Sunday, December 27, 2009


Saturday, December 19, 2009

'MERIKA... Behind The Scenes

From an e-mail sent by writer Gil Quito

Doy and I agreed on the detailed sequence treatment and basically divided the sequences in half. Doy, the veteran writer, took care of the beginning and ending section, and I an equivalent (in terms of number of sequences) swath of the middle section.

We were surprised that we did not need to revise the script after we finished the first draft. Often, when there are two or three writers working on a script, the styles and personal touches are somehow different and so there has to be a few more drafts to hide the joints, as it were. But in this case, the sections that Doy and I had written immediately melded right at first draft.

Somehow, I had the singing voice of Nora Aunor in my mind throughout the writing and I just allowed it to guide me and help me through the intense pressure we were working in. My hope was to come up with scenes that would have a bit of melody and some consonance with the voice that was Nora's..

Anyway, what you see on the screen is actually the first draft. We did not have a second draft... not even a 1 & 1/2th draft. As far as I remember, we added only one scene after we handed the script to Gil Portes, This is the scene where Nora goes to the top deck of the Empire State Building, gazes at the glittering city spread out like an offering below her, cries without a single other soul aware of some epic collision going on inside of her, and is lifted out of her reverie by the watchman with the swinging lamp who reminds her that, Miss, it is closing time. Frankly, as I try to recall this scene, I'm no longer so sure if this is how it came across in the actual film; at this moment, I remember how it was as I wrote it more than the actual film it came to be.

Gil Portes of course was the guilding hand of the whole enterpise, and one of his best decisions was to cast the amateur actor Cesar Aliparo for the role of Lolo Caloy. He never acted before or after that film, but he still became one of the more memorable embodiments of the Filipino experience abroad.

At that time, way before the Invasion of the I-pods, the Walkman was still a novelty and we thought Doy's idea of Nora giving Lolo Caloy this modern device was a bit of a novelty in itself.

As for the opening wordless sequence, I can tell you that Gil Portes shot it exactly the way Doy wrote it. Doy did an expert job setting the tone of all that was to follow which made the impossible enterprise much less impossible for me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


The long wait is finally over. Two of the Superstar's award winning and critically acclaimed films will now be available on DVD for the first time. Mario O'Hara's 1976 classic Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and Lino Brocka's 1980 slum drama Bona will be released later this month by Videoflick, the video releasing arm of Ivory Music. In both films, La Aunor was named Best Actress by the Manunuri Ng Pelikulang Pilipino. Once more, Filipino film enthusiasts will get the chance to see the Superstar in two of her best screen portrayals. Don't forget to grab your copies at a nearby video store.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Johnny D. Great Actor

Ate Guy is saddened by the news of actor Johnny Delgado's passing. I sent her a text message early this morning, after all they co-starred in more than a handful of films together namely Super Gee (1973), Banaue (1975), Kung Ako'y Iiwan Mo (1980), Mga Uod At Rosas (1982) and Bad Bananas Sa Puting Tabing (1983). Johnny also appeared in Mrs. Teresa Abad... Ako Po Si Bing (1976) and Tisoy! (1977), both produced by the Superstar's own NV Productions. The country just lost one of its greatest actors. Rest in peace Johnny D., you'll surely be missed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Through The Years

Please watch the Superstar in a concert entitled Through The Years with special guests Christopher de Leon, Tirso Cruz III and Edgar Mortiz. Live at the Four Points Sheraton San Diego on Friday, November 6th at 7:30pm. The Oceanview Pavillon in Oxnard on November 7th, Saturday at at 7pm and at the Heritage Forum in Anaheim on Sunday, Novemver 8th at 7:30pm. Tickets are $66 and $88. For inquiries please call (909) 718-9948 or visit www.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lotlot & Friend

Last night, I met the Ate Guy's eldest daughter Charlotte Jennifer de Leon and she's as charming and down to earth as her Superstar mother. We took her to see the revival of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's West Side Story at the Palace Theater. It was Lotlot's first time to see a Broadway show and we couldn't have picked the perfect one for her to watch. She enjoyed it immensely and loved Karen Olivo who played Anita, the role Rita Moreno essayed on the big screen version. We all had a great time last night. I'm hoping to see her again very soon. Lotlot is a great daughter, caring sister to her siblings and loving mother to her children, and now I know why.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where Artistic Minds Meet

I haven't posted any new updates on this blog but that doesn't mean I haven't been in touch with the Superstar. When In My Life opened in theaters, I got depressed. Why? Because Vilma Santos has been getting the best reviews of her career and the movie was making a killing at the box office. What about Nora Aunor? I honestly believe she deserves to be in a film worthy of her tremendous acting talent. One night, I received a call from Ate Guy and said that she just got off the phone with Lav Diaz who once more offered his project Reclusion Perpetua to her. I told Ate Guy that was the best news I heard in weeks. Suddenly, my depression was gone. I was ecstatic about the idea of Nora Aunor starring in a film by Lav Diaz. I've always admired his work. From Kriminal Ng Barrio Concepcion to Melancholia. I thought it would be a great idea for these two artists to work together in one movie. After reading the screenplay I suddenly felt that this would be the perfect comeback film for the Superstar. I was constantly on the phone with Ate Guy explaining the importance of making this film. What Direk Lav wanted was for her to commit to the project, which she did in principle after their meeting in LA. We were hoping that the project would awaken the artist in her and after Direk Lav told her the story of Reclusion Perpetua, Ate Guy was convinced. Everyone involved in this project believes that this film would bring back the respect she rightfully deserves. Now is the perfect time to show our love and support for our One and Only Superstar.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BILANGIN ANG BITUIN SA LANGIT... The Quintessential Tagalog Movie

This is the quintessential Tagalog movie and a loving tribute to the "Golden Age of Philippine Cinema." Director Elwood Perez paints a melodramatic and panoramic portrait of the rise and fall of a poor, hard-working, and determined barrio lass and her lifetime stormy relationship with a childhood sweetheart. Legendary Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III are magnificent in dual roles, in a love-hate affair that spans generations, from their high school days in the province, to their twilight years in the big city. The supporting cast led by Perla Bautista, Gloria Romero, and Miguel Rodriguez is also good. The cinematography and visual effects, complemented by a thoughtful production and costume design, are outstanding. Perez's direction and Jake Cocadiz's script accentuate the passing eras' whims and fancies, and the dramatic confrontation scenes between the two stars dote on the so-called "masa" or "bakya" crowd. But the picture has enough sweep, drama, humor, and local color to make it an epic worthy of every moviegoer's attention and praise.

The cast is fine, especially Perla Bautista as the heroine's quiet, sympathetic, and indestructible mother. The two "contravidas," however, are straight out of Disney---or every oppressed Filipino peasant's image of the mestizo ruling class. The two actresses who play these villains nevertheless show contrasting abilities. Gloria Romero as a high-strung, high-faluting "doña" is effectively spiteful. She is one actress who takes risks, like a professional soldier who follows do-or-die orders. In this picture, as in her previous assignments, she seem to have reveled in excesses---truly the ideal soap villainess. Ana Margarita Gonzales as the heroine's sister-in-law, for her part, is also a "matapobre," but beside the redoubtable former movie queen, Ana lags far, far behind in the acting department. The kid, obviously still an amateur, sticks out like a sore thumb from the largely competent cast.

Tirso Cruz III, never known for Great Moments in Acting, does have his moments here. The very idea that he is not overshadowed by his blinding co-star speaks well of his talent as well as of his rapport with his perennial screen partner. But "Bilangin" is clearly a Nora Aunor vehicle. The actress is in almost every frame of the movie, showcasing her awesome talent and exhibiting gradations of emotions---sad and pathetic, one moment, flippant and impetuous the next; loving and pleading now, then seething and raging like a woman scorned. Not only does she essay the complex transformation of a woman in a time period spanning her mid-teens to middle age. She also plays dual roles---those of Magnolia, a strong and determined woman, and her youthful, exuberant daughter. This was the same theme which the recent trashy "bold" picture, "Virginia P.," aspired to dramatize, but failed, because, in that other movie, not only slapdash effort was visible; the filmmakers could not contain their contempt for the audience. In an accident in which her husband (Miguel Rodriguez) falls from a horse carrying a baby, the man dies but the tot miraculously survives. The number 2001 may not mean anything, but I won't be surprised if the director, a true-blue movie buff from his younger days is merely paying homage to a classic film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," though the styles and concepts of the two movies are galaxies apart. Maybe the director sees his job here as some kind of odyssey that stretches the boundaries of his brand of filmmaking, something he has succeeded in doing.

Film Review By Mario A. Hernando as published in Malaya, 1989

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

BELOVED... A Complex Range of Romatic Human Relations

Beloved (VIVA Films, 1985) tackles a complex range of human relations premised on romance, but problematizes it quite rigorously so that love, though central in the lives of the characters, is continually reread and therefore rewritten. Ensuing from the the competing affections between Adora Bernal (Nora Aunor) and Renee Regala (Hilda Koronel) over Dindo Tuason (Christopher de Leon) and his conflict with Ver Alonzo (Dindo Fernando) is a struggle that does not at all resort to conventional melodramatic tactics. The film is filled with emotional rigor through which the affairs of the heart are dealt with, and dealt with intelligently. How Adora and Renee choose to make their lives more difficult by staking their right to love Dindo inspite of the circumscriptions of traditional heterosexist norms engenders a creative tension that enables women to appropriate the power to break the culture of silence and express sexuality in specific terms within specific situations. Adora has to inevitably give up the fight, but only after she has achieved a realization that strikes at the core of practical realities. Beloved cleverly choreographs the elements of cinema and local melodrama with restraint and without the komiks winded tediousness normally associated with the exercise.

Nora Aunor's highly textured performance suffuses the melodramatic heroine with the spirit in which it could have been strategically envisioned. Aunor's constant displacements climaxes in a cleverly orchestrated maneuver that careens from deception to sacrifice and on to the struggle of prefiguring an ending which may not necessarily be happy, and a happiness which need not be the inexorable ending. Hilda Koronel on the other hand, shows that the strength of women need not come from the repudiation of feminine traits and roles as constructed by patriarchal systems. The acting method employed here is able to twist the logic of cliche and reconstitutes the drama of yearning with passion and grace. Koronel's portrayal is one that can hold a candle to Aunor's substantial work in this film. Dindo Fernando expresses desire in all its discrepant aspects breathes a different rigor into the tradition of acting for the screen. Finally, Christopher de Leon's intelligent handling of his character resonates with the perspicacity and method of the film's dramatic goals. Beloved's achievement rests on its skillful appropriation of the conventions of a commercial feature in its earnest effort to come up with a truly artistic, purposive and serious motion picture.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Superstar Nora Aunor Invites Everyone To Watch

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Superstar!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Superstar Nora Aunor's latest CD entitled Habang Panahon is now available! All songs are original compositions written by the husband and wife songwriting team of Odette Quesada and Bodjie Dasig. It's been a long while since we last heard the Superstar's golden voice in a studio recorded album. It's quite refreshing listening to all original songs and this time around it's La Aunor back in top form doing what she loves the most, singing. Habang Panahon has ten tracks of mostly tagalog songs with a couple of english ones as well. Here's the album's track listing...
Sa Iyo Pa Rin
Ganyan Nga Ba
Habang Panahon
Get your copy now!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009