Relasyon (Videos)

Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Ricardo Lee; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencion, Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Jimi Melendez, Ernie Zarate, Lucy Quinto, Manny Castañeda, Beth Mondragon, Bing Fabregas, Olive Madridejos, Augusto Victa, Dante Castro, Tony Angeles, Thaemar Achacoso; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Winston Raval; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Benjie De Guzman; Art Direction: Dennis Cid; Sound: Vic Macamay; Theme Songs: “Relasyon” performed by Eva Eugenio

Plot Description: He sees nothing wrong in having a wife and a mistress. She would do anything to make him happy, including putting up with his idiosyncrasies, babysitting his child, and finding loopholes in the law so she could be with him. The characters are so familiar and so realistic that you might see yourself. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon star in this very touching story about two people who truly love each other but are trapped by the circumstances. Relasyon is another fine motion picture from director Ishmael Bernal. – Regal Films


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: Relasyon (1982)

“Ang hirap dito sa relasyon natin, puro ikaw ang nasusunod, kung saan tayo pupunta, kung anong oras tayo aalis, kung anong kakainin natin, kung anong isusuot ko sa lahat ng oras, ako naman sunod ng sunod parang torpeng tango ng tango yes master yes master!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

“Ano ba ako rito istatwa? Eh dinadaan daanan mo na lang ako ah, hindi mo na ako kinakausap hindi mo na ako binabati hindi mo na ako hinahalikan ah…namputsang buhay ‘to. Ako ba may nagawa akong kasalanan hah? Dahil ang alam ko sa relationship, give and take. Pero etong atin, iba eh! Ako give ng give ikaw take ng take! Ilang taon na ba tayong nagsasama? Oo, binigyan mo nga ako ng singsing nuong umpisa natin, pero pagkatapos nuon ano? Wala na! Ni-siopao hindi mo ako binigyan eh dumating ka sa bahay na ito ni butong pakwan hindi mo ako napasalubungan sa akin eh kaya kung tiisin lahat pero sobra na eh…hindi naman malaki hinihingi ko sayo eh konti lang… alam ko kerida lang ako…pero pahingi naman ng konting pagmamahal…kung ayaw mo ng pagmamahal, atleast konsiderasyon man lang. Kung di mo kayang mahalin bilang isang tunay na asawa, de mahalin mo ako bilang isang kaibigan, Kung ayaw mo pa rin nun bigyan mo na lang ako ng respeto bilang isang tao hindi yung dadaan daanan mo lang sa harapan na para kang walang nakikita!” – Maria Lourdes Castaneda

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Basic Information: Directed: Ishmael Bernal; Story: Ricardo Lee; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencion, Ishmael Bernal; Cast: Vilma Santos, Christopher De Leon, Jimi Melendez, Ernie Zarate, Lucy Quinto, Manny Castañeda, Beth Mondragon, Bing Fabregas, Olive Madridejos, Augusto Victa, Dante Castro, Tony Angeles, Thaemar Achacoso; Executive producer: Lily Monteverde; Original Music: Winston Raval; Cinematography: Sergio Lobo; Film Editing: Augusto Salvador; Production Design: Benjie De Guzman; Art Direction: Dennis Cid; Sound: Vic Macamay; Theme Songs: “Relasyon” performed by Eva Eugenio

Plot Description: A young woman falls in love with a married man, and they eventually try to live together — may be tame for Western audiences, but director Ishmael Bernal made this film for the Philippines, where divorce is forbidden at this time. Marilou (Vilma Sanders works as a guide in a Planetarium and has an on-going affair with Emil (Christopher de Leon) that neither her family nor friends can condone — Emil is married and has two sons. But when his wife leaves him, Emil and Marilou move in together, and that is when the problems start. She tries to make everything work out perfectly, and Emil, in turn, shows an arrogance that was quite hidden before. Given society’s disapproval of their arrangement in the bargain, their future together hardly seems bright. Ishmael Bernal was one of the most prolific directors in Philippine film history, he died in 1996 after making more than 50 films. – Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide web-site

Emil, a young executive, and his mistress Marilou, a planetarium guide, decide to be live-in partners. In the process, they discover each other’s failing, which result in the strain in their relationship, bringing about their temporary separation. When they finally decide to resume their relationship, under a set-up wherein the man devides his time between his family and mistress, he dies frpm an attack of cerebral aneurysm. The woman decides to start a new life abroad, finding strength in the Jove of her departed lover. – Manunuri web-site

He sees nothing wrong in having a wife and a mistress. She would do anything to make him happy, including putting up with his idiosyncrasies, babysitting his child, and finding loopholes in the law so she could be with him. The characters are so familiar and so realistic that you might see yourself. Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon star in this very touching story about two people who truly love each other but are trapped by the circumstances. Relasyon is another fine motion picture from director Ishmael Bernal. – Regal Films web-site

“…The story of an adulterous affair, and its implications for the families involved…” – British Film Institute (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1982 FAMAS Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Gawad URIAN Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Film Academy of the Philipiines Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 Catholic Mass Media Awards Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1982 The very first “Grand Slam” for Best Actress in Philippine Entertainment history; 1982 RPN Channer 9’s Let’s Talk Movies Awards Best Actress for body of Works – Vilma Santos for Relasyon, Sinasamba Kita, T-Bird At Ako, Never Ever Say Goodbye, Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan? and Haplos; 1982 FAMAS Nomination Best Actor – Christopher De Leon; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Direction – Ishmael Bernal; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Picture; 1982 Gawad Urian Nomination Best Screenplay – Ricardo Lee, Raquel Villavicencio, Ishmael Bernal

Official Selection – 1983 Manila International Film Festival: Restrospective Festival “Focus on the Philippines”; 25 Filipino films shown at Lincoln Center – “In celebration of the 100th year of Philippine Independence, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, in partnership with the Philippine Centennial Commission, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, IFFCOM, the Philippine Information Agency, the Consulate General of the Philippines in New York and the Philippine Centennial Coordinating Council – Northeast USA, presented a series of Filipino films at the Walter Reade Theater of the Lincoln Center. Slated July 31 through August 20, and with a line-up of about 25 films, the series was the most extensive Filipino film retrospective ever to take place in the United States. All prints are subtitled in English. By including old classics as well as contemporary films, the three-week festival brought the country’s centennial commemoration into sharper historical focus. It also featured some of the best works by acclaimed director Lino Brocka, and concluded with the award-winning short films and videos of young, upcoming Filipino and Filipino-American filmmakers. The members of the film selection committee were Richard Peña (Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center), Domingo Hornilla, Jr., Vincent “Ting” Nebrida, and Agustin “Hammy” Sotto. Some of the titles shown in the festival were: In the Classics Category…two films by Mike De Leon: Sister Stella L. starring Vilma Santos and Batch ’81 starring Mark Gil; and three works by Ishmael Bernal namely Nunal sa Tubig (A Speck in the Water) starring Daria Ramirez, Aliw starring Suzette Ranillo and Relasyon starring Vilma Santos…Among Brocka’s films being spotlighted were Maynila sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Insiang, Tinimbang Ka Nguni’t Kulang (You Were Weighed But Was Found Wanting) and Ina, Kapatid, Anak (Mother, Sister, Daughter)…” – Seapavaa Bulletin (READ MORE)

Film Reviews: “…The notion of the martir resurfaces in Relasyon (1982), a stellar example of a mistress movie with genuine depth. It portrays Marilou (Vilma Santos) as not just a mistress, but also a servant for the chauvinistic Emil (Christopher De Leon). There is a poignant scene in the aforementioned: in spite of catering to her lover’s every need, she is still left alone in the house on Christmas Eve, because he really isn’t hers to begin with. Santos’ brilliant, appropriately emotive acting in the movie gave the star her big break. Filipino Department faculty member Jayson Jacobo, PhD expounds on Santos’ role in Philippine media. “[Her] middle period presents us a social sphere of material conditions which articulate the context of amorous situations that persuade a woman to enter and exit a relasyon.” Jacobo finds that more recent mistress films are devoid of the dramatic sophistication that these older films presented. He points out their key faults, saying, “These films of late are too concerned with the calisthenics of sexual encounter, the scandalous confrontation, the fashionable hysteria, the publicity of neurosis and the contrivance of normative resolution…” – Rissa A. Coronel, Katipunan The Guidon Magazine, 30 January 2013 (READ MORE)

Finally in Ishmael Bernal’s Relasyon, we have a film made explicitly for adults. There is no explicit sex sequence (adults don’t really go for that sort of thing, only adolescent boys do). But the psychological problems faced by the film are comprehensible only to adults, those who know what it means to live with someone one loves (or, at least, used to love). This film is, thus, not entertaining in the usual prurient sense, but in a deeper, psychological, intellectual sense.

There are basically two themes that this film tackles: sex roles and divorce. – Vilma Santos represents womanhood in the film: Christopher de Leon represents manhood. The Filipina woman is commonly thought of as a martir or long-suffering masochist. Santos portrays a mistress who is an out-and-out martir. She serves De Leon hand and foot, ministering to his every need, including fetching beer for him, washing his clothes, serving as his shoulder to cry on, even baby-sitting his child. In return, all she gets from De Leon is chauvinistic love, void of tenderness, full of immature aggressiveness.

De Leon represents chauvinist maleness. He portrays a character who is totally insensitive to his woman’s needs. He wants the house done exactly to his own taste. He expects his woman to be there when he needs her, but does not even think that he should be there when she wants him. He finds nothing wrong with having a wife and a mistress at the same time. On the other hand, he sees everything wrong with Santos entertaining suitor Jimi Melendez in the house. He’s even jealous of Manny Castaneda, Santos’ gay acquaintance. In short, he is selfishness personified.

The trouble with sex roles in our society, the film argues, is that they are widely accepted without question. Men are suposed to have mistresses, and women are supposed to be faithful. Men are supposed to make the decisions (about where to live, what job to get, when to dine out), and women are supposed merely to follow. The Philippines may justifiably boast that, in politics, women are almost as powerful as men, but it is undeniable that in every other field including the home, it is the men who are the masters and the women who are the slaves.

The other theme tackled by the film is that of divorce. Again and again, the characters discuss the lack of divorce in the Philippines. If De Leon could only annul his marriage, if he could only divorce his wife, if he could only get to Las Vegas and marry Santos there… Such possibilities remain mere possibilities, because Philippine law, unfortunately, still does not allow for divorce. In the film, it is made clear that the marriage of De Leon and his wife is totally beyond repair. With De Leon, being the male chauvinist pig that he is, and with his wife, being the non-entity that she is, there is no hope for the loveless couple. On the other hand, Santos and De Leon clearly love each other, clearly deserve chance to be man and wife, clearly should be helped (not damned) by society. It is an implicit case for divorce, made even more convincing by the fact that the characters are so familiar, so realistic.

Technically, the film does not rank high in Ishmael Bernal’s canon of films. The production design, presumably middle class, raises questions (especially about the fact that Santos can withdraw a thousand pesos from a bank at a moment’s notice:lower middle class persons do not have that kind of instant money.) The music is undistinguished, and the cinematography sometimes places the actors in shadows. There is one technical achievement worth watching for: De Leon’s death scene, covering more than one minute, is taken with one continuous shot (no cuts). Otherwise, the editing is spotty, especially with one sequence completely out of its proper place (before Santos says in one sequence that they have been together only for eight months, a sequence is shown in which she asks De Leon how many years they have been together, even allowing for hyperbole, that is too much of an exaggeration). Santos’ acting is adequate and extraordinary. De Leon gives another of his solid performances, though he could have worked harder to show how inconsiderate his character is. The supporting cast do not stand out; since two of them are supposed to be mistresses themselves, and the third loses much of her credibility when she starts lecturing on man’s selfishness. – Isagani Cruz, Parade magazine, July 21, 1982

Thee film has unblushingly spoken for the Filipino urban society and its increasing acceptance of adultery as a social habit. It could have been a repetitious tale of a man with two women. But the writers have interestingly conducted the story through the precarious steps of a young, single, beautiful and supposedly decent girl. Marilou (Vilma Santos) has fallen helplessly in love with Emil (Christopher de Leon), a married man. When Emil’s wife decides to leave for Mindanao because she couldn’t stand him anymore, Marilou then decides for them to live together. Overjoyed with the prospect, she presses on to keep their relationship thrilling, warmer and stronger. But her efforts over the months only depresses her as she sees Emil gradually locking himself into a door she couldn’t enter. The mutual delights she had previously imbibed had soured into irritating silence and alienation. Her mounting disillusion flares up into throwing a couple of dishes. She opts for a separation only to yearn for him again. They go back to each other. She becomes pregnant. Suddenly, Emil suffers an attack and dies in her arms. Marilou whirls in grief for a time but bounces back to being “single”, attractive but perhaps no longer “decent”.

The writers have fed significance into the conversations by filling them with popular ideas on marriage and relationships, engaging the viewers to respond with their own beliefs. There is irony though in the confessions of Emil and Marilou – in happier times – that each had been a better person upon being loved by the other. But their life together contradicted that statement. Her selfishness is revealed. “Ikaw lang ang iniintindi mo” he says and it uncovered his insensitivity. “Ako rin, may ego”, She replies. Vilma Santos confidently showed she felt the character she was portraying. Her depiction of feelings and emotions easily involve the viewers to share in her conflicts and joys. In this film, she has peeled-off apprehensions in her acting. Christopher de Leon has also been supportive in emphasizing the characterization of Marilou. He suitably complements Vilma’s acting. The director, Ishmael Bernal, displays his flair for taking scenes of Vilma putting on make-up. Unwittingly, he has suggested that whatever make-up is put on over adultery, it is still adultery. – Lawrence delos Trinos, Star Monthly Magazine, July 1982

Isang mayamang karanasan ang panonood ng pelikula ni Ishmael Bernal. Kahit ikaw ay isang masugid na estudyante ng sining ng pelikula o isang karaniwang tagahanga lamang. Sinasabing ang pelikula ay salamin ng tunay na buhay. Ang mga pelikula ni Bernal ay malilinaw na salamin. Buhay na buhay ang mga tauhan, ang istorya ay pamilyar sa atin at ang leksiyong itinuturo ay simple lang pero hindi direktang isinisermon sa manonood. Ang mga pelikula ni Bernal ay realistikong drama ng buhay. Tulad nitong “Relasyon” na ang mga bida ay sina Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon at Jimi Melendez. Ito’y mula sa istorya at dulang pampelikula nina Ricky Lee, Ishamel Bernal at Raquel Villavicencio. Pang araw-araw ang drama ng “Relasyon”. Marahil mas komersiyal na titulo nito ang Kerida o kaya’y No. 2. Pero sa aming palagay ay mas makabuluhan ang pamagat na Relasyon dahil higit na malalim ang sinasakop nitong kahulugan. Simple lang ang istorya nito. Dalaga si Marilou (Vilma Santos). Liberated ang orientasyon. Nagtratrabaho sa Planetarium. May-asawa si Emil (Christopher de Leon). May isang anak na lalaki. Nagtratrabaho hanggang hapon, nagtuturo sa gabi. (Hindi tiniyak sa pelikula kung ano ang trabaho ni Christopher at kung ano ang kanyang itinuturo sa gabi.)

Hindi maayos ang takbo ng buhay nilang mag-asawa. Kaya nga bumaling si Emil kay Marilou na pinili ang may-asawa kaysa sa biyudong si Jun-jun (Jimi Melendez) na wala namang matatag na hanapbuhay. Sa simula’y patagpu-tagpo lang sa mga hotel sina Marilou at Emil pero higit na naging kumplikado ang kanilang buhay nang ipasiya nilang kumuha ng isang permanenteng bahay. Dito nagsimula ang kanilang tunay na relasyon. Sa umpisa’y para silang mga bagong kasal pero nang tumagal na, dahil kailangang magtrabaho nag husto si Emil upang masuportahan ang dalawang pamilya, ay naging parang mag-asawa na sila. Nang maging parang “misis” na siya ay doon nagkaproblema si Marilou. Sa paningin ni Emil ay naging mapaghanap ang babae at tinatangkang baguhin siya. Hindi nakatagal si Marilou sa isang relasyong “taken for granted” na siya. Naghiwalay ang dalawa. Bumalik ang asawa ni Emil. Pero dahil tunay na minamahal ni Marilou si Emil ay ipinasya na niyang maging kerida kaysa ganap na mawala ito sa kanyang buhay. Pero hindi lumigayang habang buhay si Marilou. Namatay si Emil at ang kanyang bangkay ay inangkin ng tunay niyang misis. Ipinasiya ni Marilou na humanap ng bagong buhay sa Amerika.

Makatotohanan ang akting sa pelikulang ito. Hindi sila caricature. Sila’y mga karakter na marahil ay mga kapitbahay natin. Muli na namang ipinamalas ni Bernal ang kanyang kakayahan sa pagpapagalaw ng mga artista. Hindi lang akting ang mapapanood mo. Ang nakikita mo ay ang tunay na takbo ng buhay. Nananatili si Christopher bilang isa sa iilan nating mahuhusay na kabataang actor. Makakalimutan mo na siya si Cris at ikaw ay ganap na mabibihag ng karakter na kanyang binubuhay sa aninong gumagalaw. Marahil, higit pa nating mauunawaan sana ang karakter na ginagampanan ni Chris kung nalaman natin kung ano ang kanyang propesyon at nagkaroon pa tayo ng ilang background ng kanyang buhay. Hindi tulad ni Vi na medyo kumpleto ang background. Kaisa-isa siyang anak. Edukada at masasabing liberated o mayroong malayang kaisipan. Sa pamamagitan ng konserbatibong ama ni Vi ay masusuri natin ang kanyang pamilya at kung paano niya haharapin ang mga situwasyon sa buhay. Sinasabi ng mga drumbeater ni Vi na ang kanyang role sa pelikulang ito ay pang-award, pang-FAMAS, pang-URIAN o pang-Film Academy Award kung matutuloy ito. Hindi kami tumututol sa kanilang palagay laluna’t napanood namin ang pelikulang ito. Masuwerte si Vi at sa ganitong maselang role ay dinirek siya ng isang katulad ni Bernal. Tulad nang binigyang diin namin sa unang bahagi, ang mga pelikula ni Bernal, ang “Pagdating sa Dulo”, “Nunal sa Tubig”, “Mister mo, Lover Boy ko” at “City after Dark” ay mga malinaw at makatotohang salamin ng buhay. Kaya sa “Relasyon” ay natural lamang na makakita tayo ng mga sitwasyong tila aktuwal na kinuha sa tunay na buhay at inilipat nang buong-buo sa puting tabing : Ang eksena sa kainan ng mga lovers na sina Vi at Cris; ang pagtratrabaho sa bahay ni Vi; ang usapan ni Vi at ng kanyang mga barkada; ang pagkabagot ni Vi samantalang gusto ng matulog ni Chris at iba pang eksena na karaniwan na sa tunay na mag-asawa.

Napakadramatiko ang pagkompronta ni Vi kay Chris sa direksyon ng kanilang relasyon. Higit sa lahat, sa pamamagitan ng huling eksena, ang pagsasara ni Vi sa pinto ng kanilang bahay, ang pugad ng kanilang “relasyon”, inihayag ni Bernal na ang ganitong relasyon ay may hindi maiiwasang magwakas tulad ng sa tunay na buhay. Maaaring kamatayan o isang panibagong relasyon. Kung ang isang lalaki ay may-asawa, at mayroon na siyang relasyon o nagbabalak pa lang magkaroon ng relasyon sa ibang babae, dapat niya itong panoorin ng dalawang beses. Una, kasama ang kanyang misis at ikalawa, kasama angkanyang no. 2 o magiging ka-relasyon. Sa mga babaing katulad ni Vi sa pelikulang ito, mabuting panoorin ninyo nang nag-iisa ang pelikulang ito upang higit na maunawaan ninyo ang inyong relasyon o magiging relasyon. – Mando Plaridel, Star Monthly Magazine July 10, 1982

Dalawang magagandang pelikula ang sabay na itinatanghal ngayon. Ito’y ang “Relasyon” ni Ishmael Bernal at “Hubad na Gubat” ng baguhang si Lito Tiongson. Sa taong ito, tatlo pa lamang ang talagang namumukod tangi para sa amin. Ang “Ito Ba Ang Ating Mga Anak” ni Bernal, “In This Corner” ni Brocka at ngayon nga’y ang “Relasyon” ni Bernal na naman. Napakahusay ni Vilma Santos sa papel ng pangunahing tauhan, isang dalagang umibig sa isang may asawa. It’s one hell of a role and a heaven of a performance. Kasama si Vilma sa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula at talagang ito na ang pinakamabigat na papel na napaatang sa mga balikat ng isang local actress mula ng gampanan ni Gina Alajar and lead role sa “Salome”. This time, sigurado nang mano-nominate si Vilma sa Urian (ito lamang ang award na hindi niya napapagwagihan) at malamang na ang maging pinakamahigpit niyang kalaban dito ay si Nora Aunor na very demanding din ang role sa “Himala” (na si Bernal din ang direktor). Ito’y kung matatapos ang ECP project na ito sa taong ito na sa palagay nami’y hindi kahit gusto ng ECP na isali ito sa filmfest sa Disyembre. Dinalirot ng “Relasyon” ang lahat ng mga anggulong maaaring suutan ng isang babaing nagiging kerida. Maraming madamdaming tagpo sa pelikula, lalo na ang death scene ni Christopher de Leon na tuhog ang pagkakakuha. Bagay na bagay kay Jimi Melendez ang papel niya bilang torpeng talisuyo ni Vilma. Hit na hit siya sa audience.

Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy na dumarag sa dito sa amin ang mga sulat na pumupuri sa acting ni Vilma Santos sa “Relasyon”. Sabi ni Nelda Santiago ng Arellano St., Marikina : “Napakagaling ni Vilma at kahit hindi pa ako nagiging kerida, para bang na identify ako sa kanya.” Sabi naman ni Hector Cruz ng 14 Malaya St., Q.C. : “Maraming nasasabi ang mga mata ni Vilma lalo sa mga eksenang wala siyang dialogue. Pati pilikmata niya ay umaarte. Dapat lang na magka award siya rito. Magaling din sina Jimi Melendez at Beth Mondragon.” Ayon naman kay H. Santillan III ng UP Village : Hindi kami fan ni Vilma pero kung ganito ng ganito ang performances niya, dapat siguro’y maging fan na nga niya kami. Tour de force ang acting niya at dapat ilagay sa textbook on acting. Hindi mapapantayan ang rapport nila ni Christopher de Leon.” May iba pang mga sulat pero hindi na namin masisipi sa kakulangan ng espasyo. – Mario E. Bautista, People’s Journal, July 1982

“…Sa kabuuan, mahusay ang pagsasalarawan ni Vilma Santos ng kanyang papel bilang Marilou ngunit hindi ito maihahanay sa ibang pelikula kung saan kinakitaan ang aktres ng kaibahan sa kanyang pagganap tulad ng ating nasaksihan sa Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (1977) at Broken Marriage (1983). Samantalang ibayong talino naman ang ipinamalas ni Christopher de Leon bilang Emil. Naipahiwating lang sana ng maayos ang motibo ni Emil sa pakikisama nito kay Marilou. Hindi maitutulad ang aspetong teknikal ng Relasyon sa ibang obra ni Bernal. Ang disenyong pamproduksiyon ni Benjie de Guzman ay hindi kapani-paniwala. Ipinakitang mababa ang estado ng kabuhayan ni Marilou ngunit madalian siyang nakakuha ng isang libong piso sa bangko. Ang mga tulad nito ay karaniwang walang natatagong ganoong kalaking halaga. Halos hindi marining ang musika ni Winston Raval habang ang sinematograpiya ni Sergio Lobo ay kadalasang nababalot ng dilim. Makikita din ang pagkakamali ng editing ni Augusto Salvador. Sa isang tagpo ay ipinakitang walong buwan nang nagsasama sina Marilou at Emil at nang sumunod na mga eksena, tinanong nito si Emil kung ilang taon na silang magkasama. Ngunit sa kabila ng mga pagkukulang na ito, naging matagumpay pa rin si direktor Ishmael Bernal sa kanyang paglalahad ng isang pelikulang sumubok sa ating mga kaalaman at paniniwala.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…For us, sinuman ang manalo kina Vilma Santos o Lorna Tolentino ay okey lang. Both Gina and Nora have won the Urian best actress awards twice. Gina for Brutal and Salome, Nora for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and Bona. Napakagaling ni Gina in portraying the role of the trying hard Kathy in Moral. Hindi biru-biro ang ganoong character na gagawin mong sympathetic dahil mas malamang na lumabas itong ridiculous lang kaysa nakakakuha ng simpatiya. But Gina succeeded in making her Kathy both ridiculous and sympathetic. As Elsa, Nora’s case is that of star and role merging into one, fitting into each other perfectly dahil alam nating ang karisma ni Guy sa kanyang fans ay siya ring karisma ni Elsa sa kanyang naging followers. Pero palagay namin, kung hindi magta-tie sina Lorna at Vilma, mananalo ng solo si Vilma Santos. Vi has never won the Urian. She should have gotten it in 1977 for Burlesk Queen but the trophy went to Daria Ramirez in Sinong Kasiping. Maraming acting highlights ang paper ni Vi bilang Marilou sa Relasyon. Sa confrontation scenes nila ni Boyet, superb siya roon sa tagpong sinusumbatan niya ito dahil ginagawa na lamang siyang tau-tauhan. Ang acting niya sa death scene ni Boyet na hindi malaman ang gagawin sa katarantahan is also awesome to behold…” – Mario E. Bautista, Movie Flash Magazine, 1983 (READ MORE)

“…On Relasyon. “I won my first grand slam with this movie. I shot this two months after I gave birth to Lucky. I was besieged with enormous financial problems. I owed the BIR, the banks. Thank you to Manay Ichu and Atty. Esperidion Laxa who guided me through this difficult phase in my life. My loans were re-structured. I produced five films which lost a lot of money. One was Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak which we did in three years. Life was miserable. Hinarap ko lahat ang problema ko. Everything that I earned went straight to the banks to pay off my debts. And I paid all of them. Thank God. So when I was doing Relasyon, I was drawing a lot of emotions from the troubles, the pain I was experiencing. Yes, I will not also forget that tuhog scene I did with Boyet and his death scene. Ishmael Bernal our director was great. And Luis is really lucky…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

“…In the documentary, Santos admitted that working with Bernal brought out the best in her as an actress. “She made me do this scene in ‘Relasyon’ that was really tough as it was unpredictable. I think Bernal was the first director to risk putting the character of The Mistress as The Heroine. In the past, the roles of mistresses were mere punching bags of The Wives in many confrontation scenes in Filipino movies,” she added…” – Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files (READ MORE)

“…On a final note, it’s rather unfair that when it comes to actors, Brocka always gets the authority to be called the actor’s director. Not to discredit Brocka of course but Bernal always exceeds Brocka in terms of directing comedies. And humor is only as hard as drama can get; and oftentimes even harder. Ilagan, Andolong, Ranillo, and Locsin may not be the best to portray their roles but their characters don’t need the best—they need believability more, and their youth exudes that, more than their acting chops. They grip on their dialogues so much that watching them is such a delight. There’s this anecdote told by Vilma Santos when she won her grandslam for Relasyon that she walked into Bernal’s shoot a little unmotivated and still high after her big win. She couldn’t get her acting right. And then Bernal said to her, “O, bakit parang lutang ka diyan? Porke’t naka-grand slam ka, feeling mo, magaling ka na?” That’s one-big-“OH”. And to think that Ate Vi was already a big star that time, and getting bigger and bigger thanks to her roles, it does not only give an impression of “katarayan” on Bernal’s part, but more of brilliance. Salawahan is one of the many proofs…” – Richard Bolisay, Lilok Pelikula (READ MORE)

Musical Scorer – “…The final set briefly harkened back to Raval’s work in the Philippines. When he wasn’t performing at clubs and on the concert stage in the 1970’s and 80’s, Raval composed film scores, most notably for the great filmmaker Ishmael Bernal. He gave his audience on Sunday a taste of that when he played the theme from “Relasyon,” the 1982 film by Bernal that starred Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon and for which Santos won one of her many best actress awards. Adding an amusing touch to the numbers on Sunday were Raval’s stories of how they came to be and how he came up with the titles. But one song that gave Raval a hard time finding a name for was the first number in the final set—and that’s how he ended up calling it “What’s Your Name,” he said, to the guests’ amusement. “Just Another Standard” and “Rolling Hills, Layered Lives” (“I don’t know what that means,” Raval said cheekily of the song) rounded out the program…” – Lorenzo Paran III, Pinoy in America, Nov 24 2012 (READ MORE)

Querida – “…Patrocinio and Bernal’s own mother, Elena, could very well have been Ishmael’s inspiration for several classics of Philippine movies. In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon (Two Nest, One Bird), Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos Jr., Manuel L. Quezon University, Bernal as Auteur: Primary Biographical Notes, 2012 (READ MORE)

Hypocritical Religious Piety – “…In Relasyon [The Affair], for example, Marilou, the querida (“common-law wife”) was the conceptual opposite of the stereotype in Philippin movies. She was a home-builder rather than a wrecker, a victim and not a victimizer. Such characterization may be subversive to the Catholicized society outside Bernal’s home, but most family members had always shared those views anyway, and what was queer to them was that “others”failed to see the issues as the family had seen them. Again, in many if his films, Bernal had comically depicted hypocritical religious piety…In Relasyon, Vilma Santos played the querida who lived up to her name as the beloved, a lady of intellect and fine sensibility; the virtually separated Emil truly loved and preferred her to his legal wife. In Dalawang Pugad, Isang Ibon [Two Nests, One Bird], Bernal explored the male’s polygamous nature, and pitted him against gritty female characters. In these films, Bernal recast the querida different from the stereotype of a family wrecker toward a clear-headed case-by-case realist delineation of the common-law wife. In Relasyon, Bernal can arguably be shown as a champion of the querida as a Filipino director, in depicting Marilou as a principled martyr in a society that wrongfully extols man’s false claim to moral ascendancy. As would be evident in the film, Ishmael saw the injustice done to women in male-dominated society, as he also saw and questioned the morality and rationality of institutionalized but falsely monogamist families…” – Bayani Santos, Jr., Kritika Kultura (READ MORE)

“…After years of this unfair competition, Vilma decided to stop playing the also-ran, and opted to essay the roles that Nora preferred not to do, -the other woman, rape victim, burlesque dancer, etc. Vilma’s sexy movies were more suggestive than anything else, but they gave her a new screen persona that made her a distinct movie entity from Nora. Fact is, Nora could also have played sensual characters, but she felt awkward doing so, and Vilma benefited from her reticence. In time, Vilma was also winning acting awards and starring in big hits, so the competition between her and Nora peaked…” – Nestor U. Torre, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2002 (READ MORE)

“…In my Tuesday column, I listed the names of some of the past Best Actor winners in the Gawad Urian. Below are the Manunuri’s Best Actress winners in the last 25 years:…Nora Aunor is clearly a Manunuri favorite. Most industry members (including Vilma Santos) are aware a lot of Manunuri members are “Noranians.” The Manunuri members, of course, do not necessarily operate on fan mentality. In the acting categories, they choose the ones who really deliver the outstanding performances of the year. In this sense, we can also call Gina Alajar a Manunuri favorite…Vilma Santos, unlike Nora, Gina, Jaclyn and even Chanda Romero (during the Manunuri’s early years), was never known to be a Manunuri favorite. Ironically, she is the one with the most number of Urian acting trophies, seven in all (as of 2013, she has 8). In the ’70s, Vilma a perennial Urian nominee; but also a perennial loser. In 1982, however, she won her first Urian (for Relasyon) and there was no stopping her after that. On record, she is the only actress who has won three Urian acting trophies in a row. After Relasyon she won successively for Broken Marriage and Sister Stella L. Later, she won four more for the following films: Pahiram ng Isang Umaga (1989), Ipagpatawad Mo (1991), Dahil Mahal Kita, The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993) and Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? (1998). Like rival, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos was also declared Best Actress of the decade in the ’80s and ’90s…” – Butch Francisco, May 09, 2002 (READ MORE)

“…Wenn Deramas (Director; Ang Tanging Ina, Praybeyt Benjamin): “Si Vilma Santos ang buong pelikula, maaaring istorya or a day in the life lamang ito ng isang kabit, pero sa sobrang husay ng ibinigay ni Vilma, lumaki ang buong pelikula…” – SCL, “Greatest Pinoy Films Poll,” 07 May 2013, Pinoy films through Pinoy lenses, (READ MORE)

“… Reportedly Ms. Santos, buoyed by the many acting awards earned by the previous film, was so eager to do well in the new production that Bernal got irritated, locked her in a bathroom, and delivered to her an ultimatum: she was not coming out till she got over her ‘hysteria.’ One sees what made the latter so successful, the same time watching this one sees why Bernal didn’t want to simply duplicate that success. Relasyon was a lean and elegantly told melodrama that took a sidelong glance at the institution of Filipino marriage; in Broken Marriage Bernal wanted to examine the institution directly, without the oblique glances. He didn’t want to film some doomed struggle to keep love alive but something less dramatic, far more difficult to capture: the aftermath of a protracted war, where the ultimate casualty is married love. He in effect didn’t want Ms. Santos at her perkiest and most energetic–he wanted her exhausted, looking for a way out, and to her credit Ms. Santos delivers exactly this with her performance…” – Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 08 April 2012 (READ MORE)

“…Relasyon remains in the Philippines, on the ground of facts. But the film does not end with social criticism. Behind the well-meaning film problem hiding an everyday epic of real existing love, so how and if it is to have in the wrong world. Sometimes this gets epic train of the film with its stated educational content in conflict. Marilou suggests that the advice of the well-informed uncle in the wind, of course, is unreasonable. But it is just their stubborn irrationality adverse circumstances over which so occupies us for it. Therein also lies the quiet, growing with each minute of film Would this really banal figure. At some point, it is sufficient Vilma Santos watch when make-ups – and the heart wants to rip one…” – Nicholas Perneczky,, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)

“…In Filipino melodramas, the heroines often lean on against a hostile environment. Some no less combative women have created a permanent place in the film industry of the country…Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal devoted themselves repeatedly with a strong social and political consciousness of the popular form of melodrama. More than Brocka himself Bernal frequently focused on strong female characters that need to manage their lives under unfavorable circumstances. In his films female stars in the spotlight, without the problems of everyday life would go by the board. With Vilma Santos in 1982 he turned Relasyon, wherein the main character wants to escape from a stifling marriage and not only emotionally, but also legally reaches its limits (a year later with Santos Bernal turned the thematically similar mounted Broken Marriage). Was produced Relasyon of Lily Monteverde , who plays an influential role in the Philippine film industry today. Already at the beginning of the 20th century there were in the studios and production companies in the country powerful women who ruled with a firm hand and were addressed by their subordinates even as mothers. “Mother Lily” made his mark as a hard nosed business woman, often more economic than artistic interests followed, understandably, not just friends. The young director Raya Martin let her in his short film Long Live Philippine Cinema! (2009) even to death to save the Philippine cinema…” – Michael Kienzl,, 10 Sep 2014 (READ THE TRANSLATION)


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)

Filmography: Miss X (1980)

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Basic Information: Directed: Gil Portes; Screenplay: Ricardo Lee; Cast: Vilma Santos, Mark Gil; Executive producer: Jesse Ejercito; Original Music: George Canseco; Theme Songs: “Dito Ba?” performed by Kuh Ledesma

Plot Description: Filipina prostitute living in red district of Amsterdam.

Film Achievement: 1980 FAMAS Best Musical Score – George Canseco

Film Reviews: “…Did you know that as early as the ’80s, nagsusulat na ang award-winning scriptwriter na si Ricky Lee tungkol sa plight ng ating mga OFW (overseas Filipino workers)? He started with “Miss X”, filmed in Amsterdam in The Netherlands with now Lipa City Mayor Vilma Santos in the title role. For an entire month, namalagi sa Amsterdam si Ricky kasama ang cast and crew ng pelikula. Naging simula ang Miss X ng ilang collaboration sa pagitan nila ng equally award-winning director na si Gil Portes. Ang next movie together nila ni direk Gil was “Carnival In Rio”, which was filmed naman in Rio de Janeiro. Alma Moreno, who was at the height of her popularity as a bold star then, played the lead role. Then came “’Merika”, na isinapelikula naman sa New Jersey and New York with Nora Aunor playing the lead role. “Because of that movie,” ani Ricky, “I was able to explore New York, the city of my dream. After my travels to all these places, I wrote (direk) Gil a letter, thanking him for the rare chance he gave na marating ang mga lugar na ito na ’di ko Inakalang mararating ko,” pahayag ni Ricky. For Anak, which was filmed in Hong Kong, Ricky had the chance na makatrabaho muli si Vilma sa ibang bansa muli. This time, na-renew, wika nga, ang kanilang bonding. Ricky remembered that because Anak was a blockbuster, binigyan ng Star Cinema ng malaking bonus si Ate Vi. Nagulat daw siya when one day, he received a P40,000 check from the actress. Contribution daw ang pera ni Ate Vi sa isinagawa niyang workshop for aspiring scriptwriters….” – Nel AThe People’s Tonight, Aug 31 2005 (READ MORE)

“…For one, hindi masakit sa tenga ang musical scoring ni George Canseco sa pelikulang ito. Hindi yata niya ipinilit na gawing mas malakas pa kaysa mga dialogue ang music niya. Turned-on kami doon sa song na “Amsterdam” yata ang title. Hindi yata inilagay sa credit kung kaninong kanta ‘yun. O baka naman hindi lang namin napansin. Kung ang ultimate goal ng pelikulang ito ay i-discourage ang mga Pinoy from illegally working and living abroad, the movie is almost a complete failure. Ang nakuha naming impresyon ay enjoy na enjoy ang mga Pinoy doon sa Amsterdam. Ang pathetic scene lang nga talaga ay ‘yung bandang ending nang mabaril si…at mag-iiyak si…Madali namang intindihin kung bakit kapos ang mga eksenang nagpapakita ng pamumuhay ng mga Pinoy do’n. Magiging masyadong magastos ang pelikula. Mas marami ang mai-involve na cast. At dahil nga kokonti lang ang ginamit na Pinoy sa cast sa Amsterdam, parang walang relevance kung saan man ginawa ang pelikula. Amsterdam was not meaningfully integrated in the movie. Sure, may mga scenes ng mga windmills, mga flats, mga patio at electric trains, pero hindi ipinakita ng script kung paano nakakaapekto sa buhay ng mga Pinoy na naroroon ang atmosphere ng Amsterdam. It’s almost like the movie has no social-awareness at all. Kaya nga nanghihinayang ‘yung isang tagahanga ni Ricardo Lee sa script niya sa pelikulang ito. Well, it was a good try for Ricardo Lee and director Gil Portes, but there’s really nothing fantastic sa script and direction nilang dalawa. And it’s been a good vehicle for Vi and Mark. It’s also worth your P4.50 dahil hindi naman ito nakakairita tulang ng mga pelikula ni Cloyd Robinson. The movie is credible, despite the shaky script. Dapat panoorin!” – Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, 10 March 1980 (READ MORE)

“…The issue of film spectatorship is also a tenuous one. Gil Portes recalls that his own Munting Tinig (Little Voices, 2003) was not a box-office draw in the Philippines but it made good business abroad. He narrated how the mostly Filipino audience who watched the film when it was shown in New York and California, where a large contingent of Filipinos reside, were reduced to tears after the film screening. Portes himself lives half the time in New York and half the time shuttling between his Manila and Barcelona homes. He made what he considered the first diasporic film called Miss X in 1979, which was followed by his critically-acclaimed ‘Merika in 1982. Both films made box-office profits in the Philippine when they came out because of his strategic casting of two of Philippine cinema’s foremost actresses in both films – Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor. He maintains that his films occasionally borrow from foreign materials for inspiration but it is his job to imbue them with a sensibility that is “uniquely and distinctively Pinoy”. In the case of Munting Tinig, he said he was inspired by Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven (1997). Although he did not specify what constitutes the ‘Pinoy sensibility’ present in his films, he said that a Filipino film ‘can be shot abroad as long as it is distinctively Pinoy but with a universal message” (Portes interview, 2006). Film historian and self-described ‘filmologist’ Teddy Co insists that “there is no such thing as a pure, unfettered and essentialist Filipino film” because foreign influences are natural and real (Co interview, 2006)…” – Joseph Palis, Cinema Archipelago: A Geography of Philippine Film and the Postnational Imaginary 2008 (READ MORE)

“…In Gil Portes’ Miss X (1980), about a Filipino prostitute working in the red light district of Amsterdam, Gil was cast as the leading man to Vilma Santos, who at that time was already regarded as one of the Philippines’ best actresses. He ably fulfilled Portes’ requirements, churning out a performance that exemplified the grit that the material called for…” – Francis Joseph “Oggs” Cruz, Rappler, 02 Sep 2014 (READ MORE)

“…For the record, here is a quick rundown of last year’s most significant local films…Miss X – the screenplay by Ricky Lee worked despite director Gil Portes’ mangling of it. Vilma Santos gave a credible performance as the ill-fated seeker of fortune. The fact that the producer was willing to spend on a production filmed abroad augured well for the local film industry…” – Isagani R. Cruz, TV Times Magazine, 11-17 January 1980

Mga Kalapati sa Amsterdam – “Okey din naman pala itong utol kong si Ethel Ramos. You see, she went with Vilma Santos to Amsterdam and like a good sister…she sent me these exclusive pictorials of Vilma Santos and that of up-and-coming actor Mark Gil. Mark, as you have probably heard went ahead of Vi to Amsterdam. So, Mark was able to see the rounds of Amsterdam even before Vi came. So impressed was Mark that he almost memorized the favorite spots he went to and volunteered to become Vi’s guide. Sa Damsquare unang ipinasyal ni Mark si Vi. Sa lugar na ito raw malimit na nagpapasyal ang mga tagaroon. Karaniwan na, doon sila nag-papalipas ng maghapon, nakaupo sa mga upuang sadyang ginawa para sa mga turista at kundi nagpapahangin ay nagpapainit kaya. Sa Damsquare ay makikita ang pagkarami-raming kalapati. Kung gusto mong pagkalumpunan ka ng mga kalapati na pagkaaamo, pakainin mo lang sila at pagkakaguluhan ka ng mga ito. Maraming nagtitinda ng mga pagkain ng kapati sa Damsquare. Iyon ang tagpong malimit nating makita sa mga pelikulang English. May eksenang ganito si Vi na mapapanuod natin sa “Miss X” na ginawa nila in its entirety in Amsterdam. “Nakakatuwa si Vi habang pinanonood mo siyang nakikipaglaro sa mga kalapati…” – Article by Chit A. Ramos, Photos: Bing Cruz, first published at Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, 26 November 1979, Posted by James DR, Pelikula (READ MORE)

For Miss X: Off to Amsterdam With Vilma Santos and Party – “Miss Vilma Santos and her entourage which includes her mommy and daddy flew off to Amsterdam one Sunday afternoon para sa pelikulang Miss X ng Sining Silangan which will be shot ther in entirety. The group who saw them off at the airport was headed by Jesse Ejercito and some Sining Silangan bigwigs, fans of Vilma at ilang close friends from the press. Nauna rito ay nagkaroon ng ilang tenaw moments ang mga tao sa likod ng proyektong ito nang kung ilang ulit na mabalam ang pagalis ni Vi. We understand from some sources that the company was about to make a sudden change of decision kaugnay ng roles ni Vi nang biglang makahulagpos ang superstar sa kanyang mga commitments dito at ipasiyang lumipad na nga patungong Amsterdam. Ayon sa aming balita, matapos ang shooting doon ay tutuloy sa Los Angeles si Vi together with her parents upang duon idaos ang kanyang birthday, Nov. 3. This decision of hers of course saddened many of fans here pero parang higit diumano ang axiety ngayon ng Bancom, Regal at Lea dahil umano’y slated si Vi na gumawa ng pelikula sa kanila. Bancom for one is pinning their hopes on the early return of Vi dahil ang pelikulang ito si Charito Solis at siyang isasagupa sa tambalang Nora-Lolita Rodriguez naman ng para rin sa festival.” – Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, October 29, 1979, Posted by James DR, 28 October 2017 (READ MORE)

RELATED READING: 26 Days in Amsterdam