MOVIE REVIEW: Ang Larawan (2017)

Athanasius of Alexandria was a bishop in early Christianity. Among others, he is known for his efforts to combat the teachings of Arianism, a popular school of Christian thought which was gaining ground as its teachings appealed to the son of the late Emperor Constantine.

Despite this endorsement by the Emperor’s son, Athanasius held his ground and continued to attack what he believed was a dangerous ideology that compromised sacred doctrine. He was relentlessly pursued by his enemies and survived five exiles and six attempts against his life.

For his firm resolve against popular sentiment, he was given a moniker which also served as his epitaph:

Athanasius against the world

Directed by Loy Arcenas, Ang Larawan is the story of two sisters left alone in their old home to take care of their aging father and the painting he made for them. It is a family drama wrapped in the mediums of musical film and period film, and also serves as a political statement on the relationship of art and the world it lives in. Larawan boasts of an impressive list of cast members that, despite the film’s limitations, gives strong, memorable performances that will be remembered long after the current edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival has gone.

That Larawan came from a pedigree of well-known cultural figures cannot be denied. It is an adaptation of Nick Joaquin’s first play, A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino. Portrait was first staged by Lamberto Avellana (starring his wife Daisy Hontiveros-Avellana as Candida), who also directed its first film adaptation in 1965 (also starring Daisy). It has also been translated into Filipino by other writers including Bienvenido Lumbrera. Rolando Tinio wrote another Filipino adaptation for the musical Ang Larawan (with music by Ryan Cayabyab), which he also directed, as part of the conditions Nick Joaquin imposed on the producers when they approached him for the project). All of them were appointed to the Order of National Artists of the Philippines except for Cayabyab (who is often touted as a potential candidate to the Order).

As in Portrait, Larawan revolves around the story of Candida Marasigan (Joanna Ampil, in her first film), her sister Paula Marasigan (Rachel Alejandro) and the painting that their father Don Lorenzo made for them. Most of the story happens within the stately, if decaying, Marasigan household during the months leading up to the Second World War, with the eponymous painting looming over them as a dark specter. The painting has become a cause celebre as it attracted the attention of neighbors, passersby and poseurs who often visited the house more for the painting than its residents. Among their visitors, one October, is an old family friend, Bitoy Camacho (Sandino Martin), a newspaper reporter who was also meaning to write a story about the painting.

Bitoy discovers that the sisters struggle to make ends meet: their only means of subsistence are the handouts begrudgingly given to them by their elder siblings Manolo (Noni Buencamino) and Pepang (Menchu Lauchengco), and the rent income from their sole tenant Tony Javier (Paulo Avelino), a lecherous pianist working at a bodabil. The Marasigan sisters were often pressured by would-be buyers to part with their painting, with tempting prices that could secure their future. Yet, for ideological and personal reasons, they refused to sell their painting (or the house), and not even their father’s close friend Senator Perico (Robert Arevalo) could convince them.

Rachel Alejandro (Paula) and Joanna Ampil (Candida) in ANG LARAWAN.

Part of the sisters’ reluctance to part with the painting and the house is their inability to reconcile themselves and their idealism with the world. They hang on to their cherished belief, to their Ideal, that no amount of money can compensate for the lasting pleasure that Art can give them, and that no other people in the world can understand them but fellow artists. And as members of this exclusive club, they see themselves as the vanguards, the standard-bearers, of the old traditions that they want to live on. We against the world. Contra mundum. It is this stubborn belief that moves them to hang on to their father’s last legacy, the Retrato del artista como Filipino, as an icon of this credo. Don Perico, a former poet who they thought has sold out, tempers this with one of the most memorable lines in the film: Hindi simple ang buhay katulad ng sining (Life is not as simple as art). The pursuit of the arts is edifying, but in order for the arts to survive it must also (learn how to) thrive in—and despite—the world. And with patience, both can coexist: one need not look beyond Larawan’s original librettist Rolando Tinio (who has worked on both film and theater) and composer Ryan Cayabyab (who was able to write and publish both pop songs and personal artistic compositions).

And yet, throughout Larawan, we never see the controversial portrait in its entirety, only a few hints here and there. (In contrast, the picture is never seen even in the play; it is placed in the figurative Fourth Wall, which lets the audience look into each character’s expressions closely.) The painting is stark and bleak: a double self-portrait of Don Lorenzo as Aeneas and his father Anchises, and behind them is the destruction of Troy. That image alone, deliberately selected by Joaquin in Portrait, captures the central issues that dominate Candida and Paula’s thoughts: the downfall of a gilded age; a man’s pride that became his fall from grace, and the burden that was his legacy to his children. It is these same issues that Candida and Paula struggle with, a great conflict that they have learned to accept in time.

The film is without its flaws, often gravitating towards long monologues and discourses that hold the story back from moving forward, yet feel incomplete at times. This is not the filmmakers’ fault, as this can be attributed to the nature of their source material, which reads more like a closet drama, if not a novel or essay. When Joaquin completed his draft, his sister, who was a theater actress, thought Portrait was “undramatizable”; the opening monologue alone by Bitoy runs nearly two and a half pages single-spaced. Lamberto Avellana sought Joaquin’s permission to compress Portrait for its theatrical run, as did Rolando Tinio when he adapted it into Ang Larawan the stage musical. (Joaquin permitted both revisions.) The current film is itself a shortened version of the stage musical, which runs for over three hours.

Inevitably, adaptations lose the details that made Portrait an engaging read, and to their credit the filmmakers have tried, sincerely, to preserve Joaquin’s vision as much as they can. The attention to detail is stunning, from the intricate furniture in the Marasigan ancestral home down to the personal accessories of the La Naval devotees. (Even the image of the La Naval was borrowed from the Sto. Domingo Church.) The music captures the spirit of the Roaring Forties in the throes of the Second World War, as well as mines the emotions of Candida and Paula (whose singing were, as envisioned by Tinio, intended to be the most beautiful among all singing parts).

More importantly, the actors and actresses of Larawan deliver solid acting that by itself is worth the price of the admission ticket. Joanna Ampil, in her first film, has delivered the strongest performance in Larawan. Her performance at the end of Act 1 (the blackout scene) alone is heart-rending, a cry that stays with you for the rest of the movie. Rachel Alejandro, reprising the same role she played during Larawan’s theatrical run in the 90s, is sweet but vulnerable. The rest of the cast delivers just as well that even the cameo appearances during Act 3 are memorable, too. Whether the MMFF Jury will feel the same and honor these performances remains to be seen (as of this writing) but, awards or no awards, Larawan’s ensemble need no further validation than the merits of their own art.

For all its shortcomings, Larawan is a film made with a loving dedication to its writer’s vision: to remember and to sing, that is my vocation. Weeks before the 2017 MMFF started, Larawan is the only film in my must-see list; I hope you will give it space for yours, too.

Postscript: At the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival Gabi ng Parangal (December 27, 2017), “Ang Larawan” garnered 6 awards:

  • Best in Production Design
  • Best Musical Score (for Ryan Cayabyab)
  • Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award
  • Posthumous Special Jury Prize for Nick Joaquin
  • Best Actress (for Joanna Ampil)
  • and Best Picture


MMFF entry ‘Deadma Walking,’ Graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board

The 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry ‘Deadma Walking’ is graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB), the highest merit given to a film submitted for evaluation.

Starring reliable actors Joross Gamboa and Edgar Allan Guzman, the film is based on the screenplay of the same name which won the 2nd Prize in the Screenplay division of the 2016 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the most prestigious literary prize in the Philippines. Past winners in the same category include the blockbuster romance-comedy ‘That Thing Called Tadhana.’

The story revolves around gay BFFs (best friends for life) John and Mark whose friendship is put to the test when one of them has a terminal illness and asks the other to help him stage his fake death, wake, and funeral as his dying wish. The result is a comedy of “deadly” proportions.

‘Deadma Walking’ also features the special participation of Gerald Anderson, Vin Abrenica, and Ms. Eugene Domingo. They are joined by Candy Pangilinan, Dimples Romana, Ricci Chan, Jojit Lorenzo, Nicco Antonio, Ruby Ruiz, Bing Pimentel, and Bobby Andrews.

“Deadma Walking being part of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival is more than a blessing for us,” director Julius Alfonso told Cinema Bravo. “Having it Graded A by the Cinema Evauation Board is more than a Christmas bonus that will sustain the film’s leverage throughout the festival and more. We are ecstatic that the members of the CEB saw the charm, the fun, the vibe and feels of our film the way we intended it to be. This is indeed a Joyous Christmas for the whole team.”

“The grade A that the CEB gave Deadma Walking told me that the reviewers liked the movie a lot. But I was not prepared for the kind of raves they heaped on it. I’m shookt!” exclaimed Eric Cabahug, the film’s writer and producer.

He also shared the following highlights from the review summation of CEB on ‘Deadma Walking’:

  • Superb storytelling
  • Brilliantly visualized
  • Combines humor, drama, and camp to come up with the right mix seldom seen in the yearend filmfest
  • Witty exchanges and believable characterization
  • That it was successfully transposed from a Palanca-winning script to the screen is a triumph in itself
  • Cinematography is very good
  • Production design has wow factor
  • Musical score made good use of local talent
  • Good performances from the entire cast
  • The dark, morbid subject matter treated lightly is altogether entertaining and engaging
  • The gay tragicomedy is a different fare for the filmfest and does not disappont

In pursuant to Republic Act 9167, films which have obtained an ‘A’ grading from the CEB is entitled to an amusement tax reward of 100% of the tax collection on such film.

Rated PG by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), ‘Deadma Walking’ opens December 25, 2017 across Philippine cinemas. 

True-to-life Caramoan massacre inspires Alvin Yapan’s MMFF entry ‘Oro’

An entry to the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival, Oro (Gold) is a drama crime thriller based on true events dubbed as the “Gata 4 Massacre” which happened in Caramoan, Camarines Sur on March 22, 2014.

The film follows the life of Elmer (Joem Bascon), a small-scale miner, who plans to finally establish a life of his own by asking for Linda’s (Mercedes Cabral) hand in marriage; separate from Kapitana (Irma Adlawan), his long-time employer-benefactor who buys the gold he mines. Linda works as an elementary teacher, while Elmer barely finished high school. Pregnant with their child, Linda keeps this a secret from Elmer, fearing that this would only pressure him to marry her.

Just when Elmer and Linda are about to reveal their plans and secrets to each other, their small mining community is disturbed by the arrival of an armed group, Patrol Kalikasan, masquerading as environmentalists. The loyalty of Elmer and the small mining community to Kapitana will be tested as they could not produce a permit to mine, even though they have been working the mines since World War II, with no effects of environmental degradation. As Kapitana scrambles to secure a permit to protect her community from the harassment of the armed group, Elmer and the rest of the community struggle to eke out a living, as Patrol Kalikasan settles down in their community, and takes over the mining operations.

Written and directed by Alvin Yapan, the film is about the lives of simple folk caught between the crossfire of Kapitana accused of political patronage, and Patrol Kalikasan using the environment as a front for their own political and economic interests on the small mining community. As the provincial government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) fight over the jurisdiction over small-scale mining operations, Elmer and Linda suffer the devastating consequences of the legacy of violence and corruption of the country’s turbulent political and ideological history.

“While some parts of this film are fictionalized, Oro is based on true events dubbed as ‘Gata 4 Massacre,’ which happened on 22 March 2014 in Barangay Gata, Caramoan, Camarines Sur,” explains Yapan.

“We usually simplify things. Those who fight for the environment are the good people. Those who mine for gold and other mineral resources are bad people out to destroy the environment. Laws protecting the environment and regulating the mining industry may have been created with the best of intentions.

“But in the application of the law on real life situations, things are more complex. Sometimes, corruption and violence destroy the true spirit of the law. This is what I want to bring out in this film: to explore this fine line of what is just and unjust, of what is right and what is wrong. Environmental protection should not run counter against basic human rights.

“In the same vein, protection of basic human rights should also not justify environmental exploitation.

“As a director, I also would not want to romanticize the victims in this film. I want to present how slogans for the protection of the environment and human rights are just that: Slogans! In the end, care and attention should be given to the complexity of micropolitics.

“This is where I think film could be very effective, in understanding that there are no absolutes, in appreciating the network of oftentimes conflicting motivations. I want this film to become a study of character. What drove people to the industry of mining? How power corrupts in the hands of ordinary citizens. How patronage could actually be a positive force for social development. And how in a place of wealth, there could be so much violence.”

From doing his first short film Rolyo back in 2007 (Best Short Film at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2007 and at the Gawad Urian 2008), Yapan has gone a long way in filmmaking. He has also won the Golden Award for Digital Films at the 2009 Cairo International Film Festival for his film Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe which followed more films including the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival entry Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa (2011) which won Best Picture at the 2012 Gawad Urian and Bronze Precolumbian Circle at the Bogota Film Festival 2011, and Debosyon (2013). He has also directed a weekly TV mini-series for GMA News TV titled Titser. After that, he continued directing films namely Mga Anino ng Kahapon (2013), An Kubo sa Kawayanan (2015), Ang Tulay sa San Sebastian which is an official entry to the CineFilipino Film Festival 2016, and EDSA, an official entry to the World Premieres Film Fesitival which won Best Picture.


Oro stars Irma Adlawan (Ang Panggagahasa Kay Fe), Mercedes Cabral (An Kubo Sa Kawayanan), Joem Bascon and Sandino Martin (Ang Tulay sa San Sebastian), Arrian Labios, Sue Prado, Cedrick Juan, Biboy Ramirez, Ronald Regala, Timothy Castillo, Tracy Quila, Acey Aguilar and Sunshine Teodoro.

From Feliz Film Productions and as distributed by Solar Pictures, “Oro” opens December 25, 2016 in cinemas nationwide as part of the anuual Metro Manila Film Festival.

8 full-length, 8 shorts revealed: MMFF 2016 movie lineup

The full lineup of films in competition in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMMF)  has been revealed Friday, November 18.


Full-length features:

Production: The IdeaFirst Company
Director: Jun Robles Lana
Starring:  Paolo Ballesteros, Luis Alandy, Gladys Reyes, Albie Casino, Lou Veloso, Inah De Belen, IC Mendoza, Christian Bables.

Director: Real Florido and Arturo “Boy” San Agustin
Starring: Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Jason Abalos, Victor Neri, Perla Bautista, Ces Quesada, RJ Agustin, Ronwaldo Martin, and Kiko Matos

Director: Avid Liongoren
Starring: Rhian Ramos, Enzo Marcos & TJ Trinidad.

Production: Reality Entertainment
Director: Erik Matti
Starring: Dominic Roque, Ronnie Alonte (of Hashtag), John Vic De Guzman (volleyball player), JR Versales (model), Neil Ryan Sese, Lou Veloso, Elora Españo, Phoebe Walker, & Rhed Bustamante.

Director: Babyruth Villarama-Gutierrez
Starring: Hazel Perdid, Maylyn Jocob, Cherry Bretania & Leo Selomenio

Director: Alvin Yapan
Starring: Joem Bascon

Production: Star Cinema
Director: Theodore Boborol
Starring: Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia & Ronni Alonte

Production: Martinez Rivera Films and Quantum Films in association with TBA
Director: Marlon Rivera
Starring: Eugene Domingo, Jericho Rosales, Joel Torre, Agot Isidro, Cai Cortez, Kean Cipriano & Khalil Ramos

Short films:

BIRDS by Christian Polo Lat

EJK by Bor Ocampo

MANILA SCREAM by Roque Lee & Blair Camilo

MGA BITOON SA SIYUDAD (Stars in the City) by Jarell Serecio

MITATANG by Arvin Jezer Gagui

MOMO by Avid Liongoren

PASSAGE OF LIFE by Renz Vincemark Cruz & Hannah Daryl Gayapa

SITSIRITSIT by Brian Spencer Reyes

The festival will open on Christmas Day, December 25, and will run for a few weeks thereafter.

The Parade of Stars will be on December 23. The Awards Night is scheduled on January 8, 2017.

FULL LIST: Best Picture winners, Metro Manila Film Festival (1975 – 2015)

metro manila film festival logo

The Metro Manila Film Festival is an annual film festival held in Metro Manila, Philippines since 1975. It runs from December 25 through New Year’s Day and into the first weekend of January in the following year.

The selection of Best Picture used to have a commercial viability criterion (box-office performance of the entries). It was in 2010 when this criterion was removed. As of the same year, the criteria for the selection of Best Picture(s) are as follows: artistry, creativity and technical excellence, innovation, and thematic value. Entries are also judged for global appeal (70%) and Filipino cultural and/or historical value (30 %).

The 41st Metro Manila Film Festival is currently receiving online flak for disqualifing last December 26 the John Lloyd Cruz-starrer Honor Thy Father which is a major frontrunner in the festival. According to the letter sent by MMFF to the producer of Honor Thy Father, the disqualified is actioned upon due to non-disclosure of the film’s participation in another festival.

The Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc (DGPI) has also demanded fair play and transparency from MMFF as it condemns the move of the executive committee.

Realistically, the Best Picture is deemed as a valuable recognition as it translates to the opening of more cinemas while it gains more attention for bagging the award.

Ever wondered what were the previous films that were awarded Best Picture? Here is the complete list of Best Picture winners of MMFF from recent to oldest:

  • 2015 – “#WalangForever”
  • 2014 – “Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo”
  • 2013 – “10,000 Hours”
  • 2012 – “One More Try”
  • 2011 – “Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story”
  • 2010 – “Ang Tanging Ina Mo, Last Na ‘To!”
  • 2009 – “Ang Panday”
  • 2008 – “Baler”
  • 2007 – “Resiklo”
  • 2006 – “Enteng Kabisote 3: The Legend Goes On and On and On”
  • 2005 – “Blue Moon”
  • 2004 – “Mano Po 3: My Love”
  • 2003 – “Crying Ladies”
  • 2002 – “Mano Po”
  • 2001 – “Yamashita: The Tiger’s Treasure”
  • 2000 – “Tanging Yaman”
  • 1999 – “Muro Ami”
  • 1998 – “Jose Rizal”
  • 1997 – “Nasaan ang Puso”
  • 1996 – “Magic Temple”
  • 1995 – “Muling Umawit Ang Puso”
  • 1994 – [Not awarded]
  • 1993 – “Kung Mawawala Ka Pa”
  • 1992 – “Andres Manambit: Angkan ng Matatapang”
  • 1991 – “Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M.”
  • 1990 – “Andrea, Paano ba ang Maging Isang Ina”
  • 1989 – “Imortal”
  • 1988 – “Patrolman”
  • 1987 – “Olongapo, The Great American Dream”
  • 1986 – “Halimaw sa Banga” [only the 3rd Best Picture was announced]
  • 1985 – “Paradise Inn”
  • 1984 – “Bulaklak ng City Jail”
  • 1983 – “Karnal”
  • 1982 – “Himala”
  • 1981 – “Kisapmata”
  • 1980 – “Taga sa Panahon”
  • 1979 – “Kasal-kasalan, Bahay-bahayan” tied with “Ina Ka ng Anak Mo”
  • 1978 – “Atsay”
  • 1977 – “Burlesk Queen”
  • 1976 – “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?”
  • 1975 – “Diligin Mo ng Hamog ang Uhaw na Lupa”

On December 27, the Best Picture award was given to Walang Forever starring Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales. Honor Thy Father’s Erik Matti won the Best Director award but was a no-show at the event.

FULL LIST: Winners, Metro Manila Film Festival 2015


The 41st Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) awards night was held at the KIA Theater in Araneta Center, Quezon City Sunday, December 27.

Here is the full list of winners of MMFF 2015:

  • Best Actress: Jennylyn Mercado (Walang Forever)
  • Best Actor: Jericho Rosales (Walang Forever)
  • Best Picture: Walang Forever
  • 2nd Best Picture: Buy Now, Die Later
  • 3rd Best Picture: My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore
  • 2015 Gat Puno J. Villegas Cultural Award: My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore
  • Best Supporting Actress: Maine Mendoza (My Bebe Love)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Tirso Cruz III (Honor Thy Father)
  • Best Director: Erik Matti (Honor Thy Father)
  • Best Screenplay: Paul Sta. Ana (Walang Forever)
  • Best Story: Dan Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone (Walang Forever)
  • Male Celebrity of the Night: Cesar Montano
  • Female Celebrity of the Night: Jennylyn Mercado
  • FPJ Memorial Award for Excellence: Walang Forever
  • Best Cinematography: Pao Orendain (Nilalang)
  • Best Film Editing: Jason Cahapay (Nilalang)
  • Best Production Design: (Buy Now, Die Later)
  • Best Visual Effects: (Nilalang)
  • Best Make-up Artist: Ryan Panaligan and Erika Racela (Honor Thy Father)
  • Best Original Theme Song: “Tao” by Armi Millare (Honor Thy Father)
  • Best Musical Score: Jessie Lasaten (Nilalang)
  • Best Sound: Ditoy Aguila (Nilalang)
  • New Wave Best Feature Film: Ari: My Life with a King
  • New Wave Special Jury: Toto
  • Manila Bulletin Best Feature Film: Ari: My Life with a King (New Wave)
  • New Wave Best Director: John Paul Su (Toto)
  • New Wave Best Actor: Francisco Guinto (Ari) & JM De Guzman (Tandem)
  • New Wave Best Screenplay: Robby Tantingco (Ari)
  • New Wave Best Supporting Actor: Thou Reyes (Toto)
  • New Wave Best Supporting Actress: Bibeth Orteza (Toto)
  • Best Child Performer: Krystal Brimmer (Honor Thy Father)
  • Best Festival Float: Buy Now, Die Later
  • New Wave Short Film Jury Prize: Daisy
  • New Wave Short Film Best Picture: Mumu
  • New Wave Animation Best Picture: Buttons
  • New Wave Animation Special Jury Prize: Little Lights

The eight movies that hit theaters last Friday, December 25 were My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore; Beauty and the Bestie; Haunted Mansion; All You Need is Pag-ibig; Buy Now, Die Later; Walang Forever; Honor Thy Father; and Nilalang.

Regal promises scarier ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’ in ‘Haunted Mansion’

Regal Entertainment’s highly successful Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) horror trilogy franchise, Shake, Rattle & Roll gives way this year to an even hair-raising, sine-chilling, bloodier, horrifying theater experience as the mother and daughter tandem of Lily Monteverde field Haunted Mansion right on Christmas Day.

Directed by multi-awarded Jun Lana, Haunted Mansion features three of today’s freshest and hottest young faces – Janella Salvador, Marlo Mortel and Jerome Ponce together with stellar cast Janice De Belen, Iza Calzado and talented actors – Joem Bascon, LJ Reyes, Dominic Ochoa with uprising showcase of teenage actors – Sharlene San Pedro, Ingrid Dela Paz, Devon Seron, Eliza Pineda, Phytos Ramirez and Paolo Gumabao.

In the movie, Janella is gifted girl Ella, who sees dead people around her. The last time she used her gift to communicate with spirits, though, resulted in her father’s death. Her schoolmates who often bullies Ella, initiated a prank and insidiously awakened the evil spirits, Amara (Iza Calzado) and Veronica (LJ Reyes) from the past. In the midst of the students’ adventure, dormant ghost in the retreat house are disturbed and so they wreak havoc on Ella and her friends.

Ella and her friends accidentally discovers the mystery surrounding the twin deaths, and so Amara’s vengeful spirit returns to try to stop them from spilling the truth.

In this movie, the audience will experience the evil wrath of the vicious ghost Amara.

“Haunted Mansion stands to be one of Regal’s biggest MMFF offerings,” says Direk Jun Lana, “and I’m excited for everyone to see it. Not everyone knows that we have been developing this project for Regal for years.”

He adds, “Binusisi talaga namin ang kuwento. We also made sure to start the shoot earlier para mapaganda lallo ang mga eksena, siguraduhing nakakatakot at mapapasigaw ang audiences ‘pag nanood sila. This is the kind of film you want to watch together with your family and barkada.”

“Haunted Mansion,” this year’s only ultimate horror screamfest, opens nationwide December 25, 2015. Rated PG-13 by the MTRCB. (PR)

122515 Haunted Mansion

MOVIE REVIEW: My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore (2015)

My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More serves as the reunion project of Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai Delas Alas, comedy royalties who share reputation in the industry as they have both proven themselves as reliable actors in their genre. Initially submitted to the Metro Manila Film Festival as “Romcom-in Mo Ako,” it is first noted with their teamup in itself as one good reason to look forward to a potential, if not predictable, box-office hit.

Who would have thought that along the way, in an unexpected manner, a new love team would emerge thanks to the noontime TV show Eat Bulaga. Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza’s rise to unbelievable fame has paved the way for their inclusion to the movie, granted Sotto’s strong affiliation to the production. With the two young stars included as cast members, the script was naturally adjusted and evolved to My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore (the title referring to colloquial endearment term akin to babe, with the same hashtag as the Kalyeserye portion of the TV program they are in).


Vic Sotto’s Vito is at odds with Ai-Ai’s Cora as they find themselves in a string of mishaps resulting to a rivalry between two families who both run an event management business. The tension heats up when Vito’s daughter Anna (played by Maine in her first movie appearance) gets romantically involved with Cora’s nephew Dondi (Alden).

The budding entanglement between the star-crossed lovers is actively prevented by Vito and Cora, believing that the conflict would simply worsen should such connection remain.

When fate permits the “parents” to have the same kind of romantic involvement with each other, it becomes the role of the young ones to respond to the circumstance. Here and there, decisions are made only to end up with a mutual agreement focused on happiness and contentment.


Under the directorial helm of Jose Javier Reyes, My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore provides the right blend of comedy and romance while making sure that it understands what the audience wants. The technical aspects of the film may not be remarkable but at its very core is its deep reliance to the cliches of Pinoy humor and the traditional antics that perfectly tickle the funny bones. The story lucidly moves with the rom-com formula known to Filipinos–affecting, familial and stimulating–with the use of all the cliches one can think of.

My Bebe Love is not even on a par with grand productions despite having big stars and respected names in the cast. It feels rushed most of the time; however, its simplicity works with magic that everything does not feel like they are just trying hard to finish a movie.

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Not to mention, My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore is a surprising by-product of the desire to bring joy to the audiences all over the country.  It does not disappoint in dishing edge-of-the-seat romantic moments between each pair of leads and cementing Aldub as a seemingly unstoppable love team–phenomenal for that matter. On that note, it delivers as necessary in a timely season when Filipinos aim to just have fun with their families during Christmas.

Written by the ever-reliable Bibeth Orteza and Jose Javier Reyes, its comedy does not only make fun of its numerous sketches but also highlights some cameo appearances of Eat Bulaga stars, their sons and daughters, and the multitude of product placements in the glorious names of Bear Brand Adult Plus, O+, Glutamax, Nissan, Phoenix Petroleum, Tide, Goldilocks, McDonald’s, TNT, Krispy Kreme, Solmux, Google, YouTube, Google Maps, Kusê, PLDT Home, Cignal, San Miguel Pale Pilsen, b Hotel, San Mig Light, One Esplanade and Coca-Cola.

In My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore, formula and chemistry work well together in producing what’s close to the heart: fun-filled entertainment at its most modest sense.

Jointly produced by film outfits OctoArts Films, M-Zet Television Productions, Inc., APT Entertainment, GMA Films and Meda Production, My Bebe Love: #KiligPaMore opens nationwide on December 25, 2015 as an official entry to the 41st Metro Manila Film Festival.

Vic, Ai-Ai, Aldub to bring #KiligPaMore in ‘My Bebe Love’

Undeniably the most-awaited and much-anticipated from among this year’s entries to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), “My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More” has got everyone excitedly doing the countdown til Christmas Day, the first day showing of the groundbreaking movie starring comedy royalties Vic Sotto and Ai-Ai Delas Alas, and the phenomenal loveteam of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza.

my bebe love kiligpamore 2

Produced jointly by five giant film outfits OctoArts Films, M-Zet Television Productions, Inc., APT Entertainment, GMA Films and Meda Production, “My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More” is written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes.

The 2015 MMFF box-office race has been sealed this early by early predictions of runaway victory by the entry, “My Bebe Love…” as young and old alike, all self-confessed fans and followers of the box-office king and queen of comedy Vic Sotto and Ai Ai Delas Alas, and the millions and millions of Aldub followers around the globe, have already been flooding social media with their excitement to see the film. The countdown has begun. Movie observers know that “My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More!” is going to make a killing at the box-office and is likely to set brand new record in MMFF history.

Expect waves of high-spirited excitement, heartwarming romance, wholesome fun, and excellent Filipino values from the movie written by Bibeth Orteza and Jose Javier Reyes to take the holiday season’s film festival by storm. To add to the excitement, Joey de Leon, the “Eat Bulaga” lolas Paolo Ballesteros, Jose Manalo, and Wally Bayola, and Ryzza Mae Dizon, will be making special appearances in the movie.

Vic Sotto plays the role of Vito who finds himself at odds and in a bitter professional rivalry with Cora, played by Ai-Ai. The two are both in the business of mounting special events and productions and have both made a successful name in the same profession. The conflict happens when their respective wards – Anna (played by Maine) daughter of Vito, gets romantically entangled with Cora’s beloved nephew Dondi (played by Alden). As expected, the “parents” actively reject the budding romantic involvement between the star-crossed lovers and willingly struck an unexpected truce to prevent this romance from happening.

The plot thickens when the unexpected alliance of the Vito and Cora starts blooming into something else. Now, it’s the turn of the youngsters to feel disconcerted with the idea of having their folks enter into a different relationship zone. Now it was the turn of Dondi and Anna to react to the situation. They did not like the idea of his auntie and her father falling in love with each other. Now it was the younger generation vehemently reacting to this new romance.

So where will all this end? What are the possible solutions and resolutions to bring closure and new beginnings to these young, exciting lovers? Catch the excitement, the love, the fun and romance when “My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More!” starts showing on Christmas Day at the MMFF. See you at the movies!

122515 My Bebe Love poster

‘Haunted Mansion’ aims to nab Best Picture, Best Actress at MMFF 2015

Multi-awarded director Jun Lana made sure that Regal Entertainment’s Metro Manila Film Festival entry, ‘Haunted Mansion,’ is tops not just in the technical aspect but in the acting department as well.

This year’s biggest horror movie topbills Janella Salvador, Marlo Mortel and Jerome Ponce with senior actors Iza Calzado, Dominic Ochoa and Janice De Belen.

Lana is an expert at giving what the horror films audience go for. Haunted Mansion boasts of non-stop horrifying scenes and state-of-the-art sound effects. Editing is also fast-paced while the cinematography fits the movie’s mood perfectly.

Moviegoers will be hooked to the scenes shot in the eerie mansion. They must watch out for Lana’s superb execution of the scene where the haunted mansion’s dark secret is finally revealed.

It is as gory as a terrifying scene can get with the teenage characters suffering the wrath of the ghosts they disturbed. Janella and Iza’s confrontation scene serves as one of the film’s highlights.

Observers say Lana is evidently inspired while shooting ”HM” maybe because he got all-out support from the mother-daughter team of Lily and Roselle Monteverde.

After seeing the rushes of Haunted Mansion, Mother Lily and Roselle are convinced they did the right in fielding the movie in this year’s MMFF instead of an instalment of the highly-successful Shake, Rattle & Roll franchise.

This early, Lana is predicted to be a stronger for the best trophy, coming fresh from twin victories in Russia and India.

Regal also made the right move in picking showbiz newbie Janella her first big screen break. Kibitzers say she fits the role of the teenager gifted with a third eye to a T and that she may be a shoo-in for the best actress plum.

Barkadas and families will surely shake, rattle and roll in fear once ‘Haunted Mansion’ opens in cinemas nationwide this Christmas, December 25.