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Saturday, April 30, 2011


Comedian Tintoy, Chiquito's sidekick, had his own taste of superstardom in 1970 when he portrayed the titular role of "Agent Flintoy," a spoof of James Coburn's "Our Man Flint" and "In Like Flint."

"Agent Flintoy" (1970)- Stars Tintoy, Gina Laforteza, Perry Baltazar, Mila del Rosario, Pabo, Roberto Talabis, Ely Roque, Angel Confiado/ Directed by Hermie Alvarez

Friday, April 29, 2011


Magna Gonzales was groomed as karate queen when she starred as a masked crime buster in this forgettable 1968 action flick, "Lady Untouchable." Any relation to karate king Roberto Gonzales?

"Lady Untouchable" (1968)- Stars Magna Gonzalez, Jing Abalos, Tony Villar, Jose Garcia, Rocco Montalban, Ernie White and Danny Rojo/ with Ronaldo Valdez in a special role/ Guest star- Norma Blancaflor/ Directed by Bert Balilla, Jr. & Anthony Ocampo

Thursday, April 28, 2011


"Acrobat masters death duel with super natural power of vampires and draculas!" says the blurb in this 1969 movie, "Men of Action Meet Women of Drakula." This would be one hell of a movie, one of Dante Varona's early flicks showcasing his incredible daredevil stunts.

"Men of Action Meet Women of Drakula" (1969)- Stars Dante Varona, Eddie Torrente, Ruben Obligacion, Norman Henson, Ernesto Beren and Angelito Marquez/ with Martin Marfil, Liza Belmonte, Marco Antonio & Nemia Velasco/ Directed by Artemio Marquez

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


60s action star Roberto Gonzales, dubbed as local filmdom's "Karate King," portrayed both as a ninja and samurai warrior in two separate movies he made in 1969, "The Magic Samurai" and "Hari ng Ninja."

"The Magic Samurai" (1969)- Stars Roberto Gonzalez, Johnny Monteiro, Dencio Padilla, Joaquin Fajardo, Rocco Montalban, Rudy Dominguez, Greg lansang, Jun Santos, Lope Policarpio, Ernie Ortega/ with Jessette, Angela Montes/ Directed by Leody M. Diaz

"Hari ng Ninja" (1969)- Stars Roberto Gonzalez, Rosanna Ortiz, Rolando Gonzalez/ with Katsu Harada, Kurosawa Koryo, Kimura Osaka, Okawa Tora, Sato Maru/ Directed by Solano Gaudite

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Filipino boxing champions, Pedro Adique, Roberto Cruz, Little Cezar, James Johnson and Olympian silver medalist Anthony Villanueva made their screen appearances with action star Roberto Gonzales in "Fighting Fist."

"Fighting Fist" (1971)- Stars Roberto Gonzales, Max Alvarado, Georgina Fairy, Aruray, Matimtiman Cruz/ with Pedro Adigue, Roberto Cruz, Little Cezar, James Johnson and Anthony Villanueva/ Directed by Tony Cayado

Monday, April 25, 2011


Two popular but underrated action stars of the 60s, Roberto Gonzalez and Bernard Belleza starred together in a number of movies, among them Kidlat sa Karate (1968), Pambihirang Tatlo (1969) and Ang Matitinik (1970), before the latter was gunned down in 1970 .
More on Roberto Gonzales and Bernard Belleza

"Kidlat sa Karate" (1968)- Stars Roberto Gonzalez, Bernard Belleza, Imelda Ilanan, Johnny Delgado, Alvaro Muhlach, Alicja Basili, Lyn D' Arce and Rolando Gonzalez/ Directed by Ben Feleo

"Pambihirang Tatlo" (1969)- Stars Roberto Gonzalez, Eddie Fernandez, Bernard Belleza and Divina Valencia/ with Rodolfo 'Boy' Garcia, Lito Garcia, Bobby Santiago, Larry Silva, Liza Belmonte/ Directed by Felix Villar

"Ang Matitinik" (1970)- Stars Roberto Gonzalez, Bernard Belleza, Paquito Diaz, Dante Varona, Lito Garcia/ with Jessica, Van de Leon, Victor Bravo, Eva Marie, Bobby Santiago and Rodolfo 'Boy' Garcia/ Directed by Pablo Santiago

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Two relatively underrated Brocka movies merited re-viewing this Holy Week--- "Ano Kulay ang Mukha ng Diyos?" and "Makiusap Ka sa Diyos." Because of its religious undertones and inspiring stories, it is worth a second look.

Synopsis--- Fidel Alipio (Michael de Mesa) collects tong from passing jeepneys for the traffic cops. He is in love with Lani (Gina Alajar), a bar girl.

married but their honeymoon is cut short when they run out of funds. Much to his objections, Lani returns to the bar. One of her steady customers is Mr. Perez (Subas Herrero), whom he suspects to be her lover. One night after a misunderstanding, he accidentally shoots him dead. He is sentenced to die in the electric chair.

Lani finds herself pregnant. She tells Fidel but he refuses to believe it is his child. The baby is born and is christened Maripi (Katrin Gonzales). She suffers from complications and becomes blind. Lani has to fend for the two of them. She becomes a street walker. While she is away, Maripi is cared for by Celing (Caridad Sanchez), an aging, former bar girl who runs a sari-sari store and has no family. Lani and Maripi live in her house but are not charged rent.

One night, Lani is picked up by the police for vagrancy. Rudy Velez (Edu Manzano), a news reporter, convinces the superintendent to release her. He drives her home and meets Maripi. He tries to convince her to turn a new leaf. Lani listens to Rudy and applies for a job in a department store. She gets accepted as a shop girl and is in charge of the perfumery section. However, the store manager, who knows her to be a former hooker, eyes her lasciviously.

One night, while Lani and Rudy are away, thieves break into the store. Celing wakes up and is stabbed by the assailants. Maripi cries for help. There is now no one to care for her blind child. Lani brings her to her place of work. The store manager castigates her for doing so, in contravention of the rules. Lani becomes angry and sweeps the perfume bottles off the counter. She is slapped a bill for the broken bottles; she has no money to pay for them. She asks for reconsideration; he insinuates a sexual favor.

Lani is as cynical as ever. She goes back to street walking. Maripi is left alone in the house. One day, Rudy picks her up in church as she is beseeching the Lord Almighty for favors. He brings her to an eye specialist. He is told that she could regain her eyesight if someone would donate a pair of eyes. But it has to come from someone who has just died within twenty-four hours prior to the operation and who is not sick.

Rudy decides to write an appeal for a donor in his paper. But, upon the proddings of his editor, the writeup is sensationalized. Lani is edited out of the story and Maripi is made to look like an orphan. Fidel Alipio, now a changed man, reads about it and, knowing that his end is near, offers his eyes. A meeting is set between Maripi and her donor. As it is a hot item, Rudy is told to cover it. There is surprise and glee when Fidel discovers Lani and Maripi. He is reunited with them and now accepts her as his child. The paper plays up the reconciliation. The next few days are a happy one for the family. They are together during Christmas.

Because of the extensive press coverage, Fidel is given a pardon. But a new problem erupts. Who is now going to give his eyes to Maripi? As he looks at the fireworks on New Year Eve, Fidel reflects on his life. He has wasted it and should allow others to be given the chances he has thrown away. The following day, he is found dead. An operation is rushed. Maripi has been given the gift of sight by her father.


Dolores Aaron’s (Ruffa Gutierrez) childhood dream has been to serve the Lord. She has entered the novitiate of the Daughters of St. Anne and is very excited as in two months time, she will be saying her final vows.

Emil Ornedo (Cris Villanueva) is a seminarian in the Order of St. John of the Cross. He is very much in love with Dolores and confesses he joined the seminary to be near her. He too will be saying his vows as a brother soon. He proposes to Dolores who turns him down. She is very determined to become a nun.

One of the duties of the nuns is to serve the community. The Daughters of St. Anne is committed to help Dr. Vince Leveriza (Christopher de Leon) in setting up a free clinic in San Lazaro. Sisters Dolores and Amanda have been assigned to help out. Dolores’ pregnant sister, Belinda (Maricel Laxa), and her husband, Alan (Gabby Concepcion), are vacationing in the area. One evening, her sister delivers a stillborn baby girl. Vince and Dolores are called to help. Belinda cries profusely and asks Dolores to intercede with God for her child’s life. Dolores cradles the baby in her arms and, as she looks at the picture of the Holy Family on the wall, the baby starts to cry. Belinda calls it a miracle, but Dolores tells her to keep mum. Dolores is more sure than ever that the nunnery is her life.

But as she is bicycling back to her order, a mysterious stranger manages to assault her and cover her nose with a piece of cloth drenched with chloroform. Upon regaining consciousness, she realizes she has been violated. She goes to a stream and washes herself pure.

Dolores confronts Emil but learns he is not the guilty party. She is distraught and feels that God has betrayed her. She continues on with her final vows. In the ceremony, she faints. She is found to be pregnant. The nuns are scandalized. Sister Carmen, the mother superior, locks her up in her room and allows no one to visit her. She talks to Sister Bernadette, the oldest of the congregation, about having the baby adopted once it is born. Sister Amanda overhears the conversation and tells Dolores. Dolores wants to keep the baby and feels she must leave. With the help of Sister Amanda, she manages to escape. It is a rainy night, and she knocks on the door of a kind woman who lives with her lame daughter, Rebecca. She delivers a baby boy whom she calls Nino.

Rebecca becomes close to her and asks, as she is a person of God, to intercede with him so that she could walk again. Dolores places her hands on her legs but they do not move.
Dolores visits her mother who slaps her when she finds out. She hurriedly leaves the house when her mother calls the convent. She boards with Alan and Belinda who scoff at her religiosity. The father accepts Dolores as an unwed mother and settles her obligations with the nuns. She is now released from her vows. She searches out Emil, but to her disappointment, he has changed his mind. He now wants to become a priest.

Dolores now tries to adjust to a secular life. She learns that Alan and Belinda are at odds with each other and that Marga, their child, is not his daughter. Belinda was carrying on with a married man who left her. He married her upon their father's promise of a position in her law firm. On their wedding night, she laughed at him for being such a wimp. His illusions vanished at that very moment. One day, Marga becomes ill. Dr. Vince Leveriza is called for. He is happy to see Dolores and learns about her condition. He starts courting her and, in due time, gets her to be his wife. On their wedding night, Dolores is unsettled by the sex act. She tries to postpone it, but Vince is insistent. In his exasperation, he reveals that he is her rapist. He did it out of his contempt for the condescending, holier-than-thou attitudes of the religious. Dolores becomes hysterical.

Dolores and Vince present themselves as happily married to the eyes of their acquaintances, though she refuses to sleep with him. Out of his desperation, Vince sleeps around --- with Belinda whose husband also refuses to fulfill his marital obligations. One night, Dolores spots some plane tickets in his shirt. She disposes of them. It seems Vince had intended to leave for somewhere with their son.

It is Dolores’ birthday party. She has invited her parents and friends to a dinner. She notices a bulge in the stomach of Ursula Maniago, her servant. She forces her to reveal the name of the culprit. It is her husband. There is bedlam with the revelation and Dolores’ father confronts Vince. He suffers a heart attack and expires while punching him. Dolores now sinks deeper into morbidity and blames herself for her father’s death. Vince now sleeps openly with the maid in her quarters in the garage. In a moment of insanity, Dolores decides to burn down the adjacent structure. Vince and Ursula are burned alive, along with their son.

It is a sensational court case. Dolores is arraigned on two counts of parricide and premeditated murder. Alan, who admits being in love with Dolores, is her lawyer. He ably defends her. She is acquitted of the charges but is committed to an insane asylum.

Time passes. Dolores wears her novice habit and tries to adjust to life in the asylum. She is visited by friends, among them Rebecca and her mother. Rebecca asks her again to cure her of her lameness. She places her hands on her numb legs and they start to move. It is a miracle. Dolores regains her trust in God.

Source: Lino Brocka: The Artist and His Times

Thursday, April 21, 2011


1. "Kaban ng Tipan" (X-otic Films/1939)---

"Kaban ng Tipan" (1939)
X-Otic Films
Release Date: November 16, 1939/ Metropolitan Theater
Director Jose Nepomuceno
Story Dr. Fausto J. Galauran
Cast Lucita Goyena, Reynaldo Dante, Andres Centenera, Luningning, Amanding Montes, Precioso Palma, Juanito Lazaga

2. "Agua Bendita: A Religious Offering" (FDR Productions/1953)---

Not to be confused with the top rating ABS-CBN TV soap, did you know that there was a movie made titled Agua Bendita? It was released and shown in 1953. Surprisingly, veteran character actor Pedro Faustino was in the lead role, his name above the title. Faustino was a familiar figure in many photoplays playing nominal characters as a priest, peasant or farmer, father or grandfather of lead stars.

"Agua Bendita: A Religious Offering" (1953)- Stars Danilo Montes, Rosita Noble, Ludy Carmona, Roberto Rosales and Pedro Faustino/ with Engracio Ibarra, Estrella Noche, Vilma Herrera/ Directed by Paquito Bolero

3. "Luha ng Birhen" (Sampaguita Pictures/1954)---

"Luha ng Birhen" (1954)- Stars Carmen Rosales, Van de Leon, Norma Vales and Luis Gonzales/ Directed by Octavio Silos

4. "Ang Langit sa Lupa" (Nepomuceno Productions/ 1967)---

"Ang Langit sa Lupa" (1967)- Stars Charito Solis, Ric Rodrigo, Liza Lorena, Greg Martin, Rod Navarro, Eva Darren, Norma Blancaflor, Ernesto La Guardia/ Directed by Luis Nepomuceno

5. "Hermano Pule" (VLZ Films/ 1976)---

"Hermano Pule" (1976)- Stars Boots Anson-Roa, Philip Gamboa, Alicia ALonzo, Nympha Bonifacio, Greg Lozano and Tommy Abuel in the title role/ with Perry Baltazar, Ernesto Santos/ Directed by F.V. Alfon

Hermano Pule (1815-1841) was born Apolinario de la Cruz in barrio Pandác, Lucbán, Tayabas (now Quezon), but is better known as Hermano Pule. He led the first major revolt in the Philippines, based on a struggle for religious freedom.

As an infant, Apolinario wanted to become a priest. At the age of 24 in 1839, he attempted to enter a monastic order in Manila. He was refused because he was an 'indio' (native, indigent). Frustrated, he worked in the San Juan de Dios Hospital. During his spare time, he studied the Bible and religious material and actively listened to church sermons, thus developing his knowledge in theology.

In June 1840, he founded the Cofradia de San José (Confraternity of St. Joseph) which excluded caucasians. The brotherhood fostered the practice of Christian virtues. When Spanish religious authorities heard about the organization, they immediately condemned the brotherhood as heresy. The brotherhood's number grew despite its persecution. Spanish authorities, including Governor-General Marcelino Oraa and Archbishop Jose Segui, regarded the Cofradia as a heresy and banned it. However, the more persecuted the Cofradia was the greater it grew in numbers.

Finally forced to fight for religious freedom, Pule rallied 4,000 followers at Barrio Isabang on the slope of Mount Banahaw and was able to vanquish an attack by Alcalde-mayor Juan Ortega and his 300 men on October 23, 1841. However, reinforcements came on November 1 with Colonel Joaquin Huet who not only annihilated the Cofradia forces but massacred hundres of defenseless old men, women and children who joined Pule in Alitao. Pule escaped to Barrio Ibanga but was captured the following evening, and on November 4, 1841 he was executed by a firing squad at the town of Tayabas. (Internet Source)

6. "Lorenzo Ruiz" (RJU Films/ 1988)---

"Lorenzo Ruiz" (1988)- Stars Charito Solis, Dang Cecilio, Juco Diaz, Rose Ann Gonzales, Alvin Enriquez and Mat Ranillo III in the title role/ Directed by Maria Saret

Lorenzo Ruiz is the first Filipino saint. He is also the first Filipino martyred for the Christian Faith. Lorenzo Ruiz was a layman, married, and had two sons and a daughter.

Born in Binondo, Manila, about 1600's, he was educated in the school of the Dominicans there. He served as an altar boy and later was a helper and clerk-sacristan in the church of Binondo. He was a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary. He made his living probably as a calligrapher, one who renders documents in beautiful penmanship for private or official use. To be sure, that work denoted an accomplished and educated person, especially at a time when many an illustrious personage was far from excelling in this art.

An adverse event made him leave the Philippines in 1636. When he was in his late twenties or early thirties, he became involved or was accused of being involved in a criminal case, the circumstances of which are far from clear. Whether he was involved or not, one thing was clear, he was afraid that, as a consequence of a trial or mistrial, he might be given a death sentence.

Upon landing in Japan where Christians were being persecuted, he was arrested and imprisoned together with his companions. He underwent inhuman tortures and valiantly confessed his Christian Faith. Refusing to renounce his Faith, he told his executioner that he was ready to die for God and give himself for many thousands of lives if he had them. On September 27, 1637, he was hung from a gallows by his feet, his body falling into a pit. After two days of agony, he died of bleeding and suffocation. His body was cremated and the ashes thrown into the sea.

He and fifteen companions, martyred in the same persecution, were beatified by Pope John Paul II in Manila on February 18, 1981 and elevated to full honors of the altar by canonization on October 18, 1987 in Rome. Their feast day is on September 28th.

Source: www.catholic.org

7. "Nakausap Ko ang Birhen" (Regal Films/ 1988)---

"Nakausap Ko ang Birhen" (1988)- Stars Lotlot de Leon, Ramon Christopher, Eddie Garcia, Janice de Belen and Snooky Serna/ with barbara Perez, Sarsi Emmanuelle, Marissa Delgado, Subas Herrero, Bella Flores, Ramil Rodriguez, Alicia Alonzo, Nanding Fernandez, Vangie Labalan/Directed by Mike Relon Makiling

8. "Divine Grace sa Buhay ni Sister Faustina" (Cine Suerte/ 1993)---

"Divine Mercy sa Buhay ni Sister Faustina" (1993)- Stars Donita Rose, Christopher de Leon, Liza Lorena, Paquito Diaz, Dexter Doria, Maila Gumila and Alicia Alonzo / Directed by Ben Yalung

---click image to enlarge---

9. "Kristo" (Cine Suerte/ 1996)---

"Kristo" (1996)- Stars Mat Ranillo III, Gabby Concepcion, Ricky Davao, Aga Muhlach, Amy Austria, Lorna Tolentino, Rudy Fernandez and Christopher de Leon/ Directed by Ben Yalung

---click image to enlarge---

10. "Birhen ng Manaog" (Regal Films/ 2005)---

"Birhen ng Manaog" (2005)- Stars Jodi Sta. Maria, Eddie Garcia, Joyce Jimenez, Albert Martinez, Cherry Pie Picache, Jean Garcia, Bianca King, Ina Feleo, Alicia Alonzo / Directed by Ben Yalung

---click image to enlarge---

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


1. "Marcelino" (Champion Pictures/ 1959)---

"Marcelino" (1959)- Stars Oscar Keese, Bert Olivar, Raul Belmonte, Pianing Vidal, Andres Iturbi, Andres Benitez, Arsenio Almonte, Carlos Asensi and Danilo Jurado as Marcelino/ Directed by Roy Padilla

click images to enlarge

The year: 1959---
It was seven in the morning and the office of Champion Pictures was still closed. Outside the door, five-year old Danilo Jurado fidgeted by his father’s side and wondered whether they were doing the right thing. They were there to see what chances Danny had in getting chosen for the title role in Marcelino, Champion’s Lenten picture currently under production.

Roy Padilla, Champion boss and director of the picture which needed a lead star, received father and son. He interviewed Danilo, paying special attention to the child’s facial expressions. The interview over, Roy asked for a picture of the boy which was filed for reference.

Other applicants were interviewed. Yet, as the field of selection grew wider, Roy felt more certain that only Danny, the first applicant by the way, could play the role. No other candidate for the role possessed Danilo’s assets: a delicate complexion, a chiseled nose, big soulful eyes and curly locks which strayed at the forehead. After a few days, Roy declared the search ended and he called for Danilo. The boy was signed up for three years and production of the picture, already long delayed, commenced immediately.

For the studio, the discovery of Danny Jurado meant only one thing, a child for the lead role in Marcelino had been chosen and they could finish the picture in time for the Lenten season. For the boy and his family, however, it meant much more. It was a job, a good-paying job, and a better future. No more pounding of pavements, no more missed meals, no more bruises caused by rough stones on bare feet.

Danilo was a ticket vendor before this good opportunity. So were his parents. He was a ticket vendor as soon as he could walk unaided. Danilo was, to quote the studio PRO, the monkey to his parents’ organ. It was he who enticed the buyers, who made the difference of a few more pesos added to their meager daily income. Danilo’s walking hours were spent in the alleys and sidewalks of Sta. Cruz and Quiapo, at night they would retire to the slums where they lived.

This is Danny Jurado, the boy who has been chosen for the title role in Marcelino, a touching story of a child’s unquestioning faith in his God.

Source: "Big Break for a Boy" by L. de Paz/ Literary Song-Movie Magazine/ March 16, 1959

2. "Pitong Pagsisi (Sampaguita Pictures/ 1959)---

In 1959, Sampaguita Pictures released "Pitong Pagsisisi," as part of their Lenten offering. Dubbed as "the biggest array of stars in the greatest motion picture of all time!" Surely' it's one of the biggest in the history of Philippine movies--- Look at the stars--- Carmen Rosales, Gloria Romero, Paraluman, Rita Gomez, Ric Rodrigo, Lolita Rodriguez, Luis Gonzales, Van de Leon, Amalia Fuentes, Juancho Gutierrez, Susan Roces, Romeo Vasquez, Barbara Perez, Marlene Dauden, Carlos Salazar, Tony Marzan, Tony Cayado, Eddie Garcia, Liberty Ilagan, Eddie Gutierrez...

The movie was based on the story by Ben Gallardo and was serialized on the pages of "Bulaklak' and "Alimyon" magazines.

"Pitong Pagsisisi' (1959)- An All-Star Cast/ Directed by Armando Garces

3. "Sa Hardin ng Diyos" (VP Pictures/ 1960)

Another star-studded movie, "Sa Hardin ng Diyos," was VP Pictures Holy Week Presentation in 1960. The movie, directed by Mar Torres, starred Fred Montilla, Juancho Gutierrez, Amalia Fuentes, Romeo Vasquez, Susan Roces, Tito Galla, Barbara Perez, Eddie Gutierrez, Liberty Ilagan, Lito Legaspi, Meldy Corrales, Boy ALano.

4. "Pitong Kalbaryo ni Inang" (VP Pictures/1962)---

"Pitong Kalbaryo ni Inang" was VP Pictures' Lenten offering in 1962. "The dramatic story of a mother who bore her seven calvaries --- beyond human endurance," says the blurb. The great Rosa Mia, in a heart-wrenching performance, portrayed a loving and martyred mother to her seven children.

"Pitong Kalbaryo ni Inang" (1962)- Stars Amalia Fuentes, Jose Mari, Daisy Romualdez, Jean Lopez, Greg Martin, Lito Legaspi, Eddie Garcia, Naty Santiago, Zeny Zabala, Dindo Fernando and Rosa Mia/ Directed by Jose de Villa

5. "Morena Martir" (VP Pictures/ 1965)---

Loretta Marquez was given top billing in the 1965 movie, "Morena Martir," adapted from the popular DZRH radio serial.

"Morena Martir" (1965)- Stars Luis Gonzales, Edgar Salcedo, Rosa Mia, Zeny Zabala, Vilma Santos, Elizabeth Bankhead and Loretta Marquez in the title role/ with Venchito Galvez, Jose Villafranca, Renato del Prado, Nenita Navarro/ Directed by Jose de Villa

6. "Langit at Lupa" (FPJ Productions/1967)---

FPJ Productions’ Langit at Lupa is a love story salvaged from the chaos of war. It tells the drama between two individuals who meet at a moment when one is about to be married to a vocation.

Ronnie Poe plays the role of a miner in one of Baguio’s mining camps, Susan Roces is a postulant.

In a mining mishap, nuns from a nearby convent rush to rescue the casualties. Raul (Ronnie Poe) meets Veronica (Susan Roces) and from that moment, each knew of the strong attraction between them. But they are cautious and careful not to entertain the feelings because they are aware of the gap between them.

War breaks out and Raul, with his fellow miners, become soldiers, and later guerillas. They camp near their old mine. In one instance, when the Japanese pursue them, Raul and company have no other recourse but to seek refuge in the nearby convent. Veronica and Raul meet again, but the she is about to be committed to Christ.

When Raul and his group leave, Veronica feels and realizes that she will be more happier with Raul. She talks with the mother superior.

After the war, Raul once more returns to the convent, only to find out that most of the nuns detailed that time perished when the Japanese bombed the place.

Did you know that National Artist,the late Fernando Amorsolo, a well-known and famous painter did a portrait of Susan Roces in this movie. The painting was very essential to fully project the dramatic implication of a sequence in the film. The story called for the renowned painter being requested by FPJ, in the role of Raul to do a portrait of a woman he had known in the past but only from his (Ronnie’s) description as he envisioned her from memory. The woman was Susan Roces who portrayed the role of Veronica in the film.

Susan with the Amorsolo painting

7. "Lord Forgive Me" (Sotang Bastos Productions/ 1970)---

Multi-talented ace comedian Chiquito, in a change of pace, tried his hand in drama when he produced and directed "Lord Forgive Me," his Lenten offering in 1970. He even had a role in the said movie topbilled by reel-and-real life partner, Gloria Romero and Juancho Gutierrez.

"Lord Forgive Me" (1970)- Stars Gloria Romero, Juancho Gutierrez plus all-star cast and Chiquito/ Directed by Chiquito

8. "Munting Santa" (1970) and "My Prayer" (1971)/ Tower Productions---

Teen superstar Nora Aunor starred in two 'Lenten' movies: Munting Santa (1970) and My Prayer (1971). Both movies, Holy Week presentations from Tower Productions, were helmed by Artemio Marquez.

"Munting Santa" (1970)- Stars Nora Aunor, Manny De Leon, Angelito Marquez, Berting Labra, Boy Alano/Directed by Artemio Marquez

"My Prayer" (1971)- Stars Nora Aunor, Ricky Belmonte, Amalia Braza, Joseph Sytangco/ Directed by Artemio Marquez

9. "Father Jess" (NGP Film Productuions/ 1973)---

"You cannot love God without loving your fellowmen!" These are the inspiring words of Father Jess, portrayed by veteran character actor J. Eddie Infante. The movie, released in 1973, had a formidable cast headed by Eddie Gutierrez, Boots Anson-Roa and Bert LeRoy Jr.

"Father Jess" (1973)- Stars Eddie Gutierrz, Boots Anson-Roa, Bert LeRoy, Jr., Jingle, Marilou Ver and J. Eddie Infante in the title role/ Directed by Tommy David

10. "Miracle of Love" (GC Films/ 1982)---

This tragic event in 1982 really broke my heart. I’m referring to a very fine, young, beautiful lady who died of leukemia at an early age. You may have probably heard the name of Roxanne Abad Santos. She became an instant celebrity in the early 80s when she appeared in the cover story of Panorama magazine, a supplement of Manila Bulletin, announcing to the world that she was ill and dying. Ugly rumors persisted that time that it was not that serious, because she was able to do a movie with then current heartthrob, Gabby Concepcion. Her illness was all publicity, they say. Even the Concepcions, under GC Films, who produced the movie, were not spared in the controversy. Critics charged that the Concepcions were using Roxanne’s illness to promote and eventually secure the success of the film. But whatever the intention, Roxanne left us a wonderful movie titled Miracle of Love.

Shot mostly in Frankfurt, Germany and Venice, Italy, the movie featured Gabriel, played by Gabby, who left for Europe to mend a broken heart. He parted ways with Snooky, who was vowed by her parents to the monastery life. He met Roxanne, which he later found out that she was ill and suffering from leukemia. Gabriel was with Roxanne during her difficult times. In the end, Gabriel was reunited with Snooky. So what happened to Roxanne? Roxanne did not die in the movie though. She became a nun. It had a happy ending!

Unfortunately, Roxanne passed away before she could even watch the movie. Miracle of Love was her first and last starring role.

11. "Himala" (ECP/ 1982)---

Hailed by fans and critics as Nora Aunor's finest movie and one of Direk Ishmael Bernal's best work. But for this film, Nora received only one Best Actress Award, from the MMFF (Metro Manila Film Festival), and one nomination from the FAP (Film Academy of the Philippines). A decade later, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino included Himala in its list of the 10 Best films of the decade (1980-89).

Himala (1982)

Himala Revisited
by Arnel Resma Ramos

Watching Ishmael Bernal's landmark film Himala on a lethargic afternoon is like revisiting an old familiar haunt. It brings back memories of a cherished time when locally manufactured movies made one ponder and contemplate, think and analyze.

We were but a boy in knee pants, starry-eyed and unsophisticated, when we first saw this meditative piece on faith and the evils that it brings forth when used for the wrong reasons. The year was 1982, exactly two decades ago, and we well remember being enthralled by the sheer force of its powerful images and quietly devastating performances. We are one of the blessed few who own a video tape copy of the film that has remained, through the years, Nora Aunor's signature film. The pint-sized superstar delivered a miracle of a performance as Elsa, the false visionary. Perhaps, the finest performance by a Filipino actor ever recorded on celluloid. If the diminutive multimedia luminary ever decides to leave the movies for good, Himala is enough reason to guarantee her of immortality.

Set in a far-flung barrio, a lowly, plain looking lass claims that the Virgin Mary appeared before her during an eclipse. She becomes a faith healer and almost overnight the sleepy town transforms into a bustling community. Pilgrims and tourists troop to Barrio Cupang out of curiosity while the sick flock to the once-cursed place with the hope that the miracle will heal them. Among the people who gravitate around Elsa are her two fanatic followers: a childhood friend named Chayong, almost saintly in countenance, and a poor woman (played with serene intensity by theater stalwart Amable Quiambao) who places her devotion to Elsa on top of her priority list. Two other important characters come within Elsa's orbit: a struggling documentary film director who treats his camera as his God and a downtrodden prostitute (performed to perfection by Gigi Duenas).

Eventually, the miracle brings out the worst in the townsfolk. The greedy use it for their selfish motives. They peddle Elsa's miracle like a commodity, to the extent of selling bottles of supposedly miraculous water. The politicians take advantage of the media mileage to further their hidden agenda. The dire poverty drives the women to prostitution and the men to committing crime to escape their miserable plight.

Then one day, Elsa loses her power to cure. The faithful Chayong takes her own life and once more Barrio Cupang goes back to being barren and seemingly God-forsaken. There is an interesting twist as to why this happens. I choose not to reveal it so as not to spoil your viewing pleasure, if and when you come across a copy of this film and like me, be held captive by its hypnotic quality. I dare say that Himala is far more spiritual than the countless movies inspired by the lives of saints.

The film concludes in a scene where Elsa, following the rain that has come to Barrio Cupang after a long drought, gathers her believers in the sand dunes and announces, to everyone's shock, that indeed the miracle is nothing but a hoax. It is in this scene where Nora delivers the iconic lines "Walang himala, ang himala ay nasa ating puso (There is no miracle, the miracle is in our hearts)." Right after the startling revelation, Elsa is gunned down and pandemonium breaks out.

The film is not the typical fare that the average Filipino moviegoer laps up with glee. There are no violent confrontation scenes. Missing too is the element of sex. But the film is unerring in its depiction of the grim consequences when people use faith to advance themselves. From the first scene to the last, Bernal never loses grip on his material, imbuing it with directorial touches that may go unnoticed by undiscerning viewers. They may find the film too passive and gloomy. Bernal executes the film according to his grand design. The cinematography and the editing are laudable.

Ricky Lee's script is deft and soulful. Some quarters complain that the main problem with the script is the underwritten part of the central character Elsa. We feel that the role was decidedly underwritten to make the part properly enigmatic and mystical, in keeping with the elusive quality of the film. After all, faith is a very personal matter. It is not something that one slaps right in the face of others.

Then until now, we believe that Nora Aunor should have swept all the best actress awards for that particular year. She was pitted against Vilma Santos' heartfelt portrayal of the mistress in Relasyon and the latter scored a grandslam. This is not to belittle Santos' portrayal but if one were to be objective, it would be easy to see that Aunor had the more complex role and only an actress of her caliber can pull off the part with much persuasion. It calls for a restrained, self-effacing acting style. And Aunor, the consummate actress that she was (take note that we used the past tense because the more recent film outings of the actress are far from her best. She has become very florid, like a bad version of a hysterical Charito Solis), strikes not a false note in her performance. It is, in one word, mesmerizing. And Himala is without a scintilla of a doubt the pinnacle of her cinematic achievements.

Films like Himala reaffirm our faith in Philippine movies. We hope that despite the fact that two of our most revered directors, Bernal and Lino Brocka, have long since gone to the great beyond, people in this well-loved industry will join hands and strive to come up with films that will herald a renaissance in Philippine cinema. We hope to see the day when the Philippines will finally be able to make it as a nominee in the Oscar Best Foreign Language Film category. Some cynics may say that it is wishful thinking but call us what you wish, we remain undaunted in our belief that Philippine Cinema is at par with the best of the world. see link


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