Monday, February 29, 2016

Mr. Torpe

Gerald Anderson is on fire right now, thanks to the success of his latest movie Always Be My Maybe. In light of that, I'm running here again a blog post I wrote about him five years ago for my old showbiz blog.
On the surface, the Gerald Anderson of today—the bankable actor who has several hit movies and teleseryes under his belt, including Won’t Last A Day Without You and Budoy, respectively—seems like he no longer has anything in common with his pre-showbiz self. Gerald acts, looks and talks differently now than he did before he joined Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition in the summer of 2006. But as Butz and Jalal tell it, the saying, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is apparently true in Gerald’s case.

For instance, Gerald already had girls screaming his name before he entered showbiz. His half-American genes helped him stand out in a crowd and made him very attractive to the opposite sex. Girls went to great lengths to get as close to Gerald as possible. According to Jalal, those girls were willing to do anything, like dip into their savings, for a chance to talk to him. Some of Gerald’s more enterprising classmates saw an opportunity to make a quick buck and went for it. “Marami nang nagkaka-crush sa kanya kasi kahit hindi pa siya artista, sikat na siya sa GenSan dahil sa basketball,” says Jalal of his friend. “Marami nang babae ang humihingi ng number niya. Yung mga kaklase niya, binebenta naman sa kanila yung number ni RJ sa halagang P2,000 bawa’t isa.” (RJ, BTW, is short for Gerald Randolf Opsima Anderson, Jr., or Randy, Jr. It’s what Gerald’s family and non-showbiz friends call him.)

Anyway, yes, you read that right. Showbiz was little more than a blip on Gerald’s radar at the time, but girls were already willing to part with their money just to get his cell phone number. Which begs the question, how much they would be willing to fork over for it now? If Gerald's current level of popularity is any indication, the answer is probably ten times the amount they paid for it all those years ago!

But you know what’s really funny? Gerald didn’t know how to deal with all those lovestruck girls. “Sobrang torpe ni RJ sa babae,” recalls Jalal with a laugh. “Minsan may nagkakagusto sa kanya. Pag sinasabi na, ‘O ayan RJ, may gusto sa ‘yo.’ Sasabihin niya, ‘Ayoko, nahihiya ako.’” So when a girl who bought Gerald’s number tried calling or texting him, he refused to pick up the phone because he didn’t have the courage to talk to the girl. Sometimes Jalal or one of their other friends would do it instead, just for kicks. “Oo, kami ang sumasagot,” Jalal says sheepishly.

Once, after answering one such call, they agreed to meet up with a girl and her friends. After much prodding from Jalal and another one of his friends, Gerald joined them, although he ended up watching the whole thing from a corner of the meeting place. “Minsan nag-meet kami. Sabi niya sa akin, ‘Ikaw ang magpanggap na RJ.’ Ayoko, nakakahiya. Ang nagpanggap na RJ, yung kasama ko. May dumating na mga babae, sabi nung kasama ko, ‘Ako pala si RJ Anderson.’”

Unfortunately for Gerald, the girls would have none of it, so their ruse fell flat. “Sabi nung isang babae, ‘Hindi naman ikaw si RJ Anderson. Ayun siya o, nakaupo.’ Sabi ni RJ, ‘Hindi ako si RJ. Ako si ganito.’”

Butz, a seaman who taught Gerald to speak Visayan when the latter first arrived in GenSan, says the language barrier his friend faced at the time made things worse. “Pag babae, magtatago yan. Kasi dati, may crush yan sa school nila na gustong-gusto rin siya. Siguro immature pa, hindi pa talaga siya marunong. Hindi lang siya mahiyain, para siyang sobrang torpe. Pag nakita niya yung babae, tatakbo siya. Kaya dati, tinatanong niya ako kung paano manligaw,” Butz says.

Butz and Gerald would sit in a bahay kubo perched on the edge of the Andersons’ property, in the area where a basketball court now stands, and there they would talk about girls. Or rather, Gerald’s inability to woo them and what he needed to do to change that. Butz tried to build his friend’s confidence by telling him to just go for it. “Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Hindi tatanggi yan kasi gwapo ka, eh. Amerikano ka.’”

However, Butz doesn’t remember if Gerald eventually found it in himself to man up and ask his crush out. “Hindi ko nasundan yun,” Butz laughs. “Parang wala, walang nangyari doon. Basta parang crush na lang yun.”

Gerald himself admits to being very shy around girls when he was younger. Before he moved to GenSan, he was living in Missouri with his family. At the time, Gerald had a big crush on one of his schoolmates, a girl he describes as a Taylor Swift lookalike. “Her name was Danielle. Kasama ko siya sa school bus noon, lagi kaming magkatabi, pero I was too shy to make a move,” he laughs.

These days, that Gerald is much removed from the one we know now. It shows how far he’s come. But his ties to GenSan remain as strong as ever. It will always be a part of him.

Reprinted from Jules Explains it All on Wordpress, November 23, 2011 at 8:19 PM.

Photo by Allan Sancon for Jules Explains it All.

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