Jennylyn Mercado Snub + Catholics vs. 'Father Jejemon' Child Abuse Subplot: Metro Manila Film Festival Controversies

Jennylyn Mercado Rosario feminist drama Metro Manila Film Festival box office disappointmentJennylyn Mercado in 'Rosario': Period feminist drama has been a Metro Manila Film Festival box office disappointment.

Metro Manila Film Festival: Jennylyn Mercado Best Actress snub while feminist 'Rosario' a box office disappointment

Jan. 3 '11 update: Actor-turned-director Albert Martinez's Rosario, a feminist period drama toplining film & television star Jennylyn Mercado and model/actor Dennis Trillo, hasn't been performing all that well at the 2010/2011 Metro Manila Film Festival. Excepting some 3D and IMAX theaters, during the two-week festival (Dec. 25–Jan. 7) only Philippine movies – eight of them this year – are screened in The Philippines' capital.

According to one journalist, Rosario's modest box office has been the result of it not being as widely available as some of the other Metro Manila festival entries. The fact that Jennylyn Mercado was snubbed for the Best Actress award surely didn't help matters any.

As per the latest available figures (Dec. 27), Rosario collected a paltry P7,6 million (US$172,000). At that time, it was ahead of only one movie: the lowbrow comedy Father Jejemon, which has enjoyed its share of controversies. (More on Jennylyn Mercado, Rosario, and the Father Jejemon to-do further below.)

Corazon Aquino's daughter in horror movie

Much more successful has been Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote [“Agimat and Enteng Kabisote”], starring actor/politician Ramon 'Bong' Revilla Jr. and Vic Sotto as, respectively, pop heroes Agimat and Enteng Kabisote. The fantasy adventure remains the festival's top box office hit, having to date taken in P131,213,092 (US$2.98 million).

Starring former president Corazon Aquino's daughter Kris Aquino – who also happens to be the current president's (Benigno Aquino III's) sister – Dondon Santos' horror thriller Dalaw [“Visit”], about a woman (possibly) haunted by the ghost of her recently deceased husband, has brought in P65,550,261 ($1.49 million).

As mentioned above, Father Jejemon, toplining veteran comedian Dolphy, has remained at the bottom of the box office chart despite its star's Best Actor win announced last weekend.

'Rosario' trailer with Jennylyn Mercado, Dennis Trillo and Dolphy: Oscar-bait Phillippine-style, but Metro Manila Film Festival jury either unimpressed or not impressed enough as top awards went to other movies.

Jennylyn Mercado missing from Best Actress shortlist

Dec. 29 '10 update: The Metro Manila Film Festival has a history of controversies. This year's edition, its 37th, has been no different, as a number of complaints followed the choices made by the festival's 11-member jury, which included a bus driver, a teacher, a student, and a housewife.

Topmost among those, reports, were negative comments following the omission from the roster of festival nominees of two people involved in the making of the feminist period drama Rosario: Director Albert Martinez and, chiefly, star Jennylyn Mercado.

Director Wenn V. Deramas and lead actress Ai-Ai delas Alas won in their respective categories for the comedy Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To at a ceremony held last Sunday evening. The other Best Actress nominees were Marian Rivera for Super Inday and the Golden Bibe and Carla Abellana for the omnibus horror film Shake, Rattle and Roll XII.

Pre-arranged Best Actor?

Another controversy revolved around the choice of veteran comedian Dolphy as both Best Actor for the comedy Father Jejemon and Best Supporting Actor for Rosario, in which he plays the modern-day son of Jennylyn Mercado's 1920s flapper. Some claimed the Dolphy wins had been pre-arranged.

“He had very few scenes in Rosario, but he performed them perfectly,” jury member and TV celebrity Butch Francisco explained. “Father Jejemon had good material. It's very 1970s but it still worked. Dolphy was effective in every scene. We keep saying this may be his last film, but if he makes another and gives a performance similar to this, he can win again.”

Francisco also defended the eclectic composition of the jury: “It's not like they [those not in the film industry] were just picked from the streets. Each municipality sent a representative, who went through a screening. Then they were briefed on film appreciation. One of them is the daughter of festival founder Antonio J. Villegas. She grew up exposed to the arts.”

Ai-Ai delas Alas Carole Lombard role in Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To Best Actress Metro Manila Film FestivalAi-Ai delas Alas in a (sort of) Carole Lombard role in 'Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To' ['Your Only Mom: The Last One']: Best Actress winner at the Metro Manila Film Festival. Delas Alas beat Jennylyn Mercado's more dramatic star turn in 'Rosario' – which wasn't even nominated.

Latest entry in 'Ang Tanging Ina Mo' comedy series tops Metro Manila Film Festival Awards

Dec. 28 update: Directed by Wenn V. Deramas and starring comedienne Ai-Ai delas Alas, Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To [“Your Only Mom: The Last One”] – instead of more serious fare such as the Albert Martinez-Jennylyn Mercado collaboration Rosario – topped the 2010/2011 Metro Manila Film Festival Awards.

The third and reportedly last feature in the Ang Tanging Ina Mo comedy series, Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To won a total of eight awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Ai-Ai delas Alas), Best Supporting Actress (Eugene Domingo), and Best Screenplay (Mel del Rosario).

Shades of 'Nothing Sacred'

With shades of William A. Wellman's 1937 classic comedy Nothing Sacred, Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To, stars delas Alas as former Philippine president Ina Montecillo, who, following a freak accident (she falls off a roof), is told she has only about eight months to live. (In Nothing Sacred, Carole Lombard erroneously believes she has a terminal illness.)

After slapping her doctor, ex-prez Montecillo goes (almost) totally nuts when she starts having visions of her ex-husbands. And really, how on earth will she tell her children the sad news?

Upon accepting her Best Actress award, Ai-Ai delas Alas joked that the “clergy and the bishops prayed for her triumph,” and then proceeded to dedicate her trophy to Jennylyn Mercado (Rosario) and Kris Aquino (Dalaw), neither of whom had been officially nominated.

For the record, the three nominees in each category were announced at the Metro Manila Film Festival Awards ceremony. The other two official Best Actress contenders were Carla Abellana for Shake, Rattle and Roll XII and Marian Rivera for Super Inday and the Golden Bibe.

The Philippines' Comedy King takes home two trophies

Veteran comedian Dolphy, known as The Philippines' Comedy King, won two acting trophies:

  • Best Actor for playing the title role in the – among some Catholics – controversial Father Jejemon, which sounds like a slightly raunchier reworking of the 1944 Bing Crosby classic Going My Way. (More on the Father Jejemon affair further below.)
  • Best Supporting Actor for Rosario, in which he plays the modern-day son of Jennylyn Mercado's emancipated 1920s flapper.

In addition to Dolphy's award, Albert Martinez's Rosario won trophies for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Production Design.

Eight Philippine entries were in competition at the Metro Manila festival, which runs until Jan. 3. Until then, movie theaters in Manila's metropolitan area can show only homemade productions.

Bong Revilla Sam Pinto Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote Metro Manila Film Festival biggest commercial hitBong Revilla and Sam Pinto in 'Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote' ['Agimat and Enteng Kabisote']: Fantasy adventure starring actor-politician Revilla along with Pinto and Vic Sotto is the Metro Manila Film Festival's biggest commercial hit.

'Bong' Revilla & Vic Sotto movie tops

Dec. 27 update: Toplining popular Filipino players Ramon 'Bong' Revilla Jr. and Vic Sotto, Tony Reyes' Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote was the top box office grosser on the first day of the 2010/2011 Metro Manila Film Festival, according to

Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote took in P31 million (US$705,000) on Dec. 25. It was followed by the comedy Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To, starring Ai-Ai delas Alas, which swept the Metro Manila Film Festival awards. Directed by Wenn V. Deramas, the third installment in the Ang Tanging Ina Mo series earned P20 million ($455,000).

In third place was the Kris Aquino horror drama Dalaw with P12.5 million ($284,000), followed by another horror effort, Shake, Rattle & Roll XII, with P11.8 million ($268,000), and the 3D animated feature RPG: Metanoia with P5.1 million ($116,000).

At no. 6, Super Inday and the Golden Bibe, starring Marian Rivera and John Lapus, collected P4.7 million ($107,000).

Jennylyn Mercado disappoints while 'Father Jejemon' brings up the rear

Bringing up the rear were Albert Martinez's sweeping feminist drama Rosario, starring Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo, and veteran comedian Dolphy's controversial star vehicle Father Jejemon, which suffered cuts after offending some Catholics.

Rosario took in P3.2 million ($73,000), while Father Jejemon, which earned Dolphy the Metro Manila Film Festival's Best Actor trophy, drew in only P1.4 million ($32,000).

On television since the late 1990s, Jennylyn Mercado has been featured in about a dozen films since 2004. Her notable big-screen credits include Louie Ignacio's romantic comedy Lovestruck (2005) and the romantic drama Blue Moon (2006), which earned her the Best Actress Audience Award at the 2005 Metro Manila Film Festival.

The 82-year-old Dolphy was first seen on screen in 1946, though his film career would take off only in 1953. Since then, the prolific actor has been featured in more than 250 movies.

Metro Manila Film Festival organizers hope movies will reach US$11 million

The two-week Metro Manila Film Festival runs Dec. 25–Jan. 7. Eight Philippine movies are being screened throughout the area. Generally speaking, no foreign movies are shown during that period.

The total take on Day One was P89.7 million ($2 million), which represents a 28 percent increase compared to last year. According to Film Business Asia, despite box office disappointments such as those of the Jennylyn Mercado and Dolphy star vehicles, organizers hope the festival will ultimately reach P500 million ($11.3 million) this year.

Metro Manila Film Festival: Philippine cinema showcase

Dec. 25: This holiday season, moviegoers around the world will be flocking to TRON: Legacy, Little Fockers, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and other cinematic masterpieces. Except in The Philippines.

The Metro Manila Film Festival 2011, which kicked off on Christmas Day, will keep Philippine moviegoers busy with national fare and stars – among them, Vic Sotto, Jennylyn Mercado, Ai-Ai delas Alas, 82-year-old veteran Dolphy, and actor/politician Bong Revilla – for the next two weeks. Foreign movies are banned and entertainment taxes are lifted during that period, which works as a form of government subsidy for the Philippine film industry.

Metro Manila Film Festival Father Jejemon Dolphy Going My Way with child molestation subplotMetro Manila Film Festival controversy: Comedy veteran Dolphy's Father Jejemon mixes Going My Way-like plot with child molestation subplot.

The Catholic Church vs. 'Father Jejemon': 'Going My Way' with child molestation subplot

As usual, the Metro Manila Film Festival has given rise to controversy. Veteran comedian Dolphy has agreed to delete scenes from his latest starring vehicle, Father Jejemon, following protests from members of the Catholic Church.

Directed by Frank Gray Jr., Father Jejemon tells the story of a musically inclined parish priest who teaches a bunch of rebellious kids to sing in the church choir. Sounds like Bing Crosby in Going My Way?

Well, yes, apart from the fact that Leo McCarey's sentimental 1944 Oscar winner didn't feature a child molestation subplot. In the Philippine release, Father Jejemon is unfairly accused of messing around with one of his choirboys, but, in accordance with the Christmas spirit, all ends well.

Also missing from Going My Way (and, for that matter, from its sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's) are the scenes that irked some sensitive Philippine Catholics: in one, the Eucharist's sacramental bread accidentally gets lost inside the cleavage of a female communicant; in another, it gets stuck between the dentures of an elderly churchgoer.

“We must denounce this mockery of the highest form of worship,” read one text message aired on Philippine TV's Showbiz News Ngayon. “Let's not allow the king of comedy to make a comedy of the King of Kings.”

According to Dolphy, the production consulted with a priest during the making of Father Jejemon.


Sources:,, abs-cbnNEWS, Manila Bulletin.

Jennylyn Mercado Rosario image: Solar Entertainment.

Ramon 'Bong' Revilla Jr. and Sam Pinto Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote image: Imus Productions / APT Entertainment / M-Zet Productions / OctoArts Films.

Ai-Ai delas Alas Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To image: Star Cinema Productions.

Father Jejemon poster: RVQ Productions.

Dolphy, Dennis Trillo, and Jennylyn Mercado in Rosario trailer: Solar Entertainment.

Jennylyn Mercado Snub + Catholics vs. 'Father Jejemon' Child Abuse Subplot: Metro Manila Film Festival Controversies © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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