Film Review: Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw


The Plot:
 “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” directed by Celso Ad Castillo started with Nanette (Vilma Santos) meeting Rod (Christopher Deleon) while vacationing in their rest house along the beach. It was clear to both that it was love at first sight but this instant chemistry ended when they discovered they are first cousins. Faith continued to play an important role to their initial attraction as Rod joined Nanette along with her parent to Manila where Rod was permitted by his parent to continue his study. Rod and Nanette at first decided to resist their feeling for each other by dating other people but their love for each other are more intense than what their mind dictates. The two started to have a secret affair culminating to a hot sex when they came back to the rest house when another summer arrives. As expected Nanette gets pregnant and the problem to expose, their taboo affair is ticking. Worst, Nanette’s morning sickness was noticeable to her suspicious mother played wonderfully by Lorli Villanueva. When finally Nanette’s family found out her condition, she was beaten by her angry father but she remained tight lipped to tell who impregnated her. As Rod tried to remained his calm, Nanette’s family locked her to her room until she’s ready to talk. Rod climbed to the balcony to speak to her and that’s when Nanette’s family discovered who is the father. As Rod came down to the balcony, he was cursed by both parents and was beaten by them as Nanette beg for mercy. Rod was hospitalized as his parent came from the province and beg for forgiveness to the angry Julio (Eddie Garcia), Nanette’s father. Julio was fuming and throws the couple out the house. He also mentioned that they are planning to abort Nanette’s baby. When Rod found out from his parents the planned abortion, he left the hospital and went back to his uncle’s house. Very timely, Rod arrives as Nanette together with her family was headed to the abortion clinic. With the help of two security guards, Rod was controlled as his uncle’s car passed him and Nanette cried for intervention. Rod followed the car and was almost successful as the car stopped for the traffic lights. But his attempt failed as the car continued its destination. The end.

The Review: The Catholic Church prohibits marriage between first cousins and it is considered a sin. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw successfully tackles this topic with convincing scenarios and believable characters. Celso Ad Castillo’s style remained true to many films in the 60s with canned music and repetitive voice over by its two main characters. One scene you will hear Christopher narrates his feelings and the next scene it was Vilma’s turn to speak. Most of this narration or voice over while they are playing in the rain on the streets or on beach. This is the first film by Vilma Santos and Christopher Deleon and it was clear that the two have that chemistry on screen. The film ensemble was quite impressive starting with Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva as Nanette’s parents. As Julio, Eddie Garcia was animated at times but his character balances out the mother role of Lorli Villanueva. Joseph Sytanco’s role as Nanette brother was minimal and he doesn’t have enough lines but his quiet scenes were effective. Johnee Gamboa and Odette Khan’s performance as Rod’s parents were excellent. The agony on Odette’s voice as Johnee, her husband begs for forgiveness on behalf of their son was very believable. The two main characters, Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos obviously carried the film with surprising maturity. Considering this was their first team-up and both were very young. In 1975, both were still in transitions, from teenybopper stars of the musical era to serious actors. Christopher Deleon’s performance was quite impressive as the apologetic Rod, except for some scenes where you can see his nostril moves, he gave a very affecting performance. Vilma Santos equally balance the equation with a touching show of emotions that we seldom see in her early films that are mostly musicals, fantasy or comedies. Three scenes stand out. First was in the bus where she confronted her “Kuya Rod” to not to give-up on their relationship. Second when her parents caught them in the balcony. She begs them to stop beating up her “Kuya Rod.” And then finally, the driving to the abortion clinic scene, she cried her heart out begging them to stop and cried for help to her “Kuya Rod,” who was running behind and trying very hard to stop the car. Celso Ad Castillo successfully gave us a very moving film.

Even with the very annoying number of voice-over scenes, scenes that you will hear the two main characters talks but you will see them not opening their mouth, the film has so many good qualities that you will forgive these flaws. We probably attributed these flaws to the style of many films in the 60s and 70s. Ricardo David’s cinematography was excellent particularly the many scenes on the streets. You can see many spontaneous shots of people that were gawking at Christopher Deleon running like a maniac. David’s very intricate camera work inside the car, dinner table and at the living room while Nanette’s mother was playing piano adds to the intense mood of the film, this is despite some shot where you can see the shadow of the camera particularly when Christopher left the house because he can’t stand to see Nanette being slap repeatedly by her angry father. The film was fast paced, thanks to Augusto Salvador’s editing. There are many scenes where the background music matches the mood like the choir/choral-like music at the very end of the film but Ernani Cuenco used so many canned music that sometimes it was very distracting. Like the voice over style used by Castillo, the musical score used in this film was typical of the 60s and 70s. Even the excellent Lino Brocka film, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” used this kind of style. Overall, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw was a superb film that highlighted the potential on screen chemistry and talents of the screen team of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos. For their fans, I would recommend to have a copy of this classic film. – RV (READ MORE).

“…Celso Ad Castillo: I see the movie in my mind even before I start shooting. I’m meticulous. I control everything on the set, even during post-production — from editing and music to sound. My audience knows my style. It’s like painting: You discover your style, then you do it. I caught “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” with Vilma Santos and Boyet de Leon on Cinema One the other day, and I clearly saw my own style, in terms of sensitivity, shots and drama. – Ronald Mangubat, Inquirer, 06/09/2007

“…The problem of love in Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw stems not from the lovers per se but from their ill fate as cousins. The factors are both socially dictated and morally stringent, situations that they cannot change no matter what they do. Even if they go on living together, they will still be hounded by the truth. Wherever they go, that truth cannot be proven false. Fate did two unpardonable things to them: bring them together and break them up. It is inevitable to question if it was their fault—or if their love was a fault at all, or if it was the society’s fault, for imposing the way things should be. The film makes a point of raising doubts on our moral attitudes and obligations, without telling us what is right or wrong but simply showing what happens when the doors of people’s minds are closed forever—when refusal to understand ruins happy couples’s lives. All desperation peaks in the end. The heartbreaking ten-minute chase stands as a powerful statement on what love can do in the harshest of circumstances. It is a perfectly executed sequence, that aside from showing the extent of possibilities that they are willing to get themselves into just to be together, it also delivers the horror of the couple’s misery, of the inability of their love to win –of losing each other forever.

First we see Nanette being dragged down the stairs by her father and brother as she begs for her child not be aborted. Rod, coming from the hospital, arrives and screams for mercy. Not to be moved by their plea, the father drives the car out of the house. Rod runs after it, limping, and chases the car in the middle of the road until he catches up. He hits the car, kicks it, and breaks the window. A lot of bystanders look after them. When he is able to jump into the rear of the car, he struggles to hold onto it, as the father willfully swerves the car to drop him behind. He kisses the window. Nanette struggles against her mother and brother holding her. She tries to touch his face in the window. And he falls—he falls hard on the ground. Getting up, he runs again. Levi Celerio’s “‘Yan Ba’y Kasalanan” plays in the background. Everything feels so real and timeless, it can only be real and timeless….” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

“…Ad Castillo’s Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw (Monsoon Rain in Summer, 1975) is about a young man (Christopher de Leon) who dorms with his uncle and aunt and falls in love with his cousin (played by a waiflike Vilma Santos). Ad Castillo tackles the sensational subject of incest by framing the two lovers’ relationship as a kind of innocent affair, taking place in a countryside Eden. It’s the kind of hackneyed concept that really shouldn’t work; the result ought to be less like D.H. Lawrence and more like Emmanuelle. But Ad Castillo happens to have one of the most prodigiously talented eye in all of Philippine cinema, and the heedlessly lyrical manner in which he shot Tag-Ulan transforms softcore porn into something like art. Every rainfall, every shaft of light, every leafy shadow caught by his largely handheld camera makes you catch your breath; there is lovemaking without nudity, yet Ad Castillo shoots with such throbbing intensity you are nevertheless aroused…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

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Filmography: Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (1975)

“Kuya Rod…ayokong magsisi ka…nasasaktan ako…basta’t mahal kita, mahal na mahal kita, basta’t mahal mo ako, hindi tayo dapat magsisi, hindi tayo dapat mahiya!” – Nanette

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Basic Information: Directed, story: Celso Ad. Castillo; Screenplay: Mauro Gia Samonte; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Eddie Garcia, Lorli Villanueva, Joseph Sytangco, Joonee Gamboa, Odette Khan, Pedro Faustino, Alma Moreno, Rez Cortez, Soxy Topacio, Eva Darren, Edna Diaz, Nympha Bonifacio; Executive producer: Lourdes S. Sevilla; Original Music: Ernani Cuenco; Cinematography: Ricardo M. David; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Baby Alvarez; Sound: Manuel Daves; Released date: 24 October 1975

Plot Description: First cousins, Rod (Christopher Deleon) and Nanette (Vilma Santos) fell in love. The result was an unwanted pregnancy and a scandal that their family have to endured and ended into a trip to the abortion clinic. RV

A young co-ed (Vilma Santos) falls in love with her first-degree cousin (Christopher De Leon), who stays with her family while studying in Manila. Their forbidden affair, which they keep secret from their family, is revealed when she becomes pregnant. For the scandalized family, abortion is the only solution left, which the two lovers resist. – ABS-CBN (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: The very first film of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos, considered as one of the most successful love team Philippine cinema ever produced. As of 2008, Deleon and Santos has twenty-three films under their belt.

Film Review: The film “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” directed by Celso Ad Castillo started with Nanette (Vilma Santos) meeting Rod (Christopher Deleon) while vacationing in their rest house along the beach. It was clear to both that it was love at first sight but this instant chemistry ended when they discovered they are first cousins. Faith continued to play an important role to their initial attraction as Rod joined Nanette along with her parent to Manila where Rod was permitted by his parent to continue his study. Rod and Nanette at first decided to resist their feeling for each other by dating other people but their love for each other are more intense than what their mind dictates. The two started to have a secret affair culminating to a hot sex when they came back to the rest house when another summer arrives.

As expected Nanette gets pregnant and the problem to expose, their taboo affair is ticking. Worst, Nanette’s morning sickness was noticeable to her suspicious mother played wonderfully by Lorli Villanueva. When finally Nanette’s family found out her condition, she was beaten by her angry father but she remained tight lipped to tell who impregnated her. As Rod tried to remained his calm, Nanette’s family locked her to her room until she’s ready to talk. Rod climbed to the balcony to speak to her and that’s when Nanette’s family discovered who is the father. As Rod came down to the balcony, he was cursed by both parents and was beaten by them as Nanette beg for mercy. Rod was hospitalized as his parent came from the province and beg for forgiveness to the angry Julio (Eddie Garcia), Nanette’s father. Julio was fuming and throws the couple out the house. He also mentioned that they are planning to abort Nanette’s baby.

When Rod found out from his parents the planned abortion, he left the hospital and went back to his uncle’s house. Very timely, Rod arrives as Nanette together with her family was headed to the abortion clinic. With the help of two security guards, Rod was controlled as his uncle’s car passed him and Nanette cried for intervention. Rod followed the car and was almost successful as the car stopped for the traffic lights. But his attempt failed as the car continued its destination. The end.

The Catholic Church prohibits marriage between first cousins and it is considered a sin. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw successfully tackles this topic with convincing scenarios and believable characters. Celso Ad Castillo’s style remained true to many films in the 60s with canned music and repetitive voice over by its two main characters. One scene you will hear Christopher narrates his feelings and the next scene it was Vilma’s turn to speak. Most of this narration or voice over while they are playing in the rain on the streets or on beach.

This is the first film by Vilma Santos and Christopher Deleon and it was clear that the two have that chemistry on screen. The film ensemble was quite impressive starting with Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva as Nanette’s parents. As Julio, Eddie Garcia was animated at times but his character balances out the mother role of Lorli Villanueva. Joseph Sytanco’s role as Nanette brother was minimal and he doesn’t have enough lines but his quiet scenes were effective. Johnee Gamboa and Odette Khan’s performance as Rod’s parents were excellent. The agony on Odette’s voice as Johnee, her husband begs for forgiveness on behalf of their son was very believable.

The two main characters, Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos obviously carried the film with surprising maturity. Considering this was their first team-up and both were very young. In 1975, both were still in transitions, from teenybopper stars of the musical era to serious actors. Christopher Deleon’s performance was quite impressive as the apologetic Rod, except for some scenes where you can see his nostril moves, he gave a very affecting performance. Vilma Santos equally balance the equation with a touching show of emotions that we seldom see in her early films that are mostly musicals, fantasy or comedies.

Three scenes stand out. First was in the bus where she confronted her “Kuya Rod” to not to give-up on their relationship. Second when her parents caught them in the balcony. She begs them to stop beating up her “Kuya Rod.” And then finally, the driving to the abortion clinic scene, she cried her heart out begging them to stop and cried for help to her “Kuya Rod,” who was running behind and trying very hard to stop the car. Celso Ad Castillo successfully gave us a very moving film. Even with the very annoying number of voice-over scenes, scenes that you will hear the two main characters talks but you will see them not opening their mouth, the film has so many good qualities that you will forgive these flaws. We probably attributed these flaws to the style of many films in the 60s and 70s.

Ricardo David’s cinematography was excellent particularly the many scenes on the streets. You can see many spontaneous shots of people that were gawking at Christopher Deleon running like a maniac. David’s very intricate camera work inside the car, dinner table and at the living room while Nanette’s mother was playing piano adds to the intense mood of the film, this is despite some shot where you can see the shadow of the camera particularly when Christopher left the house because he can’t stand to see Nanette being slap repeatedly by her angry father.

The film was fast paced, thanks to Augusto Salvador’s editing. There are many scenes where the background music matches the mood like the choir/choral-like music at the very end of the film but Ernani Cuenco used so many canned music that sometimes it was very distracting. Like the voice over style used by Castillo, the musical score used in this film was typical of the 60s and 70s. Even the excellent Lino Brocka film, “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang” used this kind of style. Overall, Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw was a superb film that highlighted the potential on screen chemistry and talents of the screen team of Christopher Deleon and Vilma Santos. For their fans, I would recommend to have a copy of this classic film. Special thanks to Liam Tayag for downloading this film via Youtube. RV

Celso Ad Castillo: I see the movie in my mind even before I start shooting. I’m meticulous. I control everything on the set, even during post-production — from editing and music to sound. My audience knows my style. It’s like painting: You discover your style, then you do it. I caught “Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw” with Vilma Santos and Boyet de Leon on Cinema One the other day, and I clearly saw my own style, in terms of sensitivity, shots and drama. – Ronald Mangubat, Inquirer, 06/09/2007

Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw is the first screen team-up of Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon. That fact alone gives the film a unique importance. This partnership paved the way for a string of memorable films together. They played notable roles, shared celebrated scenes, delivered unforgettable dialogues, and reaped acclaim for their performances. Theirs is the ripest love team in Philippine cinema, transcending cheap romance in exchange of maturity, often appearing as a couple in the hardest of circumstances. In Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw, they play cousins who fall in love with each other, and knowing it is socially unacceptable, they try to fall out of it. It seems awkward for a first team-up, considering its taboo subject, but seeing young Vilma and Boyet weep as they fight for their impossible love story, it only shows that they only get better the harder their roles are.

It is already clear in the beginning that their romance is doomed. Rod and Nanette meet in a beach house owned by her parents, who bring Rod along to stay in their place in Manila to study. It is love at first sight—Rod sees her playing along with her friends in the beach and as she runs to get her dog, they exchange names, glances, and affection. Right that very moment, they are in love. They walk around the place, holding hands, sharing their surprise on how comfortable they already are with each other. There is nothing really malicious about it. We all know that their affection is sincere. They have longed for it—and it came. – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (Read More)

Noel insisted that I watch Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw, a Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon movie from the 70s. Hadn’t realized it was written and directed by Celso Ad. Castillo, the demented genius of Philippine cinema. I used to see the movie on TV ages ago, and I’ve never forgotten the final scene in which Vilma’s parents are taking her away, Christopher is chasing the car on foot, and at every stoplight he hurls himself at the car, smashing the windows and bouncing off the hood. It was intense and oddly, not laughable. Nenet (Santos) and Rod (De Leon) are cousins who fall in love at first sight before they learn that they are first cousins. Rod has come to Manila to attend university; he lives in the house of Nenet’s parents. The parents are played by Eddie Garcia and Lorli Villanueva, and their hamminess fits the movie perfectly. They’re not the villains: there is no villain, the culprit is passion. Rod does the decent thing: he avoids Nenet and tries to move out of the house. But this is first love of the hysterical kind, the passion that drives the young insane, and the actors are so committed to their roles that you believe every cheesy line they utter. Their love overrides all rational thought. In one scene Nenet confronts Rod on the bus—she always calls him “Kuya Rod”, reminding everyone of the incest—and in front of all the passengers, declares that she doesn’t care if they’re cousins, she loves him. Instead of eliciting giggles, the scene is genuinely disturbing. These young lovers are beyond silliness: they are in a delirium. Celso Ad. Castillo is a master at creating and drawing out emotional tension—as Noel pointed out, it’s almost like watching a horror movie. The lovers can’t abide parental counsel; what they need is an exorcist because they are possessed. There’s even a balcony scene, a demented reference to Romeo and Juliet. The copy is gray and brown with age, unrestored, lacks opening and closing credits, and don’t even mention subtitles or special features. We’re just glad it still exists. Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw is available at video stores; Raymond found his copy on sale for 100 pesos. – Jessica Zafra (READ MORE)

“…Ad Castillo’s Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw (Monsoon Rain in Summer, 1975) is about a young man (Christopher de Leon) who dorms with his uncle and aunt and falls in love with his cousin (played by a waiflike Vilma Santos). Ad Castillo tackles the sensational subject of incest by framing the two lovers’ relationship as a kind of innocent affair, taking place in a countryside Eden. It’s the kind of hackneyed concept that really shouldn’t work; the result ought to be less like D.H. Lawrence and more like Emmanuelle. But Ad Castillo happens to have one of the most prodigiously talented eye in all of Philippine cinema, and the heedlessly lyrical manner in which he shot Tag-Ulan transforms softcore porn into something like art. Every rainfall, every shaft of light, every leafy shadow caught by his largely handheld camera makes you catch your breath; there is lovemaking without nudity, yet Ad Castillo shoots with such throbbing intensity you are nevertheless aroused…” – – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

Forest of the Heart – “…The best way to learn how to write is to keep on reading and writing. That was the advice I got from the late Vicente Rivera Jr., Literary Editor of the Weekly Graphic Magazine in 1965. Evidently concerned that I might be getting discouraged by the avalanche of rejections of my contributions to his section, Vic would write me such notes and attach them to the manuscripts that he sent back. Finally out of school, having permanently aborted my engineering studies, I was then working as a stay-in janitor-messenger in a travel agency in Binondo. That stay-in status gave me whole nights of pounding the typewriter for churning out short story manuscripts so endlessly it must seem that a friend of the agency owner who was doing PR for a brewery company would taunt me with ridicule: “The only good thing you are doing is you are helping the paper industry.” I would gape at the remark, quite baffled. And he would blurt out in harsh laughter, saying, “Imagine the tons of bond paper that you consume with what you are doing.” “Just you wait, Jimmy Boy. Just you wait.” At this point, I am constrained to flash forward. The time was 1970. That guy Jimmy had been waiting at the editorial offices of the Makabayan Publishing Corporation, publisher of the Weekly Nation, one of three leading magazines during the period. He did take time to wait, three, four hours maybe, so as to get an appointment for Luis Nepomuceno, producer of the Nepomuceno Productions of which he was the PRO, with the entertainment editor of the Weekly Nation — named Mauro Gia Samonte. Vic Rivera’s advice had borne fruit. I had kept reading and writing until, at long last, in 1965 I had my first-ever short story published in the Weekly Graphic, “Forest of the Heart.” That story would, a decade later, form the core of the screenplay of “Tag-Ulan Sa Tag-Araw,” the Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon blockbuster film that I would write for direction by Celso Ad. Castillo. And the performance of the movie would tee me off in a career, both in screenwriting and in film direction, successful enough for Tatay to say he had not waited in vain. He got the pleasure of being included together with Nanay in one of the movies I directed. But didn’t I say, “If I were a fish”? I did, indeed. And as a fish, I was gasping for breath when Henry Sy suddenly dealt the Philippine film industry a death blow by banning adult movies in SM theaters, which comprise 80 percent of movie exhibition outlets; and adult movies were what the Philippine cinema was mainly about…” – Mauro Gia Samonte, Manila Times, 11 October 2016 (READ MORE)

Filmography: Mga Reynang Walang Trono (1976)

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Basic Information: Direction: Fely Crisostomo and Amalia Muhalch; Cast: Amalia Fuentes, Vilma Santos, Eddie Gutierrez, Robert Arevalo, Rudy Fernandez and Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Greg Lozano, Mar F. Cornes; Story: Rino Fernan Silverio; Screenplay: Toto Belano; Cinematography: Hermo U. Santos; Production Company: AM Productions; Release Date: February 26, 1976; Serialized in Bondying Weekly Movie Specials – Video48

Plot Description: A story of two women who lived and reigned as queen in their own world. Dureza (Vilma Santos) a poor lass who got married to a rich man, Don Mauricio (Eddie Garcia) whom she does not love, but just to give comfort to her family. Amanda (Amalia Fuentez) a popular actress, whom people look up to, but due to unavoidable circumstances killed her husband. Both women end up in jail to pay for what they have done. Also stars, Rober Arevalo, Rex Cortez, Greg Lozano. Directed by Amalia Fuentes and Fely Crisostomo for AM Productions. – Trigon Video Distributor

Film Achievement: Film directed by two female, movie queen Amalia Fuentez and veteran director Fely Crisostomo; Originally written by Rico Fernan Silverio for Bondying Movie Special comics (1974-1975) and illustrated by Hal Santiago.

Film Review: “…By mid decades, Vilma Santos’ career was gradully moving into dramas catering the adult audience and films with social-adult issues. She did the sequel “Hindi Nakakahiya” and “Nagaapoy na Damdamin” about the affair of a young woman with an older man and “Mga Rosas Sa Putikan” about the lives of prostitutes. Aside from these films, she also did four light comedies and two notable ones: “Mga Reynang Walang Trono” a comedy with movie queen Amalia Fuentez and “Bato Sa Buhangin,” the box office hit that reunited her with the late Fernando Poe Jr. Bernal on the other hand, cemented his reputation as one of the most serious director with critically appreciated hit films, “Ligaw Na Bulaklak” staring the young sexy star, Alma Moreno and the drama film that featured two dramatic stars, Daria Ramirez and Elizabeth Oropeza in “Nunal Sa Tubig.” He also directed a light comedy, “Tisoy,” Christopher De Leon in title role…” – RV (READ MORE)

“…To recall, the senior and junior movie queens appeared in these movies: Bulaklak at Paru-paro (1970), Mga Reynang Walang Trono(1976) and Asawa Ko, Huwag Mong Agawin (1986). Amalia directed Vilma’s episode in Mga Reyna and agreed to second billing to Vilma in Asawa Ko. No doubt about it, Amalia Muhlach Sumilang Fuentes, is a Vilmanian. To seal their sisterhood and camaraderie, Vilma is Ninang to Liezl Martinez and to the latter’s son Alfonso. Why, Liezl even sang a song ’’Wind Beneath My Wings’ to her surprised mother that night which drove the strong-willed and still beautiful Amalia to tears. A Kodak moment, indeed. Priceless! While interviewing the three Muhlach generations, Fuentes, Liezl and young daughter Aliyanna, Amalia revealed to Vilma that she is protective of her ’unica hija’ Liezl. ”Ay naku, I think I also have become like my Mom, I’m also very protective of my children,” Liezl remarks…” – Mario O. Garces (READ MORE)

Filmography: Amorseko Kumakabit Kumakapit (1978)

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Basic Information: Directed: Maria Saret; Story, screenplay: Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Cast: Vilma Santos, George Estregan, Ernie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Beth Bautista, Cloyd Robinson, Dick Israel, Laila Dee, Brenda Del Rio, Angie Ferro, Mary Walter, Odette Khan, Jarro Joaquin, Anita Linda; Original Music: Totoy Nuke; Cinematography: Vic Anao; Film Editing: Edgardo Vinarao

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Revies: No Available Data

Film Achievement: “…Estregan won critical acclaim for many of his performances. In 1972, he was named FAMAS Best Actor for Sukdulan, and would win two other FAMAS Awards for Best Supporting actor for Kid Kaliwete (1978) and Lumakad Kang Hubad sa Mundong Ibabaw (1980). He was nominated for the FAMAS Award three other times, as Best Actor for Lumapit, Lumayo ang Umaga (1975) and Lalake Ako (1982), and for Best Supporting Actor in Magkayakap sa Magdamag (1986). He also received a nomination from the Gawad Urian as Best Actor for Hostage: Hanapin si Batuigas (1977)…” – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Filmography: Alyas Baby Tsina (1984)

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Basic Information: Directed: Marilou Diaz-Abaya; Story: William C. Leary; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rez Cortez, Rolando Tinio, Zeny Zabala, Cecille Castillo, Chanda Romero, Len Santos, Raquel Villavicencio, Johnny Delgado, Phillip Salvador, Caridad Sanchez, Maria Isabel Lopez, Dindo Fernando, Dexter Doria, Mary Walter, Vangie Labalan, Harlene Bautista; Executive producer: Vic del Rosario Jr.; Original Music: Willy Cruz; Cinematography: Manolo Abaya; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Fiel Zabat; Art Direction: Charlie Arceo, Melchor Defensor, Jay Lozada; Sound: Vic Macamay

Plot Description: A woman hardened by the underworld, Elena Duavit falls in love with Roy, a notorious gang leader. Elena is raped by members of a rival gang who are killed in a gun battle with the police. Implicated, she goes into hiding with her boyfriend but is captured, resulting to a death sentence for Baby Tsina. This tested team-up of award-winning performers Vilma Santos and Philip Salvador gives credence to this true story that hit the headlines in the 60’s. From the educated direction of Marilou Diaz-Abaya and the cinematography by Manolo Abaya, the story is by perennial contest awardee Ricky Lee. – Pinoy Torrentz (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1984 FAP: Best Musical Score – Willy Cruz; Best Production Design – Fiel Zabat; 1984 FAMAS: Best Actor Nomination – Phillip Salvador; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Dindo Fernando; Best Supporting Actress Nomination – Caridad Sanchez; 1984 Gawad Urian: Best Actor Nomination – Phillip Salvador; Best Cinematography Nomination – Manolo Abaya; Best Director Nomination – Marilou Diaz-Abaya; Best Editing Nomination – Ike Jarlego Jr.; Best Music Nomination – Willy Cruz; Best Production Design Nomination – Fiel Zabat; Best Sound Nomination – Vic Macamay; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Dindo Fernando; Best Supporting Actor Nomination – Len Santos

Film Reviews: “…Ang istoryang ito ay matagal nang ikinukuwento sa akin ni William. Wala pa akong asawa, pangarap na ni William na magawa ang pelikula. He had the story at hand. Siya talaga ang nag-negotiate para makuha ang istorya. Noong una nga raw, ayaw pumayag ni Baby Tsina at ng kanyang asawa dahil gusto na nilang kalimutan yun. Eh, si William alam ko yan kung magpilit, tsaka personal kasi niyang kilala si Baby Tsina, nakuha rin ang istorya,” salaysay ni Vilma…”Noong una kong mabasa ang script, ayoko sanang maniwala na nangyari talaga yun. Masyadong cinematic, eh. Para bang sa pelikula at sa komiks lang nangyayari. Until the day nga that I met the real Baby Tsina. Nang siya na ang makuwento sa akin ng naging buhay niya, lalo na after the crime at sa loob Correctional, saka ko lang nalaman na ang nakalagay sa script ay kulang pa pala. Mas matindi ang istorya niya, pero hindi na maaring isamang lahat sa pelikula. Baka namang masyadong humaba eh. Malakas ang istorya. I think the story alone will sell the movie. Lalo na kung iisiping isa itong celebrated case at nasundan ng mga tao noon sa mga diyaryo. Front page stories pa raw lagi iyang si Baby Tsina noon eh…” – Ariel Francisco (READ MORE)

“…You know, I did a movie before, Baby Tsina, but I wasn’t really Chinese there. In Mano Po 3, I play Lilia Chong-Yang, a socially conscious anti-crime crusader and I get to know more about Chinese culture. We were even taught how to speak Fookien Chinese by a private tutor. Sa dubbing, the coach was there to make sure we’re perfect with our pronunciation of all our Chinese lines…” – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

“…Marilou Diaz-Abaya will forever live with her magnum opuses like Brutal, Moral, Karnal, Muro Ami, Baby Tsina, Sa Pusod ng Dagat, Bagong Buwan and the multi-awarded period masterpiece Jose Rizal released in the ’90s and still gets screened to this day in schools and historical festivals even abroad…” – Ricardo F. Lo (READ MORE)

“…What Marc found out only recently was that none of the original copies of the films Marilou directed in the 1980s had been preserved. “While movies like ‘Moral’ (1982) and ‘Baby Tsina’ (1984) were all on VCDs, their original reels are nowhere to be found. It’s frustrating. Archiving is really bad here in the Philippines,” he said. Marilou’s debut film, “Tanikala,” was released in 1980…” – Marinel R. Cruz, Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 30, 2012 (READ MORE)

Like A Mother – “…Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, who was directed by Diaz-Abaya in one of her landmark films, said, “Direk Marilou was like a mother to me, especially on the set of ‘Baby Tsina.’ I remember that she would always bring for the cast members pandesal and Spanish sardines, which we ate before shooting. “I love her and her husband, Direk Manolo, who I always requested to be my cinematographer in all of my Eskinol commercials before. “The last time I saw Direk Marilou was at the wake of actor Johnny Delgado. She was already sick then. She was a fighter. She told me, “kaya ko ‘to! I pray for her family and for the eternal repose of her soul…” – Philippine Daily Inquirer, Oct 09 2012 (READ MORE)

“…All the performances in Baby Tsina leave vivid portraits in the mind. Under Abaya’s direction, the actors and actresses do not seem to act, rather we seem to discover them as human beings whom the camera has espied. Vilma Santos projects a lusty but touching portrait of Baby, a victim who greedily looks forward to deliverance from the night-to-night struggle for customers, thrashing about wildly when her savior is killed initiating her into an even more debasing condition. Phillip Salvador weaves in and out of the story capturing the sinister charm of the grubby but good-looking creatures of Manila’s underbelly. Dindo Fernando’s Jorge engages our attention in a portrayal that is by turns comic, caustic and warm indicating an actor governed by intelligence and respect for the dignity of the character he is playing. As Baby’s mother Nena, Caridad Sanchez radiates a tenseness that effectively projects her determination to keep her dignity against all odds. With Abaya as the controlling intelligence behind husband Manolo Abaya’s camera, Fiel Zabat’s sharp eye for the authentic look and detail of the period, the shanties and apartments, the restaurants and the dives, the streets and the alleyways and the teeming crowds that come and go, these are familiar images in Philippine art and life that in Baby Tsina appear more real and feel more real…” – Jojo Devera, Sari-Saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…While there is a palpable sense of femininity in these movies, Abaya abstains from sanctimonious pageantry and puts things in perspective. She raises concerns of women and the violence committed to them, but she also recognizes their shortcomings and susceptibility to moral hypnosis, their fates determined by their resolve or lack thereof. The world is unfair to women, but so is to men.Karnal, for instance, has a strong and suffocating depiction of patriarchy, the overbearing father played by Vic Silayan controlling not just the women of the house but also the men. It’s a horrifying picture of a family maddened by circumstances, and the woman whose importance in the story is emphasized leaves a disturbing impression of subsistence, coming out alive in the end but bereft of spirit. By contrast, Moral is a lighter but sharper piece, one whose observations on the struggles of present-day women, lost in the mazes they create for themselves, are relevant up to now. WhereasBrutal and Alyas Baby Tsina dwell on the criminal and psychological, overplaying hopelessness and suffering, Moral rims its characters by emphasizing their faulty nature, placing them in more realistic situations but with less defined solutions to their problems…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula, Oct 23 2012 (READ MORE)

Grueling Finale – “…Apolinario’s second feature can be regarded as an affirmation of heritage, that of Philippine cinema. Beholding the film’s exposition of life in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, one is reminded that this film operates in Daboy (Rudy Fernandez) territory — wherein the outsider holds his individuality and his dignity amid the dehumanizing confines of prison, and its extension that is Philippine society. Yet for all its filth and insidious atmosphere of violence, there is nothing in this picture that is as harrowing as the prison life one sees in Mario O’Hara’s “Bulaklak sa City Jail,” or in the grueling finale of Marilou Diaz Abaya’s “Alyas Baby Tsina.” The solitary confinement endured, in one interlude, by Dingdong Dantes, Patrick Bergin and Joey Paras could have echoed the grimy horror of such detention as portrayed in “Baby Tsina,” to which its heroine (Vilma Santos) responds with a quiet, defiant fortitude — yet another striking facet of her long career with its comprehensive portrayal of the modern Filipina. Dingdong Dantes and Patrick Bergin, the renowned Irish actor, convey that Vilmanian, shall we say, serenity, amid their harsh confines — which, however, doesn’t look too harsh in this film, when one beholds that beautiful frame of a cockroach in its slow crawl on the dim prison floor…” – Ricky S. Torre, Rappler, 13 June 2013 (READ MORE)

Porcelain Skin – “…This is based on the story of Evelyn Duave, a woman who got sucked into a life of crime and eventually got jailed for murder. The Star For All Seasons plays the woman who was dubbed, “Baby Tsina” (or “Baby China” in court documents), simply because she looked Chinese. Other than that, there are no other Chinese references in the movie. Although, we have to say that Santos can easily pass for Chinese with her petite frame, porcelain skin, and delicate features. However, the movie is anything but delicate—what with the violent content…” – Spot, 23 Jan 2012 (READ MORE)

Production Values – “…Abaya and Lee’s next project, Alyas Baby Tsina/Alias Baby China (1984) was also based on a true legal story, that of Evelyn Duave Ortega, aka Baby Tsina. (She was called this alias in court documents because she looked Chinese. Otherwise there are no references to anything Chinese in her story or the film.) Duave was found guilty in 1971 of murder, and several appeals while on death row culminated in a Supreme Court decision seven years later that declared her innocent and released her from prison. A producer for major production company Viva had purchased the story rights and long wanted to turn the Duave story into an award-winning vehicle for superstar Vilma Santos. Abaya signed on and brought in Lee to adapt the story for film. As it turned out, as happens so often, the film strayed so far from the actual story, the producers might as well have spared themselves from paying story rights in the first place. The documents record that an Alfredo Bocaling was killed one night in a dark street by stabbing and hitting with blunt instruments. Accused of the killing were Baby China, a call girl, and her three male friends. She had allegedly told the men that Bocaling and his friend raped and robbed her and she wanted revenge. Their guilt by murder, adjudged by the Courts of First Instance and Appeal because of the consistency and corroborative nature of the three men’s confessions, were overturned by the Supreme Court due mainly to the inadmissibility of their extra-judicial confessions. The Supreme Court commuted their verdict from murder to homicide and their sentence from death penalty to reclusion perpetua. Baby herself, who did not confess, was found innocent after the extra-judicial confessions of the three men were rejected. One of course should never expect fidelity to an original story source, only a sense of integrity and believability in the adaptation. Did this adaptation succeed?In the struggle to fashion a crowd-pleasing story with an overarching social theme and an award-worthy role for its lead star, the film invented a number of characters and devices not in the actual story.

Baby’s lover Roy (Philip Salvador), with whom she plans to start a new life in America is fictional, and so is Roy’s death by shooting in a chase by rival gang members. In the real story all the principals were apprehended by the police while they were still in hiding. The Bocaling character has morphed into the film’s Toto (Johnny Delgado), a leader of an extortion syndicate that visits a sweeping wave of mass killings and rapes on Baby Tsina and her prostitute friends. The homicide scene of the real Bocaling is pumped up here into a chase and mass confrontation between gun-wielding gangs and the police. Neither did the real Baby (and Roy) seek refuge at the home of a lawyer friend, Jorge (played as an abugadong pulpol/cheap lawyer with sly wit by Dindo Fernando) where they debate the difference between what is law and what is right. When the fictional Baby is eventually committed to prison, she takes on a noble new role as resolute and impassioned advocate of more humane prison treatment for women, at one point making a speech before the whole prison population that spells out her message: “We are not robots that can be switched on and off! … We should be treated like human beings!” The film was a serious attempt to produce a work with significant social import that would be commercially entertaining all at the same time. But shoehorning the original into overused plotlines involving gang rivalries and populist heroine versus the system, add to this the blatant underlining of the “social message,” and credibility is lost, provoking instead a wearying wariness throughout the film. What succeeds in Baby Tsina is the care in production values that became such a prominent hallmark of Abaya’s works. It instilled trust in her, in that whether one liked her latest film or not, the keen attention to production design, lighting and photography at least showed that here was someone who took her craft and her audience seriously. With Baby Tsina, it is this gleaming surface, arising specially from Zabat’s production design and Manolo’s mood-infused lighting, that hints at authenticity and conviction that the narrative glaringly lacks…” – Asian Cine Vision (READ MORE)

Re-shoot of Alyas Baby Tsina – “…Ang payat mo” ang bungad naming bati sa kanya. “Kailangan kasi,” was her reply. “Medyo tumaba na nga ako ngayon. nahinto kasi ang shooting namin ng ilang days. You should’ve seen me a week ako. mas payat ako noon.” But it become her. Mas mukha siyang teenager. She sure that by now, alam na niyang kailangang lang magpapayat ni Vilma Santos para sa kanyang pelikulang ginagawa ngayon, ang Alyas Baby Tsina. Since she is in between pictures, kakaunti ang makikitang artikulo ngayon sa kanya. That’s why we have to write this progress report on her latest films. We asked her kung malapit nang matapos ang Baby Tsina. “Malayo pa eh,”she replied. “Ang dami kasi naming re-shoot. Sabi ni Marilou (Abaya, her director), May nasira raw ang ilang negatibo kaya’t kailangang ulitin. At last week of September, tapos na siguro. Did she like the movie? “Naku, malaking pelikula.”sambit niya. “Three acts kasi ‘yon. Inuna naming i-shoot ‘yung third act nang nakakulong na si Baby sa Correctional. Tapos we went back to perion noong prostiture pa lang siya. Ang hirap maging prostitute! Ngayon, we’re on the second act, love triangle kami nina Dindo Fernando at Philip Salvador…” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash, 1984

“…Isa pang kasaysayan hango sa tunay na buhay, ang pelikulang ito ni Marilou Abaya. Bawat tagpo ay pinalabukan ng mabusising sinematograpiya at detalyadong disenyong pampelikula…” – Star Awards 1984

RELATED READING: Baby Tsina meets Baby Tsina

Filmography: Darna at Ding (1980)

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Basic Information: Directed, story, screenplay: J. Erastheo Navoa, Cloyd Robinson; Cast: Vilma Santos, Niño Muhlach, Celia Rodriguez, Marissa Delgado, Veronica Jones, Max Alvarado, Panchito, Angie Ferro, Bayani Casimiro, Rez Cortez, Teroy de Guzman, Moody Diaz, Paquito Diaz, Ike Lozada, Lily Miraflor, German Moreno, Palito, Don Pepot, Jimmy Santos, Al Tantay, Tsing Tong Tsai, Donna Villa; Cinematography: Hermo Santos; Film Editing: Eduardo Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Ruben Arthur Nicdao; Sound: Luis Reyes

Plot Description: Darna at Ding, Vilma’s fourth and final portrayal of Darna, takes her to another wild adventures, this time with her younger brother Ding. When a mysterious rock falls into the hands of Narda, she has no idea that it will change her life forever. Later, she finds out that the rock is an amulet that gives her super power. This is the start of the many adventures of Darna, that have her battling with the evil sorceress Lei Ming and Hawk Woman. A whole new adventue with the popular Philippine heroine, Darna at Ding is another classic worth watching! – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Narda (Vilma Santos) and her young brother Ding (Niño Muhlach) find a glowing stone that has fallen from that sky and when swallowed by Narda turns her into a superwoman. From then on, the tandem of Narda and Ding embark into adventures of saving the world from evil. Together they fight the avenging German woman scientist (Marissa Delgado) who turns healthy people into zombies by injecting them with microbes that is transmittable through their saliva. Then Narda and Ding stay with their aunt in Chinatown, Manila where a Chinese witch is kidnapping children. But Ding is made ill by the witch’s sorcery. Will Darna’s power be effective to save her brother against black magic? – TFC Now (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: The last of the four Vilma Santos Darna films; Official Selection: 11th FilmAsia (2015) Czech Republic

Film Review: “…The climax of this “Darna vs. the Dragon Lady” part of Darna At Ding sees Lei Ming conjure up an evil double of Darna to keep our heroine busy while, elsewhere in her lair, a towering robot bears menacingly down upon Ding. It’s a suitably whiz-bang finale to this loopy, kitchen sink confection, and one that makes the long, strange and circuitous route that we’ve taken to get to it seem perhaps less arduous in retrospect. Still, at a solid two hours, Darna At Ding is an example of a movie that pulls out all the stops, but perhaps shouldn’t have. While it’s combination of horror movie chills, superhero thrills and slapstick spills might have been catnip for the Filipino audience of its day, for the rest of us it might prove mildly exhausting. Nonetheless, I find Vilma Santos so appealing in her role that it’s hard for me to imagine hating any Darna movie that she appears in, and this one’s no exception.” – Todd of “luchadiaries” (READ MORE)

The movie started on how Narda got her power as Darna. As soon as Narda transformed into Darna, she quickly started her adventure with Ding fighting the Hawk Woman. And soon after Darna and Ding found a giant and both lost the fight to Darna. As the story unfold Dr. Vontesberg pretended as a good samaritan with an evil plan to destroy the towns people who killed her grandfather mistakenly accused as a devil worshipper. Dr. Vontesberg summoned the dead and terrorized the townspeople. Narda was captured by the mad Dr. Vontesberg and showed her how she operates her plans. Ding got on time to rescue her helpless sister and they both stopped Vontesberg evil plans. Then, Darna and Ding flew their way to the city. And on their way, they captured a bunch of loose prisoners, after this scene was a long lots of talking non-action scenes. Finally, Lei Ming and Darna measured their strength and powers. Lei Ming created an evil Darna to destroy the real Darna. At the end Lei Ming lose and took her own life. – Super Heroes Lives (READ MORE)

“Due to the Internet, one day soon I’m sure information on all of the cinematic obscurities of the world will be available to us, but at the moment it’s still wonderful to uncover a country’s hidden pop culture hitherto unnoticed by the rest of the planet. Take Video48, a mind-shattering trip into the uncharted realms of Filipino cinema, featuring a menagerie of stills, posters and articles from films I never even dared to dream existed! I stumbled across home-grown super-heroes such as Mars Revelo’s Darna a few years back, and Eric Cueto’s fansite provided a wealth of information on her cinematic adventures, (whilst also revealing tantalising glimpses of her on-screen contemporaries), but I certainly hadn’t realised the extent to which comic book characters pervaded the Philippine big-screen. Chances are the country was second only to Turkey when it came to cinematic Super-heroes – Darna herself has starred in 14 films and two TV series, which certainly puts Wonder Woman to shame…Sadly most of these fantasy films are unlikely to have survived – the condition of the Vilma Santos’ early Darna movies is supposedly so wretched that a DVD release has been permanently canned, and ancient VHS copies of Darna & the Giants and Darna & the Planet Women are jealously guarded by the few collectors who salvaged them from rental shops. Just as in Turkey, these films were probably considered to be as disposable as the comic books on which they were based – but I for one would go ga-ga for a double bill of this years The Dark Knight with 1973’s Fight Batman Fight (fair enough, my brain might melt out of my ears afterwards, but what a way to go…” – Poptique (READ MORE)

Most Popular Darna “…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

“…That’s not to say that there aren’t fun moments to be had in this twelfth Darna outing – quite the contrary. The opening is fantastically absurd [I really dig those forced perspective giant effects], as is the Darna-versus-Darna battle that serves as the climax. But for every moment of overt glee there are twenty or so more in which nothing happens at all. It’s a pity, really, as the potential for entertainment is certainly there, but remains woefully un-tapped. From a production standpoint Darna at Ding was better than I anticipated, and there was obviously at least a little money put behind it. Special effects were about as good as I expected, and work well enough without becoming entirely embarrassing. The cast is quite good too, paltry as the material they have to work with is. Vilma Santos is always a pleasure to have on screen, and Nino Mulhach never becomes tiresome or annoying as Ding. The giant who sees such little action is familiar as well – Max Alvarado, who would go on to play Columbus, one of the multitude of villains in for y’ur height only. The soundtrack is groovy but of dubious legality. I recognized much of what was played, but could only pin down Pink Floyd’s Time for certain…” – Kevin Pyrtle, WTF-FILM (READ MORE)

Darna is Not a ‘Rip-off” of Wonder Woman – “…Because of the character’s immense popularity, several other studios would license the character and produce more Darna movies throughout the next several decades. After Rosa Del Rosario, Vilma Santos (who first played Darna in 1973’s “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”) would be the most well known and the most in demand to play the character. She starred in a total of 4 Darna movies. Her 4th and final one being in 1980. For years after that, no more Darna movies were produced…” – Raffy Arcega, Comic Book Movie (READ MORE)

Intergalactic Warrior – “…There were comic-inspired franchises that never travelled beyond their own borders, such as the Darna series from the Philippines in the 1970s – she was an intergalactic warrior disguised as an earthling – and which helped actress Vilma Santos turn the fame she achieved into a political career that still sees her serving as governor of Batangas province…” – Matt Scott, South China Morning Post, 20 April, 2014 (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

Filmography: Haplos (1982)

“…Al! Natatako ako, umalis na tayo rito!…Kapag sumama ka sa kanya mamatay ka…” – Cristy

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Basic Information: Directed: Antonio Jose Perez; Story, screenplay: Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Rio Locsin, Delia Razon, Eddie Infante, Rez Cortez, Juan Rodrigo, Jaime Fabregas; Original Music: Jun Latonio; Cinematography: Romeo Vitug; Film Editing: Edgardo Jarlego, George Jarlego, Ike Jarlego Jr.; Production Design: Laida Lim-Perez; Sound: Rolly Ruta; Theme Song: “Haplos” performed by Eva Eugenio

Plot Description: Al (Christopher De Leon) is a balikbayan who returns to his former hometown where his mother is buried. There he meets his childhood friend Cristy (Vilma Santos) who works as a counselor for family planning. Eventually they develop a romantic relationship and end up as a couple. However, a mysterious lady appears one day while Al tends to his mother’s grave. Al falls in love with the stranger and is now torn between her and Cristy. Haplos is another cinematic masterpiece by famed screenwriter Ricardo Lee. It is the official entry to the 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival. With Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon in the lead roles and supported by Rio Locsin, Haplos is a brilliant movie with a mind-boggling twist in the story. It’s a must-see for all Pinoy film buffs. –  neTVision

Film Achievement: 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival 3rd Best Picture; 1982 FAMAS Nomination Best Supporting Actress – Rio Locsin

Film Review: “…The movie’s first major flaw is the relationship between Cristy and Al. Virginal Cristy has her first taste at the hands of Al. In one scene, Cristy says that she views the event as isolated, but in another scene, she says she has fallen in love with Al. Between the two scenes, however, she never sees Al. Does perception change with time? In general, yes but only if there is cause to change. Al, for all intents and purposes has disappeared from Cristy’s life after the isolated bed scene. The second major flaw involves the time frame of Auring, the ghost. She was supposed to have been raped and killed during the Japanese occupation. She reappears to select men, in this case Al, in order to seduce them. That was the only logical explanation for the fact that she allows herself to be kissed so quickly. Since she is dead, she should not die again. When the house burns down in the end, therefore, her house should reappear as it does and Auring should reappear but she doesn’t. Where’s the logic?…Because the director does not know how to direct his actors, they end up delivering uninspired performances. Rio Locsin is the best of the leads, with Christopher de Leon a poor second. Vilma Santos apparently cannot decide how to approach her role. Haplos, simply put is a bad horror film.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Medyo mabagal ang unand bahagi ng pelikula, lalo na kung isa kang viewer na alam nang tungkol sa multo ang istorya dahil sa sunod-sunod na press releases na isinasaad ng buod nito. Sa simula pa lang ng istorya ay inaabang-abangan mo na agad ang multo na kay tagal bago unang lumitaw. Medyo nagda-drag na nga at bigla na lamang na-revive ang aming atensiyon nang lumabas na si Rio Locsin sa eksena. Biglang nabuhay ang pelikula and from thereon ay naging absorbing na. Isang malaking dahilan kung bakit nagtagumpay ang pelikula ay ang pagka-casting kay Rio sa papel na Auring. Ibang-iba ang aura ni Rio sa pelikulang ito. She looks so ethereal, out of this world, ibang-iba kaysa sa mga taong cast din ng pelikula. Terrific ang screen presence ni Rio at talagang she is oozing with sex. Na-eclipse niyang talaga si Vi at Boyet. Kung iisipin mo’y maikli lamang ang role but her memory lingers kahit wala na siya sa eksena. ‘Yung mga pangiti-ngiti niya at patakip-takip ng bibig, very effective talaga. Magaling din sina Vi at Boyet in their respective roles, pero talagang getting attention ang role ng multo at perfect pa ang casting ni Rio rito…Somebody from the ECP script’s screening committee told us na mas maganda raw ang orihinal na script ni Ricardo Lee sa naisapelikula. Isang istudyanteng nagbabakasyon sa lalawigan si Cristy at naging takilyera sa isang sinehan. Pero ipinabago raw ito ni Vilma kaya’t nagmukhang propaganda para sa family planning ang papel niya. Ang orihinal na Cristy ay mahilig mag-fashion model kaya’t hindi katakataka nang isuot niya ang damit ni Auring na nakita niya sa kama nito. May nag-aakalang sa ending ng pelikula ay na-possess si Cristy ng kaluluwa ni Auring but the writer never intended it to be like this…” – Mario E. Bautista, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, 1982 (READ MORE)

“…Halloween may not be that big of a deal on our tropical shores, but Philippine cinema has had its wealth of scary features in the last 50 years or so. Sure, we have our unique superstitions, supernatural mythology and homegrown ghost stories; yet it is safe to presume that local moviegoers go for cinematic chills due to this universal fact: horror/suspense movies are downright entertaining, if in often perverse ways. The alphabetical list below gathers just 10 of the more memorable Filipino films that are scary in varying degrees — some straight-up gory, others disturbing or creepy; some tacky, others funny; all generally reflecting a sense of moviemaking adventurism that has been lacking in Pinoy filmdom of the last decade or so…Likewise an MMFF entry in its year of release, this Ricky Lee-scripted, Antonio Jose Perez-helmed drama is topbilled by Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon, a tandem whose prolific body of work together is, in the view of former Philippine Free Press contributing editor-writer Ricky Torre, “akin to the wealth of collaborations between Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The Vi-Boyet oeuvre ably tackled the nuances of human relationships.” Haplos’ key players essentially form a love triangle (Rio Locsin plays the 3rd wheel) but, in the story’s traversing between its present time and the era of the Japanese occupation, it is also, as Torre muses, “a far-out take on the time-space continuum.” The horror element in Haplos is also its twist, one best realized by the uninitiated by scoring it on video CD…” – Bert B. Sulat Jr., Rappler, 10 Oct 2012 (READ MORE)

“Nasa ikatlong araw na ngayon (Monday, Dec 27) ang 1982 Metro Manila Film Festival na nagsimula noong Dec 25, Saturday, at ngayon pa lamang ay nadarama na ng mga producer ang kanilang kapalaran sa takilya. Nakangiti na ‘yong mga nangunguna at lulugo-lugo naman ‘yong kulelat. Subalit hindi pa tapos ang festival. Ngayong gabi, Dec. 27, Monday, ay ang Gabi ng Parangal sa Cultural Center (Main Theater) at dito’y tiyak na lalabas na naman ang dalawang mukha na simbolo ng show business. Isang nakatawa at isang umiiyak. Makikita ngayong gabi ang simbulong ito sa paggagawad ng karangalan sapagkat tiyak na ang mga magwawagi ng mga pangunahing karangalan ay nangakangiti at ‘yong mamalasan ay tutunganga na lang. Sa gabing ito ibabatay ang tunay na kalalabasan ng festival sa susunod pang pitong araw. Dikasi ang magaganap ngayong gabi ang siyang magdudulot ng pagbabago sa takbo ng labanan sa takilya….Sa sampung pelikulang naglalaban-laban, di lang sa takilya kundi sa karangalan, ang unang paboritong magta-top gross ay ang Santa Claus is Coming to Town ng Regal, Panday Ikatlong Yugto ng FPJ, Himala ng ECP, Moral ng Seven Star Films at Haplos ng Mirick Films. Ang mga paborito namang magwawagi ng awards: sa Best Actor, mahigpit ang labanan nina Robert Arevalo sa Santa Claus at Christopher de Leon sa Haplos. Sa Best Actress, labanang umaatikabo rin sina Vilma Santos sa Haplos, Lorna Tolentino sa Moral at Nora Aunor sa Himala…” – Movie Flash Magazine, 1982 (READ MORE)