If Gerald Anderson had his way, last 2009 would have gone on forever.
"Parang ayaw ko matapos ang 2009," he told Ruel Bayani, his mentor, director of Gerald's breakout teleserye Tayong Dalawa, primetime TV drama's phenomenal success last year. It was in a private gathering at Bayani's house, the year was about to end, and the actor was, to use Direk Ruel's term, nagsesenti.
"Sabi niya it was the year that everything changed. It was the year the false perceptions were changed. The year he gained respect, admiration. The year that saw his metamorphosis."
The director stops himself and quickly tells us that the last sentence is already his, not Gerald's. Just to add a little more drama to his apprentice's yearend musings.
In truth, there is no need to make 2009 even more dramatic for the 20-year old heartthrob. The year began with the tailend of the youth-oriented series My Only Hope which he topbilled with Kim Chiu and other young upstarts.
Before audiences could take a breather from the young actor's presence on the small screen, Tayong Dalawa premiered in February. The teleserye, its multi-layered plot and plot twists hanging on the main premise of two Philippine Air Force soldiers who don't just share a name—David Garcia Jr—but also the same father, was a big hit.
The soap premiered February 2 on ABS-CBN and garnered a 28.3 viewer's share (according to the TNS survey) against GMA 7's Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera's telenovela Babaeng Hinugot Sa Aking Tadyang which came in second at 26.3.
It may have been a close fight but throughout the series' run, Tayong Dalawa was able to stand unmoved on its timeslot, even as the competing station scampered to change their programming four times.
The rest of the year would see the 20-year old actor mining his "Action Drama Prince" tag into a more action-oriented project (Agimat, the weekly series based on the films of Ramon Revilla, premiered with Gerald as Tiagong Akyat), beefing up his portfolio of product endorsements (before 2009 ended, he has lent his name, face and image to 15 brands, among them SMART, Fit n Rite and Enervon Multivitamins), and making a splash in print and new media.
In September 2009, he landed the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine's 10 Hottest Bachelors Issue, which the year before was graced by Dingdong Dantes.
Just before the month ended came an unexpected honor. A day after the Ondoy floods caused major devastation in many areas in Manila, photographs of Gerald Anderson swimming in the murky waters of his village, up on the roof of a car checking for neighbours trapped in their houses, flooded blogsites and news sites in the Internet.
Newspapers and TV quickly picked up the story, and much as he insisted that people stop calling him a hero ("I was just doing the natural thing," he told YES!), he already had that most covetable of adjectives many celebrities would kill for to be attached to their name: mabango.
And here it is now, just as he wished. Only in the first month of 2010, and it seems the success of '09 has smoothly spilled over. ABS-CBN's first big teleserye of the year Kung Tayo'y Magkakalayo which premiered in January 18 has his name up there with screen partner Kim Chiu and Kris Aquino.
The following Wednesday, Star Cinema's opening salvo for the new decade, the youth romantic comedy Paano Na Kaya, which again stars him and ka-loveteam Kim, opened to a gross of P10M.
Before the opening week of his movie ended, before the first month of the new year began, he had quietly shot a new TVC for major shampoo brand, Clear, easily placing him in the same pedestal as current Clear endorsers Jericho Rosales, Dingdong Dantes and Piolo Pascual.
For an actor who has only been in the business for three years, Gerald Anderson's success could sound overwhelming. It becomes even more overwhelming when you get the privilege to visit his house, a tall, modern structure that stands on a 312 square-meter property in an exclusive village in Quezon City. Built from his own earnings, the P3 million lot he paid for in cash in 2008.