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Travel and Tourism

Why Jericho Rosales never wanted to leave New York

CITIZEN OF THE WORLD - Edu Jarque - The Philippine Star

Some people are born lucky. But sometimes it’s even better to create your own luck. That’s certainly how acclaimed star Jericho Rosales became who he is today. Nothing in his modest beginnings could have foretold that he was destined for showbiz glory. But Echo — as he is fondly called — never let the lack of advantages deter him.        

As a young boy helping his family make ends meet, Echo wasn’t one to shy away from work. He tried his hand at being a palengke vendor and as a pizza delivery boy. But it wasn’t until he joined the Mr. Pogi contest on the noontime show Eat Bulaga in 1996 that he embarked on his road to change. Winning that competition brought his good looks and fledgling talent to the attention of the right people at the right time. And soon enough, Echo was an up-and-coming actor.

As with any working thespian, he’s had his share of career shifts and transitions. After his notable roles in crowd-pleasing teleseryes like Pangako Sa’Yo and Sana’y Wala Ng Wakas as well as in critically applauded movies such as Tanging Yaman and Bagong Buwan, Echo is determined to prove that his love for craft has only grown over time.

His most recent triumph happened “stateside,” so to speak: the Best Actor/Outstanding Acting Achievement Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival in California for Alagwa, an independent film about human trafficking he co-produced. The movie’s international title is Breakaway.

Written and directed by Ian Loreños, Alagwa was also screened in other international film fests in Palm Springs in Florida, Busan in Korea, Bangalore in India, as well as in the Asian International Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Alagwa also won praise before going overseas after it was screened at the 2012 Cinema One Originals Film Festival. Echo was also singled out by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino and was awarded the 2013 Gawad Urian Best Actor trophy for his stellar performance.

While everything’s coming up roses for Echo, he has never forgotten that it was not always so. His family calls him “El Planchador” or “Iron Man” because he doesn’t mind doing the ironing himself to get the freshly pressed clothes that he prefers. He’s laid-back like that.

Indeed, his cup seems to runneth over, even in his personal life. He recently got engaged to Filipina-British model-host Kim Jones, with plans to tie the knot later this year or perhaps in early 2014.

Echo has invested in real estate, thanks to the help of his personal financial planner. But that hasn’t stopped him from indulging in one of his passions: travel. He always takes along a waterproof suitcase and a backpack — a habit he picked up from years of surfing, his longtime hobby. And while he describes himself as a cheerful and fun-loving person, he still needs his own space to pray, read and write, even when he’s on holiday with family and friends.

Perhaps it’s his determined ability to ride out life’s ups and downs that has paved the way for Echo’s success. Because clearly, he who is bold enough to face fortune with both humility and hope wins the day. 

PHILIPPINE STAR: What do you remember most of your first trip abroad?

JERICHO ROSALES: My first trip abroad was not one of culture shock. It was in the late ‘90s to Agana, Guam for an ABS-CBN concert show for the Filipino community. Being on an island surrounded by water reminded me of the Philippines. The warm weather was similar to ours. Even the Chamorros look like Filipinos. I felt very at home. It was a great introduction to overseas travel.

What won’t you leave home without?

Cologne. I remember that when I got my first salary — it was really more of a prize — from a contest, I bought cologne. Today, I endorse a line of colognes: some 10 to 15 kinds with Natasha. My favorite is No. 7, fresh citrus scent. Pang-surfer talaga. I may leave my phone behind, but not my cologne.

I also bring a nice pen and a notebook where I keep a journal documenting my trip, my life. Sometimes I even compose a song when inspiration hits me. Oh, yes, I never leave home without a white handkerchief. I’m old school that way.

Who is your ideal traveling companion?

My fiancée, Kim Jones, because we like the same things, from sights to activities and even food. I also like traveling with my nephew, Ryan Manalo, my sister’s son, who’s like a sponge. He absorbs what he sees and experiences whenever we travel. Trance ang dating.

What is the first thing you do upon checking in at a hotel or a resort?

Whether I’m on a work trip or on a holiday. I pray as soon as I enter my assigned room because I’m a Christian. I thank God for the space and seek peace and protection while being there. You see, you’ll never know who stayed in that room before and what they did while being in there. I also always check the facilities, such as the bathroom and its amenities, plus the room service menu.

What would you consider a must-do activity in every foreign city that you visit?

Immersion is my battle cry. I zero in on everything, especially the typical routine of locals. I behave like they do — or at least I try to. I sample the local food, coffee, the transportation system: the buses, the metro. At times, I get on a bike or even walk around. I check on the market scene, the shopping areas, and the nightlife… basically what residents normally do on any given day. Doing this is an eye-opener on how the inhabitants impact a country!

Describe your most memorable trip.

It was in August 2011. I enrolled at the New York Film Academy, took up courses in acting, directing and producing. I appreciated more the various roles of the film and television industry members. It was a challenging time because my lifestyle as a student was the total opposite of what I had as an actor back home. I had no car and relished eating $3 meals. I also enjoyed my chats with my landlord from Israel regarding the reversal of fortune that came their way. So many small blessings. I even visited my brother in Canada. The entire experience is what I think dreams are made of. Perfect place at the perfect time.

What do you miss most when you’re away from home?

Aside from my loved ones, I miss my house. Puro mga butingting, and each holds a certain meaning for me, that’s why I treasure them. At home, everything is available and gives me a sense of responsibility. It’s where I can just be myself — the private Jericho that the public doesn’t know. Minsan kasi namamahay ako, I can’t help it. There’s no place like home.

I also miss my three dogs: a golden retriever named Ocean, my beagle Atticus and an askal Mascara, who’s kind of weird because he growls whenever I pat him. But otherwise, he’s okay.

What is the strangest thing that has happened to you on a trip?

I was in a souvenir shop in Africa, checking out masks. One caught my attention because it was so distinctive. The more I looked at it, I suddenly had this vision of this particular mask being stuck on my face and somehow, I couldn’t take it off. It was such a horrible feeling! I was in fear. I thought that maybe that mask was demonic or possessed black magic. That was more than just strange.

Let’s talk favorites now. Name your favorite city abroad.

New York. It’s where I discovered myself. I received no special treatment, and my feet were firmly planted on the ground. Some may even call it a humbling experience.

Name your favorite spot in the Philippines.

Pagudpod and La Union are frequent destinations for me. I stay for extended periods of time, at times — though rather rare — for seven days to indulge my passion for surfing. I stay in a resort that faces the ocean and has a palayan at the back. The waves there are close to perfect. When I’m surfing, I feel one with this world of ours and yet serenely in solitude at the same time. It offers me spiritual balance.

Favorite airline?

Philippine Airlines! personnel on the ground and on flight all have smiles on their faces, and they exude that warm friendliness that says they’re glad to be of service to you. They make you feel special with the little things they do. I admire their attention to detail. 

Favorite landmark or park?

Stonehenge in Wilshire, England. Those standing stones! Actually, they’re more than just stones. They’re amazing — a sight to behold. Magical! You can’t help but wonder how they ever got there. There is nothing else around it. It’s simply mind-boggling.

Favorite musical or play?

Catch Me If You Can. It’s a musical based on the 2002 movie with Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio. I caught the show in New York. I just loved everything about it: the excellent cast, the ‘50s and ‘60s design and vibe, the production details like the sets for the plane and the airport… It’s a mix of all my favorites.

Favorite mall or store?

I go for independent stores, such as Abbot Kinney in the US because it’s urban and classic. I also like vintage shops with items that gentlemen from the Old World would use, or perhaps modern versions of those things.

Name an event anywhere in the world you would like to participate in.

Any Space Shuttle launch — it’s monumental! I’d drop everything if I were ever invited to such an event. Another one would be to witness the Summer Olympics, wherever it may be. 

What are your favorite pasalubongs — inbound and outbound?

For outbound, delicacies that are coconut-based. I’ve also brought fresh mangoes with me. But some countries have quarantine restrictions on fruits. Some people also appreciate a model-scale jeepney.

I usually bring back magazines on architecture and fashion, such as Wallpaper, and small items including socks, shoelaces, hankies. Little precious souvenirs that remind you a wonderful trip are a joy to take home, too.

Aside from unpacking your suitcase, what is the first thing you do upon returning home? 

Lie down on the floor and really feel the house. I’m always so glad to be home. Then my dogs soon find out that I’ve returned. I hug my pets and play with them.

Name a city you have never visited but would like to someday. 

Cairo and Giza in Egypt. I want to see the Pyramids! Paris for the art and history. Oh, I can get carried away just thinking of how beautiful those places are!

Name a country you wish to explore.

Spain has captivated me as far as I can remember. Maybe it’s because of our colonial past. To appreciate the country more, I’m seriously considering taking Spanish lessons.

What would you say is the best part of travel?

No matter how the trip turns out to be, the very fact that you’re able to come home sooner or later is the best part of travel. Bringing back everything with you, not just the dust on your shoes, but the marvelous memories and experiences you’ve had. It will surely affect you and make some changes in your life.

What would you say then is the worst part of travel?

When you’re not in top form or functioning 100 percent, because of a bad stomach or missing documents or misplaced luggage. I hate to admit it, but if any of those things happen to me, I might end up being bad company. So maybe I shouldn’t do group travel if that’s the case! (Laughs)

If you could reside anywhere in the world aside from the Philippines, where would it be? 

I must admit that part of me never wanted to leave New York. I would definitely consider residing there. I would say that the Big Apple is really a city for artists, among many other things, to different people.

ALAGWA

ECHO

EVEN

FAVORITE

HOME

KIM JONES

NEW YORK

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