The Superstar is ‘People of the Year’ awardee
NEW BEGINNINGS - Bum Tenorio (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2014 - 12:00am

I have a confession to make — I am an avid Noranian. And proud to be one.

I learned to read at an early age of four or five because I wanted to understand the Superstar Komiks my mother usually borrowed from our neighbor in Gulod. It had Nora Aunor on the cover. And every week, I would see Nora in different poses, in different clothes on the cover of Superstar. My very young and impressionable mind began to probe the phenomenon that enveloped her.

(My knowledge of Nora Aunor — I have an almost 100-page dissertation of the Superstar in my possession given to me by another Noranian — came in handy when I wrote about her in the 14th anniversary special of the prestigious and no-nonsense PeopleAsia magazine. Nora will be one of the magazine’s 2013 People of the Year awardees. Her sterling contributions to the Philippine music and film industry define Nora as one of the 14 awardees of the magazine.)

My fascination for Nora in my juvenile years was courtesy of Ate Yolly, our neighbor whose source of income in our little sleepy barrio was comics rental — Hiwaga, Aliwan, Wakasan, Pinoy Classics, Love Story among others. I would always make sure that a copy of Superstar Komiks would be beside me. I was a young fan. And I consciously allowed the embers of my fanaticism to grow for Nora.

Ate Yolly and her De Los Reyes sisters Violy, Nila and Dory told me Nora Aunor was the one and only Superstar of the Philippine entertainment industry. They regaled me with her Cinderella-like story — that Nora Aunor was an aguador (one who sells water at the train station) in her native town of Iriga, Camarines Sur. She was nicknamed “Ate Guy” because when she studied high school in Manila, she acted like one of the guys, engaging herself in fistfights with the boys. Because of her golden voice, she turbo-propped her way to success — I grew up listening to her Pearly Shells, I’ll Never Find Another You, The Way We Were and People, the song that made her win in her second attempt at the Tawag ng Tanghalan. Early on, I also learned that Nora was an idol of the masses. Ate Yolly also informed me that in the acting department, Nora was incomparable, especially when she quietly portrayed her role. I would later on discover that it is almost obscene to give Nora more speaking lines in her movies because what the words cannot say, her eyes, the signature acting armament of La Aunor, telegraph her gamut of emotions a million times.

The first movie I heard that Nora did was Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos (1976). I distinctly remembered it because Ate Yolly and her sisters were excited to go to the nearest movie house to watch the Mario O’Hara-helmed film on its opening day, Nov. 19, 1976. The following day was my fifth birthday. To watch Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos was the first birthday wish I ever made in my life. It was never granted for economic reasons.  But I contented myself listening to Ate Yolly and her sisters how good Nora was in that film. (She won Best Actress for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos both in FAMAS and Gawad Urian. She first won her best acting trophy in the movie And God Smiled at Me in 1972, given by the Quezon City Film Festival.)

For Christmas that year, I wished to watch Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo because, I heard from Ate Yolly, it would be shown on Christmas Day of 1976. Still, I did not get to watch it.

When I already had the capacity to buy VHS copies of movies, the first Nora Aunor films I bought were Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and Minsa’y Isang Gamu-gamo. As for the iconic Himala, I was already in Grade 5 when it was shown and I, in my khaki short pants and red Spartan slippers, secretly tagged along with my cousin to watch it at Vygys Cinema in Biñan in 1982.

Himala was the first Nora Aunor film I watched on the big screen. Since then, my adulation for her had grown. Unstoppable. (For more on Nora Aunor, please read my story on pp. 96-99 of the 14th anniversary special issue of PeopleAsia magazine.)

Like a true artist, Nora has her fair share of ups and downs. “I’m luka-luka. Especially when I’m in love,” Nora told me during the interview, bursting into girlish giggles. But true-blue Noranians always find it in their hearts to “forgive” Nora for her follies. They only see the star in her.

Nora Aunor has an air of genuine gravitas that commands not just attention but deference from the people who understand her and her gleaming body of work. Her credentials as a singer, an actress, even as a thespian prove that she is a confirmation of a world-class talent. Her string of international best actress awards is a validation of her precious contributions to the country’s cinema.  In her own, she is a legend.  

They say idolatry is a sin. I don’t mind being called a sinner if it means I keep my love for Nora Aunor — the one and only Superstar.


Real lives, real stories and real people are intelligently put together on the pages of the 14th anniversary special of PeopleAsia magazine. These individuals are also the magazine’s 2013 People of the Year awardees. The award is the magazine’s annual take to honor world-class Filipinos who have done the Philippines proud with their extraordinary talents and contributions to society.

On the cover of the POY issue of the magazine is Megan Young, rightfully recognized for bringing honor to the country when last year she became the first Filipina to wear the coveted blue crown of the Miss World competition after 62 years.

Aside from Nora Aunor, other awardees from the Philippine entertainment industry are critically acclaimed film director Brillante Mendoza, Pop Diva Kuh Ledesma and ‘Prince of Indie Films’ Coco Martin.

Father Gerard Deveza, a healing priest, is also a POY awardee for his contribution to “heal the dreams” of 365 poor and deserving children who now enjoy free private elementary and high school education at the Divine Healer Academy in Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

Also awarded for his involvement in public service is Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla for spearheading his province to become one of the most industrialized and fastest growing provinces in the Philippines.

PeopleAsia also gives the POY recognition to movers and shakers in the business community like Shell Philippines country chairman Edgar Chua, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chair Helen Yuchengco Dee and ABS-CBN channel head Cory Vidanes.

Fashion designer Criselda Lontok deservingly made it to the POY cut, too. So did five-time PBA Coach of the Year Chot Reyes, whose team Smart Gilas Pilipinas won silver at the recent Asia championship of FIBA.

Dr. Steve Mark Gan, dubbed as the “Dentist to the Stars,” and Raffles and Fairmont Hotels managing director Thomas Meyer are also People of the Year awardees.

Special awards will also be given to 23-year-old Alexandra Eduque for her philanthropic and charitable works rendered through the Habitat for Humanity; and the MVP Group of Companies for its dedication to be of service to the survivors in the disaster-ravaged provinces in the country.

Last but not the least, PeopleAsia magazine gives out its Lifetime Achievement Award to National Book Store founder Socorro “Nanay Coring” Ramos. If Superstar Komiks was my first reading material where I learned to read, the books at the National Book Store supplied me with the knowledge I needed to contain in the gray matter in my head. I dare not imagine the Philippines without National Book Store. (I will make sure to have a photo taken with Nanay Coring on the night of the POY!)

Reading the stories of this year’s People of the Year awardees is akin to reading mini-bios of people whose lives will touch other people’s lives. Indeed, as PeopleAsia proves in its every issue, the most interesting story is always about people.


(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio. Have a blessed Sunday!)

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