My mother AIDA CARMONA: the film & TV actress, remembrances of sequences past

My mother, who passed away in October 2016, was the Filipina-American film and television actress AIDA (RAGASA) CARMONA – most widely known in the entire Philippine archipelago as “Aling Atang” (Elder Lady Atang) in the 1980s soap, “Flordeluna” starring Janice De Belen.

Aida Carmona was born a Pisces with her Moon in Aries and Leo Rising. I, her eldest daughter on the other hand, had flipped the script when I was born with my Aries Sun and Pisces Moon. Mother and daughter have that Leo Ascendant in common, though, so you’re right in expecting that mother and daughter have this love for theater… and maybe emotional theatrics (grin). The Pisces element made Mom and me enamored with film and acting and pretend and roles. Meanwhile, the Aries element in our personae made us bold and passionate performers who went after what we want.

SEQ. 1. EXT. SMOKEY MOUNTAIN, TONDO, MANILA. DAY.

So there we were, Kuya Philip Salvador, maybe in his 20s at that time and nine-year old me, waiting for famous director LINO BROCKA’S assistant director to say, “Action!” I was supposed to call out, “Ate Cristy! Ate Cristy!” while crossing the smelly “estero” with Philip who was walking gingerly behind me, his film character unused to our Tondo slums. Ate Cristy is the young and sexy upcoming actress Amy Austria whom Kuya Lino was building up at that time besides Philip. My mother, AIDA, was playing my mother in this film: “JAGUAR,” which was a play on the word “guardia.” Philip played a poor and desperate security guard in this movie, which, like many other LINO BROCKA films, portrayed economic inequalities and social injustice in Philippine society. Kuya Lino’s protest films, many of which my mother starred in even in just small support roles, ran against the grain of the Philippine martial law era ethos when opposition to the government was quashed and discouraged. DISSOLVE TO –

SEQ. 2. INT. NIGHTCLUB. NIGHT.

Critically acclaimed film director ISHMAEL BERNAL talks in a gentle, low voice to his cinematographer while gesturing animatedly about the angles and lighting that he requires. Meanwhile my mother AIDA, playing one of the prostitutes in some godforsaken dump in the underbelly of Ermita, chats with her fellow “putachings” as she fans herself furiously with her abaca “pamaypay” as she sweats against the bright and burning kleig lights. Then the AD says Action and Mom gets in character and delivers her lines flawlessly. No asking what the hell her bloody motivation is. She is so damn good. This is Ishmael Bernal’s filmic ode originally titled “Manila By Night.” When the repressive Philippine government raised a ruckus, this landmark movie was alternately referred to as “City After Dark.” DISSOLVE TO –

SEQ. 3. INT. CLAUSTROPHOBIC HOUSE. NIGHT.

In here, AIDA CARMONA plays a maid, your ordinary “chimay, “utusan.” Not to give the plot away, though, because even if she’s just a lowly house-servant in this film, she turns out to be the only one who gets out of this household-based storyline alive. I am of course talking about the seminal film “Kisapmata” by brilliant

director MIKE DE LEON. One has to see this film to believe it but it’s not for the faint of heart. CUT TO-

There you have it. Brief filmic sequences from my mother’s actress life. She always said, looking back, that she was proud to have been directed on film by three of the BEST and MOST PRODIGIOUS DIRECTORS of her time: the AWARD WINNING, SOCIALLY RELEVANT ARTIST-DIRECTORS LINO BROCKA, ISHMAEL BERNAL, and MIKE DE LEON. We, her children, are truly proud of her legacy and bravely carry on.

FADE TO BLACK. THE END.

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