MANILA, Philippines – Whoever said being a waiter or a fast food crew member is a job that is “beneath me” needs to think twice.
This same job is what these prominent local figures were proudly doing before they ventured into the entertainment and broadcast industry. The daily toil and their encounters with people from all walks of life helped mold them into the celebrities they are today.
Get to know these five well-known personalities who started out as restaurant staff.
Who he is: One of the most prized actors of ABS-CBN, Coco Martin has starred in a number of top-rating primetime shows, the latest being “Walang Hanggan” which saw him paired with rising star Julia Montes. He is set to appear in a superhero series titled “Juan dela Cruz” with Erich Gonzales as his leading lady.
His story: Martin used to be a waiter at the homegrown restaurant chain Max’s, which specializes in fried chicken. He was discovered by an assistant of Johnny Manahan, an executive of ABS-CBN’s talent management arm Star Magic. After rounds of auditions, Martin made it to Star Magic batch 9, but he was not launched as a talent as he opted to finish his studies first. The actor first dabbled in indie films (which earned him awards and the title “Prince of Indie”) before making it to mainstream showbiz. In a surprising twist, Martin finds his way back to Max’s, this time as the brand’s celebrity endorser.
Who he is: Dubbed as the “original hunk of Philippine showbiz,” Richard Gomez has charmed his way to millions of Filipinos through his numerous acting and modeling projects. His last project was the “phenomenal” ABS-CBN series “Walang Hanggan," where he was reunited with his long-time on-screen partner Dawn Zulueta. He is married to celebrity-turned-politician Lucy Torres and they have one daughter named Juliana.
His story: Gomez was working at a McDonald’s fast food chain when he was discovered by talent manager Douglas Quijano, who passed away in 2009. After trying his hand at modeling, Gomez entered local showbiz and became the epitome of the “tall, dark and handsome” man. His long career saw him doing projects for different networks, until he returned to ABS-CBN in 2011.
Who he is: Considered one of the country’s top celebrity restaurateurs, Marvin Agustin starred in several movies and television shows, with the most popular being those with his former on-screen partner, Jolina Magdangal. The award-winning actor is now busy managing his more than 20 successful restaurants in the country, including Sumo Sam, John & Yoko, Oyster Boy, Marciano’s and Kung Fu Kitchen.
His story: Agustin started out as a waiter at the Alabang branch of Tia Maria before becoming the youngest member of the Mexican restaurant’s marketing staff. Tia Maria would often be used as a bar host for several TV shows, and this was when Agustin was asked to enter show business. He was eventually launched as part of Star Magic’s Batch 2 along with Diether Ocampo, Mylene Dizon and Patrick Garcia. And the rest is history.
Who he is: Once dubbed as the Philippines’ “Concert King”, Martin Nievera is known for his voice, wit and dedication to his craft. He has staged numerous concerts and hosted a number of television shows on ABS-CBN. Nievera is currently part of the Sunday noontime show “ASAP”.
His story: Nievera spent most of his childhood days in Hawaii, where they owned a restaurant. There, he flipped burgers and learned the value of hard work. Inspired by his father who was also a singer, Nievera eventually moved to the Philippines to pursue a career in the local music scene.
Who he is: Rico Hizon is a Singapore-based broadcaster of BBC who has interviewed several prominent personalities, including Korean pop superstar Psy, the man behind the global “Gangnam Style” craze.
His story: Before venturing into broadcasting, Hizon used to be a service crew of a McDonald’s branch in the Philippines. There, he learned not only skills crucial to the fast food industry, but also values such as humility and teamwork.