Karla Estrada marks one year of hosting ‘Face 2 Face,’ open to do other shows

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Karla Estrada marks one year of hosting �Face 2 Face,� open to do other shows
Karla Estrada on hosting 'Face 2 Face': 'It was perfect timing.'
STAR / File

Karla Estrada is celebrating the first anniversary of TV5’s reboot of "Face 2 Face." The celebration this week is marked by "Isang Linggong Kasalan," featuring four couples who don't have the means to hold individual wedding ceremonies but are given the opportunity and support by the show to legally marry.

“We have many guests who always say, ‘asawa ko, asawa ko’... Our trio of advisors, Dr. Love, Dr. Camille Garcia and especially Atty. Lorna Kapunan, she always says not to call them spouses if they’re not married. They could be partners or live-in partners.

“So what we’re going to do for our first anniversary is have these four couples marry. We chose them due to their genuine love. They didn’t just have a choice but they’ve been together and have been calling each other spouses for years, 11 years, 19 years, eight years… and their love has truly borne fruit with kids. So we want to correct (or show) that poverty isn’t always a hindrance (and reason) to say that we couldn’t get married. Because our local governments have many programs for mass weddings,” the TV host told The STAR in an exclusive chat.

The anniversary special culminates today, with the show now airing at an earlier time slot of 10:15 a.m., Mondays to Fridays, on TV5 and One PH.

Meanwhile, Karla said it’s hard to imagine she’s been hosting “Face 2 Face” for one year now. “Time flies. Hindi nga namin namalayan na naka-one year na kami siguro dahil din sa dami ng kaguluhan ng mga guest namin (laughs),” she said.

Mediator Alex Calleja with special guest Ara Mina.

Nevertheless, she believes the success of the show doesn’t fall on her shoulders alone; it requires teamwork. Aside from the resident “tagapayo,” she is joined on the show by comedian Alex Calleja as mediator.

The four couples who marry with the show's support.

“It’s just getting more exciting. Ang tema kasi ng trabaho namin sa ‘Face 2 Face,’ siya ‘yung klase ng show na hindi talaga basta-basta kakayanin ng isang host lang. And you really need courage, kailangan medyo matibay ang loob mo because you get to face all sorts of reactions and emotions here.

When TV5’s “legacy show” returned last year, Karla wasn’t too sure if its “barangay hall” format in dealing with complaints and conflicts would still click with new audiences who may or may not have seen the original “Face 2 Face.”

It first aired in 2010 and originally hosted by Amy Perez.

“Tiningnan namin. We tested it to see if it would still be appealing, the genre, in our present time, and surprisingly, it’s still there,” she said.

“For me, (the show) was perfect timing because it was after the election. I decided to say goodbye to my previous show, ‘Magandang Buhay,’ because after the campaign, I got very busy. It felt unfair that I couldn’t find time to attend to the show properly.

Karla performs while the couples dance.

“Then… my schedule loosened up a bit. When they asked me (to do ‘Face 2 Face’) I was nervous, wondering if I could do it, but that nervousness came with excitement. I thought, ‘Wow, let’s rock and roll!’ So finally, I said yes.”

When asked to share her highlights from doing “Face 2 Face” so far, Karla said her favorite episodes are always the ones involving mothers and their children because “I find them very relatable as a mother myself. I get emotional every time the topic revolves around family conflicts, such as arguments between mothers and children, neglectful mothers, or rejected children. These topics resonate with me and leave a lasting impression.”

The resident 'Tagapayo' of the show are lawyer Lorna Kapunan, 'Dr. Love' Bro. Jun Banaag and Dr. Camille Garcia.

Additionally, she also appreciates the presence of LGBTQ guests on the show. Back in the ‘90s when she started in showbiz, she said these issues surrounding LGBTQ individuals were already prevalent.

It’s been two decades, and these issues persist, she noted. So, with the “guidance of Atty. Lorna Kapunan, who advocates for LGBTQ rights, we aim to set a good example,” she added.

“Since starting ‘Face 2 Face,’ I’ve learned a lot, almost like being in school. I appreciate the education I’ve received, especially from Dr. Camille in psychology, Dr. Love in matters of the heart, and Atty. Lorna in legal matters. It’s been very enriching to receive this free education,” she said.

“I also think because sa haba ng experience ko, sa dami ng experience ko, I’m able to relate to everything. I also believe it’s easier for me to offer advice because we’re not perfect, we still make mistakes. But I’ve fixed many of mine, so I try to share how I was able to correct those mistakes in life.”

She’s happy that the show is doing well, ratings-wise. “For us to be entrusted with the (program), we should show that we’re worthy of the trust,” she said.

“The nature and dynamics of a show like ‘Face 2 Face’ are unique. Maybe because I’m used to it, being a people person, I also like to get involved in people’s lives (laughs). Because, as the breadwinner, you absorb all the problems, from your nieces and nephews to your cousins to your mother, everything like that.”

She also believes that everything she experienced in life was part of her preparation to handle a show like “Face 2 Face.” At the same time, it has taught her a lot because it’s a show about real life.

“The show is very relatable, it mirrors real life. Wala namang nagbago sa totoong buhay na pang-araw-araw (since the original), what changed is the technology,” she said, referring to how social media has been utilized as a platform for ordinary folks to open up about their issues in life or get their information about the lives of others.

“Awa ng Diyos, we are rating which is something we didn’t expect,” said Karla.

“So, well, it’s a good sign. Dahil katulad nga ng sinabi ko we’re not here to entertain the Marites or ilabas lang namin ang buhay ng mga guest namin ng ganun-ganun lang, or to embarrass them. Walang ganun. If you watch ‘Face 2 Face,’ you will really see that we listen to their problems and help them fix them at the end (of the program). We’re ready to help.”

Meanwhile, Karla said she’s open to doing other shows besides “Face 2 Face.”

“Of course, naman. But this time, kasi parang ang hindi lang nag-a-allow sakin is my time… But yeah, if it’s about hosting and my singing career, I would allow… I would go for another program or show on TV5,” she said, but stressing at the same time that she hopes it has to be similar to “Face 2 Face” in terms of its public service component.

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