Carmina Villaroel (MNS Photo)

Carmina Villaroel (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — “They made a choice to let me go.”

These were Carmina Villaroel’s words in recalling her bitter departure from the ABS-CBN sitcom “Palibhasa Lalake,” following a disagreement with her fellow cast members, including Richard Gomez, over her relationship with then-boyfriend Rustom Padilla.

Villaroel said her relationship became the subject of jokes on set, which eventually led to a conflict between her and her co-stars.

“That time, medyo serious na ‘yung tampuhan… Actually, kung ako lang talaga ang masusunod, tampo but mapapatawad ko. But since may ibang tao nang involved, I had to choose between them and [my boyfriend],” she said.

Villaroel was an original cast member of “Palibhasa Lalake,” which started in 1987. She left the show in 1993, five years before the sitcom concluded its decade-long run.

“They also made a choice to let me go, because lumaki na, eh,” Villaroel said. “Hindi na siya ‘yung parang internal problem. Lumaki na siya, eh. National news na, eh!”

In the scene explaining the departure of her character, Cathy, Villaroel turned emotional as Gomez’s lines reflected the situation behind the cameras — that of a “younger sister” not heeding the advice of her brother.

“It’s just so sad na I had to leave, and obviously I chose the other one kaysa doon sa show,” Villaroel said, referring to her relationship with Padilla. “Iyak ako nang iyak, hindi ako makapag-move on. Na-hurt ako bilang pamilya.”

Villaroel and Padilla got married in 1994, but separated in 1996. Their marriage was annulled in 2002. In 2006, Padilla admitted on national television that he was gay. After spending three years in the United States, Padilla returned to the Philippines in 2009 as a transgender woman named BB Gandanghari.

In hindsight, Villaroel said that while she got hurt from her falling out with her “Palibhasa Lalake” co-stars, she now understands why they were critical of her relationship.

“Nararamdaman ko ‘yung pagmamahal nila, eh,” she said. “Alam mo ‘yon? ‘Di ba minsan may magulang na kailangan mo to be firm with your kid, kahit nasasaktan ka? Tough love. Parang gano’n iyon sa kanila.”

Villaroel eventually settled her differences with her co-stars, but it wasn’t until “Palibhasa Lalake” had her as a guest towards its finale that she got to reunite with them, with “Sorry’s” exchanged. (MNS)