Rachel Peters makes it to Top 10 of Miss Universe 2017

Rachel Peters.
Despite being one of the top favorites to win this year’s Miss Universe crown, Rachel Peters only made it as far as the Top 10 during the pageant’s coronation night held Sunday (Monday morning, Manila time) in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The 26-year-old Filipino-British model had figured prominently in pre-pageant fearless forecasts and drew some of the loudest cheers from her Filipino supporters at the Axis Theater in Planet Hollywood where the pageant took place.

Peters, who was also a favorite of model and pageant co-host Ashley Graham, was even voted in the Top 5 by those watching at home but did not get enough points from the judges, which included Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach.

But the Filipina struggled in cracking the Top 16 as Miss Universe adopted a new format where the first 12 will come from their respective regions (Asia Pacific, Americas and Europe). With only four slots given to Asia Pacific candidates, Peters did not make the initial cut.

She, however, later made it to the Top 16 as one of the last four “wildcard” candidates that were selected from any region.

On pageant night, Peters looked every inch like the formidable contender she was touted to be from the get-go. She was particularly stunning in the swimsuit competition and looked very regal in her elegant glittering outfit during the evening gown competition.

In the end, however, it was another Peters that took the crown. South Africa’s Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was named Miss Universe 2017, with Miss Colombia Laura Gonzalez as first runner-up and Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett second runner-up.

Peters’ Top 10 finish follows Maxine Medina’s Top 6 outcome last year when the Philippines hosted the pageant in Manila for the third time. After the Philippines’ rise as a pageant powerhouse in recent years, Peters fared only slightly better than the country’s bets in the other three of the Big Four international pageants this year.

Prior to Miss Universe, Binibining Pilipinas-International 2017 Mariel de Leon failed to even make it to the semifinals of the Miss International 2017 pageant in Tokyo, Japan, while Miss World Philippines 2017 Laura Lehmann only made it as far as the Top 40 in this year’s Miss World beauty contest.

Only Karen Ibasco won the Miss Earth 2017 tilt held here in the Philippines.

The country fared better in the Miss Grand International pageant where Elizabeth Clenci placed second runner-up, Miss Globe 2017 where Nelda Ibe finished first runner-up and Reina Hispanoamericana won by actress Teresita Ssen “Winwyn” Marquez.

Voices of A New, Emerging Majority Rise Up at the Successful Cinematografo International Film Festival

SAN FRANCISCO --- The very first Cinematografo International Film Festival (CIFF) opened its inaugural year with a four-day exhibit of 28 films that echo the voices that tell the stories of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans.
Opening night at the AMC Dine-In Kabuki 8 Theaters saw a parade of filmmakers, celebrities, government officials, community leaders, and guests walking the red carpet just before the U.S premiere of Loy Arcens’ “Ang Larawan” (The Portrait). Director Arcenas, Lead Actor Rachel AlejandroProducer Girlie Rodis, and Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, who wrote the music, were in attendance and participated in a Q&A with the audience right after the screening.
Good spirits, good food, and wine flowed at the Opening Night Party at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Filmmaker Ramona Diazwas impressed, saying, “I think to get Filipino American filmmakers in one room is already an accomplishment. Cinematografo has really stepped up to the plate.” High-profile publicist David Magdael lauds that Cinematografo’s inaugural year was held in San Francisco because of the rich diversity and the strong Filipino artist base and Filipino community in the Bay Area.
Screenings throughout the four days enjoyed good attendance from movie lovers. There were those who attended all four days, having purchased the festival pass, and savored a good line-up of movies, including documentaries, feature-length narratives, shorts, and animation.
The energy was palpable throughout the festival as filmmakers, actors, creatives, and other industry representatives networked at the filmmakers’ lounge at the Kabuki in between movie screenings. Jannet Nuñez, iTVS Content Development Manager, emphasized that “any film festival that really focuses on a specific community is always important to visit, especially if you’re not part of the community, because you can learn so much.”
Festival Highlights
One of the highlights of the festival was a tribute to documentary filmmaker Ramona Diaz where her latest, award-winning film Motherland(Sundance 2017), about one of the world’s busiest maternity wards located in Manila, was screened, followed by an intimate conversation about her work and prolific career as one of the most renowned Asian women documentary makers today. 
Other highlights were the various panels that featured discussions on: (1) State of the Nation(s); (2) The Minority as the New Majority; (3) Tribute to Documentary Filmmaker Ramona Diaz; and (4) Cinematografo Originals and New Projects. All panels were well-attended. Participants were excited with the launch of Cinematografo International Film Festival, and were eager to get the conversation going about finally having a platform where the unique stories of Filipinos and Filipino Americans can be told.
A New Platform for Emerging Voices of the New Majority
“What I love is you’re my people! Mga kababayan ko! (My fellow Filipinos!) So, it’s a great feeling to have our own festival,” Hollywood Actor Reggie Lee enthused. Fellow Actor Dante Basco echoed the sentiment saying, “It’s time for us Filipino Americans to really flourish as artists. We have so many stories, so many great artists. It’s about time we continue to work and produce great product and support each other.”
Bianca Catbagan, Director of “Supermodel,” one of the featured shorts, stated that, “We want to see more films by women, by people of color. Having this network is great because we see each other’s work and we can be a group that forges on together.”
Cinematografo helped amplify the voices of this generation of storytellers, providing them a platform where they could show powerful, unique stories about the Filipino and Filipino American realities. 
Asian American Studies Professor, Writer and Poet Oscar Peñaranda said that Cinematografo offers a fresh perspective in its vision of shining the spotlight on stories of Filipino Americans that is not presented elsewhere. The Festival was a viable arena to showcase the voice of the community. Cinematografo Executive Director John-D Lazatin got his wish as all participants felt that the passion for storytelling was the energy that filled the Kabuki in those four days. As Cinematografo Festival Director Miguel Sevilla reiterated, they want Cinematografo to be the festival where the Filipino voice refuses to stay quiet, where Filipino stories refuse to be forgotten.
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The CIFF is the premier event for Filipinos abroad to tell their stories, and is the platform to bring these films to the world stage.
Guided by its mission to elevate Filipino talent to the global stage, Cinematografo aims to foster, nurture, and inspire filmmakers from the Filipino diaspora. The festival serves as a platform to launch films funded and developed through one of its initiatives – Cinematografo Originals, and serves as a venue for Filipino filmmakers to express their passion for filmmaking, to share their stories of the world through a cinematic lens, and to connect them through an international industry and community network.


Backstreet Boy Nick Carter denies girl group member’s 2002 rape allegation

Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys poses at 30th annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Hollywood, California April 17, 2013. (Photo by Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

LOS ANGELES | Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter on Wednesday denied an allegation that he raped a teen pop singer 15 years ago, saying he was “shocked and saddened” by the accusation.

Melissa Schuman, who was a member of girl group Dream in the late 1990s, claimed in a lengthy blog post earlier this month that Carter forced her to have oral sex and raped her in 2002 when she was 18 and he was 22.

Reuters was unable to independently confirm Schuman’s allegation.

“I am shocked and saddened by Ms. Schuman’s accusations,” Carter, now 37, said in a statement that was emailed to media outlets.

”Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual.


”It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm,” he said in the statement.

The girl group Dream on the cover of its 2001 debut album ‘It’s All A Dream.’ Melissa Schumann is second from left.

Schuman could not immediately be reached for comment on Carter’s statement. She left Dream in 2002, and after the band made a brief comeback in 2015, it disbanded again in 2016.

She wrote on her blog in a Nov. 2 post titled “Melissa Explains It All” that she had decided to come forward after women made accusations against other prominent men in entertainment and politics, and the #MeToo social media movement.

The Backstreet Boys were one of the biggest boy bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s, with hits like “Quit Playing Games With My Heart.”

Carter and the band are currently playing a concert residency in Las Vegas that is scheduled to run through February 2018.

Ricky Davao: No small roles, only small actors

Ricky Davao, best supporting actor

It’s true that there are no small parts, only small actors,” said Ricky Davao, best supporting actor winner at the 2017 Cinema One Originals Film Festival for his performance in Giancarlo Abrahan’s “Paki (Please. Care).”


“A friend of mine called me to say that while this is just a ’small role,’ he really wants me to read the script because I might like it,” Davao said of his namesake, entertainment columnist and talent manager Ricky Gallardo.

“Paki,” about a middle-aged couple and how their love has evolved through the years, likewise went home with the best picture trophy and best screenplay honor for Abrahan.

Abrahan also shared the best director honor with Dan Villegas, who megged “Changing Partners.” Abrahan said: “It’s an honor to stand on stage side by side with Dan. We were batchmates in some film workshops. I guess you can say that we’re each other’s lodi (idol).”

Villegas confessed that the awards he had hoped for his film to win were: best editing (for Marya Ignacio), best actress (for Agot Isidro), best actor (for Jojit Lorenzo) and the Audience Choice (which included a P100,000 cash prize).

“We got them all, and more. I consider the other trophies as bonus,” Villegas told the Inquirer shortly after the awards ceremony held on Sunday night at the Dolphy Theater inside the ABS-CBN Compound in Quezon City.

Giancarlo Abrahan (left) and Dan Villegas, best director winners

He added he was grateful to the jury for granting the best ensemble award to the cast members of “Changing Partners,” a May-December love affair of four couples.

“They were also the actors of the stage play version. Their journey for this film was longer than mine,” Villegas said.

The director added that Cinema One, which funds the annual film festival, once suggested that he conduct auditions for other actors. “I told them that I don’t want to do the film if not with the four,” Villegas recalled. “For me, if it worked [for the stage play], why change it?”

Richard Somes’ “Historiographika Errata” bagged the Jury Prize, as well as the best cinematography for Alex Espartero, and best production design for Donald Camon and Julius Somes.

Mae Paner, best supporting actress —Richard A. ReyesMae Paner, best supporting actress —Richard A. Reyes

Rae Red and Fatrick Tabada’s “Si Chedeng at Si Apple” won for Mae “Juana Change” Paner the best supporting actress honor.

Other winners were: Carl Chavez’s “Sorry for the Inconvenience,” best short film; Dempster Samarista’s “Bundok Banahaw,” best documentary; and Leeroy New for Shireen Seno’s “Nervous Translation, best sound award.


WATCH | Two more Filipino acts crack ‘Asia’s Got Talent’ semi-finals

Fitri Cerado.

Eight more talented acts made it to the semi-finals of AXN’s “Asia’s Got Talent” this week, and two of them are from the Philippines.

Fitri Cerado is a 14-year-old singer who auditioned in the first season of the talent search series but did not make it to the semi-finals. She even sang a duet with judge David Foster in this clip back when she was only 11. 

But it was David who also told Fitri to work harder as there was a “certain disconnect” between her piano playing and her singing.



And worked hard she did. Two years later, Fitri is back in the thick of the competition. 


“The reason I came back to ‘Asia’s Got Talent’ is because I want to prove David [Foster] wrong. I want to prove that I could work harder on my piano. I don’t want to give up on anything, I just need to work harder,” Fitri said with determination. 

“Did I crush your dream?” David Foster asked.

“No, because I’m here now,” Fitri confidently replied before performing a mesmerizing rendition of The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun.” 

“You just set a new standard. You just raised the bar for all the singers from now on. That was amazing, thank you,” said Jay Park, who along with Anggun and, yes, David voted yes to Fitri. 

In this behind-the-scenes clip after she also earned a nomination for the Traveloka Award for most inspiring “Asia’s Got Talent” story, Fitri talked about her musical aspirations.


Another Pinoy act that advanced to the next round is DM-X Convaleñoz, the hair-flipping dance group from Compostela Valley. Composed of nine boys who all sport long hair, the group was formed eight years ago at a vacant lot where they practiced their routine. The group was a finalist during the fifth season of “Pilipinas Got Talent” last year.

DM-X Convaleñoz.

Also, a Traveloka Award nominee, DM-X’s back story is made all the more inspiring by the fact that the respective parents of these boys did not initially approve of their dancing and instead wanted them to start working to be of help to their families. 

They auditioned for “Asia’s Got Nothing” despite having some difficulties raising the money needed for their air fare to Johor, Malaysia where the show is taped.


Fortunately, the boys have more than what it takes to impress the judges and both studio and television audiences alike. 

Fitri Cerado and DM-X Convaleñoz now join early qualifiers Deniel Sarmiento and Neil Ray Garcia Llanes for the next round. The Philippines is now the country with the most number of semi-finalists in the contest, which was first won by Filipino shadow dancers El Gamma Penumbra.

“Asia’s Got Talent” airs this Thursday at 8:30pm on AXN with replays shown throughout the week. To follow the journey of this season’s acts, check out #AXNAsia and #AsiasGotTalent.

AXN is available on Cablelink Channel 38, Cignal Channel 121, Destiny Cable Channel 61, Dream Satellite TV Channel 20, G Sat Channel 51, and SKYCable Channel 49. AXN HD is available on SKYCable Channel 247.


Netizens call for #BoycottPenshoppe after controversial blogger attends event

Penshoppe's #IAmDifferent tees are being sold at Php 449 each. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Just a few hours after Penshoppe’s launched its #IAmDifferent anti-bullying campaign on October 23, the brand drew flak after allegedly getting controversial blogger Franco Mabanta as endorser.

Netizens took to social media to express their dismay and called for the boycott of the brand using the hashtag #boycottpenshoppe.

Mabanta, a social media influencer and known to be a vocal supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, was condemned for his Facebook post criticizing Pinoy Ako Blogger Jover Laurio. Mabanta called her “Ogre Lady and “super ugly.”

The said post was deleted on Mabanta’s Facebook page but netizens took a screenshot as receipt, which has circulated online.

Reddit Philippines posted this screenshot of Franco Mabanta’s Facebook post against Pinoy Ako Blogger Jover Laurio.

Penshoppe joined international and local celebrities as part of the global campaign against bullying. In a press handout by the brand, Mabanta’s name is not included in the roster of its brand ambassadors.


From the Philippines, ambassadors include Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte, Sofia Andres, Tanner Mata, Maria Fabana, and Emilio Perez. International names include Bella Hadid, Lucky Blue Smith, Kaia Gerber, and Sandara Park.

Other influencers also joined the cause including Alab Pilipinas head coach Jimmy Alapag, She Talks Asia co-founder Vicky Herrera, entrepreneur Patti Grandidge, and signer-songwriter Keiko Necesario.

The said post of Mabanta wearing the #IAmDifferent campaign tee of Penshoppe drew negative reactions, with some saying that it is ironic for a “bully” to be espousing an anti-bullying campaign.

Meanwhile, here are some the netizens’ reactions regarding the issue:

Meanwhile, Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog also posted in her blog a receipt of a chat exchange indicating that a Penshoppe staff clarified that Mabanta is not an endorser of the brand.

The screenshot of the online conversation further indicated that Mabanta just “attended as a guest who wanted to support the event. Actually, he was a guest of a guest.”

“Hopefully this will not dilute the good message of the campaign,” the message from Penshoppe concluded.

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