The following letter was handed to Erik Santos personally by Rowena Salido, Backroom’s new president, after he was told that Backroom was releasing him as an artist.
Thank you for being part of Backroom for six years and seven months. Now that Backroom is moving towards a new direction and we are letting you go with best wishes, all of us will treasure the good things and learning we have gone through together.
I’m taking a break from my management chores because Nanay needs me — being the most important reason among many others.
But as I say thank you, I hope you find it in your heart as well to be grateful not to me but to the people (in the office) who were with you from the beginning. These are the people who gambled with you in the process, people who believed in the infinite possibilities, people who had so much faith in your talent.
It’s a small thing that I’m asking you. Please say thank you to them. They are not perfect. But they truly have done so much for you, for me and for all of us. Let’s not forget easily.
You are who you are because of your hardwork and talent, God’s guidance, the hardwork of many people, the support of the public, the press, and many others.
Your story (as the Prince of Pop) does not start today.
It started six years, seven months ago, long before your houses and BMW, long before your famous and beautiful friends, long before the designer clothes and shoes.
For you to get to where you want, it is important that you don’t forget. Remain humble and simple. We are all on borrowed time and everything is fleeting.
Be grateful. Thank you.
I will see you soon.
FROM BOY ABUNDA HIMSELF:
I wanted a peaceful ending after all Erik was not only my talent, he was a friend. And I don‘t fight with my artists. I don’t quarrel with my friends. It is not my style and it is not in my nature. I have been in the celebrity business long enough to know that everything is fleeting, that fame is ephemeral, that memories are short and fickle, that gratitude should either be mandated by law or integrated into the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the DSWD.
But not always, I would constantly remind myself. There are those who love without conditions, there are those who are grateful even if they have given more than they have received. Some of the best people I’ve known are friends in the entertainment industry.
After the meeting with the new Backroom management, Erik sought me out. We talked over the phone. I was disappointed and mildly angry but not seething. I told him that I didn’t want to go into details so that wounds wouldn’t be so bad, healing would be easier. I delivered the message that he said some bad things about me and the office. “Patawarin nyo po ako kung ano man po ang aking nasabi o nagawa,” he meekly pleaded. I accepted his apologies. I thought it was the beginning of the Peace Process in Iraq.
However, immediately after my conversation with him he started to blabber, “Ano ba nag nagawa ko? Wala naman akong ginawang masama. Wala akong kasalanan. Bakit ako lang ang pinaalis nila?” Ironically, he was venting his feelings and ruminations to a common friend with whom he would share his complaints against me and the Backroom staff. I thought it didn’t make sense but he was perhaps coping with rejection, a pernicious blade to the ego of any royalty, more so to the Prince of Pop. It was beyond his ego that he was fired politely and claiming that there was no apparent reason for his expulsion was protecting his newly acquired designer “ego.”
But it was a chit-chat between friends and I understood. I do it. Others do it. Then the flowers and notes came from the Prince of Pop for his subjects in the office and his former chief servant, who was me. Classy act, I murmured. But then again I was told that he was whining, “Wala man lang nag-text nag-thank you, bakit? Nakapatay ba ako ng tao?” So the Prince of Pop was kvetching again because his subjects were ingrates and were sordidly déclassé for not responding properly to their master.
And then there was a press conference for Erik’s album. Trouble started to brew again in paradiso. According to one article, “Boy Abunda is sulking because of Erik’s departure from Backroom.” One said, “Boy is hurting because Erik left Backroom.”
It was time to go to (a just) war in red stilettos. It was time to tell the true story, and it’s a short, simple story. Erik Santos was badmouthing me and Backroom. “Mag-isa lang akong nag-iisip. Wala naman nagpaplano para sa akin.” So everyone was a useless nincompoop watching him steer his career towards the Pacific Ocean. Backroom as a talent management office may not be the best. It has many failings and shortcomings. There was an incident on the Sunday show ASAP where he was being taken out of his production number. Of course, he raised hell. It was no way to treat anyone, more so the Prince of Pop.
Unfortunately, there was no Backroom staff with him. “Mag-isa lang ako. Para akong tanga,” he ranted. This was a valid complaint I told Rowena Salido. “Kung hindi ko pa tinawagan si Tito Boy, he wouldn’t have called Joyce Liquicia (business unit head for ASAP).” This one was a lie. I called Joyce after the incident was reported to me by Rowena, then I called Erik to let him know that I already spoke to Joyce.
And then there were things he didn’t like in the office. For out-of-town gigs, he didn’t like Andy because he snores, Bettina overpowers, Liza doesn’t mind him. He only likes Leo because he unpacks his luggage like a dutiful geisha. Having confirmed that he had been talking behind my back and against the office, we decided to politely release him.
I took a break from Backroom because I want to take care of my Nanay. Backroom is now being run by the very people who helped me build it through the years — before and after Erik is long gone. That office is small and simple. It operates on no-frills policies. It takes care of its employees. It’s far from being a wealthy talent management house, but it is sturdy because it’s built on a solid foundation of love, humility and integrity.
I used to tell Erik that, “what sets you apart is that you’re a good person.”
Even in pain, I still believe he is a good guy who works hard for his family. He is devoted to his mother.
This is perhaps just a phase when we need to be shaken to be reminded that we all go back to dust in the end.
After I’ve said what needs to be said, I forgive Erik. I also know in my heart that one day he will realize his little mistakes and learn from them. I also wish that he finds it in his heart to forgive our little sins borne and burnt out of too much zeal and love for the people we work for.
It’s a thankless job I know but sometimes it is worth it despite the noise and posturings when someone whispers “thank you.”
I may have been hurt but I’m not broken. I pray to God that Erik, the Backroom management and staff, and I will come out better people after “bleak razzmatazz.”