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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

Filipino star Aga Muhlach at centre of political storm ahead of 'First Love' UAE release

Actor tore into Duterte opponent Trillanes during TV chat show

Aga Muhlach in 'First Love'
Aga Muhlach in 'First Love'

Filipino actor and singer Aga Muhlach, whose new film First Love releases in the UAE this weekend, is at the centre of controversy in his homeland after criticising leading opposition politician Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during an episode of the late night talk show Gandang Gabi Vice.

Muhlach was on the show to promote the film alongside his leading lady Bea Alonzo when the pair were asked to take part in a segment called Tanong Mo Mukha Mo (Ask the Face), where guests are shown a picture of a well-known figure and required to ask them a question. On seeing Trillanes’ face, Muhlach responded: “It’s so exhausting. Why? What do you want to happen?”

Alonzo also chipped in, asking: “That’s my question, ‘Aren’t you exhausted?'”

Muhlach then went back to addressing Trillanes and said: “Just help [Duterte]. No, it’s exhausting sometimes. All presidents have been criticised. This president is doing his job. A lot of people are unhappy but my point is whoever is also in power should also help [him].”

The actor concluded his rant with a quote from Vanilla Ice: “Stop. Collaborate and listen.”

The audience at the show, which is hosted by pro-Duterte comedian Vice Ganda, cheered Muhlach’s outburst, however broadcaster ABS-CBN reportedly cut the segment from the version they broadcast on TV and have removed it from their website. The footage has since surfaced on social media, however, causing predictable polarisation between supporters and opponents of the Philippines’ controversial president.

 Aga Muhlach (left) and John Lloyd Cruz in the 2005 movie Dubai (Star Cinema / ABS-CBN) 
Aga Muhlach (left) and John Lloyd Cruz in the 2005 movie Dubai (Star Cinema / ABS-CBN)

Muhlach and Alonzo have both come under fire from the president’s opponents, although the worst ire has been reserved for the more vocal Muhlach. Tweeter Abi Aquino was among those who said she would be boycotting the film as a result of Muhlach’s comments.

Fellow netizen @meteorcrissy was in agreement

Markus Villa was more scathing, noting that a “decent” person would not collaborate with state-sponsored exterminations, referring to Duterte’s controversial and bloody war on drugs.

At the other end of the spectrum, Jhem Pua was full of love for Muhlach, and also critical of ABS-CBN’s decision to delete the footage,

Facebook user James Argon went one step further, suggesting Muhlach should run for office himself: “Aga should run for senator because he understands what the president is doing”, he posted.

Fellow Facebooker Marty Barajas wrote: “Guys, let’s support Aga’s movie. Let’s not let the dictator Trillanes [to have his way]. Let’s bring the entire family to watch his movie. Let’s not allow the Yellows [the opposition] to bully him just because he gave his opinion”.

Trillanes IV is currently out on bail after Duterte voided a pardon for his role in a number of political uprisings, granted him by previous president Benigno Aquino III in 2010.

First Love is in cinemas across the UAE this weekend, here is the trailer:

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