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Summer passion.

It was actor Rafael Rosell's recent opinion on the country's local government that people started to take him seriously.

Who would have thought that an actor who is known for his looks and for showing off his ripped body would discuss the faults of Philippine democracy to a reporter at a press conference? But what surprised people the most is the fact that Rafael is not afraid of getting his opinions across.

In that particular interview, Rafael declared that he doesn't believe in the (political) system anymore. He said the current system in the country cannot be called a democracy if the people have no say in the issues and "it's all an illusion." He added that a new system should be put to place to change the "ego- and personal-driven organization" that is the government.

The fact that Rafael stands up for what he believes in, makes him look even "sexier" in his fans' eyes. Actually, he believes in a lot of stuff - from eating organic food to the use of alternative medicine to cure terminal diseases.

"I try to make people think kasi we live this life every day, where we just accept what is given to us. Imbes na i-question natin na bakit kaya ganun, let's make people think. That's what I do in my Instagram account. We all have the right to know and we cannot just accept and accept. 'Pag ganun, we just fall for everything," shares the model-actor.

And that's exactly what people did. A lot has also been said about that particular opinion on democracy. Many agreed with him, and a lot also had dissenting opinions. Unlike most actors that ignore their "bashers" online, Rafael welcomes them because he learns a lot. He likes to read and do his research (he has his "research day") so any opinion is welcome.

"I get good response. I get people to respond well. I get people to agree. I get people to disagree. I get people to bash me, which I appreciate the most kasi 'yung mga naga-agree naman sa akin, wala ka naman natutunan sa kanila. Pero the people who oppose me and tell me my viewpoints are BS, I learn something from them dahil I put myself in their perspective. I understand their frustration and I understand why they would bash me. It's difficult to digest truth," the 31-year-old Fil-Norwegian says.


Born in Stavanger, Norway to Filipino parents, all Rafael wanted to do was fly. When he was six years old, he watched the film "Superman" and he decided he wanted to fly like the superhero.

"Nung bata pa ako, I watched Superman and I really thought Superman could really fly until my mother told me, 'Hindi puwede lumipad ang mga tao.' 'Bakit sa TV lumilipad si Superman?' 'You just have to believe.' 'I asked, Why can't I fly?' 'You can fly if you believe hard enough but in the meantime, I'll let you know that you can fly on TV because of camera tricks.' Ever since, I wanted to be able to fly," he recalls.

It was his vacation to the Philippines in 2000 that pushed him closer to his dreams. Rafael began to work his way to achieve that dream through acting. He had to learn how to act before he can "fly" like a superhero. He did workshops and modeling, and was able to land in commercials and television shows that introduced him to the public.

It was in the television soap "Tabing Ilog" where Rafael debuted as an actor. From then on, he landed various projects including "Rounin" in 2007 where he was able to somehow live his dream to fly. The action-based series required martial arts - which Rafael was into - and the gravity-defying stunts took him off the ground.

"It took a long route to learning how to act and to eventually get a character that flies. I experienced this in 2007 nung ginawa ko 'yung "Rounin" under the direction of Erik Mati. Maraming martial arts scenes. Maraming eksena na parang lumilipad. I guess I also fulfilled my dream there," he shares.

Rafael is thankful for the continued success in his career. His current project, "The Borrowed Wife" on GMA-7, where he plays Rico Santos, a father and a husband, is a first for him.

"Since father role ang pino-portray ko dito sa 'The Borrowed Wife' I put myself in the shoes of my father. It's more male-driven, father figure I have in mind," Rafael says. "I had to do research kasi first time ko nga mag portray ng isang father from the get go. So hindi ko alam kung paano magkaroon ng ganun connection sa isang bata. I tried borrowing my friend's children and I took them out and inaalagan ko sila. I also tried using my other friend's pets."


One of the reasons why Rafael stands out from the rest is his toned body. Aside from doing the Brazilian martial art Capoiera, Rafael loves to surf. He learned surfing way back but it was only three years ago that he got hooked on the sport.

"I started surfing, three to four years ago. I was led there because of bad experiences sa relationship. I was looking for myself and feeling ko tinatawag ako ng dagat and at the same time nag pass away din ang grandfather ko. Ever since my element is water so I find myself sa dagat, at dun ko nahanap ang sarili ko. That's where I want to be, where I want to create myself to be a new person," he shares.

Rafael had been taking care of his body since he was a child. At eight years old, he would go to fitness centers to learn martial arts but he was too young to be given access. So he would go to their neighborhood playground and do his pull ups on the monkey bars and do karate by himself.

He also stayed fit by playing basketball and football. But keeping his fit body does not only require continuous physical activities but a healthy diet as well. He only eats organic food and buko. He encourages people, especially the young, to also lead a healthy lifestyle.

"I lead a healthy lifestyle although I do give in to junk food once in a while. I'm into organic, natural food, anything that has seen the sunlight. I go with the saying, 'What would Jesus eat?' So it's as natural as possible," he says.


Of all his advocacies, Rafael is most passionate about caring for the environment. A self-confessed "nature activist," Rafael plants trees in his spare time.

"I support 'yung mga tree planting events. I go out and plant trees myself. Para sa akin, you have to help nature so nature can help the people. I find it pleasing na if I plant a tree, someone will benefit from it 10 years from now. I'm more of a nature activist. I'm against pollution and the use of regular paper that come from trees," Rafael says.

Instead, he pushes for the use of hemp for paper.

"Stop cutting trees. Use an alternative way to make paper. There is an alternative plant that creates four times more fiber and actually takes carbon dioxide and produces it to oxygen more effectively. It's called hemp. We can use that but it has been badly propagated that people think its poison. People think that you can smoke that like marijuana but it actually produces four times more yield than trees. Henry Ford's first car is made out of hemp plastic na hindi nagbe-bend. It ran on hemp fuel!" he adds.

Rafael also advises people to use towels instead of tissue papers, to throw candy wrappers in trash bins, and to refrain from consuming food in fast food chains which produces tons of trash from their packaging alone.

While he may not consider getting a job behind the camera, Rafael says he would most likely become a farmer someday.

"I tried editing and directing shorts. It's fun pero if you ask me if I'm looking for a future behind the camera, I'm not so sure about that. But if you're asking me if I want a future in agriculture and farming, yes! I believe that in the future, the rich people will no longer be the people who know the stock market, and run businesses. At the rate we're going in health living, I think the rich people in the future are farmers," he says.


Rafael began with his dream to fly and now he works for the industry that can recreate that dream. But for him, it's not about the fame and fortune, it's about one's fulfillment.

"Everything is not about fame and fortune. There is more meaning in doing a role that teaches something than getting a lot of money and exposure from it. It can be a flop or offer na movie but if that movie fulfills you as a person then by all means do it. Deep inside your heart, you want to make art eh. If you're really into show business and you want the artistic side of it which is more fulfilling, then by all means go for what you want to do, not just what they tell you to do," Rafael ends.


Rafael Rosell

To keep fit, Rafael Rosell does a combination of Capoiera, surfing, daily workout, and healthy diet. (Denim shirt and khaki pants by Forever 21; green belt by Penshoppe)

Reading is what keeps Rafael busy during his free time. (Top by Forever 21; pants belt, accessories, and sneakers by Penshoppe)

One of Rafael's dream roles is a psychopath, a good challenge for a serious actor like him. (Printed top by Forever 21, belt and shorts by Penshoppe)

Rafael is passionate about the environment and he tries to keep the earth healthy by planting trees.
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Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Mar 5, 2014
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