Before becoming one of today’s prized actors, John Estrada was a teenager in Basilan who never stopped dreaming of appearing on TV one day.
His grandmother initially thought his ambition was pie in the sky until producer Douglas Quijano discovered him to play a part in the iconic sitcom “Palibhasa Lalake.”
The show gave John the opportunity to have more than what he asked for. He also met there Janice de Belen, with whom he would later have four children.
“Tuwing nanonood ako ng TV sa Basilan no’n, katabi ko lagi ’yung lola ko. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘‘’Di bale, balang araw, makikita mo ako diyan.’ Sabi ng lola ko, ‘Ha? Ikaw talaga apo oh.’ Mahirap daw managinip ng gising.”
There came a time when ABS-CBN management wanted to “kill” his character on “Palibhasa Lalake” but the show producer stood by his side.
“After a year, gusto akong tanggalin ng ABS-CBN dahil hindi daw ako nagwo-work as a third guy on the show. Pero sabi ni Douglas, ‘Kung tatanggalin si John, tanggalin niyo na ’yung buong (cast ng) ‘Palibhasa,’” he shared. “Pero sinabihan ako ni Dougs nu’n, ‘Kung hindi ka pa magse-shape up, wala akong magagawa, tatanggalin ka.”
Interestingly enough, John is the only talent from “Palibhasa Lalake” who has stayed with ABS-CBN all these times.
“Hindi naman loyalty, pero parang ayaw nila akong pakawalan kasi may mga kumukuha naman sa aking iba,” he said. “I’m so proud to say that for 25 years, I stayed with ABS-CBN at hindi nila ako pinababayaan.”
His “Palibhasa Lalake” co-star Anjo Yllana who was with John at the time of interview, lauds how the latter has improved as actor, not just in comedy but also in drama.
“Natutuwa ako sa’yo best friend (John). Biro mong for a while, ikaw ang Teleserye King (ng ABS-CBN),” Anjo said. “Noong nag-start si John, ang inirereklamo ni Douglas Quijano, namomroblema siya kay John kasi nga ang tigas nu’ng… nahihirapan siya mag-Tagalog kaya ang nangyayari, nabubulol.
“Kaya natutuwa ako kasi pinapanood ko siya sa mga teleserye niya ngayon at bukod sa magaling nang umarte, diretso (na) ang linya.”
Other “Palibhasa Lalake” cast members that have succeeded in show business are Richard Gomez, Joey Marquez, Amy Perez and Carmina Villaroel. (MNS)