IT WAS Nora Aunor day for the whole University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman community Wednesday as the state university proclaimed the actress a “true national artist.”
The Superstar was conferred the 2014 UP Gawad Plaridel at Cine Adarna—UP Film Institute.
It was a festive occasion as Aunor, dressed in elegant off-white terno, was welcomed with rousing cheers upon arrival at the jam-packed theater and when she stood up to receive her National Artist Napoleon Abueva-designed trophy, an affirmation of her revered stature as a phenomenal icon of film and television.
Without question, UP President Alfredo E. Pascual said in his message, “Villamayor’s stature as the iconic Superstar of Philippine cinema has arisen from her numerous, highly acclaimed, timeless and relevant performances in film, music, television and theater. The UP community is greatly pleased to join the UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) in recognizing Villamayor for her unique artistry and versatility as a singer, and for portraying with keen intelligence and uncommon sensitivity an amazing range of cinematic roles, as an actress.”
UP Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael L. Tan said it is UP’s honor and duty to recognize Aunor’s contributions to the nation. “Aunor is a foremost transmedia practitioner, communicating with millions of Filipinos, expressing our national joys and triumphs, as well as our collective anxieties, fears and grief. While film is a powerful medium, it took someone like Aunor to harness its full potentials, moving Filipinos over the last four and a half decades, and without a doubt, will move many more, even those yet to be born.”
UP CMC Dean Dr. Roland B. Tolentino said in his message (written in Filipino) that the history of Philippine film and television cannot be written without laying down the substantial and artistic contribution of Aunor in uplifting the art of acting and singing which has remained unsurpassed. Aunor’s brilliance and professionalism in film and television is the model for the next generation of members of media and communication. Nora is testament that popularity is the key to improving the world of media where she belongs.
Aunor, humbled by the honor, said that while reaching only two years in elementary, she felt like she has earned her degree, and proud that UP has given her acceptance, which for the millions of Filipinos believe she rightly deserves.
Aunor gamely gave a talk on her colorful rise to fame, such as her well known selling water to train passengers, her joining in singing contests, landing her movie contract, falling in love with the young and dashing screen partner Tirso Cruz III, watching child actress Vilma Santos in Trudis Liit and Ging in a hometown movie theater and getting Vilma’s autograph signature the first time that she saw her in person.
Aunor also spoke on directors Lino Brocka and Mario O’Hara, her favorite, who would always embrace her after giving a superb take during shootings. Ishmael Bernal, she recalled, would just leave to her how she would act out a scene including the classic climatic scene in Himala.
Aunor may have cemented an indelible mark in the halls of cinema, but what has endeared her to the people is her undeniable warmth and personal charisma. When you get the chance to greet her, she would look at you straight in the eye and make you feel how much she appreciated your adoracion.
The UP Gawad Plaridel, named after Filipino hero and Spanish-era propagandist Marcelo H. del Pilar, is the sole award the UP System gives to outstanding media practitioners. Like Del Pilar, the awardee must believe in the vision of a Philippine society that is egalitarian, participative and progressive, and in a media that is socially responsible, critical and vigilant, liberative and transformative, and free and independent.
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