|Nora Aunor in 'Thy Womb'|
By ARNEL RAMOS
Noramania rages this December with four Nora Aunor-centric events that will send the whole town talking.
In celebration of Ishmael Bernal’s hypnotic 1982 classic “Himala” turning 30 this year, a restored version of the film that starred Nora Aunor in her most iconic role will be exhibited at the Cinema One Originals film festival in early December.
Jointly restored by the ABS-CBN Film Archive and Central Digital Lab. Inc., this “Himala” in HD (high definition) premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival last September.
“Himala” features one of the superstar’s most iconic roles, that of the bogus visionary Elsa. It was on the set of “Himala” in Ilocos that its screenwriter Ricky Lee met the legendary actress for the first time.
“I was already a fan back then,” Lee told InterAksyon via email, “kasi superstar na siya noon, samantalang ako kabago-bago ko lang sa movies. Since I was the one who chose her to be Elsa in ‘Himala,’ siyempre I was praying that she would say ‘yes’ to the project so when she said ‘yes,’ that was heaven-sent.”
Aunor and Lee would become lifelong friends but not right there on the set of “Himala”.
“I would often go to the set in Ilocos and I would see her,” recalls the screenwriter. “Mahiyain siya at tahimik, nakaupo lang sa isang tabi, walang kaarte-arte, parang hindi superstar. Eh ako mahiyain din, kaya halos ‘di kami nagkakausap. It was only later when we did ‘Andrea’ (in 1990) together that we became good friends at mabilis kaming nagkasundo.”
Coinciding with “Himala” in HD’s Venice premiere was the inclusion of “Thy Womb,” Nora’s first film with internationally acclaimed Pinoy filmmaker Dante Mendoza, in the main competition category in the prestigious fesatival.
After being shut out of the eight official entries in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival, “Thy Womb” ended up joining the festival anyway. It took over the slot vacated by “Kwento ni Lola Basyang” which backed out from the race.
This means that Aunor has two MMFF entries this year. She also appears in a guest role as the second wife of Emilio Aguinaldo in the biopic “El Presidente.”
On television, Nora just won a Best TV Drama Actress award from the Philippine Movie Press Club for “Sa Ngalan Ng Ina,” her first project with her new home network TV5 and also her last collaboration with the late esteemed director, Mario O’Hara.
Nora likewise shines in a small yet integral part as a fairy queen in TV5’s well-received fantasy series “Enchanted Garden.”
She may have had ups and downs in her lengthy and checkered career as a movie queen but Nora continues to be relevant and timeless. She has, in fact, ceased to be merely iconic. Nora Aunor has become immortal.
|Nora Aunor in 'Himala'|
Ricky Lee tries to explain his dear friend’s enduring appeal.
“She will always be a beautiful enigma to all of us. Sometimes the audience and her fans feel that they already know her very well, but the next instance she proves to be as mysterious as ever. She has retained that mystique that keeps you asking for more from her, that keeps you wanting to know her more and more.
“She makes you feel like she is just like your ordinary neighbor, na kapantay mo lang siya, pero at the same time you also feel that she is above there, brilliant and unreachable. She combines the uncombinable. She makes you feel that everything good is possible.”
Nora’s current manager, Noel Ferrer, offers: “She has defied the conventions of a star and has given the term a new meaning and elevated it to a level that no one in Philippine show business has ever achieved.”