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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.
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Mar 25, 2019

cast of BIHAG: neil sese/ mark herras/ max collins/ jason abalos/ sophie albert & child star raphael

JASON ABALOS played a guest role in “Asawa Ko Karibal Ko” as Kris Bernal’s closet queen husband. He now gets to play a full length role in “Bihag”, the new Afternoon Prime soap that will replace “My Special Tatay” by next week. He will play the role of Brylle, a surgeon who is the husband of Max Collins who plays Jessie.

They are a happy couple but their life will be shattered when their only son (played by adorable child actor Raphael Landicho) goes missing, leading to so many complications. They will co-star with Mark Herras, Sophie Albert, Neil Ryan See and Glenda Garcia, directed by Neal del Rosario. Is Jason happy over his transfer to GMA-7?

“Oo naman,” he says. “Trabaho ang hanap ko at dito, tuloy-tuloy ang assignments ko. After ‘The One that Got Away’, I was given a short role in ‘Asawa Ko, Karibal Ko’ pero kahit two weeks lang ako roon, nagmarka talaga ito sa viewers and they call me Nathan-Catriona, na siyang character ko roon. Wala rin akong tigil sa guestings sa ‘Magpakailanman’, ‘Dear Uge’, ‘Tadhana’, ‘Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko’ and other GMA shows, so tuloy-tuloy lang.

"At heto ngayon, nabigyan agad ako ng follow up soap na lalaki naman ang role ko, which is good para makalimutan naman ng tao yung gay role ko sa ‘Asawa Ko’. Maganda yung role ko rito kasi nagkamali siya. He’s married to Max Collins but he had an affair with Sophie Albert na nagkaroon ng fatal attraction sa kanya at dahil doon, magugulo ang buhay ng family nila. Bukod dito, I might soon start shooting a movie about OFW’s. Sana, matuloy.”

He has a bed scene with Sophie, who’s on with Vin Abrenica. “Pareho sila ni Max na taken na, so walang problema. Anuman ang eksena namin, may pahintulot sila. Ako rin naman.”

What was his reaction when his girlfriend, Vickie Rushton, decided to join Bb. Pilipinas Pageant once again? “Siempre, very supportive ako sa kanya,” he says. “Pinaghahandaan niya talaga ito and I think mas malakas ang laban niya ngayon.”

Is he ready to start a family? “Gusto ko na rin, kasi ayoko naman yung matanda na ako at baka hindi ko na makakalaro ang magiging anak ko. At my age, 32 na ako, marrying age na ko at ready na maging tatay. But then si Vickie is younger at marami pang gustong gawin, so I don’t want to rush her.  Marami pa siyang gustong ma-achieve na accomplishments sa buhay, e. Ayoko namang magkaroon siya ng regrets later on kapag hindi niya nagawa.”

Some folks say they’re already living in. “Hindi totoo. She comes from a conservative family so hindi puedeng magsama hangga’t hindi nakakasal. Sa ngayon, I just wish her all the best sa pagsali niya uli sa Bb. Pilipinas.”
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‘US’ is the second film of Jordan Peele, whose debut flick, “Get Out”, was a blockbuster and even got Oscar nominations, but we honestly feel it’s overrated. The same goes for “Us”, also a box office hit in the U.S. now. It has an intriguing premise about doppelgangers living in the tunnels that are so rampant in the U.S. and they come out of the sewers, but Peele does not succeed in developing this convincingly the way “Get Out” satirized racism.

It opens with a prologue in 1986 set in an amusement park in Santa Cruz, California. A little girl strays from her parents, goes into a house of mirrors and meets her doppelganger. It then jumps forward to the present. That girl, Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), is now having a summer vacation by the lake with her husband Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and son Jason (Evan Alex.) Their family is obviously well off.

At night, there’s a sudden blackout inside their house and they see a family of four standing on their driveway, but the street lights are on and there’s no power outage outside. Gabe calls on the strangers but they won’t answer so he goes out with a baseball bat. It turns out the intruders, all wearing red jumpsuits, are their doppelgangers. “Us”, as Jason says. Their poorer versions, to inject some comment about class conflict in our society.

The home invasion begins. Adelaide asks her double who brandishes a pair of scissors: “What are you?” Her lookalike says: “We’re Americans”.  She’s the only one who talks, but with much difficulty and with a scratchy voice. The others just grunts and makes unintelligible noises.

The doubles try to get rid of the originals, but the beleagured family fights back. At this point, we start to lose our interest in the movie since some of the characters do very stupid things, especially the husband Gabe who seems to want to provide some idiotic comic relief. We don’t really sympathize with them and there are instances when some bad things happen to them and our reaction is: “Buti nga!”

It’s pretty obvious that Peele is trying to say something relevant, even preaching, but honestly, not everything makes sense. Some parts work and try hard to be thought-provoking, but they don’t truly coalesce into a cohesive whole and what we end up with is more of a narrative mess. It makes use of Biblical quotations like  Jeremiah 11:1, pays tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, “Hands Across America”, the ballet in “Black Swan” and even Spielberg’s “Jaws” which honestly doesn’t seem to have any connection at all.

It appears he wants to make it a parody of the American dream, where those who failed to make it big wallow in bitterness like rabbits in small cages and resent the success of their happier counterparts. But it’s so derivative and echoes elements of other films like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Twilight Zone” and Kubrick’s “The Shining”.

But the acting of Lupita Nyong’o in dual roles is simply splendid. Better than her acting in “12 Years a Slave” for which she won a best supporting Oscar. The corpulent lead star of the hit TV series, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, Elizabeth Moss, is wasted in a supporting role where the most demanding thing she did is to put on lipstick in front of a mirror while acting like a moron.

The film's conclusion shows there's a  big twist in the story, which is exactly like that of the twist in the ending of the local horror movie, "Elemento", directed by Mark Meily in 2016. It starred Cristine Reyes as a mother desperately fighting for her son whose identity is being taken over by an elemental, but it turns out that Cristine is an elemental herself. We wouldn't like to think that Jordan Peele saw this local movie and just copied its ending. But they're exactly the same.

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Mar 24, 2019

SNOOKY SERNA and Maricel Soriano used to be the chief rivals as Regal Babies in the 80s. They did several movies together like “Underage”, “Schoolgirls”, “Summer Love”. Now, they are in competing TV dramas. Maricel is in “The General’s Daughter” on ABS-CBN, while Snooky is in “Sahaya” of the Kapuso network that started airing just last week. Snooky’s fans now claim that their idol is luckier because she has a lengthier role while Maricel’s exposure in “TGD” is now you see her, now you don’t. What can Cookie say about this?

“Well, I’m really glad to know that I have loyal fans who are still there rooting and cheering for me, but honestly, at this point in time, we’re too old for such kind of rivalries,” says Cookie in a special presscon for “Sahaya” called by her manager who was then celebrating his birthday, Leo Dominguez. “Ever since naman, hindi kami naapektuhan ni Maria as rival Regal babies and yung mga ganyan, sa age namin ngayon, it’s beyond us now. Malay nyo, later on, hahaba rin ang exposure niya sa show nila.”

Another writer pointed out that it’s not only Maricel who’s in the show but also her ex-BF, Albert Martinez. “Ay, oo nga, ano? Pinagtutulungan nila ako,” and she laughs heartily at her joke.

Someone said: “Bakit parang kinikilig ka pa rin nang mabanggit si Albert?”

“Ganun ba? Well, let’s face it, si Albert ang first boyfriend ko, e. Di ba they say that first love never dies?” she giggles.

So is Albert her one true love? “Hindi naman. True love ko rin si Ricardo (Cepeda, who she married and dad of her two daughters.)  Pero yung ngayon (Bulacan ex-vice governor Mon Villarama), siya ang aking Eternal Love and Forever Love. Four years na kami at napakalaki ng positive influence niya sa buhay ko. He helped organize my life, pati how to handle my finances properly.”

Are they living in? “No. I live with my two daughters in our condo. Pero lagi kaming nagkikita pag wala akong work.”
And how is she and Ricardo? “We’re civil. Tuwing weekends, our daughter are with him and Marina (Benipayo). We all get along fine. Marina and I are friendly with each other and my daughters just love her.”

She’s getting great positive feedback for her performance as the villainous Salida in “Sahaya” and she says it’s very encouraging. “Siempre, kabado ako noong una kasi salbahe ang role ko. Inaapi ko si Jasmine Curtis Smith as Manisan, na asawa ng anak kong si Benjamin Alves. Hindi lang basta matapobre ang role ko kundi nananakit talaga sa kanila ni Bianca Umali who plays Sahaya.
"Nakokonsensiya talaga ako kapag sinasaktan ko sila and I try to make daya, but sila ang may sabing totohanin namin kasi they want to really feel yung mga sampal at sabunot para maging realistic din ang feelings and reactions nila.”

So how would she size up the acting of Jasmine and Bianca? “Pareho silang magaling. I’m so impressed sa kanila. Sabi ko nga kay Jasmine, sana, sa next show niya, lead role na ang ibigay sa kanya. She deserves it. As for Bianca, she and Miguel Tanfelix remind me noong teenager pa ako and paired with the likes of Albert and also Gabby Concepcion. Naiisip ko na lang, been there done that na ako.”

Their director in “Sahaya” is relatively new, Zig Dulay. How is he? “Oh, he’s an intelligent director. He knows what he’s doing pati sa cinematography at sa acting ng actors niya. And he’s very cool sa set. Hindi nagagalit.”

How does she feel being relegated to mother roles now? “Oh, it’s fine with me. I’m just thankful that GMA still gives me good assignments like ‘Sahaya’ na ginagastusan talaga nila nang husto sa sets and costumes pa lang. Ever since naman, never akong nag-feeling big star kaya when our time passed and mother roles na ang ino-offer sa’kin, I gladly accepted them. The industry has given me so much since the time I was a 3-year old child star. So wala akong mairereklamo talaga after all these years.”
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Mar 23, 2019

bianca and miguel doing a badjao dance

BIANCA UMALI is very happy over the positive feedback from viewers and netizens about the first week of telecast of her new show, “Sahaya”, which also trended on Twitter. All those who’ve seen in say it’s pretty obvious that GMA Network really spent a lot on its production values, what with the colorful costumes and the authentic sets of the Badjao community that was built on a beach resort in Batangas.

The show actually started with Bianca herself as Sahaya. She is seen graduating from school and dedicating her diploma to her mother, Manisan, as played by Mylene Dizon. From there, the back story of the young Manisan as played by Jasmine Curtis Smith is told and we get a background on how Sahaya was born and how her life as a young girl Sahaya unfolds.

This week, we will see the girl growing up to be played by Bianca Umali, along with her childhood friend, Miguel Tanfelix as Ahmad. This early, the countless fans of their BiGuel love team are praying that their constant togetherness while taping the show regularly will help rekindle their feelings for each other so that they will reconcile or “magkabalikan”. How does Bianca feel about this?

“Wala naman pong balikang magaganap dahil never pang naging kami,” she says. “We’ve already explained before that we grew up together so we are the best of friends, nagkakaintindihan talaga kami bilang magkaibigan.”

How does she deal with rumors linking her to another actor, Ruru Madrid? “I just don’t mind them. I just concentrate on my work, lalo na ngayon, kasisimula pa lang umere ng ‘Sahaya’, so lahat ng efforts and attention ko, lahat kami ng mga kasama ko sa cast, nakatutok kami on how mas mapapaganda namin ang show para subaybayan kaming panoorin ng viewers gabi-gabi. At ako, I don’t dwell on chismis. I just work hard and focus on improving my craft.”

So how would she describe her relationship with Miguel at this point? “Actually, we’re just so comfortable with each other. When we are doing a scene, tinginan lang, nagkakaintindihan na kami agad on how to do it in front of the camera. As of now, dumating kami sa puntong hindi ko basta made-describe or mabigyan ng label yung relationship namin.

"Basta close kami sa isa’t isa and I can really say we care for each other’s welfare. We know we need each other para magtulungan kami for the good of ‘Sahaya’ at mas magustuhan ito ng viewers nang  tumagal kami sa ere. Alam nyo naman ngayon, grabe ang competition sa TV so our main concern is to make sure maganda lagi ang aming show.”

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junior good vibes

POWER DUO and Junior Good Vibes are the two other Pinoy acts that made it as finalists in the 3rd season of AXN’s “Asia’s Got Talent”. The Power Duo consists of An Jeanette Portales, 22 years old, and Jervin Mistor, 24, contemporary acrobatic dancers who have previously won in “Pilipinas Got Talent” season 5 in 2016 where they won P2 million. Theirs was the only dance act to win.

Now, it seems like they’re about to conquer the rest of Asia. They’re both from Rizal, An Jeanette from Angono and Jervin from Morong. She took up marketing and management in college, while he’s majoring in psychology. David Foster says after they performed: “I felt like I was watching ice skaters at the Olympics.”

And host Jay Park adds: “The acrobatic moves you were doing, the level of difficulty was so high, but at the same time, the performance was so graceful, elegant, and beautiful.”

They met as members of a dance group but their manager saw their chemistry together and built them up as a duo. They became friends first before they eventually became a romantic couple. “Naging kami lang before the grand finals of ‘Pilipinas Got Talent’,” says An Jeanette. “He’s very caring and I really trust him kasi yung mga pagbuhat-buhat niya at pagbato-bato sa’kin sa ere, he does it with so much care para walang aksidente.”

Is there a difference when they were performing as sweethearts compared to when they’re not yet committed to each other? “Yes,” says Jervin. “Mas madali na kaming magkaintindihan ngayon. Dati kasi, lagi kaming nag-aaway.”

Do they intend to face the altar soon? “Not yet,” they say. “We’re still young and we have other plans.”

Junior Good Vibes is a dance group from Sampaloc, Manila who rehearse their numbers in the streets near National University. There used to be 22 members but only 15 of them got to perform for “Asia’s Got Talent”, with ages ranging from 16 to 25 years old. They previously joined “World of Dance” where their high enery dance moves won them 3rd place. At the AGT press presentation, they were represented by their leader and director, John Bret and his assistant Yobhel. They got yes votes from all the three judges.

“We started four years ago as a group with 5 members lang,” says John. “Then more people applied so dumami kami. The most important thing for us is yung disiplina kasi you have to level up all the time through constant training. When we were rehearsing, some people tried to put us down. Walang mararating ang mga yan. Hanggang dito sa barangay lang yan. We considered it a big challenge and now, it’s an honor to be representing our country dito sa ‘Asia’s Got Talent’. Now, win or lose, we’re just enjoying the whole AGT experience. We just practice and rehearse diligently and enjoy the whole thing.”

You can vote for your favorite act by going to “Asia’s Got Talent” on Google and clicking the photo of your idols. Use the slider to determinte how many votes you want to allocate then click ‘Submit Votes’. You can give up to 10 votes. On Facebook Messenger, just click the ‘Send Message’ button on AGT’s FB page and click on the act you want to vote for. New episodes of AGT airs every Thursday at 8:30 PM on AXN. You can also watch the highlights on youtube/AXNAsia.
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Mar 22, 2019

cristine reyes with co-star enzo pineda in NANG NGUMITI ANG LANGIT pressscon

CRISTINE REYES has a new movie, “Maria”, where she plays an ass-kicking heroine out to avenge the murder of her husband and daughter, and she has a new TV drama, “Nang Ngumiti ang Langit”, where she plays a contravida role as the cruel aunt of new child star Sophia Reola. Folks are now wondering why she accepted such a villain role?

“Actually, ako mismo ang nag-request nito sa ABS-CBN Business Unit Head na si Ruel Bayani ng RSB Drama Unit,” she says. “Kasi lagi na lang akong naaapi, just like sa last soap kong ‘Tubig at Langis’, so sabi ko kay RSB, sa susunod, gustong kong mag-try ng ibang klase role naman. Something new.

"Alam ko, maraming magagalit sa’kin dito dahil sa pang-aapi ko kay Sophia Reola as Mikmik, but okay lang basta maayos kong magampanan ang role ko. Even my own daughter, si Amarah, nang makita yung eksenang tinapak-tapakan ko yung halamang tanim ni Mikmik, sabi sa’kin, why are you so mean to her? So I had to explain to her that I was just playing a role, uma-acting lang ako at hindi totoong inaapi ko si Sophia. So, naintindihan naman niya.”

In the story, she plays Katrina, the wife of Rafa Siguion Reyna as Erik, who died and they accused RK Bagatsing to be the killer. RK is married to Kaye Abad as Ella, the mom of Mikmik who later had terminal illness so Mikmik is given to the family of Pilar Pilapil as Divina, the mother of Rafa and this gives Cristine the chance to vent on her anger on Mikmik for the death of her husband. In real life, Cristine says she will never hurt a child.

“Ingat na ingat ako sa mga eksena namin ni Sophia Reola kasi I want to make sure na hindi ko siya masaktan,” she says. “My role here is the exact opposite of my role in ‘Maria’ as the protective mom of my daughter na pinatay naman ng mga kaaway ko kaya ipinaghiganti ko siya Diyan, maraming eksena ng bugbugan na nagkakasakitan kami talaga ng mga kalaban ko, which includes Ivan Padilla, my former lover na naging mortal enemy ko, at sina Jennifer Lee and Cindy Miranda as female assassins who worked for him. Walang daya lang ng fight scenes and stunts namin diyan. Kami talaga ang gumawa.”

About her personal life, Cristine has admitted in a TV show that she and husband Ali Kathibi (they were married in 2016) have really separated, but they remain civil with each other for the sake of their daughter Amarah. Cristine doesn’t really have to hide the real score anymore because, earlier, her older sister Ara Mina, has confessed in another interview that she and Ali have already called it quits. In effect, Cristine that their marriage ended because she is not happy anymore.

“Nang Ngumiti ang Langit” opens this Monday before “Showtime” while the movie “Maria” opens on Wednesday in theaters nationwide. We’ve seen “Maria” at its special screening at the UP Film Institute and you’d really admire Cristine for her dedication and determination to portray her role as an action heroine convincingly.

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philip jose galit as SHADOW ACE

eleana gabunada

HK sisters hannah korin and harrah kae

ASIA’S GOT TALENT is now on its 3rd season. In its 1st season, the Philippines’ shadow play group El Gamma Penumbra was the grand winner and soprano singer Gerphil Flores was 3rd placer. In Season 2, beatboxer Neil Llanes was 3rd placer and the dance group DMX Comvalenos was runnerup, both are from the Philippines.

Now, in “Asia Got Talent Season 3”, five Pinoy acts stood out. We’ll give you here an account of the first three acts. First is Shadow Ace, a hand shadow artist whose real name is Philip Jose Galit from Calatagan, Batangas. He uses his hands with impressive dexterity to create shadows that tell imaginative stories. One time, he told comical stories concerning the three judges of the show. David Foster is shown break dancing, Anggun is seen having water problems in the shower and Jay Park is shown dancing to ‘Oppa Gangnam Style’. He received the Golden Buzzer and automatically became a finalist. The irony of it is that he joined “Pilipinas Got Talent” before and only became a semi-finalist.

“Sabi ko nga, hindi pala pang-Pilipinas lang ang talent ko, pang-Asia pala,” says Shadow Ace who is sure to compete in the grand finals on April 4 to be held at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands with a chance of winning USD100,000.

He never thought he’d make it because when he joined the show, he was the last to perform. “E, nakita ko yung ibang contestants, wow, ang gagaling, like the Chinese acrobats. And meron ding sumaling ibang shadow artist at hindi siya nagustuhan. So kabadong-kabado ako. Wala akong masyadong confidence kasi growing up, wala akong kalaro and I was bullied. Yung shadow images lang ang naging imaginary friends ko and I didn’t know dadalhin nila ako sa finals ng ‘Asia’s Got Talent’.”

Eleana Gabunada is a 10-year old grade 5 student at Colegio de San Agustin who has previously joined “The Voice Kids”. The youngest semi-finalist this season, she impressed judge David Foster who hit the Golden Buzzer after her rendition of Barbra Streisand’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from the Broadway musical “Hello Dolly”. Judge Anggun said: “You’re like a baby Streisand. It’s such a difficult song.”

In the semi-finals, she sang “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” and David proclaimed: “You’re gonna be a Broadway star! I am telling you right now!”

A Pinoy act that got a uniform yes votes from all the judges are the HK Sisters, a soprano and alto duet specializing on opera. No, they’re not from Hongkong. The initials of their names are both HK: Hannah Korin, 17 years old, and Harrah Kay, 16. Their family name is Castillo and their dad is a seaman who they seldom see. They’ve previously won awards at WCOPA (World Championships of the Performing Arts). At AGT, they won singing “Think of Me” from “Phantom of the Opera”. Why did they choose to sing operatic songs?

“For a change, we don’t want to be ordinary, although we can also sing pop,” they say.

They come from a musical family and grew up in Manila. They started singing as part of their church choir and school choir. They’re now both majoring in music at the Philippine Women’s University and they’re now doing a balancing act with their school studies and their being part of “Asia’s Got Talent”.

Next time, we’ll write about the last two Pinoy acts: the hiphop dance crew Junior Good Vibes, the contemporary acrobatic dancers Power Duo, and

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Mar 21, 2019

JASMINE CURTIS SMITH gets her second show from GMA-7 in “Sahaya” after she appeared in “Pamilya Roces”. Some folks now wonder why she accepted to play a mother role to Bianca Umali in the story and even her sister, Anne Curtis, has called on GMA to her more substantial shows.

“But Bianca and I don’t appear naman together in the show,” she says. “Sa akin magsisimula ang story with my role as Manisan, which will be played later by Mylene Dizon. I’m happy to be part of the show kasi first time ko play na isang katutubo, member ng indigenous tribe called the Badjaos. Before the taping started, I studied their culture and tradition, along with the other members of the cast, and it’s very enlightening. I even did a Badjao dance workshop. I hope the show will make us understand our Badjao brothers even  more.”

As the young Manisan, she’ll fall in love with a Manila boy, played by Gil Cuerva, and gets impregnated by him. But she’s betrothed to marry another Badjao guy, played by Benjamin Alves, whose mother, Snooky Serna, oppresses her.  “Kahit maikli ang role ko, I’m very happy with it,” adds Jasmine.

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ARJO ATAYDE is excited as his digital series, “Bagman”, has started streaming on iWant.  It had a special preview at Trinoma and the response is very encouraging. He considers this as his most challenging project to date as he plays the title role of “Bagman” and the show required him to do action and dramatic scenes he has never done before.

“It starts with me as an ordinary barber na tahimik ang buhay,” he says. “But for the sake of my family, napilitan akong sumubok na gumawa ng illegal para sa governor namin. Nakalusot naman at after that, nagtuloy-tuloy na ang paglubog ko sa corruption at hindi na ako makaahon pa. No holds barred ang violence sa action scenes dito kaya very thrilling talaga lumabas on screen.”

Ajo and Maine
Arjo wants to clarify that he and Maine Mendoza are just exclusively dating and not yet officially on. He’s not fazed by bashers who are fans of Maine’s love team with Alden Richard. “Basta I’m very, very happy po. I think that’s what matters now. As far as my career is concerned, ABS-CBN is taking good care of me, so I can’t complain. About my personal life, it is also good right now. I’m really happy so kontento po ako. What you see na mga pino-post namin ni Maine is what you get.”

He doesn’t seem to hesitate to defy his bashers when it comes to Maine. “As I said before, she’s worth fighting for, so dedma na lang siguro ako kanila. I’m really happy. And I see her also happy. And I think that’s all that matters to me.”

Maine has introduced him to her parents and he admits being scared at the start.  “Well, of course, I think every guy naman would be scared to meet the family of the girl he’s courting but but I faced my fears. I have to and I want to because I want to show that malinis ang intention ko sa anak nila. Okay naman sila. They were nice to me and I’m happy I did it.”

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SEN. JV (for Joseph Victor) EJERCITO is personally concerned about the sad plight of the local film industry where most home grown movies flop at the theaters nowadays. “Siempre, dyan nagsimula ang aming ama (current Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada), diyan siya nakilala, kaya handa akong suportahan ang ating local film industry,” he says.

“I’m always willing na suportahan kung anuman ang mga hakbang na gagawin ng legislators nating nasa showbiz din, like Senate Pres. Tito Sotto at ang maraming members of congress na galing sa pag-aartista, led by Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos. Kung kailangang babaan ang buwis sa film producers at ang bayad ng mga tao sa sinehan, dapat, gawin natin yan para mapabalik ang moviegoers sa panonood ng sine. Sana, mabuhay muli ang industriya ng pelikula rito sa atin kasi nakakalungkot naman kung mawala ito gayong part ito ng ating kultura all these years.”

Sen. JV is glad with the recent approval of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law that he supported. “The UHC is one of the reasons I fought for the restoration of almost P16 billion funds for the health facilities enhancement program in the 2019 budget. It makes medical consultation and many basic laboratory tests affordable and accessible. Dito sa atin, bawal magkasakit dahil mahal ang gastos. Under the UHC Law, mas abot-kaya na ang pagpapagamot dahil kahati na ang gobyerno sa mga gastusin. Makakatulong din ito sa movie workers na hindi miembro ng MOWELFUND kaya importanteng magkaroon tayo ng health card.”

Sen. JV is so busy campaigning in various parts of the country and he is happy that people give him warm acceptance wherever he goes. One of his advocacies is to push for a more extensive use of trains in our country as our primary means of mass transportation.

“We need to develop and modernize our infrastructure for the Philippine National Railways,” he adds. “This will foster growth and progress in the provinces. Right now, we are in a crisis situation when it comes to our transportation system at infrastructure development at diyan tayo napag-iwanan nang husto ng mga katabi nating Asian countries with their now modernized railways systems.

"E, tayo, our population is growing steadily. 106 million na tayong mga Pinoy, at ang mga sasakyan, padami nang padami, so lalong nagsisisiksikan lalo rito sa Metro-Manila. Only train systems all over the country can be the best solution for our transport problems and I promise to devote all my attention to the approval of legislation on this once I get re-elected in the senate.”

Sen. JV will be 50 years old on December 26. He is married to Ma. Hyacinth Lotuaco and has two sons, Jose Emilio and Julio Jose. He started his career in public administration as mayor of San Juan in 1991 when he was only 32 years old. He then became a congressman before being elected into the senate, so you can say he’s really a seasoned public servant. He is currently vice chairman of the House Committee on Local Government.
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