John Lloyd Cruz: The first time… The last time

He adores Sean Penn (21 Grams, etc.) and reads Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie, Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day) and he can see things in a clearer perspective when he’s alone in the silence of his room (his favorite sanctuary).

"I’m not a social butterfly," said John Lloyd Cruz. "Yes, maybe you can call me a loner."

It took Bea Alonzo, his perennial partner in ABS-CBN soaps (the latest being Maging Sino Ka Man), a while to penetrate the shell which John Lloyd used to hide in.

"On the set," Bea once recalled, "he would keep to himself in one corner. He had a certain air of mystery."

"I find him a very deep actor," said Vilma Santos with whom John Lloyd is scheduled to star in a movie to be shot mostly in the US. "He’s in the category of Dindo Fernando. I’m excited to work with him."

Coming from The Star For All Seasons, those words of praise fattens John Lloyd’s heart ("Nakakataba ng puso").

"I’m even more excited than she is," smiled John Lloyd. "Not every new actor gets the chance to work with the Vilma Santos."

In the recent past, John Lloyd also got the opportunity to co-star with Aga Muhlach, in Star Cinema’s Dubai (directed by Rory Quintos) where John Lloyd won as many hearts as Aga did with his engrossing portrayal of Aga’s younger brother caught in a love triangle with Claudine Barretto (as Aga’s girlfriend). John Lloyd’s hospital scene toward the end is, I think, one of the most moving in recent memory.

No wonder John Lloyd is touted as the next drama stalwart. A little more honing and he’ll be well on the way in that direction.

Meanwhile, John Lloyd enjoys being the Prince of Soap who has an enviable track record: As Rovic in Tabing-Ilog, Yuri in Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay, Lawrence in It Might Be You, Oliver in Ikaw ang Lahat sa Akin and Ely in the ongoing top-rated Maging Sino Ka Man.

He’s also earning the reputation as the Commercial Prince (with, as if you didn’t know, Aga Muhlach as the Commercial King; and Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino in a tie as Commercial Queens). When John Lloyd flashes his winning smile, our headache seems to disappear even before we can reach for a piece of Paracetamol Biogesic, and we believe him when he says that the medicine is safe even if taken on an empty stomach ("Ingat," he reminds us). When he takes a sip of Nescafé, we want to take a coffee break along with him, don’t we?

But have you ever wondered when John Lloyd has his first kiss or his first heartbreak, and other "first’s" — and "last times" besides?

Stay tuned.

• Cried Really Hard

The first time? Oh, I was very, very young. I don’t even remember what it was all about.

The last time was during the taping of a dramatic scene on Maging Sino Ka Man (His ABS-CBN soap with Bea Alonzo. — RFL)

• Kissed a Girl

Including my mom? Kidding aside, the first time was when I was 12. But I won’t tell you who the girl was to protect her privacy. Her boyfriend might get mad!

The last time was this afternoon. The girl? She’s not from showbiz.

• Fell in Love

I’m not sure if you can call it love. I was 12 the first time I felt that I was in love — yes, with the girl with whom I had my first kiss.

The last time? I’ve always been in love since then. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

• Said ‘I Love You’ To a Girl

Yes, the first time was to that girl with whom I had my first kiss and who, I felt, was my first love.

The last time? Yes, also this afternoon. It seems that my love life revolves around the time I was 12 and this afternoon. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

• Experienced Heartbreak

The first time was when I was in first year high school. A girl five years older than me toyed with my feelings. I thought we had a mutual understanding until I realized it was a one-way affair. It was only I who was in love with her. She junked me. Ang sakit!

The last time? It depends what breaks your heart. A failed love affair could break your heart — and many other things besides. Like now. It’s election time. My heart is constantly broken by the promises made by the candidates, only to be broken once they get elected. They break not just their promises but also the hearts of people, myself included, whom they fool into voting for them. It breaks my heart because I feel for the masses or the gullible less fortunate taken advantage of by self-serving, selfish politicians.

• Felt Really Happy

I’m basically a happy person; I’ve always been happy. But the first time I felt really happy was when I received my first paycheck for Pl,500. I thought then, "If I earn Pl,500 a week, I can make P6,000 a month." That was a big amount for me then. I told myself, "Now, I can get married; I can support a family."

I can’t remember the last time I felt really happy. As I’ve said, I am basically a happy person. I’m always happy even if sometimes I look sad.

• Felt Really Sad

I was in grade school then and I felt really sad because I didn’t have a new bag so I didn’t want to go to school. Mababaw ang kaligayahan ko n’un, eh!

The last time? Oh, a long time ago! As I’ve said, I’m a happy person. Why be sad when you can be happy?

• Felt Really Mad

The first time? Hmmmm. I’m sure I’ve gotten really mad but basically I’m a happy person. I don’t want to recall negative stuff. I’d rather think of the positive stuff.

The last time? Wait. Puede bang madly in love na lang? Truth to tell, I rarely get mad. I’m an angel.

• Felt Really Triumphant

The first time was when I won my first acting award from the (Philippine Movie Press Club’s) Star Awards for (the ABS-CBN soap) Tabing-Ilog. I still remember my acceptance speech, "Mommy, Daddy, may isa na tayo!"

The last time was last Feb. 20 at the Third UST Awards. Maging Sino Ka Man won Best Drama Series. Bea won Best Actress. And I won Best Actor.

• Read a Really Good Book

The first time was when I was doing Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay, another ABS-CBN soap. I got this book called Tuesdays with Morrie (by Mitch Albom). It’s very inspiring and powerful.

The last time? Just recently — Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons.

• Owned a Car

A few months after I was launched, I got a Nissan Vanette.

The last time was in January last year. I bought the car that I’m still using now.

• Told a Lie

I was six years old then and in kindergarten. I had a big crush on this cute girl, my close friend. She asked me if I had a crush on her and I said, "no." I lied.

The last time? Just now. Joke only! The last time really was when I told myself that our country would get over the mess we are in.

• Splurged on Anything

What was something expensive that I bought? Maybe a watch. That was several years ago.

The last time? Pass muna. I’m embarrassed to talk about my "splurges." I might sound boastful.

• Felt Intimation of Mortality

I can’t remember the exact point in my life but I always have this awareness that life is short.

The last time? All the time! There are times when a person feels that he’s well physically but his soul is going through a process of mortality.

• Went Abroad

The first time was when Kaye Abad went to the US a few years ago. It was John Ling (a concert promoter) who brought us there.

The last time? Last year. I went to Japan.

• Went Wild

The first time was when I went to Disneyland. I really went wild there!

The last time was two Sundays ago on ASAP ’07. I always go wild everytime I perform with the Cover Boys and that’s on ASAP ’07 every Sunday.

• Earned a Million

The first time was when I was 16.

Of course, the last time was when I said "Ingat!" (take care) to everyone. (Yes, in the Paracetamol Biogesic commercial. — RFL)

• Had Communion

I had my first communion when I was seven years old.

And my last communion five years ago.

• First Thing He Does When He Wakes Up

I check my cell phone which I keep under my pillow.

• And The Last Thing That He Does Before He Goes to Sleep

I moisturize.

• Face-to-Face With God, First Thing He’d Say

You look really cool!

• And The Last Thing He’d Tell God

Would You take me with You?

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