Of comebacks, revivals, transformations and lies



This is a particularly special Friday for me because this marks my return to column writing after ages of being absent from the print medium.


This column will bring you a lot—a lot of fresh entertainment industry news; a lot of the latest and freshest buzz in showbiz; a lot of opinions and feedbacks on the hottest topics in tinsel town and more.

And of course, I want to make this column more personal. Having been in the business for 39 years, I would like to dip my fingers into every delectable pie that the colorful world of showbiz offers and give my two cents worth of opinion based on my day-to-day life in the industry.

So what’s the latest showbuzz?


Dingdong Dantes gives his all in training for the role of Aquim in the remake of ‘Encantadia’

Dingdong Dantes gives his all in training for the role of Aquim in the remake of ‘Encantadia’

Encantadia 2016 taping has finally begun.

It was Dingdong Dantes who led the stars on the first taping day, which was shot inside a cave somewhere in Rizal province. Incidentally, this was the same location where Encantadia shot most of its scenes more than a decade ago.

Dingdong is so immersed in being part of the grand Kapuso telefantasya remake that the day before he went to work, he was at the GMA rehearsal studio doing arnis training for his character Aquim in the soap. Also training alongside the Primetime King were new Encantadia cast members Ruru Madrid, Gabi Garcia and Pancho Magno.

Dingdong says he is excited to portray the role of Aquim, which was first portrayed by Richard Gomez in the original Encantadia. He knows just how pivotal Aquim is in the well-loved story: He is the king of Lireo and the one responsible in keeping the four Sang’res together.


Derrick Monasterio’s transformation was a big help in clinching his present projects

Derrick Monasterio’s transformation was a big help in clinching his present projects

There’s no stopping heartthrob Derrick Monasterio.

After a couple of years trying to break into the showbiz big league, it seems that his patience and hard work are fast paying off.

Since deciding to turn his back on his teenybopper image, Derrick started working out to build muscles in the right places. And now, take a good look at him—he has transformed into a desirable hunk.

And indeed Derrick’s new look has helped a lot in clinching his present roles. He is the male lead in the top-rating afternoon soap Hanggang Makita Kang Muli with Bea Binene. He is also set to start a movie with superstar Nora Aunor entitled Nympho under the helm of Adolf Alix Jr., where he will give life to the role of Nora’s object of desire.

Only a few people know that Derrick is a very good singer, so much so that upon hearing him sing, GMA Records wasted no time in signing him up. Not long after, his self-titled album was released in the market, and is climbing up the charts as I write this. The Kapuso young hunk displays his cool soothing voice in his seven-song album. The cuts include “Kailangan Kita,” a song written and popularized by Ogie Alcasid, two other covers and four original compositions.

Listening to Derrick’s album, I can say that we’ve got a new and exciting balladeer.


‘No truth’ to the claims of Ritz Azul’s camp that she was supposed to portray the role of Danaya in Encantadia 2016

‘No truth’ to the claims of Ritz Azul’s camp that she was supposed to portray the role of Danaya in Encantadia 2016

Stories are coming out about the supposed tug of war between GMA Network and ABS-CBN over Ritz Azul that resulted in the former TV5 star’s signing with the Kapamilya network.

I just want to correct the story. It was not as if GMA sought Ritz and offered her a contract. It was she who approached GMA and offered herself. I should know because I’m privy to what really happened as an adviser to the person who accompanied Ritz to her meetings with the Kapuso people.

Her camp should also stop saying that she was supposed to portray the role of Danaya in Encantadia 2016. It’s true, she was asked to audition for the role—and she really did—but there was no assurance or promise that the she bagged Danaya. She was just one of those who auditioned, period.


Editor’s Note:

The Manila Times Entertainment Section warmly and proudly welcomes showbiz veteran Lhar Santiago as its newest weekly columnist, via Showbuzz on Fridays. A year shy of marking his 40th year reporting on news about the biggest stars in the Entertainment Industry, Santiago returns today to print media, while he continues his thriving career on TV.

Santiago was a showbiz columnist in We Forum from the 1980s to the 1990s, and editor for the magazine’s sister publication, newspaper Pahayagang Masa. During the said time, his widely followed articles were spotted by veteran talk show hosts Lolit Solis and Boy De Guia, who commissioned Santiago to write the script for the top-rated program Scoop on Channel 13.

With Scoop marking the writer’s break into television, Santiago eventually became a host and producer for the showbiz segment of Magandang Umaga Po with Korina Sanchez and Star News Reporter for TV Patrol, both on ABS-CBN.

Later on, Santiago received an offer to work on various projects on GMA Network, where he become talent coordinator and scriptwriter for the late Helen Vela’s true-to-life drama anthology, Lovingly Yours, Helen; and the comedy program Family 3+1.

Rising up the ladder further, Santiago soon became executive producer for GMA Telesine and the late Rudy Fernandez’s show Kasangga.

Currently, Santiago is a Senior Reporter for GMA News, where he is regarded as an authority in showbiz news. His reports appear regularly on the network’s prime time and late night newscasts, 24 Oras and Saksi, respectively, as well as the different programs sister channel GMA News TV, and he also hosts a daily showbiz segment on the early morning program, Unang Hirit.

Highly respected and well-entrenched in the entertainment industry, Lhar Santiago will surely deliver exciting news and exclusive scoops for the readers of The Manila Times.


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