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Focus on the Philippines: Sarah G, Bruno Mars rumoured to perform in Miss Universe in Manila

Filipino-American pop superstar Bruno Mars is tipped to perform at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, which will be held in Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena on January 30. The rumours emerged after Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo told the press that the pageant had booked a pop star from the United States with Filipino lineage to perform at the beauty pageant.

“The singer from America is a very famous celebrity with Filipino blood,” said Teo.

Quizzed by reporters whether she was referring to Mars, who was born in Hawaii to a Puerto Rican father and Filipino mother, Teo teased: “I’d rather not say anything.”

Other US pop stars who have a Filipino connection include apl.de.ap of The Black Eyed Peas, Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, Glee star Darren Criss and Vanessa Hudgens, who found fame on High School Musical.

Last week, a member of the Philippines’s Department of Tourism revealed on Twitter that local music superstars Sarah Geronimo, Bamboo Mañalac, Jed Madela and Lea Salonga are likely to appear at the pageant as guest performers.

Salonga, a bestselling singer, Broadway actress and coach on The Voice of the Philippines, quickly quashed the rumours on social media, tweeting to her fans: “I have not been booked to perform at the Miss Universe pageant. Plus, I’ll already be out of the country. Someone has made a mistake.”

US presenter Steve Harvey will return to host this year’s pageant, with model Ashley Graham serving as a backstage presenter. A female Filipino co-host is expected to be announced soon.

Pia Wurtzbach to appear as judge on Asia’s Next Top Model

Weeks before current Miss Universe title-holder Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach passes on her crown to a successor, she has already secured her next gig: she will appear as a guest judge on Asia’s Next Top Model, a franchise of the American reality television programme America’s Next Top Model, in which aspiring models from the Far East compete for a chance to catapult their careers in the fashion industry.

Joining Wurtzbach on the judging panel are the show’s host, Thai model Cindy Bishop, Chinese-American photographer Yu Tsai and Hong Kong-based model Cara McIlroy.

The show revealed the line-up of judges for its fifth season earlier this week on social media, posting a photo of the four celebrity mentors on Instagram.

Asia’s Next Top Model, which is expected to premiere later this year, will be filmed in Singapore. No Filipino contestant has been awarded the Top Model crown, though three have come close to winning in past editions: Stephanie Retuya of Season 1, Jodilly Pendre of Season 2 and Monika Star Maria of Season 3 all finished as runners-up, while Julian Flores finished in fourth place during Season 4.

Charo Santos, Lav Diaz nominated for Asian Film Awards

The Filipino film Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) received three nods at this year’s Asian Film Awards. Writer and director Lav Diaz was nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay, while lead star Charo Santos Concio received a Best Actress nomination.

Running for four hours and shot in black and white, The Woman Who Left tells the story of a schoolteacher released from prison 30 years after being framed and wrongly convicted. It won the Golden Lion top prize at last year’s Venice International Film Festival.

Thirty-four films from 12 countries were nominated in the 15 categories of the Asian Film Awards. The South Korean film The Handmaiden leads the list of nominees with six nods, followed by China’s I Am Not Madame Bovary and South Korea’s Train to Busan, which both received five nominations.

The awards ceremony will be held in Hong Kong on March 21. This year’s jury is headed by Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke.

Filipino films to screen at Dhaka Film Festival

Eight Filipino feature films have been selected to screen at this week’s Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh, held from today (January 12) until January 20.

Three films are featured in the Competition section: Vic Acedillo Jr’s Lando at Bugoy, Joseph Israel Laban’s The Sisters and Eduardo Roy Jr.’s Pamilya Ordinaryo (Ordinary Family).

Louie Ignacio’s Laut, Lemuel Lorca’s’s War Lemon and Alvin Yapan’s An Kubo sa Kawayanan (The House in the Bamboo Gove) will all screen in the Cinema of the World section.

Also included in the line-up are Marcela Cariaga’s Pitong Kabang Palay for the Children’s Films section and Gutierrez Mangansakan’s The Daughters of the Three Tailed Banner for the Spiritual category.

This year’s edition of the Dhaka Film Festival features 170 films from 60 countries.

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