Why Piolo Pascual feels like ‘the most promising old actor’

After Piolo Pascual successfully headlined his first solo concert in 15 years last 20 October at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, the multihyphenate is going on a tour in the United States and Canada from 5 to 19 November. He will perform in the US cities of Anchorage in Alaska, Jacksonville in Florida and Columbus in Ohio, as well as in the Canadian cities of Calgary in Alberta and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan.

On his return home later this month, Pascual is set to promote some of his completed works: the Netflix series Replacing Chef Chico, a studio album of his duets with the country’s top female singers and the Metro Manila Film Festival entry Mallari.

Ang joke ko this year, parang I’m the most promising old actor sa dami ng ginagawa ko (with so many things I’m doing),” he said in a recent media conference.
The 46-year-old luminary is actually celebrating his 25th anniversary in the entertainment industry.
“I guess it was brought up by the pandemic. We got so bored not doing anything. Noong nagkaroon naman ng chance na mag-taping (When the chance came to start taping), there was a constant demand for new content. Ang daming platform, ang daming opportunities na nagbukas, especially sa atin sa showbiz. (So many platforms and opportunities opened, especially for us in showbiz.) Nagsunod-sunod naman (They came one after another),” he said.

Busy year

Pascual looked back on how his workload piled up in 2023 and realized that it actually started with Replacing Chef Chico, which was shot a year or two ago but will only be released on 24 November. He went on talking about the first Filipino-produced series on the global streaming service that also stars Alessandra de Rossi and Sam Milby.

Nagpa-pogi lang ako dito, ’tapos kumain ng luto ni Alessandra (I only acted handsome here, then ate what Alessandra cooked),” he said, laughing. “No, I was just there to support Alessandra.”
The two previously worked in the bittersweet romantic flick My Amanda, which premiered on Netflix in July 2021.
“I love working with her. She’s a fireball,” said Pascual.

Going back to the series directed by Dan Villegas with Antoinette Jadaone as showrunner, “What I did was just to give life to the story these guys beautifully wrote. Marami kang matututunan (You’ll learn a lot) when you watch it… We’re so excited. It’s also one way to champion our content on the global market,” he added.

Upon completing his work on Replacing Chef Rico, the actor said he went straight to the shoot of the action movie The Ride, which he also produced under his own Spring Films in collaboration with Cornerstone Films. By around April, he started rehearsing for his first foray into musical theater playing the titular role in Ibarra, which had been planned a year prior and was eventually staged in June.

Just a day after the musical’s final show on 18 June, Pascual was announced to be starring in the horror flick Mallari. But he didn’t start working on it right away. He first flew to the US for singing engagements with his fellow artists from Cornerstone Entertainment Inc. and to take a short break while the production prepared for the shoot that began toward the second quarter of the year. In between shoots, he rehearsed for his Newport gig, An Ultimate Night with Piolo.

Acting challenge

Pascual recalled turning down the Mallari project when it was first offered to him in early 2023. He got a phone call for a movie pitch with him playing three characters from three timelines and being a serial killer. He said no because he was then in the middle of The Ride shoot and preparing for the Cornerstone US tour.

Later that day, while he was on the movie’s set, he got into a conversation with costars Kyle Echarri and Joao Constancia if there had been serial killers in the Philippines. They found out through Google that there was Severino Mallari, a priest who was supposed to be behind the string of strange murders in Pampanga in 1810. Father Mallari also happens to be one of the characters in the movie he just turned down, the two others being John Rey Mallari from 1948 and Jonathan Mallari in the present time.

“It gave me goosebumps,” Pascual said.
He remembered asking, “Lord, ano ba ’to (what is this), a sign?” He changed his mind about the movie offer and asked for a more detailed and formal pitch, this time with his manager in attendance. He finally said yes. “So, you can just say I’m sucker for good stories.”

Pascual admitted Mallari has a “complicated” storyline but the production — from producer John Bryan Diamante of Mentorque Productions and screenwriter Enrico Santos to director Derick Cabrido and the cast and crew — made sure the movie will be a worthwhile watch when it opens on 25 December. The lead actor even got an acting coach, Angie Castrence, to effectively delineate his three characters.

“Bottomline is authenticity,” he pointed out on how he’s able to effectively do his variety of work, which also includes challenging roles in Brillante Mendoza’s Moro and the historical piece GomBurZa.
“How can you be authentic if you’re not real? I think that’s my contribution. I don’t try to fake. I don’t try to be who I’m not. I don’t try something that I know I can’t do,” he stressed.

“Take me for what I am. But I give my best. As much as you are a vessel, that’s also an opportunity for you to prove and challenge yourself. And not just think highly of yourself. If you say you’re perfect, there’s no more room for growth. So, you want to be in a clean slate whenever you take on something.”