'Burlesk Queen' turning point of Vilma's career

By Miguel Dumaual, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Dec 10 2012 11:54 PM | Updated as of Dec 11 2012 07:13 PM

Star for All Seasons remembers Celso Ad. Castillo

MANILA, Philippines -- Vilma Santos credits the late director of the critically acclaimed film "Burlesk Queen" for her transition to a full-fledged actress.

"Si Direk Celso Ad. Castillo ang nagbigay ng pagkakataon sa career ko ng turning point -- from sweet image to, sabi nila, maituturing na aktres. Iyon 'yung 'Burlesk Queen,'" Santos, 59, told ABS-CBN News in a recent interview.

In the 1977 film, the veteran actress portrays Chato, a utility girl whose last-minute performance to fill in for her employer burlesque star makes her an instant sensation.

Castillo, in earlier interviews, said Santos, at one point, quit filming the rest of "Burlesk Queen," which was three-fourths finished then.

The film, which climaxes with Chato having a miscarriage while dancing onstage, won for Castillo the best director and best screenplay awards at the 1977 Metro Manila Film Festival.

In late November, Castillo died of a heart attack at his home in Siniloan, Laguna. He was 69.

"Direk Celso, hindi ko mararating kung nasaan man ako ngayon, kung hindi [sa iyo]," Santos said. "Kung nasaan man ako ngayon, napakalaki ng utang ko [sa iyo]. Maraming, maraming salamat. Ang pagdarasal ko nasa sa iyo."

The actress, dubbed Philippine cinema's "Star for All Seasons," also credited Castillo for bringing "prestige" to her production company.

"Isa 'yun sa prestige sa 'kin ni Celso. Ako nag-produce noon," she said, referring to the 1978 film "Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak," which won Best Picture and Best Director for Castillo at that year's Gawad Urian.

"Sobra, hanggang ngayon, pinaguusapan 'yun," Santos said of the film, which she starred in opposite Bembol Roco. "Kaya kung magkakaroon ng kababayan natin na mapanood ulit, malaking karangalan 'yon."