The last four finalists for the annual Metro Manila Film Festival will have been revealed by Wednesday, although the selected ones may be informed as early as this afternoon. One of the strongest contenders is touted to be the most important film of the year, which is literally a comeback of huge proportions for many aspects of production. Having been embroiled in a sticky controversy a few years back, writer and director Alvin Yapan banners a translation to the screen of a Ricky Lee screenplay of the historical drama, Culion. It is about the forgotten period in Philippine history when a small island town in Palawan became a leprosarium which earned a sort of infamy and a transitory migration of colonial rule in the country. A few weeks back, Culion has already gathered quite a stir of polemics when actor-in-hiatus John Lloyd Cruz voiced out his frustrations over the term “comeback” as he maintained that his appearance in the film is just a small cameo, while the filmmakers insisted his participation is very vital to the story.
To address both their excitement and concerns of clarification, producers Gillie Sing and Shandii Bacolod hosted a small dinner presscon at the posh Novotel in Araneta City attended by select members of the media. Presented are the real main draws of the film – its three main actors. Mike Liwag, Nico Locco, and Joem Bascon enthusiastically dined and talked with the press relating personal and professional matters relating to their major contribution to the film.
Mike Liwag, whom after strings of leading roles in short films and minor supporting roles in films, will take on his biggest break in years. He related that the film challenged him physically and emotionally that taking a month-long break was necessary to recuperate. Liwag shared that after years of trying and hoping his huge arsenal of talents will be enough has realized that projects came pouring in only after improving his physique and carefully taking control of what he posts on his social media accounts. He is now being noticed as a major hunk in the making. Liwag, who is also a theater veteran, also dabbles in modeling.
Nico Locco, an international male fashion figure, quite made a fodder of viral notoriety when he was entangled in a love-scorned affair with an ex-flame, a celebrity herself. Originally identified as Nico Fowler, he is an Italian-Canadian part-time actor from the USA who made a huge leap to the Philippines and became a toast of local advertisement industry. Locco is also an in-demand events host. He plays an American soldier in Culion.
Award-winning actor Joem Bascon revealed to DLIST.PH exclusively that he has unending faith to the team-up of producer Bacolod and filmmaker Yapan and is very much willing to do more films with them regardless of controversies and differing public opinions. Bascon was the lead actor of Oro, an MMFF finalist in 2016. In Culion, Bascon plays the husband of lead actress Iza Calzado. He revealed that he shared many intimate moments with the versatile actress in the film as their characters remained steadfast into building their family in spite of their shared afflictions.
Producer Gillie Sing talked to DLIST.PH and raised her concerns about the chances of Culion making it to the MMFF final four. A housewife and mother of three children, Sing invested well to create iOptions Ventures which hopefully will produce more independent films after the projected maiden success of Culion.
Executive Producer Shandii Bacolod, who is one of Manila’s fashionable celebrities, a producer and filmmaker in her own right, is in-between movie projects and other media endeavors.
“Culion is very special to me. It’s also my comeback to the MMFF, and what huge tasks I had to undertake to mount this monumental period drama that will become a perfect reminder for all of us why we make movies to the service of the Filipino audiences,” Bacolod shared.