MANILA, Oct 31 (Mabuhay) — Ivana Alawi will join Vice Ganda in the third installment of the “Praybeyt Benjamin” film series, co-producer Star Cinema announced.

“This is the first time that Vice Ganda will team up with Ivana Alawi,” ABS-CBN Films managing director Olivia Lamasan said during a virtual press huddle. “Sobra kaming excited, ang cute din ng kuwento.”

A follow-up to the Christmas blockbusters “The Unkabogable Praybeyt Benjamin” (2011) and “The Amazing Praybeyt Benjamin” (2014), this latest entry will continue the adventures of Vice Ganda’s title character, a once-closeted gay soldier whose misadventures turn him into a hero against terrorist organizations.

The first two films were helmed by the late Wenn Deramas, Vice Ganda’s long-time collaborator.

The follow-up still has no confirmed director, but the project has been offered to Cathy Garcia-Molina, best known for the big-screen dramas “One More Chance” and “Four Sisters and a Wedding,” and most recently, “Hello, Love, Goodbye.”

“First time niyang makakatrabaho si Vice Ganda, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed na mag-match ang kanilang mga schedule,” Lamasan said.

The project is still in pre-production, Lamasan added, citing the current limitations of new-normal filming and adherence to safety protocol.

“Hinihintay lang namin ‘yung availability. Alam niyo naman ang hirap ng pamamaraan ngayon. Lock-in ka. Kung dati, nahihirapan na kami mag-share ng schedule with television, lalo pa ngayon, because lock-in ang taping, lock-in din ang shoots,” she said.

Vice Ganda is a mainstay of the ABS-CBN noontime program “It’s Showtime,” which has its own lock-in periods; while Alawi and Garcia-Molina have previously, on separate occasions, expressed their reservations with filming during the pandemic.

“But still, we’re finding ways to realize, or let all these projects materialize. Matutuloy ‘yan!” Lamasan said.

A co-production with Viva Films, “Praybeyt Benjamin 3” was among the first four Metro Manila Film Festival entries announced in July. (MNS)