Déjà vu at the UP Film Institute

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2015 - 12:00am

Perhaps like Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, we got that déjà vu feeling when we watched the restored copy of Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa? from the award-winning novel of Lualhati Bautista who also wrote the screenplay, directed by Chito Roño, at the UP Film Institute last week.

More than 17 years after it was first shown, the digitally-restored and re-mastered high-definition format looked new, far better and clearer than the original. Bata, Bata together with Anak (by Rory B. Quintos) and Kapag Langit Ang Umusig (by Laurice Guillen) made up the “Vilma x 3” tribute hosted by ABS-CBN at the Cine Adarna of UPFI in Diliman, Quezon City.

The three movies were chosen because “they exemplify the artistic excellence and solid contribution” of Vilma to Philippine Cinema.

We take our hats off to Leo Katigbak, head of the ABS-CBN Film Archives, in cooperation with Central Digital Labs, for giving the new breed of films the chance to watch classic films that would have been swept to oblivion if they were left to rot. It’s quite a thrill watching those movies again.

“I really identify with Lea Bustamante, my character in Bata, Bata,” admitted Vilma who took her time out from her busy schedule to grace the tribute. “Like Lea, I have two sons by different fathers and I’m proud to say that, again like Lea, I’m raising them well.”

Playing Vilma’s children are Carlo Aquino, still active, who must be in his late 20s and Serena Dalrymple who has migrated to the States.

“We wanted to restore key works of Vilma with different directors,” said Leo. “We certainly would have wanted more of her definitive work from the ‘70s and early ‘80s but access to the materials and other issues are often the problems we encounter with older films,” such as Regal movies Relasyon, Broken Marriage and Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga, all by Ishmael Bernal; Sister Stella L by Mike de Leon; and Aida Macaraeg by Lino Brocka. “To a certain extent,” added Leo, “Vilma is the closest we have to a Meryl Streep.”

The sad thing is that many other films by different companies are non-existent, a few of them found in libraries abroad. The master copies of most of Brocka’s early films by LEA Productions (where he started) are gone…Wanted: Perfect Mother, Tubog Sa Ginto, Santiago and Stardoom…and so are those of Bernal’s early works such as Pagdating Sa Dulo, Nunal Sa Tubig and Ikaw Ay Akin (with Vilma and Nora Aunor). Thankfully, Bernal’s Himala has been saved, which is among the 72 films so far restored by Leo and company since they started in 2011. T-Bird at Ako, Vilma and Nora’s first movie together by Danny Zialcita is slated for screening (also at Cine Adarna) soon.

Present at the tribute was Chito Roño who has done 30-plus movies so far, mostly with Star Cinema.

“The younger generation of movie fans hardly have any idea about old films,” rued Chito, “that’s why I’m grateful to Leo Katigbak’s group for restoring old films.”

Speaking of Vilma, she said she’s excited to work in a Star Cinema movie with Angel Locsin, her future daughter-in-law (knock on wood!) with whom she did a Mano Po movie.

“That was an all-star cast,” said Vilma. “This time, kaming dalawa lang,” adding that she will play a sick wealthy lady with Angel as her caretaker. Beyond that, she begged off from revealing further what the story is, except to say that she and Angel will have a confrontation scene, “Not heavy drama, medyo light lang.”

The official candidates in the first Mr. Republic of the Philippines, with the three winners to be named on March 6

First Mr. Republic of Phl launched

The first (2015) Mr. Republic of the Philippines model search was formally launched with 23 official candidates selected at the Sampaguita Hall of Manila Hotel last Jan. 30. They will be joined by 12 representatives from Visayas and Mindanao for the press presentation on Feb. 18 at Ace Hotel & Suites.

Organized by AA Pro Couture Frontliner Timeless USA/Phil. Inc. under designer Arielle Agasang, the pageant’s objective is to promote the positive image of the Filipino youth from different provinces and communities by displaying their rich and diverse culture, healthy lifestyle and social relevance.   

Three major winners of equal bearing will be declared during the grand coronation night on Mar. 6 at the Maynila Ballroom of Manila Hotel. Two runners-up each will comprise the court. Major winners will each receive P500,000 worth of prizes, while first and second runners-up will bring home P100,000 and P50,000 worth of prizes, respectively.  

The three titleholders will have the chance to travel to the USA where their respective international competitions will be staged: 2015 Mr. Worldwide International in Orlando, Florida in Sept.; 2015 Mr. Model of the World International WCOPA in Long Beach, California, July 10 to 19; and 2015 Runway Model of the World International (venue to be announced later). — Text and photo by Celso de Guzman Caparas

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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