November Delights

A rather interesting month in the world of Philippine entertainment. There’s a promising new Vivamax film, a new Netflix Original Filipino series, and a new horror based on an urban legend, which just might give you the heebie-jeebies!

And, of course, the QCinema International Film Festival is now running, kicking off Friday in a truly elevated fashion.

‘SUGAR BABY’ (Vivamax)

Sugar dating is still a controversial topic. Does it always involve sex? How much do sugar babies earn in this transactional relationship, and does society have the right to judge them as sugar babies? 

Sure, Vivamax is known for its library of erotic films, but the streamer’s newest offering, Sugar Baby, just might be more than sex as it tackles social issues.

What’s more intriguing is that the film is directed by Christian Paolo Lat, an up-and-coming 30-year-old Filipino-Canadian filmmaker known for indie films, such as Redlights, Birds, the 2022 Cinemalaya film Ginhawa and the short film Be Your Kind, which won a gold award in the Pinnacle Film Awards.

The story centers on an abused wife, played by Azi Acosta, who resorts to sugar dating due to desperate times.

A Vivamax Original Movie, Sugar Baby also stars Robb Guinto, Mon Mendoza, Jeffrey Hidalgo, Josef Elizalde and Zsara Tiblani. 

DAILY TRIBUNE had an exclusive chat with Lat, who shared what he’s most proud of in doing his first Vivamax feature:

“Considering the time we had, I believe we still created a film that is definitely worth watching, and I was able to stay within the same voice. I tried to stay true to my voice as a filmmaker.”

Sugar Baby premieres 24 November on Vivamax.


Also premiering on 24 November is the first Filipino-produced Netflix Original, Replacing Chef Chico, a love triangle set in the steamy kitchen of a high-end restaurant called Hain, which prepares customized dishes for their clientele.

Food and romance is the name of the game of this seemingly delectable series, which stars three of the biggest names in the local entertainment industry — Piolo Pascual, Alessandra de Rossi and Sam Milby.

Replacing Chef Chico is the brainchild of director Dan Villegas, assistant director Joi Bayan and showrunner Antoinette Jadaone.

‘MARITA’ (2023)

Fans of horror and terrifying urban legends might want to check out Viva Films’ latest horror, Marita, about an actress (Rhen Escano) for a university theater group who kills herself in front of a live audience. It is directed by Roni Benaid (Merry Cherry Chua).

Rumor has it that the film is inspired by a supposed “true story” in the ‘70s, with the ghost of the actress still haunting the campus grounds of the university. I do not believe in ghosts, but we sure hope Marita could still scare the daylights out of us.

Marita also stars Louise Delos Reyes and Ashtine Olviga and will premiere on 22 November in cinemas nationwide.


The QCinema International Film Festival kicked off 17 November with Golden Lion winner Poor Things as the opening film. 

The cinema was packed — no, overflowing — with cinephiles, press people, stars like Dolly de Leon, Ricky Davao, National Artist Ricky Lee and more — a testament that Mayor Joy Belmonte’s initiative, now on its 11th year, is getting more and more exciting.

Running for about two-and-a-half hours, the R-18 black comedy fantasy Poor Things from Greek Weird Wave auteur Yorgos Lanthimos stars Emma Stone. It’s about a “creation” of a scientist in the Victorian era who discovers the pleasures of sex and the tragedies of life.

Based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Alasdair Gray, the absurdist arthouse twist to the story of Frankenstein is visually glorious and wickedly fun.

QCinema, with Ed Lejano still as the festival director that brings cinematic treats to Philippine shores, will run until the 26th at Gateway Mall, Robinsons Magnolia, UP Town Center, Shangri-La Plaza, and Power Plant Mall, with over 60 well-curated international films. Join the fest and get a taste of Cannes, Berlinale, Venice, and, of course, enjoy films from iconic and up-and-coming Filipino filmmakers.