This TV series from the Phillippines is described as ‘star studded’, and with a cast that includes Dingdong Dante, Regine Velasquez, Marc Abaya (from the band Kjwan), Tirso Cruz II and the amazing Paolo Ballesteros, this is not false advertising. All of these people are class acts and stars.
Romantic, silly and fun – a big TV hit in the Philippines
I Heart You Pare is romantic, irreverent and very funny. I watched a chunk of episodes with my daughter over the course of two horrendously hot and humid Queensland days, when it just wasn’t possible to do anything but collapse on the sofa and disappear into a puddle of perspiration. Happily, we stayed thoroughly entertained.
Regine Velasquez as Tonya
Tonya Estrella is a sweet, dreamy, shy, klutzy girl who runs a funeral parlour, who is unaware that flower seller Joel (Abaya) is in love with her. She talks to dead people – we loved her immediately. One unforgettably romantic night she meets the handsome Kenneth (Dante) and shares a kiss that neither of them can forget – and it is indeed a classic romantic screen kiss.
Oh! That kiss! Ding dong!
Unfortunately, soon after, she gets involved in an accident with Kenneth’s brother Ramon, and is falsely accused of causing his injuries and the death of the girlfriend of a local criminal, Sonny Boy (Antonio Aquitania).
Tirso Cruz III as darling Auntie Sarsi
Tonya goes on the run, and takes refuge with her gay cross dressing uncle Cesar (Tirso Cruz III) and his BFFs, Coca and Pepsi. The trio used to be stars of the drag queen circuit and hatch a plot to conceal Tonya at a local drag club, Club Love. The only catch is that she will have to pretend to be a man pretending to be a woman – thus Tonette Star is born (estrella=star – get it?).
Kenneth and Vodka
Meanwhile Kenneth is struggling with his conscience as his brother lays critically injured and amnesiac in hospital, and his brother’s fiance, the beautiful but faithless Nikki (Luanne Dy) tries to talk him into running away with her. Conscience wins, and after a row with his father, Kenneth heads off to Manila where he calls on his Aunt Marita (Cela Rodriguez), who just happens to be the owner of Club Love, and offers him the job of manager. Stay with me here.
Tonette Star has joined the club as an entertainer and the star turn in her one night of breathless romance is also there as the manager. But she is dressed as a man dressed as a woman and has assumed completely over the top drag queen mannerisms so he doesn’t recognise her. She recognises him, however, and now despises him because she thinks he is a heartless playboy.
The absolutely fantabulous Paolo Bellasteros
Worse, Tonette has fallen foul of Vodka (Paolo Bellasteros), the impossibly gorgeous and vain star of the show. Flanked by her hilarious cohorts, (one of which is played by Peter Serrano, utterly inspired and possibly inspired by Paris Hilton), Vodka is a powerhouse of allure, talent and overwhelming self obsession. Bellasteros is a show stopper, scene stealer and all round fantabulous performer, a star in every sense of the word.
Vodka’s vicious schemes lead to Mama Marita placing Tonette in her nephew’s care, so Tonette and Kenneth become room mates. She learns that he is still thinking about the mysterious girl he met that night, and he is confounded by his strange feelings for this over the top drag queen. What he doesn’t know is that the mysterious woman, the drag queen and the woman he believes is responsible for injuring his brother are all one and the same woman – Tonya.
Petere Serrano (left) in full Paris Hilton mode
It’s pure outrageous fun with some brilliant cameo performances – Joey Paras as Serveca, Tonette’s best friend at Club Love, and former child star Boy Alano as faded drag queen Coka in particular – and some fabulous musical numbers (as you would expect). It goes on forever, as Tonette copes with being a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman, and Kenneth copes with being a man in love with his brother’s woman and strangely attracted to a woman he thinks is a man – watch it. You know you want to.
Watch it on You Tube
or buy it on eBay