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The lure of mass media studies in the Philippines or the beckon of Big Ben in London: A challenge for Peps Villanueva

Fourth of a series

After more than a year stint in London overseeing their family’s business tie-up with a British-Hindu and falling in love with his now Mrs. (Dalloway) Villanueva, Jose went back to the Philippines in time to pursue and to finish his Economics education, still at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas. Jose was always good at taking the best shots in his sunny world. Although he left behind his wife, it was a loving agreement of the couple.

Jose was now unheeded of the ticking of Big Ben and would listen instead to the clinking of the campus bells in España and Dapitan in Manila.

Artlets, in his return, received him with open arms. His classmates and comrades in the socio-political rethinking were happy he was around again in the game of econo-cultural dog-eat-dog landscape which was an echo in the hallways of academe.

Jose left a void in his Eco class cards and naturally re-enrolled in the same course. Yes, student leader Joey Lina was still with him and with them as he also deferred his past academic year.

Pero hindi ako pumapasok sa Eco kundi sa Mass Communication classes (I wasn’t attending Eco classes but Mass Com instead),” Jose, now also or better known as Peps, revealed.      

Some Com Arts professors that included Ms. Nanette Diyco, were even confused he was in their mass media classes. “Mas gusto ko kasi sa Mass Com (I preferred Mass Com),” he admitted. But they wouldn’t at all as long as he wouldn’t do anything inimical in the college. Mass Com was such a glamorous subject and most students would be impressed by the “kasosyalan” of the class population.

The promdi Artlets knew it well. Some of the Mass Com majors were Langley Yatco, a campus figure who was a consistent winner in debate and elocution contests; Maritess Fernandez and Angie Bajarias, both beauty queen materials; Joselito Tolentino, now known in the advertising and promotion (adprom) world as Toots Tolentino, the iconic forerunner of campus gay liberation; Dan Villa, son of the later newspaperman Rod Villa; Dennis Chua, a campus crush, according to entertainment writer Danilo T. Vibas, also known as Danny T. Vibas who was in Journalism class at the time and who would graduate cum laude in his batch etc.

The promdi Artlets thought Sandra Castro, now married to a Puno, was in Langley’s class but he later learned that she was a junior batch with such school and off-school luminaries in journalism Rina Jimenez-David, Pennie Azarcon, Jess Obra, Ed Santiago, the late Ike Tupaz, etc. He must have included The Varsitarian sportswriter Jones Campus in the list but the latter was neither here nor there as he was everywhere with Danny and even Jose.

Yes, the Hippie culture was still catching up with the guys.       

Jose was sporting long hair. “Pare-pareho kami nina Langley no’n, mahahabang buhok (Langley and rest of us were long-haired),” Peps described.

Many, if not all, gigs of the Senior Mass Com majors Villanueva involved himself in including their fielding of an entry to the Drama Fest (festival) of Artlets in 1975. In the promdi interview with him he discovered that Peps was one of the members of the Mass Com creative team that presented a stage play in a competition against/with Lit major’s “Ang Puting Timamanukin,” a surrealist, expressionist, philosophically absurd drama written by Paul Dumol in collaboration with Gil Quito. The promdi was one of the members of the cast and a technical crew of the production with fellow Lit majors Elena Go, Belen Allen, Susan Bonifacio, Junette Soriano, Nenita Alacar, Marilyn Adolfo, Juliet Bautista, Josephine Blanco etc.

In the jury’s decision, it won top prize in the fest.

Lit majors however scarce were a low-profile segment of Artlets.

Life, seemed to be, or indeed, a stage, as perceived by the promdi student or purportedly for Jose, with human persons of the quotidian playing various roles mimicking real and reel existence.

Come graduation time. Jose, admittedly, naturally missed his baccalaureate exercises and so with the promdi student. “Hindi ako pumapasok sa Eco, e, do’n ako naka-enroll kaya hindi ako naka-graduate (I didn’t go to my Eco classes which I got enrolled in so I didn’t graduate),” exclaimed Peps.

Meanwhile, the promdi student had to finally complete his academic requirements to be eligible for the October 1975 march because of some deficiencies in general education curriculum units. While on some summer classes, he was writing literary pieces like poetry and short stories both in English and the vernacular in newspapers and magazines.

What Peps learned in his Mass Com sit-ins, on the other hand, were his weapons in the job hunt mostly in advertising firms after his non-degree completion with his unofficial classmates.

Pinag-apply kami ni Langley no’n sa AMA Communications. Kasi, empleyado na siya no’n do’n. Sama-sama kami nina Dan Villa. Tapos, sa isang kuwarto, pinasulat kami ng sample ng puwede naming gawin. Sinabi ng nagpapa-exam na puwede naming dalhin sa bahay ang isusulat namin (Langley asked us to apply in AMA Communications where he was already an employee. Dan Villa was also there. In one room, we were asked to write our sample work (a copy) that we could do. The one who conducted the exams said that we could bring home the item with us).

’Yong ibang aplikante, gano’n ang ginawa. Ako, nagpaiwan ako. Kasama ko pa rin no’n si Langley. Sabi ng staff na puwede naman. Nang matapos ako, ipinakita ang sinulat ko sa presidente ng kumpanya, si Antonio de Joya, Jr. (The other applicants did just that. I said I should stay. Langley was still with me. The staff said I could write it right there. When I was done, it was presented to the president of the company, Antonio de Joya, Jr.), Peps recalled referring to de Joya, considered the Dean of Philippine Advertising.

When the staff returned the sheet of paper was written with a congratulatory note saying, “This is it.”

Jose was hired by AMA right on the spot.

It was a series of big-time, significant and game-changing ad campaigns done by Peps one after the other initially with AMA and consequently with other advertising companies as well like Asia Communication Center, Ace-Compton, and J. Walter Thompson.

As they say the rest is history.

Peps stayed in his homeland in the mid to the last years of the 1970s and the 1980s to concentrate on his art and his politics apart from his romancing his muses virtually and in reality. (To be continued)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three



Unang Yugto

Ikalawang Yugto

Ikatlong Yugto

Ikaapat na Yugto



1)      Peps Villanueva with Joey Salceda

2)      Peps Villanueva with Juan Miguel Salvador

3)      Peps Villanueva with Julia Barretto

4)      Peps Villanueva with Lani Misalucha

5)      Peps Villanueva with Lito Lapid

6)      Peps Villanueva with Liza Macuja

7)      Peps Villanueva with Loren Legarda

8)      Peps Villanueva with Louisa johnson

9)      Peps Villanueva with Lucy Torres

10)    Peps Villanueva with Margie Moran

11)      Peps Villanueva with Mon Jimenez

12)      Peps Villanueva with Rachel Anne Go


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