Saturday, May 10, 2014


Image: Marlon Lazaro Antolin

Dubbed Himala sa Buhangin, this outdoor arts and music festival is the highlight of this year’s celebration of the La Virgen Milagrosa Festival, which is held in honor of the province’s patroness, the provincial information office said. 

Among the festival’s highlights are the unveiling of an art installation by Leeroy New and the presentation of the Elsa Monument, a statue honoring the character portrayed by actress Nora Aunor in the 1982 movie “Himala.” The movie was shot in the province’s sand dunes. 

The Paoay Interactive Sculpture Park also opens today, Saturday, as one of the added attractions in this year’s festival, said June Arvin Gudoy, chief of the communication and media office of the Ilocos Norte government. 

Unveiled as a national geological monument in Barangay (village) Calayab, Laoag City, on Nov. 26, 1993, through a presidential proclamation, the Ilocos Norte sand dunes are low-lying, elongated hills in a narrow zone that extends for about 40 kilometers from the coastline of Currimao town in the south to the coastal town of Pasuquin in the north. Leilanie Adriano, Inquirer Northern Luzon


Information obtained from Inquirer, Philstar, Wikipedia, PEP, and Daddy in the City; Photos courtesy of Jun Arvin Corpuz Gudoy, La Milagrosa Festival and Alaric Yanos (Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte)

Sa Ngalan Ng Ina (Fan Page)
Photo credit to Alaric Yanos


Now, a fiber-glass statue representing Superstar Nora Aunor's most iconic role, "Elsa," from the CNN Asia-Pacific Screen Awards' Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time, "Himala," is to be unveiled on May 10th at the Paoay Sand Dunes in Ilocos Norte. This is in time for the La Milagrosa Festival, an annual provincial celebration honoring La Virgen Milagrosa, the Patron Saint of Ilocos Norte. A free concert dubbed as "Himala sa Buhangin" will feature singer Bamboo. Nora herself is expected to grace the event.

Visual artist Leo Gerardo "Gerry" Leonardo is the one responsible for the Elsa sculpture. He is a special education teacher for visual arts at the Philippine High School for the Arts, of which he is also an alumnus. He is best known around Manila for his large-scale sculptures including the famous Balanghai in Taguig city.

The statue shows Nora Aunor (as Elsa) kneeling, in her famous praying posture.

So, why Elsa? Why Nora Aunor?

Ilocos Norte governor Imee Marcos is spearheading the event. As everybody knows, she was the Director-General of the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines which produced "Himala." Hence, it is expected that "Himala," generally regarded as the greatest Filipino film of all time, is very close to her heart. After over three decades, the Nora Aunor movie continues to receive acclaim even outside the country.

Several local and foreign films have been shot in Paoay (or have featured the province) - "Mad Max" (1979), "Panday" series (1980, 1981, 1982, 1984), "Temptation Island" (1980 and 2011), "Stryker" (1983) "Silip" (1985), "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), "Emir" (2010)", and "Thelma" (2011) - but the most popular and certainly, the most significant is "Himala," which was written by multi-awarded scriptwriter Ricky Lee and directed by National Artist Ishmael Bernal.

The governor has succeeded in making the Paoay Sand Dunes a tourist attraction despite its being dry and nothing but sand. A few years ago, she had announced that she would offer incentives to film producers who would shoot in Ilocos Norte.

Unarguably, Nora Aunor has the most impressive body of work among all artists from different media. She is, in fact, a true multi-media superstar. She has conquered them: music, radio, television, movies, stage, and print.

Therefore, honoring Nora Aunor and her most iconic film character is just a fitting tribute to her legendary artistry spanning five decades. Her statue is not meant to be idolized like a sacred monument; instead, it will commemorate the global excellence of "Himala" and perhaps, Nora's excellence as an artist.

Really, we should give them, the artists, a statue, a building, or even a street name now, so that they may bask in the glory. Now, while they still can. Don't you think?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


May 6, 2014



Iconic Filipina actress Nora Aunor is not big about her nearing birthday (on May 22), but she didn’t mind sharing that she will have a statue erected in her honor in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

A tribute given her by Gov. Imee Marcos, it is a statue of her as Elsa in the Ishmael Bernal film “Himala,” which was shot in the region.

Nora said she will be attending the unveiling of the said statue on May 10 along with “Himala” scriptwriter Ricky Lee as part of the second Himala sa Buhangin, deemed as the “biggest offbeat outdoor arts and music festival in the north,” held in line with the celebration of the Feast of La Virgin Milagrosa.

Nora expressed, “Nagpapasalamat ako kay Gov. Imee Marcos pagkat siya lang ang nakaisip na gawan ako ng rebulto sa Paoay, Ilocos Norte, sa pinag-shootingan mismo ng ‘Himala.’”

Another priceless birthday gift that Nora could expect is her being named a National Artist.
But it is something she’d rather not comment about at the moment. “Kung darating pasalamat tayo, kung hindi pasalamat din tayo,” she said.

As to whether the statue would have a “political consequence” on her becoming a National Artist, Nora stressed, “Hindi na pinag-uusapan ang politika sa ganyan. Si Gov. Imee Marcos ang nag-produce ng ‘Himala’ atmay karapatan siyang gawin ‘yun at kung ano ang gusto niyang gawin dun. Kaya hindi pinag-uusapan ang politika dito…wala naman akong pakialam doon. Basta ako mag-unveil lang. At para sa akin isang karangalan ang magawan ng isang rebulto.”