Jake Ejercito: Embracing Change
Showbiz has so far been good to Jake Ejercito.
After entering the business in the middle of the pandemic, Jake has not only been given projects left and right, but he has also gotten plum roles that challenge his talents as an actor.
The latest of which is the film “A Very Good Girl,” headlined by Kathryn Bernardo and Dolly de Leon. In the film, Jake plays the role of Charles Monteron, the meek assistant of Mother Molly (Dolly) who has secrets of his own.
The character was a welcome change and challenge for Jake from the previous roles he had portrayed, he tells FreebieMNL during his Spotlight shoot.
He says, “Feeling ko kaya rin ako excited to portray Charles kasi he started off as someone meek. Akala mo, utus-utusan lang siya ni Mother Molly. Yun pala, may kulo rin sa loob. I’m excited to portray a character like that kasi hindi ko pa siya nagagawa.”
One challenging part of shooting the movie was Jake’s sensitive scene with Kathryn in the film. But with the help of the people around them, they were able to pull it off.
He shares, “Well, I had to rely din sa director namin and I think mas crucial that there was yung trust namin ni Kath sa isa’t isa and she was very collaborative naman. “We also had an intimacy coach who was a big help sa set, talagang inalalayan kami.”
Jake also admires how Star Cinema came up with a concept that is different from the usual films they produced pre-pandemic.
He explains, “Actually, one of the reasons kung bakit ko siya tinanggap was because, in general, matapang yung kwento. It’s something new for Star Cinema, and considering the fact na ang bida ay si Kath and Miss D, nagulat din ako that Kath would do something daring and as brave as ‘A Very Good Girl.’”
In fact, working with Kathryn and Dolly was a learning experience for Jake, who has only been in the showbiz industry for three years.
“I guess I was just able to observe how dedicated they are sa craft nila, how committed they are.
“Hindi nagma-matter na internationally celebrated sila, both of them, si Kath and Miss D; talagang they were A-game, all the way.”
But admittedly, Jake also had to adjust to the discipline, especially since it was his first full-length film.“To be honest, since it was my first full-length film, medyo nanibago ako. I’m not used to yung pace niya kasi I’m used to doing teleseryes, so medyo nanibago ako sa pace niya. But I enjoyed it overall.”
Jake may have just been active in show business recently, but it is not something new to him.
His parents are both from the business; former president Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada, who was an action star, and Laarni Enriquez, who aside from being an actress also used to produce a show in GMA-7 entitled “Kahit Na Magtiis.”
Jake recalls, “While growing up, my mom used to produce shows din so I was exposed to sets ng TV shows and movies. So, I wouldn’t say it’s something new for me kasi nga exposed na, e.”
In fact, when he was younger, Jake and sister Jerika thought of joining showbiz. But because his father was also a politician, joining politics also entered his mind.
“I remember noong bata kami ng ate ko, gusto rin namin talaga. Siyempre, just like any kid, you want to follow in the footsteps of your parents.
“Kaso nga lang yung sa akin, showbiz and politics. So, doon din naglaro before yung isip ko, parang gusto ko rin mag-showbiz, gusto ko rin mag-politics. “Hanggang sa I focused on my studies, where I took up politics. I’m a very indecisive person kasi.”
Jake’s first foray into showbiz was a guest appearance in the “Kalyeserye” segment of “Eat Bulaga,” headlined by Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza. At the time, Jake was still busy with his studies, which is why he couldn’t commit to showbiz full-time.
Then in 2020, Jake was invited by his brother, Jinggoy Estrada, to play a short role in the Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Coming Home” with Sylvia Sanchez.
He admits, “Actually, noong in-offer sa akin yung movie, ayoko na noon mag-showbiz, that’s how indecisive I am.
“Siyempre, I couldn’t say no to my brother, so sabi ko, ‘Sige na nga, kuya, gawin na natin, three days lang naman.’”
But that one yes would actually change Jake’s decision when it comes to showbiz.
He says, “Noong nasubukan ko na yun sa ‘Coming Home,’ noong nasubukan ko na yung buhay shooting, buhay pelikula, sabi ko, I want to give this a shot if it’s really for me.
“Noong na-try ko na yung ‘Coming Home,’ doon na ako nag-decide na why not try, para no regrets, di ba?”
From then on, showbiz was a continuous journey for Jake.
Prior to “Coming Home” being shown in the MMFF, Jake had signed up with ABS-CBN’s Star Magic. He also hosted TV5’s short-lived noontime show, “Sunday Noontime Live.”
When “SNL” ended, Jake did one teleserye after the other: “Marry Me, Marry You,” “The Broken Marriage Vow,” and “A Family Affair.” He was also part of the Prime Original shows “Fit Check” and “Linlang,” and of course, “A Very Good Girl.”
He says about this, “I think I’ve been blessed kasi hindi lang sila basta-basta shows, e. They’ve been stories of good quality and yung mga nakakasama ko rin, hindi rin biro.
“It’s very humbling and I’m very honored to be entrusted by our bosses and the management.”
But while Jake enjoys the craft, changes are inevitable in this new chapter in his life.
He shares, “Siguro, the biggest change was hindi ko na control yung time ko, that was the biggest adjustment for me.
“Especially when I started, it was in the middle of the pandemic so lock-ins kami noon. I would be away for three weeks to a month so I had to schedule na, especially being with my daughter.”
Despite this, Jake’s passion for the craft hasn’t diminished. He still gets excited every time he is given a new assignment. He explains, “Kasi feel ko na I have so much more to learn in terms of the craft kaya lagi rin ako excited to work with iba-ibang actors kasi ang dami kong natututunan every project.”
Jake as a father
Aside from showbiz, Jake is a doting and fun father to his daughter, Ellie.
Jake even shares some of their witty banters and kulitans on social media.
When FreebieMNL asks if someone has ever gotten upset with their banters, Jake answers with a smile, “Wala, wala. Asar talo!”
But how would he describe his relationship with Ellie?
He says, “Considering yung relatively small age gap namin, mas para kaming barkada or magkapatid, parang ganun yung relationship namin and I want it to stay that way.
“I don’t want her to end up fearing me. I want her to be open to me, to trust me with everything and anything, I want the line of communication always open between the two of us.”
But being a father was not exactly a walk in the park for Jake, especially since it came at an unexpected time.
He admits, “Of course it wasn’t easy; it wasn’t a breeze. Let’s call a spade a spade, it wasn’t planned naman, so hindi siya madali.
“But I wouldn’t say it was difficult also because I openly accepted it noong nalaman ko and it was a 180-degree turn. And everything changed for the better.
“Hindi siya naging madali pero hindi rin siya naging mahirap. Of course, I also heavily relied on the support of my family and friends kasi siyempre, first time father.
“Wala naman akong idea kung paano so malaking factor din yung support system.”
Now, Jake is just looking forward to the upcoming years with Ellie, especially since she turns 13 next year.
He says, “I guess important sa akin for Ellie to trust me. I want to maintain the relationship we have especially since she, herself, is transitioning from being a kid to a teen.
“Di ba, alam naman natin yung phase na yan? She’s turning 13 next year. So, I’m excited for what’s in store. “I know it’s not gonna be easy, it’s not easy naman for anyone, di ba? But all I can say or all I can promise is I’ll be there 100% or more.”
Dealing with change
With all the transitions that Jake has gone through for the past 10 years, he stresses the importance of acknowledging and embracing the change.
Of this, he says, “I guess you just have to acknowledge na may transition, you have to admit to yourself na you’re entering something new.
“May nagtapos and may magsisimula, parang you have to acknowledge it at first and you always have to be open to changes so you can learn to adapt to it.
“I mean, nangyari naman sa atin lahat yun during the pandemic, di ba? You have to adapt kasi when you adapt and accept it, it will be easier for you to shape the change para maging positive siya.
“At the same time siguro, yung pinaka importante din doon sa transitioning is to remind yourself of your motivations, of your values para hindi ka nawawala, para nandoon ka pa rin sa core mo.”
Jake believes that it is important for anyone going through a change to embrace that phase in his life.
He says, “You know there’s this saying that goes na the only permanent thing in life is change? So, hindi naman mawawala yun.
“Pero kasi yung change often leads to something good. I guess one has to accept na no one transitions perfectly, puro ups and downs ng buhay, ang daming phases, parang roller coaster.
“But just accept na you’re in such a phase and once you accept that, you get to make short-term plans sa transitioning mo. Once you do that, it would lead din to personal growth.”
How does Jake see himself in the next five years?
He first asks himself and says, “38,” the age he would be by then. He continues, “Well, ako naman, I’m not someone who plans that far ahead. I like to roll with the punches, and go with the flow lang kasi akong type of guy.”
“In the next five years? Hopefully a family of my own, maybe. I’d like to think na nasa showbiz pa rin ako in five years. I’m a very ano lang naman, e, chill person. So nothing set in stone for me.”
Jake just recently concluded another first, portraying a gay role in the Prime Original series “Linlang.” What’s next? It looks like the sky’s the limit.
But one thing’s for sure: Jake’s fans are eagerly waiting to see what project he will be doing next!
Photography Stephen Capuchino assisted by Meinard Navato
Art Direction Alexandra Lara
Art Alexandra Lara
Interview and Cover Story Jimpy Anarcon
Styling Maita Baello
Hair and Make-up Joshen Lee
Special Thanks Mico del Rosario and Dhar Chavez of Star Cinema
and Dayan Nebres of Star Magic