Featured Stories Life!

Rocco Nacino embraces a role

His first foray into showbiz left Enrico Raphael “Rocco” Quioge Nacino just a few steps shy from the Ultimate Survivor title in GMA’s celebrity reality search “Starstruck” four years ago.

Finishing third best during the reality show’s finale, the print and TV commercial model-turned-actor moved on to the Philippine entertainment industry by taking on bit roles and supporting characters on TV and in films.

His “work hard, strive hard” motto posted on Twitter appears to have paid off as leading man roles were finally handed to him two years later as well as some acting recognition among which was for his performance in last year’s indie film “Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” that earned him a Golden Screen Award (Breakthrough Perfomance by an Actor) and a PMPC Star Award (Best New Movie Actor).

Pop awards FMTM also named him Daytime TV Prince last year.

Apart from effective portrayals in primetime soaps opposite love team partners, Rocco also played important real-life characters for GMA NewsTV documentary-dramas, namely as the national hero Jose Rizal (“Pluma: Ang Dakilang Manunulat”) and San Pedro Calungsod for the same title documentary, both of which were aired last year.

After effectively portraying the role of the idealistic Mayor Joseph Santiago in the award-winning TV political drama “Bayan Ko” shown earlier this year, all eyes especially that of the devotees of the country’s second saint are set on Rocco again for his re-portrayal of San Pedro Calungsod, this time on the big screen for this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir.”

Here, the 26-year-old actor shares his extraordinarily divine experience while shooting the film and how playing the biopic’s ultimate character changed his life and perspective.


How did you prepare for this movie considering that you’re also shooting for GMA’s “Akin Pa Rin Ang Bukas?”
I went on leave for one month sa Sunday’s All Stars (SAS) just to give way for “Pedro Calungsod.” Ang schedule ko kasi sa “Akin Pa Rin Ang Bukas” is M-W-F then T-Th-S for SAS, which was kind enough to give way para magawa ang mga eksena sa “Pedro Calungsod.”
So, I have been looking at pictures, reading the script and then internalizing the whole day and talking to my fellow cast members para mas makuha ko ‘yung character ko. Yes, it’s a long process pero worthy naman. Physically and mentally, it was quite demanding for me due to the lack of sleep but playing the character of Pedro Calungsod has this certain feeling of comfort especially during shootings so I was able to cope naman.

In the primetime soap, you play the cunning Jerry Sandoval who is extremely opposite from the character of San Pedro Calungsod. Don’t you find it difficult switching roles?
Nakakalito, nakakabaliw. Medyo double role ang ginagawa ko sa “Akin Pa Rin Ang Bukas” so doon pa lang nahihirapan na ako tapos I have to shift to Pedro Calungsod. It’s taxing to switch from one role to another, especially if an actor doesn’t know how to get out of the character and go back to his normal state. Sometimes, I feel like breaking down. It takes a lot of effort, but it has to be done. So I try my best to balance everything and get in and out of character. It took a lot of effort, but I know it will all pay off once we see the finished product.

How are you doing with the switching act so far?
Kinakaya pa naman. I’m still sane so far. No multiple personalities yet! (Laughs)
You have already played the same role for GMA News TV documentary. Is there any difference on your portrayal in this movie?

‘Yung sa GMA News TV po is a docu-special at well-researched but this film is even deeper. Grabe ang paghahanda ni Direk Francis (Villacorta) para sa film na to and it’s more accurate. But actually, they have the same purpose which is to tell the story about Pedro Calungsod although mas malapit ang project na to sa akin.

Acting-wise, ang gusto ni Direk is to portray Pedro Calungsod as an ordinary boy na masayahin, youthful, brilliant and of course he has this love for God. That’s me pushing back the years and find that younger years that I had and putting it to that character though not putting what I exactly had because it’s a different period and sensitive ang film na ito. So what I do is listen to Direk kung anong gusto nya because mas kilala niya si Pedro Calungsod and what I learn from him I try to make myself like a sponge para magamit ko yun sa trabaho ko.

What’s the most difficult part in doing this movie?
Surviving the location. (Laughs) Karamihan sa mga shooting days namin, bumabagyo. Although we’re faced with these challenges, nakakatuwa na kinakaya namin, nagtutulungan kami dito at walang sumusuko sa amin. Sabay-sabay naming nararanasan ang hirap ng mga panahon na yon. We all take this as a great experience. It’s hard shooting under the rain; it’s hard with the sound of rain in the background na kailangang ulitin ang mga eksena but then lahat nagagawan ng paraan at everyone’s optimistic and everyone is into the project. Dedicated talaga kaming lahat sa project na to.

Aside from that, the language na kailangang aralin was also a challenge not only for me but for everyone. Nahirapan kami sa Bisaya, Espanyol, at sa Latin. Ang mga prayer kasi is we don’t say it, we sing it at si Alvin Aragon at Christian (Vasquez) ang magaling dyan. ‘Yun ‘yung mahirap–having to learn different languages at this age.

So far we’re doing good and we’re all proud of ourselves na natutupad naman namin kahit papano ang roles namin.

Rocco (seated, extreme left) with the rest of the cast of “Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir” (CDN PHOTO/ EDD BUENAVIAJE)

You did death defying stunts in this film. Can you tell us about it and why you did not use a double?
Bad ass kami, eh. (Laughs) Seriously siguro dahil sa commitment namin sa film na to. Nilaglag kami from the slope of a hill dito and we have one more ‘yung papatayin kami ni Hirao (Robert Correa) at lulubog kami sa dagat.

Did you feel any divine presence during the shooting of the film?
With how everything fell into place, I feel like there was a divine intervention. My other project “Ibong Adarna” not getting into the Metro Manila Film Fest and on a random basketball game, nagkausap kami ni Robert (Correa) at napakilala nya ako kay Direk Francis and then having the news I’m being considered as Pedro Calungsod, the happening of events at sa lahat ng dumating, looking back nasasabi ko sa sarili, this is like God’s blessing.

Maybe Pedro Calungsod is touching my life, blessing me. Hindi ko inaasahan na pagkatapos ng docu-special ‘eh may kasunod na naman na tungkol sa kanya.

Was there any positive change in your life after playing the character of San Pedro Calungsod?
It has opened my eyes more about the Lord Our Savior at nakatulong ‘yung pag-visit namin sa (Pedro Calungsod) Chapel because when I looked at him parang naramdaman ko sya. My relationship with God opened again dahil sa kanya, mas kinakausap ko sya ngayon and that happened because of this film.

JM De Guzman was supposed to play the lead role in this film. How does it feel being the second choice?
It doesn’t matter. Hindi ko na iniisip ‘yun. Ang importante sa akin is they trusted me with this role. Para sa akin it didn’t affect me that much.

How do you react being compared to JM De Guzman?
I look up to JM. He’s a good actor. In fact, I consider him as one of the good actors here in the country. I would take it as an honor and a compliment if I would be compared to him. The task was given to me, and I don’t really think that much about me being the second choice. People might be pitting us against each other, but I make it a point that it doesn’t happen. I just make sure that I do my job, instead of minding issues like that because that will not help me in portraying my role well.

In portraying the lead role in this film, do you aspire to win the MMFF Best Actor award?
Wala naman sigurong masama kung mangarap tayo ng mataas pero para sa akin, ako fingers crossed, but then ayokong pangunahan ang sarili ko. Ang priority ko para sa film na to is make it as accurate as we can to give the audience something to understand at magustuhan nila. Ang objective namin is pagsamasamahin lahat ng religions like me I’m a Born Again Christian but I’m able to do this kind of film, this project. It’s to unite all religions, not to segregate them. We also aim to inspire the youth and help them understand why we have this second saint from the Philippines. Award na para sa akin kung ma-achieve namin ‘yung objective na ‘yun. Kung may Best Actor award, bonus na ‘yun, syempre masaya.

Isn’t it an issue against your religion which doesn’t believe in saints for you to do this project?
No one has been speaking up. I have been going to our church and talking about doing this project.

So far, wala namang negative feedback at all. Not a single word. So I think they’re happy for me doing this project and naniniwala sila sa akin. They’re also happy that I served as a module to fulfil the film’s objective in inspiring the youth. So, no issues from them. In fact, I receive support from my fellow Born Again Christians.

Did playing the role of a saint make you become wary of your off-cam image?
Yeah, that’s why I declined the offer of performing in the Cosmo Bachelors Bash this year because I wanted to somehow mold my image to that of San Pedro Calungsod.

Let’s say you were very effective in doing the role of a saint, would it worry you to be type casted for religious roles?
Before Pedro Calungsod, ginawa ko ‘yung “Bayan Ko” at ang naging character ko dun bilang Mayor Joseph Santiago ang tumatak sa mga tao. For a while, though it’s a good thing, medyo na-disturb ako that the people keep on calling me Mayor, Mayor Joseph. Actually ayoko ‘yun, gusto ko after doing a project balik ako sa pagiging Rocco Nacino who plays different characters.

If ma-categorize man ako like someone holy and people would tell me na: “Uy mag-ayos ka, hindi ka pwedeng pagala-gala, hindi ka pwedeng gumimik ng ganon dahil very important yung image mo ngayon,” syempre kahit papano mapapaisip din ako na ano bang dapat kong ginagawa. If people see me as Pedro Calungsod and I have to maintain that image, I would but of course I have to move on to another character because portraying different characters is my job.

So far, how would you assess your career?
I’m happy with everything that’s happening to me, considering that I’ve been in the business for only three years. I’ve been given important roles, so I feel really blessed. At this point in my career, I feel humbled and motivated.

With your very hectic schedule, do you still have time for your lovelife?
Basta gusto ko, may paraan. Basta kaya i-balance. So far, so good.

How do you unwind?
I travel. Last April, I went on a solo trip to Cambodia.

What’s your next target destination?
Tibet and Japan! I’m also saving up for a Europe trip with my family but given the projects I’m doing now, those trips might not happen anytime soon.

Speaking of projects, what can we expect from you next year?
So far, we’re talking about doing Book 2 of “Bayan Ko.”

TAGS: actor, cast, celebrity, movie
Latest Stories
Most Read