Former Seiko producer Robbie Tan thinks it’s a pity that his former star Gretchen Barretto is in the middle of a family feud these days.
In a phone interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), he describes the current emotional state of Gretchen: "Heartbroken siya, at talagang depressed siya, actually."
In the '80s, Robbie produced many films starring Gretchen Barretto, whom he describes as "very intelligent, conscientious, at very devoted sa kanyang career.”
During the 30-minute interview, Robbie repeatedly describes Gretchen as a hardworking girl who worked for her family.
"Hardworking siya para makatulong."
He also reveals that Gretchen asked him to help boost the careers of her sisters Claudine and Marjorie before they became major stars.
Robbie recalls how he met Gretchen.
"She was eighteen years old. Pumunta siya sa office ko at sabi niya sa akin, ‘Kailangan na kailangan ko ng work.’"
What made Robbie accept her in Seiko?
"Ang ganda-ganda ng mukha niya! Maganda rin yung complexion.
"Nakita ko parang malaki ang potential.
"Mataas ang intelligence at maganda ang speaking voice niya."
He also describes Gretchen as quite devoted to her family.
"Sa pagkakaalam ko, Gretchen is a very good daughter," he says.
"At the time na nagtatrabaho siya sa akin, ang alam ko, ang malaking chunk ng income niya, napupunta sa pamilya.
"Ang alam ko, sinusuportahan niya ang family niya."
CASH ADVANCES. There are currently two versions about the financial state of the Barrettos during the '80s.
Elder brother Jay-Jay says that he and Gretchen had to survive on a 100-peso daily allowance given to Gretchen—P50 for the gas, P50 for the hamburger and Coke.
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On the other hand, sister Gia says that their father provided them with a luxurious lifestyle—with carpeted, air-conditioned rooms, chauffer-driven cars, and country-club memberships.
Asked about Gretchen's finances during her Seiko days, Robbie recounts that, even while Gretchen had a regular income, there were still instances when she needed to make cash advances.
He narrates, "Sasabihin niya, 'Tito, can I make bale?'
Tatanungin ko, 'Why?' Sasabihin niya, 'I need it, e.' Medyo maraming beses."
During the '80s, Gretchen was a woman with simple needs, the producer recalls. "Simple lang naman siya at that time. Wala naman siyang mga luho.
"Hindi siya nagbubuhay mayaman...simple siya.”
DOING ST FILMS. What motivated Gretchen to do ST (Sex Trip) films?
"Palagay ko, economics. Palagay ko, pera," Robbie says.
"At the same time, gusto rin niya sumikat. Pero basically yun."
Who dubbed La Greta the ST Queen?
Si Oskee Salazar," he recalls. "Pero yung ST Queen na tag, pang-marketing lang.
"Hindi naman talaga siya nag-bold! Nagpapakita lang siya ng likod, nagpapakita ng puwet, pero wala!
"Never naman siya nag-frontal nudity! In fact, wala nga siyang breast exposure.”
He reveals that Gretchen was pro-active when it came to her projects. "Namimili rin siya ng mga leading men. Sinasabi niya sa akin, 'Tito, just get this [leading man].' Yung mga sina-suggest niya, okay naman."
GRETCHEN THE WORKER. As a producer, Robbie worked with Gretchen for four years. What were Gretchen’s work habits at Seiko Films?
"Alam mo, very hardworking si Gretchen. When she was with Seiko, wala kaming naging major problem sa kanya. As a whole, gusto siya ng mga director ko."
He reveals that even National Artist for Film Lino Brocka liked working with Gretchen.
"Gusto siya ni Lino Brocka at ni Laurice Guillen kasi intelligent siya."
He recalls that the only times Gretchen would ask for a reprieve from work were when she was affected by her lovelife.
"Si Gretchen, may mga heartaches siya, pero mabilis rin siyang mag-recover. Nire- respect ko naman. Sinasabi niya sa akin, 'Tito, I cannot shoot.'
"After a few days, tatawag siya sa akin at sasabihin, 'Tito, I'm ready to work again.'"
“At that time, maganda ang attitude niya. Very hardworking siya.”
Does he recall how heavy Gretchen's workload was? How often did she tape in a week?
"Kung ano ang requirement ng director, yun ang gagawin niya.
"Pero minsan, sinasabi niya, 'Tito, I cannot stay very long dahil I have GMA Supershow [the next day]. Is that okay?' Pero kahit na 2 a.m. na, wala rin siyang complaint."
Robbie describes how Gretchen chose her projects in the past.
"Kinukumbinse ko siya. You have to convince her why she has to do it.
"Marami siyang tanong. But once ma-settle, dire-diretso na siya."
BOOSTING CLAUDINE AND MARJORIE'S CAREERS. The top honcho of Seiko Films also recalls that Gretchen did her best to help boost the careers of her sisters Claudine and Marjorie.
"Si Gretchen, kino-convince ako na bigyan ko ng break si Claudine.
"In fact, I was the one na kinuha si Claudine as contract star."
He says, "Mahal na mahal niya si Claudine. Very, very proud siya kay Claudine."
Aside from helping boost the career of Claudine, he also recalls Gretchen asking him if he could give work to Marjorie as well.
"Kino-convince niya ako na bigyan ng movie si Marjorie. Sinasama ko, pero hindi major."
ADVICE FOR GRETCHEN. Now that Gretchen is embroiled in a family feud, Robbie has been talking with the former Seiko star.
"Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘You're not perfect at may mga nasagasaan ka rin. Aminin mo na lang and try to mend ways with your mother.’
"Alam mo, nadadala sila sa social media, sa mga nasusulat. Sabi ko, ‘Huwag na niyang patulan si Claudine.’
"So ayaw na niyang [Gretchen] magsalita. Hindi na siya magbibigay ng statement.
"Sabi ko, kahit anong mangyari [kapag nag-statement siya], talo siya."
ADVICE FOR INDAY. Last April 24, showbiz denizens were stunned by a letter released by Estrella “Inday” Barretto to the press. In it, she defended her youngest daughter Claudine while calling her fifth daughter Gretchen a "liar."
For his part, Robbie offers advice for the matriarch of the Barretto family.
"Si Inday, dapat intindihan niya ang mga anak niya.
“Huwag na siya mag-side masyado, kasi anak rin niya si Gretchen, at kahit papaano, nakatulong rin si Gretchen kahit papaano sa kanila before."