Tuesday, September 05, 2006


By: Nestor U. Torre

As Published In The Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2002

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, the big stellar rivalry I local show biz was between Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos. The two female superstars have had quite a history together, and their instructive relationship remains interesting to this day.

Child Star

In the ‘70s, Vilma had a head start because she first entered show biz as a child star. By the time she became a teen star and was competing head-on with Nora, Vilma was already an established name and crowd drawer.

And yet, the phenomenal Aunor quickly upstaged her. After Nora became the darling of the masses, Vilma had to cope with the harsh reality of playing second fiddle to the brash upstart who had captivated the nation with her golden voice, expressive eyes and volatile temperament.

In those days, it looked like Nora could do no wrong. Even if she made quickie films, they would win awards over Vilma’s better-executed starrers. 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.

Then, in the ‘80s, Nora’s personal problems affected her career, while the more professional Vilma became producers’ actress of choice. Nobody doubted Nora’s talent, but Vilma had talent "and" professionalism, so she soon streaked in front of her archrival.

No longer did she compete in areas where she was "dehado," like singing. Instead, she stressed her dancing ability, sensuality and versatility, and truly came into her own.

Political Phase

Then came the two rivals’ "political" phase, with Nora successfully boosting Joseph Estrada to the presidency while losing her own bid as governor. On the other hand, Vilma supported her husband’s bid for the senate "and" won as mayor of Lipa City. Even in politics, she showed she had the edge.

That’s where the two rival superstars are today. Vilma flying high, while Nora is still trying to get her act together for the nth time. We wager, however, that if Nora regains her focus and determination, she can still give Vilma and other female stars a run for their popularity and awards.

First Salvo

Nora’s new public service show on TV could be the first salvo in her current bid for recognition and respect in show biz. For her part, Vilma needs to give more importance to her acting career, which she’s tended to neglect in favor of her political obligations.

The interesting thing is, all these years, the two archrivals have actually gone beyond competitiveness, and have forged a solid friendship, even if is one between opposites. The competition has just given added excitement to their "joint" careers and motivated their respective fans to support them with greater zeal.

And both Nora and Vilma have become excellent actresses who still have a number of great performances left in them. May we see some of those memorable new portrayals on the big screen this year. Even better, Nora and Vilma should make another one of their infrequent films together. Now, that would be a great viewing experience that no local film buff would want to miss.


pauljames said...

hello jojo!!!

Vilma is a good actress but Nora is the better one!!! I envy Vilma's winning streaks in terms of career and family accomplishments compared to Nora these days. I'm just wondering how come Nora is having a hard time to stay focus and be committed to her craft. Nora is superbly blessed having a golden voice. Her acting ability if properly motivated shows intense emotions that pierces ones soul. Have you tried asking her about this observation by many fans and critics alike? I'm still hopeful she can earn once more the phenomenal popularity she truly deserves!!!!

Jojo Devera said...

here's how i see it... Vilma is a celebrity and Nora is an artist. there lies the difference between these two actresses. i admire how Vilma was able to re-invent herself inspite of all the scandals she got involved with all those years. the tempestuous affair with Romeo Vasquez, the betamax scandal, the drug abuse, the party animal issue among others but does anyone still talk about those issues nowadays? no because Vilma was able to bury all of them. as for Ate Guy, only she could put her life together. i've been praying for a sudden realization to come her way and i still believe that will come. if Ate Guy lived her life the way Vilma has, we cannot really say na naging Makulay Ang Daigdig Ni Nora, right?

pauljames said...

hello jojo!!!

thanks for the speedy response!!! a true artist is simply complex and deep...often hard to grasp by anyone!!! they do what fulfills them without considering what society dictates. sometimes those decisions will be destructive to themselves but never to anybody!!!with these traits, Nora immortalizes uniqueness among her peers!!!her life is colorful and very turbulent at times!!!she seems always sailing in rough seas and surrounded by sharks ready to tear her apart. did she have any regrets with all decisions made past and present? what's her vision career wise in the coming years?is she a good listener for any honest and sincere advices?

Jojo Devera said...

hi pauljames!

i would say Ate Guy's life is more turbulent... but regardless she still manages to rise above all the trials. she mentioned once that she has never regretted any decisions she made in her life, as a matter of fact she wants to go back where she was and i told her that everything is up to her but i assured Ate Guy that whatever happens all of us who love the Superstar will be behind her like we always have. Ate Guy is a great listener kaya lang in as much as i would want to give her a piece of advice, lagi akong pinangungunahan ng hiya. ewan ko ba somehow i still feel intimidated by her o baka naman starstruck pa rin ako.

jeremiah said...

so she's a great listener. you now i've read in one nora e-group discussions that nora pala had a directed retreat by a nun sa tagaytay long time ago. kaya pa pa kaya niyang ulitin yun, yung mag one-on-one retreat? para simulan ang lahat in a right perspective at least to clear her public image. and in that way too ay mas mapakinggan niya mabuti ang sarili niya for her own good, ano sa tingin mo? i will pray for you that you may be able to try to give her a piece of advice. GOd Bless.

chrissychross said...

this is the most sensible article and set of comments from fans that i have ever read... ate guy's life is very colorful and with ups and downs and we can't deny that those downs were caused by some of her wrong decisions in life. but in spite of that she manages to pull herself back together but sometimes falls down again. nevertheless, it must be her nature as a true artist that brought up this roller coaster ride... she is still human after all just like us. sometimes, i don't know if i am still an avid fan because i never supported those trash films she did in the 80s and i felt bad with the string of controversies that attached to her. but i always pray that she comes back to her senses and make a real comeback not just in showbiz but in real life because she deserves it... and she is our SUPERSTAR.