Sarah’s reaction to Matteo’s stint with the military
His monthlong training as a scout ranger proved to be too difficult for the affluent Matteo Guidicelli that he almost packed his bags and went home on the first week.
“In the beginning, I didn’t fully grasp the idea when people said training would be especially difficult for me because I wasn’t used to the hard life. But when I got there, I realized, ‘Hindi nga talaga ako sanay sa hirap ng buhay,’” the 29-year-old actor, who has visibly lost a lot of weight, told reporters recently.
Matteo explained that the scout ranger is the elite force of the military and that members of this specific unit undergo the hardest of trainings, not just physically but also psychologically. “That’s what got to me. After many years of civilian life, I converted to military life the next day. I got war-shocked, but my trainers were very supportive. I had life coaches talking to me. I eventually became OK,” he recalled.
The experience has humbled him, he added. “It made me realize and appreciate the basics of life. We would just sleep on the floor or on bare soil. We took baths in rivers or canals,” he added.
Matteo was born in Cebu City to an Italian father, Gianluca Guidicelli, and a Filipino mother, Glenna Fernan. He is the grandson of the late senator and Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan. Prior to joining show business, he studied performing arts and musical theater at Columbia College in Chicago. He also got involved in car racing when he was a teenager. These days, apart from acting, he also competes in triathlons.
Matteo said his family, as well as his girlfriend, singer-actress Sarah Geronimo, visited him after a week into the training. “I was already emotionally stable around that time. I toured them all around the ranger camp. They were shocked. They saw how different my life was out there. As for me, I couldn’t be happier that I was given the opportunity to train.”
He admitted that his loved ones were initially opposed to the idea of him joining the military.
“They were afraid that I’d get hurt. They reminded me that I have a thriving career as an actor and that I have my own businesses, so why will I leave everything behind? I said this is an opportunity of a lifetime, a skill set that no one can take away from me,” he explained. “I asked Sarah, ‘Love, naaawa ka ba sa akin? She said, ‘Ginusto mo ’yan, eh (that’s what you wanted)!’”
Matteo added: “It was indeed the best experience of my life. I learned to appreciate life’s basics. We lived in the mountains for a long time that I got to appreciate even the cool breeze there. When I came down from training, everything felt like five-star treatment. Of course, my respect for our soldiers has increased. They sacrifice their lives for the country.”
Asked what he hoped to get out of the experience, Matteo said: “I’ll be joining a lot of activities that the military will organize. A few days ago, we went to Sulu—the area that got bombed—to talk with the soldiers there. I actually encourage other artists to join. Kuya Robin Padilla expressed interest in joining the reserved force. That’s actually a good thing.”
Anybody can enlist, the actor declared. “Visit their website, where you will be asked to schedule a written exam. You also need to pass the physical test. If you decide to be on active duty, you will receive a salary,” he said.
Fellow actor and triathlete Gerald Anderson is a member of the auxiliary (civilian) unit of the Philippine Coast Guard, Matteo pointed out. “He would join beach cleanups and help with the supplies. I will be joining other military social activities, too. ’Di naman tayo sasabak sa giyera. Only when the country is at war, God forbid.”
To lie low from show biz was not part of Matteo’s immediate plan, he promised. He recently signed a talent management deal with Viva Artist Agency.
“I will begin shooting another movie at the end of the month,” he said, adding that his latest, the Regal Films-produced “Mina-Anod,” would be shown in cinemas soon.
Matteo also recently participated in the event organized by Sun Life Financial for its “Kaakbay: Stories of Lifetime Partnerships” campaign, along with Charo Santos-Concio, Enchong Dee, Piolo Pascual and Iñigo Pascual. A set of videos, showing how their lives were made brighter with the help of their respective lifetime partners, started screening online on July 13.
“The Army it will always be a part of me,” said Matteo. “Pinoy tayo, so to serve the country should be included in our priorities.”
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