Francis Magalona was a hero and an inspiration to those lives he has touched. I was in tears watching such artists as Gloc9 cry unabashedly in a televised tribute on "Eat Bulaga" on Saturday. My heart also went out to his children, especially the young ones who may not yet realize their loss. I admire his wife Pia Arroyo-Magalona a lot because of her strength amid all the pain I'm sure she's going through for the sake of family. Maxene likewise for her vow to continue keeping his dad proud. Francis is special to most because of his passion towards whatever he does, be it as a rapper-musician, TV host, actor, and lately, as a photographer and entrepreneur. He puts his mind and soul in all his undertakings and do whatever it takes to make his creations something to remember. There's this one incredible performance he did as a guest in Gary V's "Major Impact" concert in 1990 that changed my view of Kiko. Before this, I only thought of him as just another local artist mimicking American popular music, in his case, the emerging genre of rap at that time. But when I witnessed him first hand at the ULTRA, I had since been in awe of his talent and dedication to his work. As Gary finished his set, the lights went out. Despite the darkness, the audience could see those on stage. It was Francis's turn to perform "Mga Kababayan." What we saw was a touching sight...Francis himself preparing his props, instruments, and other equipment for his number. Then when that familar ethnic-inspired beat was heard in extended play, people started to get excited. And when the voice "Ma-ma-mga-kababayan..." was heard, everyone was in pandemonium. What surprised me was the crowd's reaction to his music. Then when he stepped in to do his number, the crowd went berserk and danced and sang to his music as if it was a personal anthem. For a moment, I thought, it was a Francis M concert. After this, he did an incredible duet with Gary that brought the house down. Gary shared this video on his "showdown" with Francis in his own YouTube channel and also presented it on "Eat Bulaga" last Saturday. Since this concert, I thought Francis would become the biggest thing in Philippine music. He achieved even more--he became an inspiration that made other lives better, not only his own.
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Manny Pacquiao in "Rocky 7"? Consider this explosive plot: Rocky Balboa turns boxing promoter who is faced with insurmountable odds in terms of sealing prized fights with big-name boxers due to the financial crunch. With his back against the wall and financial health in peril, Rocky looks beyond the US or South America and trains his sights on a far-away country with incredible talent in the sport, discovers "Boy Kamao" (played by Manny Pacquiao) in a provincial match, and sees himself in the emerging fighter, whom he will soon promote and push to become the next world champion. Well, that could be a good "Hollywood breakthrough" for our Manny but it is just, in reality, a product of my disheartening attempts at writing Hollywood synopses. But what is real is that Pacquiao and Rocky star Sylvester Stallone are really talking about a possible movie team-up, according to Team Pacquiao. While both met in a posh hotel in Los Angeles recently, with Sly meeting Pacman's sons and giving them autographed boxing gloves, nothing was definite about the possible project. Reports say Stallone was looking at producing the movie, which has a storyline similar to the Jacky Chan-Chris Tucker blockbuster "Rush Hour" series. But if ever this is really in the works, Stallone should watch Pacquiao's 2007 film "Anak ng Kumander" first and decide on a thespic approach for the WBC Lightweight Champion. But if the plot would revolve around the life of a boxer, just like what I precariously presented above, then Manny could just be himself and really not act at all. Something like his more concrete show biz project, GMA 7's "Totoy Bato," in which he will play a character he only knows too well. With big name networks and possibly Hollywood studios interested in jumpstarting his show biz career, Manny has the best of both worlds. But then again, he should play his cards right.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer columnists Rina Jimenez David and Dolly Anne Carvajal bagged top journalism prizes in this year’s Gawad Tanglaw awards, which is annually handed out by academicians. The Inquirer shares the Best Newspaper Award with the tabloid Balita. Carvajal, on the other hand, was named Best Entertainment Columnist in a tie with Philippine Star’s Ricky Lo. David was adjudged Best Opinion Columnist. For cinema, independent films continue their winning run with four films sharing the Best Picture plum—“Ploning,” “Boses,” “100,” and “Jay.” Judy Ann Santos bagged the Best Actress award for “Ploning,” also in a tie with Anita Linda for “Adela.” Baron Geisler (“Jay”) and John Estrada (“Caregiver”) split the Best Actor honors. Dante Nico Garcia (“Ploning”), Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil (“Boses”), Chris Martinez (“100”), and Francis Xavier Pasion (“Jay”) were co-awardees for Best Director. Boots Anson-Roa was named Best Supporting Actress for “Love Birds” while Emilio Garcia was chosen as Best Supporting Actor for “Walang Kawala.” In the television category, GMA 7 and ABS-CBN shared the Best TV station award. But the Kapamilya network won the most number of awards, 21, which includes three awards for its cable news channel, ANC. GMA 7 took home 10 awards, inclusive of the three awards won by its affiliate, QTV 11. For radio, dzRH was the Radio station of the Year and shared the Best AM Station award with dzMM and dzBB. YES-FM 101.1 was named Best FM station. Film Best Films Ploning, Boses, 100, Jay Best Actors Baron Geisler (Jay), John Estrada (Caregiver) Best Actresses Judy Ann Santos (Ploning), Anita Linda (Adela) Best Directors Dante Nico Garcia (Ploning), Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil (Boses), Chris Martinez (100), Francis Xavier Pasion (Jay) Best Screenplay Benjamin Lingan, Dante Nico Garcia (Ploning), Froi Medina, Rody Vera (Boses), Chris Martinez (100), Francis Xavier Pasion (Jay) Best Story Benjamin Lingan, Dante Nico Garcia (Ploning) Best Supporting Actor Emilio Garcia (Walang Kawala) Best Supporting Actress Boots Anson-Roa (Lovebirds) Best Cinematography Charlie Peralta, Marissa Florendo (Ploning) Best Editing Danny Anonuevo (Ploning) Television Best TV Stations of the Year ABS-CBN, GMA 7 Best News Program 24 Oras (GMA-7), TV Patrol World (ABS-CBN) Best Documentary Special Signos (GMA 7) Best Public Service Programs Salamat Dok (ABS-CBN), Wish ko Lang (GMA 7), Bantay OCW (NBN 4) Best Educational Program Matanglawin (ABS-CBN), Art Angel (GMA 7) Best TV Anchors Vicky Morales (GMA-7), Ted Failon (ABS-CBN) Best Comedy Programs Camera Café (QTV 11), Goin’ Bulilit (ABS-CBN) Best Magazine Show Rated K (ABS-CBN) Best Travel Show Travel Time (ANC) Best Celebrity Talk Show Sharon (ABS-CBN) Best Morning Show Umagang Kay Ganda (ABS-CBN) Best Game Show Pilipinas, Game KNB? (ABS-CBN), Singing Bee (ABS-CBN) Best Game Show Hosts Edu Manzano, Cesar Montano Best Public Affairs Show Strictly Politics (ANC), Media Forum (ANC) Best Prime Time Drama Series Lobo (ABS -CBN) Best Family Oriented Talk Show Moms (QTV 11) Best Lifestyle Show The Sweet Life (QTV 11) Best Drama Anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya (ABS -CBN) Best Documentary Programs The Correspondents (ABS - CBN) / Reporters Notebook (GMA 7) Best Investigative Programs XXX (ABS - CBN) / S.O.C.O. (ABS - CBN) Best TV Ad Jollibee (Christmas Edition) Best Movie Theatre Shangri-La Cinema Radio Radio Station of the Year dzRH (Manila Broadcasting Company) Best AM stations dzMM (ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp.)/ dzBB (GMA Network Inc.) / dzRH (Manila Broadcasting Company) Best FM station YES FM 101.1 (Manila Broadcasting Company) Best Radio Program Sining Gising (NBN-4) / Radyo Balintataw (DZRH) Journalism Best Newspapers Philippine Daily Inquirer, Balita Best Entertainment Columnist Dolly Anne Carvajal (Philippine Daily Inquirer), Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) Best Opinion Columnist Rina Jimenez-David (Philippine Daily Inquirer) Best Fashion Magazine Metro HIM, Chalk (ABS-CBN Publishing) Best Showbiz Magazine YES! (Summit Media) Performing Arts (Theater) Best Play (Full Length) The Golden Child (Tanghalang Pilipino, CCP) Performing Arts (Dance) Best Dance Presentation (Ballet-Full Length) Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang (Ballet Manila) Liza Macuja Elizalde (Artistic Director)
Watching this year's Golden Globe Awards left me awestruck as my first Hollywood interviewee romped away with the Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television plum for a controversial role in a timely themed TV movie. In an October morning last year, a few Filipino journalists, myself included, had the chance to interview Laura Dern to know more about her thoughts, her artistic approach, and even her political views as she portrayed Florida governor Katherine Harris in HBO Films' "Recount," which presents the fateful chain of events in 2000 US presidential elections that changed the country's electoral system forever. While she may not have won the Emmy for her performance, Laura's stirring performance surely did not get unnoticed, and in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's case, unrecognized. Here are excerpts of the interview with Laura: Why do you think this film and your role are significant enough to accept as an artist? First of all, I accepted the role because I felt that this story, especially at this moment in American history, is extremely important to tell; to remind people that they should never allow their voice to be taken from them and that we all have to work to make sure that our vote counts. And I think this has helped these elections so far. People are very passionate about enforcing, protecting their vote on November 4th. What are your personal thoughts on the character you portrayed? (The reason) why I wanted to play Katherine Harris is complicated. I did not respect her in November 2000, her terrifying and troubling hand (in the events that transpired). But she is a wonderful character to get to portray as an actor! I’m very insistent in playing people who are opposite (of me). I think she is someone who had a very narcissistic idea of how important she was to the nation because she (thought she) had the ability to change history. How did you prepare for the role? I studied everything from her autobiography, personal e-mails, letters, everything they had of her in the public domain to all the press conferences she held during the recount. And that helped so much to learn her mannerisms, her quirks, her dialect. You can’t really have an opinion of the other side until you walk in her shoe. Ultimately, to understand another human being, you have to have that experience. That was really good for me and I really enjoyed that. I found (the role) very difficult but very fun. It was difficult for me to understand why she (Harris) would suppress the right to vote for her party. Where do you stand politically? I have always been politically active and I have always been a passionate liberal in American politics. But this time...I am the most passionate and hopeful and excited for myself, my family, my children’s future and the future of your country and all other countries that Barack Obama (wins) the presidency...I think he’s got a great, unified idea about where the world should go and we should work together. What checks do you know are in place to prevent any future incidents similar to those portrayed in the movie? We have done a lot of good things (since then). This November 4th, there will be no more punch card ballots in America so cannot have a chad (paper pieces that drop after holes are made in punch cards), a hanging chad or a dimpled chad or all that the movie talks about. People will be voting by computer. Also, there are states that will require VVPR or Voter Verified Paper Record. When you vote, you will need to put a piece of paper or card in the computer. After voting, the card comes out saying who you voted for. This card then goes into a box (for reference) which someone can check. So automatically, it is checked by a computer and by a person. If the numbers are different they can check it again. What is the message 'Recount' wants to convey? We must all be willing to educate ourselves on election reform and fight for that right to vote and have our vote counted. Taking it away without us knowing is a heinous act. I hope we could all work together to learn more and support each other. That’s what the film teaches. And it isn’t about a (partisan) party process. James Baker, a Republican, is working with Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, on election reform. Anybody can do it. The only way to protect your man or your woman in winning is to make sure every voice is counted.
Two well-known TV personalities, Kris Aquino and Chris Tiu, graced separate Inquirer Read-Along sessions inspiring hundreds of children to develop good reading habits. Known for their impressive spiels while hosting their top-rating television programs, Kris and Chris led the storytelling that provided the kids helpful pointers in life while emphasizing the importance of reading in their young lives. Kris, who currently hosts the ABS-CBN programs âBoy and Kris,â âThe Buzzâ and âKapamilya Deal or No Deal,â owes most of her accomplishments to good reading habits she nurtured since she was a child. Her father, the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., regularly bought books for her while they lived in exile in Boston, Massachusetts when she was nine years old. Kris continues this habit to this day, with a new book to read each week despite her busy schedule. During her session with famed storyteller and ex-Batibot regular Bodgie Pascua, Kris called some of the children to read along with her a story about a child ashamed of her mother being a tricycle driver. After the read-along session, she emphasized the important lessons the story wants to conveyâlove of family and giving value and respect to the means of livelihood each member pursues. "It is important that you also understand what you read," Kris says.Â She also reminded them not to take reading for granted, even if they continue to watch TV. "Pag kasi sinabi kong magbasa lang kayo, mawawalan naman ako ng trabaho," Kris says in jest. Meanwhile, Chris told his young audience in his read-along session the importance of reading for a topnotch athlete like him. Chris, who is also host of GMA 7âs âPinoy Recordsâ and âRipleyâs Believe It or Not,â says reading broadens his awareness and keeps him up to date. âEveryday, I read newspapers, sometimes magazines (to keep me informed),â he says. He is also a bookworm not picky on the genreâbe it suspense, action, inspirational, or even humor. He reveals reading at least two hours a day despite his lengthy and strenuous TV show tapings and basketball team practices. This popular Ateneo varsity standout, who led the Blue Eagles to the 2008 UAAP seniors basketball championship, read along with the kids and reminded them: "Start early in making reading as a habit, because it can make you smarter. Don't be like me, I started late. While you are still young, read more books, newspapers, anything that has the right values." With Marjorie Gorospe Here's the INQUIRER.net VDO on Chris Tiu's Read-Along session:
Here's the INQUIRER.net VDO on Kris Aquino's Read-Along session:
Here's the INQUIRER.net VDO on Kris Aquino's Read-Along session:
THEY’RE considered superstars-in-waiting—showbiz personalities who have achieved milestones in their respective careers this past year and are expected to reach greater heights in the coming year. Here are 12 promising stars whom we expect to shine brightest in 2009 and land major roles, juicy entertainment projects, public accolade and industry approbation in the coming months. 1. Aljur Abrenica Aljur Abrenica, 18, rose to prominence as the first “Ultimate Hunk” of the reality-based talent search “StarStruck” in 2006. He continued to draw attention with appearances in the teen drama “Boys Nxt Door” and regular performances in the Sunday noontime show “SOP.” His first major television role came in 2007 when GMA-7 tapped him to play the “Red Zaido” and Cervano, one of the three lead characters in the primetime fantasy series “Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan” opposite Dennis Trillo and the late Marky Cielo. His inclusion in the top rating “Dyesebel” further exposed him to a broader audience. Aljur also had roles in successful box office hits “I.T.A.L.Y.” and “Loving You.” Presently, he is part of the ensemble cast of the top rating fantasy series “Luna Mystika” as the tikbalang Libado. Though Aljur is currently cast in mere supporting roles, a major lead role in a movie or television show could most certainly come next year. 2. Jon Avila Who’s that guy on the billboard? Female motorists can’t help but notice his eye-catching, libido-pushing images along the Metro’s major thoroughfares. But this attention getter did not stop there. Like Sam Milby before him, this professional model made the big plunge into show business when he made the cut as a housemate in “Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2.” The Irish Filipino Jon Avila, 21, who was born and raised in the United Kingdom, is now a household name. Dubbed the “English Outcast,” Jon was unceremoniously evicted from the reality-based TV show because of a controversy, but that did not discourage him from pursuing an acting career. ABS-CBN picked Jon to play a fumbling superhero in the Mars Ravelo classic “Kapitan Boom” in the network’s “Komiks” anthology this year. The show generated a big following in its Saturday airing, as viewers started getting enamored with Jon’s boyish charms. He did not disappoint them. Apart from television appearances in “ASAP 08” as part of the Cover Boys and the dance program “Shall We Dance” on TV5, this young talent is embarking on a movie career, starting with the indie film “Nars” and the Star Cinema movie “When Love Begins.” Jon is filming his first major role opposite Rufa Mae Quinto in “Civil Status: Single,” a comedy scheduled for an early 2009 release. 3. Valerie Concepcion Call it a blessing in disguise, but Valerie Concepcion’s abrupt exit from showbiz in 2004 due to her pregnancy worked wonders for her. It showed that life’s challenges can make one stronger, wiser, and in Valerie’s case, a topnotch actress-TV host. When Valerie transferred to ABS-CBN after a respectable career in GMA-7 (which started with the 2002 youth-oriented series “Click” and ended with the 2007 fantasy series “Fantastic Man”), the spotlight focused on another aspect of her talent: TV hosting. Valerie received the 2008 PMPC Star Award for Best Female Variety Show Host for her efforts in the noontime show “Wowowee.” That continuing stint provided her the needed exposure for subsequent projects, including product endorsements and guestings in the network’s youth oriented shows and drama anthologies. Valerie is now a regular in ABS-CBN’s “Banana Split,” further showcasing her acting talent, particularly in comedy. Valerie has also crossed over to the movies with a role that departs from her usual girl-next-door portrayals. She stars in Octo Arts Films’ sex comedy “One Night Only,” opposite Diana Zubiri, Katrina Halili, Jennylyn Mercado and Alessandra de Rossi. Next year is expected to be a banner one for Valerie, who will play the role Mexican singer-actress Thalia made popular in the 1990s—Maria Mercedes, set to become an ABS-CBN primetime offering. 4. Jake Cuenca Considered one of the top hunks of ABS-CBN, Jake Cuenca, 21, was actually a former Kapuso and graduate of GMA-7’s teen drama “Click” in 2003. Jake indeed made such a big impact in his “Click” stint that GMA-7 herded him into their major television offerings. He landed plum roles in “Hanggang Kailan,” “Forever In My Heart,” “Encantadia,” and the Angel Locsin-starrer “Majika.” Jake’s 2006 transfer to the Kapamilya network proved to be a good decision. Not only did he bag juicy TV roles, he also got a sizeable movie deal with Star Cinema for several projects. From late 2006 to 2007, Jake appeared in 14 ABS-CBN shows, from the fantasy series “Komiks Presents: Si Pedro Penduko at ang mga Engkanto” to the superhero classic “Mars Ravelo’s Lastikman.” Jake grabbed his biggest role in the remake earlier this year of the Bernard Bonnin 1960s starrer “Palos,” in which he shared lead credits with Cesar Montano. But the guy got more attention on the sidelines when he made tabloid headlines bannering his romance and eventual breakup with fellow ABS-CBN star Roxanne Guinoo. He also courted controversy when he got linked to another Kapamilya star, Bea Alonzo, which triggered Roxanne’s reported confrontation with Bea during a show abroad. Amid all the talk, Jake is making heads turn as part of the ASAP Cover Boys, a group in the tradition of the Hunks that propelled the careers of Piolo Pascual, Diether Ocampo, Jericho Rosales, Bernard Palanca and Carlos Agassi. This is definitely a sign of more good things to come for this good-looking and sexy actor. 5. Will Devaughn Will Devaughn, 25, captured the limelight immediately after landing fourth place in the “Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition 2” reality TV show. His stunning Filipino-African-American-German looks made him a natural choice for many product endorsements. Will’s “Pinoy Big Brother” victory endeared him to a growing number of fans and led to appearances in ABS-CBN dramas such as “Love Spell” with fellow PBB alumna and Second Big Placer Rizza Santos, and “Komiks Presents: Da Adventures of Pedro Penduko.” Will is also be part of the ensemble cast of the back-to-back Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Desperadas.” 2009 is definitely expected to be Will’s banner year with his involvement in two huge ABS-CBN projects—two comeback shows for two of the country’s most acclaimed and revered actors. Will is included in Judy Ann Santos’ upcoming ABS-CBN teleserye, “Humingi Ako Sa Langit" and is part of Comedy King Dolphy’s most-awaited first teleserye, “Utoy.” This could be his biggest break yet. 6. Robi Domingo Ateneo student Robi Domingo, 18, made his mark as the Second Big Winner of the “Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition Plus” series this year. Since his big finish in ABS-CBN’s talent launchpad that started the careers of Sam Milby, Gerald Anderson and Kim Chiu, Robi has been aspiring to make it big in the biz without abandoning his studies. He had appeared in a number of ABS-CBN youth-oriented shows, including “Your Song” and “Love Spell,” but the acting bug has yet to bite, it seems. Joining the video jock search in ABS-CBN’s music channel Myx proved to be his biggest breakthrough this year, which was enough to convince voters in the Philippine Movie Press Club to name him as this year’s Star Awardee for Best New Male TV Personality. The award will surely open doors for this actor-TV host who has proved himself a role model among young fans. A comparison with Rico Yan further motivated him to pursue the late actor’s accomplishments in the biz. Continuing his impressive Myx VJ stint, Robi appears headed for still grander things in 2009. A major TV or movie role seems to be within reach. 7. Sheena Halili When people first saw Sheena Halili, they never thought she would have reached this far in the biz. An early dropout in the initial 2003 “StarStruck” search, Sheena may have had second thoughts about joining the reality-based talent search. Although she signed a GMA-7 contract right after the show ended as one of the StarStruck Avengers, the group of contestants who failed to reach the competition’s Final Four, Sheena was not able to sustain the popularity she gained from the contest. This led to her exit from the limelight when her contract expired. But when a casting call came for the Philippine adaptation of the Mexican series “MariMar,” Sheena, now 21, grabbed the opportunity and landed the supporting role of Monica, the sprightly best friend and collaborator of Katrina Halili’s character Angelica. That became her biggest break. As “MariMar” became the most watched television show in the Philippines during its six-month run and made its lead stars Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes and Katrina the biggest names in showbiz, Sheena was also rewarded with a revitalized acting career. After “MariMar,” Sheena’s bubbly nature again filled the airwaves as one of the main antagonists in the Regine Velasquez-starrer “Ako si Kim Samsoon.” She is also cast in the successful worldwide telenovela franchise “La Lola,” and appears as one of the on location hosts of the Manny Pacquiao show “Pinoy Records.” 2009 will be no different from Sheena’s successful 2008 run as GMA-7 continues to line up projects for this young actress, who is enjoying her second wind. 8. Karylle Who would have expected that a controversial break-up with her boyfriend of three years would eventually lead to this singer’s radical bid for showbiz superstardom? Now 27, Karylle is enjoying her time as a new talent of ABS-CBN and artist of EMI Music after months of despair and personal anguish. Not to simplify what she went through, but Karylle emerged a winner from it all. The controversy and the media circus that played on her personal life indeed made her stronger and more driven as an artist and person. Karylle has opted for a clean slate since her split from Dingdong—a new management outfit, record label, film studio and television network. Who knows? A shift in image as well, as showbiz talks speculate on a possible cover for a popular men’s magazine. Karylle is appearing in “ASAP ’08” after several years of performing in rival “SOP.” Her newly signed ABS-CBN contract shows that she is set to appear in several Kapamilya shows and Star Cinema films. A banner year in 2009? That seems to be an understatement, what with several potential top raters lined up for Karylle. Reports have it that this singer is being cast in three major ABS-CBN projects, including a remake of the Susan Roces film “Maruja,” and two hit Koreanovela adaptations, “Lovers in Paris” and “Princess Hours.” 9. Lovi Poe Her famous family name may have helped a bit, but definitely, Lovi Poe, 19, is a class on her own. Lovi’s string of successes on television didn’t come overnight. Initially billed as a singer, Lovi proved that striking good looks are always an asset that television show producers can’t just ignore. As a 17-year-old Colegio de San Agustin junior, this young star started her showbiz career opposite GMA-7’s returning male lead Cogie Domingo in the 2006 “Love to Love: Jazz Got Lucky.” After her initial stint, Lovi embarked on the turning point in her showbiz career, portraying Kristal in the highest rating TV show in 2007, “Bakekang.” As televiewers adored her pretty face and enthralling voice, Regal Films also took notice of her talent, casting her in 2007’s “Shake Rattle and Roll 9,” a performance that earned her a Star Award for Best New Movie Actress from the Philippine Movie Press Club. She also became a hot subject on showbiz talk shows after Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s son Jolo openly admitted that he was courting her. Though both deny any serious involvement, partly because of an alleged rift between Jolo and Lovi’s mom Rowena Moran, the young stars used the hype to the hilt with their appearance as a couple in the sine-novela “Kaputol ng Isang Awit” with Glaiza de Castro and the late Marky Cielo. Lovi also juggles her acting career with her recording duties under Sony BMG, which released her second album, “Bloom” this year, a follow-up of her “Best of My Heart” CD that turned gold in 2006. She also held her first major concert, “Bloom,” at the Music Museum last October. Lovi is currently involved with the GMA-7 adaptation of Latin American telenovela craze “La Lola.” With all these projects under her belt, Lovi seems all set for a more fruitful year ahead. 10. Cristine Reyes Like her sister Ara Mina who accomplished a lot in the last decade, Cristine Reyes, 19, is fast becoming tinseltown’s next vixen. Not only is this “StarStruck” alumna poised to achieve stellar status with her new, daring persona, she’ll do anything to achieve it, even leave the network that discovered and nurtured her career from Day One. But Cristine has no regrets. She considers ABS-CBN more than accommodating for giving her a plum role in the Jericho Rosales-Carmen Soo drama “Kahit Isang Saglit,” a portrayal that even impressed multi-awarded actor Christopher de Leon. The network then cast her in the role of her dreams—in “Eva Fonda, 16” a sexy role popularized by Alma Moreno. Though controversial, as the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board had reprimanded ABS-CBN for some scenes, the series is bound to get televiewers to notice Cristine’s acting talent and spellbinding appeal. Indeed, 2009 will prove to be another big year for Cristine as she makes TV screens sizzle with an adaptation of Vilma Santos’ 1970s classic “Burlesk Queen.” 11. Rhian Ramos The bubbly and perky teen star recently got her biggest break in the popular guy-turned-girl Latin American franchise “La Lola,” currently airing weekdays on primetime TV. Rhian’s breakthrough performance had led to top ratings for the show in its initial weeks. But Rhian Ramos, 18, did not come from nowhere. After appearing in TV commercials, Rhian was cast in the top rating 2006 fantasy series “Mars Ravelo’s Captain Barbell,” landing a supporting role to Richard Gutierrez that immediately made an impact on televiewers. Noticing this, the GMA 7 bigwigs included her in another Richard Gutierrez project, “Lupin,” playing the prominent Avril. As her celebrity flourished on and off cam, Rhian became a regular fixture in showbiz talk shows as controversies surfaced on alleged altercations with a fellow actress, some revealing Internet photos and hate blog entries. But these have not dampened Rhian’s young spirit as she became a favorite in most Kapuso shows, including the sine-novela “My Only Love,” “Pinoy Idol Extra,” and “Codename: Asero,” where she made a brief appearance with Richard. Apart from her television projects, Rhian also appeared in several GMA Films projects, such as “The Promise,” “Ouija,” “I.T.A.L.Y.,” and “My Monster Mom,” as the young Annabelle Rama. Her “La Lola” success would definitely lead to bigger things. A hardworker, Rhian is dead serious about staying in the industry for a long long time. 12. JC de Vera JC de Vera, 22, has become the leading male actor of choice in GMA-7 dramas. He is in fact described as the network’s “Drama Prince” after good ratings from his performances in the sine-novelas “Pati Ba Pintig ng Puso,” “Pasan Ko Ang Daigdig,” and “Babangon Ako’t Dudurugin Kita”—opposite his erstwhile screen partner Yasmien Kurdi. JC is also a 2004 “Click” graduate, who impressed his directors with deep and sensitive acting. He subsequently appeared on top rating GMA 7 shows “Sugo” and “Captain Barbell,” and the “Now and Forever” series where he was paired with the industry’s top actors. But his recent dedicated anthology “Obra Presents JC De Vera” has proven that he can now be counted among the country’s top young actors. As the male lead in the Latin American telenovela franchise “La Lola” and with his memorable performances in the movies “My Bestfriend’s Girlfriend,” “My Monster Mom,” “Loving You,” and the Metro Manila Film Festival entry, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll X,” and with his upcoming film “Sundo,” one can say for sure that JC has arrived and will continue to make his mark in the industry. (Published in the 28 Dec 2008 issue of the Sunday Inquirer Magazine)
While it can be argued that Angel Locsin may not currently enjoy the immense popularity she once had as television’s “Darna” when she was GMA 7’s top female talent, her controversial transfer to ABS-CBN, at least, now made her an award-winning actress. The Philippine Movie Press Club Star Awards for Television held last Sunday at the SMX Convention Center recognized Angel as having given the Best Single Performance by an Actress for the “Maala-ala Mo Kaya” episode “Pilat.” This is Angel’s first acting award. In addition, her first primetime drama in ABS-CBN, “Lobo” was awarded the Best Primetime TV series and her co-star Piolo Pascual, the Best Drama Actor. GMA 7 was voted Best Station, apart from 21 other awards, which included the Best Drama Actress for Sunshine Dizon in “Impostora,” Best Male TV Host for Vic Sotto in “Eat Bulaga,” Best Comedy Actor for Ogie Alcasid in “Bubble Gang,” Best Comedy Actress for Rufa Mae Quinto in “Bubble Gang” Best Female Newscaster for Vicky Morales in “Saksi,” Best Daytime Drama Series for “Kaputol ang Isang Awit,” Best Comedy Show for “Ful Haus,” Best Musical Variety Show for “SOP,” Best Morning Show for “Unang Hirit,” Best Documentary for “Signos: Ang Banta ng Nagbabagong Klima,” Best Documentary Program for “I-Witness,” and Best Children’s Show for “Art Angel,” among others. ABS-CBN, on the other hand, achieved the most individual awards with 26. Apart from Angel and Piolo’s victories, the Kapamilya network also bagged Best Single Performance by an Actor for Joshua Dionisio in the “Maala-ala Mo Kaya” episode “Sako,” Best Female Host for Valerie Concepcion in “Wowowee,” Best Male Newscaster for Julius Babao in “TV Patrol World,” Best Drama Anthology for “Maala-ala Mo Kaya,” Best Newscast for “TV Patrol World,” Best Showbiz-Oriented Talk Show for “The Buzz,” Best Showbiz-Oriented Talk Show Hosts for Boy Abunda, Ruffa Gutierrez and Cristy Fermin in “The Buzz,” Best Game Show for “Pilipinas Game KNB?,” and Best Gag Show for “Goin Bulilit,” among others. TV5 (formerly ABC-5) won Best Talent Search Program for “Shall We Dance” and Best Talent Search Program Host for Lucy Torres-Gomez, Arnell Ignacio and Dominic Ochoa in the same program. UNTV 37 also took home two plums—Best Public Service Program for “Bitag” and Best Public Service Program Host for its presenter, Ben Tulfo.
It seems Diether Ocampo is not crossing over to GMA 7. At least, not yet. It turns out Ocampo is still under contract with Star Magic, the talent arm of ABS-CBN, a network statement said. “Diet (Ocampo) remains in Star Magic. We will trust he will make the right choice,” a short SMS message from Star Magic's publicity head Rikka Dylim read. In the most recent communication with the actor, he only replied with the message "Happy New Year" a few days after he texted a similar holiday greeting "Merry Christmas" to the entertainment press asking about developments about his reported transfer. Sources tell us that the latest message meant he would make a "major" announcement during the New Year, whether he would turn "Kapuso" or stay a "Kapamilya." As he is still under contract with Star Magic, he could not negotiate outside of his home network. This means, Ocampo misrepresented himself as an "independent artist" when he talked to GMA 7 executives--a claim made by GMA 7's Senior Vice President for Entertainment Wilma Galvante no less--a gross violation of his ABS-CBN contract. In her interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Galvante also said Ocampo "signed" a "long term" agreement, exposing him to possible breach-of-contract lawsuits. After the interview was published, Ocampo's camp denied the actor signed a contract with GMA 7, a fact that even Kapuso network insiders corroborated. This makes us wonder, what was Galvante's basis to state that Ocampo had already inked a deal with GMA 7? Was she misinformed or has she fallen prey to the actor's posturings for a heftier contract with his network of 13 years? Or did Ocampo really sign a "secret" agreement with GMA 7 and Galvante made the mistake of announcing it too soon, blindly believing his "independent artist" introduction? Or was the news leaked unexpectedly, leaving them in utter chaos? Quite expectedly, Ocampo kept his silence throughout and may continue to do so at least until the "New Year," as our sources say. Galvante has also since kept mum about Ocampo's supposed transfer plans after Star Magic revealed the actor's live contract. But in hindsight, Galvante can always show the contract she claimed Ocampo signed if she would stand by her claim and prove she was not lying. She however chose to just avoid the topic. Is she holding it back until Ocampo's Star Magic contract expires or has she abandoned the matter altogether? A close associate has this to say about the whole brouhaha: "Siguro nagpapaligaw lang si Diet sa Dos. Kung hindi kakagat, meron pa siyang isang option. Ang hirap parang nagpapagamit ang Siete. Di dapat ganoon." If this is true, it seems this actor may be playing his cards too much.
Singer-actress Karylle appeared she has gotten over the pain and was looking forward to start anew, both in her personal life and professional career. It seemed she abandoned everything that she and Dingdong had together--from her stint in GMA 7 to even their Quezon City videoke bar-cum-restaurant joint venture. But who can blame her? While people can sigh and think of what could have been, Karylle would not allow herself to become a prisoner of her past. She has decided to move on. This is quite evident in her taped interview with "The Buzz" on Sunday. This was not set in her home or in the studio, but during Gary V's recent 25th anniversary concert, a sign that she is ready to face the controversy head on and frolick. Here's our report on the interview: "Finally, after weeks of silence, part of which was joining a retreat to cope with the heartbreak, singer-actress Karylle now has the strength to face a love lost. And, quite dramatically, she realized her desire to move on from this difficult chapter in her life, as her first TV interview on the breakup showed last Sunday. "Kasi sa pagmamahal, wala namang regrets. Basta nagmahal ka, nagmahal ka ng totoo, yun lang naman yun eh. Kung mag-work out man o hindi, wala na sa kamay ko yon,” she told ABS-CBN’s “The Buzz.” Karylle said her breakup with her boyfriend of three years, actor Dingdong Dantes, followed a “process.” “It was a mutual decision. Hindi siya nangyari overnight so matagal siya na proseso kasi siyempre hindi ka naman magigising bigla na lang tapos sasabihin mo, ay break na tayo,” she said. Karylle admitted going through all the painful “stages” in the breakup, and declared she was now in the acceptance stage, which she considered a personal victory. “Hindi ko naman made-deny na nasaktan ako. Pero ang nangyari naman kasi talaga pinagdaanan ko lahat ng stages ng isang breakup na may denial, may hurt, may bargaining, tapos may acceptance. At this point, nandito na ako sa acceptance. Natanggap ko na ang lahat ng nangyari kasi sa bawat na masakit na nangyayari, may magandang naidudulot.” How did she succeed in entering the acceptance stage? Karylle said focusing on her work helped a lot. “Right now kasi yung focus ko nasa pagtrabaho lang. Hindi ko na masyadong iniisip ngayon kung ano ba yung iniisip niya (Dingdong) o mararamdaman niya kasi as of now para maging maayos naman yung buhay ko, isipin ko muna yung trabaho ko,” she said. Karylle, whose relationship with Dingdong flourished as they both worked for GMA 7, is now set to embark on a new phase in her career as a contract artist of ABS-CBN. Apparently not looking back, Karylle smiled when she answered the interviewer’s question if she still loved Dingdong. “Hindi na,” she said. But for Dingdong, coping seems far from over, despite his heavily-backed and successful on-screen tandem with fellow Kapuso centerpiece star Marian Rivera. “Nag-sink in na lahat eh. Kasi nung time nung nangyayari ang lahat ng ito, busy kami sa pag-shu-shoot. Pero, ngayon na’t dumating na lahat at nag-settle down na lahat, siyempre, you can’t change things overnight. It will take a while. (But) I will be okay,” the actor told GMA 7’s “Showbiz Central” also on Sunday."
Aside from planning her upcoming wedding to Ryan Agoncillo, Judy Ann Santos is currently very much involved in fundraising, promotional and lobbying efforts for her film, "Ploning," which the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) chose as the country's entry to vie for a nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category in the 81st Annual Academy Awards of the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which will be held in February next year. Since 1984, FAP chooses the country's entry to this Oscar category each year. According to Judai, more than P5 million have been raised, aside from the Film Development Council of the Philippines' P2.5 million doleout, to back "Ploning's" bid to at least enter the shortlist list of films that the 6,000 AMPAS members will screen and vote for and, hopefully, gain a place among the five Oscar nominations that will be read during the 81st Oscars night in February--a first-ever feat in Philippine cinema. Judai and her co-producer in the movie, Panoramanila Pictures, are currently in the thick of US-based promotions for the film, directed by Dante Nico Garcia, for a possible favorable vote among the AMPAS members that include Hollywood actors, directors, writers, producers, and other film professionals, particularly the foreign films committee that chooses the final roster of nominees on Oscar night. A key highlight in this effort, Judai said, is the rare partnership of ABS-CBN and GMA 7 to back "Ploning," a period flick about a mysterious spinster desperately in search for a lost love. “I’m happy to say that I’ve talked both to ABS and GMA and I’m very happy na they obliged to join forces and both ABS and GMA artists are willing to help. Pero nakikipag-usap pa kami sa mga ibang kumpanya (that) could unite for this particular event,” Judai said in an interview with GMA 7's "Startalk" two weeks ago. Judai waxed nationalistic in her effort to push "Ploning" onto the Oscar stage. “Ang buong fund-raising, ginagawa po namin ito para na po talaga sa Pilipinas. Hindi lang po para sa ‘Ploning’ na pelikula or para sa Panoramanila. Para sa mga Pilipino at sa buong Pilipinas na makilala tayo finally sa ibang bansa since very talented ang mga Pilipino. I think it’s high time na maipakita natin sa kanila na nag-sanib-pwersa naman talaga tayo for a good cause.” A noteworthy effort indeed. But some say, particularly pundits in the history of Philippine submissions to the AMPAS, it's Herculean. Even Judai admits, "para itong suntok sa buwan." Never since the inception of the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1956 did a Philippine film earn an Oscar nod for the award. Experts pointed to a variety of reasons -- from the FAP's "wrong choices" to a perceived AMPAS bias against countries who rarely produce films that merit international recognition. Not even the so-called independent digital cinema revolution helped in the cause despite having achieved film festival honors around the world. The film-otaku blog quoted AMPAS members as saying that despite the promise of these independent films, such as the 2006 entry "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros" and the 2007 submission "Donsol," poor digital format transfers, which made copies of the film appear fuzzy and viewing difficult, led to their fall. But the most glaring reason was the mere fact that the Philippines only sent four films to the Academy in 28 years, from the 1950s to the 1980s. This gave the impression that the country lacked films that merit international recognition, said Ron, the film-otaku blog owner, who identified himself as an "assistant instructor at AdMU" in the blog's profile page. During those 28 years, only Lamberto Avellana's "Anak Dalita" in 1956; Gerardo de Leon's "The Moises Padilla Story" in 1961; Luis Nepomuceno's "Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak" in 1967; and Eddie Romero's "Ganito Kami Noon...Paano Kayo Ngayon?" in 1978 were submitted. Also from 1986 to 1994, no films were submitted, owing to what Ron said was a dearth in quality filmmaking in those years. If the category's claim of honoring the best film from each country was true, then for the Philippines, it would be unthinkable not to submit such films as Lino Brocka's "Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang," "Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Liwanag," "Insiang," "Jaguar" and "Orapronobis"; Peque Gallaga's "Oro, Plata, Mata;" and Ishmael Bernal's "City After Dark" and "Himala." But they were not submitted. The Philippines could have gotten at least an Oscar nomination from any of these classic films. International visitors to the CNN "Screening Room" web site even voted for "Himala" last month as the Best Asia-Pacific film of all time, edging out Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" and Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," both Academy Award winners. Another reason, the film-otaku blog noted, were FAP's questionable choices, including those that did not even won local awards, like FAMAS or Gawad Urian. If our local award-winning bodies ignore them, what more can we expect from the Academy Awards? But even FAP's logical or correct choices were still shunned, including Brocka's "Kapit Sa Patalim (Bayan Ko)," Marilou Diaz-Abaya's "Karnal" and Tikoy Aguiluz's "Segurista." The film otaku blog noted that these films have themes that are not the AMPAS's "cup of tea." In an April 9 post, Ron said: "The Academy traditionally prefers costume epics, war films (particularly those that have to do with the second World War), culturally significant pictures, intimate interpersonal pieces, or works by renowned auteurs. With a few exceptions (like [Chito Roño's] Dekada '70, perhaps), the country's recent submissions have not played on any of these popular themes." To finally get an Oscar nod, Ron said, the Philippines must submit a film that "1) is co-produced by a foreign company; 2) is directed by a premiere, internationally known Filipino filmmaker; 3) is about a major historical event or figure, such as the revolution against Spain, the EDSA Revolution, or, the Academy's favorite, World War II (or another film on Jose Rizal, or one based on his "Noli Me Tangere" or "El Filibusterismo"); 4) and gets major representation (actual awards would just be a plus) in Cannes or Berlin." As for Filipino independent digital films that have won several awards in international film festivals and could have the best shot at an Oscar nomination, the issue of "flawed video transfer" should be addressed, Ron added. Will "Ploning" address these issues and have a strong chance in achieving a first-ever milestone in Philippine cinema? Direk Dante thinks so because, he said, "Ploning" offers a theme on love and hope that is fresh and positive, thereby attractive to AMPAS voters. To further realize its goal, "Ploning" producers should use all the collected funds to improve the film's audio and video quality for better viewing experience that will further entice AMPAS members. These funds should also be used in the production and placement of promotional materials, such as trailers, posters and print ads, in Hollywood and the Los Angeles area, where most of the AMPAS members are concentrated. Panoramanila's reported hiring of a US-based publicist, Murray Weismann and Associates, should further boost the film's chances. Influential and prominent Filipino-Americans in the US have also thrown their support to "Ploning" by bankrolling screenings of the film across the US. A jampacked screening of the film was recently held at the Kodak Theater. In spite of this, a lot of cinema buffs still argue about "Ploning" being a worthy choice to land an Oscar nod, moreso with the film's daunting task of competing against 67 other submissions, such as Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner, Laurent Cantet's "The Class" from France, Aamir Khan's “Taare Zameen Par” from India, and Pablo Trapero's "Lion's Den" from Argentina. But for "Ploning" producers, lobbyists, and promoters, it seems the battle for the Oscar nomination can be won through effective marketing and publicity, including comprehensive promotional campaigns and US-directed packaging to further draw American interest in the film, something no previous Philippine entry has achieved before.