PEP's Guide to Cinemalaya 2012

by Jocelyn Dimaculangan
Jun 28, 2012
Mainstream stars topbill most of the entries competing in the 8th Cinemalaya. Adolfo Alix Jr.'s Kalayaan stars Zanjoe Marudo (leftmost) and Thai actor Ananda Everingham (of Shutter fame). Meanwhile, Joey Reyes' Mga Mumunting Lihim is topbilled by (right frame, L-R) Agot Isidro, Janice de Belen, Iza Calzado, and Judy Ann Santos.

Mainstream stars once again lend their time and talent for the entries that will compete in this year’s Cinemalaya.

The 8th edition of Cinemalaya will be held from July 20-29, 2012 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as well as selected cinemas in Greenbelt, Makati City; and TriNoma, Quezon City.

This year’s entries for the New Breed category are: Ang Katiwala (The Caretaker) by Aloy Adlawan; Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There) by Marietta “Marie” Jamora; Aparisyon by Vincent Sandoval and Darlene Malimas; Diablo by Mes de Guzman; Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino by Lemuel Lorca; Mga Dayo (Resident Aliens) by Julius Sotomayor Cena; Oros by Paul Sta. Ana; REquieme! by Loy Arcenas; Santa Niña by Emmanuel Palo; and The Animals by Gino Santos.

Filipino directors who have directed at least three full-length commercial feature films get to compete in a separate category known as the Directors Showcase. The five finalists competing are: Bwakaw by Jun Lana; Kalayaan (Wildlife) by Adolfo Alix Jr.; Kamera Obskura by Raymond Red; Posas by Lawrence Fajardo; and Mga Mumunting Lihim (Those Little Secrets) by Jose Javier Reyes.

Aside from the full-length entries, there are ten entries competing in the short film category this year. These are: Bohe: Son of the Sea by Nadjoua Bansil, Ang Paghihintay sa Bulong by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo, Pasahero by Mario Celeda, As He Sleeps by Sheron Dayoc, Sarong Aldaw by Marianito Dio Jr., Balintuna by Emmanuel Escalona Jr., Ruweda by Hannah Espia, Ulian (Senility) by Chuck Gutierrez, Manenaya (Waiting) by Seymour B. Sanchez and Richard Legaspi, and Victor by Jarell Serencio.


Here are the 10 films competing in the New Breed section of the 8th Cinemalaya:

Ang Katiwala (The Caretaker)

Stars: Dennis Trillo, Althea Vega, Ronnie Lazaro
Writer-Director: Aloy Adlawan

Ruben (Dennis Trillo) loses his job as a carpenter in a small town in Quezon where he lives with his wife Edna (Althea Vega) and their 10-year old son, Budoy (Miggs Cuaderno). Desperate to make ends meet, he accepts a job as a caretaker of an abandoned property inQuezon City. Ruben soon finds out that the previous owner of the house is an important figure in the country’s history. When he is interviewed by a TV reporter about this historical figure, Ruben feels embarrassed that he knows nothing about him.

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Ruben soon starts reading up to get to know more about the life of this person, his accomplishments and what he has done for the people. Ruben’s fascination about the person’s life and his inevitable hero-worship irks the only friend he has in the sprawling compound, the night-shift security guard, Gimo (Ronnie Lazaro), who jokes that Ruben is slowly being possessed by the soul of his new hero.

Writer-director Aloy Adlawan specifically wrote the script with Dennis Trillo in mind. They previously worked together on the GMA-7 teleserye Magdusa Ka (2008), where Direk Aloy served as head writer.

Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There)

Stars: Dawn Zulueta, Dominic Roco, Felix Roco, Buboy Garovillo
Director: Marietta “Marie” Jamora
Writers: Marie Jamora and Ramon De Veyra

Twenty-year old Gibson Bonifacio (Dominic Roco) returns to Manila for the holidays, his first visit home in three years.

He's been studying abroad, and his homecoming is a mix of anxiety and excitement. While the holidays are always festive in the Philippines (home of the world's longest Christmas season), for his family, it is always tinged with sadness, marking as it does yet another anniversary of the accidental death of his identical twin brother Jamie (Felix Roco). The event after which, Gibson stopped speaking entirely. This year, a full decade has passed, and yet there are still everyday reminders of their loss, since a carbon copy of the son that has died is the son who survives.

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Gibson comes home to a fractured family, tensions roiling under the surface covered by the tablecloth-gleam of Christmas cheer. Amidst the subculture of Manila’s overlooked upper middle class youth, Gibson searches for genuine connection. As his childhood best friend reaches out to him, and, as he finds a possible romance in a young woman, Gibson reconsiders and redefines his relationship with his family, with himself, even with his dead brother: the only person he talks to.

Writer-director Marie Jamora praised Dawn Zulueta for her outstanding portrayal of Gibson’s mother, Esme. She described Dawn by saying, “Ang galing niya kasi almost all the work has been done. Her interpretation of the character…she brought something na parang I didn’t imagine while writing I was writing the script. She brought another layer so super okay na experience to work with her.”

Direk Marie, who has been a commercial and music video director for the last 10 years, describes Ang Nawawala as a “coming-of-age love story.” In the film, Gibson develops a budding romance with Enid (played by Annicka Dolonius, half-sister of Sanya Smith).

This entry makes use of Original Pinoy Music and features songs and performances of Sandwich, Pedicab, Itchyworms, and Ebe Dancel, among others.


Stars: Jodi Sta. Maria, Mylene Dizon, Raquel Villavicencio, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio
Director: Vincent Sandoval
Writers: Vincent Sandoval, Jerry Gracio, and Raquel Villavicencio

Aparisyon is a film about contemplative nuns who must grapple with an act of violence in the months leading to the declaration of Martial Law in 1972.

Sister Lourdes (Jodi Sta. Maria) is a new member of the Adoration Monastery, which is under the leadership of Mother Superior Ruth (Fides Cuyugan-Asensio). Sister Lourdes becomes close to Sister Remy (Mylene Dizon) whohas to deal with the fact that her activist brother has been snatched away. Raquel Villavicencio is also cast as Sister Vera, who is Mother Ruth’s aide and confidante.

According to Direk Vince, Aparisyon “focuses on the lives of these cloistered nuns, who are walled in by the monastery and insulated from the rest of the world. But the world outside makes itself felt indelibly and even brutally.”

Did he deliberately choose to make the film to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law? Direk Vince pointed out: “It's incidental at best as I didn't set out to do an advocacy film. Although I do feel it is important that we don't have historical amnesia, especially since I belong to the generation after Martial Law.”


Stars: Ama Quiambao, Carlo Aquino, Arnold Reyes, Althea Vega, Roeder Camañag
Writer-Director: Mes de Guzman

Diablo revolves around Lusing (played by Ama Quiambao), mother to five grown up sons who have distinct characters and professions of their own. The first born is Ronaldo (Jose Escobedo), an elementary school teacher assigned in a remote village. He is followed by Fernando (Fredie dela Cruz), an army lieutenant, while the third child, Alberto (Roeder Camañag), lives in the city trying to manage a fledging business. He is succeeded by Ruben (Arnold Reyes), a farmer who tills the two-hectare rice field owned by the family, part of the few properties left by Lusing’s late husband. Her youngest is Oscar (Carlo Aquino), a deep thinker who chose to be a nomadic hermit. Oscar is in pursuit of enlightenment. He travels to search for the “illuminating radiance” he witnessed as a child while flying a kite in their rice field. He wears a white missionary gown and goes around the village and up the hills carrying a lamp.

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Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino

Stars: JM de Guzman, LJ Reyes, Joross Gamboa, Arnold Reyes
Director: Lemuel Lorca
Writer: Jerry Gracio based on a short story by Eros Atalia

Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino is a unique love story set in the "tahungan" (tahong) in Kalye Marino in Sangley Point, Cavite City from its glorious past during the American regime to its current condition today.

JM de Guzman, who plays the title character, suffered from muscle cramps after diving again and again for his scenes as a diver harvesting tahong (green bay mussels).

“Anim na oras si JM sa dagat. Mag-hapon kami sa dagat kasi meron kaming mga scenes sa ilalim ng tubig. Sabay pa kaming pinulikat niyan pagkaahon namin sa tubig…ang sakit!” narrates director Lemuel Lorca.

LJ Reyes, whose character is called Doray Langaw, is a babaeng hamog. The term refers to a woman who has sex with fishermen in exchange for money or fish that she can sell in the market.

In an interview with, LJ admitted that she felt nervous about accepting the role of a prostitute. She revealed, “Kay JM isa [ang love scene], pero marami akong love scenes kasi yung character ko, may pagka-pokpok.”

Portraying Intoy’s barkada are Joross Gamboa as Bertong Baka, Arnold Reyes as Boyet Bagol, and Kenneth Salva as Yeyeng Tikol.

Direk Lem praised his cast members for not being squeamish about swimming in the dirty water of Sangley Point. “si Richard Quan, si JM de Guzman, si Joross, sila yung lumulubog sa tubig…lumulubog sila sa mga madudumi.

“I’m so surprised that the actors, lahat sila walang karekla-reklamo. Siguro dahil nakikita nila nakalubog din ako sa tubig…they’re such troopers.”

Intoy Syokoy ng Kalye Marino, with a screenplay written by Jerry Gracio, is faithful to the short story of Eros Atalia of the same title. It won first prize in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2006.

Mga Dayo (Resident Aliens)

Stars: Sue Prado, Janela Carera, Olga Natividad
Writer-Director: Julius Sotomayor Cena

Mga Dayo (Resident Aliens) is the first Cinemalaya entry to be shot entirely out of the Philippines. In this film, a photographer named Alex (Sue Prado) is getting into a fixed marriage to obtain a permanent resident card while a journalist named Miriam (Janela Carera) is waiting for her green card. Another major character, a housekeeper named Ella (Olga Natividad), is torn between keeping her 88-year-old mother's residency on Guam or sending her back home to the Philippines.

Set against a classic migration story of Thanksgiving, Mga Dayo hopes to represent a few of millions of Filipino immigrant experiences in America.

According to writer-director Julius Sotomayor Cena, all three stories are based on real events but the characters are fictional. He points out that the common thread that ties the three characters together is their green cards and their migration issues.

The scenes were mostly shot at Bayview and Oceanview Hotel in Tumon, Guam.


Stars: Kristoffer King, Kristoffer Martin, Tanya Gomez
Director: Paul Sta. Ana
Writers: Paul Sta. Ana and Obet Villela

In Manila, Philippines, an unidentified cadaver or a “spot” is found. In order to generate income from an unidentified body, the funeral parlor owner sells the body to Makoy (Kristoffer King), a kasero in a saklaan, who takes interest in the “spot.” Makoy and his reluctant younger brother, Abet (Kristoffer Martin) then stage a three-week long fake wake which holds the illegal saklaan. The sakla personnel deals with everyone involved, including Linda (Tanya Gomez), the homeowner, as they agree upon a fictional story that will “legitimize” the wake.

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As the fake wake commences, gamblers earn their keeps through various games of chance (tong-its, bingo and sakla). Prolonging the wake provides a venue to generate income: impoverished families are able to generate income from the illegal operation.

Oros is a story about people who find the means to live by exploiting the dead.

Writer-director Paul Sta. Ana explains the role of Kristoffer King in the movie. “Ang kasero ang kumukuha ng unclaimed body sa isang funeraria. Bumili si Makoy ng unclaimed body para pagkakitaan at magamit sa saklaan. Kasi ang patay siya ang nagiging lisensiya para magkaroon ng saklaan, pag walang patay, walang saklaan.

“Para kumita sila, nagse setup sila ng fake wake kunsaan hindi kamag-anak ng patay ang may-ari ng bahay.”

Makoy wants his younger brother to be a kasero like him but Abet (Kristoffer Martin) wants to put up a business like a carinderia.


Stars: Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, Rez Cortez
Director: Loy Arcenas
Writers: Loy Arcenas and Rody Vera, based on a short story by Gina Apostol

Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino topbills Loy Arcenas’ REquieme! This is a black comedy about a transvestite, three deaths, two wakes, a funeral and a provincial town of gossipers eager to claim relations with a notorious murderer. Rex Cortez is cast as Budoy, the husband of Shamaine’s character.

Shamaine, who bagged the Best Supporting Actress trophy last year for the Cinemalaya entry Niño, is reunited with Direk Loy for this project. She is now cast as Swanie, a woman who wants to claim the body of Adolf Payapa. This man supposedly killed an international fashion designer named Vidal Valere in the United States.

Direk Loy revealed that REquieme! is inspired by Gina Apostol’s short story titled Cunanan’s Wake.

Apostol’s work of fiction re-imagines the death of Fil-American Andrew Cunanan, who allegedly shot and killed Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1997.

Another incident that inspired REquieme! happened to Rody Vera’s friend who wanted to bury someone. However, the friend was unable to do so because of bureaucracy or “red tape.”

Sta. Niña

Stars: Coco Martin, Angel Aquino, Alessandra de Rossi, Anita Linda
Director: Emmanuel “Manny” Palo
Writers: Emmanuel “Manny” Palo and Liza Magtoto

Sta. Niña is a fictional story of a girl whose body was preserved in lahar, prompting people to believe that she can produce miracles.

Writer-director Emmanuel “Manny” Palo explained, “Namatay yung bata before matabunan ng lahar ang Bacolor in 1995. During the evacuation, yung mag-asawa iniwan nila yung bangkay kasi they cannot bring it to the relocation area. Matatabunan yung bahay nila ng lahar. Gusto nila na ilibing properly yung bata. After 10 years, mahuhukay siya and yung katawan ng batawas still intact.”

Coco Martin portrays Pol Mungkal, a father who is campaigning to have his daughter recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church. His wife Madel is portrayed by Alessandra de Rossi.

Coco admitted that he couldn’t sleep when he read the script of Sta. Niña. The ABS-CBN actor was then busy taping for the teleserye Walang Hanggan but Coco wanted to do this film even when it meant that he would have to carry a heavy cross and shoot a crucifixion scene.

Direk Manny says about Coco: “Nagpasan siya talaga ng krus sa kalye ng San Fernando [in Pampanga]. Tumagal ng maghapon ang eksena na crucifixion scene at inabot siya ng isang oras na nakasabit sa krus.”

Another big scene in the film is the rally led by Pol wherein townsfolk marched from Bacolor, Pampanga to Manila in order to show their support for his cause.

The Animals

Stars: Albie Casiño, Patrick Sugui, Dawn Balagot, John Wayne Sace
Writer-Director: Gino Santos

Set in an affluent, upper middle class village in the suburbs, The Animals chronicles a day in the life of Jake (Albie Casiño), Trina (Dawn Balagot), and Alex (Patrick Sugui, former Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Clash Of 2010 housemate), who go through the musings that every kid in high school has to deal with. All Jake wants to do is have a good time, Alex just wants to fit in, and Trina simply wants more. A very vivid picture is painted of life in high school after the final bell rings, as well as a different side of the Philippines, and what is happening to its privileged children.

Writer-director Gino Santos, the 22-year-old filmmaker who used to organize parties in high school, admits his film has elements of “drugs, alcohol, and rape but the film focuses on the characters.”

Albie Casiño is cast as a fun-loving boy named Jake. Direk Gino says about his character: “Sabi ni Albie sa ‘kin never pa siya nag take-off ng shirt in front of a camera. Tapos he has a make-out scene so that would be a first also.”

Dawn Balagot portrays a beautiful and smart student named Trina while former Pinoy Big Brother Teen Clash of 2010 housemate Patrick Sugui is cast as her younger brother named Alex.

Direk Gino says Alex is the “bad boy” in the story. “Patrick’s character is the type of teenager who doesn’t know where he’s going. He’s like a lost kid so that’s why he goes with the wrong crowd and makes the wrong decisions.”

John Wayne Sace is cast as Alex’s close friend who is also part of the same fraternity.


Here are the entries competing in the Directors Showcase category of the 8th Cinemalaya:


Stars: Eddie Garcia, Rez Cortez, Gardo Versoza, Soxy Topacio, Armida Siguion-Reyna
Writer-Director: Jun Lana

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Bwakaw is a drama-comedy about growing old, and everyone’s fear of growing old alone.

Rene (Eddie Garcia) is a gay man who came out of the closet at age 70. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is death.

He has made a will, bequeathing his few possessions to his even fewer friends. Everything is packed and labeled, ready for distribution.

Nowadays the only companion Rene has is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes. Rene feeds him, but refuses to show him affection.

As Rene waits for the day of his death, he gets the surprise of his life when it is Bwakaw who suddenly falls ill. In his struggle to get Bwakaw cured, Rene finds comfort in the most unlikely person: Sol (Rez Cortez), a tricycle driver who helps him bring Bwakaw to the vet and befriends him.

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Buoyed by Sol’s friendship, Rene starts living and discovering simple joys. The 75-year-old man finally learns to live life without fear because of man’s best friend.

Kalayaan (Wildlife)

Stars: Thai actor Ananda Everingham,Japanese actress Kiki Sugino, Zanjoe Marudo, Luis Alandy
Director: Adolfo Alix Jr.

Writer-director Adolfo Alix Jr. was inspired to do the film Kalayaan when he chanced upon an article discussing how different countries are claiming the Spratly islands. He also read about the military installations put up by the Philippines in the islands being claimed by other countries such as China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

He tapped Thai actor Ananda Everingham to play the lead role of a soldier named Julian Macaraeg. Ananda, who is best known for the 2004 horror film Shutter, brings life to a man who must copewith loneliness as he is stationed in the remote island. The actor shot the film in Palawan for 10 days.

Due to time constraints and security reasons, Direk Adolf decided to shoot in mainland Palawan instead of shooting in the Spratlys. “We had to re-create the installation based on the photographs that we gathered. We found similar landscapes in Cowrie and Luli island so we built our set there.”

Soldiers were stationed in the Spratlys for three months but the military shortened the duty to one month. Based on Direk Adolf’s research, this is reportedly because most of the soldiers suffered anxiety and low morale.

“[The soldiers] have transistor radios, TV and DVD players. They use two-way radios in order to communicate with their main base.”

Despite these forms of communication, there are soldiers who have difficulties dealing with the long period of isolation. In fact, Direk Adolf revealed: “In most of my interviews, the soldiers often mention their own mermaid stories.”

Japanese actress Kiki Sugino plays the mermaid in one of the crucial scenes of the movie. Direk Adolf revealed that they had to bring their own generator in the mangroves where they shot this scene.

Zanjoe Marudo plays Lucio, the bratty and loudmouthed soldier who has been assigned in the Spratly a couple of times. Luis Alandy portrays Eric, a newly assigned soldier in the island.

Direk Adolf says that his movie aims to focus on the real victims of this situation: “the Filipino soldier who doesn’t even know what their real purpose is in guarding those islands.”

Kamera Obskura

Stars: Pen Medina, Joel Torre
Writer-Director: Raymond Red

Kamera Obskura can be described as “a fictitious Filipino black-and-white silent expressionist film supposedly found recently by our film archivists and historians.”

In this experimental film-within-a-film, Pen Medina portrays a prisoner locked away in a dark chamber for over two decades. He only sees the reality of the world outside through a small hole in his cell, which projects an image of the city on his wall. He watches people passing by, projected like an inverted movie. As he yearns to rejoin society, he eventually chips away on the hole until it is big enough for him to escape through.

Direk Raymond points out: “Since 1983, I’ve been thinking of giving homage to silent cinema. ‘Yon yung wala tayo sa Philippines since ang sama ng film preservation natin at wala tayong awareness.

“Ever since, meron akong fascination for cinema heritage and film history. In fact, 1990s ko pa pinaplano ito pero ngayon lang natuloy.”

Direk Raymond already worked on a short film with a similar theme that was released in 2006.

“Si Pen Medina na rin ang actor ko noon na nakakulong [in his short film titled Mistulang Kamera Obskura]. Sinali ko yung short film na iyon sa Imahe Nasyon [an omnibus film comprised of 20 short films created by 20 filmmakers].”

The veteran director believes the now is the perfect time for his obra.

“There’s a transition now to digital; mawawala na ang film--yung celluloid cinema. Kaya nagkataon ganun na ang thinking ng mga filmmakers ngayon: paying tribute to cinema heritage and history.”


Stars: Nico Antonio, Bangs Garcia, Art Acuña, Jake Macapagal, Nor Domingo
Director: Lawrence Fajardo
Writer: Zig Carlo Dulay

To prepare for his role in Posas, singer-actor Nico Antonio actually took instructions from a real-life snatcher on how to steal a cellphone.

His character Jestoni “Jess” Biag is a notorious snatcher victimizing people in bustling streets aroundQuiapoChurch. As a routine, he steals wallets, gadgets and jewelries, which he will trade for a meager amount of peso - enough for him to survive and to support his family.

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The film shows how Jess is captured by the police for snatching a cellphone of a call center agent, Ma. Grace Rosuello (Bangs Garcia). It’s his first time to undergo investigation. And as he goes in the process from Barangay Hall Clinic, Police Station to the Fiscal’s Office, viewers will witness how human rights violation bluntly executes, and how culture of corruption deviously perpetuates in this chain of institutions.

PO1 Damian (played by Nor Domingo) chased Jess as he ran along the streets of Manila. According to co-producer Atty. Joji Alonso, they had to reshoot the snatching scene of the film because it was very difficult shooting in Quiapo.

Former Pinoy Big Brother housemate Wendy Valdez is cast as Idang, the girlfriend of Jess the snatcher.

One of the most-talked about scene in the movie is the torture scene of Nico’s character.
Nico Antonio endured waterboarding, a form of torture wherein water is repeatedly poured over someone's face, when his character is caught by the police. The actor temporarily developed a phobia of water because of this traumatic experience.

Mga Mumunting Lihim (Those Little Secrets)

Stars: Iza Calzado, Agot Isidro with the special participation of Janice de Belen and Ms. Judy Ann Santos
Writer-Director: Jose Javier Reyes

In Mga Mumunting Lihim, Iza Calzado, Judy Ann Santos, Agot Isidro, and Janice de Belen bring life to the women whose bonds of friendship are tested when they discover secrets about each other.

Mariel (Judy Ann) and Carla (Iza) have been close friends since high school. When they grow up, Carla becomes a successful advertising executive while Mariel is a married woman who is actually jealous of Carla.

They meet Olive (Janice de Belen) and Sandra (Agot Isidro) who eventually become part of their barkada.

Judy Ann describes the movie by saying, “Pinapakita nito yung relationship ng magkakaibigan, paano na build at paano muntik magkawatak-watak dahil sa isang makabuluhang journal.”

In lieu of the meek characters that she portrayed in the past, Judy Ann accepted this role, which she describes as a “slight kontrabida.”

Mariel (Judy Ann) is afflicted with a terminal disease and when she died, her friends got to read her diary containing her darkest secrets.

Iza says about her character Carla: “I am ambitious and career driven. Ako yung type ng babae na matibay sa lahat ng bagay pero sa isang punto sa buhay ko, nagkaroon ako ng vulnerability na nag-trigger for me to become cold and cut off.”

Direk Joey admitted that Mga Mumunting Lihim is a very personal film for him. “It’s a movie about friendship. It’s about the death of a friend. I’m dedicating it to one of my best friends, Don Escudero.”

The director/production designer died of colon cancer in July 2011.

(CLICK HERE to view screening schedule)

(CLICK HERE to view trailers and purchase tickets)

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Mainstream stars topbill most of the entries competing in the 8th Cinemalaya. Adolfo Alix Jr.'s Kalayaan stars Zanjoe Marudo (leftmost) and Thai actor Ananda Everingham (of Shutter fame). Meanwhile, Joey Reyes' Mga Mumunting Lihim is topbilled by (right frame, L-R) Agot Isidro, Janice de Belen, Iza Calzado, and Judy Ann Santos.
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