Sandino’s star rises
Amadís Ma. Guerrero (The Philippine Star) - September 16, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The father of Sandino Martin, 23, stage-triple threat (actor-singer-dancer) and indie film Best Actor, was an activist. And he named his son after the Sandinista revolutionaries who overthrew the Somoza dynasty, which had ruled Nicaragua with an iron hand for decades.

“I hated that name when I was a kid,“ recalls Sandino. His Mormon parents called him “Ino Boy” when he was a child. Thus, in college when he started appearing in plays, his professional name was “Ino Martin.” Eventually, however, he grew to like his baptismal name and now he uses it professionally.

Sandino went to University of the Philippines Diliman for college. His first choice was journalism, theater second. Unfortunately, he flunked the journalism test within UPCAT, but passed the theater test.

And so dramatics it had to be.

“My idea of theater before I went to UP was that it was pogi lang. No depth,“ he says. This impression was quickly dispelled by his experience with his first director, the formidable Anton Juan.

The play was called Sinabing Pakpak  and it was about poverty, about children struggling for a living on the streets. Sandino played a boy hurriedly polishing the shoes of passengers in a jeepney, hoping they would spare him a coin. Anybody who has ridden a jeepney will recognize this situation.

In Sandino’s case, as instructed by the director, he polished the shoes of the members of the audience at the Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero Theater.

“I learned a lot from Anton,“ he says. “Theater is not about being glamorous, it’s performing because you want to say something, you want to share something. Parang theater is not always vanity. That was what stuck to my mind, till now. As an artist, you have to express…”

He was also handled by other well-known campus directors like Tony Mabesa, Alex Cortez and Floy Quintos. But after the third year, he decided to quit school for a while, so as to prepare and gather data for a thesis he is planning on theater. Meanwhile, he plunged into professional theater, appeared in a PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association) play about Shakespeare, William, and acted, sang and danced in a Ballet Philippines production, Manhid.

Sandino then turned to indie films and starred in Kanakan Balintagos’ Esprit de Corps, about the cycle of corruption during the Marcos regime and military abuse. For this, he and the other actors had to undergo military training, and one scene required frontal nudity (mercifully the camera was some distance away).

For this role, the Manunuri nominated him for Best Actor but he lost to Allen Dizon. But last year, ranged against competent actors like Jerico Rosales and JM de Guzman, he was adjudged Best Actor in the Cinema One Originals Awards. It was sweet vindication for him. “You’re very lucky to get nominations and recognition at an early age,” observed veteran actor Nonie Buencamino.

Esprit de Corps is included in an Indonesian film festival, which is now ongoing until Sept. 21.

Currently Sandino has two major film projects: Ang Larawan: The Musical, based on Nick Joaquin’s famous play, and Ringo the Dog Shooter. He stars with Janice de Belen, Bembol Roco and Bodgie Pascua, with direction by Rahyan Carlos and script by Ricky Lee.

Nonie’s remarks encouraged him: “I was more challenged to choose my roles, the themes and topics of my films. Siempre paiba-iba. I want my films to be important, I want to be in something important, yung puedeng pagusap-usapan (talked about).”

That’s a mature attitude for one so young. The future beckons to Sandino. His star is rising.

ACIRC ALEX CORTEZ AND FLOY QUINTOS ALLEN DIZON ANG LARAWAN ANTON JUAN BALLET PHILIPPINES BEMBOL ROCO AND BODGIE PASCUA BEST ACTOR CINEMA ONE ORIGINALS AWARDS SANDINO THEATER
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