The truth about JM de Guzman
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2013 - 12:00am

“He is not well-off but surely he’s not dirt poor.”

That’s the assurance of Ronniel de Guzman in reaction to reports that his son JM de Guzman has been seen unkempt and wandering around, begging for transportation money. In short, a vagrant.

“As a father,” continued Ronniel, a desk editor at Tempo (and son of former Bulletin Tourism Editor Cornelio de Guzman, now with Executive Sec. Paquito Ochoa as consultant to Pres. Noynoy Aquino), “I am hurt by those untrue stories. Like any father, I love my son.”

Although he didn’t deny that JM indeed has gone through some personal problem that drove him to seek solace in, uhm, “something bad,” Ronniel, also a board member of the National Press Club (NPC), said that his son is slowly but surely succeeding in sorting out the mess he’s in.

“Malalampasan niya ang mga demonyo sa buhay niya,” Ronniel aptly put it in the vernacular.

Only two or three years ago, JM was touted as “the next big thing,” the best bet to become a drama actor to be reckoned with, thanks to his training at the Dulaang UP while he was finishing a course in Theater Arts. Besides acting, his other special talent is singing; he even released two albums, an eponymous one and Tensyonado, released by Ivory Records.

In mainstream showbiz, he started in 2000 with the ABS-CBN kiddie show Ang TV 2 together with Shaina Magdayao, Sarah Geronimo and Denise Laurel, ending up as ABS-CBN contract star. As a grown-up, JM proved his acting talent in three episodes of the Charo Santos-Concio’s Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK). After his stint in Mula sa Puso (with Lauren Young), JM played the title role in the teleserye Angelito, Batang Ama, which has to be cut short when he developed a, well, “bad habit” that caused delays in the shoot and traced to the influence of BC (Bad Company).

For a while, nothing was heard about JM until lately when unsavory stories started cropping up in the tabs initially told in blind items, making showbiz observers go tsk-tsking and saying, “Sayang si JM because he’s very talented; he bungled up the good breaks that other actors would give their right arms for.”

Has his break-up with Jessy Mendiola (see related story on Page C-7), his “secret” girlfriend of two years, something to do with JM’s downward spiral?

“I don’t want to blame anybody for what happened to JM,” said Ronniel. “He’s 24 and, like any adult, he’s responsible for his actions.”

But, added Ronniel, “I can say that JM was never disrespectful to me or to anybody. He didn’t bother anybody. If at all, sarili lang niya ang naperhuwisyo niya. I love my son so much that’s why it hurts me to read or hear bad stories about him that are not true,” especially about how JM has turned into a vagrant.

“As I said, JM is not dirt poor,” explained Ronniel. “Star Magic (with which JM is under contract) is taking care of his earnings as it does with those of other contract stars. Ten percent of what JM was earnings from his shows, gigs and mall tours have been set aside as his savings at the BDO branch in ABS-CBN and he cannot withdraw from it without the consent of (Johnny) Mr. M. (Manahan). Nagpapasalamat nga ako sa ABS-CBN sa nagtatabi sila ng pera ng mga contract stars nila. I want to make it clear that JM doesn’t support our family. His eanings are his own.”

Only a month ago, according to Ronniel, JM bought a second-hand Ford for P350,000, “so I guess he can go around in his private car,” in contrast to reports that he takes public transport, playing his guitar while on board.

“He has also his personal savings sa ATM,” added Ronniel who fondly calls JM Butik because, recalled Ronniel, “he was so small when he was a kid that we jokingly called him Butiki.”

Asked if JM was emotionally weak, Ronniel said, “Yes, kaya nga mahusay siyang artista because he is emotional. Otherwise, instead of becoming an artist, he would have become a banker.”

In the meantime while JM is on his way to recovery, he has decided to lie low, giving up the 2013 Metro Filmfest indie Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir which is directed by Francis Villacorta who has tapped Rocco Nacino as replacement. JM’s younger brother might play a bit role in the movie.

Now drug-free (after undergoing detoxification), all that JM needs are what Ronniel called “tools” (good company, etc.) that would strengthen him as he follows a new direction in life.

“He’s somewhere,” was all that Ronniel would reveal about JM’s whereabouts, “not yet stable but getting better. A few more months and he will be okay. Maybe by December, he will be recovered. He will be a better man when he emerges and he himself will tell the whole true story.”

The last time Ronniel saw JM (who lives away from the family) was two weeks ago.

“He raised his left arm and gave me the peace sign,” said Ronniel, his voice caught in his throat. “I told him how much I love him.”

(E-mail reactions at entphilstar@yahoo.com. You may also send your questions to askrickylo@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

AS I BAD COMPANY BATANG AMA BATANG MARTIR CHARO SANTOS-CONCIO EXECUTIVE SEC FRANCIS VILLACORTA GUZMAN RONNIEL
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