Big-Budget Ang “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”

Puspusan at maingat ang ginagawang paghahanda ng Sine Pilipino para sa susunod nilang produksyon…ang Lipad, Darna, Lipad. Nakatakda na sana itong ipelikula ngunit dahil big-budget nga ito, minabuti ng mga boss ng Sine Pilipino na muli nilang pagaralang mabuti ang lahat ng mga puntos sa pagsasapelikula nito. Kaya’t minsan, nagpulong ang top brass ng Sine Pilipino sa tahanan nina Vilma Santos na siyang gaganap bilang Darna sa naturang pelikula. Ang kanilang paniya…baka sa unang linggo ng Pebrero, 1973 na nila simulan ito. At sa mga petsa ring iyan magkakaroon ng pictorials. Kabilang sa mga napagusapan sa pulong ay ang tungkol sa costumes na isusuot ni Vi bilang Darna at ang cotumes na isusuot ng mga makakasagupa niya: ang Babaing Lawin, ang Babaing Impakta, at si Valentina. Ibig kasi nila na ang pagkakayari ng mga costumes ng ma ito’y maging makatutohanan. Na pag isinuot ng tatlong villains ay talagang lilitaw ang kanilang kasamaan at kakilakilabot na mga anyo.

Tulad ng mga pakpak ng Babaeng Lawing. Gusto nila’y lumitaw itong animo mga tutuong pakpak na tumubo sa likod ng gumaganap na babaeng lawin. Pinag-aralan din nilang mabuti kung paano magagawang natural ang pagkampay nito. Sa ganang costumes ng Babaing Impakta at ni Valentina, hindi rin sila titigil haggang maging realistic ang mga ito. Na pag nakita ng manonood, tutoo silang hahanga and at the same time horribly fascinated. Ang higit nilang pinagtuunan ng pansin ay ang Darna costume ni Vi. Ang alam na naman natin ang screen image ni Vi. Maging sa tunay na buhay ay very sweet siya t unthinkable na magsusuot siya ng anumang daring suit. Ang precisely, hindi ba’t ang original Darna costume ay delightfully daring? Pero, this will run contrast nga sa image ni Vi. Sabagay, nagawan na nila ng konting innovations ang original design ng costume. Gayon man, pilit pa rin silang naghahanap ng remedyo para huwag naman masira ang image ni Darna. Na kung mamasda’y reservoir ng superhuman strength.

Pero at the same time nama’y may aura rin ng maganda at graceful femininity. “Tapos, bagama’t alam na nila kung saan-saan ang locations na gagamitin para maging tumpak na tumpak sa istorya ng Lipad, Darna Lipad nagpalabas ng scouts para maghanap ng more suitable locations, kung mayroon pa silang makikita. marmi kasing eksena sa Lipad, Darna Lipad that calls for eerie atmosphere, although marami rin namang nagsasaad ng masyang atmosphere. Ang isa pang mahalagang bagay na pinagpulungan nila ay ang tungkol sa mga camera tricks na marami sa naturang pic. Ayaw nila kasing lumabas na corny ang mga ito at halatang artipisyal. Lahat ay dapat daw gawin with precision, pati ang camera tricks. Para pag napanood ay lumabas at packed with suspense. Marami pa silang pinagusapang mabuti kina Vi tulad ng wigs, mga maskara, etc. Lahat ng mga ito ay masinsinan nilang pinagpulungan pagka’t gusto ng Sine Pilipino people na ma-justify ang big-budget na inilaan nila para sa Lipad, Darna Lipad.

De kolor ang Lipad, Darna, Lipad upang lalong lumitaw ang color nito bilang colorful story. Isipin na lang kung ano ang makikita natin sa Lipad, Darna, Lipad: isang naka-crime fighter costume na Vilma Santos fitting her strength at wisdom sa masasamang elements na pawang mga naka-costumes din na naglalarawang ng kanilang evil personalities. Wow! Tungkol sa hindi pakakatuloy ng shooting ng Lipad, Darna Lipad sa scheduled, ani ni Vi: – Tama lang naman iyon, although, honestly, sabik na sabik na akong masimulan ito. Pero, sabi nga’y “haste makes waste.” Ang “Lipad, Darna, Lipad” ay hindi pangkaraniwang pelikula. Special kind ito kaya’t kailangang ding bigyan ng special attention. Thanks to Sine Pilipino as aking ipaganap ang Darna pagka’t isa na naman itong naiibang role. Unique, challenging, and simply beautiful. Salamat din kay Uncle Mars at nag-create siya ng heroine na tulad ni Darna. Vilma a flying Darna?…Wow-Wow-Wowee!…” – Cleo Cruz, Bulaklak Magazine No. 66, 5 February 1973, reposted by Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

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The Big Girl With A Big Heart

ARTICLES - The Big Girl With A Big Heart Kislap pic

She was not to thrive on controversies. “Yan si Vilma Santos.” Dala ito marahil ng kanyang napakaagang pagkakapasok sa pag-aartista. Gayon pa man she has not been spared with some near-clashes with issues affecting her standing in the field of entertainment ay dumarating din sa kanya. Sa paminsan-minsang pagkantig sa kanyang enviable na katayuan bilang isang artista, uncondusive para sabihin nating she does it with tact…sa dahilang di na niya kailangan. She does not have to evade issues for reason na wala naman siyang dapat ipaliwanag sa ilang mga puna sa kanya. Having maintained her “sweet-image” personality sa kanyang mga followers and foes alike, isang napakalaking achievement ito paa sa isang artistang naging katungali sa larangan ng popularidad ang isang kinikilalang very formidable showbiz supergirl. Much to busy before the camera, tutoong napakahirap magkaroon ng pagkakataong makapanayam siya with ultimate gusto. But we have always been broadminded about such perchance happenings. Kahit na between “breaks” na hindi namin siya ginambala. Knowing fully well the gruelling eksenas na katatapos lang niyang harapin, its but fair na kinakailangan niya ang magpahinga, though momentarilly. However we came upon a beautiful idea kahit na di namin siya masyadong nakakuwentuhan, her showbiz life was an open book. Di kailangan ang manaliksik. Appraisal was well at hand. Gayunpaman, we sidetracked to dwell on more hearsays. Facts ang aming pinagbabasihan…mostly emanating from people close to her at gayon din sa mga taong naging asiwas sa kanyang pagiging popular. It is an accepted tenet na kapag ang isang tao ay naging successful sa kanyang hanapbuhay, the natural trend ay ang pagiging usual target ng mga pana…nakakasira and otherwise.

In her little more than a decade of involvement with showbiz, isang bagay ang naging very obvious sa kanya. Ang vigorous growth niya sa pagiging artista didn’t flourish through controversy. However, she has had near-clashes with some. To mention some of those “drop-in-the-bucket” napaguusapan, napagtapunan namin ng pansin ang kanyang closeness sa kanyang reel and real ka-love team na si Edgar Mortiz. Ang dalawa raw are more than just magka-love team. That they have been married daw in some off-Philippine shore. Ang nasabing rumor however died a natural death. On it’s own, di na kailangan pang ikaila ito by either Vi or Bot kung totoo which it is not. They look it as just one of those laughing matters among showbiz people. Now the talk has taken its own course…to oblivion. Action speaks louder than words…at napakita nina Vilma na with a slight dash of denial, they have proved themselves capable of being burdened with the untruth. Time justified it for them. At kamakailan lamang ay nagkaroon ng issue ang kanyang pagsusuot ng very “unsweet” attire sa kanyang latest vehicle na “Lipad, Darna, Lipad.” Nagkaroon ng divided concern ang iba’t ibang panig na nakapaligid kay Vilma. Dapat daw ba niyang tanggapin itong role na ito? And if so, kailangan daw ba niyang magsuot ng tights o hindi? Trifling matter possible, but defintely, ikinabahala ng marami. However, this issue has been resolved upon. Sinusulat namin ito’y nasa finishing touches na ang “Lipad…” Realism has been injected sa kapansiyahan narin ni Vilma. She didn’t wear tights nor body fits. Naging acceptable na rin sa kanyang mga fans ang inakala nilang tamang desisyon ng kanilang idol. Vilma on the other hand is one girl na di man lang namin nakitang unsmiling.

She had a ready smile for everyone. Winsome in everyway, very enjoyable to talk with ang young actress na ito. Recently, nagkaroon siya ng kaunting problems with a certain press release. However it has been threshed out even before it has magnified itself into harmful proportions. Nuong huli namin siyang nakaharap sa shooting ng “Lipad…” sa mismong El Dorado Subdivision sa Antipolo, kapuna-puna ang kasigpagan ni Vilma. And she can take risks too. Immeasurable ang kanyang industry at dedication sa kanyang propesyon. Di niya alintana ang pagod sa panayang shooting. She finds time to smilingly greet her many well-wishers who flocks daily to the set. We wonder kung nakaparis man ni Vilma kay Susan Roces sa ngayon. Vilma can well be placed as having started her career at an earlier age while Susan had started hers at a blooming age. However, the comparisons ends there. Susan had maintained her sweet statute as Vilma had up to now. Vilma definitely has a long, long way to travel sa kanyang career, marami pang trivalities ang kanyang haharapin. At kailangan maging handa siya. Knowing Vi we are sure she can pass it with flying colors. For one, Vilma never has panicked sa harap ng mga problema. Hindi niya kailangan maging ugali ng takasan ang ano mang problema. She face them squarely… – Tito Nards, Kislap, 1973

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Vilma!

ARTICLES - Lipad Darna 2

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to do a cursory analysis of the real score between the Vilma Santos & Nora Aunor rivalry, based on the data base from their respective web sites. This piece zeroes in on their battle for the Horror/Fantasy Genre Queenship, which is the theme of the current Vilma! Newsletter.

Nora Aunor was an early ’70’s phenomenon. She broke the mestiza, statuesque screen diva mould and eclipsed the likes of Susan Roces, Amalia Fuentes, Helen Gamboa, Pilita Corrales, Vilma Valera, Rosemary Sonora, Gina Pareno and Hilda Koronel. The gripo dramatic princess Vilma Santos who is as petite as Nora is really her nemesis.

The ’masa’ went gaga over Nora’s golden voice, records, magazines and movies. The competitor cum warrior in Vilma Santos did not stop her to join in the fray of juvenile escapist fare of inane musicals about boy meets girl under a mango tree. We saw other ’small’ musical stars in Esperanza Fabon, Eddie Peregrina and Co. ad infinitum. Tall is out, petite is in. The Nora-Vilma battle was a lopsided affair at least for a while. The serious acting era will come later. And that is another challenge for any serious Vilma-Nora watcher to do a thesis on.

The ’bomba’ craze put a damp on the Nora-Vilma rivalry. As fans grew tired of Nora overall, her dalliance with Tirso Cruz and those silly ’pito-pito’ movies directed by Artemio Marquez, Vilma Santos saw an opening. Enterprising and creative directors Joey Gosiengfiao and Elwood Perez saw a goldmine in Vilma Santos.

The middle class teeny bopper fans who had purchasing power and discretionary income to plunk on movies and fan mags were bored of the repetitive musical genre. They were looking for something new. It also helped that martial law was declared and the New Society put an end to the ’ef-ef’ mania. Goodbye, ’bomba’, hello Vilma! Vilma Santos filled the moviegoers’ void and after the release of Takbo, Vilma, Dali! and Hatinggabi Na, Vilma in 1972, Vilma was on her merry way to the box-office queenship. Nora’s handlers couldn’t believe that a non-singer rival with a thin voice but a gutsy performer stole the crown from the superstar while she wasn’t looking as she continued to sing under a mango tree. The emancipation from Nora Aunor was really made official when Lipad, Darna, Lipad shattered box-office records and gave Erap is My Guy and an FPJ flick stiff competition at the tills, in 1973.

1973 was really Vilma’s banner year. She won her first FAMAS for Dama De Noche and kept Nora edgy and on her toes with the successful box-office results of her fantasy flicks in succession: Dyesebel, Anak ng Asuwang, Maria Cinderella, Wonder Vi and Darna and the Giants.

In 1974, Vilma ruled the box-office with FPJ (Batya’t Palu-palo) and escapist flicks such as Phantom lady, Kampanerang Kuba and Kamay na Gumagapang. Mathematically speaking, no one contested when Vilma and FPJ were declared 1974’s Box office Queen and King. Actually, there was no turning back for Vilma as she holds the specter and crown as the longest reigning box-office and movie queen (refer to published data base at the Internet).

In 1973, Nora’s spin doctors concocted Super Gee as her ’answer’ to Vilma’s Darna but sadly, it did not ignite the boxoffice the way Darna and Erap Is My Guy did. Vilma Santos went on to make a total of four Darna movies (Lipad, Darna, Lipad!, Darna and the Giants, Darna and the Planetwomen and Darna at Ding), the most successful Darna franchise. Yes, there was Edna Luna as the original Dyesebel; Rosa Del Rosario as the first Darna; and Nida Blanca as Babaing Sputnik. And then there was Nora Aunor as Super Gee. But no other actress has been as popular as the fantasy characters she created than Vilma.

From Darna to Dyesebel, to Kampanerang Kuba. Vilma is the veritable Fantasy/Horror Movie Queen. Generation after generation, she is the Heroine for all Seasons and Reasons. As a bird, Vilma is like an eagle, who soars the skies with majestic flights and easy landings, like her brilliant career. As a plane, she is the supersonic jet whose trajectory is decisive, and travels at almost the speed of light, like her winning streak from all frontiers. Like Darna, she has a golden heart but a nerve of steel, like the competitor and warrior that she is. Don’t mess with Vilma Santos. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Darna! Zoom, zoom, Vilma Santos! – Mar O. Garces, V Magazine, 2009 No. 5 (READ MORE)

Rewind: the year was 1973 (Photos)

One of Ate Vi’s banner year was 1973. Not only she earned her first best actress award for 1972’s Dama De Noche (FAMAS), she established herself as the most bankable actress of the year. Hit after hit, she broke all box office records!

1973 Film List

FILMS - OPHELIA AND PARISOphelia at Paris -– Vi co-starred with Victor Laurel ; directed by Celia Diaz Laurel; Victor Laurel Productions (Jan)

FILMS - Now And Forever 3Now and Forever – Vi– With Edgar Mortiz directed by Ishmael Bernal; TIIP Valentine Special (Feb)

FILMS - Tsismosang Tindera 2Tsismosang Tindera -– Vi With Jay Ilagan, Ike Lozada, German Moreno directed by Emmanuel H Borlaza; TIIP “Ang naglalako ng bilasang isda at sariwang balita” (Feb)

FILM - Lipad Darna Lipad 1973Lipad, Darna, Lipad -– Vi With Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez, Liza Lorena; directed by Emmanuel Borlaza, Elwood Perez, Joey Gosiengfiao; TIIP 23 (Mar)

FILMS - Carinosa 3Cariñosa -– Vi With Manny DeLeon, yoyoy Villmae, Chanda Romero, Angelito; driected by Romy Susara; TIIP 05 (May)

FILM - Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe 1973Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe – Vi With Divina Valencia, Mina Aragon, Rossana Marquez, Romeo Miranda; directed by Emmanuel H Borlaza TTP Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions; Winner!!! 8th Manila Film Festival Top Grosser Best Musical Picture. (Jun)

FILMS - Anak ng Aswang 4Anak ng Aswang -– Vi With Gloria Romero, Daisy Romouldez, Rossana Marquez, Lucita Soriano, Edgar Mortiz, Leopoldo Salcedo, Nick Romano, German Moreno; Roma Films directed by Romy V Susara (Sep)

FILMS - Wonder Vi (1973)Wonder Vi -– Vi With George Estregan, Marissa Delgado, Nick Romano; directed by Arsenio Boots Bautista JE Productions (Sep)

FILMS - MARIA CINDERELLAMaria Cinderella -– Vi With Jay Ilagan, Blanca Gomez,, Florence Aguilar, Romeo Miranda; directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza; TIIP Entry to 43 Quezon City Film Festival (Oct)

FILMS - Darna and the Giants 7Darna and the Giants –- Vi With Helen Gamboa, Loretta Marquez, Rossana Marquez, Divina Valencia, Romeo Miranda, Dondon Nakar directed by Emmanuel Borlaza TIIP (Dec) – RV, (READ MORE)

In Appreciation of Mars Ravelo

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Mars Ravelo (born October 9, 1916 in Tanza, Cavite, Philippines – September 12, 1988) was a Filipino graphic novelist who created the characters Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbell, Lastikman, Bondying, Varga, Wanted: Perfect Mother, Hiwaga, Maruja, Mariposa, Roberta, Rita, Buhay Pilipino, Jack and Jill, Flash Bomba, Tiny Tony, and Dragonna among others. He started out as a cartoonist, then as a writer, and later on as editor -in- chief for two publications houses and for several film companies. He later established his own company, RAR. Ravelo created the characters of Darna the super heroine, Dyesebel the love-lorn mermaid, and Captain Barbel the super hero, Facifica Falayfay, and the duo of Jack & Jill. He also created the drama about a young orphaned girl named Roberta for Sampaguita Pictures. Ravelo wrote the movie adaptation of Alicia Vergel’s Basahang Ginto. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Style of Drawing – “…In my interviews, Ravelo revealed that “sa abot ng natatandaan ko” (as far as I can remember), his first published works were “Ponchong” and “Bemboy.” And had not Liwayway magazine turned him down on his Varga (Darna’s predecessor character), history would have put Darna’s origin inside Liwayway’s pages instead of Bulaklak, and she would have been the Philippines’ first komiks superhero (Yes, at least one-a-half years ahead of Wonder Woman’s first comics appearance!)…Varga is another casing point of Ravelo’s early style of drawing. True to his accounts, Varga’s illustration is a cross between McManus and Fleischer. And based on his story, the timeline of Varga should be put around 1939 and not 1947. To quote Ravelo: “Alam mo naisip kong gawin yung Varga para itapat kay Superman. Lalake yung sa mga Amerikano, babae yung sa atin. Di ba ayos?” (You know I thought of creating Varga as a counterpart of Superman. Male on the part of the Americans, female on our part. Isn’t that okay?). It can also be noted that Varga was a character archived twice. By some twist of circumstance, the name Varga became the ownership of Bulaklak magazine (during those times, intellectual property right is not yet in effect) and when Ravelo left the publication in 1949 after a falling out with its editor, Varga stayed behind. Ravelo took Varga’s personality, revised her costume, and brought her to Pilipino Komiks, and renamed the character Darna. For more than six decades the character Varga was lost, never again to be seen until ABS-CBN Channel 2 made it into a TV series which started on August 2, 2008. The character portrayed by Mariel Rodriguez, however, was very different from the original creation of Ravelo. The superheroine’s costume was change, as well as her origin and beginning. The name of her alter ego was also change – from Narda to Olga…” – Ernee Lawagan (READ MORE)

Number One Janitor – “…Only a very few know that Mars is Marcial, but 20,000,000 komiks readers will swear that Ravelo is one of the greatest things that ever happened to the local komiks industry. For his were the ideas and innovations that defied what were then regarded as “sacred institutions” in the profession and influenced the course of the komiks industry in the Philippines. Oddly enough, Ravelo’s initial foray into the local komiks field was for a man of lesser guts extremely discouraging. It would have been more than enough for the average neophyte to call it quits. But Ravelo is made of the stuff that makes champions. The young (33) Ravelo that confidently presented his first cartoon strip to a vernacular magazine editor that fine day in 1949 was already a “fighter”. He was then drifting from one low-paying menial job to another but even then, his innate desire to excel was evident. When he was a janitor, he says, he was “number one janitor”. He was also to say many years later in a magazine interview that he became “number one” in the komiks field because “I’ve always hated to be number two!” At that time, he already knew that he could write and draw well – as a matter of fact, “better than most of those already in the komiks profession.” But the magazine editor apparently did not think so; one quick glance at the comic strip presented by Ravelo and he pronounced the death sentence: “Hindi pa puwede!” (Not good enough)….” – Komiklopedia (READ MORE)

Mass Culture – “…To understand Darna is to understand Filipino mass culture. Created in 1949 by Mars Ravelo, Darna has zoomed in and out of the imagination of three generation of Filipinos. Darna, who is the local hybrid version of Wonder Woman and Supergirl first appeared in the Pilipino Komiks in the late 40’s. Nestor Redondo, considered by many in his profession as one of the unsung heroes of Filipino illustrations, gave graphic life to the original Filipina libber then named Varga. Over the years Darna has appeared and re-appeared in so many episodes, that Ravelo himself forgets the exact number, to do battle against a wide and weird array of baddies, from Valentina who sports a Medusa-like coiffure and the Babaeng Lawin to the impakta and engkantados, creatures unique to the Filipino’s supernatural hierarchy. Darna symbolizes the two principal characteristics of our mass culture: the supernatural powers that allows a great number of people to engage in never ending fights of fantasy and the dormant militance, the latent commitment to fight injustice wherever it can be found. But above all, Darna is the concrete expression of the cultural schizophrenia that besets us. The superheroine’s creater, Mars Ravelo, really admits that it was the prevalence of a colonial mentality among many readers that compelled him to create a comic strip hero that approximated the stature and powers of the then most popular American heroes, Wonder Woman and Supergirl. Ravelo says, “Naisip ko noon, gayong sikat sina Wonder Woman at Supergirl, bakit hindi ako gumawa ng isang karakter na may mga powers na katulad ng mga ito at ilagay sa situwasyong Pilipino.” Indeed this tendency to go along with trends set in America was and still is true for many comics strip writers. Ravelo, however, had more than mere imitation and lumping into the superhero bandwagon in mind. Ravelo goes on, “Naiisip ko kasi noon since nadito na rin lang yang colonial mentality why not work around it. Kaya naman kung mapapansin nin’yo I try to inject certain amount of relevance to Darna’s adventures. For one thing she talks, thinks, and feels in the vernacular. She exhibits idiosyncrasies that are distinctly Filipino and she fights characters that are unique to the Filipino milieu. Besides the kinds of conflict that she gets involved in and the caused she fights for are those that masses themselves can identify with.” Like all superheroes, however, Darna is one of the best examples of escapist entertainment. Even Ravelo admits to this when he says, “I don’t like writing fantasy. Pero anong magagawa ko? I personally would like to write about real, down-to-earth characters and situations. But the masses just won’t but that! Kasi, kahit na mataas nga ang literacy level ng mga Pilipino alam natin na functional literacy lang ito. Huwag lang masabing ‘no read no write…” – Bill Davidson, TV Times March 13 – 19 1977

Darna is Not a ‘Rip-off” of Wonder Woman – “…Because of the character’s immense popularity, several other studios would license the character and produce more Darna movies throughout the next several decades. After Rosa Del Rosario, Vilma Santos (who first played Darna in 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”) would be the most well known and the most in demand to play the character. She starred in a total of 4 Darna movies. Her 4th and final one being in 1980. For years after that, no more Darna movies were produced…” – Raffy Arcega, Comic Book Movie (READ MORE)

Mars Ravelo and Vilma Santos

Ging is a poignant story of a poor gifted girl, trying to make both ends meet by singing and dancing in crowded streets and cafeterias. – Komiklopedia

“…Even at the early age, it was clear that she was already brimming with talent. Vilma, apparently, was born into this world to perform, entertain and make people happy. She was utterly convincing in the dramatic scenes and thoroughly graceful in her musical numbers. Listang-lista – as we’d say in the vernacular. Even then, she was already living up to her showbiz title of “Star for All Seasons” because her performance in “Ging” is not only brilliant, but timeless as well…” – Butch Francisco, People’s Journal 04 March 1999 (READ MORE)

Trudis Liit (lit. Little Trudis) is a Philippine drama produced by GMA Network, and part of that station’s Sine Novela series. Trudis Liit marks the 21st and final installment of the Sine Novela series based on the works by Mars Ravelo. Like all Sine Novela installments, Trudis Liit is based on a movie; this one made in 1963, starring Lolita Rodriguez, Luis Gonzales, Bella Flores and Vilma Santos. – Wikipedia

“…Makulit na ako no’ng time na ‘yon! So, anyway, tinawag ako ni Doc Perez [of Sampaguita Pictures] at that time. Pinaarte ako. Nag-adlib-adlib pa ako. Nakuha naman ako. So, when I started, dalawa kaagad ang pelikula ko—Trudis Liit at Anak, Ang Iyong Ina [1963]. Ang naaalala ko lang tungkol sa maaga kong pagpasok sa pag-aartista, parang laro lang sa akin iyon. Parang naglalaro lang ako noon kaya hindi trabaho sa akin iyon, e. So, very-very memorable sa akin iyon. At saka no’ng Trudis Liit, every lunch, lagi akong may apple. Lagi akong may chicken. Every lunch talaga ‘yon…” – Vilma Santos (READ MORE)

Darna is a fictional character and Filipino comics superheroine created by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo. In her more popular incarnations, she is a deceased warrior from another planet manifesting herself through a girl from Earth, named Narda. She first appeared in Pilipino Komiks #77 (May 13, 1950). Darna is a retooling of Ravelo’s earlier character Varga, whose stories he wrote and illustrated himself. She first appeared in Bulaklak Magazine, Volume 4, #17 (July 23, 1947). Ravelo left Bulaklak due to differences with the editors. – Wikipedia

“…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

Dyesebel is a popular mermaid character in the Philippines. The comic book character was originally conceived by the Filipino comic book illustrator, Mars Ravelo. Dyesebel is a prominent character in Philippine cinema and television. – Wikipedia

“…In the 1973 Dyesebel movie, Dyesebel lives in an undersea kingdom of mermaids far from the land of humans because the humans believe that the mermaids are the cause of misfortune. Dyesebel fell in love with a male human being. In order to be with the man that she likes, she swore to find a way to be transformed into a female human being. In the movie, “Si Dyesebel at Ang Mahiwagang Kabibe,” the role of Dyesebel was played by Vilma Santos and Fredo was played by Romeo Miranda…” (READ MORE)

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Watching Vilma’s Films

FILMS - Lipad  Darna Lipad

The Beginning – When I was a little kid, I remember watching my very first Vilma movie with my aunt. It was “Lipad Darna Lipad.” The theatre was Cinerama on Claro M Recto near the underpass headin’ towards Quiapo. I remember the crowded theatre. The carpeted floor and velvet curtains. With no more seats and an SRO crowd, we sat on the stairs near the balcony area. People were screaming and into each fight scenes. I remember vividly how my aunt almost got into a fight because she wanted me to sit on one of the seat that was vacated and a man standing in front of us wanted the seat too. Celia Rodriguez was really scary with her head covered with snakes and her voice was so icy cold. Liza Lorena didn’t registered much on me but Gloria Romero was even scarier! This film brought me some nightmares but it also gave me and my cousins something to play about every afternoon after school.

FILMS - Pakawalan Mo Ako 1Pakawalan – The second memorable film experience for me was during early 80s where I saw the free sneak preview of “Pakawalan Mo Ako” at Gotesco Theatre near University of the East. I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get in. My college mates weren’t. They got stocked in the pandemonium outside. I was worried sick as I took the long escalator and saw them being crashed by the crowed. The security guards have to closed the gate of the lobby. Fans became so restless and broke the glass windows (where they displayed posters and still photos) . Inside, It was crowded, hot and wild. We were seeing a more mature Vilma Santos. From the very beginning, the crowed went along the story until one of the climatic scene – the courtroom scene where she cried and swear! Oh my god I still remember the crowd swearing and cursing too! It was so wild!

ARTICLES - Sister Stella L 1OF2 (6)Activism – The third movie experience was when I saw Sister Stella L at Capri near the Philippine Rabbit Bus Station on Rizal Avenue (it is always called Avenida). Now, the total opposite happened to me. The theatre was half empty but most of the people I noticed were students and office workers. This film affected me so much and I started to join rallies and demonstration along Mediola and at our school. I also remember that Sharon Cuneta had a film showing at the same time, and most of my friends watched this film instead. I was so disappointed that they decided to see this film instead of SSL. This film also became my mantra at school. It inspired me to take issues and voice out what I think, I became militant. I rebelled against my family who I believe were too strict. I wanted my freedom and so this film inspired me. The end result was my independence. Up to this day, I will never forget the time when I had an argument with my grandfather, it wasn’t funny back then. I told him: “Tama na, panahon na, hindi habang panahon pipigilan n’yo ako sa pagsasalita” – the line from SSL.

FILMS - Rubia Servios 12Why does he have to rape Rubia? – Another memorable experience was when my aunt got into a huge fight in front of Galaxy Theatre on Avenida. Being a true Vilmanians and with her deadly weapon, her umbrella, my aunt pulled the hair of this two crazy Nora Aunor fans. This was after the two said nasty things about Vilma while passing on in front of the theatre. I ended up on the cement floor hiding near the newspaper stands. Thank god she always came up on top because we were always able to go home uninjured. Rubia Servios was showing at the Galaxy Theatre back then. Again we have to sat down on floor, my aunt’s realized that she can’t put me on her lap anymore as I am a bit heavier now. As I observe, people are more serious this time. No shouting but silence as the story being told to us. The crowd was so into it too but no shouting instead a feeling of sighs and sadness. My aunt cried as she watched Rubia crawled on the sandy side of the beach. Rubia Servious was for adults only but my aunt’s sister was the ticket collector or “takilyera”. So I was able to get in. Philip Salvador was so “hot” in his black swimming trunk, I dreamt of him a number of times. As we watched the film, I remember asking my aunt about why does he (Philip) have to rape Darna? My aunt patiently explained, about love and lust. My innocent mind were corrupted that day. Eventually, I got over that rape scenes but revenge when Vilma killed Phillip using a boat paddle still stucked on my mind.

FILMS - Magkaribal 2Naked Christopher – Lastly, the one that was so special to me, was when I saw Magkaribal at Luneta theatre. I went to so many theatres to get in but at last the woman at the box office was so busy reading comics that she didn’t even bother to ask about my age. The film was “For Adults Only” and I agreed. Christopher De Leon here was so sexy, riding a horse, naked. And Alma Moreno was so young and thin. Even her boobs here are well proportioned to her body, although its already huge. And ate Vi here was at her best, acting wise. The crowd here are more mature, a combination of college students and office workers. The theatre was not SRO but all the seats are taken and it was obvious that the film was catered to couples.  – RV

Vilma in Horror Films

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The Healing (2012) – “…Stories about the Filipino tradition of going to faith healers for guidance and treatment of ailments have not yet been tackled in-depth in movies. And in our film, the viewers will not just be horrified, they’ll somehow be challenged to think as to how faith healing has already been part of our culture…” – ABS-CBN News (READ MORE)

Vilma is back in a genre she successfully done before.

Haplos (1982) – “…Al (Christopher De Leon) is a balikbayan who returns to his former hometown where his mother is buried. There he meets his childhood friend Cristy (Vilma Santos) who works as a counselor for family planning. Eventually they develop a romantic relationship and end up as a couple. However, a mysterious lady appears one day while Al tends to his mother’s grave. Al falls in love with the stranger and is now torn between her and Cristy. Haplos is another cinematic masterpiece by famed screenwriter Ricardo Lee. It is the official entry to the 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival. With Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon in the lead roles and supported by Rio Locsin, Haplos is a brilliant movie with a mind-boggling twist in the story. It’s a must-see for all Pinoy film buffs…” – neTVision (READ MORE)

A ghost living in a delapidated house near a cemetary.

Kamay na Gumagapang (1974) – “…Pablo S. Gomez is one of the top komiks writers in the Philippines. He is also a movie scriptwriter and director. His most popular works include Kurdapya, Petrang Kabayo, among others…Among the prolific writers in the Philippines, Gomez created more than 1,000 komiks novels and stories. Some 300 of which were given film adaptations by movie studios like Sampaguita Pictures, Lea Productions, FPJ Productions, Seiko Films, Viva Films, and Regal Films…In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, his list of works that became blockbuster movies were…Kampanerang Kuba (1973), Kamay na Gumagapang (1974)…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Serialized in Pilipino Komiks, its a scary story about a “live” hand.

Lipad Darna Lipad! (1973) – “…First episode: “Ang Impakta,” starring Gloria Romero as Miss Luna, Narda’s school teacher who has a dark secret. She is actually a flying blood sucking creature at night. In this thrilling episode she knows the secret identity of Narda. The most memorable part was when Ms. Luna asked Narda to help her with some paper works. Little that she know, while she was busy checking the papers Ms. Luna excused herself, she then went to the next room and transformed into a scary vampire. Ding found out that Ms. Luna is the vampire and Narda forgot to bring the magical stone , he rushed to her sister who then was being strugled by the monster. As soon as he got there, he threw the stone to her much terrified sister and she immediately changed to Darna. Followed was the famous aerial fight scene. Nanette Medved and Bing Loyzaga tried to copy the infamous fight scene in 1990 Viva films Darna. Episode one was directed by Maning Borlaza….” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)

The first episode of the trilogy, a scary flying vampire played by Gloria Romero fights the super heroine, Darna.

Anak ng Asuwang (1973) – “…featuring the Vilma/Gloria mother and daughter team had to be made. Gloria reprised her role as the vampire minus Darna. Vilma was her “doomed” daughter. Gloria was so identified as Impakta that when the second Darna flick cameabout she have to do do a cameo appearance!…” – Mario Garces (READ MORE)

Deglamorized veteran movie queen Gloria Romero played the vampire villain to Vilma Santos, the late Leopoldo Salcedo played Vi’s father.

Hatinggabi Na, Vilma (1972) – “…Joey re-emerged in the movie scene in 1972, bristling with fresh ideas. This time he made a big gamble by helping his brother Victor and some friends put up Sine Pilipino, the company that would revolutionize trends in local movie-making. SP specializes in campy, stylish movies with imperative, three-word titles: Takbo, Vilma, Dali; Hatinggabi na, Vilma; Zoom, Zoom Superman!l; Si Popeye Atbp.; and Sunugin Ang Samar. Except for the last mentioned which was an action saga, the four SP flicks were spoofs characterized by madness. They revived the all-star casting system, lumping together in one movie several big stars. The flicks made money. Joey Gosiengfiao had his “sweet revenge.” “It was not easy for us in the beginning,” Joey relates. “Just before the showing of our first film, Takbo, Vilma Dali!, Martial Law was declared. There were no newspapers then so we had to post bills all over the city, hanggang Pasay nagdidikit kami nina Douglas. We also distributed hand bills. Sa awa ng Diyos, kumita ang pelikula…” – Expressweek, December 12 1974 (READ MORE)

Vilma Santos teamed up with Barbara Perez, the late Joey Gongsiengfia directs.