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First-time actor topbills Cinemalaya’s ‘John Denver Trending’

Jansen Magpusao, a 15-year-old Grade 9 student, star of 'John Denver Trending' was discovered by chance at a mountain resort in Pandan, Antique where his family resides.


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6/6/2019 4:00 PM
First-time actor topbills Cinemalaya’s ‘John Denver Trending’

Photo credit: @ivanhalligpanganiban on Instagram

A first-time actor is the lead star of Cinemalaya’s full-length feature John Denver Trending.

Jansen Magpusao, a 15-year-old Grade 9 student, will be watching himself in the silver screen for his first time inside a movie house. According to the team, he was discovered by chance at a mountain resort in Pandan, Antique where his family resides.

Jansen takes on the titular role of John Denver Cabungcal, a Grade 8 student who is determined to do well in school to bring joy to his mother. But his life is suddenly upended after one of his classmates accused him of stealing an iPad. Unable to keep his cool over his classmate’s persistent allegation, John Denver snaps and gets into a fight with his accuser. Unbeknownst to him, someone records the assault and posts it on social media, resulting in a frenzy that will forever change things for the ordinary 14-year-old farm boy.


The film, which is largely based on true stories, is meant to portray the extent of the impact social media has in everyone’s lives today.

“Millions of Filipinos, including me, live away from our families because of work. For us to quell the longing, we use social media. This is why even if we have one of the slowest internet speed, we are still one of the largest number of social media users worldwide,” said film director Arden Rod Condez, who also hails from Pandan.

“But in recent years, we begin to witness the danger of social media particularly to the vulnerable Filipino millennials.

“In 2017, our neighbor’s son fled after a video of him bullying another kid surfaced online. A boy in another town committed suicide when he was accused of stealing a gadget. A girl in another city killed herself live on Facebook. These troubling tales of Filipino millenials make me question, how does someone come-of-age in the time of social media?

“Featuring the local color of my hometown, Pandan, Antique, and shot with almost all non-professional actors, speaking our very own language of Kinaray-a, John Denver Trending explores this pressing question,” he added.

Jansen stars alongside seasoned actress Meryll Soriano, who plays the part of John Denver’s mother in the film. Aside from the former, John Denver Trending also features non-professional actors from the province of Antique, who have undergone only four days of acting workshop.


This is the story of your neighbor. You shared that video of him brutally attacking a classmate. He went viral. Suddenly, his life changed. Based on true events, JOHN DENVER TRENDING is a reportage, a cautionary tale that bookmarks a period in our lives when we allow social media to reshape our mindset. Arden Rod Condez won second place for John Denver Trending in the Dulang Pampelikula category of the Filipino division at the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards. Catch his film on August 2 to 11 at CCP and select cinemas. #Cinemalaya2019 Know more about the film through our FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnDenverTrending/ #JohnDenverTrending #SocialMedia #Trending #Cinemalaya

A post shared by Ivan Panganiban (@ivanhalligpanganiban) on


Other full-length features, which will compete in Cinemalaya this year include “ANi” (The Harvest) ,“Annak ti Karayan” (Children of the River), “Fucc Bois”, “Iska”,“Belle Douleur” (A Beautiful Pain), “Malamaya”, “Pandanggo Sa Hukay”, “Tabon”, and “Edward”. 

The film festival is scheduled to kick off on August 2 until the 11th.