Jason Godfrey is one of those multihyphenates you’d love to hate. He models, hosts TV shows, acts and writes. Plus, he has abs.
“That’s the problem when you’re so talented,” Godfrey says with a sigh. “The problem is I do all those things, but none of them well.”
You need only a few seconds to know that Jason is a comic. He also does the deadpan thing quite well, as we discover when we ask him about “Mata Mata,” a period drama TV show where he’s one of the stars. “Yes. ‘Mata Mata.’ Eye eye. I play Henry Wrigley. He’s an eye doctor and he solves crimes by looking at people’s eyes because he’s an eye doctor. We do these interrogation scenes where I’m looking people in the eye … did you believe that?” he asks as we take down notes. “No, I’m not an eye doctor,” he says, laughing. “It’s a police show about the first female officers in Singapore and I’m the guy who heads the operation, so the women all come to me for advice and stuff. It’s like being married to 15 women and they all don’t listen to me.”
Big smile, no teeth
Jason, a Filipino-Canadian, first visited the Philippines in 2005 when he was modeling. “I lived here for four months, in Makati. Ate at Italianni’s and Cyma. That’s when I got my love for Cyma. I love Cyma,” says Jason.
Modeling is a huge part of Jason’s life. Even his social network handle is modeling-related. We ask him why he calls himself “bigsmilenoteeth” on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. “When I was modeling, ‘big smile, no teeth’ was something that people would always ask me to do,” he explains.
Did they have an issue with his teeth? Jason scowls and bares his pearly whites. “You think there’s something wrong with my teeth? When you model too long, your muscles get overdeveloped when you’re smiling all the time. I think, sometimes, when I smile too big, it looks grotesque.”
Does the Philippines look different to him now from how it did eight years ago? “I hadn’t noticed it change that much. What I did notice is that when we went back to Coron—I went to Coron in 2005—it was like this little fishing village and it was awesome. There was no one around, and you get to do all these things where you really feel like you’re on the frontier of doing things that no one else has; it just felt really authentic,” he says.
“When we went back this year, obviously Coron was still beautiful, but it’s more developed, which is good for the local people,” he adds. “Obviously they’re earning more money. From a tourist’s point of view, you’re almost selfish because you want it to be this little fishing village that only you knew about.”
Travel show for local tourism
Jason has been going around the country because he’s the host of “Ten,” a travel show that seeks to generate interest for local tourism. The show is also the first locally produced show to be picked up by AXN Asia for distribution. It is called “Ten” because the producers want to show things that give the Philippines a perfect 10 rating.
“When I first went to Coron, I went there to dive,” says Jason. “I wasn’t prepared for how good it was going to be, and it actually destroyed diving for me. I didn’t really dive for the next five years because Coron was too good. It was like ‘The Dark Knight.’ I didn’t watch movies after ‘The Dark Knight.’ Coron is ‘The Dark Knight’ of diving.”
So, were there misconceptions about the country that Jason discovered while doing “Ten”?
“Now I have misconceptions because of the show. I think I was blown away by what the crew eats—they were on a constant pork diet,” he says. Director Ronald Rillo interjects, “We were in the province!”
Jason adds, with a laugh: “Exactly. We were in the province, that’s why I thought there must be some beautiful vegetables out there. The few times the side dish was pork skin; it was like, ‘Here’s your main dish with pork.’ And I’d go, ‘Do you have any sides?’ And they’d give me pork skin. My God, I’m not even a healthy-eating guy, I just needed something green. I was all porked out and I love pork, but man, it was pork 25 days straight!”
Did he have to do anything crazy on the show?
“The merman thing,” he says. “It wasn’t really crazy, but the pictures were crazy.”
We ask him if he needed tape in the merman scene. “Like, tape my genitals? What? No! Why would I tape my genitals?”
For authenticity, we answer. Fish doesn’t really have stuff down there.
“Oh God, I don’t think there were closeups of my crotch. I’m so glad these are the questions you wanna know answers to,” Jason says with a frown.
He points out that he became a travel bug after hopping from country to country as a model. He thought he might as well go around more to explore the places he’s been to.
Crappy but more interesting
What type of traveler is Jason Godfrey? “I’m a cheap bastard traveler,” he says. “I’m the cheapest traveler known to man. I’ve slept on pavement, although, to tell you the truth, that was when I was so much younger. I don’t know if I could do that now. But I’m still pretty cheap. I think that when you’re traveling, it’s great to go cheap, not just because of money, but I think that’s when you get really interesting experiences.”
He explains: “Because if you stay in a five-star resort all the time, they’re all pretty much the same. One hotel room is generic, so you get a generic experience. Yeah, OK, it’s great, it’s comfortable. But you’ll remember reading a book under mosquito netting, and you look up and there’s a cockroach on your book. It’s bad but you’ll remember that, right?
“It’s something that you’ll laugh about, when you stay in a hut where everything crawls through it at night, and you wake up and there’s rats eating your food out of your bag. Yeah, it’s a crappy experience, but it’s an experience.
“I like traveling third-class on a train with a chicken sitting underneath my seat, and all cramped up and sweating like a maniac. I don’t like it, but it’s more fun, it’s more
We wonder what place is that where cockroaches like to read, too, but we never got around to ask Jason because our time was up.
“Ten” airs first and exclusively on AXN Asia on Sept. 5 at 7:15 pm.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.