• Competition between Maria Isabel Lopez and Jaclyn Jose at the 69th Cannes

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    BOY VILLASANTA

    BOY VILLASANTA

    If you think there was really no tension between Filipino actresses Maria Isabel Lopez and Jaclyn Jose at the red carpet walk of the recently concluded 69th Cannes Film Festival in France, think again.

    That Maria Isabel has been harping that she was a little physically distant from the rest of the cast of Ma’ Rosa (which included Jaclyn, Jomari Angeles, Ruby Ruiz and Andi Eigenmann with producer Larry Castillo and director Brillante Ma. Mendoza) because the train of her Albert Andrada emerald gown was long enough it would be stepped in by someone next to her. That it was conspicuous she was even a couple of feet away from newbie John Paul Duray to her left on the ramp. That she didn’t steal the scene from her fellow stars. And that Jaclyn in an interview said that they were briefed only white or black dress was required at the march (or at the photocall?) although it was obvious from other women celebrities including Hollywood stars Blake Lively or Kristen Stewart that any color would do at the walk and that the entire Philippine contingent would always be hand in hand in parade and would never leave each other behind. My foot!

    Lopez has always been a harbinger of the naturalist’s tendency in “survival of the fittest.”

    Time and again, she would emphasize if not wonder, and get delighted naturally, about the durability and buoyancy of still active veteran entertainment writers—like Mario Dumaual, Lhar Santiago, Danny Vibas etc.—who started the beat in the late seventies (although I was already writing for movies in the mid-seventies). “Patibayan talaga, ano?” (“Toughness is the name of game, right?”)

    It’s survival as well in the stiff writing and acting competitions in the biz not only of one’s knowledge of the craft but also on how to stand out in the politics of the glitz and glam.

    When Maribel won Binibining Pilipinas-Universe in 1982, we were already—yet still considered sophomore— in showbiz reporting. Eventually, when she relinquished her throne, Viva Films immediately launched her to full stardom. By then and the past experiences she got from multiple social and academic exposures (her UP Fine Arts background and Gerard Peter luncheon modeling with Carmi Martin, Liz Alindogan, etc. ), she had already learned the ropes of the trade, most of them feudal marketing values, anyway—“strike while the iron is hot,” “one is as good as his/her last project,” “seize the day,” “make the most of it”, etc.

    Her career spanning more than three decades is characterized by controversies and hysterics and she has seen the dialectics, the highs and lows, the triumphs and debacles, of practically every denizen and situation in town.

    Jaclyn, who started out her showbiz career at about the same time with Maribel, on the other hand, is a quiet yet keen observer of her milieu. Although Jane, Jose’s real name, was launched in a smorgasbord teenybopper caper, both were launched solo in skin flicks.

    Obviously, there was already an apparent competition among sexy, nay, bold performers during their prime and they were pretty much part of it—the struggle to be on top of the heap so long as it would be beneficial to them, personally and otherwise. For as long as they didn’t step on each other’s toes and had remained on the peripheries of decency and the boundaries of laws, competition was such a healthy exercise.

    The competition in comparison and contract has actually extended to these days of our maturity as actors and press.

    Maria Isabel is very demonstrative of her thoughts and of her feelings. She wouldn’t care less if she is branded leftist or misguided as long as she is able to give justice and sense to what she does and what she believes in. She has been joining protest rallies here and abroad, and she shares her liberated views wittingly or not, to all and sundry.

    In contrast, Jaclyn’s career path is depicted as restrained especially her acting while her private life might be too fragile to touch is calmer although—it depends—there are times she would join the fracas like one time when she had to say her piece against young actor Albie Casiño on the pregnancy issue of her daughter Andi but otherwise she has maintained a calculated move on her participation on hot issues.

    If Maribel’s negotiating the Croisette was intense to draw attention to a larger global audience, blame it on her beauty contest orientations and experiences—locally and internationally—that consciously or unconsciously thrust her to control the red carpet notwithstanding her scene-stealing moment among the crowd.

    After all, it was a world playground of sights and sounds, without depriving anyone of an act, innate or studied.

    Meanwhile, Jose’s navigating the Cannes walk was too subdued, very Jaclyn-like, low profile despite her effervescent presence in primetime soaps.

    Seizing the Cannes moment, look at where the controversial red carpet sashay led Maribel to—precious or accessible media spaces around the globe.

    Recently, in a special fashion show of Andrada’s new collection, Maribel—her right hand on her hip, her arm swaying—glided again in the catwalk in that famous crowd-drawer gown which the audience and the other participating models loudly applauded.

    Just like the intense head-turning parade of the late star fashion designer Goullee Gorospe’s last artworks donned by confident models-civic-leaders-cum-businesswomen in Manila’s Loveliest Women 2016 at the Dusit Thani Hotel recently, there was also the competitive spirit among them.

    One intrepid pro, a greenhorn in the ramp, a medical practitioner yet, Dr. Amy Tinaza of the Asian Aesthetic Center, showed her penchant for fine clothing as she frolicked the stage half-smilingly like a snobbish mannequin, walking her chin up as she crossed ways with other dauntless models but feeling her head was above her shoulders.

    It was the last time for Goullee’s silent water running deeply against Maribel and Albert’s sound and fury signifying many things—including competition and the proverbial death comes like a theft in the night.

    Gorospe and Andrada, aside from colleagues, were schoolmates at the San Sebastian College.

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