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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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Mar 1, 2021

 












IAN VENERACION was reported recently as having problems with his 23-year old marriage to Pam Gallardo (they have three kids), but he disproved this and said all such rumors are just fake news made by perverts. 


“I don’t want to dignify lies made by people who are exploiting our personal lives for their entertainment,” he says. 


He adds that the first few months of the lockdown made him even much closer to his wife and kids. 


“I enjoyed the time na nasa bahay lang kami because of Covid. Wala silang choice kundi watch movies with me and do endless conversations. I really enjoyed it.” 


Ian is now very busy with two TV shows, the sitcom “Oh My Dad” shown on TV5, and a new web romcom, “Brody and Brandy” with Iza Calzado. 


Now, he’s also in the concert “Virtually Yours, Kilabotitos” with Ogie Alcasid, to be staged at Music Museum and aired on KTX,ph on March 26. This is produced by A-TEAM (Alcasid Total Entertainment & Artist Management). So how is it working with Ogie? 


“It’s certainly an honor kasi bata pa ko, napapanood ko na siya,” he says.


To which Ogie retorts: “Hoy, mas nauna ka sa’kin sa showbiz, ha.” 


Ian laughs: “Yes, kasi I started as a child actor in ‘Joey & Son’. But seriously, I owe Ogie, kasi he produced my first concert in Music Museum na ‘Ian in Color’. 


"I’m really an actor and I never thought I’d be singing in public, but Ogie trusted me at nag-guest pa sila ni Regine (Velasquez) sa concert ko. Then he said, mag-concert kaya tayong dalawa. 


"I felt he really welcomed me in the music industry and very supportive siya kahit na siya, totoong singer ever since.  I truly admire his love for music. 


"Serious siya in his attention to detail sa areglo, sa timpla, sa mixing, he’s very particular, and I really appreciate that.”


So how did his career as a singer start? 


“Dun sa show namin ni Bea before,  ‘A Love to Last’, dun ako unang pinakanta. Hiyang-hiya ako noon. But now, kumapal na ang mukha ko. Nakipag-duet pa ako kay Regine at kay Zsa Zsa (Padilla), so I’m really enjoying it.”


He’s excited to sing with Ogie in ‘Kilabotitos’. 


“We will do a lot of duets. He’ll play the piano, I’ll do the guitar. I like his classic songs, like ‘Nandito Ako’. Let’s see kung kakantahin niya sa concert namin at makiki-jam ako sa kanya, so abangan na lang natin. We really share the same kind of music.”


He adds that they will share not only their music but also their humor. 


“Even our jokes, pre-internet humor, so we have the same wave length, kaya abangan nyo ang banter and jokes namin. The audience will certainly enjoy our kulitan, humor, asaran. We share stories about fatherhood, our families, our children.”


Ogie is 53 and Ian is 46 and they agree they have a more mature crowd. 


“We’re proud of the generation where we come from, the 70s and 80s, and we enjoy reminiscing about the past. But even members of today’s generation will enjoy our concert and our homage to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Spandau Ballet, Hall & Oates and other icons of our era. 


"And mind you, this is not a bahay-bahay concert lang. It’s a full concert setup sa Music Museum with a band, the real thing. May special documentary pa kung paano namin binuo ito, with our rehearsals and interviews. We assure you na masisiyahan kayo.”


Enjoy “Kilabotitos” right in the comfort of your homes on March 26, 8 PM. It will be available worldwide and tickets are available at ktx.ph for only P1,200 (full concert plus a documentary on the making of the show). 


With just one ticket, your whole family or barkada can watch together,  sponsored by Katinko Oinment/Liniment as gold partner, with silver partners PLDT, Pascual Lab, Potencee, C-Lium, Ascof Lagundi, Oracare and Conzace.

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AFTER ‘PARASITE’ last year, another Korean film is making Oscar buzz this year, “Minari”. But this one is not made in Korea, but right in America, written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung. 


It is about a Korean family who migrated to rural America in the 1980s. “Minari” is a word for a Korean vegetable that is akin to celery. 


The film stars Korean-American actor Steven Yeun who hit it big in the thriller series, “The Walking Dead”. 


He also starred in the acclaimed films, “Burning” and “Mayhem”. In “Minari”, he plays Jacob Yi, a Korean in search of his own American dream. 


He left California with his wife Monica (Han Ye-ri), daughter Anne (Kate Cho) and son David (Allan Kim) who has a heart ailment, to till his own farm growing vegetables in the Ozarks of Arkansas, while he and his wife also work in a poulty hatchery.


They live in a small, humble trailer home, which Monica resents. 


To help them look after their kids who were born in America, while they are at work, Monica asks her mom Soon-ja (Youn Yuh Jung) to fly in from Korea and join them in the farm. 


David resents her grandma’s intrusion, he cries: “Grandman smells like Korea”.


 And he doesn’t like the fact that his grandma doesn’t bake cookies and he has to share his little room with her, even if she just sleeps on a mat on the floor while he’s on the bed. 


Soon-ja doesn’t speak English but tries her best to bond well with her grandkids by playing cards and watching wrestling with them. 


She also goes with them to the nearby stream where she plants the titular Minari, a very resilient vegetable that grows easily.


Jacob encounters lots of hardships in his goal to be a successful farmer, even with the help of a kind and religious man, Paul (Will Patton). 


The well that supplies water to his farm runs dry and the vendor in Dallas who promises to buy his harvested produce suddenly cancels his orders. 


Monica wants them to just return to the city and this puts a strain on their marriage. 


To top it all, her mother has a stroke and gets disoriented, leading her to do something that adds up even more misery to what the family is already going through. 


“Minari” is really a heartbreaking tale of woes. The main bright spot is when the metaphoric Minari, that grandma planted, grew to be lush and abundant, ready for harvest. 


But the touching family drama also shows the heartwarming love and resilience of the Yi family despite all the suffering, pressure and difficult challenges that they encounter. This remind us of the local classic, “Biyaya ng Lupa”, which is also about the travails of a family.


Well crafted, the film offers great cinematography that gives the outdoor scenes and its pastoral heartland setting liberal graceful bursts of light and color. 


Yeun is great as the caring husband and father who relocates his family from the city to a harsher environment as he searches for his own place in the sun. 


Giving great support is Alan Kim as the ailing but bright-eyed little boy who loves Mountain Dew. 


He seems unaffected by all the intricacies of life faced by his parents who have contrasting views in their struggle and assimilation in America where they are the only Asians in the very white Arkansas town where they settled in. 


One of the most racist comments in the movie is when a friendly but ignorant white boy asks David: “Why is your face so flat?” But David just ignores him, obviously unable to perceive how hurtful the statement can be. 


It is little moments and scenes such as this that build up imperceptibly and add up to make the movie a bittersweet, beautifully nuanced chronicle about the immigrant experience in America. 


So we're wondering why it's nominated in the best foreign language film category when the lines are both in English and Korean and it's set in America, produced by Americans, with Brad Pitt as one of the producers. 


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Feb 28, 2021

 














my PEOPLE'S JOURNAL column, SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2021 - 

OGIE ALCASID & IAN VENERACION TOPBILL 'VIRTUALLY YOURS, KILABOTITOS',REVIEW OF CINEMAX ACTION-PACKED THRILLER, 'BANSHEE', WITH ITS UNABASHED SCENES OF BRUTAL VIOLENCE AND UNBRIDLED SEX


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 my PEOPLE'S JOURNAL column 

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SHARON CUNETA is now back before the camera shooting a new movie in Subic, “Revirginized”, for Viva Films, directed by Darryl Yap, who made such controversial films as “Jowable”, “Gusto Ko Maging Pornstar” and “Tililing”. 


Doesn’t she mind being directed by a new director?


“Not at all,” she says at the film's zoom presscon. “When I made ‘Crying Ladies’, the producer, Tony Gloria, surprised the director, Mark Meily, hindi niya sinabi na ako ang magiging artista niya. 


"It’s Mark Meily’s first directorial job and he also wrote the script, just like Direk Darryl now. Ako naman, ever since my first movie, ‘Dear Heart’, which was written and directed by the late Danny Zialcita, I always consider the director as the captain of the show. 


"He’s the boss, I don’t mind if he’s a new director. I’m very respectful to my directors. 


"The important thing is he knows what he is doing. E, ako, I’ve never been a diva naman on the set. My co-workers in the 60 movies that I did can attest to that. Very respectfully, I make suggestions kung makakaganda. 


"I’ve seen Direk Darryl’s movie, ‘Pornstar’, and I can see he knows what he’s doing. Sa zoom meeting pa lang namin, excited na akong gawin ito. I like to be on happy sets and the set we have now is a very happy one.”


Is she aware of the kind of coarse and offbeat humor that is the trademark of Direk Darryl?


“Yes, I’ve seen ‘Pornstar’ at sabi ko nga bakit hindi ako isinama roon, e pangarap kong maging pornstar, joke!” she says. “When he pitched it to me, maganda yung story. 


"I’m excited to do it pero may konting kaba. But he’s one of the young bloods in showbiz today at maganda yung ideas niya. So okay sa’kin to try, kasi bago ito for me. 


"I’ve done 60 movies and this one is very new to me. Siguro naman I’m now entitled to have the license to experiment in doing something different.”


She said Direk Darryl is willing to compromise. 


“I don’t want naman to do something that will make my fans feel alienated . So with regards to dialogue, I can make suggestions naman how to go around it. Even the behavior of my character, hindi naman puedeng you’ll just jump into something without the proper preparation or explanation.”


What is exactly her role? 


“I play Carmela. At 16 years old, nagkaroon na siya ng baby. So naging ina agad siya, hindi naranasang magdalaga. Now, manang na manang siya. 


"But she meets a new friend who takes her to a beach party and makes her experience everything that she has not experienced before. 


"I can relate with her kasi I also got married at 18 and ang world ko noon was just shooting and doing my TV show. I was robbed of my privacy and anonymity, but I don’t regret it.”


How did Direk Darryl feel working with the Megastar? 


“Up to now, hindi ako makapaniwala na ka-text ko siya at katrabaho ko siya," says the young director. "Hanggang ngayon, fan na fan pa rin niya ako. Siempre kabado ako noong una,  but when I met her, she’s very supportive. 


"Her warmth is very empowering. She knows my work and she is willing to work with my formula. Iba naman itong gagawin niya from the usual. It’s out of the box, but straight from the heart.”


Ate Shawie is being complimented by fans for her new slimmer figure. 


“I started dieting in January of 2016 yet, but now lang talaga napansin yung loss of weight ko. Kasi on and off ako sa dieting. Pag may nakita kong food na hindi ko kinain, I tell myself, what if I'd die tomorrow, at hindi ko natikman yun. 


"But now, tikim-tikim na lang. Hindi na ko kumakain ng isang bandehado.”


She’s happy that people notice her weight loss.  


“Now lang talaga nila napansin, e. They message me and tell me I inspire them. I’m already 55 and I’m happy that I can inspire other women to be healthy. I’m just glad to feel healthier now, so I can see my grandchildren and I can run with them. 


"It’s also for health reasons and not just because you look good on screen. Gusto ko pang gumawa ng love stories like Meryl Streep when she did ‘It’s Complicated’. 


"Love stories should not be exclusive to young women but even with those who are in their 50s or 60s.”


She’s very active in social media but we noticed she’s no longer not that easily annoyed by bashers. 


“I realized na nung pumapatol ako noon, kasi it’s still brand new to me. E, lumaki ako na I’m used to having confrontations nang harapan. 


"E, sa twitter, na-sho-shocked ako as they feel so empowered to be so bastos in bashing you. So I realized how why am I engaging these people when I don’t really know who they are? 


"I don’t know what their motives are. But I have thicker skin now. I don’t want to be like them, I don’t like to confront monsters and end up being one.”


But she still gets annoyed when it’s her kids who are being insulted. 


“Now, I react lang kapag ang anak ko ang inaatake as we raised them very well, they’re decent human beings. Ako’ng nasasaktan for them kasi nanay ako. Ayokong madamay sila. 


"My daughter Frankie is very strong in her opinions and I won’t stop her for saying what she thinks. She doesn’t want to see injustice, she’s so pro-poor, she cares for the people around her. Now, pag hindi ko na gusto sinasabi nila sa anak, dine-delete ko na lang.”


How does Sen. Kiko Pangilinan feel that she’s doing a movie that pushes the envelope when it comes to doing absurd or gross comedy? 


“I am so blessed to have a husband like Kiko na very understanding.  Kagabi lang niya ako tinanong? Ano ba story niyan?  


"He’s very supportive. Kahit mga ex na ka-love team ko, ok lang sa kanya to do love scenes with them. Sabi nga niya, trabaho mo na yan bago pa naging tayo. I’m very blessed that he knows acting is my passion and my craft.” 


Aside from Sharon, also in the cast of “Revirginized” are Rosanna Roces, Albert Martinez, Cristina Gonzalez and Marco Gumabao who will be Sharon’s younger leading man. 


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Feb 27, 2021

 











JOAQUIN ‘JD’ DOMAGOSO is the eldest son Mayor Isko Moreno. 


He’s now seen singing and dancing in “All Out Sundays”, but starting March 15, you’d seen him try acting as the love interest of Cassy Legaspi in “First Yaya”, which will replace “Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday” on GMA Telebabad. 


What advice has his father given him upon joining showbiz?


“Papa told me to always just listen,” he listen. “When acting, listen sa kaeksena mo to get a good reaction in a scene. 


"I can use it talaga sa lahat ng bagay kasi you will learn a lot when you listen well. Listen to what your directors and co-actors are sharing kasi may matututuhan ka diyan. 


"He also told me na makisama sa lahat sa lock in taping. No special treatment for me. I eat what they offer on the set. Isa pang bilin niya, not to neglect my studies. 


"I’m second year now in entrepreneurship and I’m determined to finish it.”


What’s his first impression of Cassy? 


“First impression kay Cassy is she can easily talk to people. She brightens up the room. We first met sa ‘Studio 7’. 


"I was nervous kasi bago lang ako, but when we talked chill lang ako as she’s very friendly, so welcoming.”


He admits he was cautious at first. 


“Noong una, siempre, may konting hiya. Kasi mas una kong naging friend ang brother niya, si Mavy. But during the lock in taping, we became friends so we’re okay now, mas close na kami. 


"Same waiting room at standby area rin kami, kaya we eat together. Cassy can be very transparent. I know when she is in a good mood kasi she’s giggling, always smiling.”


So he’s at home with showbiz now? 


“I really enjoy what I’m doing kasi gusto ko talaga mag-showbiz. Maski sa ‘All Out Sundays’, enjoy ako. Masaya ang kwentuhan with all the other artists and I’m learning from their experiences that they share with me.”


What’s his role in the “First Yaya”? 


“I play Jonas and Cassy is Nina. I come from a poor family at siya, mayaman, anak ni Sir Gabby Concepcion na magiging president ng ating bansa. We’re off to a rocky start, we’re fighting and become enemies, but we eventually get to understand each other.”


Can he relate with his character? 


“Jonas and I are very different from each other. Kasi mahirap siya at hindi ko naman naranasan ang hirap na pinagdaanan niya. But we’re the same in that we’re both misunderstood by some people.”


And how is it working with the ‘First Yaya’ herself, Sanya Lopez? 


“Know what, I’ve been a fan of hers since two years ago pa. Now that we’re working together, i’m so happy. She’s fun to work with, great, ang galing umacting, bagay sa role niya as ‘First Yaya’.”


How is it doing lock in taping?


 “It’s fun kasi everyone in the cast is there and you can talk to all of them, not just your co-stars, but also the staff, the crew. You sleep and when you wake up, you see each other again.”


In real life, does he have a yaya? “Yes, my yaya, si Cathy, was with me since i was small. Umalis siya when she got married. But we still keep in touch with her.”


What is his dad’s advice on having a lovelife? 


“Wala siyang masyadong advice. Basta ang sabi niya, always be a gentleman. Just be nice. Be the real you. Don’t pretend to be someone else.”


Is it difficult to be the son of an actor-mayor? 


“One thing I realized is mahirap malampasan ang shadow ng papa ko, kasi he has very big shadow. But i realized that’s him and this is me. I just accepted na okay lang sa’kin to be me and I’ll do just my best in everything I do.”


How is the public reaction to his love team with Cassy?


“So far, okay naman. I love it, being paired with her in a love team. The fans have made Tiktok videos pairing us, using our past pictures. 


"Ang ganda nga ng mga ginawa nila and it’s nice to know we can make people happy. Meantime, don’t forget to watch us ni Cassy in ‘First Yaya’ when it starts airing on GMA-7 on March 15.”



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DARRYL YAP, 33, is one of our youngest writer-directors. He started as a full length filmmaker with “Jowable”, a big hit, so it’s not surprising Viva Films gave him more assignments. 


His second film was the comedy “Gusto Kong Maging Porn Star” and he now comes up with “Tililing”, which became controversial since some folks said its poster made fun of people with mental illness.


How did he conceive of the film?


“This is actually my second film at third yung ‘Porn Star’ kaya lang, naunang i-released yon,” he says. 


“In 2009, I had an aunt who was put in a mental institution in Olongapo. She’s the sister of my dad and when we visited her, I was so traumatized by what I saw, so I wrote the script based on true events. 


"Very timely ito sa panahon ngayon na people get so stressed at maraming problema because of the Taal Volcano eruption, the typhoons that hit our country and, of course, the pandemic.”


He wants to correct the impression that “Tililing” is just making fun of people who have problems with their mental health. 


“Those who say na puro katatawanan itong movie namin at hindi namin sineseryoso ang mental illness, all I can say is panoorin muna nila bago nila i-judge kung tama ang mga akala nila about this genre-bending movie. 


"Kasi with my aunt, I learned a lot about mental illness. It’s difficult to have a member of the family afflicted with that. You just have to be more kind and understanding. 


"But I view the criticisms against the movie as still a blessing as it helps create more awareness na may movie palang ganito. Publicity pa rin yun.”


“Tililing” has six major characters: three inmates and three nurse interns in charge of attending to them. 


The inmates are played by Gina Pareno as Lola Socorro, Baron Geisler as Peter, and Chad Kinis as Bernie. 


Their corresponding nurses are Candy Pangilinan as Maricel who has no sympathy at all for the inmates, Yumi Laxamana (who is also a songwriter who wrote the film’s theme song) as Jessa and Donnalyn Bartolome as Espie. 


“The title came from me,” says Direk Darrly. “Maraming ibig sabihin ang ‘Tililing’. 


"It can me the ringing of a bell or tunog ng kampana, puede ring something that serves as a trigger like it rings a bell, and lastly, as a word used by people sa panlalait ng mga taong may karamdaman sa pag-iisip. 


"As a writer, I want films that make people feel uncomfortable. Maingay ang ‘Tililing’ kasi bago ang tinatalakay niyang paksa at hindi pa nagagawa sa industry. Masyadong magaspang ang material kaya malakas ang dating.”

How did he cast ‘Tililing’? 


“Personal choice ko ang cast and I’m thankful to Viva kasi lahat ng ni-request ko, ibinigay. 


"Si Tita Gina Pareno, dream ko talagang makatrabaho siya kahit noong hindi pa ko nagdidirek. So ngayong nakatrabaho ko siya rito, dream come true ito for me. 


"Si Baron naman, wala pa siya sa Viva, sinabi ko ng I want to work with him and bagay siya sa role niya rito as I haven’t seen him in this kind of role before. 


"Si Chad naman, identified siya as a comedian but he’s really an artist. He also writes and you’ll see him do drama sa ‘Tililing’. 


"Si Candy, underrated siya but I think she’s a very important actress and you’ll see that in our movie. 


"Yumi and Donnalyn will also surprise viewers with their performances in this film, so I am very happy with my whole cast. So don’t miss ‘Tililing’ when it opens in theaters and on VivaMax this Friday, March 5.”

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my PEOPLE'S JOURNAL column for Friday, February 26, 2001 

1. CASSY LEGASPI, DAUGHTER OF CARMINA VILLAROEL & ZOREN LEGASPI, TRIES ACTING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A TELESERYE AND PAIRED WITH JOAQUIN DOMAGOSO, SON OF MAYOR ISKO MORENO, IN 'FIRST YAYA'

2. REVIEWE OF NETFLIX THRILLER, 'I CARE A LOT', WITH ROSAMUND PIKE GIVING A CHILLING PERFORMANCE AS A GREEDY CHARACTER WITH NO REDEEMING VALUES




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Feb 26, 2021

 














OGIE ALCASID was supposed to have the “Kilabotitos” concert with Ian Veneracion last March but they decided to shelve it because of the pandemic.


Now, finally, it’s pushing through on March 26, staged from the Music Museum and shown via KTX.


“We pursued doing the concert kasi kating-kati na kami ni Ian to do this,” he says. “Nabitin kami, when we’re so excited to do this. 


"Sayang naman ang pinrepare namin. We already had many rehearsals then. A lot of people were disappointed nang di namin itinuloy. 


"Ang dami na kasing bumili ng tickets, then we had to return their money. Now, this is something new for us.” 


The past year is truly a memorable one for Ogie. 


“My dad passed away. It’s a big blow kasi hindi namin siya nakita because of the pandemic. Then what happened to ABS-CBN and to our shows. Who would have known this would happen?”


After a while, he started getting bored doing nothing during the lockdown. 


“It’s hard, just being here in the house. Kating kati ako to do the things I used to do, so i started doing live streaming. Ang ganda ng response ng audience, so I bought the right equipment. 


"I needed it at first for myself, but I saw the audience really appreciated it. so hindi ko na binitiwan.”


And then people started getting him and Regine to do gigs. 


“Nakakatulong daw kasi para mawala ang anxiety nila. And it’s also a way for us to earn a little bit of money. 


"Before, kung may show ka, pupunta ka pa sa venue, dala mo lahat ng gamit mo. Now, nasa bahay lang kami, doon na kami kakanta. 


"Pero siempre walang kapalit yung face to face experience with audience, na kita mo ang response ng tao kapag kumakanta ka.”


“KIlabotitos” is a full concert with a band and some guests. 


“We’re doing it sa Music Museum, para maganda ang audio and video ng show. Guest namin si Lara Maigue and my daughter Leila.  


"Lara will sing classical stuff so watch out for her. Ian and I will have some funny banter. Parang sitcom na musical ang flavor ng show so you’ll surely enjoy it.”


They’re spending more for the show because of safety protocols they have to follow after Regine’s concert was postposed when someone involved in it became infected with the covid virus. 


“Grabe ang naging stress level namin dahil doon. Now, we have a safety office guiding us and we followed the safety protocols to make sure that everyone in Music Museum will be safe.”


How did he feel when his daughter Leila was bashed after she posted her photos with boyfriend? 


“Nagulat ako sa bashing that Leila got because of that. E, sumagot siya. She got emotional, kasi mahal na mahal niya ang boyfriend niya.  


"I understand her, she has to protect her own relationship, but I told her, kahit sumagot ka ng sumagot diyan, walang tigil yan, so hayaan mo na.


"So sabi ko, huwag ka ng pumatol kahit na-hurt ka. And she said, all right dad.”


How is it working now with Ian? 


“Ian is really younger than me, but Im surprised that lumang tao siya. He enjoys the songs of my high school years. Music from the 70s and 80s. 


"We chose songs that we feel na magugustuhan ng audience namin. They don’t make that kind of music anymore, so i’m sure nami-miss na rin ng mga tao ang music of that era. 


"Also, I’ve collaborated with many artists, they get nervous, pero si ian parang hindi kinakabahan. He just loves the stage and he just loves to sing. Enjoy na enjoy siya, he loves what he’s doing. And that’s the mark of a good performer.”


Janno Gibbs is a good friend of his as they’ve done several projects together. What can he say to Janno who’s now controversial after he lost his hosting job in Net25 due to his tiff with comedian Kitkat? 


“I honestly feel for him. I sent him a message. Pero tatawagan ko na lang siya kapag malamig na ang lahat.  I know him, he’s a good friend, and in all what he has been through, he knows im always there to support him.”  


Ogie tells concertgoers that it’s so easy to get tickets from KTX to watch them. 


“Madali lang po. Just go to KTX.ph. You’ll pay them by Gcash or credit card, then they’ll forward your ticket to you. 


"Sa isang ticket nyo, buong pamilya kayo na you can all watch, or your buong barkada. 


"Just turn on your big TV and instantly, the concert will transport you to the time when we’re all young again and relish the feeling of nostalgia. At puede pa kayong sumabay ng pagkanta sa amin.”


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‘BANSHEE’ is a hardhitting action-drama series on Cinemax from Allan Ball, creator of the previous hits “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood”. 


Banshee is associated with a scary creature with a piercing wailing cry or scream, but here, it is the name of a fictional town called Banshee in Pennsylvania Amish country. 


“Banshee” is not the kind of show that would win awards as it’s very unabashedly commercial. 


Every episode has a big adrenalin-charged action scene and also liberal sex scenes of the soft porn variety. In other words, it’s a guilty pleasure as it’s also well written and the action set pieces are all executed expertly. 


It starts when the lead character, whose name is not mentioned but played by New Zeland actor, Antony Starr, is released from the slammer after 15 years for his involvement in a jewel heist gone wrong. He steals a motorcycle and drives to Banshee. 


He’s having a drink in a bar when a man who says he’s Lucas Hood, the new sheriff assigned to the town, also walks in to have lunch. 


Two thugs also come in to rob the black bar owner, Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison), a former boxer. 


In the shootout that follows, the new sheriff and the goons are killed. The unnamed man then assumes the identity of the dead sheriff, presenting himself as Lucas Hood to the town’s other cops. 


The man’s reason for going to Banshee is to see his former girlfriend, Anastasia (Ivana Milicevic), the daughter of Rabitova or Rabbit (Ben Cross), a notorious Ukrainian crime lord. 


Anastasia is keeping the diamonds which sent the ex-con to prison, but she now has a new identify as Carrie Hopewell. 


She is married to the town’s District Attorney, Gordon (Rus Blackwell), with a hard-headed teenage daughter who looks and behaves like a slut, Deva (Ryann Shane), and a fragile asthmatic young son, Max (Gabriel Suttle.)


Rabbit and his men are after the necks of Hood and Anna to get back the stolen gems. But aside from Rabbit, another main villain in the story is Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), a former Amish who turned his back to his own people to become the town’s most powerful businessman and crime lord. 


Then there’s also the native Indian community led by Alex Longshadow (Anthony Ruivivar), who wants to put up their own casino and is locking horns with Proctor.


The fake sheriff tries to make a connection with Anna but she continues to evade him. What she does is to try to surrender him to her dad, but he manages to escape. Rabbit’s men eventually manages to track down his location but he surrenders to save Carrie. 


Rabbit’s men torture him but Carrie, with the help of other cops and Job (Hoon Lee), a cross-dressing computer hacker who is a good friend of Hood, she manages to rescue him and she gets to shoot her own father. 


This is how Season 1 ends, but you know very well that Rabbit has not been killed but will emerge again in Season 2. 


If you love over the top action and unabashed sex, you will surely enjoy the show as its brutal violence, graphic sex scenes that leaves nothing to the imagination, plus the high body count are just brazen and unapologetic.  


 Lead star Antony Starr as the don’t-take-no-crap hero is like James Bond. He’s indestructible and gets to bed all the girls. He gets mauled in almost every episode but shows up in the next couple of scenes with only minor bruises. 


The bed scenes are undeniably gratuitous, but the actors who are in them are all in the best shape and look incredibly good on screen, specially the women who have no qualms about doing full frontal nudity. It can be very entertaining with its mostly exciting characters.  


Starr as the ruggedly handsome and roguish Hood is the perfect role model for all losers who want to identify with a bad ass hero who can kick ass and is irresistible to all the ladies. 


He takes on opponents much bigger than him, including a muscle-packed albino who happens to be gay, an arrogant pugilist and a huge native Indian. 


The extremely merciless punishments meted out to all the evil gangsters and goons are absolutely satisfying for they truly deserve their worst fate.


The gripping first season ends with a blood bath, but the second season ends with two exuberant blood-soaked climactic scenes, spiced up with an incestuous love scene between one villain and his seductively sluttish niece. 


If this show were to pass the local censors, we’re sure many sequences will be ruthlessly and heavily snipped.


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