Photos by KOJI ARBOLEDA
Marco Gumabao knows how to pose. On the day of the actor’s shoot with Young STAR, we see him dressed up in a white cropped top and leather pants combo, complete with makeup that softens his sharp edges. To my surprise, he is making it work. At one point, he puts both of his arms behind his waist, Top Model-style, saying, “So, parang ganito ba?”
This androgynous look is different from the Marco that stepped into the studio, walking in with the kind of cool that one associates with a campus jock — all smooth, athletic, and knowing. He is aware of this allure. One look at his Instagram page — with 800,000 followers and counting — and you’ll see various photos of his physique, an impressive frame that he admittedly worked hard on. It shows Marco’s dedication to commit to something he puts his mind to, an impressive trait that shows his grit and discipline.
This devotion is not only evident in his looks but also in his work, where he boldly immerses himself in the characters that he’s portraying. In Jason Paul Laxamana’s box-office hit Just a Stranger, he plays Jekjek, a vulnerable 19-year-old who falls for a married woman twice his age named Mae, portrayed by acclaimed actress Anne CurtisSmith.
The story follows a typical love affair, with Portugal serving as a romantic backdrop for the first quarter of the film. While the script sometimes falls into the trap of melodramatic moments and clichés, Anne and Marco show the viewers their tenacity and make it work, their sexual chemistry permeating throughout the movie’s steady moments.
Despite being a love story, Marco is still aware of the film’s message, and its surrounding stigma, a popular trope among Filipino movies. He comments, “Even though the film is about infidelity, the film shows how much Jekjek and Mae love each other. Everyone has to keep in mind na mali pa din yung ginagawa nila. (Just because) they both love each other, it doesn’t mean na it’s justified na tama yung ginagawa nila.”
Despite being paired opposite acclaimed female leads like Anne, Marco still chooses to fly solo. “Proven and tested naman talaga ‘yung love team formula. Pero personally, okay na ako sa solo,” he says. “I wanna try working with other people para madami din ako mapulot sa kanila. Kasi (when you’re in a love team), you’re stuck with one person, so mahirap maggrow sometimes.” When given the chance to be in a love team though, Marco names Sarah Geronimo as one of his dream collaborators.
Before his project with Anne, he also co-starred with Nadine Lustre and Carlo Aquino in Ulan. His body of work is impressive considering how new he is compared to the pros he’s worked with. He started his acting career in 2011, snatching a role in teen comedy series Luv U. He then had small movie roles in She’s Dating the Gangster, and Aurora. He’s no stranger to the small screen too with roles in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano and Los Bastardos.
When asked about his hopes for Philippine cinema, he quickly replies, “I just want Filipino movies to really progress here para ganahan gumawa ng magagandang movies ‘yung Filipinos. We have so much good material, pero takot sila maginvest at sumugal because we have Netflix, we have HBO Go. People would rather just wait for it to come out rather than go to the cinema and pay.”
With this leap to popularity, you’d think that Marco would be restless, on the run to capitalize on his next move; but he says he’s in no rush.
After our time with Marco, he had one more shoot to attend. It might be more of the same, but Marco shows he’s willing to get styled, pose and converse with the same steadiness that got him to where he is now. “For me, I want to be here for the long run. The whole eight years, I just waited for my turn and believed in myself. Yun lang gagawin ko, itutuloy tuloy ko lang,” he says.