Xian: A proud Mama’s boy

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Xian Lim is one of those actors who can rightfully claim that there’s more to being an actor because of his varied interests and talents.

The 26-year-old Kapamilya star, for one, can play classical piano besides knowing a thing or two about 16 other musical instruments that include the guitar, trombone and percussions. Plus, he can paint. Viewers will get to see this least-known side of him when he joins the fourth — and online — season of the kiddie-oriented show Promil Pre-School’s i-Shine Talent Camp as the visual arts mentor.   

If you’re wondering where, why and how Xian learned all these things, you don’t have to look far. Aside from clearly passing on the attractive genes, his mom Mary Anne Cruz (who was a print and TV commercial model in her younger years) is responsible for nurturing a well-rounded person in Xian.

Interestingly, while she had introduced her unico hijo to different creative pursuits, she never thought he would join showbiz and become an actor.

“Never. 100 percent never because he’s shy,” mom Mary Anne tells The STAR in an exclusive interview.

Xian was also a chubby kid, although when he lost weight and grew as tall as 6’2” (like his father, a former basketball player) upon reaching his teens, talent scouts began to notice and recruit him for modeling gigs and eventually, show business. 

Nevertheless, Mary Anne was initially resistant to the idea because “I know that being an artista has its ups and downs. Hindi lang basta sisikat ka, there are times when you don’t have any project. It involves your emotions (because) there can be intrigues about you. So, all I wanted was a simple life for him.”

Actually, her first dream for Xian was for him to become a concert pianist. Growing up, Xian was practically surrounded by pianos, as many as five, because aside from the fact that his mom likes collecting antiques, she used to run a music studio near where they lived in San Francisco in the US.

Mary Anne, who earned a Business Economics degree from UP Diliman but was trained in piano since she was 8, became Xian’s first piano teacher. She reveals that Xian knows how to read notes, compose, arrange and play piano music by ear.

As a young boy, Xian also got interested in sketching. Mary Anne recalls that Xian was three years old when he first tried to draw a portrait of her. “As parents, we have to be appreciative always. Because when they are kids, if no one believes in them, they will never believe in themselves.” Their other family members would help stimulate this interest by always gifting Xian sketchpads through the years. Then in high school, Xian took up a fine arts subject and studied how to paint. He loved it ever since.

Making it her purpose to be the most encouraging person around for Xian was no joke because “I raised him alone, everybody knows that.”

After her marriage with Xian’s father didn’t work out, Mary Anne shares, “When we lived in the US, I decided to put up a piano studio because I wanted to have my own time, at the same time, I would be able to keep a close eye on him. So, I was able to monitor him. It was a bit hard because I wasn’t content (with) pwede na yan, tama na yan, or marunong ka na. (My thinking was) if you’ve achieved that, it means you can do something better. Alam ko siya medyo nahirapan (laughs). But I believe that a child doesn’t know his future, so you have to guide him. I had to guide him and I had to be strict because I was not only his mommy, I was also his daddy.”

She fondly remembers that Xian, like any typical kid his age, would complain and would rather play outside or with his toys, but her ready answer was: “Someday, you will get to use this. He never believed me but I always encouraged him then, mag-play ka na lang (ng instrument). Someday, you will be able to use it.”

Her words proved to be prophetic because true enough, he’s able to showcase his learnings and skills now that he’s in show business. Xian has done what no other actor ever did, at least in our memory, by performing on the piano and trombone with no less than the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, Xian has had come up with original songs -— for his past two albums, for the teleserye Aryana (titled Iibigin Kita) and for his TV series with perennial loveteam partner Kim Chiu, My Binondo Girl and Ina Kapatid Anak.

“I really offered my work (to them). I try to do it (writing) on a daily basis. I do it and I show my work to people,” admits Xian. “People are saying, you’re doing so many things, don’t you want to focus on one? Yes, of course, it’s good if you can focus on one thing but if you can do other things, why not? I feel that I just have to keep on opening doors (of opportunities). We all experienced having a door shut on us and it hurts, yes, but it’s your job to open another one and as many doors as possible.”

The STAR was able to have a sneak peek at his paintings before they will be unveiled in Promil Pre-School’s i-Shine Talent Camp, and we won’t be surprised if he will hold his own exhibit in the near future. The paintings we saw were realistic except that the faces were curiously left blank. Xian explains, “I feel that it takes out the character, the personality, so that people can just look at the bigger picture at wag lang yung mukha.”

“(Painting) is not a hobby, it’s something I am serious about. I really put time and effort into it. I read books and do my research sa mga idolo ko like Picasso, Lucian Freud and of course, our national artists Bencab and Juan Luna,” he adds.

Looking back, Xian says he would never have dared to explore all these things had it not been for the very affirming nature of his mother. “I consider my mom my backbone. I never knew what that meant before. But she’s my backbone, my skeleton, my foundation, I don’t think I would be able to stand on my own feet kung hindi na impose ng nanay ko yung mga tinuro niya sa akin growing up. Like, I wouldn’t know how to paint… I wouldn’t know how to survive if it wasn’t for my mom. Lahat ng diskarte ko I got it from her. Being a single mom, it’s really hard financially, and it’s very frustrating. But she’s very brave, I owe everything to her.”

As for Mommy Mary Anne, she’s very proud of how her son has turned out — how he’s handling his showbiz career, his finances, the controversies that come with being in the entertainment industry and even his love life. “(Xian) has never given me problems. I’m happy, sana he will be always like this.”

According to Xian, his mom doesn’t meddle in “anything, love, even career choices. She will air her side first, she will tell me what she thinks, she will give me a little bit of wisdom but after that, ‘it’s up to you, no pressure, basta alam mo yung insight ko.’”

Mommy Mary Anne, for her part, says, “As long as I see him happy, I’m OK. Now that he’s an adult, if may nagawa siyang mali, gusto ko rin ma-feel niya, na ito yung decision ko na mali, ’wag na niyang uulitin. It’s a way of learning. But I always tell him that as long as he seeks guidance from God, hindi siya papabayaan.”



For details, visit ishine.abs-cbn.com

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