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Nora Aunor now a ‘Bilocana’

Sculpture is a fitting birthday gift to the country’s only superstar
/ 12:09 AM May 20, 2014

GETTING a first glimpse of the sculpture in Paoay. LEONCIO BALBIN JR./INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

Singer-actress Nora Aunor, known as the country’s superstar, received a pair of Mother’s Day-slash-early birthday presents in Ilocos Norte last May 10.

Apart from the unveiling of the Elsa sculpture in the sand dunes, Aunor was declared an adopted daughter of Paoay, via a municipal resolution.

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Aunor recalled that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos told her in jest: “You are no longer just a Bicolana; you’re now a Bilocana.” (Aunor was born in Iriga, Camarines Sur on May 21, 1953.)

A few days after the event, Aunor, who was shooting a new Cinemalaya movie, Joel Lamangan’s “Hustisya,” in the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong, was still in high spirits.

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Mixed emotions

NORA Aunor as Elsa in Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala”

In eloquent Filipino, she told the Inquirer:  “Naghalo-halo ang mga emosyon ko: Nakakatuwa pero ’di rin ako makapaniwala na binigyan ako ng gano’ng importansya.”

Approaching the fiber-glass statue of Elsa, her faith-healer character in the Ishmael Bernal film “Himala,” Aunor shucked off her slippers and proceeded barefoot.

Since she wanted to see the face of the sculpture, created by artist Gerry Leonardo, a bunch of Noranians carried her aloft so she could get a closer look. The verdict: “Kamukha ko!”

She related that fans from as far as Manila and Bicol trooped to Paoay to witness the unveiling.

She and her loyal followers wanted to be part of the event dubbed “Himala sa Buhangin,” especially since it was a highlight of the fiesta honoring La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc.

“La Milagrosa,” Aunor quipped. “Ang ganda ng pangalan ng birhen.”

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She said it reminded her of a story she related to the governor. “Sabi ko: Hindi ko ito kinukuwento sa lahat kasi baka akalain ng mga tao luka-luka ako. Pero bago ko natanggap ang offer para sa ‘Himala,’ nanaginip ako.”

The message

 

The dream was about the Virgin Mary. “May krus sa tabi niya. Si Mama Mary, walang korona, walang alahas. Puting puti ang suot; ang ganda-ganda niya. Marami siyang binilin, pero ang natatandaan ko lang: ‘Lagi kayong magdadasal ng rosaryo… walang mabigat na problema para sa nananalig.’”

Two weeks later, Aunor—at the time beset with all sorts of problems, professional and personal—received the offer to play Elsa.

On a roll

 

Marcos was the producer of the 1982 Bernal classic, which would be declared Best Asian Film of All Time by CNN in 2008.

By some miracle of sorts, Aunor is currently experiencing a career resurgence three decades later—beginning with the slew of awards she won for Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Thy Womb” in 2012.

“She’s at her peak,” said Ricky Lee, scriptwriter of “Himala” and Aunor’s latest film, “Hustisya.”

She is also shooting two movies (Lamangan’s “Hustisya” and Adolfo Alix Jr.’s “Whistleblower”), and two others are already in the can (Alix’s “Padre de Familia” and Perci Intalan’s “Dementia”).

To put it mildly, she is on a roll.

“It’s like we’re back in her Tower days,” said manager Boy Palma, referring to Aunor’s stint as a teen star in Tower Productions, where she made at least 10 movies a year. “When you get offered four great scripts, how can you turn them down?”

The cherry on top is the Elsa sculpture. “For a writer, nothing can be greater than the realization that a character you created more than 30 years ago still lives and affects lives and will most certainly outlive you. I am both exalted and humbled,” said Lee. The Elsa statue, he added, is “a constant reminder that art lives on.”

Validation

 

Lamangan, who was an actor and crowd director in “Himala,” agreed: “The sculpture is a validation of the masters’ work. It is clear proof that Nora deserves to be included in the pantheon of National Artists.”

There have been reports that Aunor will be declared a National Artist anytime soon. The rare honor, however, is something that Aunor doesn’t fuss about, busy as she is shooting indie movies.

Marcos remarked on why Aunor deserves to be a National Artist: “Nora has inspired us through the years—an invaluable service in these uninspiring times. She’s the unsinkable, unforgettable superstar!”

Postscript: A marching band played at the Laoag airport, as send-off to Aunor and her party. Aunor couldn’t help it; she joined the band, playing the drums like a giddy teenager.

Later, Aunor, already settled in the plane, wondered why the flight was being delayed. When she looked out her window, she saw Marcos, without a bodyguard, without an umbrella, running across the tarmac.

The governor, who had just excused herself from a meeting, merely wanted to personally thank and bid the superstar farewell.

(E-mail [email protected] .com)

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TAGS: Celebrities, Cinemas, Entertainment, Ilocos Norte, Nora Aunor
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