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What Would You Do For Someone ‘As A Friend’? Netizens, Including SC Justice Leonen, React To Paolo Contis’ Admission Of Guilt

What Would You Do For Someone ‘As A Friend’? Netizens, Including SC Justice Leonen, React To Paolo Contis’ Admission Of Guilt
No, they’re not in Baguio City. In this photo courtesy of Netflix, Yen Santos and Paolo Contis are wearing clothes for the cold weather because they are in Greenland's Faroe Islands for the movie ‘A Faraway Land.’

In 2019, one of the biggest controversies that hit the entertainment industry was the breakup of actress Bea Alonzo and actor Gerald Anderson.

Alonzo accused Anderson of “ghosting” her – meaning her former boyfriend just stopped talking to her as he obviously fell for someone else. The supposed culprit at the time? Fellow Star Magic artist Julia Barretto.

Now,  it was actress LJ Reyes’ turn to publicly talk about her “painful” and “difficult” separation from her partner, Paolo Contis. They were together for six years and have a daughter named Summer. The partners also lived with Reyes’ son with ex-boyfriend Paulo Avelino, also an actor.

In a tearful interview with host Boy Abunda on Sept. 1, Reyes clarified that their breakup was not mutual and that it was Paolo who changed and didn’t want to patch things up anymore.

On Sept. 8, Contis admitted on social media that he was guilty of infidelity, but that actress Yen Santos, his co-star in the Netflix movie “A Faraway Land” wasn’t the third party.

From “ghosting” in 2019, what sent netizens into a frenzy this time was Contis’ statement that Santos was not the reason why he and Reyes broke up. “I was,” he said, explaining that he and Reyes had not been OK mainly because of him.

He admitted being unfaithful but not with Santos, who he said was pilloried especially after their photos together in Manaoag, Pangasinan and Baguio City went viral. He said he never expected that Santos would get dragged into the controversy and apologized for it.

When Reyes left for the United States in August, Contis said he went to Baguio for three days to reflect. “Naging insensitive ako about the possible effects nung issue and I invited Yen for a day para may makausap since malapit lang siya sa North din. She went there as a friend. Hindi ko naisip na madadamay siya ng ganito. I’m sorry for this,” Contis said.

Baguio and being there with someone “as a friend” immediately became trending topics on social media after Contis’ statement.

Netizens apparently took Contis' explanation with a grain of salt.

Is it the truth?

Just like the issue involving Anderson, Alonzo and Barretto, social media users said they didn’t want to be lied upon.

Earlier, Contis’ talent manager, Lolit Solis, confirmed the breakup but said it was mutual and that the couple just outgrew each other. Later on, host Cristy Fermin confirmed that Contis and Santos were indeed together in Manaoag and Baguio, but Santos could not have possibly caused the split between Contis and Reyes because the couple had been separated before Contis was paired with and became friends with Santos.

The jokes that followed – among them Baguio becoming a refuge for the brokenhearted – were obviously meant to elicit the truth from popular public figures.

As soon as Contis broke his silence, his post went viral, hitting 158,000 likes and 35,000 shares on Facebook alone as of this writing.

Social media figure and podcast host M.A. Buendia posted that he hopes “a friend” will invite him someday to the tourist site.

On Sept. 9, Lawyer Gideon Peña made a joke on Twitter about people not bringing someone to Baguio as COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, and falling in love with one’s best friend by quoting a line from actress, singe and host Jolina Magdangal’s movie “Labs Kita. Okey ka lang?”

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen also hopped on the trend, declaring how proud he was that his hometown has earned its reputation to be the “friendship lang capital of the world,” and that he sometimes goes home but doesn’t bring anyone even as friend.

It can be recalled that Leonen’s tweet to Alonzo and Barretto also went viral in 2019 when he asked: “Is he worth it?”

Not only netizens, but brands and even the local government of Baguio took the opportunity to use the now-viral “as a friend” meme for promotion. “Tara! Holding hands tayo sa Burnham Park...as a friend! ”

Why her?

Solis herself wondered why her talent would seek comfort in another woman in times of trouble.

Maganda ‘yung composition ng paliwanag ni Paolo Contis. Bagbag damdamin mo. Isa lang ang hindi ko naintindihan, ‘yung kailangan niya ng kausap dahil nga sa mga nangyayari sa kanya ngayon, bakit si Yen Santos ang tinawagan niya? Wala ba siyang kaibigang lalaki?

(Paolo Contis’ explanation composition was well-written. You’ll be emotional. But one thing that I don’t understand is why would he go call Yen Santos for comfort? Doesn’t he have any guy friends?)” Solis said in her column for Pilipino Star Ngayon published Friday, Sept. 10.

Hindi ba kadalasan, ang gusto mong ka-jamming ay kapwa mo lalaki dahil ito ang higit na mas makakaunawa sa iyo dahil pareho kayo ng gender? (When you’re in a situation like this, isn’t it the usual approach is to go to a fellow male because he’ll understand better whatever it is that  you’re going through because you have the same gender?)” she asked.

Doon lang talaga tumaas ang kilay ko (That’s where my eyebrows raised), why Yen Santos, mother figure? BFF (best friend forever)? Why her?” Solis further questioned.

Time’s the “ultimate” teller, netizens quoted Alonzo as saying in the past.