MMFF Parade of Stars restores semblance of normalcy

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The Metro Manila Film Festival Parade of Stars at the starting point in Mabuhay Rotonda going to Quezon Memorial Circle on Wednesday —PHOTOS BY GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

After its fluvial edition last year, the Parade of Stars returned to the streets on Wednesday afternoon, bringing cast members of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entries closer to their adoring public.

Now on its 48th edition, the annual show biz event had some of the country’s biggest names mounting colorful, eye-catching floats that represented the eight movies that will run in theaters from Dec 25 to Jan. 7, 2023: “Partners in Crime” (Vice Ganda, Ivana Alawi); “Labyu with an Accent” (Coco Martin, Jodi Sta. Maria); “My Teacher” (Joey de Leon, Toni Gonzaga);

“Nanahimik ang Gabi” (Ian Veneracion, Heaven Peralejo, Mon Confiado); “Deleter” (Nadine Lustre, McCoy de Leon, Louise delos Reyes); “Family Matters” (Noel Trinidad and Liza Lorena); “My Father, Myself” (Jake Cuenca, Sean de Guzman, Dimples Romana); and “Mamasapano: Now It Can Be Told” (Edu Manzano, Paolo Gumabao, Aljur Abrenica).

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, MMFF 2020 mounted an online run and forwent the parade altogether. The following year, amid the easing of health and movement restrictions, organizers held a fluvial parade, with the stars getting ferried along the Pasig River.

“My Father, Myself”

Christmas tradition

For the actors, the MMFF going back to regular programming, so to speak, restored a semblance of normalcy in show biz—one of the most badly hit industries by the pandemic.

“The MMFF has become a Christmas tradition for many Filipinos, so having it again is a big thing for us. We get this feeling of normalcy that we really missed,” McCoy de Leon of “Deleter” told the Inquirer. “The connection that you create with the fans in person is so different from just interacting with them online.”

His costar and lead actress, Nadine Lustre, was excited to see everyone else’s floats. “The parade is something I have always looked forward to—it’s colorful, people are outside and you see them happy and with smiles on their faces,” she said.

Nikki Valdez is part of two films, “Labyu” and “Family,” but opted to join the latter, because two of its senior main stars, Liza Lorena and Noel Trinidad, couldn’t take part in the motorcade.

“I enjoy seeing the fans’ immediate reactions. I love seeing them happy. The interaction, the energy of the people—they really make you feel their love and support. You wave and smile at them, and they call out your name. It’s a great feeling,” she said.

Her costar Agot Isidro added: “Last year, they had a fluvial parade, but the people could only watch from afar. So I’m happy it’s back to how it usually is—on the streets.”

Organized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and hosted by the local government of Quezon City, the parade kicked off with a short program near the Mabuhay Rotonda roundabout at around 4 p.m.

“Mamasapano: Now It Can Be Told”

Resurgence

Dark clouds loomed all afternoon, but that didn’t deter fans and curious passersby from crowding the sidewalks and overpasses on E. Rodriguez Sr. Ave., where the floats were parked. And as people took photos and ogled at their favorite actors, pop songs and Christmas carols blared from speakers, heightening the already festive mood.

This year’s theme is “Balik Saya ang MMFF 2022.” As such, lawyer Romando Artes, MMDA and MMFF overall chair, hoped that the big turnout at the parade could translate into box-office success.

“Kung anong init nang pagpunta niyo dito, sana ay ganoon din sa panonood sa lahat ng kalahok. We know that the film industry was badly hit by the pandemic. But we hope that this year’s MMFF signals the start of the industry’s resurgence,” he said in his opening remarks.

And with a bang of the ceremonial gong, Artes, together with Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte formally opened the parade, which traversed a seven-kilometer route that passed through Quezon Ave. and ended at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

MMDA Chair Romando Artes (center, left) and Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte bang the gong to signal the start of the MMFF Parade of Stars

Hopeful

“Family’s” float, one of the parade’s most intricate and polished, was that of an ancestral house with plant accents; “My Father’s” was a cinema house complete with a marquee; “Partners” was a yellow vessel decked with pillars and a canopy; “My Teacher’s” was a brightly colored school bus;

“Deleter’s” had screens on the sides; “Labyu’s” was an airplane; “Mamasapano’s” had a soldier figure at the back; and “Nanahimik’s,” on the other hand, was a log cabin.

But will the stars’ presence at the parade be enough to make people buy tickets? While moviegoing confidence has yet to return to prepandemic levels, the stars are hopeful that this year’s offerings pique people’s interest and inspire them to troop to the cinemas.

“I feel like people are more excited to go out now, so I hope they do flock to the cinemas this time around,” Nadine said. “I also look forward to spending the holiday season with the fans as we go on a cinema tour … I know that cinemas have been open for a while now, but I haven’t been in them often. I’m excited to see myself again on the big screen.”

“For the past two years or so, partly because of the pandemic, people have been gravitating toward streaming. But I believe that some movies are still best seen on a big screen,” Isidro said.

“This year’s festival promises an exciting selection of films for moviegoers. It will offer a wide variety of genres that will complete the tradition of Filipinos going to the cinema during the holiday season,” Artes added.

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