The Philippine entertainment industry has never been short on actors who are truly worthy of the title "matinee idol." While some are remembered mostly for their ~appearance~, some are also applauded for their genuine talent.
Carlo Aquino has been active in the local entertainment circuit since 1992, and he's acted with greats like Vilma Santos; he's also successfully switched between indie and blockbuster films, and has played numerous characters, including his role of deaf teacher Gali in the October 2019 film Isa Pa, With Feelings. If you're eager to see more of the actor, we list down some of the films where his performance (and not just his good looks) stood out.
1. Ulan (2019)
Before anyone could even watch the film, people were already holding their breath for Carlo's pairing with Nadine Lustre, who is more commonly seen with love team partner James Reid. All people had to go by was a movie still of Carlo and Nadine standing at a jeepney stop. The film showed Carlo's mastery of chemistry with other actresses—even unlikely pairings. The Filipino fantasy film wasn't originally meant for Carlo, but director Irene Villamor, who has worked with him before, decided to bring him into the project. It was a good call, as Carlo needed little to no direction when it came to understanding his role as Peter.
2. Exes Baggage (2018)
This film not only makes your heart clench in pain at the hugot lines, but it also brings together actual exes Carlo and Angelica Panganiban to play Nix and Pia. Carlo stars as a reserved furniture designer in this film and just one of his deep, brooding looks from across the bar will have you swooning. Though he's effective at making every moment feel like a dream, he's just as powerful at delivering strong and arresting lines that will leave you sobbing. It's a potent mix of experience and craft that'll have you saying "Sana all" every time he appears on screen.
3. Goyo: The Boy General (2018)
Although he's not the lead in this historical film, Carlo shines in his role as Colonel Vicente Enriquez, one of General Gregorio Del Pilar's right-hand men. Though great on his own, what makes Carlo's performance stand out is his ability to adapt with his co-actors Paulo Avelino and Rafa Siguion-Reyna in order to create a balanced dynamic for their team. He serves as the much-needed voice of logic and rational thought which tempers the anger and hesitation present in the trio, all the while being a complex character with his own apprehensions, fears, and doubts.
4. G-Mik (1999)
Let's dial back a bit: Before the versatile actor became the man he is today, he was a cute teenager who was part of the ensemble cast of G-Mik. Some may remember him by his character's nickname Jun-Jun from the youth-oriented television series. From family and friends to romance and facing the real world, viewers are able to see Jun-Jun's growth, largely thanks to Carlo's performance of the character. Expect to see other stars in this series too, like frequent collaborator Angelica Panganiban, Camille Prats, John Prats, Stefano Mori, and Miko Samson. Later additions Heart Evangelista, Danilo Barrios, Janus del Prado, Bernard Cardona, Angelene Aguilar, and Abigail Cruz also make an appearance!
5. Baler (2008)
At the cusp of kindness from the Spaniards and revolution spurred by the Filipinos, sakristan Gabriel Reyes is awash with confusion about what is truly right and just. This historical fiction based on the Siege of Baler was an official Metro Manila Film Festival entry in 2008 and features Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis in the lead roles. Though Carlo doesn't play a lead role in this film, his character Gabriel Reyes helps the viewer coast between the perspective of the Spaniards and the Filipinos, all the while being a relatable character that is affected by the war without actively taking part in it. He was 23 when he played this role, but he looked way younger. And just for that, we're giving him extra points.
6. Bata, Bata...Pa'no Ka Ginawa? (1998)
Who can forget the line: "Akala mo lang wala, pero meron! Meron!"? There may be many child actors out there, but we argue that Carlo stands out and for good reason: He held his ground alongside veteran actors Vilma Santos, Ariel Rivera, and Albert Martinez to deliver a top performance. The film is based on Lualhati Bautista's novel of the same name, which discusses a woman's role in Philippine society. Aside from providing sharp social commentary, the film also highlights the best of what Filipino actors had to offer—Carlo included. Not everyone's got a film this good (and this heavy) under their belt, but Carlo carries this credit with ease.
7. Bar Boys (2017)
Law school is hell and Carlo's character in this film knows it all too well. Studying and reading day and night, Carlo plays Erik, a diligent and dedicated law student who wants to succeed for himself and his family. Aside from being a loving son, he's also the voice of reason in an otherwise unruly band of brothers just trying to get out of the halls of a strict and highly traditional academic institution. He might not be the smartest pupil in his class, but it only makes you root for him even more.
8. Meet Me In St. Gallen (2018)
In this movie, he plays Jesse, a boy who could only be with a girl named Celeste for a day. Think of it this way: He, along with co-star Bela Padilla, had to cram a lifetime's worth of relationship fantasies and activities in just one day. Though their characters have known each other for only 24 hours, it makes you believe in the possibility and potential they have together. It's not advisable in real life, but Carlo's sweet and endearing performance allows you to indulge in the fantasy.
9. Death March (2013)
The charming actor might have the makings of a would-be boyfriend or a friendly neighbor, but he's also got the acting chops to execute more serious roles. The documentary chronicles the torture and challenges encountered during the Bataan Death March, which is an important part of our country's history. Here, Carlo plays a soldier desperate to survive inhumane conditions and succeed against the Japanese.
10. Isa Pa, With Feelings (2019)
If you take a quick look at Carlo's filmography, you'll see that he's played a boy at every age, and has fallen on almost all points on the spectrum of morality. Young or mature, good or bad, it seems he's done it all, but it looks like Carlo is still taking on roles he hasn't tried yet: Isa Pa, With Feelings features him as Gali, a deaf man who teaches deaf kids. It's not only his role that's different, but he's also starring alongside Maine Mendoza of AlDub fame, whom he has never worked with before. Still enchanting and endearing, Carlo does something very few modern actors have managed to do: Act impeccably without the use of words.