La Luna Sangre, Third in the Lobo Franchise, Premieres Monday

The third series in the ‘Lobo’ franchise is about to unfold.

Starting Monday, the popular tandem of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla will grace the small screen anew in ‘La Luna Sangre’, the third installment in a saga that began with ‘Lobo’ and continued with ‘Imortal’. The new series, which will be set in the world of werewolves and vampires, will also have Angel Locsin and John Lloyd Cruz playing special roles.

Picking up from where ‘Imortal’ left off, ‘La Luna Sangre’ begins with the former’s lead characters Lia (Angel) and Mateo (John Lloyd) now living a simple life as mortal beings. During their transition to normalcy, they raised a daughter named Maila (Kathryn).

Unknown to them, a prophecy called “La Luna Sangre” is about to haunt them. The prophecy says that “the child of the most powerful vampire and the chosen wolf will end the evilness of the vampire imprinted with the cursed ink”.

Shortly after raising Maila, a vampire named Sandrino (Richard Gutierrez) arrived in an attempt to kill Lia and Mateo, and in the process turn Maila over to the dark side. Try as they might, Lia and Mateo have no more powers to save them, and in the end, Maila was orphaned to Sandrino’s world in hopes of fulfilling the prophecy.

But after turning 21, it turns out Maila was still a mortal woman, and she decided to leave the dark side in order to resume her normal life. There, she met and befriended Tristan (Daniel), a young man who seeks to kill one of the vampires that killed his father.

As the story goes along, Maila’s thoughts will be conflicted between vampire hunter Tristan and the dark world she left behind. That said, expect ‘La Luna Sangre’ to encounter some twists and turns in this haunting struggle between immortality and justice.

The supporting cast of ‘La Luna Sangre’ will include the likes of Randy Santiago, Gelli de Belen, Desiree del Valle, Niña Dolino, Dino Imperial, Bryan Santos, Ina Raymundo, Nikki Valdez, Mike Agassi, Joross Gamboa, Tony Labrusca and Sue Ramirez. It will be directed by Cathy Garcia Molina and produced by Star Creatives.

If the previous small screen success of KathNiel (and of Cathy Garcia Molina) is any indication, then expect ‘La Luna Sangre’ to enjoy a similar path. Still, it will not be easy to follow a pair of popular predecessors in ‘Lobo’ and ‘Imortal’, so let’s see how this upcoming series will unfold in front of millions of viewers.

‘La Luna Sangre’ airs weeknights after ‘Ang Probinsyano’ on ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida.

The End of Destined to Be Yours

AlDub needs improvement, period.

This has been a recurring theme for the tandem ever since ‘Destined to Be Yours’ premiered on February 27, 2017. The onus was that Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza are not ready to be certified primetime stars just yet, either because the expectations are too overwhelming or that the tandem still has a lot of work to do chemistry-wise and skills-wise (particularly Maine, who obviously lacked prior acting experience).

Indeed, the intent of GMA is to run ‘Destined to Be Yours’ as short as possible, and that is exactly what happened. Only 63 episodes of ‘Destined to Be Yours’ will have aired once it concludes this Friday, thus putting them in a dubious list of short-lived teleseryes that fail to reach the typical 80-episode threshold.

Still, even with an uncharacteristically short run, ‘Destined to Be Yours’ should have been winning according to AlDub loyalists, right? Considering that AlDub enjoyed a tremendous crossover appeal in both social media and on the small screen, the series should have had a winning streak in the ratings and trending topics game.

Instead, a child actress by the name of Nayomi ‘Heart’ Ramos’ (joined alongside Coney Reyes, Ria Atayde, Zanjoe Marudo and Bela Padilla) overwhelmed AlDub. The fact that the ABS-CBN drama series ‘My Dear Heart’ constantly defeated ‘Destined to Be Yours’ in the ratings does not sit well with AlDub fans.

Unfortunately, that is the reality of it all. Alden and Maine together are simply not primetime material for the moment.

With the impending conclusion of ‘Destined to Be Yours’, there is plenty more work to do for AlDub. While they will still be an integral part of ‘Eat Bulaga’ for years to come, GMA should start working on their skills and chemistry in hopes of elevating the duo to the same heights as KathNiel, LizQuen and JaDine.

Unfortunately, they will not have someone like Cathy Garcia Molina to guide them. That said, GMA must look for someone with equal capabilities as the former in order to turn AlDub to a success story, and that alone is not easy.

For now, rest easy AlDub. After that, it’s time to get back to business.

Till I Met You Underachieves As It Enters Finale

The tumultuous run of ‘Till I Met You’ is about to end.

The second teleserye to star James Reid (as Basti) and Nadine Lustre (as Iris), ‘Till I Met You’ marked a change of direction for the love team. While their previous series ‘On the Wings of Love’ was presented as more of a light-hearted drama, ‘Till I Met You’ incorporated more serious themes such as LGBT relationships, as evidenced by the addition of JC Santos (as Ali).

‘Till I Met You’ first premiered on August 29, 2016. At first, it was placed in the second slot of Primetime Bida, as ABS-CBN hoped that the series can maintain the standard of excellence that KathNiel (‘Pangako sa ‘Yo’) and LizQuen (‘Dolce Amore’) instilled earlier that year.

Unfortunately for JaDine, it was not to be. ‘Till I Met You’ only mustered around 26% average ratings in its first two weeks (in contrast, ‘Pangako sa ‘Yo’ and ‘Dolce Amore’ scored around 30% or more in each episode), forcing ABS-CBN to demote the drama to the third slot in favor of ‘Magpahanggang Wakas’.

Despite JaDine’s familiarity with the third slot, ‘Till I Met You’ found it hard to win back viewers, at least locally. Unlike ‘On the Wings of Love’ which scored better than 25% during its run, ‘Till I Met You’ only managed 13% on average.

To make matters worse, ‘Till I Met You’ failed to dominate its timeslot, and even lost in the ratings battle at times to rival GMA series ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and ‘Meant to Be’. The series’ seemingly familiar plot (remember ‘My Husband’s Lover’?) may have turned off some more knowledgeable viewers.

Overall, even with the total count of 105 episodes by Friday’s finale, ‘Till I Met You’ is considered a ‘bust’ by JaDine’s standards. There may have been some moments worth talking about (e.g. Basti and Iris’ car scene), but other than that, ‘Till I Met You’ essentially underachieved under the bright lights of primetime.

Whether or not JaDine can bounce back with their next TV project remains to be seen. But for the viewers who have enjoyed watching ‘Till I Met You’ despite its underachieving status, the last week of the series should be worth the price of admission.

FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part I)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

Here is Part I of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

The Return of Tawag ng Tanghalan

‘It’s Showtime’ was on the brink of waving the white flag when rival ‘Eat Bulaga”s Kalyeserye segment (starring AlDub) became wildly popular in the second half of 2015. So in order to get back on track, they decided to revive a singing competition that was successful in the era of black and white television.

Thus on the second day of 2016, ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ was brought back as a segment of ‘It’s Showtime’. The segment would set the tone for ‘It’s Showtime”s renaissance, as it recaptured the ratings lead from ‘Eat Bulaga’ by the third week of January.

Speaking of ‘Eat Bulaga’…

Kalyeserye Concluded, Revived, Then Concluded Again

The long-running Kalyeserye segment had been on a roll since its debut on July 16, 2015. Unfortunately, the return to form of ‘It’s Showtime’, coupled by the presumed seven-month suspension of Paolo Ballesteros (a.k.a. Lola Tidora) and fans’ apparent frustration over repetitive and predictable storylines, led to a decline in popularity for the segment.

Along the way, Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza took time off to record and promote the film ‘Imagine You and Me’. With the desire to push the duo to new territory, ‘Eat Bulaga’ decided to end Kalyeserye on September 3, although they revived the skit from October 15 to December 17 with a new chapter.

Both Alden and Maine are scheduled to star in the upcoming GMA teleserye ‘Destined to Be Yours’ beginning next year, putting Kalyeserye’s future in doubt.

KathNiel, LizQuen and JaDine’s Reign on Primetime Continues

ABS-CBN’s ‘Big Three’ love teams continued to roll in 2016. The year began with ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’, starring Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, reigning on the 8:40 timeslot, followed by its replacement ‘Dolce Amore’, starring Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil, which debuted on February 15.

Unfortunately, although James Reid and Nadine Lustre began the year with the highly successful ‘On the Wings of Love’, they failed to keep the momentum going when ‘Till I Met You’ premiered on August 29 to a rather lukewarm reception in the ratings. As a result, on September 19, ABS-CBN moved the series’ timeslot to 9:30 p.m., which eventually paid off.

But for every successful pairing, there are some love teams that did not click at all, as seen in this next entry.

AnBie, AlNine and ElNella: The Lost Love Teams

Barbie Forteza and Andre Paras were paired in the long-running afternoon drama ‘The Half-Sisters’, which finally came to an end on January 15. Two weeks later, they received a primetime push with ‘That’s My Amboy’, but the series ended in late April with just 68 episodes and little fanfare.

Its successor, Aljur Abrenica and Janine Gutierrez’s ‘Once Again’, did not even come close, clocking at only 59 episodes from May to July. Over at ABS-CBN, Janine’s ex-boyfriend Elmo Magalona was paired with Janella Salvador in ‘Born for You’, but the series made little impact either, lasting 65 episodes from June to September.

It remains to be seen if the three love teams will have a chance to redeem themselves next year. But in the meantime, let’s move on.

Sexy Time in 2016

The trend towards sensually mature programs continued in 2016. On ABS-CBN, ‘Pasion de Amor’, ‘Tubig at Langis’ and ‘Magpahanggang Wakas’ stood out, with Coleen Garcia, Ellen Adarna, Arci Muñoz, Isabelle Daza and Cristine Reyes emerging to showcase their newfound abilities in a more raunchy setting.

Over on GMA, ‘Sinungaling Mong Puso’, ‘The Millionaire’s Wife’ and ‘Hahamakin ang Lahat’ provided a new dimension for stars Rhian Ramos, Andrea Torres and Joyce Ching to show their chops. But perhaps their greatest contributions were ‘Juan Happy Love Story’ and ‘A1 Ko Sa ‘Yo’, both of which feature a mix of comedy and sensuality.

If 2016 set the tone for more sexual themes with SPG ratings all over the place, then what else is in store come 2017? Find out soon.

In the meantime, Part II of this four-part series is coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

ABS-CBN, GMA to Air Christmas Specials This Weekend

‘Isang Pamilya Tayo Ngayong Pasko’ or ‘Maniwala sa Magic ng Pasko’?

In the past month, ABS-CBN and GMA have been one-upping each other when it comes to creating the perfect Christmas theme this year. For the former, they reached their message through a long-form music video, while for the latter, they used a series of 3D animated shorts to make a statement.

This weekend, the two arch-rivals in the world of Philippine television will once again take their Christmas themes to the next level, this time in the form of a televised concert. It will be ‘Isang Pamilya Tayo Ngayong Pasko: The ABS-CBN Christmas Special’, against ‘The Magic of Christmas: A GMA Christmas Special’.

Both Christmas specials will feature song and dance numbers from each network’s top stars. And while GMA will use this special to unveil upcoming shows for next year, ABS-CBN’s special will focus on stories of ordinary people who inspired others to succeed in their lives.

A lot is expected on the two specials this weekend, particularly with the star power the two networks possess. However, there is special emphasis on the love teams, as ABS-CBN’s ‘Big 3′ of KathNiel (Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla), JaDine (James Reid and Nadine Lustre) and LizQuen (Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil), and GMA’s AlDub (Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza) will try to gain the viewers’ attention.

ABS-CBN’s Christmas special will air as a two-part series. The first part will air this Saturday after ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, while the second part will air this Sunday after ‘Wansapanatym’.

As for GMA’s own Christmas special, it will be shown this Sunday as part of ‘Sunday Night Box Office’. Thus, this Sunday will mark the only time that the two networks’ Christmas specials will cross paths, and considering GMA’s overall deficiencies in their programming, it could pose a disadvantage on their part.

Either way, this promises to be a special ‘week before Christmas’ to remember. Both ABS-CBN and GMA have done their share in impressing their viewers this Christmas season, and now it’s up to their fans to give back.

MMFF in Challenging Position With Emphasis on Quality

MMFF mainstays such as 'Enteng Kabisote' are a thing of the past as organizers emphasize more on quality than commercial success in this year's filmfest. (Photo credit: Cebu Daily News)

Without blockbuster franchises and stars such as Vic Sotto’s ‘Enteng Kabisote’ series, the new-look MMFF faces an uphill battle this year. (Photo credit: Cebu Daily News)

This is a From the Tube special report. The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not reflect those of the Metro Manila Film Festival.

This year’s Metro Manila Film Festival will be a different experience for moviegoers and viewers alike.

Gone are the top drawers, big-spending production outfits and movie franchises that made the MMFF an annual Christmas tradition. Instead, the eight official full-length films will feature mostly independent productions, some of which were previously screened in other film festivals around the world.

The eight entries are:

  • Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough – directed by Marlon Rivera; stars Eugene Domingo, Jericho Rosales, Kean Cipriano, Khalil Ramos, and Cai Cortez
  • Die Beautiful – directed by Jun Robles Lana; stars Paolo Ballesteros, Joel Torre, Gladys Reyes, Luis Alandy, Albie Casiño, and Iza Calzado
  • Kabisera – directed by Arturo San Agustin and Real Florido; stars Ms. Nora Aunor, Ricky Davao, JC De Vera, Luis Alandy, Jason Abalos, and RJ Agustin
  • Oro – directed by Alvin Yapan; stars Irma Adlawan, Mercedes Cabral, and Joem Bascon
  • Saving Sally – directed by Avid Liongoren; stars Rhian Ramos, and Enzo Marcos
  • Seklusyon – directed by Erik Matti; stars Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Neil Ryan Sese, Ronnie Alonte, Lou Veloso, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman, and JR Versales
  • Sunday Beauty Queen – directed by Babyruth Villarama Gutierrez; stars Hazel Perdido, Cherrie Mae Bretana, Mylyn Jacobo, Leo Selomenio, and Rudelyn Acosta
  • Vince & Kath & James – directed by Ted Boborol; stars Julia Barretto, Joshua Garcia, and Ronnie Alonte

The selections were based on the following criteria: story, audience appeal and overall impact (40%); cinematic attributes or technical expertise (40%); global appeal (10%); and Filipino sensibility (10%). In essence, the MMFF organizers wanted to feature a greater emphasis on quality rather than commercialism alone.

Even though the change in approach is crucial in providing a more even playing field, promoting these films could pose a challenge. Many of the films were produced by independent companies, while a majority of them feature second or third-tier actors, some of whom are relative unknowns.

Let’s face it, while Eugene Domingo has box-office potential (‘Ang Babae sa Septic Tank’ raked in millions during its initial run), she is no Vic Sotto or Vice Ganda. And while Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia are not a bad tandem, they are no AlDub or KathNiel in the appeal department.

The major television networks such as ABS-CBN and GMA, once major players in the MMFF, are in a similar predicament. In previous years, both played a big role in the success of MMFF entries, but with this year’s field, they may not be a factor at all.

This does not mean that all eight films are bad, however. They are still worth watching as far as moviegoers go, but it will be up to them to become seriously interested with these entries.

Come Christmas Day, all eyes will be on the eight Metro Manila Film Festival entries. Still, it remains to be seen if this year’s filmfest will be a blockbuster or a flop.