eksena, ang pagsasara ni Vi sa pinto ng kanilang bahay, ang pugad ng kanilang “relasyon”, inihayag ni Bernal na ang ganitong relasyon ay may hindi maiiwasang magwakas tulad ng sa tunay na buhay. Maaaring kamatayan o isang panibagong relasyon. Kung ang isang lalaki ay may-asawa, at mayroon na siyang relasyon o nagbabalak pa lang magkaroon ng relasyon sa ibang babae, dapat niya itong panoorin ng dalawang beses. Una, kasama ang kanyang misis at ikalawa, kasama angkanyang no. 2 o magiging ka-relasyon. Sa mga babaing katulad ni Vi sa pelikulang ito, mabuting panoorin ninyo nang nag-iisa ang pelikulang ito upang higit na maunawaan ninyo ang inyong relasyon o magiging relasyon. – Mando Plaridel, Star Monthly Magazine July 10, 1982

Dalawang magagandang pelikula ang sabay na itinatanghal ngayon. Ito’y ang “Relasyon” ni Ishmael Bernal at “Hubad na Gubat” ng baguhang si Lito Tiongson. Sa taong ito, tatlo pa lamang ang talagang namumukod tangi para sa amin. Ang “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak” ni Bernal, “In This Corner” ni Brocka at ngayon nga’y ang “Relasyon” ni Bernal na naman. Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome”. This time, sigurado nang mano-nominate si Vilma sa Urian (ito lamang ang award na hindi niya napapagwagihan) at malamang na ang maging pinakamahigpit niyang kalaban dito ay si Nora Aunor na very demanding din ang role sa “Himala” (na si Bernal din ang direktor). Ito’y kung matatapos ang ECP project na ito sa taong ito na sa palagay nami’y hindi kahit gusto ng ECP na isali ito sa filmfest sa Disyembre. Dinalirot ng “Relasyon” ang lahat ng mga anggulong maaaring suutan ng isang babaing nagiging kerida. Maraming madamdaming tagpo sa pelikula, lalo na ang death scene ni Christopher de Leon na tuhog ang pagkakakuha. Bagay na bagay kay Jimi Melendez ang papel niya bilang torpeng talisuyo ni Vilma. Hit na hit siya sa audience.

Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na dumarag sa dito sa amin ang mga sulat na pumupuri sa acting ni Vilma Santos sa “Relasyon”. Sabi ni Nelda Santiago ng Arellano St., Marikina : “Napakagaling ni Vilma at kahit hindi pa ako nagiging kerida, para bang na identify ako sa kanya.” Sabi naman ni Hector Cruz ng 14 Malaya St., Q.C. : “Maraming nasasabi ang mga mata ni Vilma lalo sa mga eksenang wala siyang dialogue. Pati pilikmata niya ay umaarte. Dapat lang na magka award siya rito. Magaling din sina Jimi Melendez at Beth Mondragon.” Ayon naman kay H. Santillan III ng UP Village : Hindi kami fan ni Vilma pero kung ganito ng ganito ang performances niya, dapat siguro’y maging fan na nga niya kami. Tour de force ang acting niya at dapat ilagay sa textbook on acting. Hindi mapapantayan ang rapport nila ni Christopher de Leon.” May iba pang mga sulat pero hindi na namin masisipi sa kakulangan ng espasyo. – Mario E. Bautista, People’s Journal, July 1982

“…Sa kabuuan, mahusay ang pagsasalarawan ni Vilma Santos ng kanyang papel bilang Marilou ngunit hindi ito maihahanay sa ibang pelikula kung saan kinakitaan ang aktres ng kaibahan sa kanyang pagganap tulad ng ating nasaksihan sa Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (1977) at Broken Marriage (1983). Samantalang ibayong talino naman ang ipinamalas ni Christopher de Leon bilang Emil. Naipahiwating lang sana ng maayos ang motibo ni Emil sa pakikisama nito kay Marilou. Hindi maitutulad ang aspetong teknikal ng Relasyon sa ibang obra ni Bernal. Ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ni Benjie de Guzman ay hindi kapani-paniwala. Ipinakitang mababa ang estado ng kabuhayan ni Marilou ngunit madalian siyang nakakuha ng isang libong piso sa bangko. Ang mga tulad nito ay karaniwang walang natatagong ganoong kalaking halaga. Halos hindi marining ang musika ni Winston Raval habang ang sinematograpiya ni Sergio Lobo ay kadalasang nababalot ng dilim. Makikita din ang pagkakamali ng editing ni Augusto Salvador. Sa isang tagpo ay ipinakitang walong buwan nang nagsasama sina Marilou at Emil at nang sumunod na mga eksena, tinanong nito si Emil kung ilang taon na silang magkasama. Ngunit sa kabila ng mga pagkukulang na ito, naging matagumpay pa rin si direktor Ishmael Bernal sa kanyang paglalahad ng isang pelikulang sumubok sa ating mga kaalaman at paniniwala.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…For us, sinuman ang manalo kina Vilma Santos o Lorna Tolentino ay okey lang. Both Gina and Nora have won the Urian best actress awards twice. Gina for Brutal and Salome, Nora for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and Bona. Napakagaling ni Gina in portraying the role of the trying hard Kathy in Moral. Hindi biru-biro ang ganoong character na gagawin mong sympathetic dahil mas malamang na lumabas itong ridiculous lang kaysa nakakakuha ng simpatiya. But Gina succeeded in making her Kathy both ridiculous and sympathetic. As Elsa, Nora’s case is that of star and role merging into one, fitting into each other perfectly dahil alam nating ang karisma ni Guy sa kanyang fans ay siya ring karisma ni Elsa sa kanyang naging followers. Pero palagay namin, kung hindi magta-tie sina Lorna at Vilma, mananalo ng solo si Vilma Santos. Vi has never won the Urian. She should have gotten it in 1977 for Burlesk Queen but the trophy went to Daria Ramirez in Sinong Kasiping. Maraming acting highlights ang paper ni Vi bilang Marilou sa Relasyon. Sa confrontation scenes nila ni Boyet, superb siya roon sa tagpong sinusumbatan niya ito dahil ginagawa na lamang siyang tau-tauhan. Ang acting niya sa death scene ni Boyet na hindi malaman ang gagawin sa katarantahan is also awesome to behold…” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash Magazine, 1983 (READ MORE)

“…On Relasyon. “I won my first grand slam with this movie. I shot this two months after I gave birth to Lucky. I was besieged with enormous financial problems. I owed the BIR, the banks. Thank you to Manay Ichu and Atty. Esperidion Laxa who guided me through this difficult phase in my life. My loans were re-structured. I produced five films which lost a lot of money. One was Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak which we did in three years. Life was miserable. Hinarap ko lahat ang problema ko. Everything that I earned went straight to the banks to pay off my debts. And I paid all of them. Thank God. So when I was doing Relasyon, I was drawing a lot of emotions from the troubles, the pain I was experiencing. Yes, I will not also forget that tuhog scene I did with Boyet and his death scene. Ishmael Bernal our director was great. And Luis is really lucky…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

“…In the documentary, Santos admitted that working with Bernal brought out the best in her as an actress. “She made me do this scene in ‘Relasyon’ that was really tough as it was unpredictable. I think Bernal was the first director to risk putting the character of The Mistress as The Heroine. In the past, the roles of mistresses were mere punching bags of The Wives in many confrontation scenes in Filipino movies,” she added…” – Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files (READ MORE)

“…On a final note, it’s rather unfair that when it comes to actors, Brocka always gets the authority to be called the actor’s director. Not to discredit Brocka of course but Bernal always exceeds Brocka in terms of directing comedies. And humor is only as hard as drama can get; and oftentimes even harder. Ilagan, Andolong, Ranillo, and Locsin may not be the best to portray their roles but their characters don’t need the best—they need believability more, and their youth exudes that, more than their acting chops. They grip on their dialogues so much that watching them is such a delight. There’s this anecdote told by Vilma Santos when she won her grandslam for Relasyon that she walked into Bernal’s shoot a little unmotivated and still high after her big win. She couldn’t get her acting right. And then Bernal said to her, “O, bakit parang lutang ka diyan? Porke’t naka-grand slam ka, feeling mo, magaling ka na?” That’s one-big-“OH”. And to think that Ate Vi was already a big star that time, and getting bigger and bigger thanks to her roles, it does not only give an impression of “katarayan” on Bernal’s part, but more of brilliance. Salawahan is one of the many proofs…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

Musical Scorer – “…The final set briefly harkened back to Raval’s work in the Philippines. When he wasn’t performing at clubs and on the concert stage in the 1970’s and 80’s, Raval composed film scores, most notably for the great filmmaker Ishmael Bernal. He gave his audience on Sunday a taste of that when he played the theme from “Relasyon,” the 1982 film by Bernal that starred Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon and for which Santos won one of her many best actress awards. Adding an amusing touch to the numbers on Sunday were Raval’s stories of how they came to be and how he came up with the titles. But one song that gave Raval a hard time finding a name for was the first number in the final set—and that’s how he ended up calling it “What’s Your Name,” he said, to the guests’ amusement. “Just Another Standard” and “Rolling Hills, Layered Lives” (“I don’t know what that means,” Raval said cheekily of the song) rounded out the program…” – Lorenzo Paran III, Pinoy in America, Nov 24 2012 (READ MORE)

Querida – “…Patrocinio and Bernal’s own mother, Elena, could very well have been Ishmael’s inspiration for several classics of Philippine movies. In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (Two Nest, One Bird), Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Manuel L. Quezon University, Bernal as Auteur: Primary Biographical Notes, 2012 (READ MORE)

Hypocritical Religious Piety – “…In Relasyon [The Affair], for example, Marilou, the querida (“common-law wife”) was the conceptual opposite of the stereotype in Philippin movies. She was a home-builder rather than a wrecker, a victim and not a victimizer. Such characterization may be subversive to the Catholicized society outside Bernal’s home, but most family members had always shared those views anyway, and what was queer to them was that “others”failed to see the issues as the family had seen them. Again, in many if his films, Bernal had comically depicted hypocritical religious piety…In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon [Two Nests, One Bird], Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos, Jr., Kritika Kultura (READ MORE)

“…After years of this unfair competition, Vilma decided to stop playing the also-ran, and opted to essay the roles that Nora preferred not to do, -the other woman, rape victim, burlesque dancer, etc. Vilma’s sexy movies were more suggestive than anything else, but they gave her a new screen persona that made her a distinct movie entity from Nora. Fact is, Nora could also have played sensual characters, but she felt awkward doing so, and Vilma benefited from her reticence. In time, Vilma was also winning acting awards and starring in big hits, so the competition between her and Nora peaked…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2002 (READ MORE)

“…In my Tuesday column, I listed the names of some of the past Best Actor winners in the Gawad Urian. Below are the Manunuri’s Best Actress winners in the last 25 years:…Nora Aunor is clearly a Manunuri favorite. Most industry members (including Vilma Santos) are aware a lot of Manunuri members are “Noranians.” The Manunuri members, of course, do not necessarily operate on fan mentality. In the acting categories, they choose the ones who really deliver the outstanding performances of the year. In this sense, we can also call Gina Alajar a Manunuri favorite…Vilma Santos, unlike Nora, Gina, Jaclyn and even Chanda Romero (during the Manunuri’s early years), was never known to be a Manunuri favorite. Ironically, she is the one with the most number of Urian acting trophies, seven in all (as of 2013, she has 8). In the ’70s, Vilma a perennial Urian nominee; but also a perennial loser. In 1982, however, she won her first Urian (for Relasyon) and there was no stopping her after that. On record, she is the only actress who has won three Urian acting trophies in a row. After Relasyon she won successively for Broken Marriage and Sister Stella L. Later, she won four more for the following films: Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Ipagpatawad Mo (1991), Dahil Mahal Kita, The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993) and Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998). Like rival, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos was also declared Best Actress of the decade in the ’80s and ’90s…” – Butch Francisco, May 09, 2002 (READ MORE)

“…Wenn Deramas (Director; Ang Tanging Ina, Praybeyt Benjamin): “Si Vilma Santos ang buong pelikula, maaaring istorya or a day in the life lamang ito ng isang kabit, pero sa sobrang husay ng ibinigay ni Vilma, lumaki ang buong pelikula…” – SCL, “Greatest Pinoy Films Poll,” 07 May 2013, Pinoy films through Pinoy lenses, (READ MORE)

“… Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 08 April 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Relasyon remains in the Philippines, on the ground of facts. But the film does not end with social criticism. Behind the well-meaning film problem hiding an everyday epic of real existing love, so how and if it is to have in the wrong world. Sometimes this gets epic train of the film with its stated educational content in conflict. Marilou suggests that the advice of the well-informed uncle in the wind, of course, is unreasonable. But it is just their stubborn irrationality adverse circumstances over which so occupies us for it. Therein also lies the quiet, growing with each minute of film Would this really banal figure. At some point, it is sufficient Vilma Santos watch when make-ups – and the heart wants to rip one…” – Nicholas Perneczky, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

“…In Filipino melodramas, the heroines often lean on against a hostile environment. Some no less combative women have created a permanent place in the film industry of the country…Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal devoted themselves repeatedly with a strong social and political consciousness of the popular form of melodrama. More than Brocka himself Bernal frequently focused on strong female characters that need to manage their lives under unfavorable circumstances. In his films female stars in the spotlight, without the problems of everyday life would go by the board. With Vilma Santos in 1982 he turned Relasyon, wherein the main character wants to escape from a stifling marriage and not only emotionally, but also legally reaches its limits (a year later with Santos Bernal turned the thematically similar mounted Broken Marriage). Was produced Relasyon of Lily Monteverde , who plays an influential role in the Philippine film industry today. Already at the beginning of the 20th century there were in the studios and production companies in the country powerful women who ruled with a firm hand and were addressed by their subordinates even as mothers. “Mother Lily” made his mark as a hard nosed business woman, often more economic than artistic interests followed, understandably, not just friends. The young director Raya Martin let her in his short film Long Live Philippine Cinema! (2009) even to death to save the Philippine cinema…” – Michael Kienzl, Critic.de, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

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