Regalo (TV 2006)

“Kung ang tawag sa mga namamatayan ng asawa ay byudo o biyuda at ang mga anak na nawawalan ng mga magulang ay ulila, ano ang tawag sa mga magulang na namamatayan ng anak?” – Daisy Hernandez

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Basic Info: Directed: Olivia M. Lamasan; Writing credit: Dado C. Lumibao; Cast: Vilma Santos, Maja Salvador, Ricky Davao, Erich Gonzales, Charo Santos-Concio; Producer: Ginny Monteagudo, Malou N. Santos; Cinematography: Neil Daza, Charlie Peralta; Editing: Aries Pascual; Production Design: Nancy Arcega, Malou Dugtong IMDB

Plot Summary: Daisy Hernandez (Vilma Santos), a mother must divide her time between work and taking care of her daughter April (Maja Salvador) who has cerebral palsy. Daisy’s heart is wrenched every time she sees her eldest child suffer because of her illness. But Daisy never loses hope, and April manages to live a normal life until she is 18. Just when Daisy thought things are doing fine with her daughter’s disability, a tragedy will further test her faith (Wikepedia).

Achievement: 20th Star Awards Best Actress by a Single Performance – Vilma Santos Wikepedia

Reviews: “Though the hurt you felt seeing the Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos excruciatingly depicting the harrowing tale of a mother deeply burdened by the travails of her ailing special daughter has been quite deep, the relatability and inspiration overcome you. But what really moves you apart from the inspiring story of Daisy Hernandez is the Vilma’s legendary and exceptional ability to transform into the character herself. You can see the anguish in her eyes and the profound suffering she felt in each second of her appearance. As such, Maalaala Mo Kaya’s classic 2006 episode “Regalo” is her televised dramatic opus beyond compare. Add to that Maja Salvador’s unprecedented breakthrough performance of Daisy’s precious child and cerebral palsy sufferer April, which made critics turn heads and focus intently on what she can offer as an actress. Maja truly matched the kind of thespic excellence an actor needs to show in the same frame as Vilma Santos, and more…The episode had its astonishing thespic highlights, yet with masterful guidance from Direk Olive Lamasan, who brought incredible emotive dimensions to every character in the story. You would feel their every utterance, dramatic expression, and character validation worthy of thought and emulation…Maja Salvador became an actress of note since this episode, and this started an eventful string of extraordinary dramatic performances both in film and TV. Her superb portrayal of a mentally and physically challenged individual became her rite of passage to the acting big leagues, and rightfully so, she has cornered a respectable and prominent place in the industry. Mere words cannot express or measure the immense dramatic reach of Vilma Santos. You just have to witness her to believe and get astonished with every eye movement, line phrasing, raw emotion, expressive gesture she makes on screen. Vilma just satisfies everyone’s insatiable appetite for drama perfection, great thespic talent personified, and MMK “Regalo” further elevates her as a more illuminating Star for All Seasons.” – Gerry Plaza, ABS-CBN, 04 July 2020 (READ MORE)

“…It’s a vintage Vilma Santos performance, packed full with so much emotion that perhaps only the stone-hearted won’t be moved, especially in the succeeding scene where, hesitantly resigning to her daughter’s final farewell, Vilma delivers the clinching dialogue: Bakit kapag ang asawa ay namatayan ng asawa, ang tawag sa kanila balo o kaya ay biyudo o biyuda? Kapag naman namatayan ng ama o ina ang isang anak, ang tawag sa kanya ay ulila. Ano naman ang tawag nila sa inang namatayan ng anak?  That scene is absolutely heart-tugging and there’s more of similar scenes in the two-part special for which, according to direk Olive, Daisy Hernandez herself (a native of Lipa City where Vilma is the mayor on her third and last term) wrote some of the dialogues in the story that Vilma herself chose as possible movie material (but, said Vilma, “no regrets that it ended up a Maalaala special”).  Regalo (with Ricky Davao as Vilma’s husband) is the 777th episode of Maalaala which has lasted longer than the ABS-CBN executive (now retired) who, 15 years ago when Charo broached the idea of hosting the drama series, told her, “Wala kang alam sa telebisyon; ang alam mo lang ay pelikula…” – Ricky Lo (READ MORE)

“…Vi’s mighty proud of “Regalo,” saying the long wait was worth it. She herself presented the story to Charo and her sister Malou Santos, Daisy being one of her constituents in Lipa City. The mayor describes Daisy as a strong woman, not easily given to tears, despite the plight of her daughter April who had passed away. In memory of her daughter, Daisy works with an NGO which helps sick and needy children in Lipa…Olive requested that Daisy be on the set so that direk could relate the story as accurately as possible. Olive noted that a most moving line said by Vilma, came from Daisy herself. Something like, “Ang babaeng namatayan ng asawa, ang tawag biyuda. Ang anak na namatayan ng magulang, ulila. Subalit ano’ng tawag sa magulang, sa inang nawalan ng anak? Wala…” Vilma said words are not enough to describe the grief of a mother who lost a child. How true. Ask Manay Gina de Venecia, and Ali Sotto. “Regalo” was written by Dado Lumibao with Mel Mendoza-del Rosario as script supervisor. Charlie Peralta is the cameraman…” – Ronald Constantino (READ MORE)

“IT’S obvious that ABS-CBN values Vilma Santos so much. After making a movie that is an unabashed tribute to her from start to finish, “D Lucky Ones,” they now feature her in the 15th anniversary presentation of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.” “We love Vi as she’s not only a nice person but also a true professional, a committed artist who loves her craft,” says Charo Santos, top ABSCBN executive and host of “Maalaala Mo Kaya.” “Fan na niya ako since her Vi and Bobot days and Iove seen her evolution as a person and as an actress. Kahanga-hanga talaga siya at ang kanyang magandang kalooban, it just radiates. You cannot fake that dahil galing talaga ‘yun sa loob. We’ve long been inviting her to guest in “Maalaala” and she was the one who gave us this story of Mrs. Daisy Hernandez, a mother so devoted to her eldest daughter who had cerebral palsy.” “I met Daisy at the SPED, special education school for special children, in Lipa,” says Ate Vi. “I met her daughter, April. Then I didn’t see her for sometime and I found April has died na pala. I told her to write down her story then I gave it to Malou Santos who thought of doing it for “Maalaala.” We started taping this last year, pero magka-conflict ang skeds namin ni Direk Olive Lamasan, so it took 6 and a half days to tape it over a period of one year at natiyempo sa anniversary ng “Maalaala” at pang-Mother’s Day presentation pa.” “This is the show’s 777th episode,” adds Charo. “Maalaala has been made into a film in 1994 that gave awards to its stars, Aiko Melendez and Chin Chin Gutierrez. It has given the break to many directors like Wenn Deramas, Jerry Sineneng, Rory Quintos, Gilbert Perez, Mac Alejandre, Lauren Dyogi, Ricky Davao and Michael de Mesa. We’re proud to have Vi for our anniversary show that will be shown on May 4 and 11.” We’ve seen the preview of the episode, entitled “Regalo,” and it’s really a tearjerker that aims to wring your tearducts dry. Her fans will surely be proud of their idol anew as she shines in several scenes where she gets to deliver kilometric lines.

It’s a great acting vehicle for any actress worth her salt and Ate Vi truly does justice to the role of a mother who does everything to support her disabled child only to lose her later to a viral infection. All throughout the death and wake of April” (convincingly played by Maja Salvador), Vilma is not shown crying at all. She finally breaks down after the funeral while talking to her husband (Ricky Davao, who’s equally great) and delivers some lines that will surely be added to the list of classic dialogues she has uttered in her past films and that were all used in “D Lucky Ones.” If you’re a parent with a special child, you’d be able to identify with her role. But even if you’re not, you’d still be affected by this true story of unconditional love and sacrifice. Incidentally, we finally got to see “D Lucky Ones” and we’d like to congratulate Director Wenn Deramas for succeeding to make us laugh. There are many hilarious scenes in the movie that even non-Vilmanians will appreciate, thanks to the fine performances of Eugene Domingo, Sandara Park and Pokwang. Eugene is the best among them as she doesn’t exert too much effort in tickling us. Sandy is also a natural comedienne, but Pokwang can go over the top at the times she should have been restrained a bit. The film has two highlights. First is the dance showdown between Eugene and Pokwang at the Phi Bar where they get to re-create the intricate production numbers Ate Vi used to do in her TV show. The second one is the film’s climax where Ate Vi makes a special guest appearance to reconcile the warring Eugene and Pokwang and then does a dance number with the entire cast. Most local comedies fail to make us laugh, but this one really works. – Charlie Gomez (READ MORE)

“VILMA Santos had a meeting with her Vilmanians the other Friday at Max’s Libis. She reported that she had finally finished shooting her Maalaala Mo Kaya episode with Ricky Davao and Maja Salvador, directed by Olive Lamasan. “One year in the making ito, bale two episodes, but it’s really worth it and I’m impressed with the work of Direk Olive,” she says. “It’s based on the true story of a woman from Lipa.” She said she got an offer to do a stage play at the CCP. She’s willing to try the theatre but when she was told she has to rehearse for two months, she had to turn it down as she still has her duties as Lipa City mayor to attend to. She revealed she has new movie offers, but most of them are heavy drama. She wants to do something lighter that will be more appealing to the masa. Last March 8, Vilma was given the First Diwata Award in celebration of International Women’s Day. That coincided with the 16th International Women’s Film Festival by the UP Film Institute, the longest-running women’s filmfest in the country. She was cited for her roles in films like Sister Stella L, Relasyon, The Dolzura Cortez Story, Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? and Dekada ’70, which are about women empowerment. She was honored with Lily Monteverde, Charo Santos-Concio and writer Lualhati Bautista. Vilma was warmly applauded by an adulating crowd and she delivered a very inspirational message, saying: “I strongly believe in these films with strong messages. It’s about time men believe in women empowerment. Don’t underestimate us, women and artists!” Ate Vi left Thursday with husband Sen. Ralph Recto to attend the investiture rites of our new cardinal in Rome (she was personally invited). After that, she will take a cruise with Ralph and meet with her family in Los Angeles.” – Mario Bautista, People’s Journal March 26 2006 (READ MORE)

“Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos, a multi-awarded dramatic actress, an exemplary wife and mother and a model public official, is so work-oriented that she can only make a few television appearances every year…Mayor Vi gives a bravura performance, which has become her trademark. She gives up her acting mannerisms for a fresh attack of a mother’s role that makes it an outstanding interpretation. Regalo relives the tale of Daisy Hernandez, a devoted wife and dedicated mother whose child suffers from cerebral palsy…Although screened in black and white, Regalo’s exceptional quality was immediately evident during the media preview. Everything about this episode is non-artsy as director Olive opted for a straightforward presentation to bring out the drama without seeming contrived. Acting is likewise direct to the point, clearly the episode’s main strength. Although Mayor Vi is notches higher in delivering her role, Maja showed that she has the makings of another Vilma Santos. Pitting them together was a casting triumph. Although Regalo is a small story, cast and crew imparted it with enough realism to turn it into a domestic epic of sorts. Regalo, written by Dado Lumibao, is a clear proof of MMK’s superiority as a drama anthology, making it the longest running ABS-CBN show right now. It is not afraid to defy convention, tell real-life stories with themes of rape, homosexuality, or physical disability, just as it delivers contemporary stories of love and sacrifice, family dramas and teen stories. And it does this with critically acclaimed actors and directors, award-winning stories, and visual treats that have semblances of films rarely seen on television (read: high production values unconstrained by small-screen budgetary pegs). This makes Maaalaala Mo Kaya a world-class drama anthology. Regalo is MMK’s Mother’s Day presentation with excellent actors Ricky Davao and Erich Gonzales in supporting roles.” – Edgar Cruz (READ MORE)

“…A special 15th Anniversary prsentation of Maalaala Mo Kaya. “Regalo” is an inspiring story of a woman who goes through a painful journey of finding her fulfillment as a wife, a mother and as a person. Balancing her time between her career and family is rather difficult for Daisy Hernandez. Her eldest daughter April is afflicted with Cerebral Palsy and needs all the love, care and attention only a mother can give. What can a mother sacrifice to raise a daughter like April? How far can she go to fight for her daughter’s battles in life?…” – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

“…As for Vilma’s “MMK” replay, she and Ricky turned in emotionally charged and committed performances in it as the parents of a girl (Maja) with cerebral palsy. Vilma’s character, in particular, refused to capitulate to the dreaded illness’ terrible demands and tragic consequence, and the portrayal she turned in was one of her career bests. It’s good that our TV channels are replaying iconic shows and performances, because new generations of viewers are made more aware of and grateful for past thespic achievements, which make them more enlightened and demanding viewers today—to keep our TV-film people on their toes!…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 25 April 2015 (READ MORE)


Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 6/6

Introductions: 204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success.

Here is a recap of our count-down…

…and our number one director is…

1. Ishmael Bernal – A filmmaker of the first order and one of the very few who can be truly called a maestro. Critics have hailed him as “the genius of Philippine cinema.” He is recognized as a director of films that serve as social commentaries and bold reflections on the existing realities of the struggle of the Filipino. His art extends beyond the confines of aesthetics. By polishing its visuals, or innovating in the medium, he manages to send his message across: to fight the censors, free the artists, give justice to the oppressed, and enlighten as well as entertain the audience. Among his notable films are “Pahiram ng Isang Umaga” (1989), “Broken Marriage” (1983), “Himala” (1981), “City After Dark” (1980), and “Nunal sa Tubig” (1976). He was recognized as the Director of the Decade of the 1970s by the Catholic Mass Media Awards; four-time Best Director by the Urian Awards (1989, 1985, 1983, and 1977); and given the ASEAN Cultural Award in Communication Arts in 1993 ( Bernal was born in Manila on September 30, 1938, the son of Elena Bernal and Pacifico Ledesma. He studied at Burgos Elementary School and Mapa High School before entering the University of the Philippines, and graduated in 1962 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts degree in English. For a time he worked with Lamberto Avellana’s documentary outfit. He went on to earn his Licentiate in French Literature and Philosophy at the University of Aix-en-Prevence in France, and then in 1970 his Diplomate in Film Directing at the Film Insititue of India in Poona, under the Colombo plan scholarhip. Bernal was a board member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the Directors Guild of the Philippines, Inc., an organization that studies the role of film as an instrument of entertainment, education and development. He actively crusaded for the rights and welfare of artists for as long as he lived. He died in Quezon City on June 2, 1996 (Wikipilipinas).

HIGHLIGHTS: Bernal gave Vilma Santos her first grandslam best actress awards and two consecutive Gawad Urian best actress (1982 and 1983). Their first film together was Inspiration (1972) and last was Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (1989).

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 5 (#5 Ikaw ay Akin 1978, #7 Relasyon 1982, #8 Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga 1989, #9 Broken Marriage 1983, #30 Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon 1977)

Total Number of Films = 8 (Broken Marriage, Dalawang Pugad Isang Ibon, Good Morning Sunshine, Ikaw ay Akin, Inspiration, Now and Forever, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga, Relasyon)

RELATED READINGS:Wikipedia: Ishmael Bernal
Ishmael Bernal (1938-1996)
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1971-79, Part One
The Films of Ishmael Bernal Circa 1980-94, Part Two
Tribute to Ishmael Bernal
The new ‘Working Girls’ front and center

Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 2/6

Introductions: 204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success….

TIE 9. Elwood Perez is a virtuoso of the camera and is the man behind numerous classic Filipino movies. His intuitive approach to filmmaking and scriptwriting is something worth emulating not because they are campy and sexy but they discuss social ills and promote solutions while tickling the most delicate part of our consciousness—our emotion. Born during the near end of World War II on Feb. 4, 1945 in Mabalacat, Pampanga, Elwood Perez started watching movies at the age of three. He practically grew up breathing, feeling, and thinking about movies. “I want [a] vicarious experience. That’s the only thing I want in my life. I hate the effort to go, let’s say for example to Venice. That’s why I watch films every day. Until now,” the 64-year-old director says. He wrote, directed and acted the lead role in his first Filipino play, Ander di Saya. And he was only nine years old then. From then on, Perez knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. At age 25, Perez marked his debut as a film director with Blue Boy in 1970. The film was a flop at the box office but it was revered by critics. Maturing as a scriptwriter and film director, in 1973, commercially successful Lipad, Darna Lipad! was released. Award-winning actress Celia Rodriguez essayed the role of Medusa-like villainess, Valentina, nubile Vilma Santos played the Filipino supergirl (a role that launched her in a series of Darna flicks). To Filipino film industry insiders, Perez is known as the most sought-after movie director of his generation. He consistently churned out hit movie after another. His unsurpassed track record of money-makers and trend-setters include Zoom, Zoom, Superman!; Bawal: Asawa Mo, Asawa Ko; Isang Gabi, Tatlong Babae; Divorce: Pilipino Style; Masarap, Masakit ang Umibig; Summer Love; Till We Meet Again; and Ibulong Mo sa Diyos. Today, films he directed in the ’70s and ’80s like Pakawalan Mo Ako (a Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon starrer) and Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M, as then enfant terrible of Philippine Cinema, enjoy regular reruns on primetime television and in select movie houses as examples of the award-winning film or the commercially-rewarding art film: true classics of film as entertainment for everyman, the 20th century’s quintessential art form. His life’s mise en scene “During the height of my career, I didn’t like publicity. Do you know any director who sold a movie on a count on the fact that he directed the film? I was very quiet then, because nobody would watch a film because of the director. Stars pa rin ang pinapanood ng tao,” Perez conveys – Nickie Wang

HIGHLIGHTS: Elwood Perez and Vilma Santos collaborated in seven films. The first one was the trilogy that he co-directed with two other directors, Borlaza and Gosiengfiao (these three are the most underrated and under appreciated directors in the Philippines), the remake of Mars Ravelo comic super hero, Darna in Lipad Darna Lipad. The film was a record-breaking hit film. They followed “Lipad…” with more mature project as Vilma started to transform her sweet image to serious mature/versatile actress. The film was “Masarap Masakit Ang Umibig” in 1977 that also featured Christopher de Leon and Mat Ranillo III. The Perez-Santos team produced seven blockbuster hits that gave Vilma two FAMAS best actress awards. The last one was in 1988 for “Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos” that elevated her to FAMAS highest honour, the FAMAS Hall of Fame award (She won for Dama de Noche 1972, Relasyon 1982, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Tagos Ng Dugo 1987 and Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988).

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 4 (#10 Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, #43 Pinay American Style 1979, #42 Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, #25 Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981)

Total Number of Films = 7 (Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos 1988, Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, Magkaribal 1979, Masarap Masakit ang Umibig 1977, Nakawin Natin ang Bawat Sandali 1978, Pakawalan Mo Ako 1981, Pinay American Style 1979)


TIE 9. Luis Enriquez Born Luis Clemente Enriquez on August 23, 1932 in Zamboanga City, Philippines. Famous for his dramatic films with Marlene Dauden and Lolita Rodriguez in the 60s. He wrote, produced and directed films using his birth name Luis Enriquez. On September 12, 2001, Eddie Rodriguez died at the young age of age 69. FAP: One of the greatest dramatic actors of Philippine cinema, he starred in such classics directed by Gregorio Fernandez as Kundiman ng Lahi, Luksang Tagumpay and Malvarosa with Charito Solis, Rebecca del Rio and Vic Silayan for LVN Pictures, Inc. He won a best actor FAMAS trophy for his performance in Sapagkat Kami’y Tao Lamang where he co-starred with Lolita Rodriguez and Marlene Dauden (who won as best supporting actress) under the direction of Armando de Guzman for Hollywood Far East Productions. He tried his hands in secret agent films like Paolo Staccato and Perro Gancho. He formed Virgo Productions with wife Liza Moreno, an actress-writer who wrote stories which Eddie acted in and directed. These films included Babae, Ikaw ang Dahilan, Kasalanan Mo, Ang Pagsintang Labis, Kapag Pusoy Sinugatan, Iginuhit sa Buhangin, Alaala mo, Daigdig ko, Bakit Ako Pa?, and Ikaw. Dubbed as the country’s drama king, he also directed Kung Kailangan Mo Ako (with Sharon Cuneta and Rudy Fernandez), Maging Sino Ka Man and Di Na Natuto (with Sharon Cuneta and Robin Padilla) Minsan Pa and Kahit Konting Pagtingin (with Fernando Poe Jr. and Sharon Cuneta). His real name was Luis Enriquez from Zamboanga City.

HIGHLIGHTS: Luis Enriquez aka Eddie Rodriguez first directed a young Vilma Santos in 1968’s “Kasalanan Kaya,” another love triangle genre starring the dramatic trio of Marlene Dauden, Eddie Rodriguez and Lolita Rodriguez. Vilma received an early acting recognition from this film, a FAMAS Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. When Enriquez directed Vilma again, it was a calculated risk. The film allowed a still young Vilma into a bikini-clad lead role opposite her director, Eddie Rodriguez as her leading man. The film was “Nakakahiya,” a May-December love story and an entry to 1975 Bacolod City Film Festival. Aside from making the the film a smash hit, Vilma received the festival’s Best Actress. Enriquez directed Vilma in five more films, the last one was in 1981’s “Ex-Wife.” In this film credits, Rodriguez surprisingly used his actor’s screen name – ‘Eddie Rodriguez and dropped his most known director’s name, “Luis Enriquez.”

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 3 (#30 Ex-Wife 1981, #38 Nakakahiya? 1975, #39 Hindi Nakakahiya 1976)

Total Number of Films = 7 (Ex-Wife 1981, Halik sa Kamay Halik sa Paa 1979, Hindi Nakakahiya 1976, Ikaw Lamang 1971, Kasalanan Kaya? 1968, Nakakahiya? 1975, Simula ng Walang Katapusan)


8. Danny Zialcita is a fun-loving gifted and colorful filmmaker who left his mark as one of the best in the stimulating era of the ’60s and ’70s. Then without any warning he left the industry. Stories of drug addiction, withdrawal from the world, and worse, loss of sanity dogged his absence until even his colleagues lost touch with him and didn’t know what to believe. Zialcita is a master of improvisation on the set, he also had the knack for casting the right actors, choosing the right material, and pleasing his producers. One of his favorite actors was Dindo Fernando whom he termed “the complete actor” and cast him in such movies as Langis at Tubig, Karma, Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan, Mahinhin at Mahinhin, its sequel Malakas, si Maganda at si Mahinhin and Ikaw at ang Gabi which gave Dindo his first Urian Best Actor trophy. Other favorites were Vilma Santos cast in Karma, T-Bird at Ako, Langis at Tubig; Pinky de Leon; Laurice Guillen; Ronaldo Valdes; and Beth Bautista who won Best Actress award in Hindi sa Iyo ang Mundo Baby Porcuna. – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

HIGHLIGHTS: Zialcita’s first movie with Vilma was the 1980 festival entry, a drama about bigamy, Langis at Tubig. The following year, Zialcita and Santos joined forces again in antoher festival entry, Karma. The film earned Vilma her second Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. The following year, Ziacita’s Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan broke box office record, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila and assured Vilma Santos the box office queen of 1982.

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 3 (#17 Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, #26 Karma 1981, #44 Langis at Tubig 1980)

Total Number of Films = 4 (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, Karma 1981, Langis at Tubig 1980, T-Bird at Ako)



Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 1/6

Introductions:  204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002).  This are top ten directors who contributed to her success.

SPECIAL MENTION: First, here are the directors who made a considerable impact but not lucky enough to be included in our list…

JOEY GOSIENGFIAO (#51 Hatinggabi Na Vilma 1972, #65 Takbo, Vilma, Dali 1972, #10 Lipad, Darna, Lipad 1973, #75 Promo Girl 1978); MIKE DE LEON (#34 Sister Stella L. 1984); GIL M. PORTES (#36 Miss X 1980); RORY B. QUINTOS (#12 Anak 2000); JOSE DE VILLA (#16 Trudis Liit 1963); OLIVIA M. LAMASAN (#21 In My Life 2009); JOEL LAMANGAN (#24 Mano Po 3: My Love 2004); WENN V. DERAMAS (#31 D’ Lucky Ones 2006); ANTONIO JOSE PEREZ (#42 Haplos 1982); LEROY SALVADOR (#46 Muling Buksan ang Puso 1985); NILO SAEZ (#48 Kampanerang Kuba 1974); MARILOU DIAZ-ABAYA (#52 Alyas Baby Tsina 1984, #54 Minsan pa Natin Hagkan Ang Nakaraan 1983)

Here is our top ten starting with number 10…

TIE 10. Pablo Santiago was the father of actors Randy, Rowell and Raymart. He was known for his big-budgeted action movies, many of them starring Fernando Poe Jr. He made his directorial debut at 19 with Larry Santiago Productions’ Lo Waist Gang, which catapulted Poe to stardom. For nearly fifty years, Santiago made award-winning films such as Batingaw, Nueva Vizcaya, Perlas ng Silangan, Ibong Adarna and Digmaan ng mga Angkan, a 1974 Metro Manila Film Festival blockbuster starring Ronnie Poe and Joseph Estrada. His last movie starred FPJ opposite Anjanette Abayari in Ang Syota Kong Balikbayan, in 1996. He died in 1998 at the age of 67 from lingering kidney ailment(Sol Jose Vanzi).

HIGHLIGHTS:Santiago first directed Vilma Santos in a Joseph Estrada movie, Batang Iwahig in 1966. Eight years afterward, He will direct Vilma again, this time as the leading lady of the Joseph Estrada’s rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr in light comedy and a smash hit, Batya’t Palo-palo. He will direct three more projects with Vilma, the follow up of the FPJ-Vilma teams in 1976’s Bato Sa Buhangin, the forgetable, Big Ike’s Happening in 1976 and the action film Vilma Vente Nueve in 1975 starring Vilma and action star, Jun Aristorenas.

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 2 (#37 Bato sa Buhangin 1976, #40 Batya’t Palu-Palo 1974)

Total Number of Films = 5 (Batang Iwahig 1966, Bato sa Buhangin 1976, Batya’t Palu-Palo 1974, Big Ike’s Happening 1976, Vilma Viente Nueve 1975)

Randy Santiago: After you, Dad!
IMDB: Pablo Santiago
Randy Santiago, now a full-fledged director
Batyat-Palu-palo at cinema Sept 27, 1974

TIE 10. Maryo J. De los Reyes is a film and television director from the Philippines. He began his career in the 1970s(Wikipedia). Reyes’ most significant works are the critically acclaimed Magnifico (2004), Tagos Ng Dugo (1987) and the commercial hits, Bagets (1983), Annie Batungbakal (1979).

HIGHLIGHTS: In 1987, Maryo De Los Reyes directed Vilma Santos that critics considered one of the most shocking film that year, “Tagos Ng Dugo.”  The film was hailed as feminist as seldom a Filipino woman was seen on screen as a murderous serial killer.  It earned Vilma Santos her fourth FAMAS Best Actress.  Ironically, the conservative Catholic church’s award giving body, Catholic Mass Media Awards, agreed with the FAMAS.  They gave Vi their Best Actress award while the critics’ group, Gawad Urian refused to hand-out their yearly award citing there were no deserving films that year.  Reyes last directed Vilma in another memorable off-beat role, the 1992 drama, “Sinungaling Mong Puso.”

Total Number of Films and Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 2 (#13 Tagos ng Dugo 1987, #28 Sinungaling Mong Puso 1992)

IMDB: Maryo J. De los Reyes
Maryo J. delos Reyes unveils his 4th Sine Novela Presents
Maryo J – Magnifico – Delos Reyes


Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 3/6

Introductions: 204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success.

Here is the continuation of our list…

7. Eddie Garcia (born Eduardo Verchez García on May 2, 1929 in Sorsogon, Philippines) popularly known as “Manoy” is one of the top Filipino film actors and also a Movie Director. He is the most awarded and nominated person in the long history of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards. He garnered a total of 34 nominations (13 for Best Supporting Actor, 10 for Best Actor and 11 for Best Director). Out of these, he got 6 Best Supporting Actor wins, 5 Best Actor wins and 5 Best Director wins, 3 Hall of Fame Awards, 1 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award. He was awarded his first FAMAS Award in 1957 and his last FAMAS, a Hall of Fame for Best Actor, in 2003 (Wikipedia).

HIGHLIGHTS: Eddie Garcia first directed Vilma in the Marcos film, “Pinagbuklod Ng Langit.”  She reprised the role of Imee Marcos and again co-starred with movie queen, Gloria Romero and dramatic actor, Luis Gonzales after “Iginuhit ng Tadhana.”  Garcia directed Vilma again in 1982′s record breaker, “Sinasamba Kita.”  Overall, the two collaborated in five more films after “Sinasamba,” giving us two of the most memorable Filipino movie lines – confronting the mistress Dina Bonevie, Vi said: “Para Kang Karinderyang bukas sa lahat ng gustong kumain (translated literally into “You are like food restaurant! Open to all who wanted to eat!”) from the movie “Palimos Ng Pag-ibig” and then confronting the rich snotty old Alicia Vergel, Vi said: “Si Val, si Val, si Val na walang malay! (literally translated to “Its Val! its Val!, Its always Val, The one who is innocent!”).

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 5 (#11 Imortal 1989, #18 Paano Ba ang Mangarap? 1983 #19 Sinasamba Kita, #22 Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig? 1987, #45 Palimos Ng Pag-ibig 1986)

Total Number of Films = 6 (Imortal 1989, Paano Ba ang Mangarap? 1983, Palimos Ng Pag-ibig 1986, Pinagbuklod ng Langit 1969, Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig? 1987, Sinasamba Kita 1982)

Eddie Garcia: Actor, director, icon, Philippine cinema’s one-man totem pole
An Urian Lifetime Achievement Award for Eddie Garcia
Veteran actor Eddie Garcia misses work as director
Eddie Garcia shares his secret of long and healthy life
Brocka’s “Tubog Sa Ginto” 1971 (VIDEO)
Eddie Garcia stars in indie film ‘Fuschia’
Video 48: Eddie Garcia, FAMAS Three Time Hall of Fame Awardee

6. Emmanuel H. Borlaza aka Maning Borlaza is a 1957 Palanca Awardee for “May Pangako ang Bukas” and theaterical drama trained by National Artist Severino Montano. Appointed by Pres. Noy Aquino as Movie and Television Review and Classifications Board (MTRCB) Vice Chairman this year, Borlaza directed 24 films with Vilma Santos and was credited with her transformation to a reluctant singing competitor of Nora Aunor to bankable superstar with such hits like Dyesebel, Lipad Darna Lipad, Darna and the Giants.

HIGHLIGHTS: Borlaza gave Vilma Santos her very first best actress, winning the 1972 FAMAS for via Dama De Noche. He is also credited in narrowing the popularity gap between her and the musical era’s darling of the 70s, Nora Aunor.

Total Number of Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 4 (#10 Lipad Darna Lipad 1973, #32 Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe 1973, #48 Darna and the Giants 1973, #49 Dama De Noche 1972)

Total Number of Films = 24 (I Love You, Honey 1970, Renee Rose 1970, Angelica 1971, Aloha, My Love 1972, Dama De Noche 1972, Don’t Ever say Goodbye 1972, Leron, Leron, Sinta 1972, Remembrance 1972, Darna and the Giants 1973, Dyesebel at ang Mahiwagang Kabibe 1973, Lipad, Darna, Lipad 1973, Maria Cinderella 1973, Tsismosang Tindera 1973, Makahiya at Talahib 1976, Mga Rosas sa Putikan 1976, Bakit Kailangan Kita? 1978, Kampus 1978, Coed 1979, Gusto Ko Siya, Mahal Kita 1980, Romansa; 1980 Yakapin Mo Ako, Lalaking Matapang 1980 Asawa ko, Huwag Mong Agawin 1986, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 1986, Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Bukas 1987)

an Emmanuel H. Borlaza films and other directors
Borlaza: Its Payback Time!
1st shooting day ng Darna and the Giants
Visiting Forces body has new set of officials


Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 5/6

Introductions: 204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success.

Here is the continuation of our list…

3. Chito S. Roño also known as Sixto Kayko, is a Filipino multi-awarded TV and film director. He is the director of the blockbuster films Feng Shui and Sukob. In 2010, he is one of the directors of the top-rating supernatural–fantasy horror TV series Imortal on ABS-CBN (Wikipedia). In 1984, Roño directed his first feature film, titled “Private Show” starring Jaclyn Jose. It was released locally in 1985 and won Jose the Star award for Best Actress. Chito used the pseudonym Sixto Kayco in the credits.

HIGHLIGHTS: Roño gave Vilma Santos her first international recognition winning the best actress in 1999 Brussels International Festival of Independent Films. At the same time, he was recognized as the festival’s Best Director both for Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa. The film also gave Vilma Santos her third grand slam winning all the best actress awards from several local award giving bodies. In 2003, Vilma received another international recognition, this time from Cinemanila International Film Festival winning the Best Actress for Dekada 70. The film was screen in the international film festival circuit and was the official entry of the Philippines in the 76th Academy Awards (OSCAR) for the best foreign language film category.

Total Number of Films and Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 3 (#2 Bata, Bata…Paano Ka Ginawa? 1998, #3 Dekada’70 2002, #36 Ikaw Lang 1993)

Wikepedia: Chito S. Roño’s Filmography
Dekada 70, Chito Rono’s filmization of a tumultuous era
An Original Movie Musical by Chito S. Rono
video 48: Sixto Kayco’s “Private Show” (1985)

2. Celso Ad. Castillo began directing films mid-60’s at an early age, but he has since then gained reputation for many other aspects of the craft particularly scriptwriting and acting. In the Filipino movie industry, he holds the unique repuation of being controversial, trendsetter,enfant terrible and messiah of Philippine cinema, and his track record justifies it: he introduced artistry and commercialism in sex films (nympha) when the two were considered incompatible, and introduced sex in artistic projects ( Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa/The Most Beautiful Animal on Earth)when moralistic repression was in vogue. An unfortunate and unfair consequence of the controversy is the recognition due him as one of the finest film commentators on the Philippine social scene, with a visual fluency unmatched by any other contemporary filipino film director. –

HIGHLIGHTS: Castillo gave Vilma Santos her first mature role in Burlesk Queen resulting with her first local film festival best actress award. He also directed Pagputi Ng Uwak Pagitim Ng Tagak where Vilma Santos starred and produced. The film received several best picture awards and was considered one of Castillo’s best works.

Total Number of Films and Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 3 (#1 Burlesk Queen 1977, #15 Pagputi ng Uwak Pag-itim ng Tagak 1978, #20 Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw 1975)

RELATED READINGS: Lumbera’s Review of Pagputi
Video 48: Vilma Santos As “Burlesk Queen” (1977)
The Maverick Director Celso Ad Castillo
Celso Ad. Castillo’s Biography
QandA With Direk Celso Ad Castillo Part One Two Three Four Five (VIDEO)

…next our number one director!

Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors 4/6

Introductions: 204 films, 70 directors, 5 decades, Vilma Santos, one of the original Philippine movie queens, rose up to become the versatile actress that has been given the fitting title of “Star for All Seasons” because of her capacity to adapt to the changing mores and values of the Filipino woman, giving a face to their plight and struggles, albeit in success both critically and box-office wise in some of Philippine cinema’s classics such as Trudis Liit (1963), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (1973), Burlesk Queen (1977), Relasyon (1982), Sister Stella L. (1984), Alyas Baby Tsina (1984), Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993), Anak (2000) and Dekada ’70 (2002). This are top ten directors who contributed to her success.

Here is the continuation of our list…

5. Catalino Ortiz Brocka (April 3, 1939–May 21, 1991), director for film and broadcast arts, espoused the term “freedom of expression” in the Philippine Constitution. Brocka took his social activist spirit to the screen leaving behind 66 films which breathed life and hope for the marginalized sectors of society — slumdwellers, prostitute, construction workers, etc. He also directed for theater with equal zeal and served in organizations that offer alternative visions, like the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). At the same time, he garnered awards and recognition from institutions like the CCP, FAMAS, TOYM, and Cannes Film Festival. Brocka has left behind his masterpieces, bequeathing to our country a heritage of cinematic harvest; a bounty of stunning images, memorable conversations that speak volumes on love,betrayal and redemption, pestilence and plenty all pointing towards the recovery and rediscovery of our nation. To name a few, Brocka’s films include the following: “Santiago” (1970), “Wanted: Perfect Mother” (1970), “Tubog sa Ginto” (1971), “Stardoom” (1971), “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” (1974), “Maynila: Sa Kuko ng Liwanag” (1975), “Insiang” (1976), “Jaguar” (1979), “Bona” (1980), “Macho Dancer” (1989), “Orapronobis” (1989), “Makiusap Ka sa Diyos” (1991) ( On May 21, 1991 Brocka met an untimely death in a car accident in Quezon City, Metro Manila. In 1997 he was given the posthumous distinction of National Artist for Film.(Wikipedia)

HIGHLIGHTS: Brocka gave Vilma one of the most controversial film after “Burlesk Queen,” her milestone role as a rape victim in 1978′s “Rubia Servios.”  The film failed to secure Vilma the local festival’s best performer award after so much speculations despite this, the film was a big hit.  Brocka will direct Vi two more times, “Adultery” in 1984 and “Hahamakin Kita” in 1990, a year before his untimely death in May 21, 1991.

Total Number of Films and Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 3 (#6 Rubia Servios 1978, #14 Adultery: Aida Macaraeg 1984, #27 Hahamakin Lahat 1990)


4. Laurice Guillen is an award-winning Filipino director and actress. She was born on January 29, 1947 in Butuan City. She is married Johnny Delgado, a notable and prominent actor. Daughters, Anna and Ina Feleo are both into stage acting as well. Laurice won international notice for her direction of the 1981 film, Salome(Wikipilipinas).

HIGHLIGHTS: Guillen gave Vilma her fifth and sixth Gawad Urian Best Actress awards for 1991’s Ipagpatawad Mo and 1993’s Dolzura Cortez. The later also gave Vilma her second grand slam, winning all the best actress awards from local award giving bodies.

Total Number of Films and Films in our list of VSR’s Top 50 films = 3 (#4 Dahil Mahal Kita The Dolzura Cortez Story 1993, #24 Ipagpatawad Mo 1991, #34 Kapag Langit Ang Humatol 1990)



Filmography: Ipagpatawad Mo (1991)

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Basic Information: Directed: Laurice Guillen; Story: Olivia M. Lamasan; Screenplay: Olivia M. Lamasan; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Charito Solis, Bing Loyzaga, Amy Perez, Delia Razon, Ruby Rodriguez, Joonee Gamboa, Johnny Wilson, Vivian Foz, Jinky Oda, Terence Baylon, Bennette Ignacio, Eddie Albert Ramos, Lorli Villanueva; Executive producer: Vic del Rosario Jr.; Cinematography: Eduardo Jacinto; Film Editing: Efren Jarlego; Production Design: Edgar Martin Littaua; Sound: Gaudencio Barredo

Plot Description: A married couple who try to make their marriage work despite the fact that both of them are career-oriented and that there are tensions created by the prescence of their first-born child, Mike Jr., who turns out to be autistic. – RV

Atty. Mike Esquivel (Christopher De Leon) is a very successful lawyer who feels he has everything and the world is at his feet for the asking. He doesn’t know failure and how to deal with it. Mike is married to Celina (Vilma Santos), an equally successful T.V. personality. When Celina gives birth to their firstborn, Mike becomes ecstatic for he is now complete. But as their son grows, the doctor finds he is autistic. Mike is indignant. He cannot accept a feeble minded son as he worries about his reputation like his parents who suggest an institution. The situation is breaking up their ideal marriage for only Celina can understand and love her autistic son unconditionally. – TFC Now (READ MORE)

Film Achievemetns: 1991 FAMAS: Best Actor – Christopher De Leon; Best Child Actor – Terence Baylon; Best Director Nomination – Laurice Guillen; Best Picture; 1991 FAP: Best Actor – Christopher De Leon; Best Child Actor – Terence Baylon; Best Editing – Efren Jarlego; Best Picture; Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; 1991 Gawad Urian: Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Picture; Best Screenplay – Olivia M. Lamasan; Best Actor Nomination – Christopher De Leon; Best Cinematography Nomination – Eduardo Jacinto; Best Direction Nomination – Laurice Guillen; Best Editing Nomination – Efren Jarlego; Best Production Design Nomination – Edgar Martin Littaua; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Terence Baylon

Film Reviews: Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos, the box-office love team of more than a dozen dramas, including “Pakawalan Mo Ako,” “Paano Ba ang Mangarap,” “Relasyon,” “Broken Marriage” and “Imortal” are reunited in this Laurice Guillen drama written by Olive M. Lamasan. They portray a married couple who try to make their marriage work despite the fact that both of them are career-oriented and that there are tensions created by the pres¬ence of their first-born child, Mike Jr., who turns out to he autistic.

At first, their marriage is close to being one made in heaven. Mike Esquivel (Christopher) is a successful lawyer, while Celina (Vilma) is a popular talkshow hostess. Celina gives up her career to devote fall time as mother to Junjun, the autistic child, played well by both Bennett Ignacio (when Junjun is three years old) and Terence Baylon (when the boy is seven years old). The husband, however, is totally unsympathetic and even considers the child a disgrace. With the wife spending practically all her waking hours to attend to her “special” child, the marriage expectedly begins to crumble. They only give themselves a second chance when Celina finds out that she is again pregnant. The second child – to father Mike’s relief – turns out to be a normal, healthy boy. But with Mike still unable to accept the first child, the marriage is on the rocks once more.

The situation worsens when Mike -driven by the abnormal conditions at home and his own self-centeredness – starts an extramarital affair with a balikbayan named Monique (Bing Loyzaga). Finally, a near tragic incident gives Mike another chance to prove himself a worthy husband to Celina and even worthier father to his kids, especially the autistic one. The movie is poignant, nevermushy. It isnotthe run-of-the-mill tearjerker that relies on maudlin theatrics and melodramatic devices to touch the hearts of moviegoers. Surprisingly, despite the frustrating problem facing the movie couple, moviegoers did not seem to be depressed by the movie.

Attempts to “commercialize” the film may be seen in the comic relief provided by the protracted spats between the two kids’ yayas (Ruby Rodriguez and Jinky Oda). But the heavy subject and the conditions in the local film industry allow us to accept the filmmakers’ decision to inject such crowd-pleasing elements. Though the late Lino Brocka has made a posthumous telemovie on the same subject autism — with a similar dramatic situation in the still-unreleased “Lampang Kerubin,” this is the first time in recent memory that a Filipino movie tackles the subject with seriousness and compassion. Beyond the subject of having an autistic child, the movie also deals with the intri¬cacies of family relationships, as indicated by the ties between Celina and her mother (Charito Solis) and a wayward sister (Vivian Foz), and between these folks and Mike’s parents (Delia Razon and Johnny Wilson). “Ipagpatawad Mo” is a major film event of the year, with quiet and restrained per-formances by the cast that erupts in emo¬tional outbursts only periodically and judiciously. – Butch Francisco, The Philippine Star (READ MORE)

“…The 1990s saw Charito Solis graduate to mother and grandmother roles, which she had done with frequency in the 1980s. In another nod to her age, she finally allowed herself to be billed above Vilma Santos, then acknowledged as the Longest-Reigning Box Office Queen of Philippine Movies, albeit above-the-title in films such as Ipagpatawad Mo (1992) and Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993)…” – Gypsy Baldovino and Yolly Tiangco (READ MORE)

“…Christopher redeems himself from his bad performance in the movie Huwag Mong Salingin ang Sugat ko, shown last week. He is in top form here, and portrays a gamut of emotions, as a father who could not accept that his son is autistic; as comfused husband who turns to another woman for comfort; as a desperate man who implores his wife to give him another chance; and as a transformed father who finally accepts his son is autistic. Vilma is exceptional, as usual. The two stars look good together. (I cannot imagine Christopher and Nora Aunor together). Although, they looke visibly – dare I say it? – old. Not even the soft-focus lens could disguise the bags under their eyes and the lines on their cheeks. Good thing Ipagpatawad Mo is a movie which deals with a more sophisticated subject, other than a man who meets a woman and they fall in love, or a married man falls-in-love with another woman and vice versa. In the future, I would like to see less cellular phones and more mature movies like this, please.” – Elvira Mata, Manila Standard, Oct 23 1991 (READ MORE)

“…Ninety percent of these autistic children are very good-looking and are good in numbers but they have a world of their own. If you teach them something, yon kung ang alam nila, no other world exists. Autism is like virus and it is not hereditary. Hindi malalaman na autistic ang isang bata until they are about three or four years old. But doctors know, when a baby is born that he or she is autistic, only they don’t dare tell the parents about it. This movie should be an eye opener for such doctors and parents.” – Nena Z. Villanueva, Manila Standard, Oct 28 1991 (READ MORE)

“…The wife was a popular talk show host. The husband was a top executive in the field of advertising. They were the ideal couple and the envy of all their friends. They seemed to lead the perfect life more so when the birth of their baby boy completed the picture of a domestic paradise. But time brought a realization that their son was not like the other normal children. He was diagnosed as autistic. The wife gave up her career to give her son every possible chance to lead a normal life but the husband could not accept his child. He thought that it was a massive blow on his masculinity. How they came to terms with the presence of this autistic child in their lives is the gist of this wonderfully crafted film…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)

Filmography: In My Life (2009)

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Basic Information: Official IML web-site; Directed: Olivia M. Lamasan; Story: Raymond Lee, Olivia M. Lamasan; Screenplay: Raymond Lee, Senedy Que, Olivia M. Lamasan; Cast: Vilma Santos, John Lloyd Cruz, Luis Manzano, Tirso Cruz III; Executive producer: Malou N. Santos; Original Music: Nonong Buencamino; Cinematography: Charlie Peralta; Film Editing: Marya Ignacio; Production Design: Elfren Vibar; Theme Song: “Something New In My Life” Performed by Sarah Geronimo

Plot Description: Santos plays Shirley, a public school librarian who wants to be in control of everything. Her unwarranted intervention in the lives of her children and their families leads to their emotional detachment from each other. Feeling she has lost her command over her children, she flies to New York to reunite with his estranged son, Mark (Manzano) only to find out that her son is gay and she has to live with him and his lover, illegal immigrant Noel (Cruz). As Shirley struggles to deal with the situation and with living in the Big Apple, she discovers that being gay is not the only huge secret that Mark is keeping. Discovering what this is will change Shirley’s life forever. – Manny The Movie Guy (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: Star Awards: Movie of the Year – Star; Best Actress – Vilma Santos; Best Actor – John Llyod Cruz; Best Supporting Actor – Luis Manzano; Best Screenplay – Lee, Que, Lamasan; Best Cinematography Nomination – Charlie Peralta; Best Editing Nomination – Marya Ignacio; Best Musical Score Nomination – Nonong Buencamino; Best Production Design Nomination – Efren Vivar; Best Sound Nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; Gawad Tanglaw: Best Film – Star Cinema; Best Actress – Ms. Vilma Santos; Best Actor – John Lloyd Cruz; Best Supporting Actor – Luis Manzano; Best Director – Olivia Lamasan; Golden Screen: Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Actor Nomination – John Llyod Cruz; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Luis Manzano; Best Motion Picture Drama Nomination – Star Cinema; Best Director Nomination – Olivia Lamasan; Best Screenplay Nominations – Lee, Lamasan, Que; Best Cinematography Nomination – Charlie Peralta; Best Editing Nomination – Marya Ignacio; Best Production Design Nomination – Elfren Vivar; Best Sound Nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; Best Musical Score Nomination – Nonong Buencamino; Gawad Urian: Best Actress Nomination – Vilma Santos; Best Actor Nomination – John Llyod Cruz; FAMAS: Best Picture Nomination – Star Cinema; Best Actor Nomination – – John Lloyd Cruz; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Luis Manzano; Best Director Nomination – Olivia M. Lamasan; Best Cinematography Nomination – Charlie Peralta; Best Sound Nomination – Albert Michael Idioma; Best Screenplay and Story Nominations – Raymond Lee/Olivia Lamasan; Best Musical Score Nomination – Nonong Buencamino; Best Art Direction Nomination – Elfren Vivar

‘In My Life’ Earns a Record on First Day – Star Cinema’s “In My Life,” the ABS-CBN movie outfit’s grandest film offering for 2009, earned a record P20 million in ticket sales on its first day of screening on Wednesday. This was according to the data released by Star Cinema’s Booking and Distribution Department, “SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon” reported. Under the direction of well-acclaimed director Olivia Lamasan, “In My Live” is posing to surpass the total earnings of Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos’ 2002 Star Cinema film, “Dekada ’70.” “Dekada ’70” was Santos last film project before she agreed to do “In My Life.” “In My Life” lead stars Luis Manzano, John Lloyd Cruz and Santos were grateful to all moviegoers who supported their film. “Maraming salamat po sa inyo. It’s a happy movie. Medyo may kurot sa puso. Buhay niyo po ito, iyong nanay niyo at kung paano magmahal nang unconditional,” Santos said. Cruz added: “Sa totoo lang hindi ako makapaniwala na natapos ko itong movie at naka-trabaho ko si Ate Vi, si inang (Lamasan). I will be forever grateful sa naabot kong ito.” Manzano also thanked all those who commended him for his genuine portrayal of a gay man. “Hindi po biro ang pinanggalingan naming lahat. So the fact na masabi iyon na I gave justice to Mark’s role, napakalaking bagay na po noon para sa akin. Thank you very much,” Manzano said. – ABS-CBN NEWS 09/17/2009

In My life screened in selected cities in United States and Canada in October of 2009 with huge success; Ranked 13th on the All-time highest-grossing local films, earning 2.89M US$ (135.74M PH)

kabahan ka – “…Veteran actresses Anita Linda and Rustica Carpio, who play two elderly women at opposing ends of a murder case in the Brillante Mendoza drama “Lola,” shared the Best Actress award at the 33rd Urian Awards given by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino on Thursday night. “Lola” tells the story of grandmothers who find themselves at opposite ends of a murder case involving their grandsons. “Some people told me, ‘You’re nominated for Best Actress pero kalaban mo si (but you’re running against) Vilma (Santos for ‘In My Life’) kaya dapat kabahan ka na (so you should be nervous). Everybody knows how good an actress she is.’ To be nominated alongside Vilma and the other ladies, panalo na agad ako (already makes me a winner),” Linda told the Inquirer shortly after the awards show held at the UP Cine Adarna at University of the Philippines compound in Diliman, Quezon City…” – Marinel Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 05/01/2010 (READ MORE)

Film Review: The Librarian Review: “Losyang” Librarian? – In My Life, which stars Vilma Santos as a librarian, opens on September 16 and, predictably enough, articles about the film are beginning to appear. In “Direk Olive’s ‘In My Life’ is bold and fresh,” by Walden Sadiri (Manila Bulletin, 2009), its director Olive Lamasan is quoted as saying that she helped Santos “rehearse how a librarian walks and looks ‘losyang.'” If this were an article for a scholarly journal, I suppose some questions that could be asked are: Is there such a thing as a “librarian walk”? Are all librarians losyang (Tagalog slang for unglamorous)? But it probably isn’t fair to ask such questions of an article that only seeks to promote the release of a soon-to-be shown film.

I think it’s important to remember that Lamasan is talking about a specific character in a particular film. And that it would be a mistake to focus only on this one phrase in the 20-paragraph article or judge the entire movie based on how the librarian is portrayed. I don’t think there was any intention to characterize ALL librarians as losyang. But we also cannot deny that this stereotypical librarian exists. I look at the photo above and remember that more than a few librarians I’ve met dress exactly that way. Should the director perhaps have made sure that all kinds of librarians were represented in her film? It’s not her responsibility to do so and that’s not really how movies are made.

Librarians can probably condemn the movie and/or call for a boycott, but what will that accomplish? I think it’s much better to take this opportunity to say that, yes, there is an existing stereotype, but there are so many different kinds of librarians AND promote what these librarians are doing that do not fit the stereotype. The reason the image of the losyang librarian persists is that people do not see any other kind of librarian in media. This is the reason I always identify myself as a librarian AND started putting my photo on my blog. If we do not present alternative images of librarians, there is no way the stereotype will be replaced. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

We can’t just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that’s why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish. We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It’s not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs =)

An article entitled “It’s hip to be a librarian” appeared in the same newspaper last month. A few weeks before that, the influence of Reynaldo G. Alejandro as a librarian on a young boy was specifically mentioned by the grown journalist who benefited from his guidance. It is my hope that more journalists will consider doing more stories about non-stereotypical librarians on TV and in print. And that librarians will be more conscious about promoting their profession as well. – The Filipino Librarian (READ MORE)

The best thing about it is that it got made. Star Cinema, the most mainstream of movie studios in the country, lagged behind the so-called gay bandwagon, perhaps by strict design: It’s not supposed to be their territory. Homosexuality, believed to be a niche concern, presumably falls outside the realm of Star Cinema’s broad, PG-13 market. Yet by some dint of miracle, it casts Vilma Santos, one of the biggest stars ever, and a present provincial governor no less, in the main role of a mother to a gay son, played by Luis Manzano, Santos’ real life son. And then, oh boy, in the role of Manzano’s lover, the country’s current most bankable romantic leading man, John Lloyd Cruz. It’s directed by Olivia Lamasan, whose female-centered melodramas have come to emblematize the Star Cinema brand. With such trusted names, is there still reason for the public to shy away from the gay topic?

The uncanny hat-trick of In My Life is that the bandwagon it jumps is not the gay one, but still the female-centered family melodrama that Star Cinema helped galvanize, and also the OFW movie — a drama mapping the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers and their families — perhaps one of only two originally Filipino genres to emerge from our lifetime. (The other one is the macho dancer movie.) This one is largely set in New York City, and it’s centrally the woman’s story, with the gay elements tempered and almost subliminal. That is the film’s winning strategy, but also its debilitating blind spot.

What suffers is specificity. What do we know of the two guys’ relationship? Most of it is left to the imagination, or, more accurately, to That Which We Know But Never Show Or Talk About. Is their relationship even sexual? The film’s one kiss, which arrives late in the movie, is a swift, barely-brushed lip-to-limp. It’s also meant to express apology and forgiveness — you know, the wholesome, Catholic facet of love. It’s hard for me to muster enough love for a movie that’s intentionally castrated and guilty.

But it’s not just the sex that’s missing. I vaguely get to understand the lives of these two gay men in New York City. For example, what is Mark’s job and why is he so damn busy? There’s also a gay bar, but we barely see what goes on there, or what the interior even looks like. And the ultimate missing information: Is Noel gay, bi, confused, pretending, or maybe just another straight guy who happens to love a gay guy? It’s up to the viewer to decide; Your Mom might have a different opinion than you. Cruz’s family-friendly persona is spared of the damage. Not to give away spoilers, but he does end up quite a chaste man by film’s end. All’s well in the happy sin-free world, where only one of two things can happen to a gay man: He either dies violently or just stops being gay.

Of course, John Lloyd Cruz as Noel is the archetypal leading man of Star Cinema: a man who loves unconditionally, who suffers for his love, who also happens to be devoted to his parents. He’s predictably given moments to bare his heart out. But Manzano as Mark is the more interesting creation. He’d rather go to the gym than spend time with his Mom, and he makes that strange proposal to her (I won’t give away the surprise), tapping into a son who’s both practical and caring, tough and sweet. Plus, with all that missing sex in the movie, Manzano manages to hint at someone who’s comfortable with it, next to Cruz’s somewhat frozen take on man-to-man touching.

But what little gay moments that are permitted to slip through are strong. In one scene, Shirley (Santos) complains that her son never even “came out” to her. In defense, Mark points out the double standard: If his straight siblings were never obligated to declare their straightness, why should he announce his gayness? Lamasan’s co-writers, Raymond Lee and Senedy Que, are minds behind two of the most progressive queer films of our time. (Lee produced Ang Pagdadalaga Ni Maximo Oliveros; Que wrote and directed Dose.) Like those films, In My Life belies a fierce intelligence, wisdom that comes from a place of experience, at least whenever it’s allowed. The film’s most special move is that it roots Mark’s anxiety — He’s never good enough for Mom — to that moment in adolescence when he felt his homosexuality was a disappointment. But the makers don’t know when to ease up on the melodramatic conventions, which stall the movie here and there. Shirley’s journey is marked with obvious, rigid plotpoints. She spends the first part whining about America with a capital A, then finds mini-success as a career woman, complete with feel-good montage. There’s an old-fashioned, weary mannerism to Lamasan’s approach, not helped by her visual team. New York is a flat, gray city in the eyes of cinematographer Charlie Peralta, and lifeless and generic according to production designer Elfren Vibar. Somewhere in this movie is a shining work of art, but it’s shrouded in mediocrity. GRADE: B – The Bakla Review (READ MORE)

It is easy to blame it on distance. They say distance kills families. Distance breeds rebellious children who account their parentless childhood for lack of love towards them. It breeds children who don’t finish school and do drugs instead. It breeds children who would rather party all night than call their parents and ask them how they’re doing. It breeds children who complain they can’t find time to call their parents because it’s so late, why don’t they just call me instead? And when the parents call, Oh, shit, tell them I’m busy. Studying. These children who have always thought that the lack of attention given to them, like Claudine Barretto’s character in Anak, is more important than the attention given to them. They don’t need material things, they don’t need tuition for school, they don’t need extra allowance, they don’t need a secure home and steady future: what they need is the only thing not given to them. Their parents rearing them, being with them, seeing them everyday.

Like that scene, the best moments in the film are those which meld specific personal experience to the anyone-can-relate universal — which is really the aim of the genre of melodrama. Santos may be a mother to a gay son, but she’s really just any parent who wants to say sorry for her mistakes. Dimples Romana, in a great supporting performance, is any daughter (or son) who felt like a failure. That response to parental distance is not exactly wrong, but the movies made out of it make it appear that distance is the only reason why families break up, and why children lose their lines of communication with their parents. No one wants to go away, no one wants to work abroad and leave their children behind, no one wants to see them brought up by somebody else. But a family has to eat, kids have to go to school, young ladies need nice clothes for the prom, boys need boy things, the house must be repaired, your cousin Boyet has cancer, your Lolo Tasyo died and we have to pay for the coffin and the funeral parlor, and so on and so forth. Necessities pile up, so parents try their luck abroad and stay there for years. Children are left to stay with their lolos and lolas, or titos and titas. Parents send money once or twice a month, send boxes of imported goods, chocolates, clothes, love letters. Years go by. They go back. They see the worth of their sacrifice. Their children have all grown up. They don’t even recognize them, even if they send pictures once a year on their birthdays. But some things are lost, some things are left unsaid between them, or rather, some things are preferred not to be said. The distance mattered. From geographical to emotional, the distance continues to separate them.

But as I said, it is easy to hold the distance responsible. The homebreaker. The murderer of good relationships. We are so acquainted with these overseas worker stories that we tend to limit our understanding and segregate them into labeled “lucky” and “unlucky” boxes. In My Life closes the deal for me upon setting this matter straight. In this case, the son works abroad and the mother follows him, initially for a vacation. After mulling things over, or as it seems, she plans to stay for good. She thinks she has nowhere to go. Her daughter is migrating to Australia. Her former husband and her children prod her to agree to sell the house more than its worth. Staying in New York wouldn’t be a bad idea, especially that she is an American citizen by birth.

The baggage of family problems she carries dents the narrative. Apparently, working in another country is an issue here. But it is not what keeps her family apart. For one, her daughter and her family want to stay in Australia holding on the promise of better life. Her son works in New York after an opportunity given to him by his employer. Or—he chooses to stay because he wants the hell out of his boring life in the Philippines. Or—sounding more judgmental, maybe he just wants to have fun, collect strangers, knit love stories out of them and make himself happy. Or—we just don’t know how many reasons we can come up with. But I wish to raise my tone here. Distance is not the problem. It is the mother’s failure to bring up her children well.

As you see, the same producers who gave us Milan, Dubai, and Caregiver also made For The First Time and Love Me Again. Once love and work are set in another place, they become special. And In My Life is special in the virtue of the mother’s character as a failed one. She spent time with her children trying to raise them like any good mother does. She hardly listened to what they wanted because she thought she knew what’s best for them. She was there, as they all grew up. Along the way, her children made choices, and she was unaware that she was neglecting things that were important to them. Her son’s sexuality, her daughter’s dream of becoming a doctor, her husband’s unknown reason for splitting up. In defense of her character, she did her best. But she failed, and it took its toll on her. Gravely.

She had to realize it—so there goes the fish-out-of-the-water setup in New York. She meets her son’s partner who willingly guides her in the city. The partner is heavily used as a device to reveal her nature. Personally, it is the mother’s relationship with him—as opposed to the mother-son or mother-daughter or mother-herself relationship—that is integral to the film’s premise. The most beautiful part of the film is not when her son confesses to her about his childhood, but when she and her son’s partner exchange snide remarks after the wake, and they argue and throw rocks of guilt at each other. From then on the doubt we raised on her character becomes truth. She has no one to blame for her suffering but herself.

The woman who plays the mother tries hard to be young, which might be the pattern of her recent films. It is not a bad path after all, for one has to graduate from doing the same things for a long time. She has comedic timing, and she has dramatic prowess. When she complains, “Ginagawa niya akong turista! Ikaw ang pinunta ko rito, hindi ‘yung tour!” we laugh because she is witty. When she throws a tantrum after getting lost in the subway, we hate her. Apart from knowing that it was her fault, we can’t stand the charming partner being blamed despite his niceness by an ingrate. It crossed my mind to call her character one of the weakest roles ever written for her, but that’s just because Shirley Templo isn’t too likable. She is repulsive most of the time. Reflecting, the actor has portrayed “unlikable” characters before, even taboo roles for that matter, yet we still like her. But in In My Life, her role tends to go beyond understanding; you just need to be her to understand her. Yet the actor delivers; she deceives us.

But the blood of the film flows from the actor who plays the son’s partner. Amid the histrionics and uneven noise of the film in general, he shows his restraint without fuss. Apparently the writers intend to make his character subdued. He exists in the periphery without losing his grip. When he cries at his partner’s back as he hugs him on the bridge, he is the equivalent of sacrifice. Never show the pain, never show the loneliness. That’s us, on the screen. The brief exposure of his family’s life is enough for us to connect with him. Contrary to the emphasis given to the mother’s family, we would like to know him more, know if the lump in his mother’s breast is just a false alarm, know if he’s just fine after crying overnight. We learn about his troubles in staying in the States, how he juggles work and hobby, how he struggles to earn for his marriage. God forbid, we don’t want him to fall into the arms of Pamela. His issues are more interesting, yet what makes him special is that like most people around us, we only get to know him up to a certain extent. He comes and goes. We miss him. We want to see if he’s fine. His distance unsettles us, in a good way.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that these locations that the producers choose are just a way to make more money. They could show it abroad and Filipinos there would flock to the theaters, filled with expectations of connecting with the film one way or another, see their lives projected on screen, see themselves in the characters. It’s some sort of self-discovery. They want to be intimate with themselves, see how it works, see their situations from afar, observe how other people react. Their identification with the characters is what they paid the tickets for. If they don’t shed a tear, that’s disappointment. But more often they just find ways to connect. They look at the nuances with affection, checking if the characters reacted the same way they did in similar situations. Audiences seek connection, and if they don’t find it, they create it. Even if the film is more of an examination of their faults as parents and children than the circumstances that brought them where they are. – Written by Richard Bolisay in Asian Films, Noypi, Queer – Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos seldom appears in movies anymore, so when she does it is an event. In My Life is a good choice because she is allowed to act her age. Her character Shirley Templo (great name) is cute but frequently unsympathetic and even irritating, the way fussy old people who are set in their ways, who are resistant to anything new and never admit their own mistakes, are irritating. A human being! Wow. But she is still Ate Vi so there will be dancing. The bagel guy, though: too ancient. The extras: Please…” – Jessica Zafra (READ MORE)

“…Her last film project In My Life told of a mother (Vilma Santos) coming to terms with her son’s (Luis Manzano) gay lifestyle, understanding the emotions of his lover (John Lloyd Cruz) and accepting her own defects as a person and mother. One reviewer stated that the story of In My Life was just too much to digest with a lot of unnecessary subplots. Another said that the acting was fine but it didn’t need to be shot in New York. Still another complained that it was the mother’s story with the gay relationship glossed over. It was obvious they weren’t ready for the film…” – Bibsy M. Carballo, The Philippine Star, August 31, 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos chose this as her comeback film in lieu of Raya Martin’s Independencia. The latter film is among the best films released so far this year, while In My Life will soon be forgotten after the media hype whimpers down. The blurbs boldly scream… Passionate scene of John Lloyd Cruz and Luis Manzano! Acting showdown between Cruz and Vilma!! 16th Anniversary Presentation of Star Cinema! The prolific production company should have selected a better story for the triumvirate of Vilma, Cruz, and Manzano…The much-hyped passionate scene is a dud. If you blink, then you will probably miss it. The beautiful shot before the kissing scene is the one that should have been talked about. We see Noel hugging Mark while a tear drop rolls down his cheek. Now, that is a passionate person who is very much in love! There are directing and script flaws that bother me. The travelogue scenes diminish the impact of the fish-out-of-the-water concept. The initial scenes give the impression that Shirley is very much adapted to the city. Also, Shirley is not a bumbling moron. She is an educated person and a librarian at that. The wacky scenes are completely out of line. The film seems to be about how a mother comes to grips with her homophobia. Well, it turns out, that she is not only distant to her son but also to her two daughters. She is not homophobic. She is plainly a bad mother. How she ended up being a bad mother was not tackled at all. The film was so caught up with other topics such as marriage for convenience, and gay couples that it forgot the major topic…” – Film Angel (READ MORE)

“…Vilma said she chose In My Life as her comeback movie because she feels “challenged” to do it. “Kung wala yung excitement, hindi challenging yun sa iyo. Pero once na na feel mo na you’re excited, the whole thing from the script actors shooting hanggang ipalabas na yan yung excitement mo nandun. That’s very, very challenging for an artist,” she said. However, it took a while for her to accept the project, because it meant spending time away from her duties as the governor of Batangas. When Star Cinema offered the movie to her two years ago, she said she had to say no to it because she had just won the government seat. “E, kung gagawin po namin yun at that time wala pa kong isang taon nagsisilbi as governor. Kaya nakiusap po ako baka puwedeng maka-isang taon lang po akong governor bago natin magawa uli,” Vilma explained. After some years of serving as the provinces’ mother, Vilma finally said yes to play another one-of-a-kind mom role. She said she can never leave the biz. “Kahit po siguro ngayong nasa pulitika na ko hindi po talaga maaalis talaga yung dugo kong artista. Talagang hinahanap ko po. Kapag nanonood ako ng TV hinanahanap ko talaga,” the veteran actress explained. In My Life, for her, is a very different experience. “First time ako nagkaton ng ganitong itsura sa pelikula. And second, parang may pagka-comedy ba, yung character niya pero hindi naman siya nagpapatawa,” she said. When the children of Shirley (Vilma’s character) grow up and begin to have lives of their own, she thinks that nobody loves her anymore. “Yung character ko dito lihis na lihis sa totoo kong character sa buhay. Yung feeling ko dito hindi siya mahal. Cold. Parang may laging iniisip na negatibo. Which is kabaligtaran ng totoong character ko sa buhay,” Vilma explained…” – Mark Angelo Ching, 02 Sep 2009 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos has become the poster girl for these cinematic suffering mothers, having played the progressive mother of children from different fathers in Chito Roño’s Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? (Lea’s Story, 1998), the maltreated maid from Hong Kong who returns to Manila to ungrateful children in Anak, and the indefatigable mother in Roño’s 2003 adaptation of Lualhati Bautista’s famous novel Dekada ’70, where a middle class family wades through the turbulent decade and evolves from convenient apathy to activism and awareness. In Olivia Lamasan’s In My Life, she plays Shirley Templo, an effective yet stubborn mother to openly gay Mark (Luis Manzano, Santos’ son in real life). Shirley Templo is the culmination of all the mothers that Santos has played: assured because she can pinpoint every little comfort and pleasure that she dutifully has given up for her children and because of that, feels entitled to her children’s undivided loyalty and attention. Thus, when Shirley decides to move to New York City with Mark after learning that her daughter (Dimples Romana, who does wonders in the little role she has; that scene where she laments of her dissolved dream of becoming a doctor is precious) has decided to migrate elsewhere, Noel (John Lloyd Cruz), Mark’s overly loyal boyfriend who is staying illegally in the United States, suddenly becomes the third wheel in Shirley’s belated attempt to reconnect with her son. There is no denying that Santos is a terrific actress. Recently however, she has limited herself to roles that are quite unvaried, to the point of Santos becoming a predictable if not mechanical performer. Her Shirley Templo, while an always entertaining presence because of her amusing quirks (Santos has exquisite comedic timing) and the skill and experience that Santos gives her during the many emotional highlights in the film, feels more like a derivative of everything the actress has done in the last decade. Fortunately, Cruz, who has graduated from playing charming yet soulless boys next door in the many romantic comedies he starred in, gives formidable support to Santos. The methodical manner Cruz gives life to Noel (the extra split seconds that he has his mouth open after every word that is shouted with subtle inflection; the slight gestures that hint of the femininity underneath the masculine exterior) is complemented by the sensitivity and charisma that the actor naturally exudes. Manzano, although largely inconsistent, does quite well, even alongside more talented and more experienced actors like Santos and Cruz…” – Oggs Cruz, Oggsmoggs, 22 Sep 2009 (READ MORE)

“…This begs the question: should we expect this kind of progressive view on homosexuality from the mainstream in general and In My Life in particular? Perhaps not. In an industry dominated by conservative values—rooted in the ideal economic feasibility of a G-rated film—In My Life’s gay publicity is simply a ruse, the film’s bid to package itself as daring and sensitive, as is fitting for the Star of All Seasons. Vilma Santos’s comeback cannot be centered on anything but her. The film must project Vilma as a daring actress (and liberal-minded politician) willing to tackle controversial roles, while maintaining her palatable sensitivity as the ordinary matriarch of Anak and Dekada ’70 fame. In My Life, then, is ultimately a film about mothers. Though packaged as a queer film, it is actually a family movie, the much-publicized homosexual angle between Cruz and Manzano just one of the many issues mothers like Shirley have to deal with in these times…” – Edgar Allan Paule, Viewer Discretion, 14 Oct 2009 (READ MORE)

“…Perhaps one of the most rare and unforgettable showcases of a librarian in the history of Philippine movies was Vilma Santos, known as Philippine’s Star for All Seasons. Vilma had a stint in the movie In My Life released in 2009. The film was about the struggles of a mother, Shierly Templo, feeling alone and left out of her brood, with her daughter expressing the desire to migrate to Australia and her gay son already working in New York…The movie was really not that descriptive of the librarian role as the main character only showed up in library and school scenes in just few frames. No scene firmly suggests her activities inside the library except her acts of hissing students. She can be identified as a stereotypical librarian complete with her glasses and her choice of classic cardigans and coats; a staple to stereotypical librarian fashion. She was also punningly recognizable in the way the character shushes her workmates in the restaurant where she worked later in New York…” – InterLibnet, 08 May 2015 (READ MORE)

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