Janno says title of his latest movie ‘69+1’ is snug fit for him—and it’s not what you think
Now is probably a good time for Janno Gibbs to take stock of where his multihyphenate career—as an actor, singer, comedian and TV host—is headed.
First, Darryl Yap’s movie “69+1,” Janno’s intriguing and wildly irreverent starrer with Maui Taylor and Rose Van Ginkel, is set to begin streaming on Vivamax tomorrow. Second, he’s got a couple of songs in the can, recorded over the course of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) and its various iterations, that’s just waiting to be released.
Then, exactly two weeks from now (on Sept. 16), the singer-actor will turn 52 years old. While this encomium may seem to paint Janno a master of his own skills, it also explains why he is commemorating his 35th year in show biz with so many things to be thankful for.
Janno first won fans’ adulation as part of his popular tandem with Manilyn Reynes in “That’s Entertainment,” where he got his start as a performer in 1986.
And before he began tickling televiewers’ funny bone in the sitcom “Ober Da Bakod” in 1992, Janno also established himself as a singer of impeccable skill, waxing radio-friendly hits like “I Believe in Dreams,” “Fallin’,” “Binibini,” “Ikaw Lamang” (with Jaya) and the career-boosting behemoth “Ipagpatawad.” With Manilyn, he recorded the lovely “Isang Tulog na Lang” and the saccharine “My Jagiya” duets.
“The title of my latest movie is snug fit for me: We’re streaming on Vivamax tomorrow, which falls on my birth month. Tamang-tama ang title—“69+1”—I was born in 1969, and I’m adding another year to my age.”
“I’m thankful for two things when I look back at all that,” Janno said over Zoom during our recent one-on-one chat with him. “One, I’m still here and I’m still relevant—kasi ngayon, relevance is everything.
“Another blessing I’m grateful for are the opportunities that allow me to showcase different facets of myself—first, as part of my love team with Manilyn, back in the day when no one knew I could make people laugh. Then, as a singer, comedian, TV host and film actor in a string of recent comedies (‘Sanggano, Sanggago’t Sanggwapo,’ ‘Pakboys Takusa’).”
Excerpts from our chat with Janno:
What is “69+1” about?
It’s about two girls in a serious, long-term relationship wanting to sooth the “seven-year itch” by searching for a man who would join them in a “throuple.” They miss being with a man, so they come up with a checklist—dapat gwapo, may abs, etc.
They’d be happy if he ticks off just five of the 10-part criteria. Maui’s character is an old acquaintance in college, while my character met Rose at the barber shop she works in. I play an events director and photographer, which is something I’m into. Other than that, my character and I don’t really have a lot of things in common.
If it were any other director, I might not have accepted the role, because the movie has a lot of sensitive and sensual scenes. The first time I read the script, feeling ko, “Teka muna, parang hindi ko ’to kayang gawin!”
But after seeing Direk Darryl’s films, like “Gluta,” I realized all that kalaswaan, kabastusan and perceived vulgarity are just on the surface. You strip that away and you’ll say, “Uy, malaman (this is meaty)!”
How long did it take to shoot the film during this quarantine period?
Direk Darryl is setting a new standard for directors. Meron s’yang bagong pinapauso: He finishes his films in less than a week and manages to turn them into hits. We shot “69+1” in Subic just this July. He shoots all his movies there because he lives in Olongapo, so [he really gets things done].
In line with the theme of the movie, have you ever been in a throuple? Are you open to this arrangement?
In my younger days in the ’90s, I was at the peak of my “mojo” (laughs), but it was never this extreme! But that’s the draw of this movie: It allows people to vicariously live out their fantasies through me (laughs)—it’s every guy’s fantasy to be with two women at the same time!
While many people seem to enjoy what they see in the trailer, there are some who are scandalized by it. But what I can assure you is, aside from all that vulgarity and its clickbait appeal, the actual movie is well-made. The dialogue allows its characters to engage in a lot of meaningful conversations.
From whom did you and your sister Melissa, who also has a lovely voice, inherit those formidable singing chops?
Both my parents sing. My mom (Maria Fe “Baby” Ilagan) used to sing in the movies of my lolo, National Artist Gerry de Leon. Ang daddy ko naman (seasoned character actor Ronaldo Valdez), that’s who I got my “soul” from, because when I was young, he used to play a lot of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.
Long before the crazy curlicues became commonplace in pop singing here, you were already known for your appealing vocal runs. How has your voice aged and your musicality evolved through the years?
My voice has a different quality now—with age, it got deeper and more mature. These days, you’ll hear glimpses of my old voice, but with a certain dignity and informed further by experience.
Back in the day, the top singers of their generation just sang the melodies straight away without any kulot. But in my opinion, a lot of new singers these days are overdoing it. That isn’t bad in itself, because you can always edit. For me, though, I don’t like overdoing it—I do it whenever it’s needed lang.
Speaking of “Sanggano” and “69+1,” how different is comedy now compared to what it was in the ’80s and ’90s?
These days, there’s the humor of Vice Ganda, who generates comedy from his dialogue and fun punchlines. While some comics get the laughs from ad-libs, others just say their lines naturally. Our generation, on the other hand, banked on calculated punchlines, [facial] expression and physical comedy.
Do you have a favorite song?
From my songs? “Fallin’” is my favorite because, along with “Ipagpatawad,” it’s my biggest hit. It brought me a lot of attention and accolades. Musically, there are many, but I also like my version of “Sana Dalawa ang Puso Ko.”
What have you learned from your dad? Does he give you advice?
Where work is concerned, my dad just lets me be. Sometimes, he tells me, “Maganda ang ginawa mo d’yan, pero medyo kulang ka dito.” Small remarks lang.
But I learned a lot about life from him. He’s one of the gentlest men I know. It’s not conventional for fathers to shower sons with affection—usually, sa mga anak na babae lang. But my dad is affectionate and sweet, even to me!
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