FILM REVIEW: KARMA

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Plot Description: Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when she scheduled to flight was delayed. At a hotel where she is staying, Sarah encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valdez), a regular guest who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiancé, Alfredo (Tommy Abuel) whose dream of marrying a “virgin” is dashed. Strangely, Sarah and Eric’s paths cross again at a time when their respective marriages are in disarray. Their meeting strikes both as “déjà vu.” Could it be that they have met each other in the past? Their suspicious are confirmed after Eric consults a psychic. As it turns out, Sarah and Eric are the reincarnation of Guada and Enrico, two lovers who had an illicit affair sixty years ago. When Guada’s husband, Limbo (Ruel Vernal), learned of her affair, he went on a murderous rampage. Now Sarah and Eric seem destined to follow the same path. But in whose spouse does the spirit of Limbo rest? Is it the disabled Alfredo? Or Eric’s estranged wife Cristy (Chanda Romero)? – Viva Films

Film Review: The technical preview of “Karma” the other night was delayed for about an hour but I did not mind waiting because I was quite certain that I’d be seeing a fine film. To while away the time, “Firecracker,” co-starring American actors with local talents like Chanda Romero, Vic Diaz, and Rey Malonzo was shown. Chanda and Vic delivered their lines themselves but surprisingly Rey didn’t. Before one whole reel could roll, the prints of “Karma” arrived. “Don’t stop it yet, a bed scene is coming,” Mario Bautista protested. Happily, “Karma” turned out to be as good as I expected. It’s performers are first-rate – Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero – so their award-winning acting didn’t surprise me at all. The script was outstanding but even that was expected, coming from director Danny Zialcita. What impressed me was that minor parts were played by name actors. The housekeeper who appeared in one short sequence could have been played by any elderly woman but those who made the movie wanted nothing less than Etang Discher. The psychiatrist could have been played by any decent-looking man but they didn’t settle for anybody less than Vic Silayan. The male lover at the start of the story had to be acted out by Dante Rivero, that at the end by Christopher de Leon. The movie boasted of several bold scenes. Those involving Vilma weren’t much as we know for a fact that Vilma could show only so much. One scene showing Chanda was a different story. It showed her with absolutely nothing on, yet it didn’t offend anybody as it was executed in style, shot with great care. There was just one thing, which looked unnatural to me – the way in which one of the main characters killed himself. “That’s all right,” Danny assured me. “Before we shot it, we double-checked its possibility.” Reincarnation and transference are undoubtedly mind-boggling subjects but, to his utmost credit, Danny managed to present them simply, bringing them down for everybody to understand. “Bala lang yan. Katawan lang ito. Babalik at babalik kami sa mundong ito,” Dante vowed. Come back they did as they promised building the foundation of the story. – Bob Castillo, People’s Journal Dec. 12, 1981 (READ MORE)

Sa pagbabago ng estado ni Vilma Santos, tila nagbabago na rin ang kanyang approach sa kanyang career. Dahil hindi na career ang unang priority niya sa buhay, lalong nagiging professional ang kanyang tingin sa trabaho. Dahil hindi na twenty-four hours a day ang kanyang buhay artista, alam na niyang I-apportion ang bawat minuto na walang aksaya. Sa set ng Relasyon ni Ishmael Bernal, hangang-hanga ang director sa bagong pang-unawa ni Vilma sa trabaho. Dumarating sa oras, kabisado ang linya (memorizing lines for Vilma, of course, was never a problem even the days she was shooting five pictures simultaneously), full attention sa sinasabi ng direktor, walang problema. Kung pagbabasehan sa naging resulta ng Karma, lalong maganda ngayon si Vilma, mas mariin ang kanyang pagganap, mas mature ang kanyang approach at understanding sa kaniyang papel. Swerteng-swerte ang pagkapanalo niya ng best actress sa nakaraang Film fest. Sayang at wala siya upang tanggapin mismo ang tropeo. Pero lalong naging makabuluhan para sa kanya ang sinabi ng kapwa niya artista sa Karma nang sabihin ni Chanda Romero na “napakaganda naman ng karma ni Vilma. Mayroon na siyang Edu, mayroon siyang Lucky, ngayon ay mayroon pa siya nito (ang ibig sabihin ay ang best actress trophy),” sabay tilian ng mga fans sa loob ng Cultural Center, walang makapigil, walang makasaway. Pero, gaya ng dati, hindi naging madali kay Vilma ang pananalo. Nagpatas ang botohan ng dalawang beses – triple tie sila ni Gina Alajar at Charo Santos, hanggang ma-break ang deadlock at nakaungos ng isang boto si Vilma sa dalawa pa niyang kalaban. Tinawagan si Vilma ni Cirio Santiago, pinasundo sa isang limousine, pero nagdahilan ang Vilma. Ayaw niya sigurong umasa dahil minsan, sa isang awards night din, sinigurong siya ang mananalo pero hindi ganun ang nangyari. (I understand that Vilma really won but the verdict was changed afterwards through the representations and machinations of some influential press sectors.) Kunsabagay, wala rin si Charito Solis noong awards dahil sabi sa akin ni Chato, talagang hindi niya inaasahang manalo ang maliit na papel na iyon sa Kisapmata. Noon pa mang preview pa lamang, maugong na ang balitang baka si Charito ang manalo bilang supporting actress pero hindi niya yun pinansin dahil tiyak na tiyak siya na si Vic Silayan ang mananalo. Sinabi pa niya sa interview niya kay Armida Siguion-Reyna sa Let’s Talk Movies na napakagaling ni Vic. Sa set pa lamang daw, natitiyak na niya halos na si Vic ay mananalo sa Kisapmata. Sa naturan ding programa, sinabi ni Armida sa pagre-review niya ng Karma na talagang magaling ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma sa Karma na parang nakuha nitong punuan ang ilang mahalagang kakulangan ng pelikula. – Oscar Miranda (READ MORE)

“26 years after we first seen “Karma,” the film remained Vilmanians’ favorites and one of Dany Zialcita’s best film. Glossy with crisp dialouge, the film was a big hit at the 1981 Metro Manila Film Festival and earned Vilma the festival’s best actress. Here was what movie reporter Mario Bautista said about her acting: “Ibang-iba” rin ang Vilma Santos sa “Karma.” Subdued na subdued ang performance ni Vi rito unlike in other films na all out ang emoting niya. Dito’y restrained siay at napaka-effective. Halimbawa sa eksena after the rape sa kanya ni Ronaldo Valdez. Nang sabihin niyang siya’y patungo sa kasal niya’y halos hindi na marinig ang kanyang tinig pero talaga namang damang-dama mo ang kirot sa kanyang dibdib. O kaya’y sa mga tagpong sinusumbatan siya ni Tommy Abuel na nanatili siyang kalmado at soft-spoken. We never thought Vilma can be that versatile!” – RV (READ MORE)

Zialcita’s first movie with Vilma was the 1980 festival entry, a drama about bigamy, Langis at Tubig. The following year, Zialcita and Santos joined forces again in antoher festival entry, Karma. The film earned Vilma her second Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. The following year, Ziacita’s Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan broke box office record, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila and assured Vilma Santos the box office queen of 1982. The total number of Vilma Santos and Danny Zialcita colloborations were four (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, Karma 1981, Langis at Tubig 1980, T-Bird at Ako). – RV (READ MORE)

“One of the most misunderstood occult concepts. The nearest equivalent in European thought is contained in the idea of fate, though the oriental term indicates the fate is not a haphazard sequence of events of experiences, but is dependent on actions of previous lives or spiritual conditions. The idea is that a spirit undertakes to live in an earthy body for a given period of time, usually in order to learn something which cannot be learned in a disembodied state, and has to accept rewards and punishments for good and bad deeds committed in previous incarnations. In order that understanding may grow, any evil committed against another person will have to be experienced by the perpetrator. The working out of Karma is not done consciously by ordinary people. The real reasons for the majority of people’s actions and relationships may be understood only when nature of their Karma is grasped – which is tantamount to saying that it is virtually impossible to understand or judge another person when seen in the context of one material lifetime only. Vilma Santos fits the role to a T. For the past years that she has suffered a string of major misfortunes and setbacks in real and reel life, she has hone herself as promise, a common objective: to give the viewing public what it wants – entertainment with a capital E. For Danny Zialcita, aside from having a good screenplay, good direction and brilliant actors and actresses, the movie should have artistic values. Karma promises to be a very good vehicle not only for Zialcita but also for Vilma Santos and the rest of the cast. Will this movie be a good KARMA for director Danny Zialcita, Vilma Santos and the rest of the cast? Watch the movie! It’ll be a different kind of feeling you’ll get after viewing it.” – Bond De Leon (READ MORE)

“…First, Karma is a quality picture. According to Mr. Ernie Rojas ng Sining Silangan, it was produiced not only to make it good in the box-office kungdi maging sa mga awards. Kungsabagay, may laman ang sinabi ni Mr. Rojas simply because Langis at Tubig, which was also producede by Sining Silangan last year, placed second in the tops earners and bagged the Best Actor Award for Dindo Fernando. Second, matagal na ring naipalabas ang latest film ni Vi na Hiwalay. Samakatuwid, maganda ang spacing ng mga pelikula niya, ‘Ika nga, hindi over-exposed ang beauty ni Vi. Dahil dito, nandiyan pa rin ang pananabik ng manonood kaya’t siguradong dudumugin ang Karma. …” – Manny A. Valera (READ MORE)

“…In my limited understanding it takes lifetimes to work off one’s karma. Movies, however, only run for two hours so filmmakers have to take liberties. In Danny Zialcita’s 1981 film Karma the protagonists have the added advantage of knowing exactly who they were in their past lives, thanks to a psychiatrist (Vic Silayan) who practices regression hypnosis. Eric (Ronaldo Valdez, who is smoking, and not just in the library where he researches his former incarnation) and Sarah (Vilma Santos) have already met under awful circumstances, but it turns out they’ve known each other much longer than that. In the past they were Enrico and Guada, illicit lovers murdered by Guada’s husband, Limbo. Limbo vows to follow them to the next life, but which form does he take? Is he now Enrico’s mentally unbalanced, pathologically jealous wife Cristy (Chanda Romero), or Sarah’s cruel, sadistic husband Alfredo (Tommy Abuel). It’s not a whodunnit, it’s a who-will-do-it? Vilma Santos turns in another fine portrayal of emotional turmoil. Nora Aunor had the advantage of expressing volumes with her eyes; Vilma expresses with her face, hands, and entire body. Nora was inward, Vilma outward. Ronaldo Valdez gives an understated performance, coolly delivering lines like, “In love there’s no measure of time”. Tommy Abuel overacts ridiculously, even for a guy so suspicious that he has his wife examined by a gynecologist to see if she’s had sex. Chanda Romero is fabulous. Her Cristy is a psychotic who never raises her voice; you can tell she has tranquilizers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The first time Cristy and Sarah meet is at the antique store Sarah manages at the old Virra Mall. Cristy breezes in, picks out a bunch of stuff, and announces that she doesn’t carry cash or credit cards, just send the bill to her husband. She points to another piece she buys, and Sarah says, helpfully, “That’s P9,500.” “Ok lang,” Cristy says, “Nagtanong ba ako? (Did I ask?)” One thing about Danny Zialcita movies: his rich people looked and sounded like rich people. He made movies for sophisticated grown-ups. If they don’t make movies like Zialcita’s anymore, it’s because people are no longer that articulate. Nobody casually tosses off bon mots anymore, everything has to be overstated for the dim. So we Zialcita fans are reduced to reciting favorite lines from his movies: “Puede bang makausap ang asawa ko na asawa mo na asawa ng buong bayan?” (May I speak to my husband who’s your husband who’s everybody’s husband?)…” – Jessica Rules The Universe (READ MORE)

FILM REVIEW: SAAN NAGTATAGO ANG PAGIBIG


The Plot: Stella got pregnant by boyfriend Rick. Unfortunately, Rick is not willing to gamble on his inheritance. He is tied up with a promise to his super snotty, super rich old grandmother that he have to finish law school before he can get any money. In order to avoid scandal Stella agreed to be married to Rick’s retarded brother, Val. Together with his adopted family Stella learned to love the retarded Val and at the same time discovered that Val is a product of infidelity that cause the suicide of Rick and Val’s father. Unfortunately Stella’s new found love ended when Val accidentally fell from a window when he had a fight with his irrational brother one night. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Nang malaman ni Stella na buntis siya ay pinilit niyang managot ang kasintahan nitong si Rick, isang law student na tagapagmana na ariarian ng kanyang matapobreng lola. Dahil sa panakot na mag-i-iskandalo’y ipinakasal nila si Stella sa kapatid ni Rick na retarded upang hindi mawala ang mana nito at kasabay ay maiwasan ang kahihiyan ni Stella na mabuntis ng walang asawa at ama ang kanyang dinadalang bata. Kasabay ng pagbubuntis ni Stella ay natutunan nitong mahalin ang retarded na si Val. Kasabay rin nito’y natuklasan ni Stella na si Val ay anak sa labas ng kanilang ina at ito’y hindi sinilang na kulang-kulang. Dahil sa kalupitan ng matapobreng lola ng mga bata’y nahulog ito sa hagdanan ng pagbintangan si Val ng matandang nagnanakaw ng pera. Nahulog ang batang si Val habang pinapalo ito ng kanyang ina. Isang gabi’y nagwala si Val nang Makita nitong nakikipagtalo si Stella kay Rick. Sinunggaban ni Val si Rick at nagaway sila. Ang naging resulta ng pag-aaway na ito’y aksidenteng nahulog sa balkonahe ang kaawa-awang si Val.

Namatay ito at sa araw ng libing ay dumating ang matapobreng matanda para ibigay ang abuloy nito kay Stella. Isinauli ni Stella ang tseke sa matanda at ipinahayag na si Val ang ginawa nilang ama ng kanyang anak pero ang tutoo’y dahil sa takot na mawalan ng mana’y ito ang pinaako ng responsibilidad ni Rick. Galit na umalis ang matanda at tuluyang naglaho ang mana ni Rick. Nagdesisyon na iwan ni Stella ang bahay kasama ng kanyang anak. Mula sa direksiyon ni Eddie Garcia, ang Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig ay hango sa komiks. Bagama’t mahahalatang puro isang dimensiyon lamang ang halos lahat na karakter ng pelikula’y mahusay naman naihayag ni Direktor Eddie ang komiks na komiks na istorya nito. Bakit kailangang maging binata si Rick habang nagaaral ito ng abogasya? Bakit napakahalaga ito sa matapobreng si Alicia Vergel? Bakit may nakatakip ang isa sa mata ng matanda na parang bandido? Sa ubod ng yaman ng matanda hindi ba puedeng maglagay ng pekeng mata kesa sa bendang itim? Bagamat nakakatawa ang obserbasyon na ito’y dahil sa bisyuwal na kaanyuan ng matapobreng matanda kung kaya naman epektibong makikita ang pagiging kontrabida nito.

Tulad ng “Paano Ba Ang Mangarap,” merong ‘dream sequence” ang pelikula kung saan kunwari’y hinuhusgahan si Val na isang baliw. Kung puputulin ang eksenang ito’y hindi magiging sagabal sa paglalahad ng buong istorya ni Gilda Olvidado. Mula sa lumang bahay hanggang sa eksena sa libingan ay mahusay ang sinematograpiya ni Romy Vitug at disenyong pangproduksiyon ni Manny Morpe. Mahusay ang mga katulong na artista mula kay Cherrie Gil, Alicia Alonzo at Alicia Vergel. Mahusay rin si Ricky Davao bilang Rick at Gloria Romero bilang ina ni Rick at Val. Ngunit ang pelikulang ito’y tungkol kay Val at bilang si Val ay nabigyan ng mahusay na pagganap ni Tonton Gutierrez ang papel na sinto sinto mula sa pagsasalita na utal utal haggang sa pisikal na mukha at pa-ika-ikang paglalakad. Tulad ng inaasahan, mahusay si Vilma bilang si Stella. At tulad ng maraming pelikulang ginawa niya sa ilalim ng Viva at sa direksiyon ni Eddie Garcia ay merong linya o dayalogo siya na hindi malilimutan, ito ay nang bigkasin niya ang linyang, “…si Val, si val na wala naman malay…” na magpahanggang ngayon ay natanim sa mga Pilipino na mahihilig sa pelikulang tagalog. – RV (READ MORE)

“…Viva Films produced a movie adaptation of this story in 1987 that starred Vilma Santos as Stella, Ricky Davao as Rick and Tonton Gutierrez as Val. The movie received five citations in the 36th Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences including Best Picture, Best Director for Eddie Garcia, and Best Story for Gilda Olvidado. This line from the movie: “Si Val! Si Val! Puro na lang si Val! Si Val na walang malay!”, delivered by Vilma Santos is claimed to be one of the most memorable lines in Philippine Cinema in the June 11 episode of QTV’s “Ang Pinaka”, hosted by Pia Guanio…” – Wikipilipinas (READ MORE)

Film Review: LANGIS AT TUBIG


The Plot: Bobby (Dindo Fernando) is a man secretly in love with his neighbour and friend Cory (Vilma Santos) but who is living-in with her partner Charlie (Ronaldo Valdez). However, Cory decides to leave Charlie upon discovering his deepest secret that he is a married man. This gives Bobby the chance to show his true feelings for Cory and marries her even adopting the child Charlie has left in her womb. Bobby lives the life of a perfect husband with Cory and accepts a job assignment in Albay shuttling to and from Manila to support his new family. In the province, he meets Pilar (Amy Austria) a lovely town girl. His friendship with Pilar blossoms and they find themselves falling for each other, with Bobby concealing his real marital status. Soon the two learn that she is pregnant and the family forces them into marriage. Consequently, the women discover that Bobby is living a lie and is married to two women. He is forced to make a crucial decision, which of his marriages must be honour? Or will he faced the prospect of getting charged with bigamy? – Philippine Movies (READ MORE)

The Reviews: Nang magkaroon ng chance si Bobby (Dindo Fernando) ay sinamantala niya ang sitwasyon ng matagal na niyang nililigawang si Cory (Vilma Santos). Hiniwalayan ng kapitbahay niya ang ka-live in nitong si Charlie (Ronaldo Valdez) dahil sa panloloko nito. Natuklasan ni Cory na may asawa na ito at kinakuwartahan lang pala siya. Buntis si Cory at para maiwasan ang kahihiyan ay pumayag itong pakasal sa manliligaw na si Bobby. Nagpakasal nga ang dalawa at sa kabila ng mga tsismisan ay natutunan rin ni Cory na mahalin si Bobby. Sa kabila ng kanilang matiwasay na pagsasama ay hindi pa rin magkaanak si Cory kay Bobby hanggang sa madestino si Bobby sa Bicol kung saan nabuntis niya si Pilar (Amy Austria). Napilitang pakasalan ni Bobby si Pilar dahil sa pananakot ng pamilya nito. Nang malaman ng masugid na manliligaw ni Pilar (George Estregan) na may asawa na pala ang pinakasalan ng kanyang nililigawan ay sinabi niya agad rito’t lumuwas si Pilar upang alamin kung tutoo nga ang balitang ito. Rito niya nalamang dalawa nga silang pinakasalan ni Bobby at nagsampa ito ng demandang “bigamy.” Nang malaman ni Cory ang nangyari, una’y nasaktan ito ngunit inintindi niya ang asawa at handa itong magparaya para lang hindi ito makulong. Nagkasundo si Cory at Pilar at iuurong na ni Pilar ang demanda ngunit nagdesisyon si Bobby at hinarap ang pagkakasala nito. Sa harap ng husgado ay sinabi niyang siya ay “guilty” at nakulong siya.

“…In 1980, tatlong pelikula ni Nora Aunor ang maituturing na panlaban: two by Brocka (Nakaw na Pag-ibig and Bona) and the other by Laurice Guillen, Lea Productions’ Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. She won the Gawad Urian for Bona. Ang panlaban ni Vilma was Zialcita’s Langis at Tubig. Hindi taon ni Vilma ang 1980, which saw the emergence of other young and talented actresses like Gina Alajar (Brutal), naka-tie ni Nora sa Urian, and Amy Austria, na tumalo kay Aunor sa Metro Manila Film Festival. In the 1980 MMFF, Amy won with a lone entry – Brutal – while Nora got nominated for Bona and Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo. (A case of split votes.) Sa 1980 Gawad Urian, nominated sina Nora, Gina (eventual winners) at Amy, samantalang si Vilma was “snubbed by the critics.” In 1981, nanalong MMFF Best Actress si Vilma for Zialcita’s Karma, besting Nora’s multi-character portrayal in Maryo J. delos Reyes’ musical-drama Rock ‘N Roll. Vi, however, failed to win any other nomination for that starrer, while Nora went on to win a trophy (Catholic Mass Media Awards) and Best Actress nomination (Gawad Urian) for Mario O’Hara’s Bakit Bughaw ang Langit?…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

Sa direksiyon ni Danny Zialcita, ang Langis At Tubig ay isang pelikulang mabilis at nakakaaliw sa kabila ng pangkaraniwang istorya nito. Tinalakay ng pelikula ang tungkol sa bigami at inilahad ang mensahe na kahit na ano pa ang sitwasyong kinakaharap ng mga tauhan ng pelikula’y hindi maikakaila talaga na may kasalanan ang karakter na ginampanan ni Dindo Fernando. Sa bandang huli’y hayagan sinabi ng husgado na sa mata ng batas walang nangingibawbaw na kahit na sino, ang maysala ay dapat parushan. Isang lagda na ng director Zialcita ang nakakaaliw ng mga diyalogo at ang Langis ay hindi na naiiiba sa mga nagawa na niyang pelikula tulad ng “Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan” at “T-Bird At Ako.” Ang huling pelikulang ginawa ni Zialcita ay nuong 1986 pa, sana ay magbalik pelikula na siya. Napakahusay ng cinematography ni Felizardo Bailen at ang mabilis ng editing ni Ike Jarlego Sr. Bagama’t maganda ang themesong na ginawa ni George Canseco ay nakaka-distract naman sa ilang eksena na bigla na lang pumapasok ang kanta ni Sharon na dapat sanay tahimik na lang. Kung ang pag-uusapan naman ay ang pagganap, mahusay si Amy Austria bilang Pilar. Makikitang pinaghandaan niya ang kanyang pagganap. Muli, binigyan ng magagandang linya si Vilma Santos mula sa umpisa kung saan kinompronta niya ang manloloko niyang ka-live in at sinabing: “namputsa naman nahuli ka na ayaw mo pang aminin” at sa bandang huli nang intindihin niya ang asawa at handing magparaya, sinabi niya “…handa akong magparaya, kung gusto niya isang lingo sa kanya, isang lingo sa akin…” Pero halatang ang pelikulang ito ay pelikula ni Dindo Fernando. Deserving si Dindo sa kanyang pagkapanalo sa Famas bilang pinakamahusay na actor bagamat nang taong ito’y mahusay rin si Christopher Deleon sa Aguila at Taga ng Panahon at Jay Ilagan sa Brutal. Tahimik lang ang pag-arte niya’t makikita ang kanyang intensity sa kanyang eksena kung saan nagtapat na siya sa asawang si Cory tungkol sa kanyang kaso. Mahusay rin siya nang hinarap niya si Pilar at sabihin niyang, “mahal ko kayong dalawa.” Maganda ang location ng pelikula. Makikita ang mga ordinaryong tanawin ng Albay sa Bicol at ang mga ordinaryong manggagawa rito mula sa mga nagtatanim ng palay hanggang sa mga nagtitinda ng mga paninda sa palengke ng bayan. Sa kabila ng ordinaryong istorya ng Langis At Tubig, ang mahusay na direksyon at mahusay na pagkakaganap ng mga artista rito’y nangibabaw ang tunay na karapatan nitong panoorin muli ng mga mahihilig sa pelikulang Pilipino. Sayang nga lang at hindi na gumagawa ng pelikula ang ang gumawa ng obrang ito. – RV (READ MORE)

Zialcita’s first movie with Vilma was the 1980 festival entry, a drama about bigamy, Langis at Tubig. The following year, Zialcita and Santos joined forces again in antoher festival entry, Karma. The film earned Vilma her second Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress. The following year, Ziacita’s Gaano Kadalas Ang Minsan broke box office record, Earned P7.3 million during its first day of showing in Metro Manila and assured Vilma Santos the box office queen of 1982. The total number of Vilma Santos and Danny Zialcita colloborations were four (Gaano Kadalas ang Minsan? 1982, Karma 1981, Langis at Tubig 1980, T-Bird at Ako). – RV (READ MORE)

Filmography: T-Bird at Ako (1982)

“Hindi naman ako ipokrita…ke tomboy ka, bakla ka, ok lang sa akin yon! Pareho lang yon! Kung saan ka maligaya duon sila…huwag na nating pakialamanan…alam mo kung nuong una sinabi na niya sa akin kung ano siya hindi na kami nagkaganito eh…akala ko tutoong tao siya!” – Isabella

“Putik nga ito! Pero kahit ganito ako, nagsisimba ako kahit papaano!…ang sabi ng nasa itaas, ang sala sa lamig, sala sa init, iniluluwa ng langit, isinusuka ng diyos!” – Isabella

“…ano ba naman ‘to katawan lang ‘to, ‘konting tubig, ‘konting sabon, wala na…tapusin na natin ang kaso, pagkatapos sabihin mo kung kailan, saan…darating ako, ang katawan ko!” – Isabella

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Basic Information: Directed: Danny Zialcita; Portia Ilagan; Screenplay: Danny Zialcita, Portia Ilagan; Cast: Vilma Santos, Nora Aunor, Dindo Fernando, Tommy Abuel, Tony Carreon, Baby Delgado, Rosemarie Gil, Suzanne Gonzales, Odette Khan, Liza Lorena, Alvin Enriquez, Adul de Leon, Rustica Carpio, Anita Linda; Original Music: Butch Monserrat; Cinematography: Felizardo Bailen; Film Editing: Ike Jarlego Sr.; Sound: Rudy Baldovino; Theme Songs: “Hiwaga ng Pag-ibig” performed by Nora Aunor

Plot Description: An interesting and witty play of events and characters directed by avant garde filmmaker Danny Zialcita. The story of a woman confused of her sexuality (played by Nora Aunor) who worked in a man’s world as a lawyer. A chance meeting with a bar girl (played by Vilma Santos) who would change the course of her life. The film portrays a woman who runs and holds her life, but when matters of the heart are concerned, she just lets fate takes it toll. She believes to be in love with the bar girl, or she thinks she is! At the end, a sudden twists explodes making her more vulnerable that she has ever imagined. A parody on the comic love and life of people caught up in a the middle of strange questions of gender issues. A seriously funny picture of the drama of life! – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Lesbian lawyer Nora, tried to assist the accused dancer, Vilma with her legal battles and unexpectedly, falls in love with her. The poorly written plot compensate with crisped dialogues and fast paced editing from one of the most finest commercial director of the 80s, Danny Zialcita.

Confused lawyer Sylvia Salazar (Nora Aunor) is infatuated by the oozing charm of ago-ago dancer Isabel (Vilma Santos) whom she has volunteered to defend in a criminal case. Sylvia’s persistent and dedicated suitor (Tommy Abuel), another lawyer of intelligence and a strong conviction, however, does not give up on her and resolves to pursue her or wait for that time when she will be more receptive to a man’s affections. Also stars Dindo Fernando, Liza Lorena, Baby Delgado, Leila Hermosa, Suzanne Gonzales and Odette Khan. Written by Portia Ilagan and directed by Danny L. Zialcita for Film Ventures, Inc. – Trigon Video

Film Achievement: The fourth Vilma Santos-Nora Aunor films (the other films are: Young Love, Pinagbuklod ng Pag-ibig, Ikaw Ay Akin.

Film Reviews: “…The remastered version of Danny Zialcita’s T-Bird AT Ako is clearly something that we can be proud of. At an age of total enlightenment, we no longer need to know who’s better between Aunor and Santos. What matters now is that we have a film we can return to, so we can once again, embrace the magic of cinema and understand why it continually touches our lives. Apart from a salute to a director, who has once graced our taste and tickled our sensitivities as Filipinos, it is also a celebration of two great actresses who will ceaselessly make us smile every time we wonder what magic they have that makes us submit to their bidding…”- Orly S. Agawin, Jellicle Blog, 26 February 2015 (READ MORE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…Humahantong ang resolusyon ng pelikula sa antas nang mapilitang magkasundo ang mga magkakatunggali. Sa pagtatapos nito ay bumalik si Aunor sa tunay na esensya ng kanyang pagkababae. Nagmula ito sa matagumpay na babaeng nagpasimula sa pagtagumpay ng mga tradisyonal na pagpapahalagang pang-kababaihan. Tulad ng inaasahan, napapalooban ang T-Bird At Ako ng mga kapani-paniwalang pagganap at pagtatapat. Higit na epektibo si Nora Aunor bilang isang lesbiyana sa pagpapahayag ng komplikasyon sa tauhang kanyang ginagampanan. Lubha namang nakakapagod ang pagganap ni Vilma Santos sa pelikula. Hindi makaramdam ng simpatiya ang manonood dito dahilan sa karton ang kanyang karakter. Samantala magiting ang suportang ipinamalas ni Tommy Abuel bilang matiyagang manliligaw ni Aunor, gayundin sina Dindo Fernando at Suzanne Gonzales. Sa maikling paggnap ay lubhang katangi-tangi sina Anita Linda at Odette Khan. Masasabing masinop ang mga elemento ng pelikula sa T-Bird At Ako, maliksi ang galaw ng mga biswal at masigla ang paggamit ng tunog upang mabisang mailarawan ang mundong ginagalawan ng mga tauhan nito.” – Jojo Devera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Danny Zialcita’s T-Bird at Ako is entertaining cannot be doubted. The plot situations are funny. The lines are witty. The pacing is fast. The lesbian love of Nora Aunor for Vilma Santos, moreover, is extremely clever, since the two superstars in real life would not be caught dead in such a relationship. Zialcita has made a career of doing impossible things. He made he-man Dindo Fernando a homosexual in the Mahinhin series. He now makes Aunor a lesbian. When he tries to make Santos a low-class beerhouse dancer, however, he fails. That makes his record two out of three impossible things, not bad for normally sedate local cinema. This film shows Zialcita at his best – irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, unconcerned with larger themes, focused on obsessive sexual relationships. Let’s take the dialogue first, which cleverly juxtaposes the fiction of the film with the reality of the careers of the two superstars. Thus references are made to Santos’ being a “burlesque queen.” One character is even named “Rubia,” after Rubia Servios (1978), Santos’ competition film against Aunor’s Atsay (1978). More than these allusions, however, the film features sparkling exchanges between Santos and Aunor. Most impressive of all the lines perhaps are those in the court room sequence, since the opposing arguments are easy to follow, yet logical in structure. The direction is tight and masterful. Although one always gets reminded in a Zialcita film of sequences from foreign films, there is a minimum of unmotivated blocking in this film. Each sequence contributes to the whole film (if there is copying, in other words, and I do think there is in this film, the copying is not done simply to be cute or clever, but in accordance with the logical requirements of the plot). The performances, as expected of a Zialcita film, are excellent. Aunor is more effective as the confused lesbian, primarily because Santos is not able to get the rough and ready quality of low-class hospitality girls. Tommy Abuel is terrific in his role as the patient suitor. Fernando is given too little space to develop his character, but what he has, he makes good use of. Captivating is Suzanne Gonzales, though she has to learn to use her face a bit more to express varying emotions. In their brief roles, Anita Linda and Odette Khan are delightful.” – Isagani Cruz, September 22, 1982, Movie Parade Magazine

No More Superstar Image – “…Isa iyong ikslusibong pakikipanayam sa aktress sa set ng “T-Bird,” isang pelikulang tumatalakay sa mariing iksistensiya ng isang tomboy, at sa pagkakataong ito, muli na naman siyang makakasama ang kaytagal na niyang kakontemporaryong aktress, si Vilma Santos. Sa intriga’t kontrobersiya ng naturang pelikula, (sapagkat kamuntik nang hindi matuloy ang proyekto) nagpapasalamat si Nora at nagkaroon din iyon ng katuparan. Nagtapat siya: “Malaki rin ang naitulong nang pagkikita namin ni Vi sa Manila International Film Festival. Kasi, magkatabi kami. Kinabukasan nun, Saturday, meron nang shooting…Tapos, ang laki rin ng tulong nu’n kasi nagkakuwentuhan na rin kami, ang sarap! Ewan ko, ang sarap talaga ng pakiramdam kung halimbawang magkalaban kayo sa career…magkalaban, pagkatapos ang tagal-tagal n’yo, ‘yung ganu’n. ‘Yong bang hindi mo akalain…Kahit nga mga problema nag-kakuwentuhan din kami, eh…So, ‘nu’nung shooting namin, medyo hindi rin ako masyadong nahirapan sa pag-a-adjust…” Ang totoo, ayon kay Nora, medyo ayaw din niyang tanggapin noong una ang papel na iyon sa “T-Bird.” Unang-una naipangako niya sa sariling gagawa lamang siya ng tatlong pelikula para sa 1982, at hindi nakalinya ang obrang iyon ni Danny Zialcita. Isan linggo niyang pinag-isipan ang alok na iyon ay gumuhit nang malalim ang isang intrigang kanya rin napaglabanan, pagkatapos. “Kasi, unang-una, iniisip ko rin naman, siyempre maraming tao na mag-iisip na naman, magsasalita na naman ‘O baka naman tinatanggap ni Nora ‘yan kasi kakapit sa pangalan ni Vilma dahil alam na down na down na siya!…So, ‘yon, nag-worry ako pero pagkatapos kong pagaralan, naisip ko, bakit ko naman pakikialaman ‘yung ibang tao? Sa ngayon naman, nag-matured na kami. Wala na ‘yung mga batang isipan d’yang Superstar image. Unang-una nga, magsasama kami ngayon as actresses. Hindi na mga dating pa-bandying-bandying ang mga pelikula ngayon…saka isa pa, bakit ko ba iintindihin ang mga sasabihin ng tao? Kung maraming mga detractors ang magsasalit at mag-iisip nang ganun, hindi maiiwasan ‘yon. Maski anong paliwanang ang gawin mo, andu’n pa rin ‘yung kaumakalaban sa iyo…” Isang seryosong pelikula ang “T-Bird” at isang seryosong direktor naman si Danny Zialcita. Ang kay Nora ay ang maranasan ang pagpapel ng isang tomboy hindi sa paraang kumedya kundi sa isang paraang dramatika. Gusto rin niyang maranasan kung paano maiderihe ni Danny sa unang pagkakataon…” – Arthur Quinto, photos by Fely Igmat, Artista Magazine, 04 March 1982, Re-posted by James DR, Pelikula Atbp (READ MORE)

RELATED READING:

#noraaunor, #VilmaSantos, #TBirdatAko1982, #DannyZialcita

Filmography: Karma (1981)

“Ganuon naman pala eh, de alam mo na may asawa na ako…bitiwan mo ako…alright wise guy, gypsy pala ako nun hah…sinabi mo rin mahilig ako sa music, dancing, siguro may favourite song ako, huwag nang yung napakalayong kahapon, baka hindi mo mabasa eh, yun na lang natapos na kahapon, twenty, twenty five years ago…ano kayang favourite song ko?” – Sarah

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Basic Information: Directed, screenplay: Danny Zialcita; Story: Sylvia Barreto; Cast: Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero, Christopher Deleon (guest appearance), Marianne Delariva, Dante Rivero, Aurora Salve, Suzanne Gonzales, Martha Sevilla, Odette Khan, Virginia Montes, Bella Flores, Etang Ditcher, Vic Silayan, Fred Montilla, Renato Robles, Ruel Vernal, Augusto Victa, Butch Aquino; Executive producer: Ernesto C. Rojas; Original Music: Gilbert Gregorio; Cinematography: Felizardo Baillen; Film Editing: Enrique Jarlego Sr.; Theme Songs: “Minsan Sa Isang Panahon” performed by Kuh Ledesma, “Its now or never”

Plot Description:  Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when she scheduled to flight was delayed. At a hotel where she is staying, Sarah encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valdez), a regular guest who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiancé, Alfredo (Tommy Abuel) whose dream of marrying a “virgin” is dashed. Strangely, Sarah and Eric’s paths cross again at a time when their respective marriages are in disarray. Their meeting strikes both as “déjà vu.” Could it be that they have met each other in the past? Their suspicious are confirmed after Eric consults a psychic. As it turns out, Sarah and Eric are the reincarnation of Guada and Enrico, two lovers who had an illicit affair sixty years ago. When Guada’s husband, Limbo (Ruel Vernal), learned of her affair, he went on a murderous rampage. Now Sarah and Eric seem destined to follow the same path. But in whose spouse does the spirit of Limbo rest? Is it the disabled Alfredo? Or Eric’s estranged wife Cristy (Chanda Romero)? – Viva Films

Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when her scheduled flight is delayed. At a hotel where she is staying, she encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valez), a regular guest, who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiance, Alfredo (Tommy Abuel)whose dream of marrying a virgin is dashed. – Telebisyon.net (READ MORE)

Film Achievement: 1981 FAMAS Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Abuel; 1981 FAMAS Best Supporting Actress – Chanda Romero; 1981 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos; 1981 Cebu City Film Festival Best Actress – Vilma Santos

Film Review: “…Maituturing na head of his time ang mahusay at napaka-innovative na direktor na si Danny Zialcita. Lahat nang nanood ng 1981 movie na tinatampukan nina Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez at Chanda Romero, na ipinalabas ang restored version courtesy of the ABS-CBN Film Restoration last Friday sa Trinoma, ay sumang-ayon na very now pa ang tema ng pelikula. At very now pa rin ang approach niya sa pagsasa-pelikula nito. Bukod sa pagdidirek ng Karma, si direk Danny din ang sumulat ng story at script nito. Fresh from his performance bilang ama sa apat na ‘di magkasundong magkakapatid, hangga’t nalaman ng mga ito na malapit na siyang bawian ng buhay, sa blockbus­ter Star Cinema movie na Seven Sundays, Ronaldo already proved he was an actor to reckon with, yes, that early, sa pelikulang Karma. At kung looks ang pag-uusapan, sorry Janno Gibbs dahil mas guwapong ‘di hamak ang iyong ama. At the time na ginawa ni Ronaldo ang Karma, kaedad din niya si Janno. Of Ate Vi, dapat mapanood ng kanyang mga anak na sina Luis Manzano at Ryan Christian-Recto ang Karma. Pagkaganda-ganda ni Ate Vi sa said movie. Kasama rin sa pelikula si Tommy Abuel na isang lawyer sa tunay na buhay. Magaling siya sa kanyang role bilang mister ni Ate Vi, na hindi nito napatawad dahil sa hindi nito ipinagtapat bago sila ikinasal na hindi na siya virgin. Si Tommy ay napapanood pa rin paminsan-minsan sa mga teleserye at may nagsabing regular member ito ng Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB). As to Ronaldo, he was at the screening of Karma. At gumawa talaga siya ng oras para bumati sa lahat ng audience bago sinimulan ang screening. Of direk Danny, he died in 2013…” – Baby E, Pang-Masa, 29 October 2017 (READ MORE)

The technical preview of “Karma” the other night was delayed for about an hour but I did not mind waiting because I was quite certain that I’d be seeing a fine film. To while away the time, “Firecracker,” co-starring American actors with local talents like Chanda Romero, Vic Diaz, and Rey Malonzo was shown. Chanda and Vic delivered their lines themselves but surprisingly Rey didn’t. Before one whole reel could roll, the prints of “Karma” arrived. “Don’t stop it yet, a bed scene is coming,” Mario Bautista protested. Happily, “Karma” turned out to be as good as I expected. It’s performers are first-rate – Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero – so their award-winning acting didn’t surprise me at all. The script was outstanding but even that was expected, coming from director Danny Zialcita. What impressed me was that minor parts were played by name actors. The housekeeper who appeared in one short sequence could have been played by any elderly woman but those who made the movie wanted nothing less than Etang Discher. The psychiatrist could have been played by any decent-looking man but they didn’t settle for anybody less than Vic Silayan. The male lover at the start of the story had to be acted out by Dante Rivero, that at the end by Christopher de Leon. The movie boasted of several bold scenes. Those involving Vilma weren’t much as we know for a fact that Vilma could show only so much. One scene showing Chanda was a different story. It showed her with absolutely nothing on, yet it didn’t offend anybody as it was executed in style, shot with great care. There was just one thing, which looked unnatural to me – the way in which one of the main characters killed himself. “That’s all right,” Danny assured me. “Before we shot it, we double-checked its possibility.” Reincarnation and transference are undoubtedly mind-boggling subjects but, to his utmost credit, Danny managed to present them simply, bringing them down for everybody to understand. “Bala lang yan. Katawan lang ito. Babalik at babalik kami sa mundong ito,” Dante vowed. Come back they did as they promised building the foundation of the story. – Bob Castillo, People’s Journal Dec. 12, 1981

Sa pagbabago ng estado ni Vilma Santos, tila nagbabago na rin ang kanyang approach sa kanyang career. Dahil hindi na career ang unang priority niya sa buhay, lalong nagiging professional ang kanyang tingin sa trabaho. Dahil hindi na twenty-four hours a day ang kanyang buhay artista, alam na niyang I-apportion ang bawat minuto na walang aksaya. Sa set ng Relasyon ni Ishmael Bernal, hangang-hanga ang director sa bagong pang-unawa ni Vilma sa trabaho. Dumarating sa oras, kabisado ang linya (memorizing lines for Vilma, of course, was never a problem even the days she was shooting five pictures simultaneously), full attention sa sinasabi ng direktor, walang problema. Kung pagbabasehan sa naging resulta ng Karma, lalong maganda ngayon si Vilma, mas mariin ang kanyang pagganap, mas mature ang kanyang approach at understanding sa kaniyang papel. Swerteng-swerte ang pagkapanalo niya ng best actress sa nakaraang Film fest. Sayang at wala siya upang tanggapin mismo ang tropeo. Pero lalong naging makabuluhan para sa kanya ang sinabi ng kapwa niya artista sa Karma nang sabihin ni Chanda Romero na “napakaganda naman ng karma ni Vilma. Mayroon na siyang Edu, mayroon siyang Lucky, ngayon ay mayroon pa siya nito (ang ibig sabihin ay ang best actress trophy),” sabay tilian ng mga fans sa loob ng Cultural Center, walang makapigil, walang makasaway. Pero, gaya ng dati, hindi naging madali kay Vilma ang pananalo. Nagpatas ang botohan ng dalawang beses – triple tie sila ni Gina Alajar at Charo Santos, hanggang ma-break ang deadlock at nakaungos ng isang boto si Vilma sa dalawa pa niyang kalaban. Tinawagan si Vilma ni Cirio Santiago, pinasundo sa isang limousine, pero nagdahilan ang Vilma. Ayaw niya sigurong umasa dahil minsan, sa isang awards night din, sinigurong siya ang mananalo pero hindi ganun ang nangyari. (I understand that Vilma really won but the verdict was changed afterwards through the representations and machinations of some influential press sectors.) Kunsabagay, wala rin si Charito Solis noong awards dahil sabi sa akin ni Chato, talagang hindi niya inaasahang manalo ang maliit na papel na iyon sa Kisapmata. Noon pa mang preview pa lamang, maugong na ang balitang baka si Charito ang manalo bilang supporting actress pero hindi niya yun pinansin dahil tiyak na tiyak siya na si Vic Silayan ang mananalo. Sinabi pa niya sa interview niya kay Armida Siguion-Reyna sa Let’s Talk Movies na napakagaling ni Vic. Sa set pa lamang daw, natitiyak na niya halos na si Vic ay mananalo sa Kisapmata. Sa naturan ding programa, sinabi ni Armida sa pagre-review niya ng Karma na talagang magaling ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma sa Karma na parang nakuha nitong punuan ang ilang mahalagang kakulangan ng pelikula. – Oscar Miranda

“…During the MMFF when Ate Vi won in Karma. It was a triple tie between Ate Vi, Gina Alajar and Charo Santos. JQ as one of board of jurors defended why Ate Vi should win. On the second deliberation JQ convinced one of the jurors and Ate Vi won by 1 point. JQ lambasted on his TV program the jurors in the MMFF when Ate Vi was not even nominated for her performance in Langis At Tubig. The nominees are Nora Aunor for “Bona” and “Kung Akoy IIwan Mo” and Amy Austria for Brutal. Its good that Amy won. JQ said that Ate Vi is good in langis compared to Nora in “Kung Akoy IIwan.” Obiously that was manipulated by Dean Lukresia Kasilag who was the Board Chairman that time and a certified Noranian. Kawawa talaga si Ate Vi basta involved si Kasilag lagi syang nabibiktima. Remember Rubia Serbios and Atsay. JQ always regarded Ate Vi as the real Queen of Philippine movies and a certified box Office Queen…” – V Magazine (READ MORE)

“…Nang minsang makapanayam namin si Vi sa set ng Karma, sabi niya, “Masaya ako ngayon. Sa darating na Filmfest kasi, maganda ang panlaban kong pelikula. Kung nagustuhan ng mga manonood ang Langit at Tubig last year, mas magugustuhan nila ang Karma. Hindi kiyeme-kiyeme ang sinasabi ko. Nakita ko na kasi ang mga rushes, “I consider Danny as one of the best among our movie directors. Pulido siyang magtrabaho. Pari iyong mga bold scenes namin, talagang artistically done. All praises ako sa kanya. Nakasama ko na rin siya before and because of that, may inter-action kaming dalawa. Vibes na vibes kami. Sure ako, hindi ako mapapahiya sa filmfest entry ko. “Karma will be my Christmas gift to all my fans who, until now, have not stopped loving me. Ang pagtingin ko sa kanila ay extra special kaya naman, extra-special ang regalo ko…” – Manny A. Valera, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, December 28, 1981 (READ MORE)

“One of the most misundertood occult concepts. The nearest equivalent in European thought is contained in the idea of fate, though the oriental term indicates that fate is not a haphazard sequence of events of experiences, but is dependent on actions of previous lives or spiritual conditions. The idea is that a spirit undertakes to live in an earthy body for a given period of time, usually in order to learn in a disembodied state, and has to accept rewards and punishments for good and bad deeds committed in previous incarnations. In order that understanding may grow, any evil committed against another persons will have to be experienced by the perpetrator. The working out of Karma is not done consciously by ordinary people. The real reasons and relatinships may be understood only when the nature of their Karma is grasped -which is tantamount to saying that it is virtually impossible to understand or judge another person when seen in the context of one material lifetime only. Vilma Santos fits the role to a T. For the past years that she has suffered a string of misfortunes and setbacks in real and reel life, she has honed herself as promise, a common objective: to gove the viewing public what it wants – entertainment with a capital E. For Danny Zialcita, aside from having a good screenplay, good direction and brilliant actors and actresses, the movie should have artistic values…” – Bong de Leon, Jingle Extra Hot Magazine, November 2, 1981 (READ MORE)

“…Sarah (Vilma Santos) is forced to defer her wedding when her scheduled flight is delayed. At a hotel where she is staying Sarah encounters Eric (Ronaldo Valdez) a regular guest who forces himself on her. The incident leaves a stigma not just on Sarah but more so on her fiance Alfredo (Tommy Abuel) whose dream of marrying a virgin is dashed. Strangely Sarah and Eric’s paths crossed again at a time when their respective marriages are in disarray. Their meeting strikes both as deja vu. Could it be that they have met each other in the past? Their suspicions are confirmed after Eric consults a psychic. As it turns out Sarah and Eric are the reincarnation of Guada and Enrico twol lovers who had an illicit affair 60 years ago. When Guada’s husband Limbo (Ruel Vernal) learned of her arffair he went on a murderous rampage. Now Sarah and Eric seem destined to follow the same path. But in whose spouse does the spirit of Limbo rest? Is it the disabled Alfredo? Or Enrico’s estranged wife Cristy?…” – Mav Shack (READ MORE)