BIGLANG naging napaka-kontrobersiyal ang dati ay halos ‘di-kilalang singer na si CJ Villavicencio (lalaki) dahil sa pagwawagi n’ya bilang grand champion sa online singing contest na Pop Stage na ang host ay si Matteo Guidicelli na isa rin sa naging judge ng grand finals.
Biglang kontrobersiyal na kontrobersiyal si CJ dahil pinagbibintangan siya na malaking bahagi umano ng medley na kinanta n’ya noong grand finals na ipinalabas ng August 2 ay kinopya lang sa mga performance sa musical na Ang Huling El Bimbo (AHEB) na ipinalabas nang buo online noong Marso ng taong ito. Milyon-milyon ang rumehistrong nanood nito sa Facebook, You Tube, at iba pang websites. Maraming ulit na rin itong naipalabas sa Newport Theater of the Performing Arts sa Resorts World Manila noong 2019.
Ayon sa pangunahing miyembro ng artistic staff ng AHEB, ang pinakamalaking bahagi ng performance ni CJ ay kinopya sa Pare Ko ng AHEB.
Kabilang sa mga nag-aakusa kay CJ ay sina Myke Salomon, AHEB musical director; Dexter Martinez Santos, stage director; Stephen Viñas, choreographer.
Ang AHEB ay batay sa mga hit song ng bandang Eraserheads noong Dekada ‘90 na pinamunuan ng vocalist-guitarist-composer na si Ely Buendia. At isa si Ely sa sumuporta sa mga nagbintang ng plagiarism kay CJ.
Nagwagi si CJ ng P1-M at isang taong kontrata sa Viva Artists Agency. Ang online reality contest ay ipinrodyus ng food company na Popeyes.
Bukod kay Matteo, judge rin noong grand finals ang singers na sina Lani Misalucha at Jade Mandela, pati na ang choreographer-dancer na si Ritz Beltran. Habang isinusulat ang kolum na ito, si Lani pa lang ang judge na nagpahayag sa kanyang Twitter na “… Yes, the team is doing something about it,” kaugnay ng akusasyon kay CJ.
Ang criteria ng contest ay creativity/originality, performance quality and entertainment value.
Walang pahayag ang Popeyes na binabawi ang grand prize kay CJ. Si CJ naman, sa pamamagitan ng Viva Artists Agency, ay nagpalabas na ng pahayag na nagsasabing wala siyang intention na i-plagiarize ang mga likha nino man sa ginawa n’yang performance.
Hindi siya nag-aalok na bawiin sa kanya ang karangalan.
Heto ang ilang bahagi ng mahabang paliwanag ni CJ na ipinadala sa media at nai-post sa ilang websites: “Over the weekend, my life has changed in an instant. I did not expect my victory to trigger so much negative comments and hate online. I was hurt and it also aches my heart to unintentionally hurt some people as well, especially the production team of Ang Huling El Bimbo The Musical.
“My final performance during the finals of The Pop Stage is an Eraserheads medley and was meant to be a tribute to my favorite artists and musical while also incorporating my own story and experiences…
“There was no intention whatsoever on my part to plagiarize. I am sorry if I caused undue distress, seemed disrespectful or if I have hurt the theater community. Honestly, the things that I’ve read slightly affected my mental health.
“…I am not a bad person. My intentions were far different from what people think…In this time of uncertainty, may we all have the heart to spread love among humanity. 🏼”
Si Salomon ang unang nag-akusa ng pangongopya kay CJ bagama’t ‘di n’ya binanggit ang pangalan nito. Heto ang ilang bahagi ng pahayag ni Myke: “A guy copied/ripped-off our musical arrangements for #AngHulingElbimboMusical (musical treatment, concept) without permission won in that pop stage contest for his final round. He won 1million and an artist contract. I feel bad for the other contestants… And para sa mga productions and judges. You are judging concept and originality.. You tolerate ripping off.”
Heto naman ang ilang pangungusap mula sa pahayag ni Ely: “AHEB’S ROTC Pare Ko was by far, among all the brilliant arrangements and choreography in the show, the most striking and original renditions I had witnessed and enjoyed during its original run, and easily became my favorite.
“It took something old and was INSPIRED to make it NEW and FRESH. Therein lies the difference. Which is why it is disheartening that there is still a culture out there, not just in entertainment, that somehow makes it okay to take credit, and be rewarded, for someone else’s work.
“I am disappointed for all the AHEB crew because I know for a fact that they poured all their hearts and souls into creating something that was true to the material and their craft.
“I hope this matter is resolved soon and credit is given to those who deserve it.”
Noong August 3, ang AHEB associate choreographer and dance captain Stephen Vinas ay nag-post ng video ng performance ni CJ’s alongside the audio from the musical, showing how the musical arrangements are nearly identical.
At the same time, musical arranger and theater actor Jef Flores, a friend to many of the cast members of Ang Huling El Bimbo, also posted a video breaking down CJ’s performance. In the video, Jef pointed out the similarities between CJ’s video and the musical version – including near-identical guitar riffs, key changes, and backing vocals.
Jef also included screenshots of a since-deleted Facebook post, where CJ shared his performance and thanked Ang Huling El Bimbo “for the inspiration.” The original post did not mention Ang Huling El Bimbo, according to its edit history.
Ayon naman sa theater actor-director na si Topper Fabregas, “Cj Villavicencio just offered a half-baked apology for blatantly ripping off the work of Ang Huling El Bimbo. Please don’t say “inspired”. He photocopied the show and Myke Salomon’s musical arrangements.
Dagdag pa ni Topper: “What’s more infuriating is that we haven’t heard a thing from the show, the show’s producers or even the host and judges (some of whom even caught AHEB during its theatrical run, do the math).
“This is such a clear representation of how they value the work of theater artists. Absolute silence.
“The AHEB team put in hours and hours and hours and hours and hours to get that show to where it is now. What you saw on that stage (or on YouTube where it streamed to millions of viewers) was a culmination of everyone’s blood, sweat and tears.
“Cj doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist. The show awarded him a million bucks and a recording contract instead.”
ni Danny Vibas