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Vilma Santos - Seasons Of Success


Forty six years is a phenomenally-long time to be enjoying a thriving showbusiness career. Whereas actors and actresses these days would rise and fall with the changing tastes of the film-going audiences through the decades, the award-winning Miss Vilma Santos to date, has remained the most accomplished and most prolific star in Philippine showbiz. Come September, a brand new film offering from Star Cinema will topbill Vilma, along with actor son Luis Manzano and box-office king John Lloyd Cruz. And with a 5-weekend ABS-CBN TV reality-documentary on her life, loves and achievements, it’s expected to be an unforgettable month for Vilma fans the world over.
In My Life is the story of a short-tempered librarian who raised her three children in the United States, with their own stories of growing-up conflicts and life’s misadventures. Real-life son Luis plays her gay son attached to his boyfriend, played by John Lloyd – one of the controversial and awaited features in the film. It is amazing how Vilma, the duly-elected Governor of Batangas (one of the country’s major provinces), still managed to give shooting time for this film, her first in a long time since the box-office hit Mano Po 3 in 2004. Even more work from the veteran star poured into a 5-part television special – Vilma: A Woman For All Seasons – that showcased her different facets, as a film and media icon, as a performing artist, as a politician, and as a mother and wife. Airing for five Saturdays at 9:30pm starting August 1st, the last episode on August 29 will feature exciting behind-the-scene takes from their filming in New York.

I chanced upon Vilma sharing a light moment with her guest performers Angelica Panganiban, Iya Villaniya and Shaina Magdayao at ABS-CBN’s studio 10, in between takes for the variety show episode of the TV special. "Pinilit nga nila ako na gumawa ng production number dito, pero sabi ko…ibinigay ko na sa mga bagets…the worst that can happen ay iko-compare pa nila yung dati 'saka yung ngayon (I was forced to perform for a production number but I delegated that to the young stars…they might compare how I was in the past, and how I am now," Vilma confessed. The defunct but long-running TV weekly variety-musical VILMA! always started with a fully-choreographed grand opening number, and this was a routine she left long ago when she decided to run for the post of Mayor of Batangas years ago. But as the days went on, the star expressed how much she missed dancing and performing. For the young stars who took part in this special, it was a once-in-a-lifetime privilege to share the stage and spotlight with the legendary Star For All Seasons, who indeed retained her brilliance as a dancer and performer. The TV special is expected to be an unequalled glittery television event that will feature the brightest stars in Manila showbiz today – Claudine Barretto, Kim Chiu, Angelica Panganiban, and many more. Vilma, as shown in this TV show and upcoming film will again, and always be the season’s best we should all watch for.

(This was first posted in August 2009 for Words For The Would-Be_Famous at stellarmind.wordpress.com)

Kris Bernal Shining

I shot this portrait of ravishing GMA actress Kris Bernal in 2010 when I worked with a skincare brand on the invitation of a friend. This is my favorite shot of her. At that time, I was 7 years into my photography work, and have just been shooting mostly stars from ABS-CBN (the other big network.) I said to myself, what brilliant young lady -- beautiful, very talented, with a "light of her own" wherever she walked. At that time, Kris had just starred in "Koreana", a top-rating GMA TV drama. It helped that I liked Korean stars, and was totally inspired during my photoshoot with this young drama diva.
Two years later, I would find myself in a conference room with Ms. Kris Bernal and the handsome actors Aljur Abrenica and Benjamin Alvez for a motivational viewing for their upcoming teleserye, a Filipino version of the hit koreanovela "Coffee Prince." I was in the meeting on the capacity of Head of Talent Development for GMA Artist Center, and Kris, and the actors are now my artists. I would remind Kris of that photoshoot session (one of very many for her), and we would beam in joy in the reality that we are indeed, working together again, and will be so for the next many months and years. In the many days that followed, more and more I realized what a true STAR Kris really is.
In "Coffee Prince" she would tape for three days a week (for up to 20 hours a day) in wet Tagaytay weather, playing the role of boy, and wearing a short wig for all that time. One cannot know just how difficult that all was -- there were times she'd get sick, and still work until the taping is finished. The production crew and her co-actors have only good things to say. She is highly professional. But what's really special about Kris Bernal is that in between tapings, I would ask her to attend workshops back at the station, and she would come looking as ravishing as she did in the photo above. I don't mean "all made-up and hair-styled", I mean, that light that follows her everywhere she goes -- she still has it. After 20 hours of taping, she was happy, radiant, and seem ready to take on another day.
I know television production. It changes the way people look after a while. I think Kris transcends that because she knows she has to, and she has to look like she has control over it, and not the other way around. A true Star is always up in the sky for us to look up to, and should never be seen touching the ground. The rest of the showbiz world would argue -- "it's the acting awards" or "the box-office hits", or "the many commercials", or the "many famous flings.." that makes a Star. Not to trivialize all that, but one could have all that, and still would not LOOK like a Star. Beyond all the trappings, we must see the radiant attitude and masterfully-maintained image despite the arduous work and mind-boggling stress. Many have mastered this technique, not just in showbusiness, but in other businesses everywhere, in other worlds, places and situations. Everywhere, people are judged for how they looked, and often, it's a great boost if you looked as good as you are. It should be an ideal to always ambition for. Kris achieved it.

And now, if we can all just stop complaining about how hard the stuff we do is, and we begin to LOOK the part, well, something must be learned here.

Do Your Thing Very Well.

Look Like It's So Easy.

Wash up and rest a while.

Shine brightly and dazzle them.
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