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Despite full plate, Elijah Canlas writes song in support of jeepneys

March 27 ------ Even while he is busy shooting for a biopic, taping for a daily teleserye, and recording songs for his upcoming EP, Elijah Canlas still has this to say to his supporters as some form of advice: “It’s OK to chill, sometimes. Life is not a race. It’s more like a marathon.” 


Elijah is currently working with Jodi Sta. Maria on a biopic on the late labor rights activist Edgar Jopson, with Katski Flores as director. He is also part of the action-drama series “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo” as Pablo, heir to the powerful Caballero clan. Only last Friday, the live performance version of his debut single, “Kilala Kita,” was released online. “My ultimate advice to people is that you shouldn’t feel too pressured to achieve everything that you want—or be able to help everyone you want to help—in the shortest amount of time. You have a lot of things to consider, and you have to be aware of what the impact of your actions are on the people you coexist with,” he began. “Just keep doing what you’re doing, be disciplined, put in the hard work, and be kind—it’s important to be kind because if you’re not, then you don’t deserve what you’re getting,” he told Inquirer Entertainment in a recent interview. 



For “Batang Quiapo,” Elijah grew a mustache and a goatee, as well as changed his hairstyle. He has also been wearing formal suits lately, and not the sweaters and jeans that people got used to seeing him in. He said the change was intentional in order to fully embrace the role of Pablo. “Changing my hair is actually my cheat code when it comes to making my characters. If you watch all the projects I’ve done in the past, none of them have the same hairstyle. This time, I went for the mafia-inspired look. Pablo is vain. He is conceited and cares about how well he looks,” he explained. Elijah said that when he sat down with Coco Martin—who stars, produces and directs the show—the latter explained to him that Pablo is much older than Elijah’s actual age. “The team is still asking me to gain more weight, and because the show is ongoing, I still have the chance to catch up in terms of that aspect,” said Elijah. 


During our interview, Elijah had to shave the goatee because he had just come from the shooting of “Edjop” in Mindoro. He couldn’t say much about the movie, except that it’s “dangerous,” “controversial” and “very confidential.” “I can say this as much, though—I first got offered to play the young Edjop in September last year. I requested for the full script before I agreed to join the project. After I read it, I asked my director, ‘Can I play the old Edjop, too? I know I look young, but I will work on it. I will try to age.’ They thought about it, but eventually turned me down,” Elijah recalled. “I guess they were having a hard time casting someone because it’s not just a controversial and dangerous project for some, but also a story about love, family, fatherhood and about principles and patriotism.” 


He continued: “They suggested for me to do a screen test, so I showed up sometime in November with makeup and everything. I passed the test by Direk Katski and Edjop’s daughter herself, Ms. Joyette, who is producing the film. I know that the teaser left everyone hanging, but I’m afraid to talk more about the story. Of course, it’s a story about Edjop, but also about his daughter. Ms. Jodi plays Joyette Jopson, so technically, she’s my daughter in this movie. That sounds really crazy, but I’m honored to work with her.” 


Elijah recently signed a record deal with Universal Music Group Philippines under Island Records. Only a few know that the 23-year-old artist can sing, rap and write songs. In fact, he wrote all the songs in his upcoming six-track EP. “Going into it, I just told myself that I want to make music. I made a playlist of my favorites and sent it to my producer so he’d know my taste in music and the kind of music I want to make. I’m leaning toward hip-hop and R&B,” Elijah said. 


Weird process 

“Everything came out naturally. I wrote based on personal experiences and beliefs. The six songs in this EP are all very personal to me. I wrote down what was going on in my mind. It’s a weird process because, as an actor, you’re portraying characters, but in music, you’re your own character. That’s you expressing and showing yourself to the world, and I hope it’s working out.” 


The official lyric video of “Kilala Kita,” the first song he ever wrote, was released in 2023, while the live performance version debuted on March 22. “We shot it with a live band, with horns, guitars and drums, and a live DJ set. I performed it inside a jeepney, because ‘Kilala Kita’ was very nostalgic for me in terms of how I used to commute as a student in Cavite. At the same time, I wanted to push the concept of performing this inside a jeep as a way to say I’m against PUV (public utility vehicle) phaseout,” he pointed out. 




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