ON MY way to the Fil-Am Film laboratory on Del Monte Avenue, Quezon City I made an embarassing discovery. My signature skirt was showing signs of tear. Should I go back and change?
Not on your life. Fernando Poe, Jr., the screen's virile gift to women, was shooting Tatlong Hari at the Fil-Am compound and I'd rather be there than any place else in the world.
His back was turned to me when I entered the set. Shoulders up to there...hair vaguely reminiscent of his late father's...
I popped up like a jack-in-the-box from behind. He turned around and saw me. He did not question my presence out of politeness. Although I was an intruder he said nothing.
My heart leaped. So this is Fernando Poe, Jr. whom I saw in Magpakailan Man. His singing was marvelous. I heard they pressed an album of his songs.
At the moment I thought of myself as the luckiest girl on earth to merit sixty seconds of his full attention.
I wanted to introduce myself but how does one go about saying, "I am the writer with more rejections than accepted materials?"
I did not even say "Good afternoon." I was tongue-tied.
The wornout skirt bothered me no more. The idol's checkered green and gray shirt with long sleeves wasn't any newer either. Or does he don it for luck?
Ronnie moved around the set, hands on hips, taking stock, checking everything, giving instructions. Many were the times when he gave out to good-natured laughs when someone cracked a joke.
I imagined that it was Fernando Poe, Sr. in his place and little Ronnie was only seven years old prowling around the set tinkering with the props.
It is not easy to connect the seven-year-old tot with the 26-year-old Ronnie who is doing a man-sized job as producer, director and Star. He looks so cool and free, alert. Simply professional. Always in command of himself and the situation.
He injects jokes while he works. While on a trial take of Jose Garcia, Ronnie cocked an impish eye on him. "Das how the old actors do it," he remarked and grinned.
This man really deserves the honor and prestige that fans have given him. He strove, sweated, dug new techniques, left no stone unturned to reach the place where he is at present.
He did not relax to rest on his father's laurels. He made pictures to suit extraordinary talents.
I hope someday they give him a plaque with this inscription: "To Fernando Poe Jr., who so painstakingly built a name for himself."
Like father, like son. That's what they say. But I think there's something more to it.
A portrait of Fernando Poe, Jr. as movie director.
By Baby K. Jimenez
LIPS PRESSED, eyes cast low, hands on hips, he moved about the camera and kleig lights. Rubbing his nose, he ordered the crew to prepare for another take.
"Quiet!" a voice boomed out. Everybody was held in a standstill.
"Motor!" he signaled. The take was on.
Now he was approaching a huge mirror near the stairs. But before he could take a glance of himself he decided to make his way to the dining room and explained something to the old man seated there. Later he bade him goodbye....Then he was completely out of the picture leaving the old man in focus.
"Cut it!" from the adjoining room rang out the distinct clear voice that had ordered the crew to put on the motor a while ago.
Then he came out. The take was over.
At the snap of a finger the silent spell was broken. Everyone was all smiles.
The leading man, who was also the director and the producer, was once more rubbing his nose and smiling in his usual shy manner.
To the movie audience he is Fernando Poe, Jr. To his intimates he is just Ronnie. A darling. Friendly. Samaritan. His real name: Ronald Allan Poe. Unknown to many, known to few, he is also D'Lanor. It is Ronald spelled backward. Producer. Director. Writer.
Although Ronnie was said to have directed almost ten pictures already, the first movie that really had him billed as the director was San Bernardo, the fourth anniversary offering of his outfit, FPJ Productions. He also directed Hanggang May Buhay and Langit At Lupa, his latest.
All the movies mentioned were box-office hits. Like other Tagalog movies, they are not flawless -- but the directorial job in those three photoplays is competent.
Ronnie is a conscientious director. He sees to it that his actors play their roles to the hilt and makes them rehearse their lines often. He also asks for retakes when necessary. And there are times when he has to miss his lunch or dinner when shooting a most important scene. He kids his associates and co-players. His friendliness is unquestioned yet the same guys look up to him as a real boss when it comes to business. They arrive on the set promptly, do their work devotedly and do their best to please him.
The Same Humble Guy
Whenever reminded that he has achieved greater glory than his father (the late Fernando Poe, Sr.), Ronnis has this to say: How can I be greater than my father when I'm only his junior in the movies...The fact that I was named after him is enough proof that my father is greater and I will always take my hat off to him."
An NBI instructor who used to tutor Ronnie in self-defense says, "You may think that what Ronnie does on the screen -- those heavy punches -- are just camera tricks. But I tell you, they are real. What I taught him was only intended for the movies but Ronnie has come out a genuine master of these techniques...Now I won't even risk tangling up with him. I know I'll be the loser."
Ronnie also writes. He has a rich and vivid imagination. Some of the stories that have been shown by his studios were his own brainchilds, like his latest production, Langit At Lupa. But Ronnie keeps mum about it.
Ronnie had two stories for Langit At Lupa. The former plot is about a European princess who comes to the Philippines for a vacation. During the course of her visit, she meets with an airplane accident and the public thinks she is fatally injured.
Though an amnesia victim, the princess is lucky enough to be the lone survivor of the crash, thanks to the natives of the remote crash site who do their best to make her live again. Here she falls in love with a farmer. Later an incident leads him to discover the identity of the princess, who at this time has recovered from her sickness.
A scene follows with the princess being crowned as Queen of her kingdom. How the Queen (she surely personifies Langit) would live happily ever after with her poor sweetheart (who of course represents Lupa) provides the highlight of the story.
But since this story would require more time to shoot and a location abroad, Ronnie had to shelve it. And well, considering that tongues keep wagging about the Ronnie-Susan romance, others could easily jump to conclusions should Susan and Ronnie decide to go abroad for shooting. Hence, Ronnie had woven meticulously another love story. By this time you must have seen the movie already. Langit At Lupa has chalked up another first -- box office-wise and quality-wise.
There are reports going around that Ronnie will be building his own studio compound soon somewhere in Quezon City.
Shakespeare once said, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
I think Ronnie, or rather D'Lanor, is a combination of all this.
THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAN WHO TWICE BESTED NORA AUNOR IN SINGING TILTS
By Herbert L. Vego
(As published in Weekly Nation, January 25, 1971)
HE beat today's phenomenal singing sensation twice. And yet, unlike Nora Aunor, he has not yet burst out from the cocoon of anonymity, although he used to be Nora's partner long before Tirso Cruz III, Manny de Leon and Victor Laurel came along.
"Nora and I were both born and raised in Iriga City. In fact, we were schoolmates from grade four to second year high school. Those years, the two of us made good as singing sweethearts of our school."
Speaking is Elmer Aballa, a little known name, a bolt out of the blue, what with this revelation of his good old days with Nora. And to say that he beat Nora twice arouses great surprise. For who is he anyway?
This writer came to know Elmer by accident when somebody in town made this remark: "There's a friend of Nora Aunor who beat Nora herself, but he must be dogged by back luck since he is still groping in the dark for success." That aroused my curiosity to inquire about this fellow and to meet him personally. In a week's time, Elmer showed up for a hearty interview.
During his first three years at the Iriga Central School, Elmer Aballa earned the title of "the song sparrow of Iriga" from his teachers. He was always asked to do a song in school programs. When he was in grade four, Nora Villamayor came along.
"This newcomer," Elmer recalls, "enrolled in the same section (one) where I belonged. I learned that she had been born in Iriga, too, but that she had gone to Manila to study in grades one, two and three. During the first days of classes, some of the boys and girls teased her, 'Negra! Bulilit!'
"We discovered that Nora has a golden voice. Her voice was enough to shut the mouths of her teasers. From then on, I had a partner in the person of Nora Villamayor. We two were always chosen to represent our school in district meets. Actually, Nora's part in most of these meets was declamation; she was more of a declaimer then, both winning and losing at times, same with me as a singer.
"Nora and I both belonged to a poor family. Her father was a porter. My old man was a Philippine Air Force crew member receiving four pesos a day. But poverty didn't deter us from our obsession of becoming successful singers someday. We both finished elementary grades and graduated in 1964. After that, we thought we would be on our own -- quitting school and joining choral groups."
But in July of 1964 when the new schoolyear opened, Elmer and Nora found each other enrolled in the same school again -- this time at the high school department of Mabini Memorial University. Their parents decided that they continue their studies. Elmer and Nora agreed to keep the ball rolling as singing partners again.
One morning while Elmer was studying his lessons in the library, Nora came over with a jolly message: there would be an amateur show at Nabua, Camarines Sur the following night. Elmer agreed to Nora's suggestion that he go with her to join the contest. They joined. Singing Granada. Elmer bagged the first prize of P50, edging out Nora, whose You And The Night And The Music placed her second with P30. It was past midnight when the show ended; no transportation was available to take them home to Iriga. Nora and Elmer walked home with only the moonlight to guide them the distance of three kilometers. Back home, their parents were the proudest of 'em all.
In the middle part of December 1964, their principal, Timoteo Panga, called Nora and Elmer to his office, requesting them to represent the freshmen in the intramural. They had to compete against each other, however, since only one would be sent to Cabanatuan City for the national PRISAA MEET IN 1965. It was Elmer who made it to the PRISAA. This, then, was the second time Elmer beat Nora.
"Nora was a good sport that early," Elmer avers. "When I left for the PRISAA, Nora was my most enthusiastic wel-wisher. It was unfortunate I lost by some points to a Cebuana!"
The opening of the schoolyear in 1965 found Nora and Elmer high school sophomores still at the Mabini Memorial University. Early part of the second semester in December, however, Nora had to bid Elmer goodbye. Her auntie Belen in Manila had asked her to study at the Centro Escolar University. But education would prove later to be secondary to Nora's personal plans while in Manila.
Elmer decided to keep on singing even if he had to commute to Naga City. He joined the Darigold Jamboree in Naga City over dzGE and was proclaimed champion for the year 1965 during the show's grand finals.
Nora must have heard of Elmer's good luck. For in the summer of 1966, she took a vacation to Iriga and made use of it by joining the Naga Darigold Jamboree, too. She did make it as a champion but only for two weeks, unlike Elmer who had pushed through seven weeks of defending his crown until finally owning it for good.
But Nora was not the type of person who would easily give up. When she returned to Manila, she joined an even more prestigious contest. Leila Benitez' Darigold Jamboree over dzRH. There she held on to the championship for 14 consecutive weeks and on the 15th week got edged out. Elmer had been following her career over the radio in Iriga.
In 1967, Nora Villamayor received her trophy as the year's grand national champion of Tawag Ng Tanghalan. Prior to this, she had placed second but had tried out once again, retaining the title for several weeks until the final triumph.
This big news saturated practically every barber shop, beauty shop and household in Iriga. Elmer felt a bit bogged down just thinking that a girl he had defeated twice was already carving for herself a national name; but being Nora's townmate and childhood chum, Elmer was himself beaming with pride. Eventually, he motored all the way from Iriga to Manila just to see Nora at the ABS-CBN studios in October 1967. Nora was rehearsing her songs when Elmer arrived bu she asked for a one-hour recess upon recognizing her visitor. For one hour, Nora and Elmer, recalled the good old days. This would later prove to be Elmer's last talk with Nora, for when Elmer attempted to see Nora last November just before she left for Hollywood, the guards of Channel 9, where Nora was performing, would not allow him to enter the studio and he was just at the audience booth.
Graduating from high school in April 1968, Elmer decided to reside in Manila and seek greener pastures.
Almost three years have elapsed since then and Elmer has been working hard finding a place in the sun. Only trouble is that his climb has been quite slow.
For instance, he was not given a second chance like Nora after had placed second in Tawag Ng Tanghalan in December 1968.
In January 1969, Elmer studied voice culture in Cubao under the private tutorship of Prof. Grace Turla Melendrez, finishing it in one year and a half.
That year Elmer started joining different radio and tv shows. The year ended with a good deal of laurels to his credit: as a three-week champion of dzXL's Talents Unlimited, as a second placer on Channel 5's On Stage, as a four-week champion of Channel 2's Oras Ng Ligaya.
Last summer (April 1970), Elmer joined the audience participation of the Monday edition of Stop, Look And Listen (Channel 2) under the hostage of Eddie Mesa, Carina Afable and Joey Lardizabal. He was the undisputed week-after-week champion of the show until he was hired by the UP Mobile Theater. For about six months, he went with the choral group hopping from one province to another in singing engagements.
Later it became impossible for him to stay with the theater: a ray of success was finally alighting on him. Elmer is now a regular performer in three radio programs, on two tv shows and a first-class discotheque.
This young fellow of 18, the third of four children of Moises Aballa and Jovita Jacob, shoulders a herculean responsibility. His father in Iriga, now a retired PAF enlisted man, is suffering from thrombosis and his mother has to spend her time caring for him. Only the eldest in the family, a sister teaching in high school, is gainfully employed. And so Elmer has to help financially.
Elmer's wish for 1971 is to make it this time as recording artist. He is still waiting for somebody to salvage him from anonymity.
At 21, he already has several films to his credit as director and scriptwriter.
A STORY AND SCRIPTWRITER at 18 and a director at 21. That gives the reader an idea of the record of Celso Ad. Castillo, but by no means does it sum it up. However, it does give one a picture of a young man in a hurry to go places in this country's cinematic industry. It also explains why Castillo has been dubbed the youngest director alive.
College stage director and actor, holder of an A.B. degree, and a law student, Celso Ad. Castillo, became a story and scriptwriter at 18 when he made the first "agent" series in local cinema; namely: James Ban-dong (Secret Agent 0210), Dolfong Scarface (Agent 1-2-3), and Dr. Yes.
At 21, VM Cinematic Films assigned Castillo to direct the controversial film, Misyong Mapanganib (Top Secret 7-11), starring Tito Galla and Helen Gamboa. Then Jessica Productions gave him his next directorial job, a jungle movie titled Zebra (Babaing Gubat) which launched Ruby Regala in her first starring role.
At this writing, Castillo is making two more pictures, Mansanas Sa Paraiso and Pistoleros.
Castillo hasn't had smooth sailing in his career. His first fight was against the movie censors when his first picture, Misyong Mapanganib, had to be previewed en banc for two times. He also has had fights with people who cannot understand him. "They always treat me as a boy, when they themselves know that I'm older than they are in the sense of proper behavior and exploitation of things. I sleep when I want to sleep on the set -- I sing and cry whenever I feel like doing it. Because that's the only way I could keep myself and my talent. I hope they understand me."
Talking about movie direction, he goes on:
"I want to exploit the unexploited things. I want to impress the subconscious and not the conscious sense of men. It is better to deal with the dirtiest behavior of men because in that way, you will understand life itself. The smallest form of subject in life like poverty is the best movie theme, in my opinion. People haven't changed; they still like tragedies and enjoy seeing the reflection of their lives on the screen. To make a good movie, there must be public participation.
Noted for this kind of movie are directors Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Vittorio de Sica, Akira Kurosawa, and that inimitable Satyahiit Ray of India. By reading the biographies of these men, Celso Ad. Castillo has learned many things about movie direction. And remembering these great men, Castillo will, as he says, exploit the minutest and most sensitive parts of human beings to give them what the others can not give."
Castillo is an avid follower of Elia Kazan, the Greek-born Hollywood director who discovered Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Shirley MacLaine, and the late James Dean. He appreciates the offbeat style of Roger Vadim, the French director who made Brigitte Bardot what she is today. He likes both Ernest Hemingway and Ian Fleming who contrast sharply with each other although both have the same touch of composition in writing. With his special taste for talent, he considers Marlon Brando the greatest actor today.
THE STORY of Fernando Poe, Jr.'s screen life and loves has been well played up in newspapers and magazines. What is not well known is Ronnie's personal life as a private individual.
We hope to bring out heretofore unknown, perhaps unheard-of vignettes on his personal life as we have gathered them from people close to the popular and most sought-after actor.
From his mother, the former Bessie Kelly, we learned that Ronnie, that's how intimates and friends prefer to call him, is not only a loving, but also a dutiful and thoughtful son, wh has more than sufficiently provided all the things his loved ones needed.
It is of public knowledge that when his father, Fernando Poe, died some 15 years ago, Ronnie though still barely a man took it upon himself to assume his illustrious father's role. He took the tremendous responsibility in stride and eventually came off with flying colors.
Proof of this is the different film-producing companies which he has put up. There is the mother corporation which bears his own initials, FPJ Productions. Then Jafere Productions which spells out the first letters of his name and that of his brothers and sisters, Jenny, Andy (the husband of Mina Aragon), Frederick, Elizabeth (the wife of Bob Soler), and Evangeline. And D'Lanor Pictures, his name spelled backward. And RR Productions, in partnership with comedian Dolphy.
The Poe Household
Between mother and son, there exists a love and respect which is much apparent. Ronnie more than knows what is expected of him as a son and big brother and so does Mama Bessie, so much so that a healthy convivial atmosphere dominates the Poe household.
From others, specially the technical crew of his movie outfits, we gleaned a very interesting, if not a heartwarming episode in the young life of Ronnie. He was doing the picture Only The Brave Know Hell (Hanggang May Kalaban) with Hollywood actor John Saxon, for Filipinas-Hemisphere, a coproduction venture of Eddie Romero and Hollywood producer Kane Lynn, on location in Magdalena, Laguna. A big throng of people came to watch the shooting. From among the crowd was an old crippled woman who asked to be brought to the set.
Apparently, the woman had not seen a movie for a long, long time since she became crippled, much less seen an actor or actress in person. When Ronnie heard her plight, he was visibly touched but did not show it in an ostentatious manner.
The next morning he had the old woman fetched to the set and a pleasant surprise awaited her! A wheel chair was ordered from Manila for her and to complete her happiness a 16-mm movie was shown to her.
The woman at first was dumbfounded, for who would not? When she regained her composure, she hugged Ronnie tightly. Copious tears welling from her eyes, she thanked him profusely for his generosity and thoughtfulness.
A Big Hearted Man
Ronnie indeed has a magnanimous heart! Consider this: During the showing of any of his pictures in Manila theaters -- whether he is the star or the producer -- he almost always has "special guests."
He gave explicit orders to his checkers and personnel to admit free of charge all physically handicapped and destitutes who may desire to see his pictures.
This writer witnessed an unusual incident which happened at the Center Theatre not so long ago.
I was on my way out of the theater when I happened to spot at the foot of the stairs leading to the balcony and loge seats a crippled young man in an improvised self-operating card talking to a checker. I overheard the lame man expressing over and over his gratitude for Ronnie.
Curiosity got the better of me and I inquired why the man in the card was so profuse with his thanks. I learned that Ronnie had given orders to admit these unfortunates -- the lame, the deaf, the dumb and destitutes -- to see his movies free.
Outwardly, Ronnie appears to be tough and stone-hearted, but people close to him swear that he has the softest of hearts this side of heaven. He could not, they aver, stand a woeful tale without acquiescing to requests for help.
It is not uncommon, therefore, for Ronnie to fall prey to professional sob-story tellers who periodically go to him for assistance.
On this, Ronnie quips: "It's no longer my fault if they deceive me. After all, they cheat nobody but themselves if they tell me a false story...What bothers me is if I cannot give anything to these people who come to me for help. I only wish I have more to spare..."
One time, a man approached Ronnie and told him that his wife had just died and that he did not have money for the funeral expenses. After hearing his tale of woe, Ronnie, without asking questions, fished out a crisp fifty peso bill from his pocket and gave ito to the man, who hurriedly left after murmuring his thanks.
Friends, who were with him that time, reminded Ronnie of a similar incident in which he played the sympathetic sucker to a hoax, but Ronnie shrugged his shoulders and just smiled.
But then Ronnis is like that, always the kind-hearted guy, ever ready to help a fellow-being. As he says: "I always live by my adage in life that: "It is not what we give but what we share, for a gift without the giver is bare..."
FROM A MERE innocent-faced teenager from Cavite late in 1963, Divina Valencia has since graduated into the forefront of the Philippine cinema's sex sweepstakes.
"Let's face it, I was a nobody then. I was just a plain coed enrolled in a secretarial course in Cavite when I was discovere through a photo of mine at my sister's dress shop. The rest is history -- and I became what I am now. Modesty aside, I am a somebody now, and I simply love and enjoy it!" Divina gushed as the Weekly NATION interviewed her as she was about to start shooting Labanan Ng Mga Babae, with Stella Suarez who is Divina's closest rival in the sex symbol race. She had then just finished TIIP's Labanang Lalaki.
Divina was born Consolacion Divina Valencia Fuller on September 1, 1946 in Abucay, Bataan. She is of Filipino-Spanish-German-American parentage. Her father was US Army Major Waldorf Fuller. She is the youngest in a family of six; she has three sisters and two brothers.
"My family turned full force against me when they learned that stardom would mean doing nude scenes. My mother said she would reject me as a daughter; my brothers, my sisters, my relatives, and the whole neighborhood literally condemned me and kept stabbing me with killing looks!" Divina reminisced.
Tips One's Hat
Looking at Divina's film record since she made quite a big splash in her first starring role (a bandit girl in love with Jess Lapid in TIIP's Kardong Kidlat), one can only tip one's hat off to her and throw her a meaningful glance and a wolf's whistle.
"In my first picture as a lead actress (she was just an extra in Basagulero, which preceded Kardong Kidlat), it took much time and effort from the TIIP producer, Atty. Esperidion Laxa, and Director Armando Garces to cajole me to do a bathing sequence fully nude. I had not, in my life, appeared before in the nude in public -- and with people piercingly looking at me yet!, Divina, barely blushing, mused.
"So, naturally, I turned down their persuasions and explanations at first. Thinking it over, however, I consented to do the scene because I said to myself that if I wanted to be an actress in the true sense of the word, I had to portray realistically the scenes demanded by the script. Moreover, sex actually has already caught up with us, in this modern world. As such, before anybody else jumps the gun on me, I reasoned to myself, why shouldn't I start the neo-realistic trend? As you can see, I have somehow succeeded to a maximum degree, and I am glad!" Divina triumphantly smiled and winked at us, the mole below her left eye seemingly also smiling.
Gladsomely enough, the roles she has already portrayed are quite a variety of types. She was a guerrillera in Ito Ang Lalaki, a bikini-clad smuggler in Agent 69, a ranch girl in Isa Lang Ang Hari, a cigaret-vendor who turned ballerina in Lovers' Street, a village maiden in Markong Bagsik, a doctor's daughter in Api Ngunit Lumalaban, and a vamp, a tramp, a cat, a kitten, and what-have-you.
"What I want to try now is to act in a musical, a pure song-and-dance film. I might yet do this kind of movie if Col. Jacinto B. Chong, producer of JBC Productions, and I agree regarding his recent offer to star opposite Eddie Mesa in his upcoming film, Manila A-Go-Go," she told us.
"I also want to play a nun or a girl who sets her wiles on a priest. The girl, however, should eventually change. Crime doesn't pay, you know!"
"To this effect, I would want to make it clear that sex isn't a crime. Sex is something we, people, should cherish; it being God-given and all that. It shouldn't be associated with dirt. Sex, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholder should truly behold it or lo, there goes his existence!"
Having gone into this rather long explanation, Divina momentarily became quiet and seemed to palate each word that she had just uttered.
"I also would want to make it clear that stripping down to one's birthday clothes isn't a playful business, as most of my colleagues in the movie world think. It requires much effort and talent, it requires much swallowing of one's own pride. Hence, when I am literally spanked by statements that I haven't got talent to spare, I spank myself, and say that I have got IT, and that's enough. Having IT, you know, is having talent!"
Divina then looked at us, piercingly, boldly, to show us perhaps that she really has got talent, that she really has got it. And we Agree.
BUHAY SA BUHAY, in Eastman color that may not be flaming as the movie's advertising proclaims but in clear, clean, and often striking photographic detail, is the best example that, technically, Filipino films are in general as good as any foreign-made and processed picture.
Felipe Sacdalan's competent hand and functioning imagination are evident in frame after frame of Joseph Estrada fleeing from gunmen and gumshoes, Susan Roces fleeing from Joseph Estrada, Joseph Estrada and Susan Roces fleeing from Oscar Keesee, Oscar Keesee fleeing from no one, and Susan Roces finally fleeing to Joseph Estrada. The moving shots of the countryside are alive and full of interesting detail, too, as in the photographing of fight sequences and night time raids.
The Buhay Sa Buhay photographer's pride, however, should really consist of the various angles and emotional attitudes he has captured of the love story between Estrada and Susan.
A convict is taken out of Muntinlupa penitentiary, Joseph Estrada escapes when the truck he is riding with the prison guards overturns in a ditch near Badman's Paquito Diaz's territory. As it turns out, Diaz and his two brothers and father (Oscar Keesee) has been responsible for Estrada's imprisonment by goading him to kill in revenge for the murder of his father, brother, and bride-to-be. A rich and powerful clan, Oscar Keesee's family and hired gunmen start to track down escaped convict Estrada. The desperate hero decides to take Susan Roces, a doctor and the fiancee of Paquito Diaz, as hostage, and chains her wrist to his. Chained not by fate, by hatred, by love, or by evil men, but by mere necessity, Estrada the ruthless and Rocess the innocent go their brief romantic way.
Love develops as the doctor knows more of the ex-convict's life and character, and this is what Photographer Sacdalan makes capital use of for his charming forest romance scenes and final clinching drama.
In between, there are the habitual fistfights, gunfights, and roarfights. When not being bothered by three policemen who keep popping in and out of inopportune senes with inopportune words, Oscar Keesee is riled by the bumbling stupidity of his coconut palm leaf fan carrier and folding chair attendant. Forcibly comic and faintly remisniscent of pre-war landlord film types, Keesee's role is the most memorable in Buhay Sa Buhay -- with perhaps the exception of his son who is conscience-stricken over his brothers' and father's ruthlessness and who finally brings on the catharsis that ends the family's supremacy and the haunted flight of Estrada and Roces.
Other technical aspects of Buhay Sa Buhay appear exceptionally good, as the sound mixing which eliminates the harshness and overloudness of most Tagalog films.
Armando Garces created this movie, and he should be credited with having chosen some of the best technicials for the film. The best moneymaking stars, too, Joseph Estrada and Susan Roces, who are paired for the first time.