Rico Barrera, Aiko Melendez, Polo Ravales, Nathalie Hart and James Robert of the OFW film “Balatkayo”

A different kind of OFW film
STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky L. Calderon (The Freeman) - October 12, 2017 - 4:00pm

The indie film “Balatkayo” from BG Productions International had a very successful premiere night held at SM Megamall Cinema 2 last Tuesday, October 10. It was attended by lead actress Aiko Melendez and her co-stars Polo Ravales, James Robert, Rico Barrera and Nathalie Hart.

Aiko was also supported by her co-stars from the top-rating afternoon series “Wildflower” as Maja Salvador, Joseph Marco and Vin Abrenica also attended the premiere.

Producer Baby Go was very pleased with how the movie directed by Neal Tan turned out. “Balatkayo” has a good script written by award-winning and box-office director Jason Paul Laxamana who carefully crafted a script that presents a different look at the lives of OFWs.

“Balatkayo” has no pretensions as a film. It does not promote itself as a kind of film that will win awards or something one can send to the Academy Awards. It just wants to tell a contemporary story about a mother (Aiko) and father (Polo) who are working abroad to provide a good future for their only son (James Robert) who gets involved in a sex scandal.

As presented in the movie, children of OFWs get disoriented because both parents are away trying to earn decent money but neglect their child who longs for love and attention. It is not enough that you shower a child with money or gadgets. Being away from your family entails sacrifices and also has its attendant problems.

Aiko acted well in the movie. You can feel her anguish as a mother when she learned her son has a sex video that went viral. She also felt betrayed when she discovered her husband was having an affair with another woman.

According to Ma’am Baby Go, she wants to work with Aiko again. “She is very professional and we never had a problem with her during the shoot. I am looking for a good story for Aiko so she can do another movie for BG Productions,” said the producer.

“Balatkayo” is now showing in select cinemas nationwide.


Is Empoy Marquez the new barometer of what it is like to be called handsome?

Well, that is how Viva Films and Blank Pages Productions is selling Empoy as a leading man in the movie “The Barker.” After all, Empoy’s last movie “Kita Kita” grossed more than P320 million at the box-office.

That is why at the press conference for “The Barker,” Empoy was introduced as the new “pogi.” Paired with him is Shy Carlos, dubbed as the Princess of Viva.

It is a tall order for Empoy to be given the tag as “pogi” as he is definitely not “pogi” in the league of Piolo Pascual, Aga Muhlach, or Dingdong Dantes.  But if you ask Dennis Padilla who directed Empoy in “The Barker,” the actor is perfect for the role of a barker by day, hero by night.

“He may not be gwapo, but he has unmistakable charm,” said Dennis who is quite confident that Empoy has the chance of becoming a big star with the right project.

He also said that if everyone who watched the trailer of “The Barker” will shell out P200 to watch it in cinemas come October 25, he believes he has a potential winner on his hands. The trailer of “The Barker” has more than 3.5 million views.

“Kung kahit kalahati lang nung gross ng ‘Kita Kita’ ay kitain ng ‘The Barker,’ we will be very happy indeed,” added Dennis.

If the movie makes money then we say that the success of “Kita Kita” is no fluke.

As for Empoy, he is just cool. He doesn’t want to be pressured even if he knows that all eyes are on him. “I believe we made a very entertaining movie so we are keeping our fingers crossed that moviegoers will like it,” said Empoy.


After being managed by her mom, Lotlot de Leon and HMA Artist Center, Janine Gutierrez has joined LVD Talent Management, headed by Leo Dominguez. The newly minted Best Supporting Actress of the Urduja Awards (for the Cinemalaya entry “Dagsin”) signed up recently with LVD.

Janine is still adjusting to the new set-up but she is happy with her new family. Since her mom had also been busy doing movies and even put up a restaurant, Janine and her mom agreed to get a manager to handle her career since her contract with GMA-7 already expired.

Does she have an intention of renewing her contract with GMA? It was the Kapuso network who gave her a big break via the series “Legally Blind.”

“We are currently negotiating with GMA-7 and Tito Leo is the one handling it. I will always be grateful to GMA. They are a big part of my career and I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for them,” said Janine.

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