FILM REVIEW: TAGOS NG DUGO

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The Plot – A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s…My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour – I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness….Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse….There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film….As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III (READ MORE)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better…” – Mar Garces, V Magazine 2006 (READ MORE)

“…A series of unfortunate events seemed to hound Nora’s career up to this point. October 1, 1989 was to be the last airing date of the 22-year-old musical-variety show Superstar on RPN 9. A month later, it was revived on IBC 13 with a new title, The Legend … Superstar, but this was short-lived lasting only up to early 1990. Naging mas masuwerte si Vilma Santos sa hinu-host na Vilma! on GMA 7, which started in 1981 as VIP (Vilma in Person) ng lumang BBC 2 (naibalik sa Lopez owners ang ABS-CBN after the EDSA Revolution). Nagbida si Vilma sa isa sa mga pinakaimportanteng pelikula ng Dekada ‘80: Regal Films’ Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (by Ishmael Bernal), na sinimulan in 1988 at ipinalabas in early 1989. In December 1989, Vilma headlined a period romance-drama (Viva Films’ Imortal, megged by Eddie Garcia) at nanalo sila ng kaparehang si Christopher de Leon ng acting plums sa MMFF. Sa awardings for that year, si Vilma ang nanalong Best Actress sa Star Awards (for Pahiram), her first form the Philippine Movie Press Club. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” nasabi ni Vilma as she accepted her trophy. Later, it was Nora’s turn to get a Best Actress trophy for the first time from the Film Academy of the Philippines, for Elwood Perez’s three-year-in-the-making Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” sabi rin niya in her acceptance speech. Na-elevate si Vilma sa FAMAS Hall of Fame, for having bagged five Best Actress statuettes: Dama de Noche, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, and Elwood Perez’s Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos. Nora won her fourth Best Actress plum sa FAMAS, also for Bilangin. Walang itulak-kabigin sa dalawa, kaya marapat lang na mag-tie sila for Best Actress, as in the 1990 Gawad Urian, na ‘pantay na parangal ”ang ipinagkaloob ng Manunuri kina Nora (for Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit) at Vilma (for Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga)…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

The Director – Maryo J. De los Reyes is a film and television director from the Philippines. He began his career in the 1970s(Wikipedia). Reyes’ most significant works are the critically acclaimed Magnifico (2004), Tagos Ng Dugo (1987) and the commercial hits, Bagets (1983), Annie Batungbakal (1979) (Wikepedia). In 1987 Maryo De Los Reyes directed Vilma Santos that critics considered one of the shocking film that year, Tagos Ng Dugo. The film was hailed as a feminist film and earned Vilma Santos her fourth FAMAS Best Actress. Ironically, the conservative church award giving body will agree and also gave their 1987 CMMA Best Actress to Vilma Santos. Reyes will again direct Vilma in 1992.  (Tagos ng Dugo 1987 and Sinungaling Mong Puso 1992)

The Most Colorful Film Character of the Year – “…The decision of the film critics to inhibit themselves from conferring their annual Urian Awards is unprecedented in the group’s 12-year history…But the case of film year 1987 is truly abysmal. It is, in fact, beyond salvation. True, there were number of worthwhile efforts, in such specific categories as editing, cinematography or sound but again, this is taking film as if it were a highly segmented form, instead of a holistic and integrated medium of communication. The area of screenplay was, to my mind, the most borely abused; I cannot recall any single film where this can be considered outstanding. Blame it on the producers who were more concerned with much momentary fancies as inane fantasies, sexploitation flicks and anachronistic melodramas. Blame it, too, on the governement which doesn’t seem to care and which doesn’t realize the power of the cinema in the value reformation of a natin long shackled in a despotic rule…Then there was the dismal and embarraing Brocka opus, Magin Akin Ka Lamang, which is a far cry from what the director used to do with komiks genre, having elevated it to a level of respectability in Tahan Na Empoy, Tahan and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, which is good enough melodrama. Even more sordid is his Pasan Ko ang Daigidg, which takes an egregiously compromising view of poverty with its Cinderella-like storyline. Even Ishmael Bernal was not spared of the spirit of idiocy which pervaded the past year and which threatens to hound us this year. Bernal, who often can be relied upon to transcend the limitations of the most trivial of storyline, simply failed to overcome the komiks convolutions of Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa. Also, quite unlucky was Peque Gallaga who was in bad shape in Kid, Huwag Kang Susuko, though he managed to score a few precious points in the action film genre. And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. DumaualManila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Broken Marriage (1983)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filmography: Tagos Ng Dugo (1987)

“haaahhhh…haaahhhh….di ko sinasadya!…di ko sinasadya!” – Pina

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Basic Information: Directed: Maryo J. De los Reyes; Story: Via Hoffman; Screenplay: Jake Tordesillas; Cast: Vilma Santos, Michael De Mesa, Miguel Rodriguez, Francis Arnaiz, Richard Gomez, Mark Joseph, Lito Pimentel, Joey Hipolito, Joey Marquez, Tony Santos Sr., Caridad Sanchez, Lucita Soriano, Dante Castro, Bing Davao, Alicia Alonzo, Mia Gutierrez, Raquel Villavicencio; Executive producer: Via Hoffman; Original Music: Jaime Fabregas; Cinematography: Ely Cruz; Film Editing: Jess Navarro; Production Design: Cesar Hernando, Lea Locsin; Sound: Joe Climaco, Jun Martinez

Plot Description: A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV

Film Achievement: 1987 FAMAS Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1987 CMMA Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1987 FAP Best Musical Score – Jaime Fabregas; 1987 FAP Best Actress nomination – Vilma Santos

Film Review: “…In Filipino movies, drama is synonymous with exaggeration. In many films, scenes of cruelty, violence and torrid sex are depicted with little restraint so that they border on distasteful. In Tagos ng Dugo (1987), a young girl is raped after her parents are mudered. While she’s being abused, blood from her murdered mother’s body drips through the ceiling and falls on her forehead. In Kapag Napagod and Puso (1988), a harassed movie director (Christopher de Leon) takes out his frustration on his young wife (Snooky Serna) by smashing her face, pounding her head on the wall and punching her pregnant body black and blue. Once it was sufficient to depict adult activities by implication. To speak of sex on screen, it was enough to show a couple closing a door as they entered a room. A passionate embrace or a kiss is always followed by a quick fade to black. But nowadays, with sexual liberation and the heightened sense of realism demanded by viewers, Filipino movies have become more graphic in their treatment of sexual matters. There is now a greater curiousity for the phenomenon of the woman’s body. It is a must to depict menstruation (Tagos ng Dugo), labor pains (Kapag Napagod ang Puso) and a miscarriage (Burlesque Queen, 1977) by showing blood stains on the garment near the area of the vagina and blood trickling down a woman’s leg. The first signs of pregnancy are always dramtized by showing a woman throwing up in asink (Pasan Ko ang Daigdig, 1987). Abortion scenes have a very clinical look: a woman must be shown lying down with her legs in stirrups as a doctor or quack performs the bloody operation. Since abortion is illegal in the Philippines, it is common to depict abortion scenes ending in tragedy. In Celso Ad. Castillo’s Nympha (1971), a woman is left to die naked, wallowing in her own blood on the floor after doctors fail to stop her bleeding following an abortion. Childbirth scenes are just as graphic. In Nunal sa Tubig (1977), a baby’s head is shown emerging from a vagina…” – Emmanuel Anastacio Reyes, Notes on Philippine Cinema (Collected Writings on Cinema)…” – Emmanuel Anastacio Reyes, Notes on Philippine Cinema Collected Writings on Cinema (READ MORE)

First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police record gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “its another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornograhy’s…”. My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets”.

Given this background, therefore, Tagos ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possiblities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be”, since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation. A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s “The Bride Wore Black” and Luis Benuel’s “Belle Du Joir” — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or Delos Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our macho’s regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole).

It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, man’s beastly) naturalness… Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “female’s weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse… There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated… And finally, there’s the possiblity that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film… As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence.

But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy ( including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Eric Nadurata

The story revolves around Pina, a woman haunted by her past traumatic experiences. She always feels afraid at the sight of blood. Whenever she is physically or emotionally injured, she experiences the so-called “post-traumatic syndrome,” which persuades her to kill every man who has hurt her. She disguises herself as a prostitute with different personalities, and becomes a mysterious murderer.

The Review – The future National Artist for Film and recent U.P. Gawad Plaridel and Gawad Suri awardee Vilma Santos has done a gamut of roles. She is the only Filipina actress on record who has the most impressive resume of great performances (and is credible in any role, including Darna, the Pinoy female version of Superman), and has amassed 50 plus acting trophies. The Variety magazine and the world film community has dubbed her the Filipino Cinematic Diva and the Meryl Streep of the Philippines. If her luck continues, she may end up in Guinness’ Almanac as an actor with the most number of acting awards. One of my favorite Vilma characters is that of Pina, a serial killer, in Tagos ng Dugo. Directed by Mario J. Delos Reyes, it won four best actress awards for Vilma: her second CMMA, fourth FAMAS, and two from magazine polls. When it comes to edgy, neurotic, complex roles, leave it to Versatile Vilma, the Meryl Streep-like cerebral and intuitive actress who was born to play them. Vilma’s foray into the “luka-luka” genre began in Dama De Noche where she plays twin sisters, one of which is, you bet, neurotic.

Bernal’s classic Ikaw Ay Akin is best remembered for the manic-depressive, chain-smoking, Valium-popping, liberated, free-spirit Sandra (Vilma). Says critic Mario Bautista in his review: As the uptight Sandra, Vilma Santos has the script’s choicest, wittiest lines. She makes the most of them and gives a fairly accurate portrait of an emotionally insecure young woman. She likewise handles her final breakdown exceedingly well. There is a common thread in classic films like Broken Marriage, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, Bata, Bata, Dolzura Cortez and Hahamakin Lahat. Outstandingfilms, thanks to Vilma’s perfect portrayal of women on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It is no wonder that the late National Artist Lino Brocka quoted: “Vilma can do any role now. She registers like water, she has overtaken Nora Aunor.” The U.P. MassCom jurors concurred with Brocka and gave Vilma that seal of approval by giving her the National Artist award precursor, the prestigious U.P. Gawad Plaridel for excellence in film acting. And oh yes, let us not forget the Gawad Suri Award. In layman’s terms, she is the best in the business, period!

Back to Tagos ng Dugo. At best, it is Vilma’s most emotionally and physically, albeit, draining role. Maryo J. made Vilma succeed to say more with less as we will find out. In the opening scene, Pina’s medical history is revealed: schizophrenia, painful menstruation, manic-depressive. Then we see the pubescent Pina screaming and writhing in pain on her first menstruation, calls out to her mother: “Inay!” The luminous Alicia Alonzo plays her mother and tells her “dalaga ka na!” Menarche and puberty did not sit well with Pina. While menstruating, she discovers of her father’s affair with a circus girl who her father accidentally kills in the “knife roulette” show, as the victim’s blood spills on her face. The girl’s family gets even, kills her whole family one night, while she gets raped. Tagos ng Dugo. Here’s the message: hell hath no fury than a woman violated while having painful menstruation. She has bridges to burn and many losses in her life. She has become a lost and tormented soul. A victim. A monster is born. Oscar best actress Charleze Theron may have taken an inspiration from Vilma’s Pina. Flash forward: Orphan and just released from a mental institution, the grownup Pina is seen staying with her aunt Caridad Sanchez and her husband, a police officer, Tony Santos, Sr. This is where Pina’s “calvary” as victim (again) begins. So many men, so many abusers, or so we thought. Enter Michael De Mesa, Santos, Sr.’s nephew who has lust at first sight on Pina. “Malagu, ’ne?” (She’s beautiful), De Mesa gushes on the coy and evasive Pina. In Kapampangan, Tony tells De Mesa that she was just released from the mental hospital. Michael attempts to enter Pina’s room one night but is unsuccessful.

Next to Dekada ’70 perhaps, this is one movie where Vilma succeeded in quiet scenes, by just using her eyes. Whether she writhes quietly in pain during her period or is scared of the inevitable such as Michael’s evil intent, this is the vintage Vilma now. Less is more. The triumph of restraint and hard work. Versatile, Inc. She meets the nice and good-looking cop (Francis Arnaiz) in the police station where she works as a sloppy, unfocused canteen helper who gets easily rattled by men around her, earning the ire of her boss Lucita Soriano. “Ano ba Pina, ang tanga-tanga mo. Ang dami mo nang nabasag na baso, hah?” Arnaiz is different: caring, sensitive, a gentleman. She is Pina’s crush and hero. She steals her crush’s photo ID and in her secret hideaway, kisses the photo, followed by a nervous, hysterical laugher, reminiscent of her confrontation scene with Gloria Romero in Kapag Langit ang Humatol? Enter a notorious rapist who is now in jail who held Vilma by the neck and mashes her breasts. Vilma becomes hysterical and cries unconsolably even after Arnaiz and the cops come to her rescue. This scene is again Vintage Vilma. When the rapist is released from prison, he chooses Vilma as his first victim and in the rape attempt, Arnaiz shoots him dead. Again, blood droops on Pina’s face. Tagos ng Dugo. Next thing we know, De Mesa almost succeeds in raping her but falls off the window when Vilma fights back. She uses Michael’s knife to scare him off. Now wiser, stronger, sophisticated and smarter, Pina finds solace and a sanctuary in an abandoned house across from where she lives. She learns how to apply mascara and wig. A serial killer is born.

This is where she plans her revenge. So many men, so little time. It’s payback time. In the wise use of flashbacks, we learn that Pina is violated again and again by the very people who should be helping her cope with her unstable mental status, one of which is the evil warden Lito Pimentel. She falls in love with her therapist who politely turns her down. It is a series of painful abuse and rejection for the sad, sad life of Pina. We also learn that she has a brother/sailor who sends her monthly stipend which she never benefits from and in his last visit, Pina begs him to stay with him. In multiple flashbacks, we see a helpless victim, Pina crying out for love and acceptance. Nobody seems to listen. A dysfunctional family. Abused physically and emotionally. Neglected. Rejected. Unwanted. Tormented. Untreated chemical imbalance. A perfect scenario for the birth of a schizophrenic, manic-depressive serial killer. Disguised as a prostitute, she kills her tormentors one by one with a knife she steals from De Mesa, with the exception of a druggie, the excellent Richard Gomez in cameo role. Here is a performance that is Vilma Santos’ gift to the world, right there in the dark theatre and on the silver screen.

Are killers made or born? Is society or family to blame for sociopaths? Are menarche and the drive to kill symbiotic? In a touching scene where she literally shreds Arnaiz’s stolen photo with her teeth (Arnaiz reconciles with and will marry her fiancée) out of jealousy, and rejection, Pina plans to make it out with Arnaiz in a hotel where the cops hang out to have a good time and where Arnaiz will screw a prosti as the boys’ “gift” to him. Vilma is that prosti. When Aranaiz discovers it is the demented Pina, he takes pity on her and prepares to put on his clothes. What, rejected again? Pina pleads Arnaiz to love her, hug her, kiss her. She will take no for an answer. Like a raving lunatic, she strikes Arnaiz with the knife. Meanwhile, little did Pina know that Caridad and Santos, Jr. discovers her dark secret and desperately calls the boys to watch out for Pina, the deranged murderer who might be stalking on Arnaiz. Sanches and Santos, Jr. either fumbles with the phone number or gets a busy signal. Wala pa kasing cell phone noon, eh! Next thing we know, the cops run to save Arnaiz from Pina. The hunter is now the hunted. What they discover in the room is a wounded but still alive Arnaiz who cries: “Huwag!” as his colleagues aim their guns at the crazed woman with thick mascara and wig. In a memorable and touching scene, the camera pans on a screaming, out of control, bloodied, lost her sanity Pina, angry one moment, repentant (“di ko sinasadya!”) the next, and then mumbles incoherently. Prison bars are etched across her whole body, and the movie ends.

Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better. – “Tagos Ng Dugo: The original Naglalayag Revisited” by Mar Garces, published in V Magazine 2006

First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s . . .”. My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour — I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness. . . . Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse. . . . There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film. . . . As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – “Tagos Ng Dugo (1987): Maryo J. de los Reyes’ Jewel” by Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III Geocities web-site (VISV III, July 2002 – April 2004)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon.” – Jojo Devera, saringsinengpinoy.blogspot.com READ MORE

“…And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. Dumaual Manila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…At first, policemen manning the station likened Pina’s arrival in their canteen as a breath of fresh air in the dirty world they work in. Although she is not entirely all right up there she is pretty and quiet. An industrious helper she only absents herself once a month because of extreme dysmennorhea. Then men started getting killed within the vicinity of the police station. A vacationing overseas worker a prisoner on bail a handsome playboy a drug crazed youth… Is it only a coincidence that the murders seem to happen exactly on the days Pina is experiencing her very painful monthly period?…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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