In the next episode of Newsmakers this Monday, 17 August, economist and host Winnie Monsod discusses with Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar how the agency is leading the Task Group on Food Security, as well as how they are addressing what Prof. Monsod calls “the next big crisis” brought by the COVID-19 pandemic: Hunger.
Meanwhile, in the “Tita Reacts” segment, Winnie judges impressive makeup transformation videos. From drag to cosplay to special effects makeup — find out who will be hailed as “Kampeon sa Ka-ART-ehan.”
Tita Winnie’s journey as a #plantita continues with the guidance of online gardening guru Bea Hardinera. Will her container garden finally flourish and prove her black thumb wrong?
Watch Newsmakers every Monday at 8:30 p.m in New Normal: The Survival Guide, on GMA News TV.
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.
LGBTQ+ movies streaming for free
Media company ABS-CBN is making available 14 movies for free via YouTube Super Stream for Filipino film enthusiasts, and three of them are on LGBTQ+ stories — Cinema One Originals’ Baka Bukas and Mamu; and a Mother Too, as well as Cinemalaya’s critically-acclaimed Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.
Baka Bukas, directed by Samantha Lee, stars Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Louise de los Reyes. It focuses on Alex who is out as a lesbian to most people except her best friend, Jess, who she has been secretly in love with since they were kids. When Jess discovers the truth about Alex, they are forced to confront the feelings they have for each other.
Mamu; and a Mother Too, directed by Rod Singh features a middle-aged transgender who finds herself instantly becoming a surrogate mom to her transgender niece. It stars Iyah Mina, the first transgender woman to win Best Actress at the C1 Originals festival, and Arron Villaflor.
Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, directed by Aureus Solito, is a pioneering and landmark LGBTQ+ film, which tells the coming-of-age story of a young gay boy, from a family of petty thieves who love him, who falls in love with an idealistic, handsome police officer investigating his family’s criminal activities, and who loses his innocence in the end.
These films are being shown until 30 September on Cinema One’s YouTube channel and Star Cinema’s YouTube channel.
BTS announces new album release date
K-pop boy group BTS is set to release its newest album in November. As revealed by its management Big Hit Entertainment, the new album is titled BE (Deluxe Edition) and drops on 20 November (2 p.m. KST). Fans can start pre-ordering by 28 September.
“The new album imparts a message of healing to the world by declaring, ‘Even in the face of this new normality, our life goes on,’” Big Hit’s statement read.
It added that the members were not only involved not only in the music making process, but also in the overall production: concept, composition and design and called it the “most BTS-ish music yet.”
The boys have been posting about making the album in their official YouTube channel, Bangtan TV.
Kuya Germs’ talent app launched
German Moreno, popularly known as Kuya Germs, made an impact in the entertainment industry and on a lot of people’s lives during his time in the spotlight and continues it on when he shone the spotlight on some of today’s most prominent stars. So when he passed away in 2016, the whole industry grieved yet celebrated his rich life.
While his presence is immensely missed even up to this day, The Supershow App will be able to continue his legacy of discovering and helping talents.
The app was birthed by the late talent manager’s son Federico Moreno when he was asked to help in finding a wedding singer and he had a hard time finding one based on the availability, date and budget that they wanted.
“This app is one way of continuing my father’s legacy in helping the industry by helping talents get bookings and discovering new ones,” Federico said.
One of Kuya Germs’ pride is Manila Mayor Isko Moreno (Yorme), who appeared in various shows like Mga Anghel na Walang Langit and Ligaw na Bulaklak before becoming a full-time politician. Federico approached Yorme and asked if he would be able to join the project which he wholeheartedly accepted.
Federico is also building a team with his very own mentor Jose “Jomag” Magsaysay Jr., chairman emeritus of Potato Corner.
The Supershow App’s mission aims to revive and set new standards in the showbiz business especially since the entertainment industry is one of the areas that are gravelly hit by the coronavirus crisis.
In celebration of Kuya Germs’ birthday on 4 October, the Supershow App is now pooling for talents who can be a part of the team! Talents can now submit their 30 seconds to one-minute video material by visiting www.supershow.app.
Booking for events starts on 25 November.
Mina leaves agency
Former girl group member Kwon Mina parted ways with her agency, Woori Actors, based on a statement released on 26 September. The idol-turned-actress has terminated her exclusive contract with the agency after only four months.
A representative from the agency commented, “After careful and thorough discussion with Kwon Mina, we have ended up terminating her contract. Kwon Mina is planning to take a break and rest for the time being.”
Mina, who previously promoted under FNC Entertainment’s girl group AOA, was embroiled in a bullying scandal with the group’s leader Jimin. For the past months, Mina has detailed the extremely disturbing experience she endured for 10 years at the hands of her co-member, leaving fans and netizens feeling shocked.
One of her past Instagram posts, when translated to English, says, “I really didn’t want to leave AOA, but I went through so much for the last 10 years and I had enough of her bullying. That’s why I had to give up on AOA although I was in great terms with all the other members.”
In 9 August, Mina was rushed to a hospital after a suicide attempt. Meanwhile in July, Jimin announced her departure from AOA and has halted her activities in the industry.
Miss Earth pageant goes all-out online
The recent online setting and experience in handling the very first virtual pageant by Carousel Productions gave a grip of excitement in live television after crowning this year’s Miss Philippines Earth despite the pandemic.
Earlier this month, Carousel Productions confirmed that preparations are underway for the 20th edition of the advocacy-driven Miss Earth pageant. “We decided not to skip this year so we can continue with our mission to raise awareness on the state of the environment. Holding the pageant would enable another batch of delegates with the theme “Eco-Angels” to underscore the delegates’ role as guardians of nature, to inspire people across the world with their environmental platforms, which has always been Miss Earth’s mission, ” Miss Earth co-founder and executive vice-president Lorraine Schuck said.
The national directors of the Miss Earth franchise has likewise expressed their eagerness to be part of the pageant’s milestone year and is now familiarizing themselves with the pageant’s not-so-usual format. Although it would not be the traditional coronation event pageants fans would expect, this year’s search would nonetheless take advantage of technology to bring the world together to promote its environmental campaign. Schuck believes that the virtual event could also be an effective means to show the global community to be resilient in the face of a crisis and that it is possible to cope with the challenges through the creative use of technology.
To mark Miss Earth’s 20th year, the two-month-long series of online pre-pageant events was laid out to give netizens in-depth insights on each delegate. It started on Monday, 21 September until Sunday, 11 October with daily “Earth Talk” updates and discussions on environmental issues happening around the world during the pandemic. Pageant fans and enthusiasts will get to know this year’s eco angels on Monday, 12 October.
The women will showcase their talents through dancing (13 to 16 October), creative (17 to 20 October) and singing (21 to 24 October). Catch the eco angels in their stunning evening gowns from 25 to 28 October. The preliminary competition will begin with the judging of the beauty of face from 29 October to 1 November. It will be followed by the judging of fitness, form and poise from 2 to 5 November. Ending the preliminary competition is judging these angels on intelligence and environmental awareness from 6 to 9 November.
The beachwear competition will happen from 10 to 13 November and the sportswear competition will be from 14 to 17 November. The cultural and colorful national costume show will be from 18 to 21 November. Netizens will have the chance to interview these eco angels from 22 to 27 November. The first virtual winner of Miss Earth will be proclaimed during the live virtual coronation worldwide telecast on Sunday, 29 November on FOX Life.
Schuck a former beauty queen added that, “While we understand the impact of COVID-19 on individuals and industries worldwide, we should also not let this unfortunate incident take a hold of our lives. We should eventually learn to move on, make the most of what we have, and inspire one another.”
Philippines’ eco angel Roxanne Allison Baeyens has partnered with the Department of Agriculture-CAR because she learned that less and fewer Millenials embrace gardening and agriculture. Baeyens shared that urban areas are being developed into jungles of manmade structures that phase out trees and evergreens, so she became an advocate of urban gardening and agriculture to raise awareness on the significance of caring for the environment so that people can regreen surroundings while raising food.
Listening to music is undoubtedly one of the ways that is making us forget our current predicament. Whatever our jam is, whether pop, hip-hop, country, grunge, alternative or R&B, music can make us unplug from all the noise created by the barrage of news about COVID-19.
Surprisingly, many artists have found time to release singles while they are cooped up in their own homes. Quite a lot of that have been released since March, when the World Health Organization admitted that the Wuhan virus has not been contained in China and has become a pandemic — that stirred most countries to implement lockdowns and quarantines.
Here in the Philippines, there were two recently launched singles worth listening to.
More collabs, please
Sam Concepcion and Iñigo Pascual are two of the best vocalists in a sea of young artists in the country. They have their string of hits individually, both with solo singles or collaborations with other artists.
Sam has also been underrated in both singing and acting, even if he can do both better than those who are more popular than him. And he’s a mean dancer, too. Iñigo, meanwhile, has successfully gone out of the shadow of his famous gorgeous father Piolo Pascual. Well, it is the case in terms of singing because he is a better singer than his father and he can more than carry a tune.
So, it’s a delight to hear Sam and Iñigo in one single. Who would have thought that Sam’s pop ballad voice blends well with Iñigo’s sexy voice? Well, it did and some more with the single “Rise.”
What makes “Rise” already a treasure is its mix of great voices, dope beats and unforgettable songwriting. The single is released by Tarsier Records, a label founded by Chris Lopez a.k.a Moophs in 2017.
It is a fairly young record label but it has managed to churn out singles that are quite easy pleasers. Two of which are Moophs’ featuring Sam and Iñigo: “Phone Down,” showcases Sam’s sentimentality backed with a pop/EDM vibe and “OMW” is the best illustration of Iñigo’s sexy bedroom voice, a sensual hit that makes use of some electric guitar riffs and a brass wind instrument in the mix. Both features Moophs’ mixing sensibilities, and are so good that it has that “international” vibe in them. Much as I would hate to use that word but, for reference, these singles are that good that listeners who are used to “international” tracks would agree that “Phone Down” and “OMW” are superb pieces in their genre’s context.
Now back to “Rise.” Aside from the Sam and Iñigo, it is the result of the meeting of two good musicians. Moophs already had the beat in his head from years before but it was in March that he sat down and worked on it. It is good that he tapped Vince Nantes to help him with it. Nantes co-wrote BTS’ “Black Swan” with Pdogg, RM, August Rigo and Clyde Kelly. It is one of the tracks of the K-pop group’s 2020 album Map of the Soul 7.
With the meeting of minds between Moophs and Nantes, it is not a surprise for them to come out with a single that features their handiwork as beat and mix masters. It also helps a lot that Grammy-winning composer and singer Eric Bellinger, whose co-writing credits include singles by Usher, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown, is also featured in the single. Malaysia’s Zee Avi lents her soothing voice in the track.
What’s great about this track is that it’s not just a random love song, not that love songs aren’t bad, but in the context of our recent crisis, “Rise” is meant to uplift listeners’ spirit.
“As soon as the waves die down, we’ll keep on rising. My hands won’t let you drown,” goes its lyrics. It’s an apt reminder that nothing is temporary, and as Moophs keep on reminding himself to keep on moving forward, the pandemic will see its end someday.
DJ Rico Robles, the host of the singles’ online launch recently, was right to suggest that a full album featuring these artists would be great. If this track is just a sampler, I’d be happily waiting for that album to come out while I continue to bob my head and shake my shoulder while “Rise” is on loop playing on my phone.
Hopefully they’ll last
The last time that the Philippines saw a legitimate vocal female group was in 2015 with La Diva. It was the year that Aicelle Santos, Jonalyn Viray and Maricris Garcia broke the hearts of their loyal fans whose perfect harmony is a beacon of hope for fans of pop-belting hits without the grandstanding and annoying singing production numbers, often featuring singers chasing and drowning each other out while performing on Sunday musical shows.
They went separate ways. Jonalyn opted to rebrand as Jona with her transfer to ABS-CBN from GMA, Maricris decided to lay low and Aicelle went on a tour in the United Kingdom for a series of Miss Saigon shows prior to tying the knot with reporter Mark Zambrano last year and getting pregnant this year.
But GMA, with its uncanny knack for discovering great talents, again saw the opportunity to form a girl group.
Riel, Dani, Lyra and Mel all didn’t make it to the finals of The Clash, GMA’s reality singing search. But their powerful voices were enough to make GMA form a girl group and named them XOXO.
They went the usual route — covering songs that showcased their vocal prowess, most especially their perfect blending and harmony, a trait that is becoming very much associated with GMA singers and is often showcased in the network’s past and present musical shows.
Some of their covers include Basil Valdez’s “Sana’y Ikaw Na Nga,” Destiny Child’s “Emotions” and Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love.” All of these showcased their individual strengths as singers and, most importantly, their impeccable blending and harmony.
This month, GMA finally gave the women their own identity with the release of their self-titled debut single, “XOXO.” It is a number that is playful and inspiring as it talks about body positivity and women empowerment but still with their own brand of power vocals and harmony.
XOXO say that they wish to last longer, when I asked them how far long do they see themselves lasting. Well, hopefully they do and will last longer than what’s expected of them.
“Festivalization” is a word that does not exist, so I am hereby proposing to lexicographers, or the people who make dictionaries, to enter the word in their product’s next edition.
It’s a term that is credited to arts, culture and entertainment circles in the Philippines where it has become a habit to “festivalize” their group undertakings. They call their clustered projects “festival” to reflect the projects’ grandeur, complexity and seasonality.
In Thursday’s column, I delved on the series of events lined up by the office of the president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) billed as Sining Sigla. The event’s name seems to be hesitantly billed as a “festival” because it’s not a tradition for the CCP president to have specific projects anchored from his/her office.
Well, a few days after the Sining Sigla virtual media launch, it was the turn of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta) to hold its first virtual mediacon to launch its three-month long event dubbed “Festival of Windows 2020: Locked but Linked.” It will “proudly showcase creative works and unafraid expressions about Filipino’s stories of triumph and survival,” said the Peta press kit.
Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino
Wednesday afternoon (23 September), amid thunderous rain, Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) chair Liza Diño-Seguerra announced that the government agency will hold its annual Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino from 31 October to 14 November, but only in the way festivals and awards night are these days: online.
On 30 September, the FDCP will hold another online event: the closing ceremony of the one-year celebration of Philippine Cinema Centennial. That’s also when the film agency will formally launch the program Philippine Cinema: The Next 100 in preparation for the “one hundred first” year of Filipino films.
In the online mediacon, no one remembered or bothered to ask if Liza is still dreaming (aching?) to take over the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), or if she would in any way be involved in it despite her being sacked from the MMFF executive committee.
Liza announced the funding that FDCP provides to Filipino filmmakers in various stages of production: from script development, principal photography, post-production and marketing — including connecting with Netflix and similar screening platforms.
The FDCP even provides financial assistance to co-productions with foreign companies, she said.
Oh, as for the films to be screened at the forthcoming PPO, she said the FDCP will call another virtual conference for it.
Festival of Windows
The first component of Peta’s Festival of Windows is done by this time. Sulyap Kabataan Playlist ran from 19 to 26 September.
It was a platform for both teachers and young artists to meet, learn, collaborate and share creative work. It featured online roundtable conferences on theater education and the role of young artists in the “new normal” online mini-workshops and lecture discussions on the different fields of theater making, and a culminating program featuring the creative outputs of Peta’s participants and partners from various cities and provinces like Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, Pampanga, Infanta, Antique and Bicol.
The second component, 3G, Connect! Community Arts Festival — Online will be held on 10, 11 and 17 October. It will feature keynote and inspirational messages from partners, guests and celebrity artists.
It will also showcase performance outputs developed by community partners from on-ground and online workshops, as well as performances by Peta, PhilPop and other surprise guests.
The third component, Start: A Quest to Find Our Safe Space, will be held on 17 to 22 November.
Peta’s positive discipline campaign program, the Advocate Right to Safety Zone for Children (ARTS Zone), takes the spotlight with Start.
ARTS Zone recognizes the worsening poverty and economic decline as factors in the increase in the number of children being abused during the pandemic, and thus shifted its Positive Discipline Day to an online sub-festival featuring webinars, workshops, and performances.
It is a creative synergy of, for and by children and the youth that highlights positive discipline, and child safety and protection.
The final component is KE-POP: Kalinangan Ensemble Performers Overcoming a Pandemic, to be executed 23 November to 10 December.
Capping the online multi-arts festival is Peta Kalinangan Ensemble’s annual tradition of the Peta Laboratory.
“In this platform, we’re trying to create stories that resonate with the times, but we’ll also be introducing our actors and the people behind Peta that give a face to what we do as artists,” said artistic director and Peta laboratory director Maribel Legarda.
“This is a tribute to the artists — their capacity to be creative and resilient,” she said.
For two weeks, Peta will stream a collection of short and full-length plays online. This will include fresh and exciting new works that will focus on the vast theme of humanity and human rights, plus a collection of past theater performances, beloved classics, adaptations and musical hits.
So, that’s how the “festivalization” of arts, culture, and entertainment will happen in the Philippines in the last quarter of 2020 — which, I’m sure, we’re all hoping to be the one and only year we have to “festivalize” living with Covid-19.