Our CDO personalities for this week are selected members of our theater group Oro Teatro Bulawanon.

One of the advocacies of our theater group, Oro Teatro Bulawanon, is to help promote local theater artists by providing a platform for learning, growth, and exposure. Before the pandemic, we had annual shows in support of the movement to stop violence among women and girls, although we embrace all genders in our performances as part of our advocacy to help artists. We’ve also had performances focused on raising HIV and AIDS awareness, and we’ve staged two original plays by Kagay-anon authors.

Last year, OTB artists didn’t get the opportunity to showcase their thespian skills and promote our advocacies because of COVID-19 restrictions. Three shows we were excited to work on were canceled. Since then, we’ve been trying to come up with alternative ways to continue our advocacies and performances.

In January this year, we finally came up with the idea of creating a video presentation that will feature original monologues and stories written by some of our members and friends who’ve supported us through the years. I spent one night conceptualizing the script and finalized everything after consulting with our writers’ pool. We decided to combine music, dance, and monologues in one video. So, Stories From the Heart was born.

Shooting the Video

Writing the script was easier than shooting the video because we had to be mindful of the restrictions and health and safety protocols. Luckily, our friends from Centrio Cinema had a good and safe venue for us. So, we shot the entire video on March 06 in a matter of six hours.

I am grateful to all the OTB artists who took the challenge and the risk to help give life to the stories. While we included only excerpts of the monologues, they still had to work doubly hard for their performances. We used to have two to three months of rehearsals per show and worked on the pre-production requirements even before rehearsals started. However, for Stories From the Heart, we had one day to do everything: rehearse, set up the scenes, practice the shots, and shoot.

As a tribute to all Stories From the Heart artists, I decided to come up with this special feature. I want Kagay-anons to get to know them. I want them to give them the spotlight for all their hard work and dedication to their craft. I want people to be inspired by these artists.

GTKY: Getting to Know the OTB Stories From the Heart Artists (Part 1)

To keep up with this blog’s CDO Personalities concept, I asked each of the performers to answer some questions. Hopefully, you’ll all get to know a little bit about them through their answers.

KALE ALPHE “BOM” RAMOS

Bom Ramos

1. How were you as a child? Were you already into the arts (theater/music/dance/visual arts)?

Dance has always been my first love. I remember back in grade school, I’d always perform during the christmas parties or programs in school. Even during summer vacations, my cousins and I would learn dances to perform or just for the fun of it. I also joined the drum and lyre club as a band majorette. Although I never got any formal training for dance, I was fortunate to have been a member of my high school’s dance troupe and the drum and lyre club. This love of dance continued on to college, with me forming a dance group with friends and we’d perform during the General Assemblies of some of the colleges/departments.I also choreographed a full show commemorating the 100 years of Phil Independence (we called the show SIGLO) back in college.

2. Did you always want to be an artist?

My mother says she was fascinated with ballets and dance when she was pregnant with me. So I guess that was implanted in me. hehe

3. What (and when) was your first major project? The one that first put you in the spotlight?

The show SIGLO was my first major project, as a dancer/performer/choreographer.

4. What’s your favorite/What are your favorite works?

My favorite work is A Chorus Line and Sheryl Murakami’s treatment of The Weeknd’s Earned It. Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Melancholy Woman by Picasso are also favorites. 

5. What is your dream role or project?

My dream role would be any one (or all haha) of the Six Murderesses in Chicago. I also dream of playing Lady Macbeth.

6. Who is Bom the person (not the artist)?

I am a solitary person, preferring my own company most of the time. I enjoy being with friends sometimes, but I am quite content being in the background. I’m terrible at small talk and I don’t like being patronized. I cherish a select group of friends and I keep my professional and personal life separate.

7. What are your hobbies? Are you into Sports?

My hobbies are reading and watching movies. The only sport I enjoy is running because it allows me to be with myself and my thoughts. I’ve done a lot of introspection during my runs.

8. Who are the artists you look up to?

My  dance/choreo idols are Parris Goebel and Galen Hooks; Bob Fosse too.

9. Do you follow a routine when you act/perform? What about specific brands or items you prefer to use?

I always start with visualizing my performance itself, how it would look and sound. I focus first on memorizing my lines, then when I get the hang of it, I would think of several ways how to treat the role or piece.

10. How are you coping with the Covid-19 new normal?

When the pandemic hit, I was kept busy with work and that was enough for a time. But when my work routine set in, I began to look for things to occupy my time and began to  pay attention to the free shows and readings being aired online. I was able to watch/re-watch shows like Cats, Kinky Boots, AHEB and listen to Neil Gaiman’s Coraline and more. There’s this one artist who got me through the most during the pandemic, Ryuichi Matsuoka. He’s an abstract painter and visual artist from Japan and his pieces impress me so much. Knowing and befriending him also opened my world to other artists and artisans from Asia, but most specially Japan. Ykhurat! has also been playing a regular trivia night among ourselves (virtually, of course).

11. What message would you like to impart to aspiring artists, especially in these difficult times?

For all aspiring artists, don’t invalidate your fear and anxiety. Don’t be emotionally blackmailed to being positive all the time. Those emotions and experiences are real and valid. Acknowledge it. Embrace it. Let it have its place. However, don’t let it rule over you. It has its place, and that is where it should stay. Learn from it. Mine it for the gems that could improve your craft. Draw from it the sensations and emotions that will feed and enhance your performance. 

CHRISTY CADAG BACOTO

Christy Bacoto

1. How were you as a child? Were you already into the arts (theater/music/dance/visual arts)?

I was very pensive child. Spent my years thinking about life – like really! I was a very weird kid. Arts were of the doodle variety. Found it fascinating but there weren’t a lot of opportunities for exposure.

2. Did you always want to be an artist?

I wanted to be a lot things when I was a kid. Being an artist wasn’t one of them though. I didn’t think I had the capacity for it. I do remember being very enthralled with ballet dancers and wishing I could sing half as good as those in broadway.

3. What (and when) was your first major project? The one that first put you in the spotlight?

2015, I think. For The Vagina Monologues. I was already working at the time. Prior that, I was always the one behind the curtains. Who would have thought? haha

4. What’s your favorite/What are your favorite works? –

Les Miserables!!!

5. What is your dream role or project?

I don’t know how to answer this question. hahahaha! It’s always an adventure, whatever the role I’m given. I don’t have a dream role yet, to be honest. I just really enjoy every opportunity I get at this time in my life. Guess I haven’t gotten over the “I can’t believe I’m doing this” phase. LOL

6. Who is (your name) the person (not the artist)?

I’ll get back to this question later. Or not. #IdentityCrisis! hahahaha!

7. What are your hobbies? Are you into Sports?

My hobbies are all over the place. 😃 I like arts and crafts probably because I’ve always thought of myself as a frustrated artist. Recently, I’m into resin crafts. As for sports, I like martial arts. Karate-do is my first love. I’ve also tried taekwondo, krav maga, and arnis.

8. Who are the artists you look up to?

Oooooh, too many to mention. Classic is Lea Salonga. But a fond memory I have is Anne Hathaway when she sang in Ella Enchanted. hihi

9. Do you follow a routine when you act/perform? What about specific brands or items you prefer to use?

Hmm… I don’t think so. It varies depending on the role and the jitters, if that makes sense. But after every performance, that green Sanicare wet wipes is my best friend. HAHAHA

10. How are you coping with the Covid-19 new normal?

New hobbies came into the picture. I like to be kept busy. hehe

11. What are your plans post-Covid-19?

Will post-Covid ever happen though? LOL

12. What message would you like to impart to aspiring artists, especially in these difficult times?

Lavern lang. Lab yu. haha 😃 It’s sad that a lot of our plans had to be put on hold. But it’s fine. The thing with the arts is that everything is a learning experience. Whatever you are experiencing right now, whatever you are feeling, just let it be. Feel it. Embrace it and let it become a part of you. Then, let it go. You’ll be able to use that sooner or later in your craft.

CHRISTY MARIE ABONIAWAN

Christy Aboniawan

1. How were you as a child? Were you already into the arts (theater/music/dance/visual arts)?

I grew up with so much love for music, thanks to my father who’s always been such a huge influence on me. I also really liked singing as a child, though I really didn’t take it seriously because I didn’t think I was talented in that aspect. I used to dance and choreograph a lot (I wanna cringe so hard but this is true), too when I was younger, but didn’t really put in much effort to improve my skills so I eventually outgrew dancing.

2. Did you always want to be an artist?

Since I was young, people have always been telling me how much I suit being an artist. I didn’t really think much about it and just thought that I enjoyed being onstage whenever I got the chance. But as a child, I’ve leaned more on my academics and envisioned myself as a doctor because my father used to work in the hospital and I grew up basically being surrounded by people in the medical field.

3. What (and when) was your first major project? The one that first put you in the spotlight?

I think my first major project as a theater actress was in 2019, when I first joined in ‘The Vagina Monologues’. I have little to no experience in theater prior to joining the Arts & Design Track so I really consider this as my first major project as a theater actress. Being on the stage not because of academic compliance really brought about feelings of fulfillment and joy.

4. What’s your favorite/What are your favorite works?

Manilla will always be one of my favorite plays and will always have a special place in my heart. I am such a fan of Clariza Gamba’s works and being one of the people who were there to make it happen is such a huge honor. I also really love ‘Ang Paglaya’, a play written and directed by Ma’am Maia Poblete (one of my favorite mentors) in which I was first cast with a major role.

Though I rarely share my own works publicly, I also have my personal favorites from them. I wrote songs for the play ‘Manilla’ and it was the first time I ever showcased my songwriting capabilities since I enrolled in our track. I think I kind of have a love/hate relationship with all the songs I’ve written for that play because it was my first time writing so many songs in Filipino and I was so unsure of my skills back then because I’ve stopped writing songs for almost two years. I was so happy I got to do it again.

5. What is your dream role or project?

People are so different and at the same time alike. It’s so interesting to get to know, understand, and be in another person’s shoes through the power of acting —that’s why I’m eager to try so many roles! But if I am to specify something I want to try soon, it would be someone who’s colder and who expresses less than others. I think that would be a hard role to pull off, considering theater is all about exaggeration. And I also haven’t tried a role like this before because all the roles I’ve played so far are super emotional and expressive (which I think are the polar opposite of me)!

I also dream of staging an original play written by myself when the time comes. It would be so cool to have that chance!

6. Who is Christy the person (not the artist)?

I’m not sure how to answer this question, but I guess Christy as a person is more reserved, and less expressive compared to Christy as an artist. And Christy the artist cries way too much compared to Christy the person (LMAO 😂)!

7. What are your hobbies? Are you into Sports?

Taking photos, listening to music, writing songs, playing guitar, binge-watching anime and TV series, reading mangas, manhwas and others, daydreaming, overthinking (I’m not kidding!), talking to myself, lying in bed all day, annoying our pets, and many more… I have a really short attention span, so I can never have a constant hobby in my life.

When quarantine happened, I started writing, too. Making poems, scripts, and many more. And sports! I used to play futsal/soccer way back my junior high school days, but I wasn’t that good! 😂

8. Who are the artists you look up to?

I’m not really good at naming people when asked this question because I look up and get inspiration from so many of them. If I have to name some, I have to say, one of the local artists of this generation that I look up to a lot is Nadine Lustre. Her artistry and mindset are worth emulating. She is a woman with so much substance and talent.

I also look up to musicians like Ryan Cayabyab, who makes timeless music. There are also international personalities I really respect like Hayley Williams and her band Paramore, Christina Grimmie, and Seventeen!

9. Do you follow a routine when you act/perform? What about specific brands or items you prefer to use?

I don’t have any specific routines ’cause what you feel before you step on stage is different each time, so it depends. But I always try my best to speak to myself and give positive affirmations before I perform.

I also speak to Him before anything else.

And I recommend Lola Remedios for sleep and rest-deprived artists like me. It’s the best!

10. How are you coping with the Covid-19 new normal?

Should I answer this honestly? Lol! I’m conflicted! 😂 But honestly, it’s been hard for me. I think it has been for all of us, though. I’m still trying to get used to this strange way of living. I’m doing my best, I guess. I’ve been trying to do different things to cater to my lack of attention span.

11. What are your plans post-Covid-19?

Travel, travel, and travel! Praying and manifesting for it!

12. What message would you like to impart to aspiring artists, especially in these difficult times?

Practice your craft. Don’t let negative circumstances stop you from growing and improving your artistry. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be better! Better in your craft and better than the artist that you were yesterday. Practice never betrays and efforts always pay off. Do not rush! Small progress is still progress, okay?! Keep yourself grounded and never forget the reason why you started. You have people who appreciate your art; do it for them and do it for yourself! I am rooting for you!

JOHN TEVES

John Teves

1. How were you as a child? Were you already into the arts (theater/music/dance/visual arts)?

I was a very imaginative kid. I spent a lot of time watching Disney movies. Then later, I found out that I was really into acting out the iconic scenes in the movies I watched as a kid, and since then, I have been into the arts and acting in general.

2. Did you always want to be an artist?

Not really, but what made me consider it was being nominated in the POPCOM 2017 filmmaking contest as one of the best supporting actors.

3. What (and when) was your first major project? The one that first put you in the spotlight?

POPCOM FILM MAKING CONTEST 2017. I played a supporting character, and my performance got me nominated for best supporting actor.

4. What’s your favorite/What are your favorite works?

My favorite was the time I performed one of the original monologues in LIMA PAGHANDURAW, a show where we shared stories of people with HIV and AIDS – and their journey to discovery and acceptance as well.

5. What is your dream role or project?

I dream of having a lead role in a musical someday (I am a big fan of musicals).

6. Who is John the person (not the artist)?

Well, I am just your average guy who loves to live in the moment.

7. What are your hobbies? Are you into Sports?

I love writing and reading stories. I also love videogames and anime. I played sports in high school.

8. Who are the artists you look up to?

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Daniel Deegs, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, and Benn Platt

9. How are you coping with the Covid-19 new normal?

I tend to just roll with the changes though I must admit, it’s really hard, but I seem to get by somehow.

10. What are your plans post-Covid-19?

I plan to join more plays and projects, and hopefully, go abroad for a vacation.

11. What message would you like to impart to aspiring artists, especially in these difficult times?

Keep moving forward! No matter what obstacles you are facing, never falter! Everything is achievable through hard work.

That’s it for the 1st batch. Part 2 will be published next week.

(Photos by Christy Aboniawan, John Teves, and Prince Jul Dao-ayan)

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