Once There was a Love (1991)

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Basic Information: Direction: Maryo J. De Los Reyes; Cast: Vilma Santos, Aga Muhlach, Mari Kaimo; Loly Mara, Ana Feliciano, Minnie Aguilar, Pilar De Leon; Story: Raquel N. Villavicencio; Executive Producer: Chit A. Guerrero; Associate Producer: Arnel S. Natividad; Assistant Director: Jun Payawal; Production manager Pong Mercado; Technical Director: Mar Matias; Technical Supervisor: Romy Veron; Production Designer: Judy Lou De Pio; Director of Photography: Charlie Peralta; Production Supervisor: Aida Pandialan; Assistants to the Director: Lowee Boots, Angelo G. Martin; Production Assistants: Vangie M. Parinas, Lorna Montero; Supervising Editor: Jess Navarro; VTR Editor: Bong Cruz; Talent Coordinator: Mae Esguerra; PRO: Jun Nardo, The El Oro Group; Musical Scorer: Ruben Cadsawan; Cameramen: Bong Cerezo, Arthur Lintag, Ben Resuta, Lando Quiambao, Willy Bustaquio; Art Director: Ding Habal; Propsmen: Angelo De Vera, Rede Moveno; Custume Mistress: Marivic Padilla; Audiomen: Obet Salad, Dado Estandarte; Lightning consultants of GMA-7: Rene Saves, Alex Teston; Stills: Gerry Ocampo, Rod Samson; Charger Operator: Maloy De Jesus; Make-up Artist: Carmen Espineli; Hair Dresser: Medy Sordan of Jun Encarnacion; Sketches: Gerrie Francisco; Utility: Marie Barbarqui, Andy Topacio, Helen Vergarra; Production Services: Erming Nicdao; Post Production: Gammatex Video Services, GMA-7; Producers: Vilma Santos Inc., GMA-7 Radio and Television Arts; Released on video by Viva Films

Plot Description: Soon to be married Sylvia (Vilma Santos) met a younger man, Jason (Agah Muhlach) when the later asked to stay temporarily in her house. He run away from his rich parents who wanted him to leave the country permanently. The two fell-in love but got into a car accident when they decided to elope after his parents discovered their relationship. When Jason died Sylvia decided not to marry his fiance, Mari (Mari Kaimo). – FRV

Film Achievement: First colloboration between Aga Muhlack and Vilma Santos (the other projects were Sinungaling Mong Puso in 1992 and Nag-iisang Bituin in 1994).

Film Review: – Once there was a love started as Sylvia (Vilma Santos) is about to get married. She looks hesitating but she is fully dressed in her wedding gown and asked her helper to temporarily leave her alone. Afterwards she took a picture of a man in her drawer and the flask back story starts. Jason (Aga Muhlach) came to Manila from Davao. He went to see Sylvia’s niece who used to live with her. Sylvia’s niece no longer lives with her and so he asked him to leave. For some reason she had this inclination to help him and she allowed him to stay in her house temporarily undil he found a place to stay. As turned out Jason’s parent died from a plane crash and he has nowhere to go. For some reason Sylvia allowed the young adult to stay in her placed more until he found a job.

As both become comfortable at each other, they found they have chemistry and the next scenes where the cutesy stages comes in as the old woman falls for the younger guy. Sylvia as turned out is a frustrated artist, she inherited her parent’s wealth but decided to continue her career. When Jason found a temporary job, she asked him to still stay at her place as their relationship blosooms despite their age gap. Then Sylvia’s fiance, Mari (Mari Kaimo) came back from abroad and triangle begins. Sylvia lied to Mari and introduced Jason as their neighbour, who is using their pool to help him with his water theraphy for his broken leg.

Broken-hearted, he then decided to leave Sylvia’s place and moved to his work place. Sylvia and Jason got together a second time when he visited her in a house party after a few weeks and because the dog they adopted together died while crossing the street in his new placed. The two were sad about the news and the attraction finally caved in and they had sex. Sylvia postponed the wedding with Mari. Mari confronted her action but she remained firm about her decision. Sylvia and Jason continued their decision until his mom came out from the scene, as it turned out their both alive and he elope the family because he doesn’t want to go with them in Canada. His mother then warned them that she will file a lawsuit against Sylvia for corruption of minor.

Jason left Sylvia’s place but called her one night with the idea of both of them eloping. She met her in a bus station but she said no and he left for an unknow destination. But Sylvia had a change of heart and she drove to follow the bus. She finally catched up with Jason and they drove to an unknown destination. All is well until they reached their final destination. The two had an car accident. Sylvia survived but Jason died. Flash back to current day, Sylvia’s wedding day, Mari asked her not to continue the wedding if she is no longer loves him, if she still in love with the dead, Jason. The film for TV ended with Sylvia talking to the dead Jason from the hospital bed.

This was the prelude to Vi-Aga’s box-office hit movie, “Sinungaling Mong Puso” under Regal Films. It is obvious that Vi and Aga has a charisma on screen. Despite the obvious real life age gap, their roles in both this film for TV and the Regal produced film, made their real-life ages not a hindrance but realistic treatment to the May-December affair genre. Obviously, the film is better and their roles in the film were fully developed compare to this TV movie.

Nevertheless both Vilma and Aga gave a convincing performances. Aga has shown the dramatic prowess he possessed during this early part of his career. As Jason, he brought his boyishly look and natural timing with his light moments with Vi just like in Sinungaling Mong Puso in their first meeting scenes in a disco bar. Btw, Aga’s Characters in, Once There was a Love and Sinungaling Mong Puso, were both named Jason. Vilma on the other hand had a weak start but came out strong at the very end. We can’t just believe she decided to allowed a stranger to her house in a middle of the night and fall for him, even taking care of him after one night. It lacks the preparation for the two characters to fall for each other that quick, unlike in Sinungaling Mong Puso where their first meeting was more convincing, we were prepared as both characters were established early on with their boring lives. Mari Kamio’s performance here is also weak and he obviously didn’t speak Tagalog.

Raquel Villavicencio’s writing here is not at far with her other works like Minsan pa nating hagkan ang nakaraan, Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Bukas and Relasyon. Maryo De Los Reyes’ direction was quite limited to it’s TV genre, with slow pacing and commercial breaks even made it more tedious to watch. The scoring of Ruben Cadsawan, was so bad its like watching an old soap opera from the radio days of Tiya Delly (Yes, Ruben is the musical director of Vilma)! The so called “canned” music screaming in our ears in almost every dramatic scenes. Two pop music came out during its major scenes, Phil Collins’ “Grovy Kind of Love” and Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love” – both songs made the scenes so melodramatic and quite distracting.

Overall, “Once there was a Love” is good prep for Vi-Aga’s team, (they ended up doing two films, “Sinungaling Mong Puso” and “Nag-Iisang Bituin”) but it’s limitation was so evident with its lack of character development, shallow story telling, and low production value. Although this is a film made for television, it is quire a disappointment that this is Vilma Santos produced project considering she is not a newbie when it comes producing.” – FRV

“…Aga’s on and off career worked to a great disadvantage, making producers and fans shun away from him. However, his wholesome, totally refreshing and boyishly-appealing look makes him adorable on screen. His latest TV opus with Vilma Santos titled “Once There Was a Love” was a success prompting many producers to get him again in the movies. Asked why his carer never really took off, he says: “Well, I lack the much-needed support in my career. There were many times I’m almost there, tapos wala namang kasunod agad; so napaglilipasan agad, di ba? I am also partly to be blamed because I was in a limbo for a while. All I know and care about is that I have the money spend on luxurious cars, squash, water sports and my nightlife. I also keep on changing managers.” This year, Aga is quite determined to become serious with his career. he’s slated to do movies outside Regal Films – for RJ Films, Seiko and Viva. It also means having to lose weight for his comeback on the big screen. He says: “I want to look really good when I start doing more movies this year. I’m on a liquid diet. I don’t eat anything. For the meantime I only drink juice, water and slim-fast.” Aside from cutting his food intake, Aga likewise cuts his expenses. “I’m really saving for the future now. I can’t afford to maintain more expensive cars (at the moment he only owns two European cars, a 230-E and a 7-35). I also have to do away with my water sports for awhile. Alam ko ang mawalan ng pera and one thing with me, I never run to my parents to ask for some if I need it. Ever since I started working at afe 14, I’m my own…” – Jackie R, Manila Standard, 9 Jan 1991, p17 (READ MORE)

“… A kind of homage is paid her when she’s paired with younger stars like Eric Quizon and Aga Muhlach. “Definitely, I feel flattered. But then I feel very very secure in my age and with myself. It’s a matter of self-confidence, of knowing that when they look at you they see a woman, period. Age doesn’t matter: I have no insecurities about it.” She knows she can look as young as, or younger than, her new leading men – as long as she herself feels young inside…She says she has no hang ups about age. But how does she keep herself looking young? “I don’t know. I don’t do anything special. I used to swim but I don’t have the time now. I don’t cut down on anything. I drink occasionally but I’m not really a drinker. My true enemy is tobacco: I smoke. Aside from that, I know no other vices. On facing the camera, whether movie or TV, I put on make up. But Vilma Santos the person, when in her house, puts nothing on her face.” She is positive it’s not make-up that makes her go over on the little or big screen as young-looking…” – Quijano De Manila, Philippine Graphic Magazine, 05 Nov 1990 (READ MORE)

“…Vi said that her latest movie, Sinungaling Mong Puso, slated to open today, is inspired by her tele-movie, “Once There Was A Love” which also starred Aga Muhlach. I really wanted Aga to be my leading man in this movie since we started our tele-movie.” The movie also reminded her of the time when she and Ralph met for the first time. He was then only 21, or 11 years her junior. Vi does not plan to stop making movies, “I’ll be bored with just being a housewife,” she averred. “Sinungaling…, she said, “is the story of three women and how they relate to the men in their lives. This is more intense compared to Ipagpatawad Mo. She is set to do two more movies this year, one for Moviestars with Cesar Montano and Ronnie Rickets to be directed by Chito Rono; and another for OctoArts with perennial screen partner, Christopher de Leon with Mike de Leon as director…” – Nena Villanueva, Manila Standard, 27 Aug 1992 (READ MORE)

Video credit
: Alan NYC ViSion

Lazarito (Tele-movie)

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Basic Information: Direction: Vilma Santos; Cast: Dawn Zulueta, Ariel Rivera, Ali Sotto, Bernardo Bernardo, Tom Taus, AJ Galvez and Armando Goyena; Production Co.: Vilma Santos Productions, Inc.

Plot Description: No Available Data

Film Accomplishment: Vilma Santos’ directorial debut.

Film Review “…Although Vilma directed a well-received TV movie before (“Lazarito”), she still wishes to direct a full-length film feature soon. She holds in high esteem her favorite lady directors like Laurice Guillen, Marilou Diaz-Abaya, Rory Quintos, and Olive Lamasan. She would like to work with Peque Gallaga in the future and hopes to be reunited with Chito Rono and Mike de Leon who have both directed her best films…” – Paolo Salas, Celebrity Chronicle, Nov 2006 (READ MORE)

“…Ang mentor ni Vi sa pagiging direktor ay si Joel Torre. Nakapagdirek si Vi ng isang telemovie na may pamagat na Lazarito kung saan tampok dito sina Dawn Zulueta, Ariel Rivera at Tom Taus, Jr…Kabilang naman sa ginawang telemovie ni Vi ay ang Lamat Sa Kristal, Katuparan, Once There Was A Love, Correctional, Bugso at Maalaala Mo Kaya: Regalo episode…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

“…Ang dream ko naman talaga—nung hindi ko alam na papasok ako sa pulitika—ay makapagdirek ng movie. Yun yung next step ko, parang maging Laurice Guillen, Marilou Diaz-Abaya. Nagpapaturo na nga ako ng anggulo! Yun ang dream ko talaga. But she was quick to point out that she already directed a telemovie for GMA-7 in the past. Titled Lazarito, it starred Dawn Zulueta and Ariel Rivera. “Nakapag-direct na ako para sa TV, pero ang dami ko pang mali. Nung mag-e-edit na ako, wala na akong material. Nung nag-shoot kasi ako, eksakto lang. Lesson learned: dapat pala ang dami mo talagang dapat [i-shoot]…” – Jocelyn Dimaculangan (READ MORE)

Lamat Sa Kristal (1988) tele-movie

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Basic Information: Direction: Maryon de los Reyes; Screenplay: Raquel Villavicencio (Based on the stage play, Extremities); Cast: Vilma Santos, Richard Gomez, Jacklyn Jose, Mia Gutierrez. Broadcasted November 7 1988 by GMA Channel 7

Plot Description: Based on the play Extremities, a photographer (Vilma Santos) avenged her sufferings by torturing back the rapist (Richard Gomerz) who abused her.

Film Accomplishment: Part of GMA Seven’s special one week event entitled: “Seven Nights To Remember in November” in connection to their newly installed high voltage power grid broadcasting tower in 1988.

Film Review: “…Jacklyn is cast with Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon in Viva’s “Immortal.” This is Vilma and Christopher’s first film together after several years of making movies separately. Although Jacklyn is cast in a supporting role, she is excited in doing the dramatic opus since it is a Vilma starrer. Jacklyn is vocal to admit that she is an avid fan of Vilma. This is the second time she co-stars with her favorite idol. The first one was on a TV dramatic special “Lamat sa Kristal,” which was produced by Vilma herself. Besides, Jacklyn is also happy to note that she will be directed by one of her favorite directors, Eddie Garcia…” – Eddie O. Liboon (READ MORE)

The highlight of GMA 7’s day one of its “Seven Days to Remember in November” las Monday, was the showing of Vilma Santos, Inc.’s first drama special for television titled Lamat sa Kristal, based on the play Extrimities. Coincidentally, the said tele-movie was shot during the rage of killer typhoon Unsang and was aired at the height of another weather disturbance name Yoning. The suspense drama starred Santos, Jacklyn Jose and Mia Gutierrez as the three friends, all professinals in their respective fields, who went out in vacation at a resthouse in Tagaytay. Santos, as the quiet photographer about to hold her one-woman show, was nursing a broken heart from a failed relationship. Jose was the happy-go-lucky type while Gutierrez was the usual reliable supportive friend. The tension started when Jose and Gutierrez left Santos in the resthouse all by herself. The lonely photographer calmly did her chores till she came across a stranger (portrayed by Richard Gomez) who turned out to be a psychopath and rapist. The following scenes showed how the woman was attacked, abused, tortured, molested and almost raped and she tried to put a fight and survive the ordeal.

Santos’ remarkable transformation from a hapless victim to a raging avenger trying to get even is one fo the most moving delineations we’ve seen in years. As it turned out, Jose was herself a rape victim and the harrowing experience of her friend suddenly confronted her with her traumatic past. She was convincing with her role and Gutierrez was likewise effective. What really surprised us was Gomez, we never thought that the good looking acotr could really act – we almost wanted to actually slash his neck in anger. As for Maryo de los Reyes’ direction, we doubt it very much if he had a hard time with this one, since he had some of our most gifted thespians and the typhoon which had provided the needed atmosphere. Of course, there were some loopholes. In the script of Raquel Villavicencio. For a tele-movie, Lamat sa Kristal was well-crafted and it surely deserves a follow up soon. As usual, the commercials were too many and they seemed too long. At any rate, Lamat sa Kristal was far better than most of the movies being shown lately. We never realised that the combination of Santos and the two typhoons would be that explosive. – Manila Standard, Nov 12, 1988 (READ MORE)

Seven Star-Studded Days Kick Off Tonight – “GMA-7 takes primetime television by storm as it unleash a prowerful entertainment package of internationally acclaimed bestsellers, world-class blockbusters and certified local chartsbusters starting today, November 7, Day one of its “Seven Days To Remember In November” special programming. Towering power, A Musical Dedication kicks off the spectacular showcase by gathering the GMA Family of Stars and some of the biggest, brightest names in the entertainment world in a two-hour musical extravaganza starting at 7 p.m. GMA’s prized star Vilma Santos maintain the momentum with a two-hour suspense drama, Lamat sa Kristal, her first TV-movie ever, with Richard Gomez as co-star and ace megman Maryo de los Reyes as director at 9 p.m…The celebrated musical variety show Vilma throws a grand birthday presentation-celebrations on Day Five starting at 7 p.m. live at the Araneta Coliseum…” – Manila Standard, November 7, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…Vilma Santos went through with the taping of her first drama special, Lamat sa Kristal, during the rage of killer typhoon Unsang. While it wrought havoc in the entire nation and claimed numerous lives and destroyed properties, the whole production made good use of the terribly bad weather to set the mood for the top actress’ tele-movie. Indeed, there’s nothing like Mother Nature providing the real atmosphere, as teh stars and crew braced the strong winds and heavy rains. To the said stars and crew the showbiz rule “the show must go on” still holds true, no matter what the weather is…” – Meg mendoza (READ MORE)

“Again, it was a bad year for the movies in 1988, the industry reached a critical low – a total output of 132 films to 150 of the previous year. Certainly, the situation, has become worse, a foreboding that may prove irreversible unless appropriate measures are instituted…On the other hand, Vilma Santos, although she starred in only one movie, Ibulong Mo sa Diyos, lorded it over in television with the top rated Vilma and a top-rating drama special (Lamat sa Kristal) she herself produced…….” – Mike Feria, Manila Standard, Jan 5 1989 (READ MORE)

“…Jacklyn Jose still talks about her rare experience of appearing in a special tele-movie (Lamat sa Kristal) with her favorite actress Vilma Santos. Jose was vocal in telling her friends that she is an avid fan of the top actress. In one scene, she was supposed to drive the care where she, Santos and Mia Gutierrez were supposed to be riding in. She got excited not because she did not know how to drive but because she was for the first time with her movie idol…” – Eddie O. Libo-on, Manila Standard, Jan 9, 1989 (READ MORE)