FILM REVIEW: BATA, BATA…PAANO KA GINAWA?

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The Plot: “A women’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a woman’s crisis center. Soon though, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother when her children’s fathers return to accuse her of neglect.” – The NY Times (READ MORE)

“Lea is a mother of two children from different fathers. She works in a woman’s shelter and helps victims of domestic violence. Her sons are hurt riding their bikes. At the hospital, her principles are threatened when both fathers question her ability as a parent. This film is based on the best-selling Philippine novel of the same name and takes a look at the problems of single mother’s trying to balance work with family.” – Fukuoka (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “Sa tingin ko, sa Bata, Bata… pinakamagaling si Vilma Santos. Sa dami ng kanyang award, may ibubuga pa pala siya. Iba ang akting niya rito…Halatang feel na feel ni Vilma Santos ang kanyang papel dahil, gaya ng karakter ni Lea Bustamante, dalawa ang anak ni Vilma sa magkaibang lalake.” – Marra Pl. Lanot, Diario Uno, Sept. 1998 (READ MORE)

“…Ang international fame, bilang Best Actress, ay nakamit ni Vilma in 1999, when her Star Cinema headliner Bata … Bata … Paano Ka Ginawa? – directed by Chito Rono – was entered as competition entry sa Brussels Film Festival. Released in 1998, Bata won for Vilma the Best Actress honors at the Star Awards, FAP and Gawad Urian, as well as the Best Performance award from the YCC-Film Desk. Dahil nahalal na alkalde ng Lipa City sa Batangas si Vilma Santos-Recto (she married then Batangas Congressman, now Senator Rafael ‘Ralph” Recto in December 1992), naging mas madalang ang paggawa niya ng pelikula. Pero hindi pa rin magmimintis si Vilma na manalo ng acting trophy, kapag din lang may panlabang pelikula, as in 2000 when she did Star Cineman’s Anak by Rory Quintos. Nanalo siyang Best Actress sa Star Awards…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“…And Vilma Santosis more than up to the challenge. Gone are the hysterically flapping hands, the melodramatic emoting, all the trademark acting tics. In their place is a heartfelt performance that distills Lea’s essence to an exquisite point-no movements are wasted, no gestures are overwrought. …Vilma rolls them on her tongue like the finest wine; when Lea is on the verge of breaking down, Vilma remains true to the spirit of her character… If the Lipa City mayor decides never to do another movie again, she can retire assured that her last performance-in a career already studded with formidable portrayals-may conceivably have been her best…” – Andrew E. Pardes, Manila Times, Sept 1998 (READ MORE)

“A fiercely independent and unflinchingly candid woman connected with a women’s crisis and survival center has to raise her two kids with different fathers. Her first husband has left her when their career options failed to converge. She is now stuck in an extramarital arrangement with another man who cannot bring himself to respect and commit to their quite unorthodox relationship. – Databases of Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

“A women’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a woman’s crisis center. Soon though, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother when her children’s fathers return to accuse her of neglect.” – Baseline Studio Systems (READ MORE)

“The movie “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa?” is a movie which deals not only with the pains a mother and a wife goes through but also with the people around her as well. The movie which was originally based on the novel of the same title written by Lualhati Bautista, is such a wonderful story. Though it was written during the 1980’s, the material still hasn’t lost it’s appeal and connection to the people, considering that were almost entering the new millenium. What fascinates about the movie is that it did not only revolve around Lea but with the other characters as well. I really felt that all of the actors and actreses in the movie connected with one another. Each of the actors and actresses in the movie had a different story to tell. The movie would not have been as wonderful as it is, had it not been for the stellar performances given by the actors and actresses in the movie. There would be no question in terms of Vilma Santos’ acting prowess. Indeed she has proven be one of the fine actreses this country could ever had. I believe that nobody could ever give justice to the role of Lea had it been portryed by another actress other than Vilma Santos. Most noticeable were the performances given by the two kids. Serena Dalrymple and Carlo Aquino’s performance were just unbelievable. Considering that the two kids’ age and considering that there just neophytes in the acting scene.” – Skyinet (READ MORE)

“In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?” – The 35th Chicago International Film Festival (READ MORE)

“…Lea’s Story, based on Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel “Bata, bata paano ka ginawa,” tells the story of Lea, a strong and independent woman who defiantly rejects social conventions to live life on her own terms. Lea, a woman’s rights activist and single mother of two, struggles desperately to provide for her children by working at a woman’s crisis center. Soon her job and romance with a co-worker are threatened when her estranged husband comes back into Lea’s life, accusing her of neglect and abuse. Last year, Lea’s Story swept the Filipino Academy Awards by winning Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director. It stars the Philippines’ top actress and actor, Vilma Santos and Raymond Bagatsing respectively…” – Asian American Film News (READ MORE)

“…As much as people think that this is Vilma Santos’ movie, I beg to disagree. Me thinks it was the children’s show. Serena Dalrymple and Carlo Aquino gave two of the best child acting performances ever. Serena as Maya was a chatty young kid, whose bluntness, frankness, and honesty come across as cute and comical however one can still question as to how she was brought up. Carlo Aquino’s Ojie is a more mature kid, he understood what was going on and was rebelling to the fucked-up-ness of their situation. What pisses me off is that today, there hardly is a movie that Carlo Aquino is in, except maybe for last year’s “Carnivore, “where he was superb in again. Aquino is one of the few great young actors of his time that still is a great actor up to know. He is just not that present anymore. And I kinda wish that he makes more movies, because I know that he is a superb actor…” – Douglas Racso (READ MORE)

“…A free-spirited woman and madre de familia runs her life and raises her children unconventionally. It is one of the best films that espouses feminism without being didactic and self-righteous. Humorous, poignant and insightful, it features a yet-another dazzling performance by Vilma Santos…” – Mario A. Hernando (READ MORE)

“…To best understand how Filipino women have changed in the course of time, let us quote Lea’s final words: “OO, natuklasan ko ang mga bagay na hindi ko siguro natuklasan kung pinahawakan ko lang sa iba ang pagkatao ko. Hindi ako nagpakulong, sinikap kong lumaya. At mula sa paglaya ko sa makitid na papel ng isang babae, natiyak ko na ang kalayaan nga pala, sa higit na pangmalawakang kahulugan nito, ay hindi nahihingi kundi ipinakikipaglaban. Hindi lahat ng hinuhuli’y kriminal, at hindi lahat ng diyos ay may dangal! Hindi ako natatako. Babae ako at malakas ako. Ako ang tagapagsilang ng tao, pambuhay ng sanggol ang dibdib ko. Hindi porke ina na ‘ko’y tumigil na ‘ko sa paglaki. Hindi porke babae ako’y maiiwan ako sa labanan. Para sa kaligtasan ng lipunan at kinabukasan ng mga anak ko sa digmaan ng mga uri’t prinsipyo, sa mapayapa man o madugong pagbabago, magtiwala kayo…sasama ako!” We need more Josies adn Leas in our society tody, The time is ripe for Filipino women to rise above the society’s traditional views and coventions. Although ultimate freedom and due recognition of gender equlity remain a struggle and a serious concern, Filipino women are slowly gaining a strong foothold. In a book dedication written by Bautista to this writer, she wroteL “Ang mga kamay na nag-uugoy ng duyan ay kaya ring magtumba ng alon sa dagat.” And we belive that a freer woman is better mother. And every Filipino family needs her. Every family must have her. We remember what Vilma said in our interview with her during the last shooting day of her film “Bata, Bata…” “I would like to be remembered as a mother who would give her life to her children anytime…” She’s an accomplished actress, and many will remember her for that. But Vilma would rather be a mother in her films, in her life…” – Veron Dionisio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 29, 2000 (READ MORE)

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FILM REVIEW: DEKADA ’70 1/2

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For Film Review: Dekada ’70 2/2 CLICK HERE

“Buong buhay ko yan na lang lagi ang sinasabi nila sa akin…wala kang magagawa eto ang gusto ng asawa mo…wala kang magagawa eto ang kapalaran mo…wala kang magagaw dahil dapat…putris naman, dapat hindi ganuo…tapos sasabihin ng daddy n’yo hindi lang ang anak ko ang pinatay hindi lang ang anak ko ang dinukot…lalo akong nanggigigil, lalo akong nagagalit dahil kung nanay ka talaga, hindi ka lang dapat nanganganak kundi naiapaglaban mo rin ang anak mo dapat kaya mong pumatay para sa anak mo…gusto ko lang malaman bakit nila pinatay ang anak ko…hindi masamang tao ang anak ko, kahit sa oras na ito humarap ako sa diyos kahit sa dimonyo hindi masamang tao ang anak ko…hindi masamang tao ang anak ko!” – Amanda Bartolome

“You could stop being proud of me! Nagsawa na ako sa ganuon, gusto ko naman ngayon ako mismo just for a change, maging proud sa sarili ko!” – Amanda Bartolome

The Plot: Dekada 70 is a story of a family caught in the midst of a tumultuous time in Philippine history – the martial law years. Amanda (Vilma Santos) and Julian (Christopher Deleon) is a picture of a middle class couple with conservative ideologies, who must deal with raising their children, five boys – Jules (Piolo Pascual), Isagani (Carlos Agassi), Emmanuel (Marvin Agustin), Jason (Danilo Barrios) and Bingo (John Sace) in an era marked by passion, fear, unrest and social chaos. As siblings struggle to accept the differences of their ideologies, as a father faces the painful dissent of his children, a mother’s love will prove to be the most resonant in the unfolding of this family’s tale, will awaken to the needs of her own self, as she embarks on a journey of discovery to realize who she is as a wife, amother, a woman and a Filipino. – Star Cinema

Dekada ’70 (English: 70s Decade) is a 2002 Filipino drama film released based on a book called Dekada ’70 written by Filipino author, Lualhati Bautista. The film tells the story of the life of a middle-class Filipino family who, over the space of a decade, become aware of the political policies that have ultimately led to repression and a state of Martial law in the Philippines. Filipina actress Vilma Santos stars as Amanda, who realizes the implications of living within a dictatorship after sorting out the contradictory reactions of her husband and five sons. Her husband (Julian), played by Filipino actor, Christopher de Leon, supports his eldest son’s (Jules), played by Filipino actor, Piolo Pascual; efforts to rail against the government while refusing to follow Amanda’s wish to find a job. Her second son (Gani), played by Filipino actor, Carlos Agassi, is in the United States Navy. Her third son (Eman), played by Filipino actor, Marvin Augustin, writes illegal political exposes. The fourth son (Jason), played by Filipino actor, Danilo Barrios fell victim to a corrupt police department, and her youngest son named (Bingo), played by Filipino actor, John W. Sace, is still a boy. – Wikepedia (READ MORE).

The Reviews: “…At the center of the film and the family is Amanda (Filipino cinematic diva Vilma Santos) who vicariously experiences living under a dictatorship through her husband and five sons’ different reactions before coming into her own as a person. Her husband, Julian (Christopher De Leon), seems a walking contradiction: He offers rationalizations for the government while supporting his eldest son’s revolutionary activities, but has a fit when his wife wants to get a job. As for the sons, firstborn son (Piolo Pascual) joins the guerillas in the mountains. The second son (Carlos Agassi), forced into a shotgun wedding, defiantly works for the American Navy. The third son (Marvin Augustin) writes journalistic exposes he can’t publish, while the fourth son (Danilo Barrios) is a mystery to his family until his brutal, motiveless murder (probably by police) reveals a lost girlfriend. The fifth son (John W. Sace) is still a boy. Santos’ Amanda effortlessly and movingly chronicles the changed consciousness of the family and the country, with understatement her most reliable tool. Pic begins and ends with images of Santos at the forefront of a political demonstration, and nothing, from first image to last, for 128 minutes, is allowed to spontaneously or slyly deviate from the logic of her consciousness-raising.” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety Magazine (READ MORE)

“Last seen in ANAK (SFIAAFF ‘01), Vilma Santos delivers an understated, profoundly moving performance as the matriarch whose awakening redefines the traditional mother and wife role she donned for years. This is the story of an incredible character that survived an unforgettable decade.” – Michael Magnaye, The 22nd San Fransisco Asian-American Film Festival, 2004 (READ MORE)

“…Rono and Bautista, who writes her own adaptation, have obviously worked very closely in fleshing out the novel on screen. The result is an effective and even subtle tableau of scenes to present the Bartolome family’s struggles from the late ‘60s to ‘70s that not only set the domestic drama, but also prefigure the wider social and historical saga unfolding before the nation. No scene is wasted, no useless pandering to the viewer’s sense of spectacle or penchant for soap opera is even attempted. The competent production design, the agile editing, the stark photography (which impresses even the Paris-based Filipino-Spanish painter Sanso who calls it comparative to the best in Europe) ensures a panoply of images that is immediate, recognizable, and keen. Like Regal Films, Star Cinema has been compelled to throw in its stable of stars so that the Bartolome siblings look distractingly too much like a boy band. But because they play well-thought-out characters, their damage is put to a minimum. In some cases, like Piolo Pascual as Jules, the young communist rebel, the effect is heart-wrenching. Pascual plays, along with Vilma Santos as Amanda, one of the centers of gravity of the movie; the other center consists of Santos and Christopher de Leon. As arguably the first unabashedly feminist Filipino novel, “Dekada” shows a woman’s awakening to her nature and gender through the men of her life-her husband and her first born. Their age, generation and preoccupation divide both men, and Amanda serves as their bridge and transition. In the process, Amanda herself is transformed. She becomes herself. The most moving scenes of the movie are of Jules and Amanda meeting on the sly and forced to carry on mother-and-son endearments hurriedly because of the threat of arrest. But the most poignant scene is Julian and Amanda confronted with the terrible loneliness of their advanced years, left by their children, he turning away from her to hide his tears, and she asking him to face her and not to be ashamed. It helps that the scene is played by Santos and De Leon, truly one of Filipino cinema’s most effective screen couples. As Amanda, Vilma Santos shows again why Brocka, before he died, had likened her to water. “She can register anything,” he said. In “Dekada”, its the same Santos of vigor and transparency. The only difference is the depth, the resonance, and the greater confidence. Can she ever go wrong?” – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 December 2002 (READ MORE)

“…Ang Dekada ’70 ay isang mahusay na adaptasyon sa pelikula ng nobela nitong may parehong titulo. Napanatili ang kaluluwa ng nobela sa pelikula sa kabila ng limitasyon ng pelikula bilang isang audio-visual na medium. Marahil, nakatulong ng malaki ang pagkakaroon ng iisang manunulat lamang. Naging maayos ang takbo ng pelikula na tulad sa nobela nitong nahati sa mga taon ng dekada ’70. Mahusay ang pagkakaganap ng mga pangunahing tauhan (maliban kay Carlos Agassi) na nakapagbigay hininga sa mga tauhang noo’y nababasa lamang. Naibalik ng pelikula ang larawan ng dekada ’70 sa mga eksena nitong nagpapakita ng mga demonstrasyon, protesta at rallies na tunay na nangyari noong panahon na iyon. Ang musika at tunog ay madalas na akma at nagpapaigting sa emosyong nais ipahatid ng pelikula. Naging mahina lamang ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ng pelikula na hindi naging masusi sa make-up, at kasuotan ng mga tauhan sa pawang hindi parating umaangkop sa panahon…” – Catholic Initiative for Enlightened Movie Association (READ MORE)

“…Dekada 70 journeys with the central character Amanda Bartolome (Vilma Santos), the reticent wife of an alpha-male husband, and the worrying mother of a boisterous all-male brood. Thoroughly relegated to domesticity in a world slathered in testosterone, Amanda begins to undergo a transformation when her family becomes imbricated in the sociopolitical realities brought about by the Marcos dictatorship. The declaration of Martial Law, the lifting of the writ of habeas corpus, the curfews and police searches, all these could have easily floated past Amanda’s head had her sons not found themselves caught in the crossfire between the government and the pro-democracy movements. As one son after another faces the oppressive forces of the dictatorship, Amanda gradually realizes that the personal is political. While chanting slogans for sociopolitical change, she finds her own voice and comes to terms with the fullness of her own person…There are touches of seventies style Filipino humor that foreign audiences might miss; they effectively establish that this is a real, average Filipino family trying to navigate through the eye of the political storm. The acting is generally impressive, most especially that of lead actress Santos, who gives a luminous, sensitive performance. Santos essays the transformation of Amanda so effectively that we do see clearly at the end of the film that there has been a fundamental change in her character. If there is something to be faulted about the film, it is Roňo’s failure to keep melodramatic moments in check. The funeral sequence of one of Amanda’s sons, for instance, becomes an over-extended session of copious tears. The rich story material of Dekada 70 could do away with such “in your face” paroxysms, which only work to dull the film’s cutting edge political trajectory. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Roňo had created a noteworthy, epic-scale Filipino film, and on a Third World budget at that. It also cannot be denied that Roňo had not forgotten the sentence of history on his home country…” – Antonio D. Sison, Insititute for Pastoral Initiatives University of Dayton (READ MORE)

“…about Vilma’s performance in “Dekada ‘70”: Some jurors, viewers and reviewers have expressed dissappointment over it because they regard it as too passive, low-key, unemotional, too much taken up with observation, and reflection instead of action. Thus, it doesn’t deserve the best actress award. We disagree. We think that, precisely because Vilma’s portrayal was so restrained for the most part, it was more difficult to achieve. It’s far easier to rant and rave, to “feel” bigtime, to run the gamut of emotions from A to Z- but, if Vilma did that, she would have gone against her character’s nature, as written…during the first half of the film, Vilma’s character occasionally felt unhappy, taken for granted or unappreciated as a person, but she held her emotions in check to keep the peace in the family. It was only later, when the national trauma of martial law rule affected her sons in various tragic ways, that she found the voice and rediscovered the heart to assert herself as a person and to give her emotions full play. We submit that Vilma’s portrayal is excellent precisely because she vivified he character as the wife and mother was in the ‘70s. Her thematic and emotional high points towards the end of the film rivetting, but it was her quieter, more controlled moments that showcased Vilma’s true gift as an actress. During those moments, Vilma didn’t just observe what was going on, she was constantly conflicted only, she had been programmed not to speak out because it wasn’t her “place”. Thus, when she finally changes and expresses herself in the end, the contrast makes her transformation all the more stunning. In the movie’s first half, Vilma is such a good actress that, although she may not be the active element in her family (her husband is), she is quietly involved in each and every scene, and every new development is seen from her point of view. Even better, despite her relative lack of dialogue at this point, we can “read” her thoughts on her face as clearly as though she were speaking. And we see her slowly changing before our very eyes, gradually overcoming her reticence, discovering her true worth, and finally finding and expressing her true self. This is very difficult to do, as any true thespian will affirm. Which is why, unlike some people who dismiss Vilma’s portrayal as passive and weak, we think it ranks among her best, right up there with her performances in and fully deserving of the filmfest’s coveted best actress trophy.” – Nestor Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer (READ MORE)

“…The reason “Sister Stella L” will probably end up better appreciated is that the movie was shown during the martial law era. The movie was relevant to the times and Vilma was portraying an activist nun, a role not usually associated with the Star for all Seasons… As the mother, Vilma does justice to her character, holding back her strong emotions until the end, when she finally confronts Christopher de Leon and wants to break up with him. Despite the many tragic events that befall her character, Vilma chooses to underplay her role except at key points towards the end of the movie. Boyet is his usual competent self as the chauvinistic husband of Vilma who is forced to change when his wife breaks out of her shell. Piolo Pascual also deserves mention for his realistic portrayal of the activist turned NPA rebel…” – Edmund L. Sicam, Philippine Daily Inquirer (READ MORE)

“…Unlike Vilma Santos’ Sister Stella L. character, who becomes politicized practically overnight, her Amanda role in “Dekada ‘70” takes longer to mature politically (almost the whole decade). And she goes through a very painful process because she experiences the abuses of the marcos regime by seeing her own children suffer. With Vilma hurting inside and suffering almost in silence, we have here in “Dekada ‘70” some very moving dramatic scenes that are mostly devoid of hysterics but are still very effective nonetheless. Actually, we see yet another facet of Vilma Santos’ acting talent in this film. In the story, she goes through guilt (with the fate of one of her sons), pain, anguish and anxiety (particularly with the eldest, Piolo)-plus discontent as a plain housewife who wants to do something more with her life other than to keep house for her husband and kids. The great actress that she is, Vilma is able to manifest clearly the different layers of her character in a very quiet manner, which-you have to admit-is quite difficult to achieve. But Vilma-after all these decades -can do no wrong anymore in the field of acting. Although it’s not the greatest performance of her career (it’s still Sister Stella L), her portrayal of Amanda in “Dekada ‘70” is no doubt one of her finest. More importantly, her role (and her approach to it) is different from the hundreds of other roles she has done in the past…” – Butch Francisco, The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

“…Santos’ performance is so vivid and insightful that we can see her changing in front of our very eyes… We were enthralled…we were moved. And we valued the film’s important contribution to the very urgent task of reminding everyone of the trauma in our collective lives that was the martial law period of the ’70s,” noted Nestor Torre of Inquirer News Service. Chito Rono’s Dekada ‘70 made its world premier at the Asian American International Film Festival in June of 2003. The film has also won numerous domestic awards. The Young Critics Circle voted Dekada ‘70 Best Film of the Year (2002), Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Performance in a tie between actress Vilma Santos (Amanda) and Piolo Pascual (Amanda’s eldest son). The Best Film of the Year award is reserved for the director, such that no separate prize for direction is needed. The Best Performance award is the most coveted as it is conferred on the performer whether male or female, adult or child, individual or ensemble in leading or supporting role. Vilma Santos also received an award for Best Actress from Star Awards for Movies, Film Academy of The Philippines, and Gawad Urian Awards. Piolo Pascual also received an award for Best Supporting Actor from the Young Critics Film Circle, Metro Manila Film Festival, Star Awards for Movies, Film Academy of the Philippines, FAMAS Awards, and Gawad Urian Awards. The Gawad Urian Awards also presented Dekada ’70 with the award for Best Screenplay…” – Sara Stokoe, Asia Pacific Arts (READ MORE)

“…In Chito S. Roño’s superb “Dekada ’70,” a family in the Marcos-era Philippines has a domineering father and five sons, but it is the mother (Vilma Santos) who provides the mental stamina. She fights for her family in ways the father can’t even dream of. “To give birth to these children isn’t enough,” she says. “You have to defend them, protect them.” That’s the ’70s. In 30 years, that kind of woman will deal with difficult questions of divorce and motherhood, one in which women want freedom, yet must be willing to share blame when something goes wrong. The young woman who leaves her husband and thinks about aborting her pregnancy in South Korean filmmaker Gina Kim’s “Invisible Light” is an experimental example. Moon’s great performance in “A Good Lawyer’s Wife” almost makes you believe wrong is right, and, taken with her much-lauded portrayal of a girl with cerebral palsy in “Oasis,” reveals her as one of the world’s best actresses. Hollywood, take note. – No stereotypes of Asians here…” – G. Allen Johnson, Festival Celebrates Real Women, San Francisco Chronicle March 4, 2004 (READ MORE)

“…The young actors that were cast in Dekada ’70 were all guilty of doing too much “acting”. I don’t think actors should be acting-out, or (in this case) over-acting, unless they were filming a farce, or a comedic parody. Inexcusable mediocre performances plagued every scene. Instead of ensuring the characters were having a real conversation (real interaction), it seemed as though they were merely spitting out lines which they had memorized word-for-word, the delivery, inflections, and pauses unnatural. People don’t talk to each other like this in real life now, do they? Of course not. It is sometimes possible for a younger actor to deliver a satisfactory performance though the guiding hand of an experienced veteran. This of course is quite rare, as it calls for a unique, uncalculated, natural chemistry that can never be faked. Award winning greats like Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon should never be subjected to work with a group of inexperienced pretty faces who are incapable of displaying a sense of depth and sophistication. Proof that casting makes for a vital element that determines the success of a film…” – Edwin Manalo (READ MORE)

“…The characters of brothers Jules (Piolo Pascual) and Eman (Marvin Augustin) share similar anti-Marcos perspectives in the movie. A movie that attempts to add a more familiar and human touch to a real event isn’t without its melodrama. The overt use of music to drive emotion home and unnecessarily lengthy shots distract a bit from what otherwise could have been short and sweet takes of awesome performances. The pace of the film seems to slow down mid-way through the film. Yet these faults are minute enough that they probably didn’t even deserve a mention…This movie makes for a satisfying introduction to this decade in Philippine history. I shouldn’t forget to mention how faithful the movie remains to the styles of dress, the models of cars, and the music of the time to strongly present the age and era the movie takes place. Most importantly Dekada ’70 presents to us the emotional aspect, an aspect you cannot obtain through school textbooks, snapshots, and soundbites of Martial Law under Marcos. This is communicated successfully through its collection of talents seen through the eye of a veteran director…” – Pinoy Movie Reviews (READ MORE)

“…Dekada ’70 tells of how under hate, greed and corruption, one normal person transcends beyond right and wrong: instead learns that it is freedom that entails survival. Set in the 70′s, urban Metro Manila, Amanda Bartolome is a middle-class mother of five young men. Amanda acts as a supposed symbolism of detachment. First of all, she was a mother, a housewife; such were not considered integral parts of society during those times. She was not the breadwinner; she did not experience the foremost effects of the decline of the Philippines economy back then. She was a member of the middle class; her family did not take money, like the rich, nor did her family suffer the worst of the financial crises, like the poor. The lives of Amanda’s children each went in different directions in the story, and each varied. Her eldest son was Jules. Jules grew up normally, similar to every other ideal family. His upbringing was that of what ideally conformed to normal standards and circumstances. Being the eldest, however, Jules lived, and more importantly, matured through the shock caused by the declaration of President Marcos’ martial law. Thus, Jules lived his adolescence exposed to rebellious reading material, and inevitably molded his mind into that of guerilla. Jules grew up to become a member of the communist New People’s Army, and his evolution came full circle…” – Dekada 70, A Book Review (READ MORE)

“…For ten consecutive years from 1995 to 2004, the Philippines submitted films for consideration for the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscar Awards. But up to this point of film history, we remain in the list of countries who has never won nor nominated for this award…The next year 2003, the country’s entry was Dekada ’70, directed by Chito S. Rono based on the novel Dekada ’70 of Lualhati Bautista. It tells the story of a middle-class Filipino couple (Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos) and their five sons during a tumultuous decade of the martial law regime. The sons were played by Piolo Pascual, Carlos Agassi, Marvin Agustin, Daniel Barrios and John Wayne Sace…” – FAP (READ MORE)

Fernando Poe Jr.’s “Lawin” (hawk) failed to soar high at the box office after Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s “Agimat” (amulet) proved to be more powerful. Working wonders at the tills, “Agimat ni lolo,” Revilla’s action-fantasy-adventure movie was the top grossing film on the first day of the festival last Wednesday, edging out Poe’s “Alamat ng Lawin,” from top slot. Caloocan Mayor Rey Malonzo, chair of the MMFF executive committee, refused to divulge the box-office figures because “that was the request of the other producers.” An MMFF insider, however, disclosed that “Agimat” earned P14 million gross on the day it opened. Imus Productions bankrolled “Agimat.” As early as yesterday noon, Revilla said he was told that “Agimat” was already leading in the box office race. A number of theaters opened as early as 9 a.m.yesterday, making it easy to determine the results after only the first screening. Revilla outshone even comedy king Dolphy’s “Home Along da Riles,” which ranked only third. Regal Entertainment’s “Mano Po,” which boasts a powerhouse cast and Joel Lamangan at the helm, came in fourth. Star Cinema’s period opus, “Dekada ’70,” directed by Chito Rono and top billed by drama royalty Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, was fifth. The epic tale of Filipino hero “Lapu-Lapu,” with Pampanga Governor Lito Lapid in the lead, took the sixth place, and Reflection Films’ “Hula Mo, Huli Ko,” starring Rudy Fernandez and Rufa Mae Quinto, came in seventh in the box-office race. But the box-office tallies might still change after tonight’s “Gabi ng Parangal,” when the MMFF hands out the awards to this festival’s best films. Two more entries – OctoArts Films’ “Lastikman” starring Vic Sotto and Regal Film”s “Spirit Warriors 2: Short-cut” -will be shown starting Jan 1. The filmfest will run until Jan 10. – Leah Salterio Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec 27 2002 (READ MORE)

This year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) sports a new name, but its trademark controversial image and reputation remain the same. The 28th MMFF has included a “P” in its official name. The “P” which stands for Philippines, means the entries in the festival can now be seen nationwide. The cast of “Dekada ’70” staged a walkout. A special effects awardee returned his trophy. A film that failed to make it to the filmfest’s top seven won thrid best picture. These and other inconsistencies were the “highlights” of this year’s “Gabi ng Parangal” awards ceremony last Friday. Piolo was “Dekada ’70’s” biggest winner as best supporting actor for his compelling portrayal of a tortured rebel leader in Chito Rono’s period drama. John Wayne Sace, who plays Pascual’s brother Bingo, bagged the best supporting child actor award. “Dekada ’70” also bagged the second best child actor award. “Dekada ’70” also bagged the second best picture award. Regal Films’ “Mano Po” romped off with the most number of awards, including the best actress plum that went to Ara Mina, who best-ed the veteran “Dekada ’70” star Vilma Santos. Eddie Garcia was adjudged best festival actor, while Joel Lamangan was named this year’s best director. Kris Aquino won best supporting actress also for “Mano Po.” Regal Films matriarch Lily Monteverde thanked the filmfest committee in Aquino’s behalf. Mother Lily has two more reasons to say “Chi chien” after “Mano Po” won best picture and best original story for writer Roy Iglesias. Iglesias also won the best screenplay citations for “Mano Po.” Resty Garchitorena and Tara Limberger took home the best cinematography and best film editor awards, again for “Mano Po.” The cross-cultural drama, which even partly filmed in Beijing, China, bagged a toral of 12 awards that night. Bong de Guzman snatched the best musical score trophy from such veteran composers as Louie Ocampo, Nonong Buencamino, Jimmy Fabregas and Elmer Sayson.

Best festival production design trophy was awarded to Tatus Aldana for his spectacular work on “Mano Po.” The biggest surprise came when Chito Rono’s “Spirit Warriors 2: Shortcut.” won third best picture. The award came as a surprise even to its director Chito Rono, who upon hearing the news, commented that “the award only proved how good the movie is.” “Spirit Warrior 2” snatched the festival’s two most important technical awards – best make-up for Warren Munar and best visual effects for Dodge Ledesma and Road Runner Productions. Unlike “Alamat” and “Lastikman” which didn’t get any award, Reflectin Films’ “Hula Mo, Huli Ko” and RVQ Productions’ “Home Alone da Riles” each won an award. RVQ Productions’ “Nasaan Ka” was heralded as this year’s best theme song, while Caloy de Leon won the best sound recording plum for his work on “Hula Mo.” De Leon, however, returned the award later that night. “I want the jurors to explain to me how can a film dubbed in mono like “Hula Mo” win over other films dubbed in Dolby digital,” he said. Imus Productions’ spectacular “Agimat” float took home P75,000 after bagging the best festival float award. Noticeably absent during the awards night were “Alamat ng Lawin” lead star Fernando Poe Jr., his leading lady Ina Raymundo, and the entire cast of “Lastikman,” led by comedian-producer Vic Sotto. Poe’s long-time aide, Amay Bisaya, said the action king chose not to attend the ceremony to “avoid intrigues and politicking.” – Marinel R. Cruz Philippine Daily Ingquirer, Dec 29 2002 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998)

“Namputang Itlog yan, gawing mong manok!” – Leah

“Sister nain-love ka na ba? Hindi yong Love kay Kristo ha, yong love na may sex!” – Leah

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Basic Information: Directed: Chito S. Roño; Story: Lualhati Bautista; Screenplay: Lualhati Bautista, Chito S. Roño; Cast: Vilma Santos, Albert Martinez, Carlo Aquino, Serena Dalrymple, Angel Aquino, Cherry Pie Picache, Raymond Bagatsing, Ariel Rivera, Rosemarie Gil, Andrea Del Rosario, Dexter Doria, Cita Astals, Ronalissa Cheng, Carmen Serafin; Executive producer: Charo Santos-Concio, Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Jessie Lasaten; Cinematography: Charlie Peralta; Film Editing: Jaime Davila; Production Design: Manny Morfe; Sound: Albert Michael Idioma; Theme Songs: “Kumusta Ka” performed by Nonoy Zuniga

Plot Description: Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel was adapted to the big-screen with brilliant results: the casting (specially Mayor Vilma Santos as the strong-willed Leah Bustamante) is perfect; Bautista’s script is filled with comic and dramatic undertones. 8 year-old Serena Dalrymple provided most of the laughs as the innocent child who serves as Leah’s mirror of her personality. Everything in the film is a labor of love and art, and it deserves to be a classic. – IMDB

A fiercely independent and unflinchingly candid woman connected with a women’s crisis and survival center has to raise her two kids with different fathers. Her first husband has left her when their career options failed to converge. She is now stuck in an extramarital arrangement with another man who cannot bring himself to respect and commit to their quite unorthodox relationship. – Database of Philippine Movies

The movie is about Lea, a mother of two kids with different fathers. Lea, works in an NGO (non-government organization), which deals with human rights violation committed against women. Ogie and Maya are Lea’s children. Ogie’s father, Raffy, leaves them when he had to work in the province of Surigao. Lea together with his son Ogie, did not join Raffy for Lea has a job in Manila which she did not want to leave. Maya, whose father is Ding lives with them, together with Ogie. Things start to get worse when Raffy arrives in Manila. Raffy, meets with Lea for him to see his son, Ogie. As days went on, Ogie regularly sees his father and sometimes spends some time in his house together with his new wife who is pregnant with there first child. Raffy, realizes that he has a lot of shortcomings as a father to Ogie. Raffy tells Lea that he will take Ogie with him to the United States after his wife gives birth. Lea doesn’t know what to do. – Skynet

Film Achievement: 1999 Brussels International Festival of Independent Films Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1999 International Festival of Independent Films Best Director – Chito S. Roño; 1999 Asia-Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award – Chito S. Roño; 1998 FAMAS Best Child Actor – Carlo Aquino; 1998 FAMAS Best Child Actress – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 FAMAS Best Story – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 FAP Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1998 FAP Best Picture – Star Cinema; 1998 FAP Best Supporting Actor – Carlo Aquino; 1998 FAP Best Supporting Actress – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 Urian Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1998 Urian Best Picture – Star Cinema; 1998 Urian Best Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 Urian Best Supporting Actress – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 Star Awards Actress of the Year – Vilma Santos; 1998 Star Awards Child Performer of the Year – Carlo Aquino; 1998 Star Awards New Movie Actress of the Year – Serena Dalrymple; 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Film – Star Cinema; 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Performer – Vilma Santos; 1998 Young Critics Circle Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 PASADO Best Picture – Star Cinema; 1998 PASADO Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 PASADO Best Actress – Vilma Santos

Other Film Achievements 1998 FAP Best Cinematography nomination – Charlie Peralta; 1998 FAP Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño; 1998 FAP Best Editing nomination – Jaime Davila; 1998 FAP Best Production Design nomination – Manny Morfe; 1998 FAP Best Screenplay nomination – Lualhati Bautista; 1998 FAP Best Supporting Actor nomination – Albert Martinez; 1998 Urian Best Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño; 1998 Urian Best Best Editing nomination – Jaime Davila; 1998 Urian Best Music nomination – Jessie Lasaten; 1998 Urian Best Sound nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; 1998 Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Carlo Aquino; 1998 Urian Best Supporting Actor nomination – Raymond Bagatsing; Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? Became a stage play in 1999

Film Reviews: Motherhood. Womanhood. It has long been believed that the former is the be-all and end-all of the latter. Our culture dictates this. Our society has its own standard boxes of what constitutes a good woman and of what necessitates a good mother. If you don’t fit this box, then you suffer the consequences. Lea Bustamante (Vilma Santos), a mother of two and a woman who chooses to live differently, is learning how to deal with these consequences. Her eldest is OJIE (Carlo Aquino), an outspoken boy on his peak of puberty. Her youngest is Maya (Serena Dalrymple), a precocious and equally outspoken six-year old. Both have different fathers. Neither is married to Lea. Lea was once married to Ojie’s father, Raffy (Ariel Rivera). But he had to leave for his job and she had to stay for hers. Hence, they separated. Now, Lea lives with Maya’s father, Ding (Albert Martinez), a mama’s boy who is constantly at the beck and call of his mother. This infuriates Lea because it reminds her that Ding is not married to her and they are not his priority. Nevertheless, Lea is sure she can handle herself and her children without anyone’s help.

Her world gets shaken however when Raffy goes back to the Philippines. She knows she still loves him but that there is no chance for a reconciliation. Raffy came back with a new wife on the family way. Ojie begins to see his father during weekends. Lea sees how father and son thirst for the bond they should have started forming a long time ago. She also sees how much Maya misses her brother so much whenever he spends his time with his father. Matters get worse when Raffy voices his desire to take Ojie with him and his new wife to America. With a fearful heart and a great respect for her son, Lea leaves the decision to Ojie. Before he even makes a decision, he and Maya suffer an accident. The mother gets blamed. Her job gets blamed. Lea works in a survival center for women in crisis and is continually exposed to the adverse effects of how society can become a victim of its own ideology. Lea considers herself emancipated from these labels. She has her own sense of motherhood, of womanhood, of what is true and good and beautiful. But now, she is being accused by both fathers of not being a good mother, and of being a woman of twisted priorities. In this susceptible state, Lea finds solace in the company of Johnny (Raymond Bagatsing), a colleague and a friend from the center. As if her life wasn’t complicated enough, she receives yet another bomb. Ding breaks up with her after a long absence, apparently after getting married to a girl he got pregnant. Ding wants to take Maya too. With a broken spirit, a confused heart and great reverence for Maya as with Ojie, Lea lets her children decide about their life. In these moments of vulnerability, Lea confronts her worth and the needs of her soul which the men in her life never really fulfilled – her being a woman and a mother. Is living the life she wants worth losing the children she loves? With a broken spirit, a confused heart and great reverence for Maya as with Ojie, Lea lets her children decide about their life. In these moments of vulnerability, Lea confronts her worth and the needs of her soul which the men in her life never really fulfilled – her being a woman and a mother. Is living the life she wants worth losing the children she loves? – Star Cinema

“A women’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a woman’s crisis center. Soon though, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother when her children’s fathers return to accuse her of neglect.” – Baseline Studio Systems (READ MORE)

“In one of the most remarkable performances in Filipino film history, Vilma Santos plays Lea, a woman who defiantly rejects social convention to experience life on her own terms. A woman’s rights activist and mother of two, Lea has been abandoned by the fathers of her children. Her daughter and son are at crucial, transitional ages and she struggles to provide for them while maintaining her hectic job at a women’s crisis center. Soon, however, the job and her budding romance with co-worker Johnny threaten Lea’s role as mother. When the children’s fathers turn up to accuse her of neglect, she must ask herself whether her independence is worth the possibility of losing her children? What role–motherhood or lover–will best satisfy the deepest needs of her soul?” – The 35th Chicago International Film Festival (READ MORE)

“…Lea’s Story, based on Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel “Bata, bata paano ka ginawa,” tells the story of Lea, a strong and independent woman who defiantly rejects social conventions to live life on her own terms. Lea, a woman’s rights activist and single mother of two, struggles desperately to provide for her children by working at a woman’s crisis center. Soon her job and romance with a co-worker are threatened when her estranged husband comes back into Lea’s life, accusing her of neglect and abuse. Last year, Lea’s Story swept the Filipino Academy Awards by winning Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Director. It stars the Philippines’ top actress and actor, Vilma Santos and Raymond Bagatsing respectively…” – Asian American Film News (READ MORE)

“Sa tingin ko, sa Bata, Bata… pinakamagaling si Vilma Santos. Sa dami ng kanyang award, may ibubuga pa pala siya. Iba ang akting niya rito…Halatang feel na feel ni Vilma Santos ang kanyang papel dahil, gaya ng karakter ni Lea Bustamante, dalawa ang anak ni Vilma sa magkaibang lalake.” – Marra Pl. Lanot, Diario Uno, Sept. 1998 (READ MORE)

“…Ang international fame, bilang Best Actress, ay nakamit ni Vilma in 1999, when her Star Cinema headliner Bata … Bata … Paano Ka Ginawa? – directed by Chito Rono – was entered as competition entry sa Brussels Film Festival. Released in 1998, Bata won for Vilma the Best Actress honors at the Star Awards, FAP and Gawad Urian, as well as the Best Performance award from the YCC-Film Desk. Dahil nahalal na alkalde ng Lipa City sa Batangas si Vilma Santos-Recto (she married then Batangas Congressman, now Senator Rafael ‘Ralph” Recto in December 1992), naging mas madalang ang paggawa niya ng pelikula. Pero hindi pa rin magmimintis si Vilma na manalo ng acting trophy, kapag din lang may panlabang pelikula, as in 2000 when she did Star Cineman’s Anak by Rory Quintos. Nanalo siyang Best Actress sa Star Awards…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“…And Vilma Santosis more than up to the challenge. Gone are the hysterically flapping hands, the melodramatic emoting, all the trademark acting tics. In their place is a heartfelt performance that distills Lea’s essence to an exquisite point-no movements are wasted, no gestures are overwrought. …Vilma rolls them on her tongue like the finest wine; when Lea is on the verge of breaking down, Vilma remains true to the spirit of her character… If the Lipa City mayor decides never to do another movie again, she can retire assured that her last performance-in a career already studded with formidable portrayals-may conceivably have been her best…” – Andrew E. Pardes, Manila Times, Sept 1998 (READ MORE)

“…To best understand how Filipino women have changed in the course of time, let us quote Lea’s final words: “OO, natuklasan ko ang mga bagay na hindi ko siguro natuklasan kung pinahawakan ko lang sa iba ang pagkatao ko. Hindi ako nagpakulong, sinikap kong lumaya. At mula sa paglaya ko sa makitid na papel ng isang babae, natiyak ko na ang kalayaan nga pala, sa higit na pangmalawakang kahulugan nito, ay hindi nahihingi kundi ipinakikipaglaban. Hindi lahat ng hinuhuli’y kriminal, at hindi lahat ng diyos ay may dangal! Hindi ako natatako. Babae ako at malakas ako. Ako ang tagapagsilang ng tao, pambuhay ng sanggol ang dibdib ko. Hindi porke ina na ‘ko’y tumigil na ‘ko sa paglaki. Hindi porke babae ako’y maiiwan ako sa labanan. Para sa kaligtasan ng lipunan at kinabukasan ng mga anak ko sa digmaan ng mga uri’t prinsipyo, sa mapayapa man o madugong pagbabago, magtiwala kayo…sasama ako!” We need more Josies adn Leas in our society tody, The time is ripe for Filipino women to rise above the society’s traditional views and coventions. Although ultimate freedom and due recognition of gender equlity remain a struggle and a serious concern, Filipino women are slowly gaining a strong foothold. In a book dedication written by Bautista to this writer, she wroteL “Ang mga kamay na nag-uugoy ng duyan ay kaya ring magtumba ng alon sa dagat.” And we belive that a freer woman is better mother. And every Filipino family needs her. Every family must have her. We remember what Vilma said in our interview with her during the last shooting day of her film “Bata, Bata…” “I would like to be remembered as a mother who would give her life to her children anytime…” She’s an accomplished actress, and many will remember her for that. But Vilma would rather be a mother in her films, in her life…” – Veron Dionisio, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jul 29, 2000 (READ MORE)

“…Nora’s performance in ‘Sidhi” is touted to be the answer to Vilma Santos’ hysterical outing in “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa?’ If only ‘Sidhi’ came out during last year’s cut-off period, then Nora would definitely give Vilma another tough fight in the awards derby this year. “Let’s stop it,” Ate Guy shakes her head as she shows her lack of interest in the rivalry. “As far as we’re concerned, things like that, you know, that phase is over. Let’s not talk about those things anymore.” Nora knows her rivalry with Vilma would linger for a long time. But personally, she thinks they have developed a different level of friendship through the years. “Movie projects offered to Vilma are different from those I accept. So you really can’t accept films just to compete with her. If I don’t want something, I won’t do it,” Nora further explains…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Dekada 70 (2002)

“Buong buhay ko yan na lang lagi ang sinasabi nila sa akin…wala kang magagawa eto ang gusto ng asawa mo…wala kang magagawa eto ang kapalaran mo…wala kang magagawa dahil dapat…putris naman, dapat hindi ganuon…tapos sasabihin ng daddy n’yo hindi lang ang anak ko ang pinatay hindi lang ang anak ko ang dinukot…lalo akong nanggigigil, lalo akong nagagalit dahil kung nanay ka talaga, hindi ka lang dapat nanganganak kundi naipaglaban mo rin ang anak mo dapat kaya mong pumatay para sa anak mo…gusto ko lang malaman bakit nila pinatay ang anak ko…hindi masamang tao ang anak ko, kahit sa oras na ito humarap ako sa diyos kahit sa dimonyo hindi masamang tao ang anak ko…hindi masamang tao ang anak ko!” – Amanda Bartolome

“You could stop being proud of me! Nagsawa na ako sa ganuon, gusto ko naman ngayon ako mismo just for a change, maging proud sa sarili ko!” – Amanda Bartolome

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Basic Information: Directed: Chito S. Roño; Story: Lualhati Bautista; Screenplay: Lualhati Bautista; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin, Kris Aquino, Ana Capri, Dimples Romana, Jhong Hilario, Carlos Agassi, Danilo Barrios, Carlo Muñoz, Tirso Cruz III, Orestes Ojeda, John Wayne Sace, Marianne de la Riva, Manjo del Mundo, Cacai Bautista; Executive producer: Charo Santos-Concio; Original Music: Nonong Buencamino; Cinematography: Neil Daza; Film Editing: Jess Navarro; Production Design: Manny Morfe; Sound: Albert Michael Idioma, Alex Tomboc; Theme Songs: “Hanggang” sung by Wency Cornejo; Released date: 25 December 2002

Plot Description: Dekada 70 is a story of a family caught in the midst of a tumultuous time in Philippine history – the martial law years. Amanda (Vilma Santos) and Julian (Christopher Deleon) is a picture of a middle class couple with conservative ideologies, who must deal with raising their children, five boys – Jules (Piolo Pascual), Isagani (Carlos Agassi), Emmanuel (Marvin Agustin), Jason (Danilo Barrios) and Bingo (John Sace) in an era marked by passion, fear, unrest and social chaos. As siblings struggle to accept the differences of their ideologies, as a father faces the painful dissent of his children, a mother’s love will prove to be the most resonant in the unfolding of this family’s tale, will awaken to the needs of her own self, as she embarks on a journey of discovery to realize who she is as a wife, amother, a woman and a Filipino. – Star Cinema

“…Amanda and Julian are a middle-class couple who live in Manila in the 1970’s. Their oldest son is influenced by communism at his university. The second son gets a girl pregnant and marries her. But at the same time he joins the US army. The third son wants to be a journalist. The fourth son is fooling around with a girl. The film portrays the Philippines in the 1980’s, when President Marcos declared martial law, through the viewpoint of a middle-class family…” – Fukuoka (READ MORE)

“…Drama. Portrait of a middle-class Filipino family as they change over a period of repression…” – British Film Institute (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2003 Cinemanila International Film Festival Netpac Special Mention Award – Chito S. Roño; 2002 FAP Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2002 URIAN Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2002 STAR Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2002 YCC Best Performer (tie) – Vilma Santos, Piolo Pascual; 2002 Gawad Tanglaw Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 2002 One’s RAVE Awards Best Performance – Vilma Santos; 2002 FAMAS Best Supporting Actor – Piolo Pascual; 2002 FAP Best Supporting Actor – Piolo Pascual; 2002 URIAN Best Picture – Star Cinema; 2002 URIAN Best Screenplay – Lualhati Bautista; 2002 URIAN Best Supporting Actor – Piolo Pascual; 2002 YCC Best Film – Star Cinema; Philippines’ Official Entry at the 76th Academy Awards (OSCAR) Best Foreign Language Film; Philippines’ Official Entry: 2003 Toronto International Film Festival; 2003 Hawai International Film Festival; 15tth Ankara International Film Festival; 5th Makati CineManila International Film Festival; Montreal International Film Festival; 22nd San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival; 6th San Diego Asian Film Festiva; Tous les Cinema du Monde (Cinemas of the World) 2005 Cannes Film Festival

Other Film Achievements: 2002 FAP Best Actor nomination – Christopher De Leon; 2002 FAP Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño; 2002 FAP Best Picture nomination – Star Cinema; 2002 FAP Best Production Design nomination – Manny Morfe; 2002 FAP Best Screenplay nomination – Lualhati Bautista; 2002 FAP Best Story nomination – Lualhati Bautista; 2002 URIAN Best Actor nomination – Christopher De Leon; URIAN Best Director nomination – Chito S. Roño; 2002 URIAN Best Production Design nomination – Manny Morfe; 2002 URIAN Best Sound nomination – Albert Michael Idioma, Alex Tomboc; 2002; Official Selection: Moviemov: Italian Cinema Now 2012; Official Selection: 11th FilmAsia (2015) Czech Republic

Film Festival Box Office Result – “…The combined efforts of Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos and drama king Christopher de Leon failed to life “Dekada ’70” from its initial No. 5 standing on the box office list. The Chito Rono period drama, did not move from the fifth place since the start of the festival, despite heavy promo blitx provided by producer Star Cinema and its sister company ABS-CBN. “Dekada ’70” earned only a total of P37,945,673.25…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jan 15, 2003 (READ MORE)

Film Reviews: “…On it’s 11th year of presenting Asian cinema to Czech audiences, 2015 FilmAsia, the Czech Republic’s premier Asian film festival, is putting Filipino cinema in focus for the first time. Initiated by Czech Embassy in Manila, in cooperation with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), this year’s FilmAsia premieres six Filipino feature films, old and new. Among the films brought to Prague are the recently rediscovered and restored classic Genghis Khan (1950) directed by Manuel Conde which opened the festival on Dec. 4, and the acclaimed political family drama Dekada ’70 (2002) based on the novel by Lualhati Bautista, a film which mirrors the similar experience of the Czechs, who were also fighting for their democracy in the 1970s and 1980s while under communist rule. “As only a single Philippine film, The King of Sulu and the Emperor of China by Eddie Romero, ever entered the Czech film distribution [system] as long as a quarter a century ago, and not more than a dozen, often independent, films have been screened at Czech film festivals in recent years, this very first Philippine selection will be a unique glimpse into otherwise unknown cinematography in my country,” said Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr. The core of the Philippine focus are three independent Filipino films namely Lihis (2013), Sonata (2013), and Badil (2013), all co-produced by the FDCP. And to give the Czech audiences a glimpse of Philippine superhero films, the iconic Philippine superheroine will get the opportunity to fly over Prague with the Czech premier of Darna, starring Vilma Santos. “As the only Asian film festival in the Czech Republic, FilmAsia offers Czechs a glimpse of the best of what Asian cinema can offer,” said Karla Stojáková, the festival´s director and producer who has a long history of cooperation with Asian filmmakers. “Therefore I was happy to share the idea of Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, Jr. to present Filipino cinematography for the very first time in our country. Our festival is entering second decade this year and so it is symbolic and oportunity for our film enthusiasts to discover another Asian cinematography.” In previous years, FilmAsia has featured award-winning works by notable directors in the Asian region, among them Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Hou Hsia-hsien, Johnnie To, Wong Kar-wai, Tsai Ming-liang, and Takashi Miike…” – Interaksyon, 07 December 2015 (READ MORE)

Relevant Films for Millenials – “…For the millennial generation who want to learn more about the relevant films during the martial law period, I would highly recommend the book Re-viewing Filipino Cinema by Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature. I have not seen all the films during and about martial law. But, I remember those that I would highly recommend…Dekada 70 was produced in 2002 but is about the story of a Filipino family during martial law. The essential story is about Amanda (Vilma Santos) and Julian (Christopher de Leon) who are raising their five sons during the repressive dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The parents are apolitical but their sons turn to various forms of activism as a result of life under martial law. Eventually, the family becomes the victim of extremist violence and Amanda soon becomes a dissident. The film director was Chito S. Rono…There is no question that in today’s digital world, people – students, laborers, rich, poor – prefer film to reading books. Film has become the most powerful means of recreation; but, they can also be a means for education. Film may be the best medium to teach millennials and future generations about the true and unrevised version of Philippine history…” – Elfren S. Cruz, The Philippine Star, 24 September 2017 (READ MORE)

No. 26 of 50 Best Films of the 21st Century – “…Today, close to ten national film festivals showcase feature-length and short films every year, and around fifty festivals, not to mention the increasing number of filmmaking workshops, exclusively show short films in many campuses, local cinemas, and alternative venues around the country. While local film enthusiasts are being spoiled by the availability of choices offered by the increasing number of filmfests, distribution of independent films is still a nightmare. Unlike mainstream pictures that can be readily accessed as DVDs or pay-per-view content even many years after their dates of release, audiences wanting to catch indie films need to watch them during their release in select venues (which are mostly located in Metro Manila), otherwise, chances of seeing them being viewed again are not very high, especially if their themes are not geared for mainstream consumption. It’s a good thing that efforts are being made both by government and the private sector (FDCP’s regional cinematheques and its partnership with SM for CineLokal, the UP Film Institute, TBA’s Cinema ’76, Cinema One channel) to feature indie films released in earlier years at affordable rates. The various filmfests have different arrangements with filmmakers regarding ownership and distribution rights, and some are more proactive in marketing their entries than others. A few filmmakers (like Lav Diaz, Khavn dela Cruz, and other younger indie filmmakers producing their own films) directly make their films available for a modest fee to interested viewers. Also, online streaming platforms such Culture Unplugged, iflix, iTunes, Netflix, Vimeo, Hooq, and Viddsee (for short films) will surely play a bigger role in the near future. At present, only 11 of the top 50 films below can be viewed in iflix.

Forming a canon of modern classics is an obviously herculean task, so we’ve invited 33 critics, academics, archivists, and reviewers who have closely followed Philippine cinema’s output since the turn of the century to name their 10 favorite local films since 2001 (technically the first year of the 21st century). The voters relayed to us that it was a very challenging but fun undertaking. A total of 163 films received votes: of the top 50, 3 are documentaries, 14 are made by filmmakers who are based or primarily working outside Metro Manila (proof that regional cinema has made a lasting impact on the modern national cinematic landscape), and a whopping 46 are produced independently. Here are the top 50 films of the 21st century so far…No. 26 – Dekada ‘70, Chito Roño, 2002…“Hangga’t patuloy na inililibing sa puntod ng kasaysayan ang panahong (Batas Militar), patuloy na magmumulto ang mga Pilipinong itinimbuwang ng karahasan sa gitna ng pambansang pakikibaka laban sa diktadura. Ito ang halaga ng pelikulang Dekada ’70 na hindi kayang igpawan ng mga kaalinsabay nito-pagbalik-tanaw sa panahong nagluwal sa mga bayaning walang pangalan tungo sa paglaya ng bayan. Habang nagsasawalang kibo ang maraming Pilipino sa tunay na kabuluhan ng panahong ito, patuloy na gagamitin ng iba’t ibang pwersa ang kilusang naipundar ng luha at dugo ng mga Pilipinong nagmahal sa sariling bayan. Isang testimonya ang pelikula sa kamalayang hindi magagapi at patuloy na magsasatinig sa katotohanan.” – Ariel Valerio, Young Critics Circle…” – Pinoy Rebyu, Filipino Film Aggregator (READ MORE)

In critical acclaim and commercial grade, Lualhati Bautista’s “Dekada ‘70” is the most significant Filipino novel in the 1980’s. That’s just about saying it is also the most difficult to adapt to other versions, notably film. Chito Rono and Star Cinema have taken on that challenge and the result is what to many estimates is the best movie of the 2002 Metro Manila Film festival, not withstanding the vastly different estimation of the jurors.

“Dekada ‘70” is difficult to adapt partly because as a best-selling novel, it is like a film that has already been made in the minds of its many readers. But a bigger difficulty it poses to adapters is its social realism since it is basically a chronicle of the Marcos era. Its time-bound character makes it difficult to transcribe on screen in as much as a logistical gulf divides the original material from its realization in another medium. But perhaps the biggest difficulty is generational. Despite the fact the Marcos dictatorship aand its overthrow were historic turning points, they seem to have receded from the collective memory, particularly the memory of the young, as a result of the nation’s failure to come to grips with them, so that up to now, the Marcoses have made inroads at political rehabilitation and young Filipinos know more about the crimes and misdemeanors of the American presidency and the glamour of Hollywood than the depredations of Marcos.

The logistical gulf can be bridged by resources (and Star Cinema has plenty of them), but it requires a creative vision on the part of the filmmakers and creative faith on the part of the audience to make a socio-political novel spring to life. In coming up with the creative vision to complement a largely hypothetical creative faith on the part of Filipino moviegoers. Rono and his cast and production have achieved a rare feat. They have made a socio-political novel come alive with urgency and import. The movie is largely successful because it is defined by an economy of focus (the Bartolome family), of vantage point (the developing sensibility of Amanda, the mother character), and of milieu and setting (the Philippines in the ‘70s under martial law). The novel was written from a woman’s point of view, and it is the particular strength of the film that it underscores the patriarchy of much of Philippine society in terms both macro (the military dictatorship) and micro (Bartolome’s excruciatingly macho husband Julian, played convincingly by Christopher de Leon, and her all-male brood).

Rono and Bautista, who writes her own adaptation, have obviously worked very closely in fleshing out the novel on screen. The result is an effective and even subtle tableau of scenes to present the Bartolome family’s struggles from the late ‘60s to ‘70s that not only set the domestic drama, but also prefigure the wider social and historical saga unfolding before the nation. No scene is wasted, no useless pandering to the viewer’s sense of spectacle or penchant for soap opera is even attempted. The competent production design, the agile editing, the stark photography (which impresses even the Paris-based Filipino-Spanish painter Sanso who calls it comparative to the best in Europe) ensures a panoply of images that is immediate, recognizable, and keen. Like Regal Films, Star Cinema has been compelled to throw in its stable of stars so that the Bartolome siblings look distractingly too much like a boy band. But because they play well-thought-out characters, their damage is put to a minimum. In some cases, like Piolo Pascual as Jules, the young communist rebel, the effect is heart-wrenching.

Pascual plays, along with Vilma Santos as Amanda, one of the centers of gravity of the movie; the other center consists of Santos and Christopher de Leon. As arguably the first unabashedly feminist Filipino novel, “Dekada” shows a woman’s awakening to her nature and gender through the men of her life-her husband and her first born. Their age, generation and preoccupation divide both men, and Amanda serves as their bridge and transition. In the process, Amanda herself is transformed. She becomes herself. The most moving scenes of the movie are of Jules and Amanda meeting on the sly and forced to carry on mother-and-son endearments hurriedly because of the threat of arrest. But the most poignant scene is Julian and Amanda confronted with the terrible loneliness of their advanced years, left by their children, he turning away from her to hide his tears, and she asking him to face her and not to be ashamed. It helps that the scene is played by Santos and De Leon, truly one of Filipino cinema’s most effective screen couples. As Amanda, Vilma Santos shows again why Brocka, before he died, had likened her to water. “She can register anything,” he said. In “Dekada”, its the same Santos of vigor and transparency. The only difference is the depth, the resonance, and the greater confidence. Can she ever go wrong? – Lito B. Zulueta, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 December 2002

For the Philippines, the seventies was more than just a period of shaggy hair, bell-bottom jeans, platform shoes, and disco music. It represented the rise of the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, a U.S.-sponsored regime characterized by military repression and wholesale human rights violations. Conversely, it was also the fecund period for the sociopolitical awakening and involvement of many Filipinos; the humus for the renowned religious-political event, the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. Dekada 70 journeys with the central character Amanda Bartolome (Vilma Santos), the reticent wife of an alpha-male husband, and the worrying mother of a boisterous all-male brood. Thoroughly relegated to domesticity in a world slathered in testosterone, Amanda begins to undergo a transformation when her family becomes imbricated in the sociopolitical realities brought about by the Marcos dictatorship. The declaration of Martial Law, the lifting of the writ of habeas corpus, the curfews and police searches, all these could have easily floated past Amanda’s head had her sons not found themselves caught in the crossfire between the government and the pro-democracy movements. As one son after another faces the oppressive forces of the dictatorship, Amanda gradually realizes that the personal is political. While chanting slogans for sociopolitical change, she finds her own voice and comes to terms with the fullness of her own person.

It is notable that in the film, the divine presence is sublimated in the refusal to acquiesce to societal structures that perpetuate injustice. The characters’ eyes are opened to the dehumanizing impact of such oppressive structures and they join in the prophetic denunciation of what they have identified as “not-God.” This importantly resonates with the praxical imperative associated with theologies of liberation, which configure God as imbricated in the collective protest of the oppressed. Amanda then, in her “conversion to justice,” can be seen as synechdochic of the epiphanous becoming of Filipinos as a true people of the eucharist.

Based on an awarded novel of the same title, Dekada 70 essays Amanda’s personal and political journey is a patient navigation of each year of the seventies. To director Roňo’s credit, the film has a clear focus and steadily gets to its point through engaging but inobtrusive camerawork. The politically-charged scenes are strident enough to be visually disturbing, yet tempered enough to work on a more psychological level. There are touches of seventies style Filipino humor that foreign audiences might miss; they effectively establish that this is a real, average Filipino family trying to navigate through the eye of the political storm. The acting is generally impressive, most especially that of lead actress Santos, who gives a luminous, sensitive performance. Santos essays the transformation of Amanda so effectively that we do see clearly at the end of the film that there has been a fundamental change in her character.

If there is something to be faulted about the film, it is Roňo’s failure to keep melodramatic moments in check. The funeral sequence of one of Amanda�s sons, for instance, becomes an over-extended session of copious tears. The rich story material of Dekada 70 could do away with such “in your face” paroxysms, which only work to dull the film’s cutting edge political trajectory. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Roňo had created a noteworthy, epic-scale Filipino film, and on a Third World budget at that. It also cannot be denied that Roňo had not forgotten the sentence of history on his home country. Neither will Filipino audiences. – Antonio D. Sison, Institure for Pastoral Initiatives, University of Nebraska, Vol. 8 No. 1 April 2004, Unomaha.edu web site

I admire the director of this movie for being able to make a dramatic film based on a ground-breaking novel. It really pays tribute to the Philippines’ Martial Law history. I really felt the seventies in this film. Too bad, this one didn’t qualify for an Oscar Award in 2002. But it doesn’t matter at all. This is really and excellent film. Vilma Santos once again acted like a superior actress who kbows no bounds. Christopher de Leon was okay. All their children did a good job acting. I also admire the make up designers of the movie who made everything fit to the seventies: the house, the furniture, the clothes, the hairstyle, the fashion and etc. I also liked the ending as well and the soundtrack song. It was really touching.People who like based-on-history films should really watch this one. – IMDB

What the other critics said about Vilma Santos’ performance in Dekada 70…

“Santos’ Amanda effortlessly and movingly chronicles the changed consciousness of the family and the country, with understatement her most reliable tool. Pic begins and ends with images of Santos at the forefront of a political demonstration, and nothing, from first image to last, for 128 minutes, is allowed to spontaneously or slyly deviate from the logic of her consciousness-raising.” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety Magazine

“…about Vilma’s performance in “Dekada ‘70”: Some jurors, viewers and reviewers have expressed dissappointment over it because they regard it as too passive, low-key, unemotional, too much taken up with observation, and reflection instead of action. Thus, it doesn’t deserve the best actress award. We disagree. We think that, precisely because Vilma’s portrayal was so restrained for the most part, it was more difficult to achieve. It’s far easier to rant and rave, to “feel” bigtime, to run the gamut of emotions from A to Z- but, if Vilma did that, she would have gone against her character’s nature, as written…during the first half of the film, Vilma’s character occasionally felt unhappy, taken for granted or unappreciated as a person, but she held her emotions in check to keep the peace in the family. It was only later, when the national trauma of martial law rule affected her sons in various tragic ways, that she found the voice and rediscovered the heart to assert herself as a person and to give her emotions full play. We submit that Vilma’s portrayal is excellent precisely because she vivified he character as the wife and mother was in the ‘70s. Her thematic and emotional high points towards the end of the film rivetting, but it was her quieter, more controlled moments that showcased Vilma’s true gift as an actress. During those moments, Vilma didn’t just observe what was going on, she was constantly conflicted only, she had been programmed not to speak out because it wasn’t her “place”. Thus, when she finally changes and expresses herself in the end, the contrast makes her transformation all the more stunning. In the movie’s first half, Vilma is such a good actress that, although she may not be the active element in her family (her husband is), she is quietly involved in each and every scene, and every new development is seen from her point of view. Even better, despite her relative lack of dialogue at this point, we can “read” her thoughts on her face as clearly as though she were speaking. And we see her slowly changing before our very eyes, gradually overcoming her reticence, discovering her true worth, and finally finding and expressing her true self. This is very difficult to do, as any true thespian will affirm. Which is why, unlike some people who dismiss Vilma’s portrayal as passive and weak, we think it ranks among her best, right up there with her performances in and fully deserving of the filmfest’s coveted best actress trophy.” – Nestor Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer

“…Last seen in ANAK (SFIAAFF ‘01), Vilma Santos delivers an understated, profoundly moving performance as the matriarch whose awakening redefines the traditional mother and wife role she donned for years. This is the story of an incredible character that survived an unforgettable decade.” – Michael Magnaye, San Francisco Premiere, 22nd San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival

“…The reason “Sister Stella L” will probably end up better appreciated is that the movie was shown during the martial law era. The movie was relevant to the times and Vilma was portraying an activist nun, a role not usually associated with the Star for all Seasons… As the mother, Vilma does justice to her character, holding back her strong emotions until the end, when she finally confronts Christopher de Leon and wants to break up with him. Despite the many tragic events that befall her character, Vilma chooses to underplay her role except at key points towards the end of the movie. Boyet is his usual competent self as the chauvinistic husband of Vilma who is forced to change when his wife breaks out of her shell. Piolo Pascual also deserves mention for his realistic portrayal of the activist turned NPA rebel…” – Edmund L. Sicam, Philippine Daily Inquirer

“…Unlike Vilma Santos’ Sister Stella L. character, who becomes politicized practically overnight, her Amanda role in “Dekada ‘70” takes longer to mature politically (almost the whole decade). And she goes through a very painful process because she experiences the abuses of the marcos regime by seeing her own children suffer. With Vilma hurting inside and suffering almost in silence, we have here in “Dekada ‘70” some very moving dramatic scenes that are mostly devoid of hysterics but are still very effective nonetheless. Actually, we see yet another facet of Vilma Santos’ acting talent in this film. In the story, she goes through guilt (with the fate of one of her sons), pain, anguish and anxiety (particularly with the eldest, Piolo)-plus discontent as a plain housewife who wants to do something more with her life other than to keep house for her husband and kids. The great actress that she is, Vilma is able to manifest clearly the different layers of her character in a very quiet manner, which-you have to admit-is quite difficult to achieve. But Vilma-after all these decades -can do no wrong anymore in the field of acting. Although it’s not the greatest performance of her career (it’s still Sister Stella L), her portrayal of Amanda in “Dekada ‘70” is no doubt one of her finest. More importantly, her role (and her approach to it) is different from the hundreds of other roles she has done in the past…” – Butch Francisco, The Philippine Star

In Chito S. Roño’s superb “Dekada ’70,” a family in the Marcos-era Philippines has a domineering father and five sons, but it is the mother (Vilma Santos) who provides the mental stamina. She fights for her family in ways the father can’t even dream of. “To give birth to these children isn’t enough,” she says. “You have to defend them, protect them.” That’s the ’70s. In 30 years, that kind of woman will deal with difficult questions of divorce and motherhood, one in which women want freedom, yet must be willing to share blame when something goes wrong. The young woman who leaves her husband and thinks about aborting her pregnancy in South Korean filmmaker Gina Kim’s “Invisible Light” is an experimental example. Moon’s great performance in “A Good Lawyer’s Wife” almost makes you believe wrong is right, and, taken with her much-lauded portrayal of a girl with cerebral palsy in “Oasis,” reveals her as one of the world’s best actresses. Hollywood, take note. – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle March 4, 2004 (READ MORE)

“…2002, Vilma failed to win as Best Actress sa 2002 MMFF para sa major film na Dekada ‘70, megged by Chito Rono and produced by Star Cinema. Hindi naman nabigo ang Vilmanians sa mga sumunod na awarding, in early 2003, dahil kay Vilma napunta ang Best Actress trophies na kaloob ng Star Awards, FAP at Gawad Urian. Pati ng minor award-giving body na binubuo ng mga academician, ang PASADO (Pampelikulang Samahan ng mga Dalubguro). At ang kanyang ikalawang Best Performance award mula sa YCC-Film Desk in its annual Circle Citations. Panlaban ng bansa ang The Seventies (Dekada ‘70) sa 4th Makati CineManila International Film Festival (organized by Direk Tikoy Aguiluz). The film won a special jury prize at Best Actress award for Vilma (her second claim to international fame)…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

“…Actually, we see yet another facet of Vilma Santos’ acting talent in this film. In the story, she goes through guilt (with the fate of one of her sons), pain, anguish and anxiety (particularly with the eldest, Piolo plus discontent as a plain housewife who wants do something more with her life other than to keep house for her husband and kids. The great actress that she is. Vilma is able to manifest clearly the different layers of her character in a very quiet manner, which – you have to admit – is quite difficult to achieve. But Vilma after all these decades can do no wrong anymore in the field of acting. Although it’s not the greatest performance of her career (it’s still Sister Stella L. ), her portrayal of Amanda in Dekada ’70 is no doubt one of her finest. More importantly, her role (and her approach to it) is different from the hundreds of other roles she has done in the past. The role of Christopher de Leon as Amanda’s husband, Julian, unfortunately, is not as important as the female lead (I think it was even less significant in the book). But you have to salute de Leon for not allowing himself to be completely overshadowed by the central character played by Vilma and the other elements in the story. To his credit, he still gives a memorable performance in the film. Technically, Dekada ’70 is way above average like most other productions of Star Cinema. The cinematography for one is intelligent. It doesn’t try to look bright and cheerful. In fact, it wonderfully adjusts to the gloomy atmosphere of the period especially at the height of Martial Law when there was fear all over the country…” – The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

“…In this sense, the ultimate triumph of Dekada ’70 lies not so much in recounting the horrors of Martial Law but in taking into account how one can embrace social change and follow the path towards struggle. This is dramatized in the metaphorical odyssey taken by the film’s central figure, a wife and mother named Amanda Bartolome. At first, she would think that pleasing her husband and raising her five boys are all that matters in life. When monstrosities entailed by the turbulent times would prove otherwise, she would come to realize that to be a dutiful wife and loving mother means nothing amidst the social landscape without the wheels of justice, suffused with the spilt blood of oppression and severely debilitated by rampant poverty. The abiding wife and caring mother would then stop just tending to her home to reach out to the larger society that she would find in need too of her cradling. The symbolic trek Amanda would set out to embark on could nevertheless be hers alone. It must also be the inspiring odyssey involving countless others that audiences may do well to emulate for the valor and resolve they exemplify in taking up a cause. Dekada ’70 pays homage to them as well. The film is also recognized for Best Screenplay, Best Achievement in Sound which includes music and Best Performance by the mother-and-son team of Vilma Santos and Piolo Pascual…” – Nonoy L. Lauzon, NCCA, 23 June 2003 (READ MORE)

Philippine’s Entry to the Oscar – “…Santos’ performance is so vivid and insightful that we can see her changing in front of our very eyes…We were enthralled…we were moved. And we valued the film’s important contribution to the very urgent task of reminding everyone of the trauma in our collective lives that was the martial law period of the ’70s,” noted Nestor Torre of Inquirer News Service. Chito Rono’s Dekada ‘70 made its world premier at the Asian American International Film Festival in June of 2003. The film has also won numerous domestic awards…Judging by the number of awards, one could easily classify Dekada ‘70 a success, but unfortunately box office figures are considered classified in the Philippines so it impossible to tell exactly how well the movie did domestically. However, Nonoy Lauzon of the University of Philippines Film Institute and president of the Young Critics Circle, which named Dekada ‘70 Best Film of the Year (2002), stated “Sources who request anonymity place the domestic take of Dekada ‘70 at P53, 962,413 (in Philippine peso) or roughly 1.079 million in US dollars. For a Filipino film to be counted as a blockbuster, it must break the P100M mark.” So obviously, this was by no means a mega-hit, yet it was selected to represent the Philippines as the film submitted to the 2004 Oscars for possible nomination. A film is selected to be submitted for an Academy Award nomination by The Film Academy of the Philippines, which creates a committee for this purpose. “The committee reviews and picks the best film from among those shown within the period stipulated by AMPAS rules. A film sent to the Oscars has finished its commercial run in the country such that the distinction could not at all be said to make an impact on the film’s profitability,” according to Lauzon. While being submitted for possible nomination is surely gratifying to the makers of the film, only when it is actually nominated will Filipino films and their makers gain more credibility in the U.S. and in their own country, where Hollywood imports drown out the domestic films…” – Sara Stokoe, Additional research by Shirley Hsu, Asia Media UCLA (READ MORE)

Educational Value – “…As expected, the beginning has a brief prologue with the country’s political climate before jetting off to deal with the Seventies in a year-by-year basis, mostly revolving around a rotation of drama between a married couple’s five growing boys, and their growing involvement in the country’s politics. (Down with imperialism, down with feudalism, up with communism, etc.) The momentum moves along smoothly from 1970 ‘til 1975, with the title-marked year at each transition helping to feel a sense of accomplishment in Cliffs Notes-ian breakdown. But, as much of the familial drama heats up (this son joins a militant group, that son writes communist propaganda, another son gets a girl pregnant, et al), circa ‘76-‘79, the pacing is botched and things are slowed down a great deal without a separation of time. During that period, though not to much surprise, the perspective is tendentious to the repressed mother, whom all of her children find to be the voice of reason and understanding, as much as their father tries to play it cool. It remains soap-operatic without any stretch of the imagination (well into the epilogue in 1983), though despite many of its faults, there is a certain educational value consistent throughout and applied systematically via the various functions each of the children entail. Lualhati Bautista adapts her own best-selling novel, and feminist agenda aside, the story and the movie would crack without the mother character, and the solidifying presence of Vilma Santos, whose only unfortunate requirement is to give voice to all of the repressed Filipinas at once. Directed by Chito S. Roño; with Christopher De Leon, Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin, Carlos Agassi, Danilo Barrios, and John Wayne Sace…” – Greg Muskewitz, efilmcritic (READ MORE)

Brutal Effects – “…The mother in Dekada ’70 is played by the attractive Vilma Santos (Amanda). She ably portrays the loving mother and the trials and tribulations of a woman. Her husband, played by Christopher De Leon, is a very truthful rendition of a middle-class man from an Asian country in the 70s. The sons, two out of five are played by Piolo Pascual and Marvin Agustin, heed different callings. One becomes a radical leftist. Another one joins the U.S. Navy. Yet another becomes a writer. Everything is represented. Obviously the choices are going to lead to conflict and strife. It is how Amanda navigates the life she has chosen and how she deals with the men in her life that gives us a compelling story. There were times when the script didn’t feel entirely “tight,” but perfection is not what this film is aiming for–it is the message…This was a dark time for the Philippines. The film lets us feel that reality…Dekada ’70 was a contribution from the Philippines which realistically portrayed the Marcos dictatorship. What might have been perceived as a “benevolent” authoritarian government by some, was a nightmare to many of its people. Because of the fact that they followed the American line, I think we were led to believe that things were not so bad. In fact, the brutal effects of a government that turned to martial law are clearly shown in this movie–as it affects a family. A family of boys, one would assume that the audience would get a male-dominated version of reality. But, the story really revolves around the mother…” – Mukul Khurana, San Diego Asian Filmfestival.blogspot.ca, September 30, 2005 (READ MORE)

State Fascism – “…The film was successful in presenting state fascism so vividly. Violent dispersal of protest actions. Curfew imposition. Forced disappearances. Salvaging. But the horror that was martial rule was best reflected in the torture scenes, which were based on actual testimonies of the victims’ relatives. After Marcos was ousted by the 1986 people uprising, almost 6,000 persons were killed, 737 missing, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested. Ruins of the Marcos bust flashed to my mind. It could only tell so much of the ire earned by the Marcoses. What struck me most was that I realized I was not only looking at the past but also at the present state of human rights in the country. A dear friend was shot while pleading for her life. Another colleague abducted and harassed. Another one raped. Perpetrators were men in uniform. The victims were plain civilians…” – Ronalyn Olea, Bulatlat (READ MORE)

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