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26 / F / Franzylvania
Posted 4/17/09 , edited 4/17/09
It Could Happen Only in the Movies

These two women move in different circles but they seem to lead parallel lives.

Barbara C. Gonzales is the great-granddaughter of national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Her great-grandmother is Dr. Jose Rizal’s elder sister, Maria, a liberated woman who was separated from her husband Daniel. Barbara is more popularly known by her nickname, Tweetums. She once appeared in a Del Monte tomato sauce TV commercial featuring three generations of women in the kitchen. Yes, that was Tweetums with her daughter, Panjee, and Tweetum’s mother whom they fondly called Mamu. Tweetums was married to Ramon Tapales, a successful businessman. Their daughter, Panjee Tapales (a.k.a. singer Panjee Gonzales), was co-host of ABS-CBN’s daily morning show, Alas Singko Y Media (now Magandang Umaga Pilipinas) and its defunct Sunday morning game show with Roderick Paulate. Panjee soon became the second wife of ABS-CBN chairman, Gabby Lopez. (But that’s another story.) Tweetums writes about art and culture in her column for the Philippine Star. She has published a couple of books consisting of collections of her essays from her newspaper column. She remains a highly-respected media personality, being the president of a major advertising company.

Socorro Alicia R. Quirino is the granddaughter of former president Elpidio Quirino. More popularly known by her nickname, Cory, she hosts a lifestyle show on TV. Her kidnapping ordeal a few years ago was made into a movie entitled, The Cory Quirino Kidnap, which was directed by massacre king Carlo J. Caparas. Cory was married to Roman Cruz, Jr. who was the president of Philippine Airlines and head of Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Cory writes a regular column on fitness and health for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She also published a series of health, beauty and inspirational books. She remains a highly visible media personality with her radio and TV programs.

While Tweetums and Cory were both successful in their respective careers, their personal lives were not as rosy. Tweetums Gonzales and her husband, Ramon Tapales, eventually decided to lead separate lives. Likewise, Cory Quirino and her husband, Roman Cruz, Jr., soon parted ways.

Indeed, Tweetums and Cory seem to lead parallel lives.

Then, in a strange twist of fate, the unthinkable happened. . While geometry teaches us that parallel lines can never intersect, the parallel lives of Tweetums and Cory allegedly intersected.

Tweetums Gonzales reportedly got married to Cory’s former husband, Roman Cruz, Jr. Meanwhile, Cory Quirino reportdly got married to Tweetum’s former husband, Ramon Tapales.

Just like in the movies.

And you know the rest of their story.

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Posted 4/17/09 , edited 4/17/09
Anak ng Jueteng!

Pepe hailed from a well-off family in a town south of Manila but just like the rest of us, he still dreamed of manna from heaven. That’s why he was an avid bettor of the popular local numbers game called jueteng.

Jueteng is an illegal numbers game which had been brought to the Philippines from China. The name means flower (jue) and bet (teng). A bet is made up of a pair of numbers from 1 to 37. Most of the time, the chosen pair of numbers is meant to signify birthdays of the bettor’s family members. Sometimes, they are based on images in the bettor’s dream, with each image represented by a number.

With the lure of quick riches via a lucrative payout, jueteng’s popularity crosses social and economic boundaries. It is therefore not surprising that even a well-educated and well-respected man like Pepe got hooked into it. But unlike most folks who were just milked dry of their last peso without ever winning, Pepe was lucky enough to win.

Pepe used the proceeds of his jueteng windfall to purchase a piece of land somewhere in Zamboanga. He lived there for many years, helping the children cope with their miserable lives in that southern province.

However, it is ironic that while jueteng money led to the downfall of a Phillipine president and threatens the country’s current president, the same jueteng money was instrumental in Pepe’s efforts to improve the lives of people in that forgotten southern town.

Pepe’s heroic deeds for the children and townsfolk of that southern town of Dapitan where he bought a piece of land from his jueteng winnings have been immortalized in various films, the latest of which was Tikoy Aguiluz’s Rizal sa Dapitan.

Yes, the man we call Pepe was our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

And yes, Dr. Jose Rizal was an avid jueteng bettor.

And you know the rest of his story.

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Posted 4/17/09
this child of heart

She was born on the day of hearts, February 14. But her parents did not name her Valentina. Not even Venus or Aphrodite. They opted for the holy-sounding Kristina Bernadette. But she did not turn out to be a saint.
Being the youngest, Kristina Bernadette captured the heart of her father. Father and daughter were inseparable. Until tragedy struck. Kristina Bernadette’s father was sent to prison. His heart ailment grew worse there.

On February 14, 1974, Valentine's Day, Kristina Bernadette celebrated her third birthday with her father in prison. On the same day, a man was exchanging hearts with a southern belle in nearby San Juan church.

Nine years later, on August 21, the man who got married in San Juan church was celebrating his birthday with his basketball buddies. On the same day, Kristina Bernadette’s father was killed.

Kristina Bernadette and the married man never knew each other. They lived very different lives. But in 1994, Kristina Bernadette and the married man met at work. Their first meeting blossomed into deep friendship. Some said that she longed for a father figure. But the friendship blossomed into romance which went beyond control. Kristina Bernadette used her heart, not her head. She decided to live with the married man.

Kristina Bernadette’s mother was furious at the relationship. How could Kristina Bernadette’s mother like a man who celebrates his birthday every year on the death anniversary of her murdered husband? But more than this was the fact that the man's heart already belonged to someone else. In fact, he has a grown-up daughter in New York who was nearly Kristina Bernadette’s age. Despite her religious mother’s efforts to put an end to Kristina Bernadette’s adulterous affair with the man, Kristina Bernadette had her way. It didn’t matter to Kristina Bernadette that her decision prevented her from receiving church communion because she was openly living in sin.

It did not take long before Kristina Bernadette gave birth to her love child who was the spitting image of her live-in partner. But Kristina Bernadette’s son was born with Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder. Her son’s birth softened the heart of Kristina Bernadette’s mother who announced that Kristina Bernadette’s son was her favorite grandson. When Kristina Bernadette first planned to have a liposuction, her mother tried to stop her, warning Kristina Bernadette that she (the mother) was too old to take care of Kristina Bernadette’s son if something happened to her during her surgery. But as in the past, Kristina Bernadette had her way. She went on with her liposuction.

But Kristina Bernadette’s relationship with her live-in partner was not meant to last. In her Ateneo accent, Kristina Bernadette would always correct her live-in partner's grammatical lapses. Her live-in partner also got annoyed whenever Kristina Bernadette would hand him a stick of Milagrosa candle every time he used the bathroom. According to Kristina Bernadette, the candle helped drive away the stinking smell of her live-in partner's crap. Kristina Bernadette confessed that she learned this trick from her mother. And when Kristina Bernadette's live-in partner stopped pursuing his petition for the annulment of his first marriage in San Juan church, Kristina Bernadette began to express doubt about her live-in partner’s sincerity in marrying her. Kristina Bernadette's heart was hurt. Their relationship turned for the worse.

Kristina Bernadette finally realized that her live-in partner could never be her savior. She decided to leave the father of her son and her live-in partner for many years: Philip Salvador.

Yes, Kristina Bernadette is the youngest daughter of President Corazon (means heart in Spanish) Aquino and the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.

And yes, Kristina Bernadette Cojuangco Aquino is the full name of Kris Aquino.

And everyone knows the heart of her story.

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26 / F / Franzylvania
Posted 4/17/09
Unsolved Pinoy Mysteries

At a tender age of 17, Marcial was a war correspondent for The Manila Times. Marcial’s war experience provided him with a treasure chest of stories which inspired him to write a movie screenplay. His screenplay was made into a movie, starring Jaime de la Rosa and a 16–year old actress named Dorothy. Helmed by renowned director Lamberto Avellana, the movie was a huge success. During the first FAMAS award ceremony in 1952, Dorothy received the first FAMAS trophy for best supporting actress for her role in the movie.

The only child of a US soldier and a Filipina, Dorothy was also a semi-finalist in the 1952 Miss Philippines beauty contest. It was therefore not surprising that Marcial got so enamored with Dorothy that he did everything to court her. Marcial even carried Dorothy’s make-up kit during movie shootings. Marcial became Dorothy’s dakilang alalay.

Dorothy studied pre-Law at the University of Santo Tomas but her booming movie career made it impossible for her to continue. Likewise, Marcial took up Law at the University of the Philippines but the lure of journalism ended his dream of becoming a lawyer.

Marcial became known for his gift of gab and political skill. This led to his victory as a town mayor at a young age of 22. Meanwhile, Dorothy became popular for her acting prowess and dancing skill. This led to her victory in several acting derbies. Marcial’s younger sister was the director of the movie which won for Dorothy her last FAMAS best supporting actress award.

But while Philippine politics and show business naturally intertwine, political kingpin Marcial and movie queen Dorothy were not destined to be together.

Dorothy married a man named Victorino who fathered her only daughter. But their union did not last. After a series of unsuccessful relationships, Dorothy finally tied the knot again with an American B-movie actor-singer. In contrast, Marcial remained faithfully married all his life to an American-educated woman who bore his only son and four daughters.

But while Marcial survived the Korean War which he covered, he did not survive the war on the home front. Likewise, Dorothy did not survive her own war at home.

Both Marcial and Dorothy suffered violent deaths. Marcial was shot. Dorothy was stabbed several times.

Committed 18 years apart, the separate murders of Marcial and Dorothy made headlines several years ago. However, both murders remained unsolved to this day. Some say that identifying their killers is not the issue because everyone, except the authorities, seems to know the identity of their respective killers. Rumors even abound that the masterminds in the murders of Marcial and Dorothy were related to them by affinity. But the real mystery lies in the fact that the perpetrators of these high-profile crimes remain scot-free to this day, despite the enormous clout which the victims’ respective family wields.

Some say that Marcial’s death was a result of his being branded a communist by the government. This is ironic because the screenplay which Marcial wrote and which won for Dorothy her first FAMAS trophy was the second in a trilogy of anti-communist movies which were produced by LVN Pictures in support of the government’s efforts to fight communism.

Dorothy’s shocking death led to embarrassing revelations about her painful personal battle. Marcial’s equally shocking death led to well-deserved recognition of his heroic political battle.

Dorothy was killed amid rows of cars in the covered and dark parking lot of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) building. Despite his escorts, Marcial was killed amid rows of airplanes in a wide open space in broad daylight while descending down the tarmac of what was then known as the Manila International Airport (MIA).

Of course, we all know Dorothy as Dolphy’s TV wife, Marsha.

And we all know Marcial as Cory’s real-life husband, Ninoy.

Yes, Dorothy Jones was the real name of Nida Blanca.

And yes, Marcial Bonifacio was the fictitious name on the passport of Benigno Aquino, Jr. on the day that he was murdered.

And you know the rest of their stories.

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Posted 4/17/09
East and West

The Story of the Muslim Princess

Suppose that there was a Muslim princess from the flood capital of the Philippines, Malabon, who has just finished her degree in Mass Communications from the University of the Philippines with Latin honors (cum laude). Suppose that she decided to work for Discorama. Remember the Saturday afternoon show on GMA Channel 7 with former Senator Tito Sotto, his brother Vic Sotto and comedian Joey de Leon as hosts? The Muslim princess was assigned to host the Tough Hits segment of the show. As Tough Hits girl, she did the weekly countdown of popular songs with bastardized lyrics to elicit cheap laughs.

Soon, a female newscaster of a major TV network introduced the Muslim princess to her brother, a flight steward. After a whirlwind courtship, the Muslim princess married the flight steward who used to be a child actor whose only claim to fame was playing the role of a toddler Bongbong Marcos in a Marcos bio-flick. After a couple of months, the Muslim princess and the flight steward quietly separated.

But career-wise, lady luck smiled at the Muslim princess when she was given a big break by the major TV network. She bagged the plum assignment of delivering the evening news while at the same time hosting a successful TV magazine program which was pitted against a similar program in a rival TV network hosted by her former UP professor. However, the Muslim princess was such a perfectionist that it was reportedly not uncommon to see objects flying whenever she was unsatisfied with her TV staff’s work.

Later, the Muslim princess got married again, this time to a well-known local politician from a province south of Manila. The namesake of her father, her politician husband had grown-up children close to the Muslim princess’ age and it was being talked about that his first wife lived in the same condominium building where the Muslim princess and her new husband occupied the penthouse. The Muslim princess’ husband also reportedly decided to become a Muslim so that he could have more than one wife. They were blessed with two sons.
The Muslim princess’ husband soon retired from politics and became contented with being a magician and a human toothpaste applier for his Muslim princess' toothbrush. (Incidentally, the Muslim princess once appeared in a Close-Up Toothpaste TV commercial.) Now, the Muslim princess and her magician husband (He could make a big Coke bottle disappear before your eyes.) are happily separated. Later, the Muslim princess’ husband was accused of being responsible for the disappearance of his close friend.

The Story of the Black Nazarene Devotee
Suppose that there was a Black Nazarene devotee from the tamaraw capital of the Philippines who claimed to have graduated with a business degree from the University of the East despite his critics’ contention that he just bought his college diploma from the sidewalk of C. M. Recto Avenue. He worked as a radio reporter for a major radio and TV network. With perseverance, he was given a Sunday morning radio show. Later, he would occasionally pinch-hit for announcers whenever they would not show up for their radio program. He also hosted a daily radio serialization of movies for a program dubbed as Sineradyo.

His biggest TV break came when a TV network hired him for a top-rated showbiz-oriented TV show called See-Tru. The show was hosted by gossip queen, Lourdes Jimenez-Carvajal who was more popularly known as Inday Badiday or Ate Luds to her legions of fans. The Black Nazarene devotee’s appearance was only through voice-over (and he was never really seen by the TV audience) and it was always preceded by his usual line: “Ate Luds, may phone-in question po tayo rito galing kay…”. Yes, his job involved reading TV audience’s phone-in questions to Inday Badiday’s movie star guests. However, despite the TV show’s enormous popularity, it was immediately cancelled after one of the show’s female guests hurled an ashtray at another female guest.

Later, the Black Nazarene devotee married a lady executive of the radio and TV network where he had moved up to become the host of its early morning radio show. They adopted a girl and had a younger son later.

Never The Twain Shall Meet
Suppose that the Muslim princess and the Black Nazarene devotee met in the same office where they both work. Suppose also that the Black Nazarene devotee personally chose the Muslim princess as one of the principal sponsors for his adopted daughter’s wedding to one of the members of the staff of his widely popular TV program.

Suppose further that both the Muslim princess and the Black Nazarene devotee became elected government officials and they both decided to run for the same government office on the same year. They both run for say, the presidency of the Philippines. No, that’s being too ambitious. Okay, suppose that they both run for the position of Vice President under opposing political parties. Who would you vote for? The Muslim princess or the Black Nazarene devotee?

If you would vote for the Muslim princess, you just wasted your vote. If you would vote for the Black Nazarene devotee, you are good at spotting a winner (but it does not mean that you did not also waste your vote).

Because the honorary Muslim princess is former Senator Loren Legarda who lost her bid for the Vice Presidency of the Philippines in the 2002 national elections.

And yes, the Black Nazarene devotee who helps carry the replica of the Black Nazarene image barefoot and wearing only a white undershirt (sans bullet-proof vest) during the annual Quiapo procession as part of his religious devotion (yes, he still does it up to this day) is Noli de Castro, current Vice President of the Philippines.

And you know the rest of their stories.

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Posted 4/17/09

Her Mother’s Joy

Her mother has always been proud of her. Mighty proud. And rightly so.

In the spring of 1991, Julia Roberts graced the cover of People Magazine’s special issue featuring its annual list of The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. Together with Julia Roberts in this ultimate list of the most beautiful people were Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Madonna, Mel Gibson, Whitney Houston, Michelle Pfeiffer, Isabella Rossellini, supermodels Claudia Schiffer & Naomi Campbell and oops…a Filipina?

Yes, People Magazine’s 1991 list of The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World included a true-blooded Filipina who was born, raised and educated in the Philippines.

Unlike most beautiful Filipinas who were the products of mixed marriages and who have therefore acquired foreign physical features, this Filipina was born to a Filipina mother and a Filipino father. It is no wonder that she does not typify a beautiful woman by any standard: She is short, standing only 5’2”. She has a huge and deep acne scar on her forehead. She has that distinct Asian nose. She uses only Avon cosmetics (gasp!) and applies makeup by herself. During her pre-Inno Sotto days, her clothes were not made by known couturiers: They were lovingly sewn at home by her mother who is a dressmaker. She does not even have the right genes to inherit beauty from: Her mother was plain, even stern-looking. Her father was a dark-skinned guy with the tough facial features of a hardened military man.

Although both the first names of her mother and father means happy in two different languages, their union was not as joyous. Her mother and father were reportedly never married, making her and her only brother illegitimate children. In the mistress hierarchy, her mother was not even her father’s second woman. Her father had reportedly a first mistress who ranked above her mother. It was being talked about that she and her brother only belong to their father’s third family. And yes, the gay club performer who once appeared on national television was indeed her half-brother. She couldn’t therefore be faulted for not talking about her father. In contrast, too much has been known about her mother. Her mother was always visible, too visible for comfort.

Her mother gave her the name Carmen and raised her in a province north of Manila. However, when it was time for her to go to school, her overprotective mother brought her and her brother to Manila to give them the best education. Carmen studied in Preciosa Soliven’s Operation Brotherhood Montessori in Greenhills where she emerged as the school’s valedictorian. However, Carmen’s academic rival protested the school’s decision to award Carmen the school’s highest honors, claiming that she had better grades than Carmen. Carmen’s rival even revealed that the school’s owner, Mrs. Soliven, was only fond of Carmen because she always performed in school programs which gave Carmen an edge in extra-curricular activities. But academically, Carmen reportedly did not really rise above her rival. But it was never proven.

Lured into show business, Carmen became part of German Moreno’s inane daily afternoon TV show, That’s Entertainment, where she got paired with comedian and now Quezon City Vice Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista. (Some say that Vice Mayor Bautista was so enamored with Carmen that he later refused to marry his partner despite their having a child.) As one of the countless stars of Kuya Germ’s That’s Entertainment, Carmen’s talent was overshadowed by the ridiculous mass appeal of the triumvirate of Sheryl Cruz, Manilyn Reynes and Tina Paner.

Later, Carmen made a couple of forgettable films which were big flops. Unsuccessful in local show business, Carmen enrolled as a BS Biology student in Ateneo de Manila, hoping to become a doctor. However, the lure of fame and fortune shattered her medical ambition. She followed her other dream and landed in…Dreamland! Yes, instead of comforting innocent and fresh-smelling babies in a hospital, she ended up entertaining horny, sweaty and foul-smelling drunken men in seedy bars.

When Carmen was a little girl, a local manghuhula predicted that she would be crowned Miss Universe. Her mother, legally known as Miss Imutan, was ecstatic upon hearing this. Sadly, the prophecy did not come true. However, when Carmen was 18 years old, she bagged a beauty title. But it was farfetched from a Miss Universe crown. Carmen became Miss Saigon.

Yes, the only true-blooded Filipina who was included in People Magazine’s The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1991 is Feliciano Salonga and Ligaya “Joy” Imutan’s only daughter: Maria Ligaya Carmen Imutan Salonga.

Most of us know her simply as Lea Salonga.

And most of you know about her amazing journey to West End and Broadway.

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Posted 4/17/09
Beyond Sibling Rivalry

If your siblings are married to huge celebrities and you've just lost your chance of marrying one, would you still strive to surpass their feat?

But how could you beat being married to an award-winning actress whose mother is a beautiful actress and whose father is the original Agent X-44 of Philipine movies?

Or being the wife of Mr. Pure Energy?

Or being Mr. Megastar?

Now, aren’t you glad that you're not one of the Pangilinan siblings?

Former Penthouse Live co-host and newspaper columnist Anthony Pangilinan married Maricel Laxa, an excellent actress who is the lovechild of circa 60s actress Imelda Ilanan and action star Tony Ferrer. She is also the half-sister of 1990 Miss Asia runner-up Mutya Crisostomo Laxa.

Anthony’s brother, Senator Francis Pangilinan, was a campus figure in UP Diliman. He was the chairman of the UP Student Council in 1986. He married no less than the megastar, Sharon Cuneta.

Their sister, Angeli Pangilinan, was a campus beauty and brain while she was a student at the UP School of Economics in Diliman. Angeli married Mr. Pure Energy himself, Gary Valenciano.

REWIND: In the early 80s, teenager Edgardo José Martín Santiago Valenciano or Gary V. to most of us, fell deeply in love with a teenage girl who eventually became his girlfriend. Gary’s true love, they said. And they really looked perfect together. Their friends said that they were truly meant for each other. They were the picture of pure bliss. But not for long.

Few weeks before Gary’s first major concert in 1984, a female singer became pregnant. And Gary was the alleged father. Gary did not deny it. At 19, Gary joined the growing list of unwed teenage fathers.

Gary’s former girlfriend was shocked upon hearing about Gary’s indiscretion. She felt betrayed by Gary and the female singer. Gary’s former girlfriend was devastated.

The pregnant singer who bore Gary’s child was a former Camay girl who joined the ultra exclusive league of several generations of Camay beauties from the first Camay girl Paquita Roces to her two daughters, Maritess Revilla (Ang lahat ay napapalingon… At muling napapalingon) and Rosie Revilla to actress Rosa Rosal’s daughter Toni Rose Gayda (Kutis porcelana) to concert pianist Ingrid Sala Santamaria’s daughter Crispy Santamaria to a few others. The female singer indeed looked devastatingly beautiful in her memorable Camay TV commercial. But there was a teeny weeny objection among his friends: She was too old for the teenage and vibrant Gary whose popularity was just beginning to zoom up.

Everybody knows that the female singer who became pregnant with Gary’s child was María Anna Elizabeth Nepomuceno Pangilinan. In 1985, Gary exchanged vows with the female singer who is more popularly known by her nickname: Angeli.

Angeli retired from her singing group, Music and Magic. Angeli sacrificed her flourishing singing career and left behind her fellow Music and Magic members led by jeepney driver’s daughter-turned-nurse-turned-singer Kuh Ledesma, tenor singer-turned-Music and Magic co-founder-turned-musical director Jet Montelibano and singer-turned-comedian-turned TNT-turned-bogus political asylum seeker-turned-Michael Garfinkel endorser Fe de los Reyes. Angeli decided to become a full-time wife to Gary, baby Paolo’s Mom and Gary’s talent manager.

Meanwhile, the pain of losing Gary has left Gary’s former girlfriend in deep shock. Gary and his new bride tried to comfort her but Gary’s former girlfriend was inconsolable.

PLAY: Gary Valenciano’s most inspired and most popular composition was first heard as the theme song of a Vilma Santos movie before it became the title of an Aga Muhlach-Lea Salonga film and later, the title of a Kim Chiu-Gerald Anderson TV soap opera. The haunting melody and melancholy lyrics of this beautiful song make one wonder where Gary drew the passion and longing for lost love which every line of this song clearly evokes. Listen:
Sana maulit muli
Ang mga oras nating nakaraan
Bakit nagkaganito
Naglaho na ba ang pag-ibig mo?
Sana'y maulit muli
Sana bigyan pansin ang himig ko
Kahapon, bukas, ngayon
Tanging wala ng ibang mahal
Kung kaya kong iwanan ka
'Di na sana aasa pa
Kung kaya kong umiwas na
'Di na sana lalapit pa
Kung kaya ko sana
Ibalik ang kahapon
Sandaling 'di mapapantayan
Huwag sana nating itapon
Pagmamahal na tapat
Kung ako'y nagkamali minsan
'Di na ba mapagbibigyan
O giliw, dinggin mo ang nais ko, oooh...
Kung kaya kong iwanan ka
'Di na sana aasa pa
Kung kaya kong umiwas na
'Di na sana lalapit pa
Kung kaya ko sana
Ito ang tanging nais ko
Ang ating kahapon sana maulit muli
Kung kaya kong iwanan ka
'Di na sana aasa pa
Mahal pa rin kita
O giliw, o giliw ko, oooh...

This song was originally written by Gary in English. Ironically, the one who translated it to Tagalog was Gary’s wife, Angeli.

FAST FORWARD: Now, Gary has three grown-up children with Angeli. On the other hand, Gary’s former girlfriend is now known as Mrs. Buizon. She occasionally hosts a show on TV.

The pain has eased. Somehow. But the former lovers get to see each other regularly. They meet at her Mom’s house during important occasions: Christmas. New Year. Birthday of Mrs. Buizon’s mother. Mrs. Buizon’s birthday. Gary’s birthday. Holidays. Easter Sunday. Every Sunday, in fact.

Gary’s equally famous in-laws were witnesses to the former lovers’ meetings. But they do not mind at all.

Gary’s wife, Angeli, does not make a fuss over it.

Even the family matriarch, retired public school teacher Mommy Emma, is not bothered by it.

But the truth is, they could not prevent the former lovers from seeing each other.

Because Gary’s former girlfriend has to join her mother, siblings and in-laws during important family occasions.

And because Gary’s former girlfriend was Felichi Buizon.

And because, before she got married, Gary’s former girlfriend was known as Felichi Pangilinan.

And yes, because Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon is the younger sister of Angeli Pangilinan-Valenciano.

And none of us would probably ever know the rest of this story.


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Posted 4/17/09
Oops… She Made it Again!

How much are you willing to spend for a wedding dress?

Did I hear over P2 million pesos?

You would probably ask: Who in her right mind would spend that much for a dress that would be worn only once.

And your next question would be: Who in her right mind would dare charge that ridiculous amount of money for a dress?

I know someone who would.


And she is in her right mind. And a brilliant one.

Diane was born and raised in the southern city of Cebu. Her family owns a business chain. But she could not imagine herself behind a shop counter waiting for customers while polishing grandma’s earrings, broken necklaces and stolen Rolexes.

After Diane got engaged, she had to choose from mountainous piles of original wedding dress designs before she finally settled for one. This sparked her obsession with designing wedding dresses.

After borrowing money from her mother, Diane and her husband put up a modest fashion house. Within six years, Diane’s extraordinary talent has made her one of the leading bridal fashion designers in the country. Her dresses can be found only in the most expensive stores. Or if you’re lucky, on eBay.

Diane’s designs stand out: classic yet hip, stylish yet functional, romantic yet practical. It is no wonder that the biggest celebrities flock to her shop for their dress for such big events as weddings and movie award nights. One of them was an award-winning actor who commissioned Diane to do his bride’s wedding dress in 2004. The resulting wedding dress got rave reviews from fashion critics.

However, Diane’s biggest challenge came from a young female singer who phoned her in June 2004, requesting her to do the young female singer’s wedding dress as well as all the dresses of her entire bridal entourage. Earlier, this young female singer shocked her fans when she announced that she was marrying an aspiring singer who was a single father with highly questionable reputation.

The young female singer did not want to go to Diane’s shop to choose her wedding dress’ design. The young female singer did not want to catch the media’s attention. So Diane had to meet the young female singer in the latter’s house. Forty designs later, the young female singer finally made her choice.

The young female singer’s wedding dress became the object of guessing game. Showbiz insiders speculated that the young female singer would choose the best wedding dress designer around: Vera Wang. Well, if a minor celebrity like Assunta de Rossi donned a Vera Wang during her wedding to Congressman Jules Ledesma (It does not matter whether it was just off-the-rack), a much bigger star like the young female singer certainly deserved no less than that.
A roll call of celebrities who wore a Vera Wang wedding dress was more than enough to convince anyone that Vera Wang is the obvious choice for the young female singer: Sharon Stone, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson, Avril Lavigne, Thalia, Victoria Beckham, Holly Hunter, Sarah Micehelle Gellar and her alter ego, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, among many others. Yes, they all wore a Vera Wang on their wedding day.

But the young female singer did not want anyone else to make her wedding dress. It had to be Diane.
Diane could only smile whenever she read in the papers various news reports linking the young female singer’s wedding dress with other more famous designers. But she kept her silence.

With only three months prior to the wedding date, Diane mobilized her five-woman team to full-speed mode. After all, the young female singer was not an ordinary client. She was paying the equivalent of about 1.5 million pesos for her wedding gown alone. Well, this is fairly a reasonable price for a wedding dress considering that another client had just paid Diane the equivalent of over 2 million pesos for a single dress.

Then Diane received a frantic call from the young female singer. The young female singer’s request rattled the otherwise cool and composed Diane. And for a reason. Anyone would have choked at the young female singer’s outrageous demand. The young female singer had moved the date of her wedding four weeks earlier. This meant that all the dresses had to be finished - - - brace yourself - - - the next day!

Diane’s team worked for 24 hours nonstop. The task at hand was really tough. They had to finish the young female singer’s Italian silk strapless wedding dress with cathedral-length train plus her post-ceremony ultra-short lace dress, five burgundy silk crepe dresses for the bridesmaids, the mother-of-the-bride’s dress, the mother-of-the-groom’s dress and the stepmother-of-the-groom’s dress.

As expected, Diane and her team finished all the dresses in time for the wedding the next day. Upon seeing the dresses, the young female singer exclaimed, “The dresses were a dream. It was all exactly as I wanted.”

Unfortunately, the marriage was also finished before anyone could make a real singer out of the young female singer’s groom. It was a nightmare. It was not what the young female singer wanted.

You probably must have guessed by now that the young female singer who had her wedding dress made by Diane was then the bride of aspiring singer Kevin Federline.

Of course, we all know that the 22-year old former bride of Kevin Federline was then young female singer Britney Spears.

Yes, Diane made Britney Spears’ wedding dress.

With this, Diane duplicated her 2004 feat when she was commissioned to do the wedding dress of the bride of an award-winning actor who is also named Kevin: Kevin Costner.

We also know that Diane did the wedding dress of Alicia Silverstone, Natalie Imbruglia, Lea Salonga and several other famous names.

And Diane also designed the glamorous wedding dresses (yes, dresses) worn by every young girl’s role model: Barbara Millicent Roberts. (Yes, that’s the full name of Barbie Doll!)

Diane is undoubtedly the current toast of Hollywood. In fact, Diane also made fabulous dresses for Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Meg Ryan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sharon Stone, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Maria Shriver, Terri Hatcher, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Connelly, Diane Lane, Debra Messing, Michelle Gellar, Holly Hunter, Carmen Electra, Marcia Cross… The list is endless.

Just watch the celebrity interviews during the red carpet show of any big showbiz event (the Oscar, Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy, etc.) and you will be amazed at the impressive list of big-name stars who are wearing Diane’s creations. Oftentimes, Diane’s dresses are worn by more stars than any other designer.

Pinoys couldn’t be prouder of this Pinay.

And Diane is a true Pinay who was born and raised in Cebu City.

And it would have been a big loss to Hollywood had Diane chosen a less stressful life behind a shop counter waiting for customers while polishing grandma’s earrings, broken necklaces and stolen Rolexes.

Because Diane is the heir to the Lhuillier pawnshop business.

Her full name is Diane Monique Lhuillier.

And most Pinoys probably know the rest of her truly amazing conquest of Hollywood.

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Posted 4/17/09 , edited 4/17/09
The Zobel Mansion

The daughter of a noted musician, Ayen Munji was a club singer doing the Asian circuit. In one of her singing engagements at the Brunei Country Club, she was spotted by Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei. The next thing she knew, she was the Prince’s wife. Actually the prince’s fourth wife.

Ayen abandoned her singing career and lived the glamorous life of a true princess. With her newfound wealth, she reportedly gave all her siblings a cool million bucks each. One of her brothers who is a nurse in the United States reportedly owns a gasoline station now. Thanks to Ate Ayen.

Ayen knew that the day will come when she would fall from the prince’s grace. No matter how much she tried to be a good wife to him. And she was smart enough to realize this.

Long before Ayen parted ways with the prince, she started building her dream house in Ayala Alabang. All the materials used for the construction of her dream house were imported. Ayen personally supervised the construction without ever leaving Brunei. She regularly received videotapes of the construction activities. That’s how she monitored her dream house’s progress.

Ayen’s dream house stands on a large lot where the majestic mansion of Inigo Zobel (Don Enrique Zobel’s heir and husband of former Palmolive girl, Maricris Cardenas) used to lord it over. The Zobel mansion was so exquisitely constructed that no one in his right mind would dare level it to the ground in order to build a new house.

Singer and former Keep on Dancing co-host Franco Laurel once passed by the neighborhood to visit his uncle who lives a few blocks away. He was horrified upon seeing that the Zobel mansion was being demolished to build a new house. Franco quipped, “They’re destroying the Zobel mansion to build another house? How OA naman the new owner.”

The dream house that Ayen built is really palatial. Ayen’s bedroom alone occupies an entire upper floor. Sharing the space below Ayen’s bedroom are the rooms of her new husband and her children.

But these days, Franco Laurel has stopped criticizing the new owner of the Zobel mansion lot.

In fact, Franco has nothing but praises now for this new owner of the Zobel mansion lot.

Because Franco Laurel now lives in the new mansion that Ayen Munji built on the Zobel mansion lot.

Because Franco Laurel is the new husband of Ayen Munji.

And you probably know the rest of Ayen Munji and Franco Laurel’s love story.

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Posted 4/17/09
Anak ng Pasay

Do you remember these songs?


Sealed with a Kiss

The Birds and the Bees

When Summer is Gone

Save your Heart for Me

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

If you do, then you must have been one of those screaming teens who trooped to the Araneta Coliseum in the mid-60s when the 22-year old singer who popularized these songs had a successful concert with his band, The Playboys. This young singer was named after actor Cary Grant but his birth certificate erroneously recorded his name as Gary. Yes, this young singer is Gary Lewis, the son of Hollywood comedian Jerry Lewis.

During Gary Lewis and the Playboys’ concert at the Araneta Coliseum, one of their back-up dancers was a pretty Filipina named Gemma. At the rehearsal, Gary complimented Gemma for her good looks. But Gemma surprised Gary with her response: “You must meet my sister”.

The next day, Gemma dragged her morena-complexioned sister, Jinky, to Gary’s dressing room. When Gary set his eyes on Jinky, Gary momentarily forgot that he came to Manila for a concert. Less than a year later, Jinky Suzara officially became Mrs. Gary Lewis.

Yes, Gary Lewis married an ordinary Filipina teenager at the height of his popularity.

Gary and Jinky’s love story inspired the brilliant comics novelist, Mars Ravelo, to write a comics novel about them. Mars Ravelo was the author of such popular comics novel as Darna, Dyesebel, Captain Barbel, Bondying, Wanted:Perfect Mother, Maruja, among many others.

Entitled Haydee, The Brown Girl and the White Idol, the illustrated comics novel about Gary and Jinky appeared in Teen Agers’ Songs and Shows comics (later shortened to TSS comics). TSS comics is a comics-sized magazine filled with showbiz articles and illustrated novels in Taglish.

The comics novel immediately gained popularity. Aling Miling Blas of Lea Productions (named after her daughter, not the Broadway star), one of the major film companies at the time, immediately bought the rights to Mars Ravelo’s comics novel to turn it into a movie.

Aling Miling Blas hyped up the movie’s production by conducting a search for the actress who would play the role of Haydee which was based on the real-life character of Jinky Suzara. She wanted a fresh face to play the role opposite TV host Ed Finlan who would play the role of Gary Lewis.

The long quest for Haydee finally ended when they found a young woman who had just won as a runner-up in a beauty competition. Her name was Marilou Destreza. Although Marilou Destreza lacks the sophistication of Jinky Suzara, her beauty is undoubtedly stunning.

However, there was a little problem. Marilou’s mother was the epitome of a stage mother. She was overly protective of her daughter. One day, Marilou's mother brought a list of conditions relative to Marilou's appearance in the movie. Some of these conditions were too outrageous to be taken seriously.

Marilou Destreza was suddenly out of the picture, literally and figuratively. They started a new search for a fresh face to essay the role of Haydee.

Their search brought them to the slums of Pasay City. While roaming among the cardboard houses of Leveriza, they were captivated by a 13-year old mestiza who was fetching water from a poso. They wasted no time and immediately approached the charming mestiza. The 13-year old mestiza’s real-life story was worthy of a film itself. The 13-year old mestiza’s mother was abandoned by her American husband when the 13-year old mestiza was still a toddler.

The 13-year old mestiza from the slums of Leveriza was finally launched as a major star, heralding the return of the mestiza glamour of movie stars of the old which came to a halt with the entry of the diminutive morena and plain-looking Leonora Cabaltera Villamayor a.k.a. Nora Aunor to her legion of fans.

The 13-year old maestiza slum girl’s name is Susan.

In the movie, Santiago, the teenage Susan acted with the king of Philippine movies, Fernando Poe, Jr. Susan played the role of a deaf-mute girl. While filmimg this movie, they even inserted real dirt inside Susan’s fingernails for authenticity. But all her sacrifices in this movie paid off. Susan got the attention of the critics. She even won the FAMAS award for best supporting actress for this movie, besting several veteran actresses. This award also gave Susan the distinction of being the youngest recipient of the FAMAS best supporting actress trophy.
Susan was paired with a shy but goodlooking actor who grew up with his adopted parents. But they were regarded as only a minor loveteam. They could not compete with the phenomenal popularity of the loveteams of Guy & Pip (Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III) and Vi & Bot (actress-turned-mayor-turned-governor Vilma Santos and actor-turned writer-turned-TV director Edgar Mortiz who ended up marrying another Santos, Millette Santos, who is the younger sister of ABS-CBN executive Charo Santos-Concio).

But in a later movie, Cherry Blossoms, which was Lea Productions’ entry to the Manila Film Festival that year, Susan was paired with a young man named Nicholas Hammond. Anyone who has seen the movie, The Sound of Music, would remember Nicholas Hammond. Yes, Nicholas Hammond was the young boy who played the role of Friedrich von Trapp, the eldest son of Christopher Plummer (who played Captain von Trapp) in The Sound of Music.
Just like other good actors, Susan has her share of acting quirks. To get herself into the movie character that she plays, Susan would stay in her van before a shoot. She would hold a mirror and stare at herself. By the time she emerges from her van, she has morphed into her movie character.

Since then, Susan had established herself as a major dramatic actress in Philippine movies. Susan gained international recognition when one of her most memorable films, which was shot in the slums, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews.

Susan’s star soared to great heights.
Meanwhile, starlet Marilou Destreza plunged to oblivion.

Susan also appeared in a memorable Lux soap TV commercial which was reminiscent of the house of mirrors climactic scene in Orson Welles' movie, The Lady from Shanghai which starred Rita Hayworth and which will have a remake starring Nicole Kidman to be directed by Wong Kar Wai (who also directed the highly acclaimed In The Mood for Love). Susan's TV commercial came out way after Claudia Cardinale's and way before Michelle Pfeiffer's similar endorsements, to mention a few of the other beautiful women around the world who appeared in a Lux TV commercial.

But Susan does not only possess one of the most beautiful faces in Philippine cinema, notwithstanding her exceptional acting ability. She is also a smart girl who knew the value of education. Despite her enormous popularity and hectic film schedule, she managed to finish a degree in International Studies at Maryknoll College (now Miriam College). As if that was not enough, Susan even completed her Masters Degree in the same school.

At a very young age, Susan secretly married an equally brilliant actor. But Aling Miling Blas guarded this secret with the ferocity of a lion in order to protect Susan’s booming career. Susan and the actor had one biological daughter. They also adopted a couple of kids.

But Susan’s marriage with the briliant actor did not last. Later, Susan’s brilliant actor ex-husband decided to live with another brilliant actress who also hailed from the slums, like Susan.

On the other hand, Susan had a series of failed relationships. Her succeeding children were fathered by different men. But they were mostly intelligent and decent men. From actor to businessman to doctor.

Susan’s only biological daughter with her brilliant actor ex-husband lived with Susan’s businessman ex-husband and his new wife (a popular ramp model-turned TV sitcom actress-turned housewife) while she was taking up a nursing course in the United States. Later, Susan’s businessman ex-husband was found lifeless while resting on a couch in his house.

Despite her failed relationships with different men, Susan has kept her integrity as an exceptional movie actress.

If you ask any respectable film critic for a list of all-time ten best film actresses of Philippine cinema, Susan would definitely be on top of that list.

But they would probably not list her by her real name, Susan Reid.

Instead, they would list her by her screen name.

They would list her as Hilda Koronel.

Yes, Hilda Koronel is the screen name of Susan Reid.

And most of you know the rest of her colorful life story.

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Posted 4/17/09
The Other Julio

In 2003, Steven Jay Schneider edited and published a book entitled, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Carefully selected by leading international film critics, it was an amazing compilation of the best films from all over the world: from Bollywood to Hollywood.

The films were listed according to the year that they were released. The year 1975 was a golden age for world cinema. A total of 16 of the best films made in 1975 made it to the list. The list includes Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon, Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends, Terry Gilliam's Monthy Python and the Holy Grail, Marguerite Duras' India Song, Pasolini’s Salo, Carlos Saura's Cria!, Jim Sharman's The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Robert Altman’s Nashville, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and…
Yes, a Filipino film.

It’s the only Filipino film in a list of 1,001 greatest films from around the world.

There it is. On page 605 of Schneider’s heavy book. The brief description of the film is accompanied by a black –and-white still photograph of its lead actor.

And everyone probably knows which film this is.

Yes, the only Filipino film which made it to the list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die was Director Lino Brocka’s Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (translated in this book as Manila In the Claws of Brightness).
This film has been a perennial favorite among movie critics from all over the world. And Filipinos must be proud of this film. Perhaps, the only person who despised this film was former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Because it did not show the true, the good and the beautiful, according to her.
Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag was a serialized novel in the weekly Liwayway Magazine before it was turned into a movie. It was written by Edgardo M. Reyes, a construction worker from Tondo. The novel was so successful that Edgardo M. Reyes wrote a sequel entitled, Bangkang Papel sa Dagat ng Apoy. This was also turned into a movie in 1984 starring school dropout-turned-actor-turned-mayor-turned-senator-turned-vice president-turned-president Joseph Ejercito Estrada and his rumored paramour, Laarni Enriquez. Helmed by the novel's author and first-time director, Edgardo M. Reyes, this movie did not reap the same level of success that Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag enjoyed.

During the mid-70s, Lino Brocka started filming his trilogy film for Cine Manila Artist. The film is entitled, Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa. The entire first episode of this film was shot at the Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Education (DARE) center in Bicutan. Aiming for authenticity, Lino Brocka used the guys there as movie extras.

After Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa was shown, Lino Brocka started filming Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.

Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag is a film about Julio Madiaga, a provinciano whose girlfriend, Ligaya Paraiso, was lured into the city by a job recruiter, in the hope of giving her impoverished family a better life. But after Ligaya left, her family did not hear from her again. Nor did Julio. Worried about Ligaya, Julio ventured into the city and searched for Ligaya. And that’s when Julio discovered that the city was everything but the paradise that Ligaya’s recruiter had pictured it to be. But this was just the beginning. Julio’s search for Ligaya led him to an even more shocking discovery about Ligaya’s fate.

The shooting of the film went on very smoothly. At the end of every shooting day, the meticulous Lino Brocka would always view the movie rushes.

After shooting several scenes for a number of days, the ever-perfectionist Lino Brocka felt uncomfortable with the actor playing the lead role of Julio Madiaga. In Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr.’s brilliant screenplay, Julio Madiaga was a starving provinciano who did odd jobs in the city while searching for Ligaya, which was brilliantly played by Hilda Koronel. However, the daily movie rushes showed that Lino Brocka’s Julio Madiaga was healthy-looking, even chubby. And the actor seemed to be putting on more weight with each passing day. The actor was physically miscast for the role.

Because of this, Lino Brocka decided to replace his lead actor.

It did not matter to Lino Brocka that he had shot several scenes which would just go to waste once he changed his lead actor. It did not matter to Lino Brocka that he had to reshoot all the scenes and start all over again.

Lino Brocka needed a more suitable Julio Madiaga as soon as possible. He could not afford to stall the filming any longer. Lino Brocka searched around.

And there he was! The personification of Julio Madiaga.

Lino Brocka’s choice as replacement for the original Julio Madiaga was a student from the Ateneo de Manila whom he met at the DARE center in Bicutan. He was a bit player in Lino Brocka’s Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa. Ironically, the original Julio Madiaga was the lead actor in the first episode of this trilogy film where the new Julio Madiaga was just a bit player.

The new Julio Madiaga indeed looked the part. He was skinny. His eyes could convey a thousand emotions. And he could really act.

The new Julio Madiaga was Rafael Aranda Roco, Jr.

Some showbiz insiders were skeptical about Lino Brocka’s decision to give the lead role of a major film to this guy who had no acting experience other than playing a bit part in Lino Brocka’s previous film.

But Lino Brocka was adamant. He wanted no one else to play Julio Madiaga.

And Lino Brocka was eventually vindicated in his decision. Rafael Roco, Jr. won the 1975 FAMAS best actor trophy for Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag. For a new actor whose only acting experience was appearing as a bit player in a Lino Brocka movie, winning this award was truly a major triumph. This came close to the acting record of Christopher de Leon who won the FAMAS best actor trophy just the year before for his very first film, Lino Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang.

Despite his thinning hair, Rafael Roco, Jr. instantly became the most sought-after leading man. He was paired with the leading actresses of the day in some of the best movies directed by the greatest Filipino film directors during this golden age of Philippine cinema. He shared stellar billing with Nora Aunor in Mario Ohara’s Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos; with Vilma Santos in Celso Ad Castillo’s Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak; with Hilda Koronel in Behn Cervantes’ Sakada and Lino Brocka’s Hayop sa Hayop; with Chanda Romero in Eddie Romero’s Banta ng Kahapon and Gil Portes’ Sa Piling ng Mga Sugapa, with the latter giving him another best actor trophy from Gawad Urian, and many other memorable films. During the filming of Pagputi ng Uwak, Pag-itim ng Tagak, Rafael Roco, Jr. started wearing a wig due to his thinning hair.
In 1982, Rafael Roco, Jr. also landed an important role in the film, The Year of Living Dangerously which starred Mel Gibson (star of Lethal Weapon series) and Sigourney Weaver (star of Alien series). This film was directed by Peter Weir who holds the distinction of being one of the only two living film directors who had the most number of Oscar nominations as Best Director. He was nominated for such acclaimed films as Dead Poets Society, Witness, The Truman Show and Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. And his film, Picnic at Hanging Rock, was among the 16 films in 1975 which made it to the list of films in Schneider’s book, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, along with Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag. While the said book devoted a full page to Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag, Peter Weir’s film had to share the page opposite Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag’s page with another great film.

Rafael Roco, Jr. married a fashion model, Coco Artadi, who therefore became known from then on as Mrs. Coco Roco. Later, Rafael Roco, Jr. decided to finally get rid of his hairpiece. And he shaved his head permanently. He also replaced his screen name with his real nickname. Thus, Rafael Roco, Jr. became known as Bembol Roco. Although his decision to shave his head limited him to character roles, Bembol Roco remained as one of the country’s most brilliant actors, together with the original Julio Madiaga.

Bembol Roco and the original Julio Madiaga seemed to be destined to affect each other’s lives. They were astrological twins. They were both born on the 20th day of the same year, 1953. The original Julio Madiaga was born on January 20, 1953 while Bembol Roco was born exactly ten months after, on November 20, 1953.

While Bembol Roco studied in what was then an exclusive boys’ school, Ateneo de Manila, the original Julio Madiaga held the distinction of being one of the first male students who were accepted at an exclusive girls’ school, Maryknoll College (now Miriam College), which is located right beside Bembol Roco’s school.

But while Bembol Roco’s roots do not have any link to show business, the original Julio Madiaga belonged to a highly-respected show business clan whose membership stretches from Conrado Conde to Robert Arevalo to Janno Gibbs. His father’s siblings and cousins worked in various aspects of show business: from actors to directors to screenwriters to musical scorers, among many others. In fact, one of his father’s brothers was one of the greatest Filipino film directors ever. Just consider these accomplishments: He was the only film director who won the FAMAS best director award for three consecutive years. He also won the most number (seven) of FAMAS best director trophies. He directed such great films as Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, Sisa, Buhay at Pag-ibig ni Dr. Jose Rizal, Daigdig ng Mga Api, The Moises Padilla Story and Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo (which won the first FAMAS best picture award in 1953). He was also one of only five Filipino film directors who were proclaimed as National Artists of the Philippines, together with Lino Brocka. Having this man for an uncle must have inspired the original Julio Madiaga to carve his own name in show business at a very young age.

However, it is ironic though that while the original Julio Madiaga had an equally brilliant actress for a wife and had thick show business blood flowing through his veins, his only biological daughter does not have the slightest interest in following her parents’ footsteps. He did not have any children with his live-in actress partner either to perpetuate his acting legacy. On the other hand, Bembol Roco, whose folks do not seem to have any trace of the acting bug, has better prospects of perpetuating his acting legacy since his twin sons, Ricardo Dominic and Teodoro Felix, have also invaded show business.

But while Bembol Roco and his fashion model wife remain together, the original Julio Madiaga and his actress wife separated after many years of marriage. But he found new love in the person of an equally talented actress who was discovered by former President Joseph Estrada’s younger brother, movie producer Jesse Ejercito, who eventually launched her in the movie, Nang Bumuka ang Sampaguita.
During all those years that Bembol Roco snatched all the movie roles that would have ordinarily landed on the lap of the original Julio Madiaga, the original Julio Madiaga still continued to shine in some of the most memorable films under the country’s best film directors, despite his failure to shed those extra pounds which cost him the movie role of a lifetime. He was memorable in his role as a priest in a film directed by Laurice Guillen; as a bachelor in a film by respected film critic Pio de Castro III; as a newly-married man in a film by Mike de Leon; and as a brutal husband in a film by Marilou-Diaz Abaya.

But he never got the chance to play another character as memorable as Julio Madiaga.

The original Julio Madiaga was an excellent and versatile actor who started acting as a child. He was the product of the union of a well-known show business couple. His father was an actor with many films to his credit and a one-time director (Maria Kapra, 1947) after World War II. His mother was a beautiful actress who lost one of her arms during World War II.

Like his mentor, Lino Brocka, the original Julio Madiaga died during a road accident in a spot not far from where Lino Brocka had his fatal car accident. He was aboard his motorcycle on his way to return a video to a video rental shop when a car hit him.

He was a great loss to Philippine cinema.

It would have been his face which would have been immortalized in the last frame of that famous and most-talked about ending of Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag.

Even the titles of some of his actor father’s films seemed to echo Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag which is about a young man from the province (Binatang Bukid, 1938) who went to the city to search for his girlfriend (Nasaan Ka Irog, 1937) whose name is Ligaya Paraiso (Ligaya, 1946).

Indeed, this talented son of actor Angel Esmeralda and actress Corazon Noble seemed at first to have been born to play Julio Madiaga.

But he was not destined to play Julio Madiaga after all.

Despite the fact that his close friends called him Julio. But this was not to tease him for losing the greatest Filipino film role in the best Filipino film ever. In fact, they have been calling him Julio long before the novel was even written.

Because his name was, in a way, also Julio.

His real name was the Latin equivalent of Julio.

His real name was Julius.

His full name was Julius Abad Ilagan.

And his screen name was Jay Ilagan.

And you all know the rest of his story.

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Posted 4/17/09
Beyond Six Degrees of Separation

A true Pinoy saint is how Rizalistas regard Dr. Jose Rizal who was the brother of Maria Rizal Mercado who was the mother of Mauricio Rizal Cruz who was the father of Ismael Arguelles Cruz who was the first husband of writer Chitang Guerrero-Nakpil who is the mother of Miss International Gemma Cruz who is the wife of Antonio Araneta who is the cousin of Judy Araneta who is the mother of Mar Roxas who is the reported boyfriend of Korina Sanchez who was once the girlfriend of Noynoy Aquino who was once the boyfriend of Bernadette Sembrano who was once romantically-linked to Vic Sotto who was once romantically-linked to Kris Aquino who lived with Philip Salvador who is the brother of Alona Alegre who was the girlfriend of Romeo Vasquez who was a very special friend of Vilma Santos who was the wife of Edu Manzano who was the husband of Maricel Soriano who was the girlfriend of William Martinez who is the brother of Albert Martinez who is the husband of Liezl Sumilang who is the daughter of Romeo Vasquez who was the husband of Amalia Fuentes who is the aunt of Aga Muhlach who was the boyfriend of Aiko Melendez who was the wife of Jomari Yllana who is the boyfriend of Pops Fernandez who was the wife of Martin Nievera who was the boyfriend of Jackie Lou Blanco who is the daughter of Pilita Corrales who has a son with Eddie Guttierez who is the husband of Annabelle Rama who is the mother of Ruffa Guttierez who is the half-sister of Tonton Guttierez who is the son of Liza Lorena and the half-brother of Ramoncito Guttierez who is the estranged husband of Lotlot de Leon who is the adopted daughter of Nora Aunor who was a very special friend of Joseph Estrada who is the father of Jude Estrada who is a very special friend of Dranreb Belleza who is the son of Bernard Belleza who was the husband of Divina Valencia who was the movie partner of Jess Lapid who is the uncle of Lito Lapid who lived with Melanie Marquez who is the sister of Joey Marquez who lived with Kris Aquino who reportedly almost eloped with Robin Padilla who is the cousin of Zsa Zsa Padilla who lives with Dolphy who lived with Alma Moreno who lived with Rudy Fernandez who is the husband of Lorna Tolentino who is the stepmother of Mark Anthony Fernandez who was the boyfriend of Claudine Barretto who is the sister of Marjorie Barretto who is the estranged wife of Dennis Padilla who is a close friend of Randy Santiago who is the brother of Raymart Santiago who reportedly courted Kris Aquino who is the daughter of Ninoy Aquino who is the brother of Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara who was the wife of Cesar Concio who is the husband of Charo Santos who is the sister of Milette Santos who is the wife of Edgar Mortiz who was the boyfriend of Vilma Santos who is the wife of Ralph Recto who is the brother of Plinky Recto who is the sister of Ramon Recto who was once rumored to be a very close friend of Lotlot de Leon who is the adopted daughter of Christopher de Leon who is the brother of Melissa de Leon who was a very special friend of Joey Marquez who lived with Alma Moreno who is the cousin of LJ Moreno who was the girlfriend of Diether Ocampo who was once reported as the boyfriend of Andrea Bautista who is the sister of Bong Revilla who was romantically linked to Gretchen Barretto who was photographed being kissed by John Estrada who was the husband of Janice de Belen who has a son with Aga Muhlach who is the husband of Charlene Gonzales who is the daughter of Bernard Bonnin who was the husband of Elvira Gonzales who is the wife of Pepito Vera-Perez who is the brother of Marichu “Manay Ichu”Vera-Perez who is the estranged wife of Manong Ernie Maceda and the sister of Gina de Venecia who is the wife of Joe de Venecia who presides the Lower House of Congress which used to be presided by Ramon Mitra who was the father of Raul Mitra who is the husband of Cacai Velasquez who is the sister of Regine Velasquez who is the reported girlfriend of Ogie Alcasid who is a close friend of Janno Gibbs who is the husband of Bing Loyzaga who is the sister of Joey Loyzaga who was the boyfriend of Gretchen Baretto who lives with Tonyboy Cojuangco who is the cousin of Kris Aquino who is the daughter of Cory Aquino who is the aunt of Mikee Cojuangco who is the wife of Dodot Jaworski who is the son of Robert Jaworski who is the husband of Evelyn Bautista who is the daughter of Ramon Revilla who is the father of Bong Revilla who was romantically linked to Ruffa Mae Quinto who was the girlfriend of Dingdong Avanzado who was the boyfriend of Rachel Alejandro who is the daughter of Hajji Alejandro who lived with Rio Diaz who is the sister of Gloria Diaz who was the wife of Bong Daza who is a close friend of Bong Bong Marcos who is the son of Ferdinand Marcos who was the husband of Imelda Marcos who is the mother of Imee Marcos who lived with Tommy Manotoc who was the husband of Miss International Aurora Pijuan who is the mother of TJ Manotoc who is the half-brother of Borgy Manotoc who was rumored to have been intimate with Vina Morales who was romantically-linked to Robin Padilla who is the brother of Rustom Padilla who lived with Carmina Villaruel who lives with Zoren Lagaspi who is the brother of Kier Legaspi who is the father of the eldest child of Marjorie Baretto who is the sister of Claudine Barretto who is the wife of Raymart Santiago who is the brother of Rowell Santiago who was the movie partner of Sharon Cuneta who is the niece of Helen Gamboa who is the wife of Tito Sotto who is the brother of Vic Sotto who has a son with Connie Reyes who was a close friend of Helen Vela who was the mother of Princess Punzalan who was the wife of Willie Revillame who has a daughter with Becbec Soriano who is the sister of Maricel Soriano who is the aunt of Meryll Soriano who is the estranged wife of Bernard Palanca who was the boyfriend of Rica Peralejo who was once rumored as the girlfriend of Piolo Pascual who appeared in many movies as the love interest of Judy Ann Santos who was once the movie partner of Mickey Arroyo who is the son of Mike Arroyo who is the husband of Gloria Arroyo.

Saint. Heroes. Actors. Crooks.

Small world.

From Rizal to Ninoy to Erap to Gloria.

Yes, from a saint to a hero to an actor to Gloria.

Small world, indeed.

And watch out for the rest of their stories.

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Posted 4/17/09
Heart of Darkness

It was a highly ambitious film which was based on a book which has become standard high school reading.

It would be helmed by an acclaimed film director whose previous film about an organized crime was a huge critical and commercial success. In fact, it is probably on everybody’s list of favorite films. No wonder, everybody was expecting so much from this next film of the acclaimed film director.

The acclaimed film director needed to prove in this highly-ambitious new film that the accolades bestowed upon him were justified. That’s why he had planned on shooting this new film in the most authentic locations.

However, when a friend of the acclaimed film director learned that the acclaimed film director was going to shoot this film in various parts of the Philippines, the acclaimed film director’s friend who had shot some of his films in these places had only one warning for the acclaimed film director: “Don’t go. The monsoon rain will wreak havoc on your production.”

But the acclaimed film director was adamant. He had already scheduled to shoot most parts of his new film in Baler in Quezon, Pagsanjan in Laguna and Iba in Zambales. He would later erect a 700-foot bridge made of coconut logs with the help of 350 workers from Baler in Quezon Province. Known for their carving masterpieces, Pagsanjan folks would also later help him build the ruins of a massive structure, complete with the gigantic sculpture of a woman's face.

As the acclaimed film director’s friend had earlier predicted, the shooting of the acclaimed film director’s movie was plagued by typhoons which destroyed the film’s elaborate set in Zambales. This took a heavy toll on both the film’s schedule and budget. But the weather was just among the many culprits.

Even before the shooting began, the acclaimed film director was so disappointed that none of the big actors that he had approached wanted to do the film. In his frustration, he threw all his film trophies outside his window. His young children soon picked them up. Except for a single trophy, all were broken.

The new film’s villain was a popular veteran actor who used to work as elevator operator in a department store. He was the lead actor in the acclaimed film director’s previous film about an organized crime. The veteran actor was such a huge star that he was paid much more than the new film’s lead actor despite the fact that the veteran actor would appear only in a few scenes in the new film. In the new film, the veteran actor plays a soldier who had written a paper on The Insurrection in the Philippines.

Prior to the shooting of the new film, the acclaimed film director requested two things from the veteran actor. First, the acclaimed film director wanted the veteran actor to read the book on which the film’s story was based. Second, the acclaimed film director requested the veteran actor to lose weight.

When the veteran actor showed up on his first shooting day, the acclaimed film director was dismayed. The veteran actor had not read the book nor had he lost weight. Worse, the veteran actor even gained weight. He had ballooned to 250 pounds. The veteran actor had not even memorized his lines. In order to hide the veteran actor's bloated figure, the acclaimed film director shot most of the veteran actor’s scenes in shadows. The acclaimed film director also tolerated the veteran actor's improvised dialogue.

In addition to the veteran actor’s hefty fee, the acclaimed film director also yielded to the veteran actor’s demand that the veteran actor could shoot only on weekdays and not later than 5:30 in the afternoon. The veteran actor also expressed displeasure over the name of his character in the film. The veteran actor wanted another name. (A keen filmgoer who had seen this film when it was later shown would have probably noticed that in some parts of the film, the actors were mouthing a different name when referring to the veteran actor’s character in the film but a different name came out of the film’s audio. That’s right, the acclaimed film director brought back the original name of the veteran actor’s character in the film during the sound dubbing in post-production.)

Although the veteran actor’s co-actors found him funny and highly supportive, he earned a reputation for being difficult on the film set. Oftentimes, he was reportedly unwilling or unable to memorize his dialogue. He was also accused of making unusual and childish demands.

But that was just the beginning of the acclaimed film director’s never-ending saga.

After several days of shooting, the acclaimed film director decided to replace his lead actor. Although the acclaimed film director was able to salvage some long shots with the original actor in them, the acclaimed film director had to reshoot most of the earlier scenes that they have already shot with the film's original lead actor.

The new lead actor, who was certainly better-looking than the original lead actor, first auditioned for the lead role in the acclaimed film director’s previous film about organized crime. (The role went to the veteran actor who was playing the villain in this new film.) But the acclaimed film director was not spared of the good-looking new lead actor’s own troubles. The good-looking new lead actor, who was a political activist with a record of more than 70 arrests, became the talk of the town when he was rumored to be getting too close with another political activist: respected film director Lino Brocka.

But the new lead actor had a deeper secret: he was an alcoholic. In the film’s opening scene, the new lead actor was actually dead drunk while they were shooting the scene. As a result, the new lead actor accidentally punched a mirror and hurt his hand badly. (The acclaimed film director decided to include this accident in the final cut of the film.) It was no wonder that midway through the shooting of the film, the new lead actor suffered a near-fatal heart attack. The new lead actor’s condition was so bad that he was reportedly given the last rites by a priest.

Since the shooting had been delayed for too long and it had been way over its original budget, the acclaimed film director could not stall the shooting any further. So while the lead actor was recuperating, the acclaimed film director continued to shoot the film with the new lead actor’s brother (who looked and sounded like the lead actor) as a stand-in.

Even the supporting actors became a source of headache for the acclaimed film director. One of the supporting actors was constantly under the influence of alcohol and drugs during the making of the film. Another actor, who was reportedly in and out of drug rehabilitation centers, was also deeply into drugs. He kept on forgetting his dialogue and kept on ignoring the acclaimed film director’s instruction.

Even real Philippine Marine soldiers who were hired as film extras constantly annoyed the acclaimed film director because there were times when the soldiers had to leave in the middle of a difficult scene because they were being summoned by their military superiors to fight the rebels. Not to fight actors playing the role of rebels. But to fight real rebels.

When the acclaimed film director was about to shoot a scene which needed several American soldiers as extras, he realized too late that there were not too many Caucasian-looking Pinoys. So, he had to scour Manila’s International School, foreign embassies and even medical schools (where there were many American medical students whose poor grades did not make it to US medical schools). Even the young sons (who were practically children) of the acclaimed film director and the lead actor were just too happy to act as soldiers.

The acclaimed film director did not even know how to end the film. He did not like the script’s original ending. He wanted a fresh ending. But he did not know how to do it. Until one day, his wife came home from a trip to Ifugao in Mountain Province. The acclaimed film director’s wife excitedly relayed to the acclaimed film director that she witnessed an Ifugao ceremony where they slaughtered two carabaos. The acclaimed film director’s wife added that the Ifugaos even sent a gift for the acclaimed film director. When the acclaimed film director’s wife opened the package that she brought with her from Ifugao, the acclaimed film director was baffled. The Ifugaos had sent the acclaimed film director the heart of a freshly-slaughtered carabao. The acclaimed film director’s wife explained that the gift was the Ifugaos’ way of honoring the acclaimed film director. When the acclaimed film director asked his wife what he was supposed to do with the carabao’s heart, the acclaimed film director’s wife replied that he was probably supposed to eat it. The acclaimed film director just asked his wife to keep it in the refrigerator.

The Ifugao ceremony which the acclaimed film director’s wife talked about gave the acclaimed film director an idea for the film’s ending. So, he immediately sent a representative to speak to the leaders of the Ifugao tribe. In a flash, hordes of Ifugao tribe members came down from the Mountain Province to participate as extras in the film. The Ifugaos literally lived on the film set along Pagsanjan River during the entire time that their scenes were being shot. The Ifugaos were very cooperative during the filming but the acclaimed film director was specially fascinated by three young Ifugao girls who were inseparable during the entire shooting of the film.

Aside from these three young Ifugao girls and a handful of adult female Ifugaos, the film’s cast consisted entirely of male actors and extras. In fact, there was only one female actress in the film. However, even those who have seen this film probably did not even notice her because she did not even have a dialogue. But a few moviegoers would probably recognize her as the same actress who portrayed the award-winning role of Nimia, the prostitute childhood friend of Elsa (played by Nora Aunor) in Ishmael Bernal’s Himala (based on Ricky Lee’s screenplay which won in the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines’ First Scriptwriting Contest). Others would probably remember her in Peque Gallaga’s war epic, Oro Plata Mata (based on Joey Reyes’ screenplay which was Himala’s co-winner in the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines’ First Scriptwriting Contest) where she played the role of a housemaid who was seen shelling dried watermelon seeds (butong pakwan) for Fides Cuyugan, Liza Lorena, Mitch Valdez and Lorli Villanueva as the quartet played mahjong amid the chaos of World War II. Yes, the only female actress in the acclaimed film director’s highly-ambitious new film was stage actress Gigi Duenas. But even if you combine Gigi Duenas’ 4 or 5 split-second exposures in the film, the single scene of the three young adorable Ifugao girls laughing and teasing each other behind the veteran actor was probably much longer and certainly more fun to watch.

But the acclaimed film director’s pleasant experience with the Ifugaos did not completely buoy his sagging spirit as seemingly insurmountable problems continued to crop up every day. The film’s shooting which was originally scheduled for 17 weeks lasted 8 ½ months. The ever-ballooning cost of making the film nearly bankrupted the acclaimed film director’s own film studio. (But the director redeemed himself later when the film made money at the box office and even won a very prestigious film award.)

The acclaimed film director quipped that, more than his film’s story, the actual making of this film was the real war. Art imitating life imitating art. With the looming threat of not being able to finish his problematic new film, the acclaimed film director who had lost 100 pounds during the making of this film, joined his actors and resorted to drugs. At one point, the acclaimed film director reportedly started weeping for no apparent reason and suffered epileptic seizure. He was even making his final request that if he dies, his friend who was the original choice to direct the film be tapped to finish it.
To keep his wife busy, the acclaimed film director assigned his wife to film behind-the-scene footages. But the acclaimed film director’s wife was not the only family member who was involved in the film. The acclaimed film director has always been accused of nepotism in his films by casting his daughter, sons, sister, nephews and other relatives. True enough, the acclaimed film director’s two young sons appeared as extras in this film. Even the acclaimed film director’s father provided the music for this film. It seems that only the acclaimed film director’s mother, who was an actress, was missing in this “family film.”

Similarly, even the lead actor’s two sons appeared as extras in the film. Later, these young boys would grow up to become famous actors themselves. One of them would lead a very colorful life and would spend tons of money for prostitutes.

On the other hand, the acclaimed film director’s daughter who was only four years old during the making of this film later became a prestigious film director herself. She holds the distinction being the only woman director ever nominated for the most prestigious film award. The acclaimed film director is also the uncle of an actor who, probably aware of the nepotism charge against the acclaimed film director, changed his surname after doing his first film so that he could claim any future success as his own and not due to the influence of his famous uncle. He eventually became a highly popular actor. And nobody could accuse him now of gaining fame because of his influential uncle.

The acclaimed film director and his family lived in the exclusive Dasmarinas Village in Makati with security men outside their door. The acclaimed film director also had a full-time bodyguard during the making of the film, courtesy of the President. The President was worried that some rebels might kidnap the acclaimed film director in some far-flung province and put the President in bad light. The acclaimed film director even visited the President in Malacanang a few times.

All the difficulties during the making of the film were chronicled in a documentary film which was co-directed by the acclaimed film director’s wife. While the acclaimed film director remained married to his highly supportive wife all his life, the veteran actor who played the villain in the film had lived with a number of women. The veteran actor’s first wife was an actress. Then, he married another actress who was seven years older than him. However, his last wife was was 18 years younger than him and was working as a dishwasher in a resort when she was discovered. She eventually appeared in a movie with the veteran actor. Several years later, their grandson became the signature model of a famous fashion designer who was murdered by a notorious Pinoy male prostitute who later committed suicide.

But family tragedy seemed to follow both the acclaimed film director and the veteran actor. The acclaimed film director’s son who appeared as an extra in this film together with his younger brother was on his way to a promising film career when he died in a boat accident while his girlfriend was three months pregnant with his child. On the other hand, the veteran actor’s daughter committed suicide by hanging herself after her boyfriend was murdered. Soon, her boyfriend’s murderer was convicted and jailed. But instead of feeling triumphant because justice has been served, the murderer’s capture and imprisonment only added to the veteran actor’s pain. Because the murderer of the boyfriend of the veteran actor’s daughter turned out to be the veteran actor’s son. The veteran actor’s son was later released from jail but he eventually died of pneumonia.

However, the director’s experiences in making this film were not all traumatic. The acclaimed film director had also some pleasant surprises during the making of this film. For one, the acclaimed film director had nothing but praises to the ingenious and talented Pinoys who participated in the making of this film, specially the Ifugaos from Mountain Province. The acclaimed film director was also amazed that, contrary to the negative things that he had heard before he started shooting the film in various provinces, nobody asked him for anything in exchange for assistance in making the film. He did not have to bribe anyone. And the government was all-out in helping him finish his film. They gave him everything that he needed.

The government was indeed beyond cooperative. In one scene where the lead actor was supposed to smoke opium with a woman after they had sex, the acclaimed director admitted that he did not know how to execute the scene because he did not know how to smoke opium. So, the government came to his rescue. The government brought an actual prisoner (who was then serving time in jail for a narcotic-related offense) to the film set and he was instructed to show to the acclaimed film director how to smoke opium. The ecstatic prisoner had the time of his life smoking opium leisurely while the acclaimed film director and the cops watch. After the prisoner had finished smoking the opium, he was led back to his prison cell.

As soon as the veteran actor completed all his scenes in the film, the acclaimed film director requested the veteran actor to stay for one more hour so that the acclaimed film director could take a close-up shot of the veteran actor while uttering the last dialogue in the film. The veteran actor relented. But only after the film’s producers agreed to pay him an extra 75,000 bucks. Yes, he was paid that much just to utter two short sentences which consisted of a grand total of four words! But that was relatively a small amount. Because in order to convince the veteran actor to appear as the villain in this film, the producers had to pay the veteran actor one million bucks per week which was much more than the fee for the film’s lead actor.

Yes, the veteran actor who played the villain in this acclaimed film director’s film based on Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, was paid a million dollars per week.

And yes, veteran actor Marlon Brando, together with the film’s lead actor Martin Sheen, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall, Harvey Keitel, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne and a wide assortment of Hollywood stars, travelled almost 20 hours across the globe to shoot this acclaimed film director’s highly ambitious film.

And yes, this film was directed by the acclaimed film director who also previously directed the film about organized crime which is probably on everybody’s favorite list, The Godfather.

And yes, Apocalypse Now was filmed entirely by acclaimed film director, Francis Ford Coppola, in various parts of the Philippines with the talent and ingenuity of thousands of nameless Pinoys.

Now you know the truly amazing people behind this equally amazing film.

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Posted 4/17/09

the lost boy

A long time ago, Sir James Matthew Barrie wrote a stage play called Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Peter Pan is a mischievous little boy who is not afraid of anything. Yes, anything. Well, except women.

The stage play tells about the adventures of Peter Pan and his friends: Wendy, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys are little boys who were abandoned by their nannies and left unclaimed for at least seven days. These lost boys are sent to Neverland where they live with Peter Pan.

Like Peter Pan, there is a Pinoy actor does not also seem to grow up. But only in his movies.

Yes, this Pinoy actor seems to have been a teenager in almost all his movies. For almost twenty years. An eternal teenager, indeed.

But that’s not all there is to him.

A familiar sight on every Pinoy family gathering then, he was first thrown into the limelight as a four-year old boy doing his break-dance routine to the delight of his adoring family, friends and neighbors.

Then, he and his brothers started dancing on the street. Until a legitimate dance group spotted them and gave them the proper training.

This Pinoy actor literally danced his way to show business. His dancing prowess made him a movie actor the moment he turned into a teenager. Yes, he became a movie actor at the age of thirteen.

But he does not look like your regular movie actor.

He is definitely not your usual towering movie actor. He stands only 5’5 1/2”.

He does not possess the customary actor hunk’s body. In fact, he is a bit chubby now.

He does not even look like your typical matinee idol. He is Pinoy na Pinoy, complete with the obligatory Pinoy nose.

And unlike those mestizo Pinoy actors, his skin is not as white. He possesses the usual Pinoy brown skin.

But he is proud of his Pinoy looks. He has apparently not succumbed to the lure of those magical cosmetic procedures. He conquered the cruel world of show business with nothing but sheer talent.

And lots of talent he’s got.

He has been a versatile actor since he was a young boy. He acts, dances, sings, raps, writes and recites poetry. And he does all of these very well. Exceptionally well.

And as if his talent is not enough, he is now trying to learn to play the guitar. Mainly Beatles songs. And recently, he even came up with a book of poems.

And yes, he is a true-blooded Pinoy.

This Pinoy actor’s family hails from Bataan. He is the middle child in a family of four boys and one girl. Like him, all his siblings are also actors, singers and dancers. He even appeared in an independent film where he starred with his three brothers. This film was produced, written and directed by him and his siblings.

His first movie was a dance film starring a famous singer who is the personification of Peter Pan himself. The famous singer idolizes Peter Pan and refuses to grow up. Not just in the movies. But in real life.

Strangely, the film which catapulted this Pinoy actor to fame was about a boy who refuses to grow up. In this film, he plays the role of a young boy who was the leader of a group of young kids (although he was already 16 years old then). In his later film where he played the grandson of Eddie Garcia, he played a high school senior despite the fact that he was already in his mid-20s at the time. In his 2006 film with a famous action star who could also sing and dance, he again played the role of a high school student. He was over 30 then. Yes, after 20 years as a teen actor, this Pinoy actor in his early 30s is still playing the role of a high school student in his films.

But in real life, the boy has actually grown up. This Pinoy actor has recently bought his own house as he tries hard to adjust to a house without his brothers. In fact, he is contemplating on settling down with his fiancée. (Yes, unlike Peter Pan, he is definitely not afraid of women.)

This Pinoy actor has appeared in several movies and TV shows. Even TV commercials.

Lately, he showed his dancing prowess in TV commercials for Sprite and a major telephone company. He is such a great dancer that whenever he finds himself in a bar (he loves the night life), people would beg him to hit the dance floor.

A few years ago, he plays the lead actor in a movie where Gina Alajar and Tirso Cruz III appeared as his parents and Eddie Garcia played the role of his grandfather. His leading lady was a new actress who has appeared only in TV before and therefore, virtually unknown to most Pinoys. In his latest film which will probably be released in 2009, he had a chance to work with Jericho Rosales (who became his close friend during the filming), Gary Valenciano, Joel Torre and Tirso Cruz III.

But these are not the “really big actors” who could normally draw big crowd into the movie house these days. These casting combinations are certainly not the formula for a blockbuster film.

And some would say that this is probably the reason why not too many Pinoys know this Pinoy actor.

But wait--

This Pinoy actor has also appeared in films and TV shows with some “really big actors” who are certified box-office stars.

Listen to this.

When he was 16 years old, this Pinoy actor appeared in a big film starring really huge movie stars. This film was even directed by a legendary film director. The Pinoy actor’s character in this film even became an inspiration for a group of young musicians who named their band after his character’s name in the film. Some people even address this Pinoy actor by the name of his character in this film. This film has brought him to the attention of many people. But still, this was not enough to make him a household name among most Pinoys.

But he did not stop there. He may not have worked with the usual Pinoy showbiz superstars but he has also appeared in several films and TV shows with some real stars. Yes, real stars.

Need proof?

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie helmed by Pinoy film production designer-turned-film director Don Escudero. But he has appeared in a TV series with an actor named Don. Yes, he has appeared in a movie with Don Johnson (former husband of Antonio Bandera’s current wife, Melanie Griffith and star of the TV hit series, Miami Vice, which was the basis for the recent Jamie Foxx-Colin Farrell movie with the same title). Not too many Pinoys probably know that in Don Johnson’s second movie, Lollipops and Roses, Don Johnson played the suitor of another Pinoy, multi-awarded actress Nora Aunor.

This Pinoy actor has never been managed by Pinoy star maker Douglas Quijano. But he has appeared in several movies with another Douglas. Yes, he has appeared in a couple of films with Douglas Spain (star of the cult favorite, Star Maps).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a McDo TV commercial. But he has appeared in a movie with legendary British actor Malcolm McDowell (star of several movie classics such as A Clockwork Orange, If, etc.).

This Pinoy actor has never been a guest in Pinoy Professor Randy David’s TV talk show nor has he appeared in a movie with Fil-Canadian actress Nancy Castilogne. But he has appeared in a movie with another pair of celebrities named Randy and Nancy. Yes, he has appeared in a movie with Randy Quaid (older brother of actor Dennis Quaid who was the former husband of actress Meg Ryan who in turn starred with Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail and with Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally). This Pinoy actor has also appeared in a movie with Nancy Kwan (iconic star of the film, The World of Suzie Wong, and lead actress in the movie version of the Broadway hit musical, Flower Drum Song, which was recently revived by talented Pinay Lea Salonga on Broadway).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with veteran Pinay actress Delia Razon. But he has appeared with veteran singer-actress Della Reese in the TV series, Touched by an Angel.

This Pinoy actor has never danced with dancer-choreographer and Pinoy Big Brother alumnus Mickey Perz. But he has appeared in a movie with the legendary actor and young Judy Garland’s perennial partner, Mickey Rooney.

This Pinoy actor has never appeared on TV with Pinoy Big Brother finalist Mikee Lee. But he has appeared in a TV series with Lee Majors (star of the hit TV series Million Dollar Man and former husband of Farrah Fawcett, star of another hit TV series, Charlie’s Angels.)

This Pinoy actor has never made a film helmed by ace Pinoy film director Mario O’Hara nor has he sung with singer Luke Mijares. But he has appeared in a movie with actors named Mario and Luke. Yes, he has appeared in a movie with actor-director Mario Van Peebles and Luke Perry (star of Beverly Hills 90210).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared on TV with Richard Gutierrez and Marsha (a.k.a Nida Blanca in the long-running TV show, John and Marsha). But he has appeared in a TV series with actor Richard Grieco and Marcia Cross (star of the TV hits Desperate Housewives and Melrose Place).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with Pinay singer-actress Mariz (wife of Pinoy action star Ronnie Ricketts). But he has appeared in a movie with Marishka Hargitay (daughter of legendary actress Jayne Mansfield and star of the hit TV series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie directed by Pinoy director, Nick Lisazo. But he has appeared in a movie with an actor-singer named Nick. Yes, he has appeared in a movie with Nick Cannon, the new husband of singer Mariah Carrey.

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with Pinoy showbiz’s bad boy, Robin Padilla. But he has appeared in a movie with an actress named Robin. Yes, he has appeared in a movie with Robin Wright Penn, the beautiful wife of Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn.

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a TV show with Pinoy comedian Don Pepot. But he has appeared in a TV series with another man named Don who was behind the voice used in all American movie trailers, Don LaFontaine. Yes, Don LaFontaine provided the voiceover for almost all the movie film trailers that you have seen.

Like Don LaFontaine, this Pinoy actor has a very distinct voice which made him a well sought-after voice actor. He has never appeared in a movie with the son of Rudy Fernandez and Alma Moreno, Mark Anthony Fernandez. But he was the actor behind the voice of Prince Zuko in 48 episodes of the hit TV series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, together with an actor named Mark. Yes, Mark Hamill (who played the role of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars series). This Pinoy actor is also the voice of Prince Zuko in the videogame, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

This Pinoy actor has never appeared on TV with Kevin Cosme (a.k.a. Dolphy in the long-running series Home Along Da Riles), Jeremy Marquez (actor-cum-ex-mayor Joey Marquez’s son) and singer Adrian Panganiban. But he has appeared on HBO’s hit TV series Entourage with Kevin Dillon (brother of actor Matt Dillon), Jeremy Piven (who plays the character which was believed to be patterned after Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, the brother of President-elect Barrack Obama’s Presidential Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel) and Adrian Grenier (who recently surprised this Pinoy actor when Adrian just suddenly showed up in a dinner party in this Pinoy actor’s new house).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with Pinay sexy actress Michelle Madrigal. But he has appeared in a movie with another Michelle. Yes, he has appeared in a movie with Michelle Williams, Heath Ledger’s former fiancée who bore Heath Ledger’s only child and also the star of the movie Brokeback Mountain and the hit TV series Dawson Creek.

This Pinoy actor has never appeared with other talented Pinoy child actors in the Pinoy TV gag show Going Bulilit. But he has appeared in a TV series with equally talented kids like Drew Barrymore (the cute five–year old girl in E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial which was directed by her godfather, Steven Spielberg), Tatum O’Neal (the first girlfriend of Michael Jackson and later, the wife of tennis legend John McEnroe; she also holds the distinction of being the highest-paid child actress in history and the youngest Academy Award winner, aside from being the daughter of actor Ryan O’Neal who later married original Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett) and Cory Feldman (mostly remembered for his cult movie entitled, The Lost Boys).

As a child actor, this Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with wonder boy, Nino Muhlach. But he has appeared several times with a wonderful child actor, Fred Savage, in the TV hit show, The Wonder Years. Like this Pinoy actor, other child actors who appeared in The Wonder Years were David Shwimmer (star of the TV hit series, Friends), Juliette Lewis (star of Natural Born Killer, Cape Fear, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, etc.) and Giovanni Ribisi (star of Gone in Sixty Seconds, Lost in Translation, Boiler Room, Heaven, etc.).

This Pinoy actor has never sung with Fil-Am singer Kris Lawrence. But he has appeared in a movie with Laurence Fisbburne (star of The Matrix series with Keanu Reeves).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared on TV with Apo Hiking Society member, Danny Javier. But he has appeared in a movie with another Danny. He has appeared in a movie with Danny Glover (star of Lethal Weapon series with Mel Gibson).

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with Kevin Cosme (a.k.a. Dolphy in the long-running TV series, Home Along Da Riles). But he has appeared in a documentary film hosted by an actor named Kevin. Yes, Kevin Costner.

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a show with TV host Willy Revillame. But he has appeared on the TV series Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, with actor Will Smith (star of Independence Day, Men in Black, Hancock, I am Legend, Six Degrees of Separation, etc.)

This Pinoy actor has never appeared in a movie with hunk actor Jake Cuenca. But he is the actor behind the voice of the lead character, Jake Long, in the entire 55 episodes of Disney Channel’s animated TV series American Dragon: Jake Long.

With his voice as the title star of the Disney animated series, Jake Long, this Pinoy actor has also appeared in a Disney Channel mini-series with Miley Cyrus (lead star of Hannah Montana) and the duo of Fil-Am Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron (lead stars of the High School Musical movies and TV series), among many other names familiar to most juvenile couch potatoes.

During the same year that this Pinoy actor did the Disney mini-series with Miley, Vanessa and Zac, this Pinoy actor was chosen to play a major role as a delinquent high school student whose life was changed by the character played by Antonio Banderas. That was 2006 and he was 31 years old.

When he was 16 years old, this Pinoy actor appeared in a movie with Julia Roberts, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, legendary actress Maggie Smith, veteran actor Bob Hoskins, singer Phil Collins, Broadway star Glenn Close, Carrie Fisher (played the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars and real-life daughter of Debbie Reynolds and stepdaughter of Elizabeth Taylor) and George Lucas (director of the Star Wars movies). His character in this film became an inspiration to a group of young musicians who named their band after his character’s name in the film. Some people even address him by the name of his character in this film where he plays the leader of the Lost Boys. And yes, this film was directed by legendary film director, Steven Spielberg.

In all these films, this Pinoy actor has played characters of various nationalities, from Japanese to Chinese to Puerto Rican. But never a Pinoy. Until recently. That’s when he was chosen to play the character of the Pinoy high school senior son of Tirso Cruz III and Gina Alajar and grandson of Edie Garcia. (Although his brother was the original choice to play the role.)

This year, this Pinoy actor celebrates 20 years of being a teenager.

Or more accurately, 20 years of being an extraordinary true-blooded Pinoy actor in Hollywood.

From his first film at the age of thirteen where he showed his amazing dancing talent with famous singer who is the personification of Peter Pan, Michael Jackson (who loved Peter Pan so much that he even named his estate Neverland), this Pinoy actor has indeed come a long way.

Pinoys everywhere should be proud of this Pinoy actor who played the iconic film character Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys, in Steven Spielberg’s movie based on the story of Peter Pan entitled, Hook.

Pinoys should really be proud of this multi-talented Pinoy.

Yes, Pinoys should really be proud of this talented Pinoy actor named Dante Roman Titus Basco.

In Hollywood, they know him simply as Dante Basco.

And yes, he is a true-blooded Pinoy.

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Posted 8/2/09
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