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Entertainment

Idol Raffy, Action Man

CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
Idol Raffy, Action Man
Radio/TV’s frontman Raffy Tulfo confi rms that he eats ‘death threats’ for breakfast and reveals what it’s like to be living a ‘dangerous’ life
STAR / File

Back then, there was Kuya Eddie (IIarde who passed on in August last year) with his Kahapon Lamang radio program (that inspired a movie titled Napakasakit, Kuya Eddie) at about the same time Dely Magpayo entertained her listeners with her own dzRH program Ito ang Inyong Tia Dely (with its own movie version), initiating similarly-themed shows like Helen Vela’s Lovingly Yours, Helen and the still active Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK) by Charo Santos-Concio and Magpakailanman by Mel Tiangco.

The Idol of the hour, Raffy Tulfo, has raised the bar several notches higher by not just sorting out on air his listeners’ complaints (wayward husbands, unfaithful wives, dysfunctional families, illicit lovers caught in flagrante, abandoned children, short-changed workers...name it, Idol Raffy has solved it!) but also following up the cases until the resolution (not always a happy ending), virtually acting simultaneously as a prosecutor, judge and lawyer. He is fearless, followed by more than 30 million on his social-media accounts, the go-to for cases big and small that would have been swept under the rug by law authorities. Nothing escapes him; he’s on call 24/7, just a dial away.

Raffy’s widely-popular program Wanted sa Radyo has metamorphosed into the drama anthology Wanted: Ang Serye, produced by Cignal Entertainment, airing every Saturday at 9 p.m. on TV5 since Jan. 16.

‘I carry a Rosary and a licensed gun in my bag. I have to take the necessary precautions. Sometimes, I have security with me so I don’t have to worry that somebody would stop me in my tracks.’

How do you choose the stories to be dramatized on Ang Serye?

“It’s not just me. I have a team. We have three criteria: 1). The stories must end with a moral lesson, 2). We must get the permission/consent of the people in the stories, and 3). The stories must be those that drew a wide response when first aired on Wanted sa Radyo.”

Do your writers stick to facts or do they practice cinematic license?

“They are faithful to the stories as originally aired on the radio. But sometimes, for dramatic effect, they resort to cinematic license. For example, sinabi ng complainant na kinurot siya, gagawin naming sinampal siya...of course, with the consent of the complainant.”

People are amazed at how you make the complainants reveal their innermost secrets, even exposing details in the bedroom. How do you do it?

“Through experience. You see, I’ve been doing it for more than two decades since 1998. I’ve done more than 1,000 cases, even much more than that. I’m a good listener. I know how to ask questions. While I know how to listen, I also know when to talk, kung kelan ako dapat magsalita at magtanong.”

Can you tell if a complainant is telling the truth and nothing but?

“Yes, sa body language. You can tell if somebody is lying through the eyes.”

You don’t always side with the complainant, do you? What do you do when he or she is lying?

“Pinagagalitan ko on the air. I scold him or her.”

Name one episode that made you mad, really angry?

“The one about a policeman who shot a mother and her son pointblank. Kumulo talaga ang dugo ko. No words can describe how angry I was. Kung puede ko lang pagmumurahin on air, gagawin ko kaya lang bawal naman.”

And what makes you cry?

“People who have nothing, ‘yung walang-wala, those who are oppressed and abused, those who have nothing to eat.”

Are you a sucker for sob stories?

“I can get carried away, madali akong madala sa malulungkot na estorya. Sometimes, I won’t notice that I’m already tearing up at ibinibigay ko na ‘yung kelangan. The person needs P20,000? Okay, I give him. Sometimes, I wouldn’t know that I am overdoing it. My staffer would tell me, ‘Sir, sobra ang nabigay mo!’ Well, binigay na so what would I do? The amount sometimes goes up to P300,000, even P500,000. I give straight from the heart.”

Are you in real life as stout-hearted as your public image?

“I’m actually a nice guy. I am approachable, I’m easy to talk to. But I have to project an image that I am strong, na matapang ako, that I can flex my muscles. I can collide with anybody head-on, a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye. I use a language that people, especially the masa, can understand. Sometimes, I don’t mince words. If you project a weak image, ‘yung lalampa-lampa ka, you will not get what you want; you cannot solve the problem.”

I understand that you were molded by a very religious mother and a military-trained father. (Trivia: According to a Conversations source, Raffy’s mom has converted a room in her house into a small chapel.) Are you raising your own children on both your mom’s and your dad’s parenting style?

“My mom’s style, yes; but my dad’s style, no. Mahirap ang pinagdaanan ko sa father ko. Nabugbog ako, natadyakan ako, na-kwelyuhan ako. Lahat ng ginagawa ng opisyal sa kanyang mga sundalo na nagkakamali. If we did something wrong, kapag may nilabag kami (referring to brothers Mon, Ben and Erwin), ginagawa ‘yon sa amin, sa akin in particular. I don’t want my children to experience that.”

So how do you discipline your children?

“Through diplomacy. You know, stand in the corner, no going out, bawasan ang allowance. It works. But no physical punishment.”

How is it like living a dangerous life?

“As they say, I eat death threats for breakfast. It’s true! But I have gotten used to it. If you let those death threats bother or affect you, you won’t accomplish anything, you won’t do your job right. I take the necessary precautions. I carry a licensed gun and sometimes I have security with me so I don’t have to worry that somebody would stop me in my tracks.”

Aside from a gun and a rosary, what else is in your bag?

“My wallet because I have to give money to the needy all the time.”

Can you describe a typical day in your life? With your busy schedule, do you ever find time to sleep?

“These days, I’m not getting enough sleep. I wake up at 5 a.m., drink two glasses of water, read, do the treadmill, do stretching, go to the office, brainstorm with my staff, host my Idol in Action show (10:30 a.m. to 12 noon on TV5), have lunch before starting my Wanted sa Radyo program, rest for a while and then host Frontline Pilipinas (with Cheryl Cosim, also on TV5) from  6 to 7 p.m. I’m usually home at around 8 p.m., have dinner with the family, read and sleep. But then, I get calls for help; I never put my cell phone on ‘silent’ mode, especially for cases that need follow-up. So I’m virtually on duty 24/7.”

How do you pamper yourself?

“I buy shoes, I buy clothes.”

How many shoes do you have so far?

“More than 200.”

Do you get to wear them all?

“I always wear my favorites. You can see it in my show.”

If you were not Raffy Tulfo the crimefighter/champion of the oppressed and the poor today, what would you have been?

“I don’t know. Maybe, I would be working in a data-collecting agency. I am good at that. That was my job when I was in the States and worked in three hospitals. Madali akong makaamoy.”

Come to think of it, if your life which is very colorful and full of action/drama were made into a movie, who would you tap as Raffy Tulfo?

“I don’t know. I have no idea. Maybe any actor na kayang gampanan ang character ko.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

RAFFY TULFO
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