Nora Aunor, superstar, multi-awarded actress, source of quotable one-liners, received a “people’s award” last Friday from the groups Gabriela and Peace for Life.

The award was given in recognition of one of her great films that criticized the US military bases.

Aunor herself was humbled, saying she could not believe such a film is still given importance.

But more than the film, the award centers on Aunor as a “People’s Artist” which is synonymous to being the “People’s Choice”.  It is in a way a protest against President Aquino for turning down her conferment as National Artist over a disputed drug conviction.

The snub has stirred many to come up with petitions for the president to reconsider. It goes to show that Aunor’s legions still love the one and only Superstar.

From the very start of her career, Aunor captured the masa’s heart for making it to the silverscreen with her masa looks.  From the very start, the masa made her the superstar that she is by filling up movie houses, theatres and TV sets to watch her essay great roles.

Those great Aunor movies are remembered with great one-liners, lines she delivers in a motion that starts with her long stare, those eyes sucking the audience’s breath. Then in one exhale, unfurls with emotions.

“My brother is not a pig!” she screams at a US soldier for shooting her young brother near the US base camp in Minsan Isang Gamu-Gamu (Once a Moth).

“Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao…ang himala ay nasa puso nating lahat!” she pleads to the horde of pilgrims in the movie Himala (Miracle) who worshipped her as a Godsent miracle worker.

“Hayup! Hayup! Hayup!”, she rages after finding her mother sired a child by her husband in Ina Ka ng Anak Mo (You’re the Mother of Your Daughter).

It’s not just those lines that make her great. In one scene from the Flor Contemplacion story, Aunor’s lead character could only press and scratch a glass wall with not being able to give one final hug or touch to her children before her execution. You could almost want to break that wall.

Those are just some of Aunor’s characters from a treasure of classics and award-winners.  With such accomplished line of movies and awards, I wonder if the president got to see any of these films so he could have thought twice of his decision.

The joke is he is a Vilmanian.

Perhaps, he doesn’t like movies with social issues, like Gamu-Gamo exposing the atrocities of in American militarism, or Himala’s dissection of blind faith and hysteria. Instead, the president would prefer to watch movies that have his nephew or sister in it for mindless entertainment.

Lately the president is rumored to be up for an award for the Nobel Peace Prize.  The irony here is that while we praise Aunor for her work in cinema fiction, we do a facepalm on Aquino’s grandiose speeches for the fiction of tuwid na daan amidst spiraling prices in tuition, food and fuel; natural disasters begetting more social disasters; displacements and blood brought by mining and military operations; and corruption in every corner.

Tell me if these mucks make him deserving to be a recipient of a peace award?

That is perhaps why we embrace Aunor with her characters from daughter, mother, lover, wife, lesbian, farmer, rebel, career woman, judge, martyr, war survivor, that show the psyche of a Filipina struggling for her place in a tumultuous society.  To borrow a line from Joi Barrios’ poem: “To be a woman is to live in a time of war.”

For that, Aunor deserves the award from the people, the masa, nanays, lolas, titas, yayas, tindera, labasera, labandera, parlorista, lawyers, teachers, nuns and all the faithful.

But I still want to see her one day remembered like the other National Artists in film: FPJ for his heroic everyman, Brocka’s grit and Bernal’s kaleidoscope, then there is Nora Aunor, the multi-faceted superstar.(

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