MANILA - Box-office superstar Vice Ganda publicly called out a number of his loyal fans after they went on a "bashing" spree directed at Jackque Gonzaga, the "It's Showtime" dancer whose onscreen chemistry with the comedian is proving to be a hit with viewers.
In recent weeks, Vice Ganda has been doing impromptu interactions with Gonzaga, who regularly brings a fishbowl of written questions to "Miss Q&A" contestants. That segment of the noontime show is co-hosted by Vice Ganda and Anne Curtis.
Gonzaga recalled how initially the extent of her interaction with the hosts was Vice Ganda making comedic jabs at her stage entrances.
"Noong una, napapansin niya 'yung paglakad ko. Sabi niya, ang arte-arte ko raw maglakad," said Gonzaga, a former G-Force trainee whose dancing background extends to collegiate pep squad.
"Tapos parang sinasabi niya, 'Ito, magbibigay lang ng question, iikot pa!' Since then, lagi na siyang may napapansin sa akin, 'yung dress ko, 'yung hair ko, ganyan," she added.
Speaking with ABS-CBN News after the live episode of "It's Showtime" Monday, Gonzaga, 23, remembered how the fashion jokes transitioned spontaneously to "romantic" banter.
"Tinanong niya kasi ako kung may someone ba ako, kung may nagpapasaya ba sa akin. Sabi niya, 'Gusto mo bang pasayahin kita?' Simula noon, 'Ikaw maganda ka, e.' Tuloy-tuloy na, na every segment parang may pa-cute na hirit siya," she said.
Over several episodes, Vice Ganda gradually gave Gonzaga a more active part in the "love story." From simply smiling, Gonzaga would answer questions from a "masculine" Vice Ganda. Her short but sweet responses, and his subsequent actions, have become a formula of sorts to generate "kilig" among the audience.
"Wala pong assigned script," Gonzaga said of her banter with the comedian. "Natural lang siya na lumalabas. Pareho naman po kami ni Vice na masaya sa nangyayari, so natural lang siyang lumalabas. Iyon 'yung nasasagot ko. Hindi pilit."
She surmised that fans are primarily amused with the novelty of Vice Ganda portraying a traditional, macho suitor. "Sobrang ang pogi, ang lakas din ng dating ni Vice 'pag nag-papa-cute," she said. "Iba talaga 'yung dating ni Vice, nakaka-pogi talaga."
Gonzaga and Vice Ganda's interactions have been such a hit with viewers, that official YouTube videos of their scenes have collectively garnered over two million views. A hashtag, #ViceJack, has also been making the rounds on Twitter.
However, coupled with favorable feedback were harsh words directed at Gonzaga, which Vice Ganda lamented in a Facebook live video dated January 20. In that video, the comedian addressed a number of his fans, who he said were behind the "bashing" against the "Showtime" dancer.
"May mga fans ako, lalo na 'yung ibang fans ng ViceRylle, ang nega ng reaksyon," he said, referring to his onscreen tandem with Karylle, his fellow "It's Showtime" mainstay.
"Sa sobrang nega ng reaksyon ng ibang ViceRylle fans, binash nila si Jackque. Kung anu-ano sinabi nila kay Jackque, sinaktan nila 'yung tao, which is so bad. Hindi ko 'yun nagustuhan," he added.
Vice Ganda, who ranks among the most followed Twitter personalities in the country, said he is aware of the criticisms being hurled at Gonzaga online, and urged his fans to re-think their apparent effort to malign the dancer.
"Sa mga ibang ViceRylle babies na nang-bash kay Jackque, at hindi maganda ang sinasabi, gusto kong malaman niyo na hindi ako masaya sa ginagawa niyo. Hindi ako natuwa sa ginawa niyo, at hindi ko 'yan i-e-encourage na gawin ninyo. Wala kayong suportahang makukuha sa akin. Hindi ako natuwa. Maling-mali," he said.
The comedian explained to his supporters that he is being open about his disappointment, "because I want you guys to be smarter."
"Because I care so much about you, and alam ko namang you care so much for me, ayaw ko kayong matulad sa ibang fandoms na may gano'ng gawi, may gano'ng kultura na hindi masyadong maganda," Vice Ganda said.
Gonzaga, who maintains an active Instagram page, chooses to focus on the brighter side of her newfound popularity. "Nababasa ko na maganda 'yung feedback, maraming natutuwa, maraming kinikilig," she said.
This, she pointed out, is the everyday goal of "It's Showtime" -- to make people happy. A regular dancer of the variety show since 2015, Gonzaga is grateful to have a part in achieving it.
"Sana masaya kayo sa ginagawa namin. Sana nawawala namin ang pagod at lungkot or stress na nararamdaman niyo sa araw-araw. Sana nakakatulong kami na mapagaan ang loob niyong lahat," she said.