WATCH: Angel Aquino, Tony Labrusca’s ‘Glorious’ trailer gains 9 million views in 2 days

There’s no stopping the virality of the first teaser for the upcoming movie ‘Glorious’ as it gained over 9 million organic views in 48 hours since its release last Sunday noon.

Angel Aquino and Tony Labrusca are both steamy in the video as they present a complex May-December love affair—a 50-year old woman falls for a guy in his 20s. In real life, Angel is 47 and Tony is 23.

Directed by Connie S. Macatuno and produced by Dreamscape Digital, ‘Glorious’ is one of the original movies to premiere on the revamped iWant online streaming service, which will be launched on November 17 by ABS-CBN. The new iWant application is available for download on iOS and Android devices.

Watch the controversial teaser trailer for ‘Glorious’ here:

WATCH: Trailer for Tony Labrusca, Angel Aquino’s ‘Glorious’ reaches 5.6M views in 24 hours

The first teaser for the upcoming sizzling movie ‘Glorious’ has reached over 5.6 million organic views in 24 hours since its release yesterday.

‘Glorious’ stars Tony Labrusca and Angel Aquino who has a May-December love affair in the story. It is directed by Connie S. Macatuno and produced by Dreamscape Digital for the new iWant online streaming service, set to be launched by ABS-CBN this month.

It revolves around the story of a 50-year old woman who falls for a guy in his 20s. The teaser showed steaming scenes between Angel and Tony, who are 47 and 23 in real life, respectively.

Stay tuned for ‘Glorious’ and other original films in the new iWant this November.

Watch the teaser trailer for ‘Glorious’ here:

MOVIE REVIEWS: Cinema One Originals Festival 2018 (Part 1)

Here’s the first part of our festival report on Cinema One Originals 2018, in which we cover Double Twisting Double Back, Mamu (and a Mother Too), Never Tear Us ApartPaglisan, and Pang-MMKThe 14th edition of Cinema One Originals Film Festival runs from October 12 to 21, 2018 in select cinemas in Metro Manila.

READ MORE: Guide to Cinema One Originals Festival 2018


Joem Bascon and Tony Labrusca in ‘Double Twisting Double Back.’ Photo via Cinema One.

Synopsis: A year ago, Badger is one of the best gymnasts in the Philippines. He wants to be the very best, until his reckless best friend sabotaged his athletic career. Now, Badger is miserably working as a distributor, selling alcoholic beverages to the managers of bars and supermarkets. To his delight, Badger receives a new opportunity to pursue his quest to be the best Filipino gymnast. He immediately resigns from his job. His reckless best friend, who fulfills his desires through this job, gets pissed and vows to stop Badger’s dreams once again.

Review: Double Twisting Double Back puts a fascinating marriage to gymnastics and sexual deed, both activities similar in a way that they involve an endorphin rush. While most psychological studies state that engaging in exercise (or in this case, competitive sports) can help enriching one’s sex life, the film lays out a reversed hypothesis: surrendering to carnal desires can actually give a sense of relaxation, and therefore focus before an upcoming competition. This is the main argument that satyromaniac Wasi (Joem Bascon) enforces to his athlete best friend Badger (Tony Labrusca), to which the latter strongly rebuffs.

Apart from sexual addiction, the film also tackles another frequently portrayed mental illness in cinema (I won’t spoil but watching the trailer below will give you a good idea of what I’m talking about). Its premise is mostly founded on Sigmund Freud’s conceptual framework – the clash of id and superego, presented in some form of a twisted reality. As a devil’s advocate, Bascon summons so much menace and self-righteousness in his portrayal. On the other hand, Labrusca may be playing a more passive role in the dynamic but he delivers to a challenging task of enduring mental anguish and relearning gymnastics himself. The film showcases a full display of his flexibility (from somersaults to handstands and all), and in attempt to be socially relevant, it inserts a clunky commentary about the current plight of local gymnasts.

Director and writer Joseph Abello is not afraid in breaking the rules he set beforehand as the third act gets crazier. Benefiting from an eerie musical scoring and a restless editing, the film amps up the testosterone level to reach a shocking, no holds barred finale. At this point, fantasy may completely take over but it in this manner that the film finds its sweet spot.

Written and directed by Joseph Abello, ‘Double Twisting Double Back‘ stars Joem Bascon, Tony Labrusca, Mon Confiado, Suzette Ranillo, Acey Aguilar, Elora Espano, Biboy Ramirez, Sunshine Teodoro, Dalin Sarmiento, Elle Velasco and Ella Mae McCoy. Run time: 115 minutes.


Iyah Mina and EJ Jallorina in ‘Mamu (And a Mother Too).’ Photo via Cinema One.

Synopsis: A transgender sex worker in her late 40s along Fields Avenue whose only aspiration is to have breast implants for her profession unexpectedly assumes the role of a mother to her orphaned niece, a transgender youth who is only beginning to discover her own sexuality. As she works more shifts to save for her implants, troubles arise when she begins to feel the weight of her struggles – being an aging sex worker in fast-evolving society, a partner to her young fiancé, and a parent to a teenager she just met. Her difficult confrontations eventually lead her to a new attitude towards life, and a unique recipe to a famous Kapampangan dish, Sisig.

Review: Despite coming from a miserable place of sex industry, Mamu (and a Mother Too) teems with genuine kindness most evident in Ernalyn (Iyah Mina in her strong movie debut) as a trans-prostitute with a heart of gold. The main goal here is to redefine the conventions of being a mother and while the film quickly sets up Erna to be a likeable protagonist, for the most part though, she is often tied to her goal of having breast implants to attract more customers. It does excel more on its comedic aspect – the film guilty on meandering in its shallow themes, but with it comes the entertaining banter among its gay supporting characters.

There’s also a hilarious coming-of-age of storyline in Bona (EJ Jallorina comes out as a crowd favorite) and even Vincent (Arron Villaflor) who seems to be Erna’s leeching boyfriend, defies his stereotype midway through the film. But once these subplots converge into its dramatic moments, the emotional weight is ultimately watered down by the film’s lack of focus. During its third act, the film takes Erna’s selflessness to an extreme that feels rather uncalled for.

Still, it’s refreshing to see a film operating in a progressive society – where straight guys openly flirt with gays and never once do the characters make a big deal about sexual orientation. It could have benefited more from a restrained editing but director Rod Singh touches on a lot of socially relevant issues to represent the struggles of a marginalized demographic. The film places its heart on a poignant level of humanity to make us viewers realize that we’re not that different from them after all.

Directed by Rod Singh, ‘Mamu (and a Mother Too)‘ stars Iyah Mina, Arron Villaflor, EJ Jallorina, Markus Paterson and Jovani Manansala. Run time: 90 minutes.


Screen grabs from ‘Never Tear Us Part.’ Photo via Cinema One.

Synopsis: An aging spy, his delusional wife, and promiscuous son are driven into madness as they confront the terrors caused by the monster known as The Shadow.

Review: I resign any attempt to comprehend what happened in Never Tear Us Apart, let alone think what this movie is really about. Vertically shot using an iPhone, this experimental film is not for everyone. There’s a deliberate intention to confuse the audience – the faces are not shown until the third act and the storyline, interspersed with random clips, don’t have a natural rhythm to sustain coherence. The english dialogues feel contrived and I can’t say that the cinematography truly arrested my attention when I was struggling to stay awake for a good amount of time.

One can argue that the experience is like peering into someone else’s private and promiscuous life. With the amount of soft core porn and BDSM this film has, it clearly tries to stimulate your senses. But instead of pleasure, the meaning gets lost in translation and all I get is a bunch of homework.

There are far more posing questions: What convinced these veteran actors to be involved here? How much did the producers pay for all the copyrighted material inserted? At one point, did director Whammy Alcazaren realize that he’s alienating the ‘average’ viewer too much? He sure does pour his heart here, but it’s a vanity project that only he and his team can fully grasp. Anyway, this form of ‘art’ belongs more in the museum than in the cinema.

Directed by Whammy Alcazaren, ‘Never Tear Us Apart‘ stars Ricky Davao, Meryll Soriano and Jasmine Curtis-Smith. Run time: 85 minutes.


Eula Valdes and Ian Veneracion in ‘Paglisan.’ Photo via Cinema One.

Synopsis: Crisanto and Dolores’ marriage is going through a rough patch. Going through a marital crisis, a couple’s marriage is tested when Crisanto is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease as Dolores sinks deeper into depression. Paglisan tells the story of how a married couple attempt to survive together through fading memories and fleeting identities.

Review: At first, the gradual deterioration in Paglisan’s animation may seem like a product of rushed production but in hindsight, this is actually a reflection of Cris’ decline in mental faculties. Director Carl Joseph Papa, as seen in his previous work in Manang Biring, seems to have a preference for the humble 2D animation but I would have appreciated if there’s more frames and details here. Perhaps that’s the only thing that hinders me in giving this beautiful film a perfect score because such anti-climatic style gets in the way of earning its maximum emotional impact. Given with a larger budget, this film though is very ripe for a remake. So here’s my unsolicited opinion: go for live action in the first act, then the Manang Biring pseudo-animation for the second act and finally, save the storyboard style for the third act.

And man, I am disappointed that the trailer bears no hint that this is actually a musical. If the trailer did so, this film would’ve drawn more attention because the songs are really good. Eula Valdes’ vocals shine during her breakdown number of “Pagod Na” and Ian Veneracion sings plenty of catchy songs too, with “Ten Past Eleven” being the standout. There’s also a pleasant surprise as Khalil Ramos and Junjun Quintana join in a rendition of Do Re Mi’s “I Can” performance. Will someone make a petition to put these songs on Spotify?

Despite its limitations, Paglisan is something that I can embrace and recommend wholeheartedly. We don’t often get a local animated feature these days, let alone also a musical. As Veneracion performs his heartbreaking swan song in the end, the film reminds its viewers that memories may fade and bodies may fail, but unconditional love never forgets.

Directed Carl Joseph Papa, ‘Paglisan‘ stars Ian Veneracion, Eula Valdez, Khalil Ramos and Junjun Quintana. Run time: 100 minutes.


Neil Coleta in ‘Pang MMK.’ Photo via Cinema One.

Synopsis: Being the legitimate son, Janus was given the stressful responsibility to take care of his father’s funeral. With the presence of a senator, constant phone calls from his mother (who was in the United States), and the conflict between his scandalous sister and his father’s mistress; the funeral became dramatic, chaotic, and hilarious.

Review: Almost everything about Pang-MMK screams of repetition. It beats you on the head with the same running jokes. To repeat them twice will elicit laughs, but to rehash them for the third or fourth time, is already telling how actually thin the material is. Engrossed on gags, this film has little regard for its main character’s development – Janus remains emotionally unbothered of what’s happening around him. The film misses the opportunity to explore the history with his father and thereby, give him a more meaningful arc.

Neil Coleta does his best to impersonate a sassy gay and Nikki Valdez gives an all out performance as a vulgar drunk woman, but none of their characters are simply likeable enough for the viewers to root for. It does not help that the film has a misguided notion into thinking that profanity is tantamount to punchlines. (They’re not.) Director John Lapus seems to be following the footsteps of Wenn Deramas, but this style of direction starts to feel outdated in the current landscape of local cinema. Even the rip-off musical scoring turns off.

It’s a shame because making a parody sequel to an original “Maalaala Mo Kaya” episode seems like a fun concept to play with. But without a solid emotional core, this film just falls apart regardless how much star power it has. The unimaginatively titled theme song “Pang-MMK” played in the credits section puts the final nail in the coffin.

Directed by John Lapus, ‘Pang MMK‘ stars Neil Coleta, Nikki Valdez, Zeppi Borromeo, Joel Torre, Ricky Davao, Cherry Pie Picache, Charo Santos-Concio, Mosang, Marife Necesito, Dennis Obispo, Ricel Vito, Kakai Bautista, Anjo Damiles, Agot Isidro and Jojit Lorenzo. Run time: 99 minutes

Read more: Part 2 of Cinema One 2018 coverage

MOVIE REVIEWS: Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018 (Part 1)

Here’s the first part of our festival report on Cinemalaya 2018 in which we cover Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang DapithaponMamang, LiwayMLMusmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma and Shorts A. The 14th edition of Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival runs from August 3 to 12 at Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select cinemas in Metro Manila.

READ MORE: Guide to Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival 2018


Perla Bautista (Teresa), Dante Rivero (Bene), and Menggie Cobarrubias (Celso) in ‘Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon’. Photo via Cinemalaya.

On surface level, Carlo Enciso Catu’s Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon is a testament to the abundance of geriatric love stories needed to be told in local cinema. It tells the story of a terminally-ill old man Bene (Dante Rivero) who lives alone in his decrepit house. In his last days, he decides to reach out to his estranged wife Teresa (Perla Bautista) who now lives with her partner Celso (Menggie Cobarrubias).

The film finds strength in its fully-fleshed characters, each driven by their own motivations in search of peace and happiness during their twilight years. The one thing they have in common is that none of them wants to die alone. There presents a conflict and the film will lead us to believe that Bene and Celso should vie for Teresa’s love and attention. But Dapithapon has a lot more facets on old age than jealousy and companionship. It is about seeking forgiveness for your past transgressions, finding closure on things that you have given up thought a long time ago and coming into terms with your lifetime of regrets.

Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon offers a solid direction, anchored by a credible cast ensemble. It lingers enough on mundanity to establish a melancholic tone yet it has surprising bits of dark humor to lighten up the mood. It makes no attempt on calling attention to itself through dramatic confrontations, everything is just a remnant from the past. It may not reach an emotional high but as soon as the film ends, the weight of it starts to fall on your shoulders.

Directed by Carlo Enciso Catu from a screenplay written by John Carlo Pacala
Cast: Dante Rivero, Menggie Cabarrubias and Perla Bautista with Romnick Sarmenta, Che Ramos, Ryan Ronquillo, Jacqueline Cortex, Dunhill Banzon, Stanley Abuloc
Run time: 90 minutes

4.5 out of 5 stars


Glaiza De Castro (Day), Kenken Nuyad (Dakip) and Dominic Rocco (Ric) in ‘Liway.’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Of all the Cinemalaya entries, Kip Oebanda’s Liway is the most personal work of the bunch. It’s a biopic of the director’s mother, Commander Liway (Glaiza De Castro) a.k.a ‘Day,’ told in the perspective of her son Dakip (Kenken Nuyad as young Oebanda). The story takes place in Camp Delgado prison where captured rebel Day shelters Dakip from the atrocities of Martial Law by telling him myths about an enchantress named Liway of Mt. Kanlaon. Little did the boy know, this is actually a fictionalized version of Day and her comrades’ resistance against the Marcos dictatorship.

Seeing the film’s poster – a pregnant mother armed with a rifle, I came into this movie with a different expectation. I wanted to see Commander Liway preaching her beliefs, leading a rebellion, making compromises, etc. all while bearing a child so that the audience will have a full grasp on what makes her tick both as a freedom fighter and as a mother. But Liway actually took a different direction and prioritized more on the mother aspect. Majority of the scenes here occur inside the prison, dealing with the aftermath of their capture. Frankly, it’s not quite compelling since prison life only imposes minimal threat compared to rebel life. Once the film starts teasing the gripping flashbacks to fill in Day’s backstory, it becomes clear how the film partially shortchanges you from a tension-filled plot. Whether the choice to limit those scenes is due to directorial choice or budget limitations, I wouldn’t know.

But Liway does not entirely miss the point and successfully paints its lead as a multi-faceted character – she can be brave and helpless, a caring mother and an inspirational figure at the same time. It owes a lot from De Castro’s restrained demeanor and vocal ability (she sings Asin’s ‘Bayan Ko’ and ‘Himig ng Pag-ibig’ to deliver emotional beats). Whatever the plot lacks in tension, the film compensates it with a lot of heartfelt mother and son scenes, along with a strong cast performance.

Overall, Liway’s narrative structure tries a lot of things and it ends up tonally incongruous. No matter how saturated the Martial Law subgenre is (yes, I’m calling it a thing), this is still an important story that deserves to be told. The film garners a huge applause during its gala screening, it even led to some activist chants, but those are mostly for different reasons – the director’s blood relation to Liway and the fact that this film is partially funded with Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth. It could feel a little self-serving and over-hyped since Commander Liway’s contribution to the nation as a freedom fighter is not much highlighted in the film. I was honestly left yearning for more.

Directed by Kip Oebanda, written by Kip Oebanda and Zig Dulay
Cast: Glaiza De Castro, Dominic Roco, Kenken Nuyad, Sue Prado, Soliman Cruz, Joel Saracho, Paolo O’Hara, Madeleine Nicolas, Ebong Joson, Nico Antonio, Khalil Ramos, Gerry Cornejo, Diana Alferez, Juli Bautista, Pau Benitez, Liway Gabo, She Maala, Renante Bustamante.
Run time: 100 minutes

3.5 out of 5 stars


Ketchup Eusebio (Ferdie) and Celeste Legaspi (Mamang) in Mamang. Photo via Cinemalaya.

Denise O’Hara’s Mamang tackles on the struggles (and the unexpected pleasures) of having dementia at old age. Celeste Legaspi plays the titular character who is troubled by the apparitions of her former lovers, each having a different impact to her mood and disposition. The film bears a light tone in general and it draws laughs from Mamang’s charming antics, along with Legaspi who gives a semi-theatrical performance suited for her character.

Eventually, the silliness runs dry as the film indulges too much on her stereotype – a temperamental, self-centered old lady, rather than spending time to dissect the reasons for her mental illness and how all her episodes fit in the bigger picture. The film also makes an odd decision of using neon lights, inadvertently giving away the film’s twist a mile too early. Hence, there’s not much emotional impact when it is needed the most.

Mamang’s fractured mind can only do so much to shelter her from reality. As a character study, Mamang feels like a prolonged dream, dallying and too spontaneous when it comes to execution that it somehow misses to leave a strong mark in the end. That being said, this should work best if viewed as a heartfelt story between Mamang and her son Ferdie (Ketchup Eusebio).

Written and Directed by Denise O’Hara
Cast: Celeste Legaspi, Ketchup Eusebio, Peewee O’Hara, Alex Medina, Gio Gahol, Elora Espano, Paolo O’Hara
Run time: 90 minutes

3 out of 5 stars


Tony Labrusca (Carlo), Eddie Garcia (Colonel) and Henz Villaraiz (Jaze) in ‘ML’. Photo by Cinemalaya.

Having read the synopsis of this film last year, Benedict Mique’s ML turns out exactly what I expected it to be – an arm-gripping and eye-wincing thriller propaganda against Martial Law. The antagonist comes in the form of The Colonel (Eddie Garcia), a PTSD-stricken hermit who transforms into a merciless torturer upon mention of the film’s title. Enter a Marcos apologist student named Carlo (Tony Labrusca), along with his best friend (Henz Villaraiz) and his girlfriend (Lianne Valentin), who are given assignments to research on the subject of Martial Law. Carlo decides to interview the retired soldier and needless to say, it doesn’t end well.

Once the film starts with the torturing, it really gets graphic and uncomfortable. At best, ML is a reminder from the dark ages to never repeat the same mistakes again, the film getting away with all the violence displayed since they are historical based. At worst, it’s a checklist of torture porn made to evoke feelings of trauma for the older generation and to impose terror for the new generation. Much like its poor victims, it shackles you by the limbs and never really gives you an option: “Martial Law is bad,” the film cries out loud.

Garcia, on his 3rd Cinemalaya film, never disappoints with an ominous presence to scare the bejesus out of you. Still, he never comes out as one-dimensional as the film presents his character’s lighter side – to his family, he’s a loving grandfather. It’s a schizophrenic personality that works like a switch. The younger cast, mostly composed of fresh faces, do a fine job in braving their roles. For the most part though, they are just trapped inside the basement, the film constrained to romp up the action due to Garcia’s physical limitations.

ML has a competent direction but it can’t conceal the plot holes of the script, especially a huge one towards the end. On a commercial level, the film may have fared better if catered as a home invasion or domestic thriller with subtle hints of political commentary. But you can’t really blame Mique’s preference for a direct, vindictive approach when he has been steely-eyed of his mission from the very start. This film aims to persuade millenials who are not “woke” or simply have forgotten. However, as a viewer, the most earned realization comes out when both sides of the spectrum are given equal weight and I came up with my own decision. Unfortunately, ML does not give you that liberty.

Directed by Benedict Mique
Cast: Eddie Garcia, Tony Labrusca, Lianne Valentin, Henz Villaraiz, Jojit Lorenzo, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Chanel Latorre, Chrome Cosio, Richard Manabat, Maritess Joaquin, Kino Rementilla, Jindric Macapagal, Rein Adriano, Khalifa Floresta, Mila Talagtag
Run time: 90 minutes

3 out of 5 stars


‘Musmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma’ Photo via Cinemalaya.

Set amidst an ongoing Marawi clan feud, Iar Lionel Arondaing’s Musmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma (english title: Unless The Water Is Safer Than The Land), is a coming-of-age tale of a runaway Muslim girl Eshal (Junyka Sigrid Santarin) who is forced to take care of her infant brother Affan in the middle of a forest. She forges an unlikely alliance with a boy named Farhan (JM Salvado) but in doing so, she has to pretend being a boy to protect her identity. This is interspersed with a different timeline – a grandfather and a grandson discussing and walking around in the same forest. The connection of these two storylines should come full circle by the third act.

Two minutes into this film, I already know that Musmos is a strong contender for the Best in Cinematography award. The title of the film flashes on a sensational backdrop of a burning nipa hut and rice field. It goes on for a good amount of time, a prelude to the abundance of long-tracking shots that will be heavily used in the film. This should demand lots of patience. Unfortunately, it does not fully pay off. The film fails to connect on a personal level and that has something to do to with its indulgence for lush wide shots and lack of close-ups required to see the emotions from its characters. You’ll have to admire both kids for doing most of the heavy-lifting here though the choice to use Tagalog in dialogues makes them look less genuine.

Passages from Quran are sang throughout, encouraging the viewers to decipher how these phrases relate to the current situation. It puts you into a trance and the meaning simply gets lost. It’s a shame because Muslims, especially the marginalized groups, are not often given voices in the indie scene. This one bids well with its message of peace and acceptance but its full-on subtle approach fails to achieve profundity in the end. With a relatively thin material stretched into a full-length film, Musmos Na Sumibol Sa Gubat Ng Digma comes out as an exhibition of superb, dream-like cinematography ranging from ethereal to haunting. For the most part, that’s just it.

Written and directed by Iar Lionel Arondaing
Cast: Junyka Sigrid Santarin, JM Salvado, Star Orjaliza, Jun Salvado, Jr., Romerico Jangad, Darril Ampongan, Haide Movero
Runtime: 105 minutes

2.5 out of 5 stars


Still shots from Shorts A. Photos via Cinemalaya.

Xeph Suarez’s Si Astri Maka Si Tambulah (Astri and Tambulah) is an affecting story of a man and transgender woman trying to overcome the prejudice of an oppressive Badjao tradition. The acting and direction of this short is serviceable enough to tell an otherwise great, heartbreaking story representative of the struggles of LGBT community. Rating: 3.5/5

Directed by Xeph Suarez, written by Cenon Obispo Palomares
Cast: Astri Tahari, Usman Agga, Taha Daranda, Tambulah Aspari, Lucky Mahari, Diane Alberto, Alexandria Abdullah
Run time: 18 minutes

The most bonkers in the shorts category, Carlo Francisco Manatad’s Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month makes fun of a miserable situation. A hardworking gas station employee, in her final shift at work, devises several methods to sell gasoline. Underneath the insanity that ensues, this short works as a socio-commentary on the plight and desperation of blue collar workers. Angeli Bayani stripping of vanity and getting along with whatever the script demands her to do is a delight to watch. Rating: 4/5

Written and directed by Carlo Francisco Manatad
Cast: Angeli Bayani, Ross Pesigan, Ogie Tiglao, Grace Naval
Run time: 13 minutes

Kani Villaflor’s Logro follows the life of Bruno, a marginalized little person. An evident sense of empathy is already established once you realize that the camera angle is placed from his point of view. It quickly sticks to a patronizing approach at the expense of making its character look dumb. The ending does not serve its intention well. Rating: 2.5/5

Directed by Kani Villaflor
Cast: Armand Castro, Richie Albadira, Maribel Tambis, Danny Sta. Maria
Run time: 15 minutes

Christian Candelaria’s Sa Saiyang Isla (In His Island) is probably the safest bet to surely touch your heart with its sincerity. An innocent, young boy dreams of becoming a mermaid to help a fishing community plagued by an oil spill. Apart from being a coming-of-age story, this short also explores the critical role of parents in the growth of their children. Prepare for some happy tears. Rating: 4.5/5

Written and directed by Christian Candelaria
Cast: Anzley Candelaria, Selina Boucher, Ronald Regala
Run time: 20 minutes

Glenn Barit, winner of last year’s shorts category with Aliens Ata, comes back with a new experimental concept in Nangungupahan (Who Rents There Now?). The short follows the lives of different people occupying the same apartment in different points in time, artistically placed side by side in jigsaw frames. It might take a while before you understand the film’s ending. Rating: 3.5/5

Written and directed by Glenn Barit
Cast: Erlinda Villalobos, Pauli Roa, Meann Espinosa, Joseph dela Cruz, JM Jamisola, Aldy Aguirre, Yvanne Cadiz, Voughnne Miguel Sonza, Paul Quiano, Nu Nunez, Eduardo Ngo, Snowflake
Run time: 12 minutes

READ MORE: Cinemalaya 2018 Festival Report Part 2

Tony Labrusca marks movie acting debut via Cinemalaya entry ‘ML’

New actor Tony Labrusca finds it an honor to share co-lead role with the legendary and iconic actor Eddie Garcia via his debut film, “ML” (short for “Martial Law”), an official entry to Cinemalaya 2018.

In “ML”, written and directed by Benedict Mique, Tony plays a sheltered teen-age boy who experiences “Martial Law” first hand – from a retired military soldier with slight dementia who believes it’s still the Martial Law era.

What can Tony say about working with the great Eddie Garcia?

“He’s the man, he’s a legend. The fact that I was able to work with him, I’m such a new actor. It was such a humbling experience for me, and I have to admit, I was very intimidated.

“I stepped in there (on the set), not knowing what will gonna happen, how our relationship be like, but it was really humbling and I learned a lot.

“This is an experience that I will always be able to tell people one day when I grow up, that ‘I did a movie with Eddie Garcia!’” says the proud newcomer.

How did he prepare for his role?

“I’m a new actor, so I prepared by going through the script with Direk Benedict Mique and really evaluating every scene. He was always there for me, guiding me. That’s how we prepared.

“We had a really symbiotic relationship, kasi, I couldn’t do any other scenes without him, and obviously, I’m his main actor, and so we definitely helped each other out. I’m really blessed that he chose and trusted a new actor like me. So, we just prepared by working through it together.

“Direk Benedict just made us watch videos, ‘coz there are certain scenes that we needed to feel, like the horrible things that happened to people.”

What was his realization after doing the film?

“I think my realization now is that, you just have to make an open mind. Ako kasi, I’m not really a political person.

“But I think, after watching this movie, it’s just good to be very aware about your surroundings. I think, that’s the biggest thing. More than people taking sides, or to be aggressive or inactive, I think it’s just about knowing your surroundings, being more aware and just educating yourself.”

How was the over-all experience doing his very first independent film in a co-lead role with Eddie Garcia?

“I love it! I love it so much. It’s a completely different vibe.

“I wanna encourage everybody out there, that if you’re an aspiring actor, and you think that mainstream is the only way to make it, I think it’s important that you give indie a shot, and you’ll realize a whole new respect for the art!” says Tony Labrusca.

“ML” will be screened at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select Ayala Malls Cinemas during the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival run on August 4-12.