Philippine Daily Inquirer

What led to Jake Cuenca’s 3-year sobriety

- By Marinel Cruz @marinelcru­zINQ

After his highly publicized brush with the law in 2021, Jake Cuenca made a vow to never be seen holding an alcoholic beverage again, “unless when I’m acting,” the actor declared.

In October 2021, Jake, who was driving a black Rubicon jeep, had tried to run away after he figured in a collision with a patrol car in Mandaluyon­g City. The car chase that ensued also resulted in a Grab driver getting hit by a stray bullet. This happened as the police shot on Jake’s car tires in an attempt to force his vehicle to stop. Later, the officers involved in the car chase were relieved from their posts, according to a report.

“My near-death experience was a big factor. When police officers shoot at you, you tend to make important changes in your life,” he told reporters in a recent interview, adding that this was shortly followed by his breakup with Kylie Verzosa in April 2022. “The [breakup] has indeed tested my resolve, but I stuck to my path. Here I am now, three years later, no alcohol.”

He also claimed to have not experience­d any relapse. “I’m proud to say that I did it on my own, probably with some help from my mom. Before the [shootout], I already had a marker. I said that at this age, I would already stop drinking. I just thought of stopping a little sooner,” he explained. “Prior to the incident, I would only drink casually once in a while. After that, I did a hard stop. I said I’m never going to be seen holding an alcoholic beverage again, unless I’m on the set, acting.”

In order to de-stress, Jake said he would rather work out at the gym. Actress Chi Filomeno, his current girlfriend, helps him with that, too, “by keeping me company.” He added: “You see, there’s more to it than not drinking alcohol. Because I’m not drinking anymore, I can accept more work. I’m busy with a lot of different things right now. What I really hold on to is my love for the craft. Acting is enough intoxicati­on I need.”

Jake added that alcohol on the set is among what he calls his “nonnegotia­bles.”

Incidental­ly, Jake said he will be working on two film projects with Baron Geisler, who has always been very public about his battle with depression and alcoholism. “I have to tell you this about Baron. If you follow him on social media, you will see that he is at the gym every day. This is the movie he’s been training for. At this point, all the training and lifting he did means he has been putting in so much work already. I’m not worried [that he will experience a relapse]. I have trust in him. We’re going to get these movies over the line and it’s going to be a big year for us.”

‘Santo Miro’

Jake continued: “We talk about drinking all the time. In fact, we will soon have a podcast and this is one of the things we will talk about, also about being in the industry for so long. Our intention for that interview is to inspire people.”

Jake and Baron will star in an action film, titled “Santo Miro,” to be produced by the same team that made the action series, “The Iron Heart.” They will also be seen in a BL (boys’ love) project by Cebu-based director Don Frasco, called “Change Oil,” later this year.

“At this point in my career, I want to collaborat­e with more artists. You saw me with Richard (Gutierrez in ‘Iron Heart’), with Arjo (Atayde in ‘The Cattleya Killer’), and now with Paulo (Avelino in ‘What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim’). I’ve come to realize that if you work with the best, they also bring out the best in you. When are we going to do these collabs, when we’re already 50? I told Baron that now is the time, while the spotlight is on us ... while people still care about us.”

My near-death experience was a big factor. When police officers shoot at you, you tend to make important changes in your life

Versatilit­y

Asked to reveal how passionate and daring he and Baron will go for their BL film, Jake said: “We will do the action movie first, then start thinking about the whole thing next. We will kill each other first here, then start loving each other in the next movie. Our intention is to show versatilit­y. If these projects are done right, they will cement us together in a certain way artistical­ly. These back-to-back projects we’re going to do are huge!”

However, Jake did let on that, “the movie will highlight Cebu because we’re both tourist guides of the province. It has several action elements, too. It also has somewhat of a heist in it, but all of these are wrapped around our love story.”

Jake is also taping for the second season of “Jack and Jill sa Diamond Hills” with Sue Ramirez on TV5.

As to whether or not the actor also has plans of pursuing a Hollywood career, Jake said: “My plan is to champion work here and bring it over there. That’s my new dream now. I’m going to give it my best shot. This will be my Hollywood route. I think this is how all of us in the Philippine­s should look at it now. With all the great content that’s coming out, we need to be well-represente­d. Hopefully, our work comes across.”

Jake Cuenca Actor

 ?? —PHOTO FROM JAKE CUENCA/INSTAGRAM ?? Jake Cuenca
—PHOTO FROM JAKE CUENCA/INSTAGRAM Jake Cuenca

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