Why Vince Rillonis the Vivamax King

Viva Films has a movie that’s been showing in the theaters since 20 November: the horror film Marita topbilled by Louise de los Reyes, though the title role is portrayed by another actor, Rhen Escaño. The main character is the fierce ghost of an ambitious campus stage actress who has mental health issues and emotional burdens. 

De los Reyes portrays the new teacher-theater director who has to lead the survival of the young members of the campus theater group from the wrath of the resident ghost. 

Vivamax is now into streaming not just movies, but also series that combine sex and violence. Its latest production, Araro, has four parts, all directed by Topel Lee, who used to helm horror films. The boyish Vince Rillon, 25, leads the cast of mostly Vivamax newcomers. 

The series is promoted with such memes as: “Alin ang mas makasalanan, ang bawal na pag-ibig o ang paghihiganti?”

The series also stars Micaella Raz, Robb Guinto, Arah Alonzo, Vern Kaye and Matt Francisco, while Ronnie Lazaro appears in a special role. 

Rillon seems to have been entrusted completely to Vivamax by his discoverer-mentor Brillante Mendoza. Since last year, Rillon has been the macho headliner of many of the films and series churned out by Vivamax.

The females in those cinema outputs, meanwhile, are mostly discoveries of Jojo Veloso who has some male proteges, too. But the Vivamax King is certainly Brillante Mendoza’s Vince Rillon. 

Would Rillon shape up to be another Coco Martin, whose first movies were directed by Mendoza? The director has also cast Rillon in many of his films honored in international film festivals.

Meanwhile, beginning around middle of this year, Mendoza got busier bringing his latest serious films to international film festivals ­— Venice, Toronto, Tokyo and the like. Mendoza occasionally heads festival juries and conducts master classes alongside showing his films. He hasn’t directed for Vivamax this year, though some Vivamax films directed by his mentees carry his name as creative producer.

Introducing Penelope

There’s a young woman in Baguio City dreaming of fame and fortune as a singer-songwriter. She goes by the single moniker Penelope, and she knows that her dad (surnamed Medrano) named her after the stunning Spanish actor Penelope Cruz.

At the launch of her eponymously titled EP album at HHM Studio in Kapitolyo, Pasig, she reticently admitted she has never bothered to watch a single Penelope Cruz movie, many of which are award-winners internationally.

We think Penelope might be able to write more varied and more substantial songs if she took to watching Cruz’s films directed by Almodovar and other notable filmmakers. 

We may think of this Penelope from the Pines City as little-known, but how many well-known singers do you know can claim to have been nominated for an award alongside SB19 (now said to be going through problems with their group name)?

That list is the category of Best Dance/Electronic Recording for the recently concluded Awit Awards 2023 of PARI (Philippine Association of the Recording Industries).

SB19 won the award, but Penelope was among the nominees as singer-co-writer for the song “Extra Miles (I Miss You),” along with co-writer-performer Mar Miranda, a disc jockey.

The song was submitted by the Manila-based FLIP Records, the same company that produced the EP album Penelope launched in Pasig. 

Penelope already has a degree in Business Administration from a university in Baguio and holds down a decent day job there. She began posting her singing and guitar-playing on Facebook and other social media outlets in 2015 under her full name, Penelope Ann Medrano, when she was still a co-ed.

Her songs are all about longing for true and constant love, with titles such as “Tag-ulan,” “Sulyap,” “One Day, Ako’y Sa ‘Yo” and the Awit Awards-nominated Extra Miles.

At the album launch, she casually revealed that none of these songs are about her, but about her friends’ lives.

So how much of herself is she willing to reveal to be worth the multitude’s adulation? Penelope may still be learning that insisting on privacy does not match desiring fame and fortune.