What Is Atom Araullo Up To Now? The Actor-Activist Opens Up About "Citizen Jake" And His Passion Project
Braving violent storms and covering the country’s most dangerous places, journalist Atom Araullo has worn a handful of hats throughout the decade. Among these are activist for human rights and anti-corruption, disaster-preparedness advocate, and most recently, film actor.
Despite the controversies surrounding Atom’s movie debut, Citizen Jake—acclaimed director Mike De Leon’s much-awaited comeback—has had a successful run. Atom plays the role of journalist Jake Herrera, a powerful senator’s estranged son.
Metro.Style had the chance to visit the Citizen Jake actor on the set of his newest TV commercial for Cherifer Premium for Adults. In this exclusive interview, the actor-activist opens up about three things: his movie, Citizen Jake; his travel show, Adventure Your Way; and his passion project, Fyt.ph.
Photo courtesy of Cherifer Premium for Adults
1. Describe a day in the life of Atom.
My schedule varies quite a lot. There are some days when I am out of town working the whole day, but on some occasions I’m just working at home, recovering, and relaxing. I think my favorite days are when I am just sleeping. I wake up for a nice breakfast with the family, catch up on the news, and then just do some errands I’ve been trying to put off lately—maybe even have coffee with friends.
2. How do you juggle your roles as an activist, a journalist, a host, and an actor?
I think it comes naturally—you have an idea of what you stand for and what you want to achieve. I’m just very lucky to have so many opportunities to use my skills and my talent to do the things that are very important to me. There is an issue of balance and finding a time for all of these things, but as long as you know how to prioritize, then you’re all set. Just make sure that you don’t spread yourself out too thin. I tend to do that but I just have to regroup and plan for the next day.
3. How was your experience working on your film, Citizen Jake?
It was a wonderful experience. There were ups and downs—it was quite challenging especially for a newcomer like me. But I met a lot of very talented people, and I hope to work with them again.
4. What was the biggest challenge you encountered while working on the movie?
Among other things, I guess it’s the acting. I don’t really have an acting background. I had a little bit, but it didn’t really help for the demands of the role. Keeping my confidence up was also very challenging—there were times when I had to motivate myself because it’s a nerve-wracking experience being part of a very important movie with an important director.
5. Will we be expecting more films featuring Atom?
I don’t know. It’s not my priority. But if a good project comes along, then I will certainly think about it.
6. How was it like working for your travel show, Adventure Your Way? Is it true that it is 100% unscripted?
Oh, it’s super fun! We do have to make a few preparations. It’s impossible to do everything on the fly. But we try to really honor the spirit of the show by following the advice of people on social media, so that keeps me on my toes. It’s really fun to rediscover the Philippines through a travel show.
7. What’s your favorite episode?
It’s really hard to pick—it’s like trying to pick your favorite child! There’s something to say about everything. The canyoneering in Sagada was fun, Camiguin Island was beautiful, and spelunking in Samar was very challenging but well worth it. It was also my first time to go to Siargao, which I found super interesting.
8. What are three activities you’d recommend for first-timers in the Philippines?
Take a walking tour in Manila for sure. Not just the beautiful, shiny side of the Metro, but also the gritty side, which I think gives the Philippines a lot of character. There’s a lot of history there, and there are a lot to explore.
Obviously they also have to visit our beautiful beaches which we are best known for. Go to El Nido and Boracay, and some of the less famous ones too, which are equally beautiful.
Lastly, try our amazing food—like adobo and balut!
9. You’ve been promoting Fyt.ph on Instagram lately. Can you tell us more about it?
It’s a passion project that I started with a few other colleagues in the media industry, who are advocates as well. We believe that stories can really make a difference. So since there is a lot of space nowadays to create content independently, we collaborated with other talents and people who are just full of creativity, and tried to produce relevant content for the Filipino audience. It’s a small company and we are still plotting the future but we are very excited.
Welcome to FYT, a passion project started by @rupert_ambil, @atom_araullo, @voltaire_tupaz, and @koolkideco. We hope to create fresh and innovative content for the digital community. We collaborate with other creative storytellers who would like to show courage in stories. We start with “360 Perspective: Mayon” with Atom. We immerse you in an informative discussion about the ongoing volcanic activity in Albay. It's the first video of its kind in disaster risk reduction reporting in the Philippines, something which the four of us are passionate about. Watch it at 6pm today, Tuesday, March 13, on our FB page: fyt.ph. Link in bio.
10. What sort of content are you producing now?
So far we’ve done a few videos. One is immersive content using 360 video, focused on disaster risk reduction. We did a 360 video of Mayon volcano, interviewed Director Renato Solidum, talked about the history of Mount Mayon, and the risks and hazards involved in a volcanic eruption. We also did a 360 of the practice of crucifixion in Cutud, Pampanga. That was more cultural and educational. Recently, we did a video explainer on the ousting of Chief Justice Sereno. And also a special video on Mother’s Day. It’s a mix of everything so far.
11. What is the story behind its name?
It’s a long story but it just resonated with us. We just wanted a word that would encapsulate what we stand for. I think that the fight can represent a lot of things—not just the grit and determination needed to succeed, but also taking a stand, having values, and persevering. It represents the courage that we want to incorporate in our stories.
12. What do you do in Fyt.ph?
I am in charge of the creative direction of the company. We brainstorm from time to time on what kind of videos we want to produce. It’s quite exciting right now because everything is still open for exploration.
Photo courtesy of Cherifer Premium for Adults