Nora Aunor: Pinay Icon and Philippine Showbiz as a Cultural Text
Book Review: Si Nora Aunor Sa Mga Noranian: Mga Paggunita at Pagtatapat by Nestor De Guzman
Nora Aunor is considered the Superstar of Philippine showbiz. In fact, this statement can be backed up by legions of fans across generations that adored and loved her, even at the cost of having to remain single so they can remain loyal to her. When Noranians are single, they can follow their idol anywhere, wait for 6 hours to a whole day just to catch a glimpse of her, and spend almost 24 hours a day defending her from her detractors. Nora Aunor is an undisputed Pinay icon that captured the adoration of her fans and moviegoers for almost five decades.
At the beginning of her career, there was Noramania. As UP Professor Patrick D. Flores’ writes in his thesis, “Fans placed her picture beside Jesus Christ or Mary and put leis of jasmine around it. Others die embracing Nora’s picture, requesting it to be buried with them.”
It’s not surprising then that the famous ‘Guy and Pip’ love team of Nora Aunor (Guy) and Tirso Cruz III (Pip) had to have a helicopter to transport them from one shooting location to another so they can escape the thousands of Nora devotees following them wherever they go.
Nora was just a simple albeit talented girl from Iriga, a province in Southern Luzon. Legend has it that Nora used to sell drinking water and coffee to passengers at a train station. Poor girl gone rich, her fame started when she won for 14 consecutive weeks in the Tawag ng Tanghalan singing competition. She became so famous that she had to be taken in different cars to shoot a film in different locations, as well as to have body doubles so she can pass through the crowd of fans possessed by their manic love for her, unscathed.
Si Nora Aunor Sa Mga Noranian: Mga Paggunita at Pagtatapat contains 49 essays of different stories of and from Noranians and their various ‘connections’ to the Pinay Superstar. These essays traversed how Nora has been an inspiration in the lives of Noranians as a discursive endeavor to understand ‘Nora Aunor’ as an icon and as a cultural text revealing the Pinoy psyche.
In the Noranian cosmology, the world is defined by your devotion and concerted solid action together with other Noranians. There is ‘Operation: Kumbento’ and ‘Lucky 12’. Operation: Kumbento is the ‘code’ Inday Badiday used in her radio program in DWUL, an AM radio channel, to call the Lucky 12 to a certain course of action. Lucky 12 is the most avid supporters and sworn bodyguards defending their goddess and queen.
As a GANAP (Grand Alliance for Nora Aunor, Philippines) member recounted in the book, the top priority is the continuity of the Guy and Pip tandem: “Noong araw ay halatang-halata kapag may tampuhan [sina Guy at Pip]. Madalas may talangka sa ulo si Guy (Nora Aunor), kung saan-saan nagpupunta, sobrang selosa. Nagluluksa rin si Maria Leonora Theresa kapag magkahiwalay ang mga “magulang”—dinadamitan siya ng itim. Malulungkot na kanta ang pinapatugtog ni German Moreno sa radyo. Sumisigaw naman si Inday Badiday ng ‘Operation: Kumbento!’ Misyon ng Operation Kumbento na gumawa ng paraan para magkabalikan sina Guy and Pip. Leader si Inday Badiday at miyembro ng grupong Lucky 12.”
Published in 2005 by Milflores Publishing and edited by Nestor De Guzman, the people involved in this book came from various backgrounds looking at Nora Aunor and Noranians their subject and icon. People like Boy Abunda (celebrity talk show host), Domingo Landicho (accomplished university professor), Lady Guy (impersonator), Tim Capellan (retail marketing CEO) among others recounted their experience in the book.
Si Nora Aunor Sa Mga Noranian: Mga Paggunita at Pagtatapat is a must-read for anyone interested in Philippine mass culture consciousness, avid fans of Nora, and even a non-Noranian. The book reveals how the psyche of Filipino fans contextualizes the phenomenon of a popular figure in the Philippines, and how a product of mass media culture can be idolized as almost godlike across strata in Philippine society. The writers in this book are truly adept in embedding imagery in their words and vivid imagination — with its ekphrasis language common to all contributors. Take for instance Abunda’s Yesteryear essay:
“Ilang minuto matapos ang alas-otso ng gabi, naroon na ang aking diyosa, nakatanaw sa makapal na tao sa ibaba mula sa penthouse ng KBS Building. Nakataas ang kamay ng mga tao, at wumawagayway sa hangin ang mga larawan at magasin ni Nora. Ipinagsigawan naming ang kanyang pangalan, ang daming pangako ng katapatan at walang-hanggang pagmamahal! At kumaway siya sa akin, hinagisan ako ng flying kiss. Para siyang kristal na babasagin, at pagkaganda-ganda. Kahit halos isang kilometro ang layo niya, alam kong nakikita niya ako, at alam kong alam niya kung gaano ako kadeboto sa kanya.
Reading the book transports you to a time portal. I really felt the energy and passion coursing through each person’s essay. In his entry Batu- Bato Sa Langit, Nestor De Guzman recalled how ‘Nora Aunor’ defined his relationship with his friend, “Isang kamag-aral ang maka-Vilma, si Barnard. Kami sana ang dapat naging mag-best friend. Classmate kami mula kindergarten hanggang fourth year high school. Pareho kaming maliit. Parehong hinaharot na malamya. Palagi kaming magkasama sa folk dance number sa school program. Pero grade three pa lang, mayroon na kaming cold war –simula na ng rivalry naming ala-Nora-Vilma.”
Nora Aunor then has a rival, actress Vilma Santos and her legions of fans, the‘Vilmanians’.
Nora Aunor depicted a formidable gay icon as retold by Lady Guy in Ang Lalaking Nangarap Maging Nora Aunor, “Tinanong ako ni Cristy Fermin kung hanggang saan ang paghanga ko kay Nora Aunor. Sagot ko: ‘Tadtarin man ako nang pinong-pino, si Nora Aunor ang makikitang nananalaytay sa aking mga ugat.’ Naloka si Joey De Leon, nagpahanap ng blade. Hihiwain daw ako para makita kung naroon nga si Nora Aunor. Sumikat ang linyang iyon mula noon.”
Even the world of ‘macho’ Pinoys, Nora Aunor lingers in their imagination. In Tell Nora I Love Her Manolito Ramirez wrote, “Hanggang ngayon tinatanong ng asawa ko, sino ba ako sa buhay ni Nora at gayon na lang ang pagmamahal ko sa kanya? Honestly, sabi ko sa asawa ko, kung magkakaroon ako ng pagkakataong makaharap si Nora, I will tell her I love her.”
The book portrayed different images of Nora Aunor –as the omnipresent mother, the grateful icon, the woman with the golden voice, the non-stereotypical non-mestiza actress with a unique style of acting complimented by her penetrating eyes on and off the screen, as the Pinay of all Pinays. Trends may come and go, but the deity-like form of worship Noranians attributed to their idol is immortalized in this truly Filipino book.
I believe in the law of attraction, that each of us can shape our own destiny.
I started writing when I was still in my mother's womb. I'm the twin of Joan Jett from another dimension.
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