MANILA -- There are actors who often sacrifice family time to give way to their consistently busy showbiz schedules. Rare are actors who give up their steadily thriving career to prioritize family life. One such guy who opted for the latter is actor-model Ron Morales.
After 12 years of acting on TV and the big screen, Morales packed his bags and dauntlessly migrated with his young family to Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada.
It was a major decision for Morales to raise his family in foreign soil. All his life, he spent in the Philippines. He, along with three other siblings, were raised single-handedly by his mom, Sailani, after his dad passed away 23 years ago. His mom later moved to the US with his youngest sister, Mariam, so Morales was also raised by his aunts.
Back in 2018, Morales perhaps thought there was no better opportunity to uproot his family and migrate to Canada than at that time. Both he and his wife, Victoria Villamin, were ready while the children were still very young. They have two kids both born in the Philippines. Andres is seven years old and Anika is four.
Morales and Villamin tied the knot in November 2011. He met her while she was still working at ABS-CBN Global-TFC (The Filipino Channel). She finished Mass Communications at St. Paul’s University.
The family settled into the quiet town of Prince Edward Island, one of the Atlantic provinces east side of Canada. It is a 16-hour drive to Toronto and 12-hour drive to New York.
“Initially, we were looking into migrating to New Zealand,” Morales disclosed. “But God led us to Canada, where we are most grateful of because of the child-friendly environment the province offers. Around us are ocean and mountains. We enjoy the simple, laid-back traditional lifestyle we are living in now. There are less malls, more parks, more nature and little to no traffic at all.”
Admittedly, leaving the Philippines and moving to another country was a tough decision for the 35-year-old Morales and his family. “Philippines was where I lived all my life and a country that I love,” he said. “We weighed in several factors such as the children’s education, the safe, peaceful environment and potential future opportunities for the kids. Basically, the chunk of the decision was for the kids’ benefit.”
The family left the Philippines in October 2018. Morales’ last TV appearance was in the weekly, afternoon legal drama, “Ipaglaban Mo.” He was ready to put his showbiz career on hold should the opportunity for his family to migrate open.
“Back then or I guess until now, that has been my mindset,” Morales said. “When you have the passion for it, you’ll find it in your system to miss it still. My showbiz career had its highs and lows, as any career does. But generally, I am thankful for the opportunity and experience of working in the entertainment industry.”
The business management course that Morales finished at De La Salle University, surprisingly, was not related to the craft he eventually pursued professionally. Earlier on, Morales never planned to join show business. However, after he took his practicum at ABS-CBN, an opportunity to try acting opened for him.
“If there are opportunities that showbiz can offer (monetary), a person should consider that, since generally, a regular or traditional entry level job might not present the same financial compensation as showbiz does,” Morales explained.
“However, tenure or longevity in the showbiz industry is not always guaranteed. I guess you just have pray and seek God’s purpose and to play it by ear as life unfolds opportunities and always be in the safe and stable zone. If you’re earning comfortably in showbiz, then save and invest. If showbiz is done for you, then go back to school. It’s a win-win situation. You just have to make smart choices.”
Morales is nonetheless thankful that he finished college before he embarked on a professional career. “Fast forward to today, I was able to utilize my diploma in moving here in Canada,” he said. “There are pros and cons. But as a parent, your child should always have a solid academic foundation.”
However, Morales is aware that is not always necessary. “There are non-graduates who are equally as successful as diploma holders,” he explained. “But it must be a default to any parent to encourage their kids to finish school, as there are no guarantees of stability in showbiz.”
Spending a good 12 years in showbiz, Morales easily remembers his influences, Albert Martinez and John Lloyd Cruz, who helped and inspired him in his TV and film assignments. “Their staying power says it all,” he said about Martinez and Cruz. “I joined showbiz because I guess I’m the type of person who was always willing to try and explore things. So, I gave it a shot and enjoyed every moment of it.”
Morales, who also gave modeling a try, can easily boast about his enviable accomplishments onstage. Yet, he never bragged about those successful achievements. In 2007, he was named first runner-up in the Be Bench Model Search, topped by Carlo Guevarra. The following year, he was chosen as one of the 10 Centerfold Hunks 2008 of Cosmopolitan Philippines, along with the stellar likes of Derek Ramsay, Geoff Eigenmann, Billy Crawford and Paolo Contis.
Working with veteran performers and character actors proved to be the highlight of Morales’ acting career. “To experience and share their work ethics. To add, working with great directors molded the creative side of me. In fact, about a year before I left, I was able to explore coaching brooding actors and produced short films from Ogie Diaz’s acting workshop organization. That affirmed how much I value my craft.”
Morales counts Diaz, his erstwhile manager, as his mentor and “dear friend,” whom he keeps in touch with until now. Morales also made friends with a handful of showbiz people, like the bosses and his other fellow actors in the network.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the lives of people all around the world, Morales and his family were naturally not spared to experience the crisis. “The pandemic shocked us all even here in Canada,” he said. “To date, there are 68,000 affected and 5,000 deaths here. However, from the province where I am since this is a small town, most people and the government are very cautious. We only have 27 cases and all have recovered.
“We started reopening the province in. It was a gradual, phase-by-phase timeline that started last May 1. I was temporarily laid off from my job, but the government support is in full swing since the lockdown announcement. We are safe and well provided for by the government here.”
Morales’s family has a “peaceful and relaxed life” in Canada. “Slow down living kind of thing,” he said. “We are enjoying the growing up years of the kids.”
He works in a restaurant as a cook and in charge of kitchen preparations. “The chef trained me to do all the preparation the business needs,” he shared. “I can say I enjoy what I do. My wife is presently a stay-at-home mom, but she previously worked for a few months here as an early childhood educator (ECE) in a daycare.”
After more than a year in Canada, Morales can safely say he and his family, thankfully, have adjusted to the life there. “I can say we are fully settled after more than a year of living and working here,” he said. “Definitely, there were challenges from the early stage of migration. But I can say generally it was smooth transition.
“Because of the family-friendly environment, peaceful and little to no traffic lifestyle PEI offers. We were detoxed from the city life we had back in the Philippines. We are missing the summer weather, though, back home, especially when it is winter season here. Not all Filipino food, too, are widely available, so I guess the Pinoy tummies in us will always miss the Philippines.”
Asked if he misses showbiz, Morales readily gave an affirmative reply. “I definitely miss showbiz, my colleagues and the grind itself. In Manila I miss family, friends and, of course, food!”
His mom, Sailani, is settled in Arizona with his youngest sister, Mariam. He has three other siblings. The brother after him is Rafael, who lives in New York, while a third brother, Ronniel, is still here in the Philippines.
Morales remains hopeful with every opportunity that comes his way. Definitely, he is not closing his doors to showbiz. “Hopefully, if an opportunity for acting will come my way again, I will be open to make creative projects again,” Morales said.
For sure, his fans and all those who know him in and out of the entertainment industry, will likewise look forward to that day again.