Who’s That Guy: Donny Pangilinan
The newcomer to know and keep your tabs on
Much has been said and written about kids with celebrities for parents. As the “spawn of the stars” with the knack for entertaining in their genes, so to say, they are likely to pick up the torch and join showbiz, too, one day.
It does appear like such is the case for Donny Pangilinan. The son of TV host and motivational speaker Anthony Pangilinan and actress-turned-author Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, Donny grew up surrounded by true class acts (a beautiful medley of entertainers, TV personalities and, most importantly, people of substance). He himself is multitalented: During his high school years, he played basketball and was part of the school varsity team. He sings, plays the piano and writes. Most recently, he began his foray into acting and has since become the industry newcomer people cannot seem to stop talking about.
At first glance, it looks like working in the entertainment industry was written in the stars for Donny. He modestly digresses, however, saying the career found him.
20-year-old Donny Pangilinan is a breath of fresh air. If anything, he (and the same can be said about his four siblings) is the antithesis of the clichéd celebrity offspring. Because while it’s easier to rest on one’s laurels having gotten a leg-up from celebrity parents—special treatment, an instant network, privileges and all—Donny would rather work hard for the things he wants. His body of work in 2018 alone is proof of that: his second single “Different Kind of Love,” a spot on ASAP Chillout on Sundays, his first movie and a second hosting gig with The Pool Show (all the while fulfilling his duties as a regular VJ on MYX). His projects, as of late, are more skewed towards his true end goal: becoming a seasoned actor.
What seals the deal for Donny as the one to watch is the fact that he possesses something that cannot be inherited, studied or manufactured: the X factor. It bodes well for him, too, that the charisma, fun-loving personality and good guy image he exhibits onscreen is just as evident when the cameras aren’t rolling. The guy is well-mannered, down-to-earth and genuinely interested in other people, which makes him such a joy to sit down with for a chat.
Wonder: We’re now well into the second half of 2018, so let’s do a mid-year check-in. What can you say about your 2018 so far?
Donny: I think that in the first half of 2018, I changed quite a lot as a person. So many of what I’ve done this year are things I’ve never done before. There were a lot of firsts and experiences that were very new to me. There were so many blessings, too, so it was a big first half! And I’m excited for the rest.
W: Are things panning out well for you regarding those New Year’s resolutions? Did you make any this year anyway?
D: I did! One of them was to gun for appearing in a movie; another was to appear on a TV series. And both of those came true, so I’m very grateful. But how I see it is that you can make resolutions every day if you wanted to. Every day is a chance to do something different, something that could make you a better person.
W: Extremely eventful first half of 2018 then. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit more about the projects you have lined up for the rest of the year?
D: Well, the movie is called To Love Some Buddy and on there, I play the brother of kuya Zanjoe Marudo. Apart from that, the movie I have in the works is with Vice Ganda and my partner in the film, Kisses Delavin. It’s called Fantastika and it’ll be our entry at the Metro Manila Film Festival this year. The thing I’m most excited about right now though is our upcoming teleserye, Playhouse. We’ve been taping a lot for that and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
W: You’re also a regular host on The Pool Show, which has such a refreshing concept. How do you prepare yourself for the live segment where anything goes and anything can happen?
D: I feel like it’s a really fun show—the games, the segments—it’s all really well-thought of and I love being a part of it. Luckily hosting things live is something I already do for ASAP every Sunday; I’m part of ASAP Chillout. What I realized was being yourself is the biggest, most important thing. If you overprepare and try to go over every little detail of what could happen, you overthink things! It’s better to just go with the flow.
W: Come to think of it, you’ve had quite a whirlwind couple of years since dipping your toes in the entertainment industry (as a VJ, a music artist and now an actor). What would you say has been the most challenging part of getting into this line of work?
D: Mainly, time management. Being able to juggle everything and take on all these things all at once is hard. In my case, I want to pursue this career, but I’m also still in school. Earlier this year, I got into UP. It gets especially difficult when there are a lot of events lined up. Of course you’d still want to spend time with your friends. You also want to be able to spend time with your family. You want to make sure that those other commitments don’t disappear.
The most challenging part also is, while doing everything, making sure my priorities stay priorities. To be able to do that, it’s important to know how to say no to things and when. Saying yes to everything is unnecessary.
W: And you jumped into it around the same time your sister Hannah did (albeit she took the vlogging route), right? What would you say was the best advice your parents gave you two?
D: To never let any of it get to my head. To never forget where I came from. They taught me that no matter how far you think you’ve come, there’s always room to be better. There will always be something you can improve on. I think it’s always good to keep working on yourself.
W: How did you get into music? Was this the main thing you wanted to pursue?
D: Getting into music just happened. I felt it was a good way for me to give back to my fans. Whenever we have events, I love being able to sing a couple of songs for them. Right now, though, I’m just trying to get better at it.
W: What was it like collaborating with a good friend Janina Vela on her single “Sorry I Left”? Can you tell us about how that collaboration came about?
D: It was so much fun working with her. With Janina, you know it’s going to be good. She’s extremely professional and she knows what she wants. It was just really easy to collaborate with her. And you can clearly see how talented she is.
On to the song, first of all, it’s really sad. The fact that Janina was able to share this side of her that people probably don’t see often was pretty cool. How it came about—I think we said it as a joke, actually [laughs]. And then we ended up doing it. We wrote it together, but the message came from her perspective and her experiences.
W: Is there an album somewhere there in your future?
D: Yes! That’s the plan. I actually have a couple of songs I haven’t released and that people don’t know about, but they might hear them soon.
W: Twitter Philippines reported earlier this month that you are one of the top five male celebrities on the channel, which isn’t surprising; you’re active and you engage with a lot of your fans. Surely you tread lightly, still, when it comes to what you share on social media. How do you keep it all in check?
D: The thing is… I’m very open with my followers on social media. I enjoy sharing snippets of my day with fans. I enjoy talking to them. I enjoy finding out how their day went. I think the trick is to take breaks. Put your phone down once in a while! You know, sometimes we get too caught up with what happens online that we forget what’s real. What about what’s right in front of you? The people you’re actually with? I personally take one-day breaks—sometimes two-day breaks—just to focus on the world again.
W: You mention your supporters a lot. Do you get together with them often?
D: I do. Well, not recently, but I love seeing them in our events, fan gatherings, mall shows, that kind of stuff. Usually, I have my own meet-and-greets, but because of the stuff that’s been happening, I haven’t hosted one in a while. I think the last one we had was around my birthday in February. I really miss it; I wanna plan another one soon.
W: Any memorable fan encounters?
D: I have a lot of good ones. [Laughs] There was one time I was playing basketball right outside our house and then a car full of girls drove by. The car stops, the girls scream for a bit and then the car leaves. And I have no idea, to this day, who those girls are, how they knew where I live, how they got into the village! I’ve got a lot more but, hey, this was in my house so nothing can beat that. You guys know who you are. [Laughs]
W: What’s next for Donny?
D: You can catch me on The Pool Show. Please don’t miss it! I’m also on ASAP Chillout and ASAP every Sunday and I’m on MYX every day of the week. Do tune in to my upcoming TV series called Playhouse with Zanjoe Marudo, Angelica Panganiban and Kisses Delavin, too. Actually, you know what, follow me on social media if you wanna know what else is next! [Laughs] And to those who already do and to my supporters, thank you so much. I love you guys.
Photography Cessi Treñas
Art Alexandra Lara