The name Empoy and heartthrob are hardly synonymous.
Often, it's the images of Piolo Pascual and John Lloyd Cruz that make ladies' hearts skip a beat.
Tuesday afternoon, Empoy showed up for an interview with ABS-CBN News' MJ Felipe wearing a dark cardigan that appears one size too long for him.
For those who haven't seen his breakout performance in "Kita Kita," he will come off as unimposing, lanky --nothing like the next leading man so many have dubbed him as.
He sloppily sat, kept brushing back his unkempt hair, and fumbled with the phrase "hindi ko maipaliwanag" too many times.
He was much like his character Tonyo, who was awkward in more ways than one but whose sense of humor and sincerity have become the new definition of "pogi" for most.
"Hindi ko po maisip na mararating ko iyong ganito, kasi simple lang ako noon," he said of his newfound popularity. "Nagbu-bus lang ako, nagta-taxi --nakilala ko na ata lahat ng taxi driver sa may amin. Hindi ko talaga maipaliwanag."
In just more than two weeks, his movie with actress Alessandra de Rossi has made P230 million. Suddenly, Empoy's a star and has female fans fawning over him and his striking moustache.
He also found himself a leading lady, which seems to be a prerequisite nowadays for those who want to make it big in local showbiz, with his tandem with De Rossi referred to as "AlEmpoy."
He admitted to being overwhelmed by it all. It's been 14 years since he first made his television appearance, but he never felt this kind of love from Filipinos before.
Turning emotional, he said that the only reason he kept working hard was because all he wanted to do was to make people laugh. Everything else like the fame was a God-given bonus.
He said that he could have left for another country, seeking a fresh start, but he refused the offers. "Hindi ko maiwan iyong trabaho ko sa industriya kasi hangga't may napapasaya po ako at tumatawa sa akin, lalo ko po itong mamahalin," he said.
Empoy will have more chances to do so, as there is talk about a new film pairing him again with De Rossi.
Like "Kita Kita," which was shot in Japan, it will also be shot abroad, with rumors pointing towards Iceland. "Paniguradong mamahalin ulit nila ang bagong proyekto namin," he promised.