The Butcher | Understanding JM de Guzman

JM de Guzman may no longer look like the matinee idol that he was a decade or so ago, but he has a lot more going for him at the moment – one of which is his obvious growth as a person and as an actor.

Photos: Viva Films

JM de Guzman may no longer look like the matinee idol that he was a decade or so ago, but he has a lot more going for him at the moment – one of which is his obvious growth as a person and as an actor.

JM de Guzman is one local celebrity I am willing to deal with, but only at arm’s length – at least, for now.     

As per his bio, he was already an actor when he was still a child – as part of ABS-CBN’s  Ang TV. But he became part of this kiddie show by the time I was already in GMA.     

Oh, I still recall the Ang TV cast members when I was still with ABS-CBN. They were the bane of Charo Santos, whose spiel taping for Maalaala Mo Kaya got constantly interrupted – no thanks to the noise and general rowdiness of the kids who were shooting only in the next studio.     

I don’t know anymore if the children were better behaved during JM’s stint in Ang TV. I never knew about his existence until he was already an adult.

It was in Veronica Velasco’s Last Supper No. 3 that I first noticed him. Last Supper No. 3 is one of the most intelligent local comedies in my book. It’s about a missing tapestry of the Last Supper that was supposed to be used in a film, but got lost somewhere during the shoot.     

Aside from the substantial material, it also featured some of the best, but underrated actors in entertainment: Joey Paras, Beverly Salviejo and Jojit Lorenzo. Add to that this actor whose character in the story was named Andoy Pamatid. It wasn’t until later that I found out that he was JM de Guzman.     

But as Andoy Pamatid (the assistant of the production designer as played by Joey Paras), I was already impressed with his acting talent. He had both screen presence and comedic timing.     

In the first edition of Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, the film benefits a lot from the very impressive performances of Eugene Domingo, Kean Cipriano (another underrated actor) and, of course, JM de Guzman.  His chemistry with Kean is priceless.     

I never saw any of his television appearances, but as a film reviewer, I am very familiar with his movie projects. His filmography may be short, but most of the movies he did were pretty decent. Some were good enough to be included in the annual awards derbies.     

JM was nominated in Imbisibol in the 39th Gawad Urian and I gave him my vote for best supporting actor. He came close second to the final winner, the late Bernardo Bernardo, his co-actor in Imbisibol.     

But what makes JM de Guzman a good actor? Is it the angst in his life, which must have been what also drove him to resort to substance abuse?     

His drug addiction and subsequent rehab are generally known to the public. Why, he didn’t even have qualms about playing a role so close to home in his latest movie, Nuel Naval’s Adik Sa ‘Yo, which is due for showing in cinemas this April 19.      

Surely, he wasn’t on anything yet during his early years in show business. Obviously, his sharp acting skills were inherent in him.     

But while I do admire him for his talent, I am not a big fan when it comes to his interpersonal relationship – or lack of it – with people. He may have been awarded for some of his works in the movies, but Mister Personality is one title I doubt he’ll win.     

In 2017, I was in ABS-CBN rehearsing for a special event that I hosted for the network. During a break, I decided to go to see Boy Abunda, who was taping for his talk show, Tonight With Boy Abunda.     

Boy and I were catching up on each other when JM was ushered in by his handlers. He was the guest celebrity that day and he was presented to Boy, who gave him a quizzical look.     

There seemed to have been something off with JM that time. He actually looked spaced out. I don’t know how he managed during the interview. But trust Boy to be able to handle anything – anyone.     

During the pandemic era – when pikapika’s online talk show was still relatively new, JM was scheduled to be a guest via zoom. His appearance was part of the promo for Init sa Magdamag in ABS-CBN.     

After my co-host Anna Pingol and I had prepared for the interview, he backed out at the last minute. Questions specially prepared for him had to be thrown away. It was a waste of time for us.

Two weeks ago, I got invited to a mediacon for Adik Sa ‘Yo. I was apprehensive to attend the event when I found out that the lead star was JM. In my head, I was thinking: What if he turned out to be a no-show again?     

I finally went when I was told that there was only a very small group of media people attending and that there was a chance I could interview the stars on a one-on-one basis. I was also informed that Cindy Miranda was going to be there. Cindy is one of the most pleasant young stars today and I looked forward to seeing her again.     

The clincher, however, was when I found out that the affair was going to be in Botejyu in the Vertis area. Botejyu is my all-time favorite Japanese restaurant.     

During the event, I had hoped to interview JM exclusively. But for some reason he had to leave early – so that didn’t happen.     

That was only the second time I saw JM in person. There was something different about him. Did he get older? Probably. But didn’t we all? The luster seemed to have dimmed a bit. What remained, undeniably, was his inner substance and that all the more gave him character.    

During the open forum, he admitted for anyone who cared to listen about how a lot of scenes in Adik Sa ‘Yo actually happened to him during his dark moments when he was fighting his drug problem. The rehab scenes in the movie were particularly familiar to him since he went through all those experiences in real life.   

There was so much sincerity in his voice that I found new respect for him as a person. He wasn’t the warm, fawning and bubbly type, but, at least, he was genuine and sincere when he talked to people.     

JM de Guzman may no longer look like the matinee idol that he was a decade or so ago, but he has a lot more going for him at the moment – one of which is his obvious growth as a person and as an actor.     

He may have sunk into his lowest depths as a drug user, but he marvelously turned everything around to his advantage. All he needed was understanding and a second chance at life and, yes, his career.     

Here’s hoping Adik Sa ‘Yo works wonders for him.

 

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