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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 13, 2021



JOHNNY MANAHAN, formerly of ABS-CBN Star Magic, has formally signed up with GMA Network on July 1, along with his partner, Mariole Alberto. 

Mr. M was formally presented to the press in a zoom presscon Tuesday morning. He cannot present any formal plans yet about his future moves as of now. 

“We are consultants,” he says. “Well see how we can work with GMA Artist Center and we’re still studying their setup to know kung ano ang kailangan nila mula sa amin.” 

What is he expected to do for GMA? 

“What they want is for us to develop a new breed of actors and ambassadors even in this time of the pandemic. I will help sa issues ng styling, imaging, how we can market their talents better. 

"As of now, bago pa lang kami. We still hope to meet with the artists, one by one or in groups.  

“Among GMA artists now, I am not too familiar with the younger stars, but the older ones, the veterans, the more established ones, alam na nila kung anong gagawin nila. 

"To give respect, I want to get to know these people and be friends with them. We want to work with the younger ones, but I barely know the lineup and I still have to get to know their names. 

"Right now, wala pa akong any formal talks with these people. In a couple of months, we can know them better na.”

Working with GMA is some sort of a homecoming for him. 

“Parang I’ve come full circle kasi nakapagtrabaho na rin ako sa GMA years ago in their old studio na may hindi kanais-nais na CR. 

"My earliest memory with GMA is when, as a singer, kumanta kami sa programa ni Uncle Bob Stewart. Then working with my mother (the late Elvira Manahan) in her talk show on GMA (“Two for the Road”) and with Lino Brocka in a couple of TV specials.” 

Why did he move to GMA? 

"After I worked with TV5, I really thought magre-retire na ako I’d leave it all behind and just play with my apos. But after awhile, hindi ako mapakali. 

"Wala akong magawa sa bahay and I’m not used to not doing anything. Then, tamang-tama, some friends of ours sa GMA asked if we’re interested to join them. 

"Sabi ko, sige, let’s talk, and we did. Maganda yung offer nila na inilatag sa akin. Natuwa naman ako sa mga plano nila na gagawin ko for them. Napaka-friendly nila, mabait. 

"I cannot refuse their offer. It’s work. After a certain point, it was so easy to say yes. Parang nabuhay ako uli. I miss the business, so here am I again, refreshed. Let’s see what we can do.”

Aside from building stars, will he have a say as to which artist goes into what show? 

“That’s part of my mandate. Sabi nila, puede raw ako makisawsaw dyan sa part na yan, about castings in teleserye. 

"They already have a very good system, but Atty. Gozon asked me, baka raw pede rin kong makisawsaw sa isang variety show nila, tingnan kung anong pede kong maibigay na suggestions para ma improve. 

"Baka meron akong inputs, sabi ko, sure, I will be so happy to help out. So medyo wide ang scope ng work ko sa GMA.” 

What advise does he give to newbies who want to join showbiz? 

“I tell them na mahirap itong business na ito, madugo, long hours, so much waiting around doing nothing, maraming intriga. 

"So I ask them, do you think you can last? That’s why perseverance is so important, also their love of their craft. 

"They have to spring from the authentic person inside of them into something that the audience will desire. People like dreams and in these artists, they fulfill their dreams in their personal lives. 

"And as far as I’m concerned, in launching stars, 60 percent ang luck. We can do the training, teach them how they should walk, act, project in public, we merchandise them, but in the end, magic yan or luck. 

"If you’re in the right place at the right time, who knows, you’ll make it. In the end, gawa ng Diyos yan, e. It’s luck.” 

Has other ABS talents asked him if they could join him in his move to GMA? 

“May mga nagparamdam. but i told them, dyan na lang muna kayo. Okay naman sila roon, e. I was able to get very nice contracts for them, so just wait until their contracts are finished, then they can make up their minds kung saan sila mananatili. 

"And as of now, we will prioritize muna ang homegrown talents ng GMA-7 kaysa yung mga tumatalon over the bakod.”

How would he describe television these days? 

“The landscape now is kind of bleak. You only have one network that is viable today, GMA. The others can barely keep their mouths over the water. Money is hard to get. 

"The  industry is changing because of all the new media coming in na nang-aagaw ng viewers. I personally don’t believe in the network wars I’ve always been friendly with other networks even then. 

"That’s what I try to inculcate in our artists. Be sure not to burn your bridges. You should be friendly with the other networks because you might do projects with them someday.”

Isn’t he some nervous about his new journey? 

“Kabado ako, but kapag takot ako, i just jump right into it and after a while, you’d know if you’re in the right direction. I also haven’t closed my doors to directing. 

"For a while, I was thinking I might go back to painting. In my 20s, I was an artist, so it’s always on my mind to go back to it, but hindi ko pa nasusubukan uli. Mabye I’ll paint and do some sculpture. Enjoy ako sa mga ganun, e.”  

Obviously, GMA bosses have very high expectations when they got him and Ms. Alberto. Here's hoping they will be able to meet all those expectations marvelously and help catapult GMA to higher glory.