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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.
Latest Articles

Apr 24, 2018

MARICEL SORIANO was last seen in the horror-comedy episode of the trilogy “Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin” opposite QC Mayor Herbert Bautista. She is now back on the big screen in Regal’s special Mother’s Day presentation, “My Two Mommies”.

“Actually, special participation lang ako rito sa movie as the auntie of Paolo Ballesteros,” she says in an exclusive interview with select members of the press at Novotel. “As Paolo's only remaining relative, ang gusto ko, magkaasawa na siya para ma-maintain ang family name namin. But I was shocked when I learned he’s a vakla! E, yun pala, may anak na siya sa ex-girlfriend niyang si Solenn Heussaff without his knowing it. Lumaki sa France. Bumalik dito si Solenn at pinakilala sa amin ang bata at hinimatay ako sa pagka-shock when I learned about it.”

She says Eric has actually mentioned to her another project of his intended for her. “I thought ito na yun, pero iba pala. Pero siempre, nang malaman kong ang good friend kong si Eric Quizon ang magdidirek nito, I told him agad na hindi puedeng hindi ako kasama sa movie niya. Our friendship goes a long way back. Andami naming ginawang pelikula together as co-stars, like ‘Inagaw Mo ang Lahat sa Akin’, ‘Super Inday’, ‘I Will Survive’, the very first ‘Mano Po’ movie and ‘Bahay Kubo’. Tapos, ang daddy niya, daddy ko rin sa John en Marsha for the longest time, di ba? Kuya ko roon ang brother niya, si Rollie Quizon, na we’re so sad with his recent passing. Naku, tama na, baka magkaiyakan, next topic please!”
Maricel with director Eric Quizon

This is also a homecoming of sorts for her to Regal. “Of course, sa Regal ito, so kampante ako kasi dito kay Mother Lily ako lumaki at tumanda. Yung last movie nga na ginawa ko sa kanila, ‘Bahay Kubo’, nanalo pa akong best actress sa Metro-Manila Filmfest in 2007, kaya at home talaga ako rito.”

So she doesn’t mind playing a supporting role? “Not at all. Naging mother na nga ako ni Vice Ganda sa ‘Boy Girl Bakla Tomboy’, di ba?” And she she even won a best actress award for her rollicking performance in that movie.

So how is it working with Paolo and Solenn Heussaff? “Enjoy ako. Pareho silang magaling at magaan katrabaho, walang hangin sa ulo at walang mga ere. Parehong very professional kaya ang bilis-bilis ng trabaho namin. Masaya kaming lahat lagi sa set.”

Maricel with dir. Eric Quizon and prod Roselle Monteverde
She remains to live a quiet life with her two sons: Marron and Tien, now 30 and 24. She’s not eager to be a lola yet. “Sabi ko, huwag silang magmadali, mag-enjoy muna sila. Mahaba pa ang biyahe. Nakikinig naman. Si Tien, naka-5 girlfriends na yata.” Maybe they’re all afraid of their prospective mother in law? “Hoy, hindi, a. Mabait ako sa kanila.”

One reason why she’s not controversial is because she has no social media account, unlike Kris Aquino whose life is chronicled in the internet with all its most colorful details. “Tumagal naman ako nang ganito without social media. I believe ang mga artista should maintain their privacy, dapat nirerespeto at minamahal, gaya nina Tita Gloria Romero and Tita Susan Roces who have maintained their dignity all these years. Bakit ako magpe-Facebook or Twitter, tapos iba-bash lang ako? Mahirap makipag-away sa hindi mo kakilala at di mo nakikita, wala kang kalaban-laban as they have nothing to lose. Sa edad kong ito, babastusin lang ako? Huwag na.”

Maricel with director Eric Quizon
What can she say to stars who get bashed by haters? “Magdusa kayo, ginusto nyo yan, e. Puede namang mag-sign off ka, di ba? Kasi, sa social media, you lose all your mystery. Mas maganda yung behave na lang, huwag nang magmaldita lalo’t may edad na tayo.”

Last week, one of her best movies, “Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal”, was shown in its restored version and the consensus of all those who saw it is that she really gave one of her best performances in her career in that film. “Nakakatuwa nga kasi isa talaga yun sa mga paborito kong pelikula,” she beams. “It’s one of my best movies and I’m so proud na nagawa ko ito.”

When she did “Dalawang Mrs. Real” with GMA-7, it was a big hit on primetime and people thought she’d quickly have a followup project, but nothing came. What happened? “E, hindi sila magaling. Hindi nila sinundan, e.”

Is it true she became picky with her projects? “Sa akin lang naman, kailangan, maganda yung story, kasi yun talaga ang magdadala, e. At siempre, kailangan, maganda rin ang role ko.”

But now, she is finally back on TV with Angel Locsin in ABS-CBN’s “The General’s Daughter”. “I’m really happy kasi matapos ng matitinding dagok na pinagdaanan ko sa buhay ko, heto, after the rain, I can say that I’m back both sa movies at sa TV. No regrets sa mga nangyari before, basta ang mahalaga, tapos na yun at narito na uli ako. I wouldn’t be honest if I’d say na hindi ko hinahanap-hanap ang pagiging artista. Siempre, na-miss ko ko lahat yung pagharap ko sa kamera. But now, I can feel yung unconditional love for me and sobra-sobra akong na-touch.”

What’s her role in her new show? “Will she be the mom of Angel Locsin? “Hindi. May anak ako, pero hindi siya. Maganda ang story pero hindi pa yata puedeng ikuwento, so abangan nyo na lang. Basta excited ako sa TV show namin. Ang laki ng cast at puro magagaling ang kasama ko. Sa May 7 na ang start ng taping at on location daw sa isang island. Yun pa lang ang puede kong i-share sa inyo sa ngayon.”
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Apr 23, 2018

'BEIRUT' is a political thriller that reminds us of the old John Le Carre-Cold War Berlin spy novels also made into film like "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy". Set in the capital of Lebanon, it starts in 1972 with a well meaning American diplomat, Mason Skiles (Jon Hamm of "Mad Men"), hosting a party with various political types that include both Israelis and Palestinians.

He and his wife, Nadia (Leila Bekhti) are planning to adopt a 13-year old local orphan, Karim, who's helping in serving the guests in the party. Soon, American agents pop up asking Mason to give them Karim because he has an older brother who is a terrorist in the Munich Olympics, Abu Raial. Of course, Mason resists the idea, then shots erupt when gunmen intrude and his wife dies in the crossfire while Karim is taken away by his brother.

Cut to ten years later. Mason is now a labor dispute mediator in America with a drinking problem, obviously living a meaningless life and wasting his diplomatic skills on union and corporate problems. Someone then approaches him in a bar and offers money for him to return to Beirut.

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SO FINALLY, Jasmine Curtis Smith has signed up with GMA-7 and some Aldub fans have started bashing her as it was reported she will be paired with Alden Richards in his new show. But a reliable source told us this is simply not true as GMA has another show planned for Jasmine. We hope they’ll succeed in making her a top rater.

No doubt, Jasmine is an actress and she has won several acting awards to prove this. But she has yet to be a rater. TV5 has given her several shows but none of them really rated. Hopefully, GMA-7 will succeed in doing this for her. And here’s hoping she also gets to do a movie where she’s the lead star that will also hit it big at the box office. As of now, she reminds us of Iza Calzado, undoubtedy a great actress, but has yet to achieve the status of being a box office or a top rating star despite her prodigious talent and beauty.

As for Alden and Maine, it seems the idea of them working together again in a movie or TV show is quite remote, especially now that Maine is being linked to Juancho Trivino (who was suspended by GMA for his video flashing a dirty finger on Alden’s standee). Lately, there have been several sightings of Maine and Juancho being seen together, making fans suspect that something romantic must be brewing between them.

Maine and Juancho became friends while they’re doing the soap, “Destined to Be Yours”, with Alden. Some fans are uncomfortable with Maine still being a close friend to Juancho after he disrespected Alden and some complain na “mas kinampihan pa ni Maine si Juancho kaysa sa ka-love team niya.”

As of now, Maine is busy with her Facebook project and blog, “Humans of Barangay”, patterned after photographer Brandon Standon’s “Human of New York” that feature the real stories of people from all walks of life. Maine believes everyone has his own story to tell that can help teach other people some valuable lessons and provide inspiration in life.

She has so far featured the stories of her “Eat Bulaga” co-hosts Jose Manalo, Wally Bayola and Paolo Ballesteros. One touching episode showed her greeting a 94-old grandma, Lola Maria, when she celebrated her birthday. Being an Aldub fan, the Lola was so happy to see Maine greeting her in person.
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LJ REYES was last seen in the afternoon show about mistresses, “D’Originals”, last year. Now, she’s back on primetime in “The Cure”, where she plays Katrina, a clinical researcher and colleague of Tom Rodriguez in the laboratory that produces the virus that causes a national epidemic in the story. Off cam, it’s common knowledge that she’s on with Paolo Contis. Is it true they’re now officially engaged?

“No, hindi pa,” she says at the presscon of “The Cure”. “Naku, ayoko siyang pangunahan ano. Also, it’s not me na yung nagtatanong about that. Basta ako, hindi ako nagmamadali. Happy ako sa what we have now. Very close sa kanya ang son kong si Aki and treats him as his second father. Walang pressure ng kasal-kasal.”

A Starstruck Batch 2 discovery, what can she say that the winner in their batch, Ryza Cenon, has now transferred to ABS-CBN. “Siempre, I wish her well. Career move yun, e. Sana nga maging mas successful doon ang career niya.”

How about her? Will she also leave GMA for ABS-CBN? “Naku, hindi siguro. Wala akong balak lumipat kasi happy naman ako maging Kapuso. Hindi naman ako nababakante rito at challenging roles ang ibinibigay nila sa akin.”

In “The Cure”, she co-stars with Starstruck 1 winners, Jennylyn Mercado and Mark Herras, and they all have something in common: they’re all single parents. “Oo nga, ano? Kaya nga, kapag nasa set kami, we talk about our kids and how we rear them according to the best of our ability even if we’re all busy as working parents.”

How is her relationship now with Aki’s dad, Paulo Avelino? “Okay naman kami. We’re in good terms and he’s free to visit our son anytime. When Aki has activities in school, he also attends and I always remind Aki na Paulo is his dad. Hindi naman makakaila kasi magkamukha sila.”
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Apr 22, 2018

BELLADONNAS is a new all-female group of seven singing and dancing sexy young girls, with ages ranging from 17 to 20 years old, launched recently at Plaza Ibarra. They were discovered through auditions held by 3:16 Events & Talent Management headed by their Nanay Len Carillo, who also manages the all-male group Clique5, in whose recent concert at Music Museum they were the special guests. The group’s members are:

Quinn - 20 years old, she looks like Desiree del Valle in person but with darker morena good looks. She’s taking up electronics & communications engineering at TIP and is the daughter of their group’s manager, Nanay Len.

Jazzy - 20, she’s already a college graduate, having finished masscomm at FEU.

Chloe - 18, she’s in grade 12 and became controversial during their launch as she admitted having been the girlfriend of Daniel Fernando when she was 17. “Pero move on na po tayo,” she adds. “Matagal na po yun, e. Friends na lang kami ngayon.”

Xie - 18, she’s one of the most photogenic members of their group. Says she joined showbiz to showcase her many talents.

Stiff - 18, from Cebu, where she’s taking up hotel and restaurant management.

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ALFRED VARGAS is on his second term as QC 5th District Congressman and he’ll definitely run for reelection for his final term. He’s not sure if he’d seek higher office or retire from politics to focus on acting once again. “It’s hard to be a public servant,” he says. “Maybe I’d just give more time to my family and go back to showbiz, try directing. But I’m keeping my options open. We’ll see how we go.”

Right now, he feels happy and lucky that he chose “Kambal Karibal” to be his comeback teleserye. “About 3 or 4 years din akong nawala sa TV. Then last year, GMA offered me a guest role in ‘Encantadia’ and after that, this full length role in ‘Kambal Karibal’ na we never thought would be this big a hit. Extended na naman kami, for the 4th time, up to June. So we’d be running for a total of 8 months. And I’m really enjoying it, being part of a great ensemble cast. Everyone’s professional, especially my two leading ladies, Carmina Villaroel and Jean Garcia who are both wonderful actresses that I have to step up para hindi nila ako maiwanan. Everywhere I go now, people call me, Bebe ko, Bebe ko, which is what Jean calls me in the show. This is the big proof na pinapanood talaga ng mga tao ang ‘Kambal Karibal’. And mark my word, the young stars we’re working with, lalo na sina Bianca Umali at Kyline Alcantara, mga revelation at malayo ang mararating nila dahil sobrang gagaling nila.”

As a congressman, he belongs to the top 10 among 292 representatives when it comes to legislative output. “Pagdating sa pinakamaraming bills filed and approved and privilege speeches delivered, I’m proud to be part of the top 10. Among the laws I helped author and have been approved are the Iskolar ng Bayan act that gives free college education, Go Negosyo Act, Mandatory Philhealth Coverage for Senior Citizens, Youth Entrepreneurship act. Sa priority list naman, kasama ang Independent Film Incentives act, Artist Welfare Protection Act and Freelancers Protection act that aim to help the local film industry and its people to encourage the production of quality films.”

But he’ll never forget acting. He has just finished a new action-drama, “Men in Uniform”, co-starring with Rayver Cruz, Jeric Raval, Rommel Padilla, Empress Shuck, about the exploits of dedicated policemen. After this, he will produce a big-budgeted project that he won’t disclose the details yet. “Basta malaki siya, abangan nyo. Di ko puedeng pabayaan ang acting at ang industriya. Hindi ko ito makakalimutan dahil diyan ako nagsimula and I won’t be where I am now without it.”
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KATRINA HALILI gets to take her 6-year old daughter Katie to the taping of her current hit show, “The Stepdaughters”. “Bakasyon kasi siya sa school kaya may time na puede ko siyang isama sa work para doon kami mag-bonding at kulitan,” she says. “Enjoy naman siya meeting my co-stars like Megan Young and Mikael Daez. But kapag gumagabi na, pinauuna ko na siyang umuwi so she can rest at naiiwan na lang ako sa taping.”

What if Katie wants to be a child actress? “Naku, ang bilis nga ng panahon. Parang kailan lang, baby pa, ngayon, ang laki na. But I don’t think may hilig siyang umarte. Mas mana yata sa ama niya (Kris Lawrence) dahil mas mahilig siya sa music. Preferaby, though, mas gusto kong tumutok muna siya sa pag-aaral.”

What are the most important lessons in life that she’d teach Katie? “Una sa lahat, I want her to realize the importance of family. Although her dad and I are not together, we always make her feel that she’s very much loved. Ayoko kasing she would seek it pa from other people. I want her to always feel assured that she can find love and acceptance and support from us, her own family. Also, I want her to have a strong relationship with God. Sa dinami-rami ng pinagdaanan ko, God has always been there for me when I’m down and I want her to acknowledge the blessings God gives us everyday.”

Viewers of “The Stepdaughters” continue to express their displeasure over her villainous acts in the story. “Happy nga akong nagagalit sila sa’kin dahil it means I’m doing my job well. Tutok lang sila sa bawat episode kasi ngayon, sumasagot-sagot na si Megan as Mayumi sa akin. Hindi na siya basta papayag tapakan ang pagkatao niya at matatalim na ang mga salita niya. Marunong ng sumagot at lumalaban na. Nang laitin ko siya about her getup ng ‘What a cheap dress!’, sumagot sa akin ng ‘Laht ng nasa katawan mo, ultimo lipstick sa labi mo, galing sa pera ng ama ko’. Siempre, tameme ang beauty ko as Isabella kasi totoo naman. Abangan nyo lang kasi marami pang maiinit na salpukan sa mga eksena namin sa ‘The Stepdaughters’ everyday!”
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 MADER RICKY REYES, beauty maven and award winning TV host of the long running show, “Gandang Ricky Reyes”, has always been known for her philanthropic involvements in instituting livelihood programs for the poor. She now partners with Sec. Gene Mamondiong of TESDA (Technical Education & Skills Development Authority) and Gen. Mgr. Marcelino Escalada and Asst. Mgr. Froilan Kampitan of NHA (National Housing Authority) in SKILLS 2D MAX: Angking Galing Mobile Livelihood Caravan that will help train poor people living in depressed areas to earn on their own.

“I started doing this with Isang Gunting, Isang Suklay in 1984 sa Bulihan in Gen. Mariano Alvarez, under the Ramos administration,” says Mader Ricky. “I’ve worked under other administrations and this time, with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte naman. I love working with Sec. Mamondiong kasi straight siya, galit sa corruption. When he took over TESDA, he sent letters to various schools kasi dati, ang partnership is with schools. Sa mga sinulatan niya, nagbalikan ang sulat ng karamihan. It turned out, the schools where TESDA money are supposed to go, non-existent pala. So saan napunta yung pera? This time, hands on si Sec. Mamondiong kaya we partner with NHA in taking the training to the barangay level. Hindi kailangang magpunta ng participants sa schools dahil kami mismo ang pupunta sa kanila at lahat ng gagamitin sa training nila, libre. Noon pa, sinabi ko nang yung basta ire-relocate mo ang informal settlers won’t be that effective kasi wala silang jobs doon. So they just get their house and lots, then they sell it, tapos balik sila sa squatting sa siyudad. Ayoko ng doleouts, yung umaasa lang sa hingi. Dapat, you should help create opportunities for livelihood right doon sa lugar na nilipatan nila. That’s our goal, lalo pa ngayong maraming solo mothers na mag-isang pinapalaki ang mga anak nila.”

“Poverty is the biggest problem of our country and Pres. Duterte really aims to help uplift the plight of our poor,” says Sec. Mamondiong. “And we can do this by training our people. Right now, gustong-gusto ang Filipino skilled workers abroad, kilala sila sa buong mundo kasi masisipag. So we should train more of our people, even construction workers who we need for Pres. Duterte’s Build Build Build program. Kaya lang, after training them, they prefer to work abroad kasi mas malaki raw ang bayad sa kanila. So with the training we’ll do, they can put up their own family enterprises para sila maging entrepreneurs. We’ve already sent letters to all barangays so they can send their poor people to train with us.”

The biggest area they’ll help is Payatas, which has 250,000 people. They’re partnering with QC Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte to do this. Other areas include Bagong Silang, Welfareville, Montalban Resettlement, Smokey Mountain, Dagat-Dagatan, Maricaban, Manggahan Floodway, Bilibid Resettlement and San Jose del Monte Resettlement. All participants will be given an allowance of P100 per day during training and starter kits to help them start with their own small business after the training. The grand launch will be on May 8, 2018 at Smokey Mountain.
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PAOLO BALLESTEROS had a big award-winning hit in “Die Beautiful” that continues to gain acclaim in international film festivals. Then he did three movies after that, the mild hit “Trip Ubusan” and the flopsings “Barbie, Wonder Beki” and “Amnesia Love”. Now, he has a new movie, “My Two Mommies”, and it certainly looks more promising than the last two mentioned flicks. Directed by Eric Quizon, he shares topbilling with Maricel Soriano and Solenn Heussaff.

“Nag-enjoy ako doing the movie with them kasi we’re trying to show a different kind of mother in the story,” he says. “Pang-Mother’s Day presentation ito ng Regal and it’s not the usual story na puro mama-mama na babae lang ang nanay. Here, isa ako sa two mommies. Hindi lang naman babae ang pwedeng maging nanay, di ba? At saka, hindi porke ikaw ang nagsilang sa isang bata, nanay ka na. Maraming ibang klaseng nanay. Yung iba, nawala ang nanay, at ang naging nanay, yung kapatid, yung lola, yung kapitbahay, o yung ninang na pinag-iwanan. So there are really different kinds of mothers.”

He’s optimistic that “My Two Mommies” will be as successful as “Die Beautiful”. “Iba rin kasi ang naging impact ng ‘Die Beautiful’ and I feel na kapag ganoong ibang klase ang story ng isang movie, tumatatak talaga sa audience. And I can say ganun din itong ‘My Two Mommies’, na combination din ng comedy and drama. Patatawanin ka, pero may moment ding very touching na maluluha ka. Maganda ang material kaya I made sure na I give my 101 percent in every scene na ginagawa ko.”

How is it working with Maricel Soriano? “It’s an honor kasi tagahanga niya talaga ako noon pa man. Doing a scene with her is really a pleasure kasi napakagaling niya. Mai-inspire ka as she brings out the best sa kaeksena niya.”

And how about Solenn Heussaff? “Actually, when they asked me kung sino ang gusto kong makasama rito sa movie, siya agad ang sinabi ko. Kasi I want to be her, yung fit and sexy na, beauty and brains pa. I also like her personality, very likeable. Gusto ko rin pati yung husband niya, si Nico. Char.”

Don’t miss “My Two Mommies” when it opens in theaters on May 9.
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JENNYLYN MERCADO vehemently denies she’s now officially engaged to BF Dennis Trillo after some folks saw Dennis’ photo on social media with a female hand wearing a ring and quickly concluded they've become officially engaged after their last vacation abroad. “Wala pong engagement ring or promise ring,” she says at the presscon of her new show “The Cure”. “Wala pa sa plano naming magpakasal at all. May ring ako, heto,” she shows off the ring on her finger, “pero hindi naman ito pang-engagement ring at ako ang bumili nito. Marami pa akong ibang gustong gawin sa buhay at landas na gustong tahakin, so wala munang kasal.”

How is it being paired with Tom Rodriguez for the first time in “The Cure”? “Actually, may nagawa na kaming Lenten special but this is our first teleserye. Di ba mas una niyang naka-love team si Dennis in ‘My Husband’s Lover’? Okay siyang katrabaho kasi he's always full of energy, very professional and very professional, so nakakahawa siya.”

Also in “The Cure” is her first ka-love team, Mark Herras. “Yes, huli kaming nagkasama was in ‘Rhodora X’ four years ago. We’ve remained friends naman ni Mark.”

They’re now both happy with their new partners. She with Dennis and he, with Winwyn. “Yes, yun ang importante, di ba? Happy kami. At masayang-masaya ako para sa kanya.”

Has she seen Mark’s alleged controversial sex video? “Hindi. Padala nyo nga sa’kin sa Viber dahil di ko pa napapanood. Ha ha ha!”

She’s positive viewers will like “The Cure”. “First time sa local TV na may ganitong konsepto. Yung paglaganap ng virus causing an epidemic that makes people very violent and attacking other people. Viruserye nga ang tawag dito. Maraming suspenseful action scenes, lalo na yung mga eksena nang habulan na nakaka-tension talaga dahil, kami ng anak ko, gusto kagatin ng mga infected people who are running after us. First time ko ring nag-action dito. Very challenging kasi hindi ako sanay sa ganyang mga eksena. Akala ko mahihirapan ako, but thank God, nagawa ko naman nang maayos at hindi masyadong maraming takes so I’m really proud of my work in ‘The Cure’. Feeling action star na ako at mas nag-aaral ako in doing action stunts and fight routines ngayon.”
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