Si Atsay at si Rubia

“…Rubia Servios is Lino Brocka’s film, Atsay is Romeo Vitug’s. Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and “Rubia” is a much more demanding and difficult role. Edgardo M. Reyes is an established literary figure, but Mario O’Hara is much better screenwriter. Overall, “Atsay” may be much more impressive than “Rubia Servios” in terms of challenging our moral and legal convictions, however, “Rubia Servios” is much more significant…” – Isagani Cruz, TV Times, 1979

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Rubia Servios (Director: Lino Brocka; Writers: Mario O’Hara, Aida Sevilla Mendoza (original story); Cast: Vilma Santos, Phillip Salvador and Mat Ranillo III) – “…Sa direksiyon ni Brocka, lumitaw ang galing ni Vilma Santos, at nakontrol ang labis na pagpapagalaw ng kanyang labi. Mahusay din ang eksena ng gahasa. Si Philip Salvador naman ay tulad sa isang masunuring estudyante na sinusunod lahat ang direksiyon ng guro. Kitang-kita mo sa kanyang pagganap ang bawat tagubiling pinaghihirapan niyang masunod: kilos ng mata, buntong-hininga, galaw ng daliri, kislot ng kilay. Limitado ang kanyang kakayahan at makikia ito sa kanyang mukha (na limitado rin). Walang-wala rtio si Mat Ranillo III, na parang pinabayaan para lalong lumitaw ang papel at pag-arte ni Salvador. Samantala, ang kamera ni Conrado Salvador ay hindi gaanong nakalikha ng tension at suspense, bukod sa napakaliwanang ng disenyo ng produksiyon ang pagbabago ng mga tauhan sa loob ng pitong taon batay sa estilo ng damit at buhok…” – Justino M. Dormiendo, Sagisag, February 1979 (READ MORE)

Atsay (Director: Eddie Garcia; Writer: Edgardo Reyes (story); Cast: Nora Aunor, Ronald Corveau and Armida Siguion-Reyna) – – “…Garcia assembled a uniformly first-rate cast from Armida and Angie to the nameless housemaid who befriends Nora. Even Ronald Corveau is less irksome here than in his weekly TV show. Nora Aunor’s performance bears the distinct marks of style and self, welding character and personality. As Nelia, the atsay, she delivers a muted performance that successfully treads the thin, delicate line separating genuine sentiment and mawkishness. Everybody worked hard and it shows. Romeo Vitug’s cinematography gives the film a very big boost and George Canseco’s musical score, for once knows when to shut up. The first time Eddie Garcia handled a film with a serious theme was in “Mga Anak sa Pagkakasala,” an underrated indictment of the injustices illegitimate children go through as society censures them fro the sins of their parents. With “Atsay,” he renews his credentials as one director to reckon with…” – Mario E. Bautista, The Philippines Daily Express, 1978 (READ MORE)

1978 MMFF (Entries: “Ang Huling Lalaki ng Baluarte,” Cast: Rey Malonzo, Tina Monasterio, Producer: SQ Film Productions, Director: Artemio Marquez; “Atsay,” Cast: Nora Aunor, Ronald Corveau, Armida Siguion Reyna, Producer: Ian Film Productions, Director: Eddie Garcia; “Garrote: Jai Alai King,” Cast: Christopher De Leon, Producer: VP Pictures, Director: Manuel ‘Fyke’ Cinco; “Jack n’ Jill of the Third Kind” Cast: Dolphy, Nora Aunor, Producer: RVQ Productions, Director: Frank Gray Jr.; “Katawang Alabok,” Cast: Lorna Tolentino, Producer: Agrix Film Productions, Director: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; “Kid Kaliwete,” Cast: Bembol Roco, Producer: Associated Entertainment Corp., Director: Manuel Cinco; “Rubia Servios,” Cast: Vilma Santos, Mat Ranillo III, Phillip Salavador, Producer: Sampaguita Pictures, Director: Lino Brocka; “Salonga,” Cast: Rudy Fernandez, Producer: MBM Productions, Director: Romy Suzara; “The Jess Lapid Story” – Lito Lapid, Beth Bautista, Producer: Mirick Films, Director: Gallardo) – “…is the annual film festival held in Manila. The festival, which runs from the 25th of December to the first week of January, focuses on locally-produced films. The MMFF was established in the year 1975, during which Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa (Water the Thirsty Earth with Dew) by Augusto Buenaventura won the best film award. During the course of the festival, no foreign movies are shown across the Philippines (except for 3D theaters and IMAX theaters). Moreover, only films approved by the jurors of the MMFF will be shown. One of the festival highlights is the parade of floats during the opening of the festival. The floats, each one representing a movie entry for the festival, parade down Roxas Boulevard, while the stars for films ride on them. On the awards night, the Best Float award is also announced, together with the major acting awards…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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With her success and happiness all aglow

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The line is lifted from a Christmas song with a little alteration. But the message and the spirit of the season is still there. Intact. And that is Vilma Santos these days: glowing and with high spirits radiating. Who wouldn’t be, anyway? At thirty, she has still maintained that youthful look every woman is trying to hold on to as she goes celebrating from one birthday to the next. The actress is at peak of her career, and no matter what others say about the phenomenal legend and her unmatchable niche in local cinema, Vilma is slowly creating a legend all her own. At ito ang magiging pagkakaiba niya sa lahat. Kadalasan, ang mga movie queen ng local movies ay unti-unting nawawala sa eksena the moment they get to near thirty or that. Maging si Nora Aunor ay hindi nakaligtas sa “aging syndrome” na ito sa ating pelikula. Ilang taon na ba nang magsimulang manghina ang movie career ng brown phenomenon? Ganito rin halos ang mga nangyari sa ating past movie queens like Gloria Romero, Amalia Fuentes and Susan Roces: by the time they got to be thirty, unti-unti nang nawala ang kanilang charisma sa publiko, at hindi na kagaya ng dati.

Pero hindi ito nangyari kay Vilma. It is a fact na kung kailan pa siya nagkakaedad ay saka pa siya lalong tumatatag, lumalakas. And by almost all indications, it seems like magtatagal pa ito. Take a look at her harvest this year: “Ayak Kong Maging Querida,” “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap?,” “Broken Marriage,” “Obsession (Separasyon Legal),” “Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan Ang Nakaraan” and “Sor Stella L.” Although it appears na tila dalawang pelikula ang maaaring hindi na maipalabas sa taong ito (Obsession and Sor Stella L), hindi na rin maikakaila from the list above that Vilma Santos is still the biggest star of the season and the busiest among her contemporaries. At mayroon pa siyang mga nakatakdang gagawin sa pagpasok ng bagong taon. At the time when most stars are already collecting memoirs and reminiscing fond memories of past glories, Vilma is still soaring into newer heights as she goes from one competent film director to another and manages to become the highest paid actress in the country today. From Ishmael Bernal (Broken Marriage) to Lino Brocka (Obsession) to Marilou Diaz-Abaya (Misan Pa Nating Hagkan Ang Nakaraan) to Mike de Leon (Sor Stella L), the reigning movie queen is getting most of the choicest assignment these days and with the accompanying royal treatment.

Sabi pa niya: “Wala na yata akong mahihiling pa at this stage in my life. Maligaya ako sa aking pamilya, lumalaking listo si Lucky at nalutas ko na rin ang mga problema ko. I think it would be too much kung maghahanap pa ako ng kung anu-ano pa. Kuntento na ako sa buhay ko ngayon at siguro, ang dapat ko na lang gawin ay pagbutihin ang aking ginagawa.” With husband Edu around and some of her loved ones with her, Vilma can’t help but be contended with all the things coming her way. That glow in her eyes is unmistakable kahit na madalas siyang magpuyat and at one time or some other ay nagkakasakit. Katulad na lang nang matapos ang kanyang VIP birthday celebration sa Celebrity Sports Plaza noong November 5. Nagkasakit kinabukasan ang aktress at may dalawang araw ring naratay sa higaan. Maybe because of fatigue. Pero maligaya pa rin siya dahil nasa piling niya si Edu at si Lucky. In fact, she even made some effort to set an appointment the moment she gets well. But she didn’t have to, I thought. The next time I called up, nasa set na naman siya ng Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan… at kailangan niya itong matapos bago mag-November 15 dahil sisimulan na nila ang Sor Stella L sa Regal with Mike de Leon.

Halos mapang-abot na ang dalawang pelikula dahil the day na natapos ang dubbing niya sa Minsan…, kinabukasan, nag-umpisa na kaagad siya sa Sor Stell L. It was a good thing na hindi nagtuloy-tuloy ang shooting ng pelikula ni Mike de Leon. Ang yet, maligaya pa rin si Vilma. Iba na nga naman ang nagagawa ng pag-ibig. Sana wala ng tanong kung hanggang kailna ang lahat. Pero, dapat pa rin nating harapin ang katotohanan. As she has always said time and again, “Parang natatakot pa rin ako kung ano nga ang magiging kasunod nito. With all the good things happening to me now, there’s always that fear at the back of my mind na baka kung ano nga ang sumusonod nito. Sana wala naman.” Most people can’t really help thingking about it. And it’s good thing Vilma isa aware of that. But why worry of things that are based on unfounded fears? Right now, the world of Vilma Santos is all aglow and it is what should matter. So why spoil the good times and think otherewise? The world will not stop because one day you’ll be sad, Vilma. Keep going. Life is made of such stuff. – Julio Cinko N., Movie Flash Magazine, December 8 1983 (READ MORE)

Remembering Lino Brocka

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America’s Euphoria I was a little irritated with my students. Why did they seem distracted and not excited about What I saying? I was, after all, talking about Lino Brocka’s eminent role in the advance of Philippine cinema and nationalism in the arts. I was leading into his participation in people’s struggles before Edsa I. I was also going to point out his contribution to the Philippine Constitutiion, when as a member of the 1987 Constitution Convention he included “freedom of expression” as a right of every Filipino citizen. This has forever insured artistic freedom in this country. Why then did lino seem alien to them? Simple arithmetic made me realize that Lino passed away 12 years ago. If my student were 19 or 20 years old now, they were not even teenagers when Lino epitomized to the general public what a concerned artist should be. On the other hand, I met Lino when he was still Catalino. This was many years before he became better known as Lino Brocka, the Filipino director who impressed international critics in film festivals by the British Film Institute as one of the world’s best directors. It was 1956 when we enrolled at UP as freshman. Life was seemingly easy for teenagers in those days. We empahized with America’s euphoria after the end of the Pacific War. Technicolor film spectacles, Balara, La Mesa Dam, Bucolic Baguio, barn dances, Matorco symbolized the easy and inexpensive good times of that period. We closely identified with Hollywood role models like Parley Granger and Ann Blyth, whose movie roles focused on their search for “the meaning of life.” The more daring ones aped reckless Elvis Presley and oh-so-naughty Marilyn Monroe. The intellectuals read Camus and other existential philisophers. Why, some even advocated socialist concepts and were rumored to be aheists! They discussed usch topics with great fervor at the UP Liberal Arts Basement. The place was thick with cigarette smoke and the combination of constant laughter, fiery arguments, green jokes and simple gossip.

Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero – Those were happy times despite our self-inflicted angst. Nevertheless, Redemptorist priest threatened fire and brimstone during annual retreats. A number of us green freshman had the gall to join older university students who answered the “Audition” call of the UP Dramatic Club, the very prestigious association of thespians at the University of the Philippines, then under the tutelage of the renowned playwright Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero, Freddie to UP-DC and distuinguished alumni. That roster included Celia Diaz Laurel, Joe Viterbo, Mitos Sison, Doy Laurel, Angelita Collas, Joy Gamboa Virata, Marce and Kit Viduya, Jose “Jun” Roy, Tito Gupit and Cherry Santos. Phil Cabanos was designing his sets engineering student Sonny Osmena handled his lights. Could we join that illustrious list of thespians? What an honor to work with such an accomplished director-playwright, we thought. No wonder freshman like Jose Ma. Sison, Pinky Rigor Parolan, Carolina “Bobby” Malay Ocampo, George Moran Sison, Heidi de Peralta, Donnie Montelibano and myself auditioned for the Guerrero production of Thorton Wilder’s “A Happy Journey From Trenton to Camden.” After strenous public auditions, a select few were cast in the play. Also, included was one Catalino Brocka from San Jose, Nueva Ecija. Ishmael Bernal, a year or two ahead of us, was among those who would work backstage later on. Since most of the new members were graduates of “exclusive” schools life Ateneo, La Salle, Assumption, Maryknoll, Holly Ghost, and UP High or UP Prep, we spoke (American) English well. We were therefore excused from doing the tongue-twisting “She sells see shells by the seashore” and “Peter Piper” exercises. Alas, Catalino had to go through them. The Eliot play would be twin-billed with Sartre’s “No Exit,” an existentialist play that had reaped critical praise during its summer run.

Theater “sessions” – The cast of “No Exit” was headed by Jun Roy, Rita Kalaw Ledesma, Phil Cabanos and Kit Viduya. Marita Adolfo Viduya, or Kit ot all her friends at UP, was a spellbinding Estelle. I think “No Exit” was the dramatic turning point in our salad years because, soon after, Lino, Joonee Gamboa, Adul de Leon, and I became a gang of serious theater and movie buffs. We sat attentive and critical, at any and all theater productions in Manila. We even observed theater “sessions” wher more mature actors like Tita Munoz, Nick Agudo and Butch Josue went through Actor’s Studio techniques under a visiting American stage actor. Bert Avellana’s “My Name is Legion” was another awesome productions, along with Daisy Avellana as the sleepwalking lady in “Macbeth In Black.” When we could afford it, we would see the plays of the Manila Theater Guild at the exclusive Army-Navy Club, where expats enjoyed what were then the most polished stage productions in the city. Since we were inveterate moviegoers, we would also regularly see films together and, over ma Mon Luk’s pansit’ siopao, compare insights on productin, acting, directing and scripting. Simone Signoret’s quiet but sething intensity in “Room At The Top” was akin to Kit’s performance in “No Exit,” we thought. She remains one of my favorite stage actress to this day. Lino was her great fan and friend, too. In fact, Lino often slept over in their little bungalow near the LVN compound in San Juan. – Behn Cervantes, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 31, 2003 (READ MORE)

Von Brocka – Lino quit the UP Dramatic Club production of the Wilder play because during our first rehearsal, he screamed a line that got the whole cast and crew in stitches. He yelled, “Awe, Mudder, Mudder luk ut dat gel weering a batting chute!” (Translated in properfly pronounced English that would be: Oh Mother, Mother, look at that girl wearing a bathing suit.) I didn’t know till much later that he was terribly humiliated by our spontaneous and mindless laughter. He opted to quit the play and kept away from our (to his mind) snobbish company. Instead, he worked backstage. He swept the stage, cleaned the dressing room area and threw away our pee collected in small bottles bockstage after the performances. he also drew and dropped the curtain, and promted the cast when needed. Sometime later, he confided to me that his family name originally Von Brocka but they dropped the royal indicator out of embarrassment. Instead, Catalino erstwhile Von Brocka became Lino to the UP Dramatic Club members. Only Adul insited on calling him Catalino. At some point, Joonee and I “adopted” Lino as our friend and protege. We helped him with his English pronunciation and, when he wasn’t getting cast in UP productions, we transferred to the Arena Theater at Philippine Normal College under Dr. Severino Montano on Taft ave. Joonee and his brother Arthur were alread Arena actors and Montano proteges. We appeared in Montano and Tony Bayot plays. Naty Crame Rogers was another PNC stalwart. In 1957, I resigned from the UP Dramatic Club in protest over its constant use of alumni, while resident UP Dramatic Club members like Lino were not given the chance to act. He was finally cast in “Second Shepherd’s Play,” a medieval morality play with the gorgeous Dee Marquez portraying Mary. She became the first musical star of Philippine television, hosting “The Pacosta Hour” that was later renamed “The Dee Marquez Show.” For years, Lino would describe a woman of great beauty, femininity and grace as “ala-Dee Marquez.”

The Glass Booth – When there was no mony for tuition, Lino would drop out of school. Adul, who had dropped out earlier, helped him land jobs. The first was as a jockey for Muzak, then run by psychiatrist Dr. Paul Hodel. Adul had the day shift while LIno took care of the graveyard hours. They play soothing music for Manil Hotel patrons in a glass-enclosed studio located on the ground floor of the historic hotel. Often, I would keep Lino company during thelonely early morning hours. I would arrive after the last full show at Ideal or Avenue theaters on Rizal ave. From inside the glass booth, Lino and I would gawk at Manila’s 400 going to the Fiesta Pavillion for the Kahirup’s grand balls, or those very elitist fashion shows of yore. Pedigreed beauties like Deana Jean Lopez, Norma Serafica, Bambi Lammoglia, Baby Jereza along with society matrons Chona Kasten, Elvira Manahan, Chito Madrigal and young debutantes Conchita Sevilla and Josie Padilla walked the ramps and executed their dramatic turns fro charity. During those long, lonely hours, we talked of everything under the sun. A few years later, Adul worked for PR Bill Kane. He represented Hollywood productions that then shot films in cheap, sun-rich and English-speaking Philippines, a country that also offered well-trained technical crews. Adul got Lino involved in those productions. The first was “Walls of Hell” or “Intramuros” for the domestic run. It starred Jock Mahoney, a former Tarzan, and the young Fernando Poe Jr, Eddie Romero, who directed the movie, told me later that Lino worked in other co-productions. Lino would often ask me to visit him on the set. He was busy, indeed. I failed to see how much of a turning point that would be in his life. Little did anyone on those sets realize that the 90-pound, 5’3 fellow would become a titan of Philippie cinema! – Behn Cervantes, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

Missionary Work – Lino was converted to the Mormon religion sometime in 1962. How did it happen? One rainy evening, I arrived in our Pasay home to find a couple of Mormon missionaries vainly trying to talk my Protestant parents into accepting the merits of their Utah-based religiion. I made an appointment to see them at some other time. I phone Lino to accompany me to the scheduled religious session. After their lengthy spiels, Lino and I agreed it was a rather amusing experience. But Lino continued to see them for proselytizing sessions – until one day he found himself waist – deep in a big pool! He was baptized by beaming missionaries as one of their first Filipino converts to theChurch of Latter Day Saints! In 1965, he was sent to Honolulu for missionary work. Lino had a mind of his own, so it was not surprising that he soon encountered problems with the superiors of his strict church. As a result of his willfulness, he was “exiled” to far-off Molokai. Albeit that stint, he was sent to San Francisco, where he did more missionary work. While there he befriended a yound actor appearing in the stage play “The Subject Was Roses.” He later became better known as Martin Sheen. Lino came home for a sabbatical and I made him join Peta. It was during that time that we had a falling out. I cast him in “Apollo of Bellac” for a Grey November Wednesday show. Ishmael Bernal wisely used that slow mid-week day for a “happening” to draw the crowd to his cafe. Lino came late for the performance so we had a mini-spat that developed further when I questioned his appointment as the director of a Nestor Torre play for a major Peta production. We didn’t speak to each other for 14 years! In years in between, I had joined the parliament of the street. He had become an acclaimed film director with “Wanted: Perfect Mother.” As they say the rest is history. It was only in May 1983, when we worked together in the Free The Artists, Free The Media Movement, that we started to speak to each other again.

Bulaklak ng City Jail – After the assassination of Aquino in Aug. 21, 1983 we became active in Jaja (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All) and many other organizations. Lino and I were detained in a well-publicized arrest during a transport strike in January 1985. We spent ample time together in the Quezon City Jail and Camp Bonifacio, where we reminisced about our salad years, recalled old friends and reminded ourselves of our spats. All that was now water under the bridge. We had become not only friends but comrades, although some silly fellow referred to us as the “Bulaklak ng City Jail,” a take-off from a movie that starred Nora Aunor. We now centered our efforts on the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and its aims. The essense of theCAP statement was clear: We recognized the fact that we were Filipinos first and foremost. We happened to be artist but we had to concern ourselves with our nation’s needs since these affected our lives as artist. We could and did not separate one from the other. We shared a vision of the work and challenges that confronted dedicated and concerned artsts in a troubled country. We had to confront many national problems. We hope to eliminate some of them through out artistic endeavours. All future work would have to be seen from the point of view of the underprivileged Filipino. The task confronting us was formidable. Lino died 12 years ago. There is still so much to be done! New generations should admire what he stood for, emulate his dedication to truth and integrity; and understand his positin in the struggle for true national liberation. he was not just a great filmmaker but a great Filipino artists, as well. – Behn Cervantes, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 14, 2003 (READ MORE)

Unforgettable Scenes “…There were three unforgettable scenes in the film: Hilda Koronel’s painful monologue when she and Bembol Roco were in a motel room; Tommy Abuel’s extinguishing a cigarette butt in his palm when he trying to escape from her Chinese employer, and the dramatic final scene when people chased Roco when they saw him kill Koronel’s Chinese boss. And then I remember reading the name of the movie director in the credits – Lino Brocka. I became an instant fan…I remember them all: Gina Alajar’s questioning look in the final scene of “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim,” a subdued Lolita Rodriguez and a hysterical Charito Solis in the confrontation scene in “Ina, Kapatid, Anak,” Philip Salvador’s lament and hubris when he carried his dead son in “Orapronobis,” Vilma Santos’ rape scene in “Rubia Serbios,” etc. In “Nakaw na Pag-ibig,” (Brocka’s 29th film, loosely based on Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,”) in the scene where Philip Salvador was about to push his lover (Nora Aunor) off a cliff, the audience clapped and whistled in admiration when Aunor’s face was shown close up on screen, full of terror, confusion and anger. To this day, I consider that scene as one of Aunor’s best dramatic acting moments. Only a Brocka could make her act like that…” – Ronald G. Mangubat, Philippine Daily Inquirer – May 24, 2003 (READ MORE)

Excessive Sex in Cinema “…Doing a Brocka requires much more than just outsiders and victims, shot in Lino’s signatures squatter locations, with characters mouthing seethingly witty diatribes against the rich and hypocritical, showing up politicians and social climbers for the vainglorious fakes they really are. today’s ersatz Brocka may be able to approximate these key elements, but when they put them together, the finished creation beats with a cold, utilitarian heart. You simply can’t fudge passin, genuine involvement and the readiness to do anything and even give up everything in order to come up with a film that will force viewers to face the worst and the best about themselves. Those, and not the “signature” squatter locales, are what truly distinguish Brocka’s works from other filmmakers’, and they can’t be imitated. Another point: with Brocka, life and film were one – which is why his movies throbbed with his view of life, nobody else’s. That, again, can’t be approxinated with conviction, especially not by many of today’s filmmakers, who have become far too comfortable with compromise. Take this currently “hot” issue of excessive sex in cinema. Brocka made some sexy movies, but none of them ended up as bomba movies even in the ’70s, when super-sexy films were “allowed.” He knew when to stop after he had made his erotic point, and when enough was enough – unlike some directors today, whose “enough” is far too much! So, if there are new filmmakers out ther who want to become “another Lino Brocka,” our best advise is: don’t even try, because you’re sure to fail – and look trying – hard in theprocess, because Lino is a tough act to follow. Brocka became Brocka because he was Brocka, with all of his unique attributes, goals and drives, so it’s futile for the picayune non-Brockas out there to try to approximate his depth and stature…” – Nestor U Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 11, 2001 (READ MORE)

Santiago – “…Right after “Wanted…,” Lino was contracted to direct other movies one after the other, in the hope that they would also turn out to be winners. The biggest of these productions, by far, was “Santiago,” because it starred no less than the Filipino industry’s “King of Action Films,” Fernando Poe Jr. Never mind that Lino wasn’t an action director, he was given the “honor” of directing King FPJ. He took on that gargantuan task even if it wasn’t really within his ken of interest because, if it clicked it would make him an even more bankable director. With that kind of box office clout, producer would then premit him to direct the much more daring, committed and “dangerous” films he really wanted to make. Well, the inevitable happened: Lino and FPJ clashed. It really couldn’t be avoided because they came from two different cinematic worlds, and never the twain di meet, except with a lot of anger and trauma. Lino was quite unnerved by the experience. He tried to keep his cool as best he could and went on to finish the movie, but the stress told on him in a manner that he couldn’t control: it left a psychological emblem, a white spot on his cheek, for the young director to rememeber his mis-encounter with FPJ by. Years late, Lino would point to that white spot on his cheek and call it his FPJ beauty spot. Truth to tell, however, the experience was far from beautiful. Still, “Santiago” emerged as a must see film, and FPJ did better in it than in most of his other starrers, so both he and Lino were able to prove their thespic points. For his part, however, Lino was criticized for the overly stagy way with which he mounted some scenes in the film, with the townspeople acting like a Greek chorus, in full theatrical froth. But we will always remember “Santiago” for the great way with which it showcased the very young and beautiful Hilda Koronel, in her “introducing” screen appearance: After a fire, a house has been gutted to its foundations, and everything is covered with ash, soot and a few embers. Then, in the midst of all the bleakness, a hand reaches out from beneath the ashes/ There;s a survivor! As the figure crawls out, it turns out to be the lovely Hilda, her beautiful face “blooming” like a brave lily in that landscape of death and destruction. What a great first shot for a new actress! And only LIno Brocka could have thought it up for the luminous young talent who would later become his artistic “daughter” in cinema.” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 21, 2001 (READ MORE)

Lino Brocka and Vilma Santos

Brocka gave Vilma one of the most controversial film after Burlesk Queen, her milestone role as a rape victim in 1978′s Rubia Servios. The film failed to secure Vilma the local festival’s best performer award but broke record in terms of revenue.

Rubia Servios (1978) – “…Sa direksiyon ni Brocka, lumitaw ang galing ni Vilma Santos, at nakontrol ang labis na pagpapagalaw ng kanyang labi. Mahusay din ang eksena ng gahasa. Si Philip Salvador naman ay tulad sa isang masunuring estudyante na sinusunod lahat ang direksiyon ng guro. Kitang-kita mo sa kanyang pagganap ang bawat tagubiling pinaghihirapan niyang masunod: kilos ng mata, buntong-hininga, galaw ng daliri, kislot ng kilay. Limitado ang kanyang kakayahan at makikia ito sa kanyang mukha (na limitado rin)…” – Justino M. Dormiendo, Sagisag, February 1979 (READ MORE)

Adultery: Aida Macaraeg (1984) – “…The movie also offers another view of prison life. Sa mga pelikulang lokal na tungkol sa piitan, karaniwan nang nalalagyan ng tattoo ang bida, ginagahasa ng kapwa bilanggo at ginugulpi ng husto. Dito, maayos ang naging kalagayan ni Carding habang nasa bilangguan at wala siyang naenkwentrong mga problema na gaya ng usual na napapanood natin sa prison movies. Maganda talaga ang Aida Macaraeg…” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash May 31, 1983 (READ MORE)

Hahamakin Lahat (1990) – “…Brocka did Hahamakin Lahat for Regal Films. This would be his third team-up with Vilma Santos. The role called for Vilma to be dark, daring, and innovative—something that totally deviated from characters usually portrayed by the sweet-faced actress . It showed a heroine entering into a marriage of convenience with a ruthless, scheming mayor—a character Brocka created to expose the hypocrisy and corruption of society…” – Mario Hernando (READ MORE)

Talent was welling out like spring water – “…So I assumed that, as an actress, she was really just second to Nora. But Vilma takes good care of herself not only physically – there’s always this aura about her – but intellectually too: so she grows and develops tremendously. The second time I worked with her, in Adultery, I realized she had become as good as Nora, or better. And by the time of Hahamakin Lahat there was the complete sensibility already – a difference in the way she expressed pain and hurt. Talent was welling out like spring water, and flowing from her most naturally, no longer courtesy of Vicks or whatever…Possibly her coming of age as a woman. She had become more sure of herself. And this self-confidence grew as her private life became calmer, as she found herself with fewer problems, both financially and emotionally. How a director would feel about her at the moment is that he can do anything with her now. She has become so supple that his tendency would be to challenge her still further, make her come up still higher, open up more doors. She can give you so much more now.” Brocka snorts at the complaint Vilma is currently making: that so utterly has she done all the roles she can do there’s no new role left for her to do. ‘She can do the same role over and over again as long as, with the right direction, she does it always a bit more profoundly than the last time and makes it a bit more complex than the last time. She should have no problem at all with roles. In fact, I would advise her now to play roles that are not glamorous. Yes, she’s too associated with glamour to do that. But maybe in another year or two she can afford to take off her make up and act her age. Then she’ll really be on par with Nora, whose chief concern is seldom her looks. With Nora, it’s not her face that’s on sale. The problem with Vilma is that she feels she has to live up to her image as The Glamour Girl. I’m waiting for the day when glamour will have no truck -walang pakialam! – with the acting…” – Quijano De Manila (Nick Joaquin), Philippine Graphic Magazine 05 November 1990 (READ MORE)

Catalino Ortiz Brocka (April 3, 1939–May 21, 1991), director for film and broadcast arts, espoused the term “freedom of expression” in the Philippine Constitution. Brocka took his social activist spirit to the screen leaving behind 66 films which breathed life and hope for the marginalized sectors of society — slumdwellers, prostitute, construction workers, etc. He also directed for theater with equal zeal and served in organizations that offer alternative visions, like the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). At the same time, he garnered awards and recognition from institutions like the CCP, FAMAS, TOYM, and Cannes Film Festival. Brocka has left behind his masterpieces, bequeathing to our country a heritage of cinematic harvest; a bounty of stunning images, memorable conversations that speak volumes on love,betrayal and redemption, pestilence and plenty all pointing towards the recovery and rediscovery of our nation. To name a few, Brocka’s films include the following: “Santiago” (1970), “Wanted: Perfect Mother” (1970), “Tubog sa Ginto” (1971), “Stardoom” (1971), “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” (1974), “Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag” (1975), “Insiang” (1976), “Jaguar” (1979), “Bona” (1980), “Macho Dancer” (1989), “Orapronobis” (1989), “Makiusap Ka sa Diyos” (1991) (NCCA.gov.ph). On May 21, 1991 Brocka met an untimely death in a car accident in Quezon City, Metro Manila. In 1997 he was given the posthumous distinction of National Artist for Film.- Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Related Reading:

Lino Brocka’s Vilma Santos Films

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

Brocka gave Vilma one of the most controversial film after “Burlesk Queen,” her milestone role as a rape victim in 1978′s “Rubia Servios.” The film failed to secure Vilma the local festival’s best performer award after so much speculations despite this, the film was a big hit. Brocka will direct Vi two more times, “Adultery” in 1984 and “Hahamakin Kita” in 1990, a year before his untimely death in May 21, 1991. – RV (READ MORE)

Rubia Servios (1978) – “…Rubia Servios, on the other hand, does not dilute the message. Willy (Phillip Salvador), the son of a powerful and wealthy figure, is portrayed as totally evil, devoid of any redeeming quality. To screenwriter Mario O’Hara and director Lino Brocka, the province is the same as the city. Rubia Servios (Vilma Santos) is raped both in the city and in the country. Rubia kills Willy in the country. Violence unites all places. It is the “unity” of conception, scripting, design, and direction, in fact, that Rubia Servios is superior to Atsay. Lino Brocka does not waste shots in his attempt to create a Filipino classical tragedy. He subordinates everything to the building up of one emotion in the viewer, that of hatred of Willy. So despicable does Willy become at the end that, when he is murdered by Rubia, no viewer can say that Rubia is at fault. And yet, morally speaking, no one is allowed to take the law into his own hands. The law, in fact, put Willy in prison for the first rape. There is no reason to think that the law will not put Willy to death for the second rape. By conditioning the reader to condone Rubia’s revenge, Brocka succeeds in questioning one of our deeply rooted moral beliefs. The unity that characterizes Rubia Servios contrasts sharply with the tendency of Eddie Garcia in Atsay to exploit Vitug’s versatility even at the expense of tightness. There are shots in Atsay, for example, which could easily be cut without hurting the film’s integrity. Even the train sequence, one of the best sequences in Atsay, is far too long. Rubia Servios is Lino Brocka’s film; Atsay is Romeo Vitug’s. Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and Rubia is a much more demanding and difficult role…” – Isagani Cruz (READ MORE)

Adultery (Aida Macaraeg Case No. 7892) (1984) – “…Napakahusay ni Vilma sa mga eksenang nagngingitngit siya sa mga kapatid niya sa pagkawala ng uniporme o muling pagbubuntis ng mga ito. You can really feel the sense of rage, and futility that she is experiencing. Pero maging sa iba pang quiet scenes ay mahusay rin siya, o kaya y maging doon sa eksenang muntik na siyang mabuko ni Mario, at nang magkomprontasyon na sila ni Phillip. Pero, sa tingin namin, mas lumutang si Phillip sa pelikulang ito at tiyak na in the running na naman siya for best actor next year. Kung minsan ay mata lamang ang kanyang pinaaarte at wala siyang dialogue (like nang mabasa niyang nakunan si Aida o nang makita niya itong sinasalubong si Mario sa gate). Very touching din ang final scene na tinanong siya ni Vi: “Ano ng nangyari sa ‘tin?” At sumagot siya ng: “Huwag mo nang itanong. Baka mas masakit kung malaman natin ang sagot.” Maraming iba pang magagandang touches ang pelikula, tulad ng pagdalaw ng mga babaing taga-block rosary kina Aida at ang sagutan sa court scenes…” – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

Hahamakin lahat (1990) – “…Brocka did Hahamakin Lahat (1990) for Regal Films. This was his third movie with Vilma Santos. The role called for Vilma to be dark, daring and innovative, a complete deviation from characters usually portrayed by the sweet-faced Star for All Seasons. It showed a heroine entering into a marriage of convenience with a ruthless, scheming mayor, a character Brocka created to expose the hypocrisy and corruption of society…” – Paul Mata and F. Caagusan (READ MORE)

Lino Brocka Catalino Ortiz Brocka (April 3, 1939–May 21, 1991), director for film and broadcast arts, espoused the term “freedom of expression” in the Philippine Constitution. Brocka took his social activist spirit to the screen leaving behind 66 films which breathed life and hope for the marginalized sectors of society — slumdwellers, prostitute, construction workers, etc. He also directed for theater with equal zeal and served in organizations that offer alternative visions, like the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). At the same time, he garnered awards and recognition from institutions like the CCP, FAMAS, TOYM, and Cannes Film Festival. Brocka has left behind his masterpieces, bequeathing to our country a heritage of cinematic harvest; a bounty of stunning images, memorable conversations that speak volumes on love,betrayal and redemption, pestilence and plenty all pointing towards the recovery and rediscovery of our nation. To name a few, Brocka’s films include the following: “Santiago” (1970), “Wanted: Perfect Mother” (1970), “Tubog sa Ginto” (1971), “Stardoom” (1971), “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” (1974), “Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag” (1975), “Insiang” (1976), “Jaguar” (1979), “Bona” (1980), “Macho Dancer” (1989), “Orapronobis” (1989), “Makiusap Ka sa Diyos” (1991) (NCCA.gov.ph). On May 21, 1991 Brocka met an untimely death in a car accident in Quezon City, Metro Manila. In 1997 he was given the posthumous distinction of National Artist for Film – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Related Reading

FILM REVIEW: ADULTERY AIDA MACARAEG


The Plot: Dreaming to be released from her miserable life of poverty, Aida, a waitress, abandons her bedridden father, her moralistic mother, her jobless brother and her good-for-nothing sister to live with her boyfriend Carding, who she believes will save her from her miserable life. In his desire to earn quick money, Carding gets involved with illegal drugs and is jailed. Aida is pregnant and while Carding is in jail, she has an abortion. She then marries another man. Carding is released from prison and finds out about his wife’s new life. He decides to sue her for adultery. – UP (READ MORE)

Aida Macaraeg’s only dream is to be released from her miserable life of poverty. She is sick and tired of working day and night as a waitress to be able to feed her jobless brother and his family, her good-for-nothing sister, moralistic mother and bedridden father. One day, Aida decides to turn her back on them and settles for a live-in arrangement with her boyfriend Carding, who gives her a short-lived salvation. But her first attempt to escape a misfortune only brings her face to face with one after another. Carding gets jailed for drug peddling. Aida finds out she is pregnant and opts for an abortion. Forced by need and fueled by ambition, she lives with a wealthy man and has a son by him. Carding is released from prison and finds out about his wife’s illicit affair. They finally see each other again, in court. – Database of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Adultery (Aida Macaraeg Case No. 7892) is not one of filmmaker Lino Brocka’s best works. It definitely cannot be lined alongside masterpieces like Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (You Were Weighed But Found Wanting, 1974), Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon, 1975), and Insiang (1976). At best, Adultery is a well-made melodrama that puts a social issue, that of marital infidelity as escape from poverty, at the center of its affairs. Jose Javier Reyes’ well-crafted screenplay (the story is credited to Aida Sevilla Mendoza) is supposedly sourced from a real life account, but one wonders if convenient happy endings (which the film unfortunately struggles with) exist in these kind of cases, especially ones as emotionally charged as in the film. In the Philippines, adultery cases stretch for years and any emotion resembling marital love and concern is replaced with scorching hate, the primary ingredient that fuels litigation. Aida (Vilma Santos giving a very mature performance) is the sole breadwinner for her family, consisting of a bedridden father, a nagging mother, a good-for-nothing brother, his unemployed wife and baby. Unable to bear the hardships of living with her family, she takes the offer of her boyfriend Carding (Phillip Salvador) to simply live together, resisting his invitation to marry him despite the possible scandal that might arise out of their living arrangement. Carding gets caught peddling prohibited drugs and gets imprisoned, leaving Aida all alone to fend for herself. Years later, Carding gets released from prison and finds Aida, now a mistress of a wealthy executive (Mario Montenegro) and mother to a child that is not his. Aida is then sued for adultery by Carding, which if she is proven guilty would separate her from her son.

There’s one sequence in the film which clearly shows Brocka’s mastery. Aida visits Carding in prison, telling him of her pregnancy. Carding again offers to marry her, fearing that their child would be a bastard child. Supposedly out of pity, Aida agrees. The marriage is solemnized then and there. The prison chaplain officiates the ceremony where Aida is draped in an ordinary dress while Carding wears the orange colored uniform. Around are the witnesses of their marriage, felons all donning the same orange outfit Carding is wearing. Of course, these are mere background details, emphasizing the sullenness of the event that is ordinarily jovial and lively. Brocka concentrates on Aida. He closes up on her face, worried about the uncertainty of her future: she is after all pregnant and now married to a convict with absolutely no source of income. It is Aida’s point of no return and Brocka understands it as such, thus he presents it with understated elegance; no dialogue, just Lutgardo Labad’s swelling music and Brocka’s emphatic close-up of Vilma Santos’ apprehensive face.

The film attempts to criticize marriage, which is depicted not in its traditional sense (as the key to life’s bliss) but as a harrowing cage where women are left with no choices. It seems to advocate infidelity, especially when the requirements of life overtakes the facile concerns of societal and religious norms. Interestingly, Brocka does not antagonize any of his characters. Aida is a hardworking woman who we first see as the selfless sufferer who is charged with her family’s survival, a mere victim of fate and circumstance. Also, one cannot doubt Carding’s affection for Aida. His decisions in life may have been off, leading to his incarceration and Aida’s continuing suffering, but it cannot be denied that his love for his wife is indubitable. The blame does not go to any person but to the social institution of marriage, its sometimes shallow roots and the unbendable veneration the law and society gives to it to the detriment of the unique needs of individuals. I am impressed as to how Brocka directed the courtroom sequence, without the usual pomp and unnecessary drama. The courtroom sequence gives the impression as to how the justice is bookish and blind to personal plights. One lawyer asks Aida a question, and she shies away saying that the question is too personal. Of course, the judge demands that she answer the question, which she does so unwillingly. In the eyes of the law, emotions, circumstance, fate, and needs are denied materiality. This should have been the instance wherein we’ll fall for Aida’s plight: that despite her being guilty for adultery, she does not deserve to be punished because she was forced to infidelity not by innate evil but by circumstances in her life. However, instead of dishing out an ending that would operate as the culmination of such criticism, Brocka and Reyes decided to succumb to sentimentality. Husband forgives wife. Wife gets her son back. Everybody’s satisfied. Unfortunately, reality, which the film tried so hard to emulate, isn’t anything like that. – Oggs Cruz (READ MORE)

Dalawang pelikula ni Vilma Santos ang napanood namin sa special previews: Adultery at Sister Stella L. Pinatunayan ng mga pelikulang ito na Vi is still the leading actress of the season and performances in both movies make her again the actress to beat in next year’s award derbies. No doubt, Vilma, right now, is at her peak. Adultery is a well made melodrama deftly written by Jose Javier Reyes and masterfully directed by Lino Brocka. Ang pangunahing tauhan, si Aida Macaraeg, ay isang dalagang breadwinner ng kanyang pamilya. May sakit ang kanilang ama at siya ang bumibili ng mga gamot nito. Nag-asawa nang maaga ang kapatid niyang lalaki at siya ang nagpapakain pati sa asawa t anak nito. Siya rin ang nagpapaaral sa bunso nilang kapatid na babae. Receptionist sa isang restaurant, may boyfriend si Aida na wala namang regular na trabaho. Ito ay si Carding (Phillip Salvador) na kumikita lamang kapag sumasama sa mga illegal na gawain ng sangganong si Bumbay. Nang malaman ni Aida na nagdadalantao na naman ang asawa ng kapatid niya, niyaya niya si Carding na magsama na sila. May kapatid si Aida na isinumpa ng kanilang ina dahil nakisama ito sa isang lalaking may-asawa. Si Aida lamang ang nakauunawa kay Miriam (Deborah Sun) at wala siyang kamalay-malay susundan pala niya ang mga yapak nito. Akala niya’y malulutas ng pagsama niya kay Carding ang mga problema niya ngunit lalala lamang pala ito. Nahuli si Carding sa pagsama sa pangkat ni Bumbay at nabilanggo. Naiwang nagdadalantao si Aida. Nang malaman ito ni Carding ay pinilit siyang pakasal na sila para hindi maging bastardo ang isisilang niya. Ikinasal sila ng pari sa piitan.

Nagbalik si Aida sa kanyang trabaho ngunit natuklasan ng may-ari na buntis siya. Naiisip ni Aida na lalo lamang siyang maghihirap at nadadamay pa pati ang kanyang magiging anak kung itutuloy niya ang kanyang pagbubuntis kaya t ipinasya niyang ilaglag ito sa tulong ni Miriam. Nang magaling na siya y napasok siyang tagapamahala sa isang kantina at dito niya nakilala si Tito Pangilinan (Mario Montenegro). Nagsama sila at nagkaroon ng isang anak. Si Carding naman ay nalipat sa Davao Penal Colony at nagtaka na lamang siya nang huminto na sa pagsulat si Aida. Lumaya si Carding pagkaraan ngpitong taon at hinanap agad si Aida. Nakita niya ito at si Aida ay nagsimulang maglubid ng buhangin. Ang batang kasama niya’y anak daw ni Miriam at mahigpit ang bagong kinakasama nito kaya’t hindi sila maaaring laging magkita. Ngunit natuklasan ni Carding ang katotohanan at sa galit nito’y sinaktan si Aida. Inihabla siya ni Carding at ang kaso y humantong sa husgado. Mabibilanggo kaya si Aida sa salang adultery? That, you’d have to find out for yourself. Mawawala ang suspence kapag ibinunyag namin agad sa inyo ang ending.

Based on a true legal story, nagawa nina Reyes at Brocka na very convincing ang pagkakalahad ng kuwento. Maingat ang development at talagang magsi-sympathize ka sa mga tauhan. Ang kaso ni Aida ay isa ring moral dilemma. Dapat ba siyang sisihin sa kanyang ginawa? Sa kanyang paglalaglag sa sanggol and finding the easy way out through having an affair with a rich old man? Maraming katulad ni Aida sa ating lipunan sa ngayon. Nagipit sila, humanap ng lubid na makakapitan upang huwag tuluyang mahulog sa bangin, kasalanan ba ang kanilang praktikal na solusyon sa kanilang mga problema? Morally, masasabi agad na mali nga sila. Pero madaling humusga kung hindi ikaw mismo ang nakaharap sa mga problemang iyon. Tao lamang si Aida. At ang kahinaan niya ang siyang dahilan kung bakit naging very human ang istorya ng Adultery. Kung bakit naging tutoong-tutoo angmga sitwasyon at ang lahat ng characters dito. Alam mong melodramatiko ang kuwento pero alam mo ring nagaganap ang gayon sa tunay na buhay, na talagang maraming Aida Macaraeg sa ating paligid. Namumukod-tangi ang mga aspetong teknikal ng pelikula: ang sinematograpiya ni Conrado Baltazar, ang musika ni Lutgardo Labad, ang editing ni Rogelio Salvador, ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ni Joey Luna at pati pagkakalapat ng tunog.

Mahusay rin ang acting ng lahat ng tauhan: si Deborah Sun bilang Miriam, si Anita Linda bilang ina, si Tita de Villa bilang tiyahin ni Carding. Maikli lamang ang papel ni Mario Montenegro bilang Tito pero epektibo ang pagkakaganap niya, lalo sa tagpong sinumbatan niya si Aida: “Pitong taon na kitang tinutulungan at pitong taon mo na rin akong niloloko.” Napakahusay ni Vilma sa mga eksenang nagngingitngit siya sa mga kapatid niya sa pagkawala ng uniporme o muling pagbubuntis ng mga ito. You can really feel the sense of rage, and futility that she is experiencing. Pero maging sa iba pang quiet scenes ay mahusay rin siya, o kaya y maging doon sa eksenang muntik na siyang mabuko ni Mario, at nang magkomprontasyon na sila ni Phillip. Pero, sa tingin namin, mas lumutang si Phillip sa pelikulang ito at tiyak na in the running na naman siya for best actor next year. Kung minsan ay mata lamang ang kanyang pinaaarte at wala siyang dialogue (like nang mabasa niyang nakunan si Aida o nang makita niya itong sinasalubong si Mario sa gate). Very touching din ang final scene na tinanong siya ni Vi: “Ano ng nangyari sa ‘tin?” At sumagot siya ng: “Huwag mo nang itanong. Baka mas masakit kung malaman natin ang sagot.” Maraming iba pang magagandang touches ang pelikula, tulad ng pagdalaw ng mga babaing taga-block rosary kina Aida at ang sagutan sa court scenes.

The movie also offers another view of prison life. Sa mga pelikulang lokal na tungkol sa piitan, karaniwan nang nalalagyan ng tattoo ang bida, ginagahasa ng kapwa bilanggo at ginugulpi ng husto. Dito, maayos ang naging kalagayan ni Carding habang nasa bilangguan at wala siyang naenkwentrong mga problema na gaya ng usual na napapanood natin sa prison movies. Maganda talaga ang Aida Macaraeg. – Movie Review by Mario E. autista Movie Flash May 31, 1983 – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash May 31, 1983 (READ MORE)

“…Masinop ang mga elemento ng pelikula sa Adultery (Regal Films, Inc., 1984). Madulas ang daloy ng dulang pampelikula ni Jose Javier Reyes, konsistent ang disenyong biswal at sinematograpiya, malinis ang editing, akmang-akma ang tunog at musika. Ang maalam at matatag na pagganap ni Vilma Santos ay nagsasaad ng pagkaunawa at metodo sa layuning dramatiko ng kanyang pelikula. Ang pagganap ni Phillip Salvador bilang Carding ay nagpahayag ng mithiin sa lahat ng di magkatugmang aspeto nito at nagbigay ng naiibang sigla sa tradisyon ng pagganap sa pelikula. Sa halip na unidimensiyonal ang pagsasalarawan sa karanasan ng isang babae ay binigyan ito ng maramihang posibilidad sa pamamagitan ng sinematikong pagsasadula ni Lino Brocka, ang istereotipong ito ay isinalaysay sa paglalakbay ng kababaihan tungo sa sariling pagkilala at katuparan.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saringng Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

Vilma Santos’ MMFF recognitions

Aside from Gawad Urian, Star Awards, Film Academy Awards and FAMAS, the annual local festival, called MMFF or Metro Manila Film Festival has become a part of Vilma Santos’ film career. From the 70s to the new millennium, Vilma Santos was able to entered memorable films that earned her awards, record-breaking ticket revenues, career breakthrough performances and even some memorable heartache. Spanning four decades, the MMFF earned Vilma 7 acting nominations with four wins.

The Martial Law established the amalgamation of the surrounding cities in Manila. Prior to 1975, three local film festivals showcase Filipino films, Quezon City and Manila each has their own festivities and another one in Southern part of the country, Bacolod City. The local festivals started the acting competition between rival, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor. In 1970 Manila Film Festival, Nora’s Nora in Wonderland and Young Heart compete with Vilma’s sole entry, Love Letters. Two years afterwards, the acting race will heat up in Quezon City Film Festival when the two collided with Nora’s And God Smiled at Me and Vilma’s Dama De Noche. After the Martial Law, cities were amalgamated with Manila. And the Quezon City Film Festival and the Manila Film Festival ends creating the December festival in 1975. Occasionally, Manila will have their own festival every summer in connection to city’s “Araw Ng Manila” celebration. Tthe last time Vilma entered a film at MFF was in 1993 via Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story where she won the best actress. Meanwhile, Nora Aunor’s last venture to MFF was in 2004’s Naglalayag where like Vilma, she won the best actress too.

The Metropolitan Manila Film Festival, now simply called, MMFF, (the “politan” was dropped eventually) or Metro Manila Film Festival exhibits only local films in all its theatres from Christmas Eve to the first week of the following New Year. The festival has its street parade at the eve of Christmas Day and each films contesting for best float. The festival has its awards night at the third or fourth nights.

Not surprisingly, both Nora and Vilma have competed in the first MMFF. Nora’s entry was her self-produced film directed by Luciano B. Carlos, Batu-Bato sa Langit and Vilma’s entry was the melodrama, Karugtong ang Kahapon. The big winner was the pre-presidential, Joseph Estrada. Directed by Augosto Bunaventura, Estrada’s Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa won the major awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Best Actress went to Charito Solis for Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi.

The second year, the festival was noticeably the precursor to the awards race. It was a showcase of who’s who in the local film industry. Lino Brocka, Eddie Romero, Lupita Concio were among the big name directors competing. Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon dominated the awards night winning the best director and Christopher de Leon the best actor. Hilda Koronel was proclaimed the best actress for her impressive performance in Insiang. Concio’s Minsa’y Isang Gamo-gamo, Brocka’s Insiang and Romero’s Ganito will be the top films competing for the first Gawad Urian.

The third MMFF, brought controversy to Vilma Santos. Now starting to accept offbeat roles and learning to adopt versatility to her arsenal, she bravely entered the festival with Celso Ad Castillo’s Burlesk Queen. The gamble paid off as the film became the top grosser and won eight awards out of ten. Burlesk won best picture and best in direction, lead actor, actress, screenplay, supporting actress/actor and cinematography.

Burlesk defeated Lino Brocka’s Inay, Mario O’Hara and Romy Suzara’s Mga Bilanggong Birhen, Mike de Leon’s Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, Eddie Romero’s Banta ng Kahapon, Ishmael Bernal’s Walang Katapusang Tag-araw, Joey Gosiengfiao’s Babae, Ngayon at Kailanman, Gil Portes’ Sa Piling ng mga Sugapa. A very impressive list, no wonder some critics loudly complained about the awards results. And according to Armida Sigueon Reyna, in her newspaper column, Brocka walked out the awards night in protest and even cursed the juror on the way out ot the auditorium. It was also reported that the organizer asked the winners to return their medals (they hand out medals that year) but no such things happened, Vilma still has her medal in her fully loaded cabinet of hardwares.

The success of Burlesk Queen commercially and critically brought down some senses to some Nora Aunor followers. Clearly, Vilma Santos’ willingness to accept mature and offbeat roles became a threat to Nora Aunor’s standing as the number one actress. Vilma Santos’ entry was Lino Brocka’s true to life film about rape victim, Rubia Servios. Critics and media have predicted Vilma was dead lock for the best actress. Come awards night, the juries’ award Nora’s film about a maid abused by her employer, Atsay won the major awards including best picture and best director for Eddie Garcia. The top acting award was changed to best performer that Nora Aunor won. A vindication from last year’s result? Wait, there wasn’t even an Aunor film last year. For some consolation, Rubia won two technical awards, one for editing and screenplay for Mario O’Harra. The film also became the top grosser of the festival even with the lost to Aunor. According to Isagani Cruz on his TV Times article in 1979: “…Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and Rubia is a much more demanding and difficult role….Overall, Atsay may be much more impressive than Rubia Servios. In terms of challenging our moral and legal convictions, however, Rubia Servios is much more significant.”

1979 brought the tandem of Charito Solis & Vilma Santos versus Lolita Rodrigues and Nora Aunor. The clear winner was the latter team. Although Solis and Santos film did much better at the box office. Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo, a much better film, directed by Lino Brocka won the major awards, best picture, director and acting awards for Raul Aragon and Nora Aunor. For film aficionado, the scene where Solis slapped Santos in Modelong Tanso was memorable. Many reprised that scene, Vilma did it in Anak (with Claudine) and recently Sharon Cuneta with Heart Evangelist in the recent Mano Po.

By 1980, Nora Aunor kept on pushing for festival supremacy and like last year, she entered two films. This time, with Lino Brocka’s Bona and Laurice Guillen’s Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. Vilma’s lone entry was Danny Zialcita’s Langis at Tubig. Nora came up short, as both of her film missed the major awards. The big winner was Christopher De Leon and Bembol Roco’s film Taga Sa Panahon. Taga won the top awards while Marilou Diaz Abaya’s film Brutal won directing and best actress for Amy Austria. Langis At Tubig won best actor Dindo Fernando.

After winning in 1977 and a big loss in 1978, Vilma’s enthusiasm in winning at the MMFF subsided significantly. Her film entries were now focused on entertainment value aimed at getting commercial success instead of awards. 1980 and 1981 was a big example. Danny Zialcita’s Langis At Tubig did very well at the box office in ’80 and her entry the following year was a glossy production, Karma. Karma was a big hit and earned nominations but one film dominated all the 1981’s MMFF, Kisap Mata, directed by Mike De Leon won eight out of ten awards except for best actress, that award went to Vilma Santos. Vilma didn’t attend the ceremony, her co-star, Chanda Romero, accepted the award.

Nora’s absence in 1981 add motivation to her camp, she entered the festival with the epic film, directed by Ishmael Bernal, Himala, now considered by many as one of the best Filipino film of all time. Himala won seven major awards including best picture, director, screenplay and actress. Vilma’s entry Haplos was a distant third, with a win for lead actor, Christopher De Leon. The following year, Himala harvested nominations from four award-giving bodies particularly the best actress nominations for Nora but failed to win any, all the trophies went to Vilma, earning her first grand slam best actress. The next six years, no film by Vilma Santos in the festival. The big winners during these years are: 1983 – Karnal, 1984 – Bulaklak ng City Jail, 1985 – Paradise Inn, 1986 – Halimaw sa Banga, 1987 – Olongapo, 1988 – Patrolman.

The 1989 MMFF brought back the team of Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon. Viva film’s Immortal directed by Eddie Garcia won major awards including best picture, director and the acting for Christopher and Vilma. Not to be undone, Nora Aunor entered the race the following year via Elwood Perez’ Andrea Paano ba ang Maging Isang Ina. The film won best picture, director and actress for Nora. Best actor went to Dolphy for Espadang Patpat. Then 1991 was a repeat for Nora as her film, again directed by Perez, Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M. won major awards.

The next twelve years seems to be non-existent for Vilma followers as there were no entries from Vilma Santos in these years. There were no films that stands out compare to the high caliber films entered during the peak of the Vilma-Nora rivalry. There are six films that were praised by the critics though, Chito Rono‘s films Nasaan ang Puso (1997) and Bagong Buwan (2001), Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Jose Rizal (1998) and Muro-ami (1999) and Laurice Guillen’s Tanging Yaman (2000). In the acting category, only Elizabeth Oropesa win in 1999 for Bulaklak ng Maynila and Gloria Romero’s win in 2000 for Tanging Yaman stands out.

By 2002, it was déjà vu all over again, Vilma Santos convinced by many as a sure bet for the best actress lost again for her festival entry, Dekada 70. The award was given to Ara Mina for her supposed to be supporting role in the very first Mano Po. Dekada will dominate the awards race the following year, Vilma will win several best actress awards. Vilma’s co-star, Piolo Pascual will win all the best supporting actor making him a grand slam winner. The next year, Crying Ladies, starring Sharon Cuneta, Hilda Koronel and Angel Aquino won the best picture, best actor for Eric Quizon, best supporting actress for Hilda while Maricel Soriano snatched the best actress for Filipinas. The next year, Vilma came back again with Regal’s third installment to the Mano Po series. Titled, Mano Po 3: My Love and directed by Joel Lamangan, the film won best picture and the lead acting for Vilma and Christopher De Leon. Cesar Montano’s self-produced and directed film, Panaghoy sa Suba won best actor.

No Vilma Santos or Nora Aunor films the next five years. Vilma visibly concentrated with her political career and Nora retired in the United States. The film festival continued its annual fan fare with some memorable films. Zsazsa Padilla and Cherry Pie Picache continued the Mano Po series with a comedy, Ako Legal Wife, Mano Po 4 won the female acting awards in 2005. Judy Ann Santos comedy film, directed Joey Reyes, Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo top the 2006 festival. Maricel Soriano received another best actress the following year for Bahay Kubo, The Pinoy Mano Po. Anne Curtis arrived in the big league as she wins best actress for Baler in 2008 and then this year, Bong Revilla won best actor for Ang Panday and Sharon Cuneta best actor for Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love, both first time winner.

Vilma Santos’ MMFF Best Actress from 1975 to 2008

For some, Vilma Santos MMFF recognitions in terms of awards wasn’t as significant compare to lets say, her number of URIAN or FAMAS awards but all the shortcomings were forgotten when you think about the successful recorded revenue of her festival entries.  From Burlesk Queen, Rubia Servios, Karma, Langis at Tubig and to her last one, Mano Po 3, all did very well.  At the end of the day, producers would still prefer a little profit than trophies. – RV

RELATED READING:

Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 6/6

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

Here is a recap of our count-down…
10. PABLO SANTIAGLO / MARYO DELOSREYES
9. LUIS ENRIQUEZ / ELWOOD PEREZ
8. DANNY ZIALCITA
7. EDDIE GARCIA
6. EMMANUEL H BORLZA
5. LINO BROCKA
4. LAURICE GUILLEN
3. CHITO RONO
2. CELSO AD CASTILLO

…and our number one director is…

1. Ishmael Bernal – A filmmaker of the first order and one of the very few who can be truly called a maestro. Critics have hailed him as “the genius of Philippine cinema.” He is recognized as a director of films that serve as social commentaries and bold reflections on the existing realities of the struggle of the Filipino. His art extends beyond the confines of aesthetics. By polishing its visuals, or innovating in the medium, he manages to send his message across: to fight the censors, free the artists, give justice to the oppressed, and enlighten as well as entertain the audience. Among his notable films are “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga” (1989), “Broken Marriage” (1983), “Himala” (1981), “City After Dark” (1980), and “Nunal sa Tubig” (1976). He was recognized as the Director of the Decade of the 1970s by the Catholic Mass Media Awards; four-time Best Director by the Urian Awards (1989, 1985, 1983, and 1977); and given the ASEAN Cultural Award in Communication Arts in 1993 (NCCA.gov.ph). Bernal was born in Manila on September 30, 1938, the son of Elena Bernal and Pacifico Ledesma. He studied at Burgos Elementary School and Mapa High School before entering the University of the Philippines, and graduated in 1962 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts degree in English. For a time he worked with Lamberto Avellana’s documentary outfit. He went on to earn his Licentiate in French Literature and Philosophy at the University of Aix-en-Prevence in France, and then in 1970 his Diplomate in Film Directing at the Film Insititue of India in Poona, under the Colombo plan scholarhip. Bernal was a board member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the Directors Guild of the Philippines, Inc., an organization that studies the role of film as an instrument of entertainment, education and development. He actively crusaded for the rights and welfare of artists for as long as he lived. He died in Quezon City on June 2, 1996 (Wikipilipinas).

HIGHLIGHTS: Bernal gave Vilma Santos her first grandslam best actress awards and two consecutive Gawad Urian best actress (1982 and 1983). Their first film together was Inspiration (1972) and last was Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (1989).

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 5 (#5 Ikaw ay Akin 1978, #7 Relasyon 1982, #8 Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga 1989, #9 Broken Marriage 1983, #30 Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon 1977)

Total Number of Films = 8 (Broken Marriage, Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Good Morning Sunshine, Ikaw ay Akin, Inspiration, Now and Forever, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, Relasyon)

RELATED READINGS:Wikipedia: Ishmael Bernal
Ishmael Bernal (1938-1996)
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1971-79, Part One
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1980-94, Part Two
Tribute to Ishmael Bernal
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