The surprising success of TV5's "talak-serye" Face to Face has changed, even challenged, the landscape of Philippine television.
Since its debut on March 22, 2010, the Amy Perez-hosted show has significantly altered the way Filipinos treat both talk shows and reality-based programs: no frills and gloss, only facts and true drama based on real life situations told before a national audience.
"Hindi siya scripted, meron lang kaming guide kung ano ang pag-uusapan, pero napaka-spontaneous kasi. So, siguro 'yon ang gusto ng tao kasi natural and totoo," program manager Edlyn Abuel told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) during a conversation held last September 2 at Mario's Restaurant along Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
The criticism that the show is just a rip-off of the American syndicated television tabloid talk shows like The Jerry Springer Show and Maury was also brushed off by the program manager.
"Kasi sa Jerry Springer and Maury 'di ba alam naman natin na napaka-violent," said Abuel. "Dito and ang kaibahan may Trio Tagapayo, so sila ang nagbabalanse. Wala tayong nakitang talk shows even sa U.S. na may pari, psychologists tsaka lawyer. Actually itong Face to Face, public service na kami talaga."
Amy agreed, saying that the program leans more on the public service genre rather than entertainment mainly because they tackle real problems (both mundane and major issues) experienced by common people.
"Kasi may mga natatanggap din kami actually mga sulat, mga messages sa Facebook, madami na talagang lumalapit. In fact nung isang araw nasa grocery ako may lumapit sa akin, isa siya dun sa mga naka-assign sa meat section. Tapos nandun na ko banda sa mga canned goods, tumatakbo siya talaga, lumapit siya sa akin, sabi niya 'Tiyang Amy, kasi 'yong kapatid ko may problema, saan ba ako tatawag sa Face to Face?' Kasi parang inaagrabyado yata daw 'yong kapatid niya ng isang pulis," narrated Amy.
"So, siyempre binigay ko 'yong number namin sa opisina tapos 'yong researcher pupunta dun magba-background check muna para alamin kung may problema nga. Tsine-check naman talagang mabuti ng mga researchers and writers para alam din namin kung talagang may problema nga."
GIVING THE FULL STORY. As intriguing and interesting the details revealed during the actual show are, there are still a lot of back stories about the subjects that are yet to be told.
To give a bigger and clearer picture of the issues at hand, the team behind Face to Face has decided to dedicate a separate program presenting the entire tale of some of the featured stories as seen by the viewers.
"Sa actual Face to Face kasi edited na rin 'yon and ang hindi ninyo napapanood ay 'yong mga nangyari pa sa set. Lahat nung mga kinuwento pa nila and even 'yong mga nangyari after the program... Dito sa Untold Stories makikita nila 'yong naging buhay nung mga subjects before and after nilang mag-guest sa Face to Face," explained Abuel.
The stories featured in Untold Stories are based both on the ratings accumulated when the episode was aired and the gravity of the topic and its audience effect.
"Untold Stories handpicks the most explosive and sensational episodes of the landmark reality-talk show to retell each story from root to tip. It also gathers some of the country's top actors to give life to genuine characters and stories in their most compelling performances yet," said the show's publicity write-up.
DEBUT EPISODE. The program's debut offering is titled "Kabit na Dikit nang Dikit," starring Dina Bonnevie and Jay Manalo.
Aling Nelly (Dina Bonnevie) is a reserved wife who is married to a womanizer named Mang Denio (Jay Manalo). He supports his mistress Lisa (portrayed by Glydel Mercado) in one of their apartment units. Both Aling Nelly and Aling Lisa took turns with the same man for a period of time until the real wife became tired of the setup. Aling Nelly finally decides to throw out mistress out of the apartment. The move, however, doesn't guarantee that they will no longer share the same man. Aling Nelly's problems become even more complicated when she discovers that her son Caloy (Carlo Aquino) is involved with the same woman.