PAOLO Ballesteros is widely predicted to win the Metro Manila Filmfest best actor award for his role as transgender Trisha in “Die Beautiful”, but he wouldn’t like to put it into his head. “Hindi ko iniisip ‘yun,” he says. “Maski sa Tokyo Filmfest, wala akong expectations, pero ibinigay kaya di salamat.”
His Christmas won’t be complete because his 7-year-old daughter Keira is now in the U.S. with her mom. “Buti nga busy ako in promoting ‘Die Beautiful’ so no time para ako malungkot. Touched talaga ako nang lahat ng kasama ko sa ‘Eat Bulaga’, in full force sa pagsuporta at pag-plug sa movie ko, lalo na si Tito Joey de Leon sa social media accounts niya. Ramdam ko ang pagmamahal nila sa’kin and I’m glad naa-appreciate nila ang trabaho ko. Sa ‘Die Beautiful’, hindi lang ako aktor kundi make up artist din kasi ako mismo ang nagme-make up sa iba’t ibang transformations ko diyan. Talagang maipagmamalaki ko ang pelikula na nagustuhan nila sa Tokyo, Toronto at Keral Filmfest sa India where I got a special award for outstanding performance. Sana naman, ngayong magbubukas ito sa mga sinehan this Christmas day, panoorin din ng mga kababayan natin.”
Mother Lily Monteverde is so impressed with his acting in “Die Beautiful” that she signed him up to a three-picture contract. “Thanks sa pagtitiwala ni Mother Lily but alam niyang ‘Eat Bulaga’ pa rin ang priority ko. Sana, ‘yung project na gagawin ko sa Regal, maging kasingganda ng ‘Die Beautiful’.”
He’s shown joining gay beauty pageants in the movie. Has he joined one in real life? “I did, pero hindi pang-gay. Panlalaki, like ‘yung Mr. Cabanatuan City Science High School kunsaan ako nag-aral.”
Did he win? “Always! Just like when I joined you Bebot beauty contest sa ‘Eat Bulaga’, win din ako.”
If he’s a transwoman in real life, who’s the guy he’d choose to love him? “Siyempre, ang ultimate crush ng mga ganyan, si Papa Piolo.”
Is Piolo also his real crush? “Ay, hindi! Na-google ko lang ‘yun, eh. Si Piolo Pascual daw.”
CAI GIVES BIRTH
CAI Cortez was visibly pregnant when she attended the presscon and preview of her Metro Manila Filmfest entry, “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2”. A few days later, she gave birth to a baby boy to be named Habib (which means love) on December 22. Cai is married to a Tunisian businessman named Wissem Rakhmi who’s now based here in Manila. They got married in July after meeting on an online dating set called Tinder. It’s good her husband continues to allow her to work as an actress.
“Okay lang sa kanya kasi alam niyang dito ako masaya,” she says. “He’s very loving, maasikaso, malambing. But medyo seloso lang, lalo kapag umuuwi siya nang bahay at nasa trabaho pa ko.”
Wissem is a Muslim but the difference in their religion is not a problem for them at all. “He’s not a practizing Muslim at willing nga siya magpa-convert sa Catholic religion kaya gusto siya ng parents ko.” Her dad is actor Rez Cortez who’s very active with the Oasis of Love Catholic Community.
“Bale four years na siya rito sa bansa natin and he’s working for a Canadian company. 28 ako and he’s 37. He’s never been married and first time pa lang namin mag-meet in person, he already told me, ‘I will marry you!’ At tinotoo naman niya. After six months kaming magkilala, we were married in civil rites at balak din niyang magpakasal kami sa kanila sa Tunisia. Dati, party girl ako na kung umuwi, madaling araw na. But now, domesticated na ang lola nyo. Homemaker na ang drama ko na nagluluto para sa husband ko.”
Cai did several movies this year, playing the lead role in the comedy “Ang Taba Ko Kasi” with Mark Neumann. She then supported AlDub in “Imagine You and Me”. She was also Joey Paras’ love interest in “Working Beks”. In “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2”, she plays the line producer who’s willing to give in to all Eugene Domingo’s whims in the movie they’re making. She has also finished a new romantic comedy for Regal Entertainment, “Foolish Love”, where she plays the best friend of Angeline Quinto and Miho Nishida, directed by Joel Lamangan.
STAR MAGIC TALENTS BUSY WITH MOVIES AND CONCERTS
STAR Magic is proud that many of their stars have entries in the current Metro Manila Filmfest. Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia and Ronnie Alonte play the title roles in the romcom “Vince & Kath & James”, supported by teen stars Maris Racal and Axel Torres. Ronnie is also in the horror entry, “Seklusyon”, with Dominique Roque child star Rhed Bustamante. Last year’s filmfest best actor Jericho Rosales has an entry once again, “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2”, along with Khalil Ramos and Star Magic Angel Hanna Ledesma. Jason Abalos and JC De Vera play Nora Aunor’s sons in “Kabisera”. Joem Bascon plays an ill fated miner in “Oro”.
Star Magic artists also dominate the local and digital concert scene this 2016. Kim Chiu, marked her 10th anniversary in the business with the “Chinita Princess The FUNtasy Concert” in April at the Kia Theater. Xian Lim also staged his aptly titled first solo show “A Date with Xian” also at the KIA Theater last July 9. New Kapamilya Jona marked her entrance at the Kapamilya Network with “Queen of the Night: Jona” at the KIA Theater last November 25.
Hunky Fil-Italian actor Matteo Guidicelli staged his first-ever concert in his hometown Cebu touted as #MatteoMadeinCebu to mark his 10th year in the business. Hashtags member Ronnie Alonte ended the year with a bang in his first solo concert titled “Kilig King” at the KIA Theater on December 17. Apart from the solo concerts, first-time group performances also shone during 2016. There’s the Valentine concert “Royals” which happened at the Mall of Asia Arena last February 13.
The show was headlined by Martin Nievera, Regine Velasquez-Alcasid along with the King and Queen of Teleserye Theme Songs Erik Santos and Angeline Quinto. Angeline also performed with co-singers KZ Tandingan, Yeng Constantino and Kyla for the soldout “Divas: Live in Manila” at the Araneta Coliseum. “It’s Showtime’s” kilig ambassadors Hashtags composed of Zeus Colins, Ronnie Alonte, McCoy de Leon, Tom Doromal, Jon Lucas, Luke Conde, Paulo Angeles, Nikko Natividad, Jameson Blake, Jimboy Martin and Ryle Tan took the stage by storm with “Hashtags: The Roadtrip Concert” at the jampacked KIA Theater last September 24. Experienced Star Magic concert performers also took the stage anew this year. There’s “The Voice Kids Season 1” first runner up Darren Espanto who filled the KIA Theater to the brim back in June for his major concert “D Total Experience”. Dance Princess Maja Salvador also staged her third major concert titled “Only Maja” last November 12 at the Music Museum. Star Magic artists also participated in
the pioneering digital concert arena that was spearheaded by the ABS-CBN online music portal One Music PH.