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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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May 9, 2021


GLORIA DIAZ remains to be very busy despite the pandemic. 

She did the mini-series “Beauty Queens” on iWant and two seasons of the sitcom “Oh My Dad” on TV5. And now, she’s also in the Regal Entertainment movie currently shown in various streaming channels, “Mommy Issues”.

“I’m so happy and I feel blessed that hindi ako nababakante,” she says. “Actually, mas mahirap mag-taping ngayon because of the health protocols brought about by the pandemic, pero at least, may trabaho pa rin kami.”

What’s her role in “Mommy Issues”? 

“I play the mother of comedian Pokwang. I'm against her boyfriend dito, si Ryan Bang. She cannot understand why I’m against Ryan when he is a filthy rich comedian, pero siya rin, against sa boyfriend ng daughter niyang si Sue Ramirez who is played by Jerome Ponce. 

"Kaya ‘Mommy Issues’ ang title ng movie kasi the mothers here have issues against their daughters’ love lives.”

She has two daughters in real life, Isabelle and Ava, now both married. Did she ever interfere with their love life? 

“No, never. They’re both good kids. Si Belle, hindi mahilig lumabas. Si Ava, when I’m shooting or taping, I’d call, nandiyan na ba si Ava, sinusundo ko talaga siya kasi she has to be home by a certain time. 

"We never had mommy issues kasi mababait sila. They don’t even answer back. And now, they’re both happily married because they made good choices.”

Belle is married to French executive Adrien Semblatt and they’re based in Hongkong with their two kids. Ava got hitched only last year to longtime BF Luch Zanirato. 

Since she is the country’s very first Miss Universe winner, it can’t be helped if she’s asked about the chances of current candidate Rabiya Matteo in the 69th Miss Universe Pageant that will be held this Sunday, May 16 in a casino at Florida. 

“I think she has a good chance as she’s beautiful,” she says. “Alangan naman sabihin kong pangit, di ba? Ang dami kong nakikitang photos niya at maganda naman siya talaga. But she doesn’t really have to do much. 

"She just has to have presence of mind and enjoy and savor every second of what’s happening as it’s a once in a lifetime experience. She’s deserving namang manalo but she must remember that, in the pageant, whether you win or lose, it’s just the beginning.”

How would she differentiate Miss Universe now to the time she won in 1969? 

“Oh my gosh, it very different, not only by a mile but maybe, 500 miles,” she laughs. “That time, hindi pa masyadong commercial. We never did any ads of alcohol or deodorant or banks. 

"The girls are getting taller now, more beautiful, but many of them are older also, may mga 26 or 27 na. I was only 18 years old when I represented our country and won the title in 1969, also in Florida.”

She adds the contestants now are more very serious in what they do.  

“When I joined, parang katuwaan lang but now, they are very, very professional. And they are really out there to work. The candidates then were also just 18, 19 or 20 and that really makes a world of difference. 

"Also, that time, walang retoke. No one ever went to a plastic surgeon for enhancement.”

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AS A late-blooming action star, Liam Neeson is in a league all his own.

We remember him doing supporting roles in various films but his stock was really boosted when he played the title role in “Schindler’s List” for which he got an Oscar best actor nomination. 

He starred in other good films after that, like “Rob Roy”, “Michael Collins”, the non-muiscal version of “Les Miz” and “Star Wars I, Phantom Menace”.

 It was not until “Taken” hit it big worldwide in 2008 that he gained action star status at the age of 56. He’s been since making one or two action dramas a year. 

Some really work, like “The Commuter”, “A Walk Among the Tombstones”, “Run All Night”, “Cold Pursuit”, but the others are just forgettable. 

He’s turning 69 in June and continues to be very prolific, more active than another senior actor-director, Clint Eastwood, who’s turning 91 years old on May 31. 

We’ve just seen two of Liam’s new action-dramas, “Honest Thief” and “The Marksman”. In the first movie, he plays the title role of a professional bank thief who has amassed a huge sum of money but decides to go straight when he falls seriously in love with a woman (Kate Walsh.)

He decides to surrender to the FBI and return all the money he stole to start on a clean slate and put his crimes behind him. In return, he asks for a lenient sentence. 

But a corrupt FBI agent, Nivens (Jai Courtney), becomes greedy and tries to get all the stolen money for himself. He kills another agent and tries to pin the crime on Liam, who has to protect himself and goes on the run. 

In “The Marksman”, Liam plays Jim, a former Marine sniper who’s now a rancher in an Arizona town on the border of Mexico. He’s a widower with a grown up daughter who’s a cop. 

One day, he sees three Mexicans attempting an illegal crossing: Rosa (Teresa Ruiz), her brother Carlos (Alfredo Quiroz) and her son, Miguel (Jacob Perez). They are running away from the cartel led by Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba.) 

Jim calls the border police patrol but when he sees the cartel henchmen killing Carlos, he tries to help Rosa and Miguel. Rosa is shot and gets fatally wounded.  

Before she dies, she gives Jim a note with the address of her family in Chicago and makes Jim promise to help Miguel get to her family safely. 

“The Marksman” then becomes a road movie as Jim and Miguel drive to Chicago in Jim’s pickup truck, with the bad guys pursuing them. 

They encounter a corrupt cop along the way and other adventures to give Jim a chance to indulge in some action scenes. In the process, he and Miguel, who initially doesn’t want to talk, become unlikely friends. 

The film’s climax happens in a farm’s barn where Jim and Miguel try to hide and the henchmen get to corner them.

But we all know how both movies would end. Liam has become like James Bond and our own FPJ: unkillable. 

There is still tension in the stories but it’s predictable how they will go. Don’t look for a meaningful story or depth of character. 

Your enjoyment of these formulaic action thrillers will really depend on how much you appreciate seeing Liam put the law into his own hands.

There’s no doubt these films benefit so much from Liam's seasoned charisma that carries them. He makes them worth the watch. 

With him in the lead, any movie can just coast pleasurably even if the narratives are predictable and sometimes drag. 

“The Marksman”, in particular, seems like something you’ve seen before in films like “Man on Fire” (two versions) and “Close” with Noomi Rapace.

Mind you, these films are not incompetently made. They still manage to deliver what action fans expect them to do. 

But even Liam himself now appears like he is most of the time just going through the motions, all within the confines of his tamer comfort zones and safer stomping grounds. 

Maybe, one of these days, he’d get to be more adventurous and foray into the more spectacular Keanu Reeves-John Wick territory.

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May 8, 2021


‘THE HALF OF IT’ is from another Asian-American filmmaker, Alice Wu. 

This is actually Wu’s second film as her first one, “Saving Face”, antedated Chloe Zhao’s Oscar-winning “Nomadland” and Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell”, which we have both reviewed here.

The story of “The Half of It” is loosely based on the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand written in 1897. 

It was first filmed in 1950 starring Jose Ferrer, who became the first Hispanic-Puerto Rican actor to win the Oscar best actor award for his title role performance. This was later also used by Steve Martin in a modern retelling of the story in “Roxanne”.  

Now, the Cyrano role is played by a teenage Chinese-American girl, Leah Lewis (“Charmed”, “Nancy Drew”), as the lead character, Ellie Chu. 

The story is set in the rural town of Squahamish. Ellie and her parents moved from Beijing to America when she was a little girl. 

Her mom has since died and her father, who has a Ph.D. in engineering, now just works for the local railroad station as signal man because he doesn’t speak English fluently. 

Ellie as the only Asian is an outcast in high school but she’s bright and smart. She earns extra money by writing the assigned term papers of her classmates. 

Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer), a shy football player, asks Ellie to help him write a love letter for a beautiful Hispanic girl in their class, Aster (Alexxis Lemire), who’s the girlfriend of Trig (Wolfgang Novogratz), who comes from a rich family. 

Ellie writes a letter to Aster and Paul is very happy when she replies to him. Soon, she and Aster are also exchanging text messages, with Aster thinking it’s Paul who she’s corresponding with. 

Paul is not so bright and articulate, so Ellie becomes a tutor for him, teaching him about literature and art so he can converse more intelligently with the well rounded Aster. 

In the process, Ellie and Paul also become close to one another as they get to know not just each other but also each other’s families better. 

But if you think that it’s Paul and Ellie who’d end up eventually in each other’s arms, well, sorry, folks, but you see, Ellie is a closet lesbian and is actually also in love with Aster. 

Aster invites her one day for a drive and takes her to a hot spring where they get to open up to each other. Aster confides to Ellie that she’s not really in love with Trig, but he’s a really good catch and he has serious intentions of marrying her, so she’s willing to walk down the aisle with him.

The narrative is beautifully developed and the script is very witty and smart. All the knots are untied in a church service where Aster’s dad is the pastor and where Trig formally proposes to Aster in front of everyone. 

Ellie and Paul both disrupt the proposal to voice their own feelings about Aster and this is where Aster realizes that it’s Ellie all along who’s writing the letters and text messages from Paul. 

The film ends with Ellie going off to college in another state to start her new journey after her coming of age as a high school student. 

The film works primarily because Leah Lewis is so good and convincing as the introverted Ellie. She narrates the story and we also love her beautiful speaking voice. You will totally root for her all throughout the film.

But even Paul and Aster are very endearing characters and if viewers have no investment in their experiences, the story will just become one-dimensional. 

It’s great that writer-director Wu succeeds in fleshing out all the three major characters and the young actors who play them are all very appealing even when they wax rhapsodic over the “repressed longing” in the acclaimed novel “The Remains of the Day”. 

This is what makes the film so easy to love and appreciate. 

There are no real villains here, except for the racist guys who make fun of Ellie and ruined the piano when she is about to perform with it in a school concert.  But they are quickly shamed when Ellie then accompanies herself on the guitar and gets hearty applause from the audience. 

The premise of a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac narrative with a new spin and given an LGBT twist is really cute and clever, making it a cut above the usual high school teen romance . 

It is also executed with unexpected pleasures, among which is the well delineated journey of self acceptance by the charming young lesbian immigrant who’s at the center of the story. 

Director Alice Wu is an outed lesbian and her first movie, “Saving Face”, is also about a young lesbian coming out. “The Half of It” is not your usual boy-meets-girl romcom but also a compassionate story of growing up, unrequited love and a unique triangle between a boy, a girl, and another girl who happens to be lesbian. 

The movie’s title is “The Half of It” and as Ellie says in the voice over narration at the beginning, “This isn’t a love story where everyone gets what they want.” 

We think the title doesn’t just refer to finding your other or better half, but also about finding the real other part of yourself and accepting it, which Leah eventually did.

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May 7, 2021


VICE GANDA will have a concert via streaming on KTX on July 17, produced by Viva Concerts, entitled “Gandemic”. 

“I really have a concert every two years.” she says in the zoom presscon Viva hosted for her. 

“Last ko was with Regine Velasquez. But because of the pandemic, we don’t know how to do it. 

"Then Boss Vic del Rosario offered na let’s give the audience something to look forward to and enjoy amidst all this chakang kaganapan this year so yun na nga, may concert ako this year.”

That was some months ago. 

“Dapat sana, May 1 itong concert, but since pabago-bago nga ang rules dahil sa ECQ, hindi kami makabuo ng show. Yung May naging June at ngayon, naging July na nga, so sana naman matuloy na yun.”

How did she get title “Gandemic” title? 

“Kami ng friends ko, nagbe-brainstorming kami, then someone mentioned Gandemic, sabi ko, ang ganda ng term so sinabi ko naman kay Boss Vic at nagustuhan naman nila.”

How does she keep her mental health intact during the pandemic and how does she survive the anxiety felt by everyone? 

“I always start the day with a prayer. I always ask for guidance, kasi life has been very difficult nga during this pandemic. I keep myself sane by avoiding toxic stuff, specially online. 

"Unlike before, subsob ako lagi sa social media, ngayon, binawasan ko yun. 5% na lang ang time na dine-devote ko sa social media, kasi nakakadagdag lang siya ng worries and fear.”

She now tries to spend more time on positive people. 

“Yes, dinagdagan ko ang time that I spend on the beautiful people na nakapapagpasaya sa’kin. 

"Hindi ako bumibitiw sa hope na everything will be over soon at mae-experience na natin uli ang buhay natin noon. Very soon. Kine-claim ko na yan agad kay Lord.” 

What does she do when she has a problem? 

“Kapag may problema naman ako or I feel sad, hinaharap ko yun. Hindi ko siya dine-deny. When I need to cry, I cry. My tears just fall down, I face my emotions and deal with them. 

"That’s the healthy way, kaysa dine-deny ko siya. I consciously take care of myself and the people who surround me, kasi kapag ok ako and ok rin sila, then ok ang buong paligid ko.”

What is difference of her concert to those of other celebrities who have also staged digital concerts? 

“I watched the concerts done by Daniel Padilla, Regine and Sarah Geronimo, kasi i have no idea how they do it, so may conscious effort ako to watch them. The difference is hindi ako real singer or dancer. 

"Although I sing and dance, 90% of my concert is really comedy. Sila, hindi mga nagpapatawa. Ang strength ko is super patawa ako. Kaya kailangang grabeng patawa itong concert ko, kasi ang dami ng magagaling na singers and dancers, so you can see them on a regular basis. 

"Pero yung comedy concert ako lang ang gumagawa noon sa ngayon, so nakikipag-collaborate ako ngayon sa ibang comedians to get good materials. Gusto ko matawa talaga ang audience para makalimutan nila ang mga malulungkot na nangyayari ngayon sa ating buong paligid. 

"Gusto ko yung tawa lang sila ng tawa, and I’ll make sure I will give it to them nonstop for two hours.”

Who will be her guests? 

“Actually, may line up na sana ako. I want Ice Seguerra and Jake Zyrus for an LGBT number na masaya. At magagaling talaga silang kumanta, e. Tapos si Moira, may song kami na kami ang gumawa. Silang magbibigay ng magandang musical numbers. 

"Then si Anne Curtis is, gaya ko, song and comedy rin. Kaso nga, hindi natuloy ang original schedule namin for May, so ngayon, hindi lahat, available na sa bagong date. Kaya hindi pa ako sure about my guests.”

She wants the concert to be staged live.  

“Gusto ko talagang mag-live, but sabi ng Viva, hindi raw sigurado ang internet sa Pilipinas, baka magkaroon ng biglaang aberya. 

"Nakakahiya nga naman sa mga taong magbabayad, so we will just air it nang taped as live para sure na walang glitches.”

What did she realize during this pandemic? 

“More than anything, I realized that nothing is for sure or definite, Everything is in the hands of God. Even if you feel powerful, iisa lang talaga ang powerful at Siya lang ang makakapag-decide sa mga mangyayari. 

"All the others are powerless, so we just have to keep our faith with the One who has the Utmost Power. Hindi lang alam ng tao, pero ako, dasal lang talaga ng dasal. Sa Kanya lang ako kumakapit to survive.”

It’s good she has not lost her passion in performing despite the pandemic and the lockdowns. 

“Actually, I’ve never been this passionate in performing. Kung pera pera lang, hindi naman na ako maghihirap, but I’m really very passionate about doing this concert. 

"Kasi achievement talaga for me kapag nakakapagsaya ako ng audience ko. Ang tagal ko rin kasing hindi nakapag-perform kahit sa comedy bars or corporate shows or sa mga fiesta na noon, ang dalas kong gawin. 

"So gusto ko talaga uling mag-perform. Gutom talaga ako kasi ang tagal ko nang di nakaka-perform sa harap ng isang live audience.

She felt she got rusty so she had to brush up on her live performance acts for the concert. “Lahat naman, kinakalawang kapag naputol yung ginagawa mo on a regular basis, so pinapraktis ko ito ngayon sa mga friends ko. 

"Kahit sa phone, okrayan lang kami ng okrayan na para kaming nasa comedy bar. Kailangan talaga, magamit mo lagi yung utak mo para hindi ka nabablangko. So now gumagana na uli ang utak ko at happy na ako. Maliksi na uling mag-isip ang utak kong kabayo.” 

The full title of her show is “Gandemic: Vice Ganda, The VG-Tal Concert”. It will be aired twice.  

On July 17, it’s 9 PM, Manila Time for local streaming. And July 18, 11 AM, for worldwide streaming. Regular tickets are P1,000 and for VIP tickets, P1,500. 

What’s the difference of getting a VIP ticket?  

“Sa VIP, may extra special performances and features na dun lang mapapanood and hindi for regular viewers,” she replies. “Kumbaga, mas maraming pasabog. The tickets will be available for sale sa KTX.ph starting May 8 kaya kumuha na kayo agad kahit sa July pa ang concert ko.” 

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GMA NETWORK has prepared a great lineup of highly entertaining films for this Sunday's MOVIE MARATHON!

On Kapuso Movie Festival, follow the next chapter of the oversized hero, the lovable PO, in his action-filled journey in ‘Kung Fu Panda 2.’ 

He and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon. 

But before they can accomplish their mission, the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past.

GMA Blockbusters is set to feature the story of Bechayda (Eugene Domingo), a pregnant wardrobe assistant in the movie ‘Instant Mommy.’ 

In the fear of losing her Japanese lover and her dreams of a better life, she embarks on a plan that will get herself out of her predicament.

Meanwhile on Telesine Presents, catch the award-winning romance film ‘Aishite Masu.’ Written by Gina Marissas Tagasa and directed by the late Peque Gallaga, this won the best telemovie award in the PMPC Star Awards for Television

An old woman (Maricel Laxa) reunites with her lover from the past where they bond and talk about their memories. The guy, who was a Japanese soldier, was forbidden to fall in love with a Filipina but despite all the obstacles, they still pushed through with their relationship.

Don’t miss all these on Kapuso Movie Festival before All-Out Sundays; GMA Blockbusters after All-Out Sundays; and Telesine Presents after The Boobay and Tekla Show on GMA-7. 

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CARMINA VILLAROEL is one of the most hated contravidas on TV these days because of her effective portrayal of the villain Dulce Espejo in the hit GMA Afternoon soap, “Babawiin Ko ang Lahat”. 

She messes up the lives of John Estrada, Tanya Garcia and their daughter Pauline Mendoza for her own selfish motives.

Some netizens are very vocal on how much they hate her guts for being the scheming and “super maldita Dulce”. 

One follower of the show even wrote: “Sobrang sama ni Carmina as Dulce. Kapag nakita ko yan sa personal, ingungudngod ko ang mukha niyan sa sahig, e.”

Is Carmina aware that viewers are so annoyed with her character? 

“Yes, alam ko,” she says. “Nababasa ko yung feedback nila and I’m happy naman kasi it only means na effective ako in doing my work.

"Buti na lang talaga, may isa pa akong show, ang family and lifestyle show na ‘Sarap, Di Ba?’, where they can see the real me as the loving wife of Zoren Legaspi and caring mother of our twins, Mavy and Cassy. Alam nilang si Dulce is just a role I play sa soap.”

At the special Mother’s Day celebration of ‘Sarap, Di Ba’ shown yesterday (Saturday), Carmina is surprised by her family to thank her for being a good mother. 

Along with Carmina, they also honored Max Collins, who’s a new mom with a 10-month old son, and Chariz Solomon, the mother of three children. In that episode, the Legaspi family also showed their beautiful and cozy rest house in Batangas.

As they celebrated Mother’s Day, both Mavy and Cassy say there is much to appreciate in having a mother like Carmina. 

“My mother is very giving,” says Mavy. “She’s always giving out love and joy to us, her family. Kahit siya ang may birthday, siya pa ang nagbibigay ng gifts sa amin. 

"As you can see, our mommy is really so selfless. You can feel na genuine yung love niya for us, so I really want to thank her for always giving, not only to us but also to other family members, to her friends, and even her fans.” 

Cassy, in turn, tells her mom that she appreciates what everything that Carmina does for her. 

“I know I don't get to  thank you everyday,” she tells her mom, “but I am really very thankful to you for always taking good care of us. For being selfless, for always checking up on me every night so that I would go to sleep na and not be puyat. 

"I'm just very very thankful for you, because you always look out for us and you always think about us. And now that I’m also into acting, you give me the most valuable advice ever.”

Zoren says that if they have a perfect family, it’s because of his wife. 

“As long as you are with our family, then our family will always be perfect. Thank you for all your efforts, lalo na for cooking our dinner every night which you do with love kaya naman lahat ng luto mo, masarap. At lahat ng ginagawa mo for us, masarap din.”

To all the mothers out there, we wish you HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, specially our daughter Hannah Victoria and our daughter in law, Shirleen. Thanks for being a very good mother to all your children.

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‘CHAOS WALKING’ is a futuristic sci-fi film directed by Doug Liman, best known for “Bourne Identity” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”. It is based on a trilogy with the same title and it uses the story from the first book, “The Knife of Never Letting Go”. 

It is set in the year 2267 when men have left the our own planet, Earth, and moved to another planet called New World. 

The native creatures called the Spackle in this new planet have killed all the women of their colonizers and only the men survived. 

The lead character is Todd Hewitt (Tom Holland, who reportedly started this before he did “Spiderman”), and he lives in a place called Prentisstown (that is like a set from an old Western movie with horses and wooden houses) where the mayor is David Prentiss (Mads Mikelsen).

A spaceship that intends to settle also in New World sends a space craft in advance but it crashes. Only one passenger survives, a girl called Viola (Daisy Ridley), and Todd is so excited to see her as he has never seen a woman before. 

The other guys from the town capture Viola, saying she is a spy, but she manages to escape and Todd helps her to go to a place called Farbranch where she will be safe. 

They travel together with his pet dog, Manchee, encountering some adventures along the way. When they get to Farbranch, it’s populated not only by men but also women and children. 

The people there distrust Todd as he is from Prentisstown. He later learns that the women in his town were not really killed by the Spackle as claimed by Prentiss, but by Prentiss himself and his men. 

Todd realizes that Prentiss is a liar. Prentiss then arrives and demands that Viola be given to him.  Viola manages to escape and Todd gets mad when his dog Manchee is killed by Prentiss and his men. 

The climax of the film happens in the ruins of the old spaceship used by the first colonizers of the new planet. Viola tries to use its transmitter to contact her own colony ship. But Prentiss and his men arrive and they have a final showdown. 

The film’s unusual conceit is that the men in Prentisstown can hear aloud what each other is thinking in a strange phenomenon that they call the Noise. We guess this is effective in the book but on the screen, it is not at all convincing. When Viola gets to Prentisstown, she can also hear the men thinking aloud but Todd cannot hear her own thoughts.

The film has clear potentials about a dystopian future, but the execution for the screen leaves a lot to be desired and you cannot even understand the need for exposing the innermost thoughts of men since it didn’t really help forward the narrative. 

There are occasional flashes of action, but the characters are not fully well developed, so you don’t really sympathize or root for them. 

If this film was better realized and made more expertly, it has the makings of a franchise, but since the way it’s put together is rather messy, it never gets us fully engrossed or invested into its characters. 

There are certainly no hopes for a sequel. Too bad because both Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley both give engaging performances in their respective roles. 

Mads Mikkelsen has a dominant presence as the villainous Prentiss but he seems to be on autopilot and his character is also not convincingly developed to be totally detestable. 

Why did he kill their women, in the first place? 

The movie reminds us of similarly expensive sci-fi costume flicks that are poorly made so they flopped, like “Mortal Instruments”,”Valerian”, “Mortal Engines” and “Jupiter Ascending”.

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IT’S MOTHER’S DAY and Alden Richards will lead the tribute of “All Out Sundays” to all mommies, mudras, maderakas, inays, inangs and ermats. 

Alden will perform the rousing opening fun number with AOS Katambays Julie Anne San Jose, Rayver Cruz, Barbie Forteza, Ruru Madrid, Christian Bautista, Mark Bautista, Ken Chan, Rita Daniella, Aicelle Santos, Miguel Tanfelix, 

Kyline Alcantara, Mavy Legaspi, Golden Canedo, Jeremiah Tiangco, Jessica Villarubin, Thea Astley, Garrett Bolden, Kim De Leon, Lexi Gonzales, Bugoy Drilon, and Rochelle Pangilinan dedicated to all the loving Mudrakels in the World! 

Christian and Mark Bautista will then serenade two of the most beautiful celebrity mothers in the industry Aiko Melendez and Gelli de Belen as they join our “Mommy Day Party”!  

The Divas of The Queendom; Julie Anne San Jose, Aicelle Santos, Rita Daniela, Jessica Villarubin, Thea Astley, Jennie Gabriel and Ms. Lani Misalucha will perform a special playlist for “MAMA” and witness the touching messages from their respective mothers and kids. 

Join your favorite AOS tiktokerists Rayver Cruz, Miguel Tanfelix, DJ Loonyo and Mannex Manhattan in an all-out Cypher showdown with Sexbomb Moms Rochelle Pangilinan and Izzy Trazona!  

The OGs –  Rayver Cruz, Ken Chan, Ruru Madrid, Miguel Tanfelix, Derrick Monasterio and Kristoffer Martin will pay tribute to the most amazing women in their lives through a heartwarming song number! 

Billboard Music Awards 2021 Top Social Artist nominee SB19 will bring the house down as they perform their latest single entitled “What?”! 

The search for the perfect match continues in our Romantic musical comedy treat “Love Doctors” starring Paolo Contis, Rhian Ramos, Denise Barbacena, Kristoffer Martin, Betong Sumaya, Jennie Gabriel and Tuesday Vargas. Don’t miss all these great numbers in to “All-Out Sundays” 12:00 noon on May 9, 2021 on GMA-7 and GTV! 

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May 6, 2021


‘THE FAREWELL’ is an English-Chinese film written and directed by another Asian female, Lulu Wang, sister of Malou (joke! Sorry, can’t resist po.)

It was shot in New York City and Changchun, China and stars Chinese-American actress-rapper Awkwafina, who appeared in Hollywood hits like “Ocean’s 8”, “Jumanji: Next Level” and “Crazy Rich Asians”. 

She won the Golden Globe best actress in comedy award for her performance in “The Farewell” last year, but the Oscars ignored her and also the film itself that was nominated in other award-giving bodies. Awkwafina plays Billi Wang, an aspiring writer in New York City. 

Her parents left China and moved to America when she was 5 years old, but she remains very close to her grandma in China, who she calls Nai Nai (Zhao Shu-zhen). The film starts with her talking on the cellphone to her Nai Nai who’s then having a medical checkup in the hospital. 

She later learns from her parents that her Nai Nai has stage 4 lung cancer and is given only three months to live. 

But the doctor's diagnosis is not revealed to her as it’s a belief in China that it’s best for family members not to reveal the truth to a relative that he or she is dying to spare her from the agony. Billi cannot understand this as she’d rather tell the truth to her grandma right away.

Billi learns that her parents are going home to China, ostensibly to attend the wedding of Hao Hao, Billi’s cousin who lives in Japan and has a Japanese bride. 

It’s a great excuse for a family reunion so they can have a great time with Nai Nai before she departs. Billi wants to come but she’s told to just stay in New York as she might slip and just tell the truth to her Nai Nai.

But Billi defies her parents and follows them to China. Her Nai Nai is so happy to see her and Billi feels more guilty lying to her about the real condition of her health. 

Her uncle, brother of her dad, tells her that, with not telling the truth, it’s the family who carries the burden of the illness rather than the patient herself. Billi is reared in Western culture and cannot understand this. 

She’s told that Nai Nai herself did this when her own husband was stricken with a terminal illness and didn’t tell the truth to Billi’s grandpa. The movie’s climax is the wedding banquet where all the family members and their guests are assembled. 

Tears are shed, the groom gets drunk, speeches are delivered and everything goes well, with Nai Nai not getting suspicious at all.

The film is a well acted comedy-drama that shows the universality of themes revolving around the family, no matter what your nationality or culture maybe. 

Filipinos can easily relate with the family members of Nai Nai who choose to leave for abroad to seek greener pastures and just visit her in China every now and then. 

Our own siblings now live in the U.S. and Australia and we can totally connect with the situations they are into.

Nai Nai maybe meddlesome and makulit, but she’s so lovable. She’s so concerned with Billi because she’s already 30 years old and doesn’t even have a boyfriend yet. 

Before she leaves back for New York, Billy gets a red envelope from Nai Nai. She tells her grandma not to give her money but she’s told to just spend it whatever way she wants to. 

She says she wants to stay in China but Nai Nai tells her to return to America and live her own life. She shares with Billi some valuable nuggets of wisdom she can take home with her to America. 

No, the ending is not a tearjerker. This is a feel good movie. As a matter of fact, it amazingly ends on a light and happy note. 

Awkwafina as a Chinese-American conflicted between the push and pull of her origins and acquired culture, and Zhao Shu-zhen as her traditional and very caring grandma are both impressive in their respective roles.

Awkwafina is known for her comic brashness but here, she shows a different side and balances the yin and yang of her two identities expertly.

She switches from her Asian to American personas so effortlessly and this is evident in the opening scene where she is shown talking respectfully in Chinese on the phone to her Nai Nai then switches to American-accented English and even cracks a joke when a black girl on the street talks to her. 

Zhao here as the dominant matriarch Nai Nai actually gives an even more effective and endearing performance than the Korean actress who won the Oscar for “Minari”. 

Also giving great support is Diana Lin as Billi’s mother who admits that she doesn’t get along well with her mother in law as Nai Nai can be very controlling. 

We specially like that scene where Billi argues that Nai Nai only deserves to be told the truth about her fate and her mom replies: “Chinese people have a saying: when people get cancer, they die. But it’s not the cancer that kills them, it’s the fear.” 

Lulu Wang is one of today’s insightful female Asian writer-directors working in Hollywood. The other one is Alice Wu who also did superior work in “The Half of It”, which is about a Chinese girl in rural America that we will review next. 

Chloe Zhao is so lucky the Oscars lionized her “Nomadland”, but we honestly find “The Farewell” an even more charming and entertaining film than that Oscar winner. 

“The Farewell” manages to tackle not only the cultural differences experienced by Asians who migrate and grow up in America then revisit their homeland, but also about the intricacies and vagaries of familial love and why blood is really thicker than water. 

It is sentimental, bittersweet and definitely more heartwarming.

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AI AI DE LAS ALAS topbills GMA-7’s special Mother’s Day presentation in “Magpakailanman” this Saturday titled “Anak, Saan Kami Nagkamali?” 

This is a rare instance where Ai Ai shows another side of her as an actress, doing drama as an impoverished mother who gives up her daughter for adoption and later regrets it badly. 

“Bagay na bagay sa pase-celebrate ng Mother’s Day this Sunday ang story ng ‘Magpakailanman’ na ginawa namin,” says Ai Ai. 

“I play Mercy, isang single mom na maraming anak. Dahil hindi ko na sila lahat kayang buhayin, so binigay ko yung isa sa hipag ko, si Lourdes, played by Snooky Serna. 

"Ang pinaampon ko sa kanya, yung anak kong babae, si Shirlyn, played by Joanna Marie Tan. Kinuha naman siya ng hipag ko kasi wala itong anak na babae.”

Everything is fine, until Shirlyn grew up and discovered that she’s just an adopted child. “Hindi niya nagustuhang inilihim namin ito sa kanya,” Ai Ai adds. 

“Nagrebelde siya at sumama sa boyfriend niyang niloko lang siya. Nabuntis siya at sa kabila ng mga payo namin ni Snooky sa kanya, nagtangka siyang magpakamatay. Sinisi namin ni Snooky ang mga sarili namin dahil sa nangyari sa kanya. Sino ang may kasalanan, ako bang tunay na ina o ang umampon at nagpalaki sa kanya?”

Ai Ai can relate well with the story as she herself was given up for adoption by her biological mother to her aunt, just like what happened in “Magpakailanman”. 

“My real mom is Gregoria, nasa Batangas. Pinaampon niya ko sa kapatid niyang si Justa de las Alas na mas nakaangat sa buhay kasi engineer siya. 

"Seven years old ako nang malaman ko ang totoo pero hindi naman ako nag-rebelde. Nag-sorry sa’kin ang tunay kong ina pero sabi ko, okay lang. Sabi ko, it’s destiny. W

"hen she got sick, I took good care of her until she passed some years ago at inasikaso ko rin ang wake and funeral niya. Kaya may soft spot talaga sa’kin ang mga ampon. Mahal na mahal ko sila.”

Ai Ai is very fulfilled as a mother to her own three kids. The eldest, Sancho, finished culinary arts and is now also into acting. The other two are also college graduates in the States, Niccolo and Sophia. 

“Sa ngayon, para lang kaming magbabarkada. Kahit malayo yung dalawa sa’kin and of age na sila, hindi ako nagkukulang ng pangaral sa kanila. 

"Being a mother is a blessing and I want to thank Mama Mary, my spiritual mother, for all Her guidance sa pagpapalaki ko sa mga anak ko. There were trials along the way, but as a whole, I think I raised them all well naman and I’m very proud of them.”

Ai Ai is also very proud of her husband, Gerald Sibayan. They just celebrated the 7th anniversary as a couple last month and they’ve proven that in love, age doesn’t really matter. 

Meantime, don’t miss Ai Ai’s dramatic performance in “Magpakailanman” this Saturday night, 8 PM, on GMA’s toprating drama show, “Magpakailanman”.  Also in the cast are Emilio Garcia, Allan Paule, Jim Pebanco, Brian Benedict and Jak Roberto. 

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