Friday, May 19, 2017

What a difference a decade makes

Davey Langit and his team with Kapamilya execs Roxy Liquigan and Jonathan Manalo at Davey's contract signing.
A lot can happen in ten years. A person can experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in that time. No one knows how true that is more than newly-minted Star Music artist Davey Langit.

Yesterday, Davey came full circle when he signed to Star Music a decade after his stint on the ABS-CBN singing competition Pinoy Dream Academy. But getting there really wasn’t easy for the singer-songwriter from Baguio City. It took him a lot of blood, sweat and tears before he was finally ready—emotionally, mentally, musically, physically and even spiritually—to sign that contract.

My mother and I saw firsthand how rocky his journey became after he placed tenth on the show that launched Yeng Constantino’s career. It didn’t give Davey's the boost that he hoped it would, so he fell into a deep depression. At one point, Davey had no job, no money and no place to stay, so he ended up crashing at our house for one night. The following day, he returned to Baguio City and the loving arms of his grandparents, where Davey spent some time thinking about everything that happened to him, and what his next move would be.

He ended up moving to Calamba, Laguna, where he took up Mass Communication at the University of Perpetual Help. He also lined up gigs in bars and clubs. My mother and I helped him by watching as many of those as we could. We never stopped believing in him, not even when we were literally the only ones at his gigs. We had an unshakeable belief that someday he would get the recognition he deserved. There were times when Davey thought about quitting the business altogether, but we encouraged him to keep writing songs.

Watch this video of Davey singing an original song called “Pwede Bang Ako Na Lang” at Conspiracy in 2008 and tell me our belief in him was misplaced:

When Davey’s “The Selfie Song” became a hit four years ago, we were so thrilled. We cheered him on when he entered his compositions “No Girlfriend Since Break” and “Paratingin Mo Na Siya” in the 2014 and 2015 Philippine Popular Music Festival, respectively. We were among the first to listen to both songs, and we believed they were strong enough to bring Davey that much closer to stardom. Sure enough, the former ended up in the top twelve and the latter bagged second place. 

When he won the top prize in last year’s Himig Handog P-Pop Love Songs songwriting competition with “Dalawang Letra,” my mother and I were beside ourselves with joy. After all those years Davey spent struggling to get his music heard, his time had come at last.

Ten years ago, Davey was lost and flailing after an ill-fated reality show stint. But now he’s back and better than ever. He’s an amazing singer, but I think his real strength is his songwriting—his ability to combine well-crafted lyrics and irresistible melodies. Thank you, Star Music, for taking a chance on our guy!

When Davey had a hard time getting people to watch his gigs, my mother and I were there for him.
Congratulations, Davey. What a difference a decade makes, indeed.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hearts of gold

My mother Tinna Bonifacio of StarStudio with KathNiel at a mall show last April 2.
About a month or so ago, my mother Tinna Bonifacio—StarStudio magazine’s Senior Editor, who’s recovering from a hemorrhagic stroke she had last June—received a visit from my Filipino-British best friend Tim Macardle and his mother Alma Macardle-Money. We spent hours catching up over pizza and Tita Alma’s pasalubong for me and my mother (she arrived in Manila from the UK a few days before their visit).

As they were getting ready to leave, Tita Alma invited me and my mother to go to the mall with her and Tim. “Let’s have lunch and watch a movie,” she suggested.

Since my mother’s speech therapist had said that it would be good for her to get out of the house more often, I agreed to ask my Lola Bu for permission to take my mother on a trip to the mall. So the following day, the five of us (me, my grandmother, my mother, Tim and Tita Alma) had lunch at Bigoli, an Italian restaurant at TriNoma. Afterwards, we watched the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, which starred Emma Watson as Belle.

L-R: Tim Macardle, me, my mother, my Lola Bu Bonifacio and Tim's mother Tita Alma Macardle-Money.
As we were filing into TriNoma Cinema 7, Tim told me that Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla had a show at the TriNoma Activity Center that same day. “I saw a poster back there that said they’d be here later, around four o’clock. I think they’re going to promote their new movie or something.” 

The wheels in my head started turning. Months ago, KathNiel helped our family settle my mother’s bill at St. Luke’s QC, but they hadn’t seen her since before they went to Spain to shoot Barcelona: A Love Untold. I thought it would be nice for them to see her again because they played a part in her recovery. Apparently my mother thought so too, because when I asked her if she wanted to watch the KathNiel mall show after watching Beauty and the Beast, she nodded.

“Gusto ko magpasalamat sa kanilang dalawa,” she said, haltingly but clearly.

After we left the movie theater, I wheeled my mother into an elevator and down to the first floor, with my grandmother, Tim and Tita Alma in tow. The crowd got thicker as we neared the TriNoma Activity Center, but thankfully, once people realized my mother was in a wheelchair, they scrambled to let us pass. I went right up to the backstage entrance and talked to the burly man standing guard there. He almost didn’t let us in, but caved when I showed him my mother’s ABS-CBN access card and explained our situation. He and another guard even escorted us to a spot near the stage, which they said would afford my mother a great view of the show and the backstage goings-on.

We had barely settled into our spot when a bunch of our colleagues from ABS-CBN approached us, one after another, to hug my mother and exclaim how glad they were to see her up and about. Sir Mico del Rosario of Star Cinema even instructed his staff to make sure that my mother would get to see and talk to Kathryn and Daniel. (Thank you, Sir Mico!)

I was able to duck into the artists’ holding area, where the cast of Can’t Help Falling in Love—Devon Seron, my former Star Magic Workshops classmate Hannah Ledesma, and KathNiel, of course—all greeted me with enthusiastic handshakes and hugs. When I told Kathryn that my mother was there and wanted to see her and her mister, she said, “Nandiyan pala si Tita Tinna? Sige, puntahan ko siya mamaya. Promise.”

If there’s anything people should know about the Queen of Hearts, it’s that Kathryn is a woman of her word. Just before she hit the stage, she stopped to say hello to my mother, give her a quick hug and pose for a photo with her, which you can check out below.

Kathryn Bernardo with my mother, aka the woman whose life she helped save.
While Kathryn was onstage, we were approached by her mother Min Bernardo. I said hi to Tita Min and introduced her to my grandmother, Tim and Tita Alma.

My Lola Bu shook Tita Min’s hand and said, “Naku, thank you very much po sa tulong niyo sa amin nung na-ospital itong si Tinna.”

Tita Min smiled warmly. “You’re welcome po, pero idea po talaga ng anak ko na tumulong sa inyo. Sa kanya po kayo dapat magpasalamat.”

That’s true—at last year’s Oishi Snacktacular, Kathryn pulled me aside and asked for an update on my mother’s condition. At the time, she was still in the Neuro Critical Care Unit of St. Luke’s QC, so that’s what I said to Kathryn. She then whispered something into her mother’s ear. The next thing I knew, Tita Min was pressing a check into my hand. I was so touched I almost burst into tears right then and there.

Daniel and his family actually came into the picture before Kathryn and Tita Min. Daniel’s Tita Ana Lim read my blog post asking for financial help. She showed it to Tita Karla Estrada, who showed it to her son, who made a donation to my mother’s medical fund without hesitation. (“Wow” doesn't even begin to cover it.)

Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t have been surprised that he did that. Daniel has always had a soft spot for my mother because they were both born on April 26. That’s probably why, as soon as Daniel finished singing, he allowed Kathryn to pull him over to my mother, who postively beamed when she saw him. Despite the fact that security was telling him to hurry up, Daniel took his own sweet time talking to my mother.

Years ago, Daniel joked, “Juls, mas mahal ko nanay mo kesa sa 'yo.” Obvious naman eh. Hehe.
I don’t know what he told her, but I didn’t need to know—the huge smile on my mother’s face said it all.

Kathryn and Daniel are being touted as the Philippines' premier love team. In fact, as I write this, they’re being feted at the 2017 Box Office Entertainment Awards. They were named Box Office King and Queen for Barcelona: A Love Untold. I do think they deserve those titles, especially since their latest movie, the aforementioned Can’t Help Falling in Love, grossed P300 million in 24 days.

My mother and I have known Kathryn and Daniel since before they were onscreen partners. But given the success they’ve had, OK lang kung hindi na namin sila maabot. Nasa rurok na kasi sila ng tagumpay. But the fact that Kathryn and Daniel took time to help my mother says a lot about them. It’s nice to know they remained down to earth and kind as their careers soared.

Kath, DJ, thank you very much. Your donations to my mother’s medical fund are partly why I got to spend another Mother’s Day with my mother today. No wonder the KathNiels can’t help falling in love with you—you both have hearts of gold.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A problem in the Pacific

I found this on the Pacific Mall's official Facebook page, located at
I woke up this morning ready and raring to write about the Lucky Big 4’s mall show in Legaspi and the brouhaha that erupted after. But I have to admit that my excitement faded somewhat when I sat down at my laptop, opened Twitter and caught up on what everyone said while I was asleep. I was horrified. The issue has gotten so out of control that even my tweets about a personal problem were misinterpreted as being about it.

Anyway, there’s so much misunderstanding going around that I feel compelled to sort things out in writing. That’s what I do. I write to make sense of my world and things that happen around me. So here goes.

Last night, the Lucky Big 4 performed for a huge crowd at the Pacific Mall in Legaspi. When I saw the RESPECT MAYMAY ENTRATA tagline on the Philippines Trends list, I got concerned. I posted a series of tweets using the tagline, in the hope that the MayWard fans would notice them and tell me what was going on. Eventually one of them messaged me, and we got to talking about the show. Here’s what that fan told me:

I withheld the fan's name because he/she was afraid to be bashed.
I waited for a message from MayWard Official or Maymay Entrata Official, but none came. Then this morning, I was tagged in a post by a MayWard fan. I opened it and this is what I saw:

A MayWard fan named labglaizaredux tagged me in this post by MDaleBarber.
Based on the above messages—and on some of the tweets I received before I fell asleep last night—what really drew the MayWard fans’ ire was the way the host behaved towards Maymay, and that Kisses Delavin did nothing to help her. I don't know if all of them feel that way; maybe some just got mad at the host, some just got mad at Kisses, while others got mad at both.

I then got in touch with some of Kisses' fans and asked for their side of the story. They told me their official statement would suffice, so I’m going to leave it here:

I asked the Kisses Lovers OFC if they had anything else to add, they said this was it.
Here's my take on what happened:

I agree that the host could've done a better job. For one thing, he should've talked to all four teens when they were all onstage together. Even if one of them was standing apart from the others, the host should've made more of an effort to include him or her in the interview. That's what any host worth their salt would've done. Case in point: Recently, I attended a press conference for Gimme 5's new album Sophomore at ABS-CBN. The presscon was hosted by DJ Jhaiho, and he made sure that each member of Gimme 5—Brace Arquiza, Grae Fernandez, Joaquin "Red" Reyes, John Bermundo and Nash Aguas—had a turn to speak. Sometimes, even if a question was put to only one member, DJ Jhaiho would ask another member for their two cents. He wanted to be sure none of them would feel left out. How's that for responsible hosting? As a host, it's your job to make sure all your guests are actively participating in your show. Call their attention if you must.

The host also would've done well to avoid using his spiels to force a moment between two teens in particular. Even if his intention was simply to get Kisses to teach Edward some Bicolano words, her saying "I love you" in Bicolano while facing him could be misconstrued as a romantic gesture on her part. I understand why the host thought that was a good idea—pampakilig ng tao, ganun. But if he knew anything about the Pinoy Big Brother franchise and the fandom, he wouldn't have done such a thing. He would've known that that would put Kisses at risk of bashing. Clearly, he wasn't aware of the possible consequences of his actions.

Had the show featured only Edward and Kisses, or Edward and Maymay, or even Kisses and Yong, it would've been fine to create a moment between the two teens present. But it was a show featuring the Lucky Big 4. The host should've focused on creating moments involving all of them, not just two or three.

I wish the host had made more of an effort to include Maymay. She is the Big Winner of Pinoy Big Brother Lucky 7, after all. I remember when I was in Legaspi for a mall show featuring Ejay Falcon, Nicole Uysiuseng and Robi Domingo (the final three of Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition Plus) the host made sure to talk to all three of them when they went onstage together. (That was in 2008, and the venue of the show was the LCC Mall on Penaranda Street.)

As for Kisses, I don't think it's fair to blame her for the host's failings. Her friendship with Maymay notwithstanding, it can be difficult to think clearly when you're onstage and you have a job to do. There's a lot going on up there. Why do you think even supposedly smart women buckle during the Q&A portions of beauty pageants? When you're bathed in klieg lights with people's screams ringing in your ears, sometimes it's all you can do to focus on what you're supposed to be doing, let alone think of other people. That doesn't make you an evil person. In Kisses' case, she was preoccupied because the host was asking her questions and she was obliged to respond. That doesn't make her less of a friend to Maymay.

TL;DR - I wish the host had handled the program better but it wasn't Kisses' fault. If you're looking for someone to blame, blame the host. But please, avoid ad hominem attacks. Point out the man's lapses as a host and leave it at that.

I also want to say something in defense of Kisses' parents. Please don't accuse them of instructing the host to give their daughter preferential treatment at Maymay's expense. Not without concrete proof. And no, a blurry photo of Kisses' mother talking to the host doesn't count as proof.

Lastly, I'd like to remind everyone not to be so vitriolic online. Your idols are friends. In fact, I'll have you know that when I saw them last Tuesday, Kisses and Maymay greeted each other warmly when Maymay arrived at the Star Magic Workshops office. OK na OK sila, so I wish their fans wouldn't hurl invectives at each other, regardless of the circumstances.

ETA: I was tagged in yet another post about this issue an hour or so ago. Here's what it said:

Another fan, who goes by the name toshithub, sent me this.
Again, my thoughts:

Comparing what happened with Bailey May, Franco Rodriguez and Ylona Garcia to what happened with Edward and Kisses is like comparing apples and oranges. They're totally different things. Even if both shows were hosted by the same guy, the circumstances aren't the same. Like it or not, kapag si Kisses ang nagbitaw ng salitang "I love you" kay Edward, kahit pa nasa konteksto ng pagtuturo ng salitang Bicolano sa kanya, iba pa rin ang magiging dating nun. Again, it can be misconstrued as a romantic gesture. That's why that was such a big deal. Besides, this time, if this person's account is to be believed, the host instructed Kisses to teach Edward. Not Edward and Yong, ha. Just Edward. Before, the host reportedly instructed Franco to teach both Bailey and Ylona. See the distinction?

As for the "ang hindi umupo, unggoy" thing, saying that the host said that to get people to sit down is kind of a weak defense, IMO. Why not simply ask people to sit down so those in the back could see? He didn’t have to talk to them that way, did he? I saw a tweet defending the host that said the "unggoy" thing was just a joke. Well, there are jokes and then there are unnecessary jokes. The host could've told people to sit down in a nicer, equally effective way. As a host, you have to watch what you do and say onstage. Anyone who has hosted anything, be it an event or a TV show, knows that you can’t just blurt out whatever you want when you’re up there.

I still believe the host could’ve done a better job. It's his responsibility to make sure that whatever it is he's hosting goes well. He has to be masterful about it (now you know why a host is sometimes called a "master of ceremonies"). He can't afford to be off his game because everything about the show, including the behavior of the guests and the flow of the program, depends on him.

Lastly, I don't know about anyone else, but I didn't employ ad hominem attacks against the show's host. I stuck to criticizing his work, not who he is as a person.

This is the first and last time I'll update this post, because I said everything I wanted to say. Peace.
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