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Tom Rodriguez on being Belo-fied: Real men want to look good and feel good |

Sunday Lifestyle

Tom Rodriguez on being Belo-fied: Real men want to look good and feel good

WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star

Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.  — Amy Lowell

One fast-rising star in the Philippines today is 26-year-old half-American, half-Filipino actor/singer Tom Rodriguez of GMA-7’s top-rated TV series My Husband’s Lover. Tom plays Vincent, the closet gay married to Lally, played by Carla Abellana; the problem is he has an illicit affair with Eric played by Dennis Trillo. 

Tom, who has gained legions of fans among women, gays and even men, held a successful concert last night Oct. 12 at Smart Araneta Coliseum. He has just been launched as the newest celebrity endorser of Belo Medical Group.

“Doctor of the Stars” Dr. Vicki Belo says: “I’m glad to welcome Tom as our new endorser. He’s so talented, guwapo (handsome), very articulate, nice. Our eight Belo clinics in Metro Manila and Cebu used to have only 10 percent men as clients, now this has grown to between 20 to 30 percent. I want male clients to be 50 percent, because guys like Tom Rodriguez should be ‘man enough to be Belofied.’ Among the many male celebrities who maintain their good looks with help from our clinics are Derek Ramsey, Christopher de Leon, Richard Gomez and Albert Martinez.”

 Tom Rodriguez recently gave the STAR an exclusive interview. Here are excerpts.

PHILIPPINE STAR: Lots of women and even guys e-mailed requesting that I interview you because of your popular teleserye My Husband’s Lover. Do you know even Kris Aquino and Ai Ai de las Alas of your rival network ABS CBN 2 watch your show?

TOM RODRIGUEZ: It’s flattering, I know about Kris and Vice Ganda, but not Ai Ai. Vice did tweet us — me and Carla — regarding a scene that we did. Kris Aquino told my manager that she enjoyed watching our show. Of course it’s something to have Kris say that, she’s a staple already in the showbiz industry.

You play your Vincent role on TV so convincingly, you take great care of your looks and I heard you cook well. Are you gay?

In real life? (Laughs) No.

I’m sure a lot of people ask you whether you’re gay?

Now I am asked that often, but before, no one ever did. It’s because of our TV show, and I take that as a compliment, because it means I’m acting my role well. When I auditioned for this role before, I was afraid I wouldn’t be believable as Vincent.

Some people wrongly think that masculine men are not vain or don’t go to beauty centers, but do you agree this is changing among guys?

Yes, I used to not go for beauty treatments before. Until four years ago, I never touched hair gel or make up, but now I realize, like more men also do now, that beauty is a perception you feel of yourself. If you want to feel good and look good, go for it, as long as what you’re doing is not hurting others.

Nowadays, I regularly go to Belo clinics for their SkinMaster to help me exfoliate dead skin cells, excess oil and residue from the pores so I can have glowing skin. It also helps lessen dark circles under my eyes. Other effective Belo treatments I do are Acupuncture Rejuvenation Therapy to firm up my muscle tone and prevent muscle laxity or sagging, the Jet Peel, the Sculptor Plus to tighten skin for more defined facial contour, and I do the Belo Fat Freeze.

What is the “Belo Fat Freeze”?

It’s my favorite Belo procedure. This uses a suction machine, like a vacuum, which holds the stubborn fat and freezes it until the fat dies, then the body excretes the fat out in your bowels. It’s the coolest non-invasive procedure, no surgeries involved.

You’re almost six feet tall and looking athletic too?

I’m 5’11” in height and now about 155 or 160 pounds. I used to weigh 146 pounds three years ago. After this TV series, I want to go back to work out in the gym, because now with our hectic TV shootings, I just bring my own weights to the set for some exercise.

Your favorite sports?

I want to go back to boxing and martial arts, like Krav Maga from Israel and Jeet Kune Do from the late martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

You’re also a fan of Bruce Lee?

I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee, he wasn’t just great in martial arts, he was a really good philosopher. He stood up for his beliefs. He inspired a lot of people. Bruce Lee was also an artist, he treated his martial arts as an art form talaga (really).

No women or gays have approached you with indecent proposals?

(Laughs) The funny thing is, I don’tget such proposals. It’s because outside of my work, I live a very simple life. If there’s no work, I just stay at home here in Mandaluyong; I draw, I watch movies, I try to make music, play video games. I read a lot of books, like fantasy novels and also tutorials for drawing.

What are your reactions to persistent rumors that some famous actors and singers are actually gay?

I don’t know if those stories are half-true or half-false, whether they’re completely true or completely false, but I know from playing the role of Vincent as a closet gay that it’s not a position that I envy — which is having to hide who you really are.

Some of these showbiz stars are often the target of unverified rumors, including guys like Piolo Pascual. Have you met them personally? How do you assess them?

I’ve met all of them. I can’t really tell if they are or not, but all I can tell you is that Piolo and the others, they’re very nice, professional and hardworking people.

Who, to you, are the top three sexiest or most beautiful women in Philippine entertainment?

Lea Salonga, Maricar Reyes, Iza Calzado.

Since your TV role is a guy who likes men, who to you are the top three most handsome men in local showbiz?

(Smiles) Dennis Trillo… (pauses for a while) I never looked… Richard Gomez… Aga Muhlach.

Have you ever courted any girls in showbiz?

Of course. (Smiles) I have courted girls in showbiz, but I’ll just keep it to myself who they are as a courtesy… Just a few only.

I heard that you reportedly have a new girlfriend, a theater actress?

No. That part of my life I’d like to keep private. I understand being a public figure means I have to let the public know much about myself, but I also learned from my parents to find the balance in my life, not to give all. They advised me to keep something for yourself, then you will never lose perspective of who you are.

Who are your parents?

My father William Mott is a former US serviceman, merchant marine in a supply ship, he was a supply officer.

Is he ethnic Irish, Anglo-Saxon or Italian?

I don’t know, I actually researched and they say that there are people with the “Mott” surname who are Irish, British and Italian. I didn’t get to ask my father.

Your mother’s from Samar? Is your hometown beside the sea?

My mother Teresita Abinguna Mott is from Pinabacdao, it’s near the forest where life is really simple, and puro (mostly) farms. I used to go there a lot for vacations.

You speak English without a Waray accent, but I heard you speak the dialect?

I can speak English or Tagalog with accent if the role requires it. I’m comfortable with English, because after grade six when I was 11, our family moved to Arizona in the States. I speak Waray fluently, because I grew up speaking Waray and English with family and friends in the US In fact, I only learned to speak Tagalog here four years ago, when I first arrived here on Sept. 24, 2009 — or exactly two days before the Ondoy typhoon.

You remember that so well?

Yes, I can’t forget that day of Ondoy, because I was supposed to do a pictorial for the Pinoy Big Brother reality TV show. When I saw the big typhoon, I felt so bad that I went with my friends from Samar (who I was living with then) to help relief efforts in the Ateneo and the Quezon City area.

It seems no one has ever reported on that part of your life.

I didn’t tell others and at that time I wasn’t in the showbiz industry yet, it was a few weeks before PBB started.

You’re half-American and half-Filipino with roots in Samar. What do you know about the age-old controversy on the three Balangiga church bells taken by US troops after the 1901 massacre in Samar during the Philippine-American War?

The Balangiga bells, I think they should be given back as a sign of peace and respect. That’s Filipino history, those are historical objects, they belong here in the Philippines, in Samar.

Your opinions on the public anger at the pork barrel controversy?

It’s really hard to form an opinion on pork barrel, but I agree on the clamor for taking it out. Clearly there’s something not working or a flaw in the system. We should prevent it from happening again.

I heard you’re also an artist, that you studied digital animation in San Francisco?

That’s my dream, to be an illustrator and a conceptual artist — who conceptualizes characters, the sets and environments for movies and TV, like for fantasy movies such as Star Wars. That was the job I wanted. I didn’t study in San Francisco, but at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona.

Your other hobbies?

I read a lot of books, especially fantasy adventure novels like almost all the books of the Dragonlance series. I also read books of the Game of Throne series, A Song of Fire and Ice series, the Lord of the Rings series, the Dune series.

In Dragonlance the fantasy novels by Laura and Tracy Hickman, those are the only weapons mortals can use to kill the dragons. In the Philippines today, what do you see as our possible dragonlance?

(Smiles) In the Philippines, siguro (probably) unity, because the Filipino people, we are hardworking but we need to unite instead of trying to bring each other down.

Your favorite hero?

Conan the Barbarian which was created in 1932 by Robert E. Howard, he was my introduction to fantasy and the artist Frank Frazetta.

Your favorite singers and music genres?

Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé and Nirvana also. I like all music genres, any kind of songs that sound good — from classical, country to rock and pop.

The Grammy-award winning singer John Mayer is also a writer. Do you write?

Yes, I also do a bit of writing, kasi (because) I took creative writing in my college. I want to write fantastical things combining fantasy and reality, like the way Neil Galman writes.

Did you know Neil Galman visited the Philippines a few years ago?

Yes, he came here for a book tour when I was inside the Pinoy Big Brother house of the reality TV show. I didn’t know then, unfortunately. I even had a book of his — Fragile Things — with me. I brought that Neil Galman book here from the States, one of the few things I brought here after my PBB audition in Santa Clara and they said I had to come to Manila. He’s my favorite author, especially his short stories.

If you like mixing fantasy and reality, maybe you’d like the Latin American authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and their “magical realism” literary style?

That’s kind of similar to the works of H.P. Lovecraft? He does that, mixing up fantasy and reality, like a novel set in 18th century Massachusetts, but instead of normal, there are ancients, also monsters. His style is more of horror stories. With mythology, making pastiches, like the movie Hellboy, the monsters there are from H.P. Lovecraft.

After reading so many fantasy novels, perhaps you should write your own book and use your popularity to promote reading here in the Philippines?

I’m now developing a children’s novel or a graphic novel entitled Maggie Chen’s Librarian of Thoughts. It’s for kids, for children, fantasy adventure.

Going back to your showbiz career, Cambert Pilipinas president Josie E. Paule told me that you caused the pregnancy of Aiza Seguerra in your role at Be Careful With My Heart. Aiza is a lesbian in real life, maybe that’s why you shifted to playing the TV role of a gay man?

(Laughs) That’s funny! I’ve been known for my not-so-usual pairings, not typical. In my first role, I was paired up with the comedian Eugene Domingo in Here Comes The Bride.  By the way, Aiza is one of my dearest and closest friends in the industry, she’s one of the best people I know.

The US is a liberal society. You were not exposed to gay lifestyles, or had any tendencies as a youth which maybe helped you play such a convincing “Vincent” on TV?

I never experienced or saw, or I never had the urge. I’ve seen gays in the States and I can count them — how many — with my fingers only, but here in the Philippines, I can’t count anymore how many gays I’ve seen.

My perception of gays has changed a lot ever since My Husband’s Lover. Now I see that they’re just people like everyone else. The same kind of love and hurts that they feel, it’s also the same loves and hurts as we feel.

Are you Catholic? The Catholic Church and other mainstream Christians do not condone homosexuality. Your views on this?

Yes, I’m Catholic. For me, it’s within their rights to express their views. We’re in a free country, as long as we are all respecting each other’s rights. I think that’s the most important thing.  

Is it true you once described yourself as a “nerd”?

(Laughs) Maybe I’m a little bit of a nerd, but more geeky, because “nerd” is more academic and “geeky” is more pop culture like comic books and games. On being a nerd, I read up a lot on quantum physics and theoretical physics.

Wow. Who are your favorite physicists? Why physics?

I admire Michio Kaku, because he’s brought it mainstream. My favorites include Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and a lot of others like the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. Physics just interests me, the foundation of the universe, the different theories of the physicists as working models of how the universe works. I hope people go out too and study the things that interest them.

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