Jason Godfrey goes back to his roots

Photo by GABBY CANTERO Produced by DAVID MILAN Grooming by ANGIE CRUZ of Shu Uemura
Produced by DAVID MILAN
Grooming by ANGIE CRUZ of Shu Uemura

MANILA, Philippines – Canadian-Filipino model, host, writer and actor Jason Godfrey is more popular in Hong Kong and Singapore, where he just got off the set shooting a hit drama. And we have AXN to thank for rightfully reclaiming him as part of Philippine territory. In each episode of his newest travel show, Ten, Jason brings to light 10 things that make the Philippines a perfect, well, 10, in a fun and entertaining way. “Of course a lot of it is accomplished by humiliating me,” Jason quips.

And if you’re about to yawn, thinking you just might throw up if you’re shown another tarsier or white sand beach, you’d be surprised how much you still don’t know about the Philippines. Both at the press conference and in the one-on-one with Supreme later that afternoon, Jason had members of the media gasping as responses like, “What? Where’s that?” were repeatedly expressed.

In the series we have him eating crickets in Angeles, Pampanga, taking a hot bath in a giant wok with fire underneath and scrubbing himself with certain leaves in Panay, donning a mermaid tail on the beach and using his entire core to swim, and many more — all of which are actually done here, whether massively or within small, hidden cultures. Personally, I look forward to watching and being able to judge for myself whether or not he is making these things up.

Jason also gets to dance à la Michael Jackson (or at least try) with the perfectly synchronized inmates of Cebu. “It was okay!” he says when asked about it. “I was a little bit apprehensive ‘cause I was like, I’m gonna be on the floor with these hundreds of inmates. I just had a vision of dancing in jail and getting killed. But they seemed friendly. I don’t know what they’re in jail for.”

Hilarious host

As a host, Jason is perhaps even more of a spectacle than his subjects. We’re used to watching good-looking guys being good looking and never forgetting themselves even while they’re being charismatic. But Jason performs his crazy antics with abandon and an utter lack of self-consciousness. It’s a lot of fun to watch because he himself is just having fun and being crazy. He actively gets involved with the people he meets. He does this gig with the same openness and game attitude with which he approaches his multi-slasher endeavors.

“Yeah, I think modeling gives you confidence — probably a falsely imbued sense of confidence — where you feel like you can do anything. But I also noticed people who are successful at stuff aren’t necessarily the smartest people. I don’t think it takes a lot of intelligence to be successful. I think sometimes you have to be too stupid to realize you can fail. A lot of people I’ve met, they just had balls. They were just like, hey, I’m gonna do this. Some people look back on their lives and are like, yeah, it was crazy. I should have never done it, but I didn’t know how many ways I could fail.”

“I think sometimes being too smart can — maybe I’m making myself an excuse for not being too smart — it can hold you back, you know?” he continues. “If you think too much, you would never try anything once. Nobody would really go for their dreams.”

This attitude of his clearly makes its way into his hosting. And that’s what gives the show a very light, easily digestible, not to mention hilarious, and free feel to it — even while being concisely informative.

Going back to his roots

It’s true that as a culture, we’re used to craving affirmation from foreigners and half-bloods — and getting it, thanks to market-driven capitalism. So from a skeptic’s point of view, it’s easy to just brush this off as another one of those cheesy packages we’re expected to easily fall for, complete with local words pronounced with a slang accent.

But going back to his roots is something Jason is genuinely interested in, and he has done it in his own time.  He’s backpacked around Legaspi, Donsol, Busuanga, and Puerto Galera in 2005. And during his stay at the Cocoon Hotel in Quezon City, he went around the Scout Area, taking pictures since his mother used to live just around the corner. “It’s just great to be in a place where my mother used to run up and down the street. She taught me this is where she was. I know it changed — she couldn’t recognize the pictures I showed her — but just to be in that space, there’s something about it, like wow, it’s interesting.”

Indeed, while he likes that his job entails a lot of travel and zero monotony, and he has the kind of upbeat, witty personality that can charm the world’s pants off, Jason savors the rare times he gets to dig back in, so to speak.

“When I get home I just spend all my time with my parents.” And when told that this seems a bit crazy, he replies, “I think it would drive me nuts too, but I see them so little. And when we go on vacation, I stay in the same room as my parents. I get an extra bed. That would be weird, right? ‘Cause like, you’re old. Why are you sleeping in your parents’ room? It’s just so strange to be apart from them, even when it’s just for the night. On vacation, I feel like I need to be with them all the time. I don’t feel like I need to be by myself. Yeah, it’s weird.” Endearingly weird.

And after several months of shuffling around Asia, Jason flies back to home base Canada next week. For now, he leaves us with his own silly, self-deprecating and hilarious take on both the popular and hidden nooks and crannies of the Philippines.

* * *

Ten premiered last September. 5, 2013, airing on Thursdays at 7:15 p.m. exclusively on AXN.

Originally published in The Philippine Star SUPREME (31 August 2013)

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