Richard Yap, the not-so-teen king

Micah Levin Isla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Shiny, glittery, brand-new. Philippine show business is obsessed with youth — the younger, the better. With the likes of Daniel, James, Alden, and Enrique leading the pack, it seemed like the heartthrob status is reserved for the young; an impenetrable zone if you don’t enter as a teen king — then Richard Yap happened.

A proud family man in his 40s, Richard was launched as an actor in 2011 as Kim Chiu’s father “Papa Chen” in My Binondo Girl. And it didn’t take long before his enigmatic charm crept beyond Binondo, stealing hearts — young and otherwise — across the nation. Then he became Jodi Sta. Maria’s strict-boss-turned-lover “Sir Chief” on the hit daytime soap Be Careful With My Heart (BCWMH), which ran from 2012 to 2014.

In a recent press event at New World Makati, where Richard was announced as the newest ambassador for Manulife China Bank Assurance Corp., The STAR sat down with the unconventional matinee idol to talk about his upcoming projects, the heated presidential elections, and the secret to being a heartthrob at 48.

“I think it was just the right project at the right time,” he said, trying to downplay his huge contribution to the success of Be Careful, the show that propelled him into the sphere of bankable leading men.

When asked why everything worked, the man of few words answered within his limit: “I was just being myself.”

While the younger ones are being pressured by hardcore fans into staying single or into being in a relationship with their onscreen partners, Richard can easily deliver the kilig despite being a proud husband and father of two. He can make young girls shriek without having to denounce his real-life status.

“Be honest. I was honest about my status from the get-go. It’s better to be truthful right from the very start than to explain who you really are when it’s already too late,” he said, as an advice to his younger counterparts.

One might wonder: Does his wife ever get jealous?

“She knows it’s part of the job, and we’ve been together for so long we don’t get jealous anymore. In fact, sometimes my wife even tells me what to do to keep my supporters happy, para kiligin pa sila,” he said with a laugh.

Last seen on ABS-CBN’s superhero TV series My Super D, in real life, Richard is indeed a “super D” — a dad who juggles between family, acting, advocacies and growing businesses.

“My daughter thinks I’m very cool, I’m just not sure if she thinks I’m super,” he quipped.

Richard dreams of portraying a James Bond-like role, but it seems that people are not ready to say goodbye to his brand of kilig yet, because it was revealed recently that he’s doing another love story helmed by acclaimed director Antoinette Jadaone: A romantic triangle with his BCWMH partner Jodi Sta. Maria and veteran actor Ian Veneracion, another guy who proves that age is but a number — even in their teen-obsessed world.

Richard, like the roles he plays, strikes the general public as a great family man, that’s why a number of brands and groups tap him for ambassadorship, one of which is an advocacy against domestic violence. As someone who can make a good leader, it’s hard not to make him talk about the presidential candidate he is rooting for.

He paused to think. He didn’t answer directly — aware of the question’s sensitivity at the time of the interview — and then the original Super D began answering with a “D.”

“Discipline. I think I’ll go with discipline. We have a tendency to abuse democracy; we need someone like Lee Kwan Yew here in the Philippines.”

Richard kept the rest of his thoughts to himself; after all, mystery is part of his appeal. His restraint, composure and sensibility that come with experience are just some of the things that teen stars can learn from the man who defied the odds.


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