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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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Jun 18, 2019

“THE CLASH” SEASON 2 nationwide auditions continue in Metro Manila. More and more Filipinos are auditioning for the much awaited Season 2 of GMA Network’s hit singing competition, “The Clash”. Cebuano hopefuls who aspire to follow the footsteps of fellow Cebuana and The Clash Season 1 Grand Champion Golden Cañedo had their auditions last Friday. Director Bert de Leon was part of the screening panel.

Last Sunday , “The Clash” auditioned aspirants in Batangas. Joining the auditions at Xentro Mall is screening panelist Jai Sabas-Aracama while The Clash alumni Garrett Bolden and Anthony Rosaldo will have special performances. The Manila-leg of the auditions will be held this Friday, June 21, at the Sky Dome of SM North EDSA. Jay Durias, Jai Sabas-Aracama and Bert de Leon will form the screening panel, while Golden Cañedo, Jong Madaliday and Garrett Bolden will be there as well to help inspire the hopefuls.

 The competition is open to all male and female Filipinos, amateur and professional singers, 16 years old and above. Interested applicants need to bring the original and photocopy of their birth certificate and one recent photo (4R half body). They also need to prepare at least two songs for the audition with minus-1 on a USB flash drive. For more information, kindly follow The Clash’s Facebook page, @TheClashGMA, for more details.

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AI AI DE LAS ALAS was mentioned when we heard mass last Sunday. We were surprised as they were plugging her concert at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday, June 24. This is for the benefit of the Kristong Hari church, now under construction in Fairview. Ai Ai is really active in helping such church activities, so it’s not surprising that she became a papal awardee.

Ai Ai’s special guests in her concert are her co-stars in the hit weekend noontime show, “Sunday PinaSaya”. Kristong Hari belongs to the Novaliches Catholic Diocese and is meant to be a Basilica, a bigger church for the residents of Manggahan along Commonwealth Avenue.

“The concert is for a good course so sana, suportahan naman po ninyo,” says Ai Ai. “Our target is to be able to raise P10 million para makumpleto ang construction. Napakalaki ng populasyon ng Kristong Hari and they really need a bigger place of worship. We promise to give you great entertainment in our concert. As an artist, I feel so many blessings na mula kay Lord, kaya gusto kong ibalik ito sa Kanya through this concert na sana naman, panoorin ng lahat ng mga Katolikong gaya ko. We’ll feature comedy, pop songs but meron ding kasamang worship music for the faithful to praise the Lord.”

Aside from the concert, Ai Ai has a new movie that opens in theaters today, the hilarious romantic-comedy “Feelennials (Feeling Millennial)”, with Bayani Agbayani, produced by Pops Fernandez and directed by Rechie del Carmen, co-starring Ina Feleo, Nar Cabico, Arvic Tan and Ai Ai’s own daughter, Sofia de la Alas.

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solenn heussaff as lianne in LOVE YOU TWO

SOLENN HEUSSAFF’s entry in GMA-7’s hit romcom on primetime, “Love You Two”, is helping boost the show’s ratings. She gives a contagiously energetic performance in her role as Lianne Martinez, Gabby Concepcion’s ex-girlfriend who returns to his life and competes with Jennylyn Mercado for his attention. But Solenn’s Lianne is not really written as a contravida as she’s on friendly terms with Jen as Raffy. 

In the party eksena they had together, she even teaches Jen how to dance. This is not surprising as Solenn is also an expert pole dancer as shown in her Instagram account where she amazingly does pole dancing wearing a pair of killer six-inch heels.

We didn’t know Solenn can also be good in doing comedy. Adding to all the “gulo” in “Love You Two” is Nova Villa as the ex-GF of Freddie Webb, who plays Gabby’s dad. Nova asked Jen to drink a special concoction that will make her lose her inhibitions and when Jen drinks it, she becomes more aggressive towards Gabby and even asks him to kiss her. But then, the bubble burst when it turns out that it’s just a dream sequence.

“I’m really excited with my character as Lianne as she’s very different from all the roles I’ve played before,” says Solenn. “Lianne has a very quirky personality and has many layers. Viewers will either love her or hate her, but generally, good vibes ang hatid niya sa show.”

She admits she was initially nervous about doing the show because she knows Jennylyn is very good at comedy. “I’ve seen her in romcoms and everyone knows she’s one of a kind when it comes to doing comedy. In fairness to her, she can do both comedy and drama with equal ease, but I love her more talaga in comedy. Nakaka-stress because she’s really good and also so professional. Tapos, my lines pa are mostly in Tagalog and they’re very long, so lalo akong ninerbiyos.”

Well, it turns our Solenn has nothing to worry about because the reaction of viewers to her performance is very positive, as seen in their comments in social media that say she’s good in her role as Lianne and has very funny scenes with Jen that don’t even seem to be scripted at all but come out naturally on screen.

Meantime, Gabby Concepcion himself feels that the title of their show must now be “Love You Three”. Before, he gets entangled only with Shaira Diaz and Jennylyn, who play sisters, but now, Solenn has joined them and is even claiming that she is carrying his child.

“Actually, bale apat pala silang kapareha ko sa show kasi si Sheena Halili, may gusto rin sa akin,” says Gabby. “Ang sarap pala ng feeling na pinagnanasaan ka ng apat na babaeng puro magaganda at sexy. I’m really enjoying this show kasi hindi lang sila puro magagaling kundi ang babait pa. Si Jen, may baon pa laging cookies na bine-bake niya na sobrang sarap.

"Noong manggaling siya sa Dubai with Dennis Trillo, pag-uwi niya, may pasalubong pa siya sa aking dates. Very thoughtful talaga. I’m really very happy sa ‘Love You Two’ kasi very light siya and it’s a breather pagkatapos kong gawin yung heavy dramang ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ na puro mabibigat ang eksena namin.”

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Jun 17, 2019



LOVI POE and RHIAN RAMOS both just took a sabbatical and stayed in the U.S. for more than six months. Both of them were also last seen together in the GMA romcom, “The One That Got Away”, which was shown last year yet. The two Kapuso stars said they had a grand vacation to re-inspire themselves. They were together briefly in the Big Apple, but Rhian didn’t just had a good time there but also took the opportunity to take up short courses in film and acting in New York.

She focused mainly on comedy improv at the American Improvisational Theatre and Training Center, which she enjoyed and she’s hoping she can use it later on local TV or movies. Later on, Rhian moved to Los Angeles and made a lot of new friends among the Asian American community when she attended the premiere night of a new movie she did for the Filipino-British filmmaker Andrea Walker.

It’s titled “Empty by Design” and is the closing film in the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Filmfest. She played Samantha in the movie, a Filipino millennial experiencing loneliness living in the U.S. who goes back home to the Philippines in a journey that leads to self discovery. She co-starred with U.S. based Fil-American actors Dante Basco and Osric Chau.

As for Lovi Poe, she also visited both New York and California. She arrived in New York in January yet and visited its famous places, including the apartment building of the hit sitcom, “Friends”, and watched the musical “Waitress” on Broadway. But it was in California that she celebrated her 30th birthday on February 11 in the famous home of Hollywood stars, Malibu.

It’s also there that she took some acting classes to improve on her craft. She likewise plans to later write her own screenplays and maybe, a book. In Napa Valley, she met up with Maja Salvador who’s traveling with her boyfriend named Rambo. Obviously, she has broken up with her Paris-based boyfriend, Chris Johnson, whose shadow was not even seen while she was staying in the U.S. for almost six months.

Both Rhian and Lovi are happy to be back home. Maybe now, the Kapuso network can give them new projects so they can go on with their local acting career. Someone told us both Rhian and Lovi tried to audition in some U.S. shows while they were there, but it’s really difficult to get in because they have to really stay there and enroll first in language classes for them to have a more acceptable American accent.

“Kung si Sam Milby nga, lumaki roon at American accent na kung magsalita, hindi pa rin makapasok,” says our source. “Mahirap talaga makapasok sa Hollywood man o sa New York.”

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Jun 15, 2019

DO YOU watch Filipino teleseryes regularly and dream of being a scriptwriter someday? This is you chance to see if you’re talented enough to be one. GMA Network’s Entertainment Group offers a free basic TV drama scriptwriting workshop which is centered on soap-opera writing.

The workshop is open to all male and female Filipinos, 18 to 35 years old, at least high school graduate and may or may not be currently employed. If employed, current employer must not be in the same business as GMA. He/she must have a flexible schedule, with or without professional experience in TV writing, willing to go through interview and diagnostic tests and has a strong command of both Filipino and English language. Application period is from June 16 to July 16, 2019.

Interested applicants are required to send their complete registration form atwww.gmanetwork.com/DramaWriting. They must also submit their own dramatic scene of at least 2 characters, written in script format of not more than 2 pages with their own choice of situation, mood, tone, or theme.

Chosen participants will be contacted by a GMA representative through the declared contact/mobile number. All participants must agree to sign a Participation Agreement, full details of which will be disclosed once qualified. Lucky hopefuls who will pass the workshop will also have the chance to be part of GMA’s Entertainment Group.

All personal information provided to GMA will be stored in a database for future use but will not be released, sold, rented to any entities or individuals outside of GMA Network. The company also reserves the right to publish, print, distribute, telecast, and otherwise utilize anything that will be developed and created by the participant during the workshop.

Make your #WritingGoals come true and become the next Kapuso drama writer! For more details on the scriptwriting workshop, please visit the official website.

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raymond as quezon with kevin kraemer, david bianco & billy ray gallion

‘QUEZON’S GAME’ is not really a film biography on the life of Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon but focuses only on his little known heroic efforts to save more than 1,000 Jews persecuted by the Nazis from the ghettos of Austria.

We’ve seen many movies and docus about the Holocaust, including the definitive 1978 mini-series “Holocaust” which starred Meryl Streep. Nowhere is it mentioned that Jewish refugees were also sent to the Philippines, so “Quezon’s Game” is a real eye-opener of a footnote in our history.

The movie is said to be based on true events, but it has a disclaimer that certain events and persons have been changed for dramatic license. It opens with a scene in Saranac Lake, NY, in 1944 with Quezon (Raymond Bagatsing) and his wife Aurora (Rachel Alejandro) watching a newsreel showing the inhumanity of the Nazis in the genocide that is the Holocaust. Quezon then asks his wife: “Could have I done more?”

Then the film goes back to Manila in 1938, shot in Bagac’s reconstructed heritage and ancestral houses in Las Casas de Acuzar, with vintage cars, the tranvia, horse-drawn carriages. We don’t really know if Manila really looked like this then, but it looks good on screen and helps us suspend our disbelief. Quezon has recuperated from a bout with tuberculosis and yet still smokes cigars, drinks alcohol, plays poker in smoke-filled rooms.

We may have our reservations about the movie, but we guess we should all just be thankful that historical films like this are still being made, just like Jerrold Tarog’s take on Antonio Luna and Gregorio del Pilar. We actually know very little about Quezon other than he was the president of the Commonwealth Era from 1935 until his death in 1944 during World War II as a president in exile in N.Y.

He handled the problem of the rebellious landless peasants known as the Huks and he created a new city known as Balintawak, but which his sychophants insisted would be better off named as Quezon City. These bits of information are included in the movie. He fiercely fought for independence and it was finally granted in 1946, two years after his passing. His remains now lie buried at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

A Jewish man he has helped before, Alex Frieder (Billy Ray Gallion), brings to his attention the growing Nazi terrorism in Europe where Jews are sent to death camps. Fighting bigotry and racism, he then tries his best to save as many Jews as possible, at a time when anti-Semitic Americans are shunning them. He has to go against many odds. Even his own friends like Sergio Osmena (Audie Gemora) and Manuel Roxas (Nor Domingo) oppose his idea of helping the Jews.

Then his tuberculosis came back with a vengeance. Despite this, he fights back by appealing to public opinion. This leads to protest rallies and the Americans eventually relent and issue visas to the Jewish refugees. The final scene where the refugees arrive in river taxis touches the right emotional chords to make the film more than a passing interest, what with the testimonials from the surviving Jews shown in the end credits.

What holds the film together is Raymond Bagatsing’s compelling portrayal of the charismatic leader who’s not portrayed as a saint as he is even seen flirting with a sexy singer (making his wife jealous). He smokes, drinks and gambles. Bagatsing works carefully to show depth and complexity to his character.

A scene that stands out for us is when he gives instructions to Osmena on the latter’s coming visit to the White House. He will not be allowed to U.S. the restroom in the oval office but will be directed to a toilet meant for colored folks. He also adds that even in our own Dewey (now Roxas) Blvd., there’s a sign in the Army Navy Club at the Luneta which says: “No dogs and Filipinos allowed.”

Bagatsing is adequately supported by a large ensemble cast led by Rachel Alejandro as his patient, caring wife, and several Caucasian actors recruited from the local theatre scene, including David Bianco as Dwight Eisenhower (future U.S. president), James Paoleli as High Commissioner Paul McNutt, Kevin Kraemer as the German officer named Ebner and Paul Holme as the repulsive racist consul Cartwright.

Technical credits are above average, but it is pretty obvious that the movie is made intended for iWant’s live streaming services and they just gave it a theatrical release first. Many shots of Director Matthew Rosen are very tight and very up close, making it evidently more ideal for television.

Also, the movie, at more than two hours, can surely stand a lot of trimming. Some scenes can be edited to quicken the pacing and make it less talky. There are some portions in the screenplay of Janice Perez and Dean Rosen that are just too chatty and induces sleep. Despite our quibbles, it’s a movie worth watching especially these days when we have despotic leaders and discrimination is rampant.

“Quezon’s Game” will remind us that Filipinos even then are very considerate of other nations. This was proven true once again more recently when the Vietnamese boat people were escaping from the Communists and we set up two Vietnamese communities in Morong, Bataan. We’ve met many Vietnamese in America who have fond memories of their stay there.

Because of Quezon’s sympathy with the Jews at a time when other nations rejected them, a monument was built in Israel to pay tribute to Quezon and we Filipinos are now allowed to visit their country even without a visa.
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MICHAEL V's debut as a full length film director, "Family History", will soon be shown and they are now starting through promote it through a free mall show today at Vista Mall, Taguig, 3 PM.

"Family History" is a heartwarming drama about a couple, played by Michael V himself, with Dawn Zulueta as his wife, and Miguel Tanfelix as their son. They will be at the mall show along with Bianca Umali who plays Miguel's girlfriend in the movie.
Other cast members who will be joining in the mall show are Paolo Contis, Mikoy Morales, Kakai Bautista, Nikki Co, Vince Gamad and Jemwell Ventinilla.

They will be doing some musical numbers and have a meet and greet with the mallgoers. Don't miss it!

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KYLINE ALCANTARA feels honored to be chosen to host “Inside Starstruck”, the online version of GMA-7’s popular Artista Search. She says she can relate well with the contestants since she herself came from ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Quest for the Next Kiddie Superstar in 2010.

“I can’t forget it kasi ako yung unang natanggal sa batch namin,” she says. “Para sa isang bata, malaking sampal ng rejection yun. But the lesson I learned is that don’t give up so easily. Eventually, I passed some auditions at nakuha ako to be a contravida sa soap na ‘Anna Liza’.”

She then moved to GMA-7 where she got noticed as the contravida in “Kambal Karibal”. “Yung personal story ko, puedeng maging example sa Starstruck hopefuls and all aspiring artists na sige lang, tuloy ang laban kahit anong rejection ang harapin nyo. Just focus on your goals and aspirations. Sabi nga ng Starstruck, just dream, believe, survive! And no one can stop from achieving your goals.”

What can she say about some detractors who are questioning her capabilities as host of “Inside Starstruck”? “All I can say is bago nila ako i-bash, give me a chance naman muna. Basta I’m so thankful to GMA-7 sa tiwalang ibinigay nila sa akin and I really feel so blessed and honored. I promise to do my best para magampanan ko nang maayos ang pagiging host ko.”

She’s also thankful that Starstruck Season 7 gave her the chance to meet Cherie Gil, who’s one of the judges. “I was starstruck talaga when I first met in her person. Kasi fan niya talaga ako as our Primera Kontrabida. Her acting was my inspiration noon sa kontrabida role ko sa ‘Kambal Karibal’. So nang interbyuhin ko siya to ask for comments about the Starstruck contestants, I got tongue-tied sa umpisa.

"But later on, ni-request ko siyang sampalin niya ako kasi dream ko talagang magpasampal sa isang Cherie Gil. Natawa lang siya. She probably thought I’m just joking. So ang dream ko ngayon, sana magkasama kami sa isang teleserye at magkaroon kami ng eksenang sasagut-sagutin ko siya, tapos sasampalin niya ako. Then I will post it sa social media and proclaim to all that I’m truly so proud to have been slapped by the Ms. Cherie Gil!”

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kayla rivera as carole king, george schulze as barry and mikee bradshaw as cynthia

kayla with nick varrichio as gerry goffin

‘BEAUTIFUL’ is a jukebox biography musical that combines most of the familiar hits of singer-songwriter Carole King. This is reminiscent of other musicals using established songs, like “Mamma Mia” of the ABBA and “Jersey Boys” of the pop group Four Seasons, both Broadway megahits. It’s definitely a delightful trip down memory for our generation.

It starts in 1971 with Carole King singing ‘So Far Away’ at Carnegie Hall, then travels back in time to 1958 in Brooklyn when Carole is a 16 year old who dreams of going to Manhattan to sell a song she wrote to music publisher Donnie Kirshner. Her Jewish mother discourages her and tells her: “Girls don’t write music, they teach it!”

Donnie listens to her song, ‘It Might as Well Rain Until September’, and takes it. The show then charts Carole’s bumpy road to stardom from her humble origins to her success as musician and later, as a performer, in both sides of the Atlantic, song by song by song. It also shows her falling in love, getting married as a teenager, then the subsequent heartbreak, separation and independently standing on her own.

Carole studies at Queens College and meets a lyricist, Gerry Goffin. They collaborate, fall in love, and Carole is pregnant at 18. She sings ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ that the male group The Drifters then record. Expanding the song list further is their friendship with another songwriting couple, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who have their own roster of hits like ‘On Broadway’ and ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’.

They also become good-natured professional competitors. Donnie needs a song for the female group, The Shirelles. Carole and Gerry write “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”. Cynthia and Barry do “He’s Sure the Boy I Love”. Donnie chooses “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and it hits number 1 in the music charts.

The two teams then churn out a fantastic string of hits, including “Up on the Roof” and “The Locomotion”. Act One ends with Gerry confessing to Carole that he is attracted to a new singer, Janelle Woods. She is shocked and sings their new song, “One Fine Day”, herself.

In Act Two, Gerry continues his affair with Janelle. Nick, a guitarist, tries to convince Carole to sing but she says she has stage fright. Cynthia herself is having trouble with Barry, who offers to marry her, but she demurs. Gerry has a nervous breakdown and tells Carole he will leave Janelle. She gives him a second chance. But he is later seen with another singer, Marilyn Wald..

This is the last straw that ends their marriage. Carole leaves New York for Los Angeles and as she says goodbye to friends Donnie, Cynthia and Barry, she sings them the would be monster hit, “You’ve Got a Friend”. In L.A., she records her own album, “Tapestry”, which includes one of her biggest hits, “A Natural Woman”, which is a moment of self-actualization. This was in 1971 when Carole is not yet 30. The album is a blockbuster. Carole goes back to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall where Gerry asks for forgiveness. She then goes to the piano and the play ends as she performs the title song, “Beautiful”, a true paean to self-empowerment.

Kayla Rivera succeeds in making us really care deeply about the character she plays, making us root for her to spread her wings. What makes her performance so affecting is that her character starts as someone who lacks confidence, then she slowly transforms as the play goes on.

Although she knows she can writes good songs, she does not believe she has what it takes to be a singer-performer herself. We now know that Ms. King, the reluctant star, will eventually shine on her own after dumping her philandering husband, winning Grammys with her first best-selling album.

Kayla is supported by a solid cast of principal actors plus a very strong ensemble who stage some dazzling show-stoppers. George Schulze as the hypocondriac Barry and Mikee Bradshaw (who seems to be so happy with Nyoy Volante that she gained a lot of weight) as the spirited Cynthia effortlessly steal some scenes with their hilarious lines as virtual comic sidekicks.

Carla Guevara Laforteza also stands out in a non-singing role as Carole’s wisecracking Jewish mom. Jamie Wilson also has his moments as music producer Don Kirshner, striking a nice balance between his managerial skills and his increasing affection for his songwriters.

Nick Varrichio makes the most of the thankless, unsympathetic role of the cheating, unstable husband. But if he’d been faithful and emotionally stable, then we wouldn’t have a show. The supporting cast members perform various roles and shine brightly in their show-stopping musical numbers as stand ins for hit singing groups of the era: The Shirelles, The Drifters and the Righteous Brothers, capturing the silky and smooth back up vocals with style.

Director Bobby Garcia’s staging is engaging from start to finish, quickly paced and mounted with class in its transitions from living rooms, recording offices, sound studios, nightclubs to the Carnegie Hall stage. It's going to be staged at the Meralco Theatre every weekend until July 7 so get your tickets now.

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Jun 13, 2019

HEART EVANGELISTA confesses that she finds it hard to choose which ones among the “Starstruck Season 7” artista hopefuls she will vote out come elimination time.

“Nakaka-pressure at ang hirap talaga mag-eliminate,” she says. “First time ko maging judge at mahirap talaga kasi lahat naman sila may kanya-kanyang galing. And I’m a softie at heart kaya yun ang big challenge for me. Siempre, maaawa ka sa matatanggal.”

What type of artista hopeful would she prefer? “Someone who doesn’t pretend to be somebody else. Yung pagpasok pa lang niya sa kuwarto, siya na yun and unapologetic for what he or she really is. They should just be themselves and then improve themselves as the show goes along. First of all, they should know kung ano ang motivation nila sa pagsali sa Starstruck. If they are just after fame and fortune, huwag na lang kasi sobrang hirap maging artista. It entails a lot of hard work. You have to really love it, you should be hungry for it. Kung hindi, huwag ka na lang mag-artista kung ang nakikita mo lang e yung glitter and glory.”

A lot of writers want to have a more intimate interview with Heart during the presscon of ‘Starstruck Season 7’, but right after the official Q&A portion, she quickly escaped, unlike her co-judges Cherie Gil and Jose Manalo who stayed on for one-on-one interviews. Someone says she avoided being asked how is it to work with Dingdong Dantes for the first time.  It will be recalled that one of the causes why she had a long-running tiff with Marian Rivera was when Marian got jealous of her when there were rumors she’d be paired with Dingdong.

“Ayaw rin niyang matanong tungkol sa international movies na gagawin niya,” adds another source. “Bawal pa raw kasing ipamalita until the time na malapit na itong i-release worldwide.”

“Starstruck Season 7” will officially start airing this Saturday night after “Daddy’s Girl” and on Sunday after “Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko”. Thousands of wannabes auditioned all over the country and they initially got 80 candidates for callback. Then this was trimmed down to 40, then to 22. On Saturday, tonight, the 22 contestants will be presented for their final audition and, before the show ends, the final 14 candidates will be chosen, 7 boys and 7 girls.

Kapuso viewers will be able to vote and take part in the judging process as they watch the finalists go through their series of workshops and challenges to help them perform better each week. During the presscon, we asked the judges which would they prefer in choosing candidates, good looks or talent? They all said they prefer good looks.

We told them we beg to disagree. Television is a very visual medium. So more than anything else, good looks should come first. Talent can be honed later. Nora Aunor didn’t know how to act after she won in “Tawag ng Tanghalan”, but she eventually honed her talent and is today one of the country’s best actresses.
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