Imagine a life deprived of competition. It will be easy and boring. Imagine showbiz without rivalry. It will be dull and stale. This explains the existence of the Noranians, Vilmanians, Sharonians, and Maricelians in showbizlandia. Through the years, they have kept the local entertainment scene very much alive, and both the celebrities and fans always on their toes.
Celebrity rivalries are often cultivated by media. Let's say if a showbiz magazine releases the box office results of two movie stars today, expect their respective fans growling at each other the next day.
The competition before was so intense. Word war was rampant. Clashes happened in the streets of Manila. The fan clubs tried outdoing each other in terms of gimmicks and projects for their idols.
Philippine Entertainment Portal (PEP) lists down five of the most memorable female celebrity rivalries that the public staunchly supported, and fought for.
GLORIA ROMERO AND NIDA BLANCA. Two Pinay mestizas, who happened to be the most hardworking icons of the ‘50s, were also the closest rivals onscreen.
Gloria Miller Galla was 18 when she bagged a small role in Kasintahan sa Pangarap, a movie which starred Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran. A year later (1952), she got her screen name Gloria Romero and her first lead role in Monghita. In 1954, she was paired with Luis Gonzales—who became her perennial screen partner—in Pilya.
She was hailed the "pinakamaamong mukha sa bakuran ng Sampaguita Pictures." Despite figuring in a variety of roles, Gloria was well-known for adhering to the wholesome image strictly imposed by her home studio.
On the other hand, Dorothy Acueza Jones—now popularly known as Nida Blanca—was 15 when she joined showbiz. She first appeared on Reyna Elena in 1951. Unlike Gloria, Nida was known for her galawgaw ways. Her initial films established her image as "tomboyish" and playful.
Pairing her with Nestor de Villa in Amor Mio (1951) was the best decision that LVN Pictures ever made. Three years later, the dancing partners became the ultimate match to the singing sweethearts—Gloria and Luis—of Sampaguita Pictures.
Fast forward to 2004, Nida's daughter Kaye Torres would reveal in an interview that her late mother had nothing but respect for her reel rival Gloria.
"She admired Tita Glo (Gloria Romero) even if they were rivals because she also worked hard for her career. Kay Mommy, wala yung rivalry. She was never insecure," Kaye said a few months after her mother passed away.
Prior to Nida's death, she and Gloria were touted as Philippine Cinema's most enduring movie queens.
AMALIA FUENTES AND SUSAN ROCES. The discovery of Jesusa Porificacion Sonora and Amalia Muhlach created an uproar in the Philippine Cinema in the '60s.
It was in 1952 when a 9-year-old Susan made her silver screen debut in Mga Bituin ng Kinabukasan. She was a bystander on the movie set of her idol Gloria Romero when Dr. Jose Perez, owner of Sampaguita Studios, spotted her. She was asked if she'd want to do movies, the next thing she knew she was given a role in Ms. Tilapia, topbilled by Miss Gloria Romero.
"Susan became one of the biggest stars of Sampaguita Pictures. She was truly a princess in the fairyland of movies and entertainment, winning the hearts of her fans everywhere she went," wrote former Sampaguita public relations staff, Lena Strait, in a memoir.
Susan's star shone even brighter as she reaped accolades from showbiz critics, as well as various award-giving bodies.
Enter Amalia Fuentes.
This Bicolana beauty was dubbed as the Elizabeth Taylor of the Philippines.In 1956, Amalia appeared on Senorita, another Gloria Romero starrer. She won her first Best Actress trophy for the movie Ibulong Mo Sa Akin in 1966.
Sultry and volatile Amalia, as opposed to Susan's sweet and refined image, would quickly engage the latter in a professional duel, which was further fueled by their admirers and the press. The rivalry between the two fine actresses saw the emergence of fans club and other groups of celebrity devotees.
People who lived through this era would recall that "kantiyawan" between both camps were prevalent. Supporters of both Susan and Amalia would wait outside the gate of Sampaguita Studios, holding their banners and hurling insults at each other. There were some instances when "kantiyawan" would lead to "sabunutan."
The rivalry mellowed down, and eventually ceased, when both stars prioritized their private lives over career. Susan married Da King Fernando Poe Jr., on December 25, 1968, while Amalia bore a daughter courtesy of Romeo Vasquez.
The death of their rivalry was instantly felt by the movie industry. Emerging stars during this period failed to elicit the same kind of excitement stirred by Susan and Amalia.
VILMA SANTOS AND NORA AUNOR. Two of local showbiz's most popular actresses also own the distinction of the most intense and enduring rivalry of all time.
The rivalry started, and immediately intensified, during the turbulent ‘70s, while both were still in their teens. Movie fanatics who grew up during the said decade, extending to the '80s, would remember how Vilmanians and Noranians religiously made a count of the films their idols starred in each month. The awards that followed every performance were also a matter of dispute among their supporters.
Brimming with mass appeal, brought significantly by her humble background, Nora Cabaltera Villamayor's understated depth when it comes to acting prompted critics to brand her as Philippine Cinema's greatest thespian. Much had been said about Nora's ability to act through her penetrating eyes, without the need to utter much dialogue. Her success in singing and acting earned Nora the Superstar title.
Some of Nora's well-loved films include Himala, Minsa'y Isang Gamu, Bona, Bulaklak sa City Jail, Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, Paano Ba Maging Ina?, Ina Ka ng Anak Mo, Sidhi, Bakit May Kahapon Pa and The Flor Contemplacion Story, among many others.
Maria Rosa Vilma Tuazon Santos, on the other hand, is known for her intense acting style—she has a superb way of delivering her lines. But aside from acting, Vilma is also a natural dancer—a talent which she flaunted through her own top rating musical variety programs, most notably the long running show Vilma.
With almost 200 films under her name, critics cited the movies Burlesk Queen, Relasyon, Sister Stella L, Dolzura Cortez, Dekada '70, Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa and Anak as some of Vilma's most outstanding films. The title Star for All Seasons was bestowed upon her because of her versatility as an actress.
But more than their talents and accomplishments, what colored the careers of Vilma and Nora even more was the devotion shown by their overzealous fans. Arguments between the two large groups would go beyond movie houses, and all the way to the streets. Even writers and entertainment scribes were caught in the mania, and would use their column spaces to take sides.
While these may seem alarming especially to non-fans, the rivalry only boosted the careers of both actress, and put more glitter to their respective names. Interestingly, the occasional animosity between the fans didn't accurately mirror the true relationship of their idols off-cam, as both openly professed that they are friends and fans of each other's work.
SHARON CUNETA AND MARICEL SORIANO. Both Sharon Cuneta and Maricel Soriano are certified bankable stars of Philippine Cinema. This is the fact that prompted the media to pit them against each other during the '80s.
Sharon reigned as Viva's top star while Maricel was Regal's primary darling. Their contrasting image and personalities greatly tickled the imagination of the viewing public, with the press quickly jumping in to create an air of competition.
Sharon Gamboa Cuneta is the privileged daddy's girl who, despite her prominent background, has that innate ability to assimilate the collective pulse of the masses.
Maria Cecilia Dador Soriano, on the other hand, is the child actress who grew up before the public's eye—from the very cute and bubbly Shirley to the candid and sweet Mary. She is considered as local cinema's quintessential "Taray Queen"—in a positive and comical thought.
Although the supposed rivalry between the two is nowhere as celebrated as that of Vilma and Nora, there is no doubt that the competition cooked up between them added more spice to the movie industry during the '80s.
JANICE DE BELEN AND JULIE VEGA. Anna Liza versus Flor de Luna is a budding rivalry that never realized its full potential
Both child stars Janice de Belen and Julie Vega emerged at the time when the magic created by the Vilma-Nora rivalry was starting to die down.
It is interesting to note that the competition between Janice and Julie embarked on television and not in the movies, as compared to the rivalries previously mentioned in this article.
Julie, who is Julie Pearl Apostol Postigo in real life, made her first TV appearance in a hotdog commercial when she was only six-years-old. Her first major lead role was in the 1978 film, Mga Mata ni Angelita, where she won the Best Child Actress award. Shortly after making her mark as a child actress, she was immediately given the lead role for the TV soap opera, Anna Liza.
Julie's portrayal of the sad, sensitive, and oppressed character—a blueprint in which Judy Ann Santos would soon follow—warmed the hearts of the viewers and tremendously bolstered the young actress' mass appeal.
Incidentally, before bagging the role of Anna Liza, Julie was first offered the title role of another soap, Flor de Luna. The part eventually landed on the lap of another child star named Janice de Belen, or Catherine Janice Yap de Belen in real life.
The two soap opera princesses got the Pinoy viewers glued to their TV sets, and this paved the way for much hype on the "Anna Liza versus Flor de Luna" polls. The rivalry, however, did not prevent the two actresses from becoming friends.
"There could be no me if Julie accepted the role as Flor de Luna," Janice would even remark in one interview.
Unfortunately, the healthy competition between them came to a shocking halt when Julie passed away at the tender age of 17, caused by a respiratory illness on May 6, 1985.
When the actual footage of Julie's burial at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina was aired in Maalaala Mo Kaya in 2003, the throng of showbiz personalities who were seen grieving included her stiffest screen rival yet good friend, Janice de Belen.