Ervic Vijandre, athlete, actor and model rolled into one, doesn’t mind going without sleep, so long as it is for the game he loves.
“First love ko talaga ang basketball,” said the 26-year-old hunk. “Siyempre, priority ko rin ang show business dahil 'yun na ngayon ang mundo ko. Ang will ko lang ang nagdadala sa akin para mag-basketball.”
Vijandre is the latest in a long line of hard-court heroes to make the jump into show business, and as it turned out he couldn’t completely turn his back on the sport. He recently revived his basketball career after earning a place in Erase Plantcenta’s squad in the PBA D-League.
But with a flourishing career as an actor, it is no longer uncommon for Vijandre to head sleepless to Erase Plantcenta’s regular morning practice straight from the taping of his top-rated afternoon soap.
“Yung ibang tao siguro, itutulog na lang ‘yun pagkatapos magtrabaho, pero love ko talaga ang basketball,” he said.
Vijandre is better known these days as the 2010 Survivor Philippines runner-up and the former boyfriend of popular actress Marian Rivera.
But what only a few fans know is that the 6-foot-2 model-actor was a two-sport star in high school, having been both a varsity cager and a mean baseball player who was good enough to make the Philippine youth team.
As an outfielder and pitcher for La Salle, he led the Archers to the UAAP men’s baseball title in 2002 and in the process won Rookie of the Year honors.
Vijandre also made La Salle’s ‘B’ team in basketball in 2006, but his hopes of crashing the line-up were snuffed out when the Archers were suspended from the UAAP over an eligibility scandal.
He was playing for Forward Taguig in the regional cage league Liga Pilipinas while suiting up occasionally for the Cebu Dolphins and Taguig Patriots in Baseball Philippines when showbiz came calling.
Basketball completely took a backseat for Vijandre in the succeeding years, until a stint in a charity basketball game rekindled his love for the sport.
"May mga nagsasabi na puwede pa raw ako maglaro. Kaya noong medyo bakante ako sa showbiz, bumalik ako, nag-tryout ako [for Erase Plantcenta]," he said.
Vijandre intends to continue playing for Erase Plantcenta for as long as he can, thankful that the discipline he learned in sports has helped him manage his time while he dabbles in two diverse fields.
"Ma-suwerte rin ako sa team na napuntahan ko kasi well-balanced. Role player lang naman talaga ako sa basketball. Kung ano ipagawa sa akin, depensa man o opensa, gagawin ko," Vijandre said.
That sounds like a man who loves what he is doing.