MANILA — In a tearful moment on “It’s Showtime” on Tuesday, a man who once favored the broadcast shutdown of ABS-CBN on social media apologized to employees of the network, admitting he had been swayed by online propaganda which he regrettably did not verify.
Kaloy Villaver, a band vocalist who previously worked overseas, was one of two daily contenders in “Tawag ng Tanghalan.” After his performance, he was interviewed by Vice Ganda and Kim Chiu, mainstays of “It’s Showtime” who were visible figures in the 2020 campaign supporting ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
A week ahead of his performance’s airing, Villaver announced through a public Facebook post his scheduled appearance on “Tawag ng Tanghalan,” calling on his friends and followers to tune in.
The announcement dredged up a previous public post of Villaver, which then circulated on social media. On January 23, 2020, he had shared a post with the hashtag #YesToABSCBNShutdown, captioned with the establishment date of the network and its “death” date, or the expiry of its franchise. “Rest in peace,” read the post Villaver had shared.
As that post circulated online, Villaver drew criticism for joining a flagship program of the network he had wished shuttered — a situation Vice Ganda brought up as he interviewed the aspirant after his number.
“Actually, iniisip kita kanina,” Vice Ganda told Villaver. “Paano kaya siya mag-pe-perform na alam siyang bina-bash siya?”
The comedy superstar explained to viewers the background of the “bashing,” before prompting Villaver to respond.
“Ready na rin po ako for that, e, kasi I was very vocal about my political stand before, noong nasa abroad [ako],” he said.
When Vice Ganda mentioned that screenshots of his post were now viral on social media, Villaver answered, “Hindi ko puwede i-deny ‘yun.”
“And I’m actually very thankful na binigyan po ako ng chance ng network to share my talent to everybody, and have my story heard, in spite of what I’ve done,” he said.
Villaver, in his pre-performance reel, said he once struggled with drug abuse, and was fortunate to have a second chance, crediting his wife and his love for music as instrumental in his recovery.
“Nahihiya po ako, actually,” Villaver said, when Vice Ganda asked how he feels to be performing inside ABS-CBN. “I have to be honest. Sobrang hiya po ako sa ginawa ko. I was barking at the wrong tree at that time.”
‘INFLUENCED’ BY VLOGS, ONLINE PAGES
Villaver explained that upon returning to the Philippines, he “had a lot of discoveries,” pertaining to factual information that changed his perspective.
Referring to the disinformation about ABS-CBN that swayed him to support its shutdown, Villaver said, “Na-influence po ako ng mga vlogs, pages that I was not able to validate if fact ba ‘yung binabasa ko.”
He also admitted that he was exposed to online pages discrediting mainstream media.
“Marami po akong nabasa sa news na all the while I thought it’s fake, all the while I thought the media made it up. But I validated na totoo pala,” he said.
Asked whether he regrets his actions, Villaver answered: “Yes. May balik din talaga ‘yung lahat ng sinasabi mo. Even if it’s a long time ago. Nahihiya ako na mali ‘yung sinabi ko. I always realized that.”
Villaver than apologized, addressing the hosts and crew of “It’s Showtime,” as well as employees of ABS-CBN who lost their jobs due to the non-renewal of the network’s franchsie.
“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to say sorry to everybody. That’s why I’m here. Puwede naman po ako mag-back out. Gusto ko na nga mag-back out that time na I saw the post.
“Hiyang-hiya po ako, dahil ‘yung pamilya ko, ‘yung asawa ko, nada-drag na rin sa issue. I’m being tactless and I’m being very careless about what I post, what I say. I took down my account, I deactivated my account, because I don’t want to drag anybody with my carelessness,” he said.
He then specifically spoke to Chiu, his fellow Cebuano: “To you, siyempre kababayan ko, who gave me the chance na marinig ‘yung story ko, my story of change, my story of hope — I would like to thank and apologize to everybody, on behalf of the people who did the same thing.
“I would like to apologize to you guys.”
‘PINAPATULOY PA RIN NATIN SILA’
Chiu, who became the target of mudslinging by administration loyalists at the height of the franchise controversy, was visibly emotional as Villaver uttered his apology.
“Ganito pala ‘yung feeling kapag—” a tearful Chiu said, gesturing coming face-to-face with Villaver.
Allowing Chiu a moment to compose herself, Vice Ganda, meanwhile, told Villaver that he was initially unsure of how to go about interviewing him.
“Paano ko kaya kakausapin ‘to?” Vice Ganda said, recalling his train of thought. “Paano tayo magiging professional 'pag kinausap natin ‘yung tahasang nagsabing, ‘Yes, sana magsara kayo ABS-CBN.’ Paano kaya natin kakausapin ‘yung taong nag-wish na mawalan ng trabaho ‘yung marami nating Kapamilya?”
Addressing Villaver and others who supported ABS-CBN’s shutdown, Vice Ganda added: “Alam niyo ba na bukod sa maraming nawalan ng trabaho, meron ding nawalan ng buhay dahil sa isyung ‘to. May namatay kaming Kapamilya, katrabaho, dahil hindi kinaya ‘yung balita na magsasara ang ABS at mawawalan siya ng trabaho ng bubuhay sa pamilya niya.”
Vice Ganda was referring to ABS-CBN entertainment production manager Mavic Oducayen, who died of heart attack on July 22.
ABS-CBN’s bid for a fresh broadcast franchise, which would allow the network to continue airing on free TV and radio, was rejected by a congressional panel on July 10, resulting in the retrenchment of thousands of employees, including entire units.
Referring to Villaver’s admission of being influenced by propaganda, Chiu said: “Nadadala sila sa sinasabi ng iba, ta’s dumadami na sila. Hindi nila alam ‘yung naging epekto hindi lang sa kumpanya mismo. Hindi niyo siguro naisip ‘yung mararamdaman namin as kaming mga Kapamilya.”
“Iba lang ‘yung pakiramdam na tayong mga Kapamilya, ‘yung mga nagsabing ‘Yes to ABS-CBN shutdown,’ pinapatuloy pa rin natin sila dito para ipakita ‘yung talent at tuparin ‘yung pangarap nila,” she said, turning emotional.
Chiu, a past winner of the ABS-CBN reality show “Pinoy Big Brother,” then brought up the case of Russue Laurente, an evicted housemate of the ongoing season, who similarly apologized during the program for once supporting the network’s shutdown.
Villaver shared that the night prior to his “Tawag ng Tanghalan” appearance, he told the segment coordinator that he would understand if they decided not to have him on the show, amid the viral spread of his Facebook post.
“That will never happen,” Vice Ganda said. “ABS-CBN will never do that. Hindi ‘yan kasama sa mga values na ini-instill ng ABS-CBN, ng buong kumpanya sa kaniyang mga manggagawa, sa kaniyang mga talents. That will never be done by any ABS-CBN show.”
“I don’t feel I deserve the chance,” Villaver responded.
Vice Ganda insisted: “Everybody deserves a chance, just like you, just like ABS-CBN. Everybody is deserving of all the chances. Binibigyan ka namin ng chance, binibigyan namin kayo ng chance na ma-realize ninyo na ang ABS-CBN ay dapat bigyan niyo rin ng chance na makapagbigay pa ng serbisyo sa inyo.”
“This is part of our journey to healing,” Vice Ganda said of meeting Villaver. “Everybody needs to heal.”