Chalking up a rate of success that many only so much as dream of, Donny Pangilinan doesn’t take one bit for granted. In its stead, he steers his focus to a direction where he needs to be and ultimately thrive.
“Go easy on Donny,” we were whispered to a few minutes before he arrived on set. “He’s nursing quite the fever.” With a collective concern rising from the room, we wondered if he should just rest it out instead of possibly overexerting himself. But as soon as an alarming worry could supersede, a lanky, 6-foot burst of energy walked through the door, contrasting his intimidating height that easily towered everyone with succeeding handshakes and bro-hugs.
“How are you?” we asked.
“I’ll be fine, I am so ready. Let’s do this,” he answers with enough cheer and a smile to appease all our worries.
IN THE PINK
There is nothing more defining than a good irony. The incongruous but compelling device that lashes expectations with reality, it forces one to understand the overall context that coalesces with a more internal subtext in many mediums, literature among them. (Warning: The next few sentences contain spoilers. Proceed with caution, in case you have been living a rock.) Everything from Professor Snape’s perceived loathing for Harry Potter, only to later be revealed at a dramatic denouement that he was actually looking out for him, always; to the dramatic final act of Shakespeare’s archetypal tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, where the star-crossed lovers would meet their heart-breaking fate in misunderstanding and death, irony makes us grasp the full intent and purpose of the story just as the curtain of disbelief once suspended settles to truth.
Nothing could be more visually ironic than having a careful curation of fashion in varying pink tones set against a bubble gum pink backdrop, and the subject standing smack in the center powering through the weight of weariness. The phrase ‘in the pink’ is used to communicate perfect and peak condition, however the reality before us was anything but, in the physical sense, because God bless his youthful energy and an overriding excitement (this cover would come out during his birthday month), Donny Pangilinan made us all forget he had a 40-degree fever. Dispelling the fired up temperature with gulps of water in between sets, we ask how despite not feeling super, he was still up, smiling, and brimming with a child-like wonder. “The moment you realize how blessed you are to even be breathing is when things change,” he says, obviously jumping off-tangent and pertaining to a greater scope of self-love. “Seeing life in the positive spectrum,” he continues, is what keeps him to borrow a phrase from the kids these days, feeling pumped at every beckon of a new day.
“Surreal. At times I still can’t comprehend everything,” he says, contemplating the significant success he’s culled over the past few years, especially the last one. “I don’t really see it as luck. It’s more of being blessed and doing what you’re called to do. But as a child it was really just a dream. I never thought it would actually happen.” Just as persistent and persevering as the next one, Donny doesn’t take anything for granted, especially since the heights that he has reached is something many only so much as dream of.
It is imperative to mention the pedigree that he was born into, which some would argue as a factor to his parlaying into entertainment. Really, it in itself could be a constellation with such an assemblage of decorated and storied names, which he is cognizant of. But just like many a child of, he initially wanted to veer away from what was expected of him at some point. “I always wanted to be a businessman,” he says with a grin. “I saved and did anything I could to earn as a kid.” At this point, we know all too well how faith and fate moves in mysterious way to realign you to a path that is destined for you.
“Growing up, I never thought that I’d actually be able to follow the footsteps of my mother or relatives in the industry. My mom was an excellent actress during her time, and still is, and we did small commercials as kid, but it wasn’t until high school that I started getting some sort of following on social media,” he narrates. “I was an introvert—and still am sometimes. Social media was my way of expressing myself. So, I would post photos of myself, my family, things I loved doing. There was also this app called <ask.fm>, where anyone could ask you questions and you get to answer them. That’s where a lot of my supporters got to know me in the beginning. Then slowly, showbiz started coming into the picture.”
This was when the wheels started to turn, so to speak. From this point, he would be encouraged to take acting workshops from Star Magic, where he would gain some knowledge of the craft he was at that point only interested in. But after a fortuitous guesting on a morning show with his mother, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, his social media engagement erupted and it wouldn’t wane since. After graduating high school, Donny Pangilinan joined Myx as a VJ, which would not only become his first foray in the business, but a family as well.
Slowly and surely building his professional résumé, the young actor and host is bent on fully immersing himself in the craft and the industry. “I want to just keep improving, especially in acting. I’ve learned so much with a lot of the projects I’ve been a part of,” he says. Today, he has a number of films to his name, such as Walwal, To Love Some Buddy and most recently, the box-office hit, Fantastica. He is also making a mark on television as part of the ensemble cast of the daytime TV series, Playhouse. With a lot already going, he is nothing but grateful. But with an awareness beyond his years, he is also making sure he makes time for himself, lest he lose himself in the blur of it all. “I also wanna focus more myself this year: Health-wise, spiritually and mentally.”
MASTER OF HIS FATE
Being at the early stages of one’s career and subsequently chipping off the wood to carve out a name for oneself is an arduous process that leaves even the best consumed by the pressure. Acknowledging this as a vital tenet for his growth, Donny takes it and runs with it, making it work for him rather than against him. “I think everyone in the business would feel pressured at some point in their lives,” he explains. “But I see it as good pressure; Pressure to do better and keep pushing myself.”
There will be challenges, of course. One that he has had to deal with in his time so far, but instead of being reticent about it, he is forthright, arguing that whatever the obstacle may be, everyone has had their fair share of it to get to where they need to be.
Of course, being in the business that he is, submitting himself to the mantle of the public, there will be judgments. For him, it is the most obvious, being constantly written off as being another celebrity offspring born with a silver spoon in his mouth or for simply being well, young. “I know for a fact that everyone at some point will be misjudged. What matters will always be the truth,” he affirms. “Everyone is different. Every individual has their own path. If we were to compare ourselves with one another, then it should be out of motivation and to strive to be better. But when we beat ourselves up for not being like a certain person, or not having this and not having that, that’s when you’re doing it wrong. The biggest competition will always be yourself. Focus on your own journey. Just a switch in one’s mindset can drastically change their life.”
Without being daunted, what is important for Donny is that he has the guts and tenacity to go after what he wants and what he dreams of. What is there for him to lose anyway? Nothing. “Don’t be afraid to go for it. Put it out there. Who knows all you need is one big break,” he asserts. “Distinguish the voices in your head: If it’s what your friends and family want or if it’s what you want. Believe in yourself more. You’ll be surprised. If you fail, great. Learn from it and try again.”
Admittedly, he says despite being propped up on a pedestal for everyone to admire, painted in a light of perfection, he is just like everyone else: struggling, going through challenges and falling short. But apart from an unerring fighting spirit, he has the love for his supporters, his family and friends, and of course God to keep him going and pushing. Most importantly, however, just like the way he sees people, not for what they are but what they could be, Donny Pangilinan is looking on to what life and the world has to offer, taking it and thriving in it the best way he possibly can.
That’s just who he is, a soldier of the world, charging through to where he needs to be and as it stands, this is the right time and place for the young man. “I believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now,” he says, spoken like a true man in charge of his fate.
Watch Donny Pangilinan’s MEGA Man February 2019 cover come to life below: