Cosmetic surgeon and entrepreneur Manny Calayan finally explained the reason behind the non-inclusion of longtime endorser John "Sweet" Lapus in the Calayan Surgicentre omnibus billboard displayed along the busy stretch of New York Avenue in EDSA, Cubao.
The prominent billboard, which was launched late last year, features the celebrity endorsers of the company—Boy Abunda, Pia Guanio and the Coverboys, among others—all gathered under the slogan, "To C Is To Believe."
Conspicuously absent, however, is Showbiz Central co-host John "Sweet" Lapus, who has been a well-known supporter of the popular cosmetic surgery clinic for two years. Speculation even had it that Boy Abunda was behind the apparent snub, owing to the reported longstanding conflict between the two.
BOY VERSUS SWEET. It will be recalled that last July 2, 2007—in Showbiz Central—Sweet disclosed how the gap with The Buzz host started.
It involved a model named Jasper, who became Sweet's boyfriend for nine months. He related, "One day isang araw, hindi na lang siya nagpakita sa akin, though nagti-text kami, nagtatawagan kami..."
Boy was dragged into the picture when Sweet discovered through a mobile phone tracking device that Jasper was a frequent guest at talent manager's abode. But the ex-boyfriend explained that he was simply asking Boy to help jumpstart his showbiz career.
The two hosts made peace that same year, but they are still not on speaking terms.
And a year later, the rift was believed to be resurrected. Boy, who was allegedly involved in the ad's planning stages, was said to have excluded Sweet in the billboard intentionally.
SWEET'S SIDE. In an article that came out here in PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on December 24, 2008, John stated, "Ganito na lang. For the past two years or more, I have been loyal to Dr. Manny and Dra. Pie Calayan. I have always thanked them sa mga shows ko dahil marami silang nagawa para sa akin. In short, gumanda ako dahil sa Calayan. Kahit na may mga gustong kunin ako to endorse their clinic, still, naging loyal ako sa mag-asawang 'yan.
"With regard kung bakit wala ako sa launch at sa ginawang billboard, siguro ang masasagot ko lang ay isang matamis na ngiti. Yun lang."
The issue was further discussed in the January 4, 2009 episode of Showbiz Central when John was directly asked if he personally felt that Boy had a hand on the controversy.
"Yes," he said. "Bago maging isyu, paapelahin n'yo muna ko. Feeling ko naman, not directly. Buong December, simula nang lumabas ‘yang billboard na ‘yan...But in fairness kay Tito Boy, nakausap ko na rin yung mga taong involved, dun sa mismong ads, hindi siya nakialam. So, ang feeling ko, ang mga nakialam sa konsepto, again, not indirectly, kapag isinama ko pa si John Lapus, baka dalawa na silang bakla run."
The comment reportedly slighted Boy Abunda, prompting him to call manager-host Lolit Solis to vent out his disappointment.
Last January 6, 2009, Lolit derided John by announcing in her radio program, "Bakit siya isasama sa billboard, e, tsinugi na nga siya ni Calayan?! Siguro napag-isip-isip ni Calayan na wala namang ibinungang maganda ang dalawang taong endorsement ni Sweet... I'm sure."
There were even unconfirmed reports that Boy had plans of resorting to legal options.
PEP managing editor Karen Pagsolingan asked Sweet's reaction to this via a text message sent last January 12, and his reply was: "'Wag na [patulan], sis. Hapi na!"
DR. MANNY'S EXPLANATION. In a short e-mail response forwarded to PEP contributor, Alex Datu, Manny answered point-by-point the questions raised by some quarters following John's notable nonappearance in the campaign ad.
Here is Dr. Manny's written explanation on the issue:
"Talagang wala si sweet sa omnibus billboard namin kasi:
1. Expired na contract pero renewed na this January 2009. Pero ‘di ko napansin na expired na at kahit expired na, sa goodwill namin, pinadalhan pa din namin ng white gold pendant na may C last Nov. 24, 2008 after ng press launch campaign held last Nov 21, 2008 held sa Renaissance [Hotel] dahil tinuturing pa rin namin siyang endorser.
2. Naka-line up talaga si John for the next batch of campaign na ang kasama naman niya halos is taga GMA- 7.
3. Walang alam si Boy Abunda sa planning ng campaign. Ako at si Cay of Mad888 ang nag-conceptualize. Hindi namin napag-usapan si Sweet kasi halos puro taga-Dos muna then taga-GMA naman with Marvin Agustin, etc."