MANILA -- Former "That's Entertainment" mainstay Romano Vasquez was once a promising teen idol under the tutelage of Kuya Germs, the "Master Showman" himself.
Both his good looks and his singing did not go unnoticed in the '90s, as he went on to star in two movies before joining the boy group Quamo -- best known for their Tagalog version of the hit song "I Swear."
Former "That's Entertainment" mainstay Romano Vasquez with "Rated K" host Korina Sanchez. Photo taken from Rated K's official Facebook page
But despite his success, Vasquez revealed that financial constraints "forced" him into sexy films, marking his debut with the 1998 movie "Ma'am Turuan Mo Ako."
"Nung una, napilitan. Pero bilang isang aktor, kailangan natin mabuhay. Wala akong choice kung hindi tumanggap ng mga projects na sexy," he admitted in an interview on "Rated K" aired last Sunday.
Vasquez starred in several other "sex trip films," before moving to Japan to become a male host. He spent six months in the country, earning as much as P30,000 in a single night.
He amassed a total of P1.5 million before returning to the Philippines, with his aspirations of owning his dream house in mind. He also hoped that the industry will be willing to take him back.
"Kaya lang six months kang nawala sa sirkulasyon ng show business, nakakalimutan ka at hindi mo alam kung saan ka magsisimula," he said. "Sa madaling salita, nawaldas 'yung 1.5."
With no career and on the verge of bankruptcy, he desperately pawned one of the only possessions he had taken with him from Japan -- an old stereo component -- in exchange for a place to stay.
Sleeping under a table of drug pusher's house, he began to turn to drugs for solace.
"Yun ay parang naging temptation sa akin na maghanap ng mga tao na akala ko doon makikita sa kanila 'yung tunay na pagmamahal." he said.
Without going into details, he added: "Doon ko [rin] narealize na isang letra lang pala ang pagkakaiba ng tao at ng tae. Pag walang walang ka na pala sa buhay na ito, hindi na tao ang tingin sa iyo."
He soon ran away, choosing to become a "palaboy" in Manila rather than spend another minute with whom he thought was his friend.
He then squatted around the metro, before a "miracle" of sorts happened.
"May babaeng lumapit sa akin, nakilala ako. Nagulat ako dahil sa itsura kong 'yun, nakilala pa ako. Sa sobrang awa niya sa akin, inampon nila ako," he said.
The woman's name is Lina Gacula.
Vasquez stayed with Gacula's family for a while, accepting various odd jobs in the process. He became an electrician, a mason, and a construction worker, among others.
The downtrodden actor was well on his way to recovering from his nightmare. But old habits proved difficult to kill. He again began to turn to drugs, which led to him be kicked out of the Gacula household.
"Kinontak ko na ang tatay ko [kasi] wala na talaga akong pupuntahan," Vasquez admitted, saying that he was once shunned by his own family due to his history of drug use.
"Sa kabila ng lahat na talagang tinataboy nila ako nung araw, iniiwas iwasan ako, sabi ng mommy Grace [his aunt] ko daw ay sige. Alanganaman itapon natin iyan," he said before breaking down in tears.
"Doon ulit ako nagsimula. 'Yung himala na hinahanap ko, babagsak din pala sa pamilya ko," he added.
In 2001, Vasquez met Alma -- the woman who would become his wife.
The two met in a bar in Manila. Alma offered Vasquez a job at a gay bar before taking a liking to the former actor. The couple soon began a family of their own, with Alma giving birth to his eldest daughter, Sky.
"Kinarga ko siya [tapos sabi ko] tatay na ako? Totoo ba to?" he asked.
"Years of my life sabik ako sa pagmamahal ng pamilya. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, kailangan ko ng pangatawanan ang pagiging isang ama," he said.
Today, Vasquez works in a multi-level marketing company. He is also a regular motivational speaker, sharing his life story to other aspiring entrepreneurs.
He now has his dream home in Parañaque City.
"When I look back, may katuturan pala lahat. Lahat pala iyon hindi nasayang," he said.