• TO TAKE CARE OF AILING DAD

    Tom Rodriguez leaves for extended US-stay

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    LHAR SANTIAGO

    Today is the scheduled California-bound flight of top prime time actor Tom Rodriguez, along with fellow GMA Network stars Dennis Trillo, Lovi Poe, Betong and Alden Richards, to do a concert for GMA Pinoy TV. Titled Sikat Ka Kapuso, the show will be held at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach on January 22.

    Incidentally, Jennylyn Mercado, who is also a concert headliner will leave Saturday as she has to finish several scenes for her upcoming adaptation of the Korean hit series, My Love From The Stars.

    Going back to Tom, who sat down with Showbuzz during rehearsals for Sikat Ka Kapuso, he is staying behind in the US after the show.

    “My family will watch the concert, and right after the performance, I will drive with them to Arizona where our house is. I will stay there a little longer to take of my dad who is sick,” he explained.

    Tom’s father, unfortunately, is suffering from cancer of the lungs. “He was supposed to have been cancer-free after he was operated on last year, but before Christmas, they found out that the cancer was back. This time, it’s the type of cancer that is more aggressive. He doesn’t want to undergo chemotherapy anymore. Nahihirapan siya talaga, so now, we will try non-traditional medicine.”

    Tom Rodriguez

    It’s good that Tom has just finished his soap Someone To Watch Over Me, which means he will not be busy yet for at least a couple of months. He has informed GMA executives of his extended stay in Arizona for time being but promised he will be back if the network already needs him.

    He is also thankful to have a very understanding girlfriend in Carla during this difficult time. “She is always there to support me,” Tom shared. “When I told her I would like to spend more time with my dad and my family, she readily said yes. She also has a very good relationship with all the members of my family.”

    Tom spent the holidays with Carla in Arizona just last December. “My family just adores Carla. Of course they know her already but it was the first time Carla spent a great deal of time with them. Christmas season pa ‘yun so the atmosphere was so happy. They really love her because she’s really easy to get along with. I didn’t have any trouble entertaining her while we were in Arizona because she was always with my family, and she really enjoyed being with them. Nakakatawa nga kasi ang nangyari, si Carla with my family na ang lumalakad at ako na ang naiiwan. She’s really comfortable with them.”

    With a clearly solid relationship, Tom is often asked if he and Carla are already talking marriage. To this, the actor has always given a standard answer: “Getting there, that’s what I always say to those who ask. Carla and I, of course we talk about it in passing, but there is really nothing to talk about yet. I want to focus first on taking care of my dad before I make plans to settling down.”

    * * *

    Meanwhile, set to do a duet with Tom in Sikat Ka Kapuso show is his Someone To Watch Over Me leading lady, Lovi Poe. They have rehearsed their number for the show and are very excited to perform together. “At least, they will see Joanna and TJ together again,” said Lovi who is of course referring to the husband-and-wife characters she and Tom played in the series.

    Lovi Poe

    “Tom and I were talking a while ago, and we found out we’re both hung over our characters. Those are the kind of characters that are hard to shake-off. My heart really went out to Joanna while I was doing the soap. Hindi kasi madali ang pinagdaanan niya. Mabigat ang ending but I believe that’s the best way to end their story,” said Lovi, her involvement in the character still evident in her voice.

    Like Tom, Lovi is also extending her stay in US after the show. She is hooking up with her sister who is based in San Francisco since she is already in California. “I always look forward to bonding time with her. We will surely go shopping and try out the good restaurants. It’s been a while since we had time to spend like this. I always enjoy my sister’s company because we share almost the same interest so I’m very excited.”

    Despite her posting pictures with rumored French-Filipino boyfriend Chris Johnson on her social media accounts—showing them in lovey-dovey shots—the actress will not confirm their relationship status.

    “It’s because I don’t believe in courtship so I really cannot say if kami na ngang dalawa. Hindi nga kasi nanligaw. Basta ako, I believe more in companionship because that’s the way you will know a person better before you plunge into a relationship,” the actress reasoned out.

    * * *

    Acting projects have inspired actor and Quezon City Congressman Alfred Vargas to get into serious shape. He is now following a strict diet and regular gym training to get back his former hunk bod.

    “I have two acting assignments right now. I am finishing an advocacy movie called Ang Guro Kong Hindi Marunong Magbasa. I’ve also started taping for Encantadia where I play Amarro. Actually, the role is not new to me because this is the same character that I played in the Etheria, Encantadia’s sequel in 2005. Amarro is the father of Aquil, who in turn was my character in the original Encantadia,” he said.

    Excited is understatement to describe how Alfred feels about his Encantadia comeback. It’s been his desire to be part of the cast ever since he learned of the remake.

    “When Direk Mark (Reyes) called me to tell me I was reprising my role as Amarro, I was ecstatic. The more I became determined to get in shape physically. I know how demanding my role is, maraming fight scenes so I really have to be physically fit.”

    True enough, on Alfred’s first taping day, he was subjected to a fight scene with Rocco Nacino who now plays Aquil. “It’s really something that on my very first scene, I was fighting with the very character I portrayed in the past. I was so happy to be back on the set. Na-deja vu talaga ako. I was so happy that I was co-starring again with Diana (Zubiri) who was my love interest as Danaya in the original. I also enjoyed meeting the new sang’gres and, of course, Rocco, who is the new Aquil. The role really fits him and he’s doing a great job,” Alfred said.

    So how does Alfred balance his time between tapings and his job as lawmaker? And by the way, he also has to go to school to complete his Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of the Philippines.

    “Proper time management. I don’t let any of my work suffer. Kahit walang session at nasa taping ako, I ask my staff in Congress to come to the set if there are papers to be signed. Meron nga akong parang office sa waiting area where I get to finish all the paperwork.”

    * * *

    SHORTS … Dennis Trillo and Jennylyn Mercado going on a European vacation right after their US show on January 22. Both say they are looking forward to the cold weather. They are also excited to see the famous natural wonder, Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. While the two are flying to Europe on the same date, January 25, they’d rather not say that they are vacationing together …

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