Billboard suitor Xian Gaza answers 'scammer' claims

MANILA, Philippines – In a lengthy statement posted on his Facebook account, Xian Gaza has aired his side regarding several accounts from various parties claiming that they were scammed by the businessman.


'Haiyan Shirt Project'

In his Tuesday, July 4 Facebook post, Gaza first addressed Twitter user Dewanie Catapang’s questioning of the “Haiyan Shirt Project,” a charity led by Gaza that supposedly sold t-shirts to profit victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Catapang said in a Twitter thread that Gaza hired her to be part of a marketing team for the project. She initially agreed, though her suspicions were raised when Gaza avoided answering questions about how many shirts had been sold.

She eventually dropped out of the project when Gaza allegedly tried to flirt with her. She also said that she was not paid for their work, and that the project’s Facebook page and Gaza’s personal account disappeared soon after she left.

Gaza maintained in his statement that the project was legitimate.

“It didn’t pushed [sic] through because the funding that was promised to me ay hindi po dumating at napako (didn’t come),” Gaza explained.

He said that he funneled P300,000 from his own funds towards the project, losing the amount when the project didn’t materialize. The 2,000 t-shirts that were produced for the charity were not sold, and instead distributed to different charities.

Wala akong kinita maski ni isang kusing (I did not earn a single cent) and even lost P300,000 on that project, plus the burden of paying P10,000 every month until now to the company I partnered with to produced [sic] the 2000 Haiyan Shirts in Davao City,” he wrote.

Filipino Vines

Gaza then addressed another issue involving a certain Ryan Salcedo Tanada, who took to Facebook on July 4 to share his experience working with Gaza. Tanada said that he initially got in touch with Gaza to produce an event in partnership with Filipino Vines, a social media venture Gaza was involved with, along with founder Walter de Vera, with whom he partnered with for Gazera Media.

Tanada went on to say that he gave Gaza an amount of money to cover artists’ talent fees, which they apparently never received.

“To make the story short, even if I already knew that there was something fishy about him, I still gave him the money for the talent fee/s that he said he would give to the artist/s… just ask Ella Cruz's mom regarding the whole story of the supposed TF [talent fee] that they never received,” Tanada wrote.

He also said that Gaza offered him “fishy investment schemes” that he had offered to other people as well. Tanada clarified that Gaza eventually paid off the money he owed, though it took some time.

Responding to the issue, Gaza said that he received a P200,000 downpayment from Tanada in November 2016, an amount which was then diverted to the operating expense backlogs of Gazera Media.

“I partnered with Mr De Vera last March 2016 on a 50-50 ownership sharing, me as the pure financial partner while him as the industrial partner,” Gaza said. He claimed that he shelled out P1.7 million to fund the venture, along with operating expenses for 8 months.

“I was financially bleeding to Gazera Media/Filipino Vines for 8 months with no returns at all… I stopped shelling funds to the company to stop my bleeding dahil wala na 'kong nakikitang kalalabasan na maganda (because I no longer saw a good outcome) on the aspect of profit generation,” he said, adding that he declared bankruptcy to De Vera in December 2016.

Gaza also addressed issues brought up by Jessica Cruz, mother of actress Ella Cruz, who was supposedly one of the talents who did not receive the talent fee paid by Tanada for the event with Filipino Vines.

Ella Cruz's mom

Cruz said in a report that Gaza was supposed to buy a Fortuner from her husband, who runs a buy-and-sell business for cars. Gaza had reportedly given them post-dated checks, but repeatedly asked to hold the check because he’d be paying in cash.

“After New Year, nag-ask ulit kami kung may fund na yung check. Ginagawan daw niya ng paraan kasi he’s having financial problems, at andoon nga daw siya sa dad niya para umutang (After New Year, we asked if the check had funds. He said he was figuring it out because he was having financial problems and he was at his dad’s to borrow money),” Cruz said.

Her husband then asked Gaza to return the Fortuner, which he did the next day.

Gaza confirmed the transaction with Cruz’s husband, saying that they agreed on a price of P650,000, to be paid in two installments. Gaza claimed that he pressured himself to take the deal to impress the Cruz family, despite not having an immediate need for the vehicle.

He said that he decided to back out of the deal when he learned that the unit was valued at a lower price than he agreed to pay.

Response to criticism

Gaza also defended himself against criticisms that he was a stalker.

Ang tanging hangad ko lang po ay kape with Erich with no hidden personal agenda at all (all I want is coffee with Erich)… I just wanna show her how much I like her and using this billboard effort to possibly create an initial friendship with her over coffee,” he said.

Gaza became internet-famous a few days ago when he rented a billboard to ask actress Erich Gonzales out on a date.

“I can’t even espresso how much I like you a latte,” the billboard read. “Will you…drink coffee with me?”

Gonzales has responded only indirectly to the post, telling writer Darla Sauler, who alerted her of the billboard, that there’s “nothing wrong naman if we talk over coffee,” but that Sauler had to be there too.

Gaza’s grand gesture has sparked a debate among netizens. While others found the gesture romantic and courageous, many found that it was creepy, and a form of emotional blackmail. –