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Viva Films adapts Bob Ong novels, other romance bestsellers for the big screen

Writer-director Mark Meilly (center) poses with the lead stars of his screen adaptation of Bob Ong's 'ABNKKBSNPLAko', (from left) Meg Imperial, Andi Eigenmann, Jericho Rosales and Vandolph Quizon.

Viva Films is returning to its literary roots. And with not just one, not two, but three upcoming movies based on Filipino books.

And as far as titles go, the three are some of the biggest local bestsellers — Bob Ong’s “ABNKKBSNPLAko” and “Lumayo Ka Nga Sa Akin”, and HaveYouSeenThisGirl’s “Diary ng Panget”.

“It’s like a homecoming for us,” says Viva head honcho Vincent del Rosario. “Viva made a name for itself in the business in the ’80s with hit adaptations of popular komiks material. We’ve been looking to get back to the territory for a few years until things started falling into place. Now, we’re very excited to roll out the series.”

Viva acquired the two Bob Ong novels early last year and optioned the third a few months ago. All three are in various stages of development and production. The studio is calling the series The Viva Bestsellers.

“ABNKKBSNPLAko” is Bob Ong’s seminal, and now-classic, lightly comic and dramatic, poignantly nostalgic trip down school memory lane. It was first published in 2001 and quickly became a reader favorite. It was made required reading for high school students by the Department of Education last year.

Viva’s movie adaptation stars Jericho Rosales and is directed by award-winning veteran helmer Mark Meily, who is returning to the Pinoy dramedy genre that he explored in “Crying Ladies” and “La Visa Loca”. Production has begun for the film which is planned for release in mid-January.

Coming soon to a theater near you: film versions of the novels 'ABNKKBSNPLAko', 'Diary ng Panget' and 'Lumayo Ka Nga sa Akin'.

“Lumayo Ka Nga sa Akin” is Bob Ong’s most recent bestseller, shooting to the top of the bestseller lists instantly upon its release in December 2011. It’s a laugh-out-loud comedy that pokes delirious fun at mainstream Philippine cinema, specifically the kind of commercial fare that studios like Viva have been making.

The big irony is the screen version is set to be megged by box-office director Wenn Deramas with comebacking actress Maricel Soriano in the lead. Production will start after Deramas and Soriano wrap shooting their MMFF entry, the Viva Films-Star Cinem co-production venture “Girl Boy Bakla Tomboy.”

“Diary ng Panget” is 2013′s runaway top-selling title. It’s a lighthearted college-set romance comedy that was first published online in Wattpad where it garnered over 12 million reads last year. It was released locally only this year as a four-book series, with each installment topping the local book charts for weeks.

The silver screen translation is being written by award-winning veteran Mel del Rosario (“A Secret Affair”, “Sisterakas”) and set to star Matteo Guidicelli, “PBB Teens” alumnus James Reid and two rising female teen stars. Production is set to start in November for a February release in cinemas.

Viva has also acquired the rights to two other titles — the romance novels “Talk Back And You’re Dead” and “Para Sa Mga Hopeless Romantic.”