SSL (Photos)

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Special Film: Kampus? (1978)

“…But the biggest fear of Borlaza was when Agrix Films’ Kampus? (1978) was booked one week after the opening of VS Films’ Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak. The Celso Ad. Castillo film was an artistic triumph, and Borlza felt following it up with another Vilma-Bembol starrer would put them at a great disadvantage. The Vilma-Bembol fans might still be raving over Pagputi… instead of discussing Kamput? As it turned out, people let Pagputi…pass and waited for Kampus? judging from the comparative gate receiots of the two movies…Sabi ni Mama Santos, ako daw ang “pumatay” sa kanilang Pagputi…eto ang parusa ko, bigyan ko daw sila ng isang Kampus? so I’m making for them Coed. You see, when I was working on Kampus? at UP Los Banos, I realized their problems and lifestyle can be a source of even 10 movie materials. At kapag ang student force pala ang nag-patronize sa Tagalog movie, ang laki ng audience!” Borlaza revealed…I’m very meticulous about is: the audience were to identify itself with my main character, will it be happy with the poetic justice I execute? Will they find it correct and realistic? In Kampus? for instance, students who were pleased with the movie told me they liked the ending very much. They agreed with it. Vilma was bedded first by Mat Ranillo III, but ended up with Bembol who was the right choice after all. They say in real life, the man you walk down the aisle with is not necessarily the first man you had sex with. Also they say the dialouges were very in – like the way actual students would speak them. Siguro, once they sit in the theater, they are not bothered by such questions as ‘Why” or “how come?” Is the star value the main thing in selling movies? “In the case of Kampus?, yes, because Vilma Santos was my main star and she’s the current box office queen …” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, November 9, 1978 (READ MORE)

Source: gobitz69

FAIR USE NOTICE (NOT FOR COMMERCIAL USE): This site contains copyrighted materials the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to preserve the film legacies of actress, Vilma Santos, and to make her career information available to future generations. We believe this is NOT an infringement of any such copyrighted materials as in accordance to the the fair dealing clauses of both the Canadian and U.S. Copyright legislation, both of which allows users to engage in certain activities relating to research, private study, criticism, review, or news reporting. We are making an exerted effort to mention the source of the material, along with the name of the author, performer, maker, or broadcaster for the dealing to be fair, again in accordance with the allowable clauses. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: SSL (Updated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filmography: Lipad Darna Lipad! (1973)

“Ding, ang bato! dali!” – Narda/Darna

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Basic Information: Directed: Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Elwood Perez, Joey Gosiengfiao; Story: Mars Ravelo; Screenplay: Joey Gosiengfiao; Cast: Vilma Santos, Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez, Liza Lorena, Eddie Garcia, Marissa Delgado, Ernie Garcia, Dick Israel, Ruel Vernal, Angie Ferro, Angelito, Nanette Lizares, Rod Dasco, Cloyd Robinson, Mary Walter, Adul de Leon, Bobby Roldan, Edgar Oira, Karlo Vero, Francisco Cruz, Chanda Romero, Gilda Gomez, Ellen Esguerra, Oskar Peralta, Urduja, Louie Acosta; Executive Producer: Victor Gosiengfiao; Original Music: Jonas Sebastian, Demetrio Velasquez; Cinematography: Rodolfo Diño

Plot Description: After a long period of absence, Vilma Santos resurrected the Filipino version of Wonder Woman, Darna, in a fantastic trilogy. Despite the lack of height familiar with previous Darnas, Vilma Santos’ bubbly youthful portrayal as Darna and the alter ego character Narda radiated the screen against Philippine cinema’s senior screen queens, Gloria Romero as the “Babaing Impakta (Vampire Woman),” Celia Rodriguez as “Babaing Ahas (Snake Woman),” and Liza Lorena as “Babaing Lawin (Hawk Woman).” The film was release on March 23, 1973 to a massive crowd in Metro Manila. Tagalog Ilang Ilang Production who produced the film reportedly distributed Darna dolls and Coca-cola drinks to the moviegoers. The film was a trilogy that focuses on the fights scenes between Darna and her nemesis with great effect and with the help of Darna’s equally perky young brother, Ding portrayed by child star, Angelito. The special effect that was considered way ahead of its time were in full displayed in this film. The goriness make-up, particularly Gloria Romero’s was a proof that Filipinos were creative and talented, way ahead of Hollywood or even Bollywood. – RV

Film Achievement: Top Record-Breaking Box-office Film of 1973; The first of four Darna films starring Vilma Santos; One of Vilma Santos and Gloria Romero 13 films – (Anak ang Iyong Ina, Iginuhit ng Tadhana, De Colores, Pinagbuklod ng Langit, Anak ng Aswang, Lipad Darna Lipad, Happy Days are Here Again, Karugtong ang Kahapon, Nakakahiya?, Hindi Nakakahiya, Makahiya at Talahib, Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig?, Kapag Langit Ang Humatol) – RV (READ MORE)

Film Review: In the Silver Age era of Darna, the movie “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” (“Fly, Darna, Fly!” 1973), played by the lovely Vilma Santos, made a new version of the story. In this time, Narda was a teenager in her late teens. She discovered the magic stone after the event of a falling star landed near her home one night. She discovered that the magic pebble gave her superpowers that made her Darna. She and her brother were the only ones who knew the secret and their grandmother was not aware of it in this version. Narda herself becomes Darna and were not two different characters. She was also not from Planet Marte but was just a champion warrior of the forces of light. Every time Darna turns back to her mortal self, the magic stone reappears in her mouth and she takes it out and hides it until she needs it again. Every time the need arises, she has to swallow the pebble again and say Darna to transform. – Silver Age Darna, Supersexyheroines website

In 1951, 2 Darna movies were made starring Rosa Del Rosario, followed by another two starring Liza Moreno in the early 60’s, one by Eva Montes and one by Gina Pareno in 1969. But it was not until 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad” starring Vilma Santos when “Darna mania” would be rekindled and made this version the highest grossing Darna movie of them all. A feat that has not been equalled to this day. In these 1970s films, Darna’s origin was slightly tweaked with a new twist yet remained faithful to Mars Ravelo’s vision. No longer a little girl, Narda was now in her late teens. Also, she herself becomes Darna, unlike the original where she just “channels” her. Only Ding knows her secret in this version unlike the original where both Ding and their Grandmother knew the secret. Also, the stone comes out of Narda’s mouth every time she changes back from being Darna; she has to swallow it every time she wants to transform (This became standard for following versions). Darna is not specified as coming from Marte, just as a “warrior of Light”. This version of Darna became most people’s idea of the character for about 3 decades. A famous catch phrase by Narda popularized by the movies and NOT the comics version is “Ding, Ang Bato!” (“Ding, the Stone!) – Nostalgia Manila blog site

LIPAD, DARNA, LIPAD (1973) – The quintessential action-fantasy Pinoy flick that appeals to all ages, from generation to generation. This movie is a major milestone for Vilma because it proved that she could really carry a solo movie and bring in the dough (up to now of course!). Vilma’s Darna franchise is the most memorable and successful of all Pinoy fantasy-action genres. Imitated but never equalled, Vilma’s Darna lives on. Unforgettable. Memorable. It grows on you. No Pinoy kid ever grows up without being a part of the Darna magic. The enormous success of Lipad, Darna, and Lipad led to three more Darna movies with Vilma Santos. As a result, the star for all seasons became the star for all Darnas—Santos played her four times, more than any other actress in the super heroine’s history.

Lipad, Darna, Lipad! were thus divided into three separate segments, directed by three different directors. In Darna’s case, the three directors were Maning Borlaza, Joey Goesiengfao, and Elwood Perez—three names that promised an adventure that could do Andy Warhol proud.

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.

Second episode: Vilma also had to battle with Celia Rodriguez, who played a campy Valentina, a supermodel by day and a snake priestess by night. One scene has the actress naked in bed being caressed by a dozen snakes. Indeed, with the likes of Gosiengfao, Perez, and Borlaza at the helm, Darna is sure to get stuck in grotesque situations reminiscent of the Rocky Horror Movie. Their take on Darna is sometimes too risqué and violent for little children; but as a camp fest, the movie works.

In this episode Valentina, tried to steal Narda’s magical stone. Also, there was a scene where Valentina dressed up as Darna. I love the exciting part where Darna and Valentina battled on top of a high rise building. Darna, was almost a no match to her mortal enemy. Dangerously armed with lazer beams coming out from Valentina’s eyes, Darna was helpless and knocked down several times. Until, she stumbled upon into a piece of broken mirror and used it as a shield againts Valentina’s deadly lazer beams. Darna quickly made her looked in the mirror. Her lazer beams bounced back and she turned into a stone. From the roof, Valentina fell hard on the ground and broked into shattered pieces. Anjanette Abayarri and Cherrie Gil almost did the same scene in ” Darna, Ang Pagbabalik! ” Second Episode was directed by Elwood Perez.

Vilma Santos with co stars Ernie Garcia and Celia Rodriguez as Dr. Valentina Vrandakapoor, Phd in reptilian zoology from the University of new Delhi. Not to be overlooked is Darna’s arch-rival Valentina. Celia Rodriguez breathed new life to the term antagonist with her classy portrayal of the serpent-haired villainess. Rodriguez set a new standard by which evil women are to be judged.

Third episode: The final& episode was “Babaing Lawin” ( Hawk Woman), starring Liza Lorena as Babaing Lawin. I barely remember this one, there was this scene where Narda and Ding got caught and almost drowned in a quick sand. In Hawk Woman’s cave there’s this stream, that can make her wings disappear by walking across to it. There was also this character named Agila, a bird man played by Rod Dasco, he’s like the Hawk Woman’s mate. There was some fight scenes in the cave between Hawk Woman and and Darna. At the end of the story Darna and Hawk Woman, mend their ways. – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)

“Due to the Internet, one day soon I’m sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it’s still wonderful to uncover a country’s hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet. Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo’s Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto’s fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn’t realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen. Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes – Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame…Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived – the condition of the Vilma Santos’ early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops. Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based – but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973’s Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go…” – Poptique (READ MORE)

“…Vilma, now 20, still looking virginal and sweet kicked 70’s phenomenal superstar Nora’s butt at the boxoffice and earned her box-office wings via this monumental hit. The Emancipation of Baby Vi. Mariah Carey could not agree more. There was no turning back since then. The Fantasy Queen was born. Forty-three year old Tita Gloria gamely and bravely accepted the role of Ms. Luna, teacher by day and Manananggal by night. Movie Queen Gloria was deglamorized and became the evil incarnate as a vampire. Amalia Fuentes was the original movie queen who bravely accepted a daring role such as a vampire that won her a FAMAS statuette in Gerry De Leon’s Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin, and changed her goody-two-shoe image forever. Was she the original queen of reinvention that gave Vilma an idea to do the same via the landmark movie Burlesk Queen? Hmmm…for the first time, La Santos was billed above La Romero. Times have changed. The tables were turned. Vilma Santos is the New Box-Office Champ and Tita Glo and Company could only “bow” to the Reel/Real Queen: Ms. Rita Gomez, Helen Gamboa, Boots Anson-Roa, Barbara Perez and others did not have second thoughts to do a movie with the resurgent Vilma. Who wouldn’t want to be famous again and have fun working with the most hardworking and versatile actress? In my book, the aerial Good versus Evil fight of Vilma and Gloria as Darna and Impakta was one of the most thrilling and unforgettable scenes of my movie-going life. How I wish the movie resurfaces from Indonesia or from Timbuktu and my Vilma collection will be complete. That will be heaven! Where, oh, where is that classic movie? The Manananggal episode of Lipad, Darna, Lipad was so good that the two have to followed up their success via Anak Ng Aswang…” – Mario O. Garces (READ MORE)

“…This four-time FAMAS-winning actress is best remembered for her role as the slithering Dr. Valentina Vrandakapoor in the 1973 film Lipad, Darna, Lipad. In the iconic movie, she donned the reptile headdress for the Medusa-inspired character and gave Darna (Vilma Santos) hell. Although she’s been appearing in less villainous roles, Celia Rodriguez is still active in both movie and television these days. She played a supporting character in Darna’s latest TV incarnation, with Marian Rivera as the superheroine…” – Spot.ph (READ MORE)

Most Popular Darna “…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. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…And so, yielding to the theory that “misery loves company,” the two failures teamed up. They picked up from where they had left off. Backed up by some enterprising businessmen who firmly believed the duo would make good next time (they were joined by Joey’s brother, Victor, and movie scribe Douglas Quijano and others), they formed Sine Pilipino and turned out the three-episode “Lipad, Darna, Lipad.” Joey and Elwood directed two of the episodes. In an interview, the two directors intimated that, depending on public reaction, it could have been their last stint in the movies. Miracles of miracles, Lipad, Darna,,,broke existing box office records at that time! But alas, despite the movie success, Sine Pilipino closed shop due to “mismanagement.” Undaunted, Elwood and Joey formed another company, this time the Juan de la Cruz Productions. Just the same, the budding outfit folded up because it had a rough time with the Board of Censors. By then, the drive against bomba movies and smut publications were massive and sustained, and the guidelines were different to those of today…” – Manny B. Fernandez, Expressweek, July 12, 1979 (READ MORE)

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)

Gina Pareño – “…Mara­ming naging Darna sa kani-kanilang panahon pero ang unang inabot naming lumabas na Darna ay si Gina Pareño. Aba, kung nakita ninyo si Gina noong panahong iyon, ang ganda talaga niya at hanep ang katawan. ’Tapos ang maraming Darna movies na napanood namin, ang star ay si Vilma Santos, na nagsimula sa Lipad, Darna, Lipad. Iniba ang title dahil ang sinundang pelikula na Takbo, Vilma, Dali ay naging isang napakalaking hit din noong panahong iyon. Aba, isipin ninyo, noong panahong iyon ay nakakagawa ng isang pelikulang black and white sa halagang P120,000 lamang. Eh kinse pesos lang ang sine noon. Ang Darna ni Vilma kumita ng tatlung daang libong piso sa Metro Manila pa lamang at kakaunti pa ang sinehan noon ha. At kung titingnan naman ninyo si Vilma nung nag-uumpisa — maganda, sexy, at maputi. Kung negra ka, ano ang hitsura mo kung magsusuot ka ng costume ni Darna? Baka mapagkamalan ka pang lumilipad na tuko? Pagkatapos ni Vilma, marami ring naging ibang Darna, pero honestly ni hindi na namin napanood ang mga pelikula. Hindi dahil nagsawa kami sa Darna movies ha. In fact, hanggang ngayon mahilig pa rin kami sa super heroes. Nanonood nga kami ng anime eh. Pero hindi namin nagustuhan ang iba…” – Ed de Leon, Pang-Masa, 08 Oct 2013 (READ MORE)

Valentina – “…Iba talaga si Direk Maryo J. dahil he brings out the best in his actors,” says Katrina, whose daughter Katrence turned one year old last Wednesday. “Dito sa ‘Magkano Ba ang Pag-ibig’, tatlo kaming aktres na nag-Valentina ang nagkasama-sama. Una si Tita Celia Rodriguez na nag-Valentina kay Gov. Vilma Santos sa ‘Lipad Darna Lipad’ in 1973. Then si Alessandra de Rossi na nag-Valentina on TV to Angel Locsin’s Darna noong 2005, at ako na nag-Valentina kay Marian Rivera sa 2009 version ng ‘Darna…” – Mario Bautista, Journal, 23 September 2013 (READ MORE)

Intergalactic Warrior – “…There were comic-inspired franchises that never travelled beyond their own borders, such as the Darna series from the Philippines in the 1970s – she was an intergalactic warrior disguised as an earthling – and which helped actress Vilma Santos turn the fame she achieved into a political career that still sees her serving as governor of Batangas province…” – Matt Scott, South China Morning Post, 20 April, 2014 (READ MORE)

Sa paggawa ng pelikula, kung maringgan man ng pagdaing si Vilma Santos ay bihirang-bihira. Nangyayari lang ito kung ipagpalagay nating siya’y may dinaramdam, hapong-hapo at talagang hindi na makakaya ng katawang humarap sa kamera kahit ibigin niya. Gayon man, kung nagkataong napakahalaga ng eksena at kinakailangang gawin niya, khait anong sama ng pakiramdam niya’y humaharap siay sa kamera. At sa pagtungo niya sa set o location, lagi siyang nasa oras. Kung maatraso ma’y saglit lang. Ganyan ka-professinal si Vilma Santos. Ngunit sa Lipad, Darna, Lipad ay dumaraing siya. Hindi sa hindi niya enjoy gawin ito. Ang totoo’y sa pelikulang ito lang siya na-involved. Ibig na niyang matapos na ito’t makita ang pinagpaguran niya. Talaga palang mahirap gumawa ng costumes picture. Lalo pa’t kung tulad nito! Una ang naging suliranin namin ay ang Darna costumes ko. Kasi kinakailangan maging maliksi ang kilos ko bilang Darna, kaya kailangang alisin na ang padding. Kaso nga lilitaw naman ang malaking bahagi ng aking katawan. Mabuti na lang at sumang-ayon ang aking fans. “Pangalawa, nag-aalala ako sa mga eksenang bakbakan namin nina Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez at Liza Lorena. Kasi baka masaktan ko sila nang di sinasadya. Ang pangatlo ay ang likas ng pagkatakot ko…sa mga ahas. Kasi may bahagi roong tungkol sa Babaing Ahas, si Valentina. Dito, laging kailangan ang ahas sa mga eksena. Mga sari-saring ahas. Maliliit at malalaki. At makamandag! Ang pinakamahirap sa lahat ay ang pag-su-shooting. Kailangan naming tapusin ito anuman ang mangyari. Kaya nasasagap ko ang lamig ng gabi at init ng araw. At ang suot ko nga’y labas ang malaking bahagi ng katawan! At alam n’yo namang kailang lang ay naospital ako dahil sa respiratory defects!” Ito ang daing ni Vilma Santos sa pinakamahirap niyang pelikula, ang Lipad, Darna, Lipad. Ngunit mahihinuha naman ninyo na ang pagdaing niya’y parang paglalambing lang. Dinaraan pa nga niyang lahat sa biro. Pagka’t ang tutoo, mahal na mahal niya ang pelikulang ito. Dahil ito nga ang pinakamahirap. At sa isang artista, kung alin ang pinakamahirap ay siya namang pinakamasarap! – Cleo Cruz, Love Story Magazine, 1973

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