Martin Del Rosario's rise to fame
- Vanessa Balbuena (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2012 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Martin del Rosario appeared cool as a cucumber while being interviewed by press folk backstage, so it was a surprise when he confessed to actually being a ball of nerves on the inside.

The reason for his heart racing faster than normal? He was set to come out on stage to a crowd of fans gathered at the SM City Cebu Event Centre, to promote his latest film Amorosa: The Revenge. While performing for a sizeable audience should be routine for a rising matinee idol like Martin, this unassuming young man has yet to get the hang of it.

“Mahiyain talaga ako. Kung ano yung pinapakita ko during mall shows…sa totoo lang, kahit pang-ilang mall show ko na ito, kinakabahan pa rin ako. Kahit tanungin niyo pa yung handler ko. Parang nalulula kasi ako kapag maraming tao. Okey lang sa taping, pero kung live, kinakabahan talaga,” said Martin.

Martin’s shyness can’t be interpreted as lacking in confidence, because his acting resumé speaks volumes of his fearlessness. He’s tackled what other actors his age would think twice playing – a tranny, a person with autism, a drug addict, an incest victim, and more sensitive roles, all these for the drama anthology Maalala Mo Kaya.

Getting clammy hands then for something as normal for a celebrity as a mall show could just be consistent to how Martin has remained unaffected by fame. He’s still humble enough to feel nervous, his feet still planted firmly on the ground, even when his network had recently propped him up to the category of a desirable leading man.

On how he’s been handling the perks and pains of more people recognizing, and screaming for him now, he said, “Hindi ko masyado nilalagay sa utak ko kasi hindi naman ako yung taong masyadong showbiz na showbiz. As much as possible, I still want to enjoy my private life. Maybe when I’m out in the public, like mall shows like this, I seem confident. But outside showbiz, tahimik lang ako kasi mahiyain talaga ako.”

How did someone who professes to be the bashful kind end up in one of the most public and exposed professions there is?

Martin, 19, recounted how he was discovered by a talent scout five years back. “I was in second year high school when my manager Jun Reyes, who handled Gerald Anderson before, saw me walking on my way to Lourdes School in Quezon City. That’s where I went to high school. He approached me and said, ‘Bagets, gusto mo ba mag-artista?’ and he gave me his business card. I thought he wasn’t the real deal, but I gave him my mom’s phone number. He called and asked me to go to ABS-CBN for a VTR. Once there, I was made to attend workshops. Ang bilis ng mga pangyayari.”

When the workshops ended, Martin was introduced as one of Star Magic’s artists. This was in 2007.

Martin was given his big break only last year, but then again, he said he is in no particular hurry to be the next big thing. “I’ve been in showbiz for four years. I was launched only last year when I was cast in Minsan Lang Kitang Iibigin with Coco Martin, Maja Salvador and Andi Eigenmann. Pero hindi ko naman nararamdaman na naghintay ako ng matagal. Nag-aaral din naman ako, kaya hindi ako nagmamadali.”

“And then finally, I was given a leading man role in Pintada. I’m grateful and I feel overwhelmed for the trust and for their recognition of my talent. It inspires me to do better,” added Martin, already a recipient of two acting awards for his portrayal in the 2010 indie film Dagim.

Martin isn’t the only actor in his family tree. His dad, Robert del Rosario, appeared in two films during his teens. These days, Robert accompanies his son to tapings and shootings, where he’s sometimes asked to stand in as a doctor or lawyer for some scene. But the elder del Rosario would decline.

“Mahiyain din kasi yung dad ko eh. Pogi lang yung dad ko, kaya parang napilitan siya mag-artista noon,” explained Martin.

“Lahat silang tatlong magkakapatid, ang alam ko nag-artista sila lahat. There used to be a ‘Del Rosario brothers’ before the TVJ trio came out. His sister also used to be a model. But their father was really strict and they were not allowed to continue because he wanted them to study first.”

One of Martin’s aunts from his mom’s side also happens to be veteran character actress Ces Quesada, while news anchor Connie Sison is another aunt from his dad’s side.

Martin’s parents aren’t as strict as his grandfather, but he returns the favor by not ditching college all together even if his showbiz schedule is quite demanding. Yes, the guy still drags himself to UP Diliman to attend his classes after coming home early in the morning from shoots. He is currently an irregular third year student, taking up Broadcasting.

“Underload ako, so I still have about three years before I can graduate,” he said.

A high school salutatorian and a member of his high school debate team, Martin said he chose Broadcasting because “I just thought that I already knew the feeling to be in front of the camera, so why not learn about the process behind the scenes.”

He appreciates that UPians don’t really make a big deal of a celebrity in their midst.

“In UP, people treat me normally. Simple lang, walang dumog, wala din special treatment. Although sometimes, I need to request from the teachers when I have to make up for something. Pinagbibigyan naman ako minsan, pero wala namang special treatment. Even among my classmates, they treat me normally.”

But if he keeps up the string of high-profile movies such as The Healing and Amorosa, plus the fanfare brought by his afternoon series Pintada with leading lady Denise Laurel, Martin could possibly lose that sense of normalcy in the confines of his university.

The project with Denise is a wish fulfilled for him. If most TV heartthrobs who want to graduate from the love team mold seek growth by pursuing character roles, it’s been the opposite for Martin. He said he’s done a fair share of meaty and edgy portrayals, that he became curious how it felt to have a romantic tandem.

“Ang tagal ko na, pero hindi ako nagkakaroon ng loveteam. That used to be my dream. Now, I’ve already achieved that with Denise,” he said.

He named Cristine Reyes, Anne Curtis and Angel Locsin in his list of dream leading ladies.

Asked what he thinks his best physical asset is, Martin replied, “I guess it would be my eyes because they say it’s expressive. And when you have expressive eyes, you don’t have to exert as much effort while acting.”

Ironically enough, he couldn’t depend too much on those puppy-dog eyes for his role in the psychological-horror Amorosa, where he played a blind boy.

“My character was blind, which meant smaller movements and lesser lines. You just feel my presence on-screen. It was difficult. Kailangan tagos yung paningin mo kahit may kausap kang kaharap.”

Martin is not complaining, of course. Anything that tests the actor in him will always be a most welcome challenge.

AKO ANNE CURTIS AND ANGEL LOCSIN CES QUESADA CITY CEBU EVENT CENTRE COCO MARTIN CONNIE SISON MARTIN
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