In fairness to Lea
Lea Salonga: She never said what some people misconstrued as what she said
In fairness to Lea
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2020 - 12:00am

It’s the perfect time to set the record straight and clear the air now that the verbal tussle (and tempers) have  simmered down, about the issue unwittingly generated by Lea Salonga’s socmed comment about how hard it is to love the Philippines.

I leave it to lawyer Romy Macalintal to provide an “unadulterated” and “unbiased” assessment of the matter. Here’s Romy’s letter to Funfare titled No legal nor factual basis to declare Lea Salonga persona non grata:

There is no legal nor factual basis to declare actress Lea Salonga as persona non grata just because of the opening statement in her recent Facebook post where she said: “Dear Pilipinas, p**** ina, ang hirap mong mahalin.” With due respect to her accusers, I believe that such statement should be judged along with the entire contents of her post to come up with an objective opinion if she really cursed our country as alleged by those who misappreciated her post.

Salonga was candid and honest enough to hold herself accountable for what she said and quickly apologized and explained that she wrote it “as an expression of my frustration with certain events currently taking place in our country (and that) contrary to what some of you might believe, I never, NOT EVER, cursed the Philippines.”

And I believe her as I read and studied deeper how her statement was written and constructed. Take note that there is a comma immediately after the word Pilipinas and another comma after the word “ina” which clearly separated the p**** ina (p-i) from Pilipinas and “ang hirap mong mahalin,” thereby leaving the “p-i” as a mere expression of frustration. The use of the comma is very important in analyzing Salonga’s statement as to whether or not she cursed the Philippines. The fact that the comma was used to separate “p-i” from Pilipinas, clearly shows that Salonga was not cursing the Philippines or anyone for that matter.

Here, the importance of the comma should not be ignored for it has been said that, the presence or absence of comma “can change the meaning of a statement — sometimes dramatically, thus, a careful writer must be a careful user of comma.”

Precisely, in her clarificatory statement, Salonga apologized for her “choice of words” in that “I didn’t say p-i mo, or p-i ka. My p-i was aimed at no one in particular, and was used only as an outburst, a cry. My apologies if I hurt your feelings with my choice of words.”

As to the “p-i” expression, even the Supreme Court in some cases held that “p-i” is “a common expression in the dialect that is often employed, not really to slander, but rather to express a displeasure.”

Thus, I was a little bit disappointed with former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s knee-jerk reaction to Salonga’s statement by calling her “bastos, napakabastos (and) ano namang alam ng Lea na yun; ang alam niya eh kumanta lang,” as if it is that easy to simply disregard and forget the honor and pride Salonga gave to our country as an international artist, just because of that highly misunderstood viral post.

(A clarification: Lea Salonga and her brother Gerard Salonga must have the mis-impression that and the broadsheet Philippine STAR are one and the same. Until now, the STAR broadsheet has not made any comment, either “pro” or “con,” about the issue. The STAR Entertainment guys have always held Lea with respect and gratitude for being always accessible for interviews.)

Kyle Velino is the new addition to the IdeaFirst (YouTube Channel) trending series Gameboys, shown at right with co-stars Elijah Canlas (left) and Kokoy de Santos

The ‘third wheel’ in Gameboys

There’s a new face in Gameboys that the series’ followers have started to “hate” and he’s none other than Kyle Velino, who plays the “third wheel” Terence Carreon between Elijah Canlas (as Cairo Lazaro ) and Kokoy de Santos (as Gavreel Alarcon).

“Natatawa ako kay Kyle,” said A-List designer Avel Bacudio who discovered Kyle. “He’s a bit puzzled getting messages like ‘I hate you Terence but I love you Kyle.’ I assured him that it’s good, that he should be happy because it means that he’s effective in his performance.”

Trending on the Internet, Gameboys is inspired by the trending Asian Boys Love (BL) series (such as Thailand’s 2Gether The Series and Korea’s Where Your Eyes Lingers) about boys having a crush on or flirting online with other boys. Produced by IdeaFirst Company’s Perci Intalan and Jun Robles Lana (and streaming on the IdeaFirst YouTube Channel), Gameboys is written by Ash Malanum and directed by imIvan Andrew Payawal.

Kyle is a relative newbie compared to Elijah (as an HIV patient in the critically-acclaimed IdeaFirst movie Kalel, 15) and Kokoy (as a macho dancer in the 2019 Cinemalaya well-praised entry Fuccbois). Kyle, 20, was 17 when he joined showbiz.

“His mom is my friend and client,” said Avel. “When he was 15, I asked him if he wanted to be an actor. Ayaw niya. But he changed his mind two years later.”

Now with Star Magic, Kyle (real name: Devin Kyle Castañeda) has appeared in Kapamilya shows like The Good Son, Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK) and Ipaglaban Mo. He is in Regal Entertainment’s Mommy Issues (with Pokwang, Sue Ramirez and Jerome Ponce, another Avel talent) which was supposed to have been shown as a Mother’s Day offering but delayed by the pandemic. He is also in the Regal movie BL (Boys Love). “I have auditioned for two IdeaFirst movies, Allergic sa WiFi and Kalel, 15,” shared Kyle. “That’s why Tito Perci and Tito Jun remembered me and cast me in Gameboys.” Kyle is taking up Export Management at La Salle St. Benilde, inspired by his mom who is in the brokerage business.

“I always remind him not to forget his studies,” added Avel. “Iba na ang may college degree.”

STAR columnist is CCP awardee

Congratulations to STAR columnist (Remember When?) Danny Dolor (photo) who was given the Tanging Parangal Award (for development and support for the arts) by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). The award is given every three years.

The other recipients of the 2020 Gawad CCP Para sa Sining are novelist and writer Lualhati Bautista for Literature, Kenneth Cobonpue for Design and Clodualdo “Doy” del Mundo Jr. for Film and Broadcast Arts.

Other awardees: Rafael Catalino “Nonoy” Froilan, Dance; Raul Sunico, Music; Felix “Nonon” Padilla, Theater; Luis “Junyee” Yee Jr., Visual Arts; Cristina Turalba, Architecture Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG) Culture of its Region; Nestor Horfilla, Cultural Work and Research; Liwayway Magazine for Development of Philippine Culture; Antonio Fabella for Dance (Posthumous); and Alice Guillermo for Cultural Research (Posthumous). The Tanging Parangal is given to individuals or organizations to honor their outstanding contributions to the development of the arts in the country. The awarding will be held next year.

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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