Why ‘Unbreak My Heart’ is Mark Rivera’s ‘rainbow’ after family’s COVID-19 ordeal | Inquirer Entertainment

Why ‘Unbreak My Heart’ is Mark Rivera’s ‘rainbow’ after family’s COVID-19 ordeal

By: - Reporter
/ 12:10 AM July 03, 2023

Mark Rivera

Mark Rivera

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipino-Italian celebrity Mark Rivera found himself falling into depression and riddled with anxiety.

Four of his family members contracted the disease: Mark’s mother, who’s based in Milan in Italy, stayed in the intensive care unit for three weeks; his paternal grandmother in Pampanga died; his paternal grandaunt in Manila who took care of him, taught him how to cook and speak Tagalog is now bedridden; and his maternal grandmother in Batangas had to stay in an ambulance for two days, and was shuttled to Antipolo, to Manila and then to Laguna in search of a vacant hospital bed.


“I stayed with my grandaunt in Manila and took care of her. I did the groceries, drove her nurse… So it was very hard. I also wanted to visit my family in Italy, but there were restrictions. And I couldn’t leave my relatives here. If only I could split myself in half,” he said in a group interview organized by his management, ALV Talents Circuit.


Persistence, faith

Mark Rivera

Mark Rivera

The string of misfortunes caused Mark “so much pain.” It didn’t help that there were no projects to be had. “There was no taping, no work. So I didn’t know how to help my family. Health care is expensive here compared to Italy where we get more support,” he said. “Here, you could end up spending all your life savings because of one disease.”

But through persistence and a renewed faith, Mark managed to weather the storm. “I kept a positive outlook. I made sure I stayed healthy and took care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally. That way, I could give the energy my family needs, and support them emotionally, even if some of them are far away,” he said.

“I made it a point to go to church every Sunday, even if I had to wear a face mask and face shield and undergo swab tests,” he said.

And when he least expected it came a blessing. In December last year, Mark was finally able to fly to Italy to visit his parents whom he hadn’t seen in four years. Apparently, someone from the production team of the drama series “Unbreak My Heart,” which was shot in Switzerland and Italy, saw Mark’s Instagram posts in Italy.

Before he knew it, he was offered to join the show’s cast. “‘Unbreak My Heart’ is my rainbow amid the pandemic. It gave me joy… and hope about my life and future. I couldn’t be more thankful about what’s happening right now,” said Mark, who plays Jacob, an undocumented immigrant seeking greener pastures with his partner.

Motivation to learn

Mark Rivera

Mark Rivera

His ordeal, he added, encouraged him to express his feelings more. “I’m not the kind of child who calls my parents every day and shares my experiences or struggles. I don’t tell them if I’m feeling sad. But after what happened to my mom, it made me realize that I have to spend more time and open up more to my loved ones. Family is what matters,” he said.


Mark came to the Philippines in 2013. However, repeated injuries kept him sidelined. He then pivoted to commercial modeling, before trying his luck with acting. His first television break was a supporting role in the 2016 late-morning series, “Be My Lady.”

Now his goal is to try different genres, like heavy drama, action and romantic comedies. It would be interesting to be in a love team, too. Outside acting, Mark has also ventured into music, signing a contract with Universal Records that plans to mold him into a songwriter and balladeer.

“I’m excited to learn and grow. I’m not going to get tired; I’m going to keep trying,” said Mark, whose Tagalog has improved a great deal since his debut. “When I first came here, I could only speak Italian. So I learned Tagalog and English. I started singing a lot of Tagalog songs in karaoke and translating them. This also sparked my love for OPM.”

“Back when I did ‘Be My Lady,’ they had to translate my lines to English. That motivated me to work hard. I didn’t want to have that problem anymore,” he added.

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Sustaining a career in show biz is a challenge, he admitted. Every day, you see new faces. But the doors “Unbreak My Heart” opened for him and the fire it ignited in him will keep him going, he said. “Even if it’s difficult… maraming bago. But I will find a way. I will show up. And I believe the right time will come,” he said.


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TAGS: Unbreak My Heart

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