Aug 26, 2007

Mark Anthony Fernandez,a Ricky Lo interview

Mark Fernandez was a troubled man who was in and out of drug rehab centers. But now he has surprised people with his remarkable performance in Impostora as a husband who suffered with his erring wife. In this interview, Mark talks about the change in him, and he actually reads Plato!
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If death came to my face, I hold a spear in my hand but for you I hold roses.

It’s a line from one of the many poems Mark Anthony Fernandez, 28 (Capricorn), has written — “And my favorite line,” says Mark who wrote the poem at a time when he was in his “confused” state and was deeply in love. Asked who inspired him to write it, Mark begged off. “I’d rather not comment. I’m married now.”

His wife is Melissa Diaz Garcia whom he married last year. They have a five-year-old son, Grace Cameron, whose first

name was taken from the surname of a fighter, Royce Gracie, whom Mark admires.

Just a few years back, Mark was “holding spears” and that was when he was hooked on drugs, a phase in his life he has never been ashamed to admit. But now, the drug-free son of cancer patient Rudy Fernandez and Alma Moreno is “holding roses” which is very obvious in the GMA 7 soap Impostora where he plays the martyr husband of Sunshine Dizon (in a dual role).

“I’m a changed man now,” he smiles. “I have made peace with myself and with the world.”

Impostora marks his formal reentry into showbiz after a respite from showbiz, the profession with which he used to have a love-hate relationship. But now, admits Mark, “I’m convinced beyond doubt that showbiz is my world.” There’s no escaping it; it’s in his genes.

Discovered by A-list talent manager Douglas Quijano as one of the three Guwapings (with Jomari Yllana and Eric Fructuoso), the initially reluctant Mark before long developed into a good actor best remembered for his sensitive performances in some movies, including Mangarap Ka (with his then girlfriend Claudine Barretto), Dos Ekis and Matimbang Pa sa Dugo (with his dad Rudy).

You’re a changed man now. When you look back, what are the best lessons that you learned from your past?

“Not to take drugs. Love your work more.”

What was the turning point in your life?

“That was a few years ago when (my half-brother) Vandolph (Alma’s son by Dolphy. — RFL) nearly died in a car accident. I was in my ‘confused’ state at that time. That was a wake-up call for me. Things began to clear up, as if I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Until that time, my life didn’t seem to have any direction. That accident made me reassess my own life. Natauhan ako.”

What was troubling you at that time?

“The trouble was within me. I didn’t have peace of mind. I wanted to do many things but I didn’t know what to do with them. Marami akong frustrations.”

Like what?

“Well, I wanted to go to the States and yet I didn’t want to leave my career behind. I couldn’t make up my mind. I wanted to finish my studies in the States but some people advised me to take advantage of the chance that I had work. I was young; I couldn’t decide by myself. I didn’t know what to do. Confused nga ako, eh.”

Did you finish high school?

“No. But I finished a three-month computer course in PUP.”

Was being an actor your foremost ambition?

“Not really. At first, I looked at showbiz as just a game, laru-laro lang, until I learned how to enjoy and love it. And yet, I felt inadequate not having finished college.”

At 28, do you think you’re in the right direction?

“I think so. Yes, I’m sure I’m in the right direction. I know that I belong to showbiz; I’m sure that showbiz is my life. Wala nang confusion. And I’m determined to be a good family man. And I have peace of mind.”

Oh, that’s nice. Did you get professional help to achieve peace of mind?

“No, I just read the works of Aristotle, Plato and other philosophers.”

Wow, heavy stuff!

“Then, I began to understand that, you know, okey lang that I’m not a doctor, that I’m not this and I’m not that, pero artista naman ako. Kasi among the lucky people daw ay mga artista. That kind of enlightened me. Nawala ang frustration ko na kulang ako sa knowledge, na wala akong college degree.”

So ‘yung drugs parang escape mo lang.

“Ganoon na nga.”

And how has marriage changed your life?

“It feels good to know that I’m sharing my life with somebody I love. I enjoy the responsibility of being a family man. Talagang going straight na ako.”

You’ve survived the biggest trial in your life. Now, it’s your dad who’s in the middle of his own biggest trial in life. What was your reaction when you learned that your dad has cancer?

“I felt helpless; parang wala akong magawa. I didn’t absorb the bad news at first; hindi talaga nag-sink in sa utak ko. It happened gradually. It helped that Papa is brave and he doesn’t show any signs of weakness. He’s a real fighter!”

What kind of support do you give him?

“I treat him the way I used to when he was healthy. I don’t treat him as a sick person. Normal lang. I make him feel that I’m just there anytime he needs me.”

Has your dad’s ailment changed the way you look at life?

“I have gone through so many trials of my own, ang dami ko nang pinagdaanan sa buhay, so I don’t feel like I have to learn from Papa’s condition. I guess what I should do is understand what’s happening and enjoy every moment that we are together. I see him as often as I can. Mas closer kami ni Papa dahil sa sakit niya.”

What do you usually talk about?

“Everything. We talk about current issues, kung anu-ano under the sun... about Manny Pacquiao, about the TV shows that he has learned to watch regularly, we talk about everything. We enjoy talking to each other now more than ever. He also gives me (pieces of) advice — you know: in times like this, stop saying no to projects; huwag masyadong tanggi nang tanggi, huwag masyadong ma-pride.”

How are you as a husband?

“On a scale of 1 to 10? I should say 7.5. I try hard to be a good husband. I’ve stopped going out; wala nang barkada-barkada. If ever I go out, it’s only for some socializing.”

In showbiz, there are so many temptations. How do you deal with them?

“Kino-konsensya ko ang sarili ko. I keep reminding myself: Don’t do that.”

And as a father?

“Maayos naman. I have another child from a previous relationship. Her name is Chelsea Cham; she’s nine years old. I feel that, since she’s not with me, parang may pagkukulang ako sa kanya.”

Are you bringing up your son the way you were brought up? (He has four sets of parents: Rudy and Alma, biological; Rudy and stepmom Lorna Tolentino; Alma and Dolphy; and Alma and Joey Marquez.)

“Almost the same but with modifications. Pinakamatimbang ang Papa kong si Rudy siyempre, and Tito Dolphy and Tito Joey also played an important role in my growing up. I came from a broken family and I don’t want my own family to suffer the same fate.”

How much of you is Rudy Fernandez and how much is Alma Moreno?

“I think I’m 70 percent my dad and 30 percent my mom. I am the sum total of my parents’ good traits and bad traits.”

How do you think your life would have been if you were not born to showbiz parents?

“Maybe I would be a basketball player in the PBA or a basketball team.”

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