Vilma Santos achieved a rare feat during the 80's which was never accomplished by any other performer, male or female. In 1983, Santos hit the grand slam by winning Best Actress in all the award giving bodies for her performance in Ishmael Bernal's Relasyon (Regal Films, Inc., 1982). Although the first trophy she got during the decade was from the FAMAS for Pakawalan Mo Ako (MVP Pictures, Inc., 1981), Santos really delivered her best performances in Relasyon, Sister Stella L. (Regal Films, 1984) and Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga (Regal Films, 1989). Playing the part of Marilou, a sympathetic mistress in Relasyon, her performance was consistently good from start to finish. In fact, she was brilliant in the film's small moments, especially in that seemingly insignificant scene where she tried to dismiss persistent suitor Junjun (Jimi Melendez). In Mike de Leon's Sister Stella L., the growth and development of her character was clearly evident. especially in her transformation from a non-partisan religious to a highly politicized nun who gets involved in a labor dispute. In Pahiram Ng Isang Umaga, Ishmael Bernal's very competent handling of the material, coupled with Santos' intelligent portrayal of Juliet, a terminally ill cancer victim, saved the film from becoming a glorified soap opera. Her other fine fine performances during the 80's were displayed in films like Broken Marriage (Regal Films, 1983), Tagos Ng Dugo (V.H. Films, Inc., 1987) and Saan Nagtatago Ang Pag-Ibig? (VIVA Films, 1987) . Santos' most underrated performance during the decade undoubtedly was in Lino Brocka's Adultery Aida Macaraeg Case No. 7892 (Regal Films, 1984). Her sympathetic portrayal of an adulteress could easily have won for her nominations in all the award giving bodies, except that the film was overshadowed by the more prestigious Sister Stella L. which was also released during the same year.
Overshadowed by Vilma Santos during the 80's was Nora Aunor who undisputedly was the brightest star of the 1970's. Aunor, however, still gave some really outstanding performances particularly during the decade's first half. For instance, she started the 1980's with her sensitive portrayal of a faithful alalay in Brocka's Bona (NV Productions). In 1982 it wasn't a miracle that she was proclaimed Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actress for playing the part of Elsa, a young woman who claimed to have witnessed an apparition in Bernal's Himala (Experimental Cinema Of The Philippines). 1984 was another banner year for Aunor. Although she only made three movies that year, she was outstanding in all three. 'Merika ( Adrian Films), Condemned (NV Productions / Golden Dragon Films International) and Bulaklak Sa City Jail (Cherubim Films) which won for her four acting trophies. Of the three films she finished in 1984, Aunor came out best in 'Merika. Her appearance in the film was memorable because for the first time she played a completely different part, so unlike the usual api-apihan roles she churned out in the past. Playing the role of Milagros Cruz, a Filipino nurse in the U.S., Aunor attacked her role with quiet sensitivity that proved to be so refreshing and breathtaking as some of the American sceneries featured in the film. Another sensitive Nora Aunor portrayal was in Mario O'Hara's Bakit Bughaw Ang Langit? (Four Seasons Films, International), the movie that launched Dennis Roldan to stardom in 1981. In the 1985 Metro Manila Film Festival, Aunor gave a vivid portrayal of Amy Mercado, a singer on her way down in the commercial venture I Can't Stop Loving You (Regal Films). Although she managed to rise way above such pulp material, it was sad that her beautiful performance in the film was ignored by critics and film reviewers who refused to take this Elwood Perez film seriously. In 1989, Aunor only made one film, Bilangin Ang Bituin Sa Langit (Regal Films), her fiery performance in the movie won for her three acting awards from the Film Academy Of The Philippines URIAN and FAMAS. Despite the emergence of young superstars Maricel Soriano and Sharon Cuneta during the decade, Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos remained the Actresses of the 1980's.