Monday, April 2, 2012


I decided to amuse my Twitter followers by posing all these inane questions I keep getting time and again.  Part occupational hazard, mostly out of predictable curiosity --- one's work in media can be downright stupefying and, after a while, boring.  But then again people always perceive people who work for films and television as larger than life.

The common man actually believes that all of us who work in media wake up in the morning and literally swim in glam and glitz.  Wrong!

Now if they only knew how life really is behind the cameras ... or how it is working on location inside crowded air-conditioned tents as the sweltering heat broils everything else outside --- or the inhuman hours spent on the set taping telenovelas (sometimes lasting a record of 36 hours straight), then maybe not that many young people would be obsessed with the thought that joining showbiz is such a joy ride if not the only solution to a life of fame, glory and money.

Oh, well: let us not even go there. 

The point of this blog is to create an ultimate collection of all the stupid questions asked from me time and again.  

These are the sort of queries I get everyday --- whether I am walking down a street determined to be invisible or seated quietly enjoying a cup of coffee only to find myself scrutinized by eyes that recognize me.  These are questions I am compelled (nay, obligated) to answer with a smile --- while I grit my teeth.

(You see, that's the other problem.  Decades have passed when people knew my name but did not know my face. If you knew how I looked like, it wouldn't really matter if you just knew my name. As I always said, my looks were never, can never and will never be a threat to Piolo Pascual's claim to fame.

But ever since I decided to be visible by accepting oncamera work as a commentator and now the Philippines' ultimate professional judge, people do actually recognize me.  Whereas before I was merely a name --- ergo a concept who was occasionally captured in publicity photos whenever a movie is about to be released --- now I am this huffing and puffing and breathing behemoth who has made a sideline out of being a bitch.

And that, believe me, carries both advantages and disadvantages.)

The fact that I am recognized, I get asked an assortment of questions after some giggly admirer has our photos taken on her cellphone camera.  I have a feeling that we deliberately interrupt the natural flow of universal energy by blocking corridors and hallways catching me striking a pose and throwing a smile while having my arms around Miss Enthusiastic.  

But don't get me wrong --- for there is really nothing wrong with that. Except that you get really, really conscious because you know other people are looking ... and, at my age, I still get embarrassed when people I do not know point at me, laugh and say, "Ay! Si ... si Direk!" I try to assess how I feel when that happens --- and it is indeed a mixture of flattery and embarrassment.

Which leads me to the first question that people ask when they see me.

(Sincerely baffled)
Direk, ang laki mo palang tao.  Bakit parang 
ang liit mo sa tv?

I wish I knew how to answer that. 

Yes, people mistake me to be around 5'5 or 5'6 when they see me onscreen ... but they are not quite prepared with the fact that I am actually almost 5'10. So how do I answer that question? 

Here are a list of possible stock answers.

Bakit ako mukhang maliit? Baka may
diperensiya yung vertical control ng tv mo.


Ay, hindi! Ang lalaki lang talaga ng
lahat ng tao sa paligid ko sa tv kaya ako
nagmumukhang punggok.

Which, of course, is not true. But then here is another: how do you actually reckon with such a comment or observation?

Ay, Direk, ang taba mo pala in person.
Bakit sa tv parang payat ka?

Of course, I try to regain my composure (which actually means controlling myself from rendering a nakakabasag-pangang WAPPAK right on the pagmumukha of the babbling creature or say something really vicious and bitchy perhaps in French para kahit muramurahin mo siya, you can still retain that smile on your face that has merely become a set of frozen muscles.

But the best answer I could think of:

Uy, hindi, ah. Mataba rin ako sa tv.
Panata ko kay Lord na hinding-hindi ako
magpapapayat para di sabihin ng tao na
wala akong makain.

Or maybe go, a little bit more visceral.

Hindi naman ako mataba, eh.
Ikaw lang itong mukhang malnourished 
kaya tingin mo mataba ako. Kumain ka na ba?

Which of course I cannot say lest I be the subject of a blind item from Juicy or end up being the subject of an in-depth analysis of professional suicide in Da Buzz.

But then let us go to the real nitty gritty.  

What sort of questions do they really ask people like me having been identified in this high profile possession?  Here are some samples that sent my Twitter followers laughing their heads off last weekend.

The most famous (or infamous) of them all is:

Direk, puwede ba akong mag-artista?

As I look at this person --- considering all variables concerned, I have this very strange compulsion to give the following reply:

Ano naman ang karapatan kong pigilan
kang maging artista? Ngayon ...ang magandang
tanong ... gusto ba ng Sambayanang Pilipino na mag-artista ka?

A reply like that can either lead to argument or philosophical discussions about angst ... or even the principles of Communism and the role of the individual for the common good of the State. So an answer like this could be equally effective:

Gusto mong mag-artista?  Maitanong ko
lang ... bawal ba ang salamin sa inyong

But then that does not exactly come across as completely political correct. As a matter of fact, that is downright unkind.  And prejudicial. And mean.  

Hindi naman lahat ng artista kailangang kamukha ni Ann Curtis, hindi ba? I mean there are some artistas who make their kazillions by being the exact opposite of Ms. Curtis-Smith and emphasizing how God played a joke with their genes. These are the artistas who point to the triumph of guts over nature.

So maybe a more polite reply would go something like:

Alam mo, hija ... Importante talaga 
ang studies. Kung ako ikaw ... magtapos
ka muna ng pag-aaral. Kung gusto mo pang
mag-artista pagka-graduate, I suggest that 
kumuha ka pa ng isa pang course.  Aral
ka lang nang aral habang kinakati kang 
mag-artista, ha?

I mean how do you go around convincing people that only one out of every umpteenth thousands craving for the limelight and to be interviewed by Kuya Boy A. actually get to enter the studio for a guesting in Da Buzz?  The remainder --- which constitute 98% of the population --- are left queuing outside a mall or a studio and braving changes in temperature for the next audition of Pinoy Big Brother.

Or here is another clincher that really gets me:

Gusto ko pong mag-artista para 
maiangat sa kabuhayan ang aking pamilya.
Gusto ko pong tumulong sa aking mga 
magulang ... po.

This really makes me shudder.

To begin with, let me explain that:

(a) Entering show business is not the same as placing a bet on the 6/55 Grand Lotto.  Besides, the chances of anyone to be a star of the magnitude of Piolo, Dingdong, Marian, Sara or Kim C. are as much as well ...winning a lotto. So I suggest na tumaya na lang kaya sa lotto kasi even if you lose in a lottery, there is no public kahihiyan, kapalpkan and kabalbalan involved.

Besides, imagine the amount of personal embarrassment you will have to face for the rest of your life if you keep on trying and you keep on failing and you keep on repeating that overused saying, "Ang nagwawagi ay hindi umaayaw, ang umaayaw ay hindi nagwawagi" --- not until you get rundown by a runaway train.

(b) Although there is good money in show business, only a certain percentage will be the object of ire and interest of Kim Henares and her platoon of calculator-armed accountants from the BIR. 

Let us shatter the myth at this point: not all artistas are rich.  They earn enough but only the chosen few can go out and buy LV bags, Porsches, house and lots in a southern Ayala Land Development or get a free ride in Willie Revillame's private plane.

The rest still have to wrestle getting cabs to get to and from their locations, pay debilitating amortizations for their abodes if not rents for their condos and apartments --- and still pay percentage commissions to their agents and managers.

(c) Not everyone who is Tisoy/Tisay, possessing dimples and can act as cute as a chihuahua in a clown's costume can pass for an actor.  Perhaps tween fans can scream their lungs out to show their adoration for you at a mall show, but that does not mean that they will watch your movie ... or endure your tv show.

And, another thing, not every creature of the Lord below 18 years of age with hair rinsed through with hydrogen peroxide and desperately trying to resemble a K Pop icon qualifies as star material.  Youth has its advantage ... but the problem is that there are so many young stars that they have ended up looking, talking, singing and acting like they were clones pre-fabricated in a doughnut assembly line.

(c) The bottomline is STILL talent which leads to ...

One of the silliest questions thrown out of an attempt to be cute but actually has been so beaten down to reach the level of stupidity:

Direk, puwede ba akong mag-artista?
Kahit yung ipapakain sa buwaya ... OK lang.

How many times have I heard this question hurled at me in the most ungodly moments?  Thus, after all these years, I have developed the following stock answers:

Pakakain ka sa buwaya? Papaano ka naman
nakakasiguro na papatusin ka ng buwaya?


Maawa ka naman sa buwaya. 
Baka masiraan yon ng tiyan pag kinain ka.


Para maiba, kung ikaw na lang kaya ang
kumain naman sa buwaya. For a change. 
Kakayanin mo, Dong?

But, of course, I never said any of that.  You don't try to out-cute somebody who regardless of age, faith and race is trying to charm you with what he thinks is wit and charm.

Oh, but the ... have you heard a question like this:

Direk, gustung-gusto ko talagang 
umarte. Ang bilis-bilis kong umiyak, eh.
Tingin mo, matutulungan mo akong mag-

I would have wanted to sputter the following answers like a knee jerk reaction:

Toto, kahit tupa at buwaya marunong umiyak.
Pero wala pang tupa o buwaya na naging 
successful na artista.


Baka naman mas madaling umiyak yung audience
pag nakita kang nagpapaiyak.

or worse ...

Ako man naiyak nang sinabi mo yan.

But again, I will not say that.  Instead, I should choose more careful words that are not patronizing but sending a clear-cut message that said person should get a life ... hopefully on another planet farther than Uranus. 

Maybe a more appropriate answer should be:

According to Eric Morris, it has got
everything to do with being. Being is not
merely crying but getting into the moment by
discovering your inner truths using the machinery
of your personal experience to validate the
range and caliber of your emotions.

What should necessarily follow is a tunganga or tameme moment wherein self-confessed faster cry baby of the world would stare at me and actually believe I am an ancient alien who helped instruct the Egyptians how to build the pyramids of Ginza.  More so, he can also revert to another tactic which could leave me dumbfounded like:

Direk, magaling rin akong kumanta.
Kaboses ko si Martin Nievera ...
(Singing starts right here.)
"Be my lay-dee ...."

OK, I give up.  That is usually followed by:

Direk, tulungan mo naman akong makapasok
sa Talentadong Pinoy.

This kind of request is a permutation of another popular question:

Direk, papaano ba pumasok sa Bahay ni Kuya?

Can it be considered witty if I replied:

Eh, di pumasok ka sa pintuan.

Just because I happen to work in that network sometime like two years ago ... and was part of another reality show from the same group, that does not mean that I have carte blanche powers to drag anybody into the studio and be part of a reality show, right?  Sheeesh.

It really gets downright exasperating when people actually think that just because you know people in a network that:

(a) You can snap your fingers and get fifteen front-row tickets for A.S.A.P. so that a busload of Balikbayan relatives can spend a Sunday afternoon jumping up and down on their seats watching Rayver Cruz and John Prats shake their booties.

(b) You can just let anybody inside the studios and give them a guided tour which include the dressing room of Marian Rivera or the offices of Jessica Soho.

(c) You can actually introduce anybody to Bea Alonso or Toni Gonzaga --- or get the autograph of Papa Piolo or Enchong Dee.

(d) You can go up to Kim Chiu and ask her if she is having a relationship with Xian Lim so that you can vouchsafe to the world that indeed there is a good thing going between them. Ditto to Gerald Anderson and Sara G. just to assure everybody again that, "Oo ... naka-move on na sila."

But I guess nothing beats the question that I have been asked to the max --- to the point that the next time somebody asks me this question again, I swear that I am literally going to emit an ear-splitting scream that will cause the poles of the earth to swerve to the left.

The question goes:

Direk ... bakla ba talaga si _______?

UTANG NA LOOB! Why is it such a big deal to confirm or negate news about the gender of celebrities?  Why is it an earth-shattering piece of information treated with such sacred curiosity that it almost seems like it is the Search for the Holy Grail?  

You can go into a very personal level and think that, uh, it is really nobody's business if your favorite matinee idol has bedroom secrets. I mean, it is his bedroom and tell me if there is anyone with a semblance of an exciting life who does not have a secret.  

Somebody told me that it is all too important to know if her matinee idol is indeed a swashbuckler or a swishing bakla so that she can completely eradicate him from her personal sexual fantasies.  Now that somehow scared me. I felt that had a hint of oversharing.  Does that mean that my friend actually screams out her matinee idol's name when she reaches the throes of self-inflicted glory? I shudder at the thought.

But then I have some stock answers I am itching to reply to this question.  The most practical of these is:

Bakit? Sa tingin mo ikagaganda ng ekonomiya
ng bansang Pilipino kung makasiguro tayo
kung siya ay isang tunay na lalake o isang
authentic siyoke?

or maybe

Hindi siya bakla. Siya ay isang tibo.
Magaling lang siyang magpakalalake.

And if it really gets all too exasperating, I will one day reply.

Of course not! He is not a bakla.
He screws goats.

Let's see if they can actually have a follow-up question to that! Not unless they want to go down the entire gamut of farm animals.

Indeed, celebrity has a way of titillating public curiosity---but after a bit, especially when you are right smack in that world --- it can get tedious and even boring.

And for one final clincher --- somewhere amid the stalls of goods being sold in Greenhills, the following scenario transpired:

Ay, ay! Si Direk! Si Direk, o!

(Smiling, waving)

Direk...ang galing-galing nyo ...
Talagang number one fan ako ng lahat
ng inyong mga pelikula.

(Sincerely touched)
Wow, thank you naman ...

Ano po ang next project nyo,
Direk Joel Lamangan?

A beat. Then another beat of silence.

I smiled and controlled the compulsion to render an exquisite flying kick.