Friday, January 8, 2010

Director Rowell Santiago makes 'presidential' acting comeback

MANILA, Philippines - Rowell Santiago was an actor who turned into a director. Now, he is back in acting again in his first stint as a television soap actor in the new series "Tanging Yaman."

Santiago, who is known for directorial projects like "Forever" and "Paikot-Ikot", said his family was the main reason why he accepted an offer to star in a television series.

"I really thought about this teleserye (series) because I know about the horror stories of the working hours," Santiago said at the grand press conference of "Tanging Yaman."

"But sa dami po sa pamilya namin ng mga adik talaga sa soap, kaya ang feeling ko kailangang pagbigyan ko na sila. Na mapanood nila ako araw-araw," Santiago said.

(Because of the sheer number of my family who are addicted to television soaps, my feeling was that I should allow them to watch me on one every day.)

Besides, he said, he was asked to play a particularly juicy role on "Tanging Yaman": that of the president of the Philippines.

Santiago will play the role of President Juan Policarpio on the show, which airs on January 11 (Monday) before TV Patrol.

Love of directing

Santiago, the eldest brother of actors Raymart and Randy Santiago, stressed that he will not turn his back on directing, particularly directing concerts.

"Hindi ko tinatalikuran ang pagiging direktor ko. Kapag natapos ako ng taping, 9 in the morning, dumidiretso ako as director the next day. (I won't turn back on being a director. When I finish taping, at 9 a.m., I will go straight into directing the next day)," Santiago said.

Santiago tapes for "Tanging Yaman" every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while all his directorial commitments are conveniently scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

"As a matter of fact I'm still having concerts like the one of Martin Nievera and Pops Fernandez. Before I accepted this role, my directorial projects were already planned out," he said.

Santiago starred in John Lloyd Cruz and Sarah Geronimo films like "A Very Special Love" and "You Changed My Life."

Santiago realized that he wanted to act again after watching John Lloy Cruz and Bea Alonzo's movie "One More Chance." He claims he became an instant fan of the film's director Cathy Garcia-Molina.


Melissa Ricks and Matt Evans 'better as friends'

MANILA, Philippines - For years, fans of on-screen "love team" Matt Evans and Melissa Ricks have hoped the pair could start a romance off-screen.

Ricks and Evans have been on-screen partners for almost 4 years.

However, both still remain steadfast to their long-time mantra: "We are just good friends."

Evans, who has been romantically linked with Ricks since they shot to fame, explained that they are happy with the kind of relationship they have at the moment.

"Masaya naman po kami as friends. (We're happy as friends)," Evans said during the grand press conference of the new television series "Tanging Yaman." Ricks will star opposite him on the show.

The actor said he is happy that their loyal fans and supporters have accepted their decision to remain friends. "Sa ngayon po, sa nakikita ko, ay natanggap ng tao ang relationship namin as good friends. Sa tingin ko, steady muna doon," Evans said.

The actor added that he and Ricks will definitely announce to all if ever they decide to have a romantic relationship.

"Kung may mangyari sa amin na magka-inlove-an, we will let you know," Evans said.

In a previous interview, Evans said he is afraid to be romantically involved with Ricks lest their relationship interfere with their work.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Is Melissa Ricks torn between Jake Cuenca and Jolo Revilla?

Rumors of a romance between Melissa Ricks and Jake Cuenca haven’t let up, despite repeated denials from both. At the press conference of her new teleserye Tanging Yaman, Melissa insisted that she and Jake are just friends, but admitted that the hunky actor is courting her. “Mahal ko si Jake bilang isang kaibigan. Wala naman kaming dapat i-deny. Dumadalaw siya, nagpapadala ng food, nanliligaw pero sa ngayon wala pang dapat aminin.” Melissa further dispelled speculations that the reason for her denials about her relationship with Jake is that her mother doesn’t approve of the actor. According to the young actress, her mom has nothing against Jake or anyone else for that matter.

Melissa revealed that her Christmas gift for Jake was a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, but she refused to reveal what Jake’s Christmas gift for her was. “May regalo si Jake sa akin pero ayokong sabihin kung ano. Ayoko nang ibino-broadcast kung ano ‘yung mga nireregalo sa akin. Na-appreciate ko naman ‘yung thought ni Jake.”

But while Melissa, who turns 20 on January 9, remains single, there have been claims that she has another suitor in the person of her Pepeng Agimat leading man Jolo Revilla. “Kami ni Jolo are just friends. ‘Yung pagbibigay niya ng regalo ugali na talaga niyang maging generous sa mga katrabaho niya lalo na sa mga leading ladies niya. Nami-misinterpret lang na nanliligaw siya. Jake and Jolo are also friends.” Melissa added that she feels overwhelmed by the gifts she would receive from Jolo. “Ang sabi ko lang sa kanya na ‘wag niya akong masyadong bigyan ng mga regalo o food kasi nahihiya ako. Si Jake naman minsan nagdadala pero hindi naman sobrang madalas.” The young actress only giggled when asked on why she seems to prefer receiving gifts from Jake than Jolo.

Melissa also shared that she bought gifts from her recent Hawaii trip for all of her friends including Jolo and Jake, and her Tanging Yaman leading man Matt Evans. “May pasalubong ako from Hawaii sa lahat ng cast ng Agimat. Kay Matt may regalo rin ako pero hindi ko pa naibibigay kasi hindi pa kami nagkikita after ng vacation ko.”

Catch Melissa as Isabel Policarpio in Tanging Yaman, premiering on Primetime Bida on January 11. Log on to for more exclusives.


Director Rowell Santiago makes his teleserye debut via ‘Tanging Yaman’

After his supporting roles in A Very Special Love and You Changed My Life, Rowell Santiago takes on a role in the teleserye Tanging Yaman. But the ‘80s actor-turned-director was quick to clarify that he has no plans to make it his full-time career anytime soon. “Hindi ko tinalikuran ang pagiging director ko. Actually I am doing a concert for Martin (Nievera) and Pops (Fernandez) in February. Bago ko ito tinanggap nakalatag na rin naman yung mga gagawin ko. Regarding the future, it really depends. But definitely yung job ko as a director pa rin ang priority ko. Although maluwag sa dibdib ko na gawin ito dahil gustong-gusto ko yung mga katrabaho ko. Nae-enjoy ko ang behind the scene sa teleseryeng ito,” he shared during the press con of Tanging Yaman last January 4.

Rowell didn’t want to accept the project at first because he is familiar with the “horror stories” about the long working hours on the set. But he couldn’t resist the chance to play the role of Juan Policarpio, a fireman whose heroic deeds will pave the way for him to become the future president of the Philippines. “To be honest, it took ABS-CBN to really court me because I don’t think I can do it with my schedule. Never in my life din ako nagkaroon ng teleserye. So it took me one or two weeks to really say yes dahil sinabi ko sa kanila na kung gagawa ako ng isang teleserye, tatak ABS-CBN na dahil dun sila magaling. At masaya ako dahil may kabuluhan at napapanahon ang kwento ng Tanging Yaman,” he related.

Asked if he has someone in mind when portraying his character, Rowell revealed that his look is actually inspired by the late Senator Ninoy Aquino. “Alam kong mahirap ang working hours, so nagbakasyon muna ako sa Hong Kong. [Part of my preparation] is to look for a pair of glasses so nagpunta ako sa isang store. I wanted something different from the one I used in my last two films. May isinukat ako and nung tiningnan ko yung sarili ko sa salamin, nagulat ako kasi parang salamin ni Ninoy,” he exclaimed. But before anyone could start speculating about his statement, he was quick to say that he’s not trying to endorse anyone through his character in the story. “Ako na yata ang pinaka-apolitical na tao. I don’t even have a presidentiable at the moment. Kailangan ko lang talaga ng salamin para hindi mangawit yung mata ko sa [contact lens] plus makakabuti rin para sa script.”

With the 2010 elections coming up, the entertainment press couldn’t help but relate the political issues in Tanging Yaman with real-life situations. One example is the part where Mylene Dizon gets to be the chief of staff when her brother Rowell takes over the presidency. Given the chance to be in that same position, will he also let his sister call the shots in running the country just because she seems to be more knowledgeable than him? “Hindi naman completely walang alam yung character ni Juan Policarpio kasi kahit fireman siya sa una, grinoom naman siya para maging mayor, tapos senador bago maging presidente. [Pero sa tanong ninyo kung ia-allow ko ang kapatid ko] na siyang magpatakbo ng bansa kung halimbawang ako’y maging presidente, parang bakit ako pa ang iboboto ninyo? Sana siya na lang. So sa personalidad ko, hindi [ako papayag na mangyari yun]. Kung binoto ako ng tao, dapat ako mismo [ang umaksyon]. Kung may pagkakamali ako, dapat ako ang sumagot. Hindi ako aangkas sa dunong ng ibang tao,” he answered.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Melissa Ricks dispels rumors she ran away from home

Melissa Ricks returned from her Christmas vacation in Hawaii in time to grace the press conference of her new teleserye Tanging Yaman. “I was on vacation. I was there since the 24th [of December.] My cousins are from there, they serve in the navy. Dumalaw kami sa kanila and nagbakasyon na rin kami. Kasama ko mom ko,” she shared.

Melissa dispelled rumors that she ran away from home after having a fight with her mom because of reported boyfriend Jake Cuenca. “Walang problema sa family. Hindi ako lumayas. Nakatira pa rin ako sa bahay namin. Never akong lumayas. Kung umalis man ako nag-sleep over lang ako sa mga friends ko. Nagpaalam naman ako. Naki-sleep over ako kina Kitkat.”

Even her ka-love team in Tanging Yaman Matt Evans disproved claims of her rift with her mother. “Ang sabi ko lang alam kong may lumalabas na isyu na lumayas siya. Nag-unwind lang siya dito sa ABS-CBN dahil may personal problems. Pero hindi siya lumayas,” Matt revealed. Melissa added that whenever Matt gave her any advice it was usually because she was undergoing a personal problem. “Binigyan niya ako ng payo hindi dahil lumayas ako o nagaway kami ng mom ko. Dahil sa mga personal problems lang.”

There have been reports that Melissa’s mom disapproves of her relationship with Jake. But time and again the 19-year-old actress insisted that she and Jake are just friends so there is no reason for her mom to say anything negative about Jake. “Lately may mga negative na lumalabas sa tabloid na lumayas ako o tungkol kay Jake. Sana ‘wag nang idamay ‘yung mom ko kasi nananahimik na nga lang siya. Hindi na nga siya lumalabas sa TV and hindi na rin siya masyadong sumasama sa akin sa taping. Ako okay lang i-chismis pero ‘wag na ‘yung mom ko. Kami ang magkasama sa Hawaii. Kung magkaaway kami, bakit pa kami magsasama?”


Erich Gonzales on her rift with Ejay Falcon: ‘Sana kalimutan na natin yun’

Since Ejay Falcon did not show up during the grand press con of Tanging Yaman last night, everyone who attended the event assumed that it’s all because of his long-standing rift with co-star Erich Gonzales who’s also his leading lady in Katorse. People were actually surprised to hear that the two were not on good terms ever since Ejay reportedly told Erich that she wouldn’t be famous if not for him but the latter confirmed that the previous reports are true. “Sa totoo lang matagal na yung issue na yun. Nagsisimula pa lang ang Katorse. Nag-start lang naman talaga ito nung napagsabihan ko siya about professionalism. Kasi ako bilang katrabaho niya, concerned lang naman ako sa kanya, at ‘yun nga yung mga nasabi nya,” said Erich who initially didn’t want to talk about the issue anymore.

But the local press kept on prodding her about it so she explained that there’s no reason for her to make up false stories about her relationship with Ejay off cam. “Kung dinedeny man niya yung mga bagay na nakasakit sa akin na sinabi niya mismo sa harap ko... Hindi ko lang naman kasi yun narinig e, sinabi niya talaga sa akin. Ayun, bahala na siya. Wala na ako magagawa dun. Basta ako, hindi ako plastik na tao at tsaka nagsasabi lang ako ng totoo. Pero please, sana kalimutan na natin yun kasi New Year naman na. Dapat puro positive vibes lang. Ibaon na lang natin yun sa 2009,” she stressed.

It’s never easy to work with someone you’re at odds with, but Erich claimed that she refused to let that incident affect her performance at work. “Basta po ako pagdating sa trabaho, kung anong kailangan sa eksena at sinabi ng director, yun ang gagawin ko. Kailangan lang talaga maging professional. Kung ano man ang nararamdaman mo sa isang tao, yung personal stuff mo sa kanya, dapat i-set aside mo para maging maganda maging kinalabasan ng eksena.” The young actress also denied that she uses it to motivate her character Nene who hated Gabby (played by Ejay) for trying to come between her and Jojo (Enchong Dee) in the story of Katorse. “Yung sa Katorse naman bilang Gabby at Nene naman yun, hindi Erich at Ejay. Kinakalimutan kong ako si Erich pagdating sa set.”

Now that they’re working on a new soap, Erich insisted that what happened between them in the past doesn’t matter anymore. Asked if she knew that Ejay’s going to be a part of Tanging Yaman when the project was offered to her, she merely shrugged, “Nung sinabi sa akin yung story ng Tanging Yaman at tinanggap ko [yung project], hindi ko alam [na kasama din siya]. Pero siyempre po ‘di ba, kahit anong mangyari trabaho po ito e at pwedeng makatrabaho ko siya ulit. So ganon po talaga ang buhay. Basta masaya ako na may trabaho ako ulit, yun ang importante.”

At the end of the interview, Erich agreed that the ABS-CBN management are also taking steps to remedy the situation. But whatever decision they have made about it, Erich said that she would rather not discuss it in public. “Basta po kung may mga gusto man kami sabihin sa isa’t isa, sasabihin namin sapersonal at hindi sa harap ng kamera o ng maraming tao. Sa aming dalawa na lang po yun,” she added.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Erich Gonzales will portray a street-smart girl named Fina in Tanging Yaman

Erich Gonzales is now enjoying the fruits of her labor. After all she deserves the break. After winning the reality-artista search for Star Circle Quest in 2005 and after playing supporting roles in various teleseryes, her four years of waiting is definitely worth the wait.

You might have seen her briefly in ABS-CBN shows such as Abt Ur Luv, Mga Anghel na Walang Langit, Your Song, Panday, Ligaw na Bulaklak, Kung Fu Kids, and Pieta. She also played supporting roles in Sana Maulit Muli and Tiagong Akyat.

For this 20-year-old Davaoena lass, who is actually Erika Chryselle Gancayco Gonzales in real life, her time to shine has finally arrived. During her recent press conference for her upcoming show Tanging Yaman, she told the media with excitement, "Dati pangarap ko lang talaga ang makita ang sarili ko sa TV and now, I'm living my dream. I'm glad and it's worth the wait!"

KATORSE, HER BIGGEST BREAK. Erich Gonzales is considered one of 2009's big surprises in the entertainment industry with her surprise-hit teleserye remake of a sexy film, Katorse. Erich played Nene, an innocent 14-year-old who falls in love and is suddenly thrust into adulthood when she gets pregnant. This same role launched Dina Bonnevie [opposite Gabby Concepcion] to stardom back in the early '80s. Erich was initially reluctant to accept the role because she had to do some sensual scenes with her leading men, Xian Lim, Ejay Falcon and Enchong Dee.

"Marami kasing mga mature scenes, mga sensual na eksena, maraming mga kissing scene...baka hindi ko kaya. But I took on the challenge at happy ako with the result I'm getting."

Despite her reservations, Erich felt very lucky to be given the biggest break of her showbiz career. "Matagal po akong naghintay sa break. Years din ang tinagal ko sa mga supporting roles. I have no complaints. Then, came Katorse. I'm very honored and blessed na pinagkatiwala po ito ng ABS-CBN sa akin. Andyan po 'yung ibang artista na kilala naman talaga at magaling pero binigay pa rin nila sa akin ang project na ito."

Katorse is known for the trademark "magic kamison" or white sexy top that both became signature items for both Dina and Erich. That "magic kamison" somehow became a lucky charm as shown by the impressive performance of this Kapamilya show in the ratings game.

"Napakasarap ng feeling. Overwhelming. Hindi ko talaga ini-expect yung suporta ng tao. Napaka-init ng suporta nila kahit malapit na itong matapos," said Erich. "And it is reflected dahil may purpose po yung show naming para po maipakita sa mga kabataan na kung anuman 'yung mga kamalian ni Nene they would learn from it and also para maturuan ang mga magulang to guide their children properly by having open communication."

Now that Katorse is on its last week of airing, Erich looks back fondly on her show that aired for six months. "Sad ako kasi matatapos na yung Katorse. Siyempre ma-miss ko yung buong cast, staff and crew who really worked hard para mapaganda ang show. Sad din ako sa mga fans nina Nene, Jojo at Gabby kasi magtatapos na ang istorya nila."

The lead star of Katorse promises an exciting and should-be-watched ending. "Ipinapangako namin na maganda, kaabang-abang at kapana-panabik ang mga huling araw ng Katorse. Dapat n'yo tong subaybayan. Ito ang katapusang dapat panindigan."

'NENE' BLOSSOMS. No doubt, Erich has proven her acting mettle in Katorse and her character Nene became a household name. "Katorse is life-changing for me. Maraming doors ang nag-open," she pointed out. But her success does not end there; many are now anticipating her new teleserye, the political-family drama Tanging Yaman which tackles family values and presents social issues.

From the makers of the hit teleserye, Tayong Dalawa which starred the love triangle of Kim Chiu, Gerald Anderson and Jake Cuenca, Tanging Yaman is ABS-CBN's first teleserye offering in line with its celebration of 60 Years of Pinoy Soap Opera. This new teleserye zeroes in the life of two different families—one fortunate and the other, ill-fated. How one family will affect the other is where the complexities lie.

Thankful for another project, Erich is overwhelmed by the trust given to her by the Kapamilya network executives. "Excited po talaga po ako and at the sametime siyempre po happy dahil ito pong Tanging Yaman, talaga pong pinaghirapan namin. Talaga pong pinag-isipan po para makapagbigay po ng bago sa mga manunuod. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa ABS-CBN sa tiwalang binigay nila sa akin. Pagbubutihin ko po ito," said Erich. She added, "Lahat po ng nangyayari sa akin, sobrang nagpapasalamat ako kay God. If not for Him, wala ang lahat ng ito."

In Tanging Yaman, she plays the role of Josefina "Fina" Dimaguiba. "Ako po dito si Fina, isang simpleng tao lang. Wala sa kanya yung mga yaman-yaman basta makasama niya ang buong pamilya. Di po siya papatalo, walang aatrasan. Medyo kikay na may pagka-jologs. Magbabago po ang ikot ng buhay ko at ng mga taong nakapaligid sa akin nang mabunyag ang katotohanan na ako pala ang tunay na anak ng presidente [played by Rowell Santiago]."

When asked the difference of portraying Nene in Katorse and now Fina in Tanging Yaman, she explained, "Very different. Kasi si Fina dito parang brusko at palaban siya, parang one of the boys. And si Nene naman, napaka-naïve."

The young actress also mentioned that she has been undergoing workshops for her role in the said series. "Nagwo-workshop po ako para mas maayos po ang pagganap ko sa karakter ko. Hindi na po kasi 'katorse' ang edad ko rito," Erich said with a laugh.

Witness how Erich Gonzales breathes life to the role of Fina in Tanging Yaman together with some of today's bankable young stars Melissa Ricks, Enchong Dee, Ejay Falcon, Matt Evans and Ron Morales. Topbilling the said drama series are seasoned actors Agot Isidro, Mylene Dizon, Jodi Sta. Maria, Leo Martinez, Nonie Buencamino and Rowell Santiago in his first teleserye.

Directed by Many Palo and Lino Cayetano, Tanging Yaman premieres on January 11 (replacing Katorse) right after Precious Hearts Romances presents My Cheating Heart.