Having a good laugh with Arnell Ignacio is no feat. The guy is extremely entertaining.
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) had the chance to chat with the host-comedian at the Dealer's Night affair at GMA-7 and learned a lot of new insights from him.
"I don't have a partner... at least I don't have a partner who's qualified to bear a child," he said, laughing. True enough, Arnell is one of the few in the business who are openly gay, although he has a child (12-year-old Sofia) with ex-wife Frannie.
He stressed that he and "his partner" share and enjoy companionship more than anything else. "Masayang-masaya kami, kuntentong-kuntento pero hindi in the manner [of romance]... Sobra na akong tapos dun sa mga romance-romance na ‘yan."
"I'm very happy and content with work," he pointed out. "I have a radio show sa DZBB, ‘yung Kay Susan Na, Kay Ariel Pa. It's every day at 11:00 a.m. And hindi celebrity ito, ha! It's news and it's entirely a new thing for me. It brings a thrill, ang sarap! I get to talk to a lot of powerful and influential people."
With his career doing well, who needs a lovelife?
"I'm 44... I've had too much lovelife already. Too much na... Masaya na kasi ako, eh...maganda kotse ko," he said, tongue-in-cheek. "At saka ‘pag tumutuntong ka na sa ganitong edad, parang mas stable na, madaling sumaya. You learn to check your inventory of happiness and you find that you have more than what you know na dapat ikasasaya."
But it doesn't take away the fact that he still gets attracted to a ‘Dingdong' and a ‘Marian' both. "Alam mo, parang nakakalito yung mga bagay-bagay na ganyan," admitting to sometimes experiencing confusion on his sexual preference.
"Pero may isang missing link dun, eh. Kung nagkakagusto ka sa lalake, bakla ka, nagkakagusto ka sa lalake at babae, bisexual ka. Saan mo ba dinadala yung pagkakagusto mong ‘yan? Wala na, eh. Ako, tumitigil na lang [sa attraction]. Halimbawa sa utak ko gusto ko itong makarelasyon, gusto kong may mangyari, eh, pero hindi na rin. Gumugulo lang buhay kung ganun, eh. Mage-effort ka na naman, tapos marami na namang dramahan. ‘Wag na lang."
He reflected that he is finished with romance. Of course, he may just have found love again? "Puwede rin yun," he agreed.
Does he think that local showbiz would ever become openly vocal about sexual preferences? Would other closet gays and lesbians come out in the open?
"I don't know, I don't know," he paused. "Ano ‘yan kasi, eh, getting to genuinely know yourself. Kasi ako, hindi ako marunong mag-submit ng ano, eh, magsubmit ng pagkatao ko para husgahan ng iba...
"Hindi lang nga tungkol sa seksualidad ‘yan, eh. Kasi sa kultura natin, napakahalaga nung sasabihin nung ibang tao, which I think slows us down." Arnell noted that Filipinos tend to disregard their personal convictions "because [they] get the opinion of person A, person B, and then the whole barangay, the whole community, puwera lang sa pagbibigay ng pagpapahalaga sa sarili, sa strong points sa sarili."
"Tayo kasi, kahit yung pananamit, naka-submit sa judgment ng iba, naka-subject sa judgment ng maraming tao. Very other-directed tayo, eh. Chine-check natin kung ano yung mga sasabihin sa atin kaya yung mga mas totoo natatabunan," he said. "Magulo ‘yon."
Arnell, in his sexuality and in everything else, stands firm on what he thinks is right and best for him, not what's right and best for him from the point of view of others.
Not being true to yourself, "Malungkot ‘yon, ‘yon ang isang source ng kaguluhan natin."
He stressed, "Kulang kasi tayo sa pansin. Yun nga lang yung may nakalimutan kang pansinin, ang daming drama. Di mo nakikilala yung number sa cellphone mo, [tanungin mo] ‘Sino ka?' magtatampo na. Yung mga ganung bagay, wala sa bokabularyo ko, it slows me down. Walang value."
Arnell emphasized that he is happy, and the fact that he is not hiding anything from the public adds to his inner peace. "And I'm blessed with a daughter, si Sofia. She's very bright, does well in school... Walang binibigay sa ‘king problema. Mabait na bata."
His daily schedule goes well. "I start my day exercising, I go to the gym and then go straight to radio. Yung negosyo ko na Creative Hair System, buhay pa din. It's doing very well d'yan sa Greenhills. Kung mapapagtuunan ko nga ng pansin, dapat dumadami na nga ang branches, eh."
"'Yung Arnelli's Pizza, we put it up again with a partner kaya masaya. At yung bagong bar sa Araneta, naki-partner din ako dun. And GMA has been so generous, binibigyan ako ng mga major shows," he continued.
Life couldn't be better for Arnel.
Lastly, highlighting his candidness about his sexuality, he named males and females whom he thought were sexy. "Richard Gomez is sexy. Si Richard Gutierrez din. Si Paolo Avelino and Aljur Abrenica [of Starstruck]."
"Ping Lacson, I find sexy...and nung nakita ko si [Sen. Juan Ponce] Enrile, kahit matanda na siya, ‘pag naririnig ko siyang magsalita, ang lakas ng dating. Of course, si Chiz Escudero, Geneva Cruz, Angel Aquino...Oh, and si Edu Manzano. Sexy si Edu kasi sa tindig niya. And siyempre si Susan Enriquez coz she's my partner."
And the secret of his contentment?