With La Aunor in the race, MMFF 2016 is not starless

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RONNIE CARRASCO 3RD

RONNIE CARRASCO 3RD

PLUS: Popular actor pays varsity player P20K for one night
Is there sour-graping among those who had ardently wished (or lobbied?) for their festival bets to make it to the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival, but whose prayers were in vain? Is this the same disgruntled group that labelled the forthcoming festival as “starless”?

With Nora Aunor in the race, Vignettes thinks otherwise. There may not be too many big stars in the festival but to her credit, Ate Guy (no offense meant to Ate Vi) has been hailed as the Queen of Metro Manila Film Festival since 1976.

This year, Nora is fielding Kabisera, which happens to be co-helmed by a young yet promising director Real Florido who also wrote the story.

Personally, I had worked with Real in a QTV 11-produced showbiz-oriented talk show some six years ago. I was one of several (minor) hosts, while he was one of the episode writers.

Kabisera is Real’s second directorial project, the first being 1st Ko Si 3rd (starring Nova Villa and Dante Rivero) that gave him a Best Director Award from the London Film Awards, and a special citation award from Canada International Film Festival. Kabisera was also chosen as an official entry to several other festivals abroad.

Intrigued by his latest work, Vignettes asked Real about this follow-through project.

screen grab of the Superstar from the Facebook page of her MMFF entry, ‘Kabisera’

screen grab of the Superstar from the Facebook page of her MMFF entry, ‘Kabisera’

“The film is a family drama on the life of a simple Filipino family and how its matriarch takes over the central seat or ‘kabisera’ after a tragic event,” Real said.

To begin with, is Real a Noranian?

“I am a fan of many seasoned actors. It just so happened that my producers at Firestarters Productions and I had her as top of mind in this project,” the young director intoned.

Getting the chance to work with Nora for the first time, did he have any reservations that filming might not run smoothly for one reason or another?

“We started in June 2015. Because the major stars were busy with their respective schedules, it took us 15 months to finish the film. With her, I thought Nora Aunor being the Superstar, she would be intimidating. But it turned out that she is way too simple and polite. Pero pag take na, nagta-transform. I was floored.”

What was Real’s most remarkable encounter with Nora on the set?

“Ate Guy always discussed scenes with me and Direk Boy San Agustin. She tracked the emotional journey of the character and made sure that her performance in this film was different from those in the past. ‘Direk, gusto ko iba ang atake ko dito. Iniisip ko kung paano ko iibahin.’ Kaya tuwang-tuwa kami sa kinalabasan ng finished product.”

Magical is how Real described Nora after wrapping up an important scene with her co-actors, particularly taking note of what he believes is the highlight of Kabisera: a scene shot from the hallway to the kitchen to the exterior part of the house amid the rain.

Also cast in the film are Ricky Davao, JC de Vera, Jason Abalos, Victor Neri, Ces Quesada, Menggie Cobarrubias, Karl Medina, Ronwaldo Martin [brother of Coco]and Perla Bautista.

* * *

CLAD in body-hugging violet leather top with peek-a-boo on both sleeves and tight-fitting jeans, ’80s Jukebox Queen Eva Eugenio arrived at the Cristy Ferminute studio earlier than expected for her radio tour.

She’s currently promoting her latest single titled “Ano Nga Bang Pangalan Mo?”

A total departure from most of her signature hits, Eva’s latest ditty fuses a whiff of the sentimental, if not mushy 80s tune and in-between raps by—hold your breath—’70s singer Efren Montes of the group The Amicables.

Composed by the late Pablo Vergara and arranged by Sunny Ilacad (of Sunshine Records), the song—Eva revealed—had to undergo major changes in keeping with the times, “We changed the lyrics, the melody but retained the catchy title. The message of the song is simple, two people meet, they get swept away but forget to ask each other’s names. Di ba, nangyayari naman talaga ‘yon?”

Meanwhile, Cristy Fermin, then a talent coordinator in the now-defunct Operetang Tagpi-Tagpi, recalled an incident where Eva—then a struggling singer—almost pleaded with its executive producer for her guesting. Tough luck for Eva, there were too many guests at that time the show couldn’t accommodate her.

In weeks, Eva’s first-ever single “Mahal Mo Ba Siya?” became a chart-buster. This time, the EP through Fermin asked Eva if she could guest, but her hectic schedule just wouldn’t allow (admittedly, her polite way of saying, “Ngayon, hahabul-habulin n’yo ‘ko?!”)

Since then, Eva has waxed one hit single after another. Her song “Tukso,” which she considers her signature hit, is still in every Pinoy OPM lover’s top-of-mind awareness rivaling Imelda Papin’s “Bakit?” and Claire de la Fuente’s Sayang.

Asked about the secret to her staying power amidst the emergence of new, fresh artists, Eva told Vignettes, “I guess, it’s my dedication and sense of professionalism. Among the three of us, me, Imelda and Claire, who gets billed first has never been an issue. Basta ako, magpe-perform and let the audience judge.”

* * *

GUESS WHO? A Vignettes source showed us a forwarded photo on his mobile phone of a good-looking, well-built, shirtless guy probably in his 20s. Nah, he’s not a showbiz aspirant but a varsity player from a college in Calabarzon.

The one who sent the picture happens to be a “discreet pimp” (DP) in showbiz whom a “popular actor” (PA) had contacted for a night’s service (need we elaborate?) among his “wards.”

According to the DP (who doesn’t seem to realize that his garrulous mouth might endanger his only means of earning his keep), the PA paid his one-time handsome partner P20,000 for a single night.

Time was when the PA was just a “suspect” in the growing number of alleged gay men in showbiz circles, but the DP’s tip, along with a photo, now provides a semblance of truth in it.

Clue: The PA’s initials are Roman numerals.

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