TAGS: angelie reposposa, jillian pilones. karina bautista, kaori onuma, pbb otso big 4, pbb season 8

Photography: Stephen Capuchino

While MayMay Entrata and Edward Barber were hosting the Facebook livestream of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB): Otso one Saturday night in January, the love-team partners known together as MayWard were suddenly told by the production crew that a special guest would be joining them on the couch.

Enter Marco Gallo, who, like MayWard, competed in PBB: Lucky Season 7, which ran from July 2016 to March 2017. He had just planed in from Italy, and his return to the Philippines surprised everybody, including his good friends MayMay and Edward.

“We were expecting naman na he is gonna surprise us,” Edward says, still in disbelief. “Hindi lang namin alam na ngayon, e!”

Screengrabbed from PBB Otso Live Chat - January 19, 2019.

Marco’s appearance was quite unexpected because back in July 2018, the Filipino-Italian showbiz newbie announced that he’d be returning to Repubblica Italiana to resume his studies. He posted heartfelt messages for the people he had worked with, hinting that he’d be away for a long time.

Six months later, he’s back—and for good! He tells StarStudio.ph why—and exclusively!—during a recent photo shoot and interview. 

GROWING UP IN ITALY

Marco was born on January 3, 2001 in Italy to an Italian father and a Filipina mother. He remembers growing up very close to his mother as his father was always at work.

“Kami lang ni Mom palagi, so siguro mga occasion like Christmas, New Year, birthdays lang kami lahat nagkakasama,” he explains. “Dinner-dinner lang, kain, luto.”

Photo from Instagram (@marcogalloc).

Marco’s mother introduced him to the thought of joining showbiz in the Philippines. But all he did then was play, just like typical Italian children did.

 “Lumalaro ka lang sa school,” he says of his childhood days. “Pumapasok ka, pero lumalaro ka lang, kasi nalaman ko po, dito sa Philippines, kapag bata, nag-a-aral ka [na] talaga ng kahit ano.

“Ako, ’yung pumunta ako ng Philippines noong bata pa ako, [sabi ko] ‘Wow, ano ba ’yan? Di pa ’ko marunong magbasa.’ And stuff like that. Pero, noong nag-start ako ng elementary when I was six years old, doon ako nag-umpisa matuto magbasa, mag-Math. So it’s really fun in Italy when you are a kid.”

Photo from Instagram (@marcogalloc).

Marco relates that the classroom setting in Italy consists of only 15 to 20 pupils, compared to the Philippines, which accommodates 40 or more in one class. He sees the Italian setting as an advantage as it really creates a close, tight bond among classmates.

“Nagkaroon ako ng group of friends hanggang sa tumanda,” he says. “We still go out. ’Yun ’yung advantage na onti lang kami. We still hang out.”

Despite the all-around fun vibes his childhood brought, the young Marco already had plans to pursue specific career paths. First, he aspired to become a police officer or a military soldier. His second goal, on the other hand, was inspired by the ’90s Hollywood action-drama series, Baywatch, starring David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson.

Photo from Instagram (@marcogalloc).

“Gusto ko maging lifeguard sa Australia,” he says, chuckling. “Kasi noong bata ako—hanggang ngayon din naman—gusto ko ’yung kunwari gigising ka, pagkatapos you have to go to the beach and [you get to feel the] air ng morning beach, and you have to take care of it. So I like that. Hanggang ngayon din naman. One day, kung sakali, [maging] lifeguard.”

THE DAWN OF A NEW GOAL

However, things started turning around when Marco was introduced to PBB. He remembers he was in sophomore year in college, and his mother received a website link about an audition in Italy for the Filipino version of the global reality TV franchise, Big Brother. His mother began encouraging him to try out for the show, but he doubted passing the auditions. So he did not make the audition a priority, at first, and opted to attend a party instead on the eve of the audition.

Photo from Instagram (@marcogalloc).

“Hindi naman ako makukuha, bakit I’ll still go?” Marco recalls asking himself. But even if he was already tired from partying the night away, he still went to the PBB tryouts to appease his mother.

“Si Mom talaga,” he says on what moved him to audition. “Kasi kung ako lang, hindi na ako nag-audition noong araw na iyon.” On second thought, he adds, “Mapapa-isip ka din kung ano kaya kung hindi ako nakapag-audition? What would I have now in my life? Ano na kaya ginagawa ko? Siguro, nasa school ako.”

After being one of the last people to audition in the Italian city of Milan, at the Teatro San Fedel, Marco recalls how he was contacted by the PBB team only a month later. But another month passed, and no word yet from the PBB team, so Marco decided to shift his focus back to his studies. He admits that at that time, he was losing hope of getting picked for the show.

 

August came, and it brought good news to Marco and his mother. Marco had been chosen to be one of the housemates in PBB: Lucky Season 7.

Although he felt happy, he was nervous, too. It was his first time in eight years to visit the Philippines, and he did not know what to expect back then.

“Akala ko before parang New York style ’yung Philippines,” he says, grinning. “Pagdating ko, bakit puro traffic? Hindi tayo gumagalaw?”

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.

HE’S A HOUSEMATE!

When Marco entered the PBB House, he only had one goal in mind: to enjoy the experience.

At first, he did not see why PBB was such a big deal back then. But when he first came out to the wave of cheers of the fans, that’s when he understood how big the show is to its fans.

He remained true to his goal by forming friendly bonds with the likes of Edward Barber, MayMay Entrata, and Heaven Peralejo. He then sent kilig vibes to the PBB fandom by confessing his admiration to Vivoree Esclito.

Photo from Twitter (@PBB_LS7).

What Marco considers most memorable is the time he and his fellow housemates did the military task in Batangas. That experience made a lasting mark in his long stay in Bahay ni Kuya.

“Doon, we proved our teamwork, kung sino talaga kami, kung ano kami under pressure. It was cool, and I would do it again,” says the PBB graduate who, yes, once dreamed of becoming a military officer.

Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment.

Marco shares another lesson he’s learned from his PBB experience: “Don’t think in black and white. There are a lot of shades of gray.”

He then explains, “Kasi dati, sobrang tigas ng ulo ko talaga. Kasi, I grew up for 15 years in Italy, so I was new to this world and was thinking in black and white. Then I understood na katulad ni Edward na galing siyang ibang bansa. Everyone came from a different country and city.”

“So, I said it’s not just about Italy,” he points out. “There’s a whole world outside. Doon ko nakilala na iba’t iba pala ang tao. It’s not just black and white.”

SHOWBIZ LIFE

Marco was evicted from the PBB House on Week 12—and here began his real journey in showbiz. He now admits that at first, he felt iffy about being in the public eye. That’s because he was so used to having such a private life in Italy.

He remembers that every time his Mama would take a photo of him for social media posting, he would tell her that he has a private life, too. His mother would then remind him: “You’re in the Philippines. You’re doing this job. You don’t have a private life anymore.”

“It’s hard to accept, at first.” he admits, referring to his loss of privacy. “Every time someone would want to ask me stuff, about PBB. I have a private life din. I don’t want to share but this is my job. I have to accept it. It’s just time, kailangan ng time just to get used to it.”

Marco acquired a better perspective of showbiz as he started getting work. He’s been in TV shows like Wansapataym Presents: Amazing Ving (2017) and Ipaglaban Mo (2017), as well as in the movies Loving in Tandem (2017) and Harry & Patty (2018). Loving in Tandem starred MayMay Entrata and Edward Barber.

Photo from IMDb.

Marco considers the MayWard tandem as his best friends in showbiz, and they’ve all kept their close ties even after PBB: Lucky Season 7 ended in 2017. He says he loves playing video games and eating a lot of food with MayMay and Edward.

ARRIVEDERCI, PILIPINAS

Just when things were coming his way in showbiz, Marco had his followers getting ‘shookt’sometime in July 2018. That’s when he posted on Instagram a selfie shot in the airport with this caption: “Paalam Philippines.”

It turned out he had his sights set on continuing his studies back in Italy, as reported in push.com.ph. Thus, he was posting a series of farewell messages to MayMay and Edward, the Star Magic management team, and the rest of the people he had worked with to show his gratitude to them.

"Paalam, Philippines." Marco captioned on this Instagram post. Photo from Instagram (@marcogalloc).

Marco tells us more about his sudden departure. “I like to have that small privacy that I should have,” he explains. “I thought maybe I should study first, maybe it’s not my time [in showbiz]. For showbiz naman, there are a lot of years pa. I should enjoy my teenage life [muna].”

Apart from his studies, Marco had a short stint as a runway model for fashion shows and different events. The money that he earned from those gigs, he used to pay for his Italian driver’s license.

However, he didn’t get to take the exam—because of his surprise return to the Philippines last January.

Photo from Instagram (@marcogalloc).

HE’S BACK

The actor-model says he’s made a lot of realizations while he was in Italy.

“I realized the fact that if I don’t work on myself now, and I just enjoy my teenage years, mahihirapan ako sa future,” Marco explains. “So, I said I think it’s a good idea to come back here [sa Philippines] and start a career, start something that I can build up in the future.”

Now that he’s back in showbiz, Marco can’t wait for the projects that he’ll be doing.

“In the meantime, I’ll just improve my skills so once they give me [a project], I’m ready,” he says.

The 18-year-old then looks back at the time he auditioned for PBB, and asked himself what would’ve happened if he didn’t push through with it.

“Hindi ko makikilala ’tong world na ’to,” he concludes. “If I would say no to a project, baka I wouldn’t know what’s next for me. So, I just say yes to any project because it’s an opportunity.”

And we’re more than excited to see how this new journey turns out. Ciao, Marco!  

Art Direction: Alfred Amado

Make-Up: Eman De Leon

Hair: Jean Pineda

Stylist: Ryan Viloria of Ton Lao Styling Team

Pullover: Zara

Pants: Zara

Shoes: Massimo Dutti

Photographer's Associate: Tony Valete