Without a doubt, Vilma Santos is one of the bankable and best actresses in the Philippines. Dubbed as the Star for all Seasons, she is the longest-reigning box office queen of Philippine cinema. But of course, her movie career will not be that successful without her leading men, especially the Drama King, Christopher de Leon.
The Vilma-Boyet tandem movies started back in the mid-1970s, and as of 2004, they have made 23 movies together! As an avid fan of local movies since the early 80s, I watched almost all of them in theaters. And although I think all of them are great, below is my list of the top 10 best Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon movies of all time, along with some movie video clips.
10. Paano ba ang Mangarap? (1983)
Produced by Viva Films, directed by Eddie Garcia and movie adaption of a komiks novel by Nerissa Cabral, Paano ba ang Mangarap? (How is it to Dream?), Vilma and Christopher were joined by Amy Austria, the late great Jay Ilagan, and Armida Siguion Reyna. Here, Vilma played a martyr mother, whose son was taken away from her.
I must admit, I think the story is not that complex and the entire movie was very melodramatic. Vilma did not win an acting award, but her line, “Ibalik mo sa akin si Jun Jun! Ibalik mo sa akin ang anak ko! Ibalik mo…” (Until she fell down the stairs) was so iconic, and her acting in that particular will be remembered for a very long time.
9. Magkaribal (1979)
Produced by Regal Films and directed by Elwood Perez, Magkaribal (Rivals) is the first movie together of Vilma Santos, Christopher de Leon, and Alma Moreno, who was then a young sex goddess. The film, which did very well at the box office, is about a woman whose closest friend for a very long time became her worst rival with her man.
The movie has daring scenes of Boyet de Leon and Alma Moreno. But then, the confrontation between Vilma and Alma convinced me that it is not just a sexy film. In fact, this movie was rather Vilma’s career move from her sweet image to being a versatile actress. Likewise, the movie also proved that Boyet can be a great dramatic actor.
8. Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (1975)
Tag-ulan sa Tag-araw (Rain in Summer) is the very first movie together with Vilma and Christopher. This Celso Ad. Castillo film is about two young first cousins who fell in love with each other. Although the film did not receive any award nomination, their acting was really great, and the scenes were not made to promote immorality in a family.
I was a growing teenager when I watched this film via Betamax (Yes, that Jurassic videotape) in the early 80s. I remember crying and got confused while Nanette’s (Vilma) parents were forced to separate her from Kuya Rod (Christopher). The scene was long and continuous, and I felt the pain of two young people loving the wrong person.
7. Ikaw ay Akin (1978)
Produced by Tagalog Ilang-ilang Productions and directed by one of the greatest local movie directors, Ishmael Bernal. Ikaw ay Akin (You are Mine) features the first movie together with Vilma, Christopher, and Superstar, Nora Aunor, who became De Leon’s first wife in real life. Incidentally, Sandy Andolong (De Leon’s second wife) was also in the film.
The film tackles the hardships of relationships and being the “other woman.” But unlike other “love triangle” films with two women fighting and exchange of harsh words against each other, Nora and Vilma being both the greatest actresses in the Philippines, only used the facial expression, leaving their fans and critics wonder who the better actress was.
6. Sinasamba Kita (1982)
Produced by Viva Films and directed by Eddie Garcia, Sinasamba Kita (I Worship You) features the love quadrangle of Vilma Santos, Christopher Deleon, Philip Salvador, and Lorna Tolentino. This movie was adapted from Gilda Olvidado’s novel in local komiks, and became a box-office hit. Eddie Garcia also won the FAMAS Best Director Award that year.
Here, I saw an anti-hero Vilma (as Divina) who was a proud, rich business executive. On the other hand, Lorna (as Nora, and yes, Nora) was very good in her role as Vilma’s younger half-sister. Lorna won the heart of Christopher (as Jerry), who happens to be the dream man of Vilma. The dramatic scenes were so intense, and the script was superb.
5. Broken Marriage (1983)
Produced by Regal Films and directed by Ishmael Bernal, Broken Marriage tackled the problems of married couples who are very busy in their work and lacked time for each other. Vilma lost the FAMAS Best Actress award, but won it at Gawad Urian, along with Bernal as Best Director. This heavy-drama film also won the Best Picture at Urian.
The fighting scenes (shouting) of Vilma and Boyet as a troubled couple were so realistic. The script was so perfect for both of them. As a young lady back then when I saw the movie in theaters with my classmates in high school, the movie taught me that being married for 10 years is not a guarantee that it will be smooth for a career woman.
4. Dahil Mahal Kita: The Dolzura Cortez Story (1993)
Produced by Octo Arts and directed by Laurice Guillen, Dahil Mahal Kita (Because I live You): The Dolzura Cortez Story is the first Philippine movie that chronicled the problem of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Here, Vilma Santos portrayed very well the role of Dolzura Cortez, the first Filipina AIDS victim to come out in public.
I can frankly say that this is more of a Vilma Santos solo-star movie than a Vilma-Boyet movie, although Boyet portrayed a very important role. Nevertheless, this made Ate Vi won the Best Actress award from various award-giving bodies, such as the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), Gawad Urian, Star Awards, and Manila Film Festival
3. Pakawalan Mo Ako (1981)
Produced by Sampaguita Pictures and directed by Elwood Perez, “Pakawalan Mo Ako” (Release Me) gave Perez and Christopher de Leon FAMAS nominations for Best Director and Best Actor, respectively. Vilma Santos won her second FAMAS Best Actress award for her role. This is also her first movie with Boyet that earned her an acting award.
Well, her acting was really superb so I was not surprised she won the FAMAS award. But then, it’s also the story that made the film great. Here, Vilma (Ana) played an escort girl, who was framed up and was jailed for murder. I honestly think the best dramatic scene in the movie is during her court trial, with Vilma screaming her iconic dialogue.
2. Dekada ’70 (2002)
Produced by Star Cinema, directed by Chito S. Rono, and a story by critically acclaimed novelist Lualhati Bautista, Dekada ’70 related the story of a middle-class Filipino family during the Martial Law era under the late President Ferdinand Marcos. Here, Vilma and Boyet portrayed as parents of Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin and other young actors.
For me, the movie was well-crafted and so effective that even those who were not born yet during Martial Law can relate. Nonetheless, Vilma was also great as a woman who later discovered that she can be more than just a simple wife mother. No wonder, the film won several awards, including Best Actor for Piolo, and Best Actress for Ate Vi.
1. Relasyon (1982)
Produced by Regal Films and directed by Ishmael Bernal, Relasyon is a very touching love story. Marilou (Vilma Santos) fell in love with a married man, Emil (Christopher de Leon), and eventually became his mistress. But then, the movie is also about problems in a relationship where the woman seems to be a servant only to her man.
Here, Ate Vi was so effective in delivering long lines, while Boyet Without a doubt, I can say that this is the best Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon movie. In fact, it made Vilma Santos the first Grand Slam Best Actress in local movie history. She won the Best Actress award from FAMAS, Gawad URIAN, FAP, and Catholic Mass Media that year.
And as a bonus to fans of the Vilma-Boyet love team, below is the full list of their other films together.
1. Masarap, Masakit ang Umibig (1977) 2. Disco Fever (1978) 3. Nakawin Natin ang Bawa’t Sandali (1978) 4. Pinay American Style (1980) 5. Gusto Kita, Mahal ko Siya (1980) 6. Karma (1981) 7. Haplos (1982) 8. Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan (1983) 9. Imortal (1989) 10. Ipagpatawad Mo (1991) 11. Nag-iisang Bituin (1994) 12. Hanggang Ngayon Ika’y Minamahal (1997) 13. Mano Po 3: My Love (2004)