The problem with having the power to make people happy is it also comes with the power to make them unhappy. It’s safe to say Guidicelli’s parents and fans were none too pleased by his decision to join an intense training program with only the toughest special operations unit in the country.
Recently, Guidicelli completed an immersive 30-day training program with the Scout Rangers—a hardcore military unit trained in anti-guerilla warfare. Days started at 3:30 in the morning and included lugging 20 kilos of equipment on punishing noonday runs. A five-second dip in a canal was called a bath. Guidicelli mentions that he smelled so much like dog at some point, askals sniffed at him and didn’t bark. “You swim in the canal twice a day,” he says about a program that’s made grown men cry. “They let you get used to swimming and being in shit, you know, like conditions during wartime.”
Whatever wartime simulations Guidicelli went through turned very real a month ago when two suicide bombers connected to ISIS blew up a military camp in Sulu. A few days later, Guidicelli visited troops in the area. “[We] just talked to them to give them good morale,” he says. The troops were trained for moments like this, but a bomber exploding before their eyes and claiming three of their own was still liable to give them the shakes. “Their eyes were full of fear, and shock,” Matteo says, “alam mo ‘yon?”
Apart from ranger-in-training, Matteo also acted as peace ambassador, uplifting the lives of Muslim youth caught in the crossfire (and living what could, at best, be called tightrope days). “These guys are innocent people, these guys are the same as us. But they’re just there, trapped there, you know. So that’s what we do—we go to these places and we talk to them, give them encouragement.”
This all tied up nicely with Guidicelli’s boy-next-door image—until two weeks after the Sulu bombing and he posts a photo on social media—in the photo, he’s decked out in fatigues, saluting the flag with Robin Padilla. He also poses a now-notorious challenge to colleagues in the industry: “We challenge YOU, especially our colleagues in the showbiz industry. Instead of talking smack about different issues, why not unite so we may progress to be a better tomorrow. What do you think?”