Nora Aunor’s no-holds-barred book, dramatic thriller in the works | Inquirer Entertainment

Nora Aunor’s no-holds-barred book, dramatic thriller in the works

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:30 AM February 20, 2023

From left: Alfred Vargas, Aunor, Alajar and director Adolf Alix Jr.

From left: Alfred Vargas, Aunor, Alajar and director Adolf Alix Jr.

The recent story con for director Adolf Alix Jr. and actor-producer Alfred Vargas’ upcoming dramatic thriller “Pieta” may have been festive. But a wave of heartwarming—or chuckle-inducing—nostalgia swept over the happy occasion as soon as Superstar and National Artist Nora Aunor began referencing cinema-worthy moments from her storied past while answering questions from the press.

It didn’t hurt that costar Gina Alajar—who, like Ate Guy, is considered one of the greatest actresses of Philippine cinema—was also there with biopic-worthy but little-known tales and trivia of her own (more about this in a separate story).To demonstrate: When asked why she, unlike younger stars these days with “carefully calibrated” public personas, prefers to wear her heart on her sleeve, Nora said she was never after a “moderated image.” (“‘Pag ayoko, ayoko… although I’ll bend over backward if it’s something that I believe in.”)


“You learn humility if you’ve been through a difficult life. Nakalakihan ko kasi ‘yan mula sa mga magulang ko (I got that from my parents),” she said. “Because we were very poor, the most difficult errands would fall on me dahil hindi gumagalaw ang mga kapatid ko. Dahil sa sobrang hirap, ala-una na ng tanghali, wala pa kaming maisaing. Pero lahat ng tindahan sa bigasan, ayaw nang magpautang sa akin, pero naawa sa akin ang pinakahuling stall.


“Kaya lang, dahil sa pagmamadali kong umuwi, nadapa ako. So, natapon ang bigas na dala-dala ko. Umiiyak ako habang dinadampot ang bigas na nakahalo sa bawang at iba pa. Pagdating ko ng bahay, pinalo pa ako ng nanay ko kasi mag-aalas dos o alas-tres na, hindi pa kami nanananghalian.

“Doon ko nasabi sa sarili ko na balang araw, dahil sa mga taong pinahirapan ako, ‘Hinding-hindi ko gagawin sa iba ang ginawa ninyo sa akin.’

“Kaya lang, sumobra naman yata (laughs). Kasi ngayon, ‘pag may lumapit sa akin, kahit last money ko na, naaawa ako at binibigay ko pa. Kaya kinabukasan, ako naman ang wala (laughs), at kailangan kong maghanap ng perang pambayad sa ganito o pambili ng ganyan.”

We told Ate Guy, “It’s like a scene from a movie… like Scarlett O’Hara saying ‘As God is my witness… I’ll never go hungry again’ in ‘Gone with the Wind.’”

“Opo,” the Superstar replied. “Totoo po talagang nangyari sa akin ‘yan.”

Getting emotional

When Nora got older and ended up becoming an actress, it was this commitment to truth and honesty in herself that helped turn her into the phenomenal actress that she is.


So, we understand now why we often hear traces of self-doubt in her statements related to work: It’s a conscious decision for the actress never to do anything forced or half-baked. “If you don’t feel a scene, it’s fake,” she reiterated. “That’s why you need to take it to heart, because it isn’t easy to replicate real emotions.”Take Ate Guy’s much-talked-about “Sinungaling… sinungaling” scene from Mario O’Hara’s “Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos,” with former husband Christopher de Leon.

“Gusto kong niyayakap ako ng director pagkatapos ng eksena kasi dun ko nalalaman na nakuha ko ang gusto n’yang ipagawa. Kagaya nung hinahabol ko si Boyet sa ‘Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos’ (1976), tinuhog ni Direk Mario ang eksenang ‘yun. Hindi n’ya hininto ang eksena mula pagbaba ko sa hagdan, hanggang sumakay si Boyet sa jeep, tapos lumuhod ako.

National Artist Nora Aunor

National Artist Nora Aunor

“When Direk Mario shouted cut, iyak pa rin ako nang iyak. Kaya si Boyet na ang nagsabi sa akin, ‘Tama na… tapos na ang shooting.’ Napahiya tuloy ako (laughs).”

Another one-take scene that even trended on social media took place at a taping of GMA’s top-rated 2018 teleserye “Onanay,” where the multitasking Gina directed her Kumareng Guy for the first time.

Nora intimated to Gina that she was scared she couldn’t cry convincingly in a scene with her dying brother (played by Gardo Versoza) in the hospital. But when the director hugged her lead star, held her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze, Nora was so moved by the comforting gesture and began to get really emotional. That’s when her tears started falling.

“This is it,” Gina told the cameraman with conviction. “Take na. Don’t cut the scene… one take lang ito!”

Thereafter, Gina told us that the sequence wouldn’t have worked as movingly as it did with any other actress.

Then, there’s Ate Guy’s iconic “Hayop… hayop” scene with Lolita Rodriguez in Lino Brocka’s 1979 film, “Ina Ka ng Anak Mo.”

“Behaved ako nun kasi takot ako kay Lolita,” said Nora, laughing. “Lino also hugged me after the take. Pero hindi n’ya ako pinaarte. He said, ‘Guy, wala nang ensayo… panoorin mo ako at gawin mo exactly kung paano ko ginawa.’ So, that’s what I did.

“Pero, ang maganda dun talaga, napaka-generous na kaeksena ni Lolita… kahit takot ako sa kanya (laughs). Para makatulong sa eksena ko, umaarte pa rin s’ya kahit wala s’ya sa camera!”

Precious recollections

We’re writing about all these precious recollections because some of them will be part of a book about the life of the Superstar, tentatively titled “True to Life,” which could be released as early as May, the National Artist’s birth month (her birthday is on May 21). “Malapit na nilang mabasa,” direk Adolf stated with a smile.

Helping Ate Guy realize this gargantuan endeavor is Adolf and Alfred, who’s only too thrilled to play one of the three leads in “Pieta” (“It isn’t every day that an actor can say he is Ate Guy and Direk Gina’s leading man,” Alfred beamed).

The book is divided in three parts, the actress revealed. “Walang aalising detalye sa librong ‘yan. Kung anong nangyari sa buhay ko, that’s what you’ll read in it. Please write about the book so people can start looking forward to it.

“The first part will be from the time I was born till the moment I won ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ (in May 1967). Part 2 will be about my love life (laughs), and the third part will be about my life as an actress until the present.”

According to Adolf, the film isn’t a remake of the Charito Solis-Ace Vergel starrer in 1983. Explaining the gist of the story, the director (“Donsol,” “Adela,” “Kalayaan,” “Alamat ni China Doll,” “Kinabukasan,” “Porno”) related, “It’s about a guy (Alfred) who’s been in jail since he was 16 years old, but suddenly finds himself needing to come to terms with his violent past after he is given unexpected pardon by the court. Only two people may be able to shed light on the contentious events that led to his incarceration—the characters of Nora and Gina.” In the film, Nora portrays Alfred’s visually impaired mother (Nora), who’s weighed down further by diabetes and memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease, while Gina plays her best friend, who’s key to the life-altering secret that has been conveniently swept under the rug—until now. The twist in the end will shock you as much as it gave us a jolt.

Aunor (left) with Gina Alajar

Aunor (left) with Gina Alajar

Gina is the legendary actress behind such indelible portrayals in “Salome,” “Brutal,” “Moral,” “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim,” “Mulanay,” “Biktima” and “Mater Dolorosa.” She even won as far back as the late 60s (as best child actress), for her portrayal in Armando de Guzman’s 1968 tearjerker, “Kaibigan Kong Sto. Niño.”

On TV, she directed a string of popular teleseryes for GMA Network, including “Prima Donnas,” “Onanay,” “Impostora,” “The Half Sisters,” “Let the Love Begin” and “Yagit.”

So you can imagine how thrilled—and initially intimidated—we were when we directed Gina in the blockbuster Filipino adaptation of Eve Ensler’s Obie-winning production “The Vagina Monologues” in the early 2000s, when we began helming theater plays and musicals for Monique Wilson’s New Voice Company.

Gina said she recalls working with Nora in seven films (including Onanay’ and, now ‘Pieta’)—but there could be more.

She said, “The first title that comes to mind is ‘Andrea, Paano Ba ang Maging Isang Ina.’ But we also acted together in ‘Condemned,’ ‘Bulaklak ng City Jail,’ ‘Tatlong Ina, Isang Anak’ (when Lotlot was still a baby) and in 1972’s ‘My Little Brown Girl’ at Sampaguita.

“I was only 12 years old then (laughs), and Mareng Guy was 14! (Looking at Nora) Nag-aaral ka pa nun, so you went from school to shooting. I remember matagal akong naghintay sa ‘yo sa set. You didn’t want to shoot hangga’t hindi kayo nagkakabati ni Tirso (Cruz III, her leading man and sweetheart at the time) kasi nag-aaway kayo at the time (laughs).”

What have Gina and Nora learned from each other?

“It’s her humility,” Gina readily answered. “Despite what she has accomplished as the Superstar of Philippine show biz, you wouldn’t feel any sense of entitlement from her. Wala s’yang pretensions na, ‘Hoy, I’m Nora Aunor…kaya dapat ganito, ganyan!’ If she has concerns, she’ll take you aside and discuss them with you one on one. She’s not melodramatic as a person.”

For her part, Nora shared, “I admire Mareng Gina’s frankness—she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, lalo na sa set ng ‘Onanay.’ Minsan, natatakot ako sa kanya kasi ‘pag mali ang isang artista, kakausapin ka n’ya talaga.

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“I remember producing a film that Gina also acted in, but whose title escapes me at the moment. May kasalanan akong nagawa sa kanya…at totoo naman, aminado ako dun. And she talked to me directly about it. But she’s also a person who’s ready to understand and forgive.” INQ

TAGS: Entertainment, Nora Aunor

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