John Lapus’ urban havenBy Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Comedian-TV host John Lapus is a certified live wire on- and off-cam.
As is evident on his TV show (GMA 7’s “Star Talk”) and new movie (Viva’s “Moron 5 and the Crying Lady”), Lapus will choose sass and pizzazz over subtlety anytime.
He’s loud and proud!
The walls of his old house in Project 8 Quezon City, rented from “Moron 5” director Wenn V. Deramas, were painted a shocking pink.
“It looked like a candy house,” he recalled. “I couldn’t sleep even after a hard day’s work; I remained hyper because of the vibrant color.”
When he decided to purchase his own townhouse (also in Quezon City), he heeded interior designer Leo Labad’s advice and went for a more sedate color palette.
Labad played with black, brown and white for the interior, which reflects the home owner’s maturing personality.
“At this point in my life, I’m more relaxed,” Lapus explained.
The place is spruced up like a weekend retreat. The pocket garden is planted with bamboo and other ornamental shrubs.
“It’s like being in an Asian spa,” Lapus, called “Sweet” by his fans, said. But he refuses to tune out completely his flamboyant and fearless spirit.
“I made sure to add splashes of red all over the place,” Sweet said, smiling. “I don’t ever want to be mistaken for a boring person!”
Four red throw pillows are on the modish black sofa; he added two cushions printed with the image of Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn. “I had the sofa made and I got the Audrey pillows from a mall,” he said.
He found most of the black-and-white furnishings in Muebles Asia and the modern lamps and light fixtures in Eglo.
The centerpiece in the living room is a computer-generated portrait of Sweet holding a colorful lollipop. It was made by Filipino graphic artist Nasser Lubay, who placed second at the Celeste International Art Prize in Berlin, Germany.
Sweet obviously adores his portrait by Lubay, but he cherishes a still life by the late President Corazon Aquino, which hangs near his work desk.
Framed photos, acting awards, and other souvenirs of his 20 years in show biz are displayed all over the living room.
Another recurring theme is circles (and more circles).
“When I had the feng shui done, I learned that my townhouse is shaped like a halved octagon,” Sweet explained.
The feng shui expert instructed Sweet to fill up the place with décor and furniture pieces that were circular in design. His compliance is seen in some chairs, light fixtures, and framed installation art works. “Circles are lucky daw,” Sweet explained.
Three flights of stairs decorated with “circular” art and chandeliers lead up to the terrace, his home’s best feature.
On the terrace are two red, round lounge chairs created by world-renowned Filipino industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue—presents from fellow TV host Kris Aquino.
Also on the third floor is his bedroom, which showcases an oil portrait of the comedian as a fairy princess—“a gift from a fan,” he said laughing.
Originally, he said, there were four rooms in the house but he converted a guest room on the second floor into a walk-in closet for his extensive clothes-and-shoes collection. As a performer he continued, he needed plenty of storage space.
“But instead of having endless rows of cabinets, I built a secret storage space behind the bookshelf,” Lapus volunteered.
Blood, sweat, and tears
Lapus strongly feels that his present home is the product of his “blood, sweat, and tears.”
“I feel as if naka-quota na ako,” he said of being a home owner.
“When I lived near the (ABS-CBN) studio, I rode a (pink) motorbike to and from work for years,” he said. “By saving on taxi cabs, I was able to buy a car.”
He can be frugal, his mother Sally admitted. The former high-school teacher is proud of her son.
Lapus has come a long way from his modest beginnings as a production assistant with ABS-CBN.
But he maintains that he has paid his dues and then some. “It feels good that after years of renting I now have a place I can call my own.”
He didn’t consider moving to a mansion he said, and is quite content with his humble townhouse, which stands on 125 sq m of property.
“The total floor space is 235 sq m, which is just right for my mom and me. What would I do with a big house? Only she and I live here. Even in this small house I sometimes don’t get to see her,” he said.
Keeping them company are three pet dogs—all named with buzz words from gay lingo. “The Shih Tzu is called Aflu; the Maltese, Korak; and the Yorkie, Queme.”
“We lost our myna bird Chever recently,” he said. “It flew out of its cage. I was so depressed. I practically raised Chever after it was hatched from the egg.”
He reminisced: “When Chever was a hatchling, I used to feed it pellets with my own hands. The pet-shop owner said that I would know when the bird could feed on its own. I asked: What are the signs?”
The shopkeeper just smiled enigmatically, Sweet said. “One day, I was feeding Chever and it suddenly pecked my hand. I realized that the bird was ready.”
Who knew Sweet had a maternal instinct?
At home with Lapus
“We don’t have a stay-in helper,” Sally related. “The maid comes to clean the house twice a week, but we do our own cooking.”
She said that she shared with Sweet her recipes for chicken and pork adobo, sinigang na baboy, and tinolang manok.
“I know how to cook,” Sweet added. “I finished Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Santo Tomas.”
When at home, Lapus can often be found typing away in his work station on the ground floor.
“In the morning, even before I go to the washroom, I go online and check my Facebook account,” he said. “I’m one of the administrators of my fan page. I personally answer some of the posts.”
If haters crash his site, he abides by a simple rule. “It’s easy to advise big stars (who have recently been hassled by bashers) to ‘block and ignore,’ but we’re only human … it can get nasty in cyberspace.”
Whenever he’s harassed, Sweet usually sends a “private message” before blocking the basher.
“At least, I am able to vent,” he hollered.
Apart from Facebook, he visits various entertainment news sites too. “Since I host a show biz talk show every Sunday (“Star Talk”), I have to know what’s going on.”
Whenever he’s free from work Lapus watches his favorite sitcoms from the United States, courtesy of a Chill Box—another gift from Kris.
“The Chill Box allows me to watch the latest episodes of ‘30 Rock’ and ‘Modern Family,’” he said.
He also owns the complete seasons of “Hung,” “Sex and the City” and the “X-Men” franchise on DVD.
Lapus used to say that he expanded his English vocabulary by reading Archie comic books, but now he collects “X Men” and other Marvel comic books as well!
Displayed on the bookshelf are action figures of “X-Men” heroines: Storm, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost.
Sweet has won awards from his alma mater and was appointed professional adviser of Teatro Tomasino.
This year the theater troupe is mounting a modern version of Francisco Balagtas’ “Ang Ibong Adarna,” to be directed by Sweet.
“I can claim to be the only openly gay actor from my generation to have won acting trophies (for Chris Martinez’s “Here Comes the Bride”),” he pointed out.
On the small screen, he is set to play Richard Gutierrez’s best buddy on the upcoming Kapuso soap “Rancho Paradiso.”
Another feather in his well-plumed cap is the movie “Moron 5”—where he is one of the main characters. “It’s flattering. It’s a good sign for gay people. We are no longer just the sidekick or the comic relief in movies. We can also be the lead star.”
He conceded however that it’s still an uphill climb for most gay performers, who must confront bigotry and ignorance in and out of show business.
“Slowly but surely things will improve,” he said hopefully.
Lapus doesn’t understand why he is pitted against another openly gay comic Vice Ganda.
“We should all be happy for each other’s success. We should be united and rise above pettiness,” he said.
He acknowledged that rivalry between two high-profile gay comics is inevitable though.
“I saw it coming. What is important is that we remain friends despite the intrigues. Everyone knows that I am the ate (older sister) of Vice. Been there, done that.”
Does Sweet still have unfulfilled dreams?
“I want to own a rest house in the province someday. Every Holy Week, my friends leave town. I envy them as my family is from Manila,” he said. “I want to build my own weekend house in Laguna or Batangas.”
That indeed would be a Sweet escape.
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