Ping Medina: The versatile and passionate young man behind Hagorn and Kuya Bogs
IN BETWEEN TAKES - IN BETWEEN TAKES By Ma. Katrina Reyna () - February 4, 2006 - 12:00am
If you've ever read newspaper articles about Ping Medina (born Crispin C. Medina II), they usually open and pretty much talk about how much he is a splitting image of his father, veteran actor Pen Medina. Ping reprises his father's role in GMA Network's groundbreaking telefantasya Encantadia in the primetime series Etheria. But everyone knows that, simply by looking at his photograph. And everyone expects that by taking on the role, he would be compared to his father no matter what.

Yet very few people know what he's really into, where he draws inspiration from, what he thinks makes girls go gaga over the character he recently played in the critically-acclaimed independent film "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros," and what he really aspires for in life, among other things. Clad in torn jeans and a dark shirt and carrying his trusty backpack, Ping looks like your ordinary guy. But once one gets to know him, one would find that behind the quiet and shy façade is a friendly, articulate, and passionate young man, who also has a knack for making witty comments. While 22-year-old Ping can be described as low profile, and he is happy being so, this talented young actor has a growing fan base all over the country that would certainly love to know more about him. So he spared a few moments in between takes to reveal a little more about himself.
Just fell on his lap
Playing Hagorn for Etheria was not the first time Ping was cast to play the younger version of the role of his father. When he was 13, he was cast as the young Paciano in a flashback scene in Marilou Diaz-Abaya's "Jose Rizal." His dad played the role of Paciano, Dr. Jose Rizal's brother, in the movie.

"It just fell on my lap," Ping recounts. "Wala pa akong kaalam-alam noon sa acting. Kailangan kasi nila ng mas bata. Direk Marilou wanted to use prosthetics on my dad para pabatain. Tapos sabi ng dad ko, 'Ay hindi talaga kaya kung may close up. Direk, meron akong anak, tingnan mo kung pwede.' So dinala ako one day sa set. Tiningnan lang ako. 'Carbon copy.' 'Yun na."

His dad did ask him first if he wanted to act. "OK lang naman, para sa 'kin noon, I just wanted to try something new." His dad tried to give him an acting workshop to prepare for his role. But he divulged that it was a weird experience for him. "Alam mo 'yung klase ng workshop na kunwari mamamatay na 'yung dad or mom mo, tapos kasama ko pa 'yung mga kapatid ko at 'yung kapatid kong babae umiiyak pa? Tinanong ko nga, 'Ano ba 'tong ginagawa natin?'" he recalls with a laugh. "Parang may resistance ako kasi 'yung dad ko 'yung nagwo-workshop sa 'kin," he admits.

Etheria turned out to be an even bigger challenge for him, although it was something he didn't really expect. "Nung umpisa sobrang nangangapa talaga ako kasi hindi ko pa alam. Hindi kasi ako nanonood ng Encantadia dati, kaya hindi ko napapanood 'yung old Hagorn-a few times lang noong nalaman ko na gusto nila akong kunin, around November," he says. According to Ping, the challenge came in having to recall what the older Hagorn was like to ensure that what he was when he was younger would be consistent with what he became when he was older. "Kailangan believable na 'yung young Hagorn, lumaki talaga into the older Hagorn. Hindi naman pwedeng sobrang masayahin pala si Hagorn dati tapos biglang 180 degrees, medyo weird 'yun! Although actually medyo surprised din ako na medyo mabait siya. Magnanimous," he states.

Another challenge for him was having to learn fight sequences. He narrates how they underwent arnis training and were taught how to hold a sword. "Mahirap rin, pero masaya, so OK lang. Nakatulong naman 'yung training," he says. He admits, however, that this training did not spare him from a painful experience during his first fight scene. "May isang part dun na babagsak ako, sisipain ako. Pagbagsak ko, naramdaman ko sa lower back ko 'yung lapel mic ko. Dapat tatamaan ako ni Dennis (Trillo, who plays Raquim), tapos sasanggain ko, pero hindi ko na kaya. Sobrang sakit talaga e, hindi ko na nasangga 'yung espada ni Dennis. Two weeks na masakit," he recounts while laughing.

Ping has played countless roles in other independent and commercial films, but what really made heads turn his way was his role in the independent film "Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros," which won the Golden Zenith Award in the First Films World Competition at the Montreal World Filmfest, was the first Filipino feature film in the World Cinema Competition of the Sundance Film Fest 2006, and got an A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board in the country. He played the role of Kuya Bogs, the older brother of Maxi, a prepubescent homosexual in the movie.

According to Ping, his mom was the one who informed him about the auditions for Maxi. At first, he auditioned for the role of Kuya Boy (his and Maxi's the eldest brother). "Naka-ilang balik ako doon. Nagustuhan naman nila ako. Pero mas gusto nila na ako 'yung Bogs," he says. And since then, fans have been screaming his name on Internet sites like Pinoy Exchange and asking him on his online journal and Friendster if he can be their "Kuya."

Asked what he thinks made Maxi fans go gaga over his character, he supposes, "Si Kuya Bogs kasi happy-go-lucky at maloko. At the same time, since laking kalye, may pagka-street smart din dapat at sisiga-siga kahit papaano. 'Di ba maraming mahilig sa bad boys?" he says with a laugh. "Pero later on makikita mo rin na mayroon pala siyang ibang side: na mahal na mahal niya ang kanyang pamilya, to the point na papatay siya. Maraming dimensions na pinakita 'yung character niya na tipong gustong maging boyfriend ng mga babae," he continues, laughing.

"He's like a crustacean: hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Parang M&M," he adds with a smile.

While he is most recognized as Hagorn, Ping says that those who ask for his autograph or who want their picture taken with him are mostly Maxi fans. "I'm OK with it. I still commute, I still ride the MRT. Kapag nakikita ako ng mga tao, they call me Hagorn and say 'hi!' or mapapatingin lang sila sa akin. Hindi naman hassle, masarap pa naman ang buhay ko. Buti nga nae-enjoy ko pa. Pwede pa 'kong pumunta ng Quiapo," he quips.

Another aspect of his "newfound fame" is the increasing readership of his online journal. "Dati pa naman may readership na talaga ako, pero ngayon lang talaga na dumami kasi kumalat yung URL," he says. It has its downside, he acknowledges, for he now has to censor himself. "Hindi ko na pwedeng isulat 'yung mga dati kong pwedeng isulat. Siyempre, iisipin mo na rin na mababasa ng marami. Ganun talaga e," he says.

In the meantime, he says he is just enjoying show business, especially since "maraming chicks na lumalapit sa 'yo!" he jokes. On a serious note, however, he says that if there's one thing that he does not like about it, it's how it now makes him wonder where his life is heading. "Dati hindi naman ako napapaisip kung saan ako mapupunta, kung ano'ng future ng 'career' ko. Pero ngayon medyo napaisip na rin ako, 'Oo nga 'no, pagkatapos nito ano'ng mangyayari sa'kin? Saan kaya ako pupulutin?' Hindi naman to the point na nagwo-worry ako o bothered ako. Dati lang kasi ok lang kahit ano e. Gawa lang ng gawa. Experience lang ng experience," he expresses.

What makes it really easy for him to cope with the television business is the camaraderie among his co-stars in Etheria. "Nagulat talaga ako kasi OK sila, mababait talaga sila. Hindi ko naman ine-expect na they'll be snobs or something, pero siyempre may mga naririnig kang stories tungkol sa mga artista na diva. Dun sa set walang diva, lahat parang barkada. 'Pag may energy at that time, naglolokohan lang kami at nagkukwentuhan sa set," he divulges.

Normal life

Asked what he plans to do when his stint in Etheria ends, Ping casually replies with a laugh, "Wala. Wala akong plans. Babalik ako sa normal kong buhay." He discloses, "Naiba kasi 'yung buhay ko nung nag-Etheria ako."

So what exactly was the normal life of Ping Medina? "Maraming oras, maraming free time, pwede kong gawin ang kahit anong gusto ko," he says with a laugh. On a serious note, he adds that what kept him busy then were primarily writing, his band, and production work with a group he is part of, the Isaw sa Kanto Productions. One of their latest projects is Kitchie Nadal's newest music video for her song "Fire." "Babalik ako sa pagsusulat, antagal ko nang gustong gawin 'yon, sobrang na-miss ko 'yon. Magsusulat ako ng script para sa isang full-length film," he says.

But now, with the very little spare time he has since becoming part of Etheria (taping happens three times a week, which usually begins early and ends practically at dawn the following day), Ping just opts to rest, surf the Internet, and chat with friends at home. "Ang hirap e, uuwi ka ng umaga na talaga, makakatulog ka ng ilang oras lang kasi umaga na. Magigising ka ng hapon na parang hindi kumpleto 'yung pagtulog mo, so wala kang gana masyado na gumawa ng kung anu-ano. Hindi rin ako lumalabas, kasi kung lalabas ka, baka mapuyat ka lang. Tapos may taping ulit kinabukasan," he relates. He reserves Sundays for band practice; he plays the guitar. When he had time for it, he also used to play basketball, tennis, and volleyball (he was a varsity player in his senior year in high school at San Beda College).

Ping is a self-proclaimed dabbler. Painting, drawing, photography, screenwriting, acting, and music are only some of the things this jack of all trades has dabbled into. He discloses that in all these, real people and real life inspire him. "I draw from kung ano 'yung nakikita kong mga poignant moments, 'yung matatandaan mo talaga nang matagal. For acting, I watch people, and you try to empathize; ilalagay mo 'yung sarili mo sa kanila. Tapos hihiram ka, then medyo imo-modify mo para maging ideas. I draw from real life, real experiences," he says.

According to him, he learned all of these things only through self-studying or informal lessons. "I just hang out with, for instance, photographers na sobrang mahal na mahal nila 'yung craft nila. 'Pag ganoong klaseng mga tao, marami kang matututunan. Kaya mahilig akong makipagkaibigan dun sa talagang mga passionate people, kasi talagang I feed off their energy." He jokingly supposes that it was the lack of appeal of the formal classroom setup which made him drop out of college only after his first year in the Ateneo the Manila University-that, and the desire to search for his true calling.

And while Ping has dabbled into so many aspects of the arts, there is one thing that he really wants to do but hasn't had the chance to try: directing. "I want to be a filmmaker. Mahilig akong mag-create ng kung anu-ano. And being a director, making a film is like playing God," he shares with a chuckle. "So makakagawa ka ng isang buong mundo out of basically nothing, at 'yon 'yung sobrang nakaka-excite. Siguro I can do that in the very, very far future," he continues.

However, his biggest aspiration in life since he was in high school remains to be the chance to help people. "Hindi naman charity, it's more of you want to try to instill change. Gusto kong maging malaking part 'yun ng buhay ko. Kasi lumaki ako dito lang sa Cubao, tapos nakikita ko lahat 'yan: May squatters' area lang malapit sa bahay namin, mga kalaro ko nung bata ako, mga kaibigan ko hanggang ngayon. Kaya nung bata ako, nabuo na sa utak ko na gusto kong tumulong sa mga tao, 'yan ang gusto kong gawin in the long run. Naisip ko rin kung mas madali kang makakatulong kapag may impluwensiya ka sa mga tao," he imparts.

He admits that he still does not have concrete plans on how to make this happen, "Pero palaging nandyan lang 'yun sa isip ko. Actually dati naisip ko yata mag-aartista ako para lang makatulong," he shares with a laugh. He did say that he would one day want to invest his earnings in a business opportunity or in something which could help generate jobs for people.

Asked if he has plans of ever returning to college, he says, "Sa ngayon wala. Siguro kung ako na ang magpapaaral sa sarili ko, why not? Pero mararamdaman mo naman e, siguro mararamdaman ko na lang kung gusto kong bumalik."

While Ping's fans would just have to wonder along with him in the meantime where they will see the guy they grew to admire as Hagorn or Kuya Bogs next after Etheria, they can be sure that this would not be the end of the line for him. For versatile and passionate artists like Ping always stick around for a very long time.

You may email comments and suggestions to trixie.reyna@gmail.com

AKO ETHERIA HAGORN KASI LANG NAMAN PING YUNG
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