THE Gwapings gained fame in the early 90s, young teen actors consisting of Mark Anthony Fernandez, Jomari Yllana and Eric Fructuoso. Young girls went gaga over them and they did several movies, like “Guwapings: the First Adventure”, “Gwapings Dos”, “Pare Ko”, Kabilin-bilinan ng Lola” and they even had their own TV show, “Gwapings Live”.
But fame is transitory and they eventually went solo. Mark became a matinee idol who starred in solo flicks like “Mangarap Ka” with Claudine Barretto, “Matimbang Pa sa Dugo” with his own dad Rudy Fernandez, “Hesus Rebolusyonaryo” with Lav Diaz, etc. But he got hooked into drugs and his career suffered.
Through the years, he’d still do movies every now and then, playing supporting roles in “Ma Rosa” as a good cop and in “Miracle in Cell No.7” as a prison inmate. GMA-7 gave him another chance and he played lead roles in many soaps, like “Ako si Kim Sam Soon”, “All About Eve”, “Munting Heredera”, “Rhodora X”, then he got arrested in Pampanga for possession of marijuana and languished in jail for about a year.
Now 41 years old, a lot of people feel sad for Mark because he has lots of potential. He’s very good looking and can act well, but it seems he has some personal demons that he can’t just shake off. Lately, Lolit Solis wrote that he seems to be having problems anew and is now just living with a friend in Pampanga.
He called up Lolit to say it’s not true “na naghihirap na” siya. He just broke up with his second wife and is now cooling his heels off in a friend’s house in Pampanga. He says he still has a contract with Viva but can’t do any projects now because of the lockdown.
As for Eric, now 44, his showbiz career didn’t really take off after the Gwapings. His recent photo driving a tricycle went viral and folks said: “Namamasada na lang ng tricycle in Naic, Cavite.” He quickly defended himself on social media.
He wrote: “Times like these na may pandemya, hindi pwedeng kaartehan ang paiiralin! Basta legal na pagkakakitaan para sa mga anak, tirahin lang ng tirahin! Hindi po totoong namamasada ako ng trike sa Naic, Cavite. Dine ako sa Lipa, Batangas namamasada, mas malaki ang kita! Akalain mong P200 ispesyal hanggang Rowbeensons? I believe by example. Ibig sabihin, magiging good example tayo sa kapwa. Hindi natin ikahihiya kung anuman ang ginagawa natin. Kasi may iba, nahihiya pang magbenta-benta, nahihiya sa pagde-deliver ng kung ano-ano. Huwag kayong mahihiya. At least, kikita, di ba? Tsaka kailangan, hangga’t hindi sila ang nagpapakain sa inyo, huwag niyong intindihin ang bashers.”
As for Jomari, now 43, he’s no longer active in showbiz and has tried going into politics. He was last in the news when his second wife, Joy Reyes (his first was Aiko Melendez), denounced him for abandoning them when he met again his very first girlfriend in showbiz, Priscilla Almeda, who has also left her husband in Canada. This happened at the start of 2020.
Priscilla wants to revive her showbiz career here, but the pandemic happened. We don’t know if she’s still here and if she and Jomari are still together. Mark and Jomari have sons who have tried getting into showbiz, like Grae Fernandez and Andre Yllana.
But we all know this is the worst time for anyone to cultivate a showbiz career. There is no movie industry at all since theaters have been closed down by the corona virus. Television is also in dire straits after ABS-CBN was shut down and other networks can only do shows within safe environs inside the studio and cannot tape new teleseryes with exterior locations because of the virus.