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Teejay Marquez: Beyond The Pretty Face

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Teejay Marquez knows how to make a work environment chill and easy.

During his FreebieMNL Spotlight shoot, Teejay drove himself to work, arrived on time, greeted everyone with a warm smile and embrace, and settled in his dressing room.

The team talks to him about what will happen during the shoot, he asks for just a few clarifications and starts getting ready. He sits on the make-up chair, and in less than an hour, he’s dressed and ready to go on set.

He quickly picks up instructions from photographer Stephen Capuchino. He also welcomes suggestions from the team—from styling and wardrobe changes to trying out more poses. If anything, what made the shoot difficult was choosing the best photos (Teejay doesn’t have any bad angles).

The three-layout shoot went smoothly and ended on time. Before leaving, Teejay thanked everyone while giving them a hug before he left the studio.

It’s clear that his attitude has endeared everyone to him, not only in the Philippines but also abroad, as he also keeps up a successful acting career in Indonesia.

But how did that all start?

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H&M linen-blend trousers
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Dubsmash success

Teejay’s international career all started with just one video.

It happened in 2015, when Dubsmash was the trend and everyone was dancing to “Twerk It Like Miley.”

Teejay wasn’t dancing in the video. Instead, he showed his pa-cute antics that took many hearts on the platform.

Teejay then noticed that his followers grew after posting the video. He recalls, “Parang after a few days, from 100,000 followers naging 500 tapos naging one million. And then, nagulat ako, yung mga nagco-comment na sa akin, ibang language na. And then, nag-search ako, Bahasa pala ‘to!”

It did not take long before an agency noticed his growing popularity among Indonesians on the platform.

He says, “Hindi pa ako naniniwala noong una kasi parang may kumo-contact sa akin na gusto akong kuhaning artista, gusto akong kuhaning commercial model, so hindi ko pinapansin. 

Hanggang sa nakakuha pa ako ng project sa ABS-CBN, and then, may ginawa akong serye, kinu-contact pa rin ako. Until may kinontact sila na agency sa Pilipinas na sinabi na sa akin ng agency na ‘Totoo yun, hindi scam yun!’”

But apparently, something bigger and more unexpected was in store for him.

He narrates, “After ng project ko sa ABS, pumunta na ako doon sa commercial, and then pagdating ko dun, nalaman nila na uma-acting ako

Imbes na commercial yung ibinigay nila sa akin, pelikula. Pinag-aral nila ako dun sa Indonesia ng Bahasa ‘tapos nag-shoot na agad ako ng pelikula. Nagsunud-sunod na yun, gume-guesting na ako and it was fun kasi unexpected kaya parang in-enjoy ko lang. And then, nagulat na ako umabot na ako ng three years sa Indonesia.”

Teejay’s “Meteor Garden” era

Nobody knew that Teejay’s career in Indonesia would flourish; everyone was under the impression that it would just be a short stint. But after doing a movie in Indonesia, Teejay landed a bigger role for a series, the Indonesian version of “Meteor Garden,” where he played the role of Sean, a member of F4.

His role is the counterpart of Xi Men (Ken Chu) in the original version, who is known as the womanizer of the group.

He expounds, “Since hindi pa ako ganun ka-fluent mag-Bahasa, ibinigay nila sa akin si Xi Men. 

“But thankful ako kasi one of the boys of F4 naman yung ibinigay sa akin. Ang daming artista sa Indonesia, ang daming deserving pero binigay sa akin yung role.”

What made it more special is that he was handpicked for the role and he did not go through any audition.

He says about this, “Talagang sobrang thankful ako [kasi] wala talaga akong—I mean, alam ko na yung kwento, e, kasi napanood ko napero yung nandun ka, siyempre, challenging sa akin yung Bahasa language. And then, first time ko maka-trabaho yung iba but sobrang saya kasi same lang, e. Parang Pilipinas din, yung kung paano sila magtrabaho, paano yung work ethics, different lang talaga yung language.”

The show, titled “Siapa Takut Jatuh Cinta,” was a phenomenal success in Indonesia. Teejay is happy to have experienced this success, knowing how “Meteor Garden” and “Boys Over Flowers” were a hit in the Philippines.

The 29-year-old actor relates, “Talagang sobrang doon ko nakita yung pagmamahal at saka suporta dahil sa Pilipinas pa lang, yung craze ng ‘Meteor Garden,’ sobra. So, pagdating doon, hindi ko na kailangang ibenta yung palabas. Paglabas pa lang namin, magulo na talaga yung pagtanggap ng tao. Sobrang lahat ng nandoon sa palabas na yun, walang hindi kilala. So, pati ako, sobrang thankful ako na nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon na mapabilis yung career ko dun because of that show.”

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Teejay in the Philippines

Amid the success he has in Indonesia, Teejay remains generous to share his talent back home in the Philippines.

In fact, he has been doing a wide range of roles in different genres—from horror (“Hellcome Home”) to kontrabida (“Mano Po Legacy: My Big Boss”) to BL (“Ben X Jim,” “My Story: The Series”).

He also doesn’t mind even not playing many leading roles in the Philippines, despite attaining international success.

Teejay says about this, “Ang akin kasi, siyempre, lahat naman tayo, pangarap maging leading man. But na-experience ko naman maging leading man or magkaroon ako ng on-screen partner, parang mas nacha-challenge ako na may iba pa akong gawin

Ayaw kong i-limit yung sarili ko na ito lang yung gagawin ko, kasi parang ang dami kong alam, kayang gawin. 

Noon, ayaw ko pang tumanggap ng iba, pero na-realize ko rin na paano ko macha-challenge yung sarili ko, paano nila malalaman na marami akong kayang gawin kung lilimitahan ko yung sarili ko.”

Teejay also wants his roles to allow him go past his pa-cute phase, having started in showbiz playing a teenybopper role in “Tween Hearts” and later, in his Dubsmash video.

He explains, “Kapag tumatanda ka, at saka kapag nare-realize mo na hindi mo kailangang isa lang yung focus mo.

“Actually, mas nag-enjoy ako noong marami na akong tinatanggap kasi doon ako mas napapansin ng ibang tao, like, hindi ‘pa-cute lang yan, anong gagawin niyan?’ 

“So, ngayon, marami nang nag-i-inquire sa akin not just for a leading man role. Lead man ako o hindi, at least, yung character ang tinitingnan ko kung kaya ko ba ‘to or hindi. Basta kaya ko naman, gagawin ko.”But then, Teejay quips, “Pero yun talaga e, normal na magpa-cute!”

From cutie to hottie

If there’s anyone who can tell that Teejay is past his pa-cute phase, it has to be his Instagram followers.

The former “Tween Hearts” star has transformed into becoming a hottie and is not afraid to show how hard he works for his body. 

Talking about doing topless posts on Instagram, he says with a smile: “It’s about time, hindi naman na ako bata para mag-pabebe pa.”

Through these posts, Teejay hopes that he is able to show that he’s ready to pursue more mature roles for the future.

He expounds, “For me, para mag-level up. Kumbaga, mag-version 2.0 or something. 

Kasi gusto ko talagang…parang nakikita nila na pa-cute, parang gusto ko namang maging bold naman ako na ‘Uy, pwede ‘to sa mature roles.’ So, hopefully, dumating sa ganung pagkakataon. Hopefully, next year, this year.”

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Working out not just for himself 

However, Teejay says that working out isn’t just about him having a toned body to show on Instagram or in the movies.

Mainly, it is for his health, an understanding that comes from his father and grandmother passing away due to illnesses.

He says, “Well ako talaga, if I have time, talagang unang-una ko talagang gagawin kapag may free time ako, talagang sinasama ko sa schedule ko is workout.  

Talagang fitness, yung health ko yung important kasi hindi na tayo bumabata.

“Coming from yung lola ko who passed away, nagkasakit, tapos yung dad ko rin. So, parang gusto kong ingatan yung sarili ko. Kasi parang alam ko yung pain na gusto kong ingatan yung sarili ko not just for me but for my family as well.”

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H&M linen blazer, Paragon Husk Pleats Pants from Paradeigma, Burvon rings

Teejay’s success and future

These days, Teejay is looking forward to going back to Indonesia to resume his career there.

He narrates, “Noong January kasi, nagpunta na ako ng Indonesia, so, akala ko, ito na yon, but yun pala, you have to train pa pala for two months ng Bahasa.

“So, nakatapos na ako ng one month kasi gusto talaga nila, I will sound Indonesian talaga kasi hindi naman daw pwede na yung role ko, laging balikbayan. So, talagang ganun sila ka-seryoso sa akin. Every day, meron akong acting class, meron akong Bahasa class.”

Currently, Teejay is still seen in the BL series “My Story: The Series” with Miko Gallardo. He is also set to do a movie soon in the Philippines. Then, he will come back to Indonesia to finally do a project there.

With all the success that have come his way, Teejay is dedicating these to his family, particularly to his late lola.

His lola is also the reason why he remains humble amidst the good things and opportunities that he has been receiving.

“She always kept on reminding me that I should always keep my feet on the ground no matter what I achieve in life.”

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Photography Stephen Capuchino assisted by Jobo Nacpil
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara and Dani Sison
Interview and Cover Story Jimpy Anarcon
Transcription Rod Hagen
Grooming Nadynne Esguerra
Styling Gee Jocson assisted by Ian Rey
Special Thanks Ethan Leyson and ALV Talent Circuit

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