TSS’ Stars of 1970s

ARTICLES - News clipping TSS Stars of 1970

1:00 PM Summer: 7 Stars in Special Sunday Session – Summertime. And Sunday too. So it started like a summer day. Casual yet exciting. Carefree and promising. With a lot of expectations for the moment ahead. So it was with having seven young stars around, TSS Stars ’70: Vilma Santos, Tirso Cruz III, Nora Aunor, Eddie Peregrina, Edgar Mortiz, Ed Finlan, and Hilda Koronel (in the order of their arrivals). There they were, prompt in their youth, bubbly in their youth, unassuming in their confident in their success amid an ancient backdrop, the UST Pharmacy Gardens. When age and youth meet in such a dramatic setting, there is bound to be communication, reaction, combustion. Effects! And what is a more fitting place to spend an early summer afternoon than staid, old UST with young, alive radiant stars for company and that peculiarly romantic, nostalgic summer air. And when the yound stars started posing, smiling, obliging and when the cameras went on clicking, popping shuttering and when scribes began talking, laughing directing, the summer day with its flair, laziness and air became an impromptu ball for all concerned. One fun-filled episode of a lifetime. A slice of real life to be kept in one’s heart for the memory. Now, you may wonder why we have seven successful young star this issue when TSS launched only six last January?

Blame the whole mess on Ed Finlan. Blame it on his personality, his promise, his name that just can’t be ignored. Blame it all on the zooming career of Edward Walter Valdes Finlan. So the special seven. On this photo-session hangs a story. A story of hope coupled with a little confusion from that time Kuya Bert planned to put out another issue as a follow-up. Timely enough. After all TSS started the whole pakulo. The session itself was postponed three times – just to be assured of the attendance of all – including Nora Aunor who missed it that first round. Every time it was moved to another date, we lost face some wasy, especially to Pip’s Mommy Elma with whom we played ulianin by reminding her each time we met. That first time, it was called off. Edgar and Vilma were in Baguio City for shooting. The next date, everybody can’t make it with TV programs and last time shooting to do. So it was finalized on Sunday, March 15 at 1:00 piyem. It would have been Fort Santiago as rendezvous but Sunday is Sunday in the forth with the usual Sunday crowd being there. Why not a school campus since graduation and demos were in the air? And the stars came beyond modest expectation, ahead of schedule. Vilma Santos came with her Mommy Mila and Papa Amado. Tirso Cruz III came with uncle Joey and a group of friends while Nora entered the scene with a few fans.

A Mustang (aba, bago!) ushered in Eddie Peregrina with his man Friday. Edgar Mortiz with Dad Celso adn Mom Lucy with fans Angge, Mario Cay, Luz Orellano and Araceli Paraiso. Ed Finlan arrived with his usual confident self. And Hilda came with Mila Parawan to complete the magnificence. At little confusion resulted. It began with a comedy of errors. With Vilma, Pip, Nora and Eddie, there was only scribe Ched Gozales to entertain them and out they were in the Pharmacy Gardens before one one o’clock only to be told later taht the assembly point was the UST Arch along España. Under the heat of the summer sun, the group went to the Arch only to be told that the locale would actually be the Gardens. Since after all, a big number of movie fans and onlookers had already started to form at the UST entrance. The merry excited entourage made its way to the Gardens once again. Ed Finlan with his shocking humor and equally color-shocking attire of yellow shirt with loud-striped pants under the golden sun was summer in motion. Vilma on the other hand had a ball ribbing Eddie Peregrina for being “mayabang kasi Edong ka na ngayon.” Edgar Mortiz was extra solicitous and ultra-PR conscious that time. Hilda did her thing – more of a girl, rather than woman with self-conscious laughter and sweet and pretty flair. Pip was surprisingly in his calm self and ruffled impeccable long sleeve shirt.

Eddie Peregrina was in paisley with that typical Peregrina grin. Nora, quiet and lady-like with a few smile here an a wave of hand there, was in a blue-orchid print. Hilda was the only one in pantsuit, a purple hablon, and she stood out really. Ditto with Haydee’s make-up and hair color on Ed. Oh what they had to forego just to make it to the appointment on time. Edgar and Vilma came from ABS where they had My Love For You at noon. But before that, Edgar came from Sta. Teresita Church where he acted as baptism sponsor. Hilda and Ed came from the Haydee set and they were expected back there in two. Pip was in a rush too, from ABS and then to the bingo social of his fans at their compound and the photo session as far as he was concerned. Eddie Peregrina had an appointment at 2:30 and it was Nora it seems who took her own sweet time. The Gardens yielded an old well, a gazebo-like concrete structure for photographic effects and possibilities. At half-past one, the poses were planned, the shots called for and everyone appearing swell putting their best faces forward, looking deserving of the TSS choice. An old well, very symbolic really, for the first shot and when that first one popped, the sessions began. And for a good forty minutes, the cameras aimed to catch for eternity the faces, the stances, the poses with the smile and bravura of that early Sunday afternoon. After all, that was what the session called for! And after all, what are photos for but for catching, freezing, preserving what is today for tomorrow?

The atmosphere was kept livelieer, dramatic with some curiosity-seekign fans and a number of scribes and last-minute guests. There was Jusyo C. Justo popping out of nowhere with his OBBB, OBWB, CTS and BAB, Doddie Alvarez, Donnie Ramirez, Mercy Lejarde, Marina Reyes and Ched made their presence felt with summery get-up. Late arrivals were Rene Tiosejo for a look-see and Oskar Salazar with a brand new-opera glasses (but Romy Mallari and Roldan de Villa weren’t around). Zeny Peralta of Roper’s was there for someone’s moral support. Two mothers managed to snae some attention – Lucy Mortiz in pink pantsuit and the latest Christian Dior hairdo and Mommy Milagros Tuazon Santos in blue pantsuit, with their respective male halves of course. At twenty past two, Ernie Alfonso had used u his one and half rolls of color film while Bert Verlidas had two black rolls. There was Fred Garces of Roper’s jiving in. The session, the main part of it, was now over. After all the camera clicks, the 1-2-3 shots, the photographers’ directions and the frozen poses were done and the thank-you’s and see-you were said, still one is left with the thought that so far, so good. TSS Stars ’70 are still unspoiled byt success and we hope as one that they all stay that way. And there is something more left in the memory, something better felt than described. For how can such feeling, or any feeling at all for that matter, be caught and pinned down as words in print? I am attempting to that now but I know that it would be the pictures of that special session which will speak a thousand words, a thousand feelings, a thousand hopes. Pictures, eloquent and feeling-filled, with a history of their own! – Billy R. Balbastro, TSS Komiks, 1970 (READ MORE)

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One More Time T-Bird At Ako

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Starring: Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Dindo Fernando, Tommy Abuel, Directed by Danny Zialcita

That Danny Zialcita’s T-Bird at Ako is entertaining cannot be doubted. The plot situations are funny. The lines are witty. The pacing is fast. The lesbian love of Nora Aunor for Vilma Santos, moreover, is extremely clever, since the two superstars in real life would not be caught dead in such a relationship. Zialcita has made a career of doing impossible things. He made he-man Dindo Fernando a homosexual in the Mahinhin series. He now makes Aunor a lesbian. When he tries to make Santos a low-class beerhouse dancer, however, he fails. That makes his record two out of three impossible things, not bad for normally sedate local cinema.

This film shows Zialcita at his best – irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, unconcerned with larger themes, focused on obsessive sexual relationships. Let’s take the dialogue first, which cleverly juxtaposes the fiction of the film with the reality of the careers of the two superstars. Thus references are made to Santos’ being a “burlesque queen.” One character is even named “Rubia,” after Rubia Servios (1978), Santos’ competition film against Aunor’s Atsay (1978). More than these allusions, however, the film features sparkling exchanges between Santos and Aunor. Most impressive of all the lines perhaps are those in the court room sequence, since the opposing arguments are easy to follow, yet logical in structure.

The direction is tight and masterful. Although one always gets reminded in a Zialcita film of sequences from foreign films, there is a minimum of unmotivated blocking in this film. Each sequence contributes to the whole film (if there is copying, in other words, and I do think there is in this film, the copying is not done simply to be cute or clever, but in accordance with the logical requirements of the plot). The performances, as expected of a Zialcita film, are excellent. Aunor is more effective as the confused lesbian, primarily because Santos is not able to get the rough and ready quality of low-class hospitality girls. Tommy Abuel is terrific in his role as the patient suitor. Fernando is given too little space to develop his character, but what he has, he makes good use of. Captivating is Suzanne Gonzales, though she has to learn to use her face a bit more to express varying emotions. In their brief roles, Anita Linda and Odette Khan are delightful. – Isagani Cruz, Parade, 22 September 1982 (READ MORE)

“…The restoration campaign focuses on directors primarily. In the case of the 33-year old ‘T-Bird at Ako,’ it’s vintage Danny Zialcita with his snappy dialogue and witty repartee. It’s also the last time that Nora and Vilma co-starred in a movie and with such a daring theme for its time. “T-Bird at Ako” tells the story of a sexy dancer (Santos) accused of homicide. She is defended by a female lawyer (Aunor) who tries to keep their relationship professional as the latter struggles with confusion as to her sexual preference. T-Bird at Ako is among the 75 films restored by ABS-CBN Film Archives, in collaboration with Central Digital Labs, since it started its restoration project in 2011. Some of these restored films were already screened internationally via film fests, screened locally via red carpet premieres, aired on free-to-air and cable television, viewed via pay-per-view and video-on-demand, distributed on DVD, and downloadable even on iTunes…” – LionhearTV, 26 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…The 1982 blockbuster T-Bird At Ako was not the first movie to star rival screen icons Nora and Vilma, but it played up the rivalry of the two, even coming up with a circular “billing” so you couldn’t tell whose name appeared first. It also has a titillating premise: Nora Aunor plays Sylvia, a successful lawyer who finds herself sexually attracted to Vilma Santos’s Isabel, a nightclub dancer/hostess accused of murder. The movie is absolutely delightful, and its two stars never looked better, but if you’re looking for a serious discussion of LGBT issues, look elsewhere. As writer Portia Ilagan said in her introduction, she and the director had a spat over the “redeeming” ending, which in the tradition of old Tagalog movies suggests that homosexuality is a temporary phase that can be cured…In T-Bird at Ako, every character is a character, and even the most minor characters get to unleash verbal zingers. Many of these zingers seem like throwaway remarks, so you need to pay close attention. “Saan tayo?” says the taxi driver. “Sa impyerno,” says Vilma Santos, and the movie doesn’t make room for the audience’s laughter but barrels right into the next scene. It occurred to me that Danny Zialcita’s movies, which were marketed as melodramas, are really screwball comedies, the genre I love most in the world. The plots are preposterous, the story is only loosely related to real life, and everyone is clever. It doesn’t try to be like the actual world, it wonders why the world isn’t more fun like a movie…”

“…Nora Aunor has the more difficult role. Her Sylvia is a cerebral woman who has never paid much attention to her feelings and suddenly finds herself swamped with them. Could she be a lesbian? The movie’s timidity and its fear of offending the traditionalist audience doesn’t help her: she is reduced to being petulant and jealous when Vilma’s Isabel stays out late at night. But Nora uses her famous power of understatement to convey the confusion, discomfort, and amazement of emotional awakening. It’s also refreshing to see her play an established, affluent character whom no one would think of oppressing. Make her api at your own risk. Vilma Santos is in her element playing the quintessential Vilma role: the woman of feeling who has no qualms about expressing them. She also has a nightclub dance sequence that, far from portraying her as a downmarket floozy, makes her look like she should be headlining a TV variety show. Oh right, she’s done that. And her line readings are hilarious. Under cross-examination by Tommy Abuel, who asks if she can understand his questions in English, she says, “Opo, hindi naman malalim ang English niyo.” Offhandedly, without turning it into a moment…” – Jessica Zafra, Interaksyon, 27 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Ang husay talaga ng director na si Danny Zialcita. And the actors in the movie were equally good. Sa court scene, hindi nagpatalo sina Johnny Wilson at Tommy Abuel as the prosecutors. Ang gagaling nilang magbitaw ng mga dialouges. At hindi rin nagpatalo ang Superstar as the defense lawyer. Superb ang exchange words sa court room. We wondered kung sino ang scriptwriter ng pelikula. But Manay Ethel Ramos said na si Danny Zialcita is an expert on that area. Halos hindi maalis ang tutok ng lahat kay Ate Vi with her sexy dance number and she was in a red skin tight outfit with the lower part exposing very shapely thighs and legs. Sabi nga ng anak naming si Julienne who was with us during the viewing of the film, “Ang ganda ni Vilma lalo na ‘yung ilong niya. Girl na girl talaga siya. Ang ganda rin ni Nora pero pang-masa talaga ang dating niya. Very convincing siya as t-bird. Paglabas ko, Mommy, ng film center, tumatak sa akin na t-bird talaga siya.” Nandun sina Aiza Seguerra at Liza Dino to support the film since the film is about same sex relationship. Nandun din si Direk Perci Intalan who is, as everywone knows, married to writer Jun Lana. Kay Portia Ilagan (the right hand of Sen. Bong Revilla) pala ang kuwento ng T-Bird at Ako. Kuwento diumano ito ng buhay niya. Dahil yung same sex relationship ay hindi pa masyadong accepted nung time na ginawa ang movie, sa ending, hindi nagkatuluyan sina Vilma at Nora. May mga dialouges pa si Ate Vi na “Nandidiri ako sa ‘yo.” nung mag-attempt si Ate Guy na haplusin siya. So, sa ending si Nora ay napunta kay Tommy Abuel at si Vilma naman kay Dindo Fernando. Sey kuno ni Portia sa isa namaing kasamahan sa panulat na nag-interview sa kanya, ang ayaw niya sa ending ay pinag-bestida raw si Ate Guy. She accepted the ending na napunta si Ate Guy kay Tommy Abuel pero ang di niya nagustuhan ay pinagsuot ito ng bestida. In real life kasi, never sigurong nagsuot ng dress si Kabsat Portia…” – Len Ramos Llanes, Bulgar, 27 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Na-miss ng film critics at ng showbiz industry ang style ng yumaong Danny Zialcita sa pagdi-direk. Ilan sa kanyang mga obra ay ang Nagalit ang Buwan sa Haba ng Gabi at marami pang iba tulad ng T-Bird at Ako na ipinalabas sa UP Film Center las February 25. Ang bida ng classic film na ito ni Danny ay ang dalawang superstars ng local film na sina Vilma Santos at Nora Aunor. Ang said film ay ilan lang sa mga restored film into its original na gawa ng ABS-CBN Film Restoration. Ang mga nauna nang restored films na ipinalabas sa said venue ay ang tatlong pelikula ni Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto like Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa at Anak. Anyway, dumating si Nora sa UP Film Center nang mas maaga sa takdang oras ng palabas na 6pm. Unfortunately, walang Vilma na dumating although nagpasabi ito sa kanyang mga Vilmanians na hindi siya makakarating due to important committment sa Batangas. Bagama’t wala si Ate Vi, kumpleto pa rin ang Vilmanians sa pangunguna ni Jojo Lim na siyang nag-asikaso sa mga press people na kanyang inimbitahan. Pagkatapos ng welcome speech ni Leo Katigbak, ang head ng Kapamilya Film Restoration, sumunod na nagpasalamat si Ate Guy sa mga dumalo sa event, maka-Nora man o Maka-Vilma. Nasa 4th row nakaupo si Ate Guy habang ongoing na ang viewing. Binulungan kami ng aming katabing isang radio host-columnist na “Tumatakas na si Nora.” True, napansin ng lahat na nu’ng ipinapakita ng ilaw, bakante na ang kinauupuan ng Superstar. Tuloy, ‘di na naman nakalusot sa intriga ang bulilit aktress at biro ng aming katabi, “Nag-walkout yat? e, kasi nga, kahit wala si Vilma, mas malakas ang palakpakan sa kanya,”sey ng aming katabi. Bago pa ang screening ng T-Bird at Ako sa UP Film Center, nagpaunlak ng pahayag si Nora at naitanong ng katotong Morly Alinio kung papayag ba ito sakaling magkaroon ng T-Bird At Ako part 2 kahit na pareho na silang may edad? Sagot ni Ate Guy, “Why not? Depende siguro ‘yun sa istorya,” sey sa amin. “Wala namang problema sa amin ng mare ko,”na tinutukoy ay ang Star for all Seasons…” – Ador Saluta, Bulgar, 27 February 2015 (READ MORE)

“…Ang kuwento ng T-Bird At Ako ay tungkol sa isang dancer (Vilma) na naakusahan ng homicide. Ipagtatanggol siya ng isang abogada (Nora) na susubukang panatilihing propesyunal ang kanilang ugnayan habang nilalabanan ang pagkalito sa kanyang sexual preference. Si Portia Ilagan ang sumulat ng script ng T-Bird At Ako at ayon sa kanya, magkakaroon daw ito ng remake. Ang gusto niyang magbida sa bagong version ng pelikula ay sina Angel Locsin (dancer) at Bea Alonzo (lawyer). Gusto rin niyang maging part ng pelikula sina Vilma at Nora, Aiza Seguerra at asawa nitong si Liza Dino…” – Leo Bukas, Journal, 28 February 2015 (READ MORE)

#noraaunor, #VilmaSantos, #TBirdatAko1982, #DannyZialcita

Pip and Bobot Left Alone in The Cold

ARTICLES - Pip and Bobot Left Alone in The Cold

Si Vilma, tumambal na kay Jay Ilagan. Si Nora naman, matunog na matunog ang balitang tatambal kay Walter Navarro sa isang pelikula para sa Lea. Added to this, Nora had announced her break-up with Pop “for good.” That means bye-bye na muna, Edgar Mortiz and Tirso Cruz, III. For sure, nagngingitngit na ngayon ang mga fans ng tambalang Vilma-Edgar at Guy-Pip. Aba’y namemeligro nga namang matabunan ang mga pogi nilang idolo sa pagpasok sa eksena ng mga “other guy” sa buhay nina Vilma at Nora. E, ang popogi rin naman ng mga iyon. Nakakakaba talaga di ba? At ba’t din nga naman sila kakabahan, e hayan sila kakabahan, e hayan na nga. Panayan na ang gawa ni Vi ng pelikulang hindi na si Bobot and partner but Jay. Sabi nga ng mga nakakakita, sweet na sweet ang dalawa. Panay ang biruan, laging sila ang magkausap. Paano nga naman kung mahulog nang husto ke Jay ang loob ni Vilma? Kung sabagay, may paunang sabi na si Jay na hinding-hindi niya liligawan si Vi, hindi raw katalo. At lalong hindi raw niya maaaring sirain ang pagtitiwala sa kanya ng pareng Edgar niya. Okey din naman. But that’s not the point. Ke manligaw o hindi si Jay kay Vilma, nariyan na ang katotohanang out muna sa eksena si Bobot, that is kung ang pag-uusapan ay ang kanilang movie team-up. Going back to Nora and Tirso, halos katulad rin ng kina Vi at Bot ang nangyayari sa dalawang ito.

Okey na kay Guy na tumambal siya sa ibang leading man, like Walter halimbawa. Hindi gaya ng dati na kung di rin lang si Pip ang katambal niya’y kalimutan na lang. But after what have happened between him and Nora, ‘yung nakaraang tampuhan nila na naging dahilan tuloy ng pagpapahayag ni Guy na “isasaisang tabi ko muna ang pag-ibig”- we doubt kung hindi makakaapekto kay Pip ang pagpareha ni Guy sa iba. Besides, marami na rin ang nagpapahayag ng boredom concerning the Guy & Pip tandem. They want something really hot about Guy. Kunsabay, napatunayan nang malakas pa rin sa takilya ang mga pelikula nina Nora at Tirso in and out of the Sampaguit umbrella. And that goes for Vilma and Edgar, too. Up to now, they are still considered by their loyal fans as the love team na “subok na matibay, subok na matatag.” Tahimik lang daw ang dalawang ito, walang awayan, nothing controversial whatsoever about them. And they seem to love it. Katwiran nila, mas magiging maligaya ang dalawang ito pag mag-asawa na dahil very compatible daw sa pag-uugali at lahat. So, kuntento na rin sila sa palagiang pagtatambal nina Vi at Bot sa pelikula. Oo’t minsan ay tumambal na si Paolo Romero kay Vi, pero hindi sila nangamba na mawawala siya kay Bobot.

Besides, that particular picture na pinagtambalan nila ay sa ilalim ng Virgo Productions, not under Vilma’s home studio, ang Tagalog-Ilang-Ilang. Pero ngayong ang pagtatambal nga nina Vilma at Jay sa ilalim ng TIIP, ibang usapan na ‘yan. Mangangahulugan daw ba na pinalitan na ng TIIP si Bot para maging ka-love team ni Vi? And how true is it na hindi raw muna nila itatambal si Vi kay Bobot hangga’t hindi nakapagreduce nang husto itong huli? Kasi nga, marami na ang nakakapuna na hindi na bagay si Bobot kay Vi dahil sa kanyang katabaan. Para na raw junior version ni Ike Lozada. Anyway, kahit nga medyo isinama ng loob ng mga fans ang hakbang na ito ng TIIP, they are still hoping na hindi naman magiging napakalupit ng said production para paglayuin na nang tuluyan, o sa ibang sabi’y putulin na, ang tambalang Vilma-Edgar. At iyon din ang ipinananalangin ng mga fans nina Nora at Tirso. Nananalig silang kahit pa sino ang makatambal ni Guy, still sila pa rin ni Pip in reel at real life. Because kapag nga naman ang kabaligtaran ang naganap, Pip and Bobot will be left…all alone in the cold. – Horacio Morelos II, unknown source, circa 1970s

u can’t cut in line, go at the back, please

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This, time “Talagang Mali ang Hula nila…” – Would it be different scenarios if Nora Aunor won the Urian? It would probably get one of the eight spot in the 2014 MMFF for “Whistle Blower” and heightened the pressure for the President to include her in the list of this year’s National Artist. Two reasons that I could think off…that some of her supporter would probably would not like. Noranians has been very vocal particularly in social media. I noticed several Facebook comments that were tragically personal even attacking the President. In the social media, the three main reason suggested were, political, drugs, and her citizenship. I guess if you’re National Artist, your loyalty should be with your country and can’t be divide between two nations. Nora have to go back and forth between the Philippines and the Unites States of America to retained her Green Card. Another anti-Nora mentioned her addiction to gambling and substance abuse, which to some needs clarification from Nora. The other nasty comments were about her non-traditional relationship that ended up in a marriage in Las Vegas which also needs clarification from her. Our own personal opinion is that, all of her struggles makes Nora unique and like her kumare, Vilma deserving of the title, National Artist.

Success in Life – Logically, what is the rush? Why does Aunor’s supporter so obsessed for their idol to be proclaim this year? Truth is, she is clearly not at her peak yet or if you don’t agree with that (because of her so much awards), she is still very much active and can amass more career milestones! In fact she has four more indie projects – that can earn her more awards! Why are they in hurry? Even Nora said in an article, “…Wag na nating pag-usapan…Kung darating, pasalamat tayo. Kung hindi, pasalamat din tayo…” She is wise enough not to psych herself up to avoid disappointment and this could be a blessing in disguise for Nora. I don’t believe that she did not get the NA because of her past troubles. In fact her struggles can be seen as success in life. When you overcome and rise above all the test with your personal life it is a milestone in itself. These setbacks will not startle her when the right time comes, no one will hesitate or ignore her day in the sun.

Seniority – As for her rival, Vi believes in conformity. She knows Filipinos believe in ritual, habits and tradition. In fact, when it comes to National Artists, she believes, it is seniority. Gerardo de Leon got his NA a year after his death. Six years after his death, Brocka got his NA while Bernal got his five years after his demise. Manuel Conde’s recognition came in the longest, he have to wait twenty four years while FPJ only have to wait two years, this are after both died. The only film artist who got his bragging rights alive was film director, Eddie Romero in 2003 when he was seventy-nine years old and retired already in directing films (He will direct two more films after his NA recognition and died last year). That’s why Vi did not put herself into a position where everyone will assumed you will be declared the winner and end up the loser (lesson learned, remember Rubia?).

Don’t Cut in Line – Let’s face it, National Artists are for artists who are: dead, semi-retired and no longer active in their fields particularly in films. It’s stupid but can’t do much about that. We’re fond of rituals, habit and superstitions. Filipinos will say, “una una lang yan (if you’re first in line, you comes first) at bigyan ng “respeto ang mga nakakatanda, (respect the elders).” Which in this case, makes sense. Who will argue that the likes of Dolphy, Charito Solis, Gloria Romero, Lolita Rodriguez, Celso Ad Castillo, Joseph Estrada, Rogelio dela Rosa, Eddie Garcia, Anita Linda, and Carmen Rosales…don’t deserves their day in the sun? Some of these artists already left us but some are still alive. Some are still active and some are already retired. But definitely way senior than Vi and Guy, kunbaga nauna sila sa pila…sabi nga walang singitan sa linya (u can’t cut in line, go at the back, please). – RV

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The bags of Loida and Mabuti…

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Seeing the film poster of both Nora and Vilma’s indie films, we can’t ignore the noticeable similarites. Both seem to be – on the “move,” walking and in deep thoughts. And both were holding a “Bag.” Upon further research, Nora’s bag contained money that she didn’t own. And this is one of the main focus of the film. Will Mabuti, Nora’s character, return the money to the real owner or keep it for herself? Meanwhile, Vilma’s bag contained clothes. Clothes that she uses to several impromptu auditions. Will Loida, Vilma’s character, land that big break she’s been praying all her life, and eventually earn more money for herself and her daughter?

Nora’s Bag – “…Initial reviews of Mabuti were positive. Nora was praised for her quiet and effective performance. She was praised for bringing something new to her long filmography, like her willingness to learn the Ilocano dialect. Her director even admitted wasn’t required when she initially accepted the project. It seems like she was willing to bring something new that even the well-praised Thy Womb didn’t bring out. That “something new,” that we haven’t seen before. Originally written for man, Nora’s character Mabuti, according to writer, Katrina Stuart Santiago, “…this film had technical problems, and I wish it took more care in rendering time and space as important aspects of storytelling. But most this film stands regardless, and that might be because of Aunor. Without her, it’s entirely possible that “Ang Kwento ni Mabuti” wouldn’t survive its own simplicity. Because not much happens in this story, but Aunor takes Mabuti’s character and makes everything happen for her.” The high expectation of “Mabuti” seem to be attributed to the critical success of “Thy Womb.” The later earned Nora several international trophies but the fact is, it failed commercially. Early projections seems to favor Mabuti commercially. The Noranians seems to be in high spirit as they attend the gala premiere of Mabuti and was blessed with the extension of the film’s screening for another week after its first week as part of the CineFilipino Film Festival. The pay out was that Mabuti failed to win Nora the festival’s most expected best actress award. The award went to a new comer, a child protege, named Teri Malvar. Initial prediction from a veteran columnist predicts a tight race for next year acting derby with both Vi and Guy fighting for the trophies with Lorna Tolentino for Burgos and Cherrie Gil for Sonata, all for their performances in indie films.

Ang Kuwento ni Mabuti – “…Mabuti is not a simpleton, but in her world, where words are barely spoken, it is easy to just be. There is want and need, but there is only so much one can do. She is not one to bargain for better, as she is one to try and fix things as much as her abilities allow. She wants to bring the money to the barangay captain, but takes the strange weather as a sign that she shouldn’t; she goes to the military camp to talk to the captain about the money, but the camp is deserted. Mabuti waits for nothing and no one. She seems to always purposefully wait. As she does heartily laugh, in that quiet way that we know the voiceless must. She speaks but doesn’t talk or banter. She is nervous and sad, she is lost and confused, she is happy. And we only know this of Mabuti because she’s got eyes that can pierce through your soul. Which is to say that this is about Aunor, which almost goes without saying, and yet there is something here that she wasn’t able to do in last year’s “Thy Womb.” That is, she learned the language that everybody else in the film was speaking. In this sense Mabuti was more complete as a character than Shaleha; Mabuti was more real. Aunor as such isn’t rendered quiet by the inability to speak in the same way, and Mabuti is allowed to actually be borne of the context that we see is hers in the film. She makes that universe work, and unravel, no matter that it is the tiniest, most removed, universe that many of us cannot fathom. It is a universe of signs. And when Mabuti navigates and negotiates with those signs given her fears and joys, we are allowed to imagine life to be as simple, moral compass and all. Yes, this film had technical problems, and I wish it took more care in rendering time and space as important aspects of storytelling. But most this film stands regardless, and that might be because of Aunor. Without her, it’s entirely possible that “Ang Kwento ni Mabuti” wouldn’t survive its own simplicity. Because not much happens in this story, but Aunor takes Mabuti’s character and makes everything happen for her…” – Katrina Stuart Santiago, GMA News, 23 September 2013 (READ MORE)

Vilma’s Bag – “…Like Nora’s Mabuti, Ektra’s initial reviews were positive. Vilma was praised for her willingness to get demoglarized and her effective take as the an underdog role normally identified with Nora. The initial positive buzz of the film were ignored by Vi’s detractors and even with an unfinished film, early unfavorable articles were published highlighted with the news the films were rejected by the Cannes screening committee. Despite this setback, the film had its gala premiere on July 28 at the CCP, fans and supporters filled the bigger CCP venue. Ekstra went it momentous peak as Cinemalaya top grosser film and after a few weeks went on its commercial screening sponsored by Star Cinema. The film had its successful first week but the film did not sustain its strenght as typhoon hit Metro Manila. It seems like the rain will never stop, the whole country were flooded, and Ekstra despite rumored of being pulled out remained its local exhibition. Ekstra had its world premiere on September 8th at the Toronto International Film Festival. The almost midnight screening were sold out as well as the consecutive screenings. The film were well received and had its limited screenings in North America the following weeks. Ekstra was her follow-up to her commercially successful The Healing. It was clear that Vilma wanted to maintained her bankability but wanted to mix it with the integrity of the indie genre. And Ekstra provided the mixture of both medium, hence the word “maindie” arrived. Ekstra gave Vi her first indie best actress trohphy (Cinemalaya). Like Nora, she is positioned to give anyone a stiff conpetition to next year acting contest.

Ekstra The Bit Player – “…The unshakable optimism of a middle-aged extra is the warm heart driving “The Bit Player,” an appealing dramedy that pokes plenty of good-natured fun at TV soap operas. Anchored by a glowing central performance by Filipino screen queen Vilma Santos as the single mother who smiles her way through work-related indignities in order to pay for her daughter’s education, the pic reps a fine feather in the cap of veteran helmer Jeffrey Jeturian. Winner of the audience award for best film in its category at Cinemalaya and a hit in domestic release in August, this crowdpleaser launches on limited North American screens on Sept. 13…The wise and witty screenplay by Jeturian, Zigcarlo Dulay and Antoinette Jadaone hits the right mix of humor and compassion from the outset. In a funny pre-credits sequence showing an exasperated production crew hiring and firing a succession of extras for the tiny speaking role of a housemaid, eager-to-please hopeful Loida Malabanan (Santos) is pipped for the job at the last moment. Very much a modern incarnation of heroines from classic Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s, Loida only strengthens her resolve in the face of such setbacks. Fiercely determined to not ask her (unseen) ex-husband for financial assistance, Loida is driven to survive and succeed because of her adult daughter, Joyce (Ronaline Enriquez), also a divorcee and a college student whose tuition fees are due. Unhurried opening segments paint a lovely picture of a selfless mother undaunted by being lumped into the category of “nameless wannabees” by fast-talking casting director Josie (Ruby Ruiz, terrific). Loida’s belief that it’s never too late to become a star is one of many character traits that will have audiences rooting for her all the way. With this critical factor firmly in place and Santos in supreme form, Jeturian steers a more overtly comedic path once Loida and her spunky best pal, Venus (Tart Carlos), find work on the set of a soap opera regaling with the title of “You Were Mine First…” – Richard Kuipers, Variety, 11 September 2013 (READ MORE)

2014 Award Prediction and Outcome

  • Luna Awards – Vilma Santos, FAP voting members went for Nora’s Thy Womb the previous year, although they have given Nora their awards three years consecutively, Noranians have enraged some FAP members by complaining too much about Thy Womb not getting the country’s representative to OSCAR, but just based on Vilma’s performance and FAP’s choices in the past, I believe it will be Vilma next year. Despite some critics indicating some disappointments on how her film, Burgos ends -like a “TV drama,” Lorna Tolentino’s performance, was the film’s redeeming value, hence she can be the spoiler between Vi and Guy (As of Feb 2015, FAP announced that they will combined 2014 and 2015 awards into one ceremony this year.  No press release yet if this event will actually happened.  In lighter note, Vi was cited for her movie Ekstra. – RV).
  • Gawad Urian – Tie: Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. The Filipino critics are undoubtedly the most credible award giving bodies and they all love indie films. With both Nora and Vilma’s films they would have a hard time deciding which to give their trophies. There is a sure chance that they will just give the honor to both actresses but since Nora received her seventh Urian last year, it would be fair to give it to Vi this year. But a spoiler alert comes to mind, They also love Irma Adlawan for Transit (As of Oct, Vi and Guy lost the Gawad Urian Best Actress to the surprising winner, Angeli Bayani for Oscar bound, “Norte.”  There are some back luck for Nora, she lost the National Artist title and her movie “Whistleblower” was not selected to compete for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.  On positive side, Nora won the best actress at the Cinemalaya for “Justice” locally titled “Hustisya” and she also received Gawad Plaridel award, following the footstep of her rival, Vilma who received both recognition few years earlier.  Nora’s follow-up indie film after Hustisya was the indie/horror, Dementia who got a commercial release but according to some press release got a lukewarm reception. – RV).
  • PMPC Star Awards – Vilma Santos. The PMPC has some questionable winners in the last few years and in recent years they became more clearer that they are more likely to vote for Vi (KC Concepcion upset both Nora and Vilma, she won for her performance in “Boy Golden” – RV).
  • Golden Screen Awards – The Golden Screen members are trying to imitate the early years of Star Awards and with a new format of dividing their categories into drama and comedy, there is big chance that both Nora and Vilma will end up winning. Ofcourse Vi can be nominated into both categories but it will not be practical if they will not use the opportunity to give Nora and Vilma trophies at the same time. Both of their fans would be happy with Aunor getting the trophy for Drama and Vilma for Comedy (As of Oct, Vilma received a nomination from EnPress’ Golden Screen for best performance in dramatic role while Nora missed the cut – RV).
  • CMMA Awards – Nora Aunor’s film has CMMA written all over it. It is hands down Nora. But Lorna Tolentino’s Burgos, all for its activism that many church followers loves, may give her a stiff fight. Also, Irma’s role in Transit with its Israel as its back drop will also play the role of predicting who will CMMA proclaim their best (As of Oct, no official statement has been release but the official ceremony is scheduled on Oct 29th. – RV).
  • Gawad Tanglaw and Gawad Pasado – These academics turned film critics honored Nora the previous year for Thy Womb. Tanglaw like Vilma more and Pasado according to most fans favored Nora. Vi will win Tanlaw and Nora Pasado (Correct predictions! – RV).
  • FAMAS Awards – Both Vi and Guy are no longer eligible due to their Hall of Famer status. Lorna Tolentino, Cherie Gil and Irma Adlawan will fight for it’s honor with Lorna on top and Cherie as spoiler (KC Concepcion won the best actress, Irma Adlawan was ignored by the oldest group of award entrepreneurs! – RV).

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Si Atsay at si Rubia

“…Rubia Servios is Lino Brocka’s film, Atsay is Romeo Vitug’s. Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and “Rubia” is a much more demanding and difficult role. Edgardo M. Reyes is an established literary figure, but Mario O’Hara is much better screenwriter. 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…” – Isagani Cruz, TV Times, 1979

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Rubia Servios (Director: Lino Brocka; Writers: Mario O’Hara, Aida Sevilla Mendoza (original story); Cast: Vilma Santos, Phillip Salvador and Mat Ranillo III) – “…Sa direksiyon ni Brocka, lumitaw ang galing ni Vilma Santos, at nakontrol ang labis na pagpapagalaw ng kanyang labi. Mahusay din ang eksena ng gahasa. Si Philip Salvador naman ay tulad sa isang masunuring estudyante na sinusunod lahat ang direksiyon ng guro. Kitang-kita mo sa kanyang pagganap ang bawat tagubiling pinaghihirapan niyang masunod: kilos ng mata, buntong-hininga, galaw ng daliri, kislot ng kilay. Limitado ang kanyang kakayahan at makikia ito sa kanyang mukha (na limitado rin). Walang-wala rtio si Mat Ranillo III, na parang pinabayaan para lalong lumitaw ang papel at pag-arte ni Salvador. Samantala, ang kamera ni Conrado Salvador ay hindi gaanong nakalikha ng tension at suspense, bukod sa napakaliwanang ng disenyo ng produksiyon ang pagbabago ng mga tauhan sa loob ng pitong taon batay sa estilo ng damit at buhok…” – Justino M. Dormiendo, Sagisag, February 1979 (READ MORE)

Atsay (Director: Eddie Garcia; Writer: Edgardo Reyes (story); Cast: Nora Aunor, Ronald Corveau and Armida Siguion-Reyna) – – “…Garcia assembled a uniformly first-rate cast from Armida and Angie to the nameless housemaid who befriends Nora. Even Ronald Corveau is less irksome here than in his weekly TV show. Nora Aunor’s performance bears the distinct marks of style and self, welding character and personality. As Nelia, the atsay, she delivers a muted performance that successfully treads the thin, delicate line separating genuine sentiment and mawkishness. Everybody worked hard and it shows. Romeo Vitug’s cinematography gives the film a very big boost and George Canseco’s musical score, for once knows when to shut up. The first time Eddie Garcia handled a film with a serious theme was in “Mga Anak sa Pagkakasala,” an underrated indictment of the injustices illegitimate children go through as society censures them fro the sins of their parents. With “Atsay,” he renews his credentials as one director to reckon with…” – Mario E. Bautista, The Philippines Daily Express, 1978 (READ MORE)

1978 MMFF (Entries: “Ang Huling Lalaki ng Baluarte,” Cast: Rey Malonzo, Tina Monasterio, Producer: SQ Film Productions, Director: Artemio Marquez; “Atsay,” Cast: Nora Aunor, Ronald Corveau, Armida Siguion Reyna, Producer: Ian Film Productions, Director: Eddie Garcia; “Garrote: Jai Alai King,” Cast: Christopher De Leon, Producer: VP Pictures, Director: Manuel ‘Fyke’ Cinco; “Jack n’ Jill of the Third Kind” Cast: Dolphy, Nora Aunor, Producer: RVQ Productions, Director: Frank Gray Jr.; “Katawang Alabok,” Cast: Lorna Tolentino, Producer: Agrix Film Productions, Director: Emmanuel H. Borlaza; “Kid Kaliwete,” Cast: Bembol Roco, Producer: Associated Entertainment Corp., Director: Manuel Cinco; “Rubia Servios,” Cast: Vilma Santos, Mat Ranillo III, Phillip Salavador, Producer: Sampaguita Pictures, Director: Lino Brocka; “Salonga,” Cast: Rudy Fernandez, Producer: MBM Productions, Director: Romy Suzara; “The Jess Lapid Story” – Lito Lapid, Beth Bautista, Producer: Mirick Films, Director: Gallardo) – “…is the annual film festival held in Manila. The festival, which runs from the 25th of December to the first week of January, focuses on locally-produced films. The MMFF was established in the year 1975, during which Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa (Water the Thirsty Earth with Dew) by Augusto Buenaventura won the best film award. During the course of the festival, no foreign movies are shown across the Philippines (except for 3D theaters and IMAX theaters). Moreover, only films approved by the jurors of the MMFF will be shown. One of the festival highlights is the parade of floats during the opening of the festival. The floats, each one representing a movie entry for the festival, parade down Roxas Boulevard, while the stars for films ride on them. On the awards night, the Best Float award is also announced, together with the major acting awards…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

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In Defense of Vilma

ARTICLES - Vi in television - Vilma!One day, I had a little argument or shall I say discussion with a Noranian who works at the Golden Gate park as a garden maintenance. He told me that Nora’s contribution to the Film Industry is when she stopped the tradition of having “mestiza only” system in showbizness because she made it in showbiz with flying colors even if she’s not tall, fair skin & beautiful. I told him that it was actually Nida Blanca who started the trend (although she’s a mestiza in real life) but she didn’t posseses a stand out beauty. Nida is beautiful but more on pure Filipina looks. And I also reminded him that Nora started as a singer not as an actress.

Anyhow, here is my answer to what Vilma Santos contribution to the Film Industry are:

  • Woman Power: Tradition na ang male actor lamang ang nananatiling bida at malakas sa box-office kahit may edad na. Vilma broke that tradition by maintaining big hit movies even at her 50’s. She also proves that there is a lot of good roles for her as “bida” up to now.
  • Star and Politics in one: When Vilma rules Lipa City, people realized that actors can run a city even if he/she’s just a star and do not know anything in politics. Vilma sets a good example because she turned Lipa as one of the most successful city in the nation.
  • Quality & Box-office Movie at the same time: Vilma can give us a good movie & make the producers satisfied with it’s box-office results. Dolzura Cortes, Bata, bata…, Burlesk Queen, Dekada ’70, Anak, Rubia Servios and a lot more are considered classic and it earned huge money at the box-office. It is considered as a great contribution to the Film Industry when you make the producers happy by giving the return of their investment, this means more business and more job for the small workers.
  • Willing to sacrifice: She is willing to negotiate and give away a big discount from her talent fee for the sake of a good script and good film. This will help the movie industry to survive & the small artist to be productive.

After I mentioned these contributions, he brought back the topic to Nora broke the mestiza, tall Pinay actress mould. I told him that this was phenomenal. But my rebuttal is…Vilma is also petite, 5 feet only. Nora’s dark complexion, eye-acting style limited her range to apiapihan roles, not credible as a modern Pinay woman. Si Vilma ay maputi, petite at mas versatile, more eloquent, believable as poor, kiri, martyr, madre, prosti, high-class. Any role kaya niya. Vilma has no college degree but that did not stop her from learning, asking questions to the experts like Brocka, Bernal, Laurice. Seeking the advice of Marichu Maceda, Atty Laxa etc. Hindi siya tamad.

ARTICLES - Vilma Santos Nora Aunor as nunsShe is not contented to be a second fiddle to Nora. Vilma tried hard to have a direction in life. She studied in U.P.- crash course in Public Administration to prepare for her mayoral seat. When it comes to teachable attitude, Vilma has a competitive spirit, more emotionally strong than Nora, more mature. She learned fast from her mistakes. She has goals in life. Pagkatapos kong magpaliwanag ay nag-depensa si Manong. Nagkataon lang daw na Senator ang napangasawa ni Vilma at kay Nora ay isang ordinaryong tao lang (John). I told him that is exactly my point. Vilma has a game plan. She chose winners than losers. There’s Senator Ralph Recto, Connie Reyes, Tina Revilla etc. Nora has John Rendez, etc.

Dahil di na maka-compete kay Vilma, bumigay na- poor impulse control, lost control, became a gambler, unprofessional, with undying rumors on substance abuse. Di na makabawi. Friends have given up. But fans? Let’s be franc – in denial big time. Night (Nora) and Day (Vilma). Vilma chose the Road Less Taken (poem of Robert Frost); hard work, dedication, education, sacrificed Vilma(show), movie career to give birth to Ryan Christian; she sacrificed movie and TV career to public servanthood (this means less pay). Di ba’t her life was threatened when she entered politics, yet she continued- she is a survivor.

A born winner. Wala nang nasabi pa si Manong. Di na rin ako humirit pa. Nagkatitigan kami habang hawak niya ang orchids. Walang kibuan, mata lang namin ang nag-uusap. Hinihintay ko na magtanong siya, pero walang masabi si Manong. Nilisan ko na lamang ang garden na iyon. Habang naiwan si Manong na hawak pa rin ang mga orchids at lagadera. Habang naglalakad ako palayo ay bigla kong naisip…teka, pamilyar ang eksenang yon ah. Parang ending sa isang pelikula nina Ate Vi at Guy. – Franco Gabriel (READ MORE)

FILMS - T-Bird at AkoIn Nora’s Territory – “…Here, Vilma is Loida Malabanan, a haggard, weight-challenged bit player struggling in an out-of-town shoot for a serye. She wears oversized shirts, carries with her a heavy bag of clothes (a movie star would have a chauffeured van as her mobile closet), and rides in a cramped shuttle with fellow “extras” heading for an early-morning location shoot. She would sleep on the cold concrete floor in a given night, at other times on the damp grass under the shade of a tree in the middle of a sugarcane field, while waiting with the other bit players for their call. In one scene, she would just be a face in the crowd, in another, a house servant. In other words, this is Nora Aunor’s territory, as defined by such critically acclaimed films as Eddie Garcia’s “Atsay” and Lino Brocka’s “Bona” – the Nora Villamayor (the Superstar’s real surname) production in which La Aunor derided her own stardom by playing an alalay to Phillip Salvador’s bit player. So it’s nice that Vilma is virtually paying a nod to Nora, and in the indie world that has been Nora’s playing field for some time. Tart Carlos’s role as Loida’s best friend, who happens to be a die-hard Noranian, further underscores “Ekstra’s” Noranian connection….” – Teodoro Jose Joaquin, Rappler 04 August 2013 (READ MORE)

FILMS - Ekstra best actressTribute to Nora – “…We tell Ate Vi that she has many funny one-liners in the film, but the one that really brought the house down was when she said: “E, bakit si Nora Aunor?” We all know they’re the most intense and fiercest rivals in local movie history, so with her uttering a line that refers to Ate Guy is really something. “Wala akong kasalanan diyan,” she says. “Ayaw nga niyang sabihin yun,” says Direk Jeff Jeturian. “Pero maganda nga, e. Kasi it’s a confirmation na icon si Nora. Kasi pinag-uusapan nila mga artistang puro mestisa ang sumisikat, then she said ‘Bakit si Nora Aunor?’ And it’s true. It’s really a tribute to Ate Guy who should be flattered that she’s being praised in “Ekstra…” – Showbiz Portal, Showbiz Portal, 11 August 2013 (READ MORE)

Mature Rivalry – “…Naniniwala si Ate Vi na makabubuti para sa showbiz ang pagre-revive ng rivalry nila ni Ate Guy, na itinuturing na pinakamahigpit na magkaribal sa kasaysayan ng local showbiz. Pahayag ng actress-politician, “Hindi mawawala ang rivalry namin ng kumare ko. “Ang importante lang, ang gusto ko, even with us, even with the fans, i-attack lang natin nang mas mature, i-mature lang natin ng konti. “Para [hindi] yung dati na kailangan magsalita ng di magaganda…huwag na, hindi. “Sa edad namin…we’re not getting any younger, so it’s good may rivalry, pero attack it with maturity…” – Ava May Robles, PEP, 27 June 2013 (READ MORE)