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Gabby on President Duterte’s gaffe: Everyone makes mistakes

Gabby Concepcion PHOTOS BY ALEC CORPUZ

“#wrongtarget” “#stray” “#mistakenidentity”

These were some of the hashtags used by Gabby Concepcion in a series of Instagram posts making light of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent gaffe: In a tirade directed at ABS-CBN, Duterte repeatedly referred to the television network’s chair, Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, as “Gabby Concepcion.”

And in a curious coincidence, Rome—Gabby’s character in GMA 7’s campy afternoon soap, “Ika-6 na Utos”—is currently confined in a hospital after being shot. “Rome … tinamaan ng bala. Na-ospital bigla dahil sa mistaken identity,” he jestingly wrote.

In any case, “everyone makes mistakes,” said Gabby, who thanked the President “for watching” the show.

Meanwhile, the package of durian fruit Gabby bought in a recent trip to Davao did reach its intended recipient.

Late last month, Sharon Cuneta wrote a note on Instagram, thanking her former reel- and real-life sweetheart for the package of durian fruit he had sent to her.

The Megastar was “pleasantly surprised” by the gesture. And so were their most loyal fans, who promptly lost it in the comments section.

Even their daughter, KC Concepcion, was apparently intrigued. “A H E M ???? whut ees deeees?” she teasingly wrote on Instagram.

Sharon had “no idea why,” she admitted, but it nonetheless “made me smile.”

That was exactly what Gabby hoped to accomplish.

“I was in Davao then, and I was hearing a lot of news about her. I knew she produced a movie (“Ang Pamilyang Hindi Lumuluha”) and I wanted to support her in a subtle way. I wasn’t so sure if I could openly promote her projects (he’s with GMA 7; the film’s distributed by Star Cinema); I didn’t want to cross that line. So I figured I would just send her something to make her feel better,” he told the Entertainment team in his recent visit to the Inquirer office in Makati City.

Was it a sign that the long-rumored Sharon-Gabby reunion was finally pushing through? Some netizens thought—or, at least, hoped—that it was. But, not just yet.

“KC actually texted me, asking if we were doing a movie together. And I really want to,” said the 52-year-old matinee idol, who made a comeback to local show biz in 2008, after living for 13 years in the United States, where he worked as a real estate agent.

“I’m really just after a good story; I’m waiting for everything to fall into place,” Gabby disclosed.

But, while that reunion remains to be seen, Gabby continues to attract new fans, young and old, with “Ika-6 na Utos,” where he portrays Rome—the “tempted pilot” torn between his warring wife, Emma (Sunshine Dizon), and mistress, Georgia (Ryza Cenon).

The show is a success: It began airing in December last year and was set to last only for a couple of months, but it has been extended until February 2018. And in March, “due to insistent public demand,” “Ika-6” was given an additional slot on Saturdays. It also won for the Kapuso actor the Asian Star Prize at the 12th Seoul International Drama Awards in South Korea.

But perhaps more importantly for Gabby, the series proved that he still has it in him to be a leading man, while some of his contemporaries have been relegated to father roles.

Case in point: While waiting for Gabby for this multiplatform interview, piercing shrieks from giddy employees suddenly echoed inside the Inquirer office. That was how we knew that Gabby has arrived.

How does it feel to still be getting such enthusiastic reception? I’m very happy. It was something I didn’t expect when I returned to the Philippines.

Kanya-kanyang panahon ’yan, and mine had already passed.

Does it surprise you that even young people know you? There’s a new set of people who doesn’t know you, to whom you should introduce yourself.

I’m also on Instagram (@concepciongabby), so maybe the younger people see that, too.

What’s the secret to looking young? Water. We wrinkle more easily when we don’t hydrate ourselves.

There was a time when I was into weights. Now, I’m more into cardio exercise—I move and walk a lot. Of course, since I turned 32 a few years back (laughs), I’ve become more careful about what I eat. I also stay often at my place in Batangas, where the air is fresher.

You still get to play leading men, while some of your contemporaries play fathers. It’s very humbling, pero tsamba-tsamba lang ’yan. The reason I returned here was to be with my father, Rolly, who was dying then. I was planning to go back to the US … then I was offered jobs.

How different are you now from when you were young? Do you have any regrets? Yes, of course. But all the negative things can be turned into something positive. I wanted to become a dentist. I wanted to become a pilot, which I somehow get to do in “Ika-6.”

Gabby plays Rome in GMA 7’s “Ika-6 Na Utos”

There have been a lot of changes, and I thank God for the wisdom.

What’s a valuable lesson you learned from your father? To be nice to the people you meet on your way up, because they’re the same people you’ll meet on your way down.

What do you think is behind “Ika-6’s” success? I don’t know, to be honest. But the story is important. The premise is a bit generic—two women fighting over a man. But, that’s OK, because you can always build on that.

It’s great to hear from GMA 7 that we have been setting records.

How similar are you to your character, Rome? People teased me that this is probably going to be easy for me, because meron na raw akong hugot.

On the contrary, wala akong hugot! You know my past. Unlike, Rome, wala akong … I didn’t have anyone na sabay.

Do you get called Rome when you go outside? One time, we had a taping in Marikina. I passed by a group of young people who told me, “Rome, marami kaming Georgia dito!

What would be your advice to Rome? To be careful. Kidding! We all make mistakes. I will tell him to ask for forgiveness.

What’s it like working with young actresses? What’s important is the chemistry you have… I’m having a ball.

How does it feel winning the Asian Star Prize at this year’s Seoul International Drama Awards? If you recognize my work, then thank you—that’s a bonus for me.

I was grateful to have gotten the award, especially because I was able to thank everyone involved in the show.

But to be honest, I’m a little wary of accepting awards these days—especially from local bodies—because I don’t want intrigues anymore.

Does the 1994 “film fest scam” have something to do with the apprehension? Yes, that thing in the past. But, my conscience is clear about that… but it haunts me.

What else would you like to do? It’s my dream to have my life to be turned into a movie. And I think I can do a talk show or reach-out programs, about OFW concerns.

Did you feel that you were somehow detached? Yes, and then you have to start from scratch because show biz is all you knew. I was there for 13 years, and there were a lot of ups and downs.

Are you close to your daughters (KC, with Sharon Cuneta; Garie, with Grace Ibuna; Cloie, with Jenny Syquia; Samantha and Savannah, with current wife Genevieve Gonzales)? Yes, except for Cloie, who grew up abroad. She doesn’t speak Tagalog; her life is really there (Sweden). But we have communication.

All of them seem to be doing well. Seeing them successful is a relief; it makes me happy.

Will you be ready if one of them gets married? I just hope the guy they marry will love them the way I love them, and take care of them the way I wasn’t able to.

Have you met KC’s boyfriend, football player Aly Borromeo? Aly is the only suitor of hers who had asked me out to lunch or dinner. He’s like the son I wish I had.

Aside from acting, you have already released albums in 2008 and 2010. I had songs with Sharon during the 1980s, but I didn’t have my own record. That was my frustration—I wanted to be a singer!

Do you plan on releasing another one? I would love to record a Christmas album, for my kids and future grandchildren. Just something to remember me by during Christmas—well, I hope they play it!

You have done a lot of movies. Do you have a favorite? That’s tough. Maybe “Bilibid Boys,” which was directed by Ishmael Bernal, and “Una Kang Naging Akin,” which was shot in my beach house.

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