MANILA - Jason Abalos said he was deeply hurt to learn of his girlfriend Vickie Rushton's issues about their relationship, which she revealed in episodes of "Pinoy Big Brother."
The 29-year-old actor was asked to react to Rushton's revelations Thursday on the sidelines of a press conference for "Separados," one of the competing entry's in this year's Cinema Philippine Independent Film Festival.
Abalos admitted that watching Rushton's confessions brought him to tears, saying he was not aware of his supposed shortcomings in their relationship.
"Hindi ako aware na may pagkukulang ako. Ako talaga, nagulat ako na may gano'n siyang revelations. Dito ko lang na-realize na may gano'n pala... Sa issues namin, sobra akong nasasaktan," he said.
Rushton first opened up about her relationship with Abalos in the June 26 episode of "Pinoy Big Brother." She expressed her disappointment over Abalos' supposedly decreasing efforts to make their relationship special.
At the time, the 21-year-old from Bacolod told her fellow housemates that Abalos would no longer make any effort to surprise her, even on special occasions. She said their typical date would be a visit to the mall, and referred to the relationship as "boring."
Initially, Abalos was not concerned with the issues brought up by his girlfriend, but realized that they were serious when Rushton raised it again in later episodes of the reality show.
"Noong una, I find it cute pa nga, eh, na, 'Uy, naglalambing. Paglabas siguro, gusto nito ganito gawin ko,' 'diba? Sa akin, iyon 'yung naramdaman ko, pero medyo nauulit-ulit na, sabi ko, 'Seryosong bagay na 'to.' Doon ko lang na-realize na, oo nga, may pagkukulang pala ako bilang boyfriend niya," he said.
Abalos surmised that when Rushton talked about his apparent lack of effort, she was referring to the time when he was busy taping for the now-defunct prime time series "Maria Mercedes."
He noted that when he and Rushton became a couple, he still did not have a regular project that demanded his time. However, when "Maria Mercedes" came along, Abalos said he had to juggle time between work and his personal life.
Abalos explained: "Nagkataon lang na noong naunang panahon na kami, wala akong trabaho. So nagkaroon ng 'Maria Mercedes,' medyo naiwas ako sa paglabas-labas, kasi pag taping naman talaga, puyatan, paguran. So 'yung mga free days ko, nasa bahay lang ako, nagpapahinga."
Asked if he always made a point to make time for her, he answered: "Meron, kahit naman may trabaho. Pero siyempre, mas nagpapahinga ako sa bahay. Ayoko rin naman na lumalabas na pagod ka. Masasayang lang. Tapos may curfew pa siya. Kasi magkikita kami, sobrang bilis lang."
In the July 27 episode of "Pinoy Big Brother," Rushton revealed that she and Abalos almost broke up several times. While she readily said "Yes" when asked if she still loves Abalos, Rushton appeared hesitant to answer whether she is still happy with their relationship.
In another conversation with ex-housemate Cheridel Alejandrino, Rushton lamented that Abalos tends to be preoccupied with his cellphone whenever they are together.
"Madami [akong realizations], sobra," Abalos said. "Sa part ko, bilang boyfriend niya, alam ko may pagkukulang ako. Marami akong na-realize."
Not jealous of Daniel
When it comes to Rushton's fellow housemate Daniel Matsunaga, who is being teased as a romantic interest for her, Abalos readily said he does not feel jealous. He noted that Matsunaga, while affectionate towards other female housemates, appears respectful enough to keep a certain distance from those who are in a relationship, such as Rushton.
"Si Daniel, sweet naman sa lahat," Abalos said. "Ilang pa nga siya kay Vickie, eh. Kasi 'yung ibang mga babae, binubuhat-buhat niya pa, 'diba? Niyayakap-yakap pa niya. Pag si Vickie, 'Good night,' gano'n lang. So alam mo 'yung respect ni Daniel sa mga tao na involved na, nandoon naman 'yon."
He also pointed out that Rushton and Matsunaga, along with Fifth Pagotan, are the last remaining adult housemates. He said it is natural for the younger ones inside the house to tease them as a "couple."
Even then, Abalos mentioned that both Rushton and Daniel have denied time and again that they are romantically interested in each other.
"Kayo, dalhin kayo sa isang lugar na kayo-kayo lang, biru-biruan. Maganda si Vickie, guwapo si Daniel, 'diba? Sila lang 'yung medyo may edad doon na puwede loko-lokohin ng mga housemates, eh," he said.
Abalos added: "Sa tingin ko, biktima lang kami pare-parehas ng isang show, kasi wala naman talaga, eh, 'yung kay Daniel, Vickie. Feeling ko, wala naman talaga, eh. Siya narin mismo nagsasabi sa loob na wala talaga."
'Mahal ko si Vickie'
Asked if he regrets that Rushton opened up about their relationship on television, Abalos said he cannot take it against his girlfriend to be so candid inside the "Pinoy Big Brother" house.
"Hindi naman nakakahiya para sa akin. Hindi niya lang alam din talaga siguro kung ano'ng puwedeng mangyari pag magsabi siya ng mga problema roon. Wala siyang idea sa showbiz, eh," he said.
Despite what has transpired so far on "Pinoy Big Brother" concerning Rushton, Abalos said he remains confident that they will still be together well after she has exited the famous yellow house.
"Ang pinanghahawakan ko talaga 'yung huling pinag-usapan namin bago siya pumasok, na huwag akong maniniwala or makikinig sa kahit sinong tao, basta kaming dalawa lang mag-uusap," he said.
The actor will not oppose Rushton staying on as housemate, saying it has long been a dream of hers and that it is her way of helping her family.
"Kumbaga, hindi ako magiging selfish na, 'Huwag ka na diyan!' Para sa akin, meron siyang gustong patunayan sa bahay. Kumbaga, hindi naman ako tumutol bago siya pumasok, kasi alam ko naman na ginagawa niya 'yon para sa pamilya niya," he said.
Abalos conceded that he will have to wait a little longer to finally talk face-to-face with Rushton, and hopefully settle their issues and clarify where they stand -- a matter the housemate has admittedly been doubtful of late.
In Abalos' case, however, there is no questioning his commitment to Rushton. When asked directly if he still loves her, Abalos readily answered: "Oo naman, sobra, mahal. Solid."