Nora, Vilma, Sharon, Maricel  to clash at MMFF?

Showbiz kibitzers and fanatics cannot hide their excitement and are all waiting with bated breath because of the possibility that movies starring the last four true movie queens of Philippine entertainment will make it as part of the Metro Manila Film Festival in December.

The last four movie queens are, without a doubt, Superstar Nora Aunor, Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos, Diamond Star Maricel Soriano and Megastar Sharon Cuneta.

Baby Boomers, Gen X and millennials are witnesses to their illustrious reigns, complete with box office supremacy and flops, fierce, loyal and warring fandoms, local and international awards, acclaimed works with Filipino film masters and new directors, as well as brand ambassadorships and endorsements, television shows, recordings, concerts and their mammoth share of gossip and intrigue through the year.

Cuneta’s film A Mother and Son’s Story is already part of the top eight films, having been chosen from the roster of submitted finished scripts.

National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Aunor has an intended film submission in Pieta, which has a formidable cast that includes national treasure and Cannes Film Festival Best Actress (for Ma Rosa) Jaclyn Jose and actor Alfred Vargas.

The Star for All Seasons, meanwhile, has finished a film for submission — When I Met You In Tokyo, with the original drama king Christopher de Leon as her leading man, marking the nth pairing of the most successful professional “love team” in Philippine cinema history.

Finally, Soriano is teaming up with best friend Roderick Paulate and new star LA Santos in a family drama called In His Mother’s Eyes.


Landmark films

The landmark films of these formidable queens with legendary directors, such as Gerardo de Leon, Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Celso Ad Castillo, Danny Zialcita, Maryo delos Reyes, Marilou Diaz Abaya and Mario ‘O Hara, and with living film masters Mike de Leon, Joel Lamangan, Chito Rono, Jose Javier Reyes, Carlitos Siguion Reyna and young directorial Jedis Adolf Alix Jr., Mes de Guzman and Erik Matti, are the main reasons why the fascination and reverence for them carries on.

Essential viewing to appreciate the one and only Superstar are her Lino Brocka classics, Bona, Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo, Bernal’s Himala (the greatest Filipino movie of all time), O’Hara’s Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos and a personal favorite, Beloved, by Leroy Salvador where she pulled off the part of an affluent woman opposite Hilda Koronel as her antagonist.

The must-see films from the Star For All Seasons include the quintessential Bernal-Vilma movies, namely Relasyon, where she earned all the best actress trophies in 1982; Broken Marriage and Pahiram ng Isang Umaga; Mike de Leon’s tale of a nun turned activist, Sister Stella L; and my particular preference, Ikaw Ay Akin, where she co-starred with La Aunor. It has a most unforgettable no-line confrontation scene and two well-delineated characters given life by Santos, the vivacious and erratic Sandra, and Aunor’s icy horticulturist Teresita.

The Diamond Star’s most iconic films are Ikaw Lang Ang Minahal and Inagaw Mo Ang Lahat Sa Akin by Siguion Reyna, Hinugot Sa Langit by Bernal and Saan Darating Ang Umaga by Delos Reyes. But my top pick is Bernal’s The Graduates, where Soriano, specifically in the last frame of the movie with her face partially covered by another actor, showcased to the hilt her power and screen presence.

Among the Megastar’s stellar films are the unforgettable coming-of-age tale Dear Heart by Zialcita, the Cinderella singer dramas Bukas, Luluhod Ang Mga Tala and Bituing Walang Ningning by director Emmanuel Borlaza (better for me than the overrated Madrasta), and for Gen Z viewing, her small gems Nang Iniwan Mo Ako by Jose Javier Reyes and Crying Ladies by Mark Meily.

The palpable excitement and buzz over the anticipated four-way clash among these four Filipino screen immortals in this year’s MMFF underscores one truth: Buildings burn, people die and governments are toppled, but the generations-lasting relevance of and love and support for Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Maricel Soriano and Sharon Cuneta have yet to be equaled. Long live the queens!