Throughout her decades-long career, Nora Aunor has been misunderstood by many—including herself! Since we’ve worked with her and think the world of her as a genuinely Filipino screen icon, we’ve taken the time to arrive at a number of insights into what makes her tick—and click.
Since she’s made her latest successful comeback to the big and small screens, we hope that our notes will make it easier for a new generation of film lovers to get to really know, understand and appreciate her and her unique gifts and contributions to the local entertainment scene—flaws, scars and all!
First, it’s key to remember that Nora was exceedingly poor and unheralded when she became a singing star, thanks to the pioneering radio-TV talent search, “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” in the early ’60s.
At first, it was her “golden” singing voice, so rich and “mature” for the little slip of a girl she was then, that captivated the public. Soon enough, however, her other performing strengths emerged, including her expressive eyes and subtle and intuitive acting.
Initially, people derided her because she was small and dark-complexioned—but, her kayumanggi coloring was what made her stand out as far as I was concerned.
Early on, I lauded Nora for being able to believably represent and vivify the aspirations of most “real” Filipinos, unlike the many Caucasian-looking local stars who could never be believable in “ordinary” roles.
In time, more people agreed and hailed Nora as the Filipino star, and millions of fans seconded the motion and made her the country’s first real female superstar!
In those early days, Nora was so popular and in-demand that she once confided to us rather shamefacedly that she was shooting four or five films at the same time—in the same big house!
She became exceedingly rich and was ardently idolized by millions of fans—and this is where her problems began.
Since she was unschooled and was tasting great wealth and popularity for the first time, despite her best efforts to keep her feet on the ground, it all got to her head and resulted in her taking her obligations as a star for granted.
In addition, she was manipulated by many “handlers” and “yes” people who praised her to high heavens when the going was great—and dropped her like a hot potato when it wasn’t.
Thus, she began to equate people’s “love” for her with financial “persuasion”—and, when the “persuasion” ceased to work, she took the wrong psychological turn and concluded that it meant that she was basically unlovable!
In turn, this made her a cynic. It could also have led her to her vices, in a move to compensate for her perceived limitations and unsuccessful liaisons.
This was the time when Nora sometimes became her own worst enemy, turning producers off with her unprofessional and “ungrateful” behavior.
For our part, we saw all of her many failings, but we held on to the conviction that she and her talent were worth believing in, and that she had (many more?) great performances left in her.
Well, Nora’s current local and international success with “Thy Womb” has proven that conviction right, and even better, it looks like Nora in maturity has finally become a focused and responsible performer. —So, the worst may finally be over for her—and the best is yet to come!