Rehearsal Video.ASAP 08 PERFORMANCE DAY
Stars’ tribute to Johnny Manahan
Director, starmaker, mentor, father, second father, showbiz icon—just a few appellations that Johnny Manahan or Mr. M is called. Having been in showbiz for more than 30 years, he has witnessed many stars rise and fall. For the longest time, he has dealt with stars on a director-talent level but for the past 15 years, as a manager-talent, being ABS-CBN Star Magic’s (formerly the Talent Center) senior vice president, Mr. M started in television with pre-Martial Law ABS-CBN. He transferred to Channels 9 and 13 to work on the children’s show Kaluskos Musmos and the sitcom Chicks to Chicks and returned to ABS-CBN when it re-opened in 1986. The re-launch was successful but the problem was, there had no stars because they were under contract with Regal, Seiko, and Viva. It was April 1992 when then ABS-CBN president and chief operating officer Freddie Garcia and Johnny Manahan hatched the idea of creating a stable of new stars exclusively for ABS-CBN. October that same year, Ang TV, the hit youth afternoon show was launched. The TV series opened the door for the likes of the young Claudine Barretto, Jolina Magdangal, Camille Prats, Victor Neri, Paolo Contis, and many more to showbiz. Later in November 1995, Star Circle Batch 1 was launched, led by the late Rico Yan.
As Mr. M celebrates his birthday, let us hear what some stars have to say about him.
PIOLO PASCUAL: I met Mr. M more than 10 years ago. He is really strict. Hindi marunong ngumiti kaya intimidating. As a mentor, he stands for what he knows is right. He is not the type who would comprise. He’s always for the good of the talent. He’s like a real parent and very compassionate. He doesn’t care about your personal life as long as when you’re on-cam you should be the person and the character that you should be.
DIETHER OCAMPO: I’ve known him since 1996. I said to myself, “ang laking lalaki nito ah.” When he asked me my name, hindi niya naintindihan sagot ko. Sabi niya kay Chris Violago, “addict ba yan?” So in my first audition, hindi ako natanggap. He is very protective with his talents. He can make you tremble and breakdown without uttering any word. But I would say that he is a very fair person, a man of wisdom. Never hide anything from him, just trust him.
RICA PERALEJO: I’ve known Mr. M since I was 12. I was so young then and he’s really a giant! Mr. M is really a good mentor. The way he disciplines his artists, especially during our time, was a very good way to hold a child’s attention. We really learned a lot and he taught us a lot. We had to be disciplined and persistent in everything we did. As a father, he has a soft spot for women. As a friend, he is maloko. Work aside, gusto niya tumatawa. He has changed because unlike before, he used to be really strict. He has mellowed a lot already.
ANGELICA PANGANIBAN: Alam mo agad na royalty ang dating niya. He told me before na parang surfing lang ang career ko, sakyan mo lang dahil pag nalaglag ka, hindi ka na makakabalik. Always do your best lagi. Masyado niya kaming mahal. Lahat ng klase ng proteksyon gagawin niya. The best ’yang si Mr. M!
NIKKI GIL: First impression ko sa kanya, nakakatakot because he handles the big stars in the industry. He has high standards pero once you get to know him he’s a gentle giant. He is the man with a gentle heart. Ipagtatanggol ka niya talaga. Huwag mo siyang kakalabanin. He really loves his flock. As a co-worker, he is very pleasant and professional. One advice he gave me was “don’t mind what other people think about you as along as you do your thing, find your own niche and do your best, everything will be okay.”
MATT EVANS: “Napakatahimik na tao si Mr. M. Sobrang at ease ako sa kanya. Sobrang maasikaso siya. Ipagpatuloy ko lang daw ang mga ginagawa ko. Huwag ako gagawa ng mali. Kung sakali na umaangat ang career ko, huwag daw ako makakalimot sa pinanggalingan ko.”
GERALD ANDERSON: At first, nakaka-intimidate siya pero once you get to know him, he’s really nice. He always tells me to work hard and focus muna sa career. He is really concerned with his artists. We are really lucky to be managed by someone like Mr. M. Sobrang bait po niya talaga. Pag nakilala niyo siya, sobrang funny. Siya po ang laging nagpapangaral sa akin at sinusunod ko naman po mga advice niya sa akin. Dapat daw, I should always give my best kasi baka daw yun na ang last. Mr. M, maraming salamat po sa inyo. Kung wala po kayo, hindi po ako magiging ganito ngayon.
SAM MILBY: Actually, I was a little scared when I first saw him. He’s very strong looking but then after I talked to him, he is a very nice guy. He’s pretty much like a father to me and to everyone in Star Magic. He really takes care of us. I’m privileged to be part of Star Magic. One thing he always remind me is to learn Tagalog.
KUH LEDESMA: Almost all years in showbiz, bilib ako sa pinsan kong yan kasi napaka-talented. Very quiet, which is a very attractive trait in a man. I’m sure he has a lot of concerns para mas mapaganda lalo ang shows niya. Nakita ko hindi na sya masyadong nakakapahinga. Mr. M has eye for talent so alam niya how to build a talent.
ZSA ZSA PADILLA: I was relatively new, being managed by Ronnie Henares when he directed my concert. We did numbers in the ’80s that was really spectacular. I can say he kind of discovered me because he was the one who convinced me to guest in Bad Bananas which he directed then. That marked my anniversary in showbiz as a solo artist because prior to that, I was part of the band Hotdog. That was in 1983, it’s been 24 years already! Mr. M is tall, good-looking, has a good foresight and a good eye for talent. He’s a man of few words. I really can’t forget that he sent me a letter when I had a major surgery. He sent so many consoling words. It was really sweet and very touching. I just hope that he will continue the job he’s doing. He is such a blessing. I really hope that he continues to bless all the other kids who are under Star Magic, that he would continue to show and lead them to the right path in show business. I believe in him!
JOHN PRATS: I’ve known Mr. M for 14 years, since Star Magic started. He directed Ang TV and he’s like a father to all of us. Serious siya and nakakatakot pero eventually sobrang palabiro. Nilalabas talaga ni Mr. M kung ano ang kaya mong gawin. He pushed me talaga. Ipagyayabang ko na ang pagiging Star Magic artist ay yung pagiging professional. Si Mr. M kapag 7 a.m. ang call time, 6 a.m. nasa studio na. Nakakahiya ma-late kasi siya yung director tapos nauna pa sa artista. Masarap at magaan katrabaho si Mr. M. Sabi nga ni Mr. M, sa showbiz hindi pasikatan, more on patagalan. Sikat nga ngayon baka pwedeng bukas wala ka na. As long as you have talent at marunong makisama sa tao ’yun ang important.
VHONG NAVARRO: Nakilala ko si Mr. M noong nag-umpisa pa lang ako. Kahit hindi ako Talent Center, alam ko paborito ako ni Mr. M. Every time na meron akong prod number gusto niya grand entrance ako. Yun ang hindi ko malilimutan kay Mr. M. Mabait na tao. Lahat gusto niyang tulungan. Siya ang second father ko sa industriya. Natakot ako sa kanya noong una saka alam mong strict kasi bihira ngumiti. First time na binigyan niya ako ng advice noong napanood niya ako sa Jologs. Sabi niya sa akin, magaling ako at ipagpatuloy ko lang magandang gingawa ko. Isang malaking support yun na binigay sa akin ni Mr. M.