The essence of being a heartthrob according to Robi Domingo, Donny Pangilinan, Inigo Pascual, Tony Labrusca, JC Alcantara, and Ricci Rivero

While a handsome face and manly appeal can easily command inexplicable attention, there’s more to being a true idol than just the physical looks, and these well-rounded Kapamilya gentlemen tell us why. 

Zac Benares and Robert Hamilton

With their charm and toned physique, guests Zac Benares from Hong Kong and Robert Hamilton from Atlanta are often mistaken for professional actors or celebrities. Compliments about their handsome appeal aren’t new to them but Zac and Robert believe that a person’s worth must never be gauged just by mere looks.

Born in Kuala Lumpur, Zac is a half-Filipino and of Malaysian and Chinese descent. Robert’s mother is a Filipina while his dad is an American. And although they were raised overseas, Pinoy attributes especially speaking in Tagalog are instilled in them.  

Zac isn’t closing his doors to showbiz since he’s being persuaded a lot about trying to become an actor. If that happens, Zac knows honing his Tagalog speaking skills must be a priority. Flattering words about his good looks always make him smile and say ‘thank you.’ He doesn’t let these praises blind his humility. His parents would always tell him that looking presentable might be important yet being respectful, kind, and smart leave a stronger impact. To maintain his shape, Zac’s go-to activities are playing sports likes basketball, soccer, cycling, and sometimes swimming.

Meanwhile, Robert said he appreciates every single compliment he receives, knowing that they’re something he won’t get for the rest of his life. His perfectly sculpted physique is a product of consistent underwater regimen. Robert started swimming at a young age. Explaining the benefits of swimming, he underscored that it is a good form of exercise as it has low impact on the joints and can be used for aquatic rehabilitation or therapy. Robert was in the modelling scene for six years and there he encountered people with attractive faces yet ugly on the inside, proving him that a book must not be judged by its cover.

Robert is single at the moment while Zac is in a relationship. The two heartthrobs displayed their charming ways in an endearing Tagalog Challenge.

Tony Labrusca and JC Alcantara

There are moments in life when defeat becomes just a stepping stone to a series of more victories. Such was the case of Tony Labrusca. Despite not winning in the talent show Pinoy Boyband Superstar in 2016, Tony still found his place in showbiz, thanks to his talent and good looks.

His first major break was via fantasy series La Luna Sangre. It was then followed by a slew of remarkable television roles and appearances in critically-acclaimed movies.

Now tagged as one of the entertainment industry’s heartthrobs, Tony said he is grateful for the positive comments not just about his acting abilities but on his physical attributes as well. Yet, Tony underscored that being a heartthrob isn’t just about sporting an undeniable appeal. “They’re like a role model. A heartthrob doesn’t necessarily have to have a perfect body or be a perfect guy.”

Tony is currently making waves in the online world for his role in the freshest Filipino BL (Boy Love) series “Hello Stranger.” The actor had second thoughts accepting the offer to portray as Xavier, saying he wasn’t sure if starring in an unconventional series would create a good impact on his ‘controversial’ career. Then, he was struck with how the BL genre suddenly took the online world by storm because of the Thai drama “2gether: The Series.” Tony added that he was also impressed with the production team Black Sheep’s collaborative effort and persistence. 

Tony headlines “Hello Stranger” alongside JC Alcantara who is popularly known as Bogs in the hit primetime program Halik. Just like Tony, JC was also scared to accept the project at first, knowing that ‘gay’ stories are not yet widely accepted in the Philippines. Then, he thought of his lesbian aunt and friends from the LGBTQIA community who are hiding behind their fears and insecurities. JC thought they needed to be represented well in order to make them feel accepted. “Sana maging boses nila ako na sana maging okay na lahat at makatanggap sila ng pagmamahal mula sa atin.”

The story of “Hello Stranger.” is told via online conversations among the characters. The scenes were shot by the actors themselves in their own homes. It was challenging for the most part. Typical shoot-from-home problems like noise and unstable signal connection were encountered. Tony added that it felt strange to be working in his own living space.

All the challenges were worth it as “Hello Stranger” becomes a record-breaking Pinoy BL series. Its pilot episode on June 24 garnered half a million views in just less than 24 hours. It also penetrated local and worldwide trending spots in social media. Tony and JC feel blessed to be part of a platform that represents the LGBTQIA community and promotes equality and acceptance.

Even foreign viewers are charmed by Xavier (Tony Labrusca) and Mico (JC Alacantara)’s chemistry. When asked about the possibility of falling in love with each other’s characters, Tony and JC shared the same opinion. They both agreed that falling for a fellow guy isn’t entirely impossible and it might be something that can happen without a warning. JC explained, “Si Mico dito, straight siya pero hindi niya inakala na mai-in love siya kay Xavier. Hindi rin natin alam ‘yung universe o ‘yung tadhana kasi hindi mo mapipigilan ‘yung feelings lalo na kapag napalapit ka sa kanya, so bahala na ‘yung tadhana.”

Thus it is important, as Tony said, to draw the line. “As an actor kapag sobrang invested ka sa role minsan you lose sense of yourself. Ang importante, if you don’t want to lose your sense of self, you need to go back to your core so that you can separate your character from your self kasi that’s very possible if you’re always immersed with this person.”

They admit that they’re still in the process of transitioning from mere colleagues to friends and the little awkwardness helps them portray Xavier and Mico’s characters effectively.

Ricci Rivero

Crowned as the Most Tweeted about Filipino Athlete in 2017 and 2018, Ricci Rivero has certainly captured the hearts of many not just with his good looks and basketball prowess but also with his kindness on and off the court. The UP Fighting Maroons cager makes a stand amidst this pandemic by extending help using his own savings. Ricci finds this as a good opportunity to pay it forward. He said he’s more concerned with those who lost their jobs.

Although the athletic community is also in a critical situation, Ricci still finds something to look forward to. He hopes sports events like basketball can resume as planned early next year. The next season would be his last playing year for the University of the Philippines and the UAAP, thus his excitement.

Growing up, Ricci and his siblings used to watch their father play basketball with friends. This ignited his eagerness to learn and conquer the said sports.

The hardcourt heartthrob looks at basketball and the UAAP league as two of the most exciting things about his youth. He learns a lot on the court. But even when not wearing his jersey uniform, Ricci’s days are still full of thrill. He said there were days when girls would go crazy over him to the point of almost spying on him outside his dormitory. The humble guy would always entertain his adoring fans as much as possible. “Kung wala naman po akong gagawin tina-try ko magbigay ng time kasi nag-sacrifice din sila ng time to go there and see me. Kahit kumustahin lang o kausapin o picture kasi meaningful na ‘yun sa kanila.”

Ricci added that he feels most handsome when he’s playing on the court because he knows he is at his comfort zone. Yet, he clarified that being a heartthrob isn’t just about having captivating looks. “Being a heartthrob is something people should look up to talaga or parang pwede nilang i-look up to in a way na mai-inspire sila hindi lang base sa looks. But then even in your personality as well. It’s something na hindi lang sa looks but you as a whole.”  

Apart from his skills in basketball, Ricci is also gifted with acting abilities which he already showcased in the horror film “Otlum.” He admitted that he was hesitant to accept that movie offer at first, clueless about the showbiz industry. But Ricci isn’t the type who would let golden opportunities pass by. He thought God has more plans for him, so he’d always be willing to live up to His challenges and embrace the unexpected blessings.

And the most important question girls are eager to know – is he single? The answer is yes.

Robi Domingo, Inigo Pascual, and Donny Pangilinan

Dashing Kapamilya gentlemen Robi Domingo, Inigo Pascual, and Donny Pangilinan are all flattered and grateful to be hailed as showbiz’s new generation of heartthrobs. Yet, they emphasized that the title doesn’t merely revolve around charming appeal. They believe being an idol is about making others happy and having a good heart as well.

Being the son of The Ultimate Heartthrob Piolo Pascual, or Papa P to squealing female fans, doesn’t bring Inigo pressure. At the end of the day, his goal is mainly to entertain his viewers and not to become a certain type of person simply patterned after his own father’s characteristics.

Although being praised for his boyish charms sounds really flattering, Donny gives more weight to personality over looks. “The most important thing is being yourself. You can look good. You could be attractive to certain people but if the inside doesn’t match, I don’t really think it considers as a heartthrob.”

Meanwhile, Robi shared his observation that millennials no longer focus on the physical and superficial standards when choosing a ‘crush ng bayan.’ “Given na dapat ‘yung looks, eh pero mas heartthrob ka kung may sense kang kausap and when you make a stand for something.”

The guests are then asked to enumerate what makes each other certified heartthrobs. Inigo pointed out that Robi’s sense of humor and ability to turn an awkward situation around are his biggest pogi points. The latter had to emphasize the appeal of Donny’s trademark kissable lips. Aside from that, Robi thinks that Donny’s humility and affability make him a good catch. And while being part of a big showbiz clan stirs the public’s judgment and expectations, Donny remains authentic, welcoming, and down-to-earth, according to Robi. Meanwhile, Donny shared that Inigo was among his first showbiz friends and what makes him a true boy-next-door are his genuine personality and ability to build himself up. 

Robi, Donny, and Inigo are undoubtedly excelling in their different chosen areas of entertainment. Yet, these dreamers are determined to soar higher. Robi feels proud and honored to have shared the stage with the likes of Toni Gonzaga and Martin Nievera in hosting and if there’s one goal he would like to achieve in the future, that would be to be able to host like these veterans.

After years of experience and with an upcoming series with Belle Mariano, Donny is eager to stick to acting and learn more about his craft. Inigo, who was recently featured in Jo Koy’s comedy special, said he’s glad to be able to represent Filipino talent in an international platform. Inigo recently released his self-written single “Balang Araw.”

To end the interview, the three cuties took on an honest Q and A portion where they revealed interesting thoughts about girls. The first thing they notice in a girl is face for Robi, eyes for Donny, and smile for Inigo.

When asked what turns them on, Robi said he has a soft spot for a woman who can laugh at his jokes, Donny picks humor, and Inigo finds girls with singing skills irresistible.

Given the chance to bring a Kapamilya actress in a deserted island, Robi would go for Alex Gonzaga while Donny and Inigo chose Angel Locsin.

The best way to a woman’s heart is having the best intentions, according to Robi, while Donny explored keeping it real, and Inigo emphasized the need to invest in quality time and maintain communication.

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