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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.

Nov 5, 2016

Paolo Ballesteros Tells Japanese Press People That He's Not Gay And He's Straight But Some Local Writers Seem To Doubt Him

NOW IT can be told. Director Jun Lana and Producer Perci Intalan of “Die Beautiful”, which won the Audience Award at the recent Tokyo International Filmfest, didn’t have an inkling that their star, Paolo Ballesteros, was back in Tokyo for the awarding ceremonies. Paolo earlier left after the successful screening of their movie and the red carpet event, as he had to go back to his work in “Eat Bulaga”.

When his name was called, Direk Jun went on stage to claim his trophy, but he and Perci got the surprise of their life when they saw Paolo going up on stage to claim his best actor for his performance in “Die Beautiful”, dressed and made up like Julia Roberts. It was the filmfest organizers themselves who made the arrangements for Paolo’s return. Making it a secret to Jun and Perci to surprise them on awards night. Paolo was even billeted in a different hotel, so they weren’t at all aware that he’s already back in Tokyo.

Paolo was a big hit with the local Tokyo press because of "Die Beautiful". One Japanese writer said Paolo made her cry several times during the movie. Everyone’s wondering if he’s really gay and Paolo, who’s always been very evasive about this issue, told them without batting an eyelash: “I’m straight”. This surprised some of the writers present who thought he’s really gay. And some local writers we know are raising their eyebrows in disbelief. Jun Lana told them: “All the other actors who portrayed Paolo’s gay friends in the movie are all straight.”

Paolo said that playing the role of a transgender is not easy, especially when he walked on the Tokyo Filmfest red carpet aping Angelina Jolie. “It’s actually painful because I have to strap everything, make everything sexy at nagkapaltos-paltos ang balat ko,” he reveals. “And wearing those high heels, ang hirap din.”

Well, all his hardships paid off as he won his very first acting award in his entire career and, mind you, it’s a prestigious international acting award at that since the Tokyo International Filmfest is an A-list major award-giving body. Here’s hoping that the honors that “Die Beautiful” won in Tokyo will translate into big box office earnings when it is shown here in Manila, especially if and when it’s chosen as an official entry in the coming Metro-Manila Filmfest.

As we all know, the sad truth is that winning awards abroad does not necessarily guarantee that an acclaimed film will be enough of an attraction for local moviegoers to watch it in theaters. This has already been proved in such prize-winning movies like "Barber's Tales" (which also won the best actress award for Eugene Domingo in the Tokyo Filmfest), “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis”, “Thy Womb”, “Ma Rosa” and “Babaeng Humayo”, which all won prestigious international awards but still failed to make waves at the box office when shown in local theatres.