Freelancer Piolo on downside of being a network artist: I couldn’t do the stuff I wanted
A concept either for a film or TV series is now being developed out of the reunion photo of ‘90s heartthrobs Diether Ocampo, John Lloyd Cruz, Piolo Pascual and Jericho Rosales that went viral in early April, according to actor-producer Pascual.
“I’ve already commissioned someone to develop a concept for us, before someone beats me to it,” said Pascual, who is also a member of the all-male group called The Hunks that included Rosales and Ocampo, and was formed by ABS-CBN in 2001.
“So many people posted comments about that reunion photo, aside from all the memes that came out shortly after. I had no idea it would go viral. Hopefully, we can get the first draft of the script soon and start working on it. From there, we shall see if we could turn it into a TV series or a movie project,” Pascual told Inquirer Entertainment during the media launch of “Ibarra,” a musical stage play that he will top bill in June.
From the group photo that Pascual posted on his Facebook page, netizens took notice of the four actors’ different fashion styles. Ocampo looked tidy in khaki pants and polo shirt, while Cruz gave off the casual vibe with his white T-shirt and bucket hat. Pascual had a more rugged look with his gray denim jacket, while Rosales looked suave in a blue suit jacket.
The photo was taken in March during a reunion dinner organized by Johnny Manahan and Mariole Alberto, former executives of ABS-CBN’s talent management arm Star Magic. The event was also attended by actresses Heart Evangelista, Bea Alonzo and Maja Salvador.
‘Super good reunion’
“Being friends for more than 20 years, I guess people took notice that we have all matured in different ways. We just want to help each other out. We want to be there for each other, to do something productive together, and hopefully, make money out of it,” Pascual pointed out.
He then described the gathering as “a super good reunion. We all didn’t want to leave. Some of us started seeing each other every week since then. Mr. M and Tita Mariole were like our parents. After going our separate ways, they sort of brought us together again,” Pascual began. “That night, we did a lot of reminiscing. It was like seeing our parents after 20 years and learning that they feel proud of what we’ve all become. Looking at them, we also felt proud after learning that they actually considered us their kids.”
He continued: “There were a lot of flashbacks; some of us got really drunk. Definitely, this kept us talking—Heart and Bea want to do a movie together. I will be doing a project with JL (John Lloyd) and Mr. M. We can’t disclose what it will be just yet. Some of us will start a concert tour next month. Everyone has new ideas to work on after that meet-up. We’re just excited because we’ve become content creators, as well. We produce our own stuff now.”
Prior to dedicating his time to rehearse for Tanghalang Una Obra’s staging of “Ibarra,” Pascual just finished taping for a new series with Alessandra de Rossi that will be streamed on Netflix. He also finished shooting Brillante Ma Mendoza’s action-drama movie “Bangsa Moro,” and Pepe Diokno’s historical drama “GomBurZa.” Thop Nazareno’s thriller film “The Ride,” with Pascual acting alongside Kyle Echarri, is currently in postproduction work.
Pascual will also go on a concert tour in the United States in July.
“Why am I forcing myself to do all these now? It’s because I’m grateful that interesting projects are still coming my way. For the record, when I was still under a network contract, I couldn’t do the stuff I wanted. It wasn’t because my bosses didn’t allow me, but because I worked for them exclusively, and I didn’t have extra time. My projects then were all network-related, or those that were commissioned by my bosses,” Pascual pointed out.
“Being a freelancer means I’m now able to personally choose the roles I take on. Now, I have more freedom to accept projects that interest me. In fact, after this, I have two or three more films that I’m supposed to do before the year ends,” he declared. “I love what I do. It’s also a privilege to be able to wear different hats, one of which is being a producer.”
Returning to theater
Pascual co-owns the movie production outfit Spring Films with film-TV director Joyce Bernal and talent manager Erickson Raymundo.
“The set is my playground,” Pascual continued. “When I’m on the set, I feel more at home, more in touch with my senses, and more productive. That’s what I realized during the pandemic: I hate to be unproductive.”
Prior to entering show biz, Pascual started out as a member of Teatro Tomasino, the official theater guild of the University of Santo Tomas. “However, I have not performed onstage for almost 30 years now. I once said that if I were to do something onstage again, it has to be local, it has to be original. I was also wishing that it would be something related to ‘Noli.’ So when this was pitched to me, I said ‘yes’ right away without really thinking what I would get myself into. I’ve had sleepless nights since that first meeting with the team,” he admitted. “This is something different, but it’s also something I’ve missed—performing for a live audience. Returning to theater is something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
“Ibarra,” based on Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere,” will run from June 8 to June 18 at the GSIS Theater in Pasay City. The songs are composed by Joed Balsamo, with direction by Franniel Zamora, and choreography by Paul Morales. Proceeds will support the various feeding programs of Rise Against Hunger Philippines.