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Another article contributed by Ron from his collections and clippings. Thanks Ron.
Designs of Three Decades (1970 - 1996)
DESIGN OF THREE DECADES (1970 – 1996) Patrick D. Flores (Manila Times)

We discern certain signs across the lackluster firmament of mainstream Philippine cinema that compel us to look back to the past two decades and the first half of the 1990s.

First the centenary of film viewing in the country which prompts us to take stock of what we as a film public have accomplished by watching movies for the past hundred years.

Second, the common lament that the current output of the industry betrays the heritage of excellence reaped during the so-called Golden Age of Philippine cinema, circa 1976-1986, which only affirms the progressive deterioration set into motion by the Aquino regime, from 1986 to present. The most glaring and immediate proof of course, has to be the sorry lot that the so-called “Magic 6” of this Metro manila Film Festival.

Third the death of Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal, two of Philippine cinema’s sturdiest pillars, which has left the field in a state of vacuum.

This silver retrospective takes the form of a review of the legacy of the period (1970-1996) and identifies the best performers, directors, and films therein, as chosen by a group of respondents composed of a film archivist, two entertainment journalists, a film critic, a media practitioner, and a university professor, none of whom represents any specific film group or body.


1) NORA AUNOR. The itinerary of Nora Aunor as multimedia star and actress was paved with landmines. Yet, inspite of grave difficulties, she was able to weave a filmography that is by far the finest in the entire history of Philippine cinema. Her commitment to the art of film finds its most compelling affirmation in the international film canon which has recognized her contributions to the cinema of her country and of the world. Her triumph in Cannes, Berlin, and Cairo is cinema’s gift to one of its most dedicated artists. Aunor has the unparalleled density and sheer luster of any nation’s premier actress. Very simply, she is the greatest Filipino film performer.

2) VILMA SANTOS. Vilma Santos has weathered all the seasons of the industry and in the process has become a very good actress. Her performances are cogent and breathtaking, fiery and affective. Santos without doubt is the industry’s most inspired and inspiring actress. Her face transforms into a brooding lake which crumples when rippled and stretches like skin of mist when stilled; she can also bristle like metal.

3) GINA ALAJAR. For sheer brilliance and perspicacity, Gina Lajar is celebrated as an actress that’s difficult to challenge. Touching, ebullient, and heartfelt, her style illuminates the social onus her character bears --- and she bears it like a cross. Brutal, Moral, Kapit sa Ptalim (Bayan Ko), Salome, Andrea, Paano Ba ang Maging Isang Ina?, Bukas May Pangarap, and Birds of Prey are just a few gems in a chest of plenty. Alajar is generous in her devotion to the duty of actressing and her persona sparks like fire.

4) HILDA KORONEL. Hilda Koronel’s intelligence enables her to stir up a gamut of focused and tone-perfect characterizations. Sometimes icy, sometimes warm and intense, she brings to life the difficult destinies and choices taken by the heroines of Santiago, Insiang, Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising, PX, Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap, Nakaw na Pag-ibig, Sugat sa Ugat, Sana Bukas Pa ang Kahapon, Sakada, Mayniala sa Kuko ng Liwanag and Working Girls I. She is great because she “thinks feelings and feels thoughtfully”.

5) JACLYN JOSE. Former nymphet Jaclyn Jose is the industry’s most stunning actress. Exploring the intricacies of body, face, and mind to deal with the expressions of sexuality, she dexterously walks the tightrope of her identity as both woman and cinematic subject as she has done in Private Show, Itanong Mo sa Buwan, Olongapo: The Great American Dream, Macho Dancer and Takaw Tukso. In all these films, Jose amazingly catches the elusive spirit of desire and discipline.

6) MARICEL SORIANO. Maricel Soriano’s gut-wrought emotion and incendiary feeling constitute the core of her films. Without her keen intuition, heady passion, grit and profound fervor, Hinugot sa Langit, Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal, Hindi Kita Malimot, The Graduates, Kaya Kong Abuting ang Langit, and Vampira would surely have fallen flat on their faces.

7) CHARO SANTOS. Charo Santos takes her art seriously like a conscientious student, her performances in films in Itim, Kisapmata, Kakabakaba Ka Ba?, Brutal, Ang Alamat ni Julian Makabayan, Hindi Mo Ako Kayang Tapakan, Pag-ibig na Walang Dangal, Sino ang Pipigil sa Papatak ng Ulan, Durugin si Totoy Bato, and Kontrobersyal are unparalleled in terms of the meticulous attention they give to persona and pain.

8) AMY AUSTRIA. The earthy realism in Amy Austria’s performances is not only refreshing, it’s also honest and seems to unravel in a state of rawness. Her bravura portrayal of Monica Real in Brutal is enough evidence. Her work in Jaguar, langis at Tubig, Aliw, Menor de Edad, Sugat sa Ugat, Waywaya, Celestina Bubbles Sanches Story, Kung Mahawi Man ang Ulap, and Nena are gravy.

9) LORNA TOLENTINO. The heart of Lorna Tolentino’s deep talent dwells on a face that secretes tension. No actress in Philippine cinema wears the face like a canvas creased with perturbation the way she does --- or did in such films as Moral, Gaano Kita Kamahal, Narito ang Puso Ko, Manila by Night, Caught in the Act, Aliw, Maging Akin Ka Lamang, Kailan Mahuhugasan ang Kasalanan, Sana Bukas Pa ang Kahapon, and Mga Uod at Rosas.

10) DAWN ZULUETA. Dawn Zulueta’s robust personality and heady energy keep the forge of her tireless creative powers burning. She is persevering, purposive, and patient. And from her films --- Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, Iisa Pa Lamang, Apoy sa Puso, Buhay ng Buhay Ko, Saan Ka Man Naroroon, Kung Mawawala Ka Pa --- we glean these rare virtues. Zulueta does not attack her roles, she tackles them like a good soldier and seasoned warrior.