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To say that 2023 was an eventful year in the local entertainment industry is putting it mildly.
We’ve witnessed never-before-seen collaborations, groundbreaking partnerships, highly-anticipated reunions, and large-scale events that made 2023 definitely a year to remember in the Filipino showbiz industry.
On top of that, celebrities’ personal affairs (from surprising splits to not-so-surprising relationship reveals) also kept up with all the drama. And the messiness didn’t stop there, as this year’s headlines also included a handful of legal battles and (more!) third party allegations.
With the year coming to a close, let’s look back at some of the showbiz kalat that made 2023 one of our most controversial years yet.
Alex Gonzaga’s cake incident
2023 started with the 35th birthday of celebrity vlogger Alex Gonzaga being the talk of the town.
However, instead of birthday greetings, Gonzaga was met with criticism after she was seen smearing cake icing on the face of the waiter holding her cake. Netizens lambasted the host for being “ill-mannered,” “rude,” and “insensitive” towards a service worker.
As clips of the incident circulated online, Gonzaga’s camp explained to ABS-CBN News that the family was close to the waiter. They added that the vlogger wasn’t drunk during that time and that she also apologized to the waiter privately.
On her social media accounts, Gonzaga said that the incident taught her a “hard and important lesson” about “humility, kindness, and better judgment.”
Liza Soberano rebranding to Hope
In a February vlog, actress Liza Soberano marked a new chapter in her career as she reintroduced herself with her real name, Hope.
Through a 14-minute vlog, she opened up about her struggles in the entertainment industry, saying that she had no control over her 13-year stint in showbiz.
“I was never really asked for my input, my thoughts, my ideas,” she said in the vlog.
She added: “I’ve sacrificed myself, I’ve sacrificed my freedom, I’ve sacrificed my happiness to present Liza Soberano to the world, and I think I’ve earned the right to finally be me. To finally be able to do things for myself as Hope Soberano.”
But her rebranding didn’t sit well with Ogie Diaz, her former manager of 11 years, as he also released a vlog responding to her sentiments. He said that contrary to Soberano’s claims, she had always been given a chance to give her input.
Following the back-and-forth between the two camps, Soberano said in a Fast Talk With Boy Abunda episode that she felt hurt by his claims since she thought that he was supportive of her career decisions.
“He is saying so many things that are untrue. Why is he trying to say things to make people turn against me?” she said.
Pura Luka Vega being declared persona non-grata
Compared to how the local drag scene was celebrated in 2022, the same can’t be said for 2023.
In July, Pura Luka Vega, best known for their participation in Drag Den Philippines season 1, went viral for their disco pop performance of the Catholic song “Ama Namin.” The drag queen, whose real name is Amadeus Fernando Pagente, then drew the ire of conservative groups.
In October, they were arrested at their home in Sta. Cruz, Manila after their alleged absence from the preliminary investigations of their criminal case in Manila. Pura Luka Vega was released from police custody after posting bail amounting to P72,000.
In December, Pura Luka Vega announced that one of the cases filed against them was dismissed.
Prior to the dismissal, the embattled drag queen also expressed their gratitude to their supporters.
“My heart is still overwhelmed with the love and support I receive,” they wrote.
Francis Magalona’s alleged lover and daughter
Almost 15 years after the death of rapper Francis Magalona, a non-showbiz personality named Abegail Rait came forward claiming that she had a relationship with the late musician and that they had a daughter named Francesca.
The former flight attendant made the revelation in an October episode of Pinoy Pawnstars, where she brought a signed jersey of the late rapper. In the said episode, she also showed pictures of her with Magalona as she recounted their alleged relationship.
According to Rait, they met through the noontime show Eat Bulaga where Magalona was hosting, and that they were in a relationship until he passed away in 2009 due to leukemia.
“I know people will judge me but we exist. What we had is real. For 15 years, nanahimik ako. (For 15 years, I remained silent),” she said.
Rait’s revelation drew flak online as the rapper was known to be married to Pia Arroyo-Magalona, whom he shares six children with.
In response to the criticisms, Rait released a vlog asserting that the late rapper was already “single” when their relationship started and that he was separated from his wife. She added that they have no ulterior motive in coming forward with the relationship: “We’re not expecting approval or acceptance, but respect.”
As of writing, Magalona’s wife Pia or any of their children have yet to acknowledge and address Rait’s claims.
Slater Young’s controversial remarks
As a content creator, Slater Young is no stranger to having his name trend on social media. However, two instances in 2023 put him in hot water.
In May, the Pinoy Big Brother: Unlimited winner drew flak for saying that it was “very, very normal” for men to fantasize about and send each other photos of other women while in a relationship. Social media users have called him out for having a “twisted mindset” and reminded him that instances like these shouldn’t be normalized.
Following the backlash, he issued an apology, saying that going through the negative feedback made him realize how improper his initial statements were. He also emphasized that the “last thing in [his] mind and heart” was to objectify women.
Then, in August, he unveiled a new real estate project called “The Rise at Monterrazas.” Although Young intended the project to be environmentally sustainable, netizens expressed their concerns and frustrations over the possible environmental impact of the said project.
Sharon Cuneta’s strained relationship with Gabby, KC Concepcion
Many were surprised by Dear Heart, the reunion concert held by ex-lovers Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion, and the event appeared to be an emotional moment for their family.
In August, netizens noticed that Cuneta and Concepcion’s daughter KC Concepcion had unfollowed the Instagram accounts of Cuneta’s husband Kiko Pangilinan and daughter Frankie. Saying that having a blended family always comes with complications, the young actress stressed, however, that she cares for her mother.
“I just want peace of mind, I want to be happy, I want my family to be happy,” KC said.
Responding to the issue, Cuneta said that while “it hurt [her],” she emphasized that it’s a “family matter.”
During the Dear Heart concert in October, KC surprised her parents during the rehearsal. The three – Sharon, Gabby, and KC – even sang together during the show. Both mother and daughter also expressed their happiness in finally seeing each other in person again.
“Last night was a fairytale come true. Thank you Lord sa pagkakataong ito na ma-experience ang (for this opportunity to experience this) once-in-a-lifetime reunion ni Mama and Papa,)” KC wrote.
In December — several months after the reunion concert — Cuneta shared that while Gabby Concepcion will always be a part of her life as they are parents to her eldest daughter KC, the Megastar emphasized that they have very little in common.
“We do not talk, text, see each other,” Cuneta said. “We are living totally separate lives.”
Maggie Wilson exposes trolls behind online smear campaign
For the past year, Maggie Wilson had been vocal about her ongoing dispute with estranged husband Victor Consunji. To recall, Wilson said in July 2022 that Consunji “entered [her] home illegally.” In August 2022, after refuting adultery allegations from Consuji, Wilson accused him of having an affair and said she was issued a motion for a gag order.
But some of the most mind-boggling incidents might have happened this year.
In September, she called out “influencers” who were allegedly paid to troll her and her company, Acasa Manila, online. Photos obtained by the model show these influencers being instructed to create content against her. She alleged that the smear campaign was led by Rachel Carrasco, the current partner of her ex-husband.
“Although the last 15 months have been less than ideal, the silver lining to this is that my situation has opened up a conversation on how toxic our culture and society are. Everything from troll farms to misogyny to fake news is coming out in the wash,” she said then.
In October, Wilson revealed that her 64-year-old mother had been arrested for allegedly stealing a car. She questioned the arrest, saying that her mother does not have a driver’s license, nor does she know how to drive.
“My mother has looked after our son and you through thick and thin. You’ve hit a new low,” Wilson wrote, appearing to be addressing Consunji.
In November, Wilson penned a letter to her son Connor, saying that it’s been 16 months since she last saw him, and 11 months since they last spoke. She shared her hope that they will reunite soon.
Wilson and Consunji separated in 2021, initially claiming that they parted ways amicably.
Rob Gomez and his ties to three beauty queens
Actor Rob Gomez made headlines twice for his involvement with three beauty queens.
In August, Miss Multinational Philippines 2021 Shaila Rebortera revealed that she was in a relationship with the A Girl and a Guy star and that they shared a daughter. Her revelation came as a surprise as Gomez mentioned in several interviews that he was single.
Rebortera also opened up about her alleged abusive relationship with Gomez, which prompted her to leave her partner.
“After over a year of being silent about the abuse, I’m happy I was able to speak my truth,” she said then.
Weeks after Rebortera’s post, Gomez came forward about keeping his family a secret.
“I’m sorry I said yes to being single when I’m not. I promise to keep my promises to you this time,” he wrote then. “You are not an option for me to lose. I can’t wait to have you both back in my arms.”
In December, Gomez was once again dragged into another controversy when several screenshots of his alleged conversation with Magandang Dilag co-stars – beauty queens Herlene Nicole Budol and Bianca Manalo – surfaced online.
Said conversations were posted on the actor’s social media accounts before they were deleted. The screenshots contained flirty messages between Budol and Gomez, as well as messages wherein Manalo was planning to meet up with the actor.
Addressing the issue, Manalo explained that they were planning to meet up to exchange holiday presents. Budol also posted on her personal accounts, saying that creating issues was part of being in showbiz.
Meanwhile, Gomez has yet to address the controversy involving Manalo and Budol.
Pokwang vs ex-partner Lee O’Brian
Filipino host-comedian Pokwang, whose real name is Marietta Subong, won the deportation case she filed against her ex-partner William Lee O’Brian in June
According to reports, the Bureau of Immigration has ordered the deportation of O’Brian, as well as canceled his pre-arranged employment visa and included him in their blacklist.
Pokwang earlier said that she was filing the petition for her rights and the rights of their daughter, Malia. O’Brian had then filed a counter affidavit, emphasizing that he had always “put the best interest [of their] daughter first.”
Pokwang confirmed her split from O’Brian in July 2022, though she initially said that they had separated on good terms.
Francine Diaz on SethDrea
Seth Fedelin and Andrea Brillantes might have broken up in 2021, but issues surrounding their relationship have resurfaced in late 2023.
In December, Francine Diaz, who starred with Fedelin and Brillantes in Kadenang Ginto and is now in a loveteam with Fedelin, addressed the speculations that she was involved in the ex-couple’s split.
Speculations that Diaz and Brillantes were not on good terms started in January 2022 when Brillantes made a TikTok video that fans linked to a photo of Fedelin and Diaz together with the latter’s family.
Setting the record straight, Diaz said: “Wala akong inahas, wala akong nilandi, wala akong inagaw (I didn’t flirt with anyone or steal anyone’s partner.)
“Stop the hate. Kung anuman ‘yung naging problema nina Blythe at Seth noon ay sa kanila ‘yon, labas ako roon. ‘Wag niyo akong idamay (Whatever problem that [Brillantes] and [Fedelin] had before, I’m not part of it. Don’t drag me into this issue),” she said.
Diaz added: “I am speaking up for myself and for my family. Kasi ang tagal naming nanahimik, lalo ako (Because we kept quiet for so long, especially me).”
Fedelin, for his part, also joined Diaz in the live session to emphasize that no stealing of partners happened. He also explained that the reason why he went to Diaz’ house before was to apologize.
Brillantes first talked about her relationship with Fedelin in April 2022. Back then, the actress said they “ended on good terms” and promised that they will continue being work partners. At the time, Brillantes was in a relationship with basketball player Ricci Rivero. – Rappler.com