Many have touted Eat Bulaga “Kalyeserye’s” AlDub–the tandem of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza a.k.a. Yaya Dub–to be the most ingenious pairing of a “love team” on Philippine television today.
It is evident, however, that the show and its phenomenal love team have unwittingly turned a great number of Filipino audiences into extreme fanatics, retaliating against anyone who, whether consciously or unconsciously, speak ill of their idols.
This is especially true over social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which all serve as the most open and uncensored venues of their idolatry.
While cyber-bullying of seemingly non-AlDub supporters has been going on for some time now, a prominent celebrity–stylist Liz Uy–has been forced to take legal action against online bashers.
On Tuesday afternoon, Uy, known as the stylist to the stars, filed six counts of libel and one count of grave oral defamation (slander) against Michael Sy Lim, who is said to be behind the web log, FashionPulis.com.
In August, Lim was arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Women and Children Protection Unit over a libel complaint filed against him by model Deniece Cornejo. He was released after posting a P16,000-bail.
In her complaint, Uy said Lim’s alleged false and malicious Internet postings could destroy her reputation in the industry.
“Instascoop: Liz Uy Makes Maine Mendoza Wear Same Jacket She Wore Weeks Ago in Preview Photoshoot,” posted on Fashion Pulis on October 27 with a photo that shows actress Kim Chiu and one of Mendoza wearing the same Francis Libiran pink gown at different affairs.
Lim reposted his comments on his Twitter account @FashionPulis and even tagged Uy’s account, (@lizzzuy.
The online posts immediately angered loyal–and seemingly overreacting–fans of Yaya Dub, with such anonymous comments as:
“OMG, I just realized na ka-barkada pala ni Anne bunganga yang Liz arUy na yan! #SabotagePaMore LOL LOL”
“Ok lang naman dahil bumabagay naman ke Maine kaso YAYA ba talaga tingin ni Liz Uy ke Yayadub at parang hand me downs ang pinapasuot???!!!!!”
“Lol di daw nag rerecycle. Haha basurera si liz uy! Haha reuse recycle reduce ang peg. Pinang aura niya lang sa insta pinasuot sa client sa isang shoot??? Who does that??? very third world stylist itong babaeng ito. . .”
The slander complaint, meanwhile, stemmed from Lim’s tirades in an event at The Peninsula Manila on October 28. He allegedly told some guests that Uy made Mendoza wear a Gucci jacket that the stylist had previously worn. His statements were allegedly overheard by actress Isabelle Daza who also appeared before the prosecutor’s office as the stylist’s witness.
Mendoza wore the jacket for Preview magazine’s November 2015 cover.
In a 24-page complaint filed before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, Uy clarified that the pink gown of Mendoza during the “Sa Tamang Panahon” concert of “Eat Bulaga!” was not a recycled gown.
She argued that it was indeed created by Libiran but has not been worn at any other event by another celebrity, except for Chiu who modeled it during the “Metrowear Icon Francis Libiran” fashion show in 2013.
Libiran, in an earlier statement, said: “…Mendoza’s gown at Eat Bulaga’s Tamang Panahon concert for a cause was bought and paid for by Eat Bulaga Production [Television and Production Exponents Inc.—Editor] … Chiu was generous enough to model this gown for the said fashion show.”
On the issue of the Gucci jacket, Uy said she was not engaged as the fashion stylist of Mendoza for the photo shoot last September, and she was never involved in any way with that shoot.
“Mr. Lim must be held accountable because he caused Miss Uy grave humiliation and extreme distress. He maligned Miss Uy, impeached her integrity and subjected her to public ridicule and dishonor. Consequently, Miss Uy suffered mental anguish, sleepless nights, anxiety and wounded feelings,” said the stylist’s lawyer, Lorna Kapunan.
“For all these, Miss Uy cannot let Mr. Lim get away with his illegal actions especially in light of the fact that many people in the fashion industry and show business were apparently bullied by Mr. Lim. It is imperative to stand up and fight against irresponsible and unfair cyber-bullying,” the lawyer added.
When asked by The Manila Times if she believes she is now a victim of cyber-bullying, Uy bravely replied, “Yes, of course.”
She said she continues to receive hate mail and messages from netizens, whom she does not necessarily identify as AlDub fans.
Reputation to protect
But what Uy’s bashers will never know is that the stylist earned her place in the fashion industry instantaneously, just as Mendoza did on TV.
Before she became the trusted stylist and fashion influencer that she is today, she was first an editorial assistant for a magazine. During her early days, Uy said she “did all the work,” waiting at malls to get pullouts from fashion brands, and was in charge of steaming the clothes and return them herself afterward.
But slowly and surely, she made a mark in the fashion world, not only through her style, but most important through her diligence.
She had dated actor John Lloyd Cruz and President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Kapunan said, “Your freedom of expression, whether in hard copy or cyberspace, ends when you start hurting others’ reputation. Liz here is like any other human being. She may be a famous fashion icon but what is valuable is her reputation.”
Daza and magazine editor Isha Andaya-Valles were also present at Uy’s filing, and were also sworn in as witnesses for a separate slander complaint versus Lim.
Both categorically stated that they overheard the blogger say the Gucci jacket Mendoza wore for the magazine shoot was previously worn by Uy herself.
Kapunan said Uy’s suit against Lim will “test” the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 in the country, specifically the provision on libel.
What’s more interesting, she noted, is the fact the online libel is one degree higher than libel over traditional print, radio and TV media.
Kapunan said, “If found guilty, and we are confident that we are fighting for her rights, this entails imprisonment of six years to 12 years. And we also have filed for civil damages in the amount of P11 million [against Lim].”
According to lawyer Irene Besido-Garcia, a partner at Kapunan Garcia & Castillo Law Offices, Uy visited their office two weeks ago, shortly after the “recycled gown” issue exploded. She told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview that Uy was clearly affected by the online bashing she suffered, confiding in her that she could neither eat nor sleep.
“Before all this, Liz was also a top social media influencer, who had many existing contracts with many top brands,” Garcia said. “Of course, the bashing affects even this part of her career.
“You see, online libel is already considered by law a step above the traditional understanding of libel, because it is not limited by say a publication’s circulation. The whole world can see it, and more so, can react to a single post. That’s why this is considered more serious.”
‘Fashion Pulis’ reacts
While The Manila Times could not reach Lim for his comments as of press time, the blogger posted the following statement on his website: “It is sad that a public figure such as Liz Uy decides to file a case against me. Her feelings of being wronged by my post was based on a common truthful observation about her body of work relative to Maine Mendoza of AlDub, which many other people other than me also pointed out.”
He said bloggers like him, as well as journalists, “should not be cowered” by the filing of such cases that aim to suppress the freedom to express and of the press.
“I will fight this case with courage because I have no malicious intent,” Lim added.
A professor of marketing at a known university, Lim had also been previously detained by the PNP’s Women and Children Protection Unit over another libel case filed by Cornejo, who was involved in Vhong Navarro’s illegal detention in 2014.
Meanwhile, The Manila Times also contacted a highly placed personality at TAPE Inc., which produces Eat Bulaga and manages Mendoza, to ask about the celebrity’s take on the issue, and if they feel they need to calm down AlDub fans in targeting “non-supporters.” In a text message, the personality replied, “No comment.”
This paper has received information that Uy’s friends will soon be launching a #StopTheHate campaign to prevent the online bashing of the stylist from getting worse.