Weathering through every storm of his career, Piolo Pascual is embracing his creative freedom as co-founder of Spring Films. Read excerpt of this month’s MEGAMan cover star.
Of course, one would have to be living under a rock not to know the Piolo Pascual. The Golden Age of Star Magic marked the discovery of now-iconic names in the local entertainment industry under the tutelage of Johnny Manahan, or Mr. M, in the mid-90s. And through this pioneering vision of celebrity that defined his handpicked set of artists, hard work was rewarded with opportunity and abundance.
Pascual has had the privileges of that stellar career. His boyish features earned him highly-coveted leading man roles in television and cinema back in the early days of his rich portfolio. But in such a tenure that spans more than two decades, the unmistakable growth he has exhibited in both caliber and character has been handsomely remunerated with critical acclaim and worthy respect from peers and observers.
Here was a man who has, obliviously, often suffered the wrath of jealous boyfriends and fragile male egos. A man most self-respecting women (and men) with golden standards would uphold as the ideal in an imagined significant other—with a beautiful yet ageless exterior matched with endearing soft-boy sensibilities, extremely relatable yet very out of reach.
Setting public opinion aside, painting an accurate portrait of an entertainment figure like Piolo Pascual would require a deep dive through legend, controversy, and years of proven success. And sifting through an ocean of online information would be tedious but surprisingly satisfying. But beyond this surplus of data is a story of an enduring image that traverses the lines of fact and fiction, an endless pursuit for perfection, and an undeniable passion that is often overlooked yet is omnipresent.
Through quick introductions and professional niceties, Pascual speaks with the calm of an actor who has met hundreds of journalists and sat on plenty of press junkets. There is a coolness in his voice. He has a manner of furrowing his brow when elaborating a thought. Yet, there is the unguarded tendency to deliver long sentences as he froths with intent and eagerness towards a particular topic. He is articulate yet very intense. This is the passion of Piolo Pascual.
SPRING FILMS: A BOLT FROM THE BLUE
We immediately head on to the topic of his most recent venture, My Amanda. Like many who have long known Pascual merely as a capable dramatic actor, his work as a film producer come as a surprisingly recent discovery. Yet Spring Films, founded and managed by a talent trifecta of Pascual, director Joyce Bernal, and Cornerstone Entertainment president Erickson Raymundo, has been around for more than a decade and has brought to life many successful movies.
I counted 19 projects on their Wikipedia page, My Amanda included. Its first foray into the industry was the chart-topping Kimmy Dora trilogy, which put comedic actress Eugene Domingo on every local showbiz follower’s radar. Kita Kita, which gained critical acclaim for its brilliant casting and lighthearted story, was also a landmark achievement. Aside from earning international recognition, it eventually became the country’s highest-grossing independent film.
“I still feel like every time we do a film, it’s like the first time,” Pascual recalls. “Backtrack to twelve years ago, it came from an idea with Joyce Bernal when we had Eugene Domingo as one of the cast members of this movie that Joyce was directing (2007’s Paano Kita Iibigin with Piolo and Regine Velasquez as romantic leads), and Eugene almost stole the show from us. I mean, she was so natural, she was so funny and entertaining and everything. So, we thought of launching her as a lead. We commissioned Chris Martinez to write a script, and it just happened like, super-fast—and then we put up Spring Films.”
“I was in the States—I would tour every so often—and I kept thinking of a name. I mean, what are you going to name the production? And Spring connotes upward swing: like springing up, the Spring season, and anticipation of being able to go out. Everything is blossoming. So it’s
positive. That’s why we thought of Spring Films.” The name proved to be a good omen. And by the conclusion of its third film, the Kimmy Dora series would earn approximately Php 420 million at the box office.
Equally fascinating about this dream team of a veteran actor, a multi-awarded director, and a respected talent agency is its willingness to bet on rich ideas that many local productions have never done before. Pascual acknowledges how Spring Films plays a conscious role in giving gifted writers a much-needed industry boost, “It all started with one concept to a point wherein there was a community of writers that have brilliant ideas that can’t be done so we thought of giving them a break, and one thing led to another. And with all the partnerships we’ve had through the years, it’s still evolving.” Yet humility amid all these triumphs keeps his feet planted firmly on the ground. There is much to be learned, as he constantly reiterates in the duration of the interview.
“And it’s a fun ride,” Pascual reassures.
“Because of that, I feel motivated. Every time I read a script, I read an idea or a concept, and then it starts with nothing, and then it just becomes a whole film. And then it takes its own life. I like the process.”
Photography SEVEN BARRETTO of STUDIO 7 MNL
Creative direction NICOLE ALMERO
Grooming DONNABELLE MAGBOJOS
Styling TON LAO
Production design ERWIN BOTIN
Photography assistant CLAUDE VILLAHERMOSA
Shoot Coordination ERICA LUNA and LOUIS ESGUERRA
Special thanks to ERICKSON RAYMUNDO, JEFF VADILLO, GIAN CARLOS and LIZ ALVAREZ