Mikael Daez: Driven by passion

KAPUSO DAY - Butch S. Raquel - The Philippine Star

Everything seems to be going right for Kapuso leading man Mikael Daez. He is a successful host and actor, a sought-after model, a business school graduate, a health advocate and a national peace ambassador.

But success isn’t something that was served to him on a silver platter, says Mikael. “I had very, very humble beginnings, and I won’t ever forget where I came from,” muses the 25-year-old Kapuso star, who rose to fame sometime in 2011. From a fledgling model, Mikael painstakingly worked his way up the glossy ladder of local tinseltown, auditioning for minor roles and eventually clinching the much-coveted leading man status two years later.

He attributes most of his accomplishments to persistence. “I appreciate what GMA has done, that’s why I try to work so hard for them,” explains Mikael, narrating how the network has trusted a newbie like him to headline a number of its stellar productions, including the primetime remake Sana Ay Ikaw Na Nga in 2012 and the morning rom-com With A Smile this year. He is also grateful to have been given the opportunity to fine-tune his acting chops during his early years alongside Kapuso royalty Marian Rivera in the period drama Amaya and in the suspense-thriller My Beloved.

“I try to improve per project, ‘yun lang ang primary goal ko. Ang hirap naman na sabihin ko, the best agadKailangan may progression. Every project, gusto kong may maipakita akong bago,” says Mikael, who has recently tried his hand at comedy as one of the newest additions to the longest-running gag show, Bubble Gang.

Several have expressed interest, but only a few have made the transition. Early this year, Mikael added another feather to his cap when he joined the ranks of select showbiz personalities who forayed into News and Public Affairs. He began to take part on GMA’s morning program Unang Hirit and banner Saksi’s recently-launched food segment Midnight Snack, as well as co-star on GMA News TV’s primetime drama Titser, which discusses issues in Philippine education.

Network executives saw his knack for hosting, says Mikael. After undergoing a string of rigorous hosting auditions, he eventually landed Midnight Snack, which caps off late-night news source Saksi. “They wanted someone new, someone fresh, so they tried me out,” narrates Mikael, underscoring how he always gives “one million percent” in every project. Mikael works on Midnight Snack roughly three days a week.

Waking up at ungodly hours may be a stretch for most people, but not for this Kapuso actor. He says he looks forward to getting up pre-dawn to welcome weekday mornings in Unang Hirit. “People really think that with Unang Hiritang hirap — hassle gumising nang 3:30 a.m. But for me, it’s fun because when I get there, everyone is so alive, ang dami naming pinagku-kwentuhan. I enjoy it and at the same time, I learn a lot from them. Iba’t iba ‘yung hosting styles nila,” he explains, mentioning his co-hosts Arnold Clavio, Rhea Santos, Ivan Mayrina, Pia Arcanghel, Susan Enriquez, Suzi Entrata-Abrera, Lyn Ching-Pascual, and the rest of the closely-knit Unang Hirit barkada.

For Mikael, every career is a learning process. “In Unang Hirit, I pick up small things that I can apply to myself, to help me improve as a host and as a person. Those guys have been there for so long. They’ve made Unang Hirit a staple in GMA television. Just to see them work together and individually, it’s a big thing.”

What he likes about Unang Hirit — whose format incorporates hard news into a hodgepodge of lifestyle segments — is how it allows him to keep abreast of the times. “Our news anchors and reporters in Unang Hirit are amazing. They’re seasoned, they have so much experience. I’m so happy that they’re breaking me in. I realized that ever since I got into showbiz, I haven’t been updated with current events. Doing Unang Hirit helps keep me updated. Mas nararamdaman ko ‘yung patriotism ko kasi alam ko ‘yung current events, alam ko kung ano’ng nangyayariPag nakikita ko ‘yung friends ko, napag-uusapan namin, I can bring it up.”

Mikael is thankful that his chosen profession not only affords him personal fulfillment; it also serves as a vehicle to drive the public to action — or at the very least, influence people to see problems in society. His role as a young journalist in Titser, a fearless commentary on the problems of Philippine education, is one such role.

“I hope people would be moved to uplift the state of our education, kasi ang dami pang pwedeng ma-improve sa education system natin,” begins Mikael. “I feel sympathetic and compassionate towards less-privileged students who have to go through a lot just to receive quality education,” he says, stressing how he feels very “fortunate and blessed” to have obtained beyond satisfactory education. Mikael finished his elementary and high school years at Ateneo de Manila University where he belonged in the honors section. He also completed his college education in the same university, taking up an honors degree in Business Management.

His words for today’s youth: “Stay in school.” Mikael says that the value of education is not limited to the sheer acquisition of basic cognitive skills. Rather, school is where people learn and understand how to live within a system. “Because we do live in a system,” he justifies. “We have a legal system, almost everything governed in the Philippines has a system. We have to be able to follow that, so everybody can live harmoniously.”

“Going through school, â€˜yun ‘yung dry-run mo, ‘yung test-run mo para masanay ka,” he continues. “You can’t go out on the streets and just drive like a madman. Same thing with school. So parang pina-practice ka na.” 

Mikael lives by this thought: Discipline gets people through the academe, and it also gets people through life.

Social awareness is a concept that Mikael takes to heart. He currently serves as a national peace ambassador for the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and an Eat Brown Rice ambassador for anti-poverty organization Oxfam International.

“People can be moved to action simply by being made aware,” he notes. “How will you try fixing the problem kung hindi mo nga alam na may problema? A little push from our leaders or ambassadors like myself — that really goes a long way. There’s so much work to be done, but awareness is such an important part of this process.”

Mikael’s passion for his advocacies fans his zest for life. He leads by example and exhibits a profound understanding of his ideals. For the Oxfam campaign, Mikael promotes the health benefits of brown rice. “Pinoys love eating but we still have a responsibility to eat well and take care of our bodies,” he explains. “It’s a chain of reactions. If you eat well, you can live longer, healthier, and happier. You can do more things, be more productive, be a better person. You can help more people. It’s a cycle. You take care of yourself so you can take care of others. And those others can take care of themselves so that they can take care of others, as well.”

As a national peace ambassador, he also stresses the importance of positive social action. “We are here to show people that we have a long way to go, but our government is looking for ways to create more peace and harmony in the country. Marami pa tayong issues na hinaharap, but it is possible. To get people trying and moving, that’s the first step. The second step is mobilizing everybody, getting all the Filipinos involved.”

“We’re 90 million plus in the Philippines,” he pauses, “and 90 million people can do so much. Ninety million can work so many miracles.”









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