Jay-R: The Heart of The Hunk
- Ricky Lo () - April 11, 2004 - 12:00am
Hunk is a word that makes Jay-R blush but that’s how the public perceives him to be – a Hunk.

He exudes a certain kind of sexiness, casual and easy, when he sings on TV, something reminiscent of the rugged boyishness of Steve McQueen. No wonder Bench tapped him to be an endorser of Bench underwear. Perfect fit, isn’t he?

A few weeks ago, Jay-R performed at the 2004 Bb. Pilipinas Pageant and he melted millions of (especially female) hearts by singing The Way You Look Tonight as he "flirted" around the dozen or so contestants, doing that song (which helped Julius Babao get Tintin Bersola’s nod during their courtship days) far better than Michael Bublé does. Others may not think so but I do. There’s a "caress element" in the way Jay-R sings The Way You Look Tonight.

In the flesh, Jay-R is – surprise, surprise! – somewhat thin, thinner than he appears on the TV screen which he rules with his "hunk-ness." He appears to be shy, ending his sentences with a po. He’s soft-spoken and doesn’t flaunt the braggadocio usually associated with Fil-Ams who (wrongly) think they’re far better than the locals.

"I’m 100 percent Filipino," says Jay-R who turned 23 last Feb. 1 (he’s an Aquarian). "My father, Gaudencio Sillona II, is from Ilocos. My mother, Amparo Aquino, is Pinay na Pinay. I’m Gaudencio III, a junior. That’s why I use the name Jay-R. I was born in Los Angeles, California, and I grew up in the Glendale area where I also finished grade school, elementary school, high school and one year of Computer Engineering."

He is managed by choreographer Geleen Eugenio, his aunt.

You guessed it: His studies were rudely interrupted by his desire to embark on a singing career here. In barely one year, Jay-R has established himself as one of the country’s finest young singers, touted to be a possible Gary V. "successor."

He’s now gearing up for his first solo concert called Gameface (also the title of his album), slated at the Music Museum with an array of formidable guests, such as Keith Martin (April 15), Arnee (April 15 and 17), Janno Gibbs (April 16), KC Montero (April 16 and 17) and Gary Valenciano (April 17). Produced by Silverline Entertainment and ASTI in cooperation with ALV Productions and directed by Louie Ignacio with Mon Faustino as musical director, Gameface will also feature the Myxtreme Band and the Whiplash. Showtime is 8 p.m. (For inquiries, call 721-6726.)

According to the concert’s press release, "To his fans, Jay-R has always been an enigma. Apart from his distinctive bag of R&B tricks and fancy footwork, the hunky skinhead has managed to cloak himself with an impenetrable shroud of mystery – triggering even more curiosity among his rabid fans..."

Okay then, let’s try to penetrate the "impenetrable" Jay-R.

What do you have that other singers don’t?

"I think..." (Breaking into a wide smile) "...an American accent. There’s a lot of very good singers here but very few have American accent."

But you do speak fluent Tagalog.

"That’s the language we speak at home."

How many brothers and sisters do you have?

"I have two sisters and one brother. I’m the youngest. On my Dad’s side, I have four brothers. Before my parents got together, my father was married to somebody else."

Besides an "American accent," what can you do that other singers cannot?

"Well, I produce music. I did two for Kyla’s album, Not Your Ordinary Girl and You’re Making Me Crazy. We’re now working on some of the songs."

Name three artists who have influenced your career.

One is Stevie Wonder, the second is Luther Vandross and the third is Gary V."

What do you like about them?

"Stevie writes beautiful songs; ang galing magsulat ng kanta at ang ganda ng boses. Amazing! Malawak ang range niya. Si Luther, suwabe ang dating, very solid! Gary V. is... I cannot elaborate on Gary V. Everybody knows how good he is. A good singer and a good dancer."

You grew up in California. What kind of upbringing did you have?

"At home, as I said, we speak in Tagalog. We were brought up the Filipino way...on Filipino customs and tradition. ‘Yung American culture I got in school and from my American friends. But at home, Filipinong-Filipino po kami."

Some people, especially women, look at hunks like you as, you know, "a piece of meat"; mere beautiful body devoid of talent. How do you feel about this (definitely wrong) impression?

"It doesn’t offend me at all. It even challenges me all the more to prove them wrong...to show them that there’s something more behind, rather inside, what they call a ‘beautiful body.’ At the same time, I’m flattered to be considered, yes, a beautiful body."

How do you take care of your body?

"I dance a lot; that’s my workout. I dance a lot on my shows (he’s a regular on GMA’s S.O.P.). I try to go to the gym in my spare time. But I hardly have any free time these days, especially now that I’m rehearsing for my concert."

What about diet?

"I don’t have any diet. The truth is that I’m trying to gain weight. Don’t you think I’m a bit skinny? I’m 5’11" and I weigh only 165 lbs. I’m eating a lot. I eat anything!"

Do you get enough sleep, like eight hours a night?

"I’d love to but all I can get is three to four hours. The most I can get is six hours."

Why, too much "gimmick"?

"No. Too much work. No time for ‘gimmick’."

Have you received any, ehem, indecent proposal – maybe from rich matrons and other adventurous people?

"None... so far! They wouldn’t dare!"

Why wouldn’t... why shouldn’t they?

"They wouldn’t succeed; they wouldn’t get what it is they’re after."

What about movies?

"It’s a possibility. Sana mayroon."

You could be a bold actor.

"Ay, hindi po!" (He acts on the GMA teleseries Love to Love. – RFL)

Why not? You have the body for it. If and when, what would make you drop your pants?

"None that I can think of."

What if, ehem, the price is right?

"Price has nothing to do with it. But then..." (Adding with a laugh) "...I could get carried away in a scene and it just might happen. You know what could happen if your adrenaline is high."

Are you vain? Most good-looking guys are, you know.

"I’m an exception. No, I’m not vain at all."

How long do you stay in front of the mirror?

"About the length of time it takes me to brush my teeth, or to fix my clothes. I don’t have to comb my hair because, as you can see, kalbo ako. I don’t linger in front of the mirror."

Why did you shave your head? Is it part of your image?

"No. It’s more for comfort. Makes fixing yourself easier. You take a bath, wipe yourself dry and that’s it. After putting on your clothes, you leave for work."

Who among the local actresses do you find sexy? Name three.

"One is Anne Curtis; she has a beautiful face. The second is Angel Locsin; she also has a pretty face. And the third is Rufa Mae Quinto; she’s funny, she has a wild personality."

What kind of girls do you find attractive?

"Yung mahinhin, the quiet type. ‘Yung mabait... respectful to the parents and older people."

What about the physical attributes?

"I’m more into the inner person. There are girls who are pretty but they’re vain. Masyadong self-possessed."

What type naman turns you off?

"‘Yung makapal ang make-up... the ones who keep on touching up their faces and are forever looking into their compact."

What’s the first thing that you notice in a girl?

"Lips. There’s about sexy about a girl’s lips."

After work, what do you do? How do you unwind?

"I’m still in my studio – working! That’s how I unwind – work in my studio! Making music."

Have you always wanted to be a singer?

"Oh, yes, ever since I was able to dream."

At what age did you realize that you could sing?

"I was 7. Ever since I was a kid, I was made to sing during family gatherings. I was the entertainer in the family, of the family. My Mom always encouraged me to sing. The truth is that I’d sing everywhere and anywhere – sa sala, sa banyo, sa kuwarto, sa mall, sa kusina – kung saan-saan!"

What was your favorite piece at that time?

"Unchained Melody. Songs by Gary V."

You never dreamed to be somebody else but a singer, did you?

"I also wanted to be a basketball player."

Who influenced you into pursuing a career as a singer?

"Aside from the three artists I mentioned earlier, it’s my family. My father plays the (classical) piano; my mother sings; and my two sisters also sing. My older brother dances. I have an uncle who’s a member of a band. My other aunts and uncles are also into music."

Oh, so it’s all in the family! But you’re the only one who came to pursue a singing career. Where are the rest?

"That’s right. I’m the only one. Lahat sila nasa L.A. My older sister is working on her album."

Who are the other singers who serve as your inspiration?

"There’s Usher...There’s Mario (a Black singer)...And there’s Kyla."

You seem to be up-to-date with the songs of Filipino singers.

"I listened to them back in L.A. I’m familiar with Filipino singers and Filipino songs. South Border and many others."

What was the first song that you learned how to sing?

"Unchained Melody. I love that song."

What do you like about that song?

"It’s a beautiful song, especially doon sa part na tumataas ang boses ng singer – I need your love, I need your love...!

Would you court a girl with a song or with either chocolates or flowers?

"With a song – definitely!"

Have you written a song for a girl?

"I have – for my girlfriend in L.A. When I first got my studio, I immediately wrote a song for her. It’s called Dream Girl."

Why didn’t you include it in your album Gameface (released nine months ago by Universal Records)?

"It’s too personal. Para lang sa kanya ’yon, even if we have broken up."

Meaning, you’re now fancy-free.

"Free as a bird."

So what’s the key to Jay-R’s heart?

"Simple lang – serenity, respect at kailangan mabait siya."

Okay. How would you describe Jay-R in three words?

"Goofy. Energetic. Stupid."


"In a good way, like the way the word ‘stupid’ means in L.A. You know, parang crazy – crazy in a nice way!"

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

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