Malaki ang pasasalamat ni Jao Mapa at nabigyan siya ng TV project na katulad ng Trudis Liit, na magtatapos ngayong linggong ito.
"I had a blast! Of course, to work with good artists also as well as newcomers. Great at pinagbigyan na naman ako ng GMA-7 para makapag-arte and to be part in one of their projects," sabi ni Jao sa PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) during the thanksgiving dinner party of Trudis Liit last October 13 at the 17th floor of GMA Network Center.
Hindi inakala ni Jao na magtatagal ang role niya sa Trudis Liit, kung saan gumaganap siya bilang ama ni Trudis (Jillian Ward).
"Any role, sineseryoso ko. And I try do my best with the roles that I am being given," sabi ni Jao.
"Noong namatay yung role ko, bumabalik ako. Whenever she has a problem, lumalabas ako para suportahan si Trudis."
STAYING IN SCHOOL. Bukod sa telebisyon, aktibo rin si Jao sa preparations para sa 400th year ng kanyang college alma mater, ang University of Sto Tomas. Nagtapos dito si Jao ng Fine Arts, major in Advertising.
"Hinihintay ko din kung anong maitutulong ko. Balita ko, maraming events din that will happen. I've already connected with them. I already went to one of their events last month. Parang asalto bago mag-400 years, which is next year pa," banggit ni Jao.
Nagpunta si Jao sa Artists of UST for UST na ginanap last September 18, kung saan nag-perform at bumista ang ilang celebrities na nag-graduate sa UST. (CLICK HERE to see the photos.)
"Puro kuwentuhan kung ano yung mga nangyari. Parang flashback. What happened before," kuwento ni Jao.
"I never even realized some of the guys sa school before. I probably saw Charlene [Gonzalez-Muhlach] back then. Alam ko I watched her in one of her games.
"That's as near as I could get to one of them. Other than that, hindi kami nagkikita noon sa campus. Doon na lang sa event na 'yon."
LEAVING SHOWBIZ. Hindi maiwasan matanong kay Jao ang tungkol sa desisyon niya noon na iwan ang showbiz in spite of his growing popularity. Isa sa hottest young actors noon si Jao nang magdesisyon siyang mag-concentrate sa kanyang pag-aaral.
"I was at the peak of my career," pagbabalik-tanaw niya. "Well, I chose to finish my thesis. I dropped showbiz for education. But I got a good grade naman.
"I was Thesis of the Year. It was a total advertising campaign for a sports brand. I got a 1.25 as a grade. Yun na ang maipagmamalaki ko. At saka yung diploma."
After college, sinubukan daw ni Jao ang iba't ibang klase ng trabaho. Currently, Jao is selling his paintings online, na karaniwang laki ay about 30 inches by 30 inches, at acrylic paint ang gamit niya.
"I tried photography with Picture Company. I also did some backroom work with Peninsula Manila. And then I said to myself, 'Let me see if I can get back.'"
Unti-unti nga, Jao made his way back to showbiz.
"Any exposure I could get—indie film, plays. And slowly crawl. And I'm here right now after a long hiatus. Hopefully, some people can see that I'm serious about getting back," sabi niya.
NO REGRETS IN HIS DECISION. Paglilinaw ni Jao, wala siyang pag-aalinlangan sa nagawa niyang desisyon na talikuran ang showbiz noon.
"No. No regrets," ngiti niya.
"If I didn't stay in school, I wouldn't be whole right now. I won't be contented. I wouldn't have found the things that I have been looking for.
"Now, I'm complete. I'm a well-oiled actor right now. May paghuhugutan na kumbaga. Maganda rin yung naging experience ko."
Kuwento pa ni Jao sa PEP, natagpuan niya rin ang misis niyang si Cecille dahil sa desisyon niya to stay in school.
"I met her... She was my kapitbahay. When I got out of showbiz, she came. She was just renting the other unit. At doon ko siya nakilala.
"I'm a family man right now. If I didn't get out of showbiz, I guess I wouldn't have a family to complete me," saad niya.
Tatlo na ang anak ni Jao: sina Ben, 8; Caleb, 5; at Stacy, 4.
Para kay Jao, isang challenge ang pagiging ama sa kanyang tatlong anak
"Just when you thought you know things already, you go back to square one. You have to be responsible. You have to make the right choices. But you don't take life too seriously. Enjoy your kids. Love them," sabi ni Jao.