Star Meets
Explore Philippines|February - April 2018

In His 15 Years in the Industry, Jake Cuenca Has Proven Himself a Talented Actor, Having Been the Face of Many Beloved and Unforgettable Characters. But When the Camera Is Off and the Reels Stop Rolling, the Man Behind Prolific Roles Is Even More Interesting. We Discover His Many Unedited Iterations—traveler, Fanboy, and Rebel of Sorts—and Are Fascinated With Them All.

Alyssa Lapid
 The rain is pouring and the island oft-portrayed as sunny and in visible gradients of blues and blood oranges is downright gloomy. It will look better tomorrow, we all think wistfully. Tomorrow comes and the only gradient is grey—light to very dark, like smog. The waters are roaring and, frankly, scary. Huge waves crash atop each other. It’s not a good day to surf, we concur. By the third day we are so used to the gloom that we finally realize we’ve been taking the island for granted all along.

The island of Siargao is highly revered for a reason: it is beautiful. There was an entire movie dedicated to the island, after all. The social media version of the island may be bright, sunny, and, well, Instagrammable, but even in a more dramatic mood the island does not disappoint. A gem in the province of Surigao del Norte, this Mindanao island has been consistently dubbed the next must-see destination, which is a feat given that direct flights to the island were only recently launched.

Lined with white sand beaches, Siargao boasts of the best island offerings, including virgin islets Naked Island, a serene open sandbar stretch, Guyam Island, and Dako Island, the three main destinations when island-hopping. An hour’s boat ride through hectares of mangrove reserves is Sugba Lagoon, a staple on social media with its equally famous dive board. The Magpupungko Rock Pools are natural rock formations with the clearest waters. Siargao is also a haven for surfers, with different surf spots throughout, including the most popular destination, Cloud 9, where both waves and instructors are aplenty. The island is the whole package.

But what makes the island so alluring that people are willing to uproot themselves to move? Because let’s face it: everyone has a friend of a friend (of a friend) who has recently migrated to the island. The island life is slow and relaxed, where the people ebb with the flow of waves, both figurative and literal. This lackadaisical lifestyle is both enlightening and contagious. “I totally understand why people are raving about the place,” begins actor Jake Cuenca, a Siargao first-timer. “The people are amazing. And the beach, I was really [in] awe [of] it, it’s so beautiful and so massive. It was almost like being home in Spain.”

A Valencia native, the half-Spanish, half-Pinoy actor still considers Spain to be his home away from home— after all, he spent his adolescent years in that part of Europe before finally entering show business at age 15. Although born in San Jose, California, Cuenca fondly remembers summers in Spain, memories triggered by Siargao. “We have a house facing the Mediterranean ocean. It’s kinda like this place. There’s just a few people, bars, and restaurants. I remember my childhood with that.”

BATMAN AND THE JOKER: HERO VERSUS VILLAIN

Whatever one’s feelings towards Cuenca and his roles may be, there’s no denying that he is a bona fide star. His reputation precedes him. What was supposed to be a quick walk through the bridge of surf spot Cloud 9 became a long, laborious stroll with all Filipinos in the area stopping Cuenca for a photo. Not that he minds— he will always stop for a fan photo no matter how busy he is or how rude the asker is. Just don’t expect him to fake enthusiasm after a rude encounter.

He is authentic. It should be expected then that like the roles Cuenca plays, the man is never binary. He is neither villain nor lead, hot nor cold, extroverted nor introverted. He runs spectrums. He is a complexity of characters all rolled into one chiseled physique with a handsome face to boot. The man has depth and intellect that were not merely developed through tenure.

Having strong family ties, Cuenca credits the man that he is to his close-knit family—every other story he shares is about either his mom or sister. But he also heavily credits his industry for his maturity, having been in it for 15 years. “The industry has a way of making you older right away. It’s one mistake and all of it’s erased. I had to learn that very fast.” While his industry isn’t forgiving, it’s a field he has always wanted in on.

“I always wanted to be an actor. The first fashion show I ever did, I was six years old, for OshKosh B’gosh,” he recalls with a laugh. “The break happened at 15. That’s when life really started for me, that’s when I started to be really independent and became an adult very early. At first it was just nice to see yourself on TV and people recognizing you, but more than anything, I wanted to breathe life into characters, which I’m fortunate enough to be doing today.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM EXPLORE PHILIPPINESView All

Flavors From The West

Satisfy Your Mexican-latin Food Cravings With Gringo, Everyone’s New Favorite Amigo.

1 min read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Painting The Town Red

Artist-turned-entrepreneur Kat Gosiengfiao Is Taking Her Passion for the Arts Up a Notch by Creating Her Own Set of Paints via Pinta Ph.

5 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Real Deals In Ptaa's 25th Travel Tour Expo 2018

Real Deals In Ptaa's 25th Travel Tour Expo 2018

2 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Star Meets

In His 15 Years in the Industry, Jake Cuenca Has Proven Himself a Talented Actor, Having Been the Face of Many Beloved and Unforgettable Characters. But When the Camera Is Off and the Reels Stop Rolling, the Man Behind Prolific Roles Is Even More Interesting. We Discover His Many Unedited Iterations—traveler, Fanboy, and Rebel of Sorts—and Are Fascinated With Them All.

10+ mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Roads That Know No End

Explore Philippines Tagged Along on a Road Trip With Four Women to Discover Their Reasons for Doing So and to Experience It Ourselves.

6 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

One, Two Step

Paper Shoot Philippines Is Making Cameras Fun Again— and Eco-friendly Too.

2 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Home For The Soul

Lotus Shores Is a Yogic Retreat of Manifestation and Spiritual Healing in a Paradise of an Island.

3 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Felice

The Artistic Island Love Child

3 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

One Click At A Time

Photojournalist Hannah Reyes- Morales, Through Captivating Photos, Sheds Light on Social Issues and Gives a Voice to Those Whose Plights Aren’t Heard.

5 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018

Defying Gravity

Beyond Yoga Teaches Its Students That the Mat Is a Sanctuary, the Hammock Training for Real Life, and Yoga a Way of Life.

3 mins read
Explore Philippines
February - April 2018
RELATED STORIES

‘AS SEEN ON TIKTOK' IS THE NEW ‘AS SEEN ON TV'

Near the Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids at a New York candy store are fruit-shaped soft jelly candies that earned a spot on the shelves because they went viral on TikTok.

5 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WHO HONORS HENRIETTA LACKS, WOMAN WHOSE CELLS SERVED SCIENCE

The chief of the World Health Organization honored the late Henrietta Lacks, an American woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge during the 1950s and ended up providing the foundation for vast scientific breakthroughs, including research about the coronavirus.

2 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WITH HUMOR, VENOM 2 LEANS INTO RELATIONSHIPS

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” is best when it’s not trying to be a comic book movie.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

INSTACART CEO SAYS ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING HAS ROOM TO GROW

When the pandemic hit the U.S. last year, grocery delivery company Instacart suddenly became a lifeline for millions of consumers. Sales volumes skyrocketed; in one month, the company added 300,000 drivers to keep up with its orders.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

HYDROPOWER DECLINE ADDS STRAIN TO POWER GRIDS IN DROUGHT

After water levels at a California dam fell to historic lows this summer, the main hydropower plant it feeds was shut down. At the Hoover Dam in Nevada — one of the country’s biggest hydropower generators — production is down by 25%. If extreme drought persists, federal officials say a dam in Arizona could stop producing electricity in coming years.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

MICROSOFT SHUTTING DOWN LINKEDIN IN CHINA

Microsoft is shutting down its LinkedIn service in China later this year after internet rules were tightened by Beijing, the latest American tech giant to lessen its ties to the country.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

WILLIAM SHATNER, TV'S CAPT. KIRK, BLASTS INTO SPACE

Hollywood’s Captain Kirk, 90-year-old William Shatner, blasted into space Wednesday in a convergence of science fiction and science reality, reaching the final frontier aboard a ship built by JeffBezos’ Blue Origin company.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

US REGULATORS SEEK ANSWERS FROM TESLA OVER LACK OF RECALL

U.S. safety investigators want to know why Tesla didn’t file recall documents when it updated Autopilot software to better identify parked emergency vehicles, escalating a simmering clash between the automaker and regulators.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

CHINA SET TO SEND 3 ASTRONAUTS ON LONGEST CREWED MISSION YET

China is preparing to send three astronauts to live on its space station for six months — a new milestone for a program that has advanced rapidly in recent years.

4 mins read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021

UNITED AIRLINES WILL ADD NEW INTERNATIONAL ROUTES NEXT YEAR

United Airlines said Thursday it will launch its biggest expansion of transatlantic service next year, a vote of confidence that international travel will rebound from the depths of the pandemic.

1 min read
Techlife News
October 16, 2021