How are US-based Pinoy stars faring?

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo -

• Arrival alert: Unless she made last-minute changes in her schedule, Vanessa del Bianco shall have touched down at the Centennial Airport at 6 o’clock this morning via Philippine Airlines flight PR 103 from Los Angeles. Expected to welcome her was, you guessed it, John Estrada who’s taking a connecting flight to Cebu with Vanessa also today. If you miss John on MTB, you should know where he is. The couple is scheduled to fly back to Manila on Wednesday, June 18, with Vanessa booked that same night back to L.A. on flight PR 102. As the title of a local movie put it, nakawin natin ang bawat sandali. Hooray to sweet stolen moments!

• Fan alert: Richard Gutierrez is inviting his fans to a get-together tomorrow, June15, starting at 4 p.m., at the Metropolis Star Mall in Alabang. There will be songs galore and parlor games with lots of prizes at stake. If you’re a Richard fan, go by all means!

• Birthday greetings to Mommy Elsie Torrejon, mother of June, who’s turning 80 today. Mommy Elsie is a good dancer and that’s how she keeps her youthful looks.
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Filipinos are like the air we breath. They are everywhere, especially in America. At the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills (Los Angeles) where Bulletin’s Cris Belen and I were billeted during the press junket for Universal Pictures’ Hulk (starring Australian actor Eric Bana who, mark my word, will be a superstar after the movie’s release, showing in Metro Manila starting on Thursday, June l9) and for Columbia Pictures’ Hollywood Homicide (starring Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett, which I also covered), we counted half a dozen Pinoys detailed as doormen, bellboys and valet parkers. There were more Pinoys at every turn, including at the souvenir shop inside the Universal Studio where the Hulk preview and the print/TV interviews were held.

And, it seemed, every Pinoy we bumped into was showbiz-crazy. Those who subscribe to The Filipino Channel (TFC) were up-to-date with showbiz goings-on and, I suspected, those without TFC at their homes were, understandably, a bit out-of-touch. You could tell from the questions they asked.

One of them asked what the "latest" was about Sharon Cuneta and Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan. Have the couple really broken up because Kiko was having an affair with a pretty lady at his Senate office (his second "girlfriend" in the same place)? I said, "As far as I know, Sharon and Kiko are still living together," adding that I heard that they’re happy and having no such problems at all. I was taken aback when the Pinay movie fan twitted me, "Huli ka pala sa balita," volunteering the tsismis that Sharon "confronted" Kiko with a "warning:" I made you; I can also break you! Oh, is that so? I shot back with a blank look in my face.

Another movie fan, obviously far behind the news, was curious why Vilma Santos and Edu Manzano separated. I told her, "But that’s history! Vilma is now happily married to Sen. Ralph Recto, despite rumors that Ralph is secretly ‘womanizing,’ while Edu has had a few other girlfriends since then, with R.A. as his latest love." The movie fan was flustered. "Ganoon ba ’yon!?!"

But I assure local movie fans (Philippine-based, I mean) that I came home with fresh news about some stars who have chosen to "escape" to America due to affairs of the heart, three of them I met during the baby shower for Ruffa Gutierrez last June 1 (Sunday, not March 31 as wrongly reported in last week’s Funfare) at the garden of the New Otani Hotel in L.A.

1. Joey Mead,
who has decided to drop her job as veejay for Channel V and resettle in L.A. with her Korean-American boyfriend Richard Lee, a model. Very obviously happy with her new love, Joey (once the girlfriend of events organizer Jay Server), looked as lovely and as sexy as ever. She joined the Bb. Pilipinas contest a few years back but quit at the last minute, didn’t she? Joey said she and Richard have no marriage plans yet; they’re both busy auditioning for modelling jobs.

2. Paco Arespacochaga,
who came with wife Tiny Fernandez all the way from San Diego where they are based. Paco married Tiny two years ago after his marriage to Geneva Cruz (now KC Montero’s girlfriend) was annulled. Their son, Heaven, is with Geneva. Paco admitted that he did odd jobs on his first year in America, such as carrying big boxes, etc. Now, he and Tiny are slowly but surely finding their own space, with Paco having stints both as a singer and as a musical director on the side. They are childless.

3. Bubby Paras
(Sharmaine Arnaiz’s younger sister), with her daughter Moira (by Mo Twister) in tow. Bunny has been in L.A. for more than two years, earning her keep as a staffer of an advertising company. Mo Twister and his girlfriend Janet McBride (remember the Tintin Bersola, Ryan Agoncillo and Julius Babao’s Talk TV co-host who showed a blatant gesture of ingratitude to her "adopted" country by flashing a dirty finger at media guys before she boarded the plane for L.A. two years ago?) are also based in L.A., according to Bunny. But no, Bunny hasn’t seen Mo (or Janet), not even accidentally crossing paths with any or both of them. When Bunny and Janet last saw each other here at the Robinsons Galleria Suites where Bunny was working three or so years ago, they almost engaged in a hair-pulling spectacle (thank heavens, cooler heads intervened). Asked if Mo was giving his child (Moira, that is) any support at all, Bunny smiled, "No, he isn’t. He doesn’t even make any effort to see Moira. Okay lang. I can bring up Moira by myself. I don’t need his help." (Note: For more on Joey, Paco, Bunny and other US-based Pinoy stars, watch The Buzz which is running a series of shot-in-America features.)
Reader’s reaction
Here’s a letter from reader Celso Caparas, reacting to Funfare’s recent Miss U item:

With reference to your article regarding Losers at Home, Winners Abroad dated May 26, 2003, please allow me to correct and add the following:

• The Miss Puerto Rico you were referring to is Dayanara Torres Delgado, Miss Universe 1993. She was a semi-finalist in Miss International 1992 and first runner-up in Queen of the World 1992.

• Miss Botswana is Mpule Keneilwe Kwelagobe. She lost in the Miss World contest (1997) and won the Miss U crown two years later (not a year), in 1999, the first ever delegate from her country to join the Miss U contest.

• Miss Wales, Helen Morgan, was first runner-up in Miss Universe 1974 (not 1984) but won the Miss World crown the same year (not the following year), where she represented United Kingdom.

• Maria Stella Marquez Zawadzky of Colombia, the first Miss International (1960), was a semi-finalist (not a finalist) in Miss Universe 1960. She won the Miss International crown a little over a month after, not the next year (the finals were held on Aug. 16, 1960); she joined the Miss U contest (the finals was held on July 9, 1960).

Following are some international beauty queens who were initial losers and eventual winners and vice-versa:

• Carmen Susana Duijm Zubillaga (Venezuela), Miss World 1955, was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 1955.

• Marita Lindahl (Finland), Miss World 1957, was first runner-up in Miss Europe 1957.

• Corinne Rottschafer (Holland), Miss World 1959, was Miss Europe 1957, a semi-finalist and Miss Photogenic in Miss Universe 1958.

• Rosemarie Frankland (United Kingdom), Miss World 1961, was first runner-up in Miss Universe 1961 where she represented Wales.

• Catharina Lodders (Holland), Miss World 1962, was third runner-up in Miss International 1962.

• Angela Filmer (Malaysia), the first Miss Asia (1965), lost in Miss Universe 1964.

• Jeanette Christjansen (Denmark), the first Maja Internacional (1966), was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 1965.

• Madeline Hartog Bell (Peru), Miss World 1967, was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 1966.

• Eva von Reuber Staier (Austria), Miss World 1969, was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 1969.

• Georgina Rizk (Lebanon), Miss Universe 1971, lost in Miss World 1970.

• Tuula Anneli Bjorkling (Finland), Miss International 1973, was a finalist in Miss World 1972.

• Amparo Muñoz Quesada (Spain), Miss Universe 1974, was first runner-up in Miss Europe 1973.

• Karen Brucene Smith (USA), won as Miss International 1974, three years after becoming a finalist in Miss World 1971.

• Sicta Vana Papadaki (Greece), Maja International 1974, was second runner-up in Miss Europe 1973.

• Ladija Vera Manic (Yugoslavia), Miss International 1975, lost in Miss Universe 1975.

• Eva Arni (Papua New Guinea), Miss Asia 1975, lost in Miss Universe 1976.

• Sophie Sonia Perin (France), Miss International 1976, lost in Miss Universe 1975.

• Elizabeth Anita Reddi (India), Miss Teenage Intercontinenatal 1978, lost in Miss World 1980.

• Gina Ann Cassandra Swainson (Bermuda), Miss World 1979, was first runner-up in Miss Universe 1979.

• Brigitte Bergman (Netherlands), Miss Intercontinental 1983, was a semi-finalist in Miss International 1983, Miss Photogenic but an "unplaced" delegate in Miss Universe 1985 and second runner-up in Miss Europe 1985.

• Ilma Julieta Urruita Chang (Guatemala), Miss International 1984, was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 1984.

• Elizabeth Robison Latalladi (Puerto Rico), Miss Intercontinental 1986 (Africa-World), was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 1986 and semi-finalist in Miss International 1986.

• Laurie Tama Simpson (Puerto Rico), Miss International 1987, was fourth runner-up in Miss Universe 1987 and first runner-up in Miss Intercontinental 1988.

• Michelle McLean (Namibia), Miss Universe 1992, was a finalist in Miss World 1991.

• Jessica Vanessa Guiulfo Tapia (Peru), Miss Asia-Pacific 1994, was first runner-up in Miss Intercontinental 1998.

• Gabriela Aguilar Chavarria (Costa Rica), Miss Asia-Pacific 1996, lost in Miss Universe 1997.

• Lia Victoria Borrero Gonzales (Panama), Miss International 1998, was a finalist Miss Universe 1997.

• Kisha Alvarado (Costa Rica), Miss Asia-Pacific 1998, lost in Miss Universe 1998.

• Lara Dutta (India), won as Miss Universe 2000 and second place Best National Costume, three years after winning the Miss Intercontinenal 1997.

• Ibiagbanidokibubo "Agbani" Darego (Nigeria), Miss World 2001, was a semi-finalist in Miss Universe 2001.

• Sabrina Schepmann (Germany), Miss Intercontinental 2000, lost in Miss Universe 2000.

• Evelyn Lopez (Guatemala), Queen of the Year 2000, lost in Miss Universe 2000.

• Renata Fan (Brazil), Miss World University 2000, lost in Miss Universe 1999.
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