JOMARI Yllana was last seen on TV in the hit soap, “The Half Sisters”, which ran for more than a year, 2014-15. That was six years ago. After that, he didn’t accept any acting jobs as he was elected as Paranaque councilor and he’s now on his second term.
“It’s my choice to focus on being a councilor as it is a lot of hard work and this is part of the sacrifice you have to make when you serve the people,” he says in a zoom presscon. “Mahirap din kasi 25 years akong nagtatrabaho sa harap ng kamera. I enrolled sa UP College of PUblic Administration and Governance to learn more about my responsibilities. Minsan may roles and offers na dumarating, kaya lang hindi ko mabitiwan ang trabaho ko sa city hall. Walang oras ‘yan, e. Bigla kang kakailanganin ng tao.”
How did he get involved with politics? “Nauna na sa’kin ang brothers ko, Anjo and Ryan. Lumaki kami sa father ko na military man serving sa AFP Medical and our lolo was a war veteran. Noon pa nila ako kinukumbinsi to run but I was busy with acting. The one who talked to me and encouraged me to be in politics was my mom. I vividly remember her telling me: ‘You are the one who’s more like your dad than sa mga kapatid mo when it comes to helping people.’ Kapag magulang mo pala ang kumausap sa’yo, hindi ka makakatanggi, so I listened to her, ran as an independent candidate and I won.”
Doesn’t he miss acting? “I do, lalo na doing films, kasi ang TV mahirap gawin lalo na kung puro lock in taping. Kapag natapos ko ang last term ko as a councilor, I’ll give myself a break and try acting again.”
It’s common knowledge that he and Priscilla Almeda are now together. “Yes, she’s very special to me. Teenagers pa lang kami noon and Abby Viduya pa siya nang unang maging kami. Then, we parted ways, nag-abroad siya, pero ang ending, kami pa rin pala. She’s very supportive sa lahat ng ginagawa ko, lalo na sa public service. She’s my lucky charm. Mula nung nagsama kami uli, marami siyang naituwid at naitama sa buhay ko. She gives me a lot of inspiration at ang galing-galing din niyang magluto.”
He then calls Abby to him oncam to talk to the press. “I’ll always be here, kung ano ang kailangan niya,” she says. “Inspiration works both ways and together, we make each other stronger, we can face anything. We show respect and understanding for each other’s needs. Akalain mo, marami kaming pinagdaanan, pero sa huli pala, kami pa rin. We’re both complicated persons so ‘yung path namin we started when we were very young, then nagging liko-liko ang life namin, but now, dumiretso na. This is really the time for us to enjoy the rest of our lives together. I admire his love for helping people. Hindi ko nakita nung bata pa kami but now, I realize it’s always been there. He’s also very God-fearing and very religious.”
His son with Aiko Melendez, Andre, is now also in showbiz and doing ‘Di Na Muli’ for Viva. “Interactive kami ni Andre. We communicate. Morning and evening. I give him advice on how to prepare sa set nung mag-taping na siya. He’d consult me every now and then. Nagkukuwento ‘yan. One time, may interview raw siya at siya mismo ang nag-put ng make up on himself bago siya humarap sa kamera. I follow his instagram. I send him lunch sa set nila, healthy meals. I also gave him my car, mahilig kasi ‘yan sa kotse, just like me. He joins racing events. Sa November may sasalihan siya, kaming dalawa.”
It’s very noticeable that he put on weight. “Yes, kasi I’m always behind the desk. I really need to have a good physical fitness program. Ganun naman tayo, tataas ang timbang natin, pero kaya din nating magpababa kung kakailanganin. Like before, kapag may shoot ako na kailangang mag-love scene o mag-model sa Bench, just give me a few weeks and I will be in good shape.”
When he assumed office on his first year as councilor, he was named minority floor leader. He is currently seeking reelection for the same council post in the next election. He said his second term as councilor is very challenging as the pandemic happened. “Our focus in Paranaque is on livelihood and recovery, medical care and education,’’ he says.
Jomari is head of the council committees on information technology, tourism and social services. He is optimistic hybrid education, a blend between online and classroom schooling, shall soon be in place in the city.
Jomari has really come a long way from being a teen Guwaping of the 90s who’s a regular in the long running comedy, “Palibhasa Lalake” and doing significant films like “Sa Pusod ng Dagat”, “Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin”, “The Healing”, “Minsan Pa”, “Sigaw”, among others.