The day we shot JC Santos, we fell in love.
We here at Candy are fortunate to work with celebrities who are polite and nice even if we know they're exhausted from their seemingly endless list of commitments. But on the afternoon of our shoot with the Till I Met You actor, we were all caught off guard—in a really good way.
The 28-year-old actor gave the word nice a whole new meaning, which is why when he told us during the interview that he's not a people person, we didn't want to believe him. "Hindi naman ako people person, ngayon na lang na medyo nasanay na ako," he explains. "Iniiwasan ko ang interviews kasi meron akong stage fright. Hindi mo ako mapagpipi-perform sa harap ng tao kapag walang script."
He later gave us the history of this stage fright, which started during his high school days. "Meron akong trauma na nagsimula noong high school. I was reciting Panatang Makabayan in front of the whole school, tapos nakalimutan ko yung ibang lines," he says. "Kinabahan ako ng kinabahan hanggang sa namuo 'yung stress sa batok ko. 'Di na ako nakapagsalita tapos tumawa na silang lahat. Napahiya ako kaya sabi ko sa sarili ko, 'di na ako magsasalita kapag walang script onstage. Hanggang sa natuto na akong mag-memorize."
This is the reason why JC rarely does interviews and why he was so nervous during the TIMY presscon. Apparently, he was elbowing James or Nadine the whole time, telling them he was slowly spacing out. The TIMY team, before the presscon started, kept scaring him and telling him what he should and shouldn't say to the press. JC just looks back at the event with a smile, though, and we couldn't be prouder of how far he's come. Nowadays, he's busy working on a ton of things like endorsements and magazine covers.
From his humble beginnings as a "random probinsyano galing Pampanga," JC is now a recognizable face thanks to his amazing portrayal of Nadine and James's gay best friend Ali on the show. But even before his first starring role on TV, JC was actually making waves for his work in theater and in film. At the start of this year, the actor was already on a roll.
"Favorite months ko 'yung January, February, and March of this year. Ang daming nangyayari noon. Una, may play ako, Constellations with Cris Villonco. Tapos, may pelikula ako, Sakaling Hindi Makarating. Tapos may online series ako, Forever Sucks, at TV series, Tubig at Langis," he says. "May acting gigs ako at ginagawa ko lahat, from TV to theater to film. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, 'I'm living the dream.' 'Yun 'yung pinakamasaya kong three months. Kasi for an actor, isa lang yung magagawa mo usually. Kapag theater ka, theater ka lang. Kapag may shoot ka, may shoot ka.
"Nagagawa ko lahat kaya okay na ako sa ganoon. Hindi ako kumikita ng malaki pero I was really happy."
But if you thought his journey to get to where he is today was easy, you're very wrong. JC's career is a story of strength and endurance no matter the circumstances. He tells us that he's used to adapting to whatever life brings him because his life, he says, is a series of transitions.
"May pattern 'yung buhay ko na every two years, lagi akong lumilipat ng places. Nag-start ito noong 16 ako. Nag-two years ako sa Angeles University Foundation, sa University of the Philippines, sa Universal Studios, at sa Hong Kong. Tapos nag-decide ako to take a two-year course sa New York, but I was just there for six months," he says.
"Dahil nandoon na ako, kailangan ko na s'yang gawin. Tinyaga ko na lang. I learned along the way. Kasi ganoon ako noong pumasok sa Universal Studios at sa Disney. Inaaral ko lang s'ya on the way; lagi akong ganoon. Sobrang hirap ng transition phase every time. It's overwhelming, lagi akong overwhelmed, lagi akong sinu-surprise ng buhay, e."
What he went through may sound difficult, but there's no trace of sadness or regret in JC. He's candid, sweet, polite, nice, and even humble. In fact, he says that if he didn't attend formal acting school, he'll probably be a basurero.
"Basurero ako ngayon kung 'di ako nag-aral, promise! Wala akong ibang alam gawin. Nagluluto ako, pero hindi ko naman s'ya type. Nagiging passionate lang ako pag may ipagluluto ako pero hindi ko s'ya gagawin for a course," he says in all honesty. "Isa lang talaga, e; theater actor ako. Tapos lately ko lang nalaman na gusto ko ring mag-film. Ngayon ko lang nalamang gusto ko ring mag-TV."
We tell him he probably can do anything now because this guy's so talented. He disagrees and tells us that there's one thing he cannot do: commercial auditions.
"Kailan lang din ako nag-commercials. May isang time, dini-dictate nila 'yung emotions. Hindi ako makapaniwala na ganoon talaga na hindi pini-prepare 'yung whole scene. Parang comics, parang nagdo-drawing, ganoon 'yung feeling ko," he tells us. "Awkward lahat ng emotions ko dahil 'di ko alam ano'ng gagawin ko. Inisip kong hindi pala ako actor. Nakakahiya kasi hindi ako marunong mag-commercial auditions. Sanay kasi akong may monologue, the usual formal auditions."
He just looks back at the whole experience with a big laugh and a big smile that doesn't look forced, but one that tells us he's learned from his experience. This pretty much shows us how he's dealt with all the transitions in the past years. We couldn't help but ask him what he'd tell 18-year-old JC if he got the chance to talk to him. We were expecting that he'd get all serious and sentimental. Instead, JC bursts out laughing, while saying, "Nakakahiya! I was a really bad 18-year-old! But I'll tell him na lahat ng mistakes mo ngayon magagamit mo 'yan. Keep committing mistakes."
With his perseverance and his attitude of embracing whatever life brings him with open arms and optimism, we're sure that Till I Met You, that this year, they're only the beginning for JC. He will definitely go places, places far more than what he could imagine for himself. We're definitely excited for that.
PHOTOS Ralph Mendoza GROOMING Jay Lozada HAIR Mong Amado STYLING Janelle Yau CLOTHES Folded & Hung, Pablo SHOT ON LOCATION Cup Fiction at 141 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.