MOVIEGOER: Preserving Nora’s legacy

Published May 20, 2021, 3:00 AM

by Nestor Cuartero

Nora Aunor

Work (not just hope) springs eternal for Nora Aunor, who celebrates her 68th birth anniversary today, May 21.

The superstar has wrapped work on a new movie, Kontrabida, directed by Adolf Alix, where she plays vida-contravida, for a change. No longer the api-apihan stereotype that has been her screen identity for the longest time.

Whatever happened to that other film Nora was supposed to do, the period picture, Henerala Salud, about a Laguna rebel leader in the time of the insurrection against Spain?

***

Anyway, let me just make a few observations on how Nora is being played out in her current projects.

In Isa Pang Bahaghari, she is cast as a crippled fishwife, almost unmade up, perpetually dressed in homely dusters.

In TV series, Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit, where her appearances are few and far between, a big, unsightly scar covers nearly half her face.

I wonder how much these physical, outward appearances contribute to the enhancement of her characters in the two projects. Nora’s days as a box office queen may have been over, yet she has left an indelible legacy as a superstar unmatched by anyone else in the industry.

It’s so unfortunate that a certain entertainment news website deliberately dropped Nora from the list of the country’s greatest actresses, claiming that most of the movies she had done in recent years were indies, and not mainstream.

Film is film, di ba, from whichever side of the fence it comes from.

Besides, indie is the new mainstream. Indie films like an Aunor starrer, Thy Womb, bring honor to the Philippines in the international scene.

Even Hollywood has gone indie.

Let not that one mean stroke brush off Nora’s legacy as the country’s greatest actress.

Nora’s legacy must be taken care of through better roles, good looks, and carefully chosen projects. Nora should be the first to preserve that legacy in order to maintain her status as a film institution and superstar.

***

I watched an old 1950s Carmen Rosales film recently, Halik sa Lupa, courtesy of Jojo de Vera. The film, by Sampaguita Pictures, was done at the time Carmen, a 1940s movie queen, was on her way down. It starred, in fact, a young Lolita Rodriguez.

Yet, Carmen’s role was treated with respect. She was dignified through it all, though she played a villain, too. She was also always well dressed in that film.

Nora should play her cards well, just like what Carmen did in her time. She just has to be more discerning, be more assertive in the way she should be presented to the public. She must learn from the examples of Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, and the other great icons of Hollywood.

In one of her last screen appearances, movie queen Amalia Fuentes insisted she had to always wear make-up during takes. At a certain age, she said even a beautiful woman needed help from the cosmetic industry.

In truth, it must all start from Nora herself.

 
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