Choreographer Anna Feliciano is back to creating new routines for the dancers of Willie Revillame's new show Willing Willie.
She once was a dance choreographer for the MTB Dancers of ABS-CBN's defunct noontime show Magandang Tanghali Bayan. When the show was replaced by Wowowee in 2005, Anna remained as the head of the dancers who were then called the Wowowee Dancers. That same year, the group was replaced by Anna's own group called ASF Dancers (derived from the initials of Anna Soriano Feliciano). She acted as their manager and choreographer.
Over the years, Anna was working not only with the dancers but also with the long-time noontime show host Willie Revillame. She learned a lot of lessons from the man fondly called Kuya Willie.
"Napaka-professional. 'Yon ang gusto ko kasi ako din, professional din ako. Alam mo 'yon, maaga siyang pumasok, maaga din akong pumasok. Masarap...matututo ka talaga. Perfectionist," Anna describes the host of the upcoming primetime show of TV5, Willing Willie.
Months before Wowowee was replaced by Pilipinas Win na Win, Anna already resigned from choreographing its dancers for personal reasons. After she quit, the ASF Dancers were handled by a different choreographer.
Although she stopped working with Willie after her resignation, Anna kept in touch with the TV host. So, when Willie needed her services again, she accept his offer without second thought.
"From Wowowee, ayun, tinawagan ako ni Kuya, may show daw siyang bago. Ano, mga last month or two months ago. Ibang show pa, e," recalled Anna, who will be the head choreographer of Willing Willie's WW.Girls.
She continued, "Basta, tinawagan ako ni kuya kasi babalik na sana siya ng ABS-CBN. So, sabi ko, 'Sige, kuya babalik din ako.' 'Tapos sa TV ko lang din napanood at biglang iba na. So, tinawagan ko si Jay Montelibano [former Business Unit Head of ABS-CBN], 'Ano ba? Ano'ng nangyari? Akala ko Wowowee?' Sabi niya iba na ang nangyari. 'Tapos 'yon nga sabi ni kuya, may bagong show, ito na nga 'yon [Willing Willie].
"Kada ano ni kuya, offer niya, hindi ako nagdadalawang-isip na sumama kasi naniniwala ako sa kakayahan niya, sa talent niya. Kasi, alam ko na lahat ng gagawin niya, sure 'yon. Alam ko papatok talaga."
Although she was invited by Willie to join his team called Wil Productions, Anna said the controversial host strictly reminded them not to invite former Wowowee staff members who were absorbed by Pilipinas Win na Win.
"'Yon din naman ang sinabi sa akin ni kuya [na huwag maghatak]," Anna related to PEP. "Like ako, may mga friends pa ako doon sa Pilipinas Win na Win. Sabi ni kuya sa akin, 'Huwag kang maghahatak kasi ano 'yan, e, masamang gawain. Parang hindi professional. Gawa na lang tayo ng sarili natin. Huwag na huwag kayong maghahatak.' E, bigla na lang din silang lumalabas."
Is it true that people shifted from ABS-CBN to TV5 because the monetary offer was big?
"Hindi naman, ewan ko," answered Anna. "Hindi ko naman sinasabing mayaman ako. 'Sakto lang ako, kumakain ng tatlong beses isang araw and I'm not asking for more."
Anna said she really didn't mind if she'd get higher pay for accepting Willing Willie. She just thought that the program would bring back fun and entertainment that Wowowee once created for the televiewers.
She further said, "Si Kuya kasi, kailangan pa siya ng mga tao, lalo na ng matatanda. Kailangan pa siya sa mga nalalabi niyang panahon dito sa mundo."
When asked what she expects from the upcoming variety show of Willie, she replied, "Sa show, ang nakikita ko and I'm sure na mangyayari, sobrang mas magiging masaya ito as a game variety show. Bago lahat ang game, bago lahat ng mga sayaw, lahat bago, lahat ng viewers mag-e-enjoy. Lahat sila magiging satisfied. At hindi sila maglilipat ng channel at show kasi I'm sure lahat ng tao nami-miss na si kuya."
INTRODUCING THE WW.GIRLS. Not all the members of ASF Dancers joined the Kapatid network, so the original 10 dancers along with 10 new members will have a new name, WW.Girls.
When PEP visited the rehearsal of the group for its pilot episode, we saw these female dancers giving their best shot as if they're already dancing in front of an audience. This is maybe because Willie was telling them that he wanted to see their practice on a performance level.
In an interview with five of the original members of ASF Dancers—Aprilyn Gustillo, Aiko Climaco, Monique Natada, Janna Trajano, and Lovely Abella—they all said that Anna and Willie's strict attitude was something they missed when they both left the noontime spot. So, they were all happy when they found out that Willie was preparing another variety show on TV5, which prompted some of them to leave Pilipinas Win na Win.
"Kasi, parang kulang na sa discipline, e," said Aprilyn, who stayed on ABS-CBN's new noontime show for a few weeks before she decided to quit.
She added, "Iba talaga kapag may kinakatakutan kayong lider like si Kuya Wil, lahat ng staff organized lahat. Kahit kami, organized kami kasi lahat kami palaging nagme-meeting.
"'Tapos, kapag nare-rehearse kami, kapag may kulang, siyempre, magko-comment siya. So, alam namin kung paano i-organize 'yong mga mali namin. 'Tapos lagi niyang sinasabi sa amin, 'Huwag ninyong i-prioritize ang galaw ninyo, i-prioritize ninyo ang mga tao [manonood].'"
Aiko, on the other hand, admired Willie for being close to other staff even if they're just in the lower ranks.
She recalled. "Hands on talaga, hindi lang sa amin, kundi sa lahat ng staff. Ultimo pako sa studio, sasabihin niya, 'O, may pako dito, tanggalin ninyo.' Iniisip niya rin ang audience, e.
"Ako personally, tinuturing na talaga namin siyang parang tatay namin, e. Sobrang iba, sobrang saya namin sa kanya."
Did it change when Wowowee was replaced by PWW?
"Kami-kami na lang," answered Aiko. "Parang may wall na rin. Siyempre, nakakailang na rin mag-approach sa mga [host ng PWW]. Pero mababait din naman sila. Unlike kay Kuya Willie kasi, palabiro siya."
WHY DID THEY TRANSFER? Among the dancers who were absorbed by Pilipinas Win na Win, Aiko was the first who resigned. According to her, she just lost her interest in the work. Also, the girls said that they were not yet aware of Willie's new show at the time they left PWW.
Aiko recalled, "Noong ako 'yong unang nawala, parang wala pa naman sa plano na gagawa ng bagong show si Kuya Willie. Noong tinamad na kasi ako, nag-enroll na ako, parang kung ano na lang ang sinubukan kong gawin para malibang. Iba talaga kapag tinamad ka sa ginagawa mo, hindi ka happy. Parang nagkataon na after ng pagkaalis ko, after mga ilang days ng pag-alis ko, nagsisunuran na sila."
Aprilyn added, "Sunud-sunod talaga kasi kaming nag-resign."
It was only after Aiko sent a text message to Willie's secretary, inquiring if the controversial host still had plans to go back on television, that they found out about his supposed comeback.
Aiko related to PEP, "Actually tinext ko muna 'yong secretary ni Kuya. Sabi ko, 'Ma, patanong naman kay Kuya kung talagang willing pa talaga siyang bumalik. Kasi, kung babalik siya, hindi na ako magde-decide na mag-resign. Agad-agad akong tinawagan ni Kuya, 'Ano, gusto mo bang sumama sa akin?'"
Aprilyn interrupted, "Napag-isip din kami, 'Paano kung may bagong show? Kasama pa rin ba kami?' Parang ganun. Pero wala pa po kaming idea, natanong lang namin."
Like the other staff interviewed by PEP, the group also joined Willie on their own volition.
Lovely explained, "Kumbaga, para malinaw din sa lahat. Siyempre, may ibang tao diyan na sinasabi na nambitin kami. Nambitin ang grupo namin dahil sumama kami [sa Willing Willie]. Parang pinilit kami na sumama kay Kuya Willie. Pero 'yong totoo talaga, hindi talaga kami napilitang sumama sa kanya, kusang-loob talaga."
In unison they all declared, "Loyal talaga kami!"
Then, Lovely continued, "Ako, sa part ko, iniisip ko kasi, si Kuya din ang nagpakilala sa amin. Si kuya ang dahilan kung bakit nagkaroon kami ng pangalan. So, ang sabi namin, kung anuman ang mangyari, tutal si kuya naman ang lahat, kung anong meron siya ngayon, susuportahan talaga namin at saka willing talaga kaming sumama."
Although they admitted that on TV5, they're receiving more than what they used to get from their former mother network, the group said that this was not the main reason they left.
These were the comments of the girls:
Janna: "Hindi na rin kami masaya doon, e, kahit na okay naman ang suweldo namin."
Monique: "Pero mas okay dito!"
Aiko: "Okay din naman doon kaso lang, iba talaga, e."
Aprilyn: "Hindi naman sa naghahangad ng more, pero kung saan ka talaga masaya at saan ka kumportable, doon ka talaga."
Lovely: "At saka 'yong opportunity na maibibigay ni Kuya Willie sa amin. 'Yong naibigay niya sa amin, mas doble ang opportunity namin."
For these girls, they were really thinking about what would happen in their future careers.
Aprilyn further said, "Kasi dati sa Wowowee, kapag alam niyang may talent ka, alam niyang kaya mo, binibigyan ka niya ng break, binibigyan ka niya ng chance kung paano i-share 'yon sa tao. Doon kami humanga sa kanya."
EXPECTATIONS ON WILLING WILLIE. More than the salary and incentives that they'll be getting, the members of WW.Girls are really looking forward to do shows abroad—which they used to do on Wowowee.
Monique said, "Ang ine-expect ko [shows abroad] talaga. Mag-around-the-world ulit kami, e."
Aprilyn jested, "Ine-expect naming, maiikot namin ang buong mundo. Ine-expect ko na dito na kami magiging milyonaryo."
For Lovely, "Ang ine-expect namin dito, mas marami kaming exposure."
Janna said in conclusion, "Bukod sa [talent fee] namin, 'yong pagtanggap sa amin, ramdam na ramdam naming kami ang priority ngayon dito."