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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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Apr 1, 2020


direk gina with entire cast of PRIMA DONNAS

WHILE the hit afternoon drama, ‘PRIMA DONNAS’, cannot tape new episodes now that we’re going through the corona crisis, the former prime time series, “Onanay”, is temporarily replacing it in its slot from Monday to Saturday afternoons.

This stars Jo Berry in the title role, along with Nora Aunor, Wendell Ramos, Mikee Quintos and Kate Valdez. Both “Prima Donnas” and “Onanay” are directed by multi-awarded actress and now, hitmaker TV director, Gina Alajar.

Gina was earlier rumored to have been afflicted with the corona virus, but she denied this in her own social media account.

“I was told may sumulat nga na infected daw ako but it’s not true. Fake news po yon. I had myself tested at negative po ako, wala akong pneumonia or anything. But I really salute our doctors and all health workers, lahat ng frontliners pati soldiers and policemen.

"We all know the risks that they’re taking but they continue to serve. Itinataya nila ang sarili nilang mga buhay para maglingkod sa atin and we should all thank them and pray for their safety.”

While she’s not busy taping, Gina takes advantage of her free time to read the Bible and pray.

“We should all reconnect with God dahil Siya lang talaga ang tunay na makakalutas sa lahat ng mga problema natin. At siempre, sinasamantala ko rin ang free time ko para bumawi sa tulog. Magkasunod kong ginawa ang ‘Onanay’ at ‘Prima Donnas’, so tuloy-tuloy ang pagiging busy ko sa meetings, sa tapings.

"Wala time para matulog nang mahaba. E, ngayon, nagagawa ko yan. Sabi ko nga, siguro, paraan din ito ni Lord para makapagpahinga tayo. Lalo ngayon, Holy Week, it’s time for us to reflect and meditate naman and give time to communicate with our Creator. We can listen to praise and worship music to put us in the right mood and spirit to reconnect with Him.”

How did she prepare herself when the lockdown was declared?

“Siempre, importante yung to have the right mindset. I took it as a chance to have some much needed rest, physically and spiritually. Then I made sure we practice all the necessary measures sa bahay namin.

"Marami kaming hand sanitizers. Kapag lumabas, kailangan ang face mask at bago pumasok uli sa loob ng bahay, mag-sanitize uli. We have to make sure, kasi may mga apo ako.”

What’s the first thing she’ll do when the crisis is over?

“Una sa lahat, I will fall on my knees and pray, thank God and praise Him for helping us survive. And I will be glad to be reunited with my cast and staff sa ‘Prima Donnas’. May nabuong friendship sa amin at nami-miss ko na sila at ang samahan naming lahat.”

She must be so happy that ‘Prima Donnas’ is a big hit. “Happy is an understatement. Lahat naman kami, napakasaya sa naging success ng ‘Prima Donnas’. Lalo na ako, I’m so thankful na naging ganoon kalakas ang impact nito sa viewers.

"Yung iba, nagre-react sa akin, nagagalit kasi the story is not turning out the way they want it to be. Pero patuloy pa rin ang panonood nila.”

How is it working with the tween stars in the show: Jillian Ward, Sophia Pablo, Althea Ablan and Elijah Alejo?

“When we started, very detailed ang instructions ko sa kanila. Iniisa-isa ko sila on what they’re supposed to do, pati sa tono ng pagsasalita nila, pati nuances ng acting, level ng pag-iyak. But now, they have come to understand their respective roles better.

"Marunong na sila and they’ve already become the characters that they play. They have evolved well. When they’re not sure, nagtatanong pa rin sila, but largely, hinahayaan ko na lang sila on how they want to attack their respective scenes.”

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Mar 31, 2020


SANYA LOPEZ is very much amused watching herself in the replay of “Encantadia 2” that is now being shown on GMA Telebabad after “24 Oras”, temporarily replacing “Descendants of the Sun” while we’re on a corona lockdown.

“Hindi ko makakalimutan ang show na ito, kasi breakout role ko diyan ang role ko as Danaya,” she says. “Dahil diyan kaya mas nakilala ako ng tao at nabigyan ako ng sarili lead roles in soaps like ‘Haplos’, 'Cain at Abel' and ‘Dahil sa Pag-ibig’, kaya memorable talaga for me ang ‘Encantadia 2.’”

Sanya was really affected by the lockdown as the playdate of her new movie, “Isa Pang Bahaghari”, has been postponed indefinitely. “Dapat showing ito this April 11 as part of the summer Metro filmfest but since hindi natuloy yun, di pa namin alam kung kailan ito mai-schedule uli,” she says.

“Sayang nga, kasi I’m really proud of this movie dahil I get to appear for the first time with such respected actors as Nora Aunor and Phillip Salvador, who play my parents, and directed by Joel Lamangan no less.

"Marami kaming dramatic confrontation scenes dito, lalo na ako with Phillip Salvador kasi very bitter ako sa kanya for leaving our family when he worked abroad nung baby pa ako at hindi na siya bumalik.”

Sanya is currently sporting a new hairdo and her fans say it becomes her.

“I had it cut short kasi summer naman ngayon, mainit ang panahon, so bagay lang sa hot weather,” she says. “Natuwa naman ako when my followers said in Instagram na nagustuhan nila when they saw the picture I posted. Bagay na bagay raw sa akin.”

Sanya is now more active on social media and her fans like it that she communicates directly with them.

“Habang lockdown tayo at hindi masyadong busy, di sige, mag-post muna nang mag-post sa vlog ko. Kasi pag naging busy uli ako sa taping, then wala na naman akong mag-time para mag-post ng mga kaganapan about me.”

Her fans are also very much entertained by the TikTok videos she is posting in her own vlog showing her performing in various funny scenes.

“Hindi ko akalain na maaaliw sila. But they say, nakakapagbigay raw ng good vibes ang pagti-TikTok ko, kaya nai-inspire naman ako to do more videos. Marami ring nakagusto when I showed them my skin care routine kung paano mapapanatiling makinis at glowing ang ating balat.”

Also, you can now hear Sanya’s voice as she dubs the voice of lead character Gillian in the hit Korean drama, “My Golden Life”. Ken Chan voices lead actor Dion in the show.

They meet when they both figure in an accident and eventually fall for each other but they were both shocked when they find out that they’re actually brother and sister due to an incident that happened in the past. Supporting them in this show are Bruno Gabriel and Ayra Mariano and it’s seen at 11:30 AM just before “Eat Bulaga”.

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rosamund pike as journalist marie colvin with jamie dornan as paul, her photographer

‘ A PRIVATE WAR’ is a biopic on the life of American journalist Marie Colvin who was born in New York but worked as foreign affairs correspondent for London’s The Sunday Times. It’s based on the article “Marie Colvin’s Private War” published in Vanity Fair in 2012.

Marie was the first to interview Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi and she was there when he was killed during the Arab spring, bringing  Christiane Amanpour with her to cover the event. She also covered risk-filled conflicts in East Timor, Kosovo, Chechnya, Sierra Lone and Zimbabwe.

In 2001, while interviewing a rebel Tamil leader in Sri Lanka, she and her crew were ambushed by the Sri Lankan Army even if she surrendered and presented herself as a journalist.

She gets wounded in an explosion and loses her left eye, which is the reason why she is shown later wearing her signature eyepatch.

This episode is shown right at the start of the movie. But even if she was injured seriously, Marie still managed to write an article about what happened and gets to meet her deadline.

She is able to expose the injustice of the government in the northern Tamil region with a blockade of food and medical supplies. For this, she gets the British Journalist of the Year Award.

But she suffers from PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder and was confined in a psychiatric hospital to heal for a while. Even if she’s suffering from PTSD, she still wants to do her job and look for new stories.

Her editor, Sean Ryan (Tom Hollander), tries to restrain her from going to very dangerous places she wants to cover, like Iraq, where she hopes to locate a mass grave of people killed by Saddam. She does find it and the effect is shattering.

This is where we get to start understanding Marie’s relentless courage after she ignores a military press briefing and still goes behind enemy territory to look for the mass grave.

This is also where she meets photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan of “50 Shades of Grey” who’s unrecognizable here), who gets to work with her until her final assignment.

In February of 2012, she and Paul covered the civil war in Syria and, in the city of Homs, they found 28,000 Syrian men, women and children caught in the crossfire. This disproves to the world the claim of Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad that they are attacking only terrorists and not innocent civilians.

Despite the danger she’s facing, Marie succeeds in sending her story to her newspaper and also appears live on CNN to make the world know what’s really happening in Syria. Sadly, that’s the last time they’ll hear from her. 

The building they’re using as a media center was ruthlessly bombed and Marie ended up lifeless in a pile of rubble. The film ends with a harrowing image of the ruined city of Homs and its wrecked buildings.

Later, there’s a footage showing the real Marie Colvin saying: “You are never going to get to where you are if you’d acknowledge fear. Fear comes later when it’s all over.”

The movie is a testament to her fearlessness as an extraordinary human being. The ending says that “Over 500,000 civilians have been killed since Colvin’s death.” It has caused a major refugee crisis since Syrians now want to leave their country to move elsewhere.

In Marie’s honor, Stony Brook University consequently put up the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting. Her family also established the Marie Colvin Memorial Fund through the Long Island Community Foundation.

The film pays tribute to its subject with an honest appraisal of the hard work journalists do as they work on the front lines. It also gives Rosamund Pike a career-best performance.

We first saw her as Bond girl Miranda Frost in “Die Another Die” in 2002 and she’s one of the few Bond girls who managed not to quickly fade back into oblivion.

She did several other films like “Pride and Prejudice”, “Doom”, “Fracture”, “An Education”, “The World’s End”, “Jack Reacher” with Tom Cruise and even got an Oscar best actress nomination for “Gone Girl” where she played a bida-kontrabida role.

As Marie Colvin, she does full justice to the role and got nominated as best drama actress in the Golden Globe.

The film itself feels episodic but it does give a clear portrait of its subject. Her idol is another female journalist, Martha Gellhorn (whose life was also filmed with Nicole Kidman playing her as the girlfriend of novelist Ernest Hemingway), whose book, “The Face of War”, she gives to another female journalist.

She laments that she doesn’t have kids of her own after two miscarriages but she plays a doting aunt to the children of her best friend. She uses alcohol to numb her.

“The chatter in my head won’t go quiet unless I have a quarter of vodka inside of me,” she says.

But even that cannot fully stop the nightmares that come from her harrowing personal experiences. The film thus also succeeds in showing the devastating psychological effects of constant exposure to traumatic world events that could surely desensitize you and would surely send a much lesser person quickly to the nuthouse.
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Mar 30, 2020

LOVI POE and Benjamin Alves are paired once again after five years in the romantic-comedy “Owe My Love” (a play of words on ‘Oh My Love’).

“Si Lovi ang una kong leading lady sa GMA in 2015 when we did ‘Beautiful Strangers’,” recalls Benjamin. “But heavy drama yun, this time, comedians naman kami.”

They’ve just started taping “Owe My Love” when the corona lockdown was declared.

“Now, we have to wait until this crisis is over before we can resume our taping,” says Lovi, whose new movie, “Latay” with Allen Dizon, is supposed to be shown this April but its playdate has now also been postponed indefinitely.

“I’m supposed to represent 'Latay' in an international filmfest in Italy then attend a store opening in the Middle East, pero pati ang mga yun, hindi na rin tuloy,” she sighs.

She also cannot be reunited with her Brit-American boyfriend, Montgromery Blancowe, who’s based in Los Angeles, which is now also on a lockdown. So what does Lovi do to while her time away while staying at home?

“I just continue with my own workout routine to keep myself in good shape,” she says. “Also, I try to eat healthy pa rin. Kapag wala kang ginagawa, may tendency kang kumain nang kumain and I try not to do that.”

She posted a video of her workout routines on her social media account, which includes some dancing and running on her treadmill. This is her caption for the video:

“Make your exercising lots of fun! Who says you can’t have a little dance party while working out? We have to be inventive in trying times like what we’re having now.  #LoviYourBody and keep that fitness routine going! For your own good!”

She quickly got a lot of favorable responses from her fans who say she inspires them to work out also to keep fit while they’re under “house arrest”.

Meantime, Benjamin Alves shared some insights in his own social media account on how to prevent the virus from spreading: "Personally, we should practice hygiene and cleanliness through constant washing of hands and just staying at home. Lahat tayo, mag-ingat and avoid crowds.

"Hinihikayat naman po ng Department of Health ang lahat ng mga pasyente na i-disclose po ang lahat ng impormasyon tungkol sa kalagayan nila sa ating health workers.

"Ang tapat na sagot na ibibigay po ninyo ay makakapagligtas po hindi lamang ng inyong buhay kundi pati ng sa health workers, sa ibang frontliners, at sa iba pang pasyente na kailangan po ng tulong natin.

"So please be truthful about your own health conditions. Let’s all cooperate para matapos na ang pagsubok na ito.”
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SOME MONTHS ago, the cable network National Geographic aired the mini-series, “The Hot Zone”, a real life account of an outbreak of the Ebola virus.

It is very opportune at this time and has six episodes  featuring the story of how a real life doctor, Nancy Jaxx (Juliana Margulies), discovers that the virus has come to U.S. soil. The disgusting hemorrhaging of our internal organs that the virus induces in its victims will surely make you cringe.

The first few episodes of “The Hot Zone” center on the secure laboratory in Maryland where Dr. Nancy Jaxx works. It shows the meticulous testing procedures, safety protocols and airtight protective suits that they employ to rank the world’s deadliest viruses locked inside their lab’s most dangerous section, which is called the Hot Zone.

We also get to meet Nancy’s husband, Jerry (Noah Emmerich), and their family, plus the people she works with in the lab, specially a young virologist who keeps on opposing her, Dr. Peter Jahrling (Topher Grace.)

When they are sent some tissue samples from another research lab, Jahrling quickly dismisses it as something that affects only monkeys and not humans.  But Nancy rightfully suspects that it might be something deadlier.

Since the show concerns mostly their scientific procedures in the lab, they have to bring the characters out so the action would not just be limited within the lab’s close confines.

Thus, we see Nancy getting infected monkeys from a lab and she has to hurry back to the lab while the thawing frozen monkeys are dripping in the streets their liquids that might be contagious. But Nancy, as a frontliner, also has to deal with her responsibilities as wife and mother.

‘The Hot Zone’ is not really your typical thriller as it centers more about the dynamics and politics inside its medical setting, with Nancy perennially opposed by Jahrling and a meddlesome colonel (Robert Wisdom.)

To spice things up, there’s also a back story set in Africa concerning Nancy’s former boss and mentor, Wade Carter (Liam Cunningham) and his assistant, Trevor Rhodes (James Darcy), which shows how quickly the virus can spread and the havoc it brings to human life.

Juliana Margulies is oustanding as a lawyer in that drama series we truly loved, “The Good Wife”. She’s now also superb as the courageous research doctor. The subplots in her personal life concerning her sick father, and how her quiet husband becomes a confirmed partner in the fight against the virus, are both very engaging.

Topher Grace is effectively annoying as Dr. Jahrling and he somehow gets the punishment he deserves when he suspects that he himself has been infected but cannot resort to conventional blood testing as it might spark panic in their midst.

In one scene, he reflects: “Do you think people know when they’re sick? Deep down, on some level?” We’re sure a lot of us are now asking those questions ourselves, what with that underlying feeling of fear currently gripping us, admit it or not.

When he testified before the U.S. Congress, Jahrling says: “There will be a next time. Everyone understands that, don’t they?”

Such prophetic words. With the contagion paranoia enveloping us now because of the dreaded corona virus, this show is surely very opportune. In the end, they get to lick the virus and we hope that, just like in the show, we in real life will also have a similarly happy ending.

To offer some hope, we want to think that the show works best as a demonstration of what it takes to defeat a virus outbreak. And with our Lord’s grace, life mercifully goes on.
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Mar 29, 2020

‘A FANTASTIC WOMAN’ is the first film from Chile to win the Oscar best foreign language film prize. It works mainly because of the affecting performance of Daniela Vega in the title role of a transwoman. She invests her role with so much heart and soul it’s impossible not to be moved by the depth and sincerity of her portrayal.

Daniela plays Marina Vega, a waitress and aspiring singer who’s in a serious relationship with a 57-year old businessman, Orlando (Francisco Reyes). They’re happy, obviously loving and respecting each other.

He treats her to a birthday dinner and she’s about to move to his apartment so they can start living together. But later that night, Marina wakes up with Orlando sitting on their bed, looking dizzy and disoriented.

As she takes him to the hospital, he falls down the stairs and has bruises and contusions. He eventually dies of aneurysm, but suspicions of possible foul play come up because of his other injuries.

A female detective investigates Marina and even interrogates her and subjects her to an unwarranted and very humiliating body search, making her strip in front of a photographer. Orlando’s brother, Gabo (Luis Gnecco), is sympathetic to Marina, but the ex-wife, Sonia (Alice Kuppenheim) and older son Bruno (Nicolas Saavedra) are both very cruel to her and openly insults her.

Even if she’s very accommodating to them, Sonia is mean, even saying that her being a transgender is a perversion, calling her a chimera and questioning the morality of his consensual relationship with Orlando. Obviously, hindi matanggap na ipinagpalit siya ng asawa niya sa bakla.

Sonia also asks Marina to surrender Orlando’s car to her and she and Bruno both order her to vacate the apartment right away. She’s also told not to show up at Orlando’s wake or attend his funeral. She is not even allowed to grieve on her own, which is a simple human right. When she tries to, she is abducted and hauled inside a car where three men maltreat her.

So much empathy is created for Marina that we totally understand and commiserate with her plight. We just wish we’d been given a bit more background information on how the lovers met and what made Orlando fall so much in love with Marina.

But when we meet them, the 57-year old Orlando is already preparing his gift for the much younger Marina on her birthday, a musical cake and tickets for their vacation in the famous Iguazu Falls.

There are actors who have played transgender roles effectively, like Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry” (she won an Oscar) and Eddie Redmayne in “Danish Girl”, but they’re just acting.

As Marina, Daniela Vega is said to be Chile’s first openly transgender model and actress. One thing we like in her is she never goes over the top in making us feel her loss, her grief and her fighting instincts as she tries to survive in a generally uncaring world.

All throughout, she is not shown breaking down despite her heartbreaking experiences. She is just shown venting her frustrations on a punching bag. But her fury finally breaks loose at the crematorium grounds when Sonia and Bruno verbally attack her again and she climbs on top of their car and jumps up and down.

The film is told with some magic realism. In her grief, we see Marina in a dance sequence in a disco with her wearing a fabulously glittering costume with some chorus dancers. While walking in the street, we see her going against a very strong windstorm that tries to stop her on her tracks.

There are many mirror shots, like one involving her seeing herself in a big massive mirror being transported in the streets and, in a bathroom mirror, it is not easy to distinguish Marina from her reflection. In a nude shot, we see her front being covered only by a small compact mirror perched on her crotch.

These mirrored reflections show the disconnect between how Marina sees herself and how people perceive of her.

At the crematorium grounds, she sees a tall ghostly figure of a man from afar and follows him inside the crematorium itself where she finally gets the chance to say a loving farewell to Orlando before he turns into ashes.

The last few scenes show us Marina moving on in her life, jogging with her dog (which Orlando gave her but which Bruno wants to get from her) and participating in a recital where she gets to sing a classical song as a soprano.

Ultimately, despite the intolerance and discrimination this transgender experiences in her life, the movie is very life-affirming. Marina manages to rise again up after almost everyone else tried to tear her down.

This is not the usual gay coming out movie. For writer-director Sebastian Lelio, it’s more of a celebration of the resiliency of the human spirit as the fantastic woman of the title struggles and succeeds to get her life back.
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DIEGO LUNA as drug lord Felix Gallardo and MICHAEL PENA as druge enforcement agent ENRIQUE 'KIKI' CAMARENA

THE SECOND week of the lockdown has passed by. We're coping with it quite well, thanks to streaming movies and TV series. Since the lockdown started, golly, we've seen a lot of movies and TV shows.

Some are very good, many are forgettable, specially among the series, some of which we start and after a few episodes, we get bored at di na namin itinutuloy, just like the award-winning British comedy series whose kind of bawdy bastos humor is definitely not for us.

So we will review the better movies and series we've seen here, in our PEOPLE'S JOURNAL column and in our site, showbiz-portal.net.

We're currently watching NARCOS: MEXICO. We've finished season 1 with Diego Luna as Mexican drug lord Felix Gallardo also known as Thin Man and Michael Pena as relentless Drug Enforcement Agent ENrique "Kiki" Camarena.

It's very good, extremely well written, very well produced and very well acted by the largely Hispanic actors in the cast.

We're now in Season 2 and it's more action-packed than the first one.

We've also seen the Chilean film that won Oscar best foreign language film, A FANTASTIC WOMAN. It's absorbing from start to finish. Full review coming up soon.

We've also seen a lot of classic films that are excellent starring our favorite actresses of Hollywood's golden era. Grabe. Kahit luma na, their power on screen has not diminished at all. we also hope to review them later.
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AIKO MELENDEZ is one of the most hated villains on TV because of her effective portrayal as the scheming and devilish Kendra in the hit Afternoon Prime show, “Prima Donnas”. So how do people treat her when they see her in public?

“Well, alam naman po nilang I’m just playing a role so nagpapa-picture pa rin po sila sa akin kahit naiinis sila kay Kendra,” she says. “Viewers now naman know kung ano ang totoo at kung ano ang make believe lang for the screen.”

How is it working with the tween stars in the show: Jillian Ward, Sofia Pablo, Althea Ablan and Elijah Alejo? “I’m having fun doing scenes with them kasi they’re all eager to learn. Very open sila at nakikinig sa aming more senior stars na kasama nila sa ‘Prima Donnas’.

"The show is a big success and we’re all happy about it. Ilang beses na nga kaming na-extend and I always remind them na huwag lalaki ang ulo nila ngayong naging tagumpay ang show. It’s just too bad na na-stop ang taping namin dahil sa corona crisis, kaya nami-miss na nga naming lahat ang isa’t isa.”

One thing she likes about all the people involved in the show is that they’re all prayerful.

“We have a chat group, kasama si Direk Gina Alajar and the other GMA bosses, and we all pray together. We’re thankful our show is a hit but to God be all the glory. We are really a praying team and we even pray for each other. We also pray to the Lord na sana ay mahanapan na ng lunas itong corona virus na naghahasik ng lagim ngayon sa buong mundo.”

What precautionary measures does she take against the virus?

“Dati, I don’t take vitamins but now, I do na, kasi nga gusto kong maging malakas ang immune system ko at pati ng son kong si Andre and my daughter Marthena. I always remind them to wash their hands and wear face mask when we go out kasi namili kami ng enough food supplies para hindi kami maubusan ng stock.

"Hindi naman hoarding yun, kasi we just bought what's enough for us. Dahil nasa bahay lang kami lagi, I now have more time bonding with my kids. Magkakasama kaming kumakain, which we seldom get to do before kasi busy ako with work at sila naman, nasa school.

"I also want to thank our medical frontliners and law enforcers for all their help to our countrymen. Sana, biyayaan sila ni Lord ng good health and strength always, so they can go on serving as our real heroes today.”

What can viewers expect from “Prima Donnas” when they return on the air after this crisis?

“Una sa lahat, sobrang pasasalamat ko sa lahat ng viewers na sumusuporta sa amin, making it the number one afternoon drama from Monday to Saturday. They made us a part of their lives so abangan na lang nila ang pagbabalik namin.

"Siempre, abangan nila ang mga iba pang bagong kasamaan na gagawin ng character ko as Kendra. Kung ang akala ng Prima Donnas, nakaligtas na sila sa kamandag ko, pwes, they will find out na nagkakamali sila. Kendra will be back with a vengeance!”

While she’s not taping “Prima Donnas”, she is busy making TikTok videos.

“It’s my way of making people smile habang nakaharap tayo ngayon sa isang malaking pagsubok sa ating mga buhay. Gusto ko lang silang aliwin at nang hindi tayo basta malungkot na lang at nagmumukmok sa bahay. My TikTok account @chapee king shows a different side of me na kalog at nagpapatawa, so different from Kendra.

"Sinasamahan ko ito ng awareness videos about the virus and what’s happening to us now, to inspire viewers na patuloy lang silang lumaban. Huwag tayong basta susuko! Sa tulong ni Lord, malalampasanan natin lahat ng panganib na ito.”
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carla gugino and bruce greenwood in GERALD'S GAME

‘GERALD’S GAME’ is a Netflix movie based on horror maestro Stephen King’s 1992 book of the same title. It was considered hard to film because it’s about a woman whose hands are chained to a bed and what transpires is mostly based on her memory and inner monologues.

Now, Mike Flanagan, who did the hit horror Netflix series, “The Haunting of Hill House” and such horror flicks as “Oculus”, “Ouija: Origin of Evil” and “Doctor Sleep”, has filmed it.

It opens with Jessie (Carla Gugino) and husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) driving to their lakeside vacation home in Alabama. They’re having problems with their sex life and they both hope this weekend will help them revive their fading passion as a couple.

On the way there, they see a hungry stray dog and Jessie takes pity on it and feeds it with some steak.

In the bedroom, Gerald gets handcuffs and chains Jessie on the bedposts. Obviously, Jessie has consented to Gerald’s being more adventurous to save their marriage with this fantasy rape with bondage. But along the way, things get so rough and Jessie orders Gerald to unlock the cuffs. But Gerald says: “What if I won’t?”

They then have a heated argument with him accusing Jessie of being uncooperative in spicing up their marriage. He has earlier taken two Viagra tablets and so it’s not surprising when he suddenly grips his chest in pain and gets a heart attack. He falls down and dies on top of her.

This starts Jessie’s ordeal since no one can hear her even if she cries for her help. She kicks Gerald’s body and it falls down the floor. Soon, the hungry dog gets in and starts eating Gerald’s arm. She tries to shoo it away but it won’t leave. Hours of dehydration and fatigue eventually take its toll on her.

She then sees Gerald getting up, but his dead body is still on the floor. He starts talking to her about secrets from her past. She then sees her own self arguing with Gerald, like a double, a representation of her own thought processes that serves as a foil to the one chained in bed.

More traumatic secrets hidden in her memory bank forgotten through the years are revealed. This concerns her pervert dad, who manipulated her when she was 12 years old, during a solar eclipse.

The ghostly figure of a deformed man with a bag of bones also appears and she cannot tell if it’s just an apparition in the dark.  Defiant, she tells him: “You’re not real!” But is he really just a figment of her imagination? Gerald tells her it’s “the man made of moonlight” and is actually the Grim Reaper waiting to get her.

The film can be interpreted in two levels. The surface level concerns the dangers a woman chained to a bed has to confront, which includes a hungry dog and a ghostly apparition. Underneath it, though, is a disturbing psychological treatise on valid marital issues that people can possibly relate with.

It also delves on the issue of how the dark secrets of our past involving abuse can keep us chained to our present, which explains why Jessie married a man who’s just like her own father.

Carla Gugino is just terrific delivering her most affecting performance in ages, giving a superb portrayal of her two conflicting selves. She was just in her night gown and handcuffs throughout most of the movie, making her more vulnerable. She’s alternately pitiful, angry, vengeful and ultimately, very resourceful as she fights for survival.

Bruce Greenwood supports her marvelously every inch of the way, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes supportive, often caustic. Their interactions as the only two major characters can really be very engaging.

The movie, though, has an ending some folks might think as controversial, or even unnecessary. Of course, we cannot touch on it here as it would surely be a spoiler. For some folks, it will be a fitting conclusion to what Jessie went through.

But for some, this sort of extended epilogue, that happens several months later, might not be in keeping with the undeniable tension that the previous scenes have built up. Sorry to keep you wondering, but you have to see the movie and find out for yourself if you agree with the way everything has been summed up.

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Mar 28, 2020

yasser marta

yasser marta with kyline alcantara

dingdong's ALYAS ROBIN HOOD temporarily replaces BILANGIN ANG BITUIN SA LANGIT

YASSER MARTA says that when he took the audition to play the role of Zoren Legaspi’s son who’ll be Kyline Alcantara’s leading man in “Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit”, he didn’t expect that he will be the one to be chosen.

“There were so many of us kasi who took the audition,” he says. “So sabi ko, swertihan na lang talaga. I just gave it my best shot and I was so thankful when I was informed later on na ako ang napili.”

All the episodes that they’ve taped have been exhausted as of last Friday, so starting this afternoon, viewers will see a replay of the unforgettable primetime action-drama, “Alyas Robin Hood, Season 1”, which starred Dingdong Dantes, Megan Young, Jaclyn Jose and Andrea Torres.

This show was such a big hit that it even spawned a sequel.

“Pahinga muna kami sa taping habang may crisis tayong kinakaharap,” says Yasser. “Pero abangan nyo ang aming pagbabalik kapag natapos na itong lockdown.”

Does he miss the company of Kyline now that they don’t see each other on the set?

“Oo naman,” he says. “Kyline is a very jolly person kaya masayang kasama sa taping. Napapasaya niya kaming lahat ng co-stars namin kasi nga she can be so much fun and when she’s around, there’s never a dull moment.”

He adds that they now feel closer to each other compared to the time when they first worked together in “Kambal Karibal” two years ago.

“Sandali lang kasi kaming nagkasama roon kasi maikli lang ang naging role ko. Now, we have more time to make kwentuhan kasi kami ang magkatambal, unlike before na puro small talk lang.

"Now, we have more time to share our likes and dislikes, yung mga gusto naming songs and movies. We also bond over milk tea, pareho kasi kaming mahilig dito lalo na ngayong mainit ang panahon.”

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