SUPREME COVER: The People vs. Baron Geisler
Gabbie Tatad (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - I wanted to have that kind of magic. I wanted to be him,” says Baron Geisler of Patrick Garcia, his fellow cast member on the popular youth-oriented sketch comedy show Ang TV. Before Geisler joined the cast as a first-time actor, he saw the power Garcia wielded over the inhibitions of women, all calling Garcia’s name out in the streets whenever he walked by.

Armed with fresh-faced good looks and a rather cheeky sort of charm, Geisler was led through the traditional route of a good old matinee idol in the making, and thus tasted that which he desired when he joined show business. Surprisingly though, being chased through malls by hordes of screaming girls, while a privilege, wasn’t really cutting it for the young Geisler. He realized that what he really wanted to be was more than a panty-dropper; he wanted to be a truthful and genuine actor. “You mature as an artist, you eventually love your craft, understand it more and then you study,” says Geisler. “I was destined to become a performer.”

His career has spanned over 40 films, from mainstream box office smashes like Jologs, Ang Tanging Ina, and Kimmy Dora, to thoughtful independent films like Manila directed both by Raya Martin and Adolf Alix Jr., as well as the Cannes-nominated Ma Rosa. He has had numerous television appearances from the age of 14, many of them as regularly recurring characters. Peers of Geisler are quick to call him talented, and with a vast wealth of potential. One source who’s worked with him closely, choosing to remain unnamed, says, “He’s the only actor of his generation na nakikitaan kong pwedeng maging unpredictable. Nakikita mo literal sa mukha niya pag dumadaan yung mga stimulus. Nagrerespond siya at nakakatulala panoorin. Yung Joker ni [Heath] Ledger? Kayang kaya niya yun. Hindi maliit yung expressions niya.

Geisler talks about working with Francis Pasion on playing the title character in the film Jay, which won Geisler a Best Actor award in the 2008 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. “I cried during the shoot. I said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ He would say, kulang pa yung kembot, kulang pa yung ganito, we can still see Baron. Sixteen takes. He would really push me… I would walk out and I would cry. Tapos lalapitan niya ako and he would say, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I would say, ‘I hate my character, ang sama niyang tao, ang sama ng ugali niya.’ And he would say, ‘Baron, it’s acting. You should love your character.’ So every day, I’m learning from different people. So every day is school for me.”

Geisler’s temperament, however, has exceeded mere tears, as he himself recounts storming off 2001’s teleserye, Recuerdo de Amor. He recalls walking out of the set and being tempted to run over a production assistant who was physically barring Geisler’s car from leaving the location. “I was a kid. I was stupid. I wanted attention,” laments Geisler. “I did so many crazy things, I really wasn’t thinking about the money. They gave me the opportunity to become a big successful TV star or movie star, but I messed it up. I really messed it up.”

How so, one might ask? Local entertainment media has christened Geisler one of its favorite bad boys, and with good reason. Geisler has, at the age of 33, faced four cases of sexual harassment citing acts of lasciviousness or unwanted physical contact, and has been engaged in many a fist fight. He has undergone treatment for alcohol addiction twice — once by the hand of his own mother who signed him up for a 10-day detox program, and the other as a contingency following an indefinite artist ban made by the Professional Artist Management, Inc., barring its managers and artists to work with Geisler until he had completed a 90-day rehabilitation program.

And while entertainment media has never been known to be particularly kind in its reporting, one has to ask how much of it is misinterpretation and how much of it is Geisler. “On a sober day, he’s one of the sweetest [gentlemen] you could come across. But on binges, better prepare yourself to meet a whole spectrum of personalities,” says a source close to Geisler. The source adds, “He’s like a box of chocolates.” This is, of course, in reference to the popular Forrest Gump quote that ends in, “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Sitting across from Geisler these days, it’s a surprise to see what’s become of the bright eyed youngin who first graced our TV screens. He double fists Gatorade and a tumbler of brandy, his gaze intense, and his hand gestures rather shaky. When asked about his bad boy image and whether or not he agrees with the reputation he’s garnered, Geisler says, “I’d like to change it into a tough guy instead of a bad boy. Bad boys are just bad boys without a cause, but being a tough guy, you know what you’re fighting for. You know what you stand for.” So what does he stand for, exactly? He clears his throat and says, “I can’t really say right now. Let’s just see what happens.”

Many of Geisler’s answers wander, trying to pin down a point, as he talks about wanting to educate and liberate people. He talks briefly about political prisoners, but doesn’t elaborate much. He says that while his life has been rather eventful and adventuresome, despite the circumstances, he points upward and says, “I may look like or be an a**hole, but He knows my heart.” He also briefly discusses a project in the works called 366 Days of Beast Mode, a book of daily motivational quotes that he likens to Psalms. So while the heart of the fighter finds its cause and focus, does this mean that the legendary bad boy is a man of God? He laughs when asked about his spirituality, and simply replies with, “I’m… very horny,” and proceeds to discuss his sex drive, saying, “Without you coming at least once a day, f*ck, that’s not life, that’s not the way to live.”

His latest brawl is one that takes the proverbial cake, one that began in Tomatokick with a supposedly helpless bartender being harassed by independent film actor Kiko Matos. The two had it out but were quickly pulled apart, after which Geisler was famously quoted addressing Matos on live TV saying, “Mahal kita pero bibigwasan kita.” The quote has since spread like wildfire. The fight has suddenly escalated into an actual event on the 25th of June, organized by the Universal Reality Combat Championship, where Geisler and Matos are expected to fight properly by way of mixed martial arts.

“It teaches us to be disciplined,” says Geisler. “Mali yung street fighting, yung magsuntukan sa kalye. Mali yung maging bayolente. I wish for this to be a social media experiment mixed with a lot of things.” The phrase “social media experiment” triggers a lot of red flags, which has been speculated upon by those who’ve seen Geisler’s latest set of antics. So is it a hoax? Geisler, looking away and taking a sip of his drink, simply says, “I wish.”

When asked if he provokes people intentionally, and if this is why so many arguments tend to take place, Geisler says, “No. I try to challenge them. I never provoke them. Pag prinovoke mo, magagalit sila. Pag challenge, mapapaisip.” And as to whether or not it’s a matter of interpretation, he grins and says, “Well, there are a lot of stupid people.”

Talking to Geisler for any amount of time is an exercise in trying to understand several contradictions, and it seems that clarity is not a strong suit for someone who so relishes his element of mystery. His temperament is visibly that of an artist, but his focus leaves much to be desired. And it becomes clear that what people do tend to say about Geisler is true: that the potential for greatness lies just beneath the surface and could very well shine through, should the visible demons that the man wrestles with ever be laid to rest. Whether or not that should ever come to fruition, however, is an entirely different story and remains to be seen.

Of regrets, however, Geisler says he just doesn’t do them. “No, it will hinder you. It will hinder your growth. It’s just like Picasso said, ‘It’s not about being old, it’s about being ripe.’” He smiles a bit cheekily for a minute and gives himself a little sniff. “You know, just the way I smell right now.”

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Tweet the author @gabbietatad.

ATENEO BLUE EAGLES JEREMIAH GRAY
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