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)
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?