Sometime in December last year, I met two California-based film producers — John Lee and Francis Ho — who talked about making four big movies starring an international cast including Filipino actor Cesar Montano and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.
Montano had his first taste of international moviemaking in director John Dahl’s war film, The Great Raid, which was about the famous raid by US Army Rangers and Philippine guerillas who attacked the prisoner of war camp in Cabanatuan to rescue more than 500 Americans.
Lee is an American producer who is the co-founder and co-managing director of One Door Studions, LLC. Lee, together with Jason Brents of the same company and lawyer Rick Morse, an entertainment attorney, are the partners and consultants of Inspire Studios.
Ho is also American of Filipino descent who used to be a pastor and one day decided it was time to make movies. He said the company envisions to be “a world leading and globally dominating movie company that produces inspirational box office films.”
Asked what he means by “globally dominating,” Ho said they aim to make movies using the Hollywod blockbuster formula from start to finish.
This means, explained Lee, that the process is different from the way we make films here.
According to the Inspire Studios Inc. website, its mission is “To create inspiring films that will impact the lives of movie lovers across the globe by producing world-class films based on real-life stories of hope, honor and heroism from cultures around the world.”
Ho also emphasized: “The values that our movies embody cross cultural boundaries and yet are relevant to all cultures.”
This is why casting is a meticulous process as the actors are carefully chosen to fit each role.
For Montano’s first Inspire Studios project, Freedom Fighters, in which he has been cast with Pacquiao, filming had begun already and the producers are eyeing a spring release or in March or April of this year.
“(The film) is the story of the group of Americans — doctors, nurses, preachers and missionaries — who decided not to surrender to the Japanese but got caught and executed,” Ho described. “It changed history. Their death resulted to intelligence that reached (Douglas) McArthur and (led to his) return to the Philippines.”
“As a rising player in movie productions, Inspire Studios applies world-class entertainment industry standards and innovations to its inspirational film projects making them at par in quality and excellence with other global blockbuster films,” Lee emphasizes.
Inspire Studios has signed up Montano to appear with Pacquiao in the war epic based on the memoir, The Guerilla Wife, written by World War II survivor Louise Reid Spencer, who lived in the Philippines (Iloilo) during the Japanese occupation.
Freedom Fighters, which will be co-produced by Pacquiao, will have Pacquiao playing Col. Macario Peralta Jr., a war hero. Montano, meanwhile, will take on the role of Rev. Delfin Dianala, a Protestant minister.
Mamamoo gears up for November comeback
According to Xportsnews, a source from Mamamoo’s label, RBW, said the quartet is preparing for its return and that the schedule will be announced soon.
Moomoos! Prepare to witness Solar, Hwasa, Moonbyul and Wheein share the same stage again. The South Korean girl group Mamamoo is reportedly making a comeback in early November.
According to Xportsnews, a source from Mamamoo’s label, RBW, said the quartet is preparing for its return and that the schedule will be announced soon.
Allkpop also reported that Mamamoo has already chosen the title track for its upcoming album and that the members are currently recording more songs as well as following individual schedules.
During the release of the group’s latest single “Wanna Be Myself” earlier this month, the girls also hinted that a fall comeback was in the works.
It will be its first official album release after reality in BLACK which came out almost a year ago. Since then, the girls have made their mark in the scene, topping charts and making noise for themselves individually.
La Collina hosts Carlos Celdran tribute
The event, strictly by reservation, features acoustic sets by Jamie Wilson and Nino Mendoza.
La Collina, a restaurant in Poblacion, Makati specializing in Spanish and Italian cuisine, will host a tribute to cultural activist-performance artist Carlos Celdran with an event dubbed “Remembering Carlos: Sunset Serenade,” featuring acoustic sets by musicians Jamie Wilson and Nino Mendoza, on 10 October.
Carlos died on 8 October, 2019 in Spain.
“We were very close,” La Collina owner Anita Celdran said of her cousin Carlos, recalling the years they would see each other when she was taking up masteral studies in environmental policy at Duke University in North Carolina and he was enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design. Anita was living in Washinton DC when Carlos moved to work in New York City.
“I guess he was inspired and influenced by my activism,” she told Daily Tribune.
Anita is an advocate of environmentalism.
The idea of celebrating the life and times of Carlos came when Anita was planning to bring back the gigs that made La Collina —– which had been drawing the dinner crowd —– an even more popular destination.
Aside from their love of food, Celdran family members are associated with music. In the 1970s, Anita herself sang with the band Mother Earth. A sister, Zenaida, was one of the organizers of the Philippine International Jazz Festival, and also sings occasionally. Another sister, Sony, is married to veteran musician Colby dela Calzada.
The gigs at La Collina were remarkable for their mixed genres —– one night there would be jazz, another night, the blues, and classic rock on other nights.
For “Remembering Carlos,” Anita invited Jamie and Nino to perform acoustic sets. Jamie and Carlos had been schoolmates at Colegio San Agustin.
The event is strictly by reservation and will accommodate only 30 to 40 people in compliance with health and safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Anita said that La Collina never really closed even during the Luzon lockdown in March. The restaurant’s cook couldn’t go home to the province and agreed to stay in La Collina. Anita asked some of the wait staff to stay in, too.
The arrangement allowed her to open La Collina for delivery and takeout during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila.
Anita said she was glad that the restaurant’s regulars, as well as first-time customers, had been ordering via Lalamove.
At present, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
Last week, I visited La Collina to try its new dishes. “These are not on the menu yet,” Anita said, referring to the lasagna and rack of lamb that was prepared that night.
The lasagna, round-shaped and served on a hot plate, tasted great without satiating the palate. “I made the pasta from scratch,” Anita said.
Taken with red wine, the dish brightened the evening.
La Collina, 4634 Molina St. Poblacion, Makati; tel. 0945-3065673; 0947-3986425.
Maine Mendoza’s debut track hits million streams
Maine Mendoza’s debut track “Parang Kailan Lang,” a collaboration with pop band Gracenote, recently reached one million streams on Spotify.
The mellow-pop tune produced by Universal Records and written by Gracenote’s vocalist Eunice Jorge talks about concepts of letting go and moving towards the future.
“Parang Kailan Lang” immediately topped Tunes Philippines All-Genres and Pop Charts after its release last March. It also garnered 100,000 Spotify and YouTube streams less than 24 hours after it was released.
Further, before the track took off into streaming sites, it became the most pre-ordered item on iTunes last February.
This latest victory for the phenomenal star is expected to kickstart her singing career following her vibrant acting, modeling and hosting stints.
Currently, Maine is a regular host in the longest-running noontime show Eat Bulaga and continues her collaboration with MAC Cosmetics.
As Filipinos spend more time at home, the Internet has become an essential tool in keeping boredom at bay. While the pandemic continues to dampen whatever plans we have set in advance, staying at home with just your phone and WiFi can be twice as productive and as enjoyable as stepping out.
Based on data shared during the recent YouTube Brandcast session, there’s been a whopping increase in Filipino creators on the platform as 1,750 channels with 100k+ subscribers were recorded over the past year.
These channels have diverse profiles as creators from various backgrounds turned to YouTube to share their unique and inspiring stories. To name a few, there is Dwight Tamayo, a poultry farmer from Masbate who uses his channel to share knowledge about his expertise in poultry farming. Team Lyqa is an educator who just reached the one-million subscriber mark, as she demonstrates the capability of YouTube for online learning.
As a result of the quarantine these past six months, YouTube Philippines has recorded four times more watch time for gardening videos as Filipinos picked up a new hobby. Meanwhile, watch time for arts videos doubled, tripled for strategy game videos, more than triple for fitness videos and an increase of 90 percent in watch time for knowledge videos.
“It is absolutely essential this time as more Filipinos spend more time at home. Filipinos turn to YouTube to learn more, to stay connected and to dig deeper in their passions and learn new things,” said Gabby Roxas, Google Philippines’ head of Marketing.
Increased watch time brought opportunities not only to creators but also to businesses. With most target audiences consuming content online, brands have turned to creating ads to catch their attention.
Ben Jones, Global Creative Director for Google’s Unskippable Labs, said ads don’t need to necessarily be about COVID-19, adding that 90 percent of the successful ones now on YouTube are not related at all to the pandemic.
He said, “We are seeing advertisers that are starting to make ads that anticipate and embrace this new reality. As many businesses continue to think about how to navigate these uncertain times, creatives are experimenting with different storytelling styles. From reimagining existing assets, reinvigorating animation to miracles of editing that take our breath away, we are seeing ads that are both effective and distinctive despite the constraints.”
Along with these brands which found ways to be creative in response to the growing demand of fresh content from the audience, viewers can contribute, too, if we can only be creative as well.
MUPh reassesses its role in the universe
Miss Universe Philippines (MUPh) will strive to mount a meaningful inaugural pageant with a mix of online activities and the actual coronation night on Sunday, 25 October, on GMA 7.
Becoming a national titleholder is not just about bright lights, cheers and gowns; it is being able to give the right answers and surviving the challenges during this pandemic. MUPh wants to establish itself as one of the strongest and most influential organizations in the country on the universal stage with a pageant like no other.
The organization is shifting its perspective and rewiring its ideas in staging the inaugural edition where health and safety protocols will be followed.
The coronavirus global pandemic has resulted in millions of jobs lost and overwhelmed healthcare systems around the world.
MUPh decided to take a gracious pause to assess the organization’s role in the new normal.
It reflected on and reminded itself of the three pillars it upholds: A role model who effectively guides and meaningfully lives in this time of COVID-19; a messenger of hope who transforms into the best version of herself, overcoming adversities and inspiring people; and a woman of rallying points who has online fundraising initiatives that will support frontliners and workers.
A truly phenomenal woman will rise as she takes leadership roles in making these happen during this uncertain and unfortunate time.
The highlight of the contestants’ journey is the ringlight series that premiered on Sunday, 27 September, via pay per view. The special four-part series will show behind-the-scenes videos of the girls’ training, as well as their reflections and lessons learned.
The preliminary competitions (swimsuit, evening gown and interview) may be viewed by fans online.
Contestants will be divided into 10 groups during the preliminaries.
There will be no stage grouping and five women will be assigned to a designated area wearing Albert Andrada’s nanosilver protective wearables while waiting for their turn on stage. They will only remove their face covers when they are onstage.
During the finals, only the production staff, judges and contestants will be at the venue. No live audience is allowed. Most of the materials will be pre-taped so there will be minimal executions onstage.
The interview competition will have judges asking questions while they are being shot as live so as not to preempt other contestants. Testing kits will be provided by MUPh for the prelims and finals, adhering to social distancing under strict guidelines and principles imposed by the government.
BLACKPINK collabs with Cardi B for ‘The Album’
KPop powerhouse BLACKPINK unveiled its final tracklist for its first full-length record, The Album, and Cardi B is a featured artist on the track “Bet You Wanna.”
The collab track is written by Cardi herself, Tommy Brown, Steven Franks, Ryan Tedder, Melanie Joy Fontana, Torae Carr, Jonathan Descartes and Teddy. It will also be the second all-English song of the group after its recent release “Ice Cream” with Selena Gomez.
The Album’s third single, “Lovesick Girls,” features members Jisoo and Jennie taking part in the writing alongside David Guetta, Teddy, LOREN, 24, Brian Lee, Leah Haywood, Danny Chung and R. Tee.
Part of the loaded list are the pre-releases “How You Like That,” “Ice Cream” and never-heard-before tracks “Pretty Savage,” “Love to Hate Me,” “You Never Know” and “Crazy Over You.”
BLACKPINK’s most-awaited album will be released worldwide on 2 October 12 a.m. EST (12 p.m. PST). A live streaming listening party for BLINKS will also happen on 2 October, 11 a.m. PST prepared by the girls themselves in partnership with Apple Music.
Cardi is the third artist whom the quartet collaborated with after their recent stint with Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa. Her recent win as 2019 Grammys Best Album for Invasion of Privacy excites KPop stans even more expecting a quality collaboration to dominate charts again.
Click on these art shows
Six months into the quarantine, creativity is a helpful way of fighting off the boredom or fatigue that goes with being confined at home most of the time. Soaking and gazing at art has its mental health benefits especially when a creative piece elicits responses that are either joyful or even cathartic.
The gradual return of art shows by way of physical gallery openings or virtual exhibits offers aficionados a full range of imaginative works to enjoy and ponder on. Here are a few exhibitions that celebrate art and artists who are admirably unfettered by the coronavirus crisis.
Earth Exhibit (online)
October to December 2020
A fundraiser to support the World Wide Fund of Nature (WWF) Philippines’ environmental frontliners, Earth Exhibit highlights Filipino artistry while promoting environmental conservation.
Through Earth Exhibit, the organization hopes to provide food assistance to the 209 Dumagat families in Ipo Watershed The initiative kicks off in October with Art Commissions for Nature. Art lovers can avail themselves of art commissions from their chosen participating artist in exchange for a donation.
Participating artists include Corinne de San Jose, Celeste Lecaroz as well as local art collectives Fringe Manila and Pineapple Lab.
Next up is Art Workshop in November where there will be a series of four sessions with partner artists. Art Auction in December will offer specially-curated pieces made exclusively for the initiative.
In the Middle of Things But at the Center of Nothing
Mo Space, BGC, Taguig City
Ongoing till 18 October
Asian modern and contemporary artist Nilo Ilarde presents his fourth solo exhibition this year entitled In the Middle of Things But At The Center of Nothing. Public viewing began on 26 September and will end on 18 October at the Mo Space main gallery in BGC, Taguig City.
Artist and writer Ronald Achacoso wrote in an article how Ilarde “utilizes numbered foam puzzle mats laid out in a seemingly random sequence across the gallery floor and covering most of the entire surface.”
For inquiries, call (632) 8 856 7915 or (+63917) 572 7970, e-mail exhibitions @mo-space.net. Or visit their website at www.mo-space.net.
Ongoing till 6 October
Illustrator-painter JC Peñaflorida highlights his innermost feelings, desires and troubles in a collection of acrylic paintings celebrating “the power of the feminine, organic to his main source of inspiration, the matriarchal world of hard-shelled organisms.”
Metamorphosis is a follow-up to the artist’s first solo show Paradis Perdus. The virtual presentation can be viewed through this link: artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/2310075/metamorphosis?fbclid=IwAR3zx-ij8BOGoeL8bVAtTL6dK2S6ZKw91bfAqWTjJiyPe-271dZ2rgq1m1I.
Why is Angelica Panganiban saying goodbye to making ‘teleserye’?
“The truth is out there,” goes a famous quote about things cryptic and mysterious. We mentioned it in relation to Angelica Panganiban’s mind-boggling proclamation a few days ago that Walanghanggang Paalam will be her last series.
It was the most unexpected statement at the Zoom media conference for the latest series of ABS-CBN. Angelica chose the last few minutes of the online media meet to make the cryptic announcement.
Angelica is the main star of the series. The meeting host, ABS-CBN reporter MJ Felipe, must have been instructed to make Angelica give the parting words at the event.
After saying her piece — which seemed totally unrehearsed and sincere — there was no more opportunity for the media to ask Angelica to flesh out in (dramatic) detail her decision to make Walanghanggang Paalam her last teleserye.
This was how plainly she announced it: “Masaya ako at ang nakasama ko sa project na ito ay ang grupong ito dahil gusto ko na magpaalam sa larangan ng teleserye. Dito ako nakapag-decide kung ano talaga iyong mahalaga sa buhay. Siguro, hanggang dito na lang po muna ang mga trabahong gagawin ko pagdating sa soap opera (I’m glad to have worked with this group for this project, because I want to say goodbye to making TV series. This is where I realized what really matters in life. Maybe, this will mark the end for now of my work in soap operas).”
Did she plan to make it contrast with the title of the series? (Walanghanggang Paalam literally means endless goodbyes).
Not leaving ABS-CBN
But she’s not leaving the Kapamilya network. Prior to the video conference, Angelica was quoted in an interview that she’s happy with ABS-CBN and doesn’t see the need to move to other networks.
Working in showbiz since childhood, Angelica must have saved enough money and gained the discipline to live a simple life that she can turn down future teleserye offers.
Her former Kapamilya colleagues who will soon be appearing on TV 5 have signed up with a new blocktimer company known as Brightlight Productions, owned by ex-politician Albee Benitez, whose son, Jalvi Benitez, is in the cast of Walanghanggang Paalam.
The likes of Piolo Pascual, Maja Salvador, Dimples Romana and others who will be in Brightlights shows are still managed by Star Magic of ABS-CBN.
Angelica must have been offered to join Brightlights’ upcoming gag show Sunday Kada Kada Sunday, whose stars are mostly from ABS-CBN’s Banana Sundae which Angelica topbilled with John Prats.
The TV5 show will be directed by Edgar Mortiz, who conceptualized and directed Banana Sundae. Both Angelica and John will not be in the new show and there are no talks about their guesting in future episodes of the show.
Walanghanggang Paalam started airing on 28 September on iWantTFC and other ABS-CBN digital platforms at 9: 20 p.m.
Angelica actually has several more weeks of locked-in tapings in Olongapo City and other places for the series, which also stars Paulo Avelino, Zanjoe Marudo, Arci Munoz, JC Santos, Cherry Pie Picache, Tonton Gutierrez, Lotlot de Leon, McCoy de Leon, Ronnie Lazaro and Sherry Lara.
We were among the media members treated to an uninterrupted, three-hour preview of the series before the video conference started.
We assure you it is an exciting, engrossing action-drama-romance show worthy of being a teleserye farewell for the versatile and seasoned actress that Angelica Panganiban is.
One of the things she’ll be busy with is a podcast dubbed Ask Angelica.
Romania mayor wins reelection — from beyond the grave
A mayor in southern Romanian grabbed a landslide election victory — despite dying of coronavirus days earlier, local reports said on Monday.
Ion Aliman clocked up 1,057 of 1,600 votes cast in Deveselu municipality even though he died on September 17, reports said.
The ballots had already been printed at the time of Aliman’s death and his name could not be removed, according to local officials.
After the polls closed, local supporters flocked to his grave to “celebrate the victory”.
“We went to congratulate him,” a Deveselu resident commented under a photo posted on Facebook that showed dozens of people with candles at the local cemetery.
A re-run of the election is now expected.
Deveselu previously hit the headlines in 2018 when a local farmer was ordered to move his flock of sheep because they kept triggering the alarm at a US military facility.