My Way of Living + training

Face Off : An Inside Look On The Piolo Pascual Frontrunner Interview

The conversation still resonates vividly in my head on that balmy afternoon a little over two months ago. I was going about my business at home, chillin' to 90's tunes on my Grado SR-60's when the call came.
Jonel : Are you free to interview Piolow for our next cover story tomorrow at 4 pm?
GBM : Huh? Er, uh, Piolow?
Jonel : Yeah. The Piolow.
GBM: Uhhh, errr, okaaaaaaay?
Jonel : Great, I'll have the Timex gal get in touch with you.

Numbness. Is this for real? Not that I'm a screaming fangirl or anything , but I knew why Frontrunner EIC/Tatay/BDM Ultraman Jonel Mendoza got me for the story. Think of all the tension when the online pseudo-rivalry would come to a head. The Piolow finally meets the Sub-Piolow in the flesh. What fun.

To those who came a tad bit late into the scene to remember the entire ruckus that happened, read and go back to this piece to get a grasp of what we're talking about. It's as close to a cold war as one would get in the community. It was presscon fodder, and the "feud" was showing up on a completely different front. You should have seen the day when my site was inundated with heavy traffic (hostile no doubt) from Smirk. Eventually the entire episode simmered down, but always remained as sort of an urban legend amongst old running hands.

I had practically forgotten about the entire thing.

Until I received that fateful phone call.

A gazillion things immediately raced through my head. How was I to approach it? Would he be hostile? Snooty? Would the "interview" last 2 minutes while he was being made up for his next show, alalays in tow?

I get a message from the Timex gal coordinating with us. It said something like :

You'll interview Piolow while he's being made up in the dressing room before his next rehearsal.

Ulk. This makes it interesting. I had prepared like ten questions, how am I supposed to pull that off now? For some reason, I was starting to conjure visions of a cranky prima donna surrounded by a burgeoning entourage.
The following day, me and Abby met Jonel at the lobby of his posh Valero condo in Makati. The plan was to ride convoy to the Aliw Theater where he was a guest star for Pokwang's concert. Slight Complication. Apparently, he was stuck in Bulacan, and would be late for what was anticipated to be a 7pm interview. Given that we had plans after, I thought this was a goner. Bummer.Maybe it wasn't meant to be. Maybe next time. What if there won't be a next time?

As we dejectedly started to head for the door, Jonel had a startling piece of news. For some reason, there was some confusion with his handler, and he was actually already at the venue. Sheesh. We were on the road before you could say "Noah"

We parked right in front of Star City, that last bastion of early 90's fun (anyone aside from me remember that show they used to have on channel 9?) I was pleasantly surprised to see that people were actually lining up for her show. Cool. The handler would be out in a few, so we took the time to grab some coffee (which was really more to calm my nerves). I've done a lot of interviews before, but given that this was on such short notice I felt horribly unprepared.

A few more minutes and his handler finally came out. The affable, soft-spoken lady didn't exactly fit my notion of a "handler". Was half-expecting either Ogie Diaz or Lolit Solis to start thumbing down a clipboard in my face.She secured VIP passes for us to gain entrance, somewhat even apologetic that we couldnt just waltz in. "Stricto sila eh, full house kasi ngayon." Pokwang? Nice, strike while it's hot.

The Aliw Theater was much more bigger than I had expected, first time to ever enter. Both me and Jonel were comically fumbling with the digital recorder as we were waiting for Piolow to come out. We checked the
batteries at least four times lol. Oh the nerves. Apparently, our earlier fears of a madalian/pinilit interview were unfounded - we'd be doing the interview right there at the auditorium.
Thankfully, before I could complete a 10k just through pacing around Piolow finally came out. Here's an excerpt from the story, just to give you an idea of my thoughts at that precise moment (consider it a teaser haha.)

“Hi, I’m Piolo. Nice to meet you.” The Man strides into a soon-to-be filled up auditorium with a warm aplomb typical of seasoned showbiz types. Channeling a cool, relaxed vibe, in an alternate universe he could have been anyone. A gym buddy perhaps, or that next door neighbor your sister is crushing on. To the cynical, it’s a generic put-on pieced together by a well-oiled publicity machine. Surprisingly though, the bubble burst as soon as the lights went on. The smile actually seemed genuine. The handshake felt real. Posture and countenance conveyed a refreshing enthusiasm towards the discussion at hand. For the jaded sports writer who was conjuring visions of a snooty, prima donna superstar with several alalays at their beck and call, this guy was redefining whatever preconceived notions we had.

Face off? Pleasantries were, er, pleasant. As I had written, we were coming into the interview with every superstar stereotype on a short list. None of it ever cropped up. Either this guy is a tremendously good actor, or it just shows how warped our showbiz preconceptions are from the outside looking in. He had pretty good memory too, he even remembered a random conversation he had with Jonel about BDM at some race they ran some months prior.

Ano Piolow, we'll train you for BDM!
IMHO, the interview was exponentially better than what we had expected. No time pressure at all, we were able to run pretty much the entire gamut of questions over the span of nearly 30 minutes - quite generous for someone who was going on stage in less than an hour. The interview reflects rare insights on perhaps one of the most polarizing figures we have today, and showcases that burning competitive spirit oftentimes glossed over by the showbiz fluff. Perhaps the lasting impression I got from the whole thing was that if we existed in an alternate universe where he wasn't an actor, he could just as easily be your next door tropa or training buddy.

Ultramarathoner Abby gets in on the action
So did he stare me down after learning I was the guy behind the Sub-Piolow? How does he balance a crazy work sked with training? Will he ever do BDM? Want to know how he felt during his first duathlon on no cleats?
Get the special Christmas issue of Frontrunner to find out,now available at newsstands and bookstores nationwide :)

p.s. It's a collector's edition double cover issue, with a batak Sir Jovie/ Bald Runner on the other cover. That I believe is already worth more than the price of admission :P

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Face Off : An Inside Look On The Piolo Pascual Frontrunner Interview + training