MOVIEGOER: Makeover, ticket to stardom

Published March 4, 2021, 8:27 AM

by Nestor Cuartero

Dennis Pascual

TRENDING, VIRAL, spiral, or whatever it is they now call hot news that breaks out on social media, is the story of a scavenger, who became the subject, or object, of a grand, physical makeover recently.

 The transformation was duly documented in a step-by-step video vlog prepared by Richard Stranz, a hairstylist in Angeles, Pampanga.

 In the video that has gone viral, Richard says he was intrigued by the man, Dennis Pascual, who regularly passed by his salon as the latter collected leftover trash. They’re called kalakal (merchandise) in the street trade. 

 Richard invited the trash collector to his salon one day and asked him if he could sit for a makeover. He was going to transform him into a new man, as the salon master probably recognized something beautiful in the man’s facial features. An experiment.

 The poor, homeless man obliged. He said he had been abandoned by his parents since he was 7.


 DENNIS IS TALL, well built at way over 5-foot-9. He has eyes that can look menacing in one shot, soft and sweet in another.

 Richard thought Dennis could pass for a model, which was the reason for the exercise.

 Who knows what fate awaits Dennis following the makeover and breakout stardom on social media? His story could inspire remake of films like Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa, Gumapang Ka sa Lusak, Babaing Hampaslupa, or even Sosayting Dukha.  


  DENNIS’ STORY calls to mind similar tales of transformations, of accidental spotting that lead to stardom in the case of some lucky ones.  

Take the case of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. Back in the 90s, teenager Francisco Domagoso was spotted by a talent scout at a funeral wake in Tondo.

 Following closer scrutiny, it was learned that the boy, like this Dennis, worked as a scavenger at a nearby dumpsite. He was groomed later on and developed by the late German Moreno as an actor.

 The rest is history.


 YEARS EARLIER, another story of similar proportions emerged also in Tondo.

A beautiful young girl became the subject of a makeover by another talent developer, the late Rey de la Cruz.

 The girl also came from a poor family, a high school student, who looked like a million pesos. Rey fashioned her into an actress, nonetheless a sexy one, and called her Myrna Castillo.

The media feasted on her frog-to-princess story. They screamed and scrambled all over the place, photographing her humble dwellings, an entresuelo in one of Manila’s poorest districts. I distinctly remember an image of this Myrna emerging from her humble, low-ceiling abode in a duster.


IT ISN’T KNOWN whether or not Rey was merely pulling off an act for a gullible public and mass media that’s always hungry for sensational news.

Rey was known as an architect of good PR stories that always had an edge, strong news value that editors couldn’t seem to refuse.

He was a genius in that department. He knew how to use and handle media.  

The landscape has changed much since then with the rise of social media, and with that, fake news. Anyone can now pull off a stunt, post it on socmed, and stand by it as gospel truth.

Sadly, that’s one way by which new media shapes, muddles, and influences public opinion in modern society.