Showbiz Shockers of the Year!

Unpredictable.

That’s one word to describe showbiz this year.

Two people are okay today, they’re fighting the next minute. Celebrity couples were so in love a few months back, they’re separating on their next TV appearance. Almost every month, something would disrupt the equilibrium and get the stars embroiled in a spat or a word war.

And right before the public eye, the events unfold. Showbiz buffs talk about them. They sympathize with their idols and even take sides. We see the drama, hear the lines worthy of an acting award, and get hooked on the entire debacle.

PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) recalls the top 10 showbiz news that shook the lives of celebrities and shocked the country in 2007.

The Confrontation10. CARLENE-DENNIS-CRISTINE BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE

It was pure tabloid heaven right from the start.

On a calm November 7, during the taping of All Star K at the Broadway Centrum, young actress Cristine Reyes did more than just lend her presence and sing at the popular videoke Sunday game show hosted by comedian Allan K and singer Jaya R.

She gained both an enemy and a controversy all in one serving.

The scene was relayed to the media, and a video clip was even shown to the public as proof of the confrontation: Carlene Aguilar makes a beeline towards Cristine, then stoops to whisper a word or two before walking away.

Instantly, all hell broke loose.

The Impact. It didn’t take long before the reason behind Carlene’s improbable behavior was revealed. Was it jealousy that drove the former beauty queen to lose her poise?

In an interview with The Buzz last November 18, the 2005 Binibining Pilipinas World explained her side. “Kung meron man akong nagawa o nasabi, yun ay dahil lamang sa ipinaglaban ko ang karapatan ng anak ko na magkaroon ng buong pamilya. Bilang isang ina, gusto mo talaga ibigay lahat para sa anak mo,” she said earnestly.

Carlene had given birth to Calix Andreas, her son with Dennis Trillo, last September 22.

The spotlight fell heavily on Dennis’s shoulder. The “confrontation” scene between the mother of his son and his rumored girlfriend was a blow to his shy-guy image.

Instead of snuffing out the fire, Dennis’s silence only amplified the wrath of some people. The most vocal critic of Dennis was Cristine’s older sister, Ara Mina, who openly lambasted the award-winning actor for his unwillingness to make a statement to appease the warring parties.

Meanwhile, in retaliation against Carlene’s actions, Cristine filed a grave slander and oral defamation case against the beauty queen on November 13, before Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Wilfredo Andres.

Speaking on behalf of her beleaguered sister, Ara said: “Hindi namin inisip na darating kami sa point na ganito pero siyempre parang pagkatao mo na yung ano, di ba, naapakan. Kailangan nang lumaban.”

But nine days after the filing of the case, the two women in Dennis Trillo’s life, with Cristine’s lawyer Dexter Licuanan acting as mediator, met at the Hotel Rembrandt in Quezon City.

Apparently moved by Carlene’s apology in The Buzz on November 18, Cristine decided to put anger aside and scrap the legal case.

Atty. Licuanan explained the new situation to PEP in an interview that same day: “I sincerely feel her [Carlene’s] apology and so I spoke to Cristine. Nagkataon naman na napanood din pala ni Cristine ang nasabing The Buzz interview at nauunawaan din daw nito ang pinanggalingan ni Carlene bilang isang babae. Dun lang nagsimula until my client decided to schedule a meeting with Carlene-at ito na nga.”

Cristine and Carlene had an emotional one-on-one talk. The tears shed by both parties during the conversation washed away all the animosity between them.

After settling their differences, Cristine and Carlene opted to keep quiet and promised not to talk about the incident to the press again.

As for Dennis, he countered reports claiming that he was insensitive to the issue. Unknown to the public, according to him, he was constantly communicating with both Carlene and Cristine, and even with Ara, to iron out the mess.

Hot Topic Meter. Showbiz had its share of confrontations this year. But the Carlene-Cristine incident caught the public eye. Why? Because it was real-life drama captured by the camera. No director or scriptwriter. The characters involved did not earn any talent fee. It was the story of a lady fighting for love, for the sake of her baby.

Love Affair9. OGIE ALCASID’S JUNE ANNOUNCEMENT

There was no issue. No drama. Just an announcement about the status of his marriage to former 1995 Miss Australia Michelle van Eimeren and his relationship with Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez.

The first bomb: “I’m separated. Michelle and I are separated, and we have been… for a long time.”

The second explosion was for Regine: “I love her, I’m crazy about her.”

The Impact. Those statements of Ogie in the June issue of YES! magazine put a period to all the speculation that had nagged him for several years.

It was also welcome news to all the fans of Regine. Finally, their idol found love.

But some took the announcement negatively. They went as far as branding Regine, “mang-aagaw ng asawa,” and Ogie, “manloloko.”

On August 28, Regine Velasquez became emotional when she addressed the downbeat comments hurled at her and Ogie.

She said, “Alam din po namin na there’s one person who has kept her silence as well the whole time, at gusto ko pong sabihin sa inyong lahat that Michelle and I are okay. We have talked about this matter in private like responsible adults should. At bahagi po ng ikinaliligaya ko ngayon ay ang pagkakaintindihan naming dalawa pagdating sa pribado naming buhay.

“We know that you love us at maraming-maraming salamat po ulit. Hindi n’yo po ipinagdamot sa amin ‘yon nina Ogie at Michelle. Kaya we are coming out in the open with this. For the first time in public, sa harap po ninyong lahat, makakausap ko po si Michelle Van Eimeren-Alcasid.”

Michelle’s phone conversation with Ogie and Regine on SOP, GMA-7’s Sunday afternoon variety show that same day, made it easier for the resistant people to accept the course of things.

“For me, kung si Regine ang mahal niya [Ogie], ako rin tanggapin niya. Parang sister ko ‘yon [Regine], so please tanggapin mo siya. Huwag mo siyang bigyan ng hard time. Mabait ‘yon [Regine], mabait siya sa akin, sa mga anak ko. ‘Pag dating siya dito [Australia], lagi kaming masaya,” was Michelle’s message to the public.

On a separate note, Ogie’s admission of his love for Regine affected the box-office results of her movie, Paano Kita Iibigin, with Piolo Pascual last June. The promotion was supposed to capitalize on a potential love angle for Regine and Piolo, but with Ogie’s declaration of love for the movie’s female lead, the plan flopped.

Hot Topic Meter. The issue involved two big names in showbiz, and it solved the four-year tittle-tattle about the real score between the Songbird and the Songwriter.

8. THE SAM MILBY-PIOLO PASCUAL “DATE,” ACCORDING TO LOLIT SOLIS

Last October 15, 2007, entertainment columnist and talent manager Lolit Solis dropped a bomb that rocked Tinseltown like an earthquake. The front-page headline of her column in Pilipino Star Ngayon, “Piolo at Sam, naglalampungan!” was earth-shaking.

Sam Milby and Piolo Pascual are considered the hottest male celebrities today. They’re both handsome bachelors, both part of a variety show, and some people noticed their “closeness.”

Blind items have constantly hinted their alleged “special friendship,” which the two heartthrobs repeatedly deny.

In an interview with PEP last March 28, Piolo said, “Sam and I are really friends to some extent, pero ‘yong kagaya ng sinabi ko hindi na dapat lagyan ng ibang kulay. Kami na ‘yong gumagawa ng paraan para hindi makitaan ng malisya ng ibang tao.”

So when Lolit put out that story about seeing Sam and Piolo na “magkadikit yong pisngi ‘tapos bumubulong ‘yong isa dun sa tenga nung isa,” the hush-hush turned into a tumult.

The Impact. The “date” story set off a media frenzy. It also became the conversation piece in showbiz circles, office chats, net forums, and even the chikahan in sari-sari stores.

Different camps entered the scene-Sam’s manager Erick Raymundo said his ward was in a “salon”; the brand manager of Timex, a watch Piolo endorses, said their talent was having a pictorial during the time cited by Lolit.

On the heels of Lolit’s revelation, Sam and Piolo filed a 12-million-peso libel suit. Sam was unbending when he demanded a retraction from the Startalk host. Lolit was also firm, “Mas gugustuhin ko na idemanda ako ni Sam kesa bawiin ko ang statement ko. Puwede akong mag-sorry kung talagang na-hurt siya sa aking mga sinabi, pero never kong babaguhin ang kuwento ko!”

Just before Christmas, the columnist-host-manager suggested her intention to make peace with the two Kapamilya stars, and Piolo was quite receptive about the possibility of settlement. But up to this day, the libel suit is still blinking “on.”

Hot Topic Meter. One, the poolside scene was elevated to the showbiz battlefront, then the court room. Two, the issue prompted the Kapamilya and Kapuso supporters to declare “war.”

The Glitch7. MILYONARYO NO MORE WITH “WILYONARYO”

Game shows in the one-million-peso-prize league always sell. Besides entertainment value, they give Pinoys a chance-no matter how slim-to become millionaires.

But what happens if one game portion is reportedly “rigged?” It becomes a national issue.

This was how PEP described the incident: “On August 20, during the “Wilyonaryo” segment of Wowowee, Willie pulled up the winning film. This was supposed to contain the P2 million jackpot prize. When he did, the camera showed that a “0,” or a zero, rested in the slot. In the background, co-host Mariel Rodriguez was heard to say, “Ahh, ‘yon, walang laman!” (With a zero occupying the slot, this would mean there was no “2″ anywhere among the slots.) To make matters worse, in Willie’s hand was the film containing the number “2.” (This would imply that the host could determine when and who to grant the jackpot prize.)”

The Impact. Joey de Leon, one of the main hosts of the longest running noontime show Eat Bulaga, didn’t take the news lightly. Last August 28, he wrote in his column in a national broadsheet: “Teasing is not bad…cheating is.”

On August 29, a tearful Willie made this public announcement about Joey’s write-up: “Huwag mong hintayin na mawala ang respeto ko.”

That sparked a three-week-long word war between the two hosts, with millions of viewers watching the exchange. The MTRCB (Movie and Television review and Classification Board) had to intervene and stop them. The senate and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) had to conduct a probe.

The segment was eventually cancelled, but so many questions are still unanswered to date. Last December 18, it surfaced again via a video showing the alleged “rigging” plan.

And three months later, Joey and Willie have not yet patched things up. There was an attempt for reconciliation, but so many ill things had been said, rendering all peacemaking efforts futile.

Hot Topic Meter. But more than the word war, the “Wilyonaryo mishap” painted a somewhat dubious scenario about game shows. Can they actually rig the results? Can they actually choose to make a contestant miss the jackpot? If the answer is yes, then this topic is bound to have a sequel.

And let’s not forget that this issue also escalated into a network war, with the Kapamilya and Kapuso fans having their own heated exchange in the net forums.

The Revelation6. POPS FERNANDEZ’S REVELATION

“Someone very dear to me had to sit me down and really tell me straight to my face na: ‘Your husband is fooling around. He’s been going out with this Katrina girl, who is now in New York. She’s been studying in New York. That’s why when you were here in New York, he probably left you for a couple of days. And it’s been going on for almost a year now. I’m telling you this because I’m so naaawa na with you, because you’re the only one who doesn’t know,’” an excerpt from Pops’s 16-page interview in the October issue of YES! magazine.

The revelation was prompted by an incident that involved Pops’s boys, Ram and Robin. Martin’s partner Katrina Ojeda reportedly called Robin and Ram “monkeys.” It happened years ago but Pops learned about it only last July.

Hearing the lengthy details of the Concert Queen’s breakup with Martin Nievera had the people rushing to the newsstands to grab a copy of the said magazine.

The Impact. Martin’s initial reaction via a taped interview with Startalk was, “I think the best reaction is not to have one.”

But in the weeks and months that followed, the Concert King couldn’t stop himself from talking. “I don’t know what good the article had done for her because it’s done me no good. I’d like to apologize to the family she included in this article, meaning Katrina’s family. She made Katrina look very bad. She made the Mom of Katrina and the family looked really bad,” he said in another interview with The Buzz last October 7.

A reliable source told PEP that he even consulted a lawyer about his legal options.

The revelation also cut the communication between the former couple. And even worse, it put an end to the Pops-Martin tandem.

“The Martin and Pops team as we’ve known it, as we’ve lined-up and lined to watch it, before, during and after the marriage, it’s over. It’s dead,” mentioned Martin in the same interview with ABS-CBN’s showbiz talk show every Sunday.

Last December 8, Pops Fernandez celebrated her 25th year in showbiz sans the Concert King.

Hot Topic Meter. The entire hubbub had the people talking for almost five months-from the time the “m” word reached Pops to the moment she reminisced 25 years of her career in showbiz at the Big Dome.

Is there room for reconciliation? Are they going to share the same stage again in the future? The issue may yet have another upshot.

The Transfer5. ANGEL LOCSIN FLIES FROM KAPUSO NETWORK

Angel Locsin used to be one of GMA-7’s most prized talents. In four straight years, she became a staple in primetime TV viewing with Mulawin (2005), Darna (2005), Majika (2006), and Asian Treasures (2007).

Aside from her television projects, she also hit the big screen with movies like Let the Love Begin (2005), I Will Always Love You (2006), and The Promise (2007). The young actress grew with GMA-7.

So imagine the reaction of the people when she suddenly decided to leave the network that nurtured her. It was an explosion!

The Impact. The Kapuso supporters went livid. They dubbed her, “dark angel,” “walang utang na loob,” “ingrata,” and other sordid names.

Initially, her reason for leaving GMA-7 was “burnout.” Some insiders attributed it to dissatisfaction with her talent fee. Others said ABS-CBN tripled the amount of what she was getting from the Kapuso network.

In her interview with The Buzz last August 12, Angel put things this way, “Hindi na po ako masaya. Importante po sa akin yung tiwala. Napakaimportante sa akin nun… at nawala ‘yon, e. Nung bago ako umalis [papuntang U.S.] habang wala ako, ngayong dumating na ako, nawala ‘yon [tiwala].

“Lahat naman tayo gusto ng growth, di ba? Yung growth ko, nandito [sa ABS-CBN]. Karapatan ko naman siguro na mamili kung ano ‘yung gusto ko, kung ano ‘yung makakabuti sa akin. Basta wala akong nilalabag na batas. Nagtatrabaho lang po ako.”

But GMA-7 was hurt. The talent, whom they nurtured and who was offered the biggest projects, left them without properly bidding goodbye. Worst, when GMA-7’s top management confronted Angel and her manager Becky Aguila in a formal meeting last July 3 at the Makati Shangri-la, both denied sending feelers to ABS-CBN.

Speaking on behalf of Kapuso network was its Senior Vice-president for Entertainment Wilma Galvante, she revealed, “Nababalitaan namin, marami kaming naririnig na nakikipag-usap na kayo sa kabila. Totoo ba ‘yan? ‘Tapos ang sagot ni Becky, ‘Saan mo narinig ‘yan? Sinong nagsabi sa ‘yo niyan? Hindi ‘yan totoo. Walang katotohanan diyan.’

“And Angel even said, ‘Naku, hindi po ako lilipat. Mahal na mahal ko po kayo hindi ko kayo iiwan. Gusto ko lang magpahinga. Gusto ko lang magbakasyon. Pagbalik na pagbalik ko, kayo naman ‘yung una kong kakausapin.”

But in a presscon held on August 3, Becky admitted sending feelers to ABS-CBN.

“A grateful person would have negotiated with us in good faith and treated us fairly, and with honesty, basic honesty. She and her manager unfortunately did not,” was the statement issued by Ms. Wilma.

Angel’s transfer also took its toll on the other talents of Becky. After the sine novela Sinasamba Kita (May 2007) with GMA-7, Valerie Concepcion also moved to Channel 2 and is now one of the co-hosts of Willie Revillame’s noontime show, Wowowee.

Charee Pineda, who became part of the cast of Impostora (June 2007), was seen in ABS-CBN mini-series Love Spell.

Ella Cruz, the younger Marimar and one of the Super Twins (February 2007), is now part of ABS-CBN. She will soon portray the television remake of Anna Liza. Bakekang’s Charming, Eunice Lagunsad, is currently part of the TV series, Princess Sarah and the children’s gag show, Goin’ Bulilit.

Jennylyn Mercado, first female winner of GMA-7’s StarStruck, is the lone talent of Becky who’s still a Kapuso. Shortly after the hullabaloo, Jen’s visibility on TV was affected.

“At first I refused to believe… First week ko dito, galing ako ng States, pag-uwi ko mayroon akong schedule for a week. After that, sabi ko, ‘Everyday naka-cancel lahat ng schedules ko. Parang oo, totoo na yata ito.’ Tapos nung nagpahinga ako ng one month and a half na walang work, sabi ko, ‘Oo nga, naapektuhan talaga,’” was Jennylyn’s sentiment.

Fast forward, it seems that both sides, GMA-7 and Angel, have moved on.

Hot Topic Meter. The shocking issue lasted for three months. And now, people are waiting to see how high Angel would soar as a Kapamilya celebrity.

Network War4. Kapuso vs Kapamilya vs AGB Nielsen

For the past 15 years, AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines (previously known as Nielsen Media Research) has been providing the Philippine broadcast and advertising industry with TV ratings that serve as advertising clients’ source of TV trends and movements. The company has been using a “reliable, independent, and transparent audience measurement system” to provide television audience measurement (TAM) data to the public.

On November 20, 2007, however, ABS-CBN called the attention of AGB Nielsen regarding unethical practices in Bacolod, Negros Occidental.

The Kapamilya Network was alarmed when a man went to their Bacolod office to narrate how his group was being paid by a certain “network” to scout, then identify, the sample households and bribe the members to deliberately switch channels in favor of the unnamed network. The hired group allegedly offered a P500 bribe or grocery items to the households. Tampering of data would be the end result of this practice.

Hence, ABS-CBN filed a P63-million civil case against AGB Nielsen for damages and injunction, and applied for a temporary restraining order from the court last December 14.

In defense of AGB Nielsen, Ms. Maya Reforma, general research manager of the firm, issued a statement on December 19:

“We initiated an investigation and informed the industry and all stakeholders that certain panel homes had been contacted by representatives of parties being linked to GMA-7. This was done by AGB Nielsen to secure the cooperation of the industry to improve self-regulatory guidelines for promotional campaigns of this nature and to ensure the transparency of the investigation process.

“AGB Nielsen is confident that its system has been able to thwart any attempts at distorting the data, and is prepared to defend the integrity of its ratings data before the courts.”

On that same day, an article was published in PEP, which stated that GMA-7 is “aware” of alleged bribery of panel homes in Bacolod. As proof, the content of a letter from AGB Nielsen general manager Maya Reforma addressed to Ms. Sheila Tan, vice-president for research of GMA Network, Inc., was shown to the public. In the letter dated December 3, AGB informed the Kapuso Network that “certain activities being conducted by your company in Visayas have led to some of our panel homes being contacted by your employees or representatives.”

The research group asked GMA-7 to answer six key questions that would help facilitate the ongoing investigation regarding the anomaly in the Visayas region. The existence of this letter showed that GMA-7 had been aware of the anomalous activities for some time.

On December 20, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 80 issued a temporary restraining order asking AGB Nielsen to refrain from releasing television ratings data to the public for 20 days. However, the firm apparently defied the TRO and released the overnight ratings for December 18 and 19 on December 21.

ABS-CBN then asked the court to indict AGB Nielsen for contempt. The Lopez-owned network named AGB Nielsen, its board of directors, and General Manager Maya Reforma as respondents in the petition.

GMA-7 joined the fray when a reporter from ABS-CBN-owned radio station DZMM tagged the Kapuso Network as the mastermind behind the bribing operation. In the December 19 report of Junrie Hidalgo, he stated: “AGB Nielsen umamin sa dayaan. GMA network tahasang itinurong nasa likod ng dayaan.”

GMA-7 executives pointed out that they had been asking AGB Nielsen about the disparity of cable and non-cable ratings of GMA programs for the past four years. GMA’s December 19 official statement states: “It is only in the Philippines that the ratings of programs on non-cable or free TV households exhibit a very different behavior from the cable households. Coincidentally, the Philippines is the only country in the world where a competing free-to-air TV station also operates or controls the dominant cable company. The owners of ABS-CBN directly or indirectly operate the country’s largest cable company.”

The Kapuso network organized its own emergency presscon on December 20 and announced the plan to file a libel case against “Junrie [Hidalgo], of course, and whoever is connected.”

Ms. Rikki Escudero, GMA Head of Regional TV and AVP for Expansion and Production Services, pointed out: “We don’t even have a [TV] station in Bacolod. All we have there is a radio station. For several years, we have not been very active in the production areas. Ngayon lang kami muli nagpapapakilala, introducing ourselves.”

Ms. Escudero also pointed out that it is very easy for anyone to introduce themselves as GMA-7 employees. They will need strong evidence to determine whether or not the informants from Bacolod are indeed telling the truth.

Last December 26, ABS-CBN formally filed its complaint for contempt against AGB Nielsen. AGB’s legal counsel Atty. Rivera had argued that the TRO only covered Bacolod City and not the whole country.

The Impact. The discovery of irregularities in the ratings data gathering process is snowballing into one of the most talked-about controversies involving Kapamilya and Kapuso fans. The anomaly is also questioning the integrity of an international research company that has been the main source of TV ratings data for the past 15 years. It is hard to predict how this saga will end but one thing is for sure, the conclusion will change the way TV ratings are gathered in the Philippine setting.

Hot Topic Meter. The issue is not hot, it’s blazing. Anything that has to do with the network war is big news, as it has always been coupled with fierce statements and comments from the staunch supporters of ABS-CBN and GMA-7.

If you say anything against ABS-CBN, the Kapamilya reacts. If you speak ill of GMA-7, the Kapuso retaliates. The topic is no longer on who’s doing things right; the intent of these fans is simply to defend their favored TV station.
Kisscandal3. GRETCHEN BARRETTO-JOHN ESTRADA KISSCANDAL

On June 8, two pictures circulated on the Internet-one, a guy and a lady were cuddling for the camera; two, they were kissing.

Kissing couples in showbiz are no big deal, but not when the two people happened to be Gretchen Barretto and John Estrada. The pictures were taken using John’s Nokia N95 phone, and during the birthday party of Rufa Mae Quinto last May 27.

Both the camps of John and Gretchen kept mum at first. But their silence only fueled speculation. Were they having an affair? How would Tonyboy Cojuangco, the partner of Gretchen for 13 years, react? Who leaked the photos?

John, who normally keeps quiet whenever he has issues, was the first to come out with a statement on June 13. He apologized to Gretchen and her family and he took responsibility for the leakage of the photos.

Four days later, Gretchen said her piece through her manager Boy Abunda: “I have gone in one in a state of humility and surrender and I ask the public please pardon my ways. The only way out of this unchained is through it. I certainly am grieving my mistake.”

The Impact. The “Kisscandal” changed La Greta. The controversy magnet Gretchen lessened her visibility in showbiz and focused on the people that matter to her: her family.

“I really can’t tell kung anong level. I just know na parang nauntog talaga ako nang malakas! Marami akong na-realize, marami akong natutunan, marami akong gustong baguhin, and I know I need a lot of growing up to do… ” she said in her interview with PEP last July 25.

The scandal dragged some people into the circle of controversy. First, there was Rufa Mae Quinto. She evaded questions about the incident at her house by talking instead about her rocky relationship with singer Erik Santos. They would later break up.

High society raised eyebrows over the kisscandal. Tonyboy’s mother, Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco reportedly asked her son to leave Gretchen. But Tonyboy vowed he would never leave his family. Gretchen has a long-standing rift with the Cojuangco matriarch.

On a separate note, the Barretto sisters closed ranks. The three had been feuding. But Claudine and Marjorie gave their support to their sister through text messages and phone calls during the whole ordeal. Gretchen was teary-eyed during The Buzz interview last August 19. She realized that when “one is really in trouble, kahit masama ang loob mo sa tao, sa kapatid mo, it’s automatic… it’s love, it’s blood.”

Hot Topic Meter. People just love talking about what she says or does. She’s not a full-time celebrity, but she figured in a lot of showbiz controversies this year. She’s carefree, candid, and truthful-qualities that endear her to the public.

Shocking Split2. RUFFA AND YILMAZ: SHOCKING SPLIT

Ruffa lived as a wife and mother in Istanbul, away from the limelight. Every time she would visit the country, she was a picture of marital bliss. She would often talk about her lovey dovey and her two adorable daughters Lorin and Venice.

On the morning of May 8, an announcement roused the Pinoys from sleep: “It is with much regret that RUFFA GUTIERREZ and YILMAZ BEKTAS announce their mutual decision to end their four years of marriage.” That was also the start of more shocking revelations, heated exchanges between Ruffa and Yilmaz, and the revival of Ruffa’s career.

The Impact. The initial news was just the tip of the iceberg.

Shocker Number 1: Yilmaz blamed Ruffa’s showbiz career for their separation. She had extended her stay here when she accepted the hosting gig offered by Solar Entertainment for Philippines’ Next Top Model last March.

Shocker Number 2: Ruffa revealed that she was a battered wife. “Lahat ginagawa niya. Sinasaktan niya ako, binubugbog niya ako, pinutol lahat ng buhok ko, sinisipa ako, kinukulong ako sa cabinet, bine-belt niya ako, lahat!”

Shocker Number 3: Yilmaz severed ties with the Gutierrezes, particularly with matriarch Annabelle Rama. In an interview, the feisty mom said, “Leave my daughter alone.”

Shocker Number 4: Ruffa admitted an earlier marriage to a certain Richard Daloia in Las Vegas.

Shocker Number 5: At the height of angry exchanges, Yilmaz called Ruffa “Brutus” (traitor) and Annabelle called columnist Dolly Anne Carvajal “Bruhilda.”

The life of the couple became an open book—from the time they announced their breakup to Ruffa’s revelation about having been battered, to Yilmaz’s s sudden arrival to visit his daughters last August.

Looking at the bright side, Ruffa didn’t have to work hard for her showbiz comeback. The open controversy led to a contract with ABS-CBN and movie projects under Regal Films, one of which will be shown on January 1, the Desperadas. Ruffa is presently the TV host of The Buzz.

Hot Topic Meter. We were all taken aback by the split announcement, and got even more shocked by the statements that ensued from both camps. Things seem back to normal for now, but expect a commotion once Yilmaz and Ruffa come face to face again.

1. KRIS-JAMES-HOPE SAGA

Arguably, the biggest story this year was the alleged sexual affair of basketball superstar James Yap with Belo Medical Clinic receptionist Hope Centeno.

Although Hope is not a celebrity, the mere fact that she got involved with James was a big deal. James is the husband of Kris Aquino, one of the most popular celebrities in Philippine showbiz, and whose personality has always been as colorful as her lovelife. Once again, the daughter of former president Cory Aquino was caught in a scandal that became a national issue.

The Impact. The controversy, which happened shortly after Kris’s birthday, caused her great emotional turmoil and nearly ended the marriage.

Shocker Number 1. What made the rumored affair complicated was that Kris was pregnant with her and James’s first child. In an interview, Kris Aquino said, “Patas ang laban sana. Kaya kong lumaban, kaya kong humarap, kung wala akong dinadala, but I am pregnant.”

Shocker Number 2: The scandal strained the friendship of Kris with Dr. Vicki Belo, who owns the beauty clinic where the supposed illicit affair took place. Hope Centeno vividly described the details of her sexual affair with James.

Shocker Number 3: The issue compelled the TV host to lie low in showbiz. Kris gave up her hosting jobs in The Buzz and Game KNB?

Since then, the people have moved on with their lives. James and Kris chose to work on their marriage. Kris has become less visible in showbiz, making family life her priority. She remains highly visible as a commercial endorser though.

Kris withdrew as one of Belo’s top endorsers, and is now the face of Facial Care Center, one of Belo’s competitors. But it’s business as usual for the Belo Medical group. On Vicki Belo’s broken friendship with Kris, Vicki said: “We need time to heal.”

Hot Topic Meter. Kris Aquino is Kris Aquino. Whatever she says candidly or does (recklessly in the past), whatever controversy comes her way, matters a lot to the public.

Other issues that almost made it to our Top 10 List—the sudden split of Aiko Melendez and Martin Jickain, Marjorie Barretto and Dennis Padilla. The two couples already filed for annulment.

There’s Yuri Park and her revelation that she is the mom of Mark Lapid’s baby. The two are also in the process of divorce.

Let’s also note the election results last May—many celebrity candidates did not fare well. Voters apparently favored experience over popularity this time.

Indeed, showbiz is full of surprises. We never know what’s next, like a talenovela or movie that keeps rolling, and we sit with bated breath on the edge of our seats.

The PEP Team

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