No Comments 30 November 2014

By Niki Yarte — More than a decade since his big break in Mel Chonglo’s Lagarista, Piolo Pascual is still making waves and headlines in Philippine entertainment. His latest film, Starting Over Again with Toni Gonzaga, was a certified box office hit, raking in around P400 million at the box office. Currently he can be seen opposite Nikki Gil and Iza Calzado on prime time soap opera Hawak Kamay. He also just recently signed on to do a romantic Valentine’s Day feature with pop star Sarah Geronimo. His face and persona is still used to launch new products or promote old ones – from vitamin supplements to financial plans – and he still attends to his recurring gig as host and performer on ASAP.

However, when his 2013 self-produced film On the Job opened to critical acclaim but struggled commercially, raking in only P11 million, doubts were raised about his continued credibility to fill theaters. The film was the latest in a string of projects that counted on his bankability but performed less stellarly than expected, including his team-ups with Angelica Panganiban (Every Breath U Take), Angel Locsin (Love Me Again), Regine Velazquez (Paano Kita Iibigin), and Bea Alonzo (Dream Boy).

Last year, the 37-year old actor opened up about feeling “used up”, empathizing with fellow actor John Lloyd Cruz, who had earlier expressed his own intentions for early retirement, citing “being married to the industry” for practically half his life as his primary reasoning. Piolo added that he wanted to commit more time to his US-based son Iñigo who would soon be turning 18 years old. With his ABS-CBN contract also soon to expire, many tabloids, blogs, and fans speculated that Piolo was approaching his final year in showbiz.

Piolo and son Inigo

Piolo and son Inigo

As the actor himself revealed earlier this year, Starting Over Again could just as easily have been his last film. During the film’s victory party, an emotional Piolo told a room full of reporters: “I was ready to settle down in the States. I was so at peace knowing that this [film] could be my swan song.”

Indeed, Starting Over Again would’ve capped off an illustrious career that saw Piolo’s star blaze brighter than his contemporaries Diether Ocampo and Marvin Agustin who were already shining when he was just starting as a bit player in the late 1990s. His stirring performance in 2002’s Dekada ‘70 earned him every possible accolade for that year and remains one of his most memorable to date. His onscreen chemistry with Judy Ann Santos produced one of the most well-received love teams in recent memory, yielding four movies that were among his most successful vehicles: Kahit Isang Saglit (2000), Bakit ‘Di Totohanin (2001), ‘Til There Was You (2003), and Don’t Give Up On Us (2006). Another critical and commercial success was 2004’s Milan with Claudine Barretto. Behind the scenes, he has an impressive array of films under his producer belt including the independent digital film Manila (2009), the successful Kimy Dora franchise, and, of course, OTJ.

His meteoric rise to superstardom, of course, didn’t come without its set of drawbacks. From hounding questions about his sexuality to his much-publicized relationship and eventual break-up with KC Concepcion and even Iñigo’s supposed disapproval of rumored fling and OTJ co-star Shaina Magdayao, much of his vaulted personal life had been forcibly pried open despite protest from the self-described “private person”. Piolo admitted that he would be more than happy to leave this part of his life behind.

However, ABS-CBN and even Iñigo had other plans. The network recently extended his contract for another couple of years, immediately giving him a new show and a movie to busy himself with. “[More than the contract] it was the support of my station and the support of the people around me. Headlining a show [and] a movie [is] a blessing,” he said about the change of heart.

Piolo also shares that this son dissuaded him from retiring and that the younger Pascual still wanted to see his father on TV. Iñigo is currently in the country promoting his first feature film, Relaks, It’s Just Pag-Ibig, which his father also produced. “I don’t want him to be in showbiz but it’s in the blood”, he once said about his son following in his footsteps. “I was hoping that he’ll make a name for himself in the States first, so he won’t have to be in my shadow.”

With a new contract and a son whose career he is certain to look after, it would be a while before we see the last of Piolo Pascual – even as younger actors like Coco Martin, who recently took over two of his most prolific endorsements, and Gerald Anderson, who he personally picked to star with in OTJ, ready themselves to fill the vacuum he would eventually leave. When that time comes, it’s hard to imagine that Piolo wouldn’t be ready or welcoming. Despite being advised against talking about retirement, Piolo openly admits: “I cannot wait for the time that I get my life back. I’m not getting any younger and I still want to take on other things.”




No Comments 12 January 2014

By Niki Yarte

Pauleen Luna was around six years old when she joined Eat Bulaga’s popular kiddie pageant, “Little Miss Philippines”.

Vic Sotto was the host.

IN PHOTO: Vic and Pauleen

She is now 25 years old with a solid career in entertainment, culminating in her current stint as co-host of the noontime show. She joins the ranks of Coney Reyes, Christine Jacob, and Pia Guanio with whom she shares more than a significant career highlight.

At 59 years old, he remains an unstoppable force in the industry, a daily fixture on television, and a constant presence at the Metro Manila Film Festival.

It was while doing the promotional rounds for My Little Bossings, his entry to the latest iteration of the film festival, that he finally cracked the lid on what had been an open secret among gossip-mongers in both the media and the public: That the two of them had been dating for at least a couple of years now.

During his segment in the news program Bandila, talk show host Boy Abunda asked Vic, “Kung bubuksan ko ang iyong puso ngayon, anong pangalan ng babae ang nakasulat?”

The TV host-comedian responded, rather hesitantly, “Sagutin ko na rin. Pauleen”.

While this admission did not come as a shock to many, it was only during the telecast that either parties had openly acknowledged the relationship since entertainment columnist Ricky Lo broke the story in late 2011. Quoting his source, Lo wrote that Vic “showered Pauleen with gifts. He courted not just Pauleen but also her parents. He even talked to Pauleen’s father and assured him of his ‘pure intentions’”.

Still, no official word ever came from either of them. Maybe because there were quite enough eyebrows raised then but the pair had somehow avoided becoming hot topic in gossip columns and showbiz talk shows.

Vic and Pia

Vic and Pia

In addition to what was obviously a May-December affair, Vic had just gotten off his much-publicized relationship with Pia barely a year earlier. With all three sharing hosting duties on the same daily show, many expected to witness a real-life drama that would have put soap operas to shame. That Pia got married barely a couple of months before Vic’s relationship with Pauleen became general knowledge should have also fanned the flames of intrigue. Yet much to the disappointment of the rumor mill, neither observers nor insiders were able to discern any hint of awkwardness onscreen or backstage.

One can only assume that at his age Vic must have already mastered how to maintain that delicate balance between his personal life and his career. Wading through the public eye day after day without attracting any controversy does sound like an arduous chore but he makes it look effortless. To his credit, the women that he had chosen to pursue are of the less chatty and catty variety.

Dina Bonnevie

Dina Bonnevie

Many may recall that Vic’s affair with Coney was rumored to have caused the breakdown of his marriage to actress Dina Bonnevie, with whom he had two children. At the time, Coney was also Vic’s co-host on Eat Bulaga. Her marriage to basketball player Larry Mumar, who she likewise had two children with, had just been annulled. When Vic and Coney’s tryst went public sometime in the early 1990s, Vic and Dina had long separated.

Rumors ran rampant that it was Dina herself who caught them in her own home. Speculations about Vic’s plans to propose marriage to Coney were also rife but were ultimately dismissed sometime in 1992 when his marriage to Dina was finally annulled. Sadly, he and Coney have already called it quits, though they did sire a son together.

Both women managed to keep themselves quiet – something that the tabloid press at the time must have been frustrated about. Even Dina, known for her feisty demeanor, managed to control herself. These days, Dina and Coney can be seen attending the same Christian fellowship. Supposedly, it was Coney herself who sponsored Dina’s membership. How amicable – much like Pia and Pauleen’s continued working relationship.

Between the Dina/Coney and Pia/Pauleen era, Vic was involved in a series of romantic entanglements that seemed to have sizzled and fizzled without much fanfare. There was commercial model Angela Luz with whom he had a daughter, beauty queen Kristine Florendo, and flight attendant Pia Cabreira. Perhaps his only high-profile relationship during this period was with Christine Jacob, who was by then an accomplished athlete but a budding TV personality.

Indeed, there must be something about working with neophytes that stirs something up in Vic’s senses. Even in the earliest day of Eat Bulaga, way before his marriage to Dina, his short involvement with Chiqui Hollman, the show’s first female host, was well-known.

As for Pauleen herself, she may have kept mum about what attracted her to the veteran entertainer, but Vic’s former filmfest leading lady Cristine Reyes, who is about Pauleen’s age, may have hit the nail on the head. She was once asked what it was about Vic that makes him so attractive and she replied: “Unang-una yung looks niya at very neat siya. Para sa akin, yung pinaka-number one trait niya yung charm niya kasi napaka-down-to-earth niya, tsaka may pasundot-sundot siya na humor”.

Ever curt, Pauleen could only share that “Kinilig ako, yun lang” when prodded about her reaction to Vic’s televised admission. She did admit to being on good terms with his children, most of whom are about her age.

Vic would later admit on the weekly talk show The Buzz ng Bayan that he still believes in marriage. “Kaya naman tayo nakikipag-ibigan dahil ang gusto mong dulong puntahan ay yung ‘to settle down’. At the end of the day, pagdating ng gabi, uuwi ka ng pagod, iba rin siguro yung may kasama ka”, he said during the live interview.

So are wedding bells in the works for the couple?

Word from the grapevine is that Vic had already proposed to Pauleen but she turned it down. Like everything in Vic’s storied love life, only time will sift the truth from the hearsay.




1 Comment 30 June 2013

By Cherie del Rio —

All-time Favorite Love Team on Movies and TV — this description of the Richard Gomez-Dawn Zulueta tandem is not without basis. They have a roster of movies and television projects as well as a massive fan base to prove it, and best of all, they carry the title as a legitimate award. The onscreen tandem was recently crowned as such in the recently concluded 44th Box Office Entertainment Awards of the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc.

In the face of hugely popular love teams from the younger generation, such as Kim Chiu & Xian Lim and John Lloyd Cruz & Sarah Geronimo, it came as a bit of a shock that a “mature” couple surfaced and stole a bit of the showbiz spotlight. In the Philippine industry, budding love teams of teenyboppers usually take center stage (for instance, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla). When the popular 90s tandem of Richard and Dawn bounced back on a Kapamilya teleserye, audiences were happily surprised that the former real-life lovers still had the magic. And it seems that this magic will continue.

After their successful team-up last year in the soap Walang Hanggan, Richard and Dawn will reunite for two movies and another soap opera in the next two years. “Then there is another movie that we’re working on,” Dawn disclosed in a recent interview, “which will be coming out for release naman next year.” Dawn says that she feels as though she and Richard are classmates — having the opportunity to see each other every day because of their work schedules. These projects will be under the umbrella of Star Cinema. The soap opera, Bukas Na Lang Kita Mamahalin, also stars Gerald Anderson and Cristine Reyes.

They have magic together

Perhaps no other contemporary love team has achieved what they have accomplished in recent years. Although fans are more than happy to welcome the two back on screen, viewers are still left to wonder about where the magic of the Goma-Dawn tandem comes from? What makes their pairing still so popular even after two decades later? What makes them click?

The Eternal Love Team – as their loyal fans call the tandem – had its beginnings in the early part of 1991 when they were paired in the movie Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit, the 1991 Pinoy adaptation of the English novel Wuthering Heights. From reel lovers, they soon became real-life sweethearts.

Their chemistry was undeniable — one that, up to now, is apparent on screen. With older personas and more mature roles and stories, the magical chemistry of Richard and Dawn continues to mystify fans from all across the age groups and social classes. Even Richard’s wife, Lucy Torres, is a fan of the love team. “Kahit pagbalik-baliktarin mo, meron talaga silang magic together,” says Lucy.

Why they split

In an interview early last year as they were promoting their last teleserye, Walang Hanggan, Dawn recalled how both of them were so young when they got involved. She revealed that she could have ended up with Richard if he had stayed faithful.

“We had potential,” she said. “Unfaithfulness takes a toll on the girl in any relationship. She doesn’t know where she stands. It’s possible that the guy loves her but can’t help himself. He probably doesn’t have emotional attachments to the girls he dates on the side. Still, that’s hard to accept. That was how I felt.”

They were on the brink of separation while working on their 1994 hit movie Saan Ka Man Naroroon. Dawn recalls going through a painful breakup. “We’re trying to be sweet-sweet, pero galit na galit ka sa kanya, gusto mong sakalin,” she said, smiling. The two attribute the failed relationship to their young age, the surrounding publicity, and attendant showbiz intrigue.

Reliving the past

According to her, Richard, as an actor, has become “more well-rounded now… more mature in the way he attacks his roles.” Asked if she reminisces the old times, Dawn said, “A little. We had a lot of memorable experiences, especially when we traveled together. I had to refresh Richard’s memory about how we broke up. He had forgotten (laughs).”

Dawn, now married to Davao del Norte Rep. Anton Lagdameo Jr., said she was glad Richard settled down with Lucy, now a congresswoman representing Leyte. “It takes a certain kind of a woman, like Lucy… she has so much confidence to allow her husband to work with an ex. He’s so lucky,” Dawn said.

Despite all that has happened, the Eternal Love Team has maintained its lustre and loyal fan base as shown by the phenomenal success of their last teleserye. To their multitude of fans, it does not matter that their idols are now happily married to their respective spouses. What they look forward to and never tire of watching are the kilig moments as the two recreate their romance, even only in the small screen.

They look good together

If there is one simple explanation for the enduring popularity of the Richard-Dawn team-up, it is perhaps because they just really look good together. Both have aged well and they look as bagay now as they did 22 years ago. Their physical appearance blend; their good looks complement each other.

Another thing going for them is their acting skills. They are so effective in lulling the audience into believing that they remain deeply in love up to this day. Having been real-life lovers, Richard and Dawn perhaps needed only to recreate their past to be able to convince their loyal fans that they have not left during all these years. Their fan base is 20 or so years older but it has stayed on. Many of today’s younger love teams can learn a thing or two from Richard and Dawn on how to maintain their aura and chemistry as well as the loyalty of their fans. But then again, not all love teams are created in heaven and destined for eternity.




No Comments 18 June 2013

Friday night last week, it seemed everyone who owns a TV set was glued on the final airing of the Channel 2 teleserye, “Ina, Kapatid, Anak”  directed by Don M. Cuaresma and Jojo A. Saguin. READ FULL STORY




25 Comments 26 February 2012

By Cherie del Rio

It was an unexpected chemistry. She’s recovering from a heartbreak and slowly reclaiming her place in the industry. He’s a multi-talented newcomer who was likewise seeking stable ground in show business. Although they have worked together previously albeit with smaller roles, Kim Chiu and Xian Lim did not have an established love team until their hit primetime teleserye, My Binondo Girl. Kim was even paired with two other leading men in the show: Jolo Revilla and Matteo Guidicelli. But it was her pairing with Xian that had the series title trending in Twitter both in the Philippines and worldwide.

As the series progressed, both the show’s producers and viewers were pleasantly shocked by the onscreen romance between Kim and Xian, how they got televiewers kilig with their scenes. It truly was a surprise — and it is this very element that triggered the success of KimXi (Kim’s and Xian’s names put together to form a label for their love team). Almost out of nowhere, KimXi garnered recognition and support not just from the local fan base but even from colleagues in showbiz as well.

All of a sudden, KimXi is the next big thing and everyone, regardless of their age, social class, or geographical location (thanks to TFC!), is feeling kilig over Team Jandy (another label that represents Jade + Andy, characters in My Binondo Girl played by Kim and Xian, respectively).

Kilig factor

Today’s leading newspapers, magazines, and even Kapamilya shows all share a bit of the limelight with KimXi. Everyone seems eager to feature the budding romance between the Filipino-Chinese pair. In an episode of KrisTV, Kris Aquino unabashedly pointed out that Kim and Xian looked really good together and more importantly, that Xian had her vote.

A lot of fans have noted that the KimXi love team is for everyone — bridging the proverbial gap between the ages and the classes. The pair is wholesome enough to be adored by the younger fans but still relatable enough to be admired by the older audiences. If Filipino TV had a poster couple for the exciting beginnings of young love, then KimXi would definitely be it.

Their My Binondo Girl co-star, Cherry Pie Picache, admits to feeling butterflies whenever she looks at the pair. It has been reported that Xian is quite old fashioned when it comes to his courtship ways. Lumang tao is how Kim described him in a recent interview with the Philippine Entertainment Portal.

Xian, as part of his Christmas gift to Kim, hired a choir to serenade the young actress after the latter commented that she can’t quite feel the spirit of Christmas. Earlier, Xian overheard Kim talking about wanting a life-sized teddy bear. He then surprised her with one: a dark brown, fluffy, giant stuffed bear. Apart from these grand gestures, Kim admits to receiving flowers from the actor-singer. She says that guys like Xian are a rarity nowadays. This all the more enflames the passion of KimXians (fans of their love team).

Everyone seems to be guessing, trying to determine whether there is something more to the onscreen pair of Jade and Andy. And of course, all these guessing and excitement contribute to the overwhelming kilig that now envelopes the Pinoy TV fandom. Kim and Xian, on the other hand, are more than happy to supply the audience with moments that are all seemingly genuine, unique, and sincere. They are careful with interviews, though — always being clear on what their relationship status is so far and how things are being taken in stride.

From Kimerald to KimXi

Perhaps one of the strongest fan organizations that will define Filipino showbiz history is the Kimeralds (fans of Kim and Gerald Anderson).  And when the pair split up, the Kimerald hype died as well. Now that both Kim and Gerald have separate career paths, one cannot help but wonder how the fan group is thriving in all the changes.

A lot of Kimeralds have been supportive of the KimXi love team, adding force to its growing popularity today. Everywhere on the internet, you will find KimXi-devoted websites. From Facebook fan pages to Tumblr to Twitter, the KimXi tag is visible and dominant.

Upon closer inspection of these sites, however, you will find that there are still a lot of fans that compare Kimerald to KimXi even though they are supportive of both pairings. It is as though they approve of the KimXi pair but, just like any other hardcore fan, Kimeralds will always advocate the Kim-Gerald pair, hoping for a reconciliation in the future may it be on or off cam.  Rivalry between the Kimerald and KimXi camps is rare if not altogether nonexistent on major websites.  And all this positivity boosts KimXi’s promising direction in the tough industry.

Looking ahead

After My Binondo Girl ended on January 20, fans started clamoring for more KimXi appearances — emails to the ABS-CBN network, posts and comments on public websites, twitter pleas, etc. With the success of their pairing, though, Kim and Xian would most likely show up on another teleserye or in a movie in the very near future. Kris Aquino, also in another episode of her morning talk show, hinted that Kim is presently working on a movie with one of the major stars of the network and Xian will be joining her. Online discussion boards have guessed that Xian and Kim’s first movie together will be with the Star for All Seasons herself, Ms. Vilma Santos.

Xian has gained a lot of fans and admirers for how special he has been treating Kim. He already wrote a song for her entitled Ako’y Sayo Lamang, which is part of the soundtrack of their soap.  After the choir serenade, the life-sized teddy bear, and the song, one can’t help but wonder how Xian will possibly outdo himself. Whatever magic he still has up on his sleeve, the entire Pinoy fandom will definitely be keeping watch and feeling kilig.




No Comments 08 November 2011

By Pepper Marcelo

People call them “cougar” – women over 40 that remain desirable and sexy even in middle age. Former President Joseph Estrada puts it more colorfully in street lingo: May asim pa. With exercise, diet, and the wonders of cosmetic surgery (read: botox, liposuction, boob job, noselift, facelift), women are now are able to mature with style, elegance and oomph. (Author’s note: This is not to imply that all the women featured in this piece have resorted to the cosmetic procedures.) The marvelous makeover must be well worth every peso (lots of ‘em to be sure), the physical ache and medical risk. Suddenly the gallivanting husband comes home early and takes a renewed interest in the wife. And for the separadas, hooking up with younger men now isn’t as difficult and distasteful as it used to be.

In the following piece Planet Philippines goes cougar-hunting in the glittery world of showbiz in search of celebrities who live by the mantra “50 is the new 40.” To avoid a catfight, we have listed in alphabetical order our top ten female cougars.

Gretchen Barretto – “La Greta,” as she’s known for her diva status and sassy attitude, is undisputedly one of the most beautiful faces in local showbiz. For three decades she has been a fixture on film and television, the ramp, and, much to her chagrin (says she), the gossip pages. A fashion icon and a certified bon vivant, courtesy of long-time partner, tycoon Tonyboy Cojuangco, she has graced the cover of every glossy magazine in town. Whether in a luxuriant Inno Sotto gown or in faded denim pants, La Greta is the embodiment of style and class.

Dina Bonnevie – Now a grandmother (!) at 50, the former Regal Baby still makes heads turns with her sultry persona and voluptuous figure. Introduced in 1980 in the film Underage, she cemented her nymphet image in her breakout movie Katorse, also in 1980. She has had two failed marriages – first to Vic Sotto, with whom she has two children, and later to a businessman, which lasted only a few years. Miss D was 39 and a mother of two teenagers when she agreed to strip for the cover of the December 2001 issue of the men’s magazine FHM. Of her numerous male admirers, she says, “Even naman before, they’ve always been there. That’s why I always say, ‘Where the boys are, someone waits for me.’”

Pops Fernandez – The erstwhile Concert Queen is deceptively quiet about her love life after her failed marriage to singer Martin Nievera, who bore her two sons, and brief romance with actor Jomari Yllana. Turning 45 in December, she says she’d rather have another child than a new husband. In 2006 she caused a stir when she appeared on the cover of FHM. Asked why she did it, she replied, “I wanted to do so something I’ve never done before, and agree to do it before I cannot do it anymore. It’s something I can do now so I might as well do it now.”

Jean Garcia – Housewives may hate her for her kontrabida roles in teleseryes but the men are in awe of her alluring and scintillating beauty. Behind the virginal smile and delicate demeanor is sex appeal personified. Obliging the macho crowd, she consented to bare skin on the cover of FHM (October 2008 issue), the first and only time that she allowed the adoring macho horde to have a peek at her physical assets. But the 42-year-old temptress says her proudest achievement is her two children – aspiring actress Jennica (with estranged husband, actor Jigo Garcia) and Kotaro (with a Japanese businessman). Happily single for three years now, her last publicly known boyfriend was actor Polo Ravales, who is 13 years her junior.

Cherie Gil – There is no more apt description for this alluring, versatile actress than the moniker “Sexy Kontrabida.” Sexy and mean, the 48-year-old mother of three is known for uttering the famous movie line, “You are nothing but a second-rate, trying hard copy cat!” Confidence, sophistication and class are what make a woman sexy, she says. And when does she feel most sexy? “When I am perfectly groomed and wearing my sexiest underwear, yet no one can see. Oh, and when I am wearing great four-inch heels.” In June 2008, she and her husband of 20 years, Israeli violinist Roni Rogoff, parted ways.

Zsa Zsa Padilla – Years ago her partner, Dolphy, used to say she was his natural Viagra. Going by the Comedy King’s reputation as a connoisseur of women, the accolade speaks volume about Zsa Zsa’s animal appeal and magnetic personality. Asked what’s the sexiest item in her closet, she teased, “Uh, probably a lace camisole that I don’t wear underwear with, hahaha. You get the picture.” The 47-year-old mother of three isn’t ashamed to admit that “a little part” of her body is no longer original (though she would not say which). She is one of our most seductive chanteuses in the mold of Carmen Soriano in the ‘60s and Didith Reyes in the ‘70s.

Lorna Tolentino – Even at 49, the acclaimed actress remains luminous and beguiling. Beginning as a child actress in 1969, LT metamorphosed into a lovely and scintillating beauty, which landed her in “bold” flicks in the ‘70s. After she married action star Rudy Fernandez in 1983 and later bore him two sons, LT shed her sex siren image and built a solid reputation as a top-caliber dramatic actress. Even with her husband’s approval, she declined an offer to appear on FHM, “kasi pinagdaanan ko na ang pa-sexy-sexy.” Still reeling from Rudy’s death in 2008, she can’t say if she’ll fall in love again.

Eula Valdez – Like fellow cougar Jean Garcia, Eula is an alumna of FMA, a popular character actress, separated with two children, and involved with a man 13 years her junior. It was in 2008 that she hooked up with ramp model Rocky Salumbides. Their May-December affair set tongues wagging but the couple has managed to survive the nasty whispers and mischievous stares. The 43-year old enchantress, says FHM, has an appeal that can put many women half her age to shame. “Her doe-shaped eyes and the interesting curve of her mouth emanate the mysterious allure of a woman who has been there and done that.”

Regine Velasquez – Asia’s Songbird is known not only for her powerful voice but also for her alluring charm and magnetic beauty. She has not posed for any men’s magazine or appeared in a sexy role but audiences are well aware of her physical assets (thanks to those plunging necklines and body-hugging outfits). Just ask the fans who voted her No. 7 in FHM’s Sexiest Women for 2010. Surprisingly for a single and attractive celebrity, she had only one boyfriend – singer Ariel Rivera – before her husband, Oge Alcasid. At 41, she is set to deliver her first ever baby in November. One hopes that motherhood would not turn the cougar into a lioness.

Dawn Zulueta – This 42-year-old doe-eyed mestiza is demure by showbiz standards when it comes to flaunting her physical assets. Ex-boyfriend Richard Gomez, who knows a thing or two about women, can attest to her stunning beauty and sex appeal. Entertainment columnist Ricky Lo writes: “She can look expensive without even trying to. Even if unadorned with expensive jewelry and accessories, she manages to look classy.” When not in front of the camera – which has become less frequent after her marriage to businessman-politician Anton Lagdameo – Dawn dotes on her two children, five-year-old Jacobo and two-year-old Ayisha.




No Comments 01 October 2011

Here was a rarity: a hugely popular singer who looked plain, and a movie musical star who didn’t dance as well as Cyd Charisse and Nida Blanca, evolving into a great singer and a great actress. Singing actors are common in local showbiz, but Nora is peerless. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 02 February 2011

By Jocelyn Valle

The box-office success of My Amnesia Girl was sweetest for its female star, Toni Gonzaga. For starters, that project seemed to have come from out of the blue because she was supposed to do a movie with her dream leading man, Robin Padilla. But the action star suddenly became busy attending to the affairs of his heart that eventually led him to India, where he tied the knot with Mariel Rodriguez. Interestingly, Toni had announced around that time that she had a falling out with Mariel, who’s been her close friend since they started co-hosting Pinoy Big Brother in 2005, without revealing its cause.

Toni also had her hands full as one of the lead stars in Kokey@Ako, an early primetime series featuring the Pinoy-created small-screen character from outer space, and co-hosting the Sunday talk show The Buzz.

It was only when the teaser for My Amnesia Girl started airing in late October that it was confirmed that Toni was indeed making a new with John Lloyd Cruz with Cathy Garcia-Molina at the helm. The announcement, however, was initially met with skepticism because some quarters thought the movie closely resembles the Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler’s blockbuster, 50 First Dates.

Doubters were proven wrong when My Amnesia Girl opened to smashing results on Nov. 24 amid strong competition from Hollywood flicks like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1. It continued its winning streak till it ended its run on Dec. 24 when the Metro Manila Film Festival rolled in on Christmas Day.

But it was Toni who remained incredulous even during the December 9 victory party thrown by Star Cinema for the people behind the movie – from the cast to the creative and production teams.

Ano ka ba, you deserve it,” John Lloyd told an emotional Toni.

“Thank you. I deserve this movie with John Lloyd,” she said, facing the back-to-back winner of the Box-office King title. “Kasi ang akala ko marami pa akong kakaining bigas bago kita makatrabaho.”

She continued: “I’m really, really grateful na he said yes when I know that he could’ve said no. Kasi busy ka. May ibang bagay na gusto kang gawin. But you said yes to me and to the project. So, maraming, maraming salamat sa opportunity na makatrabaho ka at saka na-share mo ang husay at galing mo. Marami akong natutunan sa ‘yo. Sabi ko nga, ang prayer ko lang, ‘Lord, sana bigyan mo ako ng bagong leading man.’ Ang binigay sa akin, John Lloyd Cruz.”

It’s no false humility for Toni. While she’s had her share of moneymakers like 2005’s D’Anothers and the romantic comedies You are the One, You Got Me, My Big Love and My Only U, a John Lloyd Cruz movie is in a league of its own. His leading ladies in his hit movies, Bea Alonzo and Sarah Geronimo, are certified box-office queens, too. So Toni’s insecurities are valid and realistic.

She’s been in the biz long enough (she joined a singing contest at age 13 and ended up excelling in hosting and acting as well) that the 27-year-old TV host-actress-singer already knows how competitive her chosen field is. And it’s even tougher for someone who, as a Methodist like the rest of her family (dad Carlitos, mom Pinty and younger sister Alex), has strong religious convictions. For instance, she can’t show flesh or do intimate scenes in any of her projects.

That’s why it was big deal for Toni to kiss John Lloyd in My Amnesia Girl, insisting that their lips only touched lightly. And, no, she wouldn’t go any farther than that in her future assignments.

Hanggang do’n na lang ang puwedeng ibigay,” she said. “Alam naman ng mga director ko. Hindi siguro nila ako bibigyan ng isang bagay na hindi ko magagawa wholeheartedly.”

But wouldn’t those limitations impede her growth as an actress?

“I can be a mature actress without doing bed scenes or showing of flesh,” Toni explained. “That’s my belief. You can be a mature in how you attack your role, how you deliver your lines, how you carry your character – but it doesn’t mean you have to do bed scenes.”

In fact, she’s already proven her point in A Journey Home, the directorial debut of her boyfriend, Paul Soriano, grandson of the late actor Nestor de Villa and son of TV commercial director Jeric Soriano.

Released in 2009, A Journey Home is about a father (Soliman Cruz) who, after 20 years of absence, tries to reconcile with his family. His eldest son, Raffy (Joem Bascon), who also has problems connecting with his own children (John Manalo and Cha Cha Canete), is the last to forgive him. Toni plays Raffy’s wife, Gayle.

“I did that movie wholeheartedly as a Christian,” said Toni. “It’s a Christian film and not really for commercial purpose or for my personal glory. It’s for the Lord. So hindi ko inisip ‘yung sarili kong benefit.”

When it comes to choosing between acting and hosting, though, Toni is less certain. “Hosting is something that I do naturally.  ‘Yung mga bagay na sinasabi ko, they just come from heart. Pero iba rin ang fulfillment sa acting, sa singing.

Sa tingin ko naman kaya ko pa namang pagsabayin at kinakaya naman ng katawan ko at ng schedule. At saka sabi nga nila, strike while the iron is still hot and while there are opportunities. Siyempre time goes by. Hindi natin alam, maraming magagaling, maraming mga batang magaganda at mahuhusay din. Baka eventually dumating ang panahon na maghanap ng bago ang mga manonood at hindi na nila gusto ang naiibigay ko. Kaya hangga’t gusto pa nila, binibigay ko.”

She also believes that a star’s staying power doesn’t lie on just one talent. “Ang longevity naman hindi nasusukat sa isang bagay na nagagawa mo. Longevity is being able to give your audience variations and variety. So if I can do everything at the same time, I’ll do my best to do everything at the same time hangga’t kaya ko pa.”

Someday, though, Toni hopes to host a public-affairs program. “But kailangan ko pa sigurong i-hone ang ability ko,” she acknowledged. “Hindi naman natin minamadali ang mga bagay na ganyan. Given the right time and the right opportunity, then I can host a show that inspires and touches other people’s lives.”

Meantime, Toni looks forward to an even more productive 2011. There are talks that a sequel to My Amnesia Girl may be in the works and that she’ll be doing more movies this year. The channel of communication has opened once more between her and Mariel and they may soon rekindle their friendship. Maybe Toni can get to work with Robin, after all.




1 Comment 08 December 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

One of the most colorful real-life showbiz love stories is the saga of singer-entertainers Regine Velasquez and Ogie Alcasid. The Singer and Songwriter, as the two are sometimes referred to, are two of the most successful artists in Original Pinoy Music history.

Their fans have faithfully followed their careers and had long wished the two would eventually become a couple. But bad timing and Ogie’s unsettled marital status had put off a public announcement of their affair. It was only in the middle of 2007 that the marriage of Ogie to Michelle Van Eimeren was annulled. The closet lovers finally came out in the open to proclaim their love affair. Now comes their nuptial on December 22, which is already being billed as the Wedding of the Year.

The private wedding ceremonies will be held at the exclusive Punta Fuego Resort in Nasugbu, Batangas. The original venue was a beach resort, also in Batangas, but the owners backed out after initially agreeing to host the event. Regine reveals that she took the rejection badly and got depressed for two weeks.

Wedding entourage

The couple’s close friends in the industry are part of the entourage. President Benigno Aquino III will be one of the secondary sponsors. Regine and Ogie had campaigned for the President in the May presidential elections. Ogie’s ex-wife Michelle, who had remarried in 2009, volunteered to do the floral arrangement, and their two daughters – Leila, 12, and Sarah, 7 – will serve as flower girls.

Regine’s gown, a gift from cosmetic surgeon Vicki Belo, is designed by the US-based well-known Filipina couturier Monique Lhuillier, who dresses many Hollywood stars. Ogie will be wearing a suit designed by Randy Ortiz.

An unlikely couple

Before they met and became close, Regine and Ogie were involved with different partners. An aspiring singer/actor then, Ogie was tapped as one of the hosts for the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Manila in 1974 and assigned to chaperon and assist the contestants. But as fate would have it, Ogie – brown-skinned and standing barely five feet – and Michelle – the blue-eyed, blonde and fair-skinned Miss Australia – immediately hit it off. They eventually tied the knot in 1998.

Despite the physical and cultural divide, Ogie and Michelle led what seemed to be a happy married life in Manila. Michelle tried showbiz, appearing in a few TV shows and movies. But while Ogie was making great headway in his career, their marriage started to falter. In 2003, Michelle decided to go back to Australia with their two daughters. In spite of tell-tale signs of a brewing storm, the couple did not give any indication that their union was encountering rough seas.

‘Home wrecker’

Regine, on the other hand, had remained single all her adult life as she was deeply immersed in her career. She was discovered in 1984 when she emerged the first grand champion in the singing contest, Ang Bagong Kampeon. She gained international fame upon winning the Asia Pacific Singing Contest in 1989 and became the first Filipino to do a solo concert at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall in 1991.

Her first taste of showbiz intrigue came in the early ‘90s when she was rumored to have an illicit affair with singer-comedian Janno Gibbs, who was then married to Bing Loyzaga. Not long after the tabloid gossip had died down, Regine got involved with another singer and fellow GMA-7 artist, Ariel Rivera, while the latter was still on with actress Gelli de Belen. (Ariel and Gelli eventually reconciled and married in 1997.) These two episodes earned her the label “home wrecker” from her detractors.

Regine says she did not expect that her friendship with Ogie would develop into a romantic affair. “Hindi ko rin ine-expect!” she said when asked how it all began. “At saka, isa lang naman ang failed relationship ko [referring to Ariel Rivera]. Actually, dalawa pa lang naman sila [Ariel and Ogie]. Actually, it was really unexpected talaga for both of us, especially sa kanya because, you know, he’s married and we were just really friends. . . I never really expected we’ll end up together. But I always thought he’s a wonderful man.”

The secret is out

In Yes! Magazine’s June 2007 issue, Ogie announced what many had long suspected. “I love her, I’m crazy about her,” he said, declaring for the first time in public his feelings for Regine. He admitted that he and Regine had carried on a secret affair for several years while his wife Michelle and children were in Australia and their marital status in limbo pending approval of its annulment.

A month later, during a press conference for Pinoy Pop Superstar Grand Finals, which Regine was hosting at the time, the 40-year-old Asia’s Songbird acknowledged Ogie’s feelings, and proclaimed that she too loved him very much. “This relationship is important to me. This is the only relationship I have and the relationship I will ever have,” she said.

She said she had mixed feelings now that the secret was out. “Happy ako, although hindi halata, dahil at least now it’s out. But at the same time, very scared on what people will say about me. I’m scared I will be judged again.”

Regine also tearfully thanked Ogie for his discreet behavior all the time they were on. “Nagpapasalamat ako kay Ogie for protecting me. Hindi namin mailabas ito dahil napakaraming kailangang protektahan ni Ogie — hindi lang ako kundi pati pamilya niya.

Michelle by their side

For all what had transpired, Ogie holds his ex-wife in high regard, calling her his “best friend.” Michelle and Regine likewise have become good friends. In November 2009 Ogie and Regine traveled to Australia to attend the wedding of Michelle to Australian businessman Mark Murrow. Regine sang while Ogie played host during the wedding ceremony.

Michelle herself has nothing but kind words for Ogie and Regine. “Alam mo si Regine, talagang ang bait ng tao na ‘yan, and Ogie is so… when he’s with her sobrang saya parang iba ang ugali niya, he’s so happy. So ‘pag sama-sama kaming lahat, parang it’s just nice naman.”

Addressing the engaged couple, Michelle said: “Ogie, Regine, alam ninyo naman yung feelings ko para sa inyong dalawa. I’m just so happy, finally you’re getting married at alam ninyo nandito ako para sa inyo. If ever you need me, we’re here and we wish you every happiness in life, all the best, and mahal ko kayo!”

The lovebirds could not be happier at the turn of events. “At the end of the day, when you’re happy, if you’re okay, then you’re okay,” says the 43-year-old groom-to-be. “It doesn’t matter what people say, you have to do what you have to do with your life. You’ve got to be true to yourself.”




No Comments 17 October 2010

By Mynardo Macaraig

Philippine comic books have nurtured talent for international TV and animation blockbusters, but the once-mighty industry is fighting to survive as it comes up against the Internet and other new media.

Comic books that dominated the Philippine publishing industry just a couple of decades ago are now largely relegated to photocopied titles sold in a few specialty stores and at conventions, lamented veteran artist Rico Rival.

“There are still a lot of good Filipino artists. They just don’t have an outlet anymore. They just photocopy their own works,” said Rival who has worked for local publications as well as US comic and animation companies.

The 72-year-old Rival is now retired but still indulges his passion by drawing occasionally for Philippine magazines and doing commissioned art at conventions.

Local comic books, popularly known as komiks, were once the most widely read periodicals in the country with dozens of titles sold on newsstands every day.

Terry Bagalso, editor of Atlas Publishing, once the country’s largest komiks publisher, recalled that in the 1980s, at the height of the industry’s popularity, his company was printing 30 titles a week.

Its top-selling titles easily sold 400,000 copies a week with total komiks circulation in the millions.

“We had to send out an armored car to collect our sales earnings,” she recalled.

These komiks — printed in black and white on cheap newsprint — presented serialized stories in a wide variety of genres, including romance, horror, superheroes, historical adventure, fantasy, comedy and fairytales.

Sold largely by street vendors, they appealed mainly to the poor masses and cost just a few centavos (less than one US cent), far cheaper than a movie ticket or other forms of popular entertainment.

Darna, Dyesebel, Panday

Komiks characters such as superheroine Darna, the mermaid Dyesebel and the monster-slaying Panday (The Blacksmith) are still household words in the Philippines and live on in TV series and movies.

The artists who worked on these komiks caught the attention of US companies such as Marvel and DC Comics, which started recruiting them in the 1970s to work on characters including Batman and Conan the Barbarian.

“They were amazed that Filipinos were very good illustrators. They thought there was an art school that trained us and then they came here and they found that we just influenced each other,” said Rival.

Many Filipino artists then went on to produce cartoons for companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Today, Filipino artists can be found working on big-screen animation projects such as the “Toy Story” series.

Despite that success, komiks have virtually disappeared from Philippine newsstands.

The consensus is that komiks lost their audience as Filipinos turned to more modern forms of entertainment such as television, videogames, DVDs and the Internet.

“It is the technology. With one click on the computer you can get anything. So instead of reading komiks, people like computers, cellphones and other things,” said Bagalso.

There have been various attempts to revive komiks in recent years but none have had much success.

Alexie Cruz, editor of PSICOM, a local publisher, said his company’s last komiks foray two years ago — a comedy title called Topak (Nutty) — fell victim to poor sales after just two issues.

“One of the main problems is the bookstores don’t cater to komiks by Filipino publishers. They give them very little space,” he said.

Ironically, PSICOM’s big sellers are magazines on “manga” or Japanese comics, as well as licensed reprints of DC Comics titles — which do get shelf-space in local bookstores, said Cruz.

Not giving up

But local creators won’t give up. Some publishers still come out with their own home-grown “graphic novels” — extended stories told in comic format.

Philippine publisher Visprint is producing one such effort next year: ‘Filipino Heroes League’, a semi-comedic tale by artist-writer Paolo Fabregas who puts superheroes into a developing world setting.

“They’re underfunded, unappreciated and generally unwanted… like Kid Kidlat (Kid Lightning). He’s super-fast and super-poor,” Fabregas, 32, said with a laugh.

Like many other aspiring Filipino komiks artists, Fabregas started out either putting his stories on the Internet or selling home-made copies.

His main job is in advertising and he describes his komiks work as “a glorified hobby”.

Komiks artist Gener Pedrina said he and other creators just drew the stories, printed them with a photocopier, stapled them by hand and then sold them on their own.

He described his products as “labors of love,” because they take so much time but make barely enough to break even.

Pedrina’s superhero title, Sanduguan, (Blood Brothers) and other komiks like Zombies in Manila and (Gerilya Guerrilla) Komiks, are sold at the handful of comic conventions held in the Philippines each year.

While these titles may not have the polish of their predecessors, Rival said they still kept the tradition alive.

Komiks is still here. It won’t go away. There may not be publications but artists can come up with their own komiks. You cannot restrain their creativity.” (Agence France-Presse)


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