MANILA — “Finally!” said Jake Ejercito, as he was introduced Friday as one of the stars of the upcoming ABS-CBN teleserye “Marry Me, Marry You,” a year after he was originally set to debut as a Kapamilya.
“Ang haba ng pinagdaanan,” Ejercito told ABS-CBN News during a virtual conference announcing his casting in the Dreamscape Entertainment production.
Ejercito, 31, recalled he had met with ABS-CBN executives, including COO of broadcast Cory Vidanes and Dreamscape head Deo Endrinal, in March 2020, “with the understanding na pipirma na and everything.”
That same month marked the first lockdown implementation in the Philippines due to the coronavirus pandemic. Compounding the crisis at the time was the forced broadcast shutdown of ABS-CBN in May, and the denial of the network’s franchise application by a congressional panel in July.
“Because of what happened last year — not only the pandemic, but also the shutdown and the franchise — I guess everyone just waited for everything to settle down,” Ejercito said.
“The dynamics of the industry, medyo nagkagulo din kasi. I guess now, the time is right, and everyone’s found a balance.”
For Ejercito, the right timing meant the opportunity with ABS-CBN aligning with his newfound commitment to acting. Once a “reluctant actor,” Ejercito said he is now ready to enter showbiz full-time.
While Ejercito has dabbled in acting, the projects were “few and far between.” He pointed out that he was based abroad for a time for his college and master’s degree, and became a father at 21 — priorities that were easily ahead of joining showbiz.
Now that his daughter Ellie is 9 — he is co-parenting with his former partner Andi Eigenmann — and with his studies finished, Ejercito can finally pursue acting without hesitation.
That Ejercito would be offered a starring role in a teleserye as his ABS-CBN debut was an “overwhelming” prospect, but also one he couldn’t pass up.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time,” he said.
‘THE PRESSURE IS REAL!’
In “Marry Me, Marry You,” Ejercito’s character will figure in a love triangle with the couple portrayed by Janine Gutierrez and Paulo Avelino — both acclaimed actors who recently reaped top awards.
“The pressure is real!” Ejercito quipped.
Asked to name ABS-CBN stars he is hoping to work with in the future, Ejercito answered: “To be honest with you, when I saw the list of the cast, parang na-check na lahat ng nasa checklist ko, e, sa totoo lang! It’s a mix of very talented, very brilliant actors and actresses, veterans and newbies like me. Ibang klase!”
Screen veterans in the cast include Sunshine Dizon, Cherry Pie Picache, Vina Morales, Teresa Loyzaga, Lito Pimentel, Joko Diaz, Jett Pangan, and Edu Manzano.
Up-and-comers who will be seen in “Marry Me, Marry You” are Adrian Lindayag and Keann Johnson of the hit BL movie “The Boy Foretold by the Stars,” Angelica Lao of The Squad Plus, as well as EJ Jallorina, Iana Bernardez, Luis Vera Perez, and Fino Herrera.
“Pag sinabi mong ABS, talagang iba ‘yung roster ng talents!” Ejercito said.
While admittedly less experienced onscreen compared to his co-stars, Ejercito has had the unique opportunity to grasp the ins and outs of the industry growing up, thanks to his clan of celebrities.
Regarded as “showbiz royalty,” Ejercito is the son of former Philippine president and screen icon Joseph Estrada and former actress Laarni Enriquez.
Following his father’s footsteps — strictly as an actor, not as a public official, Ejercito emphasized — he recalled once asking Estrada for advice.
“There’s only one thing he said, actually. Ang sabi niya sa akin, ‘It’s all in the eyes.’ Nasa mata lang daw lahat. So pina-practice ko na ‘yung mga mata ko!” he said.