Leading ladies recall making Gosiengfiao’s ‘lost’ movie on women
MANILA, Philippines—Actresses Gloria Diaz and Vivian Velez have fond memories of Joey Gosiengfiao’s “lost” movie, “Babae … Ngayon at Kailanman,” which was screened by the Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (Sofia) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on May 14.
Diaz, one of the trilogy’s stars along with Velez, Chanda Romero and the late Charito Solis, wants her grown-up children to watch her 1970s movies. “They often ask me why I play second fiddle. I’ll force them to watch my old films so they will realize that I was once a lead star. It’ll be good for them.”
Diaz was a bit “scared about showing an old film to young people because they may find it baduy (corny). Unlike me … I think vintage films, starring Marlene Dauden for example, are beautiful.”
Based on Nick Joaquin’s short story “May Day Eve” and scripted by Jose F. Lacaba, Diaz’s episode is “a period love story with a touch of suspense.” (Solis and Velez’s episode is based on Amador Daguio’s short story “Wedding Dance,” and Romero’s on Wilfrido Nolledo’s “Juego de Prenda.”)
“At first, I wasn’t too crazy about doing it, but Joey had this weird convincing power,” Diaz looked back. “He said his goal was to direct me.”
She recalled one scene where the director placed the camera on the ground. “I was worried my body would be exposed. I chided Joey that it was a cheap trick. In his usual nonchalant way, he quipped: ‘The cheaper, the better! It’ll make the film a hit.’”
Timeless, she called Gosiengfiao’s works. “I’m not surprised his films are being revived on TV and the movies. He was ahead of his time. People found his films campy, but they’re a lot like Italian comedies.”
She described the late director who passed away in 2007 as “smart, lovable.”
Velez agreed: “I worked with both Joey and (his friend and fellow filmmaker) Elwood Perez. Elwood is fun and flamboyant. Joey, on the other hand, was more subdued and serious. But he was a good guy.”
Velez recounted that she was a newcomer when she did “Babae” released in 1977.
Although it was a short role, she considers it memorable because it gave her the chance to work with acting greats Solis and Dindo Fernando.
“The veterans taught me the real meaning of professionalism. They would arrive early and prepared on the set. They were serious about the craft.”
She recalled that “Chato (Solis’ nickname) was nurturing,” and not intimidating at all. “She cooked her famous bangus sardines for us.”
Now, it’s her turn to pass on these lessons to younger costars: “I’ve come full circle.”
She counts herself lucky that she was able to witness the second golden age of Philippine cinema. Sadly, she noted, a number of 1970s and 1980s titles are irretrievably lost. “I don’t have print copies of films I produced like ‘Paradise Inn’ and ‘Pieta.’”
Velez, who studied filmmaking, feels it’s important to support the archiving efforts of groups like Sofia: “I believe in film preservation. I know that setting up a national archives costs money.”
She’s glad a “lost” film has been found. “I want to watch my old films and appreciate them—this time, as a student of film,” she said.
Next films to be screened by Sofia is Dindo Angeles’ 1976 musical “Sinta” on June 11—along with another rediscovered 1981 Regal teen romp “Summer Love,” starring Maricel Soriano, Snooky Serna, Gabby Concepcion and William Martinez.
In July, Sofia will mount a retrospective of films directed by Ronwaldo Reyes and D’Lanor—both monikers used by Fernando Poe Jr.
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