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Whatever happened to AJ Dee?

There was a time when he was the most-favored boy in the backlot of ABS-CBN, causing many to wonder and speculate on a powerful person behind his good fortune. Now, the 25-year-old Angel James “AJ” Dee III has no projects on tv and he goes about town bemoaning this fact. Has he fallen of flavor, er, favor with his meal ticket inside the network? AJ Dee used to be a model [he was runner-up to Brent Javier in the Mossimo Bikini Summit] before doing tv and the movies. He is now waiting it out by doing the theater – currently in the production of Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.

Smokin’: Simon Ibarra

Visible on tv and in the movies as the token crony of the villain is Simon Ibarra, a 35-year-old actor who started out during the sexy-movies era in the 90s. Simon Ibarra was discovered when he came home from Canada with a Mr. Bodyshots-Canada 1995 title. He was 17 years old when he and his family migrated to Ontario, where he finished his Literature degree from the Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology in Hamilton. Simon Ibarra finished quite a number of movies in his ten-year career, most of which were made during the heydays of R-18 skin flicks. He is currently in the cast of Pedro Penduko on ABS-CBN. Too, he just wrapped up filming for the movie Tambolista , one of the five finalists in the 2007 Cinema One Originals.

Marvin Agustin on a roll

Marvin Agustin seems to be enjoying good fortune these days. He was recently signed up by GMA Films for a pivotal role in the suspense movie Dagaw [Waray for “shadow”], opposite Richard Gutierrez. The 28-year old actor didn’t mind, though, if he was the sixth choice for the part, after the role was first offered to Dennis Trillo, Jericho Rosales, Dingdong Dantes, Diether Ocampo, and Ryan Agoncillo. Recently, too, he inked an exclusive contract with GMA 7, effectively cutting ties with rival station ABS-CBN where he was given the big break a few years back.

Jake Cuenca at the Be Bench Finals

Jake Cuenca was a no-show at the Cosmopolitan Bash, although he was one of the magazine’s hot centerfolds this year. However, a week after the Cosmo event, Jake appeared on stage at the Denim and Underwear Fashion Show of Bench, coinciding with the Be Bench Grand Finals at the Araneta Coliseum. Of course, he was one of the bolder ones in low-rise Bench briefs, at one point clutching his crotch again [just like last year at the Bench Fever show] to the delight of an appreciative audience.

Dingdong Dantes on CosmoMen!

Gone are the baby fats and the supposed gynecomastia [firm breast tissues in males] recklessly generated by some websites. Now Jose Sixto Gonzales Dantes III or Dingdong Dantes in showbiz has bravely posed butt-naked for Cosmopolitan [Philippines] Magazine’s CosmoMen edition featuring the annual 69 “eligible” bachelors [this year, the gay guys outnumber the straight ones!]. Dingdong Dantes is truly living up to his role as the sexy shirtless Sergio Santibanez on GMA 7’s Filipino version of Marimar. This time around the 26-year old actor has agreed to be photographed bare-skinned in the forest. And it shivers us timbers!

WITWI Toffee Calma

Toffee Calma started out as one of Manila’s in-demand male models in the early 90s. When the modeling assignments got sparse, he went into acting – without his clothes on. He churned a considerable number of sexy movies, and he became fodder for the gay mags in his time due to the publicity photos. Eventually, he stopped doing movies when the era of soft-porn flicks ended. He is now into the networking business and reportedly, a researcher for a magazine show in one of the networks. Lately, he was in the news because of a libelous maid [“Nag-uuwi po ng lalaki ang amo ko“] on radio who wanted to collect her overdue salaries from Toffee. Toffee Calma was last seen at the recent Kadayawan Festival in Davao City this month.

A Slow Burn

I had a terrible day today. Let me just vent my ire on “A Love Story“, Aga Muhlach‘s latest movie with Maricel Soriano and Angelica Panganiban. Let’s see, Maricel is the mistress, Angelica is the real wife, and Aga is the callous and self-righteous rich guy with a lisp and dimples. Maricel’s character is an Ob-Gyne, supposedly a strong woman willing to be a mistress to Aga’s character. Angelica’s role is a flight attendant who can easily disrobe by the pool and then hide her cute little flabs in loose Puccis. And, as regards Aga’s character – I don’t know what he does, but he is freakin’ rich – I do not have sympathies for, because it was obviously written for a gruff, egotistic and merciless actor. I liked Aga better in, say, Sa Aking Mga Kamay [1996] where he played a naturally-toned serial killer [in a buzz cut] who gets to murder Chin Chin Gutierrez with an ax [incidentally, Chin Chin is also in A Love Story as a sniveling older sister]. Or maybe as Kring Kring Gonzales’s boyfriend who gratuitously shows his buttocks and some portion of his nuts in Ang Katawan ni Sofia [1992]. The only saving grace of the movie are the women’s costumes and designer bags, and of course, a shirtless surgically-manipulated Aga Muhlach in True Religions and Sevens, size 36.

WITWI Lorenzo “Tata” Mara

Where in the world is Lorenzo Mara? Launched in the early 90s, together with hunky Richard Go aka Ricardo Cepeda, in Regal Films’ string of campy sexy flicks, Lorenzo “Tata” Mara is still active on tv and in the movies, although in two-bit roles. Lorenzo is the son of that actor who always gets to play the Philippine President in soaps and movies, Lollie Mara. He was last seen in Pamahiin [2007], Mano Po 5 [2006], and Txt [2006].

Marimar Again on TV [plus Jestoni Alarcon]

When I was younger, I needed something to be obsessed over so I turned to the soaps on local channel tv. I’m thinking about it now, and the only reason I can validate is that probably I needed something to satisfy my closet drama queen – ego. I remember watching the Judy Anns and Claudines slugging Life out in the celluloid closet full of intrigues, backstabbing, cliches, and a despicable actor who went by the name of Gladys. My friends whose idea of a soap would have to be Days of our Lives or General Hospital back then, seriously snubbed Filipino tear-jerker soaps, so I naturally kept things to myself [except to our eager-beaver maid at the time] – anticipating the next episodes with a certain thrill. Then came the Mexican soap Marimar, which introduced the concept of a fast-paced telenovela to Filipino audiences. It was a phenomenal hit, as everyone went apeshit over the show – even my friends. That was ages ago. Recently, with my obsession over soaps a thing of the past, GMA 7 once again revived Marimar and made it a Filipino-language-and -cast show. I watched the pilot episode out of interest, and saw that it was, say, good – with a Spanish mestiza in the lead [Marian Rivera] and a miscast Sergio [Dingdong Dantes]. And of course, the father of Marimar there is played by the dishy Jestoni Alarcon [photos above]. Despite his age, Jestoni is still eye-candy, and an awesome actor. Now, if only I can snap out of this soap-opera neurosis again. Darn.

Rodel v. Leonardo [The Leopard-Print Bikini Face-off]

How about Rodel Velayo [left] and Leonardo Litton in a skimpy animal print bikini romp? Literally poster boys of a sorely-missed era of bedeviled hunks in scanty swimwear, Rodel and Leonardo were the glam stars of Seiko Films in the 90s. Plucked from nowhere, Rodel – who was born and raised in Cagayan Valley, and Leonardo – from nearby Nueva Ecija province, were the bold and brassy duo of their time. Together they starred in countless skin flicks, always teasing whatever queer sensibilities we had then. Yet, unlike most baring boys then [and now], they never had any bad press or salacious backgrounds. The boys have since moved on, in different continents – Rodel in Sydney and Leonardo in New York.
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