Saturday, December 31, 2011

Burlesk Queen: Onto The Height of Pathos

The title, Burlesk Queen, with its Tagalized spelling of “burlesque,” immediately striking up an image of novelty and distinction all its own, and inspired by the actual period of Philippine entertainment in the 50s and 60s, is rooted in concrete historical perspective contributing immensely to its achievement of exemplary unity in film art.

To film buffs like Ricky Lee, who at the time was only just beginning to mull the idea of turning scriptwriter, it became necessary to check the shooting script of Burlesk Queen, ostensibly for the festival committee, but in reality, I didn’t bothered to find out. He didn’t get to realize that with Castillo, what script is written on the typewriter is barely half of the work one gets to finally see on film; the other half is written on the spot as an imperative of the limitations in local filmmaking, like creativity on the set, lack of logistics for production design or camera requirements, etc. That—on the spot scriptwriting—happens to be my cup of tea, which figures perfectly with Castillo’s creative style, method of work, whatever you may want to call it. Lee, definitely, won’t get to first base with Castillo in such a methodology. At any rate, the best proof of the pudding is the tasting, never mind who the baker is.

Burlesk Queen opens with Virgie Knight (Rosemarie Gil) performing onstage. Traditionally movies begin by establishing the main character. Does Virgie’s opening dance defy the tradition? Not at all. Virgie may be taking time a bit too much in her dance so that she impresses the spectator as the main character in the story, but what is transpiring onstage is not an actress delineating a role but rather an image, an idea, of which the dancer is a mere representation. And what is that image, that idea?

Burlesque. And under the principle of montage, when two representations are juxtaposed to each other, i.e., joined together, the juxtaposition produces a qualitatively different theme. By making the idea, image of burlesque as its opening number, Burlesk Queen upholds revered canons for artistic expression. On aesthetics in general, the film conforms perfectly with the Aristotlean test for art: “at once, brilliant, beautiful and whole.” Burlesque is a thematically-hewn visual delight, appearing as sudden as the opening shot. By literary standard, Burlesk Queen conforms to the dictum of story development proceeding from the development of the main character. The actual start of the story is Chato’s (Vilma Santos’) affectation by the main theme, the burlesque dance. Adherents of montage will amaze at the theme of burlesque, from scene one onward, permeating every scene and every detail of these scenes with astonishing, exquisite, if tedious, consistency.

Note this story flow. After Virgie’s performance, she and Chato take snack at an eatery, Chato expressing her desire to dance burlesque like Virgie so as to earn a big sum by which to buy her crippled father a wheelchair. Coming home, Chato excitedly relates to her father, Mang Roque (Leopoldo Salcedo), how nice Virgie’s dancing is—burlesque. In relating thus, Chato does hip bumps and gyrations— burlesque. Mang Roque expresses aversion to Chato’s job as attendant to—burlesque. All the way to Mang Roque’s distaste for the food pasalubong Chato brings him which he says he cannot stomach for being a proceed of . . . burlesque.

Even up to this point only, it becomes clear that the film has had a firm grasp of the tenets of montage, has grappled with, and has overcome, the problem of building compositional structure for achieving organic unity. But the extent of such unity must go all the way to the climax where the desired pathos must be experienced, so that the testing of the validity of this observation must be continued all the way to the finale.

What comes next? Virgie goes home to her own third-rate flat, swinging to a boogie tune from a transistor radio slung by a hand on her shoulder. The gait, the sway, the music, including the erratic electric light that goes on and off — all of these effect a retention of the aura of the burlesque theater. The ensuing quarrel between her and lover Ander (Roldan Aquino) centers on Virgie’s failure to get further advance payment for her dancing, what else but burlesque? For failing to give Ander the money he needs, Virgie is deserted by him then and there, and as he steps out of the house (off-frame), banging the door shut, the impact causes the light to turn off for good—certainly the theatrical way of ending an episode of a show as well as a transition to the next episode.

And what transpires next? In a flat-like Virgie’s, the morning after, a rough-edged, if attractive, cheaply-sexy-looking woman who Ander, in his lines, reveals as a nightclub hostess (Dexter Doria) is urging him to get dressed pronto (he is naked in bed, his front covered only with a pillow—isn’t this burlesque!) and accompany her to the dressmaker to get an outfit she had ordered. In one respect, aside from being exposed (his nakedness does this) now as a gigolo victimizing women in the flesh trade, Ander serves as the unifying thread with the immediately preceding scene with Virgie. In another respect, the club hostess’ urging Ander to accompany her to the dressmaker is a crafty method for making the aberrant Ander to stay on-line, i.e., stay within the theme. For at that very moment, who should be figuring in the dressmaker’s shop but, yes, Virgie, trying on a new costume for her stage act, again yes, burlesque.

This dress shop sequence is a particularly interesting specimen for study. What are its elements? Virgie trying on her new costume. Chato snickering at the window with a friend as she exchanges naughty glances with Jessie (Rolly Quizon, presented here for the first time), who is playing pool with barkada across the street. The arrival of Ander and the club hostess, who engages Virgie in a verbal tussle over burlesque. Lowly folks crowding in the surroundings, as audience in a theater. While a pair of musician beggars endlessly play a violin and percussion instrument, rendering music that completes the theater atmosphere.

Truly, indeed, as montage requires, a film to be art must conform to the law governing organic unity in natural phenomena. Lenin, the great leader of the Russian proletarian revolution under whose influence Eisenstein developed the montage theory, puts it this way: “…the particular does not exist outside that relationship which leads to the general. The general exists only in the particular, through the particular.”

Hence in Burlesk Queen, scene after scene, and detail after detail to their minutest proportions within each scene, nothing exists that is not within the central theme of burlesque. In this dress shop sequence, Virgie makes like unaffected by Ander’s having completely abandoned her for the club hostess, but in the dressing room where she repairs to after the verbal clash, she gives vent to all her sorrow from having lost Ander forever. At precisely this point, Chato is exchanging love gazes with Jessie. Here we have a pretty lucid illustration of a rule in dramaturgy that has been a tradition of Greek tragedies whereby qualitative leaps in thematic development are always in the opposite. Chato’s joy at a nascent love affair with Jessie is contraposed to Virgie’s grief brought about by the end of her relationship with Ander. Yet though such qualitative leaps go separate ways, they stay confined within a seeming thematic parallel by which both leaps contribute to the building of a compositional structure necessary to maintain the organic unity begun earlier on at the opening. Virgie drops into depression and is so drunk during one burlesque presentation in the theater that she is not able to answer the call when her number comes. Now, who should come onstage to take Virgie’s place just so to placate a maddened crowd but a young dancer—Chato!

Love and hate, joy and sorrow, emotions going their separate ways, but perfectly maintained within the never-for-a-moment-missed parameters of the central theme of burlesque. More than bare feelings, the emotions actually represent images building up for another qualitative leap in the drama by which to finally attain, along strict criteria of Greek tragedies, the ultimate height of pathos. - Mao Gia Samonte, Manila Times, February 12, 2009

Thursday, December 29, 2011


“Kung Inutil kayo, Di Inutil kayo. Wala naman tayong magagawa kung yan ang gusto ng Diyos para sa inyo.” - Chato

Basic Information: Direction: Celso Ad Castillo; Adapted screenplay: Mauro Gia Samonte, Celso Ad Castillo; Original screenplay: Mauro Gia Samonte; Cast: Vilma Santos, Rolly Quizon, Rosemarie Gil, Leopoldo Salcedo, Roldan Aquino, Chito Ponce Enrile, Dexter Doria, Yolanda Luna, Joonee Gamboa; Original Music: George Canseco; Cinematography: Benjamin L. Lobo; Editing: Abelardo Hulleza, Joe Mendoza; Production Design: Jose Tamayo Cruz; Sound: Gregorio Ella

Plot Description: To support her paralytic father, Chato (Vilma Santos) works as a utility girl for a burlesque star Virgie Nite (Rosemary Gil). But when Virgie gets drunk on the night of her scheduled show, Chato pitches in for her. And she becomes an instant sensation. Enthused by the initial acceptance of the audience, she defies her father's admonitions and presents herself to the manager. And thus, becoming the new burlesque queen. - IMDB

Film Achievements: Philippines' Official Entry to the 1978 Berlin Film Festival (official citation not verified); Metro Manila Film Festival - Best Actress - Vilma Santos, Best Picture - Ian Films, Best Actor - Rolly Quizon, Best Director - Celso Ad Castillo, Bet Supporting Actor - Rosemarie Gil, Best Supporting Actor - Johnee Gamboa, Best Screenplay - Celso Ad Castillo, Mauro Gia Samonte, Best Production Design - Jose Tamayo Cruz, Best Editing - Abelardo Hulleza, Joe Mendoza, Best Musical Score - George Canseco, Festival's Top Grosser; Entry to the 1978 Festival del film Locarno (Switzerland)

Other Film Achievements: FAMAS Best Actress nomination - Vilma Santos; Gawad Urian: Best Picture nomination - Ian Films, Best Actress nomination - Vilma Santos, Best Director nomination - Celso Ad Castillo, Best Supporting Actress nomination - Rosemarie Gil, Best Supporting Actor nomination - Rolly Quizon, Best Screenplay nomination - Mauro Gia Samonte, Best Music nomination - George Canseco, Best Sound nomination - Gregorio Ella

Film Reviews: "...On Burlesk Queen. “Yes, I will never forget that seven-minute dance in the movie. I postponed the shoot of the scene five times. I was so afraid. I performed the dance in front of a real burlesk show audience. I remember the controversy about the Metro Manila Film Festival Awards and the squabble between Rolando Tinio and Lino Brocka. They wanted us to return the trophies. I didn’t return mine. I deserved it. I worked hard for that trophy...” - Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)

Celso Ad. Castillo's Burlesk Queen (Burlesque Queen) is most famous for Vilma Santos' noteworthy performance. She plays Chato, daughter of crippled Roque (Leopoldo Salcedo). She works as assistant to Virgie (Rosemarie Gil), current star of the burlesque stage (the film opens with Gil gyrating to the rapid beatings of drums, to the ecstasy of her numerous patrons). Resisting the lofty wishes of her father, Chato succumbs to the lure of the stage and the money it would bring her. It really is a grand performance as Santos was able to deliver the physical requirements of the role with her inate charismatic aura (a skill that earned the actress legions of fans and eventually elected to public office). Santos' Chato is servile to the men around her (her father, Louie the theater manager (played by Joonee Gamboa in the film's other equally terrific performance) and Jessie (Rolly Quizon), her boyfriend) but when she dances onstage, it doesn't come off as merely sensual and titillating. She dances burlesque to make a statement (if there is such a thing), a statement important enough to die for. More remarkable than Santos' portrayal of the doomed burlesque dancer, is Castillo's filmmaking. Set within the very patriarchal lower class Manila, Castillo posits the burlesque theater as not merely, as impassioned Louie points out, a place for highbrow entertainment for the masses, but also the window for the film's female lead to become superior to her male oppressors. It's a difficult metaphor to execute but Castillo successfully does so. The dancer, scantilly clad amidst the cheers and jeers of horny men, is easily regarded as the victim of exploitation. But in the film's case, the stage becomes the dancer's opportunity for leverage which is impossible in the outside world. The stage provides Chato ease from the outside world's patriarchal clutches. She becomes financially stable on her own, temporarily free from her father's influences, and powerful over thousands of men.

Interestingly, Castillo stages a poetically sequenced scene of Chato's devirginization within the theater. Jessie attempts to make love to Chato inside her dressing room, and the latter submits to the former's sexual advances. Interspersed between their lovemaking (take note of the ballad that plays in the background as the lyrics talk of love amidst the entire world's disapproval, very typical of the romantic declarations that inevitably falter over time) are scenes from the stage, a circus act of horrid penetrations: of a woman being juggled by a man, several magic acts, and more importantly, of a man hammering a nail inside his nostril, then puncturing his eye socket with a metal stick, finally commencing with him swallowing a long blade. Castillo's juxtaposing Chato's first sexual act with acts of unnatural and bizarre penetrations of the human body impart a clear message of invasion, of Chato's theater where she is the goddess (her stage name is Tsarina the goddess) and almighty over all the men who watch her. The theater is no longer the same sanctuary; in a way, the theater's magic has been tainted. She becomes pregnant and decides to stop dancing pursuant to her relationship with Jessie and pregnancy. Her devirginization within the theater becomes symbolic of her surrender to the outside patriarchal forces.

The burlesque is in its dying days. Submitting to the very same patriarchal forces that have established strict moral norms and economic systems, the government has deemed the dance to be lewd and illegal. Louis plans that the final burlesque performance be the best and we become witnesses to the plan's grand execution: a judiciously edited montage of circus acts, musical numbers, costumed dances and finally Chato's coup de grace to both the theater and to herself. In a hypnotized daze with spotlights concentrating on her rhythmic gyrations, she enchants her audience. Once more, she is a goddess, the most powerful person in that wide area full of men. Her reign is shortlived for she is pregnant with Jessie's child and starts bleeding. Castillo cuts to Chato's face, sweaty and in pain and we hear as her heavy breathing joins the rapid beating of the drums. The camera pans down, and we see her belly dangerously shaking as blood continuously flows down her thighs. This is Chato's repentance, a fatal undoing of her naive betrayal of the stage to succumb to patriarchal forces. Chato reluctantly stops and presumably dies as the crowd cheers on.

A jovial and sweet melody replaces the hurried beating of the drums and the boisterous cheers. The theater is empty. The hundred or so seats have no eager men sitting on them. A dusty curtain covers the once vibrant stage. Pictures of the burlesque dancers, more prominently Chato, are on display. Outside, a couple of players, including the Filipino version of Chaplin (complete with the trademark hat and cane of The Tramp), are waiting. They stand up and trod through the alley. The film closes with them walking away from the theater, reminiscent of the bittersweet finales of Charlie Chaplin's comedies (more specifically The Circus (1928) and Modern Times (1936)). Of course, Burlesk Queen is nowhere like Chaplin's films yet the ending feels irresistably apt, an intriguingly ironic hommage. The living remnants of the theater, those bitplayers walking away, have no bright future. Like Chato, the theater is their sanctuary and survival. The real world, the desolate and unfair lower class Manila of which they are ultimately going to, has no place for them. The melody, the memories, and the transient burlesque queen that once charmed a thousand men with the movement of her hips have been drowned by hopelessness. They shall all remain tramps.

Burlesk Queen is much more than a gripping commercial melodrama. It is also a scathing commentary on the sarcastic sexual politics that has become the atmosphere of Philippine society: of hardworking women and the good-for-nothing men they serve (in other words, a patriarchal society gone awry). It is also a fervent reminder of the redemptive and equalizing power of art, which is the reason why it will always be a threat to those who hold power. Multi-faceted, committedly acted, and very well-directed, Burlesk Queen, I opine, is an unsung masterpiece. - Francis Cruz, Lesson from The School Innattention blog

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-de-bobo 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. Nag-insultuhan 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 pare-pareho 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-nang-nagsayaw. 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 December 1977

"...It was in 1977 with an exceptional film, Burlesk Queen, that Castillo got his first critical recognition. Entered in that year's Metro Manila Film Festival, it was adjudged the Best Picture, won for him a Best Director Award as well as nine other artistic awards. It told of a young girl in Manila in the 50's who wanted to become a burlesque dancer. It showed a subdued Castillo. He seemed in his film, to have held back his passion for visual impact to give way to his new mastery of film grammar. His characters cried and whimpered, they did not scream and curse. They delivered dissertations on art, not imprecations of wrath, which has set the pitch of his previous films. The critics fought bitterly over Burlesk Queen. In that festival, he was contending with film makers who enjoyed a high reputation among country's most avid film critics. Upon winning the award, Castillo instantly became the favorite beating boy of the critics who did not appreciate Burlesk Queen...In just a decade, Castillo, with all his audacity and dramatic excesses, has claimed his place as one of the most versatile and genuinely interesting film-makers in the Philippines today..." - Rosauro de la Cruz, Focus On Filipino Films, A Sampling 1951-1982 (READ MORE)

"...This veritable spiritual co-ownership ostensibly has enriched us all, Asians or Asean. It is no mark of a monarchical hauteur to say, for instance, that the films of Celso Ad Castillo, once dubbed as the Messiah of Filipino movies, are contemporaneous in their being a classic. If all these seem contradictory, Celso can easily point to his filmography to prove that there has always been, and will always be, fire in his filmmaker's eyes. His "Burlesk Queen" and "Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak," for one, are now a classic, conscience-searing sociological film tractatus on structutal violence and institutional injustice that probed into the hearts of little people amidst a third world setting as encapsulated in the microscopic life of a poverty-stricken, young woman. It's Rossellini, you would say? Think again...Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak was sent to Sao Paolo, Brazil for the Latin American Film Festival and represented the Philippines at the Asean Film Conference in 1981..." - Celso Ad Castillo Presents web-site (READ MORE)

"...One of the first Filipino filmmakers to invade foreign film festivals abroad with such output as Burlesk Queen and Alamat ni Julian Makabayan (Berlin Film Festival and World Film Festival in Montreal) and Nympha (Venice Film Festival), among others, Celso The Kid returned to his hometown Siniloan, Laguna where he led a quiet life while working on his autobiography...His 1977 film, Burlesk Queen, won 10 out of the 11 awards of the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival but the results were contested by Lino Brocka and defended by juror Rolando Tinio (now National Artists for Film and Theater), respectively. He reflected: “I wanted to vindicate myself as a filmmaker in this movie. The media referred to me as a reluctant artist and a filmmaker who has yet to arrive. Not only did the film run away with awards. It was also the top grosser. It broke the myth that quality films don’s make money in the box-office and commercial films don’t win awards..." - Pablo A. Tariman, The Philippine Star, 28 November 2012 (READ MORE)

"...Rosemarie Gil, like her daughter Cherie, was known for her rich socialite-villain roles, but surprisingly, she was introduced in a religious movie in 1958, in the title role of “Santa Rita de Casia (Patrona ng Imposible)”, opposite Lauro Delgado, who portrayed the saint’s wayward husband. This movie turned out to be a hit, but in the 60s, she married Eddie Mesa (Eddie Eigenmann, in real life), putting her stardom on hold, while her husband, known as the Philippines’ Elvis Presley, enjoyed a flourishing career as a singer and actor. The couple would eventually settle in the U.S., separate and then reconcile. Rosemarie went back to make movies for international release in the 1970s, starting with “Manda” (1970), “Night of the Cobra Woman” (1972), “Master Samurai” (1974), and the remake of “Siete Infantes de Lara” (1973). It was in 1977 that she made her presence felt in the 1977 critically-acclaimed “Burlesk Queen”, starring Vilma Santos. For her role as Virgie Nite, Rosemarie earned a Gawad Urian nomination the following year..." - Alex R. Castro, Views from Pangpang, Feb 21 2011 (READ MORE)

"...It really is a grand performance as Santos was able to deliver the physical requirements of the role with her innate charismatic aura (a skill that earned the actress legions of fans and eventually elected to public office). Santos' Chato is servile to the men around her (her father, Louie the theater manager (played by Joonee Gamboa in the film's other equally terrific performance) and Jessie (Rolly Quizon), her boyfriend) but when she dances onstage, it doesn't come off as merely sensual and titillating. She dances burlesque to make a statement (if there is such a thing), a statement important enough to die for..." - Oggs Cruz, Lessons From the School of Inattention, 29 November 2007 (READ MORE)

"...As for his masterpiece Burlesk Queen (1977)--here's an excerpt of what I wrote about a moment in the film (Chato's deflowering), for Chris Fujiwara's The Little Black Book of Movies: "Celso uses Jessie's smooth back as both veil and metaphor for Chato's nudity, the clothes dropping from overhead hangers as metaphor for her failing inhibitions; what makes the scene erotic and nakedly emotional is Chato's face, glimpsed over Jessie's left shoulder as terror (the widened eyes), greed (the remote expression, as if she were a starving man wolfing down a steak), pain (the startled look of one who has been kicked in the crotch), guilt (the tears) and finally pleasure (the bit lower lip) flit across and mingle in her eyes.” Ad Castillo was not a genius; he was more interesting than that. His films were often incoherent, often inconsistent, sometimes because he didn't have the money, sometimes because he told stories that way--apparently narrative was secondary to him, an excuse to flex his prodigious filmmaking muscles. Of his greatest works--which include but are not limited to Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan; Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak; and Burlesk Queen--his imagery burned incandescent, his filmmaking technique was second to none. If Mike De Leon is Philippine Cinema's mad intellectual, Lino Brocka its fiery social realist, Ishmael Bernal its skeptic-satirist, Mario O'Hara its nightmare scenarist, Celso was its poet laureate--his images were Filipino lyricism incarnate. His passing is an unimaginable loss..." - Noel Vera, Critique After Dark, 06 December 2012 (READ MORE)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


“Hayup! Hayup! Hayuuuup!” - Rubia Servios>

"Nahihibang ako sa pagnanasa sa iyo, ilang libong beses na kitang hinuhubaran sa aking isipan, pinagsasamantalahan sa aking pangarap!...Ito'y isang pagsubok sa ating pagmamahalan, kahit ano pa ang nangyari sa iyo, mahal kita, kailangan kita!..." - Willie Trizon

Basic Information: Direction: Lino Brocka; Screenplay: Mario O'Hara; Cast: Vilma Santos, Mat Ranillo III, Phillip Salvador, Estrella Kuenzler, Esther Chaves, Carpi Asturias, Jess Ramos, Leah de Guzman, Mark Verzosa; Cinematography: Conrado Baltazar; Editing: Jose H. Tarnate; Music: Freddie Aguilar; Production Company: Sampaguita Pictures, Inc.; Release Date: December 25, 1978; "Rubia Servios (Case No. 63572)" (1978); Office Entry to The 4th (1978) Metro Manila Film Festival Entry; Based on an "Unforgettable Legal Story" by Aida Sevilla Mendoza; Theme Song: "Pag-subok" composed and sang by Freddie Aguilar

Plot Description: Sa umpisa ng pelikula, makikitang nag-aaral pa lamang si Rubia (Vilma Santos), Norman Ignacio (Mat Ranillo III) at Willie Trizon (Philip Salvador). Masugid na manliligaw ni Rubia si Willie kahit na alam na nito na may nobyo na siya’t pakakasal na sila sa pagkatapos ng taon. Nang malaman ni Willie na pakakasal na si Rubia ay naging desperado ito’t plinano na kidnapin si Rubia. Isang araw habang naghihintay ito ng taxi sa kalye ay hinablot siya nga pat na lalaki na tauhan ni Willie. Dinalo siya ni Willie sa isang cottage sa Cavite. Nagtangka si Rubia na tumakas at tumakbo sa labas. Duon siya ginahasa ni Willie sa tabing dagat. Matapos gahasain ay nagtangkang magpakalunod si Rubia ngunit pinigil siya ni Willie at binalik sa cottage. Pinag-isipan ni Rubia kung paano niya mapipilit si Willie na pawalan siya. Tinanong niya si Willie kung anong gusto nitong mangyari. Sinabi nitong gusto niyang pakasalan siya.

Pumayag si Rubia na magpakasal ngunit kailangan nitong ipaalam sa kanyang mga magulang ang nangyari sa kanya. Natagpuan naman ng pamilya ni Rubia siya sa ospital at duon nito nagpasya na maghabla. Matapos ang hearing sa korte sa kabila ng pagmamakaawa ng pamilya ni Willie ay nasentensiyahan siya ng anim na taon sa bilanguan at magbayad ng 70,000 pesos. Samantala nanatiling nakakulong sa kuwarto si Rubia matapos ang kaso. Pinilit ni Norman na kausapin ang katipan at dito nalaman niya na ang dahilan ng pagkukulong sa kuwarto ni Rubia’y buntis ito. Pinasya ni Norman na bigyan ng pangalan ang pinabuntis ni Rubia at nagpakasal ang dalawa. Nanatiling tahimik ang buhay ng dalawa’t nagkaroon pa sila ng isa pang anak. Nang 3 years old na ang batang naging anak niya kay Willie’y nag-umpisang mangulo na naman ito. Si Willie’y nakalabas ng kulungan pagkatapos ng tatlong taon lamang. Nung una’y pinagkaila ni Rubia sa asawa ang mga tawag ni Willie. Ngunit napuna na rin ito ni Norman nang mapuna niyang madalas ang asawa na umuuwi ng maaga sa bahay at nag-umpisang uminom ng valium at naging magugulatin ito.

Pinagtapat na rin ni Rubia sa asawa ang panggugulo ni Willie at pumayag ito na payagan si Rubia na makipagkita kay Willie. Nang malaman ni Rubia kung saan sila magkikita’y si Norman ang pumunta sa usapan. Ang resulta’y nabugbog ito ng mga tauhan ni Willie. Dahil rito’y naging maliwanag na hindi sila titigilan ni Willie lalo pa’t minsa’y takutin si Rubia nang wala si Norman sa bahay at pumunta si Willie’t pinatay ang aso nila. Wala naman magawa ang mga polis dahil wala silang hard evidence na si Willie nga’y nanggugulo sa buhay nila. Pinasya ni Norman at Rubia na umalis na nang bansa at bumalik sa Canada kung saan sila ilang taon ring nag-aral bago naging doctor. Pinasya rin nila na ibigay sa kanyang mga magulang ang dalawang bata para sa kanilang safety. Sa kasamaang palad, kinidnap ni Willie ang anak nila ni Rubia na si Vivian. Nagpunta sila sa mga pulis ngunit wala pa ring magawa ang mga ito dahil wala silang ebidensiya. Kinontak ni Willie si Vivian at gusto nitong makipagkita siya rito. Pumayag si Norman ngunit sumonod rin ito sa usapan. Kasama ng kanyang mga alagad iniwanan ni Willie ang magasawa at binantaan na sa susunod magsisisi sila sa kanilang ginawa dahil nga ang usapan ay si Rubia lamang ang gusto niyang makita.

Tinakot pa ni Willie si Rubia’t kumuha ito ng bankay na bata at isinuot ang damit ng anak ni Rubia. Nalathala ito sa mga diyaryo at pinuntahan ni Rubia ang bankay laking pasasalamat nito’t hindi ang anak ang bangkay. Dahil rito’y nagpasya na si Rubia na kitain si Willie na hindi alam ni Norman. Kinita nga ni Rubia si Willie ngunit nasundan rin pala si Rubia ni Norman. Sa tulong ng mga alagad ni Willie ay itinali ng mga ito sa puno si Norman at muling ginahasa nito si Rubia sa harap ni Norman. Nagsisigaw ito ngunit walang siyang nagawa. Kahit ayaw ni Rubia ay napapayag rin siya dahil papatayin ni Willie ang kanyang asawa. Pagkatapos nito’y binugbog ng mga tauhan ni Willie si Norman at sinama si Rubia papunta sa kanilang anak. Sa dagat papunta sa isla kung saan naruon si Vivian ay kinausap ni Willie ang dino-dios niyang si Rubia. Pinangako nito na matututunan rin niyang mahalin siya. Hindi napansin ni Willie na nakahawak si Rubia sa sagwan ng bangka at ilang ulit nitong pinalo sa ulo ang nabiglang si Willie habang sinasabi ang salitang “hayup!” Hinanap nito ang baril at pinagbabaril rin niya ang nahulog sa dagat na si Willie. Narating ni Rubia ang isla at duon nito nakita ang kanyang anak na buhay na buhay at tinatawag ang kanyang pangalan. - RV

Medical intern Rubia Servios (Vilma Santos) is engaged to Dr. Norman Ignacio (Mat Ranillo III), but persistent suitor Willy Trison (Phillip Salvador) refuses to give up. On the day of the death of Norman’s father, she is abducted by Willy and brought to an island. She is repeatedly raped and offered marriage by Willy. She turns him down and warns him that she will bring matters to the police. However, he is confident that she will not press a case against him as she will not want the stigma of a rape victim. Rubia is released and she brings him to court. Willy is sentenced to six to ten years in prison. Rubia discovers she is pregnant and the steadfast Dr. Norman Ignacio proposes marriage. She gives birth to Willy’s daughter, Vivian, and they leave for Canada. Rubia wants a child by Norman and they have a son. Years later, they return to Manila. There are mysterious calls on the telephone. It is Willy and he wants his daughter. Rubia and Norman hide Vivian and plan to leave for the American continent. However, Willy is able to kidnap the child with the help of an ice cream vendor. She is brought to the island and she begins to look to him as her real father. But she also wants her mother. Willy calls Rubia and tells her to join them in the island. Rubia refuses. There is a confrontation between Norman and Willy. Norman is beaten up. Still Rubia is adamant. She becomes terrified when Willy sets up a headless child in a remote area, the discovery of which is sensationalized in the tabloids. Finally Rubia agrees to join him. She takes the motorized banca with Willy as the pilot. In the middle of the sea, she takes a paddle and hits Willy. Willy falls into the water. Rubia takes her gun and shoots him. The banca reaches the island. Rubia is happy to see Vivian alive. As an epilogue, Rubia and Norman leave for the States where they are presently residing. - Lino Brocka: The Artist and His Times, reposted Simon Santos, Video48, 29 December 2018 (READ MORE)

Film Achievements:Metro Manila Film Festival Best Performer nomination - Vilma Santos, Festival's Top Grosser; Gawad Urian: Best Cinematography nomination - Conrado Baltazar, Best Editing nomination - Jose Tarnate

Film Reviews: Mula sa screenplay ni Mario O”hara, ang Rubia Servios ay may mabilis na paglalahad ng buhay ni Rubia at ang mga kahayupang dumating sa kanya sa palad ng isang anak ng makapangyarihan pamilya. Halatang binusisi ni Lino Brockha ang pelikula’t binigyang pansin ang mga eksenang may pagkabayolente. Dalawang beses na ginahasa ni Philip si Vilma at sa bawat eksena’y makikita ang kahalayan at pagnanasa sa mga mata ni Philip at makikita ang sakit na dulot nito sa katauhan ni Vilma. Maraming eksena kung saan inalagaan ni Lino ang pagarte ni Vilma. Hindi lamang sa rape scenes kungdi sa mga tahimik na eksena. Una na nang umagang gumising siya pagkatapos ng unang rape scene. Makikita sa mukha ni Vilma ang pagkalito at ilang sandali pa’y ang pagtanggap ng nangyari sa kanya ng gabing una siyang ginaahasa sa tabing dagat. Pangalawa, nang pumayag si Philip na pakawalan si Rubia at mapunta ito sa ospital. Pagkabukas nang kanyang mata at makita si Norman, makikita sa mga mata niya ang hirap na dinanas. Sa court scene kung saan sinasabi niya na “gusto ko siyang patayin” ng paulit-ulit.

Sa bandang huli kung saan nalaman niya na hindi ang anak niya ang putol putol na batang bangkay makikita sa mata niya’t mukha ang biglang pagkatuwa’t hindi ito ang kanyang anak. At sa bandang huli pa rin kung saan ginahasa siya muli sa harap ng kanyang asawa. Makikita ang pagsuko niya’t pagkatalo. Makikita sa kanyang mukha ang pagod at hirap hanggang sa boat scene kung saan pinalad siyang makuha ang sagwan at nagkaroon ng pagkakataong paluin si Willie ng pa-ulit-ulit at hindi pa ito nasiyahan at binaril pa niya ang nangahasa sa kanya. Sa eksenang ito makikita ang kaibahan ng kakayahan sa pagarte ni Vilma. Sa eksenang ito kung saan sinasabi niya ang salitang “hayup!” sabay palo sa nabiglang si Willie. Buong katawan niya ang umaarte. Ito ay hango sa tunay na buhay. Hindi katulad ng arte ni Nora Aunor sa Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo kung saan nahuli niyang nagsiping ang kanyang asawa sa kanyang ina. Nakapokos ang kamera sa mukha niya at nag-emote ng parehong salita: “Hayup!” ang paulit-ulit niyang salita. Aba kung sa tunay na buhay iyan eh nagkasabunutan na at nagwala na ang mag-ina!

Para sa akin naging matagumpay si Vilma sa kanyang pagganap bilang si Rubia Servios. Isang tour de force. Nuong una ko itong napanood sa Avenida ay namangha ako sa kanyang galing. Ngayon pagkatapos ng dalawanput siyam na taon pinanood ko muli ito’y hindi nababawasan ang aking pagkamangha sa galing niya. Paano mo ba isasalarawan ang babae na nagahasa? Paano mo ba isasalarawan ang babaeng nakidnapan ng anak at muling nagahasa sa harap pa mismo ng asawa mo? Isang mahirap na papel. At naisalarawan ito ni Vilma nang makatotohanan. Walang mga pagpopokos ng kamera para mag-emote. Makatotohanang pagganap. Special mention sina Mat Ranillo III at Philip Salvador. Dapat ay napahalagahan sila sa pamamagitan ng nomination subalit naging maramot ang organisasyon ng pestibal at isang acting awards lamang ang binigay nila. Panalo sana si Philip Salvador ng best actor award rito dahil damang dama mo ang kanyang karakter. Makikita rin kung gaano kaganda ng kanyang katawan. Meron eksena siya na nakaswimming trunks lang at talagang alaga pa niya ang kanyang katawan nuon. Si Mat naman ay sana nanominate bilang best supporting actor. Mahusay rin siya lalo na sa eksena kung saan nakatali siya sa puno at wala siyang nagawa ng pagsamantalahan muli si Rubia sa harapan niya ni Philip.

Technically, nang panoorin ko itong pelikulang ito ay maganda ang resulta ngunit nang panoorin ko muli ng ilang beses ngayon ay makikita ang ilang flaws. Una na ang cinematography ni Conrado Baltazar. Maraming eksena ay hindi nasa tamang angulo. Merong eksena na nagsasalita si Ate Vi pero ang nakikita lamang ay ang kanyang nuo. Ang musical score ni Freddie Aguilar ay parang hindi bagay sa tema ng pelikula. Pati ang theme song na “Pagsubok” parang pang-politika at very “folksy” ang dating. Merong isang butas ang screenplay ni Mario O Harra. Nang umalis si Philip para iwanan si Vivian, ang anak niyang kinidnap, nang umalis ito’y sumakay ito ng kotse, pagkatapos nang dalhin niya si Rubia sa banding huli’y sumakay naman sila ng boat. Medyo nakaligtaan nila ang isang detalye na ito. Mabilis ang pacing na pelikula at maraming mga eksena talaga si Vilma na makikita mo ang pagaalaga ni Lino. Sayang nga lamang at hindi ito nakita ng mga hurado ng pestibal at maging ang mga manunuri ng taong iyon. Sinulat ni Rendt Viray, Posted at Yahoo E-group

Undoubtedly, the two best entries in the 1978 Metro Manila Film Festival are Atsay and Rubia Servios. Atsay is remarkable in several ways. It has a strong social message, aimed at primarily those who forget that house cleaners are also human beings. In the character of Mrs. Anton (Angie Ferro), screenwriter Edgar M. Reyes is able to embody the thousand faults which middle-class housewives are heir to. Atsay can also pride itself on being truly Filipino. Its mood is set by its Pilipino credits (in sharp contrast to the English credits of the other entries). The film deliberately exploits local color, dwelling not only on rural but also on picturesque urban scenes. The story, needless to say, can happen only in the Philippines, where domestics and beerhouses are national institutions. But the most striking thing about Atsay is its cinematography (Romeo Vitug). The slow dissolves, the multiple exposures (such as the brilliant train sequence), the surprising angles, the flawless composition---this border on genius. The cinematography is so extraordinary, in fact, that it covers a multitude of sins.

The most grievous sin of all is the ending. In the end, Nelia (Nora Aunor), after having been humiliated, beaten, raped, dehumanized by the vultures of the city, decides to stay in the city anyway in the hope that an impoverished construction worker (Ronald Corveau) will make her live happily ever after. Such ending, while assuring the viewer that human nature is not totally evil, is unmotivated and, in fact, goes against the very theme of the story.  For Atsay is the story of how the city dehumanizes, of how human beings become swine (this point is made through blatant symbolism in a shot of Nelia inside a cage-like jeep), of how Manila is a prison (note Vitug’s several shots of cage-like structures). “Atsay” is a story of how individuals are no match against the cruelty of the city. The construction worker, for example, becomes the victim of a construction accident. A young pretty virgin from the province is raped while she’s drugged. A kind-hearted old man is shot down while protesting against exploitation. The ending of Atsay contradicts the film’s affirmations. It would have been much more in keeping with the theme (not to mention the current concerns of the national human settlements program), if Nelia were shown rejecting the city and, in hope, returning to her province for a new life.

Rubia Servios, on the other hand, does not dilute the message. Willy (Phillip Salvador), the son of a powerful and wealthy figure, is portrayed as totally evil, devoid of any redeeming quality. To screenwriter Mario O’Hara and director Lino Brocka, the province is the same as the city. Rubia Servios (Vilma Santos) is raped both in the city and in the country. Rubia kills Willy in the country. Violence unites all places. It is the “unity” of conception, scripting, design, and direction, in fact, that Rubia Servios is superior to Atsay. Lino Brocka does not waste shots in his attempt to create a Filipino classical tragedy. He subordinates everything to the building up of one emotion in the viewer, that of hatred of Willy. So despicable does Willy become at the end that, when he is murdered by Rubia, no viewer can say that Rubia is at fault. And yet, morally speaking, no one is allowed to take the law into his own hands.

The law, in fact, put Willy in prison for the first rape. There is no reason to think that the law will not put Willy to death for the second rape. By conditioning the reader to condone Rubia’s revenge, Brocka succeeds in questioning one of our deeply rooted moral beliefs. The unity that characterizes Rubia Servios contrasts sharply with the tendency of Eddie Garcia in Atsay to exploit Vitug’s versatility even at the expense of tightness. There are shots in Atsay, for example, which could easily be cut without hurting the film’s integrity. Even the train sequence, one of the best sequences in Atsay, is far too long. Rubia Servios is Lino Brocka’s film; Atsay is Romeo Vitug’s. Nora does an excellent acting job; but so does Vilma Santos, and Rubia is a much more demanding and difficult role. Edgardo M. Reyes is an established literary figure, but Mario O’Hara is much better screenwriter. Overall, Atsay may be much more impressive than Rubia Servios. In terms of challenging our moral and legal convictions, however, Rubia Servios is much more significant. Written by Isagani Cruz, TV Times, 1979

Kung uri ang paguusapan, de-kalidad ang Rubia Servios. Kaya lamang, may sabit. Maraming butas ang iskrip ni mario O’Hara. Ang istorya ng Rubia Servios ay batay sa mga legal story ni Aida Sevilla Mendoza, at ito’y pumapaksa sa babaeng ginahasa ng kanyang masugid na manliligaw. Si Rubia (Vilma Santos) ay isang medical student na may kasintahang kaeskuweala, si Norman (Mat Ranillo III). Balak nilang magpakasal pagkatapos ng kanilang pag-aaral. Karibal ni Norman si Willie (Philip Salvador) na ayaw tumanggap ng kabiguan sa pag-ibig. Anak siya ng mayaman at maipluwensiyang pamilya sa Kabite. Kaya nang tapatin siya ng dalaga na wala siyang maaasahan, kinidnap niya si Rubia sa isang bahay-bakasyunan at ginahasa ito. Nang magkaroon ng pagkakataon ang babae, tumakas ito at isinuplong si Willie. Idinemanda ang lalaki at nahatulang mabilanggo ng anim na taon. Paglabas ng lalaki sa bilangguan, ginulo na naman niya ang buhay ng babae na ngayo’y asawa na ni Norman at may dalawang anak (ang una’y anak niya kay Willie). Dahil sa pananakot ng hui, nakipagtagpo si Rubia, at muli na namang ginahasa sa sementeryo sa harapan pa naman ng asawa. Kinidnap ni Willie ang anak niya para gawing pain sa pagtatagpo nila ni Rubia at para sumama na tio sa kanya. Ngunit nagkakaroon na naman ng pagkakaton ang babae na lumaban at sa bangka, hinampas niya si Willie ng sagwan, at pagkatapos ay binaril ang lalaki hanggang sa ito’y tuluyan nang malunod.

Simplistiko ang materyal at lalong simplistiko ang pamamaraan ni O’Hara sa karakterisasyon. Nagmumukha tanga ang mga tauhan (si Rubia at si Norman) samantalang medical students at naturingang doktor pa naman sial. Tinatakot na sila’y hindi pa sila humingi ng proteksiyon sa pulis. Ginahasa na si Rubia ay nakipagtagpo pa sa sementeryong madilim nang nag-iisa at nagpaganda pa mandin siya nang husto. At ang asawa niya’y wala ring utak. Biro mong sinundan ang asawa sa sementeryo nang nag-iisa! Dapat nga palang magkaganito sila kung napakakitid ng kanilang utak. Sa direksiyon ni Brocka, lumitaw ang galing ni Vilma Santos, at nakontrol ang labis na pagpapagalaw ng kanyang labi. Mahusay din ang eksena ng gahasa. Si Philip Salvador naman ay tulad sa isang masunuring estudyante na sinusunod lahat ang direksiyon ng guro. Kitang-kita mo sa kanyang pagganap ang bawat tagubiling pinaghihirapan niyang masunod: kilos ng mata, buntong-hininga, galaw ng daliri, kislot ng kilay. Limitado ang kanyang kakayahan at makikia ito sa kanyang mukha (na limitado rin). Walang-wala rtio si Mat Ranillo III, na parang pinabayaan para lalong lumitaw ang papel at pag-arte ni Salvador. Samantala, ang kamera ni Conrado Salvador ay hindi gaanong nakalikha ng tension at suspense, bukod sa napakaliwanang ng disenyo ng produksiyon ang pagbabago ng mga tauhan sa loob ng pitong taon batay sa estilo ng damit at buhok - Justino M. Dormiendo, Sagisag Feb 1979. (READ MORE)

The Screenplay - "...Mario Herrero O'Hara (born April 20, 1946 – died 26 June 2012) was an award-winning Filipino film director, film producer and screenwriter known for his sense of realism often with dark but realistic social messages...In 1978, he wrote the screenplay for Lino Brocka's Rubia Servos. This led to the first award in his film career (Best Screenplay at the Metro Manila Film Festival)..." - Wikipedia (READ MORE)

"...There are certain themes that keep the public captive and enthralled through relentless manufacture of a thematic repertoire which ensures the preponderance of sex in stories and daily narratives. These themes need not be perceived as always proferring false consciousness, but as reiterating the social problems implicated by cinematic and industrial mediation of sexual expression. The theme of rite of passage, from innocence and youth to carnal knowledge, fastens the narrative to the body of the virgin whose initiation into the desires of the world transforms her into a “whore.” The stigma of this rite of passage is exploited from every possible angle, from ablutions in the river to rape scenes and on to the erstwhile virgin suddenly craving flesh herself...Rape likewise presents an occasion for baring the body. Brutal (1980), Rubia Servios (1978), Angela Markado (1980), and even the massacre films hatched in the bizarre mind of Carlo J. Caparas discuss rape almost clinically and therefore subject the body of the woman to another round of autopsy, this time through the prying eyes of a public reared in a daily history of sex..." - Patrick D. Flores, Bodies of Work: Sexual Circulations in Philippine Cinema (READ MORE)

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Vilma Santos-Recto: Breaking the Mold

The people of Batangas knew exactly who they wanted for governor – and they made this perfectly clear when they gave Vilma Santos-Recto a landslide victory at the polls last May, giving her a 130,000 margin over her closest rival, then incumbent governor Arman Sanchez. Nothing really phenomenal about that, one may argue, considering that in this day and age, women leaders are no longer an “aberration” or “anomaly.”

But unlike other women whose educational credentials could make other men squirm in embarrassment and insecurity, the new Batangas governor has no college degree to speak of. And what makes her victory even more special is the fact that Santos-Recto, a female, won in a province known as “barako country” – where men are expected to dominate. Two, she is an actress. And like it or not, other showbiz denizens who have thrown their hat into the political arena did not exactly give stellar performances as public servants. In fact, majority of showbiz celebrities who ran for office last May were clobbered at the polls, with some people even snickering at the news of these actors’ defeat.

But not Vilma Santos-Recto. But then again, Santos-Recto, or “Gov. Vi” to her constituents, did not exactly get to the position of governor empty-handed. On the contrary, she had already set a record of sorts when she became the first female mayor of Lipa City in 1998.

“I must admit that initially, my being an actress was a plus factor, and it was a definite edge when I first ran for mayor of Lipa,” she admits. “But during my first term, some people also underestimated me especially since I was not from Lipa (she is from Pampanga and Nueva Ecija), I was from show business and I was a small woman. Of course it’s different if you have the height,” she laughs, recalling those days when the men would merely give a slight nod of acknowledgement, at times grudgingly, in response to her greetings.

But the multi-awarded actress soon proved that she was not just acting out a role as local chief executive; rather, she meant business, and she was in it for real. During her watch, the economy of Lipa City boomed, with infrastructure improvements that put the city on the radar of big time developers and investors that steadily increased government revenues year after year. “I eventually earned their respect because they discovered that lalaki akong kausap (I am also a man to talk to) and second, I am straight. If there’s an immediate solution at hand, then let’s not wait for tomorrow or next week to do it. People are tired of waiting and of lip service, so let’s get them what they need if we already can. But if there’s nothing I can do about something at this time, then I tell the people so they will not also keep on hoping,” she discloses.

“If there’s one thing that people appreciated from my administration, it’s the fact that I did not politicize my position. Even the barangay captains who did not support my candidacy were not deprived of the services their constituencies needed. Whether these leaders were political allies or not does not matter – I will give them what they need because it is the people who will benefit.

“Perhaps it’s because I am a woman and a mother. A mother’s heart is different; a woman’s pulse is different,” she adds. Which is probably the reason why one of her priorities is to uplift the quality of education in her province. She recalls a time when, during her tenure as mayor, she was “frustrated when grade school students took this exam and 70 percent did not pass. You know what I did? I gave a big allocation to have the day-care centers upgraded to Montessori level. We cooperated with the school of Mrs. (Precious) Soliven of OB Montessori and had the day-care teachers trained by them. Even the educational materials, we upgraded.

“I know how important education is because I am also a mother. I have an 11-year-old son (Ryan Christian) and he is number two in class (at De La Salle Zobel in Alabang) so I know that if you don’t start early by giving children the right foundation during their formative years, they will have a difficult time coping and competing later.”

Livelihood and other income-generating opportunities are also at the top of her agenda, putting up cooperatives and micro-financing institutions that would give loans at minimal interest to get people started with small business enterprises. “We started with very small amounts like P50,000 to these cooperatives, and before my (third) term as mayor ended, we were giving as much as P500,000. You know why? Because the people paid their loans religiously. I told them that if they did not, then they would be depriving the next person of the opportunity to get a loan as well. Pag ibinitin ninyo ang bayad, ibinibitin niyo rin ang iba. Which is not good.”

She is a “hands-on” type of executive, she admits, and some people even call her makulit (pushy). “That’s because I take note of everything they tell me. I write these down during meetings. If they tell me they can finish a project in two weeks, then I expect them to deliver within that time. I follow up on their commitments because I also base my commitments on what they tell me.”

Before she decided to throw her hat into the political arena, it was her husband former Sen. Ralph Recto who gave it to her straight: Her showbiz career would be affected one way or another, there would be danger not only from political rivals but from drug pushers and all sorts of people who will resent efforts to rid Lipa (and now Batangas) of criminality. In fact, during her first term as mayor, Vilma almost gave up, unnerved by the threats she got. But Ralph reminded her: “I told you this was all a part of being a public servant.”

The neophyte politician could not understand why she would become a target. “I was not doing anything wrong, I was just serving the people. I wasn’t part of a syndicate. So Ralph made me go on a two-week leave and I prayed and prayed. Of course I was afraid, I have children, I am a mother, and I felt that it was not even worth it to sacrifice my family. But then I also realized that the people who voted for me – I also won by a landslide – gave me their trust. They believed in me and were counting on me, so it would not be right to disappoint them, so I went back to work albeit with enhanced security,” says the governor, who admits that yes, she knows how to use a gun and in fact practices at the shooting range in her Lipa home.

Asked if she misses making movies, the 53-year-old actress gives a big smile. “I miss acting, I miss my showbiz career. In fact, I already have an offer, but I will have to ask the people of Batangas first like what I used to do in Lipa. Lipeños used to ask me ‘Mayor, why aren’t you making any more movies? We miss seeing you act!’ And I would tell them, ‘You want me to make movies and then you will hit me with rumors that I wasn’t going to work?’ But then during flag ceremonies I would ask them, “Please allow me to make a movie, that’s my racket. I earn a lot there. If you don’t, then I’d steal from you’!” she says in jest.

“Definitely it’s not easy,” she says, admitting that she was rather alarmed that “Luis (Manzano, her son by Optical Media Board chairman Edu Manzano) now pays more taxes than me. I told myself, this is not a good sign anymore, I have no more income! I had so many offers in the past that I could not accept because my priority was my work as mayor since it was already my last term and I wanted to do everything to get a passing grade, so I made sure that all my projects were finished by the time my term ended.”

For someone who started working at the age of nine and has been a virtual public property since her teenage years, the life of Vilma Santos-Recto is an open book. She is a “survivor for all seasons,” as STAR entertainment editor Ricky Lo called her. She was at the height of her career in the ’80s when she found herself bankrupt and facing a possible lawsuit from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, her properties mortgaged. “I was so trusting. I would just sign checks and anything they put before me. So there I was, pregnant with Lucky and I owed Php9 million without knowing why!” Edu, who was then a budding actor, was very supportive and wanted to help her get out of her predicament. It took her four years to pay off her obligations (“When I saw the last billing statement of P50,000, you could not imagine the joy and relief I felt!”) – but it cost her her marriage to Edu Manzano.

But the sad experience taught the actress to be smart with her finances. “Ngayon wala akong utang (I don’t have any debts to this day),” she proudly declares. And it naturally helped that she has her beloved Ralph by her side. While it pains her that her husband lost in his re-election bid as senator, she takes it as a blessing in disguise. “Perhaps the purpose was for him to help me, since this is already the whole of Batangas we are talking about. Hindi na biro ito (This is no joke). They say politics and showbiz are the same, but no way, malayo. Show business is more manageable even with all the intrigues. Politics is more tough. If you are not strong, you would buckle under the pressure. The attacks here are more personal, and the system is really different,” she reflects.

Despite the frustrations that go with the job – the governor says she derives her strength from her family. “I get my adrenaline, my energy, my inspiration from my family because I know they are proud of me. They support me and they believe in me, that’s why I always strive to do my best. I know nothing is perfect, but if we can make it almost perfect, then why not?” - Bing Parel-Salud, Philippine Star, September 22, 2007

Friday, December 23, 2011

KARMA (1981)

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

Basic Information: Direction: Danny Zialcita; Adapted screenplay: Danny Zialcita; Original screenplay: Sylvia Barreto; Cast: Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero, Christopher Deleon (guest appearance), Marianne Delariva, Dante Rivero, Aurora Salve, Suzanne Gonzales, Martha Sevilla, Odette Khan, Virginia Montes, Bella Flores, Etang Ditcher, Vic Silayan, Fred Montilla, Renato Robles, Ruel Vernal, Augusto Victa, Butch Aquino; Original Music: Gilbert Gregorio; Cinematography: Felizardo Baillen; Editing: Enrique Jarlego Sr; Theme Song: "Minsan Sa Isang Panahon" sung by Kuh Ledesma; Producer: Ernesto C. Rojas, Sineng Silangan Films, Re-released by Viva Films 2005

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

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

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

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

The Technical preview of “Karma” the other night was delayed for about an hour but I did not mind waiting because I was quite certain that I’d be seeing a fine film. To while away the time, “Firecracker,” co-starring American actors with local talents like Chanda Romero, Vic Diaz, and Rey Malonzo was shown. Chanda and Vic delivered their lines themselves but surprisingly Rey didn’t. Before one whole reel could roll, the prints of “Karma” arrived. “Don’t stop it yet, a bed scene is coming,” Mario Bautista protested. Happily, “Karma” turned out to be as good as I expected. It’s performers are first-rate - Vilma Santos, Ronaldo Valdez, Tommy Abuel, Chanda Romero - so their award-winning acting didn’t surprise me at all. The script was outstanding but even that was expected, coming from director Danny Zialcita. What impressed me was that minor parts were played by name actors. The housekeeper who appeared in one short sequence could have been played by any elderly woman but those who made the movie wanted nothing less than Etang Discher.

The psychiatrist could have been played by any decent-looking man but they didn’t settle for anybody less than Vic Silayan. The male lover at the start of the story had to be acted out by Dante Rivero, that at the end by Christopher de Leon. The movie boasted of several bold scenes. Those involving Vilma weren’t much as we know for a fact that Vilma could show only so much. One scene showing Chanda was a different story. It showed her with absolutely nothing on, yet it didn’t offend anybody as it was executed in style, shot with great care. There was just one thing, which looked unnatural to me - the way in which one of the main characters killed himself. “That’s all right,” Danny assured me. “Before we shot it, we double-checked its possibility.” Reincarnation and transference are undoubtedly mind-boggling subjects but, to his utmost credit, Danny managed to present them simply, bringing them down for everybody to understand. “Bala lang yan. Katawan lang ito. Babalik at babalik kami sa mundong ito,” Dante vowed. Come back they did as they promised building the foundation of the story. - Bob Castillo, “Fine Film,” People’s Journal, Dec. 12, 1981

Sa pagbabago ng estado ni Vilma Santos, tila nagbabago na rin ang kanyang approach sa kanyang career. Dahil hindi na career ang unang priority niya sa buhay, lalong nagiging professional ang kanyang tingin sa trabaho. Dahil hindi na twenty-four hours a day ang kanyang buhay artista, alam na niyang I-apportion ang bawat minuto na walang aksaya. Sa set ng Relasyon ni Ishmael Bernal, hangang-hanga ang director sa bagong pang-unawa ni Vilma sa trabaho. Dumarating sa oras, kabisado ang linya (memorizing lines for Vilma, of course, was never a problem even the days she was shooting five pictures simultaneously), full attention sa sinasabi ng direktor, walang problema. Kung pagbabasehan sa naging resulta ng Karma, lalong maganda ngayon si Vilma, mas mariin ang kanyang pagganap, mas mature ang kanyang approach at understanding sa kaniyang papel. Swerteng-swerte ang pagkapanalo niya ng best actress sa nakaraang Film fest. Sayang at wala siya upang tanggapin mismo ang tropeo.

Pero lalong naging makabuluhan para sa kanya ang sinabi ng kapwa niya artista sa Karma nang sabihin ni Chanda Romero na “napakaganda naman ng karma ni Vilma. Mayroon na siyang Edu, mayroon siyang Lucky, ngayon ay mayroon pa siya nito (ang ibig sabihin ay ang best actress trophy),” sabay tilian ng mga fans sa loob ng Cultural Center, walang makapigil, walang makasaway. Pero, gaya ng dati, hindi naging madali kay Vilma ang pananalo. Nagpatas ang botohan ng dalawang beses - triple tie sila ni Gina Alajar at Charo Santos, hanggang ma-break ang deadlock at nakaungos ng isang boto si Vilma sa dalawa pa niyang kalaban. Tinawagan si Vilma ni Cirio Santiago, pinasundo sa isang limousine, pero nagdahilan ang Vilma. Ayaw niya sigurong umasa dahil minsan, sa isang awards night din, sinigurong siya ang mananalo pero hindi ganun ang nangyari. (I understand that Vilma really won but the verdict was changed afterwards through the representations and machinations of some influential press sectors.) Kunsabagay, wala rin si Charito Solis noong awards dahil sabi sa akin ni Chato, talagang hindi niya inaasahang manalo ang maliit na papel na iyon sa Kisapmata.

Noon pa mang preview pa lamang, maugong na ang balitang baka si Charito ang manalo bilang supporting actress pero hindi niya yun pinansin dahil tiyak na tiyak siya na si Vic Silayan ang mananalo. Sinabi pa niya sa interview niya kay Armida Siguion-Reyna sa Let’s Talk Movies na napakagaling ni Vic. Sa set pa lamang daw, natitiyak na niya halos na si Vic ay mananalo sa Kisapmata. Sa naturan ding programa, sinabi ni Armida sa pagre-review niya ng Karma na talagang magaling ang pagkakaganap ni Vilma sa Karma na parang nakuha nitong punuan ang ilang mahalagang kakulangan ng pelikula. - Sinulat ni Oscar Miranda

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

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

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

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


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