Philippine entertainment has never ran out of new and exciting faces. More than ever in recent years, the advent of talent shows and the proliferation of other hopefuls have made the competition more intense and tightly crowded. Despite the numbers, the ancient saying still holds true: "Many are called but few are chosen."
Entering the Year of the Rat, PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) lists 10 stars who sparkled brilliantly in 2007—stars whose talent, dedication and luck would hopefully carry over to 2008.
MARIAN RIVERA. Angel Locsin's loss was Marian Rivera's gain. Bagging the lead role of Marimar in its Philippine adaptation—after former GMA-7 darling Angel turned down the offer—proved to be the catalyst for Marian's career to shoot up. Before Marimar, the Spanish-born young actress was just one of the pretty faces in the Kapuso Network's stable of talents. She could act, definitely, but so did others. What Marimar gave Marian was strong primetime exposure, for her to showcase her arresting innocent charm and her acting chops.
With her introduction as Marimarin mid-year, Marian instantly became the hottest young star of 2007. Aside from her commercial endorsements, Marian recently had two entries in the 33rd Metro Manila Film Festival—Bahay Kubo and Desperadas.
Things are only starting to heat up for the Psychology graduate. For 2008, Marian is reportedly being groomed as the next Dyesebel. She also has a Valentine movie, A Very Special Love, with Richard Gutierrez as her love interest.
KC CONCEPCION. The daughter of Megastar Sharon Cuneta and ex-matinee idol Gabby Concepcion is not an actress, nor is she comfortable with the tag "celebrity" loosely bestowed on her by the entertainment press and the public.
But no matter how hard Maria Kristina Cassandra Concepcion tries to downplay her status, she will always be certified hot copy in the eyes of the people who witnessed her growth from a shy little girl to a confident lady. Now that she's done with her Paris education, we expect to see a whole lot of KC, especially in 2008. The groundwork was apparently prepared last September 23, 2007 when ABS-CBN premiered a TV special documenting KC's foreign adventure titled KC From Paris to Pinas.
"I just toured the place [Paris]. I don't think that's acting at all," she smiled when PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked her if the TV special was an indication of her willingness to follow the footsteps of her famous parents. KC never hides the fact that she's not totally decided whether to give TV or film acting a try. She'll be acting, she affirmed, but she's more excited to grace theater plays. Showbiz aside, expect more charity events from KC, plus her art-related activities for 2008. If all that isn't enough to keep her in the public eye, there's always her rumored romance with director Lino Cayetano to keep our tsismis radar in full swing.
MAJA SALVADOR. There's something about Maja Salvador that always prompts showbiz insiders to label her as one of the young stars to watch for. Sure, she's not your typical mestiza beauty that we often see in television and fashion magazines. But that's exactly what made Maja stand out among her foreign looking contemporaries. Maja's native beauty only accentuates the fact that beyond the surface, she can also act and dance, two talents that were not lost on Regal matriarch Mother Lily Monteverde.
"Maja deserves a good and big film project because she is a very versatile star," said Mother Lily to the press during the presscon of My Kuya's Wedding last August.
"Magaling sa drama. Magaling sa comedy. Magaling pa siyang sumayaw. I know she's done other movies and she has plenty of TV shows. Pero iba pa rin kapag nabigyan ng movie," the veteran producer added.
Aside from TV and movie appearances, Maja was also one of the most in- demand celebrity endorsers for 2007, a tribute to her good fashion sense as well as her wholesome image. Looking closely at Maja's career progress, no doubt 2008 will be another good year for the Aparri native.
KATRINA HALILI. If winning the coveted FHM Philippines Most Sexiest Women plum for two years in a row is enough proof of star appeal, then there's no reason for us to write off Katrina Halili. Despite some naysayers who claim that Katrina's luster is running out of gas, the Starstruck luminary flashed that ever seductive smile and ramped her way to finish 2007 triumphantly.
Her reported feud with rising sexy star Cristine Reyes did nothing to derail her momentum. In fact, the supposed rivalry only boosted her sexy image. Katrina proved her acting talent in Marimar where she portrays the lead villain role of Angelika. Projects were already in the can even before 2007 bid adios. And least we forget, there's that FHM 2008 calendar for us to keep her in mind throughout the year.
DEREK RAMSAY. The moment model-turned-actor Derek Ramsay brandished his unusual closeness with young vixen Angelica Panganiban, he put his then fledgling acting career in peril. Not that Angelica is a bad influence; their intimacy would have confined Derek under the shadow of his popular girlfriend.
But with talent, patience and determination, the hunky actor proved himself beyond the abs, rugged good looks and his romantic affiliation. Derek's big break came in 2007 when he became part of Judy Ann Santos's primetime drama series, Ysabella. Although the show's main attraction was the tandem of Juday and real-life boyfriend, Ryan Agoncillo, Derek stood out, too, as chef Mito Valenzuela. ABS-CBN bigwigs took notice and signed the half-Filipino, half-British hunk to a four-picture exclusive contract with Star Cinema. In 2007 alone, Derek was seen in two big movies: One More Chance and the Metro Manila Film Festival entry, Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo.
CRISTINE REYES. Cristine Reyes summoned enough confidence to pull her through initial misgivings about going sexy. A few weeks before consenting to do an FHM pictorial for its August issue, Cristine was the image of doubt and uncertainty. But thanks largely to her sister Ara Mina's encouragement, Cristine threw all caution to the wind and—Voila! a new sexy star was born.
FHM August buyers were stunned to see Cristine looking so self-assured with her flawless body. But the sexy photos were just the icing on the cake; a few weeks before that issue hit the stands, Cristine had her coming out party at the World Trade Center in Pasay City on July 12, 2007 for the unveiling of the FHM 100 Sexiest Women.
Cristine's career took off as fast as the magazine was cleared off the shelves. Her launching movie Green Paradise, though shrouded with intrigue, heralded Cristine's arrival. She was also rumored to be in a spat with fellow sexy star Katrina Halili. But the biggest issue Cristine faced before 2007 ended was her public spat with young actor Dennis Trillo's ex-girlfriend, Carlene Aguilar. The two eventually patched things up and mutually pledged never to discuss the rift again.
JAKE CUENCA. Raised in San Jose, California, Jake Cuenca had been around for quite some time. His was a gradual rise to the top, in the company of other good-looking young actors. But 2007 was Jake's year and by all indications, he wants to claim 2008 as well. His move to ABS-CBN from GMA-7 in 2006 did wonders for his career.
Immediately after the transfer, Jake was inundated with projects, most notably Sana Maulit Muli, Natutulog Ba ang Diyos, That's My Doc, and Lastikman. Banking on his dashing good looks, ABS-CBN tapped him to be a part of Star Magic's The Coverboys. He is also seen every Sunday as one of the mainstays of ASAP. Starting the Year of the Rat with a bang, Jake is shares top billing with Cesar Montano in the upcoming teleserye, Palos.
SHAINA MAGDAYAO. Ever got the feeling that Cebuana-Spanish Shaina Magdayao stubbornly refuses to grow up? Well, not anymore. Only recently, the younger sister of actress-singer Vina Morales finally relented and agreed to do a sexy pictorial for a men's magazine. Though she had graced a number of magazines already, news that she was shedding her teenybopper image in favor of a more matured image roused public curiosity. Shaina admitted her openness in departing from her old image but maintained that she still has her limitations. To jumpstart 2008, Shaina will be seen in the Angel Locsin-Piolo Pascual soap, Lobo.
JEWEL MISCHE. Get over the KC Concepcion look-alike fascination. In her own right, Starstruck's first Ultimate Sweetheart Jewel Mische has enough going to carry her through 2008. In 2007 alone, the pretty charmer quietly had her hands full with projects that allowed her to hone her acting skills. Her endorsements aside, Jewel was seen in seven GMA programs: Starstruck: The Next Level, Startalk: Struck Attack, SOP Rules, Magic Kamison: Black Jewel in the Palace, Fantastic Man, Mga Mata ni Anghelita and Kamandag. She's definitely groomed for 2008.
JOEM BASCON. Here's another young star who quietly paid his dues in preparation for a bigger 2008. Joem's rise in 2007 did not ignite much firework; it was simply through hard work and good fortune. Last year, Joem had four programs in ABS-CBN that helped greatly in bolstering his acting career—Walang Kapalit, Gokada Go, Prinsesa ng Banyera and Pinoy Mano-Mano: Celebrity Boxing Challenge. Fortunately, his luck carried over to the New Year via the TV version of the Pinoy horror classic, Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara. The Year of the Rat may well see Joem's full rise to stardom.