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.")

Loading...

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.

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

  • Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute
    Back-channel diplomacy pushed for Phl-China dispute

    The Philippines should consider backchannel diplomacy to prevent its territorial dispute with China from deteriorating further, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said yesterday. There are a lot of Filipino businessmen with businesses in China and they have friends and connections there. Let’s utilize that, ask them to talk to their friends on how we can resolve this matter peacefully,” Marcos said. …

  • Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims
    Phl, Japan to deepen ties amid China sea claims

    Japan and the Philippines are set to bolster security ties when President Benigno Aquino visits Tokyo next week, the latest move by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to beef up cooperation with Southeast Asian nations facing China’s growing naval ambitions. The two sides will likely agree to start talks on a framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology and to discuss a possible pact on the status of Japanese military personnel visiting the Philippines to facilitate joint training and …

  • Phl, Vietnam troops play soccer on disputed isle
    Phl, Vietnam troops play soccer on disputed isle

    Vietnamese and Philippine troops played soccer and sang karaoke on a South China Sea island yesterday in a sign of the growing security ties between the two Southeast Asian nations most at odds with Beijing over the contested waterway. Cooperation has blossomed between Hanoi and Manila since they shelved decades of enmity over their competing claims in the Spratly archipelago to try to counter China, whose creation of artificial islands in the region will allow it to project power deep into …

  • Noy swears in 50 newly appointed AFP officers
    Noy swears in 50 newly appointed AFP officers

    President Aquino administered yesterday the oath taking of 50 newly appointed generals and officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a simple ceremony at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace. …

  • Taiwan’s peace call on claimants of disputed territories welcomed
    Taiwan’s peace call on claimants of disputed territories welcomed

    The US on Tuesday welcomed Taiwan’s call on all claimants to disputed shoals, reefs, rocks and islets in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea to exercise restraint, refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions, as well as to respect international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “With regard to the maritime claims and the claims to sovereignty over land features in the South China Sea, our position is that maritime claims must …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options