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Enrique Gil: Bigger Things Ahead

Enrique Gil is ushering a new season in his career. 

Three years after his hiatus from showbiz, he kickstarted his big screen comeback via ANIMA Studios and Black Sheep’s raunchy comedy movie, “I Am Not Big Bird.”

The movie tells the story of Luis Carpio (Enrique) and his friends’ misadventures in Thailand after he was mistaken as the Thai pornstar Big Bird. Contrary to what the Thai natives believe, Luis’ fiancée broke up with him because of his less-than-stellar bedroom performance.

During his interview for FreebieMNL Spotlight, we talk to Enrique about his newfound openness to accepting modern roles compared to his previous characters.

Enrique then reveals, “Hindi, actually, idinagdag talaga namin yan kasi wala talaga siya sa original script. 

Parang it would be better for this guy na takot sa love, takot maging intimate, dagdagan natin na maliit yung thing niya para may contrast na pagdating niya doon, pinagkamalan siyang si Big Bird na pornstar, e, in real life, he’s not. 

“Just for the contrast. So, talagang yung small-big part na yan, kami talaga dumagdag diyan.”

He then quips, “A lot of guys won’t accept that but mga guilty lang yang mga yan!”

But this simple decision marks the big change that Enrique is hoping to happen as he returns to showbiz: to be able to choose and do projects he wants to.

In fact, that is the same reason why he said yes to “I Am Not Big Bird.”

He explains, “It’s a movie I would want to watch myself. I’m a huge fan of comedy, growing up, me and my dad. During my downtimes, the first thing I look for is either horror, comedy or adventure, like action-comedy, but comedy talaga.”

Enrique also points out how comedy movies rarely win awards but have a timeless impact on its viewers. 

“There are a lot of movies that I watch, but most of the movies I remember [and] want to watch all over again are comedy movies. 

‘Tapos, parang you don’t ever see comedy films that win awards or anything pero ‘pag tumanda ka na, you’ll always remember comedy films. When I just read the script, this is exactly what I was looking for. 

“For me to be able to do this film, ‘Oh my gosh, paulit-ulit ko talaga papanoorin even in the future.’ I just find it cool at saka I don’t see concepts like this being done here in the Philippines.

“So, to be able to do something like this, actually hindi nga pang-Philippines, e. Parang if you think about the whole premise and everything, pang-U.S. It’s not really like we are touching this type of concepts or films, but to be able to do something like this and to release it theatrically here, it feels really good.

“At first, nerve wracking, we took a chance; ‘Oh my gosh, is the Philippines gonna be open to these types of films? But at the end of the day, I’m just happy I did it. At least, I have it in my repertoire na I have something like this.”

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As the conversation continues, Enrique shares that what’s more fun about doing comedy films are the memorable moments he had on the set, especially since they were shooting in a foreign location.

Enrique recalls, “Lalo na sa Thailand kasi the language barriers. Isang beses, yung driver namin, oo lang ng oo, pero hindi pala niya alam saan kami pupunta! 

Sabi ko, parang isang oras na ata tayo umiikot sa rotunda na ‘to! 

“And then, mga pagkain doon, sobrang spicy so hindi ready yung mga tiyan namin. So, habang nagshu-shoot, ‘Direk, tigil muna.’ 

Pagdating sa C.R., ang haba ng pila, ang dami namin nakapila! Pero you know, shooting in a different country, ang daming mangyayari talaga.

“It was a fun environment for a comedy.”

At press time, “I Am Not Big Bird” is now on its second week of showing and has been receiving good reviews from critics.

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Reluctant star

Tracing back his roots in showbiz, Enrique started his career in 2008 as part of ABS-CBN’s Star Magic. He was able to do bit roles until 2011, until he was given his big break.

He starred in three projects that year that allowed him to play bigger roles: “Good Vibes,” “Mula sa Puso,” and “Budoy.”

Enrique would then become one of ABS-CBN’s prime stars, doing projects left and right until the pandemic hit in 2020.

But did you know that Enrique did not initially plan to join show business?

He reveals to FreebieMNL, “Ayoko talaga maging artista, but the opportunity was there and parang nag-go with the flow lang ako.

“My dream was to work with animals, mahilig ako sa dagat, anything with science. I really like science stuff. So either working with science or the environment, yun ang gusto kong gawin. 

“But dito ako napunta, so, sabi nila, ‘Okay na yan! Mas bagay ka dito.’”

In fact, there are still moments when Enrique can’t believe he’s actually in the business.

“Until now, I still cannot understand, even my parents wouldn’t believe kasi growing up, ‘Grabe, mahiyain yan. Tahimik lang yan. Ayaw niya sa limelight, ayaw niya sa camera.’ Total opposite yung nangyari.”

Despite this, Enrique persevered. And he’s made a career out of it.

He continues, “Parang it just fell into place lang, kahit yung pagsasayaw, never naman ako sumayaw sa buong buhay ko. Natuto lang ako dito. 

Halos lahat, I just learned on the way. So, kahit sino, feeling ko, kahit hindi ka marunong, take it from me! Pero siguro kailangan, may something innate sa ’yo na talagang, maybe, we’re just born with it, na kaya mo.”

Thus, when the pandemic hit, Enrique took his chance to pursue what he really wanted: a quieter life.

“Even before the pandemic, ‘I’ll give myself two or three years then pahinga muna ako, magbi-business na lang para tahimik ang buhay,’ kasi ganun, simple lang ako, e.”

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Moving forward

While on a break, Enrique enjoyed the quiet time he had with his family, which is something he still wants to do even now that he’s back in showbiz. 

“Even yung bakasyon, my family, mauuna sila ‘tapos susunod na lang ako ‘tapos mauuna na ako umuwi because of my schedule. 

Ang sarap ng feeling na sabay-sabay kaming pupunta, sabay-sabay kaming uuwi, pwede ako mag-extend doon. 

“It’s the little things, yun yung masarap na feeling.”

Now that he is in this new chapter of his career, Enrique just wants to be on top of everything he’s doing—from his projects to the characters he portrays and the personal time he has.

Siguro, just more control of my time and what I wanna do, my next steps, something different. 

“I just want to do the things that I’ve never done, that’s what I’m leaning towards, para kakaiba.

“At least, at the end of the day, when everything’s done, masasabi ko na nagawa ko yan, nagawa ko ‘to, halos lahat nagawa ko.”

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Reunion with fans

So far, Enrique is enjoying his comeback.

Though he misses the “quietness of things” from his hiatus, he cannot deny that he also missed the hustle and bustle of show business, especially the moments he shares with his fans.

Enrique narrates, “I also missed the ingay and the love that the fans show, especially since we’re doing all the mall tours and the promo. 

Sabi ko, ito yung na-miss ko sa showbiz, the love that you get and receive and the support. Nakaka-miss din siya.”

In fact, he cites the events and mall tours he did for the promotion of “I Am Not Big Bird” as moments he’s enjoyed the most.

He explains, “It wasn’t draining as much, I just got sick in the process but it’s part of it. I’m happy I get to see a lot of my old fans from way way back na I haven’t seen in years! Iba na yung itsura nila, yung iba, may anak na, like, ‘What, dude, may anak ka na?’ It’s nice to see, it feels good.”

Enrique also enjoyed making a comeback on the “ASAP” stage as he did his signature dance, “Teach Me How To Dougie.”

“Yeah, it was fun. I did the Dougie, which they requested, and I’ve been doing itfor a long time. 

“It’s nice to be back. It felt good to be back on stage, kasi I grew up there din, e. I miss it din of course.”

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Enrique plans to take a short vacation after “I Am Not Big Bird,” before starting preparations for his next project—which he proudly shares is his own concept.

“We are working on a new project, hopefully by the end of the year, maipalabas yun. Kung hindi end of the year, early next year. Pero we’re really targeting end of the year for that.

“It was really my concept talaga that I’ve always wanted to do. So, after this whole ‘Big Bird’ thing, maybe, vacation a little bit lang and then come back and refocus and regroup for the next project, kasi kailangan maganda talaga.”

Enrique assures his fans that they have bigger things to look forward to in this new season of his career.

“Something exciting; exciting times lalo na ngayon, parang nagbubukas na yung film industry natin from those three years na wala tayo masyadong nalalabas na content because of the pandemic.

“Now that everything’s starting to open up, I think even the viewers in the Philippines are evolving now because of all the streaming platforms, so we have to evolve as well.

“So, this is it, this is the path that I am going to take.”

As big as his career has been, we can see that Enrique is on to even bigger things.

Photography Stephen Capuchino assisted by Jobo Nacpil
Creative Direction Alexandra Lara
Layout Dani Sison
Interview and Cover Story Jimpy Anarcon
Styling Ton Lao
Hair and Make-up Posh Torres
Production FreebieMNL
Special Thanks Ranvel Rufino, Mico del Rosario and Dhar Chavez of Star Cinema, Lyon Leus of ANIMA Studios

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