A DIFFERENT SIDE OF PIOLO

Entertainment

A DIFFERENT SIDE OF PIOLO

No Comments 16 October 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

One of the premiere leading men of local showbiz, Piolo Pascual is a veritable cottage industry – with his movie and television roles, concerts, albums and product endorsements attesting to his popularity and status as an icon in Philippine entertainment.

Piolo’s last major projects were the TV soap Lovers in Paris, and the film Love Me Again and the independent project Manila. After months of absence from the screen, he returns in a big way in the ongoing dramatic television series Noah.

His current TV project marks a change of pace for the 33-year-old actor, departing from his usual suave, lovelorn persona. In a press conference promoting the fantaserye, Piolo said he was excited by the prospect of trying out a different role.

“I immediately said yes to ‘Noah’ because sa dami ng nagawa kong teleserye I want to do something new naman,” he said. “If it will give me challenge, I’m up for it. That way I can discover a different side of me not just an actor, but also as a person. It’s my responsibility to my audience to offer something na hindi pa nila nakikita sa akin.”

He compliments ABS-CBN for giving him a role befitting his evolving status and needs as an artist. “This is an integral part in my growth as an actor because I don’t want to be boxed up playing romantic leads. Nabo-bore na rin ako na paulit-ulit na love story ang ginagawa ko. Hindi na rin naman ako bata. After being in the business for more than 10 years I want din naman to offer my audience something new.”

A story of “love and family,” Noah is a fantaserye about on a young cop, Gabriel (Piolo), and his search for his missing son, Jacob, played by child star Zaijian Jaranilla. His journey leads him to a mysterious island called Noah where he sees his lost son, but in a different guise as Eli.

Recently nga lang nag-dawn in sa akin na bago pala yung concept na ginagawa ko,” he says. “It’s hard to mount and it’s an ambitious project so I am excited. Sana ma-enjoy ng viewers as much as we do because it’s contemporary. Noah is a family drama, pero siyempre hindi naman pwedeng maalis ‘yung romance. We just want to focus on more important elements of the story.”

The focal point of the show will be Piolo’s relationship with Zaijian, himself a “veteran” lead of the hit program May Bukas Pa. Piolo is all praises for the seven-year-old talent. “Sobra yung energy ni Zaijian kaya nakakatuwa. And his eyes are so expressive so it’s easy to draw emotions just by staring at him. Talagang makikita mo that he’s a natural and perfect for the role.”

To that end, Piolo relishes the opportunity to play up the father-and-son dynamic. “It’s a relief kasi walang burden na kailangang i-work out ninyo as a love team anddun pa lang, okey na ako kasi hindi ko kailangang i-playyung tandem. With Zaijian, I’m happy because it’s something different.”

Even off-camera, Piolo shared that he and the playful young actor have a great time hanging out. “Masyadong energetic at masaya kasama. Kulitan kami sa set. Dude nga ang tawag ko sa kanya.”

In a case of art imitating life, the show is also reflective of his role as a real-life father to his 13-year-old son, Iñigo. “Zaijan is half the age of my son. Malayo ang edad nila pero nakikita ko ‘yung mata ni Zaijan hawig sa mata ng anak ko.”

Piolo is most excited about spending the upcoming Manila visit of Iñigo, who lives in California. The single father hasn’t made any specific plans yet, but if anything it is sure to involve eating. “I just want him maybe to accompany me during my shoots. We love to eat out. I love to splurge on dining and try different cuisines.”

Piolo is wary of his son entering following in his footsteps, at least until he has finished school. “Sabi ko tapusin niya muna yung pag-aaral niya and then he can decide what he wants to do afterwards. As much as possible ayokong mag-artista siya kasi it’s a tough career. Pero kung yun ang hilig niya, my only request is for him to finish his studies first. He’s been in the States for five years already. I was there during his graduation. This coming school year mag-ge-grade seven na siya so mabuting dun muna siya mag-aral.”

Piolo wants to shield Iñigo from any media scrutiny during his brief stay in the country. “So he’s coming over but I don’t really want to expose him [to the media] because he’s still young. My son’s not from the business and I don’t want him to be corrupted [by the usual intrigues in showbiz].”

Speaking of intrigue, much has been made of the eligible bachelor’s rumored relationship with his Lovers in Paris co-star KC Concepcion. Though Piolo admits they are close, they are just friends for now. “Hindi naman namin ikakaila ‘yon kung ano man ‘yung mga developments. Lalabas at lalabas din ‘yon but for now, we enjoy each other’s company. When there’s a chance we go out, we’re beginning to know each other better.”

In the gossip-filled world of showbiz, Piolo is aware he has to be careful not to damage the special relationship they share. “Ang hirap ‘pag may issues na mahirap lusutan. Hindi naman sa sensitive lang, kaya lang kailangan mo ring protektahan ang ibang taong involved so mas nagiging sensitive.”

As to his career, Piolo says he’s prioritizing Noah over other job offers. He admits turning down a guest host in the defunct noontime show Wowowee. “Hindi pwede, hindi talaga kaya ng schedule,” he says. “I’m working everyday. Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I’m taping. Tuesdays-Thursdays-Saturdays, I’m either shooting a commercial, pictorial, doing an out-of-town show, or rehearsing for [the weekend variety show] ASAP. Wala na talagang oras. I guess marami namang ibang pwedeng gumawa nun.”

With his busy schedule, he also has to stop doing movies for the time being, although he says he’ll probably get back to it as soon as he can, out of necessity. “As an actor kailangan mo talaga maging visible sa movies, but I believe gusto mo rin ma-protect ‘yung track record mo sa movies. ‘Yung excitement na nakukuha ko sa TV gusto ko rin makuha sa movies.”

He says that henceforth he will accept only projects that are truly special in order for him to grow as an actor. “I’m already at the point in my career that you don’t want to just grab everything that comes your way. I don’t want to say that I have already proven myself but gusto ko kasi na nae-excite ako sa ginagawa ko not because of the quantity but of the quality. Gusto kong nage-enjoy ako sa ginagawa ko and hindi ko papagurin ‘yung sarili ko just because of exposure.”

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CHARICE: ASIA’S RISING POP STAR

Entertainment

CHARICE: ASIA’S RISING POP STAR

No Comments 20 September 2010

She’s already making quite a splash in America. Her U.S. debut album, titled simply ‘Charice’, was the first by an Asian singer to make it to the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart in May. This week she will appear in the season premiere of the popular TV series ‘Glee.’  READ FULL STORY

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LADIES’ MAN

Entertainment

LADIES’ MAN

No Comments 23 August 2010

By Jocelyn Valle

It’s all been all quiet on John Lloyd Cruz’s love front since clarifying on national TV last June the much-talked-about supposedly cheating heart. For starters, his relationship with Shaina Magdayao is not only warmly accepted by their families and friends but also by the public. Moreover, his special friend, Ruffa Gutierrez, is now being linked to a Venezuelan executive while his ladylove’s ex, John Prats, has long moved on.

This doesn’t come as surprise to people who have followed the career of the 27-year-old actor since he started in showbiz as an ABS-CBN discovery in 1997. For instance, when his love team with Bea Alonzo was moving full steam ahead, John Lloyd didn’t hide his romance with Ciara Sotto and then with his subsequent non-showbiz girlfriend, Liz Uy, even if he was already firming up his status as a sought-after leading man.

He seems to be the type who’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve as long as he’s completely sure whom it beats for. However, if there’s mutual decision to be non-committal about the affair (like the one with Kaye Abad) or if there’s no reason for him to be vocal about it (such as the case with Krista Ranillo), he keeps quiet like a true gentleman.

When asked during the launch of his endorsement for a cracker brand about the most magical moment he’s spent with a girl, John Lloyd was at a loss for words. “I have a poor recollection [of past events]. Honestly, lately kasi I’ve been busy. Ang hirap sagutin ang tanong na ‘yan,” he sighed. “Even hypothetically speaking because it will defeat the purpose of word magical.”

Well, just like in his romantic flicks and teleseryes, the star of the forthcoming primetime series, Imortal, (opposite Angel Locsin) takes love matters seriously. Now, can he be blamed for making girls swoon over and fall for a dreamboat like him?

Kaye was the first actress to be seriously linked to John Lloyd. In Tabing Ilog, they played Eds and Rovic, whose love story was at the core of the weekly teen series that ran from 1999 to 2003. The two became very close during those times but they never admitted having anything more than friendship, that’s why even now they are inconsistently referred to as exes.

One thing’s for sure, though: the former love team partners remain very friendly to each other. In fact, Kaye has been requesting ABS-CBN for a reunion project but it’s been very difficult to find a window in the actor’s hectic schedule. John Lloyd, on the other hand, has been teasing her for having a different taste now in men, as exemplified by her tandem with balikbayan performer, Guji Lorenzana.

If Krista’s story is to be believed, though, Kaye and John Lloyd were indeed a couple. While recounting her past romances during a press con for a TV show in 2008, the newlywed actress revealed that she went steady with John Lloyd after he and Kaye broke up. She added that Kaye was her childhood friend as their fathers belonged to the same circle.

According to Krista, John Lloyd courted her for four months but their relationship lasted for only three months because she went to the States, and they stopped communicating. She learned that he was already dating Ciara when she returned home in 2002.

Like Kaye, Krista is happy about John Lloyd’s successes and likewise hopes to work with him. In a separate interview, the actor acknowledged the short-lived affair that ended simply because they lost touch with each other.

The Ciara affair was John Lloyd’s first high-profile romance. He was still in a love team with Kaye then but his tandem with young upstart Bea Alonzo in the top-rating teleserye Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay was gaining more fans, especially when they starred in the Two Hearts episode of the twinbill flick, My First Romance. Right after the soap wrapped up in 2003, John Lloyd and Bea headlined their own primetime soap, It Might Be You, and then their first full-length movie, Now That I Have You, which would later on be followed up by similar blockbusters.

Ciara, who started her career in GMA-7, transferred to ABS-CBN and even went under contract with the network’s Talent Center (now Star Magic) that counts John Lloyd and Bea among its artists. But the pressure not to take the limelight away from the popular love team reportedly persisted.

There were talks in late June 2003 that Ciara overdosed on sleeping pills because of an alleged fight with her boyfriend, who, in turn, was said to be getting the cold treatment from the Sotto family, particularly her dad Tito and mom Helen. John Lloyd ended the nasty speculations by showing up at her birthday party a few nights later and presented her with a ruby ring. The duo eventually parted ways in 2006.

John Lloyd didn’t end that year with a broken heart, though, because he soon found a new love in fashion stylist Liz Uy. The couple didn’t cause much controversy (maybe because she worked behind-the-scenes) even if his love team with Bea remained strong and he scored back-to-back box-office hits with Sarah Geronimo.

It was only when John Lloyd became extra close to Ruffa, his and Bea’s co-star in the 2008 series, I Love Betty La Fea, that the relationship headed to splitsville the following year. And that’s when he became a bigger controversy magnet.

Ruffa, after all, has hogged the limelight since her teens and has been involved in a few scandals. Too, she’s older and a single mother to two daughters. It also didn’t help that they were spotted and, in some cases, photographed while having supposedly secret trysts in and out of the country, but continued denying being a couple.

The plot thickened when Shaina entered the picture initially through a series of blind items in the tabloids (e.g. a young star goes on drinking binges with another young star who’s not her boyfriend) then sightings in places like a local bike shop, Boracay and Singapore early this year.

John Lloyd kept mum on his association with both women to the point of being tagged as a two-timer and an “Overlap King.” He finally settled the score in a tell-all interview with Boy Abunda on The Buzz on June 20, and made everybody heave a sigh of relief.

But as long as John Lloyd remains on top (he was recently named Box-office King by the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Inc. for the third time in three years and cited for acting nods from Gawad PASADO, 8th Gawad Tanglaw, 1st MTRCB Awards for Movies and 26th PMPC Star Awards for Movies), people will always speculate and talk about his love affairs.

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DESTINY’S CHILD

Entertainment

DESTINY’S CHILD

No Comments 27 July 2010

By Jocelyn Valle

Pokwang may have lost another chance at love when an imminent romance with a Mexican-American whom she met while doing a show in Dallas, Texas in April 2010 went kaput. But she’s not sulking.

For starters, her career is going great guns. She recently cut a two-picture deal with Regal Films and she will soon work on the remake of the ‘80s cult hit, Temptation Island, as one of the leads alongside young stars Andi Eigenmann and Carla Abellana. She will play the role of a bratty beauty queen’s loyal yaya. A solo picture is also said to be in the works over at Pokwang’s mother studio, Star Cinema, which is the film production arm of ABS-CBN.

Of course, there’s still the noontime show, Wowowee, which she has been co-hosting since 2007.  Pokwang will also be part of the new game and variety show Pilipinas, Win na Win, which will replace Wowowee beginning July 31. Her resilient professionalism and unique brand of humor have attracted a solid following in the country and abroad.

Pokwang, who is Marietta Subong in real life, is a fulfilled single mother to her teenage daughter, Riemae, and a capable provider to her widowed mother, her 11 siblings and several relatives. Her father died a few years ago.

She proudly declares that she attributes and dedicates her success to her family, most especially to her child. “Dalawa silang anak ko pero ‘yung panganay kong lalaki, angel ko na siya ngayon,” she says, referring to the sad aftermath of a personal tragedy in 1998 that she now considers as the turning point in her life.

Apat na beses akong nag-abroad sa Japan at ‘yung pinaka-last sa Abu Dhabi,” she recalls her experience as a migrant worker. “’Yun ang time na nagkasakit ang anak kong lalaki. Hindi ako nakauwi hanggang sa mamatay ang anak ko sa brain tumor at mailibing. . . Ang amo namin doon [ay] iba ang paniniwala nila sa mga Kristyano [kaya] parang hindi naman daw importante ‘yung pag-uwi ko. Tapusin ko na lang daw ang kontrata ko or else idedemanda ako. Six months ang kontrata ko. Nakaka-three months pa lang ako. Ayaw sagutin ang pamasahe ko. . . After that, hindi na ako bumiyahe ulit. Ayoko nang magtrabaho abroad. . . May nangyari sa anak ko na wala ako sa tabi n’ya. Sobrang do’n ako durog na durog.”

Upon returning home, Pokwang worked as a choreographer and then as a stand-up comedian at Music Box on Timog Avenue, Quezon City. One night, a talent coordinator from the now defunct gag show of ABS-CBN, Yes, Yes Show, came scouting for contestants in the segment, “Clown in a Million.” Her friends secretly signed her on so she nearly went berserk upon receiving a call telling her to report to the gag show’s set.

Despite feeling unsure of her chances in the contest, Pokwang reported to ABS-CBN studio. “Wala akong magagawa kundi magsikap na kahit ano’ng trabaho basta legal papasukin ko,” she says. “Kasi nakita ko na walang tutulong sa anak ko kundi ako lang. ‘Yung tatay, wala ng silbi, ‘di ba? Ang mga magulang ko naman matatanda na, wala nang trabaho. ‘Yung mga kapatid ko, sa akin pa rin umaasa.”

Pokwang, who wears her Catholic faith on her sleeves, firmly believes in fate. “Naniniwala talaga ako na ‘pag destiny mo, destiny mo talaga kahit ano’ng gawin mong iwas. Ayoko talagang sumali kasi sobrang nahihiya ako nang bonggang-bongga pero plano ni God ‘yan kaya hindi pwedeng ilihis.”

At the same time, she lives by the dictum that God helps those who help themselves. That’s why despite her flourishing showbiz career, Pokwang has put up a salon with her colleague and good friend, Pooh, and mulls over getting into a food business like a Japanese restaurant because she’s a fan of Nippon cuisine. She’s also building another house near her place in Antipolo that she considers lucky and looking into other real estate investments.

Asked if she’s already wealthy, Pokwang, without missing a beat, exclaims, “Ay, sobra! Umaapaw, siksik, liglig. Wala na akong bangko na madepositohan kasi tinatanggihan na. Gano’n ako kayaman!”

But does she still cry?

Oo naman, may mga moment,” she admits, turning serious. “Ibang reason na. Hindi na sa boyfriend, hindi na sa pamilya. Sa pera hindi na rin kasi alam ko na kung paano i-manage ang pinaghirapan ko.”

The last time Pokwang had a good cry was when she received last December the citation for the Readers’ Choice’s “Triumph over Tragedy” category of the 2009 Working Mom Balance Awards. Working Mom is a monthly glossy of ABS-CBN Publishing that annually honors exemplary mothers from various fields.

In between sobs, Pokwang made wisecracks at her hard and sad past while accepting her award. “Ang nanay ko talaga ang inspirasyon ko kung bakit ako naging komedyante. Nililibang n’ya kaming magkakapatid kasi wala kaming makain.” Then she turned emotional. “Idolo ko sa pagiging ina si Mama Mary. Pareho kaming nawalan ng anak [na] ginawa kong inspirasyon.”

She later tells us: “Very thankful ako na nare-recognize ang mga kagaya ko na comedian. Ibang-iba ito sa mga award na natanggap ko kasi madalas sa acting or hosting pero ito, akong-ako talaga ito.”

Last month the comedienne received another unexpected gift, this time from one of her closest friends in showbiz, TV host-actress Kris Aquino. Before the presidential sister left for the US last July, she gave away her customized pink-colored mini-bus to Pokwang as a token of appreciation for the comedienne’s support for President Noynoy Aquino in the last elections.

Bago siya umalis [papunta] sa US ay tinext niya na ako na ide-deliver daw sa bahay,” she relates, adding that she never dreamed of having a bus of her own and receiving such a big present from Kris. “Actually ako, ang gusto ko lang talaga ay malaking sasakyan kasi malaki ang pamilya ko. Sobrang marami kaming magkakapatid, mga pamangkin ko, ilan yang mga yan. Pero hindi ganoon kaganda at hindi ko ini-expect talaga.”

Pokwang says her mother became emotional upon seeing the mini-bus. “Ang unang una umiyak nanay ko. Natuwa talaga ang nanay ko nang bonggang bongga. Saka kasi mahilig maglaboy ang nanay ko. Excited na excited siya. Ginamit na nga agad.

For all the blessings that she has received, she is still wishing for Mr. Right to come her way. “Kung nabibili lang ang dyowa at pagmamahal,” she sighs. “Iniisip ko na lang na mas maswerte ako doon sa mga kababayan natin na walang bahay – ‘yung mga nakatira sa ilalim ng tulay na walang ano…alam mo ‘yun?”

But she adds her Prince Charming should be someone special. “Kailangan mas maraming pera kaysa akin. ‘Yun ang totoo kasi kung ako rin ang bubuhay sa kanya, ‘wag na. At siyempre kailangan ‘yung may takot sa Diyos dahil unang-una, babae ang anak ko. Dapat kasing sipag ko rin siya.”

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NAUGHTY GIRL, GOOD GIRL

Entertainment

NAUGHTY GIRL, GOOD GIRL

No Comments 18 July 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

Considered as one of the great beauties in local showbiz, Gretchen Barretto has been in the public eye since her early teens as a model and later on as an actress. She is not only one of the most fashionable and glamorous celebrities today, she is also one of the more colorful personalities in showbiz, thanks to her candid and sometimes over-the-top comments and behavior that have become regular fodder for the tabloids.

In the trailer of ABS-CBN’s recently launched fashionserye, Magkaribal, Derek Ramsay pushed Gretchen down on a table, suggesting a wild session for their characters Louie and Victoria.

First day namin na-shoot yun,” recalls Gretchen during the press conference of Magkaribal. Matagal akong hindi nakapag-love scene na kahit kanino—sa pelikula or telebisyon—so medyo nahirapan kami at hindi ko dapat aminin ito, pero kinailangan naming mag-shot ng brandy bago makunan ang scene na ‘yon. Kasi siyempre nakakanerbiyos. ‘Saka mainit kasi maraming ilaw.”

During the press con, Gretchen refused to talk about her leading man, who was then in South Africa with girlfriend Angelica Panganiban. It will be recalled that Gretchen asked Derek to send her solo pictures from his vacation. In response, Angelica posted an intriguing message in her Twitter account that led some people to believe that she was slighted by the “naughty statement” of Gretchen.

Does she feel sorry for being playful?

“Of course, I have to apologize for being playful kaya ngayon mas guarded ako. Hindi na ako masyadong exciting. Boring na ako. Bahala na kayo [press] kasi kayo lang ang nagpapalaki ng mga sinasabi ko,” she said.

She promised to focus on her acting career, which has been on an upturn since her appearance last year on the drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK). This was followed by her ongoing soap, Magkaribal, co-starring Bea Alonzo, Angel Aquino and Derek.

Gretchen is excited to once again showcase her talents on a regular basis in front of the camera. “Parang feeling ko andito lang ako sa show business pero wala talagang anything na solid para sabihing artista ako or talagang singer dahil paga-nun-ganon lang  ako. Ngayon artista na po ako.”

She said she was inspired to work harder when she was bestowed the Best Single Performance by an Actress citation last year by the Philippine Movie Press Club Star Awards for the episode Salamin in MMK.

Gusto ko kasi makita ng tao kung paano ako magtrabaho, kung gaano ako kasipag at kung gaano ako ka-excited na bumalik sa show business,” she says. “After all, I’ve been here for like half of my life, so gusto kong bumalik at paligayahin ang mga tao na naghintay nang matagal para sa teleserye na ito.”

Set in the fashion world, Magkaribal finds Gretchen in her natural environment, essaying the role of a successful model-cum-socialite. While some may feel that Gretchen is merely being typecast in the soap, the actress promises to bring an unexpected emotional complexity to the role.

Ang kakaiba lang makikita nila ‘yung emotions ni Gretchen Barretto, na ang isang socialite, ang isang model at isang mayaman ay tao rin na nagkakaproblema, umiiyak rin at may issues din sa buhay. Hindi porke’t mayaman ‘yung tao o maganda, ibig sabihin wala na siyang problema sa buhay, wala na siyang pinagdadaanan na sitwasyon.”

Originally, Gretchen was to appear on the soap alongside younger sister Claudine, but after the latter moved to rival network GMA-7, the project was shelved. Claudine’s role eventually went to Bea.

Gretchen is happy that ABS-CBN kept its word to produce the teleserye despite some drastic changes.  “Habang nag-uusap kami tungkol sa kontrata at tungkol sa teleserye na dapat si Claudine ang kasama ko, sinabi nila na, ‘Baka hindi matuloy si Claud. Kung mangyari ba yun, matutuloy ka pa rin ba, because we still want you.’”

She says that she and Claudine have never discussed the latter’s abrupt transfer to GMA-7 but she respects her sister’s decision. “Nanghinayang ako na hindi na si Claud, pero siyempre, hindi naman ibig sabihin nun hindi na kami magkakatrabaho sa isang teleserye, na hindi na magkikita. Again, maliit lang ang mundo ng show business.”

Nonetheless, Gretchen is excited to be working Bea. “Unang-una, that’s Bea Alonzo. She’s one of the biggest stars of ABS-CBN, box-office princess. It’s inspiring to know I’ll be working with somebody as good and as famous as she is, so inspiring talaga for me.”

For her part, Bea admits she was initially intimidated at the thought of working with the model-actress nicknamed “La Greta.” (The moniker stems from her diva-esque attitude.) “Kahit naman sinong tao ‘di ba when you hear na si Gretchen ang makakatrabaho mo, dyosa lang, tapos ang ganda-ganda niya, e ako panay effort bago gumanda. Ang tagal [kong] magpapapayat, ganyan. Nai-intimidate ako.”

Before taping started, the two attended acting workshops where they got to know each other. “Nakita ko ‘yung vulnerable side of her. Parang doon ko nasabing tao naman itong tao na ‘to. Hindi siya showbiz, tao naman siya. So, excited ako. Nag-connect kami doon sa workshop,” adds Bea.

Gretchen is likewise excited to work with Derek, who, like her, is a model too. She admits to having a “showbiz crush” on him before. There were reports that she had asked him to co-star with her in the soap. Notorious for getting involved with her leading men in the past, the rumor did not escape the attention of the gossip mills.

But she laughed off the speculations, pointing to her long and strong relationship with her live-in partner of 16 years, millionaire businessman Tonyboy Cojuangco.

Hindi naman siya nagseselos kasi alam naman ni Tony na kahit ano pa ang mangyari, hindi ko naman siya iiwan. Naughty-naughty ako minsan, pero alam din niyang good girl ako ngayon.”

She fully appreciates Tonyboy’s support and encouragement. “Sinasabi niya lagi sa akin, ‘Go, I want you to work, I want you to feel good.’ Kasi siyempre, when I feel good about my career, about myself, I feel happy also. Alam niya na ito ang pinakagusto ko, alam niyang I’m happiest when I’m working.”

As a show of dedication, she has refused other projects for the duration of the teleserye. “Ayoko naman i-overload because I’ll be taping three times a week for 24 hours. Soyun muna. Titingnan namin kung anong gagawin. May namention about a movie project, but hindi pa namin talaga pinagmimeeting-an. Siyempre unahin muna namin ‘yung teleserye.”

With her comeback in full swing, Gretchen is determined to ignore intrigues that will surely come her way. “As long as hindi masisira ang pagtatrabaho ko, focus pa rin sa pagtatrabaho ko, ibibigay ko pa rin para sa publiko at para sa mga bosses ng ABS-CBN ‘ yung Gretchen, the best of Gretchen, and I realize that.”

She says she’s currently where she wants to be, both personally and professionally. “My life is too perfect now! I have Tony. I have [15-year-old daughter] Dominique and I have a career.”

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JED MADELA: THE VOICE

Entertainment

JED MADELA: THE VOICE

No Comments 20 June 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

Singing competitions, always filled with drama, passion and impressive array of new vocal talents, are a veritable gold mine for overnight superstars. Programs like American Idol in the U.S. and Pop Idol in the U.K. have showcased the best and brightest in their respective countries. At home, we had the now-defunct Tawag ng Tanghalan in the ‘60s, which produced the likes of Nora Aunor and Diomedes Maturan. Countless other singing competitions followed, including the ongoing talent shows Pilipinas Got Talent and Talentadong Pinoy.

Have you ever wondered what would it be like, say, if our own homegrown singers competed against the world’s best? Outside of the Madrigal Singers and UP Concert Chorus, perennial winners in choral contests abroad, we could only think of one relatively unknown Pinoy talent who shot to instant fame via the World Championships of the Performing Arts in Hollywood, where up to three thousand singers (and dancers) from over 50 countries display their wares in an intense, Olympic-style contest. (Broadway star Lea Salonga, Journey soloist Arnel Pineda and pop sensation Charice earned international acclaim via other routes.)

Iloilo-born Jed Madela is the lone Pinoy Grand Champion of the global competition. Only 24 years old then, Jed reigned supreme in 2005, winning all six categories he joined in, two Champion of the World plaques, the World Star Trophy for Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and the ultimate title, “Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World.” His feat earned this comment from Lea Salonga: “Jed Madela possesses one of the most clean, clear and the most powerful voice that any man can humanly possess.”

Since then, the vocalist referred to as “The Voice” and “The Singer’s Singer” has been working at a breakneck pace, soon becoming one of the most prolific entertainers in the country. His debut album, I’ll Be Around, carried the single, Let Me Love You (From The Bottom Of My Heart), which became a radio hit. His second and third albums, Songs Rediscovered and Only Human, respectively, each went Platinum (with the latter reaching Double-Platinum status). His last album, Songs Rediscovered 2: The Ultimate OPM Playlist, became the biggest-selling OPM (original Pinoy Music) album of 2009.

Jed feels ecstatic about his phenomenal success. “Ako kasi, kapag gumagawa ako ng album, very hands-on ako. Kahit itanong n’yo pa sa Universal (Records, his label), from conceptualizing, recording, arrangement, so, para yung album na umabot ng platinum, malaking reward talaga. Lalo na ngayon na sobrang hirap mag-produce ng album at ma-convince ang buying public na bumili sa kabila ng mga piracy.”

Although Jed never had any formal vocal training, he benefited from a musically inclined family (his father was a choirmaster). “Every evening, yung choir niya dinadala niya sa bahay. Yung training niya napi-pick up ko. On my own I practice, and siguro sa pagbabanda ko rin dati dun ako nahasa. I trained by myself.”

Despite his musical upbringing, his father had wanted a more stable career choice for his son, which included becoming a flight attendant or medical representative. After graduating from the University of San Agustin in Iloilo, however, Jed decided to pursue his dreams of becoming a singer and moving to Manila.

“When I got here in Manila, there was this audition for a band, hanggang nagkaroon ng chance na sumali ako sa contest. So, I consulted my parents about that. I’m glad naging supportive naman sila sa akin.

His first major achievement came in 2003 when he won the People’s Choice Award and the Best Voice of Asia Male Singer in faraway Kazakhastan. Upon his return to Manila, Jed was featured in a TV talk show where he talked about his feat. A surprise was waiting for him backstage: his father, flown specially from Iloilo to personally congratulate him.

“My dad said to me that he had accepted me. He told me, ‘Pinagkait ko sa iyo ang happiness. I didn’t want to let you go because ayoko kitang makitang masaktan. Like any father, I wanted the best for my son, but I can clearly see that you are happy with what you are doing.’ I was crying the whole time he said this. Happy and sad at the same time. That was the time that he gave me his blessing.”

To be sure, competing on the much bigger and most challenging stage, the World Championships of the Performing Arts, was a different experience. Accompanied by fellow vocalist Rizza Navales, he flew to the US without entertaining any great expectations. “In a way, pressured kami kasi pioneer kami. We didn’t know what was going on and what was supposed to happen. Naging underdog kami ni Rizza. We were just in one corner, supporting each other.”

After winning six medals in individual competitions, Jed was already more than satisfied. But when it was announced that he won the Grand Championship Prize, he said “Nakita sa video, blank ako.”

Since that momentous triumph, Jed has been working hard to be the best vocalist and entertainer he can be. “I’m not settling for what I have right now. I’m still honing my craft and striving for more. To continue in this business, you have to maintain the quality of the voice. Improvise. Don’t stay like before. Magsasawa ang tao sa iyo.”

Not only to have the best vocal performance, but it’s also very important for Jed to create the most entertaining live show overall. Thus, he likes to take a hand-on approach behind-the-scenes to make this happen.

“With my live performances, the concept and stage design, I do all of it. I involve myself in the whole production of the show. I tell them my ideas ‘I want it to be like this, ito yung flow’, coz I believe that yung concert for every artist is a story, so it’s your personality na pinapakita mo sa tao.”

Besides displaying his vocal prowess, Jed likes to showcase his talents outside singing as well. “Like for example, there was one time may nag-ask sa akin to perform for their event. Sabi 30 minutes singing, 30 minutes na comedy talk, so para akong stand-up comedian to them.”

He says he is open to appearing in movies or TV shows but stresses that his focus is on being the best professional live singer. “Siniseryoso ko lahat ng mga ginagawa ko so gusto ko pag pinasok ko ang isang bagay, like showbiz acting, prepared na ako. So as of now singing lang muna talaga and performing on stage. Gusto ko talaga live. At the right time, maybe I can get into acting through musical theater.”

Jed says he is happy to be part of a resurgence of Pinoy music in which local talents can bloom and be appreciated around the globe as well. “Actually our music is doing very good. Mahina talaga yung mga albums, but with the recognition of Filipino performers mas malaki na yung opportunities ngayon. It all started with Lea Salonga and then si Lani Misalucha, and then now with Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda. Parang nage-establish na tayo ng label na the Philippines is the breeding ground of seasoned performers talaga.”

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SO YOUNG, SO TALENTED

Entertainment

SO YOUNG, SO TALENTED

No Comments 08 June 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

Few families and clans in local showbiz can come close to the contributions of one individual in terms of number of offspring that have followed in his footsteps.

Mark Gil, the eldest son of Eddie Mesa (Eigenmann in real life), the singing idol of the sixties, and dramatic actress Rosemarie Gil, holds the unique distinction of having five children in show business, perhaps unmatched in the industry.

Himself an acclaimed actor, Mark has five children with three different women: Sid Lucero and Maxene Eigenmann, by former model Bing Pimentel; Gabby and Ira Eigenmann, by former actress Irene Celebre; and Andi Eigenmann, by dramatic actress Jaclyn Jose. (Younger brother, Michael de Mesa, also an actor, and his ex-wife, actress-director Gina Alajar, have three sons in showbiz: Ryan, Geoff and AJ, all surnamed Eigenmann.)

Like their grandparents and parents, the eight Eigenmann cousins are all mestizo-looking, fair-complexioned and physically stunning – all desirable attributes in showbiz. Their acting prowess, discipline and determination will surely reward them with stardom given the right packaging and lucky breaks.

Of the eight Eigenmanns, it is Andi (real name is Andrea), one of the youngest among he brood, who is showing the way, at least for moment. Turning only 20 in June, Andi is the lead star of ABS-CBN’s primetime teleserye Agua Bendita. Her rise is phenomenal by local standards considering that her previous acting stint is a minor appearance in the afternoon soap opera Prinsesa ng Banyera in 2007. In 2008, she was one of the aspiring talents that competed in Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition Plus. (She left Bahay ni Kuhay after 53 days due to homesickness and the pressures inside the house and did not complete the only task assigned to her by Kuya.)

The management of the ABS-CBN network handpicked Andi for the lead role in Agua Bendita without an audition, a rather risky move considering that the show is a primetime offering competing with other programs featuring big-name and tested stars.

Andi is aware that her luck might have raised not a few eyebrows but she is ready to prove the skeptics wrong. “Hindi ko po ine-expect na ngayon ko makukuha yung ganitong opportunity. Pero kung kinuha po nila ako ibig sabihin para sa kanila ready na ako. So kahit nakakagulat, naisip ko na din na I guess kaya ko po talaga.”

In the show, Andi plays two characters – twins Agua and Bendita, who have opposite personalities and physical differences. (The network previously produced a similar version a few years back with Shaina Magdayao in the title role.)

“Our take is different [this time],” explains Andi. “For one, the previous Agua, the one with Shaina, is shorter. It was a two-part series only. This time, we’re going to take time fleshing out each character. We will also make sure that we will be able to serve out the story really well.”

As per show’s concept, Andi is required to swim underwater wearing rather revealing bathing suits. Asked whether she would follow the sex-infused career trajectory of her mother, who starred in many “bold” roles in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Andi remains undecided.

“Honestly I don’t know,” she says. “But you see, I am not thinking about that. At this point, I’d rather concentrate with the work at hand which is Agua. If you could see a hint of sexiness in the trailer, for me, it’s all just kind of suggestive. I’m still young. I’ve still a long way to go. We’ll see.”

Andi credits her mother with giving her invaluable advice and directions on how to navigate the intrigue-laden and dog-eat-dog world of showbiz.

“I feel very blessed and thankful kasi bukod sa meron akong nanay na pinalaki ako nang maayos, natutulungan din niya ako sa gusto kong makamit na dream kasi alam na alam niya kung paano mag-work yung industry. Binibigyan din niya ako ng mga advice na kailangan kong malaman. Dahil nanay ko siya, mas malaki yung chance na maging successful ako.

When asked about her father, who split up with Jaclyn when Andi was still very young, the young actress says that she bears no ill will towards him and continues to maintain a cordial relationship with him. “Kasi bata pa ako nung nangyari yun. Kumbaga yung normal na hindi nakatira sa isang bubong yung mommy at daddy ko. Tanggap ko yun kasi madalas ko naman makita at makausap yung daddy ko. Meron kaming bonding moments kaya hindi dumating sa point na nagalit ako sa kanya,”

Although she is the first among the Eigenmann cousins to star in a TV series, Andi dispels the notion that there’s an unfriendly competition among them.

Hindi naman po siguro siya maiinsecure sa akin kasi kahit nandito sila sa industry magkaiba naman po yung career path na tinatahak namin at saka yung kapalaran namin. And kapag magkasama naman kami, ang turingan namin magkakapatid. Hindi po namin pinag-uusapan yung posisyon namin sa showbiz. And most of all, alam ko na mahal ako ng Ate [Maxene] ko kaya I’m sure masaya siya for me.

Speaking of comparisons, many have commented that Andi’s delicate beauty resembles that of Angel Locsin. But she demurely dismisses the comparison: “Sobrang na pa-flatter po ako sa mga nagsasabi noon. Dahil napakagandang babae po ni Angel at alam naman po natin ‘yon.”

Andi says she doesn’t mind being compared to others but she intends to carve her own niche in the industry. “Maybe some people won’t give me my own identity. For them, I’m not Andi Eigenmann or Andi, I’m just a girl who looks like Angel Locsin. I hope they give me a chance to show who I am, as myself, who doesn’t look like anyone.”

When she is away from the camera, Andi studies fashion design at the College of St. Benilde in Manila. During her free time, she loves to design clothes. “Basically I just stay at home and use the computer or I draw. I make the most of my time by drawing stuff. I’m so into fashion.”

When not busy at school or work, she likes to catch up with friends. “Pero not so often kasi my other friends are at school din naman or the others are busy with work,” she says.

Though she had admitted to having celebrity crushes on Jake Cuenca and John Lloyd Cruz, she reveals that she is not in a relationship at the moment. “I’m not dating anyone. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I’m the type who actually waits. I can tell if that person is right or if he’s worthy to be given a chance for me.”

For now, Andi wants to focus on Agua Bendita and her career. She wants to do more projects (she recently signed a three-picture contract with Regal Films) and perhaps even a stint hosting as a VJ.

Jaclyn, who is a mainstay in the ongoing primetime soap Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, says that although she cares deeply about her daughter’s career, she is not a stage mother. Whenever she gets the chance, she visits Andi on the set but not often. When Andi joined showbiz, Jaclyn did not give specific advice about showbiz. She just gave her daughter important pointers in honing her acting skills.

Umpisa pa lang, binigay ko na sa kanya lahat,” relates Jaclyn. “Nilatag ko na sa kanya lahat, ‘tapos pili na lang siya roon. ‘Tapos kapag may problema siya, sabi ko sabihan niya na lang ako to help her. Ang binigay ko lang sa kanya ay sincerity, be the character, be the person, act naturally from the heart, be the person just by the character because every human being is very important.”

Jaclyn says that as a child Andi picked up lessons in showbiz from her example. “Yung nakikita ni Andi sa akin, kailangan maging magandang example. You know, Andi saw me growing up working this way with discipline. Kahit na ano, you have to attend and you have to go to work kahit masama ang pakiramdam mo. She grew up seeing me na ganun magtrabaho. So, ‘yon ang namana niya. She doesn’t wanna be late, ayaw niya ng pressure. Gusto niya alam na niya ang gagawin niya pagdating sa set. She’s like me!”

The most valuable piece of advice her mother gave her is: “As long as you believe in it, it will come true. Like whatever your heart desires, if you really want it then it will really happen.”

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TAPOS NA PO SILA

Entertainment

TAPOS NA PO SILA

No Comments 30 April 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

After 40 years in the music business, the iconic Pinoy vocal trio APO Hiking Society has decided to call it a day. The shocking revelation came during a press conference last January, when members Jim Paredes, Buboy Garovillo and Danny Javier announced that they will have a series of “farewell concerts” that will culminate with their final live performance in May of this year.

“What I always believed about showbiz is knowing when to leave; not to overstay your welcome. Forty [years] I think is a very good time,” says Danny.

“Every person in showbiz has an end, sometimes you think things are forever. No, they’re really not,” adds Jim.

Buboy emphasizes that it wasn’t a rash decision to retire on their part. In fact, there had already been talks to end the group as early as last year. “Sa totoo lang, since last year pa namin napapagusapan ito, we decided to pursue individual interests also.”

Lest anyone think it has anything to do with internal friction among the band members, he attributes their decision to the fact that the group, with their differing priorities in life, have not been collaborating as much as they used to.

“Pahina nga nang pahina yung creative process. Sinasabi nga ni Jim, e, yung ginagawa namin together, pahina nang pahina. We are not writing songs together. We are not recording songs as much together,” Buboy said.

Through the years, parang little by little, pakonti ng pakonti ‘yong ginagawa naming creative process. That’s how APO was created 40 years ago; Sabi namin, ‘Saan tayo pupunta? Ano ba ang sinimulan ng APO noon?’ Ito nawawala nga ‘yong creative process.”

Jim also cites the uncertain climate of the contemporary music scene, with young acts and changing tastes and technologies making it difficult for an older group to find their niche.

“Showbiz caters to a very young market. Yung last albums namin, sinubukan talaga naming i-promote, ilagay sa radyo… hindi kami umabot dun. Hindi kilala ng maraming tao ang laman ng mga apat o limang album namin.  For me, that’s a clear indicator. Ayokong dumating ang panahon na wala nang nakakakilala sa iyo at hindi ka na kakawayan ng tao. Kailangan mo nang tuldukan habang sikat ka pa.”

They were also conscious of the fact that they did not want end up a mere nostalgia act, belting out decades-old hits, without creating anything new and fresh. “We still enjoy performing, kaya lang sabi namin kung uulit ulitin lang natin ito at wala naman tayong ginagawang bago, baka maburyong tayo sa sarili natin. Bago tayo maburyong sa sarili natin, let’s put a time table to it,” says Buboy.

The group agreed scheduling their final live performance in May to coincide with the upcoming elections. APO is a firm supporter of Noynoy Aquino’s candidacy.

Kasi if you want change, you look for somebody who represents change,” says Danny. “Ako, sa bawat araw na nagpoprogreso ang pagkakampanya, ang masasabi ko kay Noynoy, walang halong pambobola, walang kasinungalingan, hindi porma. Nilalait pa nga siya sa kakulangan ng porma. Para sa akin, yun ang kalakasan ng kanyang kampanya, kasi walang halong pag-iimbot sa katotohanan at, siyempre, walang dagdag na pagkukunwari.”

For their current series of concerts, Jim says that they’re performing at their peak level right now, so fans should not miss the opportunity to see them live. “If you want to catch the APO, this is the last stretch. We’re good till the end of May. So, any concert that’s there, panoorin niyo na. To our fans, our followers, everything else – panoorin niyo na.”

APO Hiking Society was formed in 1969 as a huge ensemble vocal group at the Ateneo de Manila University. Paredes, Garovillo, and Javier were the only members who pushed through with their musical career.

The group recorded 22 albums, spawning classic hits such as “Batang-Bata Ka Pa,” “Pumapatak Na Naman Ang Ulan,” “Nakapagtataka,” “Yakap sa Dilim” and “Doobidoo.”

They have also extended their name as able live showmen, with countless concerts at home and abroad. Locally, they made several acclaimed and popular television programs and specials, including the long-running, popular noontime variety show Sa Linggo nAPO Sila.

Internationally, they have performed all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia. They were the first Pinoy group to perform in New York’s famed Carnegie Hall, as well as the first to perform in a public concert in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 2006 and 2007, many of the top contemporary bands of the country released the cover albums Kami nAPO Muna and Kami nAPO Muna Ulit, attesting to the group’s iconic status and lasting influence in Pinoy music.

The group assures longtime fans that just because APO is retiring, doesn’t mean that the individual members of the group will stop making music. “Baka akala niyo kapag sinabing magre-retire ang APO, ‘yong mga tao na ng APO [magre-retire din]. Hindi. Ang pangalan ng APO ang magre-retire,” says Buboy.

He adds that although they don’t have plans to release a final record, there’s a strong possibility that their last concert in May will come out as a live commemorative album.

Jim, who had transplanted to Australia several years ago, says that he might write and collaborate with other singers. “I’m a creative person. So under any conditions whether there’s APO or whether there’s no APO; I’m old or whether I’m young, whether I’m sikat or not, my duty is to be creative, so continue pa rin ako.”

Buboy says he wants to continue with not only singing, but being an all-around entertainer. “I do TV shows, I do hosting jobs also, I do some soaps.”

Danny, on the other hand, wants to focus on continuing with his advocacies Mindanao. Recently, it was announced that the group, tapped by the government, will promote a “public dialogue” via TV ads and radio that will hopefully help broker a peace deal in the war-ravaged region.

He doesn’t want to make any definite music plans just yet. “Naniniwala ako sa isang kasabihan na life begins after you make your plans. So, hindi na ako nagpa-plano. I’ll just let it begin.”

Though APO is reaching the end, the three are still positive that the best is yet to come. “Life goes on. If you ask me have each of us done the best in our lives? I think I haven’t,” says Jim. “You have a lot more to hear from Buboy Garovillo, Danny Javier and Jim Paredes.”

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FROM POP PRINCESS TO BOX-OFFICE QUEEN

Entertainment

FROM POP PRINCESS TO BOX-OFFICE QUEEN

No Comments 07 April 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

Pop Princess Sarah Geronimo continues to ascend the heights of stardom. Already established as one of the premier young singers in the country, the 21-year-old has also made a name for herself as a formidable box-office talent. Her last two movies, A Very Special Love and You Changed My Life, both romantic comedy-dramas pairing her with John Lloyd Cruz, were box-office hits. A Very Special Love won for her the title Box Office Queen for 2008, while its sequel, You Changed My Life, in 2009 became the highest-grossing Philippine movie of all time.

Will her winning streak continue? That’s the question as she shoots her latest movie, Hating Kapatid. This time Sarah is moving away from her romantic ingénue roles, playing sister to mega-talent Judy Ann Santos in the dramatic film.

To be working with the erstwhile Soap Queen is a dream come true for Sarah. “Blessing na naman from God na makatrabaho ko ang nag-iisang Judy Ann Santos,” she said.

In the film, the two play children of an OFW couple. Rica (Judy Ann) is forced to take care of her sister, Cecil (Sarah). Cecil gets into an accident early in their childhood, which Rica blames on herself, and who thus makes a stronger commitment to be there for her sister. As Cecil gets older, she strives to be more independent, which causes friction between the two. Complicating matters is when their parents return home and resume their roles, which leaves Rica unwanted.

The movie represents another big step in Sarah’s developing acting career.  “Medyo challenging ito bilang actress… Ay! Hindi pala medyo. Challenging talaga!”

Sarah and Judy Ann admit that they haven’t “bonded” yet on the set. Juday observes that Sarah is still shy when she is with her. “Ngayon nahihiya pa magsalita si bagets (referring to Sarah), siguro natatakot or something pero I make it a point naman na ‘pag magkasama kami kinakalma ko siya.

To be sure, Juday appreciates the effort of Sarah to give her respect. “In fairness kay Sarah may matinding effort siya na dumaan sa tent ko ‘pag dumadating siya, nagbibigay pugay sa akin. Hindi naman na kailangan kasi magkikita naman kami sa set, e. . . I mean if you are thinking na magagalit ako na hindi ka nagbibigay-pugay sa akin, hindi, no, okey lang sa akin yun, ipahinga mo na lang yan kasi mas kailangan mo yan at hindi naman ako isang artista na naghahanap ng atensyon, gusto ko lang na maging komportable siya sa akin.”

The veteran actress hopes that Sarah will eventually look up to her as a trusted friend and confidant, even after the film ends shooting. “Gusto ko rin malaman niya na hindi ito hanggang pelikula lang, pwede kaming maging magkaibigan hanggang pagkatapos nito. Pwede naman niya ako tawagan sa mga oras na kailangan niya ng kausap.

Juday adds: “Hindi naman mahirap maging kaibigan si Sarah, napakabuti ng puso, napakabuting tao, wala kang paglalagyan ng masamang salita kasi kapag ginawa ko ‘yun ako ang lalabas na masamang tao kasi alam ng lahat ng tao kung gaano siya kabuti.”

Sarah is more comfortable with another of her co-stars in the movie, Luis Manzano. The two have been friends for sometime as co-talents on the weekly variety show ASAP. Masayahing tao, contagious talaga kasi yung pagiging kalog niya at makulit, e,” she said of Luis.

Asked if there was any attraction or kilig moments between her and Luis, she said: “Yung kilig ko naging kinikilabutan sa sobrang kilig. Kinikilig ako sa kanya kapag nagte-take na kami siguro yung kulitan namin, pareho kasi kaming makulit, tinginan pa lang nakakatuwa na, pangit naman yung walang kilig na inaarte mo lang, so masaya na rin ako sa ganun.”

The 28-year-old actor-TV host shares the same sentiment. “Kami ni Sarah kasi we have established our friendship, our bond, our kulitan and she’s one of the people I trust in this industry,” he said.

He hopes that their off-screen conviviality translates to on-screen chemistry as well. “Kapag may scene kami na nagpapakilig kami eh kami din natatawa sa isa’t-isa. Hopefully naman, it will translate something good in the movie.”

Already there are reports of a possible team-up between Sarah and no less than one of Philippine entertainment’s greatest icons, Nora Aunor. The legendary talent is returning home this month for a showbiz comeback after a prolonged stay in the United States.

Like most in the showbiz circle, Sarah is excited about Nora’s comeback. “Siyempre, I am looking forward to her comeback. Lahat excited na talaga sa pagbabalik ng superstar Nora Aunor at kung ano pa ang maibibigay niya sa mga fans niya at viewers.”

Sarah says that one of her favorite films is the 1995 Nora-starrer The Flor Contemplacion Story. Asked if she’d be open to reprising Nora’s role if there was a remake, Sarah was humble enough to downplay the possibility. “Tama na yon, si Ms. Nora lang yon. Ang hirap-hirap gumawa ng remake. Pass muna ako diyan since hindi naman ako kaexperience na actress, so huwag muna sa akin.”

Sarah looks forward to seeing again a talent of Nora’s stature. “Unang una sa lahat, siya ang superstar, tinitingala ng lahat si Ms. Nora Aunor sa kanyang galing sa pag-arte, exceptional talent niya po talaga. Na-miss natin lahat yan, at lahat talaga nasasabik na makita siya ulit.”

Though her busy schedule does not allow time for romance, the singer-actress nevertheless is constantly hounded by the media about her love life. Last year, there were rumors that a number of suitors were pursuing her, among them singer Mark Bautista and young actor Rayver Cruz.

Sarah admits that Mark is still courting her, but remains undecided on whether to submit to his advances. “Consistent at persistent siya sa kung anumang good intentions na meron siya para sa akin kasi nakikita ko ‘yung respeto niya sa mga magulang ko at sa akin. Baka naman in the end, kami ang magkatuluyan.”
She has said many times that she is firmly focused on her career and that she is still too young to be involved in a romantic relationship. Even her social life has suffered somewhat as a result of her heavy workload. “Honestly po kasi ever since puro trabaho lang [ako] tapos uwi ng bahay. Ganun. Parang I never got the chance na maka-mingle sa mga katrabaho ko.”

Though she looks forward to having an independent life in the future, she wants to remain close to her family, no matter the circumstances. “Kasi very attached ako sa family ko. Even sa pagtulog talagang gusto ko katabi ko ‘yung iba sa mga kapatid ko, ganun kami sa isa’t isa.”

She’s also keenly aware of her image and would not want to indulge in any behavior that might tarnish it. “Naiintindihan ko naman lahat ng ito e. Alam ko na marami akong responsibilities [like]yun nga as a model sa mga kabataan.”

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AT HOME WITH DISNEY AND ‘MISS SAIGON’

Entertainment

AT HOME WITH DISNEY AND ‘MISS SAIGON’

No Comments 18 March 2010

By Stephen Holden

New York Times

A bright, utilitarian voice that sweeps across continents as it conjures the aspirations of the inner princesses in millions of nice young women from Manila to London: no, it’s not Celine Dion, but Lea Salonga, the demure 39-year-old Philippine star whose autobiographical show, “The Journey So Far,” opened a three-week engagement at Café Carlyle on Tuesday (March 16) evening.

Ms. Salonga is the vocal personification of what might be called the Broadway and Hollywood international style, which embraces Disney songs, Rodgers and Hammerstein ballads and the anthems of Schönberg and Boublil. Hers is a talent groomed to express inspirational generalities that please most of the people most of the time without taxing their emotions. Beyond an eagerness to please, impersonality is its signature quality. READ FULL STORY.

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