MANILA -- Being in lockdown is nothing new to actor JM de Guzman. Back in June 2013, when he first checked into a rehabilitation center, De Guzman was given no choice but to adhere to strict, daily rules and follow stringent regulations, whether he liked it or not. He stayed until late 2014.
However, De Guzman experienced another lockdown when he was brought back to the rehabilitation center in December 2015. He finished the program and successfully got out in February 2018.
In both times, every “privilege” was deprived from De Guzman. He was not allowed to use a mobile phone, surf the internet and watch TV. He had no access to any kind of news. No music, no alcohol, no exercise, not even “sex.” He had no free time, no money, no job.
This current enhanced community quarantine would have been really easy for the 31-year-old actor, who headlines the daily late-afternoon soap series, “Pamilya Ko,” along with a star-studded cast.
“Because of my [previous] experience, this quarantine would have been a piece of cake,” De Guzman shared in a recent Facebook post. “But I’m struggling everyday and alam ko kayo din. I’m fighting hard to cope.”
This lockdown made De Guzman realize to “go back to one of the philosophies and ‘count your blessings,’” he said. “Napakarami pala. Nakaligtaan ko lang pala dahil sa sitwason na conundrum. It made me feel content. Gave me peace of mind.”
He attests that every day is not always easy. “There were some days it brings back memories,” De Guzman admitted. “Some days were easy, but I now have coping skills set, like being productive, taking care of my health physically, mentally and emotionally through meditation, eating healthy, exercising and providing myself with positive materials. I am also relating my feelings to friends and family.”
De Guzman manages to keep himself busy even inside his home, where he lives alone. “It’s tough and lonely sometimes living alone, but it’s rewarding every time before you sleep and when you wake up,” he admitted. “Because you are surviving. I handle everything and ask for help sometimes from friends and family only if I cannot do it by myself and vise versa.”
Now, he can work out at his whim, sing and strum the guitar, talk to anyone on the phone, even play with his beloved cat – far different from his daily schedule in the rehabilitation center. He knows he still needs to practice and observe “discipline and being responsible,” because he lives alone. “So I have to prioritize taking care of myself, so I can help others, too,” he said.
He wakes up before 9 a.m. every morning and prepares his breakfast. “Then, I listen to good music. I eat, clean the unit, take a shower, nap, work out, eat, clean, shower and sleep,” De Guzman offered.
His schedule appears routine, yet, he is not complaining. He has apparently adjusted to a new normal all of us are not previously comfortable with.
Taping for De Guzman’s daily series, “Pamilya Ko,” was stopped after the lockdown was declared. Undeniably, that altered his schedule, too. “The first few weeks of the lockdown, I noticed that I’m restless because my brain and body are programmed already to act three times a week,” he disclosed, as he mentioned the schedule of the tapings. “But I managed to help myself adapt to our situation even though I lost one of my outlets.”
De Guzman recently made a concerned post when his “Pamilya Ko” co-star, Sylvia Sanchez, was hospitalized because of the coronavirus. The actress’ husband, Art Atayde, likewise suffered the same fate. Sanchez plays De Guzman’s mother in the afternoon drama series.
“I just prayed and believed that they are going to recover fast,” he said of Sanchez and Atayde. “That’s all I can do. Prayers.”
During the lockdown, the actor participated in “Suor Clara,” Open House’s initial experiment in “theatreaming.” Director Andoy Ranay combines his directorial know-how from TV and the movies with stage in theater’s medium-of-the-moment.
“Suor Clara” is Floy Quintos’ speculative fiction piece, where a mysterious rendezvous in a convent brings an entire nation back to a familiar past.
De Guzman had a special role in “Suor Clara,” with Angelica Panganiban, his co-star in Antoinette Jadaone’s highly successful light drama, “That Thing Called Tadhana” (2014). “Suor Clara” debuted at the 2010 Virgin Labfest and reunites Frances Makil-Ignacio and Ron Capinding in the lead roles.
As far as his music is concerned, De Guzman came out with a new single, “Asa,” a song about unrequited love that he also composed. Released last March under Star Music, the song is co-written by ABS-CBN Music’s creative manager, Jonathan Manalo, who is also the producer of the single. Meanwhile, the music video of “Asa” was released under ABS-CBN Star Music YouTube channel, directed by Cris Escolano.
The song will be included in De Guzman’s eight-track album, that will carry four other cuts that he originally composed, plus three songs by Moira de la Torre, Raphael Kyle and Rico Blanco.