Nora Aunor receives rare photo as birthday gift from Snooky Serna
Nora Aunor received a most memorable gift from Snooky Serna when the former celebrated her 70th birthday on Saturday, May 20 at a hotel in Quezon City.
The gift which came from Serna, who was one of her guests, came in the form of a framed photo taken during the shooting of one of her iconic movies, “Atsay,” and which was photographed by renowned photographer and award-winning cinematographer Romy Vitug.
“Matagal na niyang hinahanap ito,” Serna said. (She was looking for this for so long).
“Gawa ito ni award-winning cinematographer,” Aunor said, groping for the name of the photographer. She said the photo brought back happy memories for her.
In the 1978 film, Aunor played a woman who went to the city in search of her fortune, but would end up suffering from harsh treatment by her employers. The film, directed by the late Eddie Garcia, won for Aunor the Best Performer Award at the Metro Manila Film Festival.
This would become the only film to have won such a citation in the history of the MMFF when, at that time, the film fest organizers decided to forgo separate awards for male and female performers.
Also at that time, the MMFF award was hotly-contested as Aunor was being pitted against another equally excellent actress, Vilma Santos, who was vying for the same honor with her movie Rubia Servios, directed by premier director Lino Brocka.
The award would eventually go to Aunor, who during her acceptance speech said, “Mamay, mali ang hula nila! (Their prediction is wrong),” seemingly nettling a then popular practice of having fortunetellers predict which actors would bag certain awards.
A family affair
Aunor’s birthday celebration gathered her five children, her biological son Ian de Leon and four other children Lotlot de Leon, Kiko, Kenneth, at Matet de Leon together, who the veteran actress adopted alongside her then partner, actor Christopher de Leon.
Ian showed an audio-visual presentation about his mom, replete with photos and videos which had him annotating. He read a poem called “Mom’s Love.”
Meanwhile, Lotlot had a heartfelt message to her mother. “Ma, ang dami na nating pinagdaanan, tayo bilang pamilya. Pero isa lang ang ipinapangako ko sa ‘yo, mamahalin kita hanggang kailanman. Nandito lang po ako para sa iyo kahit anong oras.” (Ma, we’ve been through a lot as a family. But if there’s one thing that I promise, it’s to love you until forever. I am just here for you any time).
Matet, who just last December had a falling out with Aunor, also expressed love for her mom. “Lagi naman kaming nag-uusap ni mommy so lahat nasasabi ko sa kanya. (I talked to her regularly so I can say everything to her). I love you forever, mommy.”
When it was Kiko’s turn, he could barely say anything except for, “Ang hirap sundan, ang haba ng speech. Nalimutan ko na sasabihin ko, haba ng sa ‘yo, eh.” (It’s hard to follow, the speech is very long. I forgot what to say, yours is too long).
Kenneth, a shy guy, was out of the room when his siblings began giving plaudits to Aunor.
Celebrity guests also gave Aunor a fitting tribute, sharing stories they have with the Superstar and National Artist.
One of them is Herlene Budol, Binibining Pilipinas 2022 first runner-up, who came with Kapuso actress Sanya Lopez. They came after attending the preview of “Unbreak My Heart” at a nearby mall.
“Magpapasampal po ako (kay Ate Guy). Pero ayaw niya. Para sa akin, bilang baguhan, isang karangalan ang masampal ng isang Nora Aunor,” Budol said. (I want to get slapped by Ate Guy. But she didn’t want to. For me, as a newbie, it’s an honor to be slapped by one Nora Aunor).
“Kaya po talagang pumunta po ako dito na handang masaktan, ayun po ang hinahanap ko,” she added. (That’s why I came here, I’m ready to get hurt, that’s what I am looking for).
Fashion designer Nono Palmos showed gratitude by thanking the Superstar for getting him in big events like her birthday. He did Aunor’s outfit when she received her National Artist award.
“I worked with her when I was 25. Naabutan ko pa ‘yung Superstar sa channel 9,” he said.
Edith del Rosario, writer of “Superstar” for years, shared that it was Aunor who recommended that she be promoted as executive producer.
“Kung ano ako ngayon (is) partly because of you. I was writer for several years for “Superstar” but it was Ate Guy who brought to the attention of management that I was already ripe in becoming executive producer. Siya ‘yung nagsabing, ‘Bakit hindi ninyo pa gawing executive producer si Mama.’ Because of her prodding, ang mga executives po ng RPN-9 ay ginawa akong executive producer. (What I am today is partly because of you… she’s the one who told the producers, “Why don’t you make her an executive producer?” Because of her prodding, RPN-9 executives made me an executive producer.)
Veteran actor Ricky Davao shared that the first time she saw Aunor was when he tagged along with his yaya to see the Superstar in her house in Paranaque.
“Would you believe there’s about 5,000 people sa kalye waiting for her to come. She was driving her car. Dumaan lang, nagsigawan ang mga tao then umuwi na (She just passed, the people shouted and then they went home),” he recalled.
Vetaran actress Liz Alindogan shared that Aunor, a fellow Bicolana, was her inspiration when she got into showbiz.
“Sa Bicol, nagbabasa ako ng komiks. Pangarap ko talagang mag-artista. Nandoon si Nora Aunor,” she said. (In Bicol, I was reading comics. I really dreamed of becoming an actor. She was there).
Dan Alvaro, Aunor’s co-actor in “Condemned” said he owed a lot of career breaks to Aunor. “Hindi ako makikilala kung wala si Ate Guy kaya malaki ang utang na loob ko sa kanya. Hindi ako magiging Dan Alvaro kundi dahil sa kanya.” (I will not be known if there’s no Ate Guy, that’s why I owe her a lot. I will not be Dan Alvaro if not for her.)
Veteran actress Marissa Delgado, meanwhile, recalled that she used to be Aunor’s antagonist in many films that they made with the late director Lino Brocka. “Madami tayong ginawa with Lino Brocka. Ako ‘yung kontrabida mo. Palagi kitang inaapi. Tapos National Hero (sic) ka na ngayon.” (We have worked on many films with Lino Brocka. I was your contravida. I was always your oppressor. Now, you’re a National Artist).
Among those who greeted Aunor were Alfred Vargas, Deborah Sun, veteran dancer-choreographer Geleen Eugenio, Raffy Chan, Beverly Salviejo, Lotlot’s husband Fadi El-Soury, Matet’s husband Mickey Estrada and Ian’s wife Jen.
Aunor made special mention of John Rendez who mounted the party together with some friends and loyal fans. EDV