Bojo found heaven in Guam

CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star

If there’s heaven on earth, Bojo Molina must have found it in Guam, that cozy little island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

That’s where we found Bojo Molina, former Star Circle talent, two weeks ago during a familiarization tour of Guam sponsored by Travel Specialist (for inquiries, call 928-7487 or 0917-8361620, look for either Rowena Coloma or Luchie Sta. Ana).

Now 41, Ubaldo “Bojo” Molina Punongbayan Jr. is married to Johansen ”Jen” Kwe with whom he has two children, Bryzen Oliver, 11, and Jaedyn Olivia, six years old. Jen is a charming lady, ready with a bedimpled smile, and pleasing/pleasant as teachers are expected to be. She graduated from the University of Guam (where actor Benjamin Alves also graduated summa cum laude with an AB Literature degree), a teacher for six years and now an assistant principal in one of the island’s schools for nine years.

Bojo and his family joined us for dinner hosted by Emilio Uy (community leader, concert producer, businessman and “Ninong ng Mga Pinoy sa Guam”), together with Guam Sen. Dennis Rodriguez Jr. and his wife Lena, and newly-posted Philippine Consul-General Marciano de Borja with his wife Esperanza and their daughter Agatha.

How long have you been in Guam?

“On Nov. 15, I should be here for 13 years.”

And how’s life here?

“Very good. I’m very blessed. You have just seen my family. My kids are very healthy. And my wife is, well, you have seen how she is.”

She’s very beautiful, mukhang artista. How are you as a dad?

“Ah, well, I hope I’m good. So far, my kids are, well, okey naman sila. Sabi nila, when kids grow up away from the Philippines, nawawala daw ang Filipino traits, ‘yung magalang at paggamit ng ‘po’ at ‘opo.’ I am strict when it comes to disciplining the children.”

(To Jen) How’s Bojo as a husband?

“As a husband, he’s very good. As a father, he’s just as good. As a couple, we do have our ups and downs but we have a way of ironing things out amicably.”

What’s a typical day in your life like?

“I start my day by jogging and then I drive my kids to school and my wife to work. Then I go to work in the afternoon. After work, I pick them up, we have dinner together, and that’s it. Very regular. Very routine. Simple lang.”

How is your work?

“I’m doing well naman. I’m the marketing director of 17 theaters which are known here as the Tango Theater, 12 of them are at the Micronesia Mall and five at the Agana Theater.”

Oh, your job is in a way still connected to showbiz.

“Yes. We are the only theaters that play Filipino movies, by Star Cinema, Viva and Regal. We were the ones who launched TFC (The Filipino Channel) here in Guam 25 years na yata ‘yon. I was a Star Circle talent at that time, kami nina Rico (Yan), Jolina (Magdangal), Claudine (Barretto) and Marvin (Agustin). We were together in the movie Flames and we graced the inauguration of TFC. Rico and Regine (Tolentino) were in Star Circle Batch One; Marvin, Diether (Ocampo) and Mylene (Dizon) were in Batch Two; and I was in Batch Three with Piolo (Pascual), Carlos (Agassi), Kaye (Abad) and Paolo (Contis).”

Refresh my memory…how long were you in showbiz?

“From 1997 to 2002, so about five years. I did shows on TV like Super Laff-In, Marinella and Okatokat, and some guestings on MMK (Maalaala Mo Kaya) and then I transferred to Viva, did a few shows for IBC 13 and some with GMA. The last time I counted, I did 11 movies, the last having been Four Fathers (for Metro Filmfest) in which I played a priest along with Gerald (Madrid), Bobby (Andrews) and Polo (Ravales). That was in 2001.”

That was the year you came to Guam, right?

“Yes. Happy naman ako dito, sobra!”

Why did you leave showbiz?

“I wanted a change of life and at the same time start my own family. Actually, a lot of things led me to where I am now. I would call it a leap of faith. Luckily for me, Jen was still here when I came back.”

What do you mean?

“Well, in 2000, I was invited to be a guest at a birthday party where I would serenade the celebrator who was turning sweet 16. It was at that party where I first met Jen who was introduced to me by a mutual friend.”

How did the courtship go?

“Oh, it was a long-distance kind of courtship. We began going steady and after a year, we broke up, and got back together again. Then, I thought of starting a new life and having my own family. I thought it was unfair to drag whoever I would marry to showbiz life baka mahirapan mag-adjust. I must add that it was showbiz that brought me to Guam. Kung hindi ako nag-showbiz, baka hindi ko na-meet ang future wife ko.”

Why Guam of all places?

“I came back for her. When I left in 2000, I really had an intention of seeing her again. We didn’t have any plan to get married but things happened so fast that two weeks after we reconciled, we decided to get married. Why Guam? Because it’s a beautiful place and I can easily go to the Philippines. Actually, I’ve been coming and going, pabalik-balik ako.”

Did she know that you were a playboy (joke)?

(Blushes) “Hindi naman po playboy, lapitin lang po! Hehehehe!” (Jen traces her family roots to Iloilo. She grew up in San Diego, California, and Hawaii where her father, Julio Kwe, a Chinese-American retired from the US Navy, was stationed. Her mom, Mercy Kwe, is Filipina. The family stayed for a while in Guam before Johansson’s parents decided to retire in Hawaii. The eldest of three siblings, Jen opted to remain in Guam to pursue a career in education.) “I was lucky when I came back because at that time she was already planning to go back to San Diego. Kung natuloy siya, eh di hindi sana kami nagkita uli.”

Having been in showbiz, how were you able to adjust to life in Guam (which is a small, laid-back island barely 212 square miles, roughly 549 square kilometers, in area)?

“Sabi nga nila, kung ang takbo sa Pilipinas ay kumbaga 100 miles per hour, here in Guam it is only 20 miles per hour. There are many Filipinos here so I feel as if I never left home at all. It was easy for me to adjust to a simple life here because I am a probinsyano at heart. I grew up in the province, in Laguna, the fourth among five children.

Medyo my access to certain things was nabawasan when I moved here. But eventually, as I started working in different places until I reached where I am now, I was able naman to build connections. Aside from managing the theaters, I do other things like producing shows. We produced the ASAP show here and we’re doing some projects for Philippine Airlines. Before end of this month, we are bringing here the Philippine basketball team for an exhibition game.”

Did you hold any other job?

“My first job here was an admin assistant for a company that helped the victims of a supertyphoon that hit Guam in 2002. I was there for six months because the company was just a program for grants. Then, for six months I produced, directed and hosted a lifestyle/magazine TV show called P-Jazz. I also worked for a cable company and a credit company.”

So are you here for good?

“Who knows, maybe if I retire we might settle down in the Philippines. One sister is in New Jersey but my parents and other siblings are still in the Philippines. Guam is only a four-hour flight away from the Philippines, so we can shuttle between Guam and the Philippines, why not?”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected].)









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