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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Andrew James Wolff: A Sheep in Wolff’s Clothing?

From the ramp to the roaster.

That’s the distance Andrew James Penaflorida Wolff has traveled in the barely two years he has been on Philippine soil, his first homecoming in 14 years.

Maybe because of his size – 200 lbs. evenly distributed in a 6’2" frame – the macho Fil-Brit hunk seems to attract controversy as easily as he puts women under his spell. There was Gwen Garcia (of Viva Hot Babes fame) and Ethel Booba (of the hit video sizzler) and Keanna Reeves (top alumna of the Pinoy Big Brother Celebrity Edition) and who knows how many other non-celeb... conquests?

Because of his appeal (sex and otherwise), Andrew also just as easily landed a dozen commercials (among them for Axe, Modess, Sunsilk and Schick shaving blade – yeah, he’s the guy using Schick which he passes on to another guy on the other side of the shower room by breaking the wall between them) and to the huge Bench billboards all over the Metropolis, wearing nothing but underwear and a quiet come-and-get-me smile.

He has also ventured into acting (GMA’s Magpakailanman, etc.). If a producer offers him a "bold" role, I’m sure Andrew will bite (with the consent of his manager, Douglas Quijano).

But what kind of person is Andrew Wolff behind the "bad boy" image created by the media, a "tag" he’s now trying hard to shake off? Why is he being roasted (well-done, please?) by people he crosses paths with? Is he a sheep in Wolff’s clothing? Is he the boy who cried, "Wolf(f)?"

"Actually, I’m sensitive...an emotional person," claims the 21-year-old Cancerian who is 50/50 British-Filipino, brought up by a British father who is a teacher and a Filipina mother who is a nurse (divorced from Andrew’s father and remarried another Briton by whom she has two children; Andrew is an only child from his mom’s first marriage). "I’m God-fearing," he adds in a little-boy voice that doesn’t seem to match his big body (most giants are gentle, aren’t they?). "I’m a nice boy."

Let’s scratch some more and find the sheep beneath the Wolf(f) clothing.

When did you arrive in the Philippines?

"Two years ago. It’s my first visit in 14 years. But I’d been coming and going during the first four years of my life, until I stayed in London for school."

What school did you study in?

"I finished high school at Woodbridge and I was into my junior year of Computer Engineering at Bristol University when I stopped."

Oh, Bristol. That’s where Precious Lara Quigaman also studied.

"Bristol is a big place. It’s actually a university town. I plan to finish college when I go back there next year."

So you decided to stay when you came back two years ago?

"Not really to stay. I came back purposely to trace my roots. I’ve discovered that I have a lot of family here, a lot of relatives in Oriental Mindoro where my mother came from. She’s a nurse. She has been working in England for 22 years. My father, who’s a British, is a teacher in English and Technology. In the past two years, I’ve acquired Filipino customs."

Didn’t your mother bring you up the Filipino way in London?

"My parents broke up when I was eight years old. I grew up mostly with my father. I spent weekdays with him and weekends with my mother. I worked and studied at the same time. I earned my keep working in a bar. That’s common among British college students. They study and work on the side."

How did you develop such a body?

"I guess by playing rugby in school. It’s a tough sport. Banggaan kayo nang banggaan, di ba? Rugby is not popular in the Philippines, so I haven’t been playing it since I came back. There’s rugby here but only expats are playing it. It’s a sport for big people. Did you know that I weighed 220 lbs. in December last year? Now, I weigh 200 lbs. I stand 6’2"."

Barely a few months after you came back, you became an overnight media sensation, tagged as a "bad boy." How do you feel about that image?

"I’m not very happy with it. But that’s the way some people look at me. I just wish that they’d look at the true side of me."

Some people suspect that you bask in negative publicity?

"I don’t. That kind of publicity destroys a person."

You’ve been dragged into so messy issues. Let’s sort them out one by one. First, Gwen Garci (formerly with Viva Hot Babes).

"We went steady for nearly two years. I met her through the guy who used to manage me as a model."

Is he the same guy you also quarreled with on national television, whom you accused of "sexual harrassment"?

"We used to stay in one house then. It’s over now so I don’t want to touch that subject. Besides, we are okay now."

How did you court Gwen?

"We started as friends. Na-develop lang kami as lovers. I really fell in love with her. She’s the reason why I decided to stay. While here, that’s it, I also decided na nga to trace my roots."

It was a stormy kind of romance, wasn’t it?

"Well, you can say that. It was the away-bati/away-bati kind of relationship."

Was Gwen the jealous type?

"Hmmmm. No comment."

Were you faithful during your relationship?

"Yes, I was. She wanted honesty, so I would tell her when another girl got attracted to me. But sometimes, my being too honest would lead to arguments between us."

Were you ever unfaithful?

"During my relationship with Gwen, only in thought but not in deed. But now that we are off, I can go out with any girl."

Then, Ethel Booba came into the picture. Did it happen when you were still with Gwen?

"That happened when she broke up with Alex (Crisano). She invited me to what she said was a birthday party at a bar in Quezon City. When I got to the place, there were no other guests, just her and me. And Paolo Bediones. And a camera. Before I knew it, sinu-shoot na kami. It was a Saturday. The next day, there we were on S-Files. Ethel made it appear na kami na. I was shocked! And to think that it was the first time I was really meeting her."

Were you, uh, set up?

"I don’t want to call it a ‘set-up.’ Mahirap naman mang-bintang, di ba?"

Then, came Keanna Reeves.

"There was nothing romantic between us. We’re just friends. Up to now. We met during the Bench show at the Araneta Coliseum. It was Zanjoe (Marudo) who introduced Keanna to me. I found her okay, so we became friends. I like her. Mature ang pag-iisip niya."

Did anything intimate happen between the two of you, as Keanna was insinuating on national television?

"No comment."

Now, who among the three women was for real?

"All I can say is that I fell really in love with only one of them and she’s none other than Gwen Garci. Siya lang talaga ang babaing minahal ko, enough for me to stay longer."

Gwen has called you a "user."

"All I can say is I truly love her. And I believe that she love(d) me in return. The feeling is still there, but more as a good friend. I still love her but I don’t need to be with her anymore. We lived together for more than nine months."

What about the celebrity-boxing issue between you and Rommel (Montano, Cesar’s younger brother)?

"I admit that I committed two violations, so the referee stopped me also twice. I was told that if I committed it again, I would be disqualified. Then after my bout with Rommel, Cesar challenged me to a one-on-one. I said, ‘Okay, no problem,’ but only for entertainment like my bout with Rommel but not for real. Anyway, it’s also a past issue now so I’d rather not discuss it any further."

People tend to believe that you’re a trouble-maker.

"I’m not the one making trouble. In fact, umiiwas nga ako sa trouble, eh."

Maybe it’s because of your size that trouble seems to hound you.

"Maybe. But one thing I can say is that I am not pikon like some people."

Were you and Rommel a mismatch?

"Not really. He weighs 195 lbs. and I weigh 200 lbs. Match lang kami."

Would you welcome a rematch with him?

"In a clean bout, why not?"

How about a bout with Alex Crisano (with Ethel Booba as referee)?

"Okay lang, even if he stands... 6’6"?... and weighs... 260 lbs.? For celebrity-boxing, okay lang sa akin."

Besides rugby (and boxing), what other sports do you like?

"In England, I play soccer. I keep fit by working out in the gym twice or thrice a week."

Have you gotten used to the Manila lifestyle?

"Sort of. After living with Gwen, I moved to my own pad where I live with a yaya."

Are you ready for showbiz?

"I guess so, maski na nakaka-discourage ang mga intriga. I don’t have any problem with the language. I speak fluent Tagalog now. Mahusay na akong managalog."

So what’s the real Andrew Wolff like?

"I’m clean-living. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I’m peace-loving. I’m a prayerful person. I go to church regularly. Before my bout with Rommel. I went to the Baclaran Church and prayed na maganda ang laban namin at mag-enjoy ang manonood."

How would you describe Andrew Wolff in one word?

"Misunderstood."

CONVERSATIONS With Ricky Lo
The Philippine Star 10/01/2006


(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph)

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