Martin del Rosario was named Best Leading Male Performance in Digital for the Cignal series Born Beautiful at the 24th Asian Television Awards held here for the first time (last Saturday at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of the Resorts World Manila). Thailand’s Chanya McClory was Best Leading Female Performance in Digital for The Deadline. Thai child actress Maki Machida between them was a nominee for another category.
A triumphant year opener for Martin
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - January 15, 2020 - 12:00am

They always say that being nominated is good enough (makes you feel like a winner already) but of course actual winning gives an ultimate high, especially if the competition is not limited to local shores but covering the whole of Asia yes, the 24th Asian Television Awards held here for the first time (Saturday night at the Newport Performing Arts Theater of Resorts World Manila).

“It’s humbling,” said Martin del Rosario who won Best Leading Male Performance-Digital for Born Beautiful (aired as a series on Cignal), beating two other nominees from Thailand, one of whom was Chanon Santinatornkul who starred in the hit Thai film Bad Genius (but nominated for a TV show). “I just saw him in Bad Genius and ayan, we were already competing for an award.” (Martin’s counterpart was Thai actress Chanya McClory who won for The Deadline; she’s also in The Stranded, the first Thai original series now streaming on Netflix.)

Martin with Diana Zubiri (escorted by Thai actor Thanwa Souliyachack) who later received the Best Single Drama award for the iFlix series Mystified (in which she stars with Karylle, Iza Calzado and Sunshine Dizon).

To preempt any suspicion of a hometown decision, let me hasten to explain that the decision was reached by a jury composed of members from around Asia and each of them reviewed the entries individually.

“I was a bit worried that the jurors might not get the jokes in Born Beautiful kasi very Filipino, even if there are subtitles.”

Four months earlier (in September), Martin was named Best Actor for Panti Sisters (also produced like Born Beautiful by the IdeaFirst team of Perci Intalan and partner Jun Lana) in the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP). With the Asian award, Martin now counts several Best Actor wins, including Lagim (directed by Joaquin Pedro Valdez, Martin’s first indie starrer), as Best Performance by a New Actor from the PMPC Star Awards for Movies; Dagitab (another indie with Eula Valdez and Nonie Buencamino); and Panti Sisters) from the PPP.  

Martin in his winning role in Born Beautiful.
Martin's Instagram

“I was nervous, kinabahan talaga ako,” Martin admitted. “It’s a good thing na malayo ang nilakad ko from my seat to the stage, so I was able to calm my nerves and able to think of what to say. I heard bells ringing in my ears. Frankly, I don’t even know what I said, hahaha!!! It was an incredible moment, hindi expected. Not to downgrade my other awards, but the Asian TV award is the highest so far kasi nga Asia-wide.”

Although his winning roles are happy and gay, they are not really related; each is different from the others.

“My character in Panti Sisters and Born Beautiful are different. Kahit pareho silang babaeng-babae, magka-iba sila. In Panti Sisters, my character Daniel is parang-KPop na very sweet while my character Barbs in Born Beautiful is palaban. There was a little pressure because the character (Barbs) was originated by Christian Bables in Die Beautiful (for which Christian won Best Supporting Actor in the Metro Manila Film Festival or MMFF).”

On television, Martin kind of keeps a balance by playing non-gay roles such as in the GMA series The Gift as kontrabida to Alden Richards. 

“The thing is I get awards for playing gay roles even if I do many other characters. The movie reporters tell me, ‘Sa tingin mo sa gay roles ka lang napapansin?’ I want to show people that I can be a versatile actor. Actually, I do varied roles not just in films but even in other GMA shows such as in Magpakailanman.

Now recognized in Asia, how does Martin feel about the possibility of starring in a film or a TV series outside of his comfort zone (the Philippines)?

In 2020, he promises to flex his muscles even more.
Photo from Martin's Instagram

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Of course, I would be willing to do that. I’m hopeful. After the awards, people from around Asia have been congratulating me on social media. At the event, I met actors from around Asia at naging friends ko naman sila. I’m open to doing an international film…sana nga!”

Meanwhile, is he “abstaining” from gay roles?

“It depends on direk Perci and direk Jun what projects they have for me. I trust them. I think they are already preparing Part 2 of Panti Sisters. I’m not sure if they’re giving me a lead role or a ‘special participation’ role pero kasama rin daw ako sa project.” (He’s also scheduled to do an indie with Sylvia Sanchez.)

After Die Beautiful and Born Beautiful, wouldn’t there be a Reborn Beautiful?

“Hmmm, okey yon, a! Hahaha!!!”

Viva Films’ Miracle in Cell No. 7 finished top grosser in the just-concluded MMFF (said to earn P600M during its extended run). It’s a Filipino remake of a hit Korean movie. In reverse, an Indonesian company remade Kita-Kita, the sleeper hit starring Empoy Marquez and Alessandra de Rossi. Any possibility of Born Beautiful being adapted by another Asian country, especially after it earned an Asia-wide publicity after the awards night?

“Okey din ‘yon.”

Year 2019 was a good year for Martin. He said that he focused on his career and he became closer to his family.

“I became more mature,” said Martin (who is taking up Broadcast Communication in UP, third year irregular). “I expect 2020 to be an even better year. Maganda ang simula. Best Actor win kaagad!

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

MARTIN DEL ROSARIO
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