By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – A few months ago, my college friends ran into a survey on Facebook initiated by good friend Dr. Pol Tiongson who’s based in San Jose, to find out if our circle of friends were mostly Noranians (for actress Nora Aunor) or Vilmanians (for actress Vilma Santos, now a congressional representative for Lipa).
The survey-contest instantly became a worldwide fun, an uproar reminiscent of college cheering squads, where the rabid Noranians rose from nowhere and started campaigning vigorously for Ate Guy. Led by the impassioned Gerry Igtos, the Noranians enumerated the blockbuster movies of La Aunor which won her best actress awards in the Philippines and abroad.
Manila-based Igtos would write on his FB wall the famous lines which the actress said in her films, bringing us to hysterical laughter indicated by emojis and LOLs.
The baby boomers and the Gen X and Y-ers won’t forget Himala, Minsan May Isang Gamu-gamu, Bona, Tatlong Taong Walang Dios, and many more. And who would not recognize that golden voice that was heard in one of the longest running TV shows Superstar?
The Vilmanians had their thunder too, in fact, starting way ahead in the early days of the weeklong survey.
Towards the 6th and last day, the Noranians won with a wide margin against the Vilmanians. Proof that even in the US where many of my school mates now reside, the superstar actress and singer continues to shine.
Fast forward, months later after our social media intramurals, the Noranians were disheartened to find out that Pres. Duterte, like his predecessor Pres. Aquino, did not name Nora Aunor (Nora Villamayor in real life) National Artist.
It’s a nagging question that won’t go away. And the answer is blowing in the wind of two presidencies who could not affirm the choice of professionals and fans alike.
Aunor comes from a poor family in Iriga and sold water in her home town to help generate income for her family at a young age. She began her career as a singer, after winning a nationwide singing competition. Then a petite and dusky teenager, she eventually got into the movies with an unprecedented record of acting awards.
Now 65, Aunor had been endorsed by the biggest cultural institutions in the Philippines, the NCCA and the CCP since 2014. Her nomination had been ignored by Aquino and Duterte for alleged ‘character’ questions. Aunor figured in drug abuse charges in the US but the case was dropped for lack of evidence.
Multi-awarded literary writer Michael U. Obenieta wrote: “The nomination and selection process separately mediated by both the CCP and NCCA— which Ms. Nora Aunor topped in 2014 among the final batch of awardees— should be scrapped if its list of recommendation to the President will only be up to whim to scratch at will.”
“If their basis was political and the narrow standard of morality as basis for declaring a National Artist, the office of the President doesn’t need two committees (NCCA and CCP) who will be tasked, using taxpayers’ money, to sift through the nominees and debate the merits of each candidates,” added Obenieta.
Aunor is the most nominated and awarded actress of the Philippines, with over 166 awards for her singing and acting career in film, TV and stage. Our own Noranian -Vilmanian survey on Facebook was an attestation to that stellar success which Philippine presidents have snubbed for whimsical reasons.
“Nora is a legendary actress, an icon. She represented Philippine culture of the masses. She may not be recognized by presidents .But she just cannot be erased,” remarked a Noranian on Facebook.