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Magtatatak from Lipa Breaks Down on Showtime; but Vice Ganda Saves his Day

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Well, there is this old cliché about washing dirty linen in public; but young Ajay Cabrera, the magtatatak (shirt printer) from Lipa City who dared to insist on national television the Batangueño pronunciation of his trade, was too emotionally charged to care.

This was in today’s episode of the noontime variety show ‘It’s Showtime,’ during the semi-finals of the segment ‘Gandang Lalake.’ I am not particularly fond of this segment, which to my mind sometimes borders on epic fail.

The idea of a male pageant with a career twist, I suppose, carries a bit of novelty. That said, some of the contestants came so poorly prepared during the eliminations that we all had to suffer a plethora of bad singers and equally bad dancers on national television.

At any rate, for the semi-finals, for which 58 participants qualified from the eliminations, thankfully the talent portion was scratched. Instead, each semi-finalist was given an opportunity to – as Vice put it – seize the moment then expound on a pre-chosen topic under time pressure.

If I am being honest, Ajay really made a mess of his time onstage as his contestant. Even through the tears, there was one particularly comical blooper as he said, “Kung walang ama, walâ ang kapatid, walâ ang kapusô ang kapamilya.”
Vice Ganda was also sent up to the panel of judges for a change; and I rather thought this was the director’s way of managing the show. During the eliminations, he would sometimes go on and on and hog all the attention, often to the point when the contestants were reduced to the role of bemused spectators.

As it happened, it was a good thing for Lipa’s Ajay Cabrera that he was up among the judges. While the comedian’s acid tongue can sometimes be merciless, he has also time again showed his soft spot for underdogs.

There were six semi-finalists under review today; and Ajay was the last of these. None of the first five was particularly impressive; and I somewhat thought that the segment reached a new nadir in terms of monotony.

Ajay made an attempt to introduce himself and gain an impression by doing a somersault onstage. There was something not quite right about his stance as he prepared to expound on his topic, ‘Padre de Pamilya.’

Even when he won his elimination round, Ajay already carried himself almost with the youthful swag of the kanto boy. Today, however, the stance showed a certain kind of defiance that bordered on anger. Billy Crawford noticed this as well and quipped, “Nakakatakot lapitan, ang angas eh!”

When Ajay began expounding on his topic, he did so with such an angry tone that Vhong Navarro butted in with “May kaaway eh!”

The more Ajay went on, the more it became apparent that he had something going on with his father. “Pero alam nating lahat na hindî lahat ng ama ay mabuti. Hindî lahat ng padre de pamilya ay mabuti sapagka’t may mga padre de pamilya na hindî ka mahal bilang isang anak.”

And the more he went on, the sorrier I felt for his father who was becoming public enemy number one on national television and unable to defend himself.

Either something happened between father and son just recently that the son carried his anger to the Showtime stage; or son has harboured deep animosity for a while that unfortunately boiled over because of the topic Ajay either chose or was assigned to him.

Either way, Ajay lost control of what he intended to say and could only shake his head miserably as the timer expired.

But this was when Vice Ganda, the champion of underdogs, took over and saved the day for him. He asked Ajay if he would be willing to share his story and the other hosts did so as well.

“Sa totoo lang, hindî mabuti ang padre de pamilya namin…” Ajay began, then broke down in tears. I will not bore you with the details but suffice it to say the linens were hung out to dry on national television while Ajay cried his heart out unabashedly.

The boy, if I remember correctly from the eliminations, is nineteen; and this probably explains the petulance. This bit of melodrama – and I suspect it was heartfelt as far as the boy was concerned – suddenly gave the segment a real human interest angle. However, my concern continued to be that the father was in no position to state his side of the story.

At any rate, albeit unwittingly, the additional time to state his story probably turned it around for Ajay; particularly after he said that for all his father’s faults, he still loves him.

Vice Ganda was soon praising him for being authentic and for being so secure in his being ‘magtatatak,’ even in the way he wore a paint-soiled shirt to the Showtime stage. He also praised the way Ajay seized the moment when he somersaulted to introduce himself to the audience.

If I am being honest, Ajay really made a mess of his time onstage as contestant. Even through the tears, there was one particularly comical blooper as he said, “Kung walang ama, walâ ang kapatid, walâ ang kapusô ang kapamilya.”

To which Vice Ganda immediately retorted, “Tamâ na tayo sa kapamilya.” Meanwhile, Vhong Navarro could not resist, “Pinagsama ang tatlong istasyon!”

But the heartfelt narration made him stand out, more so because the segment was really quite stale up to the point when his turn came. He was probably bound to finish last of the six after losing control; but turned things around with that tearful story with a little help from Vice Ganda.

At the expense of his father, unfortunately. I wish Ajay success, but also that it will not come at the expense of his already strained relationship with his own father.

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