From left: Vice Ganda with Fantastica co-stars Richard Gutierrez and Dingdong Dantes during a presscon at ABS-CBN’s Dolphy Theater. The film is produced by Star Cinema and Viva Films, under the direction of Barry Gonzales.
Photos from Vice Ganda’s official Facebook page
How Vice bounced back from depression
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2018 - 12:00am

‘I was having anxiety. I did not know what was going on with myself, with my mind, inside my mind. I didn’t know I was out of control. I didn’t know why it was happening. I couldn’t sleep. I was always crying. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t know where the sadness was coming from. So, I had to go to a doctor to seek help. Nakatulong naman. Pero mas nakatulong sa akin yung mga salita ng mga tao sa paligid ko.’

Vice Ganda has been making people laugh through his ABS-CBN shows It’s Showtime and Gandang Gabi Vice (GGV) and yearly participation in the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), with Fantastica under Star Cinema and Viva Films as his 2018 entry. But the country’s leading comedian revealed to having experienced depression, and at one point in his life, attempted suicide.

The brave admission was made during an interview after the general presscon for his latest movie last Dec. 4. Earlier, the actor-host told the press that an unforgettable moment on the set of the film was having to talk to its young stars like Edward Barber and Donnie Pangilinan.

Vice recalled, “I wouldn’t say fun but it was memorable for me to be given the chance to talk to Edward, I think Donnie was also there, (because it was a shooting) break. Edward was quiet. I felt that he was sad. So I asked, Edward, are you sad? He said, no, it’s nothing.”

Nevertheless, the question led to a serious discussion between Vice and the two up and comers about career and life’s purpose. Edward later on admitted to Vice that showbiz was making him confused. After breaking into the entertainment scene via the reality show Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) from 2016 to 2017, there has been no let-up in work with his love team partner Maymay Entrata.

Vice said, “Since they came out of PBB — sorry (addressing Edward) if I have to share this but I’ll edit it anyway — they have been working straight, their stardom getting bigger and bigger. He wasn’t sure if he was prepared for it because when he entered PBB, he just wanted to try it. Then after, he thought, he would just go back to Germany and to his normal life as a student, with his family.”

Up until they were shooting Fantastica, Vice related that Edward still couldn’t believe he’s in showbiz and couldn’t figure out if it was what he wanted and if he was happy, tired or prepared for it.

After the presscon, The STAR and other reporters pressed Vice on what he told the young star, which could very well be an advice to anyone grappling with seemingly instant fame or overnight success. “I told him, he has to find the purpose of what he’s doing... So, I asked him, before going to PBB, ano ba gusto mo muna? He said he wanted another profession. Sabi ko, kung gusto mo yung profession na yun, bakit gusto mo yung profession na yun? (Sabi niya) para makaipon din ako, mabigay ko ang gusto kong ibigay sa family ko, maibigay ko sa sarili ko kung ano ang deserved ko at magawa ko pa yung iba-iba kong plano.

“I said, if that’s the case, then think of (showbiz) as a big opportunity for you to already do that and give your family (what you want for them). If you can see (the purpose), you will appreciate it. Your purpose changes from time to time. At the start, your purpose was to experience PBB. Then after experiencing PBB, what’s your next purpose? Now that you’re in showbiz, what’s your purpose? It could be, to earn money. You’re here because you want to earn for your family. When you’ve done that for your family, what’s your next purpose? That purpose would be for other people. If you’re able to realize that, everything will be better, everything will be easier. You won’t think of the sadness, the fatigue. Of course, you’re human, you will feel tired, but you will find a good reason behind your being tired.”

When Vice was asked what does he feel whenever he sees or senses someone is sad, he answered “fear.”

“Of course, I’m aware of what is happening around me. I’m aware of the social issues. I’m aware of what young people are going through because that’s my market, the young people. I make them laugh. And I know why I should make them laugh. Depression is rampant, as well as stress and suicide. (I learned that) in Southeast Asia, isa ang Pilipinas sa pinakamatataas ang rate ng suicide. So, whenever I see or learn that a person is sad, I feel nervous. I feel like, I have to find a way to reach out.”

There have been some fellow artists turning to him for advice, but most of the time, Vice said he makes the effort to reach out. “I just talk to them. I’m able to see the sadness and fatigue because unconsciously, they are able to verbalize it... Yung ba’t malungkot ka, wala... You feel sad, but you don’t know why. Alam na alam ko yun (I know that feeling very well). That’s why wine-weigh ko, gumagawa ako ng paraan para makausap ko sila na hindi nila namamalayan at pinapasok ko sila.”

If he’s sensitive to people undergoing such episodes, it’s because he’s been there himself. When asked if he knew of anyone nearly driven over the edge, Vice opened up, “Actually, I don’t have to look far. It was me. I tried to commit suicide before. I went through depression. I tried to commit suicide when I was 19 years old. Nalulungkot ako every now and then, but my depression was this year.”

The bout with depression happened during Vice’s concert tour in the US last May. “I was having anxiety. I did not know what was going on with myself, with my mind, inside my mind. I didn’t know I was out of control. I didn’t know why it was happening. I couldn’t sleep. I was always crying. I wasn’t happy.”

He recalled reporting for Showtime, forcing himself to act happy. I didn’t know where the sadness was coming from.”

Vice sought out professional help but what mainly helped him overcome depression was moral support. “So, I had to go to a doctor to seek help. Nakatulong naman. Pero mas nakatulong sa akin yung mga salita ng mga tao sa paligid ko,” he said.

These people would encourage him and snap him out of his melancholy. “I’m very blessed because I’m surrounded by great people, smart people, intelligent people, pure-hearted people — the likes of Regine Velasquez, Ogie Alcasid and a lot more. I’m happy to have a support group. All my bestfriends ever since high school and college, kasama ko sila hanggang ngayon sa bahay. I’ve never run out of friends. Yun yung mga kaibigan kong bumabatok sa akin, sumasampal sa akin, sumasabunot at ’pag sinasabi nila na mali na yan, hindi na tama, tama na, hinto na, awat na, meron akong mga taga yugyog.

Vice continued, “Aside from that, I have an extended family, extended friends, sila Ogie. There’s a new group that I belong to. They created a small group for me. The title of our group chat is Small Group ni Viceral (after Vice’s real name). They created it because they felt what I was going through. So, they reached out to me... They helped me.”

Napaka-importante yung linya na sinabi sa akin ni Ogie and Regine — the mind is the playground of the devil,” Vice said citing a Biblical verse. “Pinaglalaruan ng demonyo ang mga utak ng tao para mawala ka sa focus at para ma-realize na it’s not worth it, para isiksik ng demonyo sa utak mo na ‘malungkot ka, malungkot ka,’ pinaglalaruan ka, pinapasok niya utak mo, kasi yung puso mo di niya mapapasok eh. That’s pure eh, your heart. Only God can enter your heart kaya ’pag alam mo na, naku ayun na, pinaglalaruan na naman yung utak mo, alam mo paano mo siya haharapin kasi alam mong nanduon siya at pinaglalaruan ka.”

Nowadays, Vice could readily say, “I’m more than OK! I’m so fantastic.”

He could say the same thing for the year 2018. “2018 has been entirely fantastic. When we did a social listening on social media, walang masyadong pinag-uusapan sa yong ganap sa social media, parang wala masyadong nangyayari sa ‘yo… Sabi ko nga, pag-smooth parang hindi rin pala maganda kasi di ka pinag-uusapan.”

Things have been so smooth he didn’t face any “big problem” this year, especially career-wise. “Showtime is doing so well, GGV is doing so well. The rest of my life, ang ganda, I don’t have any problems. Nakakahiya sa Diyos na umarte-arte kasi wala talaga akong malaking problema.”

Meanwhile, set to premiere on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, Vice’s Fantastica is expected to duplicate if not surpass the box-office sales of his 2017 starrer Gandarrapido (the highest grosser of last year’s MMFF), what with a star-studded cast that includes Dingdong Dantes, Richard Gutierrez, Jaclyn Jose, Bela Padilla, Ryan Bang, the love teams of Edward-Maymay, Donnie-Kisses Delavin and Ronnie Alonte-Loisa Andalio, plus a coterie of his favorite stand-up comics. “Every year, (you) have to make sure that your project will be successful because if not, you can never tell, right, it might be your last. That’s why you have to do everything that will make your project successful. I’d be crazy not to do the things I could do in the film.”

On scoring yet another box-office success, Vice said, “Let’s pray! It’s gonna be a very big blessing. Let’s pray and look forward.”

DINGDONG DANTES FANTASTICA RICHARD GUTIERREZ VICE GANDA
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