• Melissa Ricks is the lead star of "Nasaan Ka, Elisa?" (Ibarra Siapno, NPPA Images)

    I was just cracking up when I read the following post from a certain Jonathan Anthony Lapuz aka "Sweet" on a Facebook page dedicated to television workers and practitioners.  Sweet posted this on Think TV:

    Oo nga. Pare-pareho. Si Gardo hinahanap yung anak nya. Si Zsazsa hinahanap yung anak nya. Si Coney hinahanap yung anak nya. Si Claudine hinahanap yung anak nya. Si Ogie hinahanap yung anak nya. Yung Chinese hinahanap yung anak nya. And to top it all, si Agot hinahanap si Elisa. Hahaha. Makahanap sana ng ibang hahanapin.

    And not that this was any surprise at all since anyone who watches early or late afternoon as well as prime time telenovelas know that each and every plot has become one and the same.  What is shocking (more so amusing) is that not only are the story lines similar --- but they have practically popped out of the same cookie cutter.

    Now every show is looking for a lost child.  There was a time that almost every other telenovela had one character suffering from amnesia. 

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  • Anne Curtis during the press launch of "No Other Woman" last September (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)

    Oh, come on. Let's face it.  She can even pick her nose and you can rest assured that people will fall in line to watch her.

    Now is her time and it is not like she is this overnight sensation.  She has been around since the time when Bobby and Angelu were still flashing goo-goo eyes to each other and Dingdong Dantes was still this chubby Tisoy tween.  All the years of waiting and literally growing up in front of the eyes of the public have finally paid off.  It is quite clear (and beyond argument) that 2011 is the year of the Aussie-Pinay named Anne Curtis-Smith.

    Moral lesson

    There is a moral lesson here somewhere and it somehow defies what we understand as convention.  Anne did not force herself through with scandals, pop out of nowhere or made her mark to the top by playing to an audience via reality show.  Neither was she a grand winner of a network sponsored contest meant to make stars out of ordinary mall-addicted mortals.

    As a matter of fact, she started out as a pixie tween

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  • Nora Aunor (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)After almost eight years of self-imposed exile in the U.S., the icon Nora Aunor returns to our sacred shores.

    She is welcomed with open arms by her fans.  Now an exclusive performer for TV5, she comes home as a Kapatid with no less than the equally legendary Mario O' Hara directing her mini-series.  As part of her bienvenida, Ate Guy is feted with interviews and testimonials.

    This is the reason why she is on the cover of one of the most popular and bestselling monthly entertainment magazines in the country.  And she poses for the photographer in what could be considered as one of the most interesting pictures ever captured of the Superstar.

    Nora Aunor, in black and white, staring straight at the camera with her lioness eyes that speak a thousand words without single utterance, holding a cigarette and announcing to the republic that indeed she is back.  But wait, wait! She is holding a cigarette?

    I started smoking when I was only sixteen years old.  Starting with Marlboro Reds, I

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  • Philippine flag (AP photo)To think that this all started because of a rather insensitive article suggesting that the national tongue ---- Filipino (not Pilipino) --- is not the language of the intelligent discourse.

    Of course such blatant elitism will not go unnoticed.  There may be great dismay about the declining quality of English speakers among Filipinos but to make such a hasty and sweeping pronouncement is like walking around with a time bomb hanging from your neck and waiting for someone to detonate the explosives.  Perhaps if we were in the early part of the 1960s when elementary schools had little announcements strategically placed on hallways and corridors demanding "SPEAK ENGLISH", then many will not be surprised.  But this is the 21st century.

    You have nationalist party lists recognized by Congress. Filipino is still the predominant language in the most powerful media in the country: television. (Remember that even our Korean and Taiwanese telenovela idols sputter impressively synched and perfect

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  • Shamcey Supsup (Getty Images)OK, let's get back to normal.

    There was a joke posted on Facebook the night before that all the beauty parlors and salons in Metro Manila would be closed the whole morning until noon because all its owners and employees will be glued to the satellite telecast of the 2011 Miss Universe beauty pageant staged at Sao Paulo, Brazil.  In a way the joke became quite real.  Like a Pacquiao fight, Filipinos who could spare time off on a Tuesday remained glued to their TV sets to see if the fearless forecasts will come true. Will beauty-meets-brainy Shamcey Supsup of GenSan finally end the nearly four decades of drought of the country not claiming the most coveted beauty title crown?

    No 'major, major' moments

    Well, we all knew the answers two and a half hours later:  Miss Philippines bagged third runner up.  This is a marked improvement from Venus Raj's fifth place last year --- but that is now considered ancient history.  This time, Shamcey did not have any "major major" moments.

    As a matter of

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  • We figured out that the local producers got it all wrong.

    The profile of the typical Pinoy moviegoer has changed tremendously.  This whole presumption that the throngs of the masa are those who crowd movie houses and cineplexes is a gross miscalculation.  I and my friends had indulged in arguments that stretched for hours profiling the audience … and we realized that all that is needed is a little bit of arithmetic.

    How much does a movie ticket cost?  Let's put it at P180 (and that does not include special 3D screenings that zoom up to P300 for using those infernal special glasses).

    Assuming Johnny de la Cruz is going on solo flight, how much would he spend to go out of his house and catch a film?  Aside from the ticket price, he has to commute to get from home to cinema and back --- and let us round that off at P100. That is, of course, if he does not decide to take his private vehicle which will spin this rough estimate off the stratosphere because we now have to include the

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  • Steve Carell and Julianne Moore in Warner Bros. Pictures'

    Except for the trailers of "Final Destination 5" and an action movie with Zoe Zaldana, "Columbiana," all the other teasers and previews shown last night at a movie house in Alabang Town Center were romantic comedies. That included Friends with Benefits, New Year's Eve, One Day and two others whose titles escape me due to information overload.

    And, of course, I was there to watch another rom-com entitled "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

    Everybody loves a rom-com .  The genre is a happy compromise to attract the females without turning off their studs.  If the Miss is a romance junkie, the comedy will take of the Mister.  Besides, if you will dole out anything between P180 to P300 you better be amused or entertained.  In the universe of mall culture, leave the thinking man's cinema to the exclusive filmfests where everybody is talking angst and significant human experiences.  Cineplexes feed on the audience's insatiable hunger for romance, action, comedy …and 3D.

    Now everybody who has seen it is

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  • Mideo Cruz and his controversial art installation "Poleteismo." (Reuters)It is not as if there is something yet to be said about the premature closure of the exhibit "Kulo" at the Main Gallery of the CCP.  We all know how that happened.  And it is not as if there is still any available argument for or against the controversial installation of artist Mideo Cruz entitled "Politeismo" that sent friars, moralists and the last of vestal virgins off the edge.

    This issue has been the subject of heated discussions in every available medium joined in by anybody who feels qualified to talk about art and the freedom of expression.

    But I am adding this short and sweet footnote. After all, more than ten years ago I was on the same hot seat because of a film I wrote and directed. The title of the work was "Live Show (Toro)."  The indignation of the same sectors of our most chaste and blessed society caused the resignation of Dr. Nicanor Tiongson as Chairman of the MTRCB and had me marching down Mendiola to protest the banning of the exhibition of the movie and the

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  • Nora Aunor (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)Nora Aunor (Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images)After years of absence, the Superstar returns with much fanfare and publicity.

    Fifty-eight year old Nora Aunor, perhaps one of the most iconic of all Filipino popular culture figures, has returned to our sacred shores for a three-month stint to grace the big and small screens with her much missed charisma.

    Observing the excitement generated by her die-hard fans that have held onto their loyalty as if this were a religion, one asks whatever happened to real stardom like this.

    The return of the Superstar only makes us realize that indeed times have changed.  They don't make stars like Nora or Vilma Santos or Dolphy or FPJ or Susan Roces or Amalia Fuentes or Sharon Cuneta or Maricel Soriano any more.  Nowadays there are so many artistas, there are so many who claim to be stars … but how many of them will ever reach the stature of movie gods and goddesses who came before them?

    Come to think of it, the term star has been so misused and abused --- that the making of a true luminary in the

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  •  I have developed this habit of watching movies alone because it simplifies my life.  It means I can watch whatever movie I choose to see at whatever time it is convenient for me. I do not have to worry that a companion will enjoy the same kind of entertainment or screw things up by coming late or canceling the last minute.  More so, it saves on the cost of movie tickets, soda and popcorn.

    But that does not necessarily mean that it spares me of all the hassles of having to deal with various creatures you have to live with in the two hours of so that the Universe puts you together inside a movie house.  Thus I have finally come up with a shortlist of ten most hateful creatures and habits you can chance while trying to enjoy your two hundred pesos worth of escape.

    1)    The Spoiler Alert: Oh, we all know this kind of audience member who has apparently seen the movie ahead of everybody else and is pre-empting every scene by describing what is going to happen next. Whether this is a

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