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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Focus on the Philippines: Mercedes Cabral shines in Kuwaiti soap filmed in Dubai

Plus: Jeremy Senaris heads to MasterChef Canada final; John Lloyd Cruz to be honoured in New York festival; new Philippine drama shoots in Europe.
Philippine actress Mercedes Cabral from the film 'Thy Womb' poses during the 69th Venice Film Festival at the Excelsior Hotel on September 6, 2012 in Venice, Italy. Franco Origlia / Getty Images
Philippine actress Mercedes Cabral from the film 'Thy Womb' poses during the 69th Venice Film Festival at the Excelsior Hotel on September 6, 2012 in Venice, Italy. Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Filipino actress Mercedes Cabral is currently starring in the Kuwaiti drama series Saq Al Bamboo (The Bamboo Stalk). The 29-year-old Cabral recently starred in Brilliante Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa, which premièred at the Cannes Film Festival. In Saq Al Bamboo, Cabral plays a Filipino nanny working in Kuwait. Her character falls for her employer’s son and is left to raise a child on her own. The programme also features Filipino actors Maria Isabel Lopez, Lou Velosa, Lilia Cuntapay, Ana Abad Santos, Sue Prado and Rhen Escaño.

Mercedes revealed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer that her scenes were shot in Dubai for two weeks. “We didn’t exceed 15 hours of work, but we shot every day in Dubai,” she said. 

Cabral said fellow actors Abdul Mohsen, Wonho Chung and producer Badih Fattouh “tried their best to communicate with me, which was really sweet”. She also praised the show’s director, Mohamed Al Qaffas: “He is well-known and respected in the Gulf region.” Airing daily on Dubai TV, Sharjah TV and MBC, Saq Al Bamboo is based on the novel by Saud Alsanousi, which won the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.  Cabral is not new to international productions. She appeared in South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s film Thirst in 2009, Danish Frederikke Aspock’s Rosita in 2015 and Australian brothers Tom and Sam McKeith’s movie Beast, also in 2015. Saq Al Bamboo is on MBC Drama at 4pm each day. Watch previous episodes on Shahid.net

Jeremy Senaris heads to MasterChef Canada final

After surviving 13 weeks of competition, Filipino-Canadian contestant Jeremy Senaris has made it to the final of the reality-television cooking series MasterChef Canada, which will air on June 19. 

Senaris, a 34-year-old building plan examiner, beat out fellow Filipino Matthew Astorga in this week’s semi-final episode to advance to the finale, where he will be competing against 25-year-old insurance broker Mary Berg. Senaris learnt to cook from his parents. After his mother passed away, he devoted his time replicating her signature dishes. Senaris says his speciality is Asian fusion and his favourite protein to cook with is fish. Astorga, a 25-year-old digital design consultant, was favoured to win the competition until crashing out in this week’s dessert challenge. He moved with his family from Manila to Ontario when he was five years old. The self-taught chef is currently planning to open a restaurant, named Sudo-Asian Kitchen, with David Jorge, who won MasterChef Canada last year. 

“We’ll be using a lot of Filipino food as an influence and we’ll be elevating it,” Astoria told Canadian press. The competition’s final challenge will require Senaris and Berg to prepare the meal of their life: three courses to be served to judges Claudio Aprile, Michael Bonacini and Alvin Leung. 

John Lloyd Cruz to be honoured in New York

Filipino actor John Lloyd Cruz will receive the Star Asia award at the 15th New York Asian Film Festival, which will be held from June 22 to July 5. Cruz is the first Filipino to receive the honour, awarded to acclaimed entertainers and directors in Asia. Lee Byung-hun, a South Korean actor, and Miriam Yeung, an actress and singer in Hong Kong, will also be given the award. Cruz recently headlined filmmaker Erik Matti’s crime thriller Honor Thy Father, which will be screened in the festival. Two other Filipino films, Ralston Jover’s Hamog (Haze) and Mario Cornejo’s Apocalypse Child, are also part of the programme.Young Filipino actress Therese Malvar, who headlines Hamog, will be honoured with the festival’s Screen International Rising Star Asia award. 

New Philippine drama shoots in Europe

A forthcoming romantic TV drama has begun shooting in multiple cities across Europe. Last week, the cast and crew of The Promise of Forever started filming in Prague, Krakow, Amsterdam in and Bruges. Directed by Darnel Joy Villaflor and Hannah Espia, the romantic drama is headlined by Ritz Azul, Paulo Avelino and Ejay Falcon, whose characters work in a cruise ship. The supporting cast includes acclaimed veteran actors Amy Austria, Angel Aquino and Cherry Pie Picache.The series is billed as 22-year-old Azul’s first starring role in a television series. “I feel blessed — this is my opportunity to show what I can do,” she said in an interview last week. “The story of the series is beautiful and fresh.” There are around half a million Filipinos serving on ships all over the world as seafarers and crew. Filipinos represent the largest group of sea-based employees worldwide, representing 30 per cent of all maritime professionals. The company Royal Caribbean Cruises recently announced its plan to hire 30,000 Filipinos in the coming years.The Promise of Forever is slated to air later this year worldwide, including in the UAE, on The Filipino Channel. 

artslife@thenational.ae

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