Everybody’s Papa Jack

CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

Jack be nimble

Jack be quick

Jack jump over

The candlestick

*   *   *

Jack and Jill

Went up the hill

To get a pail of water

Jack fell down

And broke his crown

And Jill came tumbling after

*   *   *

Jack en Poy. Black Jack. Jack and the beanstalk. How did John Gemperle of Alcala, Pangasinan, get his radio monicker Papa Jack?

Perhaps like me who tune in to Papa Jack’s program on 90.7 FM (and now on TV5 Saturday nights at 10), you must have been wondering why. Before that, I’m letting you in on some facts about PJ from his first book, Everything I Need To Know About Love From Papa Jack (with a follow-up, Everything I Need To Know About Moving On I Learned From Papa Jack):

At 10, John Gemperle started working in the market and in the farm. As he grew up (and up to now), “Hindi ako tumigil sa kararaket,” confessed PJ who earned his keep by being a car salesman, fast food manager, call center agent, instructor at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (where he tucked up a Masscom degree, major in Broadcasting), acoustic singer, indie film actor and, believe it or not, winner in some bikini contests. “And,” he’s proud to add, “payaso, party clown.”

More confessions (not from the book but straight from PJ’s mouth): “We are six siblings from our mom but we are 16 in all kasi tatlo po ang asawa ng Tatay ko.”

 He claims to be a Coco Martin lookalike. Agree?

Whatever. Regardless of whether or not he looks like somebody, to his avid listeners (this one included), he is a star in his own right, a class by himself, a dominant voice on the air for the past eight years — and counting.

Why did you choose Papa Jack as alias and not…why not?...Jumping Jack?

“The monicker was given to me by my boss, it’s beyond my control, and I like it. Parang Papadyak ng pedicab, kaya madaling nakaka-relate ang masa. It’s sectoral. My colleagues are known on air as Nicole Hyala, Raqi Terra, Kristine Derra, Tang Henyo and Chris Tsuper.”

You’re the cyber-generation’s shoulder to cry on (although he does attract even senior citizens). Growing up, were you a fan of Tiya Dely, Ate Helen and Ate Charo who dish out (pieces of) motherly/sisterly advice on air?

“Kinalakihan ko talaga si Tiya Dely. Including Gil Brazil and Rey Langit (when he was on dzRH). I grew up on Radyo Balintataw and other radio shows. Anak ako ng radyo.” (Papa Jack once hosted a short-lived show on GMA, Starbox, with Ali Sotto. It went off the air just when it was starting to attract more followers. Papa Jack and Ali were a perfect tandem.)

When you get angry and start screaming as you scold your stubborn callers, to the point of calling them “names” (the stronger Tagalog word for “flirt,” etc.), talaga bang galit ka o nag-gagalit-galitan ka lang?



“Sometimes, I do get angry doon sa matitigas ang ulo. But what many people don’t know is that I always cry, although I don’t let my listeners hear or know it because I don’t want to call attention to myself. Just last night, naiyak na naman ako. You see, nagbinata din ako and I’m sure nakasakit din ako ng damdamin ng girls. So when I listen to a female caller crying, I feel guilty and that makes me cry. By the way, I may sound that ang tapang-tapang ko sa radyo but when I know that I make a mistake, madali ako mag-sorry. ”

What was the caller’s problem?

“It was a man who called. He left his wife for another woman and came back with all his clothes. I imagined him opening his suitcase and returning his clothes piece by piece to the aparador and that was touching to me kasi nga he didn’t hear a word from his wife, hindi man lang nagalit sa kanya ‘yung wife. I cried because I felt for the wife, I felt her pain, I got hurt for the wife. I was so sorry for the wife.”

(Aside: PJ has a daughter [“Anak sa pagka-binata,” as he puts it] from a previous relationship, but none yet from his wife, Toni Rose Maniago. He said that he and his ex-girlfriend would clash because they pursued opposite directions in life but PJ and his wife are now good friends with his ex and her partner, and they even go out together.)

What do you think makes you an effective tagapayo?

“I always hear people say na magaling ako magpayo. Actually, my talent is not tagapayo but profiling and ‘time-lining.’ If you tell me your story in a span of three years, I could tell that what you’re telling me are only fragments of those three years, mayroon siyang nalalaktawan. So it’s easy to give advice if you know the whole story.”

Who do you run to when you have problems?

“Things have changed since I got married. Now, it’s my wife who I run to; she’s the one who keeps me grounded. I’m so lucky because mabait siya, maganda, tahimik. She runs two salons, my wedding gift to her. We built the first one from my savings since I was single and the second one from the gifts of our wedding ninongs and ninangs. I have no complaints. I’m 32 at happy ang buhay ko ngayon.”

Are you faithful?

“Yeah, faithful na ako ngayong I’m married. I’m not ashamed to admit that, you know, nakapag-binata din naman ako ng maayos. I also made some women cry. In short, nakapag-enjoy din ako. No, I can say that I go home and place my celfone anywhere, walang password, puede niyang kalkalin, and I don’t worry because I’m not doing any hanky-panky.”

(Call Me Papa Jack on TV5, every Saturday night starting at 10 o’clock, is touted to be “a weekly guilty pleasure” with its line-up of segments packed with Papa Jack’s unique brand of humor and kilig-filled love advice. The segments include: Online Ligawan [a video confessional in which a person goers public with his/her feelings for an other person], Jamming with Papa Jack [somewhat a “karaoke moment”], and Papa Jack Quotes which about love and relationships.)

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)


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