Focus on the Philippines: Meghan Markle surprises Filipino fans with Tagalog

Plus: Marlisa Punzalan working on new music, 13-year-old girl shines on 'Ireland’s Got Talent' and Lav Diaz premieres rock opera at Berlinale

epa06521807 Meghan Markle during a visit to Edinburgh Castle, in Edinburgh, Britain, 13 February 2018. Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle are on their first official joint visit to Scotland.  EPA/ROBERT PERRY
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Here's your round up of the week in FIlipino entertainment news...

'Salamat po' says Meghan (who loves chicken adobo)

During a walkabout in Edinburgh with fiancé Prince Harry last week, Meghan Markle surprised Filipino fans when she responded to them in Tagalog.

In a video uploaded to Facebook, the 36-year-old American is seen greeting fans when she comes upon Jenny Ulay and her husband. In her brief interaction, Ulay tells Markle that they were visiting from the Philippines and that it’s their wedding anniversary.

Markle thanks the couple for coming out and as she walks away, also drops a quick “Salamat Po” which means “thank you” in Tagalog. This surprises Ulay, who responds excitedly with “Salamat” and seems to be a little overwhelmed by the whole interaction.

Watch the video below:

Markle grew up in Los Angeles, California, which has a large Filipino community. She's also made mention in the past of her interactions with Filipino culture.  In her now-defunct lifestyle blog, she wrote about how Filipino food brings her back to her childhood, and even shared a recipe on The Today Show for making chicken adobo.

The actress is set to wed Prince Harry at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in England on May 19.

Former X Factor Australia winner working on new music

Filipino-Australian singer Marlisa Punzalan is back in the recording studio.

The 18-year-old, who won the sixth edition of The X Factor Australia back in 2014, is in the Philippines this week to visit family and perform on local television programmes. In an interview with the morning talk show Umagang Kay Ganda (A Beautiful Morning), she revealed: "We are currently working on some new songs for a new project. It's very exciting. I'm sure you will love it."

Punzalan's debut album, titled Marlisa, was certified gold and even topped the UAE's iTunes charts in late-2014 and early-2015. Her lead single, Stand By You, was also nominated for the Song of the Year prize at the prestigious Aria Awards.

13-year-old girl shines on Ireland’s Got Talent

Thirteen-year-old Filipino contestant Shaniah Rollo received a standing ovation from the live audience and judging panel of Ireland's Got Talent after her audition performance of Cyndi Lauper's True Colours.

Rollo explained that she and her parents had just migrated to Ireland, while some of her siblings have been left behind in the Philippines. Asked by judge Denise Van Outen what she would do with the competition’s €50,000 (Dh225,400) grand prize, Rollo replied: “I want to use the money for my brothers and sisters to go here, so we can be a whole family — because I really miss them so much.”

After Rollo’s performance, Van Outen told her: “You’ve got the most amazing voice. You sang that from your heart — you sang that for your siblings and they will be so proud of you.”

Judge Michelle Visage said, “For your age, you have such amazing control of your vocals.”

Louis Walsh praised: “It was effortless, it was pitch perfect, and you’re only 13.”

Jason Byrne added, “That was just amazing.”

Rollo, who was accompanied to her audition by her father, has now advanced to the show’s next round of competition.

Ireland's Got Talent is the first Irish edition of the international Got Talent franchise created by Simon Cowell.

Lav Diaz premieres new film at Berlinale

Filipino director Lav Diaz screened his latest feature, Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil), at this week's Berlin International Film Festival, where it is part of the main competition.

Tickets for the premiere, which was held on Tuesday night, were sold out.

Set during the military dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos, the four-hour rock opera tells the story of a man whose wife has been abducted in their remote village.

The black-and-white film’s 33 songs, which Diaz composed himself, are sung entirely in a cappella by an ensemble of actors that includes Piolo Pascual, Shaina Magdayao, Pinky Amador, Bituin Escalente, Joel Saracho, Angel Aquino, Hazel Orencio and Bart Guingona.

Reviews from critics have been mostly positive. Jonathan Romney of Screen Daily praised the film's "boldness and considerable beauty" and called it Diaz's "most experimental work yet". Guy Lodge of Variety wrote that "Diaz remains emphatically his own artist, whether to exhilarating or punishing effect", suggesting that the film needed "finer rhythmic and tonal variations".

Diaz's eight-hour epic Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery) premiered and competed at the 2016 edition of the Berlin Film Festival, winning the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize.

The Woman Who Left a hit in Germany

Diaz's other film, Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left), is making waves in Germany. Since the beginning of February, the film has been screening in 30 cinemas across Germany: in Cologne, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hannover, Leipzig, Munich and Nuremberg.

The Woman Who Left won the Golden Lion at the 2016 Venice International Film Festival and then later screened at the Dubai International Film Festival.

The film featured the cinematic comeback of veteran actress Charo Santos-Concio, who played a schoolteacher released from prison 30 years after being framed and wrongly convicted.

Filipino contestant wins London singing competition

Filipino singer Rachel Gabreza won the grand prize at the Stars of the Albion Grand Prix music competition, held in London on Monday.

Gabreza beat out 30 other contenders from around the world with her cover performances of Michael Bolton's Go the Distance and Jennifer Hudson's I Am Changing.

Gabreza previously appeared on the Philippine reality singing programme Tawag ng Tanghalan (Call of the Stage), where she reached the final round.

The Stars of the Albion Grand Prix is an annual contest organised by Musica Nova, the UK’s International Academy of Music and the World Association of Performing Arts.


Read more:

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Focus on the Philippines: Domestic worker impresses on X Factor Denmark