Maria Isabel Lopez, other sidelights at Sinag Maynila 2

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BOY VILLASANTA

BOY VILLASANTA

“Albert Andrada! At least, I can also wear him in an international contest,” 1982 Binibining Pilipinas-Universe and actress Maria Isabel Lopez proudly quipped during the opening of the 2nd Sinag Maynila Independent Film Festival held at SM Aura in Taguig City on April 21.

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The statement came as a reaction when Maribel was asked who would create her gown when she graces the 69thCannes International Film Festival at the French Riviera on May 11 to 12.

Was Maribel twitting reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach who wore an Andrada when she vied for the title in Las Vegas, Nevada last year?

Maribel will wear an Andrada at La Croisette when she parades with the other cast and crew of Ma’ Rosa, the Philippine film helmed by internationally renowned Filipino filmmaker Brillante Ma. Mendoza set to compete in the main section of the prestigious world film event. Maribel plays the cousin of Julio Diaz who helps him when he is nabbed for a drug case.

Mara Lopez and Jay Altarejos

Mara Lopez and Jay Altarejos

Maria Isabel who was known as a sexy star in Filipino movies in the early 1980s right after she relinquished her throne, a decision which allegedly earned the disgust of the Binibining Pilipinas Charities, Inc. and which apparently soured her relations with the foundation.

According to Maribel, “Miss Universe contest happens yearly but to get invited to Cannes is a once and a lifetime chance for us Filipinos to show our enormous talents in cinema and to look good. So I am proud I also get to wear Albert Andrada again. You know how gowns celebrities wear in Cannes like Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Armani, etc.”

She said that she has always worn Andrada even when she was one of the hosts on Channel 11’s Pinay Beauty Queen Academy.

Maribel’s presence in Sinag Maynila was in support of her daughter Mara Lopez who is featured in one of the festival line-ups, Jay Altarejos’ T.P.O.; but the younger Lopez had to leave early because she had an early shoot for a semi-docu at a marine sanctuary in Anilao, Batangas early Friday, and has to be back on Sunday for the fest’s awards rites at the Samsung Hall.

Mara said she took over the lead role of the film from Dalin Sarmiento, the controversial newbie who had a disagreement with Altarejos during the initial phase of the filming of the project.

Jose Javier Reyes, Raymond Red, representatives from Samsung, Wilson Tieng, SM’s Senior vice president for marketing and communications Millie Dizon, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Kenji Isizhaka, Roger Garcia and Philip Cheah

Jose Javier Reyes, Raymond Red, representatives from Samsung, Wilson Tieng, SM’s Senior vice president for marketing and communications Millie Dizon, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Kenji Isizhaka, Roger Garcia and Philip Cheah

Win or lose, Mara has to prepare as well for her Japan trip early this week for surfing and jujitsu bouts with her dad Hiroshi Yokohama. She is also bound for the US in May to compete in jujitsu after winning silver medal for it in a national competition in Japan last year.

“My film is kinda heavy but it’s a nice movie. I hope you watch it,” she appealed.

Sinag Maynila’s opening ceremony was pretty sure a gathering of international film movers such as Hong Kong International Film Festival’s Festival Director Roger Garcia, the fest’s head of the jury for the five full-length entries namely T.P.O., Ato Bautista’s Expressway, Adolf Alix, Jr.’s MRS., Gino Santos’ Lila and Mes de Guzman’s Dyamper.

“We haven’t deliberated on the films but what I saw were nice,” commented Garcia.

“The Philippines is fast becoming the center of filmmaking in Southeast Asia,” observed Singaporean Philip Cheah of the Southeast Asian Film Festival, which drew an enthusiastic applause from the audience, which included actors Alvin Anson, Ruby Ruiz, John Paul Duray and Aaron Rivera and megmen Altarejos, Ato Bautista and Mes de Guzman.

Alvin Anson (center) with staff members of Sinag Maynila

Alvin Anson (center) with staff members of Sinag Maynila

“It’s nice to be here in the Philippines. I am proud to be here. It’s hot unlike when we went to Hokkaido with so much snow. I was with Brillante Mendoza to do a film with Lou Veloso, Jr.,” said programming director of Tokyo International Film Festival Director Kenji Isizhaka.

For the short film category, Filipino filmmakers Jose Javier Reyes and Raymond Red comprised the panel of jurists. “There are bright prospects for the Philippine movies because of young student filmmakers,” Reyes said.

“I cannot ignore the fact that I started with short films and it’s high time we consider this genre as an art form,” Red proclaimed.

Solar Entertainment Chief Executive Office Wilson Tieng and Festival Director Mendoza were perfect hosts to the annual film event as they led the opening of the film fiesta in selected SM cinemas nationwide.

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