Director Brillante ‘Dante’ Mendoza on the Red Carpet at the Venice Film Festival with his Thy Womb stars (from left) Lovi Poe (in her winning Cary Santiago black gown), Nora Aunor and Mercedes Cabral by AP]


The word from the ongoing Venice International Film Festival is that the country’s entry, Thy Womb (Sinapupunan), got a four-minute standing ovation after its screening on Thursday, Sept. 5.

“I was overwhelmed,” said director Brillante “Dante” Mendoza in his text message to Funfare yesterday. “I’m happy to be back at the VIFF. The first time I competed here was in 2009 with Lola (starring Anita Linda and Rustica Carpio).”

Dante and his stars Nora Aunor, Lovi Poe and Mercedes Cabral walked the Red Carpet that same day, followed by a press conference before the screening.

“Lovi was voted Most Beautiful Gown,” added Dante. “She wore a black gown on the Red Carpet, designed by Cary Santiago.” (Lovi’s other gown was a white stunner by Veejay Floresca. Nora’s was by Boy Palma and Mercedes’ by Harvey Cenit.)

Since winning Best Director at the Cannes Filmfest in 2009 (for Kinatay), Dante has been a prominent figure (and competitor) in international film festivals. The same year Dante won, Mercedes (one of Kinatay stars) was named Most Beautiful Girl in the Cannes Filmfest.

According to a Hollywood Reporter story, Thy Womb has been getting mixed reviews from critics and moviegoers. One of the more than two dozen films in competition at the world’s oldest international film festival, Thy Womb is the story of a wife (played by Nora) who, unable to conceive, helps her husband find another woman who can give him a child. Hollywood Reporter critic Neil Young wrote: “ alluring scenery and a sympathetic lead performance help elevate an otherwise tepid, underdeveloped slice of Philippine ethno-drama.”

A Reuters dispatch has it that Pieta, a new film from South Korea by director Kim Ki-duk, is a favorite to win the Best Picture plum and its lead actress Cho Min-soo the Best Actress award when the festival ends Sept. 8. A story of ruthless revenge and redemption, Pieta is said to be so violent that, Reuters added, “it is hard to watch.” The film about pitiless loan shark and the mysterious woman who claims to be his mother turns into an absorbing thriller and moving love story rolled into one.

Let’s wait and see if there will be surprises at the awards night.

[PHOTO -Fernando Carillo is now a Viva artist]

Remember Fernando Jose, the well-loved character in the 1999 hit telenovela Rosalinda which starred Thalia (of Marimar fame) in the title role?

He was played by Fernando Carillo who has just joined Viva Artists Agency which will manage his commitments in the Philippines. The Latin American heartthrob will be personally handled by Viva Communications chief executive officer Vic del Rosario Jr., along with music promoter and producer Christian de Walden. The two signed the contract with Boss Vic in L.A. recently.

Carillo was born in Venezuela and grew up in London. He starred in several telenovelas including Abigail, La Mujer Prohibida and Maria Isabel. Because of the success of Rosalinda, he was more popularly known by his character Fernando Jose in Rosalinda.

Carillo has since moved to Hollywood where he has made movies (Prism among them) and TV shows. He has, however, many fond memories of his visit to the Philippines. He keeps in touch with his Filipino fans.

The good news is that Carillo might come back soon to do movies, TV shows and an album.

Boss Vic is also the man behind the careers of Sharon Cuneta, Willie Revillame, KC Concepcion, Basil Valdez, Louie Ocampo and Sarah Geronimo.

Viva Artists Agency (VAA), headed by Boss Vic’s daughter Veronique del Rosario-Corpuz, is also the home of Anne Curtis, Cristine Reyes, Jon Santos, Liz Uy, Rachelle Ann Go, Raymond Lauchengco, Mark Bautista, Daiana Meneses, Josh Padilla and others.

2 Albayanas rule Miss Bicolandia contest

[PHOTO-Felix Manuel (above) and Boots Babushka (right), both for LGBT Advocacy, are among the nominees for this year’s Outstanding Filipino-Americans in New York]

As part of the 2012 Peñafrancia Festival, the 2012 Miss Bicolandia was held at the former Naga City Coliseum, now renamed as Jesse Robredo Coliseum, last Sept. 5. It was a close fight for the title between two Albayanas which must have made Albay Gov. Joey Salceda very proud.

Yvethe Marie Avisado Santiago, who at 5’8” was among the tallest, was proclaimed 2012 Miss Bicolandia. She is a fourth year Accounting major at Bicol University and represented Daraga, Albay. She won the most number of special awards, including Miss Photogenic and Best in Swimsuit. She was crowned by Naga City Mayor John Bonggat, his lovely wife Farrah Bonggat and outgoing queen Roxane Joy Jesalva who represented Albay in this year’s Bb. Pilipinas pageant.

First runner-up was half-German Yvette Chantal Mildenberger who hails from Legazpi City. She was born in Germany and her family returned to Legazpi when she was 12. She won Best In Evening Gown, Best Designer Gown and Miss BDO Remit. She was the 2011 Miss Kaogma Festival winner. Rounding up the court of honor were Sarah Christine Bona of Iriga City (second runner-up), Rachelle Vargas also of Iriga City (third runner-up) and Rosantonette Mendoza of Legazpi City (fourth runner-up).

The top two winners are both potential Bb. Pilipinas beauties. When asked about their plans, they both expressed interest to join in 2014 after graduating from college. If they join and win, they will continue the tradition of Albayanas winning the Bb. Pilipinas crowns like the late Melody Gersbach, 2009 Bb. Pilipinas International; Venus Raj, 2010 Miss Universe fourth runner-up; and Diane Necio, 2011 Miss International semifinalist. The pageant was hosted by Raymond Gutierrez and Isabelle Daza while Jay-R provided the entertainment numbers. — Reported by Funfare’s ‘beauty-watcher’ GERRY DIAZ

Funfare ‘beauty expert’ among Outstanding Fil-Ams in New York nominees

Yvethe Marie Santiago of Daraga, Albay (center) was crowned 2012 Miss Bicolandia. Her court of honor (from left): Rosantonette Mendoza of Legazpi, fourth runner-up, Sarah Christine Bona of Iriga, second runner-up, Yvette Chantal Mildenberger of Legazpi, first runner-up and Rachelle Vargas of Iriga, third runner-up. Below: Roxane Joy Jesalva (right), 2011 Miss Bicolandia and 2012 Bb. Pilipinas candidate representing Albay region crowned 2012 Miss Bicolandia Yvette Santiago.

Congratulations to Funfare “beauty expert” Felix Manuel who is one of the nominees for Outstanding Filipino-Americans in New York 2012. The others are: Kirby Asunto (Entertainment), Manny Pacquiao’s protégée who sang the Philippine National Anthem during his last fight; Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (Entertainment), Broadway star of Godspell and granddaughter of Sylvia La Torre; Beauty Architect Boots Babushka (LGBT Advocacy); New York-based fashion designer Danelle Dungca (Fashion & Style); and Thomasian doctor/beauty queen Alicia Almendral ( Healthcare). Felix, a Registered Nurse, is nominated in the LGBT Advocacy category.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that the city has always been proud to be a city of promise and opportunity for people of every background, including generations of Filipino Americans. “People of Filipino heritage continue to lead businesses and civic life and as we mark Filipino American History Month, we take this opportunity to honor the men and women who, most often behind the scenes, contribute to our City’s amazing energy and spirit.”

The final vote will be decided by the Filipino global community through Facebook. The final date for voting is Friday, Oct. 5. Visit TOFA-NY’s official Facebook page at and just click LIKE under a nominee’s name, and you’re done. You may click as many nominees, but you cannot like a nominee more than once.

On Oct. 27, all winners will be honored at the iconic Carnegie Hall. — Reported by Funfare’s ‘other beauty-experts’ JOEY CEZEARE, GERY YUMPING and FRANCIS CALUBAQUIB

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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