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Netflix ends year with record 200M subscribers, spurred on by new...

GLOBAL streaming service Netflix closed 2020 with an additional 37 million paying subscribers above company and analysts forecasts, with its executives reporting in the earnings report that the service is “very close to being sustainably free cash flow positive.”

TV5 to air ABS-CBN show ASAP Natin ‘To, FPJ movie block

AFTER partnering with Zoe Broadcasting Network to create the A2Z channel to broadcast several of its shows, ABS-CBN is once again branching out and will start showing musical variety show ASAP Natin ‘To and the FPJ: Da King movie block on TV5 starting Jan. 24.

Smart gets BTS as endorser

LOCAL telecommunications company Smart Communications has named K-pop boy group BTS as its newest endorser, continuing its trend of having popular Korean celebrities as brand ambassadors.

Vicor reissues vinyls to mark 55th anniversary

FOR its 55th anniversary, local recording company Vicor Records is reissuing vinyls of Original Pilipino Music classics including those from Ric Segreto and VST & Company.

Pandemic serves as backdrop for high school thriller

STREAMING services WeTV and iflix are opening 2021 with their newest Filipino original, Section St. Valentine: the Disappearance of Divine, a mystery thriller set within a fictional Manila International School where a group of students try to solve the sudden disappearance of one of their classmates.

With move to Viva, singer Mark Carpio to provide movie theme...

“HILING” hitmaker Mark Carpio is the most recent addition to Viva Records’ growing slate of singers and songwriters, coming shortly after announcements that KPop star Minzy and R&B singer Daryl Ong also joined the recording company.

Start the year right with iWant horror anthology, Horrorscope

LOCAL streaming service iWantTFC starts the year with its first original offering, horror anthology Horrorscope about how one’s astrological sign can bring misfortune and terror, which begins streaming worldwide on January 13.

Daryl Ong becomes his own artist at Viva Records

SINGER Daryl Ong, known for his covering songs such as Willie Revillame’s novelty song “Ikaw Na Nga,” has signed as an artist for Filipino music label Viva Records, putting him in the same company as singers Sarah Geronimo and Katrina Velarde.

Solutions for pandemic challenges sought in Final Pitch

FILIPINO business reality show, The Final Pitch, enters its sixth season with calls for non-profit organizations, startups, and innovators that have new solutions to address pandemic-related challenges to submit their pitches to join the show.

The show(s) must go on

AFTER a tumultuous year which saw several of GMA’s shows shelved and postponed because of the pandemic, the country’s largest television network is starting 2021 by announcing a slate of new shows and the return of pandemic-interrupted shows.

Despite pandemic, Hilton opens new resort in Clark

INTERNATIONAL hospitality chain Hilton has opened the 308-room Hilton Clark Sun Valley Resort in Pampanga as a testament to the company’s confidence in Clark, Pampanga as an emerging tourist destination, according to a press release.

Metro Manila Film Festival 2020: A sweet love story

THE YEAR 2020 has been horrible, but despite how bad the year has played out, the tiniest positive spark came from the surge in popularity of so-called Boys’ Love series and films in the Philippines, largely attributed to the popularity of quarantine-favorite 2Gether: The Series, a Thai series about teenage boys falling in love.

Metro Manila Film Festival 2020: Faith healing

THERE was always a sort of mysticality and otherworldliness about Father Fernando Suarez — famously known as a “healing priest” because of the many people who have testified that, yes, they were healed after taking part in the priest’s healing masses that drew thousands — and that, I think, was what Joven Tan tried to capture in his Metro Manila Film Festival entry, Suarez: The Healing Priest.

Fangirl the big winner at MMFF Awards

ANTOINETTE Jadaone’s film about not meeting one’s heroes swept this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival’s (MMFF) awarding ceremonies, going home with nine awards including all of the night’s biggest ones: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress for 24-year-old Charlie Dizon and Best Actor for Paulo Avelino.

Metro Manila Film Festival 2020: Tone deaf

EVEN before Al Tantay’s Pakboys: Takusa actually landed on the Upstream streaming service as an entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, the trailer had already created a furor online for including a joke about transgender people. This led to several LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, etc.) groups to petition the festival to remove the film because of its offensive portrayal of transgenders.

Metro Manila Film Festival 2020: A whole new world

CHRISTIAN ACUNA may have helmed Magikland, but for all intents and purposes, the fantasy-adventure film was a Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes film, harkening back to more than two decades ago when Magic Temple premiered at the Metro Manila Film Festival in 1996, winning 14 of the festival’s prizes.

Metro Manila Film Festival 2020: All in the family

WHILE I wrote in the Magikland review on this page that it was a pity that the movie wasn’t able to get a full theatrical release as the film was absolutely meant to be seen on the big screen with high quality surround sound, in contrast, the family drama Coming Home is perfect as a TV movie or afternoon drama as the cluttered storyline often left me wondering if I had missed something.

The ten films of the 2020 online MMFF

IT’S two days before Christmas and that means it’s also time for the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) though with the pandemic, the country’s largest film festival has shifted online via Filipino streaming service Upstream.ph.

A BL story that transcends time

FOR those who can’t get enough of Boys Love (BL) content which came out this year, here’s another one you can look forward to — Happenstance is a BL series that tells the love between two people living in different timelines from director Adolf Alix, Jr.

Drug war documentary big winner at FAMAS awards

ASWANG, Alyx Ayn Arumpac’s documentary on the horrors of the Duterte Administration’s drug war juxtaposed with the shape-shifting monster found in Filipino folklore, was the night’s biggest winner at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards, winning both Best Picture and Best Documentary alongside technical awards for Best Cinematography and Best Editing.

How the entertainment industry learned to be more efficient during the...

THE KISSING SCENE is mandatory for certain types of drama, but became forbidden overnight because of work safety rules imposed during the pandemic. The US TV network Lifetime got around the prohibition by having actors kiss through plexiglass, and then digitally removing the barrier in post-production. These adjustments, some small and many large, all of them disruptive in some way, paint a picture of an industry having to frantically make up new rules as fresh problems arose.

Healing priest’s biopic in 2020 MMFF

SHIFTING to an online platform may have led the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) to introduce a greater variety of films for this year’s pandemic edition. While the requisite family films such as Magic Kingdom and Mang Kepweng: Ang Lihim ng Bandanang Itim are still part of the programming, it has been seven years since the festival last included a biopic on a religious figure, 2013’s Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir. While Pedro Calungsod tells the life (or what little is known about the life) of the second Filipino saint who lived in the 1600s, Joven Tan’s Father Suarez: Healing Priest explored the life of a modern-day subject, the so-called healing priest, Father Fernando Suarez.

Seda Vertis North’s Misto buffet reopens

SEDA Vertis North’s Misto buffet is back, albeit with changes made to fit the new normal and ensure the safety of its diners.

New cultured milk product launched

JAPANESE beverage company Asahi Beverages has launched its entrant to the cultured milk segment — Goodday — promising “improved intestinal health and natural resistance,” according to a company statement.

Facebook promises transparency in efforts to curb hate speech

AFTER several months of being taken to task about how Facebook has been handling and policing hate speech, the social media giant promised transparency and accountability in their efforts to enforce policies especially pertaining to these malicious remarks, an Asia-Pacific executive said.

Of Dalgona coffee and quadratic equations

WHEN summed up in one word, the year 2020 according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is

Lawyer tackles life, the law, and celebrities on YouTube show

AS A video-sharing platform, YouTube has made it possible for many people to create content and share it with the world, and for a lawyer who cut her teeth in entertainment law, Marie Glen Abraham-Garduque saw YouTube as a way to not only share her life with her viewers but also inform them of their rights and answer their questions about laws in the Philippines.

Cleaners tops the PPP awards

Cleaners, a film anthology about high school cleaners (students tasked to clean the classroom and other parts of the school), was the big winner at the recently held awards night of the 4th Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino which was held online.

A fan’s nightmare and a battle of magic bandanas

THIS year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) — which will be held online because of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic — is proving to be one of the most diverse installments of the country’s largest film festival owing to the variety of genres of the 10 movies which will be screened starting Dec. 25.

VR makes for an intimate concert experience

BILLED as the country’s first virtual reality (VR) concert, Alden’s Reality promised an intimate celebration of Alden Richards’ 10th year in the entertainment industry, and it was, as the hour-long concert (excluding commercials and a 10-minute intermission) showed that while Mr. Richards is not the best singer and dancer in the industry, he does make up for it with genuine effort.

Keeping things simpol

CELEBRITY chef and YouTuber Michael Glovan “Tatung” Sarthou is bringing to book form his simpol (“simple”) recipes which are meant to show that anyone can cook.

Filipino actors among Forbes top 100 digital stars list

Forbes Asia has named the top 100 digital stars from across the Asia Pacific region “who have taken the digital world by storm… with their powerful social media presence” in a list that includes film and TV personalities such as the Philippines’ own Marian Rivera-Dantes and Anne Curtis-Smith and bands such as K-Pop groups BTS and BlackPink.

Prayers and pranks get Pinoys through the pandemic

VIDEO sharing platform YouTube has announced the videos that got Filipinos through the long lockdowns, with singer Marcelito Pomoy’s rendition of “The Prayer” topping the year end charts followed by several prank videos, because if there’s something Filipinos love doing it’s marvelling at their countrymen’s talent in singing competitions and laughing at prank videos.

Ben&Ben the most streamed artist in PHL

THE NINE-PIECE pop folk band Ben&Ben sits atop the list of most streamed artists in the Philippines in this year’s Spotify Wrapped 2020, the music streaming service’s annual compilation of what people listened to and enjoyed within the year.

Cooperation — and smiles — are needed to lift the travel...

IT’S no secret that global tourism is one of the industries that has borne the brunt of the current COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, with health and safety protocols and blanket quarantines lassoing in the once growing industry.

Silent Film Festival adapts to the time of COVID

FOR the first time since its inception in 2007, the International Silent Film Festival is moving online, forgoing live music accompaniment and using original recorded scores from Filipino musicians instead.

Spotify grows 27% on back of discounts in Q3

THE MUSIC streaming service Spotify grew its subscriber base by 27% in the third quarter (Q3) of 2020, bringing its total to 144 million on the back of offering discounted plans which, conversely, brought them a loss of €101 million or $121 million in the quarter according to Spanish analytics firm Comprar Acciones.

Singer April Boy Regino, 51

THE ORIGINAL Pilipino Music (OPM) singer behind the hits “Di Ko Kayang Tanggapin” and “Paano Ang Puso Ko,” April Boy Regino died at the age of 51 on Nov. 29.

Price of K-pop love? An average of P68,000

IT’S no question that K-pop — Korean popular music — has carved out a big chunk of the music world for itself and the resulting “fandoms” have evolved from being just fans clubs to actual forces of nature that can troll and derail a political rally and the social media of US President Donald Trump. And these K-pop fans spend — and spend a lot — for their favored groups. A recent study by Southeast Asian e-commerce aggregator iPrice noted that fans of the group BTS (the fandom is called Army), can, on average, spend upwards of P68,000 ($1,422) on merchandise, concert tickets, and albums.

Full MMFF lineup includes films from canceled summer festival

THE 10 official full-length films that will be featured in the wholly digital version of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) have been named and will include the typical mix of fantasy, comedy, romance, and drama that the festival is known, as well as some of the official entries of the canceled Summer MMFF.

MSI introduces three new laptop lines

TAIWANESE technology company MSI is taking a stab at the growing business and productivity market by introducing several new notebooks, using its “gaming DNA” to develop the new devices.

OPPO unveils concept phone with ‘rollable’ display

CHINESE consumer electronics and mobile communications company OPPO has unveiled its newest concept phone for the second edition of its global conference: one with a proprietary “rollable” display that extends the phone screen seamlessly.

Samsung launches Odyssey curved gaming monitors

SAMSUNG Electronics Co., Ltd. has launched their new Odyssey curved gaming monitors in the Philippines, focusing on providing “next-level game play” and designed for “the serious gamer,” it said in a press release.

QCinema goes online with a smaller lineup

FOLLOWING on the heels of several local film festivals that have opted to go for digital — or hybrid — screenings, the Quezon City International Film Festival (QCinema) will likewise be showing its films online, although it will have a physical screening of its opening film, the black-and-white version of Bong Joon-Ho’s Oscar award-winning film Parasite (2019).

Holiday-themed series top bill TV5’s new shows

LOCAL television network TV5 is ending the year with more new programs as it continues its return to entertainment programming, leading with a holiday-themed drama series titled Paano Ang Pasko.