Gwapings, three decades after


Thirty years after they were launched as the triumvirate teenage heartthrobs by the late ace manager-discoverer Douglas Quijano, the members of the so-called Gwapings have taken three very different routes and are now leading very different lives.

Only Mark Anthony Fernandez has remained active in the acting business, admitting that the passion has been reignited after a series of failed comeback bids in recent years. “I am just happy to be back, acting in front of the cameras once again, hopping from one set to another, working with old and new faces despite the ongoing pandemic,” he said.

Fernandez, the lovechild of former screen siren Alma Moreno and the late action star Rudy Fernandez, opened up that he never expected to be this busy during a time when other actors are facing a drought when it comes to work.

“Sometimes, in my quiet moments, I ask myself what have I done to deserve all these good breaks coming my way. But I guess all I need is just to be open—both my mind and my heart—to accept and let all the good come into my life, a life that has been through so many ups and downs, much more downs I must say. And also to always remind myself to be thankful—for new beginnings, for second chances, for happy times.”

The 42-year-old actor and father has wrapped up three movies, all for Vivamax: House Tour, directed by Roman Perez Jr.; Darryl Yap’s  Barumbadings Vol. 1 Dead Mother, Dead All; and Joel Lamangan’s Deception.

Since 2016, when he first won a seat in the Parañaque City Council, Jomari Yllana has set his sights on mastering the art and business of politics. He ran again and won in 2019, and is aiming to complete his third term in next year’s elections.

“Like acting, being a politician is always a never-ending learning process. Actual experience is the best teacher when it comes to both acting and being a public servant. I even enrolled in some public administration courses at the University of the Philippines in Diliman to make sure my foundations are in the right places. But day-to-day experience still tops when it comes to learning about the ins and outs, complexities included, of Philippine politics,” he told us recently.

Now 45, Yllana shared that he had to turn down a lot of offers for him to act in front of the cameras again. “It is not easy to set aside something you love. I literally grew up as an actor in this business. Acting as a career made life very comfortable for me and those I love. Acting awakened me to the realities of life, drawing the line between make believe and actual existence. The many lessons I learned from being an actor, about the profession, about people and about life itself, I have brought with me when I decided to become a public servant.”

Like many of his coactors under the tutelage and mentorship of Douglas Quijano (Richard Gomez, Lucy Torres-Gomez, Joey Marquez, and Yllana’s older brother Anjo),  the incumbent councilor has ventured into an unknown territory that he has come to embrace, accept and love. “Public service is a calling. And it is doubly challenging for actors and celebrities to constantly prove ourselves in a totally different arena that is oftentimes much more vicious, complex and cruel than show business,” he said.

“Being a public servant involves a lot of sacrifices. It is not, and should never be, about you—because you have your constituents to serve, and your public’s needs to prioritize and address. There is absolutely no place in public service to collect pogi points and to brag about oneself.”

Meanwhile, the third and the most mestizo member of Gwapings has chosen a more quiet life.  Eric Fructuoso affirmed that he has not totally turned his back on show business: “I just opted to focus on family and business this season of pandemic.”

With a little savings, Fructuoso has put up GwaPigs, an eatery that specializes in pork chop meals and he has also opened a motorbike shop in Cavite which he named GwaPigs Moto. The name Gwapigs is of course inspired by Gwapings, which catapulted Fructuoso, Yllana and Fernandez to popularity when they were barely teenagers. “I have very fond memories of our group, and it definitely brought us to where we are today.”

Fructuoso is now a doting grandfather to his grandson Leo, son of his eldest son, Tres.

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