Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Pinoy pride, world-class sensations

(From the May 1-15 issue of The Fortnightly)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Filipino ingenuity thrives in different industries. In this day and age, nothing’s stopping world-class talents from really making it big, especially in entertainment. They become inspirations for succeeding generations in showbiz’ various fields, reassuring countrymen that anything’s possible. Here’s a quick rundown of some of our most successful fellow Filipinos who have made waves, or continue to do so elsewhere.

Screen and stage sensations
Pinoy moviegoers and TV fans feel extra-proud when performers they rooted for back in the day impress and win over fans from other countries.

Tony-winning Lea Salonga proved her brilliance during her much-revered Miss Saigon run over two decades ago; the former That’s Entertainment regular would eventually land singing parts in beloved Disney films Aladdin and Mulan.

Oprah Winfrey’s teen discovery Charice Pempengco was dubbed “the most talented girl in the world” by the influential talk show host. The YouTube star soon recorded her self-titled debut album, briefly appeared in Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and had a recurring role on TV series Glee as uber-talented Sunshine Corazon.

Arnel Pineda, meanwhile, started singing with local bands when he was in his teens. The former Amo and The Zoo vocalist’s recorded performances attracted the attention of American rock band Journey. By the end of 2007, he became Journey’s lead vocalist, recording an album and touring with the legendary ‘80s group soon after.

Over two decades ago, other local actors in internationally released films include Bembol Roco and Kuh Ledesma (who both played Indonesians in The Year of Living Dangerously with Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver) and Tetchie Agbayani (who had a role in The Emerald Forest).

Behind-the-scenes talents
Dynamic animated flicks require serious planning and imagination in different stages, involving some of the projects’ sharpest thinkers.

Pixar’s Gini Cruz Santos has animated scenes and several characters for big-screen favorites Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles, among others. As an animator, she’s worked on particular sequences where she expounds on characters’ motions and nuances.

Santos’ colleague, fellow “Pixnoy” Nelson Bohol previously worked on Fox’s Titan A.E., and was responsible for co-creating the old town Radiator Springs for Cars.

Storyboard artist and director Ronnie Del Carmen previously worked on Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. He won a Daytime Emmy for his work on the show Freakazoid! and is co-directing an as-yet untitled Pixar project that will be released in 2014. 

Pinoy filmmakers
Some award-winning Filipino directors continue to receive recognition in various international film festivals, aside from local ones.

Lav Diaz’s lengthier-than-usual films tackle social and political topics; the former journalist’s Batang West Side won various awards in the Singapore International Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival of Brussels in 2002. His Melancholia won the Venice International Film Festival’s Orizzonti Grand Prize in 2008.

Pepe Diokno’s debut film Engkwentro centered on vigilante killings; it was awarded the Orizzonti Grand Prize in 2009, and won the Best Asian Film (Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema) in the Jeonju International Film Festival the following year.

Brillante Mendoza, meanwhile, won the Best Director award for his controversial Kinatay in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. 

The part-Pinoys
While they didn’t grow up in the Philippines, or are only half-Filipino (or less), there are certain celebrities who acknowledge their Pinoy roots, or are idolized nonetheless by Pinoy fans.

Comedian Rob Schneider, star of the Deuce Bigalow movies and the sitcom Rob, was often called “bastos” by his irate mother when he was a kid, Schneider recently told hosts of The Talk.

Actor-dancer Dante Basco appeared in the movie Hook and voiced fire-wielding Prince Zuko in the hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Currently playing a gay teen on Glee, singer-actor Darren Criss has a Cebuano mom and an Irish-American dad.

Fil-Am American Idol contestants Jasmine Trias and Camile Velasco made Pinoys pay attention during the third season. Now, gifted Filipino-Mexican singer Jessica Sanchez is getting consistent raves from AI judges, who also saved her from elimination recently. 

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