Another Ejercito also rises
Amadís Ma. Guerrero (The Philippine Star) - February 19, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Young, good-looking and articulate, Anjelo Ejercito (screen name: Angelo Estrada) strikes one as a serious and sober fellow, ambitious but not aggressively so. He holds a business administration degree from St. Paul College-Quezon City and, as you may have guessed, comes from a show business clan. He is the grandson of the former President who is now Mayor of Manila and a nephew of a Senator who is now detained.

So how does it feel to have such famous but controversial older relatives?

“I hear both positive and negative things about them,” he says. “But it is a privilege for me to have this family name. It’s really a challenge for me. There will always be critics, so I’m very careful about my actions. It’s a privilege because not everyone comes from a prominent family.”

After graduation, Angelo applied in several companies — a bank, call center, human resource firm — but had no clear vision of what he wanted: “I was personally in search of what my purpose was.” Good with a guitar, he played with a band for a time, performing at the San Juan City Plaza, and was attracted to a writing career.

Then he met a friend who took him to a production of Tanghalang Pilipino (TP), the resident drama group of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). Angelo was entranced and he enrolled in a TP workshop. This experience convinced him of his future course of action — to be a freelance actor for the theater and, maybe, even films and TV.

“It built confidence in me,” he declares. “It really helped, I honed my craft in acting. I learned discipline, I learned responsibility. It’s a golden rule in theater, don’t upstage, huwag kang mag-eksena. You have to use a lot of imagination, a vivid imagination. Analyze what you are doing. Analyze everything. Internalize.”

Mentor Nanding Josef would tell him and the other workshop participants to “rediscover yourself, what makes you happy, what makes you sad.” And veteran actor Lou Veloso would emphasize the importance of feeling the character (“damdamin mo ang character”).

“I found what family is in theater,” says the promising actor. “This is where I belong. I found what my purpose really is. Before, I had no direction. My mom (Marjorie) told me to focus on bigger things. ‘Mag-artista ka kung gusto mo.’ My dad (Joel), my siblings Nico and Charisse also supported me. I was following my heart.”

His acting experience is still slight, but he’s only 22 and just starting. He has appeared in the stage musicals A Mother’s Heart and Obispo, the latter about the saintly Bishop Verzosa from Vigan, and a recital of Tanghalang Pilipino; and as St. John the beloved disciple in the Senaculo. He has also appeared in Tiklop, a short film of Miriam College, playing — of all things — a teenaged hitman.

Right now, Angelo plans to do more auditions and focus on possible upcoming projects. “I am looking for opportunities for success as an actor,” he says. “While waiting for films and plays, and once successful, I will go into business, maybe food.”

His parents, after all, run a family business centered on biscuits.

Another interesting thing about Angelo is the question of nationality. He does not, of course, regret being born a Filipino but speculates that if in another life he is given a chance to choose his nationality, he will opt to be an Englishman. Why? “Because the English have contributed a lot to literature and history, and one of my interests is literature.”


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