• The mainstream movie industry in retrospect



    It was over lunch that I got to bond after a long time with Elvie Alzona, the No. 1 fan of the late and beloved Queen of Intrigues Inday Badiday, whose real name is Lourdes Carvajal.

    Elvie is the fund manager of the showbiz Bautista clan’s Heaven’s Best Entertainment. Her daughter Alice Alzona, on the other hand, is in command at the office of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, a.k.a. “Bistek” to close friends, who organized this sumptuous gathering for old timers of the Entertainment press. As usual, when Mayor Bistek made an appearance, we all doted about seeing him grow up from being a diminutive child actor to a successful politician.

    Elvie—who I used to bump into among a coterie of like-minded friends that surrounded Inday Badiday every time she finished her showbiz talk show See True on GMA Network—lamented over the fact that the relationships between celebrities and movie reporters these days have become too impersonal. Back in the day, it was normal for celebrities and movie reporters to call each other on first-name basis and with sincerity.

    But the so-called mainstream movie-making era is almost a thing of the past, if not dead, we all agreed. Gone are the days when superstars like Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos, and TV hosts like Inday or Ate Luds and Helen Vela would invite movie scribes to their boudoirs for a tête-à-tête through the wee hours of the morning. They would even serve home cooked meals, just like Inday who enjoyed her red wine like a fish.

    The late Fernando Poe, Jr. would inveigle hard-drinking movie reporters including women scribes to visit him at his horseracing sanctum in Sta. Ana, Manila for a heady night of bingeing till you pass out and crawl your way home at the break of dawn.


     Siblings Hero and Harlene Bautista with her husband Romnick Sarmenta

    Siblings Hero and Harlene Bautista with her husband Romnick Sarmenta

    This nostalgic luncheon was held at the newest theme restaurant Salu along Scout Torillo in Quezon City, which is owned by showbiz couple Harlene Bautista and Romnick Sarmenta. Harlene is the younger sister of Mayor Bistek of course, and mainly behind Heaven’s Best.

    It was no surprise this award-winning actress, who also snagged a Palanca, would venture in the food business. Since her childhood, we knew her fondness for home cooked meals, especially since her dearly departed mother, Baby Bautista, used to run the most sought after carenderia beside their abode in New York St., Cubao.

    In hindsight, it was colleague Dennis Adobas who would tag me along when pangs of hunger struck to “Madir Baby’s” food stop; we wolfed down her delicious dishes for a song. Best of all, we would even enjoy chatting with Harlene and Herbert’s dad, actor/director Herminio “Butch” Bautista whenever he was around.

    At that time, Mayor Herbert was a Philosophy major at San Beda, and Harlene was thinking of taking up Theater Arts in UP Diliman, which she eventually pursued. In fact, she directed a Pulitzer award-winning play titled ’Nyt Mother by Marsha Norman for her thesis, where she also acted as the suicidal daughter of Eugene Domingo.

    Their youngest brother Hero was then a grade schooler; of course he is now a first-time councilor of Quezon City as well.

    Times have indeed changed. There is no longer this personal kind of relationship between the movie press and celebrities—the kind of connection we had with Inday Badiday and the Bautistas.

    Thankfully, even if the Queen of Intrigues has gone on to the after-life, as well our beloved Baby Bautista, Mayor Bistek, Harlene and hubby Romnick, as well as Councilor Hero, have never forgotten the old timers in the biz.


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    1 Comment

    1. Well, it is just because the younger generation have their studio that hires the scribes and publicists already. Hence, actors can not just get the PR staff with who a personal relationship may grow. Besides, the millenial culture has the advantage of the internet where self publicity can be generated that eliminates the need for the “middlemen” in the publicity cycle.