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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.

Oct 15, 2010


IN CASTING the female roles of Regal’s pre-Halloween presentation, “White House”, Mother Lily Monteverde made sure she assembles a stable of competent actresses different from any project she has done before. As such, Iza Calzado, Lovi Poe, Megan Young, Maricar Reyes and Sarah Lahbati act together for the first time as the “White House” women. Iza, Lovi and Sarah are Kapuso stars while Megan and Maricar are from the Kapamilya network.

Iza maybe considered the most senior of the lot, having won best supporting actress and best actress awards for films like “Sigaw” and “Dukot”. Her career is now on a roll. She co-hosts “Sweet Life” on Q Channel 11 daily and is also in “Beauty Queen”, the new GMA-7 primetime soap. In “White House”, she plays the pivotal role of the mysterious Black Lady. She’s happy to be reunited with Direk Topel Lee in “White House”. “Two horror films I did with him before are both hits, ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll 9’ and ‘Ouija’. If good things come in threes, I’m positive magiging blockbuster din itong third horror flick namin as I’d dare say that ‘White House’ is the scariest film we’ve done.”

In “Beauty Queen”, she agrees to don a two-piece swimsuit for the first time along with co-stars Katrina Halili, a two-time FHM number one winner, and Maggie Wilson, a former Bb. Pilipinas World. “First time ko mag-skimpy bikini and I did it kasi kailangan sa role namin as beauty pageant contestants. Also, I did it kasi I felt na kaya ko naman dahil whatever body I have now, I really worked hard for it through diligent workouts. Siguro naman, hindi rin ako mapapahiya.”

Lovi Poe plays an unconventional role in “White House”: a cheap pole dancer who joins the reality show inside a haunted house to win the P1 million prize. “I’m a flirt and I have a fling with one of the contestants, Joem Bascon. I’m glad that I’ve worked na with Direk Topel Lee, who directed me and Rocco Nacino in our ‘Love Bug’ episode shot in Palawan, so I’m comfortable with him. He’s very cool on the set but can also be very firm in getting what he wants from you. You should watch out for the scene where I have a really frightening encounter with the ghost. I prayed muna before we shot that scene kasi the ghost is a very violent spirit. I’ve done the ‘Christmas Tree’ episode before in ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll X’, but it’s pambata compared to ‘White House’ that will really make you scream with fright.”

When she did her recent Bench pictorial, someone secretly videotaped her on the phone showing her intimate parts. This was later uploaded in the internet. How does she feel about it? “I really felt nabastos ako as I was assured walang ibang magkukuha ng picture doon sa pictorial,” she says. “I have no idea who took that video and who uploaded it. But I choose to ignore it. If I’d let myself be affected, I’d just get angry and depressed and I don’t want to dwell on these negative feelings. Bahala na lang si Lord sa kung sinuman ang gumawa noon.”

As of now, she can’t complain about her career as Mother Lily believes in her so much. At the presscon for the horror film “White House”, the Regal producer proclaimed she knows Lovi will hit it big. “She’s very good in ‘White House’, impressed ako, so I’m also including her in the cast of ‘Temptation Island’ and I plan to launch her solo.”

Megan Young was flattered when told she’s Mother Lily’s personal choice as one of the contestants in “White House”. “I saw her kasi sa ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll XI’ last year as the ghost in haunted bridal gown episode of Ruffa Gutierrez and she was very good,” says Mother Lily. “So I said she has to be in ‘White House’.”

“Nakakatuwa nga as Mother Lily is so sweet to me,” says Megan. “In this project, I was able to work with Kapuso stars like Lovi Poe, Iza Calzado and Sarah Lahbati and I also got the chance to work with Gabby Concepcion so it’s really a great experience for me. I play the role of Mikee, a college student who joins the reality show after her boyfriend, Chris Cayzer, dumped her. So palaban siya, masungit, straightforward kasi nga galit siya. I can relate with her kasi ganun din ako kung minsan, but the difference is I’m happy with my own lovelife.”

Megan is on with ace Ateneo cager Nico Salva. “I’m glad Ateneo made it as champion and I was there to support him.” Nico is a heartthrob on the hardcourt with plenty of female fans. Doesn’t she get jealous? “He tells me there’s no reason for me to be jealous as he avoids them.”

Megan also got positive reviews for her portrayal of the young Dawn Zulueta in “Sigwa”. “I owe it to Direk Joel Lamangan and to Allen Dizon in our key scene where he revealed he’s a spy.”

Maricar Reyes chose to just keep quiet after the Hayden Kho video scandal and it paid off. A medical doctor by profession, ABS-CBN supported her career in acting and gave her good roles on TV in “Your Song” and “Lovers in Paris”, and in the film “Miss You Like Crazy” as John Lloyd Cruz’ rich girlfriend. Now, she’s part of “Imortal” and is also playing another important role in Regal’s White House”.

“I’m quite thrilled by ‘White House’ as it’s my first horror film, my first project outside of ABS, and I get to co-star with Gabby Concepcion whose movies with Sharon Cuneta I grew up watching,” she says. “I also find my role very challenging. I play the executive producer of the horror reality show that organizes this contest challenging people to stay for five days inside a haunted house in Baguio City, the famous La Peral House said to be inhabited by ghosts. First, I consulted Gabby, a paranormal expert, to find out if there are really bad spirits inside the house. He confirms to me that it’s haunted and it would be dangerous to hold a contest there. But despite his warning, I went on with the show as I know it would generate very high ratings. I was right, but we had to pay a price as the bad spirits were all disturbed and became vindictive.”

Direk Topel Lee says Maricar usually just stays quiet in one corner while waiting for her take, but once she faces the camera, she’s able to get into her character right away. A caretaker in the haunted house says that the spirits in it must have really been attracted by Maricar because of her quiet aura. In some instances, doors won’t open even if they’re unlocked whenever she’s around.

Starstruck V winner Sarah Lahbati is the newest in the batch and she’s glad to be getting more assignments. On TV, GMA-7 gave her a regular soap, “Little Star”, the new drama directed by Maryo de los Reyes starring Jennylyn Mercado, Lovi Poe and Mark Anthony Fernandez. “It’s a perfect birthday gift for me,” says Sarah who just turned 17 on October 9.

On the big screen, she also plays a good role in Regal’s pre-Halloween offering, “White House”. “Kapatid ko si Jairus Aquino at pareho kaming napasali sa reality show as contestants who’d stay inside the haunted house,” she says. “It’s a great feeling na makasama ko sa movie the likes of Gabby Concepcion and Iza Calzado, also DJ Mo, Lovi Poe and Megan Young. I enjoyed working with all of them.”

“White House” will have its premiere night at SM Megamall on Tuesday night and opens nationwide on Wednesday.

View the trailer here
View the pictures here