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“Pamilya Sagrado” Star Piolo Pascual Is Living Life in the Fast Lane

A mainstream actor with an indie mindset, the man universally known as Papa P is a cinematic force, a progressive film producer, and all-around ambassador of excellence for the acting profession. Piolo Pascual is unstoppable, unpredictable, and undoubtedly, in a class of his own

Piolo Pascual in Michael Cinco
Piolo Pascual in Michael Cinco | Photography by Rozen Antonio


When Piolo Pascual enters a room, the ions in the space undergo a chemical change. There is a certain crackle in the air. There is a frisson of anticipation meeting curiosity all mixed in with that old-fashioned movie star magic. But he knows that. So he does everything to bring it all back down to earth.


He did a quick sweep of the room to meet the team and greet them properly, with just the right touch of eye contact and acknowledgment. 


“It’s a little hot, isn't it?” he asked gently, moving to unbutton his flawlessly tailored black jacket. Not quite a complaint, but more a rhetorical question. We explained that we had to set up the interview in a section of the shoot location that was quiet and private since we were also capturing the interview on video.


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“I got your questions. They’re quite extensive,” he quipped. “Maybe I should have taken a big chug of something before coming here!” 


He poked fun at himself as the talk of the town was his being just a little bit tipsy when he went up onstage to accept his FAMAS Best Actor for Mallari. His comment made a nice segue into the interview proper.


“Well, what can I say, I was with family! Before the FAMAS, we also had AKTOR (a gathering of the actors union), and a lot of friends who I don’t get to see a lot were there. Mommy Vi (Vilma Santos), Cocs (Coco Martin), and Kuya Binoe (Senator Robin Padilla). They asked us to stay in a holding room, and as we were catching up, there were drinks, and so much catching up! We didn’t even know that they had started giving awards! And so when I was up on stage and I saw faces of people who I had been with from the start, people who I consider my parents in the industry, well, there were a lot of emotions.”


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Everything has its season

When asked how he would describe his life right now, Piolo smiled and said, “Oh, do you mean, what is it like to be living life in the fast lane?” His smile turned into a wide grin and he admitted, “Nowadays, when they present a project or a script to me, the first question isn’t ‘Do I like it?’ It’s ‘Do I have time for it?’ ‘Is there space in my calendar for it?’”


Piolo Pascual has had his love team era, days as one of the Hunks, solo dreamy crooner era, and indie film era. But he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down at all一from the Filipino adaptation of the Korean suspense show Flower of Evil, to the first ever Filipino Netflix series Replacing Chef Chico, to the stage musical El Filibusterismo, to the twin bill of blockbuster hits at the Metro Manila Film Festival, Gomburza and Mallari. And now, he’s about to headline the ABS-CBN epic serye Pamilya Sagrado, so “the fast lane” may seem to even be an understatement for the Ultimate Heartthrob. It would make a lesser man break down or have a meltdown. But Piolo makes it look easy. He can straddle commercial and critical success, juggle singing, acting and producing, and still find time for adjacent features such as modeling for renowned Dubai-based Filipino designer Michael Cinco.


Of his tour de force of three generations of roles in Mallari, he recounted, “First, when I heard about it, it was a hard pass for me. Both because I had been working so much and I couldn’t quite see how it would work. Then we Googled ‘first Filipino serial killer’ and started reading about his life, goosebumps. Literal goosebumps! I just had to do it.”


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Papa ‘P’ for ‘president’

Piolo is now thick into the promotions for Pamilya Sagrado, which is set to premiere on June 17. He told Metro.Style, “This was the last show that Sir Deo [Endrinal, head of Dreamscape] worked on. When I saw what the role would be, I asked Sir Deo, ‘Am I not too young to play a president?’ and he said, ‘Oh, look at Barack Obama, he’s a young president!’”  


And as he was preparing for the role, he made it his own. “I let my character flow from what the director tells me, what the writer tells me. I thought, ‘Ah, I will let my grays show,’ which made me so happy. It was liberating, I didn’t have to go to a salon and get my hair dyed. But one change I made was that I wanted to make my character more dark. So when he changes, it’s more seen,” he shared. 


When asked why his characters must experience a redemptive arc, with earnest conviction, and a certain fire in his eyes, he expounded: “All, all, all my characters have to have redemption. You cannot show that evil wins. The evilness is there only to show the change.”


When we asked how he would pitch Pamilya Sagrado to the Filipino public, he said, “It’s a mirror of society. We are not being political, but more sociological. We want to tell the story of how we are. At the end of the day, we are storytellers.”



Does he have his own political ambitions? He replied, “Well, Kuya Binoe has been convincing us that we have to do more for the country and it’s really noble, so noble what he’s doing. Maybe more of public service?”  


Piolo said that researching being a politician wasn’t at all difficult because “they’re everywhere!” What was new to him was playing a father to Kyle Echarri and Grae Fernandez. “Tropa ko si Kyle! And si Grae, I knew him from the very start of his starting in showbiz. So I told them, when the camera’s rolling, we are father and sons, but off-cam, we can still be friends.”


He isn’t about method acting. He said, “Very early on in my career, I really learned how to let go of my characters; how to shake them off. So, I can really do that.”


Of his own fathering style, he admitted, “Inigo is into adulting now, wanting to learn more about investments, real estate, so he is asking a lot of questions about that. We will be meeting up in New York soon, so we will watch some shows. The good thing about our bonding is that there is so much we like to do together from traveling, to watching shows, to doing sports.”  


He then excitedly told us that he has gotten back into running: “I had to stop for a while because running makes me too lean, and it’s not good for [how I register on] the camera. So I tried biking, but I missed that runner’s high. We were filming Sagrado in Baguio, and it’s fun to run so I would be able to run almost every day. I’m hoping to run a marathon next year, my first.”


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The suite life

In addition to his life in showbiz, Piolo got into the resort business, investing in a resort in Palawan with Kathryn Bernardo. He shared, “I love hotels. I love the service. I love the views. I love the efficiency. I just love everything, and it’s always been my dream to put up a hotel. But it doesn’t have to be fancy. Like, I will only book a suite if I’m traveling with my son or my whole family. But the truth is, the best hotel room is the one that’s free!”


When he shot a fashion editorial in Dubai, wearing Michael Cinco’s menswear, the hotel was so glamorous. He recalled, “It was one time when I really felt, wow, I’m a celebrity. And Michael, he’s so nice, so humble! When we reached out to him that we needed a suit for one of the events, he quickly let us borrow it.”


Since the naming of eras has been a thing lately, we ask Piolo what his next era will be. Without skipping a beat, he said, “Golden, golden. I will be 50 in three years!”  


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I reminded Piolo of an old video of him being interviewed by Fr. Tito Caluag; they were both discussing the story in the Bible when two apostles were walking with the Risen Christ but the Lord hadn’t yet revealed Himself but they asked each other: “Were not our hearts burning within us?” And Piolo confessed that it was his favorite story in the Bible. So we asked what makes his heart burn on fire. He said, “Every day, I have that feeling that I am living my life with purpose and meaning, so that is what it’s like.”


We prodded a little further to expand the metaphor and conjecture: Could your heart burn in a romantic way in your next era? He laughed and admitted, “For the longest time, it’s my work life that has been my love life. But I am always open. Falling in love? I’m open.”


And maybe that is the secret to the longevity and ever-burning star that is Piolo Pascual. He is open to life, to learning, to doing the difficult things, knowing that the fulfillment, the “runner’s high” doesn’t come from staying still. Let’s just sit back and enjoy, as he burns up the screen, the scene and the hoping hearts of fans everywhere.


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Pamilya Sagrado will premiere on June 17. ABS-CBN's new action-thriller political drama is directed by Andoy Ranay, Lawrence Fajardo, and Rico Navarro. It stars Piolo Pascual alongside Kyle Echarri, Grae Fernandez, Joel Torre, Shaina Magdayao, Mylene Dizon, Aiko Melendez, John Arcilla, Rosanna Roces, and Tirso Cruz III.


Photographer: Rozen Antonio

Manager: Erickson Raymundo

Producer: Ryan Banks

Stylist: Klint Javier Vasquez 

Makeup: Jhajha Rivera

Hairstylist: Davon Mercado

Assistant Stylist: Charmaine Agub

Interview Host: Christian Medina

Interview Director: Cedie Duller

Interview Videographers: Auden Perucho and Belinda Ibe

Fashion Video Editor: Dawn Julius Bleza

Production Assistant: Brian De Gracia

Special thanks to Cornerstone ManagementJeffrey RoxasRoize Romanes, and Dreamscape Entertainment


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