An open letter addressed to renown TV/movie director Cathy Garcia-Molina of ABS-CBN has gone viral on social media.
The note, which was posted on Facebook by freelance actress Rosselyn Domingo last December 31, recounted the alleged verbal abuse that she and her partner Alvin Campomanes experienced under the director during a location shooting for the television series Forevermore in Baguio City last October 2014 (she appeared in the same scene as him during the taping) for which they were tapped as but players or extras.
Domingo also posted the complaint letter that Campomanes sent to ABS-CBN broadcast head Cory Vidanes two weeks after the incident. Campomanes is currently a history professor at the University of the Philippines-Manila.
Below are excerpts from the said letter, reposted here with permission from the couple. It has received close to 6000 likes and nearly 3000 shares as of January 2:
My girlfriend, who has a background in theater, was recruited for that television soap by a talent coordinator named John Leonardo. I accompanied her to Baguio City. However, her talent manager, who was supposed to be her partner, failed to arrive in the set. John, perhaps out of desperation and fear that he will be reprimanded by his superiors for failing in his responsibility, took me in as a substitute.
He was fully aware that I am an academic, that I had no previous acting experience. Although I was very reluctant, I yielded to his request because he said that it will be finished in a day; that I was only needed for two sequences. I made it clear to him that I intend to return to my hotel room as soon as possible because I had a lot of paperwork to finish. He agreed. My girlfriend and I played the roles of “Celia” and “Makoy” respectively. John did not even bother to introduce us to the directors.
On the first taping day, October 6, director Cathy Garcia Molina led the prayer before we started our work. The prayerful director said that the soap is meant to “entertain” and “teach values” to its viewers. I recoil when I remember how her behavior toward bit players and those who work behind the camera so brazenly contradicted her pious pronouncements. Her hypocrisy was disconcerting to watch.She was servile to Luz Fernandez, courteous to Joe Gruta, solicitous to Liza Soberano, and friendly to Joey Marquez and Irma Adlawan. Liza committed a lot of mistakes in delivering simple lines, but the director shielded her from criticism. She never uttered anything that could embarrass the young actress. This sensitiveness to the feelings of others however, was selective; it was only for stars and veteran actors.
I was verbally abused.“Putang ina! Ang hirap turuan!” “’Kinang ina!”“Pakshet ka, Makoy!”At that point, I remember Joey Marquez spared me from further humiliation by coaching me on how to position my body for that particular scene. I believe he was uncomfortable seeing me endure all those hurtful remarks, aware as he was that his daughter Winwyn was my student in San Beda. As a matter of prudence, I struggled to maintain my composure. I did not want to engage a woman who is almost as old as my parents in a shouting match. I am the better person. I was raised well by my parents. I was formed well by my teachers. I am an educator. I had the moral ascendancy.
When sought for comment by The Filipino Scribe, Campomanes explained that he waited for 14 months for any action but to no avail. “I waited for ABS CBN to solve it. I sent the complaint to Lauren Dyogi and Cory Vidanes. Both promised to act on the matter. Nothing happened. Not even an update,” he said, noting that Dyogi’s daughter was a former student of his.
Campomanes added that he wants to expose the maltreatment of bit players involved in major television and film productions. “This is not just about me anymore. Very few can stand up and protest and really write,” he said. He noted that since the letter was published online, he has received messages from people speaking up about their own experiences.
“I want to force ABS-CBN to punish them. Without the noise of social media, we can be easily silenced. These people think they can bully people all the time. In fact, I did them a favor because I was taken in as a last minute replacement,” he further elucidated.
Prior to being a history instructor at the University of the Philippines-Manila, Campomanes was a faculty member at the University of Asia and the Pacific for six years. A regular commentator for history documentaries, he has appeared in various shows in ABS-CBN, PTV, TV5, among others. He is also the founder of Sucesos Walking Tours. Last year, he toured schools around the country to lecture about revolutionary hero Antonio Luna as part of the promotional efforts for the movie Heneral Luna.