“Akala mo lang wala! Pero meron, meron, meron!”
These famous lines uttered by Carlo Aquino in a memorable scene from the film “Bata, Bata, Pa’no Ka Ginawa” helped cement the status of the 13-year-old as one of the most promising Filipino child stars.
Carlo’s exceptional performance in the drama fetched him four major acting awards in 1999: Best Child Actor from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences and Star Awards, and Best Supporting Actor from the Film Academy of the Philippines and Gawad Urian.
But with the trophies came the immense pressure to do better, Carlo told the Inquirer in a recent interview. “People used to tell me all the time that I was a good actor. There was a point when I cared too much about what people thought of me,” he said. “I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore.”
Self-doubt crept in, and at times he turned down projects, afraid he would not live up to people’s expectations. “My confidence hit an all-time low,” Carlo confessed.
For the past couple of years, offers of big roles have been few and far between. “Parang nagtampo sa ’kin ang industriya (I think the industry turned its back on me),” Carlo said. “I did movies and TV appearances here and there, nothing really big.”
Now 27, Carlo is determined to rebuild his career. He recently signed a management contract with ABS-CBN’s talent agency, Star Magic.
“I’m more willing to take the plunge, the first step,” he said. “I no longer rationalize acting too much. What’s important for me now is enjoying the craft. I now appreciate even the smallest of things, for instance, the sound of a rolling camera.”
While waiting for his first project in the Kapamilya network, Carlo kept himself busy, doing indie films with award-winning director Adolfo Alix Jr. He appeared in “Death March” and “Mater Dolorosa,” which is one of the 13 entries in the ongoing Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival.
Carlo likewise reunited with “Bata, Bata” director Chito Roño for the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival entry, “Shake Rattle and Roll XIV.”
“He was very strict and intimidating when we were shooting ‘Bata, Bata,’” Carlo recalled. “Now he’s laid-back, and jokes around more.”