The singing genes of Nonie Buencamino
The singing genes of Nonie Buencamino
Pablo A. Tariman (The Philippine Star) - June 15, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - From the very beginning, his true calling is to be a stage actor but he has since then metamorphosed into a film and TV persona of incredible acting range.

For now, he is Simon Bernabe in the afternoon teleserye, Dugong Buhay. Earlier, he was the much-hated villain Miguel Ramos, the rejected scheming suitor of Dawn Zulueta, in Walang Hanggan.

But once in a while, he finds good respite from film and TV commitments and accepts stage offers too good to resist.  Like his multi-faceted role in Stageshow, mounted by Tanghalang Pilipino.

Married to an equally first-rate stage actor, Shamaine Centenera and now a father to theater-inclined siblings, Nonie is less known in the music circle although he comes from the musical Buencamino clan represented by pianist Cecile Licad and composer Willie Cruz who happen to be his first cousins.

Thus, when he was offered to do a solo concert in CCP’s Triple Threat Series with Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, saying no was out of the question. “I was excited for a few hours,” he confessed. “Then I realized what I was getting into.”

 His first concern was if the show would work.

 He couldn’t help the late nights because of shooting and taping. “My voice is tired most of the time. So, (I had to) see to it that I (got) enough rest before the show.”

In Mario O’Hara’s Stageshow directed by Chris Millado, he got to portray a vaudeville artist’s life and his incandescent performance was the closest one got to see of the real life of performing artists of the bygone era.

He recounts: “Stageshow was very memorable because it was the first time I performed with my true-to-life partner, Shamaine, in a long time. We didn’t argue anymore as we used to. Come show time, it was smooth-sailing. We used to quarrel a lot when we were scene partners. Now, we enjoy performing each scene. I’m so blessed with excellent scene partners this year.”

Another great musical experience for him was singing a role in A Little Night of Music with Atlantis Productions which had move-over engagements in Singapore.

The latest one he treasures is the role of the king in the Rodgers and Hammerstein favorite, The King and I.

What he treasures most was working with his leading lady, Menchu. “We worked very well in our scenes together. It was really gratifying to perform so many shows with her. My song, Puzzlement, was an acting song and so I had explored many ways to make myself understood clearly.”

For his concert last June 13, his famous and much-awarded brother, film scorer Nonong Buencamino, helped him choose the appropriate song numbers.

It covered his favorite songs and some upbeat music like Elvis Presley’s rock ‘n roll and a funky version of Tom Jones’ Kiss. He included some from original Filipino musicals and Broadway favorites.

“Some song numbers belong to certain points in my life which gave me wonderful memories,” he rued.

Another special number was Nonong’s Natutulog ang Diyos, which was re-arranged note for note. “It’s beautiful I have to say.”

He couldn’t do without a good teacher and coach, and he found one in the person of tenor Pablo Molina. “My mentor says I’m a tenor but I can easily sing songs for baritone.”

His cousin Carmela Sinco — who is a musical director — also gave him pointers on vocal approach on some of his songs. “I needed coaching in order to use my voice properly and come up with a sound pleasing to the ear.”

Being a true-blooded Buencamino, the actor says the family reunions have become familiar events where he could show off his singing and dancing talents.

Known as a family of excellent musicians, Nonie has only one fear: He can’t afford to go sharp or flat, or in the layman’s language, go out of tune.

So, what is it that Nonie enjoys in doing musicals and now, concerts?

He opines: â€œI like the natural flow of rhythm, the ever-changing tempos and once again, savoring beautiful melodies which are an extended level of expressing myself. Straight theater is my home right now but I have to admit that singing pumps me up!”


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