When he was offered the role in ABS-CBN's latest afternoon teleserye Wako Wako, Markki Stroem wavered a bit.
"Actually, na-shock ako. Sabi ko, 'Wait. Hindi pa magaling ang Tagalog ko,'" said the 24-year-old singer.
It was not the acting that intimidated him.
The Pilipinas Got Talent Season 1 finalist has received theatre training since he was eight years old, and has likewise starred in Repertory Philippines productions, such as Pippin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the more recent Next to Normal, which he topbilled.
"Theatre actor ako and I'm used to... hindi naman excelling, pero doing the best that I possibly could kasi I have command of the English language.
"Ang problema ko... is yung command ko ng Tagalog language is hindi masyadong flawless as yung English ko. So, parang yan yung fear ko right now."
But this predicament did not discourage Markki.
At present, he's trying improve his aptitude for speaking Filipino.
"Actually every day, pinapanood ko yung lahat ng teleserye. May binabasa akong mga ... Tagalog literature— Noli Me Tangere I'm starting [to read], pero mahirap!
"Nahihirapan ako. Gusto ko kasi yung mga ganun, e. I like learning, I like growing."
It is quite understandable how the Filipino-Norwegian singer-songwriter struggles with the language. He speaks six others including German and English where he is most proficient.
"English and German... I'm fluent [in]. I can study in those languages. 'Tapos Tagalog and Norwegian— since yung Dad ko kasi Norwegian, and then, Spanish and French, so 'yan, nahihirapan ako!
"Actually okay ako sa conversational Tagalog. Naiintindihan ko lahat, marunong naman ako magsalita pero yung problema ko lang is kung nagbabasa ako ng script, for example, nalilito ako minsan sa bigkas ng salita.
"Kung hindi galing sa utak ko, nahihirapan ako. Actually, pagkatapos nung unang taping ko, medyo nahirapan ako. Pero since I love to learn, I love to grow, I think I can pull it off."
ACHIEVER. Apart from the challenge of polishing his Filipino, Markki mentioned adjusting his acting on the set.
"Iba yung style kasi dun sa stage, malaki. Pero sa TV, maliit. Medyo you have to control lahat ng movements. So 'yan, nahihirapan din ako dun.
"Nung unang araw, nag-adjust ako talaga, nag-adjust full on.
"Yung acting, kailangan liitan. 'Tapos yung language ko, dapat straight Tagalog kasi nagtatrabaho ako sa talyer.
Actually, kaya ko [naman] 'pag Tag-lish [Tagalog-English]. [Pero] kailangan ko talaga ayusin."
It won't take long before this Hotel and Restaurant degree holder is going to hit his goal.
"I guess, since I was a kid, I've been an over-achiever in every way.
"For example, I wake up in the morning, I run and then, I go to school. And then after class, I have theatre and then I have music and then I do my homework. And then I sleep. And then the next day, I do the same thing all over again."
While he is determined to give his current acting stint his best shot, Markki's plate is partly preoccupied by writing and producing his own music. His single, "Steal Your Soul," is now climbing its way on top of the MYX hit charts.
"One of my focus ngayon is producing my own album. Kasi I write [songs]... Sabi ko, 'Ako na lang magpo-produce, kayo na lang mag-distribute.'
"On my free time, I do that."
It is also surprising that with his conceivably hectic schedule, Markki manages to squeeze in working part-time in a chemical laboratory.
He coyly smiled as he offered an explanation, "No ... it's... I'm saving up kasi for Masterals...MBA [Master of Business Administration]."
When asked what he prioritizes among these, Markki replied, "I guess ngayon yung acting."
In a split second, he took it back and went on to say that his "first" and "forever love" is still music.
"I don't like to compromise yung mga songs ko."
On leading a well-rounded life, all he can really say is, "I like doing a lot of things kasi."