Program manager Neil Gumban insisted that the latest celebrity edition of “Survivor Philippines” would not be adversely affected by a string of setbacks—including the unceremonious departure of five castaways who quit early on in the game.
At press time, five contestants—Geneva Cruz, Jackie Forster and Angelicopter (Angelika Schmeing Cruz), Filo Cucueco and Ellen Adarna—have bowed out of the GMA 7 reality show. The latest to be voted off the island was Maria Isabel Lopez, after the early eviction of Alyssa Milano and Aifha Medina.
The mass exodus was distressing, he admitted. After all, “quitting” is the opposite of “surviving.”
Still, Gumban told Inquirer in an exclusive interview: “Julia Dick, head of development of (franchise holder) Castaway Productions, told me that worst things have happened abroad. In one season, 10 quit. In another, an entire tribe. What happened here was not so shocking for them.”
Gumban related that all the quitters underwent debriefing with resident psychologist Ali Gui before leaving San Vicente in the island of Palawan.
“Turned out Geneva already had personal issues with her partner KC Montero even before they joined the show,” he said. “Jackie and Angelicopter thought the game was unfair; while Filo and Ellen valued their relationship more than staying.”
If anything, this season afforded the production team valuable lessons they could benefit from in the future, said Gumban who has been involved with the show since season one.
“It seemed we chose a lot of Type A personalities, alpha dogs,” he conceded. “Although it made the show more interesting, it proved too much to handle, too.”
Even host Richard Gutierrez lost his cool at one point, he recalled.
“Richard was trying to defend the crew from some castaways who were too critical,” he explained.
Gumban asserted that, due to the nature of the game, “the production staff cannot explain everything to the contestants.”
He pointed out, however, that the crew took pains to orient the contestants on what they could expect prior to their trip to the island.
“We had three meetings with them. They knew that there are lots of snakes on the island. They knew that the conditions could be harsh; the weather, unpredictable.”
In future editions, they hope to come up with a more balanced mix of celeb castaways.
He felt it would’ve been wiser if they picked contestants who are simply and seriously “into the game.”
“We realized that some castaways had other reasons for joining,” he explained. “Some wanted to showcase their personalities. Others wanted to prove how principled they were.”
He declared that this season could prove to be the most challenging. “This edition’s contestants are the most pasaway (difficult), the biggest headaches.”