Nora Aunor (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)Nora Aunor (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)After years of absence, the Superstar returns with much fanfare and publicity.

Fifty-eight year old Nora Aunor, perhaps one of the most iconic of all Filipino popular culture figures, has returned to our sacred shores for a three-month stint to grace the big and small screens with her much missed charisma.

Observing the excitement generated by her die-hard fans that have held onto their loyalty as if this were a religion, one asks whatever happened to real stardom like this.

The return of the Superstar only makes us realize that indeed times have changed.  They don't make stars like Nora or Vilma Santos or Dolphy or FPJ or Susan Roces or Amalia Fuentes or Sharon Cuneta or Maricel Soriano any more.  Nowadays there are so many artistas, there are so many who claim to be stars … but how many of them will ever reach the stature of movie gods and goddesses who came before them?

Come to think of it, the term star has been so misused and abused --- that the making of a true luminary in the heavens of showbiz has been short-cut and pre-fabricated. Nowadays there seems to be a predictable recipe for making a star thus diminishing the glow of stardom all together. There are just too many heirs apparent to the throne that nobody ends up being true showbiz royalty any more.

The so-called stars we have today did not grow naturally or spontaneously or slowly earned the adulation of their millions of fans. More often than not, they are products of marketing, plotted out and sold by television networks to promote their shows and intensify the marketability of their companies.  They are products of trends and demands of the market. They are repackaged, reconstituted and sent out to the public through hype and blitz.

This also explains why stars of today do not have the career span of those who came before them.

Give somebody four to five years and they have been relegated to the company of the has-beens.  Actors and actresses age much too fast that it is sometimes hard to believe that by the time they are in their mid-twenties, they are ready to portray mother or father roles to much younger performers who have displaced them in their stellar positions.

Worse, there are just too many of them that the success in their careers could only come through strong patronage or backing from a studio or through sheer survival of the fittest.  And because of their sheer number, there comes a point when everybody sounds and looks alike that you cannot distinguish one young star from another. They all dress, talk and look alike.

Nora Aunor during her come back press conference (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)Nora Aunor during her come back press conference (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)Since they are practically seen every day of the week in various shows, the "sawa" and "umay" factor come in much too easily.  They are thrown straight into the pit regardless of preparedness to face the cameras that sometimes the audience feels they are watching someone do on-the-job training.  But by the time they have honed their craft to become competent performers the audience has already grown so tired of them.  That is also because the next batch of superstar-wannabes is already marching straight into the front lines.

There can be no more superstars in the age of dispensable stardom where actors have become commodities sold, traded and eventually discarded for the next best thing.

After the age of Aga Muhlach, Judy Ann Santos and Robin Padilla, stardom has become completely redefined.  That is why there is reason to celebrate the return of Nora Aunor: she represents an age that has long been forgotten --- when stars were real stars … and there was a Superstar.


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