Billy Jake Cortez is no stranger to the world of telling stories and giving life to fictional characters. He started as a short filmmaker when he took up AB Mass Communication at the University of Saint Louis, which is situated in his hometown of Tuguegarao City.
Now, he is breaking hearts and letting tears roll in a different medium: publishing a novel titled Hindi Hugis Puso. Its story follows Mia and Seb whose love story goes through numerous challenges caused by family ties, distance, selfishness, and lack of integrity. The book, published under Viva Books, was inspired by an immense heartbreak Billy Jake faced in his own life.
LOVE IN ALL SHAPES
“Actually, I’m a short film filmmaker ta’s nagsusulat din talaga ako,” the 24-year-old writer-actor told pikapika.ph. “Talagang intense lang ’yong pagka-heartbroken ko kaya noong may opportunity na sinabi nilang pwede ako magsulat ng libro, grinab ko na. I wrote something very personal [called] Hindi Hugis Puso. It’s actually a story of being broken.”
The book, as explained by Billy Jake, is connected to concepts from geometry. His story poses the question of what love is shaped like, at the same time believing that love does not come in your usual heart shape.
“Kung ihahantulad ang isang pag-ibig [sa mga hugis], ano ba siya? Bilog ba siya? Square ba siya? Triangle ba ’to? Pentagon ba ’to? Hexagon? Pero, hindi talaga siya hugis puso,” he says. “Naniniwala ako na ang pag-ibig ay kailangan hindi tinitignan as isang angle, kundi maraming angles. Ang pag-ibig ay maraming klaseng trianggulo na minsan hindi pantay-pantay,” he further explains. “Ang pag-ibig ay maraming mga points na minsan kailangan tumigil. Ang pag-ibig ay maraming commas na kung saan kailangan magpatuloy na magpatuloy o kaya isa siyang math problem na napakaraming kailangang i-solve para makita mo ang tunay na sagot.”
The hugot novel was welcomed with an array of support from Billy Jake’s hometown fans as he launched it last March 7, 2020, which was an incredible feat not only for them, but for the entire city of Tuguegarao, as well.
“Ang daming nag-support na Tuguegaraoeños,” he recalls of his book launch. “And I think ako ’yong first na Tuguegaraoeño na nagkaroon ng first published novel sa region namin.”
ENTERING A NEW PATH
Despite finding passion and success in writing and behind-the-scenes in film, Billy Jake recounts how some of his friends would urge him to try out how he would fair in front of the cameras.
“Kahit I have passion for writing, I have passion for doing short films, I have passion still for editing and graphic design, [sabi ng] friends ko na ‘Try mo mag-acting!’” he recalls.
At first, he was against the idea, believing he was awkward when it comes to acting. Eventually, his friends’ persuasion piqued his interest, and film director Darryl Yap was able to put Billy Jake into his short films for the VinCentiments Facebook/YouTube page, which would then go viral. One film, in particular, titled KPL | No
Rebound Philippines, which starred himself, the famous “KPL girl” Loren Mariñas, and Senator Sonny Angara, reached over 4 million views.
After appearing in a couple of more short films by Yap, Billy Jake was given a minor role in the blockbuster film Jowable starring Kim Molina. It was after those exposures that made the writer-actor realize how exciting the world of acting is.
“Mukhang okay itong acting na gawin,” he said. “That’s why ngayon I’m thinking to dwell or focus myself more on how to do acting. [...] ’Yon ’yong pinapabuti ko sa sarili ko ngayon. Acting.”
Now, Billy Jake is balancing his passion for acting and behind-the-scenes, reinforcing his first love by taking a master’s degree in Film at the University of the Philippines - Diliman while taking acting workshops on the side.
And, hopefully soon, he will be able to showcase more of his acting skills in movie theaters as he is set to appear in the films Tililing starring the likes of Baron Geisler, Gina Pareño, Chad Kinis, and Donnalyn Bartolome and Ang Babaeng Walang Pakiramdam starring Kim Molina and Jerald Napoles.
Best of luck to you, Billy Jake!
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