Carlo Muñoz: The boy next door just a phone call away

Carlo Muñoz: The boy next door just a phone call away 
By Walter Ang
November 8, 2000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Hello, Billy?" By now, it seems everyone has seen the TV ad of a telecom company for its long-distance service. The one with a persistent mother constantly calling up and checking on her son, who's in the US. If you haven't seen this ad, you might want to get out of the rock you've been living under. With two installments already out, the ad has become quite popular, and so has the actor who plays Billy.

Quite the reserved gentleman, Carlo Muñoz seems every bit the obedient son, boy-next-door character he plays in the ad. Projecting a mature aura far beyond his 21 years, Carlo was taking up marketing management for two years before the acting bug bit him.

He was supposed to be part of the defunct TV show "Ang TV," but he explains that he turned down his slot because "I was still in high school. I didn't want to interrupt my education." While in college, however, he sang a different tune and auditioned for, and consequently passed, ABS-CBN's Star Circle Batch 6.

That started the proverbial ball rolling. Pretty soon, he got offers to do commercials for Del Monte, Star Chips, Coke, Maggi Champorado, among others. His most popular, of course, is the Billy commercial. The exposure certainly has some advantages for him. "Since people know me already, it serves as an instant ice breaker when I meet strangers. I don't mind it. I'm a people person." But this dapper, yet mostly laconic young man says there are disadvantages. "I do the groceries for my family," he says. "Even now, I still do. When I go out, sometimes people call me Billy. Sometimes there's no privacy."

It can't be denied that part of the charm of the Billy ads is that they haven't actually shown the face of Billy's girlfriend yet. "They actually showed Grasya in the first commercial," Carlo says. "But she got edited out." There are already plans to make another ad, but as of this interview, Carlo still has no idea how they'll be tackling the third installment. "I don't know what it will be like. They're still planning it."

In the genes
Good looks and acting genes seem to run in the family. Older brother Leandro is part of Star Circle Batch 8 and youngest brother Angelo is now training for Batch 9. But there's no sibling rivalry here. Carlo treats them more like friends than brothers. "I'm pretty close to my older brother Leandro," Carlo says.

Asked if he and Leandro had gotten into trouble, Carlo exclaims, "Oh, yeah! All the time." He went on to narrate their latest (mis) adventure. Just recently, a tricycle driver who'd had a little too much to drink hit the car he and Leandro were in. Needless to say, they got into a fight with the driver.

When it comes to romance, Carlo is looking for a woman who is "Simple. Has a sense of humor. Knows how to have a good conversation. Hindi fake. Filipina beauty." But it may take some time before this man plunges into another romance. After having broken up with singer Carol Banawa barely six months ago, he claims, "It's too soon to have another relationship."

Moving on to show biz
A fan of international actors Kevin Spacey and Anthony Hopkins, Carlo wants to pursue acting. "Aside from doing commercials," he says, "I'm a full-time actor and part of the cast of a soon-to-be-released soap opera, 'Pangako Sa Iyo.'"

Carlo is seeking out all the breaks he can get. He's currently known for dramatic roles, but what he really wants is to play character roles. He knows what he wants and, fortunately, he has his parents' support. "It was my decision [to enter this kind of work]. They didn't interfere. Natuwa sila. They're proud of me." Future career plans for this city-born and bred young man include writing and directing.

With several projects underway and his career charging ahead, Carlo usually has a pretty full schedule. He describes a typical day: "I wake up around lunch time. I have a light lunch because I go to the gym afterward. I come home to rest for a bit. The rest of the day I tape for shows."

Through all of that, he maintains a work ethic drawn from his parents, "I learned to work hard. All their life they've worked hard for us [their children]. Namana ko sa kanila 'yung discipline. Even if you're sick the show must go on. I work hard just like them."