The Inbox

Behind a good actor, an excellent mentor

Labalan with Aunor in Himala

By Pablo A. TarimanVERA Files

IF the proliferation of teleseryes in the three leading TV networks is of any indication, they confirm the observation that there is a big market for budding but good, sensitive actors.

As it is, mere good looks no longer count. These days, new discoveries are required to undergo acting workshops to make sure they do well on the boob tube.

For now, acting workshops are the order of the day and one such veteran of the trade is character-actress Vangie Labalan who was the mother of Nora Aunor in the CNN Movie of the Decade, Himala, and megged by National Artist for Film, Ishmael Bernal. She was also the desperate female prisoner in Marilou Diaz-Abaya's Alyas Baby Tsina; the food vendor in Lino Brocka's Miguelito: Ang Batang Rebelde; and the mother of a hermaphrodite in Chito Roño's Curacha, among others. "I started as a radio talent in Bacolod in 1962," she says. "At that time, radio was big time because television had yet to lord over broadcast media."

Labalan has logged 50 years in the business of training young talents starting from his voice workshops in Bacolod where good talents end up in radio dramas and commercials.

She is now one of the lecturers in the ABSCBN acting workshop which will commence in October. On top of these, she conducts workshops with small groups or even on a one-to-one basis. "I continue to rediscover the joy of teaching," says Vangie who was born Maria Cristina Labalan in Bacolod City some 60-or so-years ago. "When I see those young faces listening and believing in you, I feel pure joy. In my time, I had to learn acting my own way. There were no acting workshops in the '60s when I started as a radio drama talent."

Angel Locsin and Vangie LabalanLabalan was supervising the dubbing of the film "Aliw" when Bernal saw the natural actress in her "I owe so much to Bernal whom I consider my mentor and discoverer. I cannot forget how proud he was of me when he watched Abbo dela Cruz's Misteryo sa Tuwa. He told me when we met at the CCP for the 'Misteryo…' screening, 'Do not forget Vangie Labalan that I discovered you.'"

She stayed on the set of "Himala" even after all her scenes were shot to — in her own words — watch and absorb the art of Ishmael Bernal.  "When you come from radio and straight into a big film with veteran actors, it took some time to learn their language and their mind-set. They were talking about motivations in acting and I realized the stage actors were so good at their craft they were very confident. But what I did in Himala all came from pure instinct and common sense," she recalled.

"Acting for me is capturing what you see and observe. So as I did that scene by the tree and simply absorbed my surrounding and I added some dialogue to make the moment real. Luckily, my interpretation got the approval of Direk Bernal. Lahat na gawin ko tumatama and exactly what the director wanted," she shared that unforgettable moment.

Her voice and acting talent was also put to use in the infomercials of Lino Brocka and later in the films of Marilou Diaz-Abaya.

"Direk Abaya entrusted me to supervise dubbings of her movies at a time when dubbing supervisors were not yet around. She is a very generous teacher. She imparts to us her knowledge o n film at every opportunity she gets. I think so much of what I teach I got from her and from her good friend, Ishmael Bernal."

Others who availed of her services include Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon,  Tony Reyes and William Leary  of Viva Films. "Mr. Leary assigned me to train the then unknown Rostum Padilla (now BB Gandanghari) I also trained the sensational child singer from Cebu now known as Vina Morales.  I also coached the then newly discovered  Timmy Cruz, Bing Loyzaga and Cherie Pie Picache. I also conducted a workshop for Chito Rono's handsome teeners where where one of them told raw stories of his naughty stints in Quiapo as black sheep. His name is Jay Manalo."

Labalan coachingFor her regular workshops, Labalan usually prepares a comprehensive syllabus including acting exercises. But there are also cases when she has to do rush coaching jobs for new discoveries about to appear in new TV projects.

"One who conducts acting workshops should at least be good actors as well. It is important to really know what you teach. This is where you learn many things and UN-learn many things as well. In this acting laboratory, you get to be criticized and discover what will work or not work in acting. But attending an acting workshop is not a guarantee you will get work at once. You have to work hard for that as well," Labalan opines.

Thus far, Labalan's show biz years had been very rewarding.

"I'd like to think that the best teachers in acting are your basic instinct and you hone that by observing the good practitioners in the trade. Talent plus good experience will get you far. My role is basically to inspire and hone young talents. Even for veteran actors, there is always something new to learn by attending refresher acting workshops."

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …

  • Filipinos are saving more – BSP survey

    More Filipinos have the extra cash to save for that proverbial rainy day, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP). Based on a quarterly survey on consumer confidence, domestic households with savings have the means to increase family reserves and to bring up the amount to historical highs. The central bank said improved family income, a generally positive outlook on the economy, inflation and foreign exchange rates encouraged saving behavior during the first three months of 2015. …

  • AXA Philippines growing alongside its parent firm

    Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corp. is growing side by side with its parent firm, global insurance firm AXA, after posting significant growth in its total premium income amid an increasing market share in the country. A statement showed that in the Philippines, multi-billion firm AXA Group saw P18.35 billion in total premium income. The local entity of AXA, AXA Philippines is a joint venture between AXA Group and the Metrobank Group. In 2014, it saw an increase in market share to 11.6 …

  • End to traffic jam in sight? Japan to lend P4B to PHL for road projects

    The Japanese government will be providing some P4 billion to the Philippines for road projects aimed at decongesting monstrous jams in Metro Manila.Noriaki Niwa, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the loan will cover major interchanges to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila, including flyovers, and road links.Among them are the interchanges on EDSA-Roosevelt/Congressional, EDSA-West/North, and C-5-Green Meadows and North/Mindanao Avenue. ... …

  • US won’t provide flexibility for countries interested in TPP

    Washington D.C.—The US government will not provide any flexibility for potential member countries, like the Philippines, in their bid to become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a senior official said. Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary William E. Craft, Jr., said all restrictions stated under the TPP trade deal will be maintained and have to be met by the current and future member countries. Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options