Cinephiles would definitely mention the other showier works of Nora Aunor and the late Mario O’Hara on any Best Of list, but my favorite collaboration would have to be this underrated classic.
Everything about it was just distinctly Pinoy, from the unapologetic melodrama and soap opera caricatures to the literal and metaphorical filth and stench emanating from an urban compound.
I’m not a Noranian, but if anybody would declare that she’s the greatest actress in Philippine cinema and in a league of her own, I’d simply nod my head in agreement (and this coming from the son of a Vilmanian and the biggest Maricelian). As Babette, the ugly duckling (“Katulong ka ba nila?”) with a heart of gold, she was truly exceptional and empathetic.
My favorite characters here though would have to be the two extremely opposite women played by Anita Linda (as a washed up, delusional, materialistic starlet willing to barter her daughter Babette for a few pieces of daster) and Metring David (as the kooky but hardworking and patient mother to Bobby, a special needs man).
In one memorable scene, Bobby was quietly eating his lunch oblivious to all the chaos happening outside his house. Babette simply looked at him and said, “Mabuti ka pa. Mabuti ka pa.” I actually believed her.