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Zoomin with Jomari

I was eating by myself right before a hosting gig in Cebu when a handsome guy went up to me and said, “A beautiful lady should never eat breakfast alone.”

It was Jomari Yllana!

JOMARI YLLANA

JOMARI YLLANA

Suddenly, a group of foreigners approached us, asking if we’re celebrities. It turned out everyone was looking at us at that moment.

Jomari told the foreigners I was “The Oprah Winfrey of the Philippines.” Without missing a beat, I quipped “And he is the Brad Pitt of the Philippines.”

Later, Jomari would tell me, “How I wished you said Paul Newman, Giselle.” I didn’t get it then but after research, I learned Paul is not considered among the greatest actors of his generation, but he is a successful celebrity racer as well.

Paul finished second overall in the 1979 Le Mans, then won four SCCA championships between 1979 and 1986. In 2006, he became the oldest driver, at 81, to start the Rolex 24.

Of course, we all know that apart from being an actor of note, Jomari is also into racing. Asked when he got into it, he told me, “Have you watched ‘Fast And The Furious?’ Here in the Philippines, we also had illegal races, particularly in the 90’s, specifically in Greenhills and White Plains. I competed in those races.”

He added, “I was very young then but I kept winning. Then a guy from a Japanese company spotted me and offered to train me for legitimate Tour Car races.”

But then he got in an accident.

“I totally wrecked a car in a race,” Jomari recalled. “It was then I said goodbye to the sport. I got scared for my family.”

But you just can’t say goodbye to something you’re passionate about that easy, I said.JOMA2

“That’s why I started racing again,” Jomari retorted. “And last 2014, I finished second in the Grand Touring Car Championships held at the Batangas Racing Circuit in Rosario, Batangas.”

Jomari has since put up Yllana Racing, a place for racing enthusiasts to hone their skills.

“My advocacy is road safety. I don’t want anybody dying on the streets,” Jomari said. “I don’t want anybody getting into accidents. That’s why I put up Yllana Racing.”

Apart from acting and racing, Jomari is now busier than ever having won as councilor of Tambo, Parañaque.

“I have big hopes for my district. I can see Tambo being like Monaco and Macau (in that) both have a once-a-year racing tilt.

“I also see Tambo establishing its own film festival. Remember, Tambo is surrounded by great hotels like Solaire. It also has huge venues for entertainment like The Arena in Mall of Asia. Besides, our district is five minutes away from the airport, so it is so easy for everyone to travel to Tambo and not complain about Manila traffic.”