By Billy Bong
We posted this entry with the knowledge that 2008 is really over and that 2009 will be another year of ups and downs in the world of showbiz.
There are guaranteed facts in showbiz. People will rise, get famous and fade. Some of them might stay on top for a longer time but the cycle is irreversible. Top rating television series will become the past, box office records will be wiped out by a much better movie that will make cinematic history, stars will get married (Raymond Bagatsing married a sexagenarian), some will get pregnant (Angelika dela Cruz) but will not tie the knot (Vina Morales and Nancy Jane), more actors will undress for a magazine and for an indie flick (too many to mention), take drugs and go to the rehab (hard to mention), and some will breakthrough and glint in the limelight for a short moment.
The year 2008 was truly a cacophony of smiles and teardrops, and of victories and defeats. The ugly distortion of imitation of life in the world of entertainment however, defines what had happened in the year of hypes and intrigues.
People witnessed sad goodbyes from Rudy Fernandez and Marky Cielo, but there were more intriguing and groundbreaking news that stirred local showbiz.
Angel Locsin already had her years as the primetime queen but O-eight was definitely the year of Marian Rivera. Before the meaningful smile of Karylle, who made a controversial station loyalty shift, Marian made waves (literally) by wearing the mythical tale of Dyesebel. It’s not just the most watched series, it’s even one of the shows on TV that resonated with great audience recall, and we are giving the consolation to Dyosa.
The hype of Marian even forced GMA Network and ABS CBN to saturate their programs with fantasy series. This could probably the reason why many Filipinos are contented with just dreaming in the broad day light because they are being bombarded by fictional images that did not even mobilize them to combat mediocrity.
As 2009 is being ushered by new a bevy of programs from the country’s giant television networks, the clamor for intelligent, appealing, and quality programs rises. They should do away with fantasy series, they must also stop reviving old movies and creating serialized versions, and most of all, as we draw 2009 with a safe knowledge that Kapuso and Kapamilya networks will showcase more localized versions of foreign television dramas, they should also think that network war also means battle for excellence and not just with who-makes-a-crappy program thing.
There are more competitions outside the country just like the Asian Television Awards. Rival networks must contemplate why they don’t get more awards from foreign award giving bodies. It’s obvious and we don’t have to rub it on the faces of the head honchos of these television networks; they are more consumed with raking huge profits rather than providing their viewers with top quality programs.
If many people thought that Marian Rivera is currently the hottest item in the world of Philippine entertainment, they should also check the statistics and not just the Neilsen’s ratings. One True Love, the film that also starred E! Entertainment 3rd Sexiest Man Alive Dingdong Dantes, was not able to secure a spot in the 2008 top-grossing local films.
Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd starrers in A Very Special Love under Star Cinema and Viva Films made history by raking P180 million in the box office. It’s only some millions behind all-time top-grosser Sukob.
It is still a year for Star Cinema because it had produced three movies that broke the 100 million peso mark. Sharon Cuneta’s Caregiver earned P139 million while her daughter’s launching film with Richard Gutierrez For the First Time posted P134 million gross at the box office.
While some of the films earned big, there were some that suffered big losses and failed to run for weeks at the movie houses. The country’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film of the 81st Academy Awards Ploning, APT Films’ animated film Urduja, and Viva Film’s sexy flick Torotot, were among the big flops in 2008.
In 2007, fifty movies were exhibited in commercial theaters. Truly, gone are the days when the Philippines was the world’s fourth largest movie producer. The local industry produced almost a hundred films in 1999, but due to crisis and other factors, production has decreased over the years.
Including the eight entries in the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival, Philippine Cinema has produced more or less forty films in 2008, and that also includes digital or independent films.
The number of independent movies has risen due to the advent of easy on the pocket video cameras, and to the eagerness of some novice filmmakers to make it in the mainstream. Whether people would agree or not, indies are not the salvation of deteriorating local movie industry. A total halt of independent film production however is not a suggestion because it’s still a good training ground to other artists, but people behind indies must also consider or should welcome the fact that indies don’t have an audience except some college students and gays who crave for sleazy flicks.
Independent filmmaking however is not the only source of rubbish flicks; we have seen all the film entries at the recently concluded 34th MMFF, and we will say this with conviction: Philippine movie industry is hopeless! Yes, Baler is one of the best local films we’ve seen in years, Tanging Ina Ninyong Lahat put the Escalera brothers to their proper place, and Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elemtalia gave us a glimpse of what the future holds for Philippine animation, but the rest of the movies part of the film fest mirror how the quality of our movies has declined dramatically.
Hate us or love us but we’re going to mention Marian Rivera for the nth time. Yes she released a dance album, and mind you people, the CD went platinum. Her compilation of dance remixes can be now part of the league of 2008 multi-platinum achievers like Sarah Geronimo, KC Concepcion, Sitti, Nina, Claire dela Fuente and Sharon Cuneta.
If Dingdong Dantes released an album we’re not sure if the album would fit the line-up that includes Spongecola, Bamboo, Martin Nievera, Jed Madela and Gary Valenciano. Novelties that are created for mass consumption proved that Willie Revillame was successful in his task to glamorize poverty on his show Wowowee because his album also went platinum.
Charice who dropped her surname Pempengco is still has to prove that she is not just an overnight YouTube sensation and a mascot during David Foster’s appearance on American shows. Her popularity must be translated to album sales first before we could adore her big voice that became her ticket to instant popularity.
When we talk about local music, Regine Velasquez must be present because she is the queen of the shouting sirens. Her album Low Key, an apt title because she can no longer belt high notes, turned gold after three days of release (current sales unknown). Her formula of doing covers still works but for the rest, we really don’t know.
As we beg music artists to stop doing revivals because they are just horrible distortion of classic music, we also ask them to produce masterpieces that could be instant classic. What contemporary song has become iconic and anthemic since the release of Pagdating ng Panahon, Noypi, and Hawak Kamay?
Since local artists failed to produce better music in 2008, we have seen foreign acts that answered why they sell better than our homegrown talents. International artists like Alicia Keys, Chris Brown, Rihanna, The Click Five, James Blunt, and Avril Lavigne among many others, proved that raw music talent is not enough to make it big, technology is also an essential part of creating music that appeals to this generation of local music aficionados.
Yes, Filipino fans favor foreign acts that don’t do covers during their concerts, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that locals are eager to watch one-hit wonder foreign musicians who became famous decades ago and found their way here in the country to earn money because nobody talks about them in their country of origin.
Year 2008 was the year of many sorts and we can’t help but think that O-nine will nothing much of a difference. Maybe, many actors will still be haunted by controversies, another name will rise into superstardom, and Manny Pacquiao will have a new show and will be extra richer.
We bet, another actor will show some flesh in an indie movie, and another actress will wear nothing but her skin on a magazine cover, and another musician will bring back the old playlist.
Our energy shows no signs of slowing down and to kickoff 2009 with optimism and a prayer that everything would just turn out right, let’s call this year as the year after the hype of Marian Rivera or “the hype continues.”