"When I auditioned, I was just told that they were casting for new shows," recalls AJ.
He may have lost out to eventual winner Ahron Villena, but strangely enough, it was AJ's career, not Ahron's, that picked up after the contest. Showbiz-watchers have pointed out that it is AJ who got the big breaks, including the chance to star opposite Maricel Soriano in the teleserye Vietnam Rose. He also had a featured role in the movie Dreamboy, starring Piolo Pascual and Bea Alonzo and a brief stint on TV as host of the Wanna Buzz portion on The Buzz. Currently, he is also an image model for BENCH and Blue Soda-along with the likes of Mariel Rodriguez, Bianca Gonzales, Borgy Manotoc and fashion model Kelly Misa-and was named one of showbiz's sexiest by StarStudio magazine in 2005. He's between projects right now, but AJ is busy attending to his computer business while he's waiting for his next big assignment. There is talk that he may soon be starring in another soap opera for ABS-CBN.
In the meantime, he reviews tapes of his previous shows to see where and how he can improve. He also attends acting workshops from time to time.
"Sometimes, I find it funny to watch myself onscreen," says AJ.
He feels fortunate to have been given the chance to work with Maricel Soriano in Vietnam Rose. He says he learned a lot from her. Like all newcomers, he was intimidated by Maricel at first, but eventually, he realised that despite her tough exterior, she really did care about her younger co-stars.
"She was a little strict, but she really guided us," he says of the Diamond Star. After their scenes together, Maricel would even tell AJ, "Son, concentrate on what you're doing."
AJ is a hard worker. His attitude has already begun to bear fruit; after almost two years in showbusiness, he has already been able to move his family to a new, four-storey, five-bedroom house in Horseshoe Village in Quezon City.
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