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Focus on the Philippines: celebrities are big winners in elections

Plus: The Voice Kids returns next week; Arnel Pineda returns to Ellen; and Teri Malvar to be honoured in New York.
Philippine boxing champion Manny Pacquiao celebrates his senate vote victory. Noel Celis / AFP
Philippine boxing champion Manny Pacquiao celebrates his senate vote victory. Noel Celis / AFP

Several actors, musicians and entertainers were elected to national and local government posts at the recent elections in The Philippines, a country where celebrity is highly revered.

Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, a veteran comic actor on film and television and presenter of variety programme Eat Bulaga! (Lunchtime Surprise), was re-elected to his fourth term in the senate.

Boxing champion Manny Pacquaio, who has had forays into the film, TV and music industries, also won a seat in the senate.

Herbert Bautista, another comedian who regularly appears in films and on TV, won the mayoral race in Quezon City, the most populous city in the country.

Dramatic actor Richard Gomez also won a mayoral election, in Ormoc City, while his wife, TV personality Lucy Torres, topped the congressional race in Leyte.

Appearing on a news programme on Tuesday, Gomez defended the trend of actors venturing into politics.

“It’s easy to dismiss us and say, ‘They’re just celebrities,’ but not all celebrities are stupid," he said. "You have to give us a chance.”

In other results last week, veteran actor Vilma Santos became a congresswoman in Batangas, while fellow actor Jolo Revilla is now vice-governor of Cavite.

Other celebrities who won government posts include Alfred Vargas, Andrea del Rosario, Lani Mercado, Alex Castro and Daniel Fernando.

Celebrities who ran for a senate seat but failed to win included Isko Moreno, Edu Manzano, Mark Lapid, Rey Langit and Alma Moreno.

The Voice Kids back next week

The Voice Kids Philippines returns for its third season on May 28. Based on the international reality-TV franchise that originated in the Netherlands, the singing contest is open to contestants between the ages of 7 and 13.

Returning celebrity coaches Lea Salonga, Bamboo Mañalac will be joined by newcomer Sharon Cuneta, who replaces Sarah Geronimo. A coach on the first two seasons of the show, Geronimo announced last month she wanted to concentrate on her music career.

Since debuting in 2014, the Philippine version of the talent competition has often topped television ratings, even commanding bigger audiences than parent programme The Voice of the Philippines, which was broadcast in 2013 and 2014.

The show is broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays and is shown worldwide, including the Middle East, on The Filipino Channel.

Arnel Pineda returns to Ellen

Filipino singer Arnel Pineda and his band Journey returned for an emotional performance on US TV in The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week, singing their classic hit Open Arms.

He first appeared on Ellen in early 2008, weeks after he was hired as the new lead singer of the rock band.

Pineda, who grew up in poverty and slept on the streets as a teenager, was singing with Manila cover band, The Zoo in 2007. Known for their covers of Journey, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin and Air Supply, they frequently posted videos of their performances on YouTube.

Journey’s guitarist Neal Schon chanced upon the videos on YouTube and sent an email to Pineda, inviting him to audition for Journey, who were looking for a new frontman.

Pineda initially thought the message was a hoax, but eventually flew to California. The rest is history – there is even a documentary film, Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, about Pineda’s phenomenal story.

“It’s been very exciting,” Pineda told The National last year. “But every performance is daunting. I still can’t believe I’m part of ­Journey.”

Teri Malvar to be honoured in New York

Teenage actress Teri Malvar has been chosen by the New York Asian Film Festival as one of three recipients of the Screen International Rising Star Asia Awards.

The 15-year-old recently starred as a troubled juvenile in the acclaimed feature film Hamog (Haze), directed by Ralston Jover. Hamog will also be screened at the festival.

Festival organisers said Malvar is being recognised for her “daring roles that have expanded the range of contemporary Philippine cinema”.

Malvar first appeared on the big screen in the 2013 independent drama Ang Huling Cha-Cha Ni Anita (Anita’s Last Cha-Cha), which won her the Best Actress Award at the CineFilipino Film Festival.

The other winners of the Screen International Rising Star Asia Awards are Gô Ayano, from Japan, and Jelly Lin, from China.

The 15th edition of the New York Asian Film Festival runs from June 22 until July 9. It features and honours films from across East and South Asia.

Two other Filipino films are set to be screened at the festival: Mario Cornejo’s Apocalypse Child and Erik Matti’s Honor Thy Father.


Updated: May 18, 2016 04:00 AM



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