Atom Araullo: I was professional despite 'Citizen Jake' director's 'irrational' tantrums

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — Journalist-turned-actor Atom Araullo finally broke his silence on the tirades of "Citizen Jake" director Mike de Leon.

Araullo on Wednesday penned a long Facebook post, responding to de Leon's earlier statement that the "Citizen Jake" lead star is not the gritty kind of journalist, but more of a "celebrity-centered schlock that sometimes verges on entertainment, even showbiz."

Araullo made his acting debut in "Citizen Jake" playing the role of Jake Herrera, who is also a journalist.

"Mike made deliberately hurtful remarks about my journalism, which, ironically, has nothing to do with my participation in the film. All I can say is that I have never made any claims about the quality of my output or my stature in the media industry. To do so would be futile and obscene," he said in a Facebook post.

The director, in a now-deleted Facebook post shared on May 24, explained he chose Araullo for the role because he mistakenly thought that a journalist would share his political convictions.

"Looking back, I can see why he wanted to become a movie actor. Perhaps the journalist was really a closet movie star," de Leon said.

The TV news personality responded he has never spoken about his stature in the media industry and would rather leave the judgment to the public.

"I'll leave it to the public to appraise the value of my work, accumulated over a decade of being a journalist," he said.

The "Citizen Jake" star said he has been outspoken on his political views and it has not changed since the making of the film.

"While it has its weaknesses and limitations, I am immensely proud to be part of 'Citizen Jake.' Meanwhile, and I fear I'm stating the obvious, Jake Herrera is not Atom Araullo. Although there are similarities, we don't necessarily share the same politics," he said.

"Citizen Jake" revolves around the experience reporter/blogger Jake Herrera, whose investigative stories begin to irk his father who is a re-electionist senator.

Troubled director?

Araullo hinted that the rift between him and the "Batch '81" director has been ongoing since the production of the noir crime drama film.

"I think it is important to explain that while many were shocked by his recent tirade, I was not. It was only the latest in a string of unprovoked, irrational, almost random tantrums that I had to endure during the making of this film, determined as I was to see it through," he said.

Araullo added the other people who worked on the film could vouch for his claims against de Leon.

"It had a profound effect on me, and to be honest, made it that much harder to perform my duties in the movie. Almost everyone who at one point worked on Citizen Jake knows this, and his voluminous texts and emails will bear it out," he said.

Araullo, who described de Leon's behavior as "woeful," said the director gets away with his outbursts because he is never held accountable for his actions. He also urged the seasoned director to seek professional medical help.

"Mike is a deeply troubled person. The kindest thing I can say about him is that he needs help, patience, and understanding as he wrestles with his personal demons. But while he has certainly tested the limits of my endurance, I can rest easy knowing that I worked hard, behaved professionally, and did all to the best of my abilities at the time the film was made," he said.

'Narcissistic' Atom Araullo

Hours after Araullo's post went viral, de Leon responded with a lengthy post using the official Facebook page of "Citizen Jake."

The director acknowledged Araullo's allegation that he is difficult to work with, but he said the "narcissistic" actor also has a lot of personal issues to deal with.

"You said you had to endure a lot throughout the making of the film. Well, guess what, I had to do that, too. I had to endure your superciliousness, your overweening ego, your disparaging remarks about movie people and actors, even your lack of manners. I had to remind you to at least say thank you to the staff and crew before you left Baguio," de Leon said.

De Leon pointed out the journalist's recollection lacks major events.

He said the "Citizen Jake" star disrespected him by not following his orders as the director, and did not even apologize. He said he scolded Araullo for being arrogant.

"You said: "No one has ever told me that before." So I concluded by saying "Well, it's about time somebody did. As an actor, you're ok pero marami ka pang kakaining bigas,"' the director said. He also said Araullo's acting was sub par, allegedly making him a laughing stock of the production team.

De Leon once again pointed out that Araullo seems to be more interested in being a celebrity than giving back to the country by doing his role as a journalist. He even cited Araullo's commercials, hostings for TV magazine shows, and magazine covers.

"I also told you in one my earlier 'tirades' that I find that you have no empathy, so how can you be a journalist if you lack this basic ability to understand people's problems (not mine). Isn't journalism about the story, not the journalist? But in your case, nobody is more important to Atom Araullo than Atom Araullo," de Leon said.

He added, "You say you cringe at being called a celebrity, a star. How hypocritical. Don't bother to cringe anymore because you revel in it. So accept that you are a celebrity and don't use the noble profession of journalism to hide your inadequacies as a human being."


Araullo has said his Facebook post will be the first and last time he will speak up about the rift with de Leon.

"Citizen Jake" is still showing in local cinemas.