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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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Sep 23, 2021



SEN. TITO SOTTO is now on his fourth term in the senate and he’s running as vice president in the coming elections. 

He had a “kumustahan” with the entertainment press last Thursday and he just celebrated his 52nd wedding anniversary with Helen Gamboa the day before. 

“Yes, 52 years nang nagtitiis si Helen sa akin,” he jokes. “September 22 is mismong araw nang tinanan ko siya at ikinasal kami. 

"Our plan then was susunduin ko lang siya pag tulog na lahat ng kasama niya sa bahay, then we’d go to Sto. Tomas, Batangas, kasi may kausap akong judge doon. Sabi ko sa kanya, pakakasal lang tayo then uuwi rin kita agad sa bahay nyo bago sila magising. 

"So ayun, sinundo ko siya, di niya mabuksan ang gate nila, so tumalon siya sa bakod. Mga aso nila, ni  hindi tumahol. Kasama namin ang brother ko, si Val. But when we got there, wala pala yung judge. Madaling araw na yun ng Sept. 22, 1969. 

"We went to the home of my friend, Gary Torres, at kinatok namin yung pari nila. Nakisama naman, dinala kami sa loob ng simbahan tapos ikinasal na kami. Pero hindi ko na siya maibalik sa bahay nila kasi umaga na. 

"Hinahanap na siya ng family niya. Galit na galit sila. We were married twice. The other one was yung big wedding namin on January 2, 1971.”

What’s the secret of their long lasting marriage? 

“First of all, Christ centered kami. Also, we practice give and take, pero ang totoo, mas lamang ako sa paggi-give. Kasi for me, I put my wife on a pedestal. Kahit akong nasa lugar, ako pa rin ang nagso-sorry sa kanya. Machonurin. 

"Also, lagi kaming nagbibiruan. Hindi nawawala yung humor. Sabi ko nga sa mga anak namin, ang mommy nyo kasi, in love na in love pa rin sa akin. But most of all, blessing ni Lord yan na magkasama pa rin kami.”

So how is Helen now? 

“She’s okay. As of now, hindi siya lumalabas ng bahay. Ingat na ingat siya. May offer noon ang GMA for a soap but her doctor advised her not to accept any strenuous activity. 

"Ngayong puede na siya, may offer na uli, but ayaw niya nung lockdown na isang buwan nandun kayo sa location. She asked me about it at ayoko rin.”

It’s said Sen. Grace Poe was supposed to be the VP of Isko Moreno but she declined. 

“Yes, I knew Sen. Grace won’t run kasi nag-uusap naman kami. Originally, si Sen. Ping Lacson, he said na kami ni Grace ang dapat na kumandidato, para maiba ang takbo ng gobierno. 

"But si Grace, she said, kayong dalawa ang tumakbo with your wide experience sa legislative department na madadala ninyo sa executive. 

"So it’s Grace who gave us the idea na kami ang tumakbo. Alam ko ring si Sen. Pacquiao asked Grace to be his VP but  also said no. 

"Then she told me nga that Isko was getting her but she said no. Sabi niya, masyadong close ang families namin at ayaw niyang kami ang maging magkatapat.”

So was it easy for him to decide to run with Sen. Ping? 

“Before we decided, matagal muna naming pinag-isipan at pinag-aralan. Ipinagdasal namin yan. We studied lahat ng problems ng bansa at tiningnan namin kung may isasagot kami sa bawat isa. 

"Binalangkas namin ang aming magiging programa. Last chance na namin ito kasi malapit na kaming maging otsenta anyos. 

"When we made sure na kaya nga naming lutasin ang mga problema ng bansa, di na kami umatras, Sabi niya, patay kung patay na ito.” 

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Sep 22, 2021


CARLA ABELLANA is getting married next month to Tom Rodriguez. But both of them are still busy working with their respective shows. She with “To Have and To Hold”, and he, with “The World Between Us”. 

How did the lock in taping of her romance drama wth Rocco Nacino and Max Collins affect their wedding preparations?

“When we announced our engagement, we thought matututukan namin ang aming wedding preparations,” she says. “But yun nga, we have to work at sabay kaming naging busy sa lock in taping. 

"Mabuti na lang that most meetings with our wedding coordinator and planner, online lang. So pwede naman na in between scenes or during lunch breaks, we meet online with our coordinator and planner. Nagawa naman namin, time management lang ang kailangan.”

And now, “To Have and To Hold”, which they shot in Bataan, is about to be shown this Monday night. What’s her role in the story? 

“I’m Erica Gatchalian and I’m married to Rafael Rosell as Tony. Anak ako sa labas and I come from a broken family. So, si Erica, she’ll do everything para maging buo ang family niya. 

"At hindi siya papayag na basta masira ang marriage nila. Kaso her husband is unfaithful then she meets Rocco as Gavin na troubled din ang marriage kay Max as Dominique so nagkaroon ng complications.”

So the show she did just when she’s about to get married is about unfaithful wives and husband? 

“Yes, it’s about infidelity which is a very sensitive topic. But let’s face it, it’s real, nangyayari naman talaga yan sa tunay na buhay kahit hindi natin intention talaga to cheat on our partner.

"The good thing about our show is it shows how infidelity badly affects the marriage and the family.”

She’s soon getting married. Doing this kind of show, doesn’t it give her any feeling of reluctance? 

“Yes, may times na natatakot ako, ano ba ito? But not naman to the point na nagdadalawang isip na ako. But I do get so many lessons for married couples from the characters we play in our show and I can imagine myself in their situation. 

"Knock on wood, wag naman sana mangyari sa amin ni Tom ang nangyari sa kanila. In, the end, I think it’s about fighting for your husband or your wife and being willing to forgive.”

Does she believe in unconditional love that accepts a partner who made a mistake? 

“Yes, I believe in giving a second chance to someone you love but who has hurt you, that’s part of unconditional love. Also, in marriage, we are committed with each other, lalo na sa Catholics. 

"It’s a sacrament and you make a vow in front of God, so you will do everything to save your marriage. But when he commits the same mistake over and over again, it comes to a point na nagiging martir ka na and iba na rin yon.”

Is there anything she learned from playing the role of Erica in “To Have and To Hold"?

“Si Erica kasi, she tends to favor her heart more than her head. Dapat, parehong puso at utak ang gagamitin mo. E, siya, puro puso lang ang ginagamit at di nakakapag-isip nang tama. 

"So I learned na hindi puedeng puso lang ang pinaiiral mo kapag nagde-decision ka. Dapat gamitan din ng utak, ng tamang pag-iisip.”

She’s confident that viewers will enjoy watching “To Have and to Hold” every night starting this Monday. 

“The show will definitely give you lessons in life, and the various characters, you will learn a lot from them. We in the cast all tried to give justice to the characters we play. 

"Direk Don Michael Perez is very supportive sa aming lahat. He was also my director in ‘Love of My Life’ at yung atake niya rito is very realistic. It will help people assess their own relationships in life.”

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“NOCTURNE” is a music-centered horror film from Blumhouse TV that lovers of classical piano pieces will enjoy. The film starts showing a girl playing the violin beautifully. 

Then the clock strikes and she gets up and without any warning, jumps from a balcony into her death below.

We are then introduced to Juliet and Vivian Lowe (Sydney Sweeney and Madison Iseman), who are both classical pianists. 

They are non identical twin sisters who are in their final year in an elite school for the performing arts called Lindberg Academy. 

Between the two, Vivian is considered as the more proficient prodigy since she has already been accepted in the prestigious Julliard School in New York.

The student who died in the opening scene is Moira and she’s supposed to perform in their school’s showcase concert for seniors. 

Their school announces that auditions will be conducted to find out who will replace her.  Both Julia and Vivian express the desire to take the audition.

Juliet, who has always been under Vivian’s shadow, decides to play the same audition piece chosen by her twin sister, a piano concerto. 

But while rehearsing it, she hears music coming from the room of the virtuoso student who committed suicide, Moira. 

She gets in, the music stops, no one is there, but she finds the notebook left by Moira. It is full of puzzling images and creepy drawings that fascinate her so she keeps it. 

She then chooses to play for the audition a music piece she saw in Moira’s notebook. 

Their teacher says the piece is entitled “The Devil’s Trill” by Tartini. While playing it during the audition, she goes into a trance and sees a vision of herself getting flowers. 

It turns out she fainted during the audition and she felt so disappointed when she learns that it is Vivian who wins in the audition.

Her relationship with her sister becomes strained and she later chooses her sister’s coach, Dr. Henry Cask (Ivan Shaw), to be her own mentor. 

Dr. Cask tells her she will always be a mere second fiddle to Vivian as she lacks her sister’s passion for music.

In a party for senior students, Juliet blatantly flirts with Vivian’s boyfriend, Max (Jacques Colimanon.) 

Vivian sees her and they have a fight. Juliet runs away and Vivian follows her and an accident happens. Vivian falls off a ravine and break her arm. The injury will surely ruin her career as a pianist.

Things become very toxic not only for the sisters but also the people around them, including Dr. Cask who, it turns out, is having an affair with Vivian. 

It’s obvious that all this will only end in tragedy after the underachieving Juliet has practically sold her soul to the devil in exchange of success as a pianist.

The movie will remind you about other films involving music students, like “Whiplash” and “The Piano Teacher”. 

All the exacting training can take its toll on one’s body and soul. But in its dark theme, “Nocturne” is more akin to “Black Swan” where Natalie Portman descends into hell as a ballet dancer. 

Written and directed by Zu Quirke, the film is her directorial debut. It belongs to the psycho-thriller genre but Quirke does not succeed in making all its elements fit into a cohesive and rewarding whole. 

The film’s main driving force is actually Moira's notebook, so the film’s title should have been that, but then there’s already a “The Notebook” hit love story so they cannot use it and they opt for the very lame title of “Nocturne”.

Sweeney as the virginal Juliet undone by her own  psychotic ambitions gives an effective portrayal of the mediocre talent who resorts to the notebook’s evil biddings while engaged in a toxic sibling rivalry with her more gifted sister. 

But unfortunately, as a horror movie, “Nocturne” is not at all scary. 

The script with its supernatural Faustian element is not at all well written and Juliet’s deterioration as a flawed human being consumed by envy is just so predictable. 

We cannot sympathize with any of the characters and we have no reason at all to cheer Juliet on in what she is doing as we know she’ll only bring disaster upon her own self.

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Sep 21, 2021


SEN. BONG REVILLA is celebrating another milestone on Septembver 25 and he will treat his fans once again to a birthday giveaway. 

Last year, his “Kap’s Agimat Giveaway” to celebrate his natal day was a big hit on Facebook Live when he gave away so many prizes, livelihood packages, cash and other treats to his family and friends.

“Instead of me receiving gifts, I feel better kung ako ang mamimigay ng giveaways sa mga mahal ko at mga sumusuporta sa akin,” he says. 

“It’s my way of giving back for all the blessings my family and I have received from the Lord.”

He’s particularly happy that his comeback on GMA-7 proved to be very successful. 

Before it’s airing, he wasn’t so sure if the viewing public were still eager to see him acting again on screen.

“Nagpapasalamat naman ako kasi naging matagumpay ang pagbabalik ko sa TV with ‘Agimat ng Agila’ na mataas ang ratings lagi,” he adds.

“Napatunayan kong may puwang pa rin pala ako sa puso ng mga manonood. 

"This year, we have prepared more prizes so sana, mas maraming maki-join sa amin sa aking youtube channel. Inaanyahan ko ang lahat para sumali sa aking special birthday celebration na ito.”

All you have to do to join the show is to click thisGoogle form link: https://bit.ly/AGIMATBIRTHDAYGIVEAWAY . 

We likewise heard that GMA-7 has greenlighted the Book 2 of “Agimat ng Agila”, which is about environmental protection, and lock in taping will be starting in the mountains of Tanay next month.

This time, we heard Sen.Bong will have a new leading lady, Andrea Torres. 

This can only mean that the rumor that Andrea will be paired with John Lloyd Cruz in the sitcom s scheduled to be doing for the Kapuso network is not true.

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EPY QUIZON is busy playing an important role in GMA-7’s mammoth production of “Voltes V”. as the hunchback villain Zul. 

He’s also in the movie, “Princess DayaReese” with Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber and he’s doing two new films next month.  

The last film he did, “The Art of Ligaw”, is a well crafted romcom and they’re now negotiating for it to be shown via streaming.

Despite his busy schedule as an actor, he launched MagkaisaPH,  a non profit organization campaigning for Peace whose main thrusts are the promotion of our culture and national identity. 

He is doing this with the help of the Mercy Islamic Foundation, Mindanao Development Authority, Backdoor Ventures, TBA Studios & The Dolphy Aid Para Sa Pinoy Foundation. 

Is he doing this to prepare for a political career? 

“No, just like my dad, sinasabi ko ngayon pa lang na wala akong balak at never akong papasok sa politika,” he says. 

“In this digital age, hatred is regularly expressed on a daily basis in social media, that the promotion of negativity has overcome reality. People tend to deliver and listen to fake and destructive news that it has become a norm.”

Epy says that this no doubt is creating discord in our society. 

“We would like to counter that with MagkaisaPH, a movement to create a community of respect and benevolence where they focus on and express Constructive Peace, Love and Happiness to heal our motherland from all the wounds that Ideologies, Politics, Religion, Language, Ethnicity, Race and the Color of our skins have inflicted.”

This is truly most welcome since it’s undeniable that we live in very divisive times. 

“So MagkaisaPH is a step forward to our dream of being united, as we collaborate and promote real solutions for a prosperous Philippines without hatred and biases and infect the world with Peace and Unity.”

They created MagkaisaPH.com, a simple website launched on Sept. 2. It will serve as the hub of the campaign where they will announce and store our events, projects and activities.  

MagkaisaPH.com with its beneficiary, The Dolphy Aid Para Sa Pinoy Foundation, aimsto educate High School students in war torn parts of the country in hopes to give them a better future. 

The mission is to help educate as much as we could with a transparent donation system. 

They have also made the song and music video during the height of the Marawi Siege, "Lukso ng Dugo", written by Epy Quizon with a special part written by Gloc 9 and arranged by Karel Honasan, Ira Cruz, Yosha Honasan, Micheal Alba and Nikko Rivera and produced by Arnold Buena of Hit Productions. 

More than 30 OPM artists and celebrities who believe in their mission and vision participated in the song. 

The launch of the music video will start with a 10day countdown on Oct. 6 up until its release on Youtube on Oct. 16 at 8:00 PM sharp. 

It will also be released on different social media networks such as our MagkaisaPH Facebook page and Instagram the following day. 

All funds generated by the song will transparently be donated to The Dolphy Aid Para Sa Pinoy Foundation as a donation from the Artist to fund educational projects starting in the Conflict Areas of Mindanao. 

The artists who participated in the song include Gary Valenciano, Eric Santos, Rivermaya,  Gloc 9, Kyla, Symphony of Angels,Jett Pangan, Champ, Vince De Jesus, Ebe Dancel, 

Sud, Nyoy Volante, Barbie Almalbis, Ira Cruz, Cookie Chua, Kat Agarrado, Michael Alba, Iza Calzado, Bugoy, 

Yosha Honasan, Matteo Guidicelli,  Gab Alipe, Karel Honasan, Bayang Barrios, Mike Swift, Nikko Rivera, Paolo Santos, Autotelic, Yeng Constantino and Nicole Ascencio. 

MagkaisaPH will also show "Bukal" (English title: "Wellspring"), a Short Film directed, written and produced by Epy himself about the conflict in Mindanao. It has recently been awarded a number of recognitions by several International Film Festivals, led by the Cannes filmfest, in just the beginning of its festival run. 

Executively produced by Local Sons Entertainment Inc. and Mercy Islamic Foundation with its president Muhammed Habeb Alkhulaqi, Bukal will be distributed by TBA Studios and released with a target date on January 23, 2022. 

Official announcements regarding where to watch it will be announced on MagkaisaPH platforms as soon as distribution strategy has been finalized.

MagkaisaPH will also hold an Arts and Music Festival led by Backdoor Ventures, creators of several very successful Arts and Music festivals from the past two decades. 

Official announcements of events will be announced on MagkaisaPH platforms as soon as events are finalized. 

Here’s wishing Epy and MagkaisaPH will be successful in their noble goal to promote peace and unity in our country.

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Sep 20, 2021


‘THE VOYEURS’ is set in Montreal so you can hear a smattering of Canadian French being spoken here. 

A bi-racial couple, Pippa (Sydney Sweeney of the TV series “Everything Sucks” and “Sharp Objects” and the film “Nocturne”) and Thomas (Justice Smith of “Jurassic World” and “Pikachu”), live in together for the first time in their own loft apartment. 

They notice that an apartment across the street also have a young couple who seem to not to care if neighbors could see them making love in all their naked glory (Ben Hardy of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Natasha Liu Bordizzo of the Netflix TV series “The Society”.)

Both their apartments have no curtains or blinds so they seem to deliberately expose themselves for all the world to see them having sex. 

Pippa and Thomas soon become obsessed on spying on their neighbors. They become professional voyeurs enjoying a free peep show.

They even bought binoculars to see better in full view and installed a laser pointer surveillance microphone to also hear what’s going on with the young man, a professional photographer, and his partner. 

They get turned on while watching and also make love. They can likewise see the man when he is also seducing and making love to his models while the woman is away. 

Pippa works as an optometrist and, one day, the woman, named Julia, comes to their shop to get new eye glasses. Julia is very friendly and invites Pippa to lunch and they become friends. 

She learns that the name of the man is Sebastian or Seb and she feels compelled to tell Julia that Seb is cheating on her. 

Thomas gets mad at Pippa for getting deeply involved in the relationship of their neighbors. He tells her to stop spying on them. But things get worse when they see Julia confronting Seb and then killing herself after their fight. 

From hereon, things get very, very complicated up to the film’s very messy climax involving heinous murder and deceit. 

We don’t know if you’d buy all the explanation for the events that have transpired before the climax but, for us, it fails to convince us to suspend our disbelief at all. The problem with the material is that it is so derivative. 

The original source is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Rear Window”, which has also been the inspiration of Brian de Palma’s “Body Double” and other similar films, including DJ Caruso’s “Disturbia” with Shia LaBeouf. 

The problem is that it never gets to surpass any of these more superior past films and it is, in comparison, a very pale imitation. The way the dark story is developed and resolved is very wildly implausible. 

It manages to hold our interests for only a while before it flies off the window in its final act to its hopelessly ludicrous twists and surprises. 

Director Michael Mohan (who also wrote the script) seems like he has never seen his movie’s much more believable predecessors. He definitely does not have the coherent storytelling skills of Hitchcock and De Palma.

Yes, the film is replete with various explicit sex scenes, but sorry to say that the actors are not at all attractive and can hardly act convincingly. 

Another problem is that we really don’t get invested in any of the seedy characters. They just don’t add up, specially Pippa as the main protagonist. 

Her obsession to snoop on their neighbors has so become unhealthy for her own good. She gets so annoyingly fixated that it’s no longer just curiosity but borders on perversion. 

When she finally gets the comeuppance that she deserves, we don’t even sympathize with her and can only say: “Buti nga sa’yo. You deserve it!”

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ROCCO NACINO is back in a primetime teleserye after playing support to Dingdong Dantes in “Descendants of the Sun”. 

And this time, he plays the male lead role in the domestic drama, “To Have and to Hold”, as a husband torn between Max Collins and Carla Abellana. 

The role was meant to be for Derek Ramsay, who backed out as he’s now busy with Ellen Adarna.


Doesn’t he mind being the second choice in “To Have and To Hold”? 

“Not at all,” says Rocco. 

“Sobrang ganda nung role, bakit ko naman tatanggihan? And it’s really an honor for me to be acting with great co-stars like Max and Carla, with Director Don Michael Perez guiding us. 

"I’m really happy sa akin napunta ang project na ito because it’s such an engrossing romantic drama na tiyak na susubaybayan ng viewers on primetime sa GMA Telebabad.” 

He plays Gavin in the story, a top chef who cooks in his own restaurant. He is married to Max as his lovely wife, Dominique, who is busy with her own career as an interior designer. 

But because they’re so absorbed with their own careers, they drift apart and he later meets Carla who plays the role of Erica. 

“The first time I read the script, actually, natakot ako,” says Rocco. 

“Kasi it’s about a couple who’s having problems with their marriage. Sabi ko, naku, kakakasal ko pa lang sa misis ko (Melissa Gohing), tapos, troubled marriage agad ang story ng bago kong show. 

"Baka ma-traumatize ako after playing a husband na may malaking problema sa marriage niya? 

"Ang maganda lang, both Max and I are married and we said we’re just playing our roles, na ibang-iba sa what we are in real life.” 

It’s his first time to be paired with Max. So how is it working Pancho Magno’s wife? 

“She’s very giving as a co-star. I had so much fun doing our scenes together kasi she really dives intensely into her character. 

"Ang ganda ng mga batuhan namin ng linya, lalo na sa confrontation scenes so abangan nyo. It was a wonderful experience.” 

How about working with Carla Abellana? 

 “Carla plays Erica, the woman I met nang nagkakalabuan na ang relationship namin ni Max. 

"We’ve worked na together before and she’s always a joy to work with because of her dedication and commitment to her craft. 

"You have to be on your toes when you’re with her as she always gives her best in every scene.” 

“To have and to Hold” will replace the repeat of “Endless Love” on primetime that ends this week. It will have its premiere telecast on Monday. 

In the supporting cast are Rafael Rosell, Roi Vinzon, Valeen Montenegro, Ina Feleo, Gilleth Sandico and Bing Pimentel.

Also being introduced in the show is the new love team of young Kapuso stars Luis Hontiveros and Athena Madrid. 

Athena is the younger sister of Ruru Madrid who used to be called Rere when she joined the last season of Starstruck. 

It’s good she changed her screen name as Rere is so unbecoming for someone so pretty like her. People might think her full name is RereTokehin.

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Sep 19, 2021


‘MOXIE’ is a coming-of-age youth comedy with a teen lead character who is easy to cheer for.  This is Vivian (Hadley Robinson), 16, who lives with her mom, Lisa (Amy Poehler, who also wrote and directed the movie.) 

As a student, she just lies low in their class at Rockport High School as the new schoolyear starts.

In their class, they have a new black classmate, Lucy (Alycia Pena). Their teacher, Mr. Davies (Ika Barinholtz), is discussing the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic in class, “The Great Gatsby”, and Lucy puts it down as just another story of a white guy who’s pining for a lost love. 

The school’s top athlete, Mitchell (Patrick Schwazenegger), contradicts Lucy and defends the Gatsby character. 

Later, at the school canteen, Vivian sees the racist Mitchell bullying Lucy, getting her can of soda and spitting in it. 

Lucy reports Mitchell’s behavior to their principal, Shelly (Marcia Gay Harden), who chooses not to get involved since Mitchell is a very popular jock in their entire school.

Vivian is justifiably turned off. At home, she finds old magazines written by her mom and it inspires her to come up with her own anonymous underground zine called Moxie, which aims to call to attention the brazenly sexist ways that the guys in their school are treating the women. 

The guys even made a derogatory list of the women in school and giving them unsavory sexist titles then sending it to everyone’s phones. Moxie aims to empower the women to voice out their own issues against the men and it starts a movement among the females. 

Vivian and Lucy become friends and they form a group of other girls who have been maligned by the guys. Vivian also finds romance in an Asian American guy, Seth (Nico Hiraga), who completely supports her cause and her zine.

The school is giving an award to an athlete who’ll get a scholarship for college. 

The girls are all rooting for a girl athlete, Kiera (Sydney Park), but it is Mitchell who is chosen as he is supported by Principal Shelly who is very biased with him and does not side at all with the women and their feminist cause. 

Vivian organizes the Moxie supporters to stage a rally in front of their school to support of a girl who says she has been raped by a male student. 

This turns out to be the school’s top cheerleader, Emma (Josephine Langford), notoriously billed as the school’s Most Bangable girl who later reveals that it was Mitchell who raped her.

Everyone in the rally is mortified to hear this and pledges to support her, including Principal Shelly who finally realizes her mistake in backing up the abusive and mysogynistic Mitchell. 

“Moxie” offers spirited fun as it tells the story of high school girls who band together and agitate their school’s administration to combat toxic masculinity and sexism in their oppressive school environment. 

Vivian is very lucky to have a very supportive mom who backs her up all the way.

Ironically, her best friend, Claudia (Lauren Tsai), who is half Chinese, has a mom who is not at all supporting her. Claudia herself tells Vivian: “You don’t get what’s going on with me because you’re white.” 

We somehow wish this bit of a subplot could have been explored further but then that would be about racism and this movie is more about sexism.

So maybe, another movie can delve on the social justice issues experienced by people of color in an American setting.

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Sep 18, 2021


DIEGO LOYZAGA is a true survivor. 

It’s common knowledge that he had a meltdown a couple of years ago that made him leave “Los Bastardos” in ABS-CBN and he rested for a while. But now, he’s truly back with a vengeance after Viva signed him up. He’s now doing one project after another. 

Among today’s young leading men, we daresay he’s one of the most promising. He has movie star good looks, he’s tall and well built, and more than anything else, he can act. 

He is very convincing as a very disturbed young man who lives in a deadly fantasy world in Yam Laranas’ “Death of a Girlfriend”. 

In the TV series, “Encounter”, he is able to hold his own against the very competent Cristine Reyes in a romance drama that gave them some very good acting scenes, as directed by Jeffrey Jeturian. 

And now, he does comedy in Joel Lamangan’s “Bekis on the Run”, which has started streaming on Vivamax this weekend. Also, in Roman Perez' heist movie, 'House Tour' where he co-stars with Mark Anthony Fernandez, Cindy Miranda, Rafa Siguion Reyna and Sunshine Guimary.

Many people are now experiencing anxiety attacks because of the precarious situations caused by the ongoing pandemic. Mental health is a big issue and Diego can now share his own experiences about that dark period in his life.

“I’m glad na yung pinagdaanan ko was before the pandemic so, in a way, I can say na parang I’ve already prepared myself for difficult situations like what we’re now going through,” he says in an interview. 

“I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, that things will not go your way all the time. Lalo na ngayon when the future seems so uncertain. May mga nangyayari nang biglaan na wala kang trabaho, lalo na sa mga may pamilya, problema nila kung ano ang ipapakain sa mga anak nila. I’m sure the whole country is undergoing through some kind of anxiety because of the pandemic.” 

So how would he approach such problems now? 

“First of all, it pays to have close family ties kasi you can always back on your family to help you. It also helps to have deep faith in God na alam mong makakapitan mo.”

He wants to be of help to people having anxiety problems. 

“Some friends and I are thinking of starting a campaign on how to strengthen yourself in facing mental health issues. It’s really important to have a good support system and people you can talk with to help you sort out your thoughts and emotions when you’re feeling low.” 

It’s good he has a good relationship with relatives on his mother’s side, the Loyzagas, and he also gets along well with his three half sisters with Sunshine Cruz. 

“We hang out together, lalo ngayong sunod-sunod ang birthdays nila. First was Samantha, followed by Angelina, then Cheska. 

'We’ve always been closed and they’re getting older na, with me as their Kuya who gives them advice lalo na ngayong their views and interests in life are changing as they become a bit more mature. 

'I always tell them to follow their dreams, to be what they want to be. It’s not good to restrict them kasi masasakal naman sila and they have to learn on their own.”

He’s aware that he has other siblings with his dad, Cesar Montano and he is open to meeting them all someday. 

“I’m really waiting for the time na ipakilala sila sa akin, sa amin. Basta kailangang open minded lang ang lahat and no one would get hurt or upset or anything.” 

He’s happy to have done comedy like “Bekis on the Run” and "House Tour:. 

“It was fun doing both films. Okay lahat ng co-stars ko, sina Christian Bables, Sean de Guzman, Lou Veloso and with Kylie Versoza as my leading lady in 'Bekis', with Direk Joel guiding us. And sina Mark Anthony Fernandez, Cindy Miranda, Rafa Siguion Reyna and Sunshin Guimary in 'House Tour'. I really enjoyed working with all of them.”

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JASON MOMOA became a big action star after the success of “Aquaman” and he now stars in a movie on Netflix, “Sweet Girl”, a title which, of course, does not refer to him. 

He plays Ray Cooper, a former military man whose wife Amanda (Adria Arjona) is dying of cancer. 

He learns that a new drug just approved by the FDA can save his wife, but it was taken out of the market before treatment can even begin. 

The head of the BioPrime company, Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha), wants to delay its release for more profit for their company. 

In a TV interview, Ray talks to Keely and threatens to kill him if the drug won’t be released. But we all know you can’t fight greedy big business, so his wife died. 

Ray and his daughter, Rachel (Isabela Merced), are crushed. 

A newspaperman later informs Ray that his personal  investigation got him evidence against the evil practices of BioPrime and a corrupt politician. 

He arranges for him and Ray to meet in a subway train, but it turns out that a hired killer is waiting for the journalist there and stabs him to dead.  Ray is also stabbed but he survives while his daughter Rachel is knocked out. Ray then becomes the nemesis of BioPrime, vowing to get justice and avenge the death of his wife. 

What follows is a series of encounters with the bad guys who are all protecting  the duplicitous BioPrime executive. An FBI Agent, Sarah Meeker ( Lex Davis), is assigned to the case and wants to arrest Ray.

Actually, the film starts with a flash forward scene where Ray is shown trying to escape from the FBI agent and runs on top of a baseball stadium. This is a key scene because after this opening scene, the film formally starts at the beginning of the story and shows us what has happened so far in a series of flashbacks. 

Then, when it gets to the part where Ray is running on top of the stadium, he is shown jumping into the river below and voila! Something amazing happens! He is transformed! No, not into an Aquaman with superpowers, but into something else.

Of course, we cannot reveal it and spoil it for you. You have to see it for yourself. This is the big confounding twist in the movie and sorry, it didn’t work for us at all. 

We don’t know if you’d buy it, but the surprise in the convoluted plotting puts everything that has happened before this scene into a different light, including all the violent and brutal scenes. 

The script is written by two writers no less, and is the directorial debut of Brian Mendoza. 

The problem is that they do not succeed in selling their movie’s main premise where they sort of cheat the viewers to come up with a mind-boggling twist that no one could see coming simply because… it’s so bobo! 

Jason Momoa is not known for his acting but he is given some acting scenes here, like when his wife died and he is shown devastated, weeping uncontrollably in a hospital corridor. Maybe he wants to win an Oscar someday. 

Isabela Merced as Rachel has her own moments. She’s the former child actress saved by Benicio del Toro in “Sicario 2” and also played “Dora The Explorer”.

The fight scenes are quite well choreographed with bodies crashing through glass windows and tumbling down the stairs. 

But after the head-scratching twist in the story, you get to question the veracity of all the action set pieces since the identity of the hero who you think is a killing machine turns out to be questionable and it all becomes ridiculous. 

Wonder what Jason Momoa saw in this project that he is even its executive producer. 

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