Words by: Rosario “Chats” Santiago
From the days of LVN, Sampaguita, and other film studios of that time, romance has been the go-to genre of choice for both moviegoers and producers. Love teams like those of Rogelio Dela Rosa and Carmen Rosales, Luis Gonzales and Gloria Romero, Nestor De Villa and Nida Blanca had such onscreen chemistry that fans swooned over their make-believe courtships and couplings, and made their films regular ‘tabo sa takilya.’ As we were to learn during our one-on-one with multi-awarded director, Jose Javier “Joey” Reyes, that intangible pull which successful pairings can command is one of the most reliable measures for crafting and delivering a romantic flick that kills (at the box office, and in popularity). But with romance not simply a Valentine industry for filmmakers, we ask, what will it take to keep the love alive?
It’s a little past 11am as direk Joey Reyes saunters into his office in the heart of Quezon City, dressed casually in a predominantly black sporty ensemble, wearing his most attractive accessory – a wide, warm, and welcoming smile that instantly puts one at ease. He makes a beeline for his inner office at the end of the larger one, and after a few seconds, comes right back and directs us to a pair of seats in front of a long work table. After explaining that our tête-à-tête was for the Love Month issue of Talk Talk Tilaok, we dive straight into the heart of the matter.
TTT: Why do you think Filipinos are so fond of romance movies and love stories in movies?
JJR: It’s not something which is uniquely Filipino. I think it is something which is very, very universal. I think what makes the Filipino unique is the kind of love stories that they go for. I think this predilection for romance is something which cuts across all cultures. I think all cultures have love stories, and all cultures treasure love stories – specifically popular culture, but Filipinos love a specific kind of love story, and this is usually involving an underdog. It always has to involve an underdog. I think this can be best personified by all the Sarah Geronimo movies that we have right now. I think Star Cinema has made its mint, has made its branding precisely because of romantic comedies, because these are the ones that really sell. Lately during the Metro Manila Film Festival, they made a killing with One More Try, which is again a love story, which again involves an underdog. But on the usual fare, every year, usually naman ang drama nila is on comedies. The ratio of romantic comedies over dramatic romances would be let’s say, three or four is to one. We love an underdog, specifically a female underdog.
TTT: You mentioned that the ratio seems to be that there are three to four romantic comedies as opposed to tearjerkers. Is there any other kind of romantic story or love story that maybe hasn’t been tapped too much that you would like to see more on the big screen?
JJR: Well, to begin with, the ratio of three is to one is understandable because every day on TV, you get drama. You get telenovelas. So, when you go to the big screen, you want something different because there are no more comedies on television. I think that this is very well attested that the people, who can still afford to watch movies, want to be simply entertained. For them, it is not a significant human experience to go watch a movie. They pay 150-200 bucks per ticket in order to be entertained. As far as movie-going is concerned – and I’m speaking about the Philippines – sad to say, there is nothing intellectual about it. I made a blog about this before, saying that it is wrong to say that it is the masa who has de-intellectualized movies. It’s actually the middle class. It is actually the middle class, because we are the ones who are able to afford movies. Is there anything else that we can do? There are a lot, but it will not sell. It will not sell mainly because even our alleged intelligentsia will not buy it anymore. They go watch a movie in order to escape and to feel good. And in order to feel good, they equate it with something which is relatively common, done to death, and inane. We don’t want to try anything new because we don’t want to risk the 200 pesos that we are paying, for a dud. So we have more of the same all the time. But are there other forms? Oh yeah, ang dami. Ang dami-daming klaseng love stories which can still be done, but I do not think the major studios namely right now, Star and Viva, would dare risk at it, di ba? And again, I would revert back to what has transpired in the recent Metro Manila Film Fest that what we have is basically more of the same. You give them something new like Thy Womb and they’re not gonna watch it. And we knew from the start, Thy Womb will not make it, because of a foreign audience. So that’s the sad reality of it, and that is why – I’m speaking for myself – I have relatively stepped back. I don’t wanna do movies muna because it’s just going to be more of the same. Right now, one of the most talked about and most touted films of the year is Amour, it’s about two old people, of which the woman is suffering from Alzheimer; beautiful love story, but here, who’d watch it?
Bwakaw, which is a beautiful work of Jun Lana, was such a hit in Cinemalaya, but was such a flop on its commercial run. See? It just goes to show. Bwakaw was highly praised all over the world, wherever it was shown, but it is sad that the Filipino would be the last to appreciate it. You know, there’s nothing wrong with a love story. I would love to do a love story which would cut, you know, which would be appreciated worldwide, and the Filipino’s capable of that, but we’re just so stuck with doing more of the same.
TTT: Among your own personal works of romance and love on the big screen, do you have any favorites and why?
JJR: I started this whole thing with May Minamahal. Remember in May Minamahal, which is what – 1993, I hit on something, which is relatively new, and it started the whole rom-com thingie, hindi ba? And then lately, I went back to it with Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo and Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo. But that was just tweaking what I’ve already done in 1993, which is why it’s really disheartening that I should be expected to do something that I have been doing since 1993, hindi ba? I mean, it is no longer fulfilling. I was watching an episode of “Actor’s Studio,” which Alec Baldwin was in. You just don’t question every work that comes along the way. A plumber doesn’t enter a kitchen and then asks why he has to change a pipe. You just do it to earn money. And there are certain things that you do just for the sake of money. But when you reach my age and having done what, 66 movies, you just need something a little bit more, hindi ba? You need a little bit more. It’s not a question of just having a career, but giving meaning to that career. And right now, I think my favorites are the benchmarks which I have done along the way, which is May Minamahal, then the most recent one is Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo, and in between there is Live Show. In other words, I’ve dropped all these bombs along the way, which suggests a certain degree of variety, but I really, really love to do movies on human relationships. My most recent one, which is not a love story – well it is a love story about friendship – which is ang Mga Mumunting Lihim, was something which people did not expect me to do, because I know that that sort of material will not make it to the mainstream. You’re not gonna have Judy Ann Santos as a scheming kontrabida, right? But it is something which challenged all of us, and things like that do not exist anymore in commercial filmmaking.
TTT: Do you think that the Filipinos will ever tire of romance?
JJR: No, they won’t. Telenovelas and romantic movies are the national anesthesia. It makes life really bearable. When you invest 150-200 bucks for a ticket, you want to be anesthetized for two hours to escape reality.
TTT: So it’s really escapism?
JJR: Oh yeah! If you watch this documentary done by CinemaOne, ung Indie, Indie, Paano Ka Ginawa?, Olive Lamasan, who is the creative head of Star Cinema, mapped out their entire formula – ung how many hundreds of millions they will make – by just watching the movie and then measuring the amount of kilig it can create. So you know that movies are manufactured.
TTT: Is there really a formula?
JJR: There’s really a formula, a science to it. Now, how long it will last? God knows, because there IS a saturation point. And in the same manner that Star Cinema has branded itself as such, I mean, there will come a point in time in which there will be something new that will emerge. In the same manner that LVN, Sampaguita, Tagalog Ilang-Ilang, Lea, [and] Regal, Star Cinema will eventually have its own cycle. When that will happen? God knows, because the equations are different right now. What is really so different right now is that ABS-CBN and GMA are not merely TV networks. They’re multimedia corporations which literally control and brainwash popular culture. So in a country devoid of equity law, in a country which does not control media ownership, you can really precondition. Kaya makikita mo eh – the major studios have TV networks. You get two levels of reinforcement: daily and nightly from television, and as well as the big events like the Metro Manila Film Fest.
TTT: Apart from the formula that seems to sell – the romantic comedy – personally, what for you makes a good love story?
JJR: It has to be something new. There are so many angles to love, eh. There are so many angles to love because of so many factors that you put into the pot. Right now, I am writing – that’s the funny part – I’m writing two movies: one, I am writing for Star Cinema, and another I’m writing for an independent producer. And they’re two different things apart. You know, when you write for Star Cinema, you know what you’re going to do, or what you’re up against. But with the independent producer, I was fed a really, really, really different premise of a love story, which is a challenge to work on. It is a challenge to work in Star Cinema because it’s now a challenge to work within a formula, a beaten formula to try to make it look new, in the same manner that it is a challenge also to work on something which is so completely different.
TTT: So they’re both love stories but poles apart?
JJR: Yes. it’s very interesting in the same manner that I have an FDCP – the Film Development is doing the Master’s Festival and I wanna open my options as to what film I’m going to do for the Master’s Festival. I have a story in mind which I wanted to do, but then since I could not get the lead actor I wanted, I tweeted. Sabi ko, I’m looking for a new writer and I want a youth movie, but I don’t want a Sunday afternoon TV show. I want a cutting edge youth movie. And I was getting tweets from people who read it, because I wanna work with a young, new writer about it, and I said I want a love story which is so completely different and it’s not, you know… I don’t like the hampasan ng balon. I don’t like that sort of thing. That’s the challenge.
TTT: Is there an opening, a window for more innovative things in the indie scene?
JJR: Ah oo naman! In the indie scene there is, but it has a very limited audience. I think Brillante Mendoza spoke about it very well in saying that yeah, you have capacity crowds in the Cultural Center and in certain movie houses during Cinemalaya, but that is it. That’s it. Anything beyond that does not exist anymore. In other words, you can pack CCP for nine days or ten days for Cinemalaya, and certain movie houses with special screenings of Cinemalaya, and you know that that is the indie audience. But then, the only successful indie movie which was shown outside Cinemalaya was Babae sa Septic Tank. But it would still not compare to the kind of grosses that Praybet Benjamin and Sisterakas would earn. So, that is it. I’ve made a very clear distinction about it. There are such things as films, and there are such things as movies. Movies would be something like dirty ice cream, or the kind of ice cream you buy from the supermarket. Films are really high end gelatos. Movies are hamburgers. Films are really gourmet steaks. It makes a world of difference. It takes a certain degree of appetite to appreciate something as fine and as refined, and from something which is common, accessible, available, and therefore extremely sellable.
Cast: Bong Revilla Jr., Vic Sotto, Judy Ann Santos, Ryzza Mae Dizon, Wally Bayola, Jose Manalo
Produced by: OctoArts Films, M-Zet, Imus Productions, Apt Entertainment and GMA Films
Directed by: Tony Reyes
This movie is a fantasy action flick, a continuation of the alliance of Enteng (Vic Sotto) and Agimat (Bong Revilla) from the movie Si Agimat at Si Enteng Kabisote. In this movie, they are joined by Judy Ann Santos. She plays a fairy, seeking the help of the two heroes to save the Kingdom of Diwatra against evil.
A movie that is fit for the family. It focuses on family values, respect and protection for the earth. Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote at Si Ako is a movie that entertains with all its visual effects, production design and cinematography.
Cast: Kris Aquino, Ai-Ai delas Alas, Vice Ganda, Kathryn Bernardo, Daniel Padilla, Xyriel Manabat, Tirso Cruz III
Produced by: Star Cinema and
Directed by: Wenn Deramas
A comedy film about sisters Bernice and Detty (Vice Ganda and Ai Ai Delas Alas) who were separated and estranged by family conflicts. They are now back together when Bernice is forced to work with Detty, who he hires as an assistant. Kris Aquino also stars in this movie as Roselle, the direct competitor of Vice Ganda in the fashion company where they work. Both striving to be the ‘lord of the apparels’, they fight over Detty, hoping to get an edge over the other.
This is a movie that’s meant to make you ache with laughter.
Cast: Bianca King, Heart Evangelista, Solenn Heusaff, Rhian Ramos, Ruffa Gutierrez, Aljur Abrenica, Mikael Daez
Produced by: GMA Films
Directed by: Andoy Ranay
A comedy film about a group of elite girls, living in an extravagant and superficial world. The group is comprised of ‘IT girls’, namely Lizzie (Rhian Ramos), Danielle (Bianca King), Margaux (Solenn Heussaff), Claudia (Heart Evangelista). The movie shows the struggles of these girls as they try to save their hangout place (The Polo Club), as it is to be replaced by a mall that is lower than their standards.
Genre: Action/Historical Drama
Starring: Jeorge “E.R.”Estregan, Nora Aunor, Cristine Reyes
Produced by: Scenema Concept International
Directed by: Mark Meily
This movie is a biopic about the first President of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo. Emilio Aguinaldo is being played by Jeorge E.R. Estregan. The movie is a historical trip, recounting the early life of Emilio Aguinaldo, to the story of the revolution led by Andres Bonifacio up to the first election that led to his presidency.
This movie’s production design and visual effects is truly a feast for the eyes.
The Strangers is a horror movie about a family who gets lost in the province and gets haunted by the beings of the place, mostly aswangs. It tells the provincial tale of a famous aswang, named Dolfo, who was taking revenge for the death of his wife.
Prepare to be surprised, as this a movie will have an unexpected twist in the end.
This movie is a dramatic film about a provincial midwife (Nora Aunor) who is ironically going through issues of her infertility. She and her husband (Bembol Roco), explore all options to complete their family. This creates the twist in the movie. The movie goes on to show the passion and it’s conflict with traditions. The movie is set in Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, and this location provides a very scenic entertainment for the movie.
Shake, Rattle and Roll: The Invasion
Cast: Vhong Navarro, Dennis Trillo, Lovi Poe and Eula Caballero
Produced by: Regal Entertainment
Directed by: Chito Roño
In the 14th installment of this movie franchise, the three episodes are titled: Pamana, Lost Command and Unwanted.
Pamana’s story line is about an inherited collection of comics. The horrors brought about by the comic books is the focal point of this movie.
Lost Command is a story about a platoon leader, Martin Barrientos, (Dennis Trillo) left to be the last man standing in his platoon. His former men were massacred by unexplainable beings. Martin (Dennis Trillo) is forced to battle his former platoon when they are turned into zombie-like beings.
Unwanted is a story about a young couple, Hank (Vhong Navarro) and Kate (Lovi Poe), trapped in a mall, with scary creatures running around after an explosion occurs. The movie shows the terror of being trapped in the mall and of dealing with the unknown.
One More Try
Cast: Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban and Dingdong Dantes
Produced by: Star Cinema
Directed by: Ruel S. Bayani
One More Try is a story about a single mother, Grace (Angel Locsin) who is forced to seek the help of her former lover and the biological father of her son, Edward (Dingdong Dantes), when their son gets sick. Both Grace and Edward have their own respective partners. Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo) is the supportive boyfriend of Grace who has accepted Grace and Edward’s son like his own. Jacqueline (Angelica Panganiban) is the successful girlfriend of Edward. The movie depicts the struggle of self-sacrificing, to save the life of the kid.
If you will be in the country in early January, you will still have a chance to catch these movies. All movies are showing nationwide from December 25 to January 8. Watch all films and be delighted, it will be a fun experience for the whole family to watch different genres.
Happy New Year!
We all have that one, two or several Christmas movies that we watch year after year. In addition to the lavish presents, the dazzling décor and the delicious food, Christmas movies have become part of a tradition that we all enjoy during the holidays.
We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of some of the Christmas movies that we call our all-time favorites. Which one is yours?
Home Alone (1990)
Christmas has never been the same since this film was released. Eight-year old Kevin McAllister, played by Macaulay Culkin, was brimming with cuteness and mischief! Who can forget his mishaps with the Wet Bandits, Marv and Harvey? As his family was getting ready to spend the holidays in Paris, Kevin was grounded for arguing with his older brother Buzz. He was sent to the attic where he wished his family would disappear. The next day, his family oversleeps and rushes off to the airport, mistakenly leaving him behind. Thinking that his wish came true, Kevin celebrates by trashing Buzz’s room, eats junk food and watches a gangster film – everything that he was forbidden to do. Meanwhile, Kevin’s mom realizes that they have indeed left him behind.
As Kevin relishes his freedom, two burglars, Harry and Marv, make his house the target of their holiday looting spree. Determined to protect his home, Kevin rigs the entire house with clever traps that range from a flame thrower hanging above the door, paint can bombs on the stairwell, crushed Christmas balls by the window and so much more. Meanwhile, his parents frantically find ways to get home.
Albeit unrealistic, Kevin successfully drives away the bandits, gets them arrested and still cleans the house in time for his parents’ arrival.Whether we are eight or an eight-year old at heart, Home Alone teaches us that though our family can drive us up the wall most of the time, they are still the best people to spend the Christmas with. It also reminds us to keep our homes secure when we do go away for the holidays.
Before Christmas (1993)
Produced and written by Tim Burton, this holiday gem from Disney is a cinematic delight. It’s a fantasy, musical, stop-motion and horror film all rolled into one. It is set in Halloween Town, where monsters, vampires, witches, scary clowns, werewolves and other kinds of ghouls reside. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a tuxedo-wearing skeleton, who leads the annual celebration of Halloween. However, he has grown tired of the routine. As he wanders off into the forest, he happens upon a tree that opens a portal into Christmas Town. He marvels at the abundance of snow, lights, decorations and even Santa Claus. Fascinated by his discovery, he goes back home and talks about it with his ghoulish friends. Jack becomes obsessed with Christmas that he decides to take over Christmas and steal Santa’s job. Jack and his friends then kidnap the jolly old man. A whirlwind of adventures follow with Jack posing as a Halloween-version of Santa Claus with skeleton reindeers and his ghostly dog Zero. In the end, it all concludes well with Jack making amends with Santa and giving Halloween Town the gift of snow; and Jack and Sally sharing a kiss under the moonlight.
Having evolved from a simple poem written by Burton in 1982, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a modern-day scary tale. It’s a heartwarming, playful, albeit unusual, cinematic standout.
Funny man Will Ferrell starred in this hilarious flick where he played a human born in New York City, but grew up in the North Pole. As a baby, he crawled inside Santa’s bag of gifts and was accidentally brought back to the North Pole. The baby was named Buddy and was raised by Papa Elf. Awkwardly taller and clumsier, Buddy eventually finds out the truth. Papa Elf tells him about the death of his biological mother and about his father Walter, who has re-married and has a son. Buddy decides to go back to New York City to reunite with Walter. As Buddy arrives in Manhattan, Buddy tracks down Walter but is sent by security to a toy store, thinking he was an employee. There he meets Jovie, played by Zooey Deschanel. When the toy store Santa arrives, Buddy starts a fight with him and gets arrested. Walter reluctantly bails him out and brings him back to his family. Buddy finally meets his stepmother and half brother Michael.
As bewildered as he is to finally meet his long-lost son, Walter has been struggling to save his publishing company. To save it, he hires the very short bestselling writer Miles Finch. Buddy mistakes him for an elf. Miles storms out of Walter’s office without closing a deal. Walter is so angry that he yells at Buddy to get out of his life.
Depressed, Buddy runs away and meets Santa in Central Park with a huge sleigh engine problem. As they try to figure out what to do, Walter and Michael arrive. Walter reconciles with Buddy and proceeds to help Santa. While Buddy tries to fix the engine, young Michael pleads help from the people of New York City to generate enough Christmas spirit for the sleigh to fly. Jovie arrives at the park and leads everyone in singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The sleigh takes off and Christmas is saved.
The movie ends on a cheery note, with Walter starting his own publishing company and releasing his first children’s book, aptly titled “Elf,” an account of Buddy’s adventures. Buddy and Jovie marry and have a daughter. Amidst his comical struggle for acceptance, Buddy was able to spread holiday cheer in a world where Christmas is celebrated but never truly understood.
How the Grinch Stole
Based on Dr. Seuss’ children’s picture book, this film stars Jim Carrey, who plays the grotesque, lonely and cynical Mr. Grinch.
It is set in the city of Whoville, where everyone celebrates Christmas with gusto. Moored on top of a cave on Mount Crumpit, the Grinch curses the residents and occasionally cooks up ways to make their lives miserable. As a result, no one in Whoville likes or cares for him, except for eight-year old Cindy Lou. She believed that even a despicable creature such as The Grinch deserved some Christmas cheer. In spite of the citizens’ dislike towards him, The Grinch is made the leader of Whoville’s Whobilation. There he unleashes a rampage by ruining the decorations and the party itself. In spite of what happened, the Whos still decide to proceed with their celebrations. The Grinch decides to “steal Christmas” by taking all of their gifts in the dead of the night, aboard his own sleigh.
In spite of what The Grinch had done, Cindy Lou’s father reminded the Whos of the true meaning of Christmas – that it’s not about the gifts, nor the celebrations. Rather it’s about spending the holidays with everyone you care about. The Whos decide to forgive The Grinch. Upon hearing their singing voices outside his cave, The Grinch wells up with emotion and his heart grew. He decides to return all of the gifts and reconciles with the residents of Whoville, even ending up with his childhood dream girl Martha.
The Grinch is the second highest grossing holiday film of all time next to Home Alone.
A ho-ho-holiday tradition
A good Christmas movie is like the same gift you unwrap year after year – you never tire of it and even look forward to it. But unlike a gift, a good Christmas movie gives more than just material satisfaction. It reminds us to not focus
so much on the holiday rush,
but to let our love and presence
be felt by the people who matter
to us – our family and friends.
Let these films serve as the backdrop
or centerpiece of your holiday
reunions and have a very merry Christmas indeed!
Words by: Rosario “CHATS” A. Santiago
Notable Filipinos Gone in 2012.This year has seen the passing of several beloved individuals in Philippine music and film. We pay tribute to some of them in this special issue of Kulture Vulture.
KARL ROY – Musician
Karl Roy, frontman for bands like Kapatid, P.O.T., and Advent Call, passed away in the early hours of Tuesday, March 13. News of the Filipino rock icon’s death came via his sister Kathryn’s announcement on her Facebook page. The 43-year old musician had battled back from multiple strokes to keep doing what he loved best – rocking.
ANGELO CASTRO, JR. – Broadcaster
On April 5th, we lost one of the most familiar faces and voices in Philippine news broadcasting. After four years of battling the big ‘C,’ Angelo Castro, Jr. succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 67. For years, he had been the face of “The World Tonight,” since it went back on air on ABS-CBN after the 1986 People Power Revolution. He created “TV Patrol,” the longest-running Filipino news program.
Castro had initially been diagnosed in 2008 and was given only three months to live. He is survived by his wife, fellow veteran broadcaster June Keithley, and their three children.
MARIO O’HARA – Director, Screenwriter, Producer
One of the brightest to ever pen a script or stand behind the camera was lost to Philippine cinema, with the passing of Mario O’Hara on June 26. The 68-year old award-winning director of Bulaklak sa City Jail, Halimaw, Fatima Buen Story, and Sisa had only been diagnosed with leukemia several days before succumbing to it. In a telephone interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, O’Hara’s brother, Jerry, said the veteran director and screenwriter died of cardiac arrest as a result of the disease.
Hailing from Zamboanga, Mario O’Hara had been a frequent collaborator of the late National Artist for Film, the great Lino Brocka. O’Hara had co-written the scripts for two of Brocka’s masterpieces, Insiang, and Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang.
DOLPHY – Actor
Perhaps the most notable loss of 2012 came with the death of Rodolfo Quizon, or Dolphy, as he is more popularly known. For seven decades, the man widely regarded as the country’s King of Comedy, had brought joy, laughter, tears, and entertainment to a captive Philippine audience. Recognized as much for his brand of slapstick humor, as he was for his colorful personal life, one thing that was true of Dolphy in front of, and away from the cameras, was the goodness in his heart. Famous for his lengthy turns as John Puruntong in “John En Marsha,” and Kevin Cosme in “Home Along Da Riles” on Philippine television, Dolphy was also well-known for being compassionate and generous to all.
Dolphy had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2009, and had been in and out of the hospital since. He was brought to Makati Medical Center for shortness of breath on June 16 this year, and had been showing signs of recovery after a week, but had to be confined anew in July for pneumonia. He died of multiple organ failure on July 10 at the age of 83. He is survived by longtime partner, Zsa Zsa Padilla, and the eighteen children he sired/adopted with six different women.
MARILOU DIAZ-ABAYA – Filmmaker
Most recently, multi-awarded filmmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya lost her five-year battle with the big ‘C’. The respected director had first been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. She got better in 2008, but the disease reared its ugly head anew in 2009. It went into remission again in 2010, before recurring a final time in 2011. The force behind such masterpieces as 1998’s Jose Rizal, and Muro Ami the following year, had fought the stubborn disease bravely.
In giving her the 2001 Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes, the Japanese award-giving body said her films show a harmonious blending of entertainment, social consciousness, and ethnic awareness. It went on to say that her work “has won acclaim both in the Philippines and abroad for its high level of artistic achievement. It is an ideal manifestation of the artistic culture of Asia, and so is most deserving of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.”
There is an ever-changing canon that the Philippine mainstream movies and music seem to conform to. For film, there was a time when slapstick comedies were a hit, then came action and horror. Now, there’s a new romantic comedy screened in cinemas almost every month. The same evolutionary process goes for local music when rap, rock, acoustic and pop followed the other as the most popular genre. Sometimes, the changes are not even genre based. In fact, it is not a secret that studio producers place their bets on the hottest celebrity at that particular moment. And so that is how it has always been for commercial art: capitalize on the genre and/or celebrity that will rake in the most profit.
But let’s be honest; this system gets tiring and frustrating. As an audience, it gets to a point when we want to watch or listen to something different. For the artists, there is an overwhelming feeling of restriction when the things that they want to say and the way they want to say it are hindered by its perceived low commercial viability.
Luckily, non-conformity is always an option.
Indie in a Nutshell
With the prevalence of indie movies, people usually misconstrue the definition of indie. For film, some believe that it is about shaky camerawork and poverty or sexuality-centric stories. For music, it’s about the low production value that is noticeable from the product’s sound quality. The definition of independent art movement or indie, however, is pretty simple. It refers to the production process that is not governed or dictated by a big studio company (Star Cinema and Viva Records come to mind). This way, the artists have the most control on the story or music and the manner by which they execute it.
Historically, the independent art movement in the Philippines has started long ago, especially for film. Kidlat Tahimik (Eric de Guia in real life) was dubbed by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino as the pioneer of Filipino independent filmmaking for his notable work Mababangong Bangungot in 1977. Filmmaker extraordinaire Mike de Leon also tried to open doors for independent filmmaking via the Cinema Artists in the 1970s. This independent outfit eventually made cinema classics such as Lino Brocka’s Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag and de Leon’s own directorial debut Itim.
But early independent movement didn’t get much momentum to follow through, especially since production cost was too high and there weren’t enough venues to showcase the projects. The same thing goes for music. Due to this, the independent movement went underground; their works were left to be known only by a limited group of people.
Fortunately, a number of advancements rose and ultimately aided filmmakers and musicians to realize their artistic visions.
For film, technology and film competitions were a blessing. Digital video cameras became relatively accessible and allowed filmmakers to tell their stories cheaper and more easily. For other aspects of production, there were local independent film competitions such as Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals that gave seed money to selected filmmakers to realize their cinematic ideas. If this fails, there is Artiste Connect, an Internet portal that allows artists to solicit for funding for their projects. In fact, Popular band Color It Red and filmmaker Emerson Reyes are currently soliciting funds through this portal to complete their respective projects.
Of course, not every filmmaker went to competitions for grants. Some still wanted to produce their movies on their own, albeit most of them did not get as much publicity as the festival circuit competitors —unless they win awards abroad. Some of those who chose this route are John Torres, Mes de Guzman and Brillante Mendoza.
It is also important to note that with the easier accessibility to modes of production, the independent art movement has started to gain ground in other areas of the country as well. In fact, there is a budding independent film movement in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
Opening the curtain
The breath of fresh air provided by the independent art movement was extremely enjoyed by the artists. However, art still has to be shared. Culture; after all, should not be elitist. As such, the search for a veritable venue to showcase such productions became a major predicament.
For music, Internet has become its strongest ally. A number of artists have opted to upload and market their respective works through various Internet portals such as Soundcloud, iTunes, Indie Music Philippines and their respective websites. Most of them are available for download for a fee while surprisingly, some just open it to everyone for free. In fact, indie band Giniling Festival made their album Makamundo available for free download in their website. Some musicians, however, are content with making the rounds with their live performances.
The film industry; however, found it a bit more challenging. There was a time when filmmakers only have two venues to showcase their films — simply because they are outside the jurisdiction of the MTRCB — the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the University of the Philippines Film Institute’s Cine Adarna. Fortunately, audiences were eventually given more avenues to watch these independent makes. Robinsons Galleria opened the short-lived IndieSine. EDSA Shangri-La Plaza Mall; on the other hand, regularly houses Cinema One Originals while Greenbelt Cinemas joined CCP and the University of the Philippines in hosting Cinemalaya. There are also a number of film circuits that regularly run every year such as Mov and Cinemanila.
There are also smaller venues where film buffs can go to and watch independent productions. Some of these venues are the now-defunct Mogwai CInematheque in Cubao Expo and the recently opened Cinema is Incomplete in UP Village, Quezon City.
As expected, the independent art movement has given birth to high quality outputs, especially in film. There have been a number of independent movies that were screened and competed in international film festivals. Some of these films are Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros, Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, Six Degrees of Separation from Lilia Cuntapay and Kinatay (which won Brillante Mendoza his Best Director Award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival).
However, it is not without any issues. One of which is the widespread production (and unfortunately, exhibition) of subpar quality movies, most of them heavily loaded with what seems to be sex-exploitation scenes thinly veiled with a bad narrative. Even Cinemalaya started to gain criticisms when Emerson Reyes’ MNL 143 was disqualified from this year’s competition allegedly due to the director’s insistence with his casting decisions and in the process defying the CInemalaya boards’ recommendations (or impositions, it depends on who you will want to believe). This has led to some criticizing Cinemalaya as being the same as the big studio production outfits that the independent movement was breaking away from.
But despite all these, what’s important is that we now have the resources to say what we want to say and the real ability to experience the art forms that we really want. Artists have the tools and the audiences have the venues. It is just a matter of open-mindedness. There is a need to abolish the tension between what the society is ready to hear and what the artists want to say. After all, we love tagging ourselves as a democratic society. It’s time for us to act like one.
It’s true. Filipinos are arguably one of the most cheerful and optimistic people in the world. We love to laugh, share jokes and make fools of ourselves all in the spirit of fun. We find humor in almost every situation no matter how dire or depressing it is. Even in the throes of poverty, you can still see the smiles on the faces of the little kids playing on the streets or witness the animated expressions of the men and women gathered together sharing stories in their tambayan. Humor even finds its way into politics, the currently running impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona has had its share of quite a number of funny moments. In every facet of our daily lives, we can always make the best of any situation and spin it into a fun circumstance. And it’s this innate optimism that gets us through the different problems we encounter everyday. In good times and bad, in sickness and health, we can always count on laughter to lift us up.
Another fact: Filipinos LOVE to watch movies.
Since the introduction of television, Filipinos have been forever glued to moving pictures inside a box. From toddlers to grandparents, countless hours have been spent in front of the boob tube. And with the advent of technology, our eyes and ears have enjoyed a dearth of options: streaming videos, DVDs, YouTube, torrents and of course, local and cable channels. But in spite of all the options in front of us, we’ve always been drawn
by the allure of the big screen. Piracy is still rampant in the country, but nothing compares to the enjoyment of watching movies in cinemas – the
folding comfy chairs, the murmurs and whispers in complete darkness, the big screen and sound and the scent of popcorn; nothing beats this unique experience. The local movie industry has been struggling for the past few years, but it has enjoyed quite a renaissance recently with numerous local films hitting it big in the box office and a handful have been comedy flicks. We don’t even have to wonder why, knowing that we love to laugh.
And when you combine those two facts: our love for laughter and love for movies, you know that comedy movies are surefire hits with us. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the funniest Pinoy comedy movies for you to check out. You may have seen some of them before, but we’re sure you’re still going to have a kick when you watch them again and even discover new movies that will give you a good stomach crunching. Here they are all for our love of laughter! Enjoy!
Working Boys (1986)
This classic comedy stars the Three Kings of Philippine comedy: Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto and Joey De Leon, otherwise known as the popular timeless trio Tito, Vic & Joey. It features them as three men who do odd jobs to make ends meet with Herbert Bautista as their companion. Crack up as they delve into car repair, babysitting, role-playing, repairing watches and hearing aids and even exorcising demons with hilarious results. Get ready for a riot from start to finish!
Prinsipe Abante at Ang Lihim ng Ibong Adarna (1990)
Starring the late great Rene Requiestas, this movie is based on the Philippine folklore creature known as the Ibong Adarna, a colorful mystifying and most fascinating singing bird that can cure even the most incurable ailment. Rene Requiestas stars as the kind-hearted Prinsipe Abante who undertakes the quest to capture the Ibong Adarna to help his ailing father and prevent the kingdom from being run by his evil brothers. Tag along on his adventures as he meets fascinating people and creatures and finds himself in rib-tickling situations.
Alabang Girls (1992)
What happens when the elite and super sexy girls of Alabang Village and the gamols of Alabang Gilid come together? It’s sure to be a riot! It stars the ‘90s Prince of Comedy Andrew E along with fellow young laugh makers such as Janno Gibbs and Anjo Yllana. It finds Andrew E and his rowdy and fun-loving group being able to attract rich and pretty girls despite their poor status in life. You’ll never run out of reasons to laugh in this star-studded comedy!
Home Along Da Riles Da Movie (1993)
This family comedy was adapted from one of the longest running Philippine sitcoms of the same name, depicting a typical Filipino family living alongside the railroad tracks. It stars the King of Comedy, Dolphy as Kevin Kosme, father of five quirky children whose family barely makes ends meet, but still manage to find happiness and contentment in life amidst the bothersome twin sister of his deceased wife and her brothers; and their unstable house always seems about to fall apart whenever a train passes by. In 1997, a sequel was produced as well.
Ang Tanging Ina (2003)
With three dead husbands and twelve children to take care of, how is the modern day working mother supposed to take care of all of them? Ai-Ai de las Alas as Ina Montecillo, is completely clueless on how to be a dual income provider and a homemaker in the face of the financial problems she faces. It features an ensemble cast and you know it’s merrier when it’s many-er! Filled with laughs and tear-jerker moments along with movie/ commercial spoofs. Ang Tanging Ina will surely make the whole family laugh together!
Yaya and Angelina: The Spoiled Brat Movie (2009)
This movie stars Michael V. and Ogie Alcasid, two of the most talented and funniest guys in local showbiz. Angelina (Ogie Alcasid) is a brilliant and talented girl but has an undeniably spoiled personality who gets a new nanny (Michael V.). She then subjects her yaya to all her mean pranks and tricks. Unable to take the abuse, the nanny decides to leave. But when her alaga gets kidnapped, she rises to the occasion and sets out to rescue her.
Kimmy Dora: Kambal sa Kiyeme (2009)
Comedienne Eugene Domingo assumes the role of both Kimmy and Dora, identical twins with different personalities. Kimmy is the smart and bossy one while Dora is the slow yet adorable sister. Sibling rivalry takes over as the man that Kimmy likes only has eyes for Dora. All hell breaks loose when their dad has a heart attack and makes Dora the majority owner of the family company in case he passes away. A misunderstanding brings forth a plan to kill Dora but they kidnapped Kimmy instead. Now Kimmy must find a way to escape her captors while Dora must act as her tough sister and control their company in order to hide the truth from their sick father.
Words by Matt Ching
When it comes to music, you know that Pinoys are mad over it. Whatever genre you place Pinoys in, you will be sure that they will be crazy for music, and that they will be extremely good at it.
That is why every summer, a music festival is held in the Philippines that celebrates local and international music from different genres – the Pulp Summer Slam. Founded and produced by Pulp Live World Productions, Inc., it brings together rock and metal bands, and the occasional performances from ska, reggae, pop rock and hip hop artists.
This event brings in around than 30,000 fans annually. This year, the Pulp Summer Slam is on its 12th year already, and it promises to bring exciting bands and performances from all around.
The Pulp Summer Slam was first produced for the readers of the Pulp Magazine – a magazine which released its first issue in 1999 to cater to rock music fans. The Summer Slam was produced by the magazine’s publisher and concert promoter, Vernon Go.
The Pulp Summer Slam is known for bringing in more than 30 bands to its line-up every year. Rock fans from around the country flock to the venue to celebrate this one-day rock music festival. Known simply as “The Slam” it has become a tradition for rock fans everywhere.
Over the years, the Pulp Summer Slam has improved their lineup of performances by bringing in International acts to headline the event. This caught the attention of rock fans all over the world, and has brought in audiences from Asia.
Previous Pulp Summer Slam events brought in international rock bands like Darkest Hour, Death Angel, Shadows Fall, Lamb of God, Testament, Hellyeah, Anthrax and Nervecell.
Every year, the Summer Slam tries to top the previous year’s with its gimmicks during the concerts. It’s not enough that they bring in a lot of bands, they have to come up with something outrageous that will be talked about for the years to come. In 2007, they produced a moving giant zombie as a backdrop for the Shadows Fall performance. Shadows Fall liked it so much, that they included it in their DVD release.
This year, expect another legendary musical event as Pulp Summer Slam XII: The Apostles brings in more bands, better performances and an even wilder crowd of rock fans.
Moshers get ready to bang your heads and slam your bodies to six international headliners taking the stage: Arch Enemy, blessthefall, Darkest Hour, We Came As Romans, Periphery and August Burns Red plus a handful of the hottest local bands. With a packed roster like that, you know it’s as heavy as it gets. Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City is sure to send out seismic waves in the surrounding vicinity that night.
Now, we take a closer look at the six hard-hitting foreign acts, these messengers of maddening music, in this sure-fire epic event:
Arch Enemy are a Swedish melodic death metal band, originally a supergroup, from Halmstad, formed in 1996. Its members were in bands such as Carcass, Armageddon, Carnage, Mercyful Fate, Spiritual Beggars, and Eucharist to name a few. It was founded by Carcass guitarist Michael Amott along with Johan Liiva, who were both originally from the influential death metal band Carnage. The band was originally fronted by Johan Liiva, who was replaced by Angela Gossow as lead vocalist in 2000.
Arizona’s blessthefall stormed to the forefront of the new evolution of the post-hardcore/metalcore genre with the release of critically-acclaimed second album “Witness.” Upon release, the album debuted in the Billboard Top 200 at #56 and the Independent Chart at #6. Having played dates in 16 countries in 2010 in support of Witness, blessthefall stormed into 2011 as part of Soundwave festival in Australia. After returning from the Outback, the band went into writing mode for their third full-length album “Awakening” and started recording in May 2011. The album has been named by Alternative Press as one of 2011’s Most Anticipated Albums. Trying to win over new fans while appeasing the old may be a difficult task for some bands, but blessthefall accept it eagerly as a challenge that they’ll work toward with their forthcoming tours and releases.
Some metal bands barely last 10 years, much less 15 years. If a band does get to the decade-and-a-half mark, they’re usually sputtering out or are teetering on their last, diseased and ready-to-give out legs. Rare is the case where an aggressive band mutates, growing stronger, more unstoppable and more menacing with every passing riff, scream and album. Darkest Hour are such a case. And they haven’t yet touched the core of their potential, despite their impressive resume. They’ve done a lot but still have more to do to fulfill their addiction to the music and their commitment to their fans and themselves. Sounds like a beautiful, complicated romance.
We Came As Romans
Since their 2005 inception, We Came As Romans has successfully delivered a refreshing lyrical perspective that focuses on spreading the positive message of being good people and loving one another. Hailing from Troy, Michigan, We Came As Romans are pushing the envelope, combining intertwined singing/screaming vocals, theatrical, orchestra-infused metal, crushing breakdowns and positive lyrics. Through their relentless enthusiasm and dedication to touring, We Came As Romans have proven their ability to win over any and every audience by pouring their hearts out on stage and take “giving 100%” to the next level.
Periphery was formed by guitarist Misha Mansoor in 2005. Before and during Periphery’s tenure in the metal scene, Mansoor developed a reputation for doing his own audio production, the majority of which was performed with a home computer and a Pod XT during this period. Between 2005 and 2009, Periphery worked with vocalists Jake Veredika, Casey Sabol and Chris Barretto, gradually moving from a nu metal-influenced sound to a more experimental style, with a focus on innovative production. In 2009, the band announced via their MySpace blog that they had signed a one record deal with Sumerian Records, on which they would release their debut full-length album.
August Burns Red
There are a galaxy’s worth of metalcore bands active today, but stare at all of those stars long enough and some lines start to form; everything starts to take shape. The Constellations begin to bloom. Few years ago August Burns Red were, to the naked eye, just another young band jockeying for position in the modern metalcore scene. Then came Messengers, the band’s 2007 full-length release for Solid State Records, and a new front-runner emerged. Without hype, devoid of any smoke and mirrors, the album debuted at #81 on the Billboard charts, going on to ever-so-quietly sell more than 80,000 copies with their heavy breakdowns and odd-meter riffs.
“Sino man ang ‘di magmahal sa sariling wika, ay mas masahol pa sa malansang isda.”
How could you not love our own language? A dialect so intricate and so passionate that each line is more meaningful, each curse more felt and each profession of love and affection more deeply appreciated. The Filipino language, with its multiple meanings and a heritage as rich as the Filipino culture itself, is perhaps one of the most expressive way of speaking. That is why when it is used in songs and poetry a rich new flavor is achieved. What more when it is used in films?
The beauty of Filipino films is one of the best attractions of the 12 year-old Cinemanila International Film Festival. And with the fourth quarter of the year just around the corner, the film fest is set to begin this November 11. Filmmakers, critics and fans from all over the world flock to Manila just to get a glimpse of Filipino films and other masterpieces from Southeast Asian countries.
The film fest was the brainchild of renowned Filipino filmmaker Amable “Tikoy” Aguiluz. Way back in 1999, Aguiluz established the festival to put Filipino films and its Southeast Asian counterparts in the center stage. The festival has different sections to help viewers and critics in determining what films they want and where to find it. Some of the notable sections are the Competitive and Young Cinema sections. Both categories rake in handsome cash prizes for the jury winners.
The basis for an international film fest’s success is the international attention or recognition that it gets. Cinemanila took a while to gain such an accolade. For some years it trudged along trying to get the world’s attention. Eventually, the world took notice. Four years after its first film festival, Filipino-American Hollywood celebrities came. The likes of Rob Schneider, Tia Carrere and Lou Diamond Philips came home to recognize the Filipino films and the festival itself. Then two years shy of its first decade anniversary, the Cinemanila International Film Festival welcomed its biggest guest yet, director Quentin Tarantino. He came to the festival to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. In celebration of his arrival, his previous films, like Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill were shown during the festival.
The premiering and exhibition of other Asian films is another feather to Cinemanila’s hat. The community of worldwide film festivals has lauded the effort to show the beauty of both Filipino and Asian cinema.
As one of the longest running international film festivals in the Philippines, Cinemanila has hosted and exhibited many of the industry’s best works. Such films include Steve McQueen’s Hunger, Eran Kolirin’s The Band’s Visit, Olaf de Fleur Johanneson’s The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela, Marjana Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis, Jeffery Jeturion’s Kubrador, Brillante Mendoza’s Manoro; and many more silver screen epics.
This November, come home to a place where beautiful beaches, exotic fruits, exquisite gastronomic delights and great Filipino films meet. Be allured by the beauty of your native tongue caught in film, be at the premiere international film festival of the Philippines, and be at the Cinemanila.
Stefanie Walmsley: The Girl Who Promised to Win an Oscar on her Father’s Deathbed
The modern Filipino has a knack for two things: catching their favorite tele-novela in the evening, and taking pride in Filipinos who make it big in the international scene. Perhaps it is our tendency towards escapism, but we Filipinos seem to take strength from watching our favorite artista playing the underdog and rising from it all, enduring insulting words and painful slaps along the way; more so with the Filipinos who bring pride and glory to the country in their respective fields.
Take for example boxing greats Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire. Because of them, the whole world knows how ferocious Filipino fighters are. Ironically, Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda sang their way into the hearts of so many people abroad before they got the much-deserved recognition from our kababayans. Their stories seem so Cinderella-like; they spent the most part of their lives poor, they worked their way out of poverty, and with God-given talent and a tenacity that is second to none, these Filipinos made their mark in their respective fields.
Today, we have much reason to celebrate, as Fil-Am Stefanie Walmsley has made us Filipinos proud once again, this time in the field of film making. During the recently concluded 83rd Academy Awards, the short film God of Love, directed by and starring Luke Matheny and co-produced by Walmsley and another Filipino, Gigi Dement, won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. It is a victory that she says she dedicates to all our hardworking kababayans everywhere in the world. “It means everything. I knew that it was an honor to be from the Philippines and I’m very proud to be Filipino,” she said.
Every journey begins with the first step. Stefanie’s journey began with some modelling, hosting, and acting in front of the camera. After leaving the country, she was able to land roles in films like “Take Me Home: The John Denver Story” and “Noriega, God’s Love,” where she worked with Oscar nominee and multi-award winner and actor Bob Hoskins.
Eventually she realized that she would do a better job working behind it. “One day I kind of woke up and I think I’m gonna be a producer.” Walmsley said.
Winning the Oscar is something very personal to Stefanie. As fate would have it, her father would pass away before he could see her win it, but that doesn’t mean that he was any less proud nor unaware of the promise her daughter held.
“Can you imagine having to promise somebody that you’re gonna one day make it to the Oscars? Of course you feel like if it’s never gonna happen, but my father was sure. The day before he passed, he was even showing the nurse my picture and saying, ‘Don’t forget her face, she’ll be in the Oscars one day,’” Walmsley revealed to us, a week after she won an Oscar.
The former member of ABS CBN’s Star Circle and former Eat Bulaga host was first to admit that getting the Academy Award nomination was a surreal feat in itself, more so winning it all. Stefanie is first to admit that the road to the Oscars wasn’t all sunshine. “Sundance requested a copy from us, and we got rejected, and we got rejected from Slamdance, we actually got rejected from very remote small festivals around the country.”
Getting rejected from various film festivals didn’t stop Stefanie from sending more copies to more film festivals, and eventually God of Love made its way into the Oscars. The tough road they faced and the challenges they encountered all emboldened and empowered Stefanie to reach out to more people and to more festivals. Eventually, they received the call for the big dance itself, and the rest is history.
Prior to winning the Oscars, the short film won the gold medal at the Student Academy Awards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was also recognized by the National Board of Review, the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, the Flickerfest Festival in Australia, and the Angelus Student Film Festival in Hollywood.
Walmsley revealed that there is a new project she is working on, and that she is very excited to work on it. She mentions that the next project is a documentary all about a famous Spanish Flamenco dancer, but she said she is more excited to work with Filipino filmmakers in the near future.
Walmsley said she also wanted to give back and make some budding filmmakers’ dream project come true.
“I imagine that there are so many Filipinos in very remote provinces, in areas that probably have the most fantastic amazing ideas and may not have the resources to make that come true and actually make the short films, make the feature films so I’d like to do that as well,” she said.
It’s impossible to think of the WORLD CLASS PINOYS without putting this girl’s name somewhere at the top of the list. On TALK TALK TILAOK’s First Anniversary, the FIRST PINAY who ever made a global mark of this magnitude in international theatre graces its pages. LEA SALONGA talks about fond memories; what she does on her spare time; and her current views as she lives her amazing life. Today, Lea is still busy with numerous engagements as the world can’t seem to get enough of her!
We’re sure this has been asked of you so much but here it is again, this time, from your big picture point of view after having maintained your stature as THE world class Pinoy in the performing arts –
T3: How does it feel, after all these years?
LS: It all feels very good, thanks! I still feel blessed to be doing what I do, and there are times when I get giddy in a rehearsal for no reason.
T3: Looking back at how you first started (as a kid, or as an international artist) – What was your best memory?
LS: I don’t know that there’s one memory that stands out… I remember handling a German Shepherd that was bigger than me, a friend breaking a piece of furniture during a cartwheel, playing jackstones with the other girls backstage, throwing lines with the adults, doing my homework during rehearsals… just a bunch of stuff.
T3: What was your worst?
LS: Getting bitten in the face by an untrained dog, also in a rehearsal. That was a tough thing to get over.
T3: How would you have done things differently?
LS: I wouldn’t have done anything differently. The journey is just as important as the destination, if not more so.
T3: To whom do you really owe your success?
LS: I can’t owe it all to just one person… there’s my family, teachers, management team. They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, it takes a team to make a successful entertainment denizen.
T3: As the FIRST EVER FILIPINO TO HAVE WON AN OLIVIER, A TONY, A DRAMA DESK, OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE AND THEATRE WORLD AWARDS (whew!) – how would you describe your journey to achieve that?
LS: My journey… I think my entire life in showbiz up until then has a lot to do with it. Theater, television, music, film… I’m thankful that there was all that to prepare me for what was to come.
T3: Your talent has brought you so many wonderful experiences – in a nutshell, what would you like do all over again?
LS: EVERYTHING!!! I wouldn’t mind going through all of it again.
T3: Tell us ONE bit of trivia about Lea Salonga that no one would have heard of (or perhaps is the LEAST publicized)
LS: It’s well known that I’m a video game whore, enjoy technology, know how to knit (a bit), am a Twitter and Facebook junkie… and I laugh really, really loud.
T3: You have elevated the Filipino in general in the eyes of the world, not just in the performing arts. That prestige comes with an amazing sense of responsibility. Tell us how you feel about that.
LS: I try not to think about it… I just think it’s a side effect of my work. It makes me happy, but I don’t pressure myself any more or less just to make that happen. All I can do is my best at what I love, and let it go from there.
T3: How have your past experiences and achievements prepared you for being a wife and mother?
LS: Oh there is nothing in the world that could prepare you for any of that!!!
T3: Nicole is a beautiful child. What are your dreams for her?
LS: I only dream that she finds her own path in life. I cannot carve one out for her, she has to figure all that on her own, when it’s time.
T3: Name 3 most important things for Lea Salonga.
LS: Family, Work, Friendship. And really good food.
T3: Your appointment as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is another great honor. How did that come about?
LS: The UN-FAO was asking if I was interested. They stayed in touch with my managers and made it all happen. My nomination finally came in October 2010.
T3: What else keeps you busy these days?
LS: I write my weekly column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, getting ready for future concerts, being a wife and mommy. That’s more than enough!
T3: What else does a Lea Salonga dream of? For yourself?
LS: Nothing else, really… many of my dreams have already come true. Even the dreams I didn’t have.
T3: For your family?
LS: Just peace.
T3: For the Philippines?
LS: Enlightenment… on many different levels.
T3: For the world?
LS: No more wars, famine, abuse, hunger, killing, violence. Everyone needs to realize that we’re all here sharing a common earth and its resources. No one country has a monopoly on anything, or moral ascendancy over anyone.
Lea’s Fabulous Firsts
1971, Born on February 22
1978, Made her professional DEBUT at the King and I, Repertory Philippines. Also played in Annie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Sound of Music, The Goodbye Girl, Paper Moon and the Fantasticks
1981, Recorded her FIRST Album, Small Voice, with her FIRST collaboration with younger brother, Gerard Salonga – Happiness. Her first of 25 albums to date!
1989, Selected to play KIM in the musical Miss Saigon
1990, Won the Olivier Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical
1991 to 1993, Won the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and the Theatre World Awards for the same role
1992, FIRST VOICE work as Jasmine for Disney Film Aladdin. Her performance in the song “A Whole New World” won an Oscar in the following year. This will be followed by her work as Fa Mulan for Mulan and Mulan II in 1998 and 2004.
1993, Became FIRST ASIAN to play the role of Eponine in the Broadway production of Les Miserables
Through the years, Lea will be requested to play Kim in Miss Saigon and Eponine in Les Miserables in Broadway and West End, interspersed with her concerts in the Philippines.
Released her FIRST international album, self-titled, with Atlantic Records
2002, Played lead role in Rodgers and Hammerstien’s Flower Drum Song
2004, became wife to Robert Charles Chien, a Chinese-Japanese businessman
2005, FIRST US concert tour in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlantic City, Chicago, Washington DC and Norfolk, Virginia
2006, became mother to Nicole Beverly
2007, became FIRST ASIAN to play Fantine in Les Miserables
Released “Inspired,” her FIRST ALBUM THAT WAS CERTIFIED PLATINUM
2008, Became a columnist in Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Backstory”
2009, became an Avon face for anti-aging products
2010, played the role of Grizabella in the Manila run of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS
Became Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations