MANILA -- Before being cast in his breakthrough role as the stern Papa Chen in "My Binondo Girl," heartthrob actor Richard Yap starred in several TV ads over two decades.
His first stint was in 1990 for telecommunications giant PLDT.
This was followed by several appearances as a chef, usually preparing hand-made noodles, in TV ads by Chowking.
Now considered as one of the most visible leading men today, thanks in part to the hit series "Be Careful With My Heart," Yap has since become the face of the local fastfood chain.
But it took a number of detours for Yap before finally deciding to pursue showbiz.
Speaking with Mario Dumaual in an episode of Jeepney TV's "Biyaheng Retro," Yap said his first experience as an actor was in fourth year high school, when he bagged the lead role in the drama club's production of "A Man For All Seasons."
Yap, however, went on to take up pre-medical studies at De La Salle University. As per his father's wishes, Yap shifted to business management two years later. To support his education, he also worked part-time at a furniture company.
"When I graduated, bumalik ako sa kanila," he said. "I think it's very routinary like any other businessman or someone who works in the corporate world. Office-bahay-office-bahay, nothing exciting."
An exciting opportunity came up for Yap when an office mate, who was a commercial model, told him about casting calls for TV ads.
"He said, 'Uy, puwede ka sa commercials ah. Why don't you [audition]? I'll introduce you to some of the agents.'"
"So he asked me to go to the agency that he went to and may isa, dalawa doon that started calling me to start auditioning for commercials," Yap recalled.
Several TV ads and two hit TV shows later, the 46-year-old actor recalled he had "always had this feeling that there is something else for me."
"Hindi ko lang alam kung ano. Kasi my plan was when I reach 45, I'm going to retire from my job also. Parang everything fell into place," he said.
Catch the latest episode of "Biyaheng Retro" on Jeepney TV (SkyCable channel 9) on Friday at 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m.