May Bukas Pa lead star Zaijian Jaranilla was given a solo press conference by his home studio, ABS-CBN, last May 6, affirming his current status as the network's most promising child star.
The seven-year-old "miracle boy" has won the hearts of the primetime-viewing public through his effective and touching portrayal of Santino. Starring in a hit series coupled with throng of adoring fans (mostly doting mothers) did nothing to change the young boy's outlook.
While Zaijian remains unaffected by fame, his one concern is typical of any contemporary child star. "Hindi na po ako nakakapasyal sa mall," he timidly confided to the members of the entertainment press.
Other than that, life is pretty much the same for Zaijian, according to his 28-year-old father, Zenon.
"Ganun pa din po. Hindi ko naman ina-ano na artista na po siya. Basta normal pa rin po siyang bata para hindi po lumaki ang ulo," said Zenon.
Showbiz's recent child star toast still gets his school "baon" from the nearby sari-sari store. As for his favorite baon Zaijian replied "Biskwit." May Bukas Pa production manager Ethel Espiritu mentioned spaghetti and pizza as two of Zaijian's favorite on-the-set food.
The Jaranillas continue to reside in their modest two-bedroom house located in Quezon City together with a few cousins and Zaijian's grandmother.
ROAD TO PRIMETIME TV. Before gracing primetime television, Zaijian started by auditioning for TV commercials. Some of his boobtube advertisement gigs include McDonalds, Lactum, and Tide.
Having a regular primetime show has made Zaijian—despite his indifference when it comes to his popularity—a household name. Even veteran actors like Comedy King Dolphy and Susan Roces are said to be very fond of the budding child star.
Ethel described Zaijian as an active child who loves to play and horse around behind the camera.
"Tahimik siya," offered Ethel when asked if Zaijian has tantrums. "Hindi po sumpong na bigla siyang magwawala, hindi po ganun. Bigla na lang siyang tatahimik."
It is perhaps a tribute to Zaijian's natural acting skill that some are led to believe he and his character Santino are one and the same.
Zaijian relayed an interesting incident during a taping.
"Wala po nung nagte-taping kami, biglang may lumapit sa akin, hinawakan yung kamay ko, tapos sabi, 'Santino, pagalingin mo ko.'"
"Tapos ano sakit niya?" asked one reporter.
"Hindi ko po alam," replied Zaijian.
Another reporter asked back, "Anong ginawa mo? Pinag-pray mo? Hinawakan mo?"
Without missing a beat, Zaijian wittingly reacted, "Parang lasing po, e."
A big-screen debut is highly possible, but Zaijian himself would rather take his time and finish pressing commitments before taking another leap.
"Huwag na muna po," Zaijian commented. "Tapusin na muna po ang May Bukas Pa.