Exclusive: Carlo Aquino On His First-Ever Rom-Com That Was Shot In St. Gallen, Switzerland
Meet Me in St. Gallen is a movie of many firsts for actor Carlo Aquino. Ever since joining showbiz back when he’s still a kid, the viewing public has always seen the dramatic side of this artist. Remember his iconic statement that was delivered perfectly and powerfully thrown to the character of veteran actress Vilma Santos in Bata, Bata... Pa'no Ka Ginawa?
Years later, Carlo's dossier has come to include numerous films and teleseryes. Yet, the 32-year-old actor continues to surprise the public as he offers something new to the table: he is the lead actor of Meet Me in St. Gallen, a romantic-comedy film, opposite Bela Padilla.
The film, which was shot in Switzerland, tells the tale of two kindred spirits who made a special connection after meeting on random nights at different points in their lives. Carlo plays the role of Jesse. Here, he shares more about his character—how it’s different from the previous roles he’s done, how it was working with his leading lady, and the other firsts that came along with this journey.
Metro.Style: How close is your character Jesse to yourself?
Carlo Aquino: Nag-appeal sa’kin si Jesse kasi mahilig siya sa music tulad ko. Isa pang similarity is may gusto siyang patunayan—and ako rin, may gusto rin akong patunayan sa sarili ko, na kaya kong maging leading man kasi gusto ko 'tong ginagawa ko. On our differences lang, mababa ‘yung confidence niya and hindi siya sinusuportahan ng parents niya. Kasi ako, ever since, sinusuportahan na ako ng mga magulang ko sa gusto kong gawin sa buhay. So medyo nahirapan ako du'n, pero tinulungan naman ako nina Direk Irene (Villanueva) and Bela kung saan nanggagaling 'yung character. (Jessie's character appealed to me because, like me, he's into music. One more similarity we have is that he wants to prove something—I want to prove something to myself as well, that I can be a leading man, because I like what I'm doing. On our differences, he lacks self-confidence and his parents don't support him. As for me, ever since, my parents have always been supportive of what I want to do with my life. So I found that part hard, but Direk Irene and Bela helped me understand where the character is coming from.)
MS: What was your first impression of the movie when it was offered to you?
CA: 'Yung nagustuhan ko dito is hindi siya 'yung usual na romantic-comedy na napanood na. May three parts siya, tapos sa bawat act, nag-iiba 'yung dynamics ng bawat character. (What I liked here is that it's not the usual romantic-comedy that has been seen. It has three parts and in every act, the dynamics of each character changes.)
MS: How did you prepare for this role?
CA: Nag-uusap kami ni Direk Irene and nagpapalitan talaga ng ideas. Honestly, naiilang ako kasi first time kong lead sa romantic movie, eh. Pero sobrang basa lang din ng script para mas ma-familiarize ako kay Jesse. (Direk Irene and I would talk and exchange ideas. Honestly, I was uncomfortable because it's my first time as a lead actor in a romantic movie. I read and read the script so I can familiarize myself with Jesse.)
MS: What are the "firsts" you experienced during filming?
CA: Eto 'yung first romantic film ko, first time kong maka-work si Bela, first time kong maging director si Direk Irene, first time na out of the country shoot. Ang daming firsts na hindi ko makakalimutan. Sabi ko nga, isa 'to sa highlights ng buong career ko—isa sa pinakamagandang nangyari sa’kin. (This is my first romantic film, first time to work with Bela, first time to be directed by Direk Irene, first out of the country shoot. There are many firsts that I won't forget. As I've said, this is one of the highlights of my entire career—one of the most beautiful things that happened to me.)
MS: How was it like working with Bela?
CA: Sobrang gaan niya ka-work kasi ang jolly niya, charming and sobrang sarap kasama. Kapag umarte na siya, hindi pa nagsasalita 'yun, alam mo na kung ano 'yung emosyon at iba 'yung way na kung paano niya binubuhay 'yung character niya. (She's so easy to work with because she's jolly, charming, and fun to be with. When she starts acting, you already know her emotion even though she hasn't said a single word yet, and she has this way of giving life to her character.)
MS: What’s the one lesson you’ve learned in your many years in the industry that has helped get you this far?
CA: Dapat hindi ka susuko. There was a time na wala ako masyadong trabaho, or kung meron, hindi na ganun ka-busy tulad ng dati. Kasi umiikot 'yung buhay, eh. Magkakaroon ka talaga ng low points. Pero kailangan mo lang maging matapang at ilaban nang ilaban 'yung gusto mo kasi eventually, makakabangon ka rin. (You shouldn't give up. There was a time when I didn't have a lot of work, or if there was, it wasn't as busy as before. Because life goes around. You will really have low points. But you just have to be brave, and just fight for what you want, because eventually you can also get up.
MS: What are your top recommendations when people visit St. Gallen in Switzerland?
CA: The Christmas Village. Isa 'yun sa highlights—sobrang busog 'yung mata ko sa ganda ng mga ilaw. And 'yung food, also 'yung hot red wine nila, sobra kong in-indulge. (The Christmas Village. That's one of the highlights—it's such a visual feast because of the beautiful lights. And the food as well as their hit red wine, which I indulged in.)
Photos courtesy of Cornerstone