The arrival of Marco Gallo

Marco Gallo never dreamt of becoming an actor, so why is he working hard to be the best one out there?

“What pops into people’s minds when they hear your name?” I ask the 18-year-old Filipino-Italian actor Marco Gallo. In my head, I have a list of positive traits he could use to describe himself. Kind, funny, mysterious—the usual. Instead, he laughs and answers: “Sira ulo.

We try to imagine how our first meeting with a stranger would turn out. We build up expectations, regardless if we say our expectations are little to none. I was no exception. So days before I met our last cover star of the year, I tried picturing what it would be like to meet Marco Gallo.

 My imagination decided Marco was an average celebrity: conventionally attractive, charming to a tee, and approachable in a way that famous people are. You can laugh with them, have an inside joke or two, but your familiarity ends after a wave goodbye. Not because they’re cold and distant—it’s just how the business goes.

But life loves a curveball. And Marco Gallo didn’t fail to give me a memorable one.

Everybody woke up to another sunny weekday with a 30 percent chance of rainfall. It was a perfect day for an outdoor shoot. Turns out, that 30 percent decided to pop by 30 minutes before we began. My team tried to solve our supposed outdoor shoot with Marco. While they thought of alternatives, his road manager and I waited for him to arrive.

He didn’t come barging in with an entourage of personal assistants. Rather, he came by himself and walked in drenched from head to toe. He had a motorcycle helmet hanging from his arm, while he struggled to remove his flannel. Turns out, he sped through EDSA to avoid being late for our shoot.

While he explained his journey on the way here, his road manager reminded him not to ride his motorcycle, but Marco argued that his word is his bond. “Of course I had to be on time.”

ARIN by Renan Pascon, top and pants, STYLIST'S OWN, shades

As far as first impressions go, Marco Gallo made one thing clear: He would always be a headstrong kind of guy. Sira ulo, as he preferred to phrase it.

 “Hindi ako nag-iisip ng dalawang beses bago ko gawin ’yung isang bagay. Mali ’yun, ah, palagi akong pinagsasabihan tungkol doon,” says Marco. “Being spontaneous and headstrong can kill me one day, pero feeling ko dapat ganoon talaga. Kasi if you think a lot, hindi ka mag-eenjoy. Deal with the consequences after, but don’t be too cocky.”

It’s clear to me that Marco will continue to grow and mature like the rest of us. But his determination to follow his gut might never change. And so far, it hasn’t exactly failed him. It’s what led him to Filipino show business in the first place.

“Pinoy Big Brother: Lucky 7” (PBB) became his first big break. Alongside former cover stars Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber, he took part in the reality show’s seventh run. It bagged him supporting roles in 2017’s “Loving in Tandem” with MayWard and 2018’s “Harry and Patty.”

Celebrity life came so easily for him. But when I asked if my hunch was true, I got another unexpected answer.

YVES CAMIGUE, jacket

"It's scary how the future works. A small thing can change your whole life."

“Sometimes, I think to myself: Why am I doing this job? I never really thought of doing photo shoots, or acting. I never thought about it,” he confesses. “I’m shocked every time I’m in a show or I’m singing live. I still get chills. It’s a weird feeling every time. I never expected this, so I can never expect what’s in the future.”

He describes himself as a private guy. When I ask him about meeting people for the first time, he confesses he gets uncomfortable when people act too familiar with him. He is a man who values his personal bubble. Before “PBB” fame, he curated his Instagram as a virtual family album. Not a calling card for industry folk to view.

“If you look at my Instagram before ‘PBB,’ puro kalokohan lang yung laman. I wasn’t even confident about posting myself,” he says. “I didn’t post that much if it was not memorable.” In hindsight, he really was just an average teenager living in Italy. Celebrity life wasn’t a lifelong dream for him. He grew up wanting to be a superhero. As the magic of youth wore off, he traded his dream of wearing a cape for a police badge.

“I was supposed to finish college, join the police force, and have a family back in Italy. Pero wala, I’m here,” he shrugs. “It’s scary how the future works. A small thing can change your whole life. I’m glad for what happened because hindi ako magiging itong Marco na ’to kung hindi ako sumali sa ‘PBB.’”

DON PROSTASIO, harness, MODESTA, pants

He planned his future to be part of the police force. That changed during his sophomore year of college. His mother received an audition link for the newest season of “Pinoy Big Brother,” so she pushed Marco to give it a shot. But he didn’t think too much about the audition.

 He opted to enjoy teenage life—to go to parties and kick it with friends.

 “At first, I didn’t accept celebrity life, because I was a teenager. Teenagers are like, ‘No, I want to do my stuff. I want this, I want that.’ But in the long term, parents just want the best for you,” he reminisces. “Then eventually, I realized that this life was something I wanted.”

2020 is just on the horizon, but critics are calling it: He is Viva’s next James Reid. Everyone is eyeing his next moves in the industry. It seems like this upcoming year might do wonders for his acting career. Yet, he almost left this industry in 2018. “When ‘PBB’ ended, there was a time when I felt a bit depressed about the situation because there were so many rules. And I was wondering, is this life for me? It’s also why I kinda left,” he says.

“I left the Philippines at that time, and I stayed in Italy for six months.” Marco followed his gut and shocked everyone by going back to Italy. During his six-month stay, he wasn’t a reality star turned actor. He was simply a young man pursuing his studies with a part-time stint as a waiter. A couple of months in, a talent agent spotted him during his shift and offered him a modeling contract.

He had the option to start a career there. With those new opportunities, he could have followed some parts of his old life plan: finish college, continue modeling, and start a family in a country he grew up in. It’s all he ever wanted all along, right?

MODESTA, jacket and pants

“I thought it was all the same. Happy-go-lucky and jolly and everything. But it was not. I realized a lot of things during my stay there. Italy wasn’t the same as before, because I basically grew up,” he contemplates. “I went out of my comfort zone, which was Italy. And then I went to a country that I didn’t know about. I grew up in this country for two years, and I realized a lot of stuff that I was not able to see before.”

I ask him, what did he realize? “Not everything is given, you have to work hard for it.” People might have expectations about Marco’s career. But regardless of critics’ praises, he sees himself as a work in progress. And he’s ready to do the work.

Sa mga bagay na gusto ko, hardworking ako. So that was a problem. I would do it, but it would take me a long time. But I learned to stand up on my own feet,” he explains. “You can ask God for help or your parents. But your parents die and God isn’t literally there, you have to stand up on your feet and do what you gotta do.”

When asked about how he wanted to be seen as an actor, he replies: “Sana makilala nila ako na kahit anumang role ang ibigay sa akin, kaya ko. Hindi ko siya aatrasan.” Versatility and range are the qualities he aims to acquire eventually. “Basically that’s the actor’s job, giving them a performance that an audience would like,” he says. “So kung anuman ang kakagat ngayon, dapat handa akong gawin ang role na ’yun.

“You can ask God for help or your parents. But your parents die and God isn’t literally there, you have to stand up on your feet and do what you gotta do.”

Uncertainty plays a huge role in Marco’s life. In return, he answers it with spontaneity. He sees it as a trait that might one day kill him. And yet, it made him into a person his younger self never expected—an uncompromising actor with an ironclad work ethic and genuine charm.

No matter how the 30 percent chance of rainfall made our shoot difficult at first, Marco gave us his 100 percent either way. He approached it with a mixture of professionalism and an ample amount of humor. He got comfortable with us to a point where we ended up singing “Open Arms” by Journey with him while he hit his angles for the camera.

There’s a vibrancy within Marco that’s undeniable. That’s what makes his future in this industry so exciting. No one knows exactly where it’s heading, but he will make it a damn priority to give us something to look at.

“I got 82 years to live. There’s still time, I still can do a lot of stuff with my life. Wala naman pumipigil sa akin,” he laughs at the future’s unpredictability. “I just have to keep working harder and harder. Work your ass off every day, wake up early every morning. An actor I look up to in Hollywood once said, ‘No one will work harder than me.’ You always gotta wake up with that standard in your head.”

No matter how many curveballs life throws at him, Marco Gallo will keep dealing with life the only way he knows how—his way. It will get him far in his career, whether it’s acting or whatever his gut tells him next.

Words by Rogin Losa
Photography by Regine David
Styling by Quayn Pedroso
Hair and makeup by Dorothy Mamalio
Styling assistant Eugene Malabad
Creative direction by Cathy Dizon

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