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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 29, 2017

IT WAS PAOLO CONTIS' 33rd birthday recently, but it was his current flame, LJ Reyes, who got the surprise of her life when Paolo took her and son Aki out on a date to watch their much awaited movie, "Beauty and the Beast". Both LJ and Aki were very much surprised when they found out that they're the only ones who'd watch the movie as Paolo paid the theatre for their own very private screening. No wonder LJ was very awed and pleased about it since this is the first time someone did something like this for her and her son.

She felt that she was the one who was given a great birthday gift when it's actually Paolo who's celebrating his natal day. Paolo's special note for her is even more touching: "I know how much you love this film. And I know Belle is your favorite Disney princess. So you should watch this film like one. I made sure the whole cinema is yours, so no one will distract you, except Me and Aki. Enjoy, I love you, Mahal. Love, Your Beast."

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AFTER HIS recent hit and award-winning Metro-Manila Filmfest entry, "Die Beautiful", writer-director Jun Lana now has a new film project for Regal, co-produced with his partner Perci Intalan's own company, IdeaFirst. This is "My Fairy Tail Love Story", which is about a young mermaid and her romance with a mortal, to be played by Janella Salvador and Elmo Magalona, who are said to be now playing beautiful music in real life even if Janella's mom, Jenine Desiderio, doesn't exactly approve of this.

Hope this will be a more successful project than the ElNella love team's first outing on TV, "Born for You". They now star in a new soap, "Kung Kailangan Mo Ako", but with two other teen love teams. But the story idea for "My Fairy Tail Love Story" is quite cute and there has not been a local mermaid movie for sometime so it might just click with audiences today and do wonders for the career of the Elmo-Janella love team.

Mother Lily and daughter Roselle Monteverde say that they're determined to produce a lot more movies this year so they're coming up with one new project after another. Their latest release is "Northern Lights: A Journey to Love" starring Piolo Pascual and Yen Santos, which opened in theaters yesterday. The next one will be the special Mother's Day presentation, "My Mighty Yaya", starring Ai Ai de las Alas in the title role, with Megan Young, Zoren Legaspi and Sofia Andres.
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A FEW DAYS ago, there was news that Lovi Poe died and it quickly spread in social media, causing concern among her fans. But this is one of those hoaxes about celebrity deaths cooked up by internet trolls who have nothing better to do. "Last I checked, buhay pa naman ako," Lovi says laughing. "Ang dami kong bagong trabaho, may new movie and may new TV show."

Her new movie is with Regal Entertainment, a romcom titled "Woke Up Like This", which will reunite her with comedian Vhong Navarro with whom she was first paired in an episode of "Shake Rattle & Roll 16" directed by Vhong's manager, Chito Rono. "Woke Up Like This" also stars comedians Joey Marquez and Bayani Agbayani. Her new TV show is "Mulawin vs. Ravena" where she's part of a huge cast that includes Dennis Trillo, Tom Rodriguez, Heart Evangelista, Carla Abellana and many more.

With regard to her love life, it's common knowledge she's now cozy with her foreigner beau named Chris Johnson. Recently, she was able to talk at length with her ex-BF Rocco Nacino. It's been a year since they parted ways but it's only now they had a proper closure. They met at a get together of their colleagues in their former show, "Beautiful Strangers", and had a heart-to-heart talk that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. It was Rocco who revealed that they finally got to talk about what went wrong in their romance in a very mature way and they both feel very light and relieved after their very long conversation.
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 “TU PUG IMATUY (The Right to Kill)” won the best picture, best director, best actress, best screenplay, best musical score and best cinematography awards in the recent SinagMaynila Film Festival. This kind of socially relevant film about the sad plight of ethnic or aboriginal people called Lumads is a great favorite of programmers and jurors in local film festivals who always choose them as winners, as seen in “Hunghong sa Yuta”, “Paglalakbay ng mga Bituin sa Gabing Madilim”, “Halaw (Ways of the Sea)”, “Baybayin”, “The Crescent Rising”, “Riddles of My Homecoming” and “Women of the Weeping River”. So when we saw “The Right to Kill”, we quickly concluded that this will win big in SinagMaynila. And we were right. Jurors and serious critics don't like works with unabashed commercial elements that try to please the audience and make them laugh, like "Bhoy Intsik".

The movie is the directorial debut of Arbi Barbarona, with script by Arnel Mardoquio (who wrote and directed some of the films we have mentioned above). This is about a Manobo family in the mountains of Mindanao who become the victims of military atrocities. Dawin (Jong Monzon) and Obunay (Malona Sulatan) live a primitive but relatively peaceful life with their three kids in a small hut, barely surviving a life of penury through hunting and farming.

Dawin tells a story to his kids about how their jungles were destroyed by greedy loggers and this is evident in the despoliation of the hills and mountains around them, all deplorably bare and bald. One day, the Manobos kill a giant boar then discover later that it’s actually one of the loggers.

Their youngest child dies and they bury him on a mountain top. On their way back to their hut, soldiers looking for NPA rebels abduct Dawin and Obunay. They are unjustifiably humiliated, sadistically tortured then forced to show the soldiers where the camp of the rebels can be found. You as a viewer cannot help but feel great outrage for all the indignities and physical abuse being done to the innocent couple.

They get to a community school in a distant village and the teacher is also held captive and tortured. Dawin is ruthlessly killed but the film concludes with a happy ending. Obunay succeeds in giving the merciless soldiers the violent comeuppance they truly deserve and she also gets reconciled with her surviving children.

The material is based on a true story and the real life victim is later seen being interviewed on cam as some sort of an epilogue. The film surely makes its point but, in the hands of a better filmmaker, we couldn’t help but think that this could have been more engrossing and more affecting viewing. The cinematography is quite good and we truly enjoyed the panoramic vistas of the balding mountains. But the film is seriously marred by very amateurish acting, first by the soldiers, then also by the lead couple themselves.

All the actors, whether Manobos or soldiers, are obviously not trained on how to act for the camera. A more experienced actress could have done wonders in the role of Obunay and given it a more nuanced performance, specially in the film’s final act which is largely focused on her (and which could have also benefited from tighter and more expert editing.) Sadly, Sulatan’s face here is mostly blank, even in the scenes where she’s crying but you don’t get to really feel her emotions. She's lucky that there are no other female leads among the SinagMaynila entries who can give her any kind of competition so she easily won hands down.

But still, no doubt that the core material is very powerful. If there’s strife in Mindanao today, it’s true that it’s because of the negligence of past governments, the destruction of the Lumads’ traditional indigenous way of life, the unscrupulous exploitation of their natural resources for the benefit of those in power (still happening up to now with ruthless mining) and the senseless and violent atrocities committed by the military.

The havoc and strife wrought now by the NPA, the Abu Sayyaf, the Moro Liberation Front, all these would not have happened if the people in what is known as the Land of Promise were not exploited, deprived, maltreated and abused with impunity through so many years. We can’t blame them if they are now fiercely fighting for their rights.
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DIRECTOR DONDON SANTOS of “Northern Lights: A Journey to Love”, that opens this Wednesday, March 29, says the movie’s main story concerning a father who is estranged from his son is inspired by the story of his own dad and his half brother. “Years ago, may dumating sa amin, hinahanap ang father ko, kung kilala ko raw si Ricardo Santos, at siya raw si Dondon,” he says. “E, sabi ko, ako rin, Dondon ang name ko. Yun pala, half brothers kami. He’s ten years older than me and he passed away recently. Yun, sayang, they never really got close to each other ng father namin. Dito naman sa ‘Northern Lights’, anak ni Piolo Pascual si Raikko Mateo. Nang magpunta si Piolo sa Alaska, naiwan si Raikko as a baby sa mother niya, si Maricar Reyes. Pero years later, ipinadala ni Maricar si Raikko kay Piolo dahil may terminal illness na pala siya. The story then becomes how a father tries to win the love of his son na lumaking hindi siya kilala.”

When Dondon first pitched his concept to Regal, they liked it and gave it the green light right away. He has never worked with Piolo in a movie before but they worked in the “Maruja” soap starring Kristine Hermosa. “Actually, guest lang siya roon, and after that, di na kami nagkatrabaho uli. But after he read the script of ‘Northern Lights’, nagustuhan niya agad. He’s very cooperative and very collaborative while we’re shooting the movie and he gave a very good performance here. There’s a two minute scene with his parents, Tirso Cruz III and Sandy Andolong, na wala siyang dialogue, puro mata lang ang pinagagana niya, but he’s very good and it’s very effective.”

Direk Dondon is the only member of the movie who got to actually see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska. “It’s really awesome at makikita yun dito sa movie in all its glory.”
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JANINE GUTIERREZ, the star of the hit afternoon show, “Legally Blind”, and Andre Paras, who’s part of “Encantadia”, both feel honored to be the National Youth Ambassadors of the World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines. Both of them are nature lovers so they’re happy to be part of a campaign to help protect our environment and Mother Nature.

“I think it should be everyone’s concern on how we can contribute towards environmental protection,” says Janine. “I’m a beach lover and every time I go the beach, I can’t help but feel sad whenever I see people leaving their trash on the sand or on the weather. Hindi ba puedeng pag-alis nila, dalhin nila ang sarili nilang mga basura. Sobrang ganda ng ating tourist spots, ng ating natural resources, kaya dapat lang alagaan nating mabuti ang mga ito. Let’s all do our part in keeping our surroundings clean and nurturing Mother Nature through proper garbage disposal and waste management.”

“I am so proud to be of help to this significant organization that watches over nature and our environment as I've been an active supportive of Earth Hour for many years now,” says Andre. “I’m learning a lot about how to be a more responsible citizen of Mother Earth at sana, lahat ng mga kabataan, maging mas conscious kung paano sila makakatulong kasi sila rin and the future generations ang makikinabang dito.” The two stars were present at the Earth Houe Philippines' main switch off event held at the MOA Complex on March 25. We totally agree with this advocacy of these two socially conscious stars. We hope they can visit various colleges and universities so they can enlighten today’s young people on the need to be more vigilant and aware about the importance of protecting our environment and nurturing all of nature around us.
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Mar 28, 2017

VILMA SANTOS as a congresswoman got much praise for sticking to her principles when she voted no to the death penalty. Now, she continues to impress us all the more with the new bill she has filed in the present congress. This bill pushes for the approval of a national program for marine culture that would establish aquamarine farms in the shorelines of coastal towns. The current practice is for our poor fishermen to go out into the deep blue sea to fish for their daily livelihood, putting themselves so much at risk against Mother Nature and other dangers in the open ocean.

In Rep. Vilma Santos Recto's bill, barangays may consolidate fishermen as working cooperatives who will create floating cages where they can culture fish and no longer need to go out far into the open sea. In an aquamarine cooperative, they don't have to even borrow money for fuel and supplies when they sail to faraway places to fish, even in controversial fishing grounds where they even get accosted

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MIKE TAN is happy to be part of the number one hit soap in the afternoon today, “Ika-6 na Utos”, whose ratings are higher than the noontime musical variety shows, so it's now being extended to be shown up to Saturday and not just Monday to Friday. "Big challenge sa'kin to be acting dito with Gabby Concepcion, Sunshine Dizon and Ryza Cenon and thankful ako na sa'kin napunta ang role ni Angelo Trinidad na in love kay Sunshine after maghiwalay sila ni Gabby," he says. "Malalalim yung hugot ng character ko kaya mabigat ang role na ito. Ipinaglalaban niya ang pag-ibig niya, very vulnerable siya, umiiiyak talaga. But I'm glad na very positive ang feedback sa'kin ng viewers and netizens dahil sa portrayal ko kay Angelo."

Mike just renewed his contract as a Kapuso and GMA exe Lilybeth Rasonable praised him openly and declares that he is really growing well as an actor. "We're happy because he's a homegrown talent and he continues to remain with us," she adds.

"Bale 13 years na ako sa GMA since I won sa Starstruck 2 at hindi ko talaga makita ang sarili ko na aalis pa sa GMA," Mike adds. "Sila talaga ang nag-nurture sa akin from the start at nararamdaman ko ang pagmamahal nila all throughout dahil hindi nila ako pinabayaan. Lagi nilang ipinararamdam sa akin yung tiwala nila sa projects na binigay nila sa'kin, kaya naririto pa rin ako."
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THEA TOLENTINO admits she was happy but nervous when she was informed that she will be joining the cast of "Destined to Be Yours", where she now plays Trish, the first girlfriend in college of Alden Richard as Benjie. It was Trish, who broke Benjie's heart when he caught her kissing with a classmate, played by newcomer James Teng.

"Siempre, medyo kinabahan ako kasi we all know how protective and AlDub fans sa love team nila," she says. "Naisip kong tiyak na maba-bash ako. Kaya pinauna ko na agad sa fans nilang wag nilang seseryosohin ang pang-aagaw na gagawin ko kay Alden dahil trabaho lang po ito."

So how is it so far? "Okay naman. Both Alden and Maine are friendly, easy to get along with. Si Alden, nagpakain pa sa restaurant niya, yung Concha's, nung first taping day ko for their show."

Is she replacing Koreen Medina as the show's contravida? "Ay hindi. Nasa eksena pa rin siya. May pagkakikay yung character niya as Marjorie. Ako naman, super maldita na in love pa rin kay Alden kasi walang closure yung aming paghihiwalay. It's because of me kaya si Alden, wala nang sinerseryosong babae sa story. So ngayon, nag-meet uli kami at hahabul-habulin ko siya. Abangan nyo mga eksena namin ni Maine dahil tiyak na magkakaroon kami ng mga tarayan portion. And once again, gustong ko pong ipaalala sa diehard fans niya na trabaho lang po ang lahat, kaya sana, wag silang magagalit sa akin, please."
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Mar 26, 2017

IVAN DORSCHNER’s first claim to fame was when pop star Katy Perry performed here in Manila in 2012 then she asked someone to come up on stage while she’s performing. Ivan did and she even gets to kiss him. The video of their kissing scene went viral.

“It was my aunt who pushed me to go up on stage,” Ivan says. “I was so embarrassed but after the kiss, it all became unforgettable.”

He has now embarked on a new chapter in his career. “I went back to my studies in the States after that and tried to forget showbiz. But when James Reid came for a show there and we met, he encouraged me to return to Manila to try showbiz anew. And now, I’d like to thank GMA-7 dahil mas nakilala ako rito because of ‘Meant to Be’. People who see me in public now call me Ethan, my name in the show.”

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