At yesterday’s thanksgiving presscon for his Metro Filmfest entry Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story at Club Filipino, Laguna Gov. E.R. Ejercito (a.k.a. Jeorge Estregan) was asked by Ethel Ramos who played the real-life Tondo gang leader better…he or his uncle former Pres. Joseph “Erap” Estrada (who starred in it back in the early ’60s, with now San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez as leading lady)?
Without batting an eyelash and in good humor, E.R. answered, “Erap was 21 when he played Asiong Salonga. I’m 47 so mas marami akong pinaghugutan. Palagay ko mas maganda ang performance ko.” (Salonga was about 26 when he was shot dead. He was known as “the Robin Hood of Tondo.”)
I promptly called Erap for his reaction (he was at home just at the back of Club Filipino) and, as usual, it was he himself who answered the phone.
“Tell E.R. congratulations,” started Erap also on a light vein. “Sabihin mo sa kanya, ako marami ng Best Actor award, he has none. Naging presidente na ako, siya governor pa lang. He should thank me. Kung walang original, wala sanang remake.”
In short, without saying so, Erap considered himself the better Asiong Salonga.
Told after the presscon about Erap’s comment, E.R. said still joking, “Naging president na rin ako…ng Actors Guild.” Then, he started laughing.
With the movie earning more at the tills (almost P40M as of yesterday) after bagging 11 awards at the Metrofest’s Gabi ng Parangal, including Best Director for Tikoy Aguiluz who has an issue with E.R and the movie’s producers but with E.R. losing the Best Actor plum to Dingdong Dantes (for Segunda Mano), E.R. felt magnanimous. He expected the movie to gross P60M during the official Metrofest run (until Jan. 7), excluding the P10M ABS-CBN has paid him for the TV rights.
“What’s flattering is that pinipilahan at pinapalakpakan ang pelikula namin, nakapangingilabot,” adding tongue-in-cheek, “maganda rin ang Segunda Mano (so far second grosser after Enteng ng Ina Mo), pero mas maganda ang Asiong Salonga dahil Best Picture kami.”
At the start of the presscon, E.R. said that he was happy for Dingdong, describing him as one of the finest actors of his generation.
“He deserved the award more than I did,” he added, without losing hope. “After all, there are six more award-giving bodies this year, at sana maka-tsamba ako.”
Before the awards night, Kris Aquino (Dingdong’s co-star and co-producer, with Star Cinema) said in a Startalk interview, addressing Dingdong, “Kapag hindi na nanalo, magwawala ka na. Itataya ko ang pangalan ng pamilya ko.” Because she is Kris Aquino, her comment was taken seriously and blown out of proportion, even if I’m sure she said it in her usual tactless style.
“It would have been better if she didn’t say it,” said E.R. who held no hard feelings against Kris. “Ninang siya sa binyag ng anak ko.”
He dismissed the billing (non-)issue involving Phillip Salvador (who lost the Best Supporting Actor award to John Regala, for Asiong) as “biruang-kaibigan,” but was seriously taking the issue with Tikoy who demanded that his name be removed from the credits in the movie and on the billboards/posters/ads and filed a TRO against Scenema Concepts, the movie’s co-producer (with Viva Entertainment).
“He texted me at humingi siya ng dispensa,” disclosed E.R., “at ako naman, mapagpatawad na tao.”
In a text message to Funfare, Tikoy confirmed, “Nag-text na kami n’ung New Year. Now nag-uusap na kami with our lawyers at ng Scenema Concepts. I hope na ma-resolve na at lessons learned na…”
Hopefully, the kinks will be ironed out and both parties will agree to have Tikoy’s name put back where it should be.
Tikoy has shot E.R.’s other starrer, El Presidente for six days. Asked if he’s going to continue with the project, he said, “I’ll answer you kapag na-resolve na ang Asiong issue.”
Let’s hope for a happy ending, especially since E.R. is planning to submit (for competition) Asiong to the Cannes Filmfest and other international film festivals — with Tikoy’s name returned to its credits.
Correction: 2012 is the leap year and not 2011 as erroneously mentioned in yesterday’s Funfare.
(E-mail reactions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also send your questions to email@example.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.) - FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo