03 April 2017

The Rising Star of Batangas’ Joshua Garcia

Joshua Garcia being interviewed on Rated K.  Image captured from video on Iwantv.

There are a few Batangueños in the country’s entertainment industry. Ai-ai de las Alas, born in San Luis; and Jason Gainza, born in Batangas City, come to mind. Leo Martinez, of course, has made a career reprising onscreen the western Batangas accent of his hometown of Balayan. Then there is Ogie Alcasid, albeit born in Metro Manila but to parents originally from Lemery and Taal.

The only one of the Batangueños in the industry who falls under the emerging teenage heartthrob category is 19-year old Joshua Garcia from the town of Bauan. In recent months, there have been those who have dubbed him the “new John Lloyd Cruz.” Some, like Jobert Sucaldito in the nightly tele-radio program “Mismo,” also see a bit of a facial resemblance to GMA Networks contract personality Alden Richards.

Garcia is presently contracted to Star Magic1, the ABS-CBN training and management subsidiary2. As a 16-year old self-confessed high school dropout, he made his television debut in 2014 as one of the housemates of the Pinoy Big Brother All-In season.

After his eviction from the PBB house in October 2014, when he just failed to make the Top Four, I wrote this excerpt about him in an article also in this same web site:
“Despite his eviction, the boy may yet have a future in show business. In the short film directed by Cathy Garcia-Molina, which was aired Saturday night, Joshua did very well for an amateur. He is extremely good-looking, yes; but more than good looks, he has an expressive face.

“As Tirso Cruz III – who was asked to sit in a panel and critique the performances of the housemates – observed, Joshua has that gift of being able to speak his emotions through his eyes.”
Garcia’s star after PBB has not by any means been meteoric, which is probably a good thing because it precludes him from being a flash-in-a-pan. The entertainment industry is one where good looks are dime-a-dozen. Garcia, good-looking as he is, does not really hold any real advantages over other male actors his age in this department.

Rather, the young Batangueño’s real edge has always been the expressive face and the almost effortless and instinctive ability to convey emotions. Behind the scenes, Star Magic must have been giving him serious training to harness the full potential of the expressive face and one day transform him into a serious actor.

In 2015, apart from the occasional brief guesting in a few of ABS-CBN’s many variety shows, Garcia started to get minor roles and, thus, prolonged public exposure. He was Joel Galvez in the afternoon soap “Nasaan Ka Nang Kailangan Kita” and Dionard in the weekend teenage comedy series “Luv U.” He also had a supporting role in the romantic movie “You’re Still the One,” top-billed by Maja Salvador, Dennis Trillo, Richard Yap and Ellen Adarna.

The following year, he landed the role of Emman in the afternoon weekend crime series “Ipaglaban Mo.” In Charo Santos’ “Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK),” he was Pablo in the “Itlog” episode and Ernesto/Barbie in “Puno.” In the latter, he gave a glimpse of his emerging versatility through his sensitive portrayal of a cross-dresser.

But as Garcia himself told Korina Sanches in an episode of “Rated K3,” he started to get real attention upon his portrayal of the role of Tonying in the blockbuster hit “Barcelona: A Love Untold,” which starred Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo.

In September, he was part of a powerful cast for the afternoon soap “The Greatest Love,” a profoundly touching series on a family’s struggles to deal with Alzheimer's disease. Garcia was cast as Gloria Guerrero’s (played by Sylvia Sanchez) grandchild Zosimo “Z” Cruz. Although playing a minor role and the youngest among seasoned big-hitters, the young Batangueño always held his own even in the heaviest dramatic scenes.

Young Joshua Garcia held his own against seasoned performers in "The Greatest Love."  Image captured from video on Iwantv.

Before the end of the year, he was already starring in his own movie entitled “Vince & Kath & James” opposite Julia Baretto and Ronnie Alonte. Last December, I spoke to Gary Gardoce, the cinematographic director of the film, about Garcia’s acting skills and how it was working with him. Gardoce, a Batangueño himself born and raised in Lipa, was all praises for youngster’s acting abilities.

This is no small deal because Gardoce is an industry veteran who has done cinematography since 2006 and worked with countless movie and television personalities. The movie, shown during the Metro Manila Film Festival, ultimately turned out to be box office hit.

Garcia’s star continues to rise in 2017, and just recently took on the role of John in the “Bituin” episode of MMK. The episode, which told of the story of a young man in Cavite killed while his sweetheart (played by Baretto) was in the hospital, set Twitter ablaze the very same night it was aired.

Despite the steady stream of projects, Garcia’s feet remain firmly planted on the ground. He saves all his earnings, he told Sanchez during the recent Rated K episode, hoping to one day be able to afford to have a house built for his father Geo. Despite his relative success, he remains simple and considers among the pleasures in his young life his father’s “binagoongang baboy.”

Garcia is by no means the finished product, but with the likes of Padilla and James Reid getting older and starting to take on more mature roles, there will be room for emerging teenage heartthrobs. Bauan’s pride appears well-positioned to step in if asked.

Not bad at all for a youngster whose parents broke up when he was just one year old and who had to spend his formative years in a convent in Tanauan with his uncle the priest. It was, he told Sanchez, his father’s financial difficulties which pushed him into trying his luck with Pinoy Big Brother.

This may yet be the best decision of his young life and I, for one, wish this fellow Batangueño a long and distinguished career in the entertainment industry. That piece I wrote about him when he was just emerging from PBB may yet become prophetic indeed.

Notes and references:
1“Joshua Garcia,” Wikipedia.
2 “Star Magic.” Wikipedia.
3 Personal details about Joshua Garcia mostly from the “Rated K,” 2 April 2017 episode on ABS-CBN.

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