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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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Nov 19, 2018

CHRISTIAN BABLES just won the best actor award at the recent Hanoi International Filmfest for his portrayal of the probinsiyano, Intoy, in Chito Rono’s “Signal Rock”. He went there in person to attend the opening night. “It’s a humbling experience kasi ang daming international actors present representing their own countries and I felt intimidated,” he says at the presscon of his new movie with Regal Entertainment, “Recipe for Love”, that starts showing in theaters this Wednesday. “Parang sanay na sila ganoon and it’s my first time to attend such an international affair so naninibago ako.

Tiklop lang ako sa isang tao and inenjoy ko na lang young pagkain sa dinner. Then I had to leave na back for Manila. When I got here, I was told na kailangang bumalik ako roon kasi I have a big chance of winning daw. Hindi naman sinabing ako ang nanalo. E kaso, nagte-taping na ako, so hindi na ko pinayagang umalis uli. The award was accepted for me by my friend, Angeli Bayani. Sayang nga, first time kong manalo ng international acting award, I was not there to received my trophy in person. But masaya ang pakiramdam ko kasi ‘Signal Rock’ is the only Filipino entry at nabigyan nito ng karangalan ang bansa natin.”

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SANYA LOPEZ says she couldn’t believe it when first informed that she’ll be Dennis Trillo’s leading lady in GMA-7’s new primetime soap, “Cain at Abel”. “Siempre, I had to pinch myself kasi di ako makapaniwalang part ako ng ganitong kalaking show,” she adds. “This is a very big blessing for me, to be able to work with the two kings of GMA, the Primetime King and the Drama King.”

She most certainly put one over Barbie Forteza who is very vocal in saying she wants to be paired with Dennis Trillo. Barbie is now the girlfriend of her kuya, Jak Roberto. “That’s true, pareho kaming crush namin si Dennis at dream naming makatrabaho siya. E, first scene namin ni Dennis, kissing scene agad kami. So I texted Barbie at biniro kong naka-strike one na ako against her. Naunahan ko na siya kay Dennis. Sabi naman niya, Ang ganda mo, Ni. Happy naman daw siya for me. Ha ha ha!”

She says she didn’t make a mistake in making Dennis her idol. “He’s really amazing kasi, considering na baguhan lang ako, very supportive siya, walang ere o yabang sa katawan. Very professional din siya. He felt na nanginginig ako sa nerbiyos at ang laming ng kamay ko when we’ll do our kissing scene, so before the take, he made an effort na kausapin ako para ma-relax ako. Sabi niya, huwag ko na raw siya tawaging kuya at isipin kong pareho lang kami ng age level, so naging mas comfortable agad ako sa kanya. Maganda yung role ko rito as Margaret, probinsiyana pero maprinsipyo. Nagkaroon kami ni Dennis ng anak pero pinili kong buhaying mag-isa kasi hindi ko masikmurang galing sa pagnanakaw ang ipinapakain niya sa amin.”

When “Cain at Abel” held its presscon at Prime Hotel, she and the show’s other leading lady, Solenn Heussaff, both came in revealing outfits showing off their top heavy bosoms. Some press people said it seems Sanya doesn’t want to be eclipsed by Solenn so her tightfitting red gown had a very low neckline and it seems her ample bumpers want to jump out and have freedom.

“Naku, I’m just wearing a push up bra kaya parang luluwa yan, ha ha ha! Dibdiban daw ang laban namin ni Solenn but between to of us, wala kaming rivalry. We’re all just doing our share para mapaganda ang aming show.”

We heard that later on, there will be switching of partners and she will be Dingdong’s girl while Solenn will be paired with Dennis? “Naku, ayoko pong pangunahan ang story at wala pang ganyang nangyayari sa mga script na pinadadala sa amin, so abangan na lang po natin. Basta, we assure the viewers na marami pang maraming exciting twists and turns of plot na mangyayari sa show.”

She said then that she wants to try joining the Bb. Pilipinas pageant and be a beauty queen, but she has since changed her plans. “Kasi maganda naman ang takbo ng showbiz career, sayang naman. E, yung career ang priority ko ngayon kasi kumikita na ako. Gusto ko munang makaipon para sa pamilya ko. But nagpapasalamat ako kay Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzback for offering na tulungan ako kung sasali ako. She’s very encouraging but hindi na muna siguro ako sasali sa ngayon.”
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DIRECTOR DAN VILLEGAS directs his second movie based on a one-act play, “Hintayan ng Langit”, which originally played at the CCP’s Virgin Labfest. His first one was “Changing Partners”, shown last year. “Actually, mas nauna kong napanood itong ‘Hintayan ng Langit’ written by Gege Severo in 2015, but naunang gawin yung ‘Changing Partners’ for Cinema One. Then sumunod itong ‘Hintayan ng Langit’ na entry sa QCinema Filmfest last October, where it won the Audience Award and where Eddie Garcia won the best actor award.”

He was defeated in QCinema by “Oda sa Wala”, written and directed by Dwein Baltazar who’s the scriptwriter of his last mainstream hit, “Exes Baggage”. How did he feel about it? “I haven’t seen ‘Oda’, but napanood ko yung previous movie niyang ‘Gusto Kita with All My Hypothalamus’ sa Cine Filipino and I liked it. I’m very happy for Dwein, one of our best young filmmakers around.”

So how did he expand the one act play that’s “Hintayan ng Langit” to a full length film? “The play only has two characters and was just set in one room, so we had to add more characters played by other actors like Mary Joy Apostol, Joel Saracho, Jomari Angeles and Kat Galang. We also added more locations. The lead characters are Tita Gina as Lisang and Tito Eddie as Manolo. They are in this place called ‘Kalagitnaan’, the hintayan sa langit where the souls of people who have died wait to be transferred to heaven. Lisang died two years earlier, but she hasn’t been given the go signal to go to heaven because she’s masungit, quarrelsome. Manolo is Lisang’s ex-boyfriend and when he arrives, they are made to share one room and, while together, they get to relive fond memories and uncover past secrets to one another. Will they get a second chance on love while they’re in the ‘Hintayan sa Langit’? That’s what’s the movie is all about.”

We ask Direk Dan and his stars if they believe in heaven and a place called purgatory which is the ‘Hintayan ng Langit’, and they all reply that they all believe in the existence of ‘langit, purgatoryo at impiyerno.’ “Actually, nasa atin na kung ang buhay natin ngayon e gagawin nating langit o impiyerno,” adds Eddie. “It’s all up to you and the kind of life you are going to lead on this earth.”

“Hintayan sa Langit” is Dan’s 12th film as a director. He said that as a student at the Ateneo dreaming of making films someday, he never thought he’d get the chance of directing veteran icons like Eddie and Gina someday.

“I really never thought na makakatrabaho ko these two legends,” he adds. “It’s my first time to work with them in a movie. When we were casting pa lang, si Tita Gina na talaga ang choice namin from the get go. And we’re happy that when we pitched the project to Tito Eddie, he liked it and he’s in between projects so sabi niya, mag-shoot na tayo. We shot the movie for 11 days and they’re both such a joy to work with. I’m now glad na right after OCinema, nakakuha kami agad ng playdate for wide release and we hope more people would watch it when it opens in theaters nationwide this Wednesday.”

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SOLENN HEUSSAFF says it’s an honor to be part of “Cain at Abel” but feels pressured as she’s working with GMA-7’s two top actors, Dingdong Dantes and Dennis Trillo. “I know it’s a big project because both Dingdong and Dennis are in it and it’s a much awaited project,” she says. “Dingdong is Primetime King and Dennis is Drama King, pareho silang Kings who are both very good in their craft. I’ve worked with them before individually, but this is the first time na sabay silang dalawa na kasama ko, kaya siempre, I’m nervous kapag kaeksena ko sila and I have to be on my toes so they won’t eat me alive. Drama is their forte and I’m the first to admit na marami pa akong kakainin to be at par with them.”

She’s glad her co-stars all help in interpreting her role well. “I’m really thankful that everyone is so patient with me on the set, so I’m really excited to see the outcome now that we’re to start airing this Monday night. Even Sanya Lopez is so good and drama even if she’s still relatively new in the industry, kaya nakaka-inspire kasama. I’m learning a lot from everyone.”

In the story, Solenn plays Abigail, the sexy, sophisticated and adventurous lover of Dingdong as Daniel. But the story will start tonight with Dingdong and Dennis still little boys who are so attached to each other. Their parents as grownups are Eddie Gutierrez and Chanda Romero. But as the show starts, they’re still young and the young Eddie will be played by Rafael Rosell and the young Chanda will be played by Yasmien Kurdi. Their marriage will crumble when Rafael falls in love with another woman, Diana Zubiri, later to be played by Dina Bonnevie.

Rafael parts ways with Yasmien. He gets Daniel (Dingdong) and Yasmien gets Miguel (Dennis.) Daniel will grow up in rich surroundings but alienated from his dad because he cannot get along well with his stepmother. Miguel will grow up in a poor fishing village, separated from his mom who loses her sanity and is confined in a mental hospital. He grows up to be a petty thief and snatcher.
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Nov 18, 2018

DENNIS TRILLO feels so blessed as he has a new TV show, “Cain at Abel”, and he has a new movie that is a Metro filmfest entry this December, “One Great Love”, with Kim Chiu. He’s happy to work again with Dingdong Dantes in the hardhitting action drama, “Cain at Abel”, after they’ve worked before in “Twin Hearts”, “Etheria” and “Endless Love”. “Ito yung biggest project namin sa lahat,” he says. “Ang lalayo ng shoots namin, sa Subic, sa Laguna, sa Tagaytay. Ginastusan talaga, pati action scenes. Kinuha pa ng GMA ang action director na si Toto Natividad mula sa kabila to direct our action scenes. Pero ang core talaga nito, yun pa ring story ng magkapatid na nagkahiwalay at nang magkita uli e nung malalaki na sila, magkaiba na ang landas nila. Yun ang talagang dapat subaybayan ng viewers.”

For the first time, he’s paired with newcomer Sanya Lopez in the show. So how is it? “She’s okay. Bumilib ako kasi parang hindi baguhan sa mga eksenang magkaeksena kami. Hasa na rin kasi siguro sa acting workshops. Ang mahalaga, dedicated siya sa trabaho niya kaya mabilis kaming nagkaroon ng rapport as I can see 100 percent ang ibinibigay niya sa bawat eksena. She’s very pleasant to work with.”

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RITA DANIELA was only 10 years old when she became the grand champion in “Popstar Kids”. For a while, she become a part of the singing group, Sugar Pop, whose members were recruited from that show. She was then known as Rita Iringan, but she changed it using the family name of her grandfather, the late comedian Teroy de Guzman.

Later on, when she started accepting more mature and edgier roles, she changed her name again to Rita Daniela. Right now, she’s making waves playing the role of a voluptuous contravida, Aubrey, in the hit Ken Chan soap, “My Special Tatay”. Through the years, she has played many villain roles in soaps like “The Last Prince”, “Pahiram Ng Isang Ina”, “Alice Bungisngis and Her Wonder Walis”, “Paroa: Kuwento Ni Mariposa”, “Mundo Mo’y Akin” and “Strawberry Lane”, but it’s in “My Special Tatay” that she really got noticed.

“Sobrang palaban kasi yung character ni Aubrey rito kaya markado talaga siya,” she says. “May pagkapokpok na kahit ang friends niya, tinatalo niya just to earn some money. She is the mother ng baby ni Ken as Boyet. While she was pregnant, talagang inexploit niya si Boyet at inalipin nang husto dahil handa itong ibigay kahit anong gusto niya. At one point, gusto niyang ibenta ang baby niya para magkapera pero nahuli siya ni Boyet. Kaya bina-bash siya nang husto ng viewers sa social media dahil sa sobrang sama niya bilang ina.”

How do people react to her when they see her in public? “Okay naman po. Naiintindihan naman nilang I’m just playing a role. Hindi naman ako kagaya ni Aubrey sa totoong buhay. Pero tinatanong nila ako kung may chance pa raw bumait si Aubrey kasi sobra na silang naaawa sa character ni Ken as Boyet. May sumusulat pa sa social media na magpakabait na lang daw ako para kami ni Boyet ang magkatuluyan sa ending ng show.”

For a while, Rita had to focus on her filmmaking studies at the college of St. Benilde. “Mahirap kasing balansehin ang time sa pag-aaral ng college at sa pagtatrabaho, lalo na sa soap na magdamagan ang taping. But I’m determined to finish my school and get a degree, so tiis-tiis lang hanggang sa nakatapos ako.”

Now, aside from playing Aubrey, she also sings the theme song of “My Special Tatay”. This is the revival of “Kahit Man Lang sa Pangarap” which was originally sung by Vina Morales and was also used as a theme song in “Paroa, Kuwento ni Mariposa”. She has also tried musical theatre and got good reviews for her lead performance in the APO musical with Mark Bautista.
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Nov 16, 2018

THE QUEZON CITY International Pink Film Festival is currently going and offers 64 films that capture the different facets of LGBT life. We were invited in its formal opening at Gateway last Wednesday night with Jethro Patalinghug's "50 Years of Fabulous”, a docu presenting the history of the Imperial Council of San Francisco, the world's oldest surviving LGBTQ+ charity organization founded in 1961 by flamboyant drag queen and performer Jose Sarria, the first openly gay man who ran for public office.

The Council has helped in shaping LGBT life and social history in the last five decades. The film documents the scope of the organization’s historical evolution up to its contemporary efforts in finding relevance in the present world where it has helpd foster civil rights achievements.

Councilor Lena Marie “Mayen” Juico, author of QC Gender Fair Ordinance says this year's lineup touches on topical themes like human rights, mental health, and the rising cases of HIV/AIDS.

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RONNIE LIANG is celebrating his 12th year in showbiz with a new album from Viva Records entitled “12”, with the song “Tila” as the carrier single whose music video is now available for downloads. The second runner up in ABS-CBN’s talent search “Pinoy Dream Academy” in 2006, he and winner Yeng Constantino are the only ones who were able to successfully sustain their careers in the industry.

“For that, I’m thankful to Viva who’s now managing me,” he says. “They gave me new albums, included me in the cast of TV shows like ‘From the Beautiful Country’ and ‘Kasambahay’ on Cignal TV, mainstream movies like ‘Fanboy/ Fangirl’, ‘100 Tula para Kay Stella’, ‘Petmalu’ and ‘Abay Babes’. Dahil sa kanila, I also experienced acting and singing in musical theatre as a cast member of ‘Bituing Walang Ningning’. And I’m also included as a guest performer in the concerts of Sarah Geronimo. We just did a show in Japan. On November 30, we will have a concert in Laguna at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex. Then we’ll do a New Year’s show at the Grand Marriott Hotel in New York on December 31. Tapos, next year, we’ll do a concert in Baguio in February and by March, I will have my own solo concert.”

Ronnie is the youngest of 7 children of a poor family in Pampanga and he supported himself through college working in a fastfood store and a video shop. He got his degree of B.S. in Education from the Holy Angels University. Because he’s 6 feet tall, he did ramp modeling before joining ‘Pinoy Dream Academy’. “I’m just grateful that after 12 years, I managed to survive in the industry,” he says. He has his own groups of fans called Maca-Ronnies and SupeRonics. He’s currently the brand ambassador of Holistic Integrative Care Center based in Makati that promotes health and wellness though alternative medicine. “They can help heal cancer without going through chemo,” he says.

His new album has five songs: “Tila”, “Ligaya”, “Yakap”, “Sa’Yo na Lang Ako” and “Pakisabi na Lang”, plus all its minus ones as bonus tracks. His prayer is for one of these songs to be as big a hit as his best known tune, “Ngiti”, which is being requested from him up to now and continues to give him royalties. “I also pray na mabigyan din sana ako ng chance to do a challenging lead role in a movie or a teleserye,” he adds.
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EDDIE GUTIERREZ is back on primetime TV in GMA-7’s “Cain at Abel”. His last appearance was as a guest in “Ang Probinsyano” two years ago. “I had a problem with my left knee then,” he says. “Masakit ilakad, so I had an operation, nilagyan ng titanium ang loob ng tuhod ko, and now it’s okay. So when GMA called me and asked me if I could play the father of Dingdong Dantes and Dennis Trillo in ‘Cain at Abel’, I met with them at nakita nilang okay na ako and ready to face the cameras again.”

In the story, his first wife is Chanda Romero, but Dina Bonnevie stole him away from Chanda, who is the mother of his two sons. When they broke up, he got Dingdong while Chanda got Dennis. Dingdong grew up estranged from Dina, who doesn’t really care for him as a stepson, while Dennis lost his mom who went mad and was confined in a mental asylum so he grew up on his own and became a street kid and bag snatcher.

“It’s nice to be back to work again,” says Eddie. “Nami-miss ko talagang umarte and it’s good to be part of a big project like this. But more than two weeks ago, nagkaroon naman ako ng freak accident. Birthday ni Annabelle (Rama, his wife) at may party sa Cebu. Ni-request akong kumanta ng Elvis song, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. So umakyat naman ako on stage. Siempre, yung kanta ko, sinabayan ko ng sayaw. Habang sumasayaw ako, naramdaman ko, sumakit yung tuhod kong inoperahan, hindi ko kinaya, bumigay, na-off balance ako at bumagsak ako. Mataas din yung stage. Mga five feet.

Bumagsak ako sa sementong sahig. Yung noo ko ang tumama. Buti hindi pumutok, pero lumaki agad ang bukol. Siempre, nataranta ang lahat. Si Mother Lily was there at nilalagyan ng yelo ang noo ko. Pres. Duterte was also there and said get an ambulance para dalhin ako sa hospital. Sabi ko, hindi na kailangan. Uuwi na lang ako to rest. Namaga talaga yung mukha ko at parehong mata ko, nagka-black eye. The next day, nagpa-CT scan ako at okay naman. Wala silang nakita diprensiya. So hindi ako nakapag-taping. Buti nga naka-attend na ako ng presscon ngayon. May pangingitim pa rin sa paligid ng mata ko, pero tinakpan na lang ng make up.”
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Nov 15, 2018

HULU’S ‘THE Handmaid’s Tale’ is an acclaimed drama series that has won awards and we watched it upon the recommendation of a friend. Set in a dystopian hypothetical future where women are so oppressed, an extremist fundamentalist group has overthrown the U.S. government and renamed it the Republic of Gilead that will out-Quaker the Quakers and out-Amish the Amish. They spouse a religious ideology that debunks all other religious groups and comes up with a totally patriarchal and fanatical society where human rights are curtailed and women’s rights are seriously trampled. Civil rights are allowed only in favor of men, who are pictured here as heartless, merciless villains.

Birthrates have plummeted and most women have become barren, so all the fertile women are then gathered to be handmaids, more like breeding cows impregnated by the new society’s powerful male leaders. They are renamed after the men who they serve. So if you’re boss is named Fred, you are called Offred to reflect the name of your master, like what happened to June Osborne (Elizabeth Moss, also the show’s producer) who becomes the handmaid or sex slave of Commander Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife Serena (Yvonne Strahovski.)

The show is based on the 1985 book of Canadian author Margaret Atwood, which has been filmed before starring the late Natasha Richardson as the handmaid called Kate, Robert Duvall as the Commander and Faye Dunaway as the wife, scripted by playwright Harold Pinter and directed by Volker Schlondorff. The story is actually reminiscent of similar futuristic films like Alfonso Cuaron’s acclaimed “Children of Men” (2006) and the TV thriller series about neo-Nazis and fascism, “Man in the High Castle”.

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