This is the last of the three-part series on the urban
legends connected to the Superstar Nora Aunor.
We have proven in the first part of this series that the
urban legend about Nora Aunor's "fling" with then Hollywood newcomer Don
Johnson was not true. This was made clear to us by Nestor de Guzman, editor of
the Noranian book Si Nora Aunor Sa Mga Noranian: Mga Paggunita at Pagtatapat
(Milflores Publishing, first printed in 2005, Php 360), a compilation of
stories from Nora fans. De Guzman revealed that another Hollywood-based star
fell for Ate Guy, the ‘60s Indian teen sensation Sajid Khan, Nora's partner in
the movie The Singing Filipina
The second urban legend, proven to be fact this time, was
the story of Nora's "Operation: Kumbento" and the Lucky 12. Again with the help
of de Guzman, an account from La Aunor's 1970s biographer Rustum Quinton, and from
Tirso Cruz III's publicist from 1970-80 Nora Calderon, we found out that
Operation: Kumbento was the codename for Nora's "extraction" operation from
Tower Productions with the help of the Lucky 12-a group made up of die-hard
Noranians assembled by Nora's close friend, the late showbiz writer-radio and
TV host Inday Badiday.
Now, the third urban legend comes from stories about Nora
Aunor's manic popularity—or the "Superstar Phenomenon."
Were the stories of mass hysteria, of fans willing to get
trampled on, risking life and limb just to see Nora, and their god-like
adoration of the little brown girl from Iriga really true?
What about the stories of
buses, firetrucks, cranes, and even a helicopter just to get La Aunor
through a sea of screaming fans? Of using look-alikes to divert chasing fans
from the Superstar?
Are all these just the usual publicity gimmicks, tall
stories from publicists and reporter fans of the Superstar? Which is fact,
which is fiction?
IN THE BEGINNING.
The hysteria began after Nora capped her 14-week undefeated streak with a grand
championship win in Tawag ng Tanghalan in 1967. Fans followed and loved her when she started singing in
the TV show Oras ng Ligaya and in the radio program Operatang
Although her first recording flopped, her next LPs were
certified hits and runaway bestsellers. Movies came next with her supporting
appearances in musical portions of Sampaguita Pictures movies.
But it was the movie D'Musical Teenage Idols of Tower
Productions that further fanned the flame of Nora's popularity. This movie—her
first starring role—was a surprise box-office hit.
Nora broke through the "mestizas-only" rule of local cinema and
proved to everyone that you don't have to be Caucasian-looking to carry a film
and make it a box-office hit. Her next movies' record-breaking ticket sales
only cemented more solidly her place in Philippine showbiz. The media quickly
took notice of the phenomenon Nora was creating and gave her a title—The
THE FRENZY. It was the late ‘60s and Filipinos were
entering one of the most tumultuous eras in Philippine history. Enter the
4'11", brown-skinned girl from Iriga. Gifted with a golden voice and a pair of
soulful eyes, she also had a Cinderella story that could inspire, fan the
imagination, and take away all the worries of the problem-burdened Pinoys. Nora
Aunor provided an escape, someone everyone could focus on and channel their
faith unto during those troubled times.
De Guzman said there were only two reasons when one saw a
very large group of people rallying on the streets in the early ‘70s. Either
there was a student demonstration going on, or Nora's hordes of fans were off
to see the premiere of her latest movie.
"Talagang grabe ang fans ni Nora nung araw," begins Nora
"Tita Noy" Calderon veteran showbiz reporter and Tirso Cruz III's PR from
1970-80. "Yung isang nakakabaliw na naaalala ko about the fans of Nora and Pip
[Tirso], nung nag-show sila ABS-CBN. Sa sobrang dami ng fans na gusto silang
mahawakan, dun na lang sa ibabaw ng [old] ABS-CBN building sa Bohol sila
"'Tapos minsan namang premiere ng isang movie nila, hindi
sila makadaan sa entrance ng sinehan. So ang ginawa sa kanila, inilagay sina
Guy and Pip sa forklift at itinawid sa mga tao. Sa likuran pa sila ng sinehan
dumaan kasi ang dami talagang tao sa entrance," remembers Tita Noy.