Follow in her footsteps

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Although she’s still very much in demand and still on top, Vilma Santos’ supposed to be “heir to the throne” is still nowhere in sight.  Some says her throne  has been filled several times, but whoever came, faded – fast and furious. They had a taste of fame but like a flashing meteor, they fade. Some remain active but still pale in comparison to the longevity and popularity of the Star for All Seasons. They follow her footsteps, patterned their career decisions to hers.  They become popular but some gradually retired.  Those remained are the lucky ones…who learned from her experiences and  followed her footsteps…

Victoria Lorna Aluquin, better known as Lorna Tolentino, sometimes known as L.T., an abbreviation of her screen name (born December 23, 1961), is a Filipina actress, host, executive producer and widow of actor Rudy Fernandez. Together, they bore two sons named Ralph and Renz. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Like Vilma Santos, Lorna started her stellar career as child star. She gradually transformed her image from sweet innocent teens into a mature versatile actress. Like Rio Locsin and Alma Moreno, Lorna started doing minor roles in earlier Vilma Santos films. Most notably, “Batya’t palu-palo” together with another up and coming actor, the young Philip Salvador. She eventually became as famous as Vilma with hit films like “Dulce Amor,” “Moral,” “Luksong Tinik,” “Abakada Ina” and her most controversial off-beat role, Brocka’s “Maging Aking Ka Lamang.” She even wore the “Darna” customes on small screen. With a series of dramatic roles, she always end up empty handed with award nighs as both Vilma and Nora were playing tug-of-war, during their hey days. When the Vi and Guy rivalry slow-down, she was able to succeed, receiving several trophies and even recorded a grand slam best actress win like Vilma. Lorna and Vilma finally did a movie where both played lead roles, in Eddie Garcia’s record breaking, “Sinasamba Kita.” The two remained friends through the years. Lorna even guested several times on Vi’s television show in the ’90s.

Alma “Ness” Moreno (born Vanessa Moreno Lacsamana born on May 25, 1959) is a Filipina actress politician who has made her mark both as a popular movie and television personality. She was born in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur to Frank Lacsamana, from Pampanga, and Jean Moreno. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Like Lorna, Alma played bit roles in a Vilma Santos starrer, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw. Unlike Lorna whose acting talent was evident early on even as a child star, Alma lacks the intensity. She eventually realized she needed to accept more daring roles to survive in this business, accepting roles that required her to disrobe She almost surpassed the commercial success of Vilma with starring roles in smash hits like “Mrs Eva Fonda 16,” “Bomga Star,” “Bitayin si Baby Ama,” “Nympha,” and “City After Dark.” Alma’s stiff competition during the height of her career was Lorna Tolentino and later on, a more daring star, Rio Locsin. Rio and Lorna also had a competition goin’ on when they did a much publicized film, “Step-sisters.” Meanwhile, Alma and Lorna’s competition reached its pinacle when they did Bernal’s ‘City After Dark.” Their subdued comfrontation scene in a narrow street while rain was pourin heavily was one of the most memorable scene in the film. Alma held herself, acting wise. This is not the only time that the two were connected, in real life, they share the love of one man, the late Rudy Fernandez. Alma was Rudy’s live in partner in the 70s to the half of 80s while Lorna became Rudy’s wife in the later part of 80s until his untimely death. Both actresses have children with the late action star. If Lorna portrayed Darna like Vilma while Alma portrayed Dyesebel like Vilma. Alma and Vilma did one film during the height of Alma’s career, Elwood Perez’s hit film, “Magkaribal.” Like Lorna, she also guested a few times in Vi’s television show despite the fact she also compete with Vi with her own musical variety show, Lovely Ness. It was reported in tabloid during Dolphy’s funeral, that the two tried to avoid each other (by the way, Dolphy was Alma’s ex) for some unclear reasons, some think it was politically motivated as both are now politicians.

Sharon Cuneta-Pangilinan, better known as Sharon Cuneta, is a multi-awarded Filipino singer, actress and TV host dubbed the Megastar of Philippine Entertainment, and fondly called “Mega” by fans and people from the entertainment industry. Her success in the movies (53 starring roles), television (10 shows) and recording (40 albums) make her possibly the greatest Filipino entertainer of all time. Her popularity has translated well into the field of advertising, where she is the highest paid and most effective Filipino celebrity endorser. Cuneta’s long list of endoresements run the gamut from fastfood chain to bank, from make-up line to electronics, from ice cream to tele-communication company. On November 22, 2011, following months of speculations, Sharon’s big move to TV5 was made official by signing a staggering 1 Billion contract with the Kapatid Network – the highest ever paid to a Filipino artist. She parted ways with ABS-CBN, her home network of 24 years, on a cordial note. Her daily afternoon talk show Sharon: Kasama Mo, Kapatid premiered on May 14, 2012 and has been hailed as an engaging program that aims to entertain and to inspire. The show provides the perfect platform for Sharon to be in touch with her audience, reaffirming her stature as a well-loved icon who is now more accessible to fans and viewers alike…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Like Alma and Lorna, Sharon Cuneta became part of Vilma Santos movie in their earlier showbiz career. This time, Sharon sings the theme song of a Vilma Santos starrer, “Langis at Tubig.” Self-confessed Vilmanian, she mentioned that she used to gawked at her idol whenever given a chance since they used to both live in a same closely gated subpision. As Sharon established herself as a huge star herself, the similarities in their career path were quite significant. Both became a singer, although Vi adminitedlly said singing wasn’t her forte, Vi recorded a string of hit albums. Both Vi and Sharon recorded their earlier albums titled “Sixteen.” Both became a bankable contract stars of Viva Films producing such record breaking films like “Bukas Luluhud Ang Mga Tala,” “Sa Hirap at Ginhawa,” and “Sana’y Wala Ng Wakas” for Sharon and “Sinasamba Kita,” “Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan” and “Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig” for Vilma to name a few. During the 1990s, both became successful star on the small screen, Vi with her award winning show, “Vilma!” for GMA 7 and Sharon’s equally hit show, “TSCS” (The Sharon Cuneta Show) for ABS CBN Channel 2. In their long filmography, both became Darna, the Filipino flying-comic supershero and also did hit films with the late, Fernando Poe Jr. Sharon was quoted on several articles that she dreaming of one day doing a film with her idol, in an article written by Rose Garcia for PEP on May 14th 2009 she said: “…Bago pa man ang Sharon-Ai-Ai movie, matagal nang pinaplano ang pelikulang pagsasamahan sana ng Megastar at ng Star For All Seasons na si Gov. Vilma Santos. But how does she feel na mas nauna pa ang movie nila ni Ai-Ai sa movie nila ni Ate Vi? “Ay, naku, ‘yan naman talaga ang dream ko!” sambit ni Sharon. “I think, all actors, all actresses, we all have dreams, e, as to who we wanna work with. And I think, it’s a common knowledge na Vilmanian ako and I was never treated in a bad way palagi. And I think, I learn a lot from her on how to be a good idol at yung pakikisama sa tao at pag-appreciate. “I think, one of my ultimate dreams is to always work with Tito Dolphy. Isa sa dream ko, natupad na. Nakasama ko na si Ai and I always told her, before pa. Yung sa amin ni Ate Vi, probably will be a drama and by next year,” balita ni Sharon…”

Maricel Soriano (born Maria Cecilia Dador Soriano on February 25, 1965), known as the Diamond Star is a critically acclaimed Filipina film and television actress. She has starred in many films covering different genres including comedy, fantasy (Inday series), horror, suspense, action, romance and drama. She has appeared in hundreds of films and has scored a number of blockbuster hits. As well as acting, Soriano is also a singer and has recorded several songs including the theme song of her movie Oh My Mama in 1981. In 1987, she performed a sold out concert at the Araneta Coliseum titled “Hello, Hello Maricel.” – Wikipedia, 23 Jul 2009 (READ MORE)

When Sharon entered the scene, she find a stiff competition from the rival of her film studio Viva, Regal’s contract star, Maricel Soriano. Soriano like Vilma started as a child star and became a confident actress, tackling mature roles that her contemporary including Sharon didn’t dare to tackle. Like, Vi, she dared the public to accept her in such memorable films like “Hinugot sa Langit” and “Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa” where she played an abortionist and “bida-contrabida” sociallite. A similar career milestone movies patterned with Vi’s “Burlesk Queen” and “Sinasamba Kita.” The two finally did a film in the mid 1980’s in Regal’s commercial film, “Yesterday, Today and Tommorow.” Unlike Sharon who became known first as a singer, Maricel, like Vi were known for her dancing abilities. She did this in her own musical variety show, titled “Maricel Live!” and later in “Maria! Maria!” where she competed for TV ratings with Vi (and Sharon) during the 1990s (Like Vi, she also did TV drama anthology). During this time, Maricel became entangled with the controversial transfer of Vi’s TV co-host, Roderick Paulate to Maricel’s show. But in due time, all were forgotten and the three remained friends to this date. This is not the only time that Vi became part of Maricel’s personal relationships, Vi’s ex, Edu Manzano also became Maricel’s husband for awhile. Both Maricel and Edu, at one point, thought their relationship will last forever. But the two separated after a few years of bliss. Now, in her senior years, Maricel attempted several comeback after years of semi-retirement. Like, Sharon, Maricel confessed her respect and admiration for Vi in several movie articles. And after several year of semi-retirement, she is now reportedly starting some projects for ABS-CBN and also have some film projects lined up.

Claudine Margaret Castelo Barretto-Santiago (born July 20, 1979), popularly known as Claudine Barretto, is an entrepreneur, product endorser, film and television actress from the Philippines. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…The premiere actress admitted that she has her own acting idols. She named the likes of Meryll Streep, Lolita Rodriguez, Nora Aunor, and Gina Alajar. Gov. Vilma also commended Claudine for her versatility as an actress. “Claudine is a very flexible actress. Pwede siyang gumanap na kaaawaan mo siya. Pwede ring sexy and very believable. In any roles na ginagawa mo ibinibigay mo lahat and you’re very believable. Kaya mo lahat gawin, believe me. Drama, sexy, action, comedy, you can do it. For that I commend you.” For Claudine’s exceptional talent, the Gov. Vi said she will not be surprised if Claudine becomes the next Star for All Seasons. “When we did Anak, sa mga promo for the movie, tinanong ako kung nakikita ko ba si Claudine na pwedeng maging next Vilma Santos, ang sagot ko, ‘Of course!’ You have a long way to go,” said Vilma to Claudine who became teary-eyed because of the compliment…” – Push, 14 Jul 2009 (READ MORE)

“…Ang sarap ng pakiramdam sobra, pero bilang isang Vilmanian ayokong may pumalit o sumunod sa yapak ni Ate Vi. There will never be another Vilma Santos. Nag-iisa lang siya. Ako mismo ayokong may magsabi na papalitan o ito ang susunod sa yapak ni Ate Vi unless anak niya parang ganun. Yun yung feeling ko bilang Vilmanian but I’m very honored na of course galing siyempre kay Ate Vi Star for All Seasons yun.” Claudine also said that she respects Ate Vi so much that the latter’s approval is like an award In itself. She said that she promised the Batangas governor that she’ll be the best Claudine Barretto that she can ever be and not a “replacement” for her. “Siya ang pinakamarami nang napanalunang award na grand slam, Hall of Fame award etc. ‘Pag galing kay Ate Vi na sobrang respetado sa industriya at pulitiko, grabe yung honor at privilege na napansin niya yun yung talent mo, para akong nag-grand slam sa sinabi ni Ate Vi,” Claudine shared…” – Push, 23 Jul 2009 (READ MORE)

Among the junior actresses that followed Sharon and Maricel, Claudine and Judy Anny were the most successful in terms of sustaining their popularity. Although Claudine’s career in now on its downward phase, she remained one of the most talented and was praised by Vi herself for being one of those versatile. Claudine, like Vi, started her career as a teen star with an on and off screen love partner, the late Rico Yan. Rico and Claudine was one rumoured to be engaged but his sudden death ruined this wishful dream for their die-hard fans. Prior to her teen transitions, Claudine was a regular cast in Dolphy’s TV sitcom, “Home Along da Riles.” After Yan’s death, Claudine became a serious contender for acting supremacy with several drama tele-series competing with her stiff rival Judy Ann and several drama films. She won acting recognitions with her performance in 2004’s “Milan” (where she competed for acting awards with her rival Judy Ann Santos and with veterans, Vi and Nora) and 2005’s “Dubai” and “Nasaan Ka Man” where she received several trophies and nominations. She also became a certified box office star with films, “Sukob” with Kris Aquino in 2006 and her sole movie with Vi, the blockbuster, “Anak” in 2000.

Judy Ann Santos (born Judy Anne Lumagui Santos-Agoncillo; May 11, 1978) is a Filipino film and television actress, product endorser, recording artist, and film producer. She began as a child actress and made her professional television debut in Kaming Mga Ulila (1986) before her screen debut in the film Silang Mga Sisiw Sa Lansangan (1988) where she appeared as part of the ensemble playing a supporting role. Her first leading role in a television series was in Ula, Ang Batang Gubat (1988), but she received media recognition in her breakthrough television series Mara Clara (1992). She has since spawned highly rated television series, amongst these are Esperanza (1996), Basta’t Kasama Kita (2003), Sa Piling Mo (2006) and Ysabella (2007). Santos starred in commercially successful films in the early 1990s following motion picture adaptations of Mara Clara (1996) and Esperanza (1999). She further achieved television and film success with pairings opposite Wowie de Guzman, Rico Yan and Piolo Pascual. Santos’ performance in the film Sabel (2004) received critical acclaim and earned her the Gawad Urian for Best Actress. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Claudine’s rival, Judy Ann also started as a child actress and a regular cast in several teleserye. Like Claudine she also transitioned into a teen star with her successful partner, Wowee de Guzman and later on, Piolo Pascual. Her rumoured real life relationship with Pascual was one of the most publicly dessiminated relationships in the local scene that did not resulted in happy endings, she ended up marrying a newcomer during that time, the more serious with intention to settle, Ryan Agocillio. Judy Ann with the guidance of Vilma’s former supporter Alfie Lorenzo, maintained her popularity compared to Claudine. She successfully turned her successful princess of teleserye career into a full-pledge serious actress with projects like “Magkapatid” (with Sharon Cuneta), and her more serious films “Sabel” and “Ploning.” Although many articles came that she prepared to work with Vi’s rival Nora, she recently clariffied this wasn’t the case, that she prepared to work with both.

Sarah Geronimo Sarah Asher Tua Geronimo, popularly known as Sarah Geronimo or Sarah G. is a Filipino recording artist and actress. Born and raised in Sampaloc, Manila she joined various singing and talent competitions with her father, Delfin Geronimo, as her trainer. In addition, she also joined the cast of now defunct ABS-CBN TV show, Ang TV. However, she rose to fame only after having won the Star for a Night singing competition in 2003. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Like Sharon, Sarah Geronimo’s career is similar to Vi’s rival Nora. Both became a singing contest winner. But because of her venturing into television musical variety hosting, her supporter wanted her to follow Vi’s television experience with Sarah venturing into more production numbers. Sarah’s recent success were her film projects opposite John Lyod Cruz, her recording albums and endorsements. She mentioned in several articles that it would be a dream come true to be cast in a Vilma Santos movie. She recorded the theme song of Vi’s 2009 film’s “In My Life.”

Kim Chiu (born Kimberly Sue Yap Chiu/Zhang Jinzhu; April 19, 1990), is a Filipina actress. She lived in Cebu City before she went to Manila for Pinoy Big Brother. Chiu was the first winner of Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition and is currently part of ABS-CBN’s Star Magic contract artists. She also having launched her only album entitled ‘Gwa Ai Di’ which means “I Love you” in Minnan dialect. Kim Chiu sometimes speak Hokkien at home back in Philippines. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Among the new crop of stars, Sarah’s closes rival would be Kim Chiu. Like Sarah, Kim was a product of reality show. Kim won the pinoy big brother show. She capitalized her popularity venturing into singing and also doing teleserye that Judy Ann and Claudine used to do. Kim’s first encouter with Vi was in television special where she was able to impressed Vi with her intepretation of Vi’s film role, Dolzura Cortez. After this Vi requested her to be cast in this year’s smash hit, “The Healing.” Like her predecessors, Kim also ventured in love team path, first with on and off screen love, Gerald Anderson and lately Xiam Lim. Anderson was once linked to Kim’s contemporary, Sarah Geronimo. It would be a good project if the three reprised the film, “Ikaw Ay Akin,” the Vi-Christopher de Leon-Nora Aunor film. Kim’s recent success is in small screen, co-starring with Maja Salvador in highly rating tele-serye, “Ina Kapatid Anak.”

Maja Ross Andres Salvador (born October 5, 1988) is a Filipina actress, dancer, model, and producer producer who is one of the latest in line of the showbiz clan of the Salvador family. She is currently under the management of ABS-CBN, and a member of Star Magic. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Maja Salvador, Kim’s co-star in TV’s “Ina Kapatid Anak” was onced Vi’s protege, she co-starred with Vi in 2006’s highly anticipated drama episode of “Maalaala Mo Kaya” titled “Regalo.” Her performance in this episode was highly praised and crtics even predicted that she is the one to watch. An article came that she was supposed to reprised Vi’s Burlesk Queen role but she clarified that she was too young to do a mature role. Prior to Ina Kapatid Anak, her recent success was her indie film, “Thelma” where she won a best actress trophy from the critic’s group, Gawad Urian.

Angel Locsin (born Angelica Colmenares; April 23, 1985) is a Filipina television and film actress, commercial model, film producer and fashion designer. She starred in the fantasy-themed television series Mulawin in 2004. Soon after, she starred as the superheroine Darna in the TV adaptation of the Mars Ravelo comics. When her contract expired on March 2007, Locsin did not renew her contract with GMA Network and signed an exclusive contract with ABS-CBN. Her first project under ABS-CBN was the television series Lobo. Locsin starred in her first box office movie under Star Cinema, Love Me Again, directed by Rory Quintos. In 2012, she starred in the film ÜnOfficially Yours which became her highest grossing film to date. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Angel’s recent project was the filmfest entry, “One More Try” where she played a mother of a sick boy reminiscent of Vi’s “Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan.” The two first film together was in 2004’s Regal Film “Mano Po 3: My Love.” Prior to this, Angel was one of the two actress who recently wore the Darna customes (the other one was Marian Rivera), as you’ll probably known, Vi was one of the most successful Darna in the history of this franchise. Although Angel remained popular, she lacks a clear rival that other stars has, this maybe to her advantage. Recent articles mentioned that there are plans for a second film for Vi and Angel. Writer Ethel Ramos in her colum for Malaya on July 30, Jul 2012 said: “Two Darnas to join forces…Speaking of Angel, there are talks that she might finally co-star with “Star for All Seasons” Vilma Santos, in a movie. Probably next year, right after the 2013 elections. Ate Vi (as we in showbiz fondly call her), as we all know, is running for a third term as Batangas Governor. By the time she and Angel shoot their movie, she would have won the office anew. The Ate Vi-Angel movie, we also heard, will be Star Cinema’s 20th anniversary offering next year…By the way, come to think of it, Ate Vi, like Angel, has once appeared in a “Darna” movie….”

Snooky Serna (born Maria Milagros Sumayao Serna on April 4, 1966) is a Filipina film and television actress…Being the daughter of actors Von Serna and Mila Ocampo, she started acting early in life via her 1970 landmark debut Wanted: Perfect Mother, where she immediately captured the hearts of Filipino audience as a cute, sweet and smart-talking four-year old. That same year she earned her first acting nomination from FAMAS Awards as Best Child Performer for the film My Little Angel. Trained by acclaimed director and National Artist, Lino Brocka, Snooky showed promise as dramatic actress and later proved to be a fine one. In 1972, she won her first FAMAS Award as Best Child Actress for the film ‘Sana Mahalin Mo Ako’. As a mature actress, she tackled roles which earned acting nominations from various award giving bodies. She was also in Kapag Napagod Ang Puso with Christopher de Leon and Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin (Harvest Home – official Philippine entry to the 1995 Oscars) but unfortunately was snubbed during awards night. Her other major films include Aabot Hanggang Sukdulan, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Hahamakin ang Lahat with Vilma Santos, the fantasy films Blusang Itim, Rosa Mistica, and Madonna: Ang Babaing Ahas. It was with Koronang Itim, that she finally won Best Lead Actress trophy. She has starred in over (80) films from 1970 to 2004…As a mature actress, she tackled roles which earned acting nominations from various award giving bodies. She was also in Kapag Napagod Ang Puso with Christopher de Leon and Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin (Harvest Home – official Philippine entry to the 1995 Oscars) but unfortunately was snubbed during awards night. Her other major films include Aabot Hanggang Sukdulan, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Hahamakin ang Lahat with Vilma Santos, the fantasy films Blusang Itim, Rosa Mistica, and Madonna: Ang Babaing Ahas. It was with Koronang Itim, that she finally won Best Lead Actress trophy. She has starred in over (80) films from 1970 to 2004. – Wikipedia, 23 Jul 2009 (READ MORE)

Snook Serna and Vilma Santos first film together was the 1971 musical, “The Wonderful World of Music” where they co-starred with Tony Ferrer and Boots Anson Roa, Snooky was still a child star and Vi was in a teenage love team with reel and real life sweetheart, Edgar Mortiz. Both actresses started as a child star, Vilma in Trudis Liit in 1963, where she won a FAMAS best child actress while Snooky did seven film in her debut year in 1970 and won a FAMAS best child actress for My Little Angel. Both actress’ route to fame were similar, taking mature roles, started with Vilma in Burlesk Queen (1977) and Snooky in Bata Pa Si Sabel (1981). The two did three more films, in 1986 with the box office hit, “Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow” with Maricel Soriano; in 1988, Vilma appeared in a minor role in the forgettable film, “Bukas Sisikat Din Ang Araw,” with Gabby Concepcion; and finally in 1990 with Lino Brocka’s “Hahamakin Ang Lahat (All Be Damned).” Working with her former mentor, Brocka’s “Hahamakin…” earned both Vilma and Snooky several acting nominations but it was Snooky who was lucky enough to received a PMPC Star Award for supporting actress. Like Vilma, Snooky did television projects, she did a drama anthology for ABS-CBN in 1989 and several guest drama appearances after but her most successful stints was in 1987-88 where she tried to host a musical variety show titled, “Always, Snooky.” She earned two PMPC Star Awards nomination for TV Best Musical Variety Show Host but twice loss to Vilma.

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Vilma Santos’ MMFF recognitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vilma Santos’ MMFF Best Actress from 1975 to 2008

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


Filmography: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1986)

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Basic Information: Directed: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; Story: Jose Javier Reyes; Screenplay: Jose Javier Reyes; Cast: Vilma Santos, Snooky Serna, Maricel Soriano, Gabby Concepcion, Richard Gomez, Eddie Garcia, Liza Lorena, Chanda Romero, Deborah Sun, Jimi Melendez; Executive producer: Lily Y. Monteverde; Original Music: Willy Cruz; Cinematography: Conrado Baltazar; Film Editing: George Jarlego; Production Design: Dez Bautista, Rei Nicolas; Art Direction: Arlene Abuid, Judy Lou de Pio; Sound: Rudy Baldovino

Plot Description: After a string of unsuccessful relationships, Corina married Teddy, an old widow whose daughter, Ana and sister Julita never approved of his new wife.

An assertive young stepmother, a rebellious stepdaughter, and a working wife whose career provides tension between the wife and her husband are the portraits of the strong-willed woman of the 1980s. – ABS-CBN (READ MORE)

After a string of unsuccessful relationships with different men, Corina (Vilma Santos) finally settles down with Teodolfo/Teddy, (Eddie Garcia), an old widowed man whose daughter, Ana (Maricel Soriano) and sister Julita (Rosemarie Gil), never approved of his new wife. In her best attempt of being a good wife and stepmother to her new family, Corina gets smitten by Neil (Gabby Concepcion), a married man with a kid whom she had an affair with. Things get haywire as Corina starts to feel guilty about cheating on Teddy who has been good to her. Ana also discovers her adulterous acts and tries to kick her out of the family. Just when Neil is ready to leave his wife Vicky (Snooky Serna) and their kid for Corina, everything turns around when Teddy’s death revealed a secret that changed their lives forever. – Regal (READ MORE)

Film Review: “…Often pitted against then-rival Maricel Soriano, she made numerous blockbuster movies with her in the ’80s like Underage, Schoolgirls, Story of Three Loves and Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday, among others. She also had her share of TV shows including the weekly musical variety ‘Always Snooky’ and weekly drama feature on ‘Regal Drama Presents: Snooky’ in ABS-CBN Channel 2. As a mature actress, she tackled roles which earned acting nominations from various award giving bodies. She was also in Kapag Napagod Ang Puso with Christopher de Leon and Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin (Harvest Home – official Philippine entry to the 1995 Oscars) but unfortunately was snubbed during awards night. Her other major films include Aabot Hanggang Sukdulan, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Hahamakin ang Lahat with Vilma Santos, the fantasy films Blusang Itim, Rosa Mistica, and Madonna: Ang Babaing Ahas. It was with Koronang Itim, that she finally won Best Lead Actress trophy. She has starred in over (80) films from 1970 to 2004…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

“…Statistically, there are really more husbands who betray their wives than the other way around. And since films basically mirror life, there are more movies about philandering husbands than adulterous wives. In the eternal love triangle of Eddie Rodriguez, Lolita Rodriguez and Marlene Dauden, it is always the man who is at fault. And then, there are those film bios of our super cops who are always portrayed as having mistresses – like Joe Pring (played by Phillip Salvador), who had a legal wife in the film (portrayed by Aurora Sevilla) and yet maintained a mistress (Maila Gumila) on the side. Films about wives fooling around are actually fewer. However, these movies seem to be more exciting because they often have drama and suspense. This is likely because the adulterous character has to dangerously tread on the ego of the husband. In local cinema, I remember a few films about women characters playing with fire. Amalia Fuentes playing a married actress in love with co-star Eddie Rodriguez in Pag-ibig Mo, Buhay Ko; Hilda Koronel (married to an older man, Mario Montenegro), who falls for the charms of Orestes Ojeda in Marupok, Mapusok, Maharot; Vilma Santos agreeing to become the mistress of Mario Montenegro in order to have a better life – in spite of being married to Phillip Salvador in Adultery; Vilma Santos again, bored with her old husband (Eddie Garcia) and carries on an affair with Gabby Concepcion in Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and Anna Marie Gutierrez in the aptly titled Unfaithful Wife…” – Butch Francisco (READ MORE)

Komiks Genre – “…Encouraged by the huge successes of Viva Films’ komiks melodramas, a lot of local film producers are reviewing their producers are reviewing their production thrusts for the year to see if they can fit in the illustrated komiks materials, if any titles are left unsold and unoptioned. It would seem that Viva, Seiko, Amazaldy and Cine Suerte have cornered practically all the popular serials running in various komiks magazines, such is the faith of our local producers in the works of our komiks masters, the likes of Carlo Caparas, Jim Fernandez, Nerissa Cabral, Elena Patron, et al. The komiks, made no mistake about it, has been mined by local moviemakers before. A generation of Sampaguita stars should be grateful for the komiks for practically all of them got their awards essaying a komiks characters, Inspirasyon for Carmen Rosales, Basahang Ginto for Alicia Vergel, Gilda for Lolita Rodriguez, Bondying for Fred Montilla, the list can go on and on…the glory days of komiks were raised to a new plateau by Viva Films whose devotion and belief in the komiks serial proved to be Sharon Cuneta’s (also Vilma Santos’) box office blessing. With the Viva’s success formula, most film company are following suit. Regal’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, for example, is a huge success. It is also a tried-and-tested komiks formaula film. Parang Viva Films, observed one moviegoers, with all that gloss, quatable dialogue, and seeming superficialities of the komiks aristocracy…” – Oscar Miranda, Timesweek, 9 February 1986, reposted by Pelikula Atbp blogsite (READ MORE)