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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.

Jan 14, 2023



XIAN LIM directs Janno Gibbs and Anjo Yllana in “Hello, Universe”. 

“I’ve always wanted to direct,” he says.  “Even when I was just starting my acting career, part of my plan is working behind the camera as I find it very exciting. 

"I have a very high respect for people working behind the camera. I did the indie film ‘Tabon’ for Cinemalaya in 2019 then the series ‘Pasabuy’ for an online platform in 2021. 

"Now, I’m glad to get the chance to direct a mainstream movie, ‘Hello, Universe’ for Viva Films, the screenplay of which I myself wrote.”     

So how is it working with Janno and Anjo and the rest of the big cast that includes Benjie Paras, Gene Padilla, Maui Taylor, Sunshine Guimary and many more?  

“It’s such an honor to be working with Janno and Anjo. I’ve been watching their works since bata pa ako and idol ko talaga sila sa comedy. 

"I’ve been very vocal about it. Now, they bring their years of experience in acting and in the industry to give life to the story that I wrote. 

"Sinusulat ko pa lang ito, they were among my first choices na and I requested for them sa Viva. Nabigyan talaga nila ng buhay ang characters that I have in mind. 

"Talagang nakaka-inspire to work with them and the other actors in the cast who are all passionate about what they do.” 

He says he conceptualized the story some years ago and he’s glad that Viva liked it when he pitched it to them. 

“The story is about second chances. We all have regrets in life, our what ifs where we think of what we should or would have done with the missed opportunities in our lives. 

"We want to come up with something something light and fun, but with a different dramatic twist.”  

And this is the story of Janno as Ariel, who’s having a midlife crisis, thinking he’s life would be better if he pursued his high school dream of being a basketball player. 

Then he was given the  by the mysterious Benjie Paras to fulfill his dream in an alternate universe. Xian took the scriptwriting workshop of National Artist Ricky Lee to hone his writing skills.  

“Our main goal is to tell a good story, an uplifting one lalo na we came from the pandemic. This is also based on my own experience of playing professional basketball.

"Yun talaga ang goal ko when I came back here from the States. I tried, but it didn’t happen, but another door opened at napunta nga ako sa showbiz. 

"Life really has so many ups and down and with this movie, we want to provide hope and inspiration to viewers to tell them the important thing is we should live in the now, the present, and don’t take life for granted.”  

During his recent trip to Paris with Kim Chiu, their photos made their fans so kilig and concluded that he has formally proposed marriage to his sweetheart. 

So what’s the real score?  

“Ay, wala pong naganap na ganun. Mahilig lang talaga kami to take nice pictures, yung worthy i-post sa Instagram. 

"So natuto akong umanggulo ng tama in taking our photos. But as of now, trabaho pa rin muna ang aming priority. 

"Lalo na ngayon, I’m just starting my career as a director, so focus muna ako rito. Ang I also have a new series for GMA, ‘Hearts on Ice’, with Ashley Ortega.”

So Kim understands his situation? 

“Oh yes. What is important is mahal namin ang isa’t isa. That’s what matters most. We know maraming nag-aabang when we’ll settle down. Darating din tayo dyan, but we’ll have to prepare for it muna.”  

Would he be ready to direct Kim in a movie? 

“Yes, napag-usapan na namin yan. She’s very supportive naman sa pagdidirek ko, but she has a strong imagination and she knows what she wants so it will also be a challenge for me. 

"Maybe we’ll do a romcom kasi we met while doing one and we fell in love while also doing a romcom. Marami na akong love stories na nai-share with her. 

"Maybe we’ll do one of those, preferably to be filmed abroad for a change of setting.”