‘Not cringing’: Lualhati Bautista’s take on online comparisons of Vilma and Piolo vs their Dekada ’70 roles

July 7, 2020 - 1:54 PM
Vilma and Piolo
Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto in this photo uploaded on her Instagram on May 5, 2020 (left) and Piolo Pascual in this photo uploaded on his Instagram on March 21, 2020 (right).

Renowned novelist Lualhati Bautista pointed out that Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Sixth District, Batangas) and Kapamilya actor Piolo Pascual do not owe her anything in relation to their political beliefs after comparisons were made to their fictional characters in “Dekada ’70.”

In a tweet, Bautista responded to author and film critic Richard Bolisay who shared pictures of Santos as Amanda Bartolome and Pascual as Julian “Jules” Bartolome in the Martial Law-era movie that depicted a middle-class family struggling under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

“Who’s fighting against tyranny now, Amanda and Jules Bartolome? Lualhati Bautista must be cringing,” Bolisay tweeted on Monday.

The tweet has since gained traction with 4,900 likes and more than 800 retweets.

Other Twitter users agreed with Bolisay and similarly juxtaposed Santos and Pascual with that of their fictional characters as created by Bautista in her novel that was adapted into a movie.

On Piolo 

Bolisay made the comparison after Pascual trended online for attempting to conduct a shoot in Sagada with director Joyce Bernal. The shoot was for President Rodrigo Duterte‘s fifth State of the Nation Address.

They were rejected because of the town’s strict health protocols relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. It does not have any active cases as of July 7.

READ: Why Sagada rejected Joyce Bernal team’s SONA shoot

Rappler reported that Bernal’s team led by Pascual,  Ilac Diaz, and Bela Padilla proceeded to Banaue to continue their shoot but their request was likewise rejected.

The team is reportedly currently in Baguio to push through with the SONA shoot.

The incident prompted some Filipinos to call Pascual out and accuse him of being a “DDS” or a diehard Duterte supporter but actress Alessandra de Rossi, who has previously worked with him on her directorial debut, refuted the claims.

“He has a bigger project. Not related to politics, but to show the beauty of the Philippines. Sayang. But time will come ‘pag pwede na i-shoot yun,” De Rossi responded to a different Twitter user who asked about Pascual’s presence in the popular tourist area.

De Rossi further responded: “Let them clarify that. It’s not my story to tell. But (definitely), walang kinalaman si Piolo sa SONA at all. Ano gagawin niya doon? Magmomodel?”

Pascual had portrayed Jules Bartolome in the film adaptation of Bautista’s “Dekada ’70.” In the story, he is the eldest among the children who joined the resistance movement against the Marcos regime despite the initial opposition of his mother.

His portrayal earned him the “Best Supporting Actor” award in the FAMAS, Gawad Urian and the Film Academy of the Philippines in 2003.

On Vilma 

Meanwhile, Santos previously gained traction for her “yes with reservations” vote on the highly controversial Anti-Terrorist Act of 2020 which was perceived to stifle dissent and curtain constitutionally-protected civil liberties.

RELATED: These lawmakers withdrew support for Anti-Terror Bill after initially backing it

Online users recalled the characters she portrayed in movies that centered on human rights abuses, one of which was Amanda in “Dekada ’70,” and called her out for voting in favor of the contested law.

Santos portrayed “Amanda,” the central character and mother of “Jules” in the story.

She initially opposed his decision to join the resistance movement but later on accepted his inclination and became more aware of sociopolitical issues and its implications to her and the society.

Santos’ portrayal earned her a “Best Actress” award in the Cinemanila International Film Festival, the Film Academy of the Philippines and Gawad Urian in 2003.

What Bautista thinks 

Bautista, the author of the film adaptation of “Dekada ’70,” stressed that Santos and Pascual are different from her characters of her acclaimed novel.

She responded to the viral tweet of Bolisay, who claimed that she “must be cringing” at the two individuals given the recent circumstances, and said:

“No, I am not cringing. One: Ang attachment ko ay sa mga tauhan lang na nilikha ko at hindi sa mga nagsiganap dito. And two: Hindi nila utang sa akin na magkaroon ng paninindigang tulad ng paninindigan ko. They are, in reality, Vilma and Piolo, not Amanda and Jules Bartolome.”

Another Twitter user, who was aware of the actors’ portrayals in the Martial Law movie, expressed his sentiments about the matter.

“Pero ma’am ang lungkot lang na wala silang natutunan sa mga ginampanan nila. Di po ba dapat hindi hiwalay ang tauhan sa gumaganap?” he asked.

Bautista responded by leading him to a Facebook post she wrote on June 5, saying that she has an insight into the matter as well. Her post reads:

“Ang sining ay dapat kumatawan sa paninindigan ng isang tao ng sining (manunulat, pintor, aktor, direktor, cultural workers at iba pa). Ang kanyang paninindigan ay dapat katawanin ng kanyang sining.” 

“Dapat niyang tignan ang kanyang sining at paninindigan bilang dalawang sagradong bagay na magkaugnay, magkakabit. Kapag nawalan ka ng paninindigan, kasamang nawawalan ng kinang, nawawalan ng halaga, ang iyong sining.” 

“Dahil walang halaga ang sining na walang paninindigan. Ewan ko sa iba pero ito ang pananaw ko.” 

The novelist further responded to Bolisay who commented in his thread that the book of “Dekada ’70” must be separated from the film adaptation.

“Not the film from the book but the actors from the film,” she replied.

Bautista is one of the foremost Filipino female novelists in the history of contemporary Philippine literature. Some of her works that centered on societal issues are “Dekada ’70,” “GAPO” and “Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa?