He remembers it well. It was a month after he had signed to the join the cast of the musical "Sa Wakas" back in 2016 when Pepe Herrera found himself confined in a hospital bed.
The diagnosis was stress-induced complications with his chest and nerves.
The advice was to greatly lessen his workload. The decision was to sacrifice his role in "Ang Probinsyano."
It wasn't an easy one for Herrera, he recalled in an interview with ABS-CBN News this Tuesday. He loved his comic relief character Benny -- and so did a lot of people judging from the reaction to him being written out. But he needed to do it.
Back then, there was confusion as to why exactly he had to leave the show, given Benny's popularity. But, as he explained, it all boiled down to the misinterpretation a lot of fans had when lead star Coco Martin shared that he was leaving for New Zealand.
"Wala naman siyang sinabi sa interview niya na magmi-migrate ako or I will be leaving for good," he said, laughingly. "Wala eh, naging interpretation lang siya ng mga tao."
Herrera clarified that the trip was of the vacation kind, and that he took it with his mother -- a hobby they share.
"It's a time for rest and regrouping," he said. "Kasi it became non-stop working for me, even before 'Ang Probinsyano.'"
He recounted how working on a daily teleserye was pretty taxing. There's also the matter of his new contract with "Sa Wakas," preventing him from opting out of the musical.
It had to be "Ang Probinsyano" or risk more health issues, he said, before adding: "Thankfully, Coco understood that."
Nowadays, Herrera said that he's feeling a lot better -- a testament to how important a breather is to celebrities to prevent burnout.
"Malaking bagay," he said of his brief time away from the spotlight. "I needed it."
You can catch Herrera as part of the cast of the run of "Rak of Aegis" this June -- the hit musical's sixth. He will reprise his role as Tolits, alongside other stars such as Kim Molina and Robert Seña.