Joey Gonsiengfiao’s Trilogy

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“When I was small, we stayed on teh second floor of a moviehouse in Cagayan where my uncle owns a chain of moviehouses. During mealtime, I would eat at the balcony section so I could watch a movie at the same time. Noon, ang pelikula ay parang isang visionary world, parang it’s so far away and so high up there. I was fascinated no end by how a movie was made. I told myself, someday I too will make a movie.”

There are three important periods in Joey Gonsiengfiao’s life as a director: his UE period when he shuttled between classroom and stage, trying to finish AB while presenting one big play on campus every semester; his Tower Periiod when he socialized in the show-biz circles and made abortive movie debut; and his Sine Pilipino Period when he learned from his past mistakes, helped form a trend-setting box-office movie director.

UE Period – One remembers Joey as that diminutive, chinky-eyed fellow who would come panting to the Literary Criticism class at UE where he was a dropout and over-stayed for 10 years (1959-1969). Together with a big guy named Elwood Perez (now also a movie director), Joey would dominate the class discussions. The two were campus celebrities of sorts; Elwood wrote movie reviews for his column in Dawn, the college paper, while Joey directed stage plays (Becket, The Lark, My Fair Lady, Gigi, and The Glass Menagerie, which starred his signature actor Nestor Torre). Joey was forever rehearsing and his classes were such a hassle that he would drop all of his subjects every semester. He was a scholar.

“The nearest visionary world to movies for me was the stage,” Joey says. “As a kid, I wanted to act in plays. Kapag hindi ako kasali sa bilada, aba, kinakausap ko ang titser.” At UE, Joey attended workshops and seminars and studied under Rolando Tinio, his mentor. Foundationd Day celebrations were never complete without a Joey Gosiengfiao play. What he learned on campus came in handy when he was assigned by Cecile Guidote to the Balentataw drama series on the defunct Channel 5, the TV arm of PETA.

Tower Period – His Tower Period began in 1970 when he bumped into PR Man Douglas Quijano of Tower Productions. It was Joey’s introduction to the glamour-and-glitter whirl – “it was my “socializing” days,” Joey put it more aptly. “I had fun with my new-found friend movie scribes.” One morning, Joey woke up to realize that his contemporaries had all made their maiden movie ventures: Lino Brocka was being lauded for his Wanted: Perfect Mother, Ishmael Bernal for his critically and commercially successful Pagdating sa Dulo. Even his UE buddy Elwood managed to wrap up his own, Blue Boy, a dud. Joey approached Douglas and wailed, “Ay naku, Douglas, mamamatay na ako pag wala akong pelikula. Maloloko na ako. Mayroon an silang lahat, ako na alng ang wala.” Two weeks later, Temyong Marquez, Big Boss of Tower, surprised Joey with an assignment – “Nora Aunor pa mandin,” Joey recalls, “at pagka-ganda-ganda ng pamagat, Beautiful Love. It was my first film and I was excited. I wrote the script at nagulat pa ako dahil approved kaagad ni Director Marquez before he even read the script.”

The film didn’t come out beautifully. After shooting some scenes in Manila, the Tower entourage went for location filming in Iriga, Camarines Sur, hometown of Nora. The movie was barely one-third through when Nora Aunor dropped the bomb that nearly shattered Tower to pieces: “Tumakas ang Nora, hindi natuloy ang pelikula.” That was the time when Tower and Sampaguita were having a tug-of-war over La Aunor. The abortive screen debut didn’t bruise Joey’s ego a bit. His wits recovered, Joey tackled his next assignment: Funny Girl, starring international teenage hearthrob Sajid Khan and local glamour girl Tina Revilla. It was a financial flop. To nurse his disappointment, Joey sought solace in directing TV shows. “Those two films were a bakya compromise,” Joey says. “I have learned my lesson, that is never to compromise. Everybody was telling me noon, “Hoy, Joey, kailangan gumawa ka ng…hindi naman mediocre movie…but something with mass appeal. Kailangan kumita ang pelikula mo kung hindi wala ka nang pelikulang susunod.” Kaya nagisip-isip ako, sabi ko, why not? One movie critic called Funny Girl the total concept of a bakya production, which it was. Bakya nga, pero hindi rin naman nag-click. So I resolved to do what I believe will make good at the box-office.”

Sine Pilipino Period – Joey re-emerged in the movie scene in 1972, bristling with fresh ideas. This time he made a big gamble by helping his brother Victor and some friends put up Sine Pilipino, the company that would revolutionize trends in local movie-making. SP specializes in campy, stylish movies with imperative, three-word titles: Takbo, Vilma, Dali; Hatinggabi na, Vilma; Zoom, Zoom Superman!l; Si Popeye Atbp.; and Sunugin Ang Samar. Except for the last mentioned which was an action saga, the four SP flicks were spoofs characterized by madness. They revived the all-star casting system, lumping together in one movie several big stars. The flicks made money. Joey Gosiengfiao had his “sweet revenge.” “It was not wasy for us in the beginning,” Joey relates. “Just before the showing of our first film, Takbo, Vilma Dali!, Martial Law was declared. There were no newspapers then so we had to post bills all over the city, hanggang Pasay nagdidikit kami nina Douglas. We also distributed hand bills. Sa awa ng Diyos, kumita ang pelikula.” Of the films he has done, Joey considers Sunugin Ang Samar as the most difficult, not only because of its scope but also because action is not his forte. It took him three months to make the movie because the script (by Wilfrido Nolledo) called for different settings and they had to move from one place to another. Joey didn’t exactly follow Nolledo’s script but he saw to it that “the spirit was retained.” Of late, Joey has organized his own company called Juan de la Cruz Productions together with Elwood and Douglas. Their inital production, Asawa Mo, Asawa KO, was a moneymaker. SP specializes in home-movie types while JC makes more of the woman’s movie, “that’s because we are not good for action pictures.” Joey is now connected with SP only as a director.

“My main purpose as a director is to entertain the public,” say Joey. “It’s very rare that I put in any social message. JC movie deal with the individual rather than the social, more on the problems of the individual which may not be very relevant to society.”

As a producer, Joey knows the high cost of production so he tries to economize on negative by practising what he calls the “pre-editing method.” He makes sure that every shot is good, that no footage is wasted. Luckily for Joey, he never has any encounter with obdurate stars; all those he has worked with are easy to handle and cooperative. His favourite actress is, obviously, Celia Rodriguez whom he has directed twice before and who is cast in her secon-starring role in La Paloma, JC’s latest offering (also scripted by Nolledo). La Paloma is a bold experimental film for two reasong: (1) it’s done in black and white (which is a big risk in these time of color films), and (2), it boasts no box-office stars. “Celia is nice and difficult to work with,” says Joey, “nice because we communicate and difficult because, like all good natural actresses, she has her insecurities and tantrums which result in misbehavior and antipathy. Pero hindi naman siya antipatika, ha. Madalas kaming magsigawan sa set; sometimes, gusto niya mauna siyang mag-shooting pero hindi naman puede dahil kailangan mayroon mauuna. Ayan, we would shout at each other na, “Please naman Celia,” I would scream, “don’t give me any more problems, marami na nga akong problema, mabuti kung ikaw lang ang mayroon.” Pero after a while, kiss and make up na kami…” Joey Gosiengfiao has a last found true happiness. Expressweek, December 12 1974

RELATED READING:
IMDB: Joey Gonsiengfiao
IMDB: Promo girl (1978)
IMDB: Lipad, Darna, lipad! (1973)
IMDB: Takbo, Vilma, Dali! (1972)
IMDB: Mano po III: My love (2004) as publicist
IMDB: Hatinggabi Na, Vilma (1972)
IMDB: Nag-iisang bituin (1994) as supervising producer
Direk Joey Gosiengfiao has been laid to rest
Joey Gonsiengfiao: The Master of Pinoy Camp
Joey Gosiengfiao obituaries

FILM REVIEW: TAGOS NG DUGO

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The Plot – A young Pina was traumatized when her family was murdered while she had her first menstruation. She grown up into a serial killer transforming herself to different personalities as she seduced one man at a time grossly killing them while in the act of sexual pleasure. Eventually Pina was caught by the authorities. Considered by some critics as a feminist movie, Tagos ng Dugo has the feeling of claustrophobic but stylized European slasher movie that showcased the wide acting range of Philippines’ cinematic diva, Vilma Santos. The film lacks the usual long dialogue of her previous films but in this film, she was given a chance to show her body movements and “eye” acting that climaxed with tour de force ending, a mad lion being caught by armed hunters. – RV (READ MORE)

The Reviews: First of all, serial murder is almost alien to Philippine crime journalism, a fact that’s due certainly to our police force’s lack of records on such cases. Now, this police-records gap may of course in turn reflect a lack of local police coordination towards (or, worse, capability for) determining crime patterns as possibly serial. Unless those determinations have to do with the usual cop-out that goes like this: “it’s another NPA hit” blah blah blah, or “it’s another murder similar to the one that happened last week, and this is reflective of pornography’s…My above statements are meant to illustrate a national wont to demean our own police organization’s capability (or, worse, intelligence) that may neither be fair nor productive, but it would be a habit that certainly is not undeserved given the record — official and memorial — of the police’s prioritizing its own people’s interests and “rackets.” Given this background, therefore, Tagos Ng Dugo can be said to be a demonstration of serial crimes’ possible placement in local shores, and that would certainly be a valid view. Except, of course, that in effect Tagos is also — and probably should be read primarily as — a demonstration of possibilities other than the merely forensic. I say “should be,” since the police is portrayed fairly in the film, albeit not exactly generously. So what could be all the fuss about Tagos’ value? “Production values” is the often-heard reason, needing elucidation.

A breakthrough for Philippine psychological movies? Probably. Let me explore a few other angles on this seeming cross between Francois Truffaut’s The Bride Wore Black and Luis Buñuel’s Belle du Jour – I don’t know if screenwriter Jake Tordesillas or De los Reyes himself should be congratulated for the cohesion of multi-resultants in this work. Part of this multi-readings would be the movie as a feminist take on womankind’s monthly pains as a form of excuse for female monthly insanities, insanities our machos regard as regular terrorism on the whole of mankind (men or society as a whole). It is with that reading that the ending apologies, by Vilma Santos in the lead role, might be understood as a plea for understanding of how all of woman’s monthly Eve-behavior should not be seen as a Biblical sin but as an equal (to, say, men’s beastly) naturalness….Another feminist reading, more radical perhaps, would treat the film as a view of how Philippine society (the men in it, primarily) approaches provincial innocence, educational weakness, and “females’ weaker sanity” as stimuli for abuse….There is, however, the possibly more general reading of the film as an apologia for insanity qua itself, how it should be treated as a disease instead of as a monster to be eliminated.

And finally, there’s the possibility that the film is actually a depiction of how crazy the world outside the insane mind really is, albeit this view would probably be the least successful direction for the film….As a bonus, maybe we can also bring the movie to more latent, more philosophical territory, say, how it depicts the sanity of innocence. But, given the validity and possible weight of all those approaches, what finally makes this movie a jewel in Philippine cinema history is how it brings forth — every time you watch it — its case achievements in directorial and film editing dramaturgy (including the recurring stage-like choreography, Hitchcockish camera positionings, and acting pacing within). For the serious student of third-world filmmaking, here is a requisite Philippine movie from where to cull precious fragments. In these fragments, he/she is sure to find sparkles that are in themselves gems. – Vicente-Ignacio S. de Veyra III (READ MORE)

“…Sa anggulong ito halos umikot ang kabuuan ng pelikula. Masasabing naging matapang ang mga bumuo ng pelikulang Tagos Ng Dugo dahil sa tahasan nitong tinalakay ang sekswalidad ng mga pangunahing tauhan. Mapapansing pinagtuunan ng pansin ang kabuuan ng karakter ni Pina na buong husay ginampanan ni Vilma Santos. Ang aktres ay halos nasa lahat ng eksena sa pelikula. Maituturing na hysterical ang pag-arte ni Bb. Santos ngunit sa pelikulang ito ay malaki ang naitulong nito upang maipahatid niya ang nararapat na emosyon sa epektibong paraan. Malaki ang naitulong ni Direktor Maryo J. de los Reyes sa pagsasalarawan ng kuwento ni Pina. Nailahad niya ng maayos ang mga problemang sikolohikal hindi lamang ni Pina kundi ng buong lipunan. Makikitang binigyang diin ang posibleng solusyon sa mga suliraning ipinamalas sa pelikula. Maaring may ilang pagkukulang ang pelikula sa naging takbo ng istorya ngunit naisalba ito ng mahusay na pagdidirehe ni de los Reyes. Sa anggulong ito naging malaking bahagi sa tagumpay ng Tagos Ng Dugo ang direktor dahil sa tuwiran niyang naipahayag ang patotoo sa mga isyung tinalakay sa buong pelikula. Dito rin natamo ni Vilma ang kanyang ikaapat na FAMAS Best Actress Award bago siya tuluyang naluklok sa Hall Of Fame nang sumunod na taon…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)

“…Pina is Vilma and Vilma is Pina. This is their story. This is their movie. This is acting at its best. Thank God, Mayor Vilma Santos has come to the rescue of the Pina’s in this world. Unlike the super heroine and fictitious Darna who kicks butt as she battles with the forces of darkness and defend the people, here is Vilma, the philanthropist and the Mother Theresa of her generation, in the flesh, reaching out to the poorest of the poor of her Lipa constituents. Through her loving heart and helping hands, she has actually helped thousands of society’s outcasts, the poor and the needy. This is the Vilma Santos today: successful, revered, in demand, a winner in all fronts. A National Treasure! Who would have thought that the second fiddle to another actress will become the greatest film practitioner of all time and a capable Mayor? A great actress and an excellent Mayor. Nobody does it better…” – Mar Garces, V Magazine 2006 (READ MORE)

“…A series of unfortunate events seemed to hound Nora’s career up to this point. October 1, 1989 was to be the last airing date of the 22-year-old musical-variety show Superstar on RPN 9. A month later, it was revived on IBC 13 with a new title, The Legend … Superstar, but this was short-lived lasting only up to early 1990. Naging mas masuwerte si Vilma Santos sa hinu-host na Vilma! on GMA 7, which started in 1981 as VIP (Vilma in Person) ng lumang BBC 2 (naibalik sa Lopez owners ang ABS-CBN after the EDSA Revolution). Nagbida si Vilma sa isa sa mga pinakaimportanteng pelikula ng Dekada ‘80: Regal Films’ Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (by Ishmael Bernal), na sinimulan in 1988 at ipinalabas in early 1989. In December 1989, Vilma headlined a period romance-drama (Viva Films’ Imortal, megged by Eddie Garcia) at nanalo sila ng kaparehang si Christopher de Leon ng acting plums sa MMFF. Sa awardings for that year, si Vilma ang nanalong Best Actress sa Star Awards (for Pahiram), her first form the Philippine Movie Press Club. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” nasabi ni Vilma as she accepted her trophy. Later, it was Nora’s turn to get a Best Actress trophy for the first time from the Film Academy of the Philippines, for Elwood Perez’s three-year-in-the-making Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit. ‘Kumpletung-kumpleto na ang career ko!” sabi rin niya in her acceptance speech. Na-elevate si Vilma sa FAMAS Hall of Fame, for having bagged five Best Actress statuettes: Dama de Noche, Pakawalan Mo Ako, Relasyon, Tagos ng Dugo, and Elwood Perez’s Ibulong Mo Sa Diyos. Nora won her fourth Best Actress plum sa FAMAS, also for Bilangin. Walang itulak-kabigin sa dalawa, kaya marapat lang na mag-tie sila for Best Actress, as in the 1990 Gawad Urian, na ‘pantay na parangal ”ang ipinagkaloob ng Manunuri kina Nora (for Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit) at Vilma (for Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga)…” – William Reyes (READ MORE)

The Director – Maryo J. De los Reyes is a film and television director from the Philippines. He began his career in the 1970s(Wikipedia). Reyes’ most significant works are the critically acclaimed Magnifico (2004), Tagos Ng Dugo (1987) and the commercial hits, Bagets (1983), Annie Batungbakal (1979) (Wikepedia). In 1987 Maryo De Los Reyes directed Vilma Santos that critics considered one of the shocking film that year, Tagos Ng Dugo. The film was hailed as a feminist film and earned Vilma Santos her fourth FAMAS Best Actress. Ironically, the conservative church award giving body will agree and also gave their 1987 CMMA Best Actress to Vilma Santos. Reyes will again direct Vilma in 1992.  (Tagos ng Dugo 1987 and Sinungaling Mong Puso 1992)

The Most Colorful Film Character of the Year – “…The decision of the film critics to inhibit themselves from conferring their annual Urian Awards is unprecedented in the group’s 12-year history…But the case of film year 1987 is truly abysmal. It is, in fact, beyond salvation. True, there were number of worthwhile efforts, in such specific categories as editing, cinematography or sound but again, this is taking film as if it were a highly segmented form, instead of a holistic and integrated medium of communication. The area of screenplay was, to my mind, the most borely abused; I cannot recall any single film where this can be considered outstanding. Blame it on the producers who were more concerned with much momentary fancies as inane fantasies, sexploitation flicks and anachronistic melodramas. Blame it, too, on the governement which doesn’t seem to care and which doesn’t realize the power of the cinema in the value reformation of a natin long shackled in a despotic rule…Then there was the dismal and embarraing Brocka opus, Magin Akin Ka Lamang, which is a far cry from what the director used to do with komiks genre, having elevated it to a level of respectability in Tahan Na Empoy, Tahan and Ang Tatay Kong Nanay, which is good enough melodrama. Even more sordid is his Pasan Ko ang Daigidg, which takes an egregiously compromising view of poverty with its Cinderella-like storyline. Even Ishmael Bernal was not spared of the spirit of idiocy which pervaded the past year and which threatens to hound us this year. Bernal, who often can be relied upon to transcend the limitations of the most trivial of storyline, simply failed to overcome the komiks convolutions of Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa. Also, quite unlucky was Peque Gallaga who was in bad shape in Kid, Huwag Kang Susuko, though he managed to score a few precious points in the action film genre. And what do we make out of Maryo de los Reyes’ Tagos ng Dugo, with its grossly improbable tale of multiple schizophrenia and made all the worse by the director’s penchant for pseudo-character changes? Personally, i would rate Vilma Santos here as having been last year’s most colorul character instead of a consumate performer….” – Justino Dormiendo, Manila Standard, Feb 23, 1988 (READ MORE)

“…She has lost some pounds (due to the gruelling shooting of her recent film, Tagos ng Dugo, but she is still the same radiant beauty…Santos is likewise bugged by the observation (presumably by some Nora Aunor supporters) that her performance in Tagos ng Dugo, wherein she portrayed a psychopath, was “Norang-Nora.” She could not divine how the comment was made in the first place. Was it becauise, in the film, she was handled by Maryo de los Reyes who is known to be a close friend and one of the favorite directors of Nora Aunor? Or, was it because her role in Tagos called for a lot of the so called Nora-style acting -expressive eye movements, prolonged byt quiet crying binges? Is she, in the eyes of some Aunor loyalist, as good as actress now as their idol? “Wala akong ginagaya,” defended the actress. “That was Pina, the role, I was acting out. I did not think of Guy or anybody else when I was doing the film. “But you know, that (comment) is good,” she said as an after thought. “Kinukumpara pa rin kami hanggang ngayon. That means kami pa rin – the rivalry is still strong.” On the other hand, one is hard put to imagine Aunor attempting Santos’ “patented” acting style (the ease and confidence in delivering kilometric line, among others). If and when she does in any of her future films, I told the actress, we would also say “Vilmang-Vilma” siya! She burst out laughing…” – Mario V. DumaualManila Standard, Feb 19, 1987 (READ MORE)

“…I had actually intended to evaluate the industry’s artistic accomplishments from January to June this year, but the consideration of causes simply overwhelmed the original subject. Anyway, in providing a listing of the more acceptable items, it would serve our purposes well to keep in mind that these titles were originally greeted with expressions of disappointment and frustration, with only passing acknowledgement of their respective merits – to which I now most carefully give mention…Tagos ng Dugo (Maryo J. de los Reyes, dir.): kinkiness rounded out with psychological backgrounding and propelled forward with a sense of conviction and sympathy for the plight of the subject…” – Joel David, National Midweek, 26 August 26, 1987 (READ MORE)

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MEMOIRS OF VILMANIANS 1/2

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To download v magazine issue 07 click here

Tinatawag natin ang ating sarili bilang Vilmanian. Paano tayo naging ganito? Eto ang ating mga alaala…ng ating pinamulan.

John Malit – Noong panahon na nakamulatan kong ako’y isang Vilmanian, napakalaking ligaya kapag may nababasa akong balita mula sa kanya. Kahit na 2 yrs old na ‘yung balita, bago pa rin iyon para sa akin. ‘yun nga lang, sa tv lang ako umaasa para mapanood ko si Ate Vi, kasi hirap po ang buhay namin noon. 23 yrs old na po ako ng makapanood ng sine. Can u imagine, wala akong ginawa kundi igala ang paningin ko sa loob ng sine, nakakahiya man sabihin, gf ko pa ang nagbayad ng ticket para mapanood namin iyong Bituin walang ningning” ni Sharon (kc sharonian yung gf ko nun). Ayun nasundan lang noong maka-graduate na ako ng college at magkatrabaho. Vilma movie na yung mga pinapanood ko. Ang sarap sariwain ang nakaraan kahit gaano man ang kahirap ng buhay, sa simpleng picture at balita mula sa ating mahal na idolo ay nakaka-alis na ng problema. Kahit nga ngayon, pag-stress na ako sa trabaho lalo sa amin ni misis, magbabasa lang ako ng balita mula dito sa e-groups ng mga Vilmanians, masaya na ako.

Rene Maximo – Akala ko magiging silent Vilmanian na lang ako forever. Una sa lahat…way back 1970s, panahon pa ng The Sensations, doon yata ako nagsimulang humanga sa The Queen. Lahat halos ng kamag-anak kong babae eh pulos Vilmanian lahat. Kaya masayang manood ng TV na black & white pa. Tuwing tanghali, palagi kong dinadasal na sana eh puro movies ni Ate Vi ang ipalabas. Ang saya-saya ko pag natutupad ang wish ko. Natatandaan ko pa yung Vilma & The Beep Beep Minica, Ophelia at Paris, King Khayyam & I, Baby Vi, Dama de Noche, and the list goes on. Unang movie na napanood ko sa sinehan ay yung Rubia Servios. Kahit na I was a minor then, mabuti at napakiusapan ng pinsan ko ang takilyera kaya pinapasok ako. Gandang-ganda ako sa pelikula. Tapos nung awards night na, 3 kaming Vilmanians ang nanood, while yung tiyahin naming Noranian eh natulog na dahil unang mga technical awards eh nakuha ng Rubia (besides sa mga hula na si Ate Vi daw ang mananalo) kaya maaga syang natulog. Then nanalo nga si Ms. Aunor. While walking paakyat sa stage, one of my cousins said na sana ay madapa si Ms. Aunor. Unknowingly, nakikinig pala yung tiyahin namin kaya biglang lumabas at inaway kaming tatlo. Nalaman ng father ko ang nangyari kaya pinagalitan kaming lahat. One stormy weather noon, we were eating sa kitchen namin, at walang kuryente. Bigla na lang nagliwanag ang paligid at na shocked na lang kaming lahat na wala na pala kaming bubong, natangay ng bagyo. All of us hurriedly went up to save things na huwag mabasa ng ulan. Ang una kong binuhat ay yung kahon ng clippings ko ni Ate Vi. I was worried kasi na baka mabasa at matangay ng tubig. Until now, nasa kahon pa rin yung mga clippings ko at palagi kong tinitingnan pag umuuwi ako ng Pilipinas. One of my sisters was an officer in CAT when she was in high school. One time, she asked me what kind of parusa daw sa mga COCCs na madali lang, ayaw daw nyang pahirapan ang mga bata. Sabi ko everyday magdala sila ng mga pictures ni Ate Vi. Kaya araw araw may pasalubong sa akin ang sister ko ng mga pictures ni Ate Vi, additional sa mga collections ko. There was one time when Ate Vi shot a movie in our place. The movie was Biktima. I was in elementary then. After school, my classmate told us na andun nga daw sa dam si Ate Vi. Without hesitation, lumusong ako sa tubig at halos hanggang baywang ko na yung tubig, tumuloy pa rin ako para makita ng personal si Ate Vi. I was in heaven then. First time ko syang makita ng personal. Palagi akong nakasubaybay sa lahat ng nangyayari sa kanya. Maganda man o hindi magandang balita, wala akong pakialam, ang alam ko karugtong na ng buhay ko si Ate Vi. Kahit na nung mag work ako sa isang bank sa Makati, I made it a point na manood ng live sa Metropolitan Theater ng ‘Vilma.” Kahit na naka necktie ako, wala akong pakialam na pumipila sa labas ng Met, kasama ko yung officemate kong Vilmanian din. Then lumipat for a while ang show sa Rizal Theater dahil sa away nila ni Mrs. Manzano, pumila din kami doon to get tickets days before the show. Marami rami din akong collection ng movies ni Ate Vi, in VHS format nga lang. Pag umuuwi ako hindi ako nagsasawang panoorin lahat ang mga tapes na yon. Then I’ve read na meron nga daw na Vilma Newsletter na ginawa ang mga dear Vilmanians. Only last December that I got the courage to request, at pinagbigyan naman ako. I was so happy. Lastly, salamat sa magagandang postings na inilalagay ninyo sa board. Hindi nyo lang alam ang laking tulong nun. Nakakaalis kasi ng lungkot pag nagbabasa ako ng mga postings ninyo.

Franco Gabriel – Early ’70’s when I first heard of Vilma-Edgar team, eh kasi naman puro sila ang topic sa bahay, my mom loves Ate Vi so much at syempre kampi lahat ang sisters ko sa pagka-Vilmanian ni nanay. Bata pa ko noon, di pa ko nag-aaral pero napapanood ko na siya sa TV. It was year 1973 when I reached grade school ang unang bag ko pa noon ay may design nina Ate Vi at Bot na nakahawaiian sila, kuha yata sa “Aloha My Love”, syempre si Mother ko ang namili ng school supplies, so what do we expect? As a kid, aliw na aliw ako sa mga fantasy movies ni Ate Vi like Darna, Dyesebel, Phantom Lady etc. at syempre yung mga suspense thriller nya like Takbo, Vilma, Dali at saka yung Hatinggabi na Vilma. Puro nga iyon ang topic namin sa school kahit pare-pareho naman namin itong napanood. Ito yung panahon na nauso ang kanta para kay Guy na “it’s the real thing, si Norang maitim, nagtago sa dilim and so-on” (jingle yun sa coke). Pang-asar ba namin sa mga noranians. Ito rin yung panahong nanonood ako regularly ng “Ayan eh” at saka “Dalambuhay ni Rosa Vilma,” Meron pang mga ibang TV shows noon na di ko rin makalimutan like “Tangtarantang” ni Mang Nano pag weekend, saka yung “Oras ng Ligaya” nina Sylvia La Torre at Oscar Obligacion pag tanghali. Fast Forward. Kainitan ng Vilma-Nora noon labanan nina Senyorita Rubia Servios at ang kanyang Atsay, nasa high school na ako noon. Masiglang masigla ang rivalry ng dalawa. Syempre merong awards night na panalo at meron ding talo, pinakamasakit ay yung sa Rubia Servios, walang kibuan sa breakfast, parang ayaw naming pag-usapan ang MMFF last night, malungkot kaming lahat. change the topic please sabi ng Ate ko. I considered the ’80’s as one of my colorful years as Vilmanian, kasi lahat na yata ng movies niya ay pinanood ko, mula Pakawalan mo Ako, Langis at Tubig, Paano ba ang Mangarap up to Pahiram ng isang Umaga. Silent Vilmanian ako nung 80’s kasi naman nasa college na ko noon eh pero panay pa rin ang pila ko sa mga movies niya. Ito rin yung dekada na super init ng career ni Ate Vi mapa TV, movie or endorsement. I left the Philippines during the ’90’s but it did’nt stop me to search for Vilma Santos news. Umuwi ako noong 2002, I had a chance to watch Dekada ’70 masaya dahil alam kong big hit ang movie, talagang siksikan ang bawat sinehan pero bumalik ako sa States ng mabigat ang dibdib natalo si Ate Vi sa MMFF 2002. But if I look at the brighter side, this incident became the way to meet Jojo Lim the Solid Vilmanian president and the rest was history. Nasa Abante ang name ni Jojo, hindi daw makatulog at makakain ang Vilmaniang ito dahil sa pagkakapanalo ni Ara Mina over Ate Vi nandoon din ang contact number niya sa article ni Allan Diones. I did’nt hesitate to call Jojo & introduced myself. Yun na ang naging daan para makilala ko si Ate Vi in person. The first encounter was during the Lipa fiesta in 2003 hanggang sa maging every year na pero ang pinaka the best ay sa New York during her show. Ang haba ng kwentuhan namin noon ni Ate Vi at mga Vilmanians inabot ng 3:00 am at talagang naka upo na kaming lahat sa hallway ng hotel, very sweet siya at parang di napapagod. Ang sarap ng pakiramdam, doon ko napatunayan kung gaano kabait at down to earth si Ate Vi. Kung gaano kaganda ang mukha niya ay ganoon din kaganda ang kalooban niya. Thanks to my mom & sisters for bringing me up of becoming a Vilmanian.

German Shepherd – Noong unang bahagi ng dekada ’70, maliit pa akong bata at wala pang muwang, ay karay-karay ako ng Nanay ko sa panulukan ng Quezon Ave. at Zurbaran para manood ng parada ng mga bituin na kasali sa Manila Film Festival. Naroon kami, ako at ang isa ko pang kapatid na babae, upang hintayin ang float nina Vi at Bot sa pelikulang LOVE LETTERS. Tuwang tuwa kaming lahat nang magdaan sa harapan namin ang float ng LOVE LETTERS. Nang biglang bumuhos ang malakas na ulan. Awang-awa ako sa aking sarili dahil basang-basa ako. Pero ang Nanay ko at kapatid ay halos di ako pansin maging ang kanilang mga basang-basang sarili dahil naririnig ko kung kagaano sila ka-worried at baka raw magsakit sina Ate Vi at Kuya Bobot. Sa loob-loob ko, basang-basa na kaming lahat pero ang nasa isi[p pa rin ng Nanay at Ate ko ay ang kapakanan ng aming mga idolo. Sa mura kong nagtataka ako kung bakit ganoon na lamang ang kanilang pagmamahal sa dalawang taong hindi naman sila kakilala. Only when I reached the age of reason that I came to realize that one would do everynting for his movie idol. My love for the Queenstar has grown through the years, a legacy that I inherited from my late Nanay. I watched the many so-so / sing and dance movies of Her Royal Highness, Queen Vi. To me, all of them were beautiful because of her mere presence in those films. One of my favorites was her movie with Bobot entitled ANGELICA. Even the theme song interpreted by Bobot with the same title was haunting. Then came DAMA DE NOCHE. It was one of Vilma’s early acting greats. She was barely eighteen but she played the dual role with aplomb. And there were others: WONDER VI, PHANTOM LADY, KAMPANERANG KUBA, IBONG LUKARET, ANAK NG ASWANG, and the list is endless. Of course, I loved LIPAD, DARNA, LIPAD with Ate Vi in a modest two-piece costume. It was the first time ever that the term BLOCKBUSTER was used in a local movie because of the record-breaking gross and the over-extended run which made an FPJ movie shown at the same time a poor and distant second. I also saw all her DARNA installment but DARNA ANG THE GIANTS is particularly memorable because it was a Metro Manila Filmfest topgrosser. DYESEBEL AT ANG MAHIWAGANG KABIBE with its famous scene showing Ate Vi riding a giant seahorse was also a film fest top grosser and Best Musical Movie. Until she metamorphosed into the great BURLESK QUEEN, another film fest top grosser besides sweeping almost all the major awards including Best Actress for the Queen and Best Picture. From then on, there was no stopping Ate Vi who tackled a kaleidoscope of roles while her rival YKW continued to play just “api” and “kawawa” roles. The first grandslam via RELASYON, ironically was a quiet and restrained role. A far cry from her usual body-and-soul style of acting. BROKEN MARIAGE AND SISTER STELLA L continued to bring her endless honors. Vilma won in RELASYON against Nora Aunor in Himala which most Noranians considered as her most memorable role to date. The movie did not give her a miracle in terms of acting award. Then came TAGOS SA DUGO which i think was one of her most well-acted movie. She was robbed of a grandslam in this Maryo J. delos Reyes opus. Fast forward: After reigning the longest as Box Office Queen, she had once again regained the same title (in spite of her being already a Hall of Famer in this title) via ANAK which is still the second highest grossing movie in the Philippines after TANGING INA, which Ai Ai delas Alas, who according to her words, is a Vilmanian from birth and her tribute to her idol as she mimicked her in many a scene in the said movie. ANAK should have been another grand-slam for the Queen but the award-giving bodies, except Star Awards, made Gloria Romero a sentimental favorite, an accolade which she deserved considering her age. Realizing that then Queen has gathered the most number of grand slams in RELASYON, DOLZURA CORTEZ STORY, BATA, BATA PAANO KA GINAWA, DEKADA ’70 and the prestigious UP GAWAD PLARIDEL plus two international awards, my Nanay’s legacy was worth inheriting.

Buboy Medina – Noong nasa kindergarten pa lang ako ng napanood ko ang “Lipad, Darna Lipad” sa television. Ginagaya ko talaga siya then gumawa ako ng costume like Darna then isinusuot ko pa. Pinakamemorable experience ko bilang isang Vilamanian ay noong nagkausap kami last May 2003 ng manalo siya sa Gawad Urian. Overseas call ito at siya mismo ang nakausap ko. HEAVEN ANG FEELINGS KO NOON, TEARY EYED PA AKO. Mahal na mahal ko si Queen Vi, kaya ko siyang ipaglaban. Hahamakin ang lahat…maipagtanggol ko lamang ang nagiisang REYNA!

Eric Nadurata – I saw her on TV, “The Sensations” iyon, nasa grade school pa ako. Gustong-gusto ko ang sweetness ng beauty niya at ang galing niya sa pagsagot sa Q&A portion ng show. Ate Vi always surprises me. She always reinvents herself, and comes out victorious each time. Sabi ko nga she started very sweet, then came “Lipad, Darna, Lipad”, she then went daring via “Burlesk Queen”, then came her award-winning films that tackled an impressive range of themes. Ang mga roles that she portrayed is also very impressive. Naging madre siya at querida, naging Darna at Dyesebel, may Aids at may cancer, naging mahirap at mayaman, naging abugado at doctor, schizophrenic at napakarami pang iba. Siya lang ang tanging batang aktres na naka-sustain ng kaniyang popularity hanggang sa pagiging dalaga. Tessie Agana and Snooky were big child stars, pero hindi nila narating ang kasikatan na narrating ni Ate Vi. In fact, even the other Movie Queens can’t match her enduring popularity and box-office appeal. None of our movie queens reigned for more than 10 years, but Ate Vi, the Queen of them all is still at her peak for 35 years already! Iba ang aura ni Ate Vi, nakakahawa ang pagka-positive niya. First time I saw her face to face noon YCC awards for Dakada ’70. Grabe ang magic niya pagpasok niya sa venue. Memorable din kasi, nagloko ang dala kong camera, mabuti na lang nakapagpa-picture pa rin ako with her sa tulong ng isang vilmanian. Nangyari uli ito, sa opening ng CineManila International Film Festival. Nagloko uli ang camera ko, when I was about to take shots of Ate Vi with Lou Diamond Phillips and Tia Carrere. Sayang ito, kasi ang daming foreign celebrities na dumating noon. Aral ito sa akin kaya, ngayon dalawang camera na ang dala ko each time may affair with her. Nuong nagpa-pirma ako kay Ate Vi. Medyo ninerbiyos ako kasi baka hindi natandaan ni Ate Vi ang pangalan ko. Bago lang ako, at hindi naman kami madalas na magkita, pero to my pleasant surprise, sinulat niya ang name ko! Natandaan niya ang name ko! Grabe iyon! Imagine, with all her works both as an actress and public servant, not to mention as a mother and wife, natandaan niya ang name ko! Naku, heaven talaga iyon! Kung may mas mataas pa sa heaven iyon pa rin iyon! Another instance, magbi-birthday siya noon. May dala akong gift na image ni Padre Pio, pero because of “lapse of judgment” (di ba, Garci?) nakalimutan kong isulat ang name ko sa card. In short, nai-abot ko ang gift without my name. After several weeks, nang magkita kami uli sa isang taping, I told her about my gift. Sabi ko “Ate Vi, I forgot to write my name doon sa card, but I hope you liked it.” Sabi niya “Alin ba ang gift mo?” nang sinabi ko na it was the image of Padre Pio, her face light up and sincerely said, “thanks ha.” Ramdam na randam mo ang kaniyang sincerity.

Father Juancho Gutierrez – Meeting Vilma Santos at the Philippine Fiesta on August 21, 2005 was truly a moment of blessing for me. I have been an avid fan of hers since Grammar School. I never thought in my wildest dream that I would meet her face to face here in New Jersey. Meeting her, I found out that she was really a downto-earth person. She never acted like a diva or the famous movie star and successful Mayor that she is in the Philippines. I admire her more for this. I guess this is the reason why today more and more people continue to admire her….she showed me the traditional respect that we Filipinos give to our elders and those in position of leadership in our community by making the “mano” gesture to me. I admired her more for this because it was a sign of her humility and grace. The greatest actress the Philippine Cinema has ever produced making “mano” to an unknown priest in New Jersey was truly a Memoirs of Vilmanians humble experience not only for her but for me as well. At that moment, I see in Vilma someone who is humble, approachable and sincerely acknowledges the blessings God has bestowed on her. August 21, 2005 will always be a very special day for me. I will always remember it as a blessing from God.

Nelvin M. Rea – Pagmamahal at biyaya ng Diyos ang siyang naging susi at naglilok sa pagiging Vilmanian ko. Inimulat sa akin ng aking nanay at iniukit niya sa isipan ko na “Si Vilma Santos… iyan ang idolo ko at magiging huwaran mo— wala nang iba!” “Ang pagsunod sa payo ng magulang ay ang pagsunod sa tamang daraanan”. Sa mga panahong iyon sa pagiging musmos ko, wala akong panahon kay Vilma…ang nais ko ay maging malaya, ang eskuwela, libangan,at maraming laruan. At siguro dahil sa hirap ng buhay, kailangan kong iwaksi sa isipan ko ang lahat ng NAIS ko. Ang ganang prayoridad ko ay ang tumulong sa lahat ng gawaing bahay, punuin ng tubig ang aming paminggalan, mamulot ng plastik sa dalampasigan at mangahoy sa hulo kasama ng mga kapatid ko. Sa hirap na dinanas ko ay sapat na para makalimutan ko ang makipagsabayan sa mga pangarap ko…Hindi siya nagbago ang inay ko sa kanyang pag-ibig kay Ate Vi… nanatili siyang matatag…lumalaban hanggang sa huling sandali ng kanyang buhay. At kahit ngayong wala na siya. Hinahangaan ko ang kanyang paninindigan sa isang Vilma Santos. Isang hindi mapapantayang pamana ni Inay sa akin ay ang mamuhay na may isang Vilma Santos sa aking puso.

Alan Trambulo – Lipad Darna Lipad, ang unang movie ni Vi na napanood ko sa amin sinehan sa Batangas. I was 6yrs old at kasama ko ang buong pamilya ko. Last full show na kami nanood kasi during the day sold out ang ticket at wala ka nang silya maupuan. Sigawan at palakpakan kami kay Darna Vi. After the movie, wala lang , sigaw ako ng sigaw ng “Darna!”. Ang mukha ni Ate Vi ang nakiki- ta sa panaginip ko habang hinabol ako ni Gloria Romero na gumanap na aswang. She saved my life so manytimes sa aking nightmare kay aswang Gloria. She became my heroine. Iba ang naging impact sa akin ni Darna dahil di lang isang hero sa aking musmos na pag-iisip ang ibinigay nya, she gave me a superwoman, a role model sa persona ni La Santos. My family is all Vilmanian, specially my sister who keep copying the styles of Vilma, from her hair styles to fashion. My sister Carol even sneaked me in sa controversial movie ni Ate Vi, “Rubia Servious” sa Magalles Theater noon. Habang hinuhubog ako ng aking kapatid na maging Vilmanian, I became aware sa mga nagaganap sa showbiz. Ang awayan Vi-Guy fanatics. Lumaban at nakipagsabunatan din ako sa bestfriend ko na Noranian na para sa amin ay katuwaan lamang. Ang pakikipagtalo sa aking kapatid na lalake over basketball versus Vilma show. Magdamagan puyatan sa awards nights, win or lose si Mayor. Through the years, di nagbago ang paghanga ko sa kanya, but lalo pang tumindi, sobra! Wala na makakapigil pa sa akin pagiging isang “VILMANIAN.” … ‘yung NY-NJ visit nya sa Phil.Fiesta 05, grabe ang experienced ko sa kanya. Unforgetable dahil we communicate almost everyday. ‘Yung closed door meeting namin ng producer, I saw her other side. For being frank and honest n’ya sa nararamdaman nya. I know she was death tired from her trip sa NY, pero sige pa rin sya basta para sa Vilmanians ito. Very quick lang, alam n’yo i was with her sa loob ng hotel room niya while she was being prep by her makeup artist, busy na ang lahat , i voluntarily ironed her outfit that day. Just imagine, pina-plantsa ko ang suit ni Ate Vi for the show.

Charles Gomez – Sa unang pagtatagpo pa lamang namin ni Ate Vi sa kaniyang opisina sa Lipa, ay nadama ko na ang kakaibang pagmamahal na ibinibigay niya sa kaniyang mga tagahanga. Magiliw niya akong sinalubong at kinamayan, at idinampi pa niya ang kanyang kamay sa aking mga pisngi. Hindi-hindi ko makakalimutan ang pagkakataong iyon. Nung kami nama’y magkatagpong muli sa press party sa Libis, buong lambing taglay ang kakaiba niyang nigiti na binansagan niya ang inyong lingkod ng bagong pangalan. “Dubai” na raw ang itatawag niya sa akin, at pangatawan ko na raw iyon. Galing sa isang Vilma Santos, who can say otherwise? Nung ako nama’y nasa Lipa Fiesta, buong pagmamahal niya akong dinampian ng halik nang iabot ko sa kaniya ang aking handog. Bagama’t pagod sa buong gabing iyon, nandun pa rin ang tatak niyang ngiti. Iba-ibang nga ang isang Vilma Santos. At nang gabing pabalik na ako rito sa aking pinagtratrabauhan sa Gitnang Silangan, she sweetly called me to say “hello” and bid her best wishes. Iyon ang gabing di ko makakalimutan. Kumpletong-kumpleto ang pagiging Vilmanian ko. – GO to 2/2

RELATED READING:
V Magazine Issue No. 7 Memoirs of Vilmanians
Vilmanians Photo Album
Memorabilia Photo Album
V Magazine
Music Album (Photo)
Vilma Santos’ 18TH Birthday (Repost)
Vi and Bot Photo Album
Paper Doll and other Nostalgia
Die Hard Vilmanians Magazine
Favorite Penpal (Repost)
1972 Best Actress
Happy Birthday Vilma – The VSSI Officers & Members (Video)
Print Media 1970s – 2000s (Video)

MEMOIRS OF VILMANIANS 2/2

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To download v magazine issue 07 click here

Tinatawag natin ang ating sarili bilang Vilmanian. Paano tayo naging ganito? Eto ang ating mga alaala…ng ating pinamulan.

Eddie Lozano – Simula sa pagkabata at matutong humanga, siya lamang talaga ang una at wala nang iba pa. Noong elementary ako ay picture ni Ate Vi as in picture talaga ang nasa cover ng notebook ko, mostly nga black and white pa. Dahil ang aming ama ay hindi mahilig sa mga palabas na tagalog, ang aming tv ay laging nasa may English na palabas. Kaya kadalasan, kapag palabas na ang D’ Sensations, ay nakikipanood ako sa kapitbahay, maliban na lamang kung nasa duty si ama. Hindi nga ba’t mayroon pa siyang Dulambuhay ni Rosa Vilma, at yung sitcom with Nida Blanca and Rod Navarro, yung Kelan Pa? Remember ba ninyo yon? Kahit pa noon sa D’ Sensations, ang most awaited na portion ay ang dance number ni Ate Vi. Doon ko siya nakitang sumayaw ng singkil, Tahitian at kung anu-anong sayaw pa, pero ang talagang nagaya ko ng husto ay yung ‘penguin’ na hanggang ngayon ay sinasayaw ko pa rin, kahit na nga tumatalbog-talbog yung tiyan ko. Nung mabuwag ang love team na subok na matibay, subok na matatag, kay Ate Vi ako pumanig, dahil kahit na sino naman ang ka-partner niya ay okay lang sa akin, I realized then na Solid Vilmanian ako. Those were the days na wala akong pakialam kung maganda o hindi ang pelikula ni Ate Vi, ang importante sa akin ay enjoyment at makita siya sa wide screen at sa pagbabaka-sakaling mag-theater tour siya, kaya most of the time, ay sa opening day ako nanonood. Nag-aaral pa man ako hanggang sa magka-trabaho ay ganun pa rin ang aking naging routine kapag may pelikula si Ate Vi. Ilang beses ko na rin siyang nakita ng personal, malapitan man o malayuan pero hindi ako nagkalakas ng loob na batiin siya, hanggang tingin na lamang ako’t nagpipigil ng damdamin at baka bigla akong mapatili. Katulad ng mga nabanggit ko noon, yung makita ko lang siya ng personal ay nangingilid na ang luha ko sa sobrang kasiyahan, ano pa kayang mangyayari kung ma-experience ko ang katulad ng kay Kuya Father J and bespren Charls, to name a few? Remember Kuya Father ang experiences natin kapag nanonood tayo ng parade of stars sa Roxas Boulevard? Hindi man tayo magkakilala at magkasama, pero iisa ang ating ginagawa, ang humabol sa karosa ng Reyna Vilma na talaga namang may magnetic charm.

Aries Rollon – Ano ba, wala ka na bang gagawin maghapon kundi gumupit ng mga articles at pictures ni Vilma Santos? That was my mother always asked me more or less 20 years ago . But what can I Do? I really admired Vilma Santos. Minsan tinatanong ko ang sarili ko kung normal pa ba ang ginagawa ko? Wala bang mali sa inaasal ko? Bakit ako ganito? Bakit sobra sobra ang paghanga at panahong inuukol ko kay Vilma Santos? Ako lang ba ang ganito? Na-addict ako kay Vilma Santos. Natatandaan ko noong high school pa lang ako, hindi naman ako actually ganoon ka devoted as Vilma Santos fan. But I really admired her dahil na rin sa impluwensya ng mother at mga pinsan ko. Yes napaanood ko na ang mga pelikula nya sa TV and to think na ang first movie na napanood ko sa sine ay ang LIPAD DARNA LIPAD. Sometimes sinasabi ko rin sa Nanay ko na nahawa lang naman ako sa kanya. Kaya lang mas naging malala lang ang Vilma fever ko. Actually hindi nga ako mahilig sa showbiz at wala akong panahon sa mga artista. But when I started watching Vilma on television and started watching her good movies, nagsimula na ang hysteria sa buhay ko. Ano ba ang meron si Vilma na wala ang iba? Well, hindi ko na siguro kailangang isa-isahin ang mga achievements niya. Tanging manhid at walang pakiramdam ang hindi nakakaalam. Personally, of course hindi ko siya kilala at hindi rin ako interesado sa pinagdaanan niya. Ang alam ko lang, heto nalulong ako kay Vilma. Vilma, Vilma puro na lang Vilma. Bakit pati sa panaginip Vilma pa rin. Nasasaktan ako kapag mayroong hindi magandang sinasabi kay Vilma. Nagmumura ako at nakiki-pag-away kapag may pumipintas kay Vilma. Naghahanap ako ng mapapangasawa na kamukha ni Vilma. But of course, my wife for the past thirteen years ay hindi naman kamukha ni Vilma. Iisa lang si Vilma Santos and she’s incomparable. Nobody comes close to the One and only Star For All Seasons. She was branded as poor second sa tinaguriang phenomenal Star. Marami ang nooy nagsasabi na siya ay hanggang doon lang, laging sunod lang ang pangalan sa nag-iisang Superstar. Ngunit ang panahon ay sadyang nag-iiba, ang poor second nasa TOP of the World na ngayon. Sa tatlong dekada na nagdaan walang nakahadlang sa kinang ng Bituin ng lahat ng panahon. Pinataob niya ang lahat ng bituin na minsay kuminang at nabigyan ng pagkakataon…I got married on the same year that Vilma got married to Sen. Ralph Recto. Medyo nag lie low na ako sa pagiging Vilma fanatic, but still hindi pa rin nagbago ang paghanga at pagmamahal ko kay Vilma.

Willie Fernandez – May simula pero walang katapusan hanggang sa kabilang buhay. Yes, I breath and exist for Vilma. All my waking hours, si Ate Vi lang yata ang laman ng puso at utak namin. Maging sa pagtulog ay dala-dala namin sa diwa ang ala-ala ng aktres. Kesehodang nakatira kami sa bahay ng kaibigang aktor na si Daniel Fernando, na ngayon ay senior Board Member ng Bulacan. May pagkakataon pa ngang nagseselos ang actor – pulitiko kay Ate Vi sa tuwina’y siya ang paksa ng aming usapan. Alam ni Ate Vi ang tungkol sa sakit ko, hypertension (high blood pressure: 190 over 120). Hindi namin malilimutan ’yumg pagtulong niya nang kami’y ma-confine sa hospital. What a big surprise when she gave me a call at nangumusta. Tinanong niya kami kung ano pa ang mga pangangailangan. Siempre, tameme ang inyong lingkod for her nice gesture. Nang lumabas na kami ng hospital, at minsan nang dumalo kami sa shooting ng kanyang pelikula, in one of our friendly tender moments, sinabi ng butihing aktres na siya ang bahala sa mga gamot na kailangan for my continuous medication…Iba ang “magic” na nagagawa ng pagmamahal, lalo na kung ito’y nangagaling sa isang minamahal at iniidolo pa. There were times, halos hindi na kami makatulong at makakain nang maayos sa kaiisip at kapapangarap sa aking idolo for all seasons. Lalong tumingkad ang katuparan na lubos namin siyang “makilala” nang kami’y pumasok sa showbiz media. Inamin na “i will not grow as a writer” dahil talagang laging nananaig ang aking pagiging Vilmanian sa lahat ng oras. Hindi maalis sa amin ang “fan mentality”. Pawang maganda at positibo ang sinusulat namin sa aktres sa aming kulom sa mga diariong pinagsusulatan. Madalas kaming sermonan ng editor sa tuwing mag-submit ng artikulo na si Ate Vi ang nilalaman. Katuwiran niya, wala na nga bang kaming alam isulat kungdi ang aktres. Basta naman kasi ang subject namin ay si Ate Vi, walang duda, napakapositibo namin. Hindi dahil mahal namin siya at nagiisang idolo na hinahangaan sapul sa pagkabata, kungdi dahil ang sarap-sarap niyang iluklok sa pedestal dahil lahat ng bagay sa kanya ay positibo.

Julie Ouano Haglund – Well what more can one say about Vilma Santos, it’s not enough to say that she is the best. I haven’t met her personally but I have loved her and admired her ever since i was a little kid. I remember waiting every friday just to watch “VILMA” in GMA7 and that 2 hours of pure entertainment makes me kilig and proud at the same time that it’s her I idolized. I’ve watched the Vilma movies that is being shown on Tv as well as in the movie theater, laugh with her when she’s happy and cry as well when she’s hurt. There was a time that I was so closed in meeting Ate Vi when my best friend who is Chit Guerrero’s niece April and I were in Manila for a job interview in Cathay Pacific as a flight stewardess, we asked tita Chit if maybe just maybe we can visit Ate Vi and to finally meet her in person but unfortunately at that time she was pregnant with Ryan Christian and the pregnancy was difficult that Tita Chit has to begged off we were disappointed but pray for her that everything is gonna be fine. After many years of working and living abroad nothing has changed I’m still an avid and true Vilmanian in fact I’m still watching her old movies now and then even if I have seen it like a thousand times and still buying and ordering the ones that I don’t have. I want to thank this group for giving me the opportunity to know some of you ( VILMANIANS) all over the globe and really hope to meet some if not all of you in person one day. To you Ate Vi I love you so much and that you are an inspiration to everyone who loves you. I really wish you all the best and my prayers for you and to your family.

Jeannie Wong – I first saw Ate Vi in person at the Manila International Airport. She was still sporting shoulder-length hair, ka-loveteam pa niya si Bobot Mortiz. I think they were having a show there. I went to the MIA’s ladies room and few minutes later Ate Vi and two ladies came in. Ate Vi was in front of the mirror touching up her make-up and the two ladies were helping her get ready for the show. Only 4 of us were in there and yet all I did was stare at her. I didn’t even get enough courage to approach her. If only I can rewind it back, it would be different approach this time around. Magawa ko kaya yon? The second time I saw her was at the theater showing of her movie with Manny de Leon. My friends (Ana, Mitzi and I) went to watch the movie. The movie theater was SRO even lodge section, grabe ang dami ng tao. All of the sudden, everyone watching were rushing outside instead of watching the movie. Know why? Ate Vi and Manny de Leon dropped by to greet their supporters. Everyone crowded around them. I lost one of my earring that my mom just gave me sa dami ng tao. I had that earring only for 3 days yata. Well, anyway that’s not the first time I lost my earring. There were other occasion isang araw pa lang (baka nga ilan oras lang) sa akin nawala ko na. Mabuti na lang hindi nagalit ang mother ko sa akin. Ate Vi and Manny de Leon didn’t stay long, pupunta pa sila sa ibang sinehan. After they left, everyone went back in and continued the movie. That was an added bonus watching the movie and seeing Ate Vi in person. HEAVEN! The third time I saw Ate Vi was in California, USA. The year was 1980. I was in America for a month long vacation. My aunt told me that their church planned a Great America trip for the youth with special price of only $4.00 per person including admission entrance to the park and bus ride from the church to Great America and back to the church. I asked my cousin to go with me nilibre ko siya. We went on so many rides, believe me I’m not crazy with wild rides. Should I say, super takot ako sa mga wild rides! When we were on queue for the log ride (not a wild ride) on the upper section. Guess what? I saw Ate Vi with Edu Manzano, they were in the lower section, it was their turn to hop in the log for the logride. Nakasandal si Ate Vi kay Edu. SUPER BEAUTY si Ate Vi, she must have only very very light make-up on parang wala pa nga pero ang GANDA-GANDA niya. From the upper section, I wanted so much to call out her name sa tuwa ko, kaya lang natulala ako! Guwapo ni Edu kaya lang mukhang masungit. Like the first time, the only thing I managed to do was my eyes following them until I couldn’t see them anymore. All that time, I didn’t see Edu smile at all, serious looking siya! Masungit nga! Si Ate Vi was wearing jeans and high heels, diyan ka bibilib kay Ate Vi! Ate Vi and Edu weren’t holding hands, bakit kaya? May sompi yata si Edu kaya hindi siya ngumigiti. I can’t get that picture off my mind. Again, if I can rewind it back, the approach would be different. Siguro kung kasama ko ang mga Vilmanians dito sa egroups lalakas siguro ang loob ko. August 21, 2005, Sunday around 11:00am. Our TV was on cable channel 8, the program was MMK. Our home phone rang, Alan T. called (Thanks, Alan!) and passed the phone to someone and guess who was on the other end? Si Ate Vi nga! Naka-usap ko si Ate Vi. She was having lunch with the Vilmanians at the Radisson Hotel, NY. I must have ESP and stayed home that day kung hindi na miss ko ang chance na maka-usap si Ate Vi. That moment was Heaven! Parang mayroon MAGNET at MAGIC si Ate Vi. Lalong lumalim ang pahanga ko sa kanya ngayon. That was my fourth encounter with Ate Vi. Ano kaya ang susunod? I hope to meet and bond with her. That would be HEAVEN!

Mario O. Garces – I am a baby boomer and come from a large family. The seventh of 11 children (5 boys and 6 girls), with one breadwinner, my Tatay, I knew what poverty was like. Dad was only a high school graduate but he was smart. He was the eldest of 8 children. They started rich: they had a big house, a car, and he enrolled at the U.P. College of Fine Arts. He painted/ drew well and was a great writer. His father, a church deacon, led a double life. He was a compulsive gambler. He forgot his marriage vow and covenant with God to serve His people. He died a pauper. From rags to riches. In his deathbed, he called all of his children to swear not to do what he did. “Isumpa ninyo ang pagsusugal. Malas iyan sa buhay. Sa demonyo iyan.” How I wish I could tell this story to some celebrities I truly admire and respect. Dad had to stop studying and started doing odd jobs to support his mother who had TB. He cried when his younger brothers lied about their age to be able to work as ’kargador’ in the public market. His strong belief in his Creator helped him move on. He dabbled in self-study oil painting, wrote some zarsuelas, even wrote for Tiktik and Liwayway magazines. He ended up being employed by a printing company and served as its lead writer and lay-out artist. My mother only finished the second grade but she knew how to sew clothes and manage our little tienda or sari-sari store. Dad won in some oil painting contests. National Artist Fernando Amorsolo was his role model. All of us 11 children had to help with the family business, household chores and must be at the church every Sunday. Dad’s orders. We had our first black and white Radioweatlh television set and we, eleven siblings would all fight for our favorite channels. Dad preferred to watch stuffs like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Rifleman, Combat or Bonanza. Mom would settle for Mga Aninong Gumagalaw (she swooned over Carmen Rosales and Rogelio De La Rosa), and Oras ng Ligaya with her favorites Chi-chay, Sylvia La Torre and Oscar Obligacion. But all of us younger kids were unanimous that Popeye is forever. We would all watch the very slim Pilitia Corrales sing the Pilita Corrales ’patuwad’ way: “the day you came along, with your song, my heart began to sing dear, a million thanks to you my love.” Not to be outdone, Carmen Soriano sang and sashayed to televiewers on Carmen on Camera. We would imitate Joe Quirino’s accent and ’take it away’ lines in Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino. Before Penthouse Live with Martin and Pops, there was Dance-O-Rama with Pete Roa and Baby O’Brien and later replaced by the new U.P. graduate Boots Anson. Yes, we were all hungry for local entertainment. There were no cable, TFC, or the Internet at the time. The proverbial Tagalog weekly comics were our other source of ’escape.’ Kalabog en Bosyo. Booma. Tanikalang Apoy. Gumuhong Bantayog. On radio, Sebya, Mahal Kita and Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang were on our must listen to list. On weekdays, my Mom’s day would not be complete without listening to her favorite Dear Abby counterpart, Dely Magpayo. Coming from school, I could hear these lines: “Alas tres na naman po ng hapon. Ito po ang inyong Tiya Dely.” And then there were Nora Aunor and Edgar Mortiz in Tawag ng Tanghalan. I never saw anyone sang People better than Nora. I noticed something different about her eyes. They looked sad yet hopeful. When she was declared champion, I knew something was set free from our masses. There were Vilma Santos and Connie Angeles in Eskuwelahang Munti. Vilma Santos made everybody cry as a hostage victim who softened bad boy Martin Marfil’s heart of stone in the original teleserye of all teleserye, Larawan ng Pag-ibig on ABS-CBN. Some episodes were live but the audience did not notice. I did. The Gripo Princess, Vilma Santos, was on everyone’s lips as Trudis Liit, Ging and that ’cry me a river tot’ in that high rating TV soap tearjerker. Tirso Cruz III in pre-Aunor era was a hit in Nine Teeners. Elvis hairdo, matchstick thin and all. He could hit the high notes of such love ballads like My Cherie Amor by Stevie Wonder. Dad would require us to read Bible verses aloud some days of the week so we could practice our English. I was the champion. I memorized Psalm 23. The winner got to join him and Mom to a double feature in nearby Scala theater. Not that he did not like Tagalog movies. His goal was to teach his kids literature, art and movie appreciation. He was different from other fathers. He would rather tinker around the house, read Time magazine, the Bible or write sermons from an old Underwood typewriter, rather than dwell on idle talk and drink beer like those big-bellied gents at a corner barber shop. To augment family income and help support our tuition and pang-sine, my sisters and brothers would sell ’jewelries’ made from Meycauayan and our house to market stalls in Central and Bambang markets. The boys would trek to Daniel Barrion by FPJ or an Erap action movie. We would save money to be able to watch James Bond’s new movie every Christmas season. Or patiently wait for it to run in double feature theaters. The girls swooned over Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Amalia Fuentes, Susan Roces, Gloria Romero and Nida Blanca. But my favorite was Lolita Rodriguez. She is ahead of her contemporaries. She reminds me of Liv Ullman and today’s Michelle Williams. Oh the power and triumph of restraint. Nora, Vilma, Charito, Hilda, Gina Alajar must have taken a cue from this great actress. Less is more. Where the hell is she? And Vilma Santos? There’s something that’s different about her. I loved Ging but I loved her more in the company of Marlene Dauden (Sa Bawa’t Pintig ng Puso) and with Lolita/Marlene/Eddie R. menage a trois like in Kasalanan Kaya? I didn’t know she won the best supporting actress award from this movie until I was older. All I knew was she is pretty, cute and always cries in her movies. The 70’s I knew that Vilma can act but Nora can sing. U.P. was split between Nora, (Turn to next page) Hilda and Vilma. Communism and the status quo. The avant garde and the weirdos went gaga over Hollywood and European films, especially France’s Truffaut and Company. Movie appreciation started with my Dad and encouraged by the U.P. system. My eyes popped out watching foreign flicks like Fritz Lang’s Birth of a Nation, and some classics like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Seventh Seal and La Strada. I knew my Truffaut from Bergman and Kurosawa. Even the Apu Trilogy. Over at nearby Delta theater, I saw intriguing avant-garde movies like the one with Glenda Jackson in Women In Love, from hardearned money. I would walk miles to save on U.P. Ikot jeep and bus fares and spend it on movies. I was paper thin. I was addicted to the movies and reading. Since money was tight, I would wait long lines and wake up early to get an expensive reserve book, a required reading in school. I would bring itlog na maalat and rice as baon, and spend lunch money on film retrospective festival tickets at the school and other venues in Makati. My PETA acting experience taught me a lot about how difficult and disciplined stage acting is. One summer before Martial Law was declared, I appeared as one of the angry market vendors in Nikolai Gogol’s drama-comedy five act play, The Inspector General, presented by Campus Crusade for Christ and PETA. Fellow schoolmates Lutgardo Labad and Maryo J. De Los Reyes were at the helm. I didn’t have a clue on what to expect as I never acted on stage before. PETA stalwarts Soxy Topacio, Angie Ferro, even Lino Brocka were happy and generous to teach us acting 101. My parents almost disowned me as I came home late and hungry from rigorous rehearsals at the Raha Sulayman Theater in Fort Santiago. I saw Dama De Noche with Vilma in a dual role. I thought her breakdown scene in this Nestor Torre scipted movie, akin to her similar and memorable role in Ikaw Ay Akin would win her a grand slam in the Quezon City Film Festival and the FAMAS. Well, at least the FAMAS chose wisely. And then, when Vilma donned the Darna costume, there was no looking back. There I was at the jampacked Grand theater in Cubao, a witness to history when the New Box-office Queen was born. All of Metro Manila citizens trooped to the theaters and witnessed the Longest-Reigning Box-office Queen Vilma Santos kicked the bad guys’ ass as the flying super heroine in Lipad, Darna, Lipad. Up, up and away and Vilma took off. Bye-bye, forever, arch-rivals! Ecu tatakot, keka pa, ne? At the height of the Vilma-Nora rivalry, I didn’t sleep when Vilma didn’t bring home the trophy in the 1978 MMFF. I was one of the millions who went to bed depressed, maybe along with Manunuri Isagani Cruz (who thought that Vilma’s role in Rubia Servios was more complex and difficult to do). The whole brouhaha was, I believe an offshoot of Vilma’s earthshaking win in the 1977 MMFF where she made the greatest career turn via Burlesk Queen. At last, the box-office queen and overshadowed Actress found her niche in Philippine Cinema. From Burlesk Queen to Relasyon, Dekada ’70, and Mano Po 3, on one end, and from Minsa’y Isang Gamugamo to Sidhi on the other side of tinseltown, someone had to win the prestigious U.P. Gawad Plaridel Award. Overnight, the 1972 QCFF and the 1978 MMFF nighmares were erased. It was more than revenge, it was poetic justice. For Vilma, these words of wisdom ring true: “thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” “And he who perseveres to the end will be…saved.” Flash forward to August 19 and 20, 2005. At long last, Vilma In Person. A dream come true. The object of my inspired articles, movie-going life and movie reviews stood beside me and my wife. She shook our hands. Now I know why she is still what she is then and now. You would forget she is the greatest actress of the Philippines, or a surprisingly capable Mayor with a PhD degree in Humanities. The Queen is indeed charming, pretty, humble, down to earth, funny and smart. From reel to real, Vilma Santos is God’s gift to the Filipinos. May she live long and healthy to continue to inspire us all.

John Agra Amauri – Lumaki ako sa kapaligirang baduy ang humanga o umidolo sa artistang lokal. 1970’s: Noong mga panahong ito, malaki at matindi ang tunggaliang Vilma-Nora kung kaya’t hindi mo ito matatakasan. Laman sila ng halos lahat ng balitang pangartista at sa aking murang pag-iisip, marami akong katanungan. Sinagot yun isang hapon ng isang aleng maglalako. Nakiusap ito sa aking mga magulang kung puwede siyang pumuwesto sa gilid ng aming ng aming bahay at magtinda ng iba’t-ibang gulay at prutas na may kasamang paarkilahan ng mga Komiks/Magasin. Pinayagan naman siya at bilang pasasalamat, inaabutan niya kami ng pinakasariwa niyang paninda paminsan-minsan. Pinayagan rin niya akong arkilahin ng libre ang mga Komiks/ magasin niya at iyon ang naging simula ng isang hindi inaasahang mahabang sikretong ’relasyon’ at tumulong sa paghugis ng aking pagkatao magpahanggang ngayon. Patago kung basahin ko ang mga Komiks at Magasing balitang artista. Istrikto kasi si Itay, napakarami niyang hirap na dinanas sa pagtaguyod sa aming pamilya at para sa kanya, walang maidudulot ang mga artista, lokal man o banyaga, kundi ang pagtatapon ng oras at pera. Ilang ulit din akong nahuhuli ng aking ama at napapagalitan ngunit hindi talaga ako mapigilan. Panahon iyon ng pamamayagpag ni Nora ngunit mas nahulog ang loob ko sa naaapi. Ang naaalala ko ay ang husay ng pagdala sa sarili ng puma-pangalawang labtim ni Vilma at dito ako unang humanga. Sa aking panakaw na pagbabasa, sa bawa’t tagumpay na tinatamo niya, patago akong ngumingiti sa aking sarili. At sa bawa’t dagok na dumadating sa kanya, patago rin akong nagdadalamhati. Maging sa paaralan, bihirang mapagusapan ang mga kuwentong artistang lokal sa aming grupo. Ang kinagigiliwan noon ay mga pelikulang aksiyon mula Hollywood. ’Colonial mentality’ ngang tunay. Dahil dito, marami akong pinalampas na pelikula ni Vilma. Maliban sa mga aguinaldo, tuwang tuwa ako sa pagsapit ng Pasko at Bagong Taon dahil sa MMFF. Pelikulang Pilipino lamang ang mapapanood at pelikula ni Vilma ang pinapanood namin kapag kasali siya. Ngayon ko lang napag-isip, hindi kaya secret Vilmanian rin ang mga barkada ko noon? Panahon ito ng Lipad,Darna, Lipad. 1980’s: Kolehiyo. Sa unang pagkakataon, ako ay lumisan ng bahay upang tumira sa kampus ng Pamantasan. Dito naman, mas lalong hindi pinapansin ng akademya ang mga artistang lokal at bagkus, mababa pa ang tingin sa kanila kung minsan. Hindi rin nakatulong na dormitoryo ng mga dayuhang estudiante ang napili kong tirahan. Subali’t nakamtan ko naman ang sariling laya sa mga panahong ito. Para akong ibong nakawala sa hawla at natutung maging magsarili. Mag-isa kong pinapanood ang mga pelikula ni Vilma at masaya na ako sa ganoon kahit na papaano. Pero hindi pa rin ako matatawag na ’die hard fan’ dahil hindi lahat ng Vilma Santos movie ay aking pinapanood tulad ng Doctor, doctor…at Ayaw kong maging Kerida. Namimili pa rin. Ang dalawang pelikulang hinding hindi ko nakakalimutan at lalong nagpahanga sa akin ay ang Pahiram ng Isang Umaga at ang makabuluhang Sister Stella L. Dito na nag-iba ang pagtingin ko sa kanya. Artistang may ’social at political relevance’ sa mga trabaho niya. Matapang. Noong mga unang taon ng dekada ’80, ako’y nagumpisang mangolekta ng mga librong Anthology ng Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature na bigay ng La Tondena Distillery. Dito ko unang nakilala si Lualhai Bautista at nabasa ang Dekada ’70. Mainit ang librong ito noong panahong iyon. Nangarap akong sana’y isapelikula ni Vilma ito. May matinding mensahe at ang babae dito ay ayaw nang magsawalang kibo sa nangyayari sa kapaligiran niya. Vilmang Vilma. Ito, sabi ko ang kasunod ng Sister Stella L. Nang sumunod naman ang nobelang Bata-Bata, Paano ka Ginawa noong 1984, nangarap uli ako at pumasok talaga sa isip ko ang padalhan si Ate Vi ng dalawang aklat na ito at imungkahing gawin niya. Nabanggit ko ito sa aking matalik na kaibigan at ako’y tinawanan lamang at sinabing ako’y nahihibang. Siyempre, Isa ako sa unang labis na natuwa at nagalak nang ito ay natupad pagkaraan ng halos dalawang dekadang paghihintay. 1990’s-2003: Memoirs of Buhay ’Merika. Malayo man ako sa inang bayan, balitang Vilma pa rin ang aking unang hinahanap. Ilang minuto lamang ang Hollywood mula sa trabaho o tirahan at naglilipana rin ang mga babasahin at balita tungkol sa mga bituin ng Hollywood pero wala pa rin. Merong Kulang. Paminsan-minsan ay merong balitang Ate Vi sa mga diaryong Pilipino dito at nakaka-dulot na ito ng saya ngunit bitin pa rin. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa internet at naging mas madali at mabilis ang paghanap ng mga balita tungkol kay Mayor Vi. Palihim at panakaw akong naghahanap ng balita sa net kapag nasa trabaho ako. Sa internet ko nalaman ang unang pagkapanalo niya sa eleksiyon. Ganoon din ang pangalawa at ang pangatlo. Sa mga panahong ito, ako ay sumaludo at naging 100% Vilmanian at taas noong pinagmamalaki siya noong pinatunayan niya ang pagiging epektibo niya sa kanyang panungkulan bilang Mayor. Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, may ’clippings’ ako ni Ate Vi at iyon ay pinamagatang Starring: Vilma Santos sa Newsbreak ng Inq7 (Oct. 27, 2003). Sa tuwa ko ay gumawa ako ng maraming kopya at pinamudmod ito sa mga kaibigan kong pinoy na gustong makinig. Kasabay sa isyung ito ang artikulong The Bad Mayor na si Joey Marquez. Tunay nga siyang kahanga-hanga. Hindi na isang artista lamang ang tingin ko sa kanya mula noon. Role Model at Inspirasyon. Magaling na aktres, marunong bumangon sa pagkadapa, maganda at mabait, mapagkumbaba, kagalang-galang at mas may bayag pa kesa sa ibang lalaki. Sa mga iilang taong iniluluklok ko sa pedestal na nabubuhay pa ay pawang mga lalaki iyon at maituturing kong malaking karangalan at pasasalamat at nakaharap ko sila sa magkakaibang okasyon. Sina Noam Chomsky, Warren Buffett at HH the Dalai Lama. Ikinagagalak kong sabihin na si Ate Vi ay kabilang na ngayon sa mga ito. Sana ay makadupangpalad ko siya. Sa pamamagitan pa rin ng internet, nalalaman ko ang mga bago niyang pelikula at aking inaabangan sa mga tindahang Pilipino sa may Vermont St., Temple St. at sa Glendale kung saan pugad ng ang Pinoy. Kasama ang kaibigan kong Vilmanian at ang buong pamilya niya, sabay kaming manonood ng mga pelikulang Vilma sa kanilang bahay tuwing linggo habang kumukukot ng cornicks, Chippy o V-Cut, chicharon na may suka o di kaya ay manggang hilaw at bagoong at minsan naman ay caramel pop-corn at pulvoron ng Goldilock’s. Kahit papaano, nasa Pilipinas uli kami sa mga sandaling iyon. Panahon naman ito ng mga Ipagpatawad mo, Dolzura Cortez, Sinungaling mong Puso at Bata-bata. Halos linggu-linggo kung dalawin ko ang aking nakababatang kapatid at kalapit nito ang West Covina. Sa aking pagkaka-alam, dito nakatira ang pamilya Santos. Minsan ay nababasa ko na lamang na nasa California si Ate Vi at nagbabakasyon. Natutuwa naman ako at alam kong naririyan lamang siya sa malapit ngunit wala naman akong maisip na paraan kung paano siya makaharap. So near and yet so far nga. 2004 noong una kong matunghayan ang ibat-ibang website ni Ate Vi. Nagmamasid lamang ako noon at naglakas loob lamang sumali noong 2005. Nasa ibang bansa na uli ako at malayo pa rin sa sariling bayan ngunit hindi na ako pipi ngayon bilang Vilmanian. Salamat sa grupong ito at nabigyan ako ng boses bilang isang Vilmanian. Nang dumating ang UP Gawad Plaridel ay hindi ko maiwasang mapaluha sa galak. Gustong gusto kong maging bahagi sa okasyong ito na handog ng sistemang aking pinagmulan subalit sadyang hindi nauukol. Hindi pa rin ako mapakali at nakadalawang tawag ako sa kolehiyo ng Mass Comm noong araw ng parangal upang makibalita. Madaling araw man dito noon ay hindi ko ininda. Ito kasi ang itinuturing kong pinakamahalagang parangal na natamo niya sa buong buhay niya. Bindikasyon ito sa lahat ng nagawa at nai-ambag niya sa sining at taong bayan. At nagpapatunay lamang ito na hindi nga ako nagkamali sa pagpili ng hinahangaan. Ngayon, dito sa grupong ito ko na kinukuha ang mga pinakasariwang balita tungkol kay Ate Vi at ang magbigay o makinig ng opinyon. Dito ako nakatagpo ng maraming kapwa Vilmanian na hindi ko naranasan noon. Ang unang-una kong pakikipag-tanggol at pakiki-pagsagutan sa kampong mapang-away kahit man lang sa pagsulat. Unti-unti ko ring hinahasa dito ang kinakalawang kong pag-sulat sa Ingles man o sariling wika. Dito ko naranasan ang pinakamalapit kong pakikiharap kay Mayor Vi sa pamamagitan ng kanyang pagbati at pagsulat. At siya, bilang aking inspirasyon, ang nakapag-udyok sa aking makagawa at maibahagi dito ang kauna-unahang ’haiku’ sa tanang buhay ko na hindi ko inaasahang mangyayari. Salamat, Ate Vi. Agra Amauri, n.b. Ang paggamit ng pangalang ito ay pagbibigay pugay sa isang taong naging tulay upang madiskubre ang isang munting Vilma Santos. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ang ’uncle Amaury Agra’ ni Ate Vi ang unang nagdala at nagprisinta kay Doc Perez sa Sampaguita Pictures. After that, the rest is history. Ano na kaya ang nangyari sa kanya? Wala akong nababasa tungkol sa kanya. Kung saan man siya naroroon, maraming salamat.

R Viray – Maliit pa akong bata, mulat na ang kaisipan ko tungkol sa mga bagay bagay tungkol kay ate Vi. Madalas yung mga amiga ng auntie kapag nagmamadjong, isa sa mga usapan nila lagi ay nauuwi sa mga maiinit na debate tungkol kung sinong mas mas maganda, kung sinong mas magaling kumanta, sumayaw. Kadalasan ang kinauuwian nito’y ang pagliliparan ng mga “tiles” ng madjong. Ang mga amiga ng tita’y ang mga makukulay na karakter sa aking kabataan. Nakasanayan ko nang manood ng mga pelikula ni Ate Vi mula pa sa aking kabataan. Mayroon kaming kamaganak na takilyera kung kaya madalas ang pagpasok namin sa mga sinehan na walang bayad. Ilang sa mga pelikulang napanood ko na nagbigay sa aking ng ilang bangungot ay ang mga pelikula ni Ate Vi na kakatakutan. Katulad ng Lipad Darna Lipad, Hatingabi na Vilma at Anak ng Aswang. Kung sa gabi’y banungot ang lagi kong nararanasan salamat naman kay Darna at ang kapatid niyang si Ding laging nasasagip ako sa ending ng bawat masamang panaginip ko. Sa tuwing hapon matapos ang aking klase, takbo ako ng takbo, kalaro ko ang aking pinsan. Ako si Darna at ang pinsan ko naman ang babaing ahas! Labanang umaatikabo. Takbo kami sa bubong hanggang sa silong na aming bahay. Sigaw ng sigaw si inay lalo na nang marumihan namin ang puting kulambo na kakaalmirol lamang niya’t nakasabit kisame ng aming sala. Takbo rito, takbo ruon habol na rin si inay sa amin. Kapag dumarating na si tatay na lasing, naiisip ko lagi si Max Alvarado sa Darna and the Giants. Dahil sa mga yabag niya, nabubugabog ang buong bahay namin. Kapag dumarating rin si tatay ay laging napuputol ang panonood ko sa tv. Taong 1973, gabi ng parangal ng FAMAS. Nominado si Ate Vi. Nakatutok ako sa telebisyon habang nanahi ang nanay ko ng mga belong itinitinda niya sa Quiapo. Hating-gabi na pero dahil sa kaabalahan ay hindi ako pansin ni inay. Malapit nang i-proklama kung sino ang best actress. Hanggang sa dumating si Itay, si Max. Bakit raw gising pa ako! Inutusan akong bumili ng kanyang lapad. Nagdadabog akong tumakbo sa tindahan. Malayo-layo rin ito. Mabilis akong kumilos dahil sa banta ni itay na kung hindi ako kikilos agad papatayin niya ang telebisyon. Mga sampung kanto rin ang tindahan mula sa aming bakuran. Ilang araw na ulan kung kaya ang lupa sa aming bakuran ay basa’t maputik. Sa tindahan magsasara na si Aling Toyang mabuti na lang at naabutan ko kung hindi’y ang lalakbayin ko’y dagdag na anim na kanto, duon sa susunod na tindahan, kay Mang Tomas. Kapag kuha ko ng lapad ay takbo na ako. Sigaw ako ng Darna at ang pakiramdam ko talaga’y lumilipad ako. Malapit na ako sa aming pinto’t tumatakbo ako sa aming bakuran ng marinig ko ang mga kahol ng aso ng aming kapitbahay. Sa tako’t ko’y lalo ko pang binilisan ang pagtakbo hanggang sa madapa ako sa gitna ng putikan. Galit na galit ang tatay ko. Bakit raw puro putik ang lapad niya, pero mabuti raw at hindi nabasag. Galit na galit ang nanay ko at nag-umpisa na silang mag-away dahil ang sabi ni nanay mas mahalaga pa raw kay Max ang lapad niya. Naligo agad ako’t nagbihis at bumalik sa harap ng telebisyon habang patuloy na nagaaway ng tatay at nanay ko. Malapit nang sabihin kung sino ang mananalo nang bigla na lamang akong sigawan ng tatay ko’t ibig paalisin sa harap ng telebisyon. Napatingin na lamang ako sa nanay ko upang humingi ng saklolo. Hatak hatak ako ng tatay ko pero nakatutok pa rin ang mga mata ko sa telebisyon. Iprinoklaman si Ate na ka-tie ni Boots Anson Roa bilang best aktres! Habang paakyat ng entablado si Ate Vi, nakangiti ako, hindi ko alam na pinapalo na pala ako ng tatay ko ng kanyang sinturon. Nang patayin ng tatay ko ang telebisyon ay saka ako napasigaw sa sakit, latay latay na pala ang katawan ko hindi ko pa pansin dahil sa epekto ni Ate Vi sa akin. Bata pa ako nuon hanggang sa lumaki ako, lahat ng sakit sa puso at kung ano anong problema hindi ko naaalintana dahil nariyan si Ate Vi. – GO to 1/2

RELATED READING:
V Magazine Issue No. 7 Memoirs of Vilmanians
Vilmanians Photo Album
Memorabilia Photo Album
V Magazine
Music Album (Photo)
Vilma Santos’ 18TH Birthday (Repost)
Vi and Bot Photo Album
Paper Doll and other Nostalgia
Die Hard Vilmanians Magazine
Favorite Penpal (Repost)
1972 Best Actress
Happy Birthday Vilma – The VSSI Officers & Members (Video)
Print Media 1970s – 2000s (Video)

Reyna ng Pelikulang Pilipino


Si Celso Ad Castillo ay marami nang naunang eksperimento. Pero pumaltos sa pamantayan ng mga manunuri. Maraming nagsuspetsa na may ibubuga siya, pero hindi lang talaga maibuga nang nasa tiempo. Malimit ang kanyang pelikula ay maingay at maraming sobra. Halimbawa, maraming karahasan na wala namang katuturan ang kanyang Madugong Daigdig ni Salvacion, seksing walang kadahilanan (pinagandang garapal) ang kanyang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa, numero unong manggagaya ang kanyang Maligno, at sabog-sabog ang kanyang pinakamagandang nagawa, ang Daluyong at Habagat. Kung may magkamali mang pumuri kay Celso, iyon nama’y halos pakunsuelo-debobo lamang, at hindi ito sapat para itaas ang kanyang pedestal sa ranggo nina Bernal, Brocka at Romero. Wari ngang napako sa komersiyalismo ang direktor na inaabangan maglalabas ng natatagong talino.

Lalong nagduda sa kanyang kakayahan ang mga kritiko nang kumalat ang balita na gagawa siya ng serye sa TV na ala Cleopatra Jones na papamagatan naman niyang O’Hara. Pero ang direktor na ipinapalagay na laos ay biglang pumalag nang walang kaabog-abog. Bigla’y nabalitang may inihanda raw itong pang-festival na ikinataas na naman ng kilay ng kanyang mga kritiko. “Aber tingnan,” ang pasalubong sa balita. At sa preview ng kanyang Burlesk Queen, biglang napa-mea culpa ang ayaw maniwalang may ibubuga si Celso. Tiyak na naiiba ang Burlesk Queen, kahit ikumpara sa mga naunang trabaho ni Celso at sa iba pang direktor na nagtangkang tumalakay sa paksang ito.

Matagal-tagal na rin namang nauso ang kaputahan sa pelikula, pero walang nakapagbigay ng katarungan sa lahi ni Eba bilang Pilipina at bilang puta. Sa Burlesk Queen, para kay Celso ay hindi nangangahulugan ng pagpapakita lamang ng utong, puwit o singit, kung hindi isang seryosong pagtalakay sa damdamin ng mga tauhan sa isang kapanipaniwalang dahilan na nangyari sa isang makatotohanang kapaligiran. Sa kanya, ang tao ay hindi basta maghuhubad at magtatalik. Maraming pangyayari sa buhay ang dapat munang linawin at unawain, at iyon ang basehan ng kasaysayan.

Simple lamang ang plot. Isang tinedyer si Vilma Santos na alalay ng isang original burlesk queen, si Rosemarie Gil. May tatay na lumpo si Vilma, si Leopoldo Salcedo. Si Rosemarie naman ay may kabit na isang hustler, si Roldan Aquino. Nang iwanan ni Roldan si Rose, nagwala ang huli. Naging lasengga siya at tumangging magsayaw sa tanghalan. Mabibitin ang palatuntunan, kaya’t si Vilma na talaga namang may ambisyong magsayaw ang pumalit. Hit naman sa manonood si Vilma. Sa bahay, pilit kinukumbinsi ni Vilma si Pol na payagan na siyang maging full time dancer. Ayaw ni Pol, mas mahalaga sa kanya ang prinsipyo at delikadesa. Sapagkat wala namang ibang pagkakakitaan, si Vilma rin ang nasunod sa bandang huli. Nag-suicide si Pol nang hindi na niya masikmura ang pasiya ng anak. Si Rollie Quizon naman ang binatilyong masama ang tama kay Vilma. Nagtanan sila at nagsama.  Pero hindi sanay sa hirap si Rollie. Sa pagpili sa pag-ibig o ginhawa sa buhay, ang huli ang pinahalagahan niya. Nagkataon namang buntis na si Vilma. Sa pag-iisa sa buhay, nagbalik siya sa pagsasayaw. Nagsayaw siya ng nagsayaw hanggang duguin siya sa tanghalan at malaglag ang kanyang dinadala. Bagamat simple ang plot ay hindi naman masasabing simple ang pamamaraang ginawa rito ni Celso.

Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon ay nangyari sa isang pelikula ang pagsasama-sama ng magandang istorya, mahusay na direksyon, magaling na pag-arte ng mga tauhan, masinop na musika, magaling na editing at angkop na sinematograpiya. Sa Burlesk Queen ay nagsama-sama ang talino ni Celso (direktor), Mauro Gia Samonte (story and screenplay), George Canseco (musical director), Ben Lobo (cinematographer), at Abelardo Hulleza (editor). Kung may ipipintas sa pelikula, iyon ay ang hindi malinaw na pagbuhay sa panahon na nangyari ang kuwento. Kung minsa’y maiisip na nagyari ito sa panahon ng kasikatan ni Elvis noong 1950s. Pero kapag pinansin na maraming long hair sa extra, may wall paper at synthetic na sako ang bahay nina Vilma ay maaari namang sabihing baka naman pa-Elvis craze lamang ang mga tao roon. Pero may pulitiko, at Yabut, at may dagdag pang Connie Francis bukod sa motorsiklong Lambretta at mga kotseng Buick. Kung sabagay, maliliit na detalye lamang ito na agad makakalimutan kapag ang inasikaso ay pagbuklat sa magagandang punto ng istorya.

 Tingnan natin ang ilang magandang eksena sa pelikula. Sa ikalawang eksena ay nagtatanong si Vilma kay Rosemarie kung puwede rin siyang maging dancer.  Walang malinaw na sagot si Rose, pero ang timing ng background music na It’s Now or Never ay makahulugan. It’s Now or Never nga, payo ni Elvis. At kung kailan siya maaaring mag-umpisa, Tomorrow, sabi ng kanta. Ang ganitong sagot ay nasa mukha ni Rose, pero hindi na kailangang sabihin. Ang ganitong pamamaraan ay tinatawag na creativity ng direktor, na nagdagdag ng ibang pamamaraan sa paghahayag ng damdamin ng tauhan. Sa paglakad ng istorya, dapat ding pansinin kung paano ang characterization ay binubuhay dito.  Halimbawa, sa isang eksena na nangyari sa isang patahian ay nag-abot sina Dexter Doria, ang bagong kabit ni Roldan Aquino, at si Rose. Naroroon din si Vilma at sa hindi kalayuan ay si Rollie. Maliwanag na may kani-kanyang pangangailangan ang mga tauhan at magkakasama sila sa iisang eksena. Walang nakawan ng eksena na naganap dito. Naginsultuhan sina Dexter at Rose, natameme si Roldan at waring walang pakialam sina Rollie at Vilma na panay na panay ang kindatan. Lalo namang walang pakialam ang dalawang pulubi na tumutugtog ng violin (na siya ring background music) sa mga nangyayari. Limos ang mahalaga sa kanila.

Sa eksenang ito’y may gamit ang lahat ng tauhan, wala sa kanilang nagsilbing dekorasyon, walang nag-o.a. at parepareho nilang ginawang makatotohanan ang komprontasyon. Magandang halimbawa ito ng synchronized acting. Kung allusions naman ang pag-uusapan, marami ritong mga sariwang metaphor na mababanggit. Isa rito ang mahusay na pagpapakita na birhen pa si Vilma sa sex act nila ni Rollie. Habang nasa likod ng tanghalan ay may nagaganap sa magkasintahan, sa tanghalan ay nang-aliw naman ang mga acrobats na sinundan ng isang madyikero na tumutusok ng sariling noo, nagbabaon ng pako sa ilong at lumululon ng espada. Masakit tingnan iyon. At ganoon din ang nararanasan ni Vilma sa likod ng tanghalan sa piling ni Rollie.

Hindi rin madaldal ang pelikula. Kung itatanong kung paano tinanggap ni Pol ang pasiya ng anak, nagtulos na lamang siya ng isang makahulugang kandila sa altar na para na ring sinabing “bahala na ang Diyos sa iyo”. Kung paano naman ipinakitang naging mananayaw na nga si Vilma, sapat nang ipakita ang isang trak na nagbababa ng isang wheel chair na ipapalit sa lumang tumba-tumba ng ama. Maging ang paglakad ng panahon ay nararamdaman din ng manonood kahit hindi ikuwento o ipakita ang kinagawiang pamamaraan at ulat ng “nalalaglag na dahon ng kalendaryo o dahon ng puno kaya”. Sunod-sunod na cuts na nagpapakita sa uri ng palabas sa tanghalang kinabibilangan ni Vilma ang ginawa ni Celso. Saka ito sinundan ng kuha naman sa bahay nina Vilma at Rollie. Nag-iinit ng tubig si Vilma habang nakikinig ng dula sa radyo tungkol sa buhay ng isang asawang tamad at iresponsable.

Ganoon nga ang nangyayari sa buhay ng dalawa, at may kasunod ring “abangan sa susunod na kabanata”. Sa paghihiwalay ng dalawa, sapat na ring iparinig ang awiting You’re All I Want For Christmas, para buhayin ang irony na nagaganap sa relasyon ng dalawa. Kung makinis ang exposition at pagbuhay sa conflict ng istorya, malinaw rin ang paghahanda sa wakas ng pelikula. Si Rose na laos na ay naging mumurahing puta. Si Dexter kahit hindi ipakita ay maliwanag na sumama na sa ibang lalaki. Si Roldan ay may bago nang kabit at napatay sa spiral staircase ng tanghalan na siya rin niyang dinadaanan sa paghahatid sa dalawang naunang kabit. Si Rollie, ang mama’s boy, ay natural bawiin ng ina. Si Vilma ay nagsayaw-nangnagsayaw. Sa simula’y mahinhin at nakangiti at kaakit-akit hanggang sa pagbilis ng pulso ng tambol at pompiyang ay naubusan ng ngiti, tumagaktak ang pawis at manghina ang ligwak ng kanyang balakang, upang sa pagbuhay sa damdamin ng manonood ay siya namang maging dahilan ng pagkalaglag ng sanggol na kanyang dinadala.

Sa labas, matapos ang pagtatanghal, may tatlong bagabundong naiwan na nakatangkod sa larawang pang ‘come on’ ng burlesk queen, habang ang kadilima’y bumabalot sa kapaligiran. Kung matino ang kaanyuan ng pelikula, ay ganoon din ang masasabi sa nilalaman. Makatotohanan at masinop ang pagtalakay sa buhay ng isang abang mananayaw. Tinalakay rin dito kung paano siya tinatanggap ng lipunan at inuusig ng mga tagapangalaga raw ng moralidad. Maging ang empresaryo ng tanghalan na ginampanan ni Joonee Gamboa ay may konsiyensiya rin at nagtatanong sa atin kung anong panoorin ang dapat ibigay sa isang ordinaryong Pilipino na hindi kayang pumunta sa mga mamahaling kainan upang manood tulad halimbawa ng Merry Widow at Boys in the Band. Sila, aniya ng mga ‘dakilang alagad ng moralidad na nagdidikta at kumu-kontrol sa moralidad ng komunidad’, katapat ng munting kasiyahan ng isang Pilipinong hindi ‘kaya ang bayad sa mga ekslusibong palabas ng mayayaman.’ Samantala’y busy tayo sa paglilibang at sa kanila’y walang pakialam ngunit may handang pintas at pula sa mangahas lumabas sa batas ng moralidad ng lipunan. – Jun Cruz Reyes, Miyembro Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino Manila Magazine Dec. 1-31, 1977

RELATED READING:
Burlesk Queen WINNER of 10 MMFF Awards
1977 Metro Manila Film Festival
Video 48: Vilma Santos As “Burlesk Queen” (1977)
Vilma Santos’ Top 10 Film Directors (part five)
IMDB: Burlesk Queen (1977)
IMDB: Celso Ad. Castillo
IMDB: Rolly Quizon
IMDB: Rosemarie Gil
IMDB: Leopoldo Salcedo (1912–1998)
Pelikula Atbp: Burlesk Queen (1977)
The Kid, uninterrupted
‘Burlesk Queen’ Onto The Height of Pathos
Vilma Santos as Burlesk Queen (1977)
Amanda Page performs a burlesque inspired number for the MMFF Gabi ng Parangal (Video)
The Classic Vilma Santos Movies

THE STAR FOR MANY MORE REASONS


Last month, we discussed leading female stars’ “career arcs” with some show biz colleagues and most of us agreed that Vilma Santos has had the most interesting and instructive career to date — and her future prospects could be even more remarkable! We have other outstanding female stars who’ve won all sorts of awards, essayed a great variety of roles with distinction, and enjoyed a nationwide influence beyond their show biz context.

Major Crises – But, Vilma has done more, gone further and weathered major crises besides, so she’s in a category all her own. See if you agree: Vilma started her career as a child star, and this made her grow up in a hurry. Unlike many other child talents who stop getting offers at the onset of adolescence, Vilma kept right on working in front of the TV-movie cameras, all the way to pang-kilig teenybopper roles, her precocious love team with Edgar Mortiz, and young-adult roles. Financial reverses pulled her down momentarily, but Vilma fought back and paid her debts, eliciting the admiration of entertainment industry leaders, who were surprised and gratified to see that the “cute” star had true grit going for her, as well. Then came another challenge that threatened her career’s continuing upward trajectory: Vilma had been acting her heart out in her starrers, but she always seemed to end up second-best to Nora Aunor when it came to awards. As a result, Vilma took a hard look at her options, and decided to concentrate on relatively daring roles that Nora felt incapable of doing full justice to.

Challenging Roles – This meant that Vilma would go for challenging roles like the tragic stripper in “Burlesk Queen,” the demented lead in “Dama de Noche,” and the modern, conflicted wife in “Relasyon!” Happily, Vilma’s daring gamble worked: Viewers didn’t feel that she had “cheapened” herself. Many awards came her way, and the industry finally saw Nora and Vilma as co-equal queens, not only of the box office, but also of movie awards competitions. Later, Vilma’s thespic stock went up even further when she played an activist nun in “Sister Stella L.” Not only did the difficult role stretch Vilma’s limits, but it also made her “relevant” in terms of social issues, as “Minsa’y Isang Gamu-Gamo” had earlier done for Nora. This new sensitivity to extra-show biz concerns peaked when Vilma married rising politician, Ralph Recto. Soon, she herself ran for office, and served Lipa City well as its mayor for nine formative and affirmative years. Her constituents’ approval of her tenure invited her to dream bigger in political terms, and she ended up in a hard-fought campaign that made her the governor of Batangas province. Sure, Vilma’s focus on politics for the past decades has limited her show biz involvement, but her colleagues have supported her in her new endeavor, because she has proven that some stars can do more than entertain.

Female TV-movie Luminary – Yes, male stars like Fernando Poe Jr. and Joseph Estrada have done the same, but it’s gratifying to see that a female TV-movie luminary like Vilma can also serve the nation. To date, Vilma’s political posts have been local and provincial in nature, but her recent triumph at the polls has made some “queenmakers” dream of next pointing her toward running for a national position — as senator, or even higher! At the moment, this sounds like a fantasy, but stranger things have been known to happen in this country, where show biz and politics are — very comfortable bedfellows!

Tandem – It’s interesting to note that, some years ago, we saw the Ralph-Vilma tandem eventually contesting the top post in the land with Kiko-Sharon, Mar-Korina, or other, yet-unheralded politics-and-show biz pairings. — And now? Will it be Vilma-Ralph, instead? In any case, Vilma has been scrupulously learning her political lessons, so she could decide to take the “big step” without waiting for another decade to elapse. Adding to her confidence is the fact that, although she’s rarely seen on the big and small screen these days, she remains a popular star and her movies have continued to hit it big at the box office — evincing a popularity that she can make full use of in a national election. So, will she, or won’t she? Whatever the future holds, Vilma is our leading female TV-movie luminary to date — and the Star for All Seasons is now also the Star for Many More Reasons! – Inquirer, 08/18/2007

THE TEN BEST FILMS OF VILMA SANTOS


Sa history ng pelikulang lokal, sadyang namumukod-tangi si VILMA SANTOS dahil hindi lang sa larangan ng pag-arte siya nagtagumpay kundi pati na rin sa pulitika. Pagkatapos ng siyam na taong paglilingkod bilang mayor ng Lipa City, tinanghal naman siyang governor ng buong lalawigan ng Batangas. Nagsimula si Ate Vi bilang child actress noong 1963 sa pelikulang Tudis Liit ng Sampaguita Pictures nang siya ay siyam na taong gulang lamang. Nakipagtagisan siya ng talino sa dalawang batikang aktres nang panahong iyon, sina Gloria Romero at Lolita Rodriguez. Naging positibo ang reception ng publiko kay Ate Vi kaya naman nagkasunod-sunod ang movies niya as a child actress. Sa kanyang makumpletong filmography, makikita ninyong walang patlang ang paggawa ni Ate Vi ng pelikula. Hindi siya nagaya sa ibang child stars na sa transition from childhood to adolescence ay nawala sa eksena at tuluyang nagretiro, o kaya’y bumalik na lang noong teenager na sila. Noong naging 16 years old si Ate Vi in 1970, she became a teen idol and made a staggering total of 27 movies for one year alone. Malayung-malayo nga sa mga artista ngayon na isa o dalawang pelikula lang ang nagagawa taun-taon. She was truly in demand then! And to think may regular TV show pa siya at that time sa ABS CBN, ang D’ Senations na later on ay isinapelikula rin.

HINDI MADALING GAWIN – Ang assignment namin dito ay itala ang ten best films na nagawa ni Ate Vi at, sa totoo lang, hindi madaling gawin ito dahil nga napakarami niyang nagawang magagandang pelikula through the years. As a child star, pinakagusto namin ang kanyang Ging sa Premiere Productions. Street urchin siya ritong anak ng lumpong si Olivia Cenizal na natuklasan sa movies at sumikat bilang child star. Sa teenage phase ng kanyang career, ang most memorable movies niya for us ay ang Renee Rose (gumanap siya bilang isang sikat na artistang may mahigpit na stage mother, played by Lilia Dizon, at dahil dito ay nalaktawan niya ang kanyang kabataan and she often behaves like a child), Inspiration (directed by the late Ishmael Bernal, this is a well-written teen romance at ang nakatambal niya ay ang yumaong Jay Ilagan), Takbo, Vilma, Dali (this is and effective suspense-thriller directed by the late Joey Gosiengfaiao and Vilma played a witness to a crime na hinahabol ng killer), Dama de Noche (dito niya napanalunan ang first Famas best actress award niya and she is totally convincing in a dual role bilang magkapatid na kambal na ang isa ay mabait at ang isa ay baliw), Lipad, Darna, Lipad (this is her first Darna movie, a trilogy na naging blockbuster hit and established her as a top box office actress), Nakakahiya? (this is about a scandalous May-December romance na ang kapareha niya ay ang nasirang Eddie Rodriguez na pwede na niyang maging ama, naging big hit ito kaya nagkaroon pa ng sequel na Hindi Nakakahiya), at Tag-ulan Sa Tag-araw (directed by Celso Ad Castillo, ang first movie nila ni Christopher de Leon tungkol sa magpinsang-buo na umibig sa isa’t isa).

Natitiyak naming kayo ay may sariling paborito sa mga pelikulang ginawa ni Ate Vi. Tiyak na marami ring may gusto sa Pagputi Ng Uwak, Pag-itim Ng Tagak (a love story about a rebel, Bembol Roco, and a violinist, Ate Vi, na siya mismo ang nag-produce sa kanyang VS Films at dinirek ni Celso Ad Castillo), Rubia Servios (dito siya unang dinirek ni Lino Brocka and she played a rape victim who later gets to kill her rapist, Philipp Salvador), Tagos Ng Dugo (isa siyang serial killer dito, directed by Maryo J. de los Reyes), Kapag Langit Ang Humatol (a well-told komiks melodrama directed by Laurice Guillen), Anak (she played an OFW na may gap sa anak niyang si Claudine Barretto, directed by Rory Quintos), Bata-Bata Paano Ka Ginawa? (adapted from Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel, she played a liberal single mother who asserts herself, directed by Chito Roño) and Dekada ’70 (again adapted from a Lualhati Bautista novel and directed by Chito Roño, tungkol ito sa isang ina noong panahon ng martial lwa).

OUR PERSONAL CHOICES – Para sa amin, ang aming personal choices are the following:

article pic 0031. SISTER STELLA L (1984) Mula kay Mother Lily Monteverde ng Regal Films, ito ang most socially relevant film na ginawa ni Ate Vi, masterfully directed by Mike de Leon, written by Ricky Lee. Hinakot nito ang karamihan sa tropeo ng Urian Awards for that year, including best picture, best actress for Ate Vi, best actor for Jay Ilagan, best supporting actress for Laurice Guillen, and best supporting actor for Tony Santos, Sr. Si Vilma ang gumaganap bilang title-roler, isang apolitical nun na ang dating boyfirend ay naging isang journalist (Jay) na tumutulong sa mga inaaping manggagawa sa pangunguna ng labor leader na si Ka Dencio (Tony). Ang kapwa niya madreng si Sister Stella B. (Laurice) ang nagpakita sa kanya kung paano sila magiging mas makabuluhan by serving the people’s struggle for social justice. Ipinakita ritong dapat tayong makisangkot sa mga suliranin ng lipunan para magkaroon ng mabuting pagbabago sa sistema. Hindi pwedeng neutral ka lang na ayaw ma-involve. Kahit na nga member ka ng religious community, dapat ding makisangkot ka sa socio-political affairs. Ang talumpati ni Ate Vi nang maging militanteng madre na siya pagkatapos mapatay si Ka Dencio (“Kung ‘di tayo kikilos, sino’ngkikilos? Kung ‘di ngayon, kailan pa?”) ay talaga namang nakakaantig ng damdamin.

2. IKAW AY AKIN (1978)Member kami ng Urian Awards nung ’78 at ang pelikulang ito, produced by Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, ang siyang ipinaglaban namin para manalo ng best picture. Hindi ito sinang-ayunan ng karamihan sa mga kapwa namin Manunuri dahil mas pinili nila ang Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim Ng Tagak, dahil may elemento raw ng kaapihan ng magsasaka at ng reporma sa lupa. (Ang tanging consolation ng Ikaw Ay Akin ay nanalo si Christopher de Leon ng kanyang first Urian best actor award.) Years later, some of the Manunuri members who voted for Pagputi told us they regretted the decision dahil obvious namang Ikaw Ay Akin ang pelikula na talagang withstood the test of time, written by Jose Carreon and directed by Ishmael Bernal. Wala itong pretensiyon na nagpapa-socially relevant but it deals so effectively on the matter of how human beings and relantionships can at once be simple and complex. Malayo nga ito sa usual love triangle flicks na puno ng melodramang iyakan, although Christopher as Rex is also turn between Vilma Santos as Sandra, a kooky and neurotic artist designer, and Nora Aunor as Tere, an orchid expert. Ang mga salimuot ng menage-a-trois na ito ay sensitively laid out para makita ng viewer ang sakit at ligaya , at dusa at saya na dinaraanan ng bawa’t tauhan. Sa ending, nothing is really resolved. Basta nagtitinginan lang sina Nora at Vilma sa isa’t isa nang walang dialogue for five minutes. This is a very daring move, lalo na’t ang local viewers ay yung tipong gustong matiyak kung kanino ba talaga napunta si Boyet, kay Vi o kay Guy? Pero si Bernal ay walang pakialam with fulfilling viewer expectations. Basta ang gusto niya ay mailarawan niya ang mensahe ng movie.: that no one can totally, absolutely, fully own another human being. The best thing is to understand ang pangangailangan ng isang tao at mahalin mo ito according to his limitations. Sabi nga ni Boyet kay Guy: “Kailangan ako ni Sandra hindi lang sa pisikal kundi sa emosyonal din, tulad ng pangangailangan ko sa ‘yo. Sa kanya, nagkakaroon ako ng gamit. Kailangan ko kayong dalawa para mabuo ako.” Sabi naman niya kay Vi: “Si Tere, tinanggap nang hindi niya ako maaangkin nang buong-buo. Kung sasabihin mong nakuha mo ako ng buong buo ang isang bagay, kulang pa rin.” Grabe rin ang galing ng acting dito ni Vi sa tagpong inilantad niya ang kanyang sarili as an insecure woman: “Sabi nila, liberated ako, front lang. Kalong daw, front din. Alam mo namang kulang-kulang ako. ‘Pag wala ka, magkakalat ako. Para akong manok, takbo nang takbo, wala namang ulo!”

3. DALAWANG PUGAD, ISANG IBON (1977) A commercial and artistic success written and directed by Ishmael Bernal, love triangle movie rin ito that banked on the real life romance then of its lead stars, Vilma and Romeo Vasquez. Si Vilma ay si Terry, na iniwanan ng kanyang immature boyfriend (Mat Ranillo III at sumama sa isang lalaking may asawa (Romeo) sa kabila ng pagtutol ng mga magulang niya. Pwede itong naging mediocre romantic melodrama pero nagtagumpay si Bernal na i-elevate ito to art by giving us mature, sensitive characters who, like most of us, are looking for meaningful personal relationships. Tinalakay sa movie (in a very sutle manner) ang legal and moral implications ng adultery o pakikiapid ng isang dalaga sa isang married man, lalo na nga’t society shuns such sinful relationships. Ang relasyon nina Vilma at Romeo ay reflected sa relasyon ng iba pang mga tauhan sa movie, tulad ng sa mother ni Vilma (Anita Linda) at ng ama niyang nagtataksil din (Fred Montilla), sa lola ni Vi (Mary Walter),sa first boyfriend niya (Mat) at sa babaeng may gusto rito (Ann Villegas) at kapatid nitong pokpok (Laila Dee), at sa misis ni Romeo (Anna Gonzales) na ayaw siyang pakawalan kahit hindi naman sila magkasundo. Kung may pelikula si Ate Vi na nasasabik kaming panoorin uli, ito ‘yon. Kaya lang, wala na yatang existing copy ito at nakasama sa movies produced by Lea Productions na nasunog o nasira sa baha. What a big waste. Sayang talaga.

relasyon4. RELASYON (1982) Ito ay isa pang pelikula ni Ishmael Bernal sa Regal Films na tumatalakay sa subject ng adultery from the point of view of the other woman, si Marilou (Vilma), ang mistress ni Christopher de Leon na pinaglilingkuran siya ng buong puso: pinaglalaba siya, binibigyan ng beer at inaalagan pa ang anak niya mula sa legal wife niya. Ipinakita rin sa feministic movie na aito ang pagka-chauvinist ng mga lalaking Pinoy. Gusto’y sila lagi ang masusunod at ni ayaw makakausap ng ibang lalaki ang babae nila, tulad ng aversion ni Christopher kay Jimi Melendez sa kuwento, at pati na rin sa kaibigang bading ni Ate Vi na si Manny Castañeda. Tinalakay rin sa movie ang subject ng kawalan ng divorce sa Pilipinas, dahil kung may diborsiyo raw ditom sana ay pinakasalan na ni Boyet si Vi. Narito sa pelikulang ito, which scored for Ate Vi her first grand slam as best actress, ang famous death scene ni Boyet na namimilipit sa sakit habang inirereklamo ang masakit niyang ulo at tarantang-taranta naman si Ate Vi na hindi malaman ang gagawin. Tuhog ang kuha sa mahabang eksenang ito and the acting is really great kaya dito pa lang ay sulit na ang panonood ninyo.

5. BROKEN MARRIAGE (1983)Nagwagi rin ng Urian best actress award si Ate Vi para sa acting niya sa pelikulang ito na muli ay produced ng Regal Films. As the title implies, tungkol ito sa isang nasirang marriage. Si Vi ay si Ellen, isang TV production executive, at si Boyet ay si Rene, isang newspaper reporter. Pagkatapos ng sampung taong pagsasama, kinakalawang na ang relasyon nila bilang mag-asawa. Dahil lagi na lang silang nag-aaway, umalis si Rene mula sa tahanan nila at si Ellen ay naging single parent sa dalawa nilang anak. Nang manakawang ang bahay nila, lumipat si Ellen at mga anak nila sa bahay ng nanay niya. Nang mabugbog si Rene ng mga tauhan ng isang politiko dahil sa expose niya, napilitan siyang muling pumisan kina Ellen at dito rin muling nabuo ang pagsasama nila bilang mag-asawa, resulting into a reconciliation. May dalawang mahabang arias dito si Ate Vi na talagang lutang na lutang ang kahusayan niya. Una’y ang monologue niya sa piling ng mga kaibigan na pinagtatapatan niyang bagot a bagot na siya sa buhay. Susunod ay sa eksena niya with Boyet na sinasabi niyang hindi sila magkakabalikan nang dahil lang sa mga bata. Hindi rin malilimutan ang unang confrontation scene nila sa movie na natural na natural ang away nila bilang mag-asawang na-alienate na ang loob sa isa’t isa.

6. SAAN NAGTATAGO ANG PAG-IBIG (1987)Sa aming talaang ito, ito lamang ang pelikula ni Ate Vi na hinango sa isang nobelang komiks. This was shown in the same year as Tagos ng Dugo (na siayang nagpanalo sa kanya ng isa pang Famas best actress award), pero hindi namin naibigan ang performance niya rito as it was so palpably engineered, pati ang ibang movements niya na ang nakikita mo sa likuran niya ay ang instructions na bigay ng direktor kung ano ang gagawin niya. That year, ang choice namin for best actress ay si Lorna Tolentino sa anti-heroin role niya in Maging Akin Ka Laman ni Lino Brocka. But we will alwyas love Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-ibig, na dinerek ni Eddie Garcia, dahil may kakaibang tama ito sa puso. Sa kuwrnto, si Vilma ay nabuntis ni Ricky Davao pero hindi siay mapakasalan nito dahil sa mamanahin mula sa kanilang dominanteng lola, the late Alicia Vergel, na inaapi-api pati ang ina ni Ricky, si Gloria Romero, who gives a great performance. Ang ginawa ni Ricky a kinumbinsi si Vilma na pakasal sa kanyang kapatid na retarded, si Val, played by Tonton Gutierrez, para aito ang magbigay ng pangalan sa magiging supling niya. Pumayag si Ate Vi at doon na nga siya natira sa malaking bahay ng pamilya nina Ricky at Tonton. Dahil doon, mababago ang takbo nga buhay ng pamilyang ito dahil si Vilma ang magsisilbing agent of change who will defy the matriach taht is Alicia Vergel. Mabubunyag din kung pano nagkaroon ng pinsala si Tontion sa utak. Maraming madamdaming eksena sa pelikula na talagang titimo sa inyong puso. Sa ending, there is justice dahil nagkamit ng karampatang parusa ang mga nagkasala.

pahiram7. PAHIRAM NG ISANG UMAGA (1989) Namatay si Ate Vi sa pelikulang ito sa papel niya bilang Juliet, isang advertising executive na dinapuan ng cancer, but the film, produced by Regal Films, written by Jose Javier Reyes and directed by Ishmael Bernal, is really more a celebration of life. Pagkatapos malaman ni Juliet na may taning na ang buhay niya, ginugol niya ang mga natitira niyang araw para ilagay sa ayos ang kanyang buhay. Nakipagkasundo siya sa kanyang estranged husband (Gabby Concepcion) na may iba nang asawa (Zsa Zsa Padilla) at inihabilin dito ang anak nila (Billy Joe Crawford). Maraming simbolo and motifs ng buhay at kamatayang ginamit din ang expressionist painter na si Ariel (Eric Quizon) ina an impressive performance) para ipakita ang parallelisms between life and art. In one scene, tinalakay pati ang origins ng art when prehistoric men made drawings on caves na kahit primitive ay they continue to exist until this day. people may die, but art will live on. Ironically, si Ariel ay isang tormented soul who wants to kill himself. Pero iniligtas siya ni Juliet, a dying woman na hindi na maililigtas ang sarili niyang buhay. The grand death scene of Juliet on the beach habang nakasuot siya ng puting night gown haang nagbubukang-liwayway, sa ‘di kalayuan ay isa sa mga ‘di-malilimutang paglalarawan ng buhay at kamatayan na maing napanood sa pinilakang tabing.

8. HAHAMAKIN ANG LAHAT (1990) Produced by Regal Films, dinirek ito ni Lino Brocka and we honestly believe na very much underrated ito. Ang tanging award na pinanalunan nito ay best supporting actress award for Snooky Serna (na very deserving). Nirepaso nga namin ang aming listahang ito at napansin naming ito lang ang movie ni Ate Vi na dinirek ni Brocka which is included in our list. Mas marami kaming isinaling pelikula ni Ate Vi na dinirek ni Bernal. Actually, may iba pang ginawang movies si Ate Vi with the legendary director, tulad ng nabanggit na rin naming Rubia Servios (kunsaan tinalo siya ni Ate Guy as best actress for Atsay in the 1978 Metro Manila Film Festival) at ang Adultery: Aida Macaraeg with Philipp Salvador and the late Mario Montenegro. Pero para sa amin, this is Ate Vi’s best Brocka movie and one of her best and most demanding roles sa mga nagampanan na niya. Vilma plays an anti-heroin, si Sylvia, isang bida-kontabida. Asawa siya ng isang gahamang mayor (Eric Quizon), na piangtataksilan siya. Nang muli niyang makatagpo ang una niyang pag-ibig, si Rene (Gabby Concepcion) ay pinagsikapan niyang makuhang muli ang pagtingin nito kahit kasal na rin ito sa ibang babae (Snooky). Sa kanya nga patungkol ang titulo ng movie dahil hahamakin niya ang lahat maagaw lang muli ang dati niyang pag-ibig. Dati, akala niya, magiging maligaya siya sa mga materyal na bagay at pati ang mahirap niyang ina (Perla Bautista) ay nagawa niyang itakwil. Nguni’t natanto niyang wala sa pera o sa kapangyarihan ang tunay na kaligayahan kundi nasa tunay na pag-ibig. Ang hindi niya alam, paghahangad niyang maibalik ang nakaraan ay hahantong lamang sa isang malagim na trahedya. Sadyang mapanghamon ang role ni Ate Vi rito na tuso, matapang, sinungaling at manggagamit ng kapwa tao. Mapupuri mo nga siya dahil hindi siya natatakot kumuha ng ganitong klase ng roles (gaya rin ng role niya sa Sinasamba Kita) na pwedeng maka-alienate sa kanyang fans. She’s definitely more adventurous as an actress. Kaso ang nakalaban niya that year ay si Nora Aunor who played a more sympathetic role bilang inang nagpakasakait alang-alang sa ikabubuti ng anak sa Andrea, Paano Ba Ang Maging Isang Ina? kaya mahuhulaan na ninyo kung sino ang nagwagi ng best actress awards for the year.

9. BURLESK QUEEN (1977) Humakot ng lahat ng tropeo sa 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival, tribute ito sa stage shows noong ’50s. Sinulat ni Mauro Gia Samonte at dinirek ni Celso Ad Castillo, dito unang nagpa-sexy si Ate Vi at talagang big blockbuster ito. Kuwento ito ng isang batambatang burlesque dancer noong 1950s, played by Ate Vi. Nagsimula siya bilang alalay ng isang reigning burlesque queen, si Rosemarie Gil, na kabit ang maton na si roldan Aquino. Nang iwana ni Roldan si Rosemarie, naglasing ito at ayaw nang sumayaw kaya si Vilma ang isinalang bilang kapalit niya sa entablado. Maiinit ang naging pagtanggap ng mga lalaking manonood kay Vilma, pero ang maprinsipyong ama niyang lumpo (Leopoldo Salcedo) ay tutol sa ginagawa niya. Dahil naghihirap sila, nasunod din ang gusto ni Vilma na maging burlesk dancer. Nagpatiwakal ang ama niya dahil dito. Umibig naman si Vilma sa isang iresponsableng lalaki na nakipag-live in dito, si Rollie Quizon, na isa palang mama’s boy at hindi sanay sa hirap kaya nilayasan din siya. Ang climax ng movie ay ang may sampung minutong pagsasayaw ni Vilma sa entablado hanggang duguin siya. Buntis pala siya at gusto niya talagang malaglag ang dinadala niya. Maganda ang maraming elemento sa movie, malian sa production design na 1950s ang setting pero hindi maingat kaya maraming detalye na pang-19702 ang kasama rito. Very memorable din dito si Jonee Gamboa sa papel ng stage impresario an siyang nagsasatining ng mga opinyon ng writer at direktot na pinupuna ang hypocrisy ng mga moralista, tulad ng pagtatanong niya kung anong uri ng show ang dapat ibigay sa masang Pinoy na hindi kayang magbayad ng pang-mayaman at kulturadong shows tulad ng operang Merry Widow. Sayang at wala na rin daw existing copy ng pelikulang ito.

10. DOLZURA CORTEZ STORY: DAHIL MAHAL KITA (1993) Ito ang unang pelikulang lokal na nagsiwalat tungkol sa sakit na AIDS at filmbio ito ng kuna-unahang Pilipino na umaming may AIDS siya, si olzura Cortez, na ang kuwento ay nalathala sa dyaryo. Sinulat ni Ricky Lee, dinirek ni Laurice Guillen at produced ng Octo Arts Films, bida-kontrabida rin ang papel ni Ate Vi rito in the title role. Hindi siya yung usual heroine na walang bahid-dungis at inaapi. Dito, isa siyang makasalanang babae na nagbili ng katawan, nagkaroon ng affairs sa maraming lalaki, hanggang sa dapuan nga siya ng dreaded sickness called AIDS. Muli ngang naka-grand slam si Ate Vi sa role niya sa pelikulang ito. The same year, meron ding nagawang movie si Ate Guy, ang Inay na dinirek ng yumaong Artemio Marquez, pero hindi man lang siya naging nominee para sa pagkakaganap niya roon. That year, dalawang movies ang nagawa ni Ate Vi. Ang isa pa ang ang action-dramang Ikaw Lang ni Chito Roño, na in fairness ay mahusay rin siya sa papel ng battered wife ng baliw na si Cesar Montano an naging bank robber kasama si Ronnie Ricketts. Pero sa Dolzura Cortez nga pinarangalan si Ate Vi dahil talaga namang very convincing ang pagkakaganap niya bilang isang babaeng lumaban sa buhay alang-alang sa kanyang pamilya, nguni’t sa kasamaang-palad ay iginupo ng isang sakit na walang lunas. Malusog na malusog si Ate Vi nang gawin niya ang pelikulang ito, pero very convincing siya sa paglalarawan ng isang babaeng may malubhang sakit at malapit nang bawian ng buhay. Dahil nga sa pelikulang ito, nagkaroon ng higit na kamulatan ang publiko ungkol sa sakit na AIDS.

BEST MOVIE IS YET TO COME – Kung magdagdag kami ng isa pang Ate Vi movie sa aming listahan, it will be another work of Laurice Guillen, ang Ipagpatawad Mo, where Ate Vi played the mother of an autistic boy na ipinaglaban ang anak niya kahit may kapansanan ito. At dahil aktibo pa rin si Ate Vi at may bagong movie na nakatakdang gawin sa Star Cinema, hindi pa tapos ang pagsulat sa history niya bilang isang actress. Kahait gobernadora na siya ang Batangas, lalabas pa rin daw siya sa movies every now and then. Who knows? Baka he really, really best movie is yet to come habang mas nagmamature siya, like fine wine, bilang isang actress for all seasons. – Mario Bautista, Hi! Magazine Dec 2007

PROUDLY FILIPINA (Videos)


Proudly Filipina is a magazine show on QTV-11 focused on women achievers. Originally hosted by Daphne Oseña-Paez in 2006 but was replaced by beauty title holder/actress, Charlene Gonzales in 2008. The show was cancelled in 2009.

Charlene Mae Gonzales Bonnin Muhlach is a television and film personality and former beauty queen from the Philippines. Gonzalez won the Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 1994 title and represented her country at the Miss Universe 1994 pageant held in Manila, where she won the Best National Costume award and was one of the top 6 finalists. Born to actor Bernard Bonnin and model Elvira Gonzales, on 1 May 1974, she has a brother, actor Richard Bonnin. She married Filipino actor Aga Muhlach on May 24, 2001, and they have twin children born in 2001 named Andrés and Atasha. She is also a talk show host and a commercial model (Wikepedia).

RELATED READING:
Charlene Gonzalez joins QTV-11 to host “Proudly Filipina”
Charlene Gonzalez is the new face of “Proudly Filipina”
Charlene is Proudly Filipina
Daphne Oseña-Paez sets motherhood as priority over “Proudly Filipina”
Official Web-site: Daphne Oseña-Paez