Lorna K has strong showbiz connection

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2015 - 9:00am

If ever her life story were made into a movie, who would celebrity lawyer Lorna Kapunan, who is running for senator under the Grace-Chiz banner, choose to portray her?

With neither a second thought nor a bat of an eyelash, Lorna told the movie press the other day over an easy-breezy lunch at Victorino’s (at the corner of Scout Rallos and 11th Jamboree, Quezon City), “Hilda Koronel. I handled her annulment case” (from a doctor). Hilda is happily remarried to an American, living happily ever after in the States.

Hilda is not Lorna’s only connection to showbiz. The others include James Yap (in his case against ex-wife Kris Aquino), Liz Uy (against a blogger whom she filed a libel case) and a lady lifestyle editor (who also filed an annulment case).

No wonder Lorna is comfortable with the movie writers (she’s close to Lolit Solis and many others) who usually engage her in a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred exchange whenever they meet for lunch.

“Ma-technicolor ang buhay ko,” she admitted more in jest. “Hindi lang technicolor, neon colors.”

Any skeletons in the closet that might be rattled?

John Arcilla is highly-praised for his performance in Heneral Luna

“Ay, many!” she laughed and corrected herself. “Don’t put that. There’s none.”

Seriously now, “The reason why I live a full life is that I separate my professional life and my public person from my private life. Actually, my private life is very simple. Very simple joys in life. My priority is my children. I have five boys (two of whom are into law), three grandsons and nine dogs.”

A widow, Lorna revealed that she has “a significant other.”

Oh, younger…a toy boy?

“No,” she hastened to clarify. “We are both senior citizens, so every time we go out on dates, mayroon kaming 20 percent discount. Pati popcorn may 20 percent discount.”

Incidentally, reacting to a controversy spawned by a presidentiable’s remark about the Pope (the man said that he was “misinterpreted”), Lorna said that a line should be drawn between the use of vulgar language (PI, etc.) and disrespect. 

“Kapag nakakasakit ka na,” she said “When it starts maligning reputation, it’s no longer funny. That’s when he crossed the line. What he said about the Pope, tanggapin na lang niya na nagkamali siya. He should be brave enough to accept that he has maligned the Pope.”

A champion for women’s rights, Lorna also reacted vehemently to the man’s boasting about his many women.

“First time I heard it,” added Lorna, “I was aghast. Sana naman huwag niyang gawin ‘yan. He should respect women.”

Variety’s rave review of Heneral Luna

Variety, the bible of Hollywood, published a rave review of Heneral Luna, written by Richard Kuipers, a copy of which was sent to me by Funfare’s New York correspondent Edmund Silvestre. The story is titled The Philippines’ foreign-language Oscar hopeful is a rousing historical epic set during the Philippine-American War.


One of the most expensive and highest-grossing Filipino films of all time, “Heneral Luna” is a rousing, warts-and-all portrait of Gen. Antonio Luna, the brilliant and brusque strategist whose command of troops in the Philippine-American War (1899-1902) was cut short by betrayal from within his own ranks. Anchored by a charismatic central performance by John Arcilla (“Metro Manila”) and peppered with exciting action sequences, the pic has the all-around energy to overcome the odd moment of bumpy storytelling and prosaic dialogue. A worthy official submission in the foreign-language Oscar race and an entertaining history lesson for audiences everywhere, “Luna” reps an impressive achievement in large-scale filmmaking by prolific scripter-helmer-editor-composer Jerrold Tarog (“If Only,” 2007). Launched locally on Sept. 9, the pic grossed a whopping $5.3 million and has notched an impressive $200,000 on limited US screens since Oct. 30?

…Announcing itself as “a work of fiction based on facts,” the pic is framed around a series of interviews granted by Luna to Jove Hernando (Arron Villaflor), a fictional newspaper journalist. Threaded into the narrative at well-judged moments, these lively conversations provide viewers with valuable insights into the general’s personality and assist greatly in keeping track of the story’s bulging inventory of characters and events. Much of Luna’s dialogue in these sections is squarely aimed at encouraging local audiences to ask questions about the evolution and identity of their nation, and to draw parallels between contemporary political events and those in Luna’s time.

A clear picture is immediately established of the state of affairs in the Philippines in late 1898. After more than 300 years, colonial ruler Spain has relinquished control and sold the islands to the US for $20 million. Exactly where that leaves the newly self-declared First Philippines Republic and how it should respond to the first landing of US troops on Filipino soil is hotly debated inside the shaky government of President Emilio Aguinaldo (Mon Confiado) and wheelchair-bound Prime Minister Apolinario Mabini (Epy Quizon).

It’s clear from the outset that “Heneral Luna” is a very different proposition from the majority of Filipino historical epics, which paint fawning portraits of the nation’s founding fathers. The rasping dialogue by Tarog and co-scripters Henry Francia and E.A. Rocha presents a government wracked by chaos, disunity and the readiness of key players to place personal interest ahead of the national interest by accepting US domination without a fight…

When all this squabbling and bickering comes to the boil, Luna (Arcilla) is potently launched into the fray as a straight-talking, fiercely patriotic commander who cuts through everyone’s rhetoric and insists on pre-emptive strikes in order to save the fledgling nation. As he puts it: “I detest war, but I detest compromise more.”…

While following the traditional trajectory of a war movie, “Heneral Luna” is more fundamentally concerned with examining how internal rivalries proved the undoing of Luna and destroyed any chance of the Philippines gaining genuine and lasting independence. Tarog achieves the primary objective with distinction, but isn’t as successful when US forces are center-frame; the momentum drops noticeably, and the dialogue between American characters including Gen. Arthur MacArthur Jr. (Miguel Faustmann) and Gen. Elwell Otis (Rocha) is frequently clunky and unconvincing. But the name of the game here is Gen. Antonio Luna, and for the overwhelming duration of its running time the film delivers on its promises.

Arcilla’s zesty performance brings full-blooded life to Luna’s reputation for inspiring both undying loyalty and enduring enmity. Surrounding him on the loyalty side of the equation are well-written and performed portraits of supporters including Gen. Jose Alejandrino (Alvin Anson), Col. Francisco Roman (Joem Bascon) and Capt. Jose Bernal (Alex Medina). On the opposite side of things, Ketchup Eusebio nails his portrayal of Capt. Pedro Janolino, a smarmy young officer whose refusal to obey Luna plays a critical role in the fortunes of the general and the war itself. Though given relatively little screen time, Mylene Dizon (“Aparisyon”) hits a winning note as Red Cross worker Isabel, a fictional amalgam of several women Luna was known to have been involved with.

A massive undertaking with approximately 100 speaking roles and a crew of 600, “Heneral Luna” impresses on all levels. Production design by Benjamin Padero and Carlo Tabije, art direction by Katrina P. Napigkit and costume design by Padero vividly bring to life an era that few viewers outside the Philippines will have seen on big or small screens. Cinematographer Pong Ignacio confirms his rising-star status with gorgeous widescreen lensing of lush rural areas, artful compositions in sequences inside the corridors of power and fluid, exciting coverage of the many combat set-pieces.

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com.)

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