The Rise, Fall, And Revival Of Albie Casiño
I’ll never forget the first time I met Albie Casiño.
The year was 2009, and I was covering the Star Magic Ball rehearsal. Engrossed in everything that was happening, I didn’t notice that someone was trying to get my attention. “Hi, are you with Star Magic?” a lady asked. Her features lit up when I told her why I was in the ballroom.
“Ah, you need to interview the artists?” I nodded. “Sige, you can start with my son. He’s dancing in the cotillon. Let me get him, ha? Wait lang.” Before I could respond, she had already dashed off to a corner of the ballroom and returned with a young man in tow.
“This is my son. His name is Albie,” she said.
A different mindset
My first impression of Albie Casiño was “coltish.” At that point, he embodied the textbook definition: “full of energy but clumsy or awkward.”
On my way home, I replayed our first encounter in my mind. Albie got through the rehearsal without messing up the choreography. I knew he wasn’t clumsy, but he did have an awkward air about him. One could tell by how he carried himself (nervous chuckle, shy smile, stiff shoulders) that he felt a little uncomfortable in his own skin. It was as if he wasn’t sure why he was there or doing what he was doing.
The Albie Casiño I met then was very different from the Albie I reconnected with in 2022, on the set of the second FreebieMNL Spotlight shoot. I almost didn’t recognize him. He walked confidently into the studio. His awkward air was gone, replaced by a relaxed vibe. The nervous chuckle and shy smile had morphed into a booming laugh and rakish grin. His formerly stiff shoulders had been chiseled to perfection, completing Albie’s transformation from skinny teen to shredded adult.
But the Albie of today doesn’t just look good; he feels good about himself, too. We talked about living our best lives when I sat down with him in his dressing room. “Or I’m trying to, at least,” he says, to which I asked him to explain further.
“There was a time when I thought living my best life meant having a routine I enjoy. But I realized I also want to have spontaneity in my life. As humans, we crave new things, ‘di ba? New experiences, new feelings, ganun. We don’t want uncertainty, but we also don’t want to do the same thing every day. That’s why I think it’s hard for humans to be happy kasi we have to find the middle ground. So now, for me living my best life is about finding balance in all things.”
A decade ago, Albie Casiño had a different mindset. Like many of us once did, he craved independence from his parents. Now that he lives independently, his parents are still involved in his affairs, and Albie couldn’t be more thankful. His mom, tita Rina, nursed him back to health when he got COVID-19, albeit from a distance.
“Back then, independence yung ‘living my best life.’ But right now, it’s just balance,” he says. “My place is near my parents’ house lang. So actually, traffic lang yung hassle.”
Safe to say, the Albie of today is grateful for his parents’ continued presence. He also treasures their love and support. But that’s not the only way he finds balance. Back in the day, Albie had no filter, but he’s become more careful when he speaks. He doesn’t censor himself but is more mindful of the impact of his words.
“When I was younger, I was like, ‘This is who I am. People will hate or love me, but at least I’m not being fake.’ I’m still the same, but I choose kinder words,” he explains. “You can always say something in a nice way, so that’s what I’m trying to practice now. I won’t say things in a way I know would be offensive. I can get my point across by being nice. I’ve learned that getting people to listen to you is easier when you’re not being condescending or mean.”
Albie picked that up while dating Filipino-American beauty queen Michelle Arceo, whom he was with for about three years. Although he’s notoriously private about his personal life, Albie did give the media a peek at their relationship in 2017. In a previous interview, he confessed to being unfaithful to the girls he dated before Michelle. He considers what he had with Michelle as his first real relationship because it helped him grow in more ways than one.
“I wouldn’t be living alone right now if it wasn’t for her,” he reveals. “She taught me how to stand on my own two feet. She’s from the States, and everyone there is so used to being independent. Their culture is so different from ours. Sa kanila, at sixteen years old dapat may trabaho ka na. At eighteen, dapat wala ka na sa bahay ng parents mo. Here, it’s more common for people to live with their parents until they get married. But aside from independence, she taught me other things, too.”
Albie loved Michelle. But like any other couple, they had their differences. “We would argue about random things, stop, then end up arguing about them again. But eventually we got to a point where hindi na kami basta-bastang nag-aaway. We’d talk openly about what was going on. I realized na kapag ganun ang ginagawa namin, hindi na bumabalik yung issue. Na se-settle kasi namin ng maayos.”
That triggered a shift in Albie. He started choosing his words more carefully from that point on. Not just when talking to his then-girlfriend but also when he talked to other people.
“I realized it’s not just men and women that think differently. Everyone does. Even me and my best friend, even though we have a lot in common, we have different takes on certain things. That’s how I learned that it’s better to talk to someone properly, even if may disagreement kayo. Don’t insult them. Explain things to them. Show them why you feel or think a certain way. Mas magkakaintindihan kayo kapag ganun.”
From conscious to confident
When the 2010s began, Albie Casiño’s career was moving quickly. After a successful stint in Gimik 2010, he was cast in the remake of Mara Clara. The Albie-Kathryn tandem was very well-received. So much so that after Mara Clara ended, ABS-CBN quickly planned a new project for them called Growing Up.
I later learned that Albie had been implicated in an issue that resulted in him being booted from Growing Up. It wasn’t until the Spotlight shoot that I brought it up again. But the air is clear, as Albie explains: “I don’t feel the need for apologies kasi people form opinions based on what they know. You and everyone else didn’t know the truth, so how can I blame you for forming an opinion when you didn’t have all the facts? It’s nobody’s fault besides [the] people whose fault it is.”
There was a time in his life when he was angry at people. But can you blame him?
I asked him if he ever felt like he missed out. “Imposibleng hindi. I wouldn’t have lost [my] position if a certain person didn’t say something wrong. So I guess that’s why people always ask me if I’m OK. Honestly, I am. I don’t look at DJ and think, ‘That should be me,’” reveals Albie. “Someone ruined something for me, but my life is perfectly fine now. I choose not to dwell on it. I don’t think about the what-ifs because that won’t change anything.”
A lesser man would hold a grudge until the day he dies, but Albie has grown up. Even he admits that he wasn’t always this mature. Right around the time things were going down, he was going through a rough time in his personal life.
“There was too much going on. Hindi ko totally ma-grasp lahat ng nangyayari. I didn’t understand how big the original version of Mara Clara was. Also, I had no idea that the remake had that much impact, and I was in it!” he exclaims. “I didn’t realize the consequences of my actions. I was only 17 or 18 years old at the time. You can be very volatile at that age, especially when you’re a dude.”
Albie was on the verge of adulthood then, ready to assert his independence and find his own identity like everyone else his age. While he didn’t want to be like everyone else, he considered fitting in important. He needed to prove himself, and that’s precisely what happened.
Albie began to exhibit behavioral changes that appeared bizarre and unpredictable to those around him, especially people who didn’t know him very well. But he wasn’t really acting out; he was just acting a certain way to live up to what he felt were people’s expectations of him. Albie felt he had to be cool, tough, and strong, so he tried very hard to be so.
Eventually, he realized he didn’t have to be anything or anyone other than himself.
“I know now that if you’re trying to be something, you’re not that thing. You’re trying, eh. You’re not being authentic because that’s not the real you. It’s fake. So now I don’t try to be anything. I just am what I am. When you’re younger, you want to be thought of as ‘cool.’ You want to be invited to parties and stuff like that, so you act a certain way to make that happen,” he recounts. “But now, I don’t really care about things like that na. Confident na ako sa sarili ko, with who I am as a person. I don’t need as much external validation from my peers. I guess that comes with age.”
That ‘kuya’ energy
Albie went into Pinoy Big Brother Kumunity Season 10 with that mindset. He admits during our interview that he wouldn’t have gone on the show if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. He figured that since he was already stuck indoors, he might as well do it. After all, it wouldn’t be that different from isolating in his own home.
Albie also became a housemate because he wanted to know the real score. When asked for the truth, he laughs. “It’s really not scripted, but no one believes me when I tell them that.”
According to Albie, a typical day for the housemates begins with a wake-up call and breakfast. After eating, he’d work out and then wait for his turn to shower. After the shower call, the housemates would start working on whatever task had been set. Albie says that was what they’d spend most of their time on. But contrary to popular belief, the housemates had a lot of time to sit around and chill. As lovely as that may sound, it was torture for Albie and the others.
“That’s actually what made it hard,” he reveals. “When you’re inside, all you can do is think. You have no phone, you have no source of entertainment, so tatakbo lang talaga yung utak mo sa loob.”
But even before he stepped inside, Albie already knew what he was going to do. “I made up my mind that I would just do me. Kasi I wasn’t worried about how I would look to the viewers because may alas ako na wala yung iba. I was already in the industry, and people didn’t like me.”
“Because of the issue,” he expounds, “I was sure the general population of the Philippines, hindi talaga maganda ang tingin sa akin. I’m in an industry where people’s impressions of you matter. I didn’t make the best impression early in my career, but I’m still here. People don’t like me because of something na hindi totoo. So I joined the show to give them a glimpse of who I really am. Naisip ko if they dislike me, I’m good with that. At least na-decide nila yun based on something real.”
But Albie didn’t receive the backlash he was expecting. Instead, viewers embraced him for his honesty. They also loved how he doted on the younger members of his batch, including the season’s eventual Big Winner Anji Salvacion. Albie even describes her as the little sister he never had but always wanted.
Albie Casiño was evicted from the Pinoy Big Brother house on November 13, 2021. He may not have won the money, but he went home with Filipino viewers’ genuine love and support.
“I’ve played a lot of kontrabida roles before. Even when I played the good boy in Los Bastardos, kontrabida pa rin ang tingin sa akin ng mga tao. Plus, with the issue and all, hindi talaga mabango ang pangalan ko. But when I did ‘PBB,’ I guess people sensed that I was being real. People like authenticity, so I think that’s why they gravitated to me.”
He even got a new nickname: “Kuya mo Albie.” When asked where that came from, he laughs, “Joke lang yun, sa totoo lang. I told a story about how I cheated on one of my exes, tapos nahuli ako. I called myself ‘Kuya mo Albie’ and tawang-tawa yung mga housemates.”
One of the reasons the nickname works is because Albie’s taking on more of a kuya role in his career. Aside from his close bond with Anji, he’s also co-hosting a show called Top Class. It’s a survival show that seeks to create a five-member P-Pop boy group that will debut under Cornerstone Entertainment. (As of press time, the final five have been confirmed.)
“That show took the ‘Kuya mo Albie’ thing to a whole new level,” he says. “These kids are trying to enter the industry. They’re exactly where I was. So my role is to help them however I can. I give them advice. Sometimes they ask for it, and sometimes they don’t. But I can’t help it. Nadadala ko na nga yung pagiging adviser sa totoong buhay, eh.”
He recently took a kid he met at the gym under his wing. “When I saw him, I could tell [na] first time niya mag-boxing, so I gave him some tips. Now I pressure him to go to the gym. When he does, I pressure him when he’s on his phone. Not in a bad way, ha. I just want him to be the best boxer he can be.”
“At first, I wasn’t into being a kuya figure to those kids,” he confesses. “Growing up, I didn’t have a kuya, so no one cared for me like that until I did ‘Bastardos’ with Jake [Cuenca].”
Albie says his friendship with Jake Cuenca played a big part in changing his approach to acting. They were already acquainted before but didn’t become thick as thieves until they were thrown together on Los Bastardos. Based on the Precious Hearts Romances series Cardinal Bastards, the afternoon soap saw Albie and Jake play two of five half-brothers.
“He taught me to appreciate acting more. Because of him, I started doing my homework sa craft. When you see someone as established as Jake Cuenca breaking down a script by writing notes in the margins, mapapaisip ka kung bakit hindi mo ginagawa yun. If he’s doing it, nakakahiya if I don’t, ‘di ba?” shares Albie. “So I’ll always be grateful to Jake. He’s my forever kuya in the industry.”
When pressed if this is the kind of energy he’s willing to pass on, he simply confirms: “Exactly.”
Regi To Wear Suit
More than ready
The last time I interviewed Albie Casiño was 12 years ago. “So yeah, of course, I’ve done much growing in a decade. But sabi ng scientists, the human body replaces itself with a new set of cells every seven years. You become a completely different person, physically speaking. I think it works the same emotionally and mentally,” he tells me.
Albie admits that it was hard for him to get to this place. Sure, he found it easy to get in shape because of tried and tested workout routines. But there was no map to guide him through life. It took a lot of self-reflection and time before he could put things into perspective.
“The number-one thing I learned is that if something happens to me now, it won’t be as bad as before. So when people around me are stressing out, I’ll ask, ‘Is there something you can do about it?’ If they say no, I’ll tell them to stop stressing out. If they say yes, I’ll tell them to do it,” he shares. “But I know it’s not always that easy. Even now, when I’m stressed, I still panic a little. But I try not to let the panic interfere with what I’m trying to do.”
His issues have also stopped getting in the way of him finding love and revealing that he’s seeing someone. When prodded, he asks to keep things off the record but says things are going well.
“One of my exes told me that I may never be able to give a girl all of me because of what I went through. She was right with that assessment at the time. Dumating na ako sa punto na feeling ko relationships weren’t for me anymore. Balak ko noon was just to live the bachelor life,” he recounts. “But when I met my current girlfriend, I realized, ‘Ah, kaya ko pa pala magmahal ng buo.’”
His new relationship proves that the ghosts of his past no longer haunt him. He may not be completely healed yet, but he’s committed to putting in the work to get there. He’s still a work in progress, and that’s enough.
“I’m all about self-improvement,” he says as he leaves the dressing room. “Yun ang focus ko ngayon. Kasi no matter how bad you think your life is, someone will always have it worse than you. Someone’s also going to have it better. So all you can do is think about improving your position. Make the best of what you have. Life will never turn out exactly how you want, and you have to be OK with that.”
We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Albie. At this point in his life, he’s more than ready for whatever’s coming.
Photography Paolo Crodua
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara
Interview and Cover Story Julian Mauricio
Fashion Direction Nicole Blanco Ramos
Styling Regi Cruz
Beauty Direction Elisa Aquino
Grooming Muriel Vega Perez