Sunday, November 25, 2012


Nestor de Guzman, Gordon Doria, Art Barbadillo, Bibsy M. Carballo,
Ricky Lee, Maru Cusi Tatco, Jonathan Catunao, Gilbert Guy Ferrer

The Philippine Star Entertainment
November 21, 2012; Wednesday
Page E-3

If there would be any word that could describe Nora Aunor then and now, it would have to be “unpredictable.”  From the day she was born, the bronze superstar called Guy appeared to follow the disposition of the moment, breaking many rules but getting away with them.  Her love life and her misbehavior are fodder for gossip to this day.  Her awards in film, recording and theater are too many to enumerate.  She had close to 30 homes; her earnings would have run into the multi-millions, yet she has little to show for it.

In the acting field, her awards have come from Brussels, Cairo, Berlin Cannes, Singapore, Green Planet (Hollywood) and the recent Venice Film Festival.  Obviously, there is no Filipino award-giving body that hasn’t given her a Best Actress award and even a Lifetime Achievement trophy.  She is not called the Superstar for nothing.

But even superstars have their downside.  Nora left for the US sometime in 2004 and stayed there for eight years.  Perhaps, she enjoyed the life of an ordinary person away from the problems of a celebrity.  It is rumored she got into trouble with the US Immigration, asked to serve community service, was released with all cases erased and wonder of wonders, given a 10-year US visa.  People were astounded.  Walang himala?

Guy returns home.  TV5 had offered her a contract; the late Mario O’Hara directed her in a mini-series; Cannes Best Director Brillante Mendoza’s film Thy Womb brought her an award in Venice; the same film will compete at the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF); and ABS-CBN is launching the newly-restored film Himala with a book Ricky Lee was commissioned to write.  Guy is happily where she belongs.

The restored Himala film will be launched on Dec. 4, 4 p.m., at the Shangri-La Plaza Cinema 1, together with a documentary titled Himala Ngayon by sari Dalena and Keith Sicat.  Ricky’s coffee-table book Sa Puso ng Himala has the full screenplay, English translation, more than 100 full-color photographs and interviews with cast and crew.  The 1,000 hardbound copies at P1,000 each are almost sold out.  A softbound version limited to 4,000 copies at P500 with exactly the same content will be available at the launch (for details, call 426-4961, 928-9557 or 0917-5331948).

When informed by Leo Katigbak of ABS-CBN’s Film Archive and Special Events of the plan for the film launch and the book in early December, writer Ricky thought it would be a cinch.  No sooner had he agreed to the project when voluminous problems arose.  Director Ishmael Bernal had long been gone; cinematographer Ike Jarlego had just died; those on the set including this columnist as line producer couldn’t remember details from 30 years back; and Bernal’s assistant director Warlito Teodoro could not be traced.  What was Ricky to do?

He went to the Noranians, the Manila core group of Nora Aunor advocates in various parts of the globe who call themselves ICON and NFF (Nora’s Friends Forever) who promote the legacy of the superstar as a world-class artist.  It was the best decision he ever made.

According to Nestor de Guzman, a workshopper of Ricky in 2002, it is this group that went work quickly and efficiently:  On Aug. 2, relates Marie Cusi Tatco, they met with Ricky who asked them to assist in the research.  Mari searched for the root of the Himala story, the apparition in Cabra of the Virgin to a girl named Belinda Villas, and spoke to her and her husband.

Gilbert Ferrer and Jonathan catunao went to the National Library and Mowelfund to photocopy every material that had to do with Himala.  NFF members helped in transcription – among them Michael Obenieta in Kansas; Deogracias Antazo in Saudi Arabia; Marites de Vera in Dubai; Ellen Alejano in Autralia; Nikos dacanay in Thailand; Glorina Tugade with Bayer Philippines; and Gordon Doria in the Philippines.

Jonathan and Mari followed director Trina Dayrit to Antipolo on Aug. 9 to interview her in-between takes of her teleserye and the reached out to Baby K. Jimemez through Internet.   They waited two weeks while Manila was “underwater” because of the habagat rains to interview Imee marcos, head of Experimental Cinema (ECP) that produced Himala.

Meantime, Ricky’s efforts were gaining ground.  Charlie Perlata of Roper’s studio, official Himala photographer, submitted photos rescued from 30 years of flood and fungi.  Joel Lamangan, crowd director of the stampede scene of 3,000 extras, found Bernal notes of that scene.  At the wake of his brother Ike, Edmund Jarlego willingly shared memories from his brother of Himala.  Ernesto Enrique sent be Virgie Moreno’s UP Film Center to Ilocos to document Himala had information to share.  Jun Arvin Gudoy, current chief tourism officer of Ilocos, introduced them to some extras in the stampede which led to the actual spot of the tree in the movie where Elsa saw the Virgin.  The sineguelas tree was still in the spot they left it.  Waiting for another Himala?

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