Friday, June 30, 2006

ESSENTIAL NORA AUNOR Film (Elliot Stein's Review Of Lino Brocka's BONA As Published In THE VILLAGE VOICE September 25, 1984)

Much of Bona’s strength resides in the simplicity of its narrative. Nearly all of the main action is set in Tondo, except for a brief but significant and startling opening sequence in which Bona appears in the middle of a hysterical crowd during the yearly procession of the Black Nazarene, the most violent and fanatical public Catholic ceremony in Manila. It suggests that the Church encourages her mad love of God to a mad love of Gardo.

Brocka’s melodrama is firmly planted in reality. Scenes of social texture are short, but are beautifully etched in the space around the only water pump in the neighborhood, which serves as a sort of a village square (a village ankle-deep in sewage), the men spend their nights getting drunk and singing Beatle’s songs while the women pray to the Virgin. One of the many miracles of this superbly directed movie is the way with rapid unsentimental strokes Brocka demarcates Bona’s assimilation in the slum, where her warmth and natural affability find a welcome they had been denied in the anxious middle-class background she has abandoned.

Brocka is one of the most physical of directors. His films are full of scenes of people touching nervously, tentatively touching one another and his rapport with actors is tremendous. Nora Aunor is a special case, she’s the Filipino’s favorite movie star, and more. Herself a slum child at 14, she won a singing contest and soon became a film personality, appearing in trivial, successful hit after hit; she now has her own weekly TV show. Aunor is a sociological phenomenon: the first dark-skinned superstar, idolized by the underclasses. Her fan’s devotion is unlimited. A score of them have come to live and work in her house as self-appointed servants. For many, she has the status of a saint. Her role in Bona in Brocka’s movie which she produced out of her own pocket in order to appear in a serious film is not unlike that of one of her own fan-servant-slaves.

Aunor’s co-star is no less than Phillip Salvador’s glistening body (who was Stanley Kowalski in Brocka’s Tagalog production of Streetcar) which Brocka makes us to see with Bona’s eyes in a dozen bed and bathtub scenes. The camera observes Salvador’s body with something of the meticulous awe with which Von Sternberg and his lenses ogled La Grande Marlene.

I’ve seen Bona three times and not yet had my fill of it, I don’t think a better movie has premiered in the city so far this year. More than a movie, it is also an act of civil disobedience.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Vicor Music recently released a three-CD set of songs recorded by the Superstar comprised of choice cuts from different albums. Most of these recordings have not been heard in years, unless you're a huge fan and kept all the old long playing albums. When I found out about this release, I asked my friend in Manila to buy me a copy and ship it to me right away. As soon as I received the package the very first song I listened to was Luha At Halakhak, a song the late great composer George Canseco wrote especially for the Superstar. Her rendition of the song is so heartfelt, it still sends chills up to my spine whenever I hear it. It's such a sad song, and she sang it with so much emotion. I remember it being released as a 45 rpm single by Blackgold Records and the flipside was Kastilyong Buhangin. The compilation also included the entire Lady Guy album which she produced under her own NV Records but was released and marketed by Vicor, also selections from her album with estranged husband Christopher de Leon aptly titled In Love. Unfortunately none of their duets were included in the set, oh well.. There were songs from Iniibig Kita, Noon At Ngayon and Ms. Nora Aunor. This is a must buy for all Noranians. All of the Superstar's recorded songs are loaded in my ipod video. The aptly titled Superstar three-CD collection is available at and at

Monday, June 26, 2006

SUPERSTARSTRUCK! Superstar Superscenes

In Lino Brocka's Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo (Movie Masters, 1979) Esther (Nora Aunor) upon realization of her mother Renata's (Lolita Rodriguez) infidelity with her husband Luis (Raul Aragon), quietly breaks into hysterics and releases a gamut of emotions. Ably guided by her director, Nora's performance didn't border on histrionics alone, as she utters the words Hayup... hayup! with much disgust, it was a real and heartfelt performance definitely one of her best!

Next is a similar scene from Nakaw Na Pag-Ibig (Associated Entertainment Corporation, 1980). In her second film with Lino Brocka, Nora plays Corazon, a woman madly in love with Robert (Phillip Salvador). When Corazon discovers that Robert has plans of getting rid of her by pushing her off a cliff, she suddenly had mixed feelings about the whole thing. Without uttering a single word, her emotions shift from excitement to confusion registered in one facial expression, the mark of an extraordinary actress, truly amazing!

Nora Aunor plays Auring in the Mario O'Hara dramedy Tatlong Ina, Isang Anak (NCV Films, 1987). While on the run from the men who are trying to kill her she stumbles upon Nonoy (Miguel Rodriguez) and tries to get away from his clutches. As she walks out on him, lightning strikes a tree and she is suddenly reminded of the tragic death of her family. In full display is Nora's dramatic abilities as she begs for the lives of the members of her family, an engaging scene indeed!

Sunday, June 25, 2006


A couple of years back, when it was announced that the Superstar will be touring the US with Pop Diva Kuh Ledesma for the POWER OF 2 Concert Series, we were all ecstatic about the news that I flew to San Francisco to witness the first leg of the show. We arrived the night of Ate Guy's birthday and was told to go straight to their hotel for the usual asalto. She wasn't able to accomodate us, we were told that the Suuperstar wasn't feeling well. The following day, there were again at the lobby of her hotel. Ate Guy was on her way to rehearse with the band, and there she was, right in front of me, I was starstruck! It's not like I haven't seen her before but it's been such a long time! I asked her if I could have my picture taken with her and she gladly obliged. I have a lot more stiories to tell but in the meantime, here's said photo...


It seems like an eternity since Lino Brocka's classic film BONA was shown in the Philippines. As part of Cinema One's 12th Anniversary, Ronald Arguelles, the Director Of Progrmming for Creative Productions, Inc. decided to include BONA as part of the festival. He already has permission to make a betacam copy of the only existing print of the film housed at the Cinematheque Francaise, unfortunately due to several delays, the copy won't be able to make it for the June 24th screening. So, Ronald asked me to send him my vhs copy of the movie to which I agreed wholeheartedly since I wouldn't want to deprive the other Noranians of the rare chance to watch the movie. Like I said before, it's not a very clear copy but it's watchable. I'm glad that the event was well attended. Congratulations to everyone involved with the festival!

Since it's Sunday,I thought it would be a great idea to post a collage of screencaps from the Superstar Show. I have quite a collection of episodes mostly from the 80's. How I miss this show! I try to relieve those times by watching a show every Sunday, so here it is...

Some of her guests include Jackie Magno, Dingdong Avanzado, Miguel Rodriguez, Rez Cortez and Dan Alvaro doing a dance number with the Superstar!

The Superstar As ELSA

In what probably is her most celebrated role, Nora Aunor essayed the role of Elsa, a barrio lass who claims to have witnessed an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ishmael Bernal's enigmatic film HIMALA (Experimental Cinema Of The Philippines, 1982). Written by Award-Winning Screenwriter Ricardo Lee.