Businessman in viral billboard date proposal denies being a scammer

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — The young businessman who asked actress Erich Gonzales for a coffee date in a viral billboard proposal denies a flurry of charges that he swindled people in past ventures.

Xian Gaza, in his twenties, gained online fame when his Instagram post on July 1 of his billboard asking Gonzales out on a coffee date went viral.

But as publicity ensued, along came allegations online that he intended the billboard to go viral to gain a social media following for his business, and that Gaza allegedly initiated anomalous deals that he walked away from.

In a Facebook post on July 4, Gaza addressed these accusations individually, saying he was not a scammer and had no hidden intentions by asking Gonzales, 26, out on a date in such a manner.

Ang tanging hangad ko lang po ay kape with Erich with no hidden personal agenda at all. Hindi ko naman po aakalaing magiging national at international news ang billboard effort ko para umabot po sa ganito,” he said.

[Translation: All I wanted was to have coffee with Erich with no hidden personal agenda at all. I didn’t think it would be national and international news and it would reach this extent.]

Gaza asked people not to judge him. He added that he learned from mistakes he made, including a “pyramid scheme” that he said left him nearly 14 million pesos in debt at the age of 19, according to a news report by entertainment website which quoted another Facebook post he made in June. The post was earlier made public, but may have since been deleted or set to private.

Yes alam ko marami po akong pagkakamali at maling desisyon sa aking nakaraan na kinapupulutan ng aral ng karamihan at aminadong-aminado po ako sa lahat ng iyon. Hindi po ako masamang tao. I’m just a perfectly imperfect person with a past full of flaws,” he said.

[Translation: Yes, I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes and bad decisions in my past which I’ve learned from, and I hold myself accountable for them. I’m not a bad person. I’m just a perfectly imperfect person with a past full of flaws.]

Anomalous deals

In a Twitter thread on July 4, Twitter user Dewanie Catapang said Gaza had hired her for a typhoon Yolanda t-shirt sale fundraiser.

Catapang said she became suspicious when Gaza could not answer how the funds would be channeled to the Yolanda victims.

Businessman Ryan Salcedo Tañada warned netizens about Gaza who owed him money and who he had tapped as an event coordinator. He added that Gaza failed to give the artists their talent fees after the event.

Gaza repaid the debt, said Tañada.

‘Legitimate project’

In a lengthy Facebook post, Gaza denied accusations that he swindled people of money.

He said the typhoon Yolanda t-shirt project was “legitimate” but failed to push through because of lack of funding, even after he had personally shelled out ₱300,000 for initial expenses.

Gaza also acknowledged working with Tañada, saying he received ₱200,000 for an event in Qatar being produced by Tanada.

The money however, was diverted to operating expenses of his media venture, for which he had already shelled ₱1.7 million as initial capital in 2016, he said. He declared bankruptcy after.

Gaza also denied stalking another actress Ella Cruz, refuting a report from a local entertainment website.

He confirmed, however, that he did buy a Fortuner sport utility vehicle from the actress’ parents in a bid to impress them. But returned it and recovered part of his downpayment when he found out he had purchased it at much more than its market value. 

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