MANILA, MAY 17, 2011 (STAR)
FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo - (Photo - Immigration lawyer/STAR columnist Michael Gurfinkel with Charice and her mom Raquel and brother Carl: Whatever happened to utang na loob?)

Parting is such sweet sorrow?

Not always, not all the time.

Parting can be painfully sorrowful especially if it happens between family members.

Case in point: Charice and immigration lawyer/STAR columnist Michael Gurfinkel and his wife Millie. The couple considers Charice family.

Since I’d been hearing about it for a few weeks now, I felt more sad than shocked when I read Jojo Gabinete’s Abante column The Source last week, headlined Charice ‘tinalikuran’ ang abogadong tumulong sa kanya noon!

What happened? A little sleuthing and I discovered that Charice has been told by her new foreigner “advisers” that since she’s 18 (actually, she turned 19 this month), she should be “on her own” just like American post-teens are expected to be and in the process she’s “alienated” from people who have helped her to be where she is now, including the Gurfinkel couple who has been treating her as their own daughter.

I know for a fact that Charice owes Michael and Millie a lot. It was Michael and Millie who facilitated the last-minute issuance of Charice and her mom Raquel’s visa in December 2007 when Charice had to fly posthaste to the US for her guesting on Ellen DeGeneres’ show after she was discovered on the YouTube. It was Michael and Millie who said no to billeting Charice and Raquel in a hotel and welcomed them to the Gurfinkels’ home in Beverly Hills. It was Michael and Millie who worked for the issuance of Charice and Raquel’s passport and US visas after they lost their documents at a restaurant in Laguna, that’s why they made it in time for another guesting in a US TV show, this time that of Oprah Winfrey’s. In short, it was Michael and Millie who paved the way for Charice to the international stage.

And now, this. Whatever happened to utang na loob? (Trivia: It was Ellen DeGeneres who discovered her but does Charice ever mention Ellen every time she thanks those who have helped her? No!)

Even the local press has felt this sudden change in Charice when she came home early this year to guest in a show put up by Joel Cruz. Cordoned off by her American bodyguards, Charice refused to be interviewed by the local press. During the presscon for the David Foster show last year, Charice’s foreign “handlers” tried but failed to bar the local press from getting near her and asking more questions; the foreign “handlers” acted as if the local press would eat Charice alive.

Okay, so Charice may not have any choice but to follow (or be gobbled up by?) the American system (which is “alienating” even her mom Raquel who is reportedly quietly sulking). But shouldn’t she remind her new “advisers” about the long Filipino tradition of pakikisama and utang na loob (debt of gratitude) so they may incorporate them into their American-style of managing a talent?

It pays to remember the Filipino saying, Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan. Unless, of course, Charice feels that she has already reached her ultimate goal. But then, sayang because she still has a long way to go.

* * *

In an exclusive interview with Funfare, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao said that he’s not planning to fight in a higher division but he would love to have four more children to add to the four that he and wife Jinkee already have. During the interview, Manny Pacquiao entertains a caller while his wife Jinkee reads a copy of The STAR’s Entertainment section with the headline: Jinkee: No sex before a fight. Left: The names of the couple’s four children tattooed on Manny’s left arm.

Tattooed in chronological order on the upper part of his killer left arm are Jinkee’s name and those of the four kids: Jimuel, Michael, Princess and Queen.

I told Manny that there’s enough space for four more and he smiled, “Paano mo nahulaan na apat pa ang gusto kong anak?” Jinkee also only smiled.

When I reminded Manny what Jinkee said in an exclusive Funfare interview at their home in L.A. that they abstain from three weeks to one month before a fight, Manny said, “Only 15 days.” Jinkee frowned. They looked at each other and started laughing.

Told that half-Filipino Bruno Mars said in another exclusive interview with Funfare that he would love to do a duet with Manny and produce an album for him, saying that “Pacquiao could be the greatest Filipino singer,” Manny couldn’t believe it. “Tingnan natin,” mumbled Manny whose other Hollywood fans include Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington.

Because he’s down-to-earth and good not only to his fans/followers but also, more so, to his family (even to his father who has been estranged from his Mommy Dionisia whom Manny loves so much), Manny benefits from good karma.

Maybe that’s one among many other things that other boxers can learn from Manny – humility and respect for family.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved