Amy Perez and Face to Face cast clarify issues against their hit talakserye


The cast of TV5’s Face to Face: (from left) Fr. Sonny Merida, Dr. Rose Llanes, Dr. Camille Caces-Garcia, Atty. Percida Acosta, Amy Perez, Hans Mortel, and Fr. Gerry Tapiador.


One of the most controversial shows on Philippine TV today is TV5’s Face to Face, a daily late morning program that features two opposing parties slugging out their issues against each other against a backdrop of expert advisers that aim to help them reconcile.

But while Face to Face is a big win for TV5 due to its rising ratings, rumors continue to hound the show, alleging that the show’s issues are "scripted," and its participants are "paid" to air their dirty linen.

Other viewers are also protesting the "violence" on the show—most of the time, the different parties engage in physical altercations.

"Hindi na ko magpapaliwanag pa," Amy Perez, Face to Face’s host, told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and the other entertainment press during a presscon held for the show last Friday, July 23, at Max’s Restaurant along Scout Tuazon Street, Quezon City.

Amy added, "Inaanyayahan ko na lang sila na pumunta sa studio sa TV5 at manood, para makita talaga nila mismo kung scripted nga ba o hindi."

The press conference was held to clarify issues against the show, as well as to promote it’s outreach initiative, the "Payo sa Bayan," which will offer free legal, spiritual, and psychological advice to every barangay in Metro Manila.

Present in the panel were Amy and her co-host Hans Mortel.

Also present were executive producer Melissa San Luis and the members of the Trio Tagapayo, or the show’s resident advisers: Atty. Persida Acosta, the chief legal counsel of the Public Attorney’s Office; Fr. Gerry Tapiador, a theology professor, book author and former college dead of San Carlos Seminary; Fr. Sonny Merida, parish priest of St. Peter Parish in Quezon City; Dr. Camille Caces-Garcia, a child psychologist and CEO of an acute and chronic psychiatric facility; and Dr. Rose Llanes, a professor at UP Manila and president of the Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines.

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NOT SCRIPTED. The first issue that the Face to Face clarified is the allegations that the show is "scripted."

According to Atty. Percida Acosta and Dr. Rose Llanes, the show cannot be scripted because they would be putting their careers and credibility on the line.

"Kasi kung scripted ito, matagal na kong umalis," Atty. Acosta, one of the most-respected lawyers in the country, told the entertainment press.

Dr. Llanes agreed. "Ito ang nagpapatunay na hindi siya scripted."

Acosta continued, "Sabi ko nga wala pong script ’to. Meron lang mga cue, sinasabi kung ano yung mga gap, ano yung mga portion. Actually, yung sinasabi ko sa VTR kanina, darating ako sa studio, hindi ko alam kung ano ang pag-uusapan. Pagdating doon, para akong walking library, na kailangang sagutin yung tanong ni Amy na, ’Ano ba ang batas, Attorney?’ Kaya para akong nasa examination room. Tapos siyempre, uumpisahan ko nang i-coordinate kina Father ang spiritual sa batas, kay Dra. Rose at Dra. Camille ang psychological aspect. Kasi po hindi kumpleto ang payo kung hindi nagsasama-sama ang Trio Tagapayo."

The issues presented in Face to Face, Acosta explained, are genuine. Besides, she added, it would be hard for them to craft daily scenarios and characters for every episode of the daily show.

"Wala po talagang script yun. Dahil, pansinin niyo, halos araw-araw-mula Lunes hanggang Biyernes, minsan may Linggo pa. Ano, araw-araw, may bago kang artista, at gagawa ng eksena? Napakahirap naman no’n," she said.

As to the alleged "unrealistic" physical fights on Face to Face, Atty. Acosta said, "E dun pa nga lang po sa barangay, e, nag-aaway na ’yan e. Nagbabatuhan na ’yan, nagsasampalan na ’yan. Tapos ’pag nagkita sa studio, aba’y nagugulat na lang kami, hindi pa nag-uumpisa ang shooting, nagbabatuhan na!"

"Ito po ang repleksyon ng ating mga kababayang mahihirap sa ating komunidad," she said. "Ito ang sumasalamin sa buhay. Isandaang piso lang, pinag-aawayan. Halos talagang magpatayan na at magkasakitan. Kaya minsan may nagtatanong sa akin, ’May script ba ’yan?’ Sabi ko, ’Walang script ’yan!’ Yan ang tunay na repleksyon ng ating mga kababayang sawimpalad, at yung mga kababayan nating may mga problema."

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NO PAID GUESTS. Guests, moreover, are not paid to be on the show. The management of TV5 only provides the guests a small allowance, which will cover food and transportation expenses.

Executive producer Melissa San Luis said, "Wala po kaming talent fee. Ang binibigay po namin, allowance. Pamasahe, pagkain. Yun lang po."

This system maintains the truthfulness of the show’s stories, she said.

"Sa katunayan, nagkaroon na po kami ng meeting na parang, ’Bakit hindi na lang bigyan, kasi bubulgar mo lahat?’ Pero sa pag-uusap po namin sa management, hindi puwede. Kasi once na bigyan mo ’yan ng malaking pera, gagawin nang negosyo, pangit mang sabihin, ng ating mga kapatid. Allowance lang po ang binibigay namin, napakaliit."

PREVENTING VIOLENCE. But still, many wonder how the guests fight even though they are in front of the camera.

Amy Perez answered, "At first, siyempre hindi namin maintindihan kung bakit at papaanong nailalabas nila ang problema nilang ganon. And then na-realize naman, ako personally, na kailangan din pala nila ng venue to release their problems. Alam niyo napapansin namin talaga na pag-upo nila dun, hindi naman nila napapansin na may camera."

Amy said the guests only focus on their problems because they want these to be solved.

"Ang purpose talaga nila of being there is really is masabi yung problema nila, makausap nila yung Trio Tagapayo, mabigyan sila ng personal counselling. So if you’re going to see the show, kung titingnan mo siya sa umpisa na parang nagbubugbugan, at yun lang ang titingnan mo, and yun lang ang titingnan mo on a deeper aspect, hindi mo maiintindihan kung ano yung mission nung programa."

This mission, the cast said, is to help solve the problems of the country’s poor. This is why they want to prevent the physical altercations as much as possible.

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"Ang hirap din na pigilin, e," San Luis said. "Sinasabihan namin na, puwede ho magtalakan na lang, wag na magkasakitan? Kasi sinasabi na pinupuwersa namin na magsapakan. Which is, hindi po totoo. Actually, sinasabi din naman na kung puwede, wag na lang."

Face to Face is tightening its security to help avoid these encounters.

"Ngayon nagdagdag na kami ng security sa loob kasi napansin namin na alam nila na dadalawa lang... Kaya sa amin, pag ganon, yung security namin nasa gitna na. Nakabantay na. Tapos pangalawa, ito ang hindi nagbabago, dati pa. Bago sila sumalang, we make sure na mayrong nagkakapa. Kasi baka may dalang... hindi natin masabi e," San Luis said.

In Face to Face, guests sometimes throw anything they can get their hands on, including their own shoes.

"May nag-suggest na rin na papasukin na lang ng naka-paa," San Luis said. "Hindi lang kami papayag kasi... kaya sabi ko na lang bantayan na lang, pero bawal ang bakya. Minsan may nagsusuot ng bakya. Bawal. Tsinelas na lang, saka siguro malambot na sapatos."

An ambulance is also on standby, if anything untoward happens to any of the guests or the cast and crew.

"Saka kung hindi na po kaya ng guest na ituloy pa, hindi na po namin pinipilit," San Luis added.

As a safeguard, Face to Face also works closely with the Movie and Television Classification Board (MTRCB).

"Bawat episode, mahirap sa amin na ilabas. Kaya masusing review, bago ilabas. Daily show siya. Mayroon MTRCB na gumagabay din sa amin, at nagko-consult din kami sa kanila e, so walang problema," she said.

MORE INTENSIVE COUNSELING. Another testament to the show’s true mission is an off-cam intensive counseling that members of the Trio Tagapayo have requested from the management.

"Minsan kasi, nati-three zero kami," Dr. Camille Caces-Garcia said. Face to Face is taped on Wednesday and Thursdays, with three episodes each day. "Unfortunately, may mga pagkakataon na nararamdaman namin na during the time na nagka-counselling kami, nakakaramdam kami ng failure. Kaya kami nag-request ng individual counseling."

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"Noong simula namin, kami ay nagpapayo lang at the panel level," Fr. Gerry Tapiador seconded. "Hindi kami humaharap sa mga may problema. But now, after assessing that yung mga pinapayuhan namin up from the panel, hindi nabibigyan ng talagang solusyon dahil afterwards, walang reconciliation. So ngayon minarapat namin, we requested for a gap that we would now talk directly to the one wth problems, and talk one on one with them. Privately. Most of our processes naging mas successful na because you can now communicate to them."

They are also willing to bring Face to Face to every barangay to help counsel other problems off-cam.

Fr. Sonny Merida explained, "Sa sinauna, ang tao ang pumupunta sa simbahan. That’s the tradition. People go to the Church. Ngayon ho ang makabagong trend. Simbahan po ang pupunta sa mga tao."

The project, titled "Payo sa Bayan," will start giving free counselling services to the residents of Bgy. 592 District 6 in Sta. Mesa, Manila on Monday, August 2. The cast of Face to Face also want to bring this project all over the country, and to Filipinos working abroad.

Dr. Llanes said this project is essential because it will help settle disputes at the barangay level. "Meron ba tayong counselling centers? Wala. Itong Face to Face nagbigay ng oportunidad para sa mga tao na wala nang pupuntahan, kundi dito na lang sa Face to Face."

Atty. Acosta agreed. "Kung dadalhin ho ito sa barangay, malulunasan ho ang mga problema, mababawasan po ang mga case docket. Kaya po ang mga barangay officials sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng Pilipinas, nagpapasalamat po dahil may Face to Face, dahil naa-update sila sa batas, sa spiritual values, psychological advice."

"Welcome po ito dahil ang ating mga barangay officials, mga pangkaraniwang mamayan lang po ang karamihan," Atty Acosta added. "Hindi po mga abugado, hindi po mga pari, hindi po mga psychologist. So nangangailangan din po sila ng gabay. Sa pamamagitan po ng Face to Face, ito po ang guidance nila para ayusin ang mga simpleng problema sa kanilang mga barangay."

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FUTURE FOR FACE TO FACE. Aside from "Payo sa Bayan," executive producer Melissa San Luis thinks Face to Face will soon deal with graver cases, like incest and other heinous crimes.

"Siguro ang hindi namin masigurong kayang ilabas ngayon, e, yung mga kaso ng incest," she said. "Kasi marami na ring lumalapit sa akin. Kasi parang ang hirap niyan dahil yung moral, legal, ii-explain. Sa ngayon, ang hirap, e. Siyempre parang pati mga bata nanonood sa amin. Binabalanse namin lahat."

Atty. Acosta added, "Mga heinous crime, pati ang incestous rape, yung tatay ni-rape ang anak. Iniisip ko na maaaring dumating din tayo sa ganiyang stage hindi para ibilad ang kahihiyan kundi ang aking consensus, ibahin ang pangalan. And then, kung bata, ipa-blur ang mukha. Para matakot itong mga gagawa ng similar crimes. Malaman ang parusa, malaman kung paano mangyari. Kung yung maliliit, binibigyan ng solusyon, the more na dapat din nating solusyunan ang mabibigat na problema ng ating lipunan."


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