Finding my way back home

I think I was in pre-school when I first fell in love with the performing arts. My mother was a Whitney Houston fan who would always play her cassette tapes at home, and I learned to sing most of her songs by listening to them over and over. I was in kindergarten when I joined my first singing contest–The Greatest Love of All, anyone?–and since then I’ve kind of found my way back on stage every so often, even when I’d transferred schools at thirteen. There were stage plays, dance competitions, instrumental performances, and everything else in between that made it so natural for me to be affiliated with anything connected to performing arts.

Being able to stand in front of an appreciative audience is, in itself, its own high. I remember being up there dancing, representing my school as a member of the St. Scholastica’s College High School Dance Club and feeling so inexplicably happy hearing people cheer wholeheartedly. It’s kind of addictive, actually, in that I recall feeling sad whenever I don’t get picked to perform for certain events because my skills weren’t at par with the others that were chosen. But after a while, I realized that working behind the scenes also had its perks and one need not be in the limelight all the time to feel fulfilled.

The first full-length play I wrote was when I was sixteen, and a high school senior. It was staged at the Little Theater of St. Scholastica's College Manila several months later. I was a college freshman by then, but the SSC Curtain Call (drama club) invited me to help direct the play as well as act as one of the characters.
The first full-length play I wrote was when I was sixteen, and a high school senior. It was staged at the Little Theater of St. Scholastica’s College Manila several months later. I was a college freshman by then, but the SSC Curtain Call (drama club) invited me to help direct the play as well as act as one of the characters.

Directing for stage is a very scary thing, especially when your background mostly involves writing. When you write something, it’s usually a journey you take alone–maybe together with a mentor or teacher, but still–but when you take on a task to direct something, that’s usually more complicated. You get to deal with real people, not just characters on paper or a Word document. Make no mistake about it: I get intimidated easily, especially with people whom I think are really good at what they do. And if you tell me that I have to give them directions for so-and-so thing, I’d most probably have a mini-freak out before I ever get to do something . . . but that usually happens in my head, so no one’s really seen it, I think.

My last directing stint was at last year's fundraiser involving the SSC High School Glee Club alumni. I live for moments like this, so when my music teacher asked me to take the helm, I said YES! ^_^
My last directing stint was at last year’s fundraiser involving the SSC High School Glee Club alumni. I live for moments like this, so when my music teacher asked me to take the helm, I said YES! ^_^

When I finished college and tried to pursue a career in TV broadcasting, I began to lose sight of what I really wanted to do. My goals became more short-term than anything, because there were deadlines to beat and episodes to finish. I left my first job a month short of my work anniversary and decided to bum around for a bit, help a singer friend to find gigs and stuff like that. It had been a really enjoyable ride for a while (maybe I’ll tell the story sometime, too), and then I got sucked into the BPO track.

I used to be part of a TV show entitled Wazzup, Wazzup, a parody news broadcast on Studio 23. I lasted 11 months on that show. Some of the best days ever in my life, no matter how challenging.
My old office. I used to be part of a TV show entitled Wazzup, Wazzup, a parody news broadcast on Studio 23. I lasted 11 months on that show. Some of the best days ever in my life, no matter how challenging.

That was when I completely swerved to another direction. I still loved listening to music, I still wrote stuff, I still danced every once in a while, but it was more like having a hobby than say, being really passionate about the things I used to really care about. Trying to get by in a working environment that was completely new to me taught me a lot of new things, skills I would carry over to the next job, and the next job, and the next . . . but it also kind of watered down whatever passion I had for the arts until about two years ago, when my friend Mitzi and I went to watch Atlantis Production’s The Full Monty at the RCBC Theater.

Watching one production led to another (Rock of Ages was staged months later at the same venue), and another (we caught the closing show of Maxie: the Musicale at PETA before the year ended), and another (Rivalry, Wicked and Rak of Aegis opened 2014 for me), and soon, it’s just like something in me burned brightly once more. I looked forward to more productions, tried to get tickets to them if I had time and money to spare, researched actors and their other shows, and now I’m just hopelessly in love with theater again. And there is no going back; I’ve found my way home.

Granted, I’m not involved with the local productions–though if I was asked to, I’d probably say yes in a heartbeat even if all they wanted me to do is read lines back to the actors during rehearsal or, I don’t know, lift props and stuff–but being able to come and watch and appreciate something that these people have worked really hard for is enough for me. I come home from a show feeling so alive and inspired and happy, and I’m pretty sure I have never felt like that after watching a film, no matter how amazing.

Rak of Aegis
Rak of Aegis “after-party.” Taken last year, after my second time seeing the musical.

The difference, I guess, is being able to see theater actors react to you once the show is over. It’s being able to tell them up front “Hey, congratulations! You did a great job out there!” and seeing them light up and hearing them sincerely thanking you for taking the time to watch the show. It’s coming back once, twice, eight times and seeing how much they have improved over time and feeling so proud of them as though they were a really dear friend or a family member. It’s being able to just hug them in appreciation of the hard work they’ve done because sometimes words aren’t enough.

I saw Rak of Aegis for the eighth time on Tuesday, and the happy look on the actors’ faces when they saw us (Rix and I, we’re the owners of the unofficial fanpage) after the show is nothing short of amazing. It gives me immense joy to be able to make them happy just by being there to support the show, and make them feel like all their hard work is appreciated wholeheartedly. I’ve grown affiliated to almost everyone in the old cast, and now that the show is closing (again, and for good, they said), I feel like I’m losing something . . . like a part of my heart.

I’m sure the actors who have been working on the show for the past two years are feeling separation anxiety now, but I wonder if they know that people like us are feeling it too. I kept saying on the way back home last night that when Rak closes, I don’t know what to do with my life anymore–and that’s partly true. The people behind it have become part of my life in more ways than one, they have inspired me to again pursue something that I love and work really hard toward achieving it, and on top of everything, they made me feel like I’d been part of their family, even if only for a brief moment.

And for that I am truly, truly grateful.

I can’t really say that theater is my home, but I sure can camp out there if I could. One thing’s for sure: I will continuously support local theater and the people who diligently work to keep the industry running like a well-oiled machine. Hats off to you, guys. I hope you never get tired of sharing your talents with us, because I’m sure that there are and will be more people like me out there, whom you’ll be inspiring, one way or another.

Thank you. Thank you so so much. ❤

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