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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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Oct 25, 2016

THERE have been many local films about the oldest profession. The late National Artists Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal have their own versions: “White Slavery” and “Lunes, Martes, Miyerkules…” for Brocka and “Ligaw na Bulaklak” for Bernal. Other films in the same genre include “Prosti”, “Mga Kalapati ng Dewey Blvd.”, “Mga Rosas sa Putikan”, etc.

But you haven’t seen nothing yet unless you’ve seen “Area” by Louie Ignacio, which won the Special Jury Prize at the Eurasia International Filmfest in Kazakhstan. Written by Robbie Tantingco who wrote last year’s award-winning “Ari, My Life with a King”, “Area” is the most shocking, most disturbing film on prostitution we have seen.

The title is derived from a place called Area in Angeles City. During the heydays of the US Airbase called Clark Field, American soldiers on rest and recreation get their hired women from a notorious place called Fields Avenue. But local men who don’t have as much money as the G.I.’s go to a place called Area, where women are much much cheaper.

During its heydays in the 60s to the 80s, it’s said there were about 700 brothels in Area. In the movie, Area has already lost its appeal and there are now only 3 red houses left in it. The movie focuses on the brothel owned by Allen Dizon’s family for four generations. Their prostitutes are held like captives inside their seedy, sordid “casa”.

These lowly women of the flesh are Tabs Sumulong (the oldest one who’s in her 50 but claims her pussy remains 18 years old), Sarah Brakensiek (a grossly overweight woman you’d wonder who’d ever want to bed her), Ireen Cervantes (who looks like she’s the youngest, but is actually the former Rajah Montero who appeared in past films like “Katas”, “Langit Mo Kaligayahan Ko”, “Kamandag ni Venus” ), Sue Prado (who has three kids) and Ai Ai de las Alas as Hillary, an aging prostitute who dreams of going to America to look for the son she lost during the eruption of Pinatubo in 1991.

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JOYCE CHING plays her most challenging role to date as a young unwed mother in “Hahamakin ang Lahat”, which will replace “Sinungaling Mong Puso” on GMA-7’s Afternoon Prime starting Monday. Did she feel any reluctance in accepting the role?

“Yes, my initial fear is baka hindi ko makayang gampanan convincingly,” she says. “I’ve never been pregnant so siempre, ayokong maging peke ang dating ng character ko as I don’t know the feeling nung girl na nagkaroon ng dilemma na baka buntis siya. But then, kung di ko naman gagawin, baka pagsisihan ko, so I just asked our director Don Michael Perez to help me and guide me.”

“Hahamakin ang Lahat” is her most daring, most mature role to date. She does a lips-to-lips kissing scene with ex-BF Kristoffer Martin for the first time. She’s also shown in a two-piece bikini.

“This show will signal the end of my tweetums days,” she adds. “Pasaway ang character ko rito as Rachel Tan. May pagkarebelde. Swimmer ako rito. Sa scene na naka-one piece swimsuits lahat ng kasama ko sa team namin, ako lang ang nag-two piece. Marami na kaming nagawang shows ni Kristoffer like ‘Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin’, ‘Healing Hearts’, ‘Because of You’, pero dito lang kami may kissing scene na torrid talaga. Masuwerte rin ako kasi puro magagaling ang kasama namin, like Eula Valdes as my mom, also Snooky Serna and Ariel Rivera, with Thea Tolentino, Renz Valerio, Marina Benipayo, Daria Ramirez, Mark Abaya, Jet Pangan, Mona Louise Rey and introducing dito si Bruno Gabriel, anak ng dating aktres na si Lani Lobangco bilang karibal ni Kristoffer sa akin.”
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THE CAST OF “Sa Piling ni Nanay” has reason to be happy and greet everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as their show will be aired until next year. The drama series started airing in June 2016 and after four months on the air, it continues to reign supreme in its time slot so it’s not surprising that GMA-7 has decided to extend its telecast.

“We’re all so thankful that viewers appreciate the hard work we put into each episode of ‘Sa Piling ni Nanay’,” says lead actress Yasmien Kurdi. “Anywhere I go, loyal viewers tell me na masyado silang apektado sa mga kaganapan sa story kaya hindi nila maiwan ang pagsubaybay rito. Lalo na ngayon, namatay na si Nova Villa as Matilda at ako ang itinuturo ni Katrina Halili as Scarlet na siyang mastermind sa pagpatay rito. Siempre, interesado ang viewers malaman kung magwawagi ba si Katrina sa mga pakana at plano niya. Isa pang secret na inaabangan nila kung mabubunyag is the fact na ako talaga ang biological mother ni Jillian Ward as Katherine and not Katrina. Kaya nga inaabangan nila talaga ang bawat episode para makita kung magsasapakan na naman kaming dalawa ni Katrina. Gustong-gusto raw nilang nakikitang nagsasampalan at nagsasabunutan kami, e.”

Is it there was a time “na nagkapikunan sila” when their catfight became for real? “Nagkakasakitan kami talaga kasi we make it a point na huwag dayain ang eksena. But after the take, we say sorry to each other. Mahirap ang fight scenes namin kasi mga naka-high heels pa kami. Kapag na-off balance ka, puede kaming matumbang dalawa.”

Another angle that interest viewers is what will happen to Mark Herras as Jonas and his love for Yasmien as Ysabel? Mark really cares for her but he knows that Gabby Eigenmann as Benedict was the one who helped Yasmien a lot at the time she was down and out. “Hindi puedeng basta talikuran ni Ysabel si Benedict kahit mahal din niya si Jonas kasi malaki ang utang na loob niya rito. Ito ang nagpabago sa dating miserableng takbo ng buhay niya kaya siya guminhawa. Basta abangan nyo dahil magkakaroon ng bagong twists and bagong characters sa story to make it more interesting and intriguing.”
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Oct 24, 2016

ON APRIL 20, 2010, the worst offshore oil rig disaster happened 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. This is the subject of the movie “Deepwater Horizon”, which shows a by-the-numbers account of the events that led to the largest environmental disaster in history that caused the death of 11 crew members.

The movie is told mainly from the point of view of the Transocean chief electronics technician, Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg). He’s first shown at home with his wife Felicia (Kate Hudson) just as he’s about to leave for his three-week stay on the oil rig. Their daughter Sydney (Stella Allen) shows them what she did in a school report, using a can of soda, to demonstrate what her father does at work.

What happens to the can is a perfect foreshadowing of what exactly will happen in the oil rig later. We then meet two other important characters. First is Dynamic Positioning Officer Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez of “Jane the Virgin”) who’s shown repairing her own car when it won’t start. Then there’s Installation Manager and crew leader Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) who asks a British Petroleum (BP) executive to take off his magenta tie since it’s the color of their highest alert.

Jimmy gets mad when he learned that BP manager Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich, who’d appear to be the villain in the film), let go of the crew who’s already there to do safety tests for a fee of $100,000,
without the test being performed. Jimmy then insisted on having a pressure test done and this reveals alarming results that might put the oil rig in danger. But Vidrine dismisses it, saying there’s not mud pushed up by the pressure.

Mike warns that the rig is in a precarious situation and soon the drill crew sees explosions of oil, gas and mud. By then, Jimmy is already taking a shower while Mike is talking with Felicia on skype when something explodes and they’re cut off. The disaster gets worse and the ship moored closely to the oil rig detect the dangerous happenings and warns the Coast Guard. Soon, everyone is trying to get into lifeboats to save their lives. Jimmy is badly injured but continues to help in saving his crew members. Mike does his best to find the missing Andrea.

Directed by Peter Berg (who also directed Mark Wahlberg in “Lone Survivor”, an acclaimed 2013 film about a mission to kill a Taliban leader that went wrong) does solid work in presenting the film as a procedural of what really happened on the oil rig. You may not exactly understand what’s going on but they try their best to explain how the rig works. In effect, the British Petroleum Corporation people just want to get the drilling going so they can start making money while the crew is more concerned about safety. Greed gets the better of the BP people and that’s when disaster strikes, and it’s beautifully staged with the help of fiery and awesome special effects on the big screen that make you feel that you’re actually there on that fateful hellish day.

Honestly, though, it fails in making the viewer to care more and be more emotionally involved in its thinly developed human characters who could have made this a victorious story of survival. John Malkovich is very good and effective as the villainous Donald Vidrine who talks with a Cajun accent, but we wish that there’s also an effort to make deeper connection with the other characters so they’ll come out more sympathetic to create more thrill and tension in us viewers.

The recent movie, “Sully”, shows this can be done. We already know what happened and how it ends, but it still succeeded in creating a lot of tension for us viewers. On the other hand, “Deepwater Horizon” makes us feel more like we’re just watching a documentary that re-enacts the increasingly perilous incidents and circumstances that lead to the tragical catastrophe. Imagine, 11 people perished in this and yet they were given matter-of-fact roles that could have been more emotionally engrossing if the script were better written. In the end credits, the photos of these people are shown, along with the other real life characters, and we really wish we could have felt more empathy for all of them.
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THE RESPONSE OF AlDub fans to the Kalyeserye wedding of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza is just overwhelming. It trended number one worldwide on Twitter and the ratings soared to the roof. To think it’s just make-believe as part of “Eat Bulaga”, but the fans treated it like it’s real and looks like they’re going to be more possessive of their idols from now on.

The wedding was held at Christ the King Church on E. Rodriguez as the Lolas go there frequently. The ceremony started at about 1:30pm with Rodjun Cruz as best man, followed by Alden and Ai Ai de las Alas as his Lola Babah who walked with him to the altar. The principal sponsors include Joey de Leon, Helen Gamboa, Mike Enriquez, Irma Adlawan (the couple’s co-star in “Imagine You and Me”) while the secondary sponsors are “Trops” stars Kenneth Medrano-Toni Aquino (for veil), Miggy Tolentino-Taki (for candle), and Jake Ejercito (Maine’s classmate)-Aicelle Santos (for cord). Ring bearer is Baby Baste while coin bearer is Sandro Sotto. The flower girls include Ryzza Mae Dizon and Scarlet Mago (daughter of Pia Guanio). The maid of honor is Maine’s sister, Coleen Mendoza. The choir sang “God Gave Me You” while Maine is walking to the altar in her beautiful (not recycled this time) new gown.

Wally Bayola as Lola Nidora and Ai Ai as Lola Babah now call each other Balae. Everyone thought the wedding is off because of a call Maine received the day before, but it turned out the call said “hindi matutuloy ang honeymoon in Hong Kong” because they’ll be going to Europe instead. The fans swooned and shrieked when the couple exchanged “I do’s”. Some even cried when they put on each other’s wedding rings and read their wedding vows. And when they kissed each other on the lips, everyone was in kilig mode.

The fans who were lucky to be invited to the wedding really dressed up and behaved like it’s a real one. They all have their own gifts to the newly weds. The question now on everybody’s lips is: what is next in the Kalyeserye after the wedding? Will they see Maine getting preggers and having hers and Alden’s own kids? Let’s leave it to the writers of “Eat Bulaga” to cook up more exciting episodes for today’s number one love team!
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CONGRATULATIONS to Nathalie Hart. She went to New York to attend the IFFM (International Filmfest Manhattan) where her movie, “Siphayo”, is an entry. She was so surprised during the awards night that she won as best actress for her role as a young nurse who seduced a father (Allan Paule) and his two sons (Joem Bascon and Luis Alandy), and she succeeded in bedding all of them.

“Hindi ko talaga ine-expect ito,” she says. “I just went there to represent our movie. Hindi ko akalaing mananalo pala akong best actress. Blessing ito, a confirmation na wala akong dapat ipagsisi sa ginawa kong sexy scenes and love scenes in the movie. Hindi nasayang lahat ng pagod, emotional turmoil and disrobing na ginawa ko. Thanks to our producer, Mrs. Baby Go of BG Productions, and to our director, Joel Lamangan, who guided me well in interpreting my very difficult role of a scheming seductress who has a secret agenda.”

The movie was about to be shown three weeks ago when line producer Dennis Evangelista decided to postpone its playdate due to lack of theaters. They are finally opening in theaters nationwide on November 2, as an All Souls Day presentation.

“Confident kaming papasukin ng tao ang ‘Siphayo’ at hindi sila masisiphayo sa sobrang pagka-daring ng movie,” says Dennis. “Nathalie gave her all at kahit nga ang mga matagal nang patay, bubuhayin niya uli at gagalitin dahil sa mga mapangahas niyang eksena in ‘Siphayo’ na wala na siyang itinago.”
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Oct 23, 2016

BOSSA NOVA QUEEN Sitti celebrates her 10 years in the showbiz with a concert and an album launch. The concert billed “ElectroSITTI” doubles as her birthday celebration and is also the title of her new album. This is a two- day event set on November 25 and 26, 2016, 8:00PM at the Music Museum. Her guests include Jason Dy, Loonie, Silver Filter and the UST Percussion Ensemble.

The concert is divided into two parts. The first part features Sitti as her old self singing her bossanova hits. She will also perform a cut from the new album entitled, Tangled. The second part will see Sitti in a combination of bossa nova songs and EDM (Electronic Dance Music) with her good friend DJ Silver Filter, who is a Pinoy DJ known in the indie scene. One of these songs is “Bid You Love”, about feeling too much and being filled with so much desire. Audiences can still chill out and dance at the same time.

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EVERYONE predicted that the relationship of Janine Gutierrez and Elmo Magalona will end up in separation after Elmo transferred to ABS-CBN. And this prophecy finally happened a couple of weeks ago. It’s good that they are said to be still in good terms and parted ways in an amicable manner.

“They hardly see each other na kasi,” says our source. “Unlike noong nasa GMA pa sila when they were paired in several shows at lagi silang nagkikita. Obviously, it’s not true that absence makes the heart grown fonder. And it’s not true that Janella Salvador is the cause of the breakup. Hindi nga kinagat ang show nilang ‘Born for You’ ni Elmo. Mas excited pa ang fans sa balik-tambalan nina Janella ang Marlo Mortel in Regal’s ‘Mano Po 7: Chinoy’ sa Pasko.”

Jake Cuenca also reported during the presscon of “Mulat” that he has broken up for good with model GF Sarah Grace Kelly. They’ve already parted ways before but got together again. “It’s not true that love is sweeter the second time around,” says Jake. “Long distance relationship simply doesn’t work since she’s in the U.S. and I’m here.”

The third couple to call it quits is Denise Laurel and Ginebra cager BF Sol Mercado. Denise was the one who broke off their engagement. Everyone is shocked since Denise painted the guy as an ideal mate who has even totally accepted her love son from a past relationship that also didn’t work.

Denise wrote this on her social media account after someone tagged her about the championship of Sol’s Ginebra team: “From now on Sol and I are just friends. I am very happy for him! But please don’t tag me on anything that has to do with him. We both tried our best. Please respect Sol. He did not cheat on me. He didn’t do anything wrong. He’s amazing and brought so much into my life. God has something planned for us both.”

But if there’s separation (hiwalayan), there’s also reconciliation (nagkabalikan). This is Zsa Zsa Padilla and Arch. Conrad Onglao, who’s also about to get married when Zsa Zsa broke up with Conrad, who then made a vow that he won’t stop until he has succeeded in winning her back. Obviously, he was successful in convincing Zsa Zsa to give him a second chance and hopefully, their wedding will finally happen this time. But close friends of Zsa Zsa feel nervous for her: “We thought nauntog na siya. But obviously, hindi siya nadala.” Other friends, though, believe the contrary: “Don’t be nega about it. Let’s just be happy for Zsa Zsa.”
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MEGAN YOUNG is a member of Starstruck Batch 2 and she was one of the earliest contestants ousted from the reality show. But now, she’s much more active than any of the show’s four top winners: Ryza Cenon, LJ Reyes, Mike Tan and the now missing from showbiz CJ Muere. Her hit new primetime show “Alyas Robin Hood” is currently clobbering its competitor, “Magpahanggang Wakas”, which stars another Starstruck alumna, Arci Munoz, who’s from Batch 3 and where Arci is now also more popular than the winners (Jackie Rice, the now missing Iwa Moto and Gian Carlos, and the late Marky Cielo.)

“Marami talaga akong blessings na dapat ipagpasalamat,” Megan says. “Buti na lang hindi ako naging impatient and I just waited that things will get better in their right own time. Sa ngayon, I really can’t complain, lalo na nga number one sa ratings ang show namin ni Dingdong Dantes and we all like to thank the viewers for watching us regularly every night.”

This week in “Alyas Robin Hood”, Megan as Dr. Sarri sees the remains of a baby found in a trash can, obviously the victim of the mysterious Dr. Benitez. It was referred to her by a secret caller and she suspects that the voice belongs to Dingdong as Pepe, who makes his own investigation about the strange case of kidnapped babies. Pepe and Andrea Torres as Venus attends a clandestine masquerade ball in a big warehouse where the tag is “Live forever”. It’s possible that the event has something to do with the kidnapped babies.

Pepe and Venus also plan to infiltrate the House of Aglaea where they suspect nefarious activities that have something to do with the missing babies are going on. Venus is shocked and horrified when she sees the real appearance of the kidnapped babies inside the horror house of Aglaea. Brace yourselves for more exciting plot turns in this week’s “Alyas Robin Hood”.
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ANNE CURTIS shines in “Bakit Lahat ng Gwapo, May Boyfriend?” simply because she’s not afraid of making fun of herself or being the butt of jokes, like in that scene where she rebuffs Joross Gamboa and he tells her, “Hindi ka naman kagandahan. Maputi ka lang, ang kapal ng labi mo.” The movie itself has no dramatic pretensions, unlike “The Third Party” where the major characters get to shed tears in a number of drama scenes. It just wants to make people laugh and has plenty of feel good scenes, like when Anne and Dennis sang “May Minamahal”.

Anne is Kylie, a wedding planner and fag hag who’s a bonafide “cover girl” after having had boyfriends who eventually turned out be gay and are just using her as a cover up or “panakip butas”. Her boss, Benj (Paolo Ballesteros), is a straight acting gay who asks her to use her “gaydar” in helping determine whether or not his balikbayan childhood friend and lifelong secret crush, Diego (Dennis Trillo), is also a closet gay, even if he is about to marry another balikbayan girl, Fiona (Yam Concepcion).

All the supposed signs of being a confirmed beki is in Diego (like he can identify the color of Anne’s lipstick and he screams like a girl while watching a horror flick), but Anne, who’s very bitter about gays because of her past experiences with them, still finds herself also drawn to him and worse, slowly falling for him.

The film is from writer-director Jun Lana, who does serious drama in indie films (like “Mga Kuwentong Barbero”, “Anino saLikod ng Buwan”) and light rom-coms with a touch of gay-ness in mainstream films (like “The Prenup” and this one.) Here, he makes sure that gays are not just made fun of but treated with understanding, even Ramon Ramon (a bodyguard of Lola Nidora in Eat Bulaga’s hit Kalyeserye), the buff gay gym trainer who also has the hots for Dennis, and also Michael de Mesa who plays twin roles as Dennis’ dad, a tough military man, and as his uncle/aunt, a fashionable cross-dresser. In effect, the movie’s message is that being gay and loving it is one’s personal decision and there are no strict rules about outing yourself.

After playing gay roles in “Aishite Imasu” and “My Husband’s Lover”, Dennis is now the believable object of affection of gays in this movie, while Paolo is an effortlessly hilarious scene-stealer as his best friend who’s secretly pining for him. Paolo is quite funny even in his asides about Dennis that he whispers only to himself.

All of the leads are given the own moments to shine, but like what we’ve said before, it is the charming and lovable Anne who holds the movie together. She’s effective in both her uproarious moments (like her drunken scene where she vents her wrath and rants against straight-acting fairies and her “moaning” kissing scene with Dennis) and in her serious scenes (like when she finally reveals her true and honest sentiments for Diego.)

Production values from design to cinematography are also first rate. So all in all, if you want light and breezy entertainment, “Bakit Lahat ng Gwapo, May Boyfriend?” is the movie you should watch.
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