The society of respected film critics that hands out the annual Gawad Urian in cinematic excellence

Natatanging Gawad Urian

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Nora Aunor: Changing the Taste of Filipino Moviegoers

By Butch Francisco

Although her magnificent voice initially served as her big ticket to superstardom, it was her performances in the movies that enshrined Nora Aunor as the biggest female iconic figure in Philippine show business.

Films have always been a part of her life – first as a young movie fan who watched Vilma Santos’ Trudis Liit five times at the flea-infested Allan Theater in her hometown of Iriga. “I have always been Vilma’s fan,” she says of the actress-turned-politician, who had been her archrival in showbiz for close to half a century.

When – at age 12 – she moved to Manila in search of her big break, possibly as a singer on radio, it was in her agenda to see in person and hopefully get the autograph of Vilma, who by then had become her girl crush. She got this chance when she auditioned in the radio show of Ike Lozada and German Moreno and to her delight found out that Vilma was among the featured guests in the program. That could have been the happiest day of her life, except that Moreno, who later would become her biggest showbiz drumbeater, chose another aspiring singer over her.Read more

Mila del Sol: Hard life, beginnings, romances, hollywood days, the bright twilight years

By Butch Francisco

Mila del Sol—a play of words around “milagro del sol” or miracle of the sun. This was the screen name given to her rather belatedly—when she was already in the middle of production, shooting her launching picture, Giliw Ko.

Filmed outside the controlled environment of a studio barn, the director, Carlos Vander Tolosa, had difficulty working on his day effects. The skies were always overcast.

But whenever the star was called in to do her scenes, the sun—miraculously—would come out. And so the name Mila del Sol was coined.

Life has not been all sunshine, however, for Mila del Sol, now 90 years old. But in spite of her share of storms (plenty!), she has remained healthy. Her face is still lovely and almost wrinkle-free.

Born Clarita Rivera, she traces her roots to her father’s side to a Castilian forebear named Primo de Rivera. Somewhere along the way, the de (of) in the surname was dropped. By the time her father, Amado, was born in the pueblo (now the capital city) of Batangas, the name had been shortened to Rivera.Read more

Rody Lacap: Translating the director’s vision into visual reality

By Nicanor G. Tiongson

“Ang mahalagang kontribusyon ng cinematographer sa paggawa ng isang pelikula ay ang mailahad ang nilalaman ng kuwento na gustong iparating ng director sa manonood, sa pamamagitan ng tamang pagpili ng lente, anggulo at galaw ng kamera, source of light, at komposisyon o framing.” - Rody Lacap, FSC

SCENE 1 : Starkly silhouetted against a sugar cane field being devoured by a roaring conflagration, a motley caravan of peasants carrying bundles of clothes on their shoulders, heads, and hands and servants leading carabao sleds loaded with hacendero families slowly negotiate their escape from the oncoming Japanese from the hacienda mansion to the forest.Read more

Jose Flores Lacaba: Poet and Screenwriter in Conflict

By Benilda S. Santos

Jose Flores Lacaba, poet, freelance journalist, screenwriter, editor, translator, and professional lecturer on journalism and literature is a quintessential Filipino nationalist whose engagement in the humanities and the arts, as well as in film and in media, makes him one of our most important living writers and intellectuals.

Lacaba was born in Cagayan de Oro City in 1945 where his father’s work brought the family, but spent most of his youth in Pateros, his mother’s hometown where they finally settled. The eldest of six children, he attended school at Pasig Catholic College. A scholarship grant enabled him to enroll at the Ateneo de Manila University and work towards an A.B. in English Literature. However, three years were all he could allow himself to experience in an academic environment quite unlike the early postwar years, the ‘50s, and the ‘60s in Pateros, and even elsewhere in Manila and the suburbs. In junior year, he left the university. Perhaps, it was his way of coming into his own, his way of working as an artist who remains influential in his time.Read more

Armida Siguion-Reyna: Film Actor, Producer, Industry Leader

By Nicanor G. Tiongson

At the age of 8, Armida Liwanag Ponce-Enrile appeared as an extra with the child star Tita Duran in a movie called Yaman ng Mahirap (1938), which was directed by Armida’s aunt, Carmen Concha. That experience enchanted the young Armida and from then on she was enthralled by the art of cinema. On her way to school (FEU Grade School), she would stop at the Star Theatre to gawk at the movie stills of Rudy Concepcion, Rosario Moreno and Corazon Noble. During the Japanese Occupation, she learned the songs of her idol Fely Vallejo, who was the ghost singer for Corazon Noble and Norma Blancaflor. From the film musicals of the late 30s she developed her passion for the Filipino song.

But her fascination with cinema and desire to be in film did not sit well with her father, the noted lawyer Alfonso Ponce-Enrile. Right after the war, she took screen tests with Palaris Films and was offered the chance to be the young lead of Fernando Poe Sr.’s company. Promptly, her father sent her away to the Academy of St. Joseph in Long Island, New York, where she graduated high school in 1948. The following year, she secretly auditioned for a role in the new Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I by singing the Deanna Durbin song, “The Italian Street Song” (with a high C in the end, Armida adds). Her chances of being taken were good but the nuns of Saint Joseph found out about the audition and reported it to her father. As expected, her father ordered her to come home immediately.Read more

Peque Gallaga: The compleat cinema artist in twilight

By Bien Lumbera
National Artist for Literature

THE way filmmaking is shaping up in our time, the mainstream film industry seems to be in its twilight years. The terms “dying” and “moribund” have been used, but Star Cinema and Viva Films are still struggling to come out with movies that raise hopes that the industry will yet revive. Twilight is a romantic time of day, and those hopes just might materialize into films when the nation’s economy allows such recuperation. So, it’s twilight time. And against such a romantic setting, it seems timely and perhaps imperative that tribute be paid to a filmmaker whose multiple faces justify the hopes that have been raised.

Peque Gallaga, at 56, has spent 36 years in the industry, directing 36 films, writing 22 film stories, acting in 13 movies and producing four. He made a name for himself as a knowledgeable production designer, authored stories for film and screenplays, acted in many films, and was a producer for movies. Indeed, he is the epitome of the compleat Filipino cinema artist.Read more

KIDLAT TAHIMIK: Tagahawan ng landas ng Philippine independent cinema

Ni ROLANDO TOLENTINO

Kinikilala bilang tagahawan ng landas (pioneer) ng kasalukuyang pamumulaklak ng Philippine independent cinema, si Kidlat Tahimik ay ang kumakatawan sa non-komersyal at malayang produksyon pampelikula sa huling 30 taon.

Tunay na filmmaker (direktor-aktor-scriptwriter-editor-cinematograper) na masaklaw ang panghawak sa independent spirit, installation at performance artist, edukador ng independent filmmaking, jury sa film festivals, katuwang na tagapagtatag ng Baguio Arts Guild, at bumuo ng proyektong video para sa mga Ifugao, si Kidlat Tahimik ay gumamit ng katutubo at avant garde na konsepto sa filmmaking, at napagyaman ang mga ito bilang mahalagang daluyan ng pelikung Filipino.

Halaw sa metapora ng pagtuklas at pagpapalaya ng “sariling dwende” (non-formula ingredients), ang filmmaker ay gumagawa ng “technically unpolished films,” gamit ang “bahag-cum-bamboo-camera” sa pagdramatisa ng “advocacy for films that reflect the indio-genious talents of the Pinoy.” Na bago pa man naisilang ang Philippine independent cinema ng kasalukuyan, nandoon na si Kidlat Tahimik.Read more

MARICHU VERA-PEREZ MACEDA: To the Film Studio Born

By BUTCH FRANCISCO

This year’s recipient of the Natatanging Gawad Urian for lifetime achievement is producer and industry leader Marichu Maceda. The Manunuri is giving the award to her for her long years of leadership in the movie industry, resulting in the institution of policies, programs and even agencies catering to the needs and interests of movie professionals.

Maceda was instrumental in the passage of Republic Act 9167, the law that created the Film Development Council of the Philippines, which formulates programs and grants incentives to improve the quality of Filipino movies. The council has formed the Cinema Evaluation Board, which evaluates and grades films submitted to it and depending on the ratings, grants them incentives.

To the film studio born, Maria Azucena “Marichu” Vera-Perez Maceda lives, eats, and breathes movies. After all, she belongs to the family that established (in 1937) the country’s biggest dream factory that was Sampaguita Pictures.Read more

EDDIE GARCIA: Actor, director, icon, Philippine cinema’s one-man totem pole

By Lito B. Zulueta

In an industry of tincan careers, tired formulas and short shrifts, Eddie Garcia defies easy definition. Widely known as an actor, he is however more than that; he is also a director, perhaps the most commercially successful of Filipino directors in the highly commercial 1980’s, an establishment figure who is however a great supporter of independent cinema, a photographer, a ladies’ man, and an icon.

Perhaps more than any Filipino actor, Eddie Garcia has appeared in the most number of movies, some 250 movies as of 2005. He has acted in just about every genre in feature filmmaking, and even figured in shorts and features from the alternative cinema. The sheer variety of roles he has done runs the gamut of genres, formulas, and typecasting. He has done drama, comedy, action movies, fantasy, and musical. The list of his acting jobs reads like a history of Philippine cinema in the last 50 years. Read more

JESUS MACARAEG NAVARRO: Film Editor

By DR. BIENVENIDO LUMBERA

nce upon a time in Philippine movies, when the car with Rogelio de la Rosa as family driver leaves the driveway of the palatial home of "senorita" Carmen Rosales, and seconds later, enters the gate of the residence of the senorita's friend, some discombobulated moviegoer would mutter, "Ang dali naman!" (But that's much too soon!). The implied complaint, we now understand, had been triggered off by a disruption on-screen of the moviegoer's sense of real time. The annoyed viewer at that time did not yet know how to distinguish the passage of minutes in his watch from the lapse of time on-screen.

Then came along the 1941 black-and-white Ibong Adarna by Vicente Salumbides. When the legendary bird of the popular metrical romance flaps its wings and begins to sing, the feathers of the adarna corruscates with colors painted onto the celluloid as the song weaves its enchantment and the goodly young prince Fred Cortes strives to keep awake by wounding his arm, a titter of amazement in the audience affirms the magic` of film editing.Read more

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