My long journey from CDO to London
Mark Bautista (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – It has been three months since I arrived here in London. Time flies really fast and now we’re on our 60th show. I never imagined myself doing a daily musical play this long till we started the show. Everything seemed surreal. I remember my audition in Manila for this. The only reason why I joined the audition was to not miss another chance and end up with regret for not trying. I said that after not trying to audition for the Miss Saigon. I didn’t try because I was so afraid to be rejected. I was happy with my decision and moved on with my life.

But I ended up with having the worst feeling — the what if’s. What if I auditioned? What if I got accepted for a role? What if I was meant to perform in London? How will I know? Does my skill as a performer/singer be approved by their standard?

A lot of questions were raised and it bothered me. I felt that, as a performer, I was a failure. My heart was not pleased.

So when the opportunity to audition for Here Lies Love came, there was no more hesitation. I was so ready to go for it and was prepared for anything that could happen.

I had made Plan A and Plan B while waiting for the result. I passed, yehey!!! It was a perfect timing and I believe that it was God’s will. Everything fell into place. My contract with GMA had ended and I had just finished a concert at Crowne Plaza which I co-produced.

My family was going through something. So many things were happening so I was looking for an escape so I would be able to think. I actually prayed to God to put me somewhere else where I could breathe and be away for sometime and I think He heard my plea. Everything began to unfold. Indeed, it was a blessing waiting to be embraced. Here Lies Love saved me, saved my life. A new challenge had opened itself for me.

Looking back, I can never imagine a probinsyano like me who, at that time didn’t even know the concept of being in a West End or Broadway Theater, who was eating (instant noodles with fresh egg) in a 24-hour carenderia inside a market place at dawn after gigs in bars, who crossed the sea from Cagayan de Oro to Manila by cargo boat (with P500 fare), hoping to find ways to help my family, could land a role in the prestigious National Theatre in London? I feel so unworthy, I am not perfect and I’m not even the best artist there is but in God’s eyes I am and so He put me here. He placed me here for a reason and I feel that He’s not done with me yet.

My heart can’t thank enough every person who became an instrument in opening this door for me. I just have to mention the UK team for the Manila Here Lies Love audition, our director Alex Timbers, Andrew Scoville (associate director), Charlotte Sutton (in charge of Manila casting), Elizabeth Dement (associate choreographer), Kimberly Grigsby (music supervisor) and David Byrne. Thank you very much!

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I grew up having Christmas as a big celebration with friends and family. Our entire main street would be closed for a neighborhood party. As a kid, I enjoyed carolling and never missed a year without doing it.

Then, watching Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone movies made me love Christmas even more. Since then, Christmas has meant Festivity, Friends and Family. My family is always my inspiration. Thank God for social network, seeing and talking to them wouldn’t be that much of an issue. But spending Christmas alone in another, different country is something else.

For the first time in my 32 years, I’m spending Christmas alone in the other side of the world…in a quiet place in London. I heard that they don’t celebrate Christmas here in the festive way as we do in the Philippines. I like giving gifts which I myself make, like cakes, caricature, drawings, paintings, etc. But since I’m away, I’ll just think of something different for them that will still be memorable or worth keeping. I’m just preparing myself for that day. I really don’t know what to expect. Maybe I’ll just remember my Christmases when I was a kid — images of White Christmas, chestnut roasting on an open fire, fireplace and hot chocolate, chimneys, Thomas Kinkade  paintings, Bing Crosby music and probably I can appreciate London Christmas and enjoy the cold weather here. But one thing is for sure: I will miss my friends and family back home.

I always keep this in mind: Everything is temporary. Praises can be appreciated (or re-tweeted, hehehehe!) but you’re only as good as your last performance. The next day you’re back to zero so you have to do your best again. Whatever I’m experiencing here is not forever so I just have to savor every minute of my stay here for as long as possible and not to worry about anything. Yes, I do that while on the bus or train. I appreciate every detail that I see and enjoy every experience here in London.

And again, I just thank God for everything He has done in my life.

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