10 questions, 10 minutes with Jason Godfrey

Peter Imbong
Filipino-Canadian model now hosts new travel show about the Philippines

MERMAN. Jason hams it up on the beach. Photos courtesy of AXN Asia

MANILA, Philippines – A few weeks ago at the height of the monsoon rains, a bizarre photo was making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter alongside those of smiling Filipinos wading through murky, waist-deep floods.

It featured a half-naked guy lying on a white sandy beach wearing a rather fetching vibrant mermaid’s tail.

The guy is Filipino-Canadian model Jason Godfrey. And the photo, as it turns out, was just one among many bizarre things the host has done on his new travel show, “TEN,” which airs September and showcases the best of the Philippines as seen through the eyes of the self-deprecating and snarky Godfrey.

“They [the producers and director] try to keep me away from stuff that I’m good at because they don’t want me to look competent,” he explains.

The photo is but a taste of the many absurd and ridiculous things he’s done on the show. We sit down with the halfie and find out what other stupid things he’s done for the sake of the audience – or his director.

Do you think you’re funny? Because I get this impression – like the rest of the world – that Canadians are boring.

I think I have the ability to be humiliated and keep going. I think that’s my super power. And that’s what I’ve learned from modeling: modeling has stripped me of my dignity. And it’s actually not the big things that make you snap; it’s lots of little things. And that’s what modeling is like: it’s dignity-stripping.

Really? I would’ve thought that if one had the guts to pose naked or partly naked – as you’ve done several times before – in front of strangers, in exchange for money, you had to have this insane amount of self-esteem. Is this not true?

Haven’t you ever seen models? They have no dignity. Those guys? They’ve got nothing anymore. They’re just shells, husks of their former selves. That’s it. That’s all they are. Hollowed out.

And when did your journey toward becoming an empty piece of your former self begin?

I’ve been a model for a long time now – for 17 years. (Expletive.) The first time I did it was in Toronto, Canada. Then I modeled my way through university, as one does. Then I traveled mostly in Asia. I went to Europe, South Africa, and Australia and did stints there. But because I’m half-Asian, work was always better for me in Asia. I was always going to Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong.

So do you like this hosting gig more?

Yeah. This job is substantially better.

READ: Anne Curtis to have E! News Asia Special’

The first season of the show has 6 episodes and has you traveling around the Philippines showcasing 10 things about each region. How long did it take you to film the whole season?

About 6 years. It was a long shoot process. Other shows do 3 or 4 takes; we would do 600 takes. (“No, we shot it from January to March of this year,” interrupts director and producer Ronald Rillo.) My story was better though.

A BETTER GIG. New travel show is also a kind of homecoming for the host

I’m guessing that wasn’t the first time you visited the Philippines.

My first trip here was in 2005. I came to backpack here for two months. I went to Legazpi, Donsol, Puerto Galera, and Coron. I was supposed to come here for a wedding, as well. But my girlfriend at the time, her stupid passport was under 6 month’s validity, like one day under, and the airline wouldn’t let us on the flight. I got so angry that I picked up my bag and went, “Nooo!” and I threw it across the airport. It was ridiculous.

Speaking of ridiculous, which episode do you think people should watch out for? Preferably the one with the least amount of dignity.

Here’s the thing: people love the no-dignity stuff. If I post a picture on Facebook, it’ll get a hundred likes. Not very many. And – not to be vain – if it’s a photo of me and I’m smiling, it gets more. Maybe 200 to 300 likes. And that’s pretty much where it sits. When he (Ronald) posted the stupid merman photo, it got more than 1,300 likes.

Stop complaining. You get to travel for free.

I was definitely excited about it because you get to travel around the Philippines, do all this crazy stuff, and it got even more exciting after I realized what Ronald really wanted from me. When we started shooting and I saw the first edit of what he wanted, I was, ‘This is actually great.’ He’s got the same kind of sense of humor which is pretty ridiculous. I think the stuff is funny.  But we’ll see how viewers respond.

THE SAD, SERENE SEA. A moment of goodbye to all that, and recovering dignity

I just saw a preview of your Cebu episode. How was the trip?

In Cebu, they don’t have proper vans. They have vans for midgets. There’s like this much leg room. It was terrible. And there was no headrest. It’s a 4-hour trip and we’re all next to each other like sardines and our legs are like that. And I was like, “Oh, my God. My testicle’s asleep.”

Good to know. So what’s so different about this show?

I think the days of the travel show where you’re like, ‘Today I’m in Manila. Manila has a population of…’ Those travel shows are dead. They had their time. But I think now you need to show something unique, something they’ve never seen. Otherwise it’s just the same old thing.

And now that you’re hosting your own show, do you feel like you’ve got your dignity back?

No, I don’t think you ever get that back. I think modeling has taken that away from me for pretty much a long time. I don’t know if it’s ever coming back. – Rappler.com


‘TEN’ airs on Thursdays beginning September 5 at 7:15pm on AXN SkyCable channel 49, Cignal Digital channel 49, Dream Satellite channel 17, Cablelink channel 38, and GSat channel 12.

After starting out writing about business and entrepreneurship, Peter Imbong is now a full-time freelance writer covering lifestyle, fitness, travel, food, fashion, business, and entertainment – that last one he’s still trying to get a hang of. According to his most recent Myers-Briggs evaluation, he is an extrovert, sensing, thinking, and judging. View his published works at www.petertriestowrite.com, or follow him on Twitter @peterimbong

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