MMFF 2020 Goes Virtual starting December 25

Presenting this year’s entries to the virtual Metro Manila Film Festival. The festival entries can be streamed online via GMovies and via a new streaming platform called Upstream starting December 25 at P250/film.

THE BOY FORETOLD BY THE STARS (BL-Romance) — directed by Dolly Dulu, starring Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson

FAN GIRL (coming of age) — directed by Antoinette Jadaone, starring Charlie Dizon and Paulo Avelino

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PPP recycles films for its first online edition starting tomorrow

Although the pandemic remains to be a threat anywhere in the world, most particularly to countries such as ours, with erratic government practices in mitigating any crises,  its film media arm, Film Development Council of the Philippines is pushing through the 4th Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) with its all-new online edition, and according to the agency is a response to the restrictions on the operations of cinemas given the current situation. The films can be watched on their film channel: www.fdcpchannel.ph

More than 100 films will be screened for one week. Liza Dino Seguerra flashily reported that in the last three years, the PPP has showcased 37 full-length feature films to more than 2.5 million audiences, which grossed over P420 million. Dino Seguerra, a former bit actress, proudly declared that the festival’s well-received top grossers are “100 Tula Para kay Stella” (2017) and “The Day After Valentine’s” (2018) both by the contentiously fluff filmmaker Jason Paul Laxamana, and “The Panti Sisters” (2019) by Jun Robles Lana. Some PPP films have been chosen as the country’s  representative  to the Academy Awards which include “Birdshot” by Mikhail Red in 2017, “Signal Rock” by Chito Roño in 2018, and “Verdict” by Raymund Ribay Gutierrez in 2019.

Accordingly, PPP will also feature Sine Kabataan short features from young filmmakers which focus on societal themes that in reality the present government fails to address.

“We certainly had high hopes and grand plans this year for PPP 4, especially since it would have coincided with the closing of the Philippine Cinema Centennial celebration. Although cinemas remain closed and there are no press conferences, premiere nights, PPP Grand FanCon, and block screenings, we at the FDCP still resolved to push through with the PPP no matter what. Tuloy na tuloy ang Pista!,” Dino Seguerra indicated in her press statement.

Amid the pandemic, the national film agency wishes to showcase the diversity of our local films. And as the country officially closed the celebration of One Hundred Years of Philippine Cinema in September, the FDCP aims for the PPP to be the platform to gather the entire film industry together as it looks to the future of the next hundred years.

Aptly dubbed “PPP 4, Sama All!” the festival will recycle 145 titles (67 full-length films and 78 shorts) films previously screened in other local film festivals  such as the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, QCinema International Film Festival, Cinema One Originals Film Festival, Sinag Maynila Film Festival, CineFilipino Film Festival, ToFarm Film Festival, and Metro Manila Film Festival.  Films from CineMarya Women’s Film Festival will also be re-screened.

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NATIONAL PAGEANT-FIRST: Miss Universe Philippines front-runner comes out as bisexual


A former college cheerleader, and someone who would rather choose to fly domestic as a flight attendant to enjoy more free time for herself, has publicly come out as bisexual during the pageant’s preliminary interview rounds currently being held in Baguio City.

Kimberly “Billie” Hakenson, Miss Universe Philippines Cavite, is the first national-pageant contestant in the Philippines to come out as LGBTQ during the contest. Previously, Beatrice Luigi Gomez came out as gay during the Q and A portion of Binibining Cebu 2020. Coincidentally, Hakenson is also Cebu-based, although she is representing her hometown of Cavite.


“I am Billie Hakenson, and I am bisexual, and I’m proud to be here,” Hakenson proudly declared in front of a judges panel and while being filmed for the Episode 6 of the Ring Light Series of the Miss Universe Philippines.

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Miss Universe Philippines Ring Light series reveals backstage stories

I was commissioned to write the scripts of the 5-episode documentary primer for the Miss Universe Philippines in December 2019. As early as that – a month before the first COVID case in the Philippines was tested positive, I had already started writing preliminaries and outlines for what would become the Ring Light Series, which officially premieres tonight at 8pm-ish on www.empire.ph .

By January, I have finished writing spiels for what supposed to have been the first episode, the runway challenge, which would culminate on February 2020 by the sidewalks of Uptown Mall in BGC, Taguig City.  The coronation night was originally intended to be held in May.  It was also my last time before the lockdown to socialize in Manila, or anywhere. Two weeks later, one of the strictest pandemic lockdowns in the world happened in our midst for at least 3 months, and now six months later – we are on the verge of reopening the business centers to the new normal.

Technically, as I share this, I am still supplying some cells on the script of the last episode, which would all have been uploaded and streamed by October 11 and the weeks after that. If writing and story producing for the Ring Light seemed a tough endeavor to accomplish during the pandemic – given how scarce and limited the exchange of contents there have been – filming the actual clips for the episodes have been extra-challenging for the contestants and the filmmakers themselves.  At least a few runs before the lockdown, the contestants have already retreated to their provincial bases. Only about two dozen are based in the NCR – and they could only be scheduled a few times, with all health safety protocols strictly monitored, on the Empire BGC headquarters of the Miss Universe Philippines.  The girls who are in the provinces as far as Zamboanga and Batanes have been teamed up with their local videographers to finish their submissions.

The contestants will be featured proportionately in at least 3 episodes, the remaining two will also be participated in without as much sound-bytes compared to those who are assigned for their special episodes.  One episode is devoted for each girl for their on-camera spiels, 2 questions each for the sit-down interviews, and a substantial amount of camera sessions that would feature them beyond the usual pageant core drills. Indeed, the Ring Light series is about their combined personal and MUP journeys. We can see them in their earlier pageant training, at home doing other activities, aside from doing workouts and participating in online training sessions and workshops.

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Gameboys BL Pair Reteams for a Movie Premiering in South Korea

While it’s greatly apparent that the exciting proliferations of gay-themed stories on digital screens, via boys love (BL) series, have renewed our burning interests on LGBTQIA issues and experiences – we may have to analyze how things have been since its original inception, at least in the dawning periods of digital cinema in the Philippines. 

Cris Pablo’s Duda/Doubt, for the record, was the first longform narrative feature in digital format – which happened to be an interweaving tale of gay sex, love, and relationships – quite in extent made it all seem possible for all independent filmmakers to literally shoot the stars and achieve a sense of goal and aspirations that filmmaking can be democratized beyond the dictums of the old and mainstream studio system.  While Pablo’s Duda interestingly seeded the cloud and rained profusely over a period of at least 7 years with the explosion of gay soft core Indies – they weren’t exactly focused on the experience of young love and coming of age. They were, in all straight-talk, a spa and splash of sex parades – which in turn became a hotbed of welcomed nudity and other unapologetic physicality on screen. Duda/Doubt was no BL. The first true-gay feature in Asia, South Korea’s Road Movie (2002) is about the experiences and confusions brought upon by the Asian Market Crash, and indeed was no BL. The harangue of criticisms later on to Pablo’s prolific churn-outs, although featuring younger characters, was more directed towards the lower-class experiences; and somewhat the highlighted centering on psychosexual fixations. When Senedy Que’s Dose tested the censorship to its core a few years later– it had a chilling effect on which particular age-group to sidestep, if the trend had to remain and survive. Even the unsolicited fetishism on visual soldering features becomes tamed and oblique. It had officially folded up as the film industry was entirely eaten up once and again by the commercial escapism of the mainstream market.

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Online Live Stream Gives Performers Ayuda in the Time of Pandemic

This pandemic has proven very challenging to live entertainment artists, including musicians and stage comedians. Their usual incomes have been reduced to virtually zero and economic survival has been a great cause of anxieties and depression. It is a good thing that live streaming platforms have given them a space and a new home to exhibit their performances on a much different plane. They’ve also made them much closer to their fans and supporters.

One of the best and most accessible live stream platforms is Kumu. It’s a social media mobile application that allows performers to share their contents live and interactive. And the most important part is the open-access opportunity for them to earn as much as what they could in their actual in-person gigs. Except now, they don’t need to leave their homes anymore and shell out for their usual spendable, like paying for PAs, transportation, meals, and costumes.

When a fan or an impressed audience to the live stream show gives them virtual gifts – a performer can rack up at least 2,000 to 5,000 “diamonds “on a single user. When a performer earns at least 50,000 diamonds, they can exchange it for at least 2,500 pesos. One live stream artist can have a minimum low of 25 audiences per minute, and they can have a peak audience of at least 50-100 and on “special occasions” one can impress from 1000 to 10,000 audiences/users.  Singer Kris Lawrence during his recent birthday show gained 3.4 million diamonds; which meant he earned at least 170,000 pesos on one night. This is on top of what he earned from previous live streams.   Even his close friend/co-performer JayR averages to 100,000 to 300,000 diamonds on a drop. A short ordinary fan-supported live show can still augment their idol’s digital income enough to buy a week’s worth of groceries.  This month’s Top Earner is Mark Michael Garcia, a Tawag ng Tanghalan finalist who earned a cumulative amount of 18.5 million diamonds (roughly 900,000 pesos – if – KUMU actually converts that to the actual purchase amount. We actually would like to account that we had no first-hand knowledge of the conversion rates given to earners, except of course, merely referencing the 2000 diamonds to 100 pesos rate).

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Gawad Urian 2020: Full List of Nominees

This year’s Gawad Urian is headlined by internationally acclaimed films and performers. Leading the pack is Kalel, 15 with nine nominations. The film previously won the Best Director award for Jun Lana at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and a Best Actor award for Elijah Canlas at the Asian Film Festival held in Rome. Babae at Baril, also with nine nominations, was previously awarded the Best Director and Best Actress awards for Rae Red and Janine Gutierez respectively at the QCinema Film Festival.

Cinemalaya Best Picture John Denver Trending has six nominations. It was previously awarded the Critics and Audience awards at the 26th Vesoul International Film festival in France. Another Cinemalaya feature, Edward, has eight nominations including one for Louise Abuel who previously won the Best Actor award at the Dhaka International Film festival. Finally Venice Film Festival Golden Lion Awardee, Lav Diaz, was nominated for Best Director for Ang Hupa at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. He is nominated for the same film at the Urian for Best Director.

Update: 9/22/2020. Ruby Ruiz, nominated for Best Actress for Iska, won at the Harlem International Film Festival in New York for the same role. She perviously bagged the Best Actress award at the 2019 Cinemalaya FIlm Festival.

The 43rd Gawad Urian is set on November 10, 2020. Check the complete list of nominees below.

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