Fifty-two weeks translate to a full year. That’s about the length of time necessary to make the earth complete one revolution around the sun; a person to celebrate one birthday to the next; a beauty queen to complete her reign from coronation to her farewell walk. A lot of transformative developments can truly happen in such a span of time, usually lasting about 365 days.
In the case of up-and-coming actor Derick Lauchengco, less than the same period brought him from being one of the country’s most desirable hunks to being one lovable gay person. Only, the quick change happened just for the sake of the cameras in a newly-released short film aptly titled, “52 Weeks.”
“I play the role of Chem in this movie. He is the gay best friend of the lead characters who will actually play a crucial role in bringing them together,” he explains.
The 22-year old newbie, who is currently the Misters of Filipinas Second Prince is a self-confessed actor wannabe. While waiting for his chance to represent the country in the Mister Model Worldwide competition later this year, he keeps himself busy finding his spot in the entertainment industry. He was last seen on TV playing the role of Peter Ang in the hit GMA Teleserye, Mano Po: The Legacy. In between jobs, he also tries to grow his fanbase by uploading videos of himself doing different characters on social media. This was how he got noticed to eventually play the role of Chem.
“I posted on my IG and FB nung pag-portray ko kay Ken Chan nung character nya na Boyet na Special Tatay, nakita yun ni Direk Chris (Cahilig) at nakita nya yung potensyal sa acting,” he narrates.
As a young newcomer, getting the chance to work with Bida Man Ultimate Winner Jin Macapagal and Tiktok Star Queenay Mercado (with over 12 million followers), excited him no end, and led him to decide on accepting the offer to be part of the cast without fully knowing what he was getting into. He reveals: “Sinabi po yung gay role na yun papunta na po kami sa taping. I didn’t know it was a gay role I’m doing. While on our way to Mauban, Quezon, I read the script and then I asked Direk, kung gay po ba yung role ko na si Chem? He said yes.”
Not the type to back out from a challenge, Derick decided to take on and embrace the role he was given and just focus on how he can best portray it.
“Nasa pageant industry tayo, lahat ng tumululong sa atin puro gays. Kaya ininternalize ko lahat ng mga powers ng mga mamshie, pano sila makipag-usap at mga gestures and hand gestures nila. Kailangan maging natural,” he explains about how he internalized what his role required him to do. “Mahirap gawin yung gay roles kasi pag di pinagbutihan magmumukhang pilit,” he adds.
For somebody who loves to act, delivering the acting chops necessary should not really be a problem. For Derick, however, a hurdle he had to overcome was how his family reacted to his acting project.
“Sina daddy nung una, natatawa pero nagda-dalawang isip kung ok ba sa akin yun, kasi iba sa personality ko sa bahay. Pero in-explain ko po na work ko lang ito at dito ako masaya. Thankful ako na sinu-support nila ako sa craft na ginagawa ko,” he says gratefully.
With the 36-episode series now airing on the Puregold Channel, wouldn’t this adversely affect his international pageant campaign eventually? He doesn’t believe it will: “Hindi naman po siguro, kasi alam naman natin yung generation ngayon. May mga kapatid tayo, o representatives tayo na gay din naman na nagre-represent din naman sa mga male pageants. No judgement at all. Sa pageants meron tayong mga ganyang kapatid pero sinusuportahan pa rin natin. Mahal na mahal din po natin ang ating LGBT plus community.”
The romantic series is about the journey of a girl who has never had a boyfriend “since birth” to find her boyfriend with the help of her friends, which includes Chem. She is supposed to find the love of her life within 52 weeks, which explains the title.
Those who have seen the first few episodes say Derick is a natural and delivered a commendable and convincing performance in the series. Given those praises on the BS Economics Enderun College sophomore, we can truly say that such was a really major change in Derick—in less than 52 weeks.