RON­NIE ALONTE

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - text bY romy an­tonette p. cruz Pho­tos bY shaira luna

Ron­nie Alonte II dis­cov­ered his love for danc­ing when he was in third year high school. He was a var­sity bas­ket­ball player at the Univer­sity of Per­pet­ual Help in Biñan, Laguna, when he and his team­mates de­cided to join a dance contest in the school’s ac­quain­tance party just to try their luck. Their team won first place.

His fam­ily was pleased. “No’ng na­panood nila ’yon, sin­abi nila, ‘O, marunong ka palang sumayaw, e,’” Ron­nie re­calls. “So para sa ’kin, naano na ako na ‘Ay, puwede na pala ako magsayaw.’”

Be­ing ac­knowl­edged for his danc­ing tal­ent was a wel­come thing for Ron­nie. In the past, he had hes­i­tated to pur­sue his in­ter­ests be­cause the peo­ple around him bul­lied him in­stead of giv­ing en­cour­age­ment.

“Kasi ako ’yong tipong bata pa lang, binu-bully na nila ako,” he re­veals. “Parang pinan­gun­gu­na­han na nila ’yong gusto ko. Kun­wari, gusto kong mag-bas­ket­ball. Inaasar ako ng mga kak­lase ko: ‘Bano! Bano! Bano!’ ’Ta­pos, gusto ko mag-ayos ng buhok, ‘Am­panget mo. Ikaw pinaka­panget dito.’”

The fact that Ron­nie still be­came a var­sity bas­ket­ball player, won a dance contest, and even copied Cana­dian singer Justin Bieber’s hair­style proved that he didn’t re­ally mind what other peo­ple thought. He did what his heart de­sired.

And back then, what he de­sired was to be a sea­man. One of his cousins is a sea­farer, and the young Ron­nie wanted to fol­low in his cousin’s foot­steps. But when it was time to start his train­ing, one thing changed Ron­nie’s mind.

“Kaso, no’ng col­lege, kakalbuhin na nila ako,” he says. “Hindi pa ako game mag­pakalbo no’n. Ngayon, kaya ko na mag­pakalbo. Pero no’n, sabi ko, ‘Ay, hindi. Sige, busi­ness na lang ako.’”

So he took up busi­ness man­age­ment in­stead, also at the Univer­sity of Per­pet­ual Help. But he never got to fin­ish the course be­cause star­dom beck­oned.

en­ter HASHtAGS

While still in high school, Ron­nie had won as first run­ner-up in the Mr. & Ms. Per­pet­ual Help pageant. Buoyed up by that vic­tory, he tried his luck in TV com­mer­cials.

“Meron akong man­ager dati sa Biñan na huma­hawak ng mga tal­ent, si Gil­bert Be­lan,” Ron­nie re­calls. “Mga seven or eight kam­ing lalaki do’n. Nagbi-VTR kami. Nakak­abing­wit na­man ako kahit papa’no ng mga com­mer­cials.”

Among the big-brand TV ads he landed were those for Goldilocks, Globe Tele­com, Philip­pine Air­lines, and the fruit drink Mogu-Mogu.

When makeup artist RB Chanco, who is Ron­nie’s first cousin, asked if he wanted to at­tend act­ing work­shops con­ducted by ABS- CBN’s tal­ent arm Star Magic, Ron­nie agreed. But even af­ter fin­ish­ing sev­eral work­shops, the teenager still found him­self un­able to score any act­ing projects.

“Ang ta­gal ko nang nasa Star Magic pero parang kolo­rum lang, wala lang. Work­shop lang ako nang work­shop. Hang­gang sa sin­abi ng han­dler ko, si Nanay Nenette Demillo, ‘May grupo dito. Gusto mo ba i-try mag-au­di­tion?’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige, try ko na, kasi ang ta­gal ko na.”

The au­di­tion was for the boy group Hashtags, which would be a main­stay of the Ka­pam­ilya noon­time show It’s Show­time.

Ron­nie danced to Justin Bieber’s “Where Are You Now?” dur­ing his au­di­tion, and he ad­vanced to the fi­nal phase. He was in the mid­dle of per­form­ing with his fel­low fi­nal­ists when he had an al­lergy at­tack.

“May al­lergy ako sa hipon. Hindi ko alam kung ’yong kanin o sabaw ata ’yong nakain ko na may hipon. Hindi na ’ko naka­pagsayaw. Nag-al­lergy ako, buong katawan, ’ta­pos di ako makahinga, parang made-deads na ’ko. Dedo na. Diniretso na ako sa os­pi­tal.”

Af­ter his trip to the emer­gency room, Ron­nie lost all hope of get­ting into Hashtags. “Sabi ko sa sar­ili ko no’n, parang hindi yata para sa ’kin. Sabi na ng han­dler ko, ‘Anak, baka hindi ta­laga para sa ’yo, baka may ibang tra­baho para sa ’yo.’ Kin­aba­han na ako. Sabi ko, ‘Ito na lang pag-asa ko. Wala na yata.’”

And then came the good news. A week af­ter his ER visit, Ron­nie got a call in­form­ing him that he was the new­est mem­ber of Hashtags. “Nakapili na sila ng sampu. Parang alam ko, sampu lang ata ’yong ilo-launch. Bigla akong nadagdag. Nasama ako. Ako ’yong pang-eleven.”

The all-male dance group was launched in 2015, and its mem­bers in­cluded Pi­noy Big Brother alumni Zeus Collins, Jim­boy Martin, Tom Doro­mal, and Jame­son Blake. Other mem­bers were Star Magic tal­ents and ac­tors McCoy de Leon (who had yet to join PBB at the time), Paulo Angeles, Jon Lu­cas, and Ryle San­ti­ago. Round­ing out the group were It’s Show­time’s Gan­dang Lalake grand fi­nal­ists Nikko Na­tivi­dad and Luke Conde.

Joining Hashtags was a big break for Ron­nie, but he knew he was at a dis­ad­van­tage.

LIFE LESSONS

Ron­nie had a good rea­son for let­ting his dreams of star­dom take a back­seat for the time be­ing. Af­ter all, part of his mo­ti­va­tion for just get­ting into show­biz was to pro­vide a bet­ter life for his fam­ily.

When Ron­nie was a young boy, a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent had left his fa­ther with­out a right eye and with a tube down his back.

His fa­ther had been drink­ing, Ron­nie re­counts. “’Ta­pos, may angkas siya. Ma­bilis ang takbo nila. Gi­nawa no’ng angkas niya, ’tin­u­lak siya. Pag­tu­lak sa kanya, na-out-of­bal­ance siya. Sig­uro, kung hindi siya ’tin­u­lak, hindi na­man siya maaak­si­dente. ’Ta­pos, ni­nakaw ’yong mga relo niya. Ni­nong ko pa ’yong angkas niya. Ang lupit nga no’ng ni­nong ko, kasi ni­nakaw niya pati wal­let. Ini­wan lang ’yong lisen­siya ni Papa.”

That par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dent turned Ron­nie’s world up­side down.

“Maykaya na­man kami. No’ng una ta­laga, sasabi­hin ko na maya­man kami. Pero af­ter maak­si­dente ni Papa, naghi­rap kami. Six years old or seven ako that time. So­brang wala na. Sig­uro, no’ng lum­abas si Papa sa os­pi­tal, maski pam­bili ng soft drinks, wala na kam­ing maibili.”

Ron­nie says they had to sell their prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing his fa­ther’s cars and mo­tor­cy­cles, to pay for the hospi­tal bills and to get by every day.

“Nan­gungutang na lang kami. Hindi kami pina­pau­tang no’ng mga pin­san namin. Tita ko, meyor sa Biñan, hindi kami nat­u­lun­gan. Hang­gang sa nag-ad­just na lang kami ulit.”

The fam­ily had a wa­ter-re­fill­ing sta­tion, but even that fell by the way­side. “Du­mumi na ’yong tubig, kasi wala nang main­te­nance, e. Hindi na name-main­tain dahil wala na ta­la­gang pera.”

The fam­ily was so cash-strapped that they couldn’t even pay their elec­tric­ity bills. “Na­putu­lan kami ng kuryente,” Ron­nie re­veals. “Tat­long buwan, nagda-jumper kami. Kailan­gan namin mat­u­log ng twelve mid­night. Kailan­gan namin patayin ’yong jumper namin ng five a.m. Kailan­gan, ligo na kam­ing la­hat no’n.

“Puma­pa­sok ako sa school, baon ko fif­teen pe­sos. Pero grade school na ’ko no’n. Mahi­rap ’yon, e. Nag­ta­traysikel ako pa­pa­sok ng school. Do’n sa traysikel, puro utang pa.”

Ron­nie says they were only able to turn things around when a good soul helped

“La­hat sila artista,” he ex­plains. “Kaya in­isip ko, parang tra­baho na nga lang ta­laga ito. Work na lang, work na lang ’to. Kasi nga, puro artista na kasama ko, mga ki­lala na sila. Paano pa ako mag-a-ad­just na mak­i­lala pa ng ibang tao? So, ’yon. Gi­nawa ko na lang ’yong tra­baho ko.”

their fam­ily. “May tu­mu­long sa ’ming abogado para mat­u­lun­gan ’yong opisina namin. So do’n na kami nag­tu­loy-tu­loy. Nakahinga na kami kahit papa’no.”

Those try­ing times re­main im­printed in Ron­nie’s mem­ory. Al­though he ini­tially re­belled be­cause of the fam­ily sit­u­a­tion, he later woke up to the re­al­ity that he needed to help his fam­ily re­cover.

“Sa isip ko ta­laga, ‘Pag nakat­a­pos ako ng pag-aaral, tu­tu­lun­gan ko sila.’ Do’n ko gi­nalin­gan sa klase. Kasi, bagsakin ako no’ng high school. ’Ta­pos, naawa na ’ko kina Papa no’n. Kasi ki­nakausap niya ’yong mga teach­ers ko, hang­gang sa pi­nush ko na ’yong sar­ili ko.”

Ron­nie kept his grades up while be­ing a var­sity bas­ket­ball player. He knew this was his ticket to im­prov­ing his fam­ily’s sit­u­a­tion. “May al­lowance kami dati no’ng var­sity ako, three thou­sand lang ’yon. ’Binibi­gay ko kila Mama at Papa. Gusto kong mag­ing bas­ket­ball player sa PBA para magka­suweldo.”

When he started get­ting com­mer­cial gigs, he con­tin­ued giv­ing his earn­ings to his par­ents. “Hu­mi­hingi lang ako ng one thou­sand, kasi wala na­man akong gagas­tusin no’n, e. Bata pa ako. ‘Ma, penge lang one K, pam­bili ko ng ano.’ Mga gano’n.”

BREAK­ING OUT

Hard work and mo­ti­va­tion proved to be an ef­fec­tive com­bi­na­tion for Ron­nie. As he con­tin­ued his daily ap­pear­ances on It’s Show­time, he showed off his singing and danc­ing skills. The act­ing work­shops that he had un­der­gone were also put to good use when he ap­peared in the drama an­thol­ogy Maalaala Mo Kaya ( MMK) sev­eral times. He even played him­self in the MMK episode “Mo­tor­siklo,” which told his life story.

In Au­gust 2016, he re­leased his de­but sin­gle un­der Star Mu­sic. The song, ti­tled “Love at Web­site,” writ­ten by Gabriel Ta­gad­tad and pro­duced by Rox San­tos, was among the Top 30 en­tries in the 2016 Himig Han­dog P-Pop Love Songs, an OPM song­writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion. That same month, Ron­nie was a guest on Gan­dang Gabi, Vice ( GGV), the com­edy talk show hosted by It’s Show­time host Vice Ganda. Ron­nie per­formed his sin­gle and also played the gui­tar on the talk show—and the episode trended on so­cial me­dia, ce­ment­ing his ti­tle #KiligK­ing when he tried to make a fan smile by tick­ling her leg.

Then the big projects started com­ing in.

Ron­nie was in the cast of two en­tries in the 2016 Metro Manila Film Fes­ti­val: the hor­ror film Sek­lusyon, di­rected by

Erik Matti, and the teen ro­man­tic flick Vince & Kath & James ( VKJ), di­rected by Theodore Boborol and star­ring, in the ti­tle roles, Joshua Gar­cia, Ju­lia Bar­retto—and Ron­nie Alonte!

He first started film­ing Sek­lusyon, where he played a trou­bled dea­con. Be­fore that film was fin­ished, he found him­self in VKJ, where he was James, a bas­ket­ball player who doesn’t fo­cus on his stud­ies.

Jug­gling two movies and a daily show was tough for the rookie ac­tor.

“So­brang pina­gal­i­tan ako sa VKJ,” he re­veals. “Kasi sa Sek­lusyon no’ng time na ’yon, naka­pagsim­ula na kami. Nine days na shoot­ing namin no’n. Parang first day ko sa VKJ, ’ta­pos nakakasiyam na ako sa Sek­lusyon. Ang role ko sa VKJ, bad boy. ’Ta­pos, ang gi­na­gawa kong act­ing, ’yong pang-Sek­lusyon. Pari pa rin ako. Pi­na­pa­gal­i­tan nila ako. ‘Ilabas mo, maan­gas ka da­pat. Da­pat bad boy ka.’ Gano’n. Hang­gang sa naka­pag-ad­just na­man ako.”

Look­ing back, Ron­nie says he knows he could’ve done bet­ter. “Sa to­too lang, pan­git nga ’yong ki­nal­abasan ko sa VKJ, e. Aaminin ko na. Parang hindi ko pa feel ’yong char­ac­ter ko. Sig­uro, dahil so­brang nani­bago ako sa ’bini­gay sa ’king role.”

He ad­mits that the feed­back he got, both from the press and the bash­ers, made him re­think his ap­proach to his work. “Ngayon ’pina­pakita ko sa kanila na mas pinag-iigi­han ko pa ’yong tra­baho ko. Para ma­pakita sa kanila na hindi na­man la­hat ng baguhan, ma­g­a­l­ing na agad. Nag-iiba ’yan, e.”

De­spite the bash­ing and the bad press, Ron­nie, ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, got the Male Celebrity of the Night award at the 2016 MMFF Gabi ng Paran­gal. VKJ it­self won the Chil­dren’s Choice award, along with two other en­tries, Sav­ing Sally and Sun­day Beauty Queen. Not only that. VKJ also got a grade of A from the Cin­ema Eval­u­a­tion Board—which means that the film was ad­judged to be of top qual­ity and there­fore en­ti­tled to a 100 per­cent tax re­bate.

From Ron­nie’s point of view, he now has a chance to show his progress to the bash­ers and crit­ics. He’s cur­rently in the cast of the prime­time se­ries A Love to Last, which pre­miered last Jan­uary and is set to run un­til Jan­uary 2018. He is

once again paired with Ju­lia Bar­retto in the drama se­ries, which is head­lined by Bea Alonzo, Ian Ven­era­cion, and Iza Calzado.

Singing and danc­ing re­main Ron­nie’s first love, though. He has had two suc­cess­ful solo con­certs, the first one on De­cem­ber 17, 2016, at Kia Theater, and the sec­ond one last May 20 at Alonte Sports Arena in his home­town, the city of Biñan in the prov­ince of Laguna.

WHILE THE IRON IS HOT

Ron­nie un­der­stands that a ca­reer in show­biz can be fleet­ing, so he aims to take ad­van­tage of the pace that his ca­reer has taken. “Gusto kong bil­isan hangga’t ku­mikita ako ng pera,” he says.

Help­ing his fam­ily is still his main mo­ti­va­tion. Aside from in­vest­ing in cars, he has also ac­quired a rent-to-own con­do­minium in Que­zon City, where he stays to be near his work­place. But his big­gest in­vest­ment is a house that he’s build­ing on the Alonte fam­ily lot in Biñan.

“Ngay­ong marami akong projects, may en­dorse­ments ako, ’bin­ubuhos ko na sa ’pina­pa­gawa kong ba­hay. Para af­ter ne­tong ba­hay na ’to, magbi-busi­ness na ’ko. Af­ter ng busi­ness, busi­ness pa ulit or lupa. Para pag ku­mita na ’ko, naka­pun­dar, ’yong mga busi­ness ko nag­ing suc­cess­ful, puwede na ’kong tu­migil nang maaga.”

Ron­nie ex­plains that, if a part of him wants to leave the in­dus­try early, it’s be­cause he misses the free­dom he en­joyed be­fore be­com­ing fa­mous. Back then, he could hang out with his friends along their neigh­bor­hood’s streets, with­out in­hi­bi­tions and with­out an im­age to pro­tect. “Kasi ayoko na ’yong buhay ko— pri­vate. Lak­ing-kanto ako, e. Gusto ko nakikita ako ng mga tao sa pub­lic. Gusto ko magmo-mall ako. Mamim­ili ako.”

He says he un­der­stands that show­biz takes a high toll on stars, who are pres­sured to re­main ami­able to fans 24/7.

“Ako, hal­im­bawa, nagmo-mall ako, okey lang magpa-pic­ture. Pero kasi, min­san ta­laga, to­too ’yong sinasabi nila na nakaka­pagod. Min­san, hindi mo na sinasadya na ma­sisi­mangutan mo na sila. So ayoko kasi ng gano’n, e. Ayokong puman­git ’yong tin­gin sa ’kin ng mga tao, makasakit ako. Ayokong habam­buhay, gan­ito ’yong buhay ko. Gusto ko, hangga’t may pera ako, ilal­abas ko para maka­pag­pun­dar ako sa busi­ness, kung ano’ng puwede kong ipun­dar.”

Ron­nie Alonte’s rise to star­dom may seem fast and easy to some. But in re­al­ity, it has taken years of pa­tience, hard work, and a strong de­ter­mi­na­tion to help his fam­ily. This hand­some boy, who can play the bad boy on the big screen, is re­ally and ac­tu­ally quite a nice young man.

The ac­tor-per­former lets YES! Mag­a­zine in on a se­cret about his name, Ron­nie II. Most peo­ple think it’s only be­cause he was named af­ter his fa­ther Ron­nie. But there’s more to it, ap­par­ently. “Mahilig kasi si Papa sa Star Wars. So kay R2D2 niya nakuha. ’Yon ’yong to­toong is­to­rya na hindi alam ng mga tao. Maram­ing nag­tatanong sa ’kin, pero nakakata­mad mag-ex­plain, e!” Ron­nie’s fam­ily and close friends, in fact, call him R2.

Ron­nie says that his fa­ther’s mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent was a big eye-opener for him. The af­ter­math pushed him to work hard and dream of a bet­ter life. The ac­ci­dent also had a pos­i­tive out­come for his dad.

“Bu­mait na siya,” Ron­nie says. “Hindi na siya bad boy. Kasi si Papa dati ’yong maram­ing baril, maram­ing sasakyan. Marami siyang mama­hal­ing gamit, saka marami siyang mo­tor. Nabenta na la­hat ’yon no’ng maak­si­dente siya. Dati, konting may umano sa kanya, [ pal­a­ban agad siya]. Gano’n siya, e. Pero ngayon, so­brang ka­ba­lik­taran. As in, parang isang iglap, so­brang bait niya na. Iba na siya ngayon.”

Ron­nie is the fifth of six chil­dren. His two el­dest brothers, Jerome and Rom­mel, are work­ing abroad as a ra­dio tech­nol­o­gist and a nurse, re­spec­tively. His Kuya Ron­ald is also a ra­dio tech­nol­o­gist, but works here in the coun­try.

“’Yong sumunod, si Kuya RA, ta­pos na siya sa mid­wifery. Pero nag‑busi­ness lang siya sa ngayon. Mahilig siya sa banda, meron siyang stu­dio na busi­ness.” The fam­ily’s unica hija, Aika, is a psy­chol­ogy stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Per­pet­ual Help in their home­town, Biñan, Laguna.

Ron­nie says all of his older sib­lings have helped out their par­ents. Now, it’s his turn. “Ngayon, gusto ko… Kahit min­san nai­isip ko na hindi na na­man nila kailan­gan, nag­bibi­gay pa rin ako sa kanila.”

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