Martin and Markki's bold ambition

Pepe Diokno (The Philippine Star) - September 13, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - There’s a line in Mean Girls that goes, “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” If this is true, then the Bench underwear show is Halloween for celebrities, male and female — and we’re not saying that’s a bad thing.

This year’s romp is called “The Naked Truth,” a title that has had tongues wagging like dogs in heat. The annual event is a meat market, for sure; one that’s more about the people involved and less about their clothes. But perhaps this is what fashion is about, anyway: a celebration of the human body.

With just days before the curtains rise at the MOA Arena, Supreme caught up with two men who are set to bare their truths on the runway (if “truths” was a codeword for abs and treasure trails). We sat down with singer Markki Stroem and actor Martin del Rosario to talk about the challenges of posing nearly naked, the incessant chismis that comes with showbiz, and the bold decisions they’ve made in their careers.

What are you working on now?

MARTIN DEL ROSARIO: I’m going to do an indie film but it’s still confidential, and I just signed a contract with GMA-7. I’m happy. I’m excited. There are projects being prepared but I can’t talk about them yet. (Smiles)

Markki STROEM: I’m working on my second album. I’m actually a singer, not an actor, although I do, once in a while, act. This album is called “Jazzified” — it’s a bunch of pop songs that I’ve jazz-ified. Acting is my relationship on the side, my mistress.

Now, you’re front and center in this huge Bench campaign. What is it like shooting in your underwear?

Martin: (Chuckles) I was a bit nervous because it was my first time to pose in underwear, and I felt pressure because I eat a lot. But I prepared for it, so that when the time comes for me to hit the ramp, I’m confident. I’m a shy person, though, so I tried my best not to overthink it — what the consequences might be, what people might say — because when you care about what people might say, you become more nervous. What I do is I count seconds, and then say, “I’m going to do this.” I just think that I need to do it. I turn it into a role. I tell myself that my character is thick-faced, overconfident. It works!

Markki: I’ve done worse, I’ve done sex scenes. (Laughs) But for me, posing for Bench is an art form — especially working with Mark Nicdao for the pictorial. The shots are impeccable. Mark is just brilliant. I don’t know how he got me in that mode, in that mood, that whatever state of undress I was in, it didn’t really matter. I just gave my all.

Do you feel that posing for Bench is a rite of passage for an artista — something that you had to do?

Martin: I guess, yeah, an artista always has to have something new about him so that people don’t get tired of him. Before I did Bench, I’d done sexy scenes but I thought that doing Bench would change my image. I’m usually seen as the good boy, the boy next door, and I wanted to be edgy so I could show audiences my versatility.

The Catholic Church recently had Bench billboards on EDSA censored for taglines that they found too sexual. What is your opinion of this?

Markki: I’m a marketing major, and for me, sex in advertising or erotic activity in general is a selling point — an incredible selling point. But I got in trouble with my aunt who’s a nun. She said that the billboards are tarnishing my good boy image. I said, “I was never a good boy! Look at my work! I’ve played a gay role, a sociopath.” Besides, our bodies are something God gave us. If you look at the billboards without malice in your mind and just see the beautiful photos, then it’s a whole different story.

You’ve made some bold decisions with your projects, and I’m not just talking about the Bench photos. How in control are you of your career?

Martin: I moved to GMA-7 for career advancement and to better my craft; to be given meatier roles, and eventually leading roles. I make my decisions with my manager and my family but at the end of the day, the last decision is always mine.

Markki: I’m very much in control of my career, which has always been a problem with my management. But the good thing about them is that they listen. If they don’t like what I want to do, then they’ll give me a reason why. That’s why I’ve never left them.

What are the things about showbiz that you love?

Martin: Acting. Of course, you earn money to support yourself, to support your family, but it’s really acting. I don’t get tired during tapings because I enjoy it. I do character studies.

Markki: Indie films, indie music, theater.

What are the things about showbiz that you hate?

Martin: The chismis, the people who comment to affect your family. But before I even entered showbiz, I already accepted these things.

Markki: Nothing. Boom, showbiz answer! (Laughs) The chismis is part of life. I dealt with it in high school, I dealt with it in middle school, I’ve been bullied since I was in International School. College, even. And these kids knew me. I can take people who don’t know me. It builds your character.

It’s impossible to Google you two and not come across chismis, especially chismis on sexual preference. Why do you think society makes such a big deal of a performer’s sexual preference?

Martin: Why do they make it an issue? I guess people are interested in it — look at My Husband’s Lover — whenever there’s a theme of homosexuality, it becomes popular. And I think it’s because there are many homosexuals, and Filipinos are a bit liberated already; we aren’t as conservative anymore as other countries in Asia. There is still discrimination, but there’s a big force toward acceptance.

Should sexual preference even be an issue at all?

Martin: No. We’re all people, we have rights, we have freedoms. It really shouldn’t be a issue if someone is a lesbian or is gay. It’s all okay. It shouldn’t be made a big issue.

Markki: It shouldn’t be an issue. Everyone should love who they love. It’s just such a big thing here in the Philippines compared to abroad where there are so many people coming out left and right, being themselves. I guess people here are repelled by someone who is different. For me, it’s disgusting but we’re going to have to deal with that. We have to understand each other and not drag anyone down.

Where do you see yourselves five years from now?

Martin: I want to be better at what I’m doing. My dream after five years is to have a lot of awards and a lot of leading roles, and to be a better actor.

Markki: I’ll never stop singing, but I’m saving up money, so in two years I can maybe do an MBA, and then from there put up a restaurant. I have a few interesting concepts. It will be something cool.


Photo by MJ SUAYAN

Produced by DAVID MILAN

Grooming by ANTHEA BUENO

of MAC Cosmetics

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