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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.

Jul 17, 2010

Cesar Montano signs up with GMA 7

FREEHAND by Mario E. Bautista

CESAR MONTANO formally signed up with GMA-7 last Thursday to a one-year contract for one soap and one sitcom. He also pitched two film projects, the biopic of Bohol’s hero, Francisco Dagohoy, and one about sakadas. We thought he’s going to host “Wowowee”? “Sa’kin okay lang, but there’s no formal offer except for the five days they asked me to do it last week. Nagpaalam naman ako sa kanila ng maayos.”

We heard his manager Norma Japitana is sore about it as he’s now represented by Shirley Pizarro. “Tita Norma will be a part of my life hanggang pumikit ako. 26 years na kami. Kaya lang, I can’t reached her when I told her na may inaayos ako sa GMA. Mabilis ang pangyayari through Shirley kasi GMA wants me to start right away in their new soap about sorcery with Christopher de Leon, Rhian Ramos, Aljur Abrenica and Jackie Rice. At hayan nga, even before this contract signing, I already taped for them yesterday. I texted Tita Norma but she won’t answer. I’m confident maaayos din namin ito pag nagkausap na kami.”

So will he run again in the next election? “Naku, inalis ko muna sa isip ko ang politics. Showbiz muna tayo.”

Has he recovered from the passing of son Angelo? “I still see him often in my dreams but he says don’t worry, he’s okay. Big blessing na dumating sa’kin si Diego (his son with Teresa Loyzaga who grew up in Australia.) He’s staying here for good at gustong mag-showbiz. At 15, he stands 5’11” na. May offers siya but he’s only a high school sophomore so gusto ko magtapos muna siya. Also, hindi pa siya magaling magtagalog.”


SARAH LAHBATI, Starstruck V winner, is understandably excited with her first full length show, “Exchange of Hearts” that starts on “Love Bug” this Sunday co-starring Diva Montelaba, Enzo Pineda and Steven Silva. “Finally, our long wait is over and we’re thankful na bago kami isinalang dito, we took acting workshops muna with Direk Gina Alajar. We want to thank her for molding us and teaching us various techniques on how to show various emotions.”

Does she feel any pressure? “Yes, pero nakakabawas ng pressure yung fact na kami nina Diva, Enzo and Steven are now so close and comfortable with each other so tulungan kami talaga para mapaganda ang show. We want it to really entertain all those who’ll watch it. We shot this on location in Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro. The island really has so much to offer kaya magandang backdrop for the twin love stories in this episode. It starts with me and Enzo ang siyang on, then Diva and Steven. But something happens in Camiguin kaya ‘Exchange of Hearts’ ang title ng show. Who ends up with whom, yun ang dapat abangan ng viewers.”

How’s her experience joining the Bench fashion show? “I got Starstruck kasi ang daming ibang artista even from other channels. I was awed kasi dati, napapanood ko lang sila, now kasama ko na. Nag-enjoy ako.”


AWARD-WINNING child actor Jiro Manio (“Magnifico”) was featured in a special report on “Showbiz Central” where Gelli de Belen was the guest co-host while Pia Guanio is on vacation. It’ll be recalled that he was yanked out of “Tayong Dalawa” two years ago for being unprofessional. Jiro says he regrets that now and confesses that his life was a mess then. His girlfriend, who’s 4 years older than him, got preggy and their baby girl is now two years old. He’s now separated from the baby’s mom and they have no communication. An uncle is helping him raise his baby. He says he was advised not to admit his situation then as it would surely ruin his career. But as it is, his career is already in ruins now. Jiro should face the fact that he’s not movie star handsome so he won’t make it as a leading man-matinee idol type. But he might still click doing character roles.


THE GMA ARTIST Center continues to build up talents in their stable. One promising host-actor they have is Gino de la Pena, who got noticed for the McDonald’s El Bimbo TV commercial. After that, PLDTmyDSL got him to be one of their endorsers-hosts along with Rhian Ramos and Stephanie Henares. He now hosts Q Channel 11’s new lifestyle show, “X-Life”, along with Steph Henares and JC Tiuseco, shown Wednesdays at 10 PM. Gino is a good example of someone from a dysfunctional family who still made good despite the odds. The 3rd in a brood of four and born on October 27, 1986, he was 11 when his parents broke up. “My dad was into drugs and he had to undergo rehab,” he says. “My mom raised us by herself with the help of my lolo. There was a time na may galit ako because of what happened, but I didn’t rebel. Lahat kami, nakatapos ng college. I majored in entrepreneurial management Thames College before I joined showbiz.”

How’s his dad now? “Parang miracle, when I became a Christian, he just suddenly stopped doing drugs. He now lives with his sister at sana nga, magkabalikan pa sila ng mom ko.”

He’s open to acting. “I already did supporting roles in ‘Dyesebel’, ‘Rosalinda’, and now, in ‘Basahang Ginto’ as the best friend of Geoff Eigenmann. My longest role was in ‘Kaya Kong Abutin ang Langit’ as best friend of Wendell Ramos. Lagi akong best friend.”

Is he on with Steph? “No, we’re just good friends. Right now, we’re both more focused on our work. I’ve had 3 steadies before. The longest was my high school girlfriend. More than 3 years kami but we grew apart. I’ve had two other steadies since then, months lang tumagal, and they both dumped me for the same guy.”

As “X-Life” host, he gets to travel around the country. “We just came from Danao in Bohol where we took a 200 meter plunge, parang bungee jumping. But our most difficult stint was in Camp Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija where we became soldiers for a day, we did their obstacle course, binitin kami sa puno, crossed a river without a boat and got to shoot various rifles and machine guns. Kami ng co-hosts ko ang sumuko sa pagod. This Sunday will be X Life Wellness Day starting 12 noon at Eastwood Mall. Sign up and get a lot of freebies, including free massage, free health and diet consultation so don’t miss it.”

As a member of New Life Christian Center, Gino attributes the blessings he now receives from the Lord. “Our talents are a gift from God and I want to use them well to show I’m grateful to what He has done for me.”


THE CINEMALAYA entry “Mayohan” is the directorial debut of Dan Villegas. Its main drawback is the story is so thin and the characters are not that interesting. The lead character is a teen boy, Elijah Castillo (“Pepot Artista”), who’s taking a vacation in his grandma’s house in Infanta, Quezon. He’s limping and we learn that he’s still recovering from a car crash that claimed the lives of his parents. In Infanta, he gets infatuated with Lilibeth (Lovi Poe), the president of the youth organization in charge of the annual summer dance. She’s the illegitimate child of the town mayor and her mom abandoned her as a child, with her grandma raising her.

She wants to go to Manila and live a new life by herself. Nothing much happens in the film as most filmmakers now prefer “bitin” endings where you don’t really know what happened to the characters. But what holds it together is Lovi’s luminous screen presence. When she’s on cam, Lovi glows in a manner never before captured by her past screen appearances on film and TV. She fits the role of Lilibeth perfectly, since it’s common knowledge that she herself is a love child in real life, so the way she registers her character’s angst comes out so naturally. The film could have been more endearing had it cast another actor. Elijah does well but, on screen, he looks like a cross between Aiza Seguerra and Vandolph. Imagine, how captivating this movie would be if the likes of Joshua Dionisio or John Manalo were playing this vital role. We also don’t like the generalization that girls in rural areas are now easy lays and as sluttish as their city counterparts. That’s really doing our young women a lot of disservice.


THE FIRST MVP Cup International Boxing Friendship Games feature the bouts of 39 promising boxers from six countries in Asia including the host country, Philippines, will be shown on TV 5 today, Saturday, with the eliminations and semi-finals from 1:30pm to 5:00pm. Tomorrow, Sunday, 5Max Movies will not be shown to give way for the final bout at 9:30 to 11:30 pm. The MVP Boxing Cup is the first international amateur boxing tournament to be held in the country in over a decade after the Mayor’s Cup, a popular boxing match in the ‘80s and ‘90s that was once the breeding ground of top amateur boxers, was discontinued in 1997.

Gold medals are up for grabs in seven weight categories in the men’s division and five in the women’s. Each gold medal winner awaits US$1,000 courtesy of Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) chairman and telecommunications mogul Manny V. Pangilinan. Chairman MVP is the principal supporter of the revival of this international tournament and has also agreed to name the boxing cup after him.