Nanette Inventor game to revive Doña Buding for TikTok generation

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Nanette Inventor game to revive Doña Buding for TikTok generation
Nanette Inventor, who is now being co-managed by Stages and Viva Artists Agency (VAA), is open to reintroduce her iconic Doña Buding character to the younger audiences.

MANILA, Philippines — “You can’t kill her,” quipped Nanette Inventor of her iconic Doña Buding character, which rose to fame in the ‘80s via GMA’s defunct variety show, “The Penthouse Live.”

According to the 71-year-old singer-comedienne, Doña Buding can emerge from hiatus should she and filmmaker Jose “Joey” Reyes have the opportunity to work again. It was direk Joey, current head of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), who created the character. 

“It’s a classic character, it’s timeless. I would say, anytime the opportunity for me and Joey to be together, fine, I’m doing it,” said Nanette when asked by The STAR if she was open to reviving Doña Buding for the TikTok generation. “Because we both love and were involved in the character at the same time, and the character can speak of anything under the sun.”

Stages’ Carlo Orosa, who now co-manages the “Funny Lady of Songs” with Viva Artists Agency, said that presenting today’s version of Doña Buding is definitely a dream with the showbiz veteran exploring new-media platforms.

“She’s one of those artists who is not afraid to leap off to the new generation of media platforms. She’s doing a lot of content for TikTok. Isang TikTok palang niya, nasa 75,000 views na in just a few hours,” Carlo said. “We’re slowly migrating her to new platforms, like Instagram and TikTok. The content is shorter, more punchline ang dating, rather than the long monologues she’s famous for.”

The singer-comedienne with manager Carlo Orosa and VAA boss, Veronique del Rosario-Corpuz, during the co-management contract-signing.— Photo courtesy of Viva

Nanette said she embodied Doña Buding for around seven years. After that, she pursued other roles to avoid being stereotyped and maintain her identity as a singer. But the character remains synonymous with her to this day.

“Everytime I do shows in the US — the only time I stopped doing shows there was because of the pandemic — lahat siguro ng napunta duon, ‘Ayan si Doña Buding.’ Even the ones in the carousel, baggage, ‘Si Doña andyan niya, asikasuhin niyo.’ ‘Di ako mamimigay ng pera, utang na loob!’ ‘Bakit?’ ‘Ay ayokong humawak ng pesos, dollar ang dala ko,’ gumaganun ako. (Inisip ko) bakit ba nagawa ko na naman yun? Because it’s ingrained in me. ‘Di na siya mawawala. Nakilala ka dahil dun.”

She also recently met a group of Fil-Am students who recognized her. “Sabi nila, we’ve seen you on TV and you talk a lot. What do you do? That’s what you call satire. I was doing nouveau riche gauche satire, sabi kong ganun. Then they said, what’s that? You should learn that from your school, don’t they teach you these things like literature? Ginanun ko sila. Sabi nila, oh, we’re just in Grade 11 (laughs).

“We started very early in our schools, sinabi ko nalang ganun. But look at all these videos of Doña Buding. They told me, yeah, that’s what we saw, she talks about everything, going on a date, how to eat the proper atis… Ibig sabihin napanood nila ako, dun lang nila ako nakilala. Sabi ko, ang tindi talaga nitong si Doña Maria Leonila Evaporada Casinday vda. De Ford, otherwise known as Doña Buding, hahaha! You cannot kill her.”

Nanette unexpectedly landed the role after an accident. While providing backup vocals for Ray-An Fuentes, Celeste Legaspi, Subas Herrero, and Noel Trinidad at a hotel musical production, she amused the musicians during rehearsal breaks to stave off boredom. This caught the eye of the event’s producer Ronnie Henares, who later became her manager, and the writer, direk Joey. They promptly asked her to substitute for Cynthia Patag, who had met with an accident at that time, in the social satire segment of their TV show “The Penthouse Live.”

“(Ronnie said), nadisgraya siya (Cynthia Patag), walang papalit. Huh, ako? Ang payat-payat ni Cynthia Patag! Dyusko siya ang patag ako ang alsado,” she laughingly recalled.

“(I said) ‘I can’t do that.’ Joey said to me, ‘You’re great, you can do it. You even made musicians laugh’... So, I prayed, ‘Lord, what is this?’ OK, make or break, let’s do this.”

First thing she did after receiving the script for Doña Buding, a character Joey was already doing at La Salle, she headed to a parlor to observe the “doñas” there. “Mga nagpakulot and getting all sorts of services. ‘O, natutulog ka,’ gaganun sila. You see the P20 tip, but kung sigaw-sigawan yung nag-ma-manicure sa kanya. Ibang klase talaga itong babaeng ito, yan ang kokopyahin ko,” Nanette shared. “But again, I thought, ‘di ba parang nakakalibak ng tao yun? Di bale, I’ll just make her funny.”

For her actual audition, she recalled all the GMA execs were present, plus Fritz Ynfante, the director. 

“Nakita ko yung itsura ng director, si Fritz Ynfante, nanginginig na ako… I said, Mr. Henares, magdasal po tayo… Nagdasal kami, funny thing, we were inside the ladies room.

“Then, I went to the conference room, all the GMA executives (were there) — Freddie Garcia, Rolly Cruz — with Fritz Ynfante at the center. He said, ‘So, where is that lady?’ Wow, akala nito matatakot ako, so I got into character, ‘Can we start?’ Sumasabat ako. Then Mr. Taray said, ‘She’s in! I like her!’ I answered back, I am not finished with what I am doing, can you just sit tight and listen to me? And he said, ‘Oh my God, she starts this week!’”

Nanette debuted as Doña Buding on Nov. 14, 1983 and was an instant hit. “It was only 10 minutes, but thank you Lord! Ang dami daming tumawag (after) for a commercial.”

She recalled also being told “marami ng nagagalit sayo na matrona. Bakit? Nasasaktan sila?... But gustong-gusto nila (the audience). I can’t say anything anymore, it just hit the roof with the ratings and people liked to say that they would only watch that because they were waiting for that 10-minute segment.

“But that’s not true, I said, I blend with them, I blend with Martin (Nievera) and Pops (Fernandez),” she said, referring to her younger co-hosts.

“And the reason I was saying that was because I also wanted to sing with them. That’s why in ‘The Penthouse Live,’ there was not a portion in that show where we didn’t do a trio because I wanted people to remember that I’m a singer first.”

Looking back, being identified as Doña Buding had its advantages, but it also had its downsides. 

“It made you popular and it made people think about themselves (their behavior) through what you’re saying,” said Nanette. “At the same time, it has a disadvantage because some people believed I was really rich.”

She went through a scary incident before her Folk Arts Theater concert, wherein she got attacked for her character.

“I went to my dressing room and there was a woman na naka-duster (asking for me). Nagagalit and tumawag dun sa guard, ‘Gusto kong makita si Doña Buding!’... That time I was wearing my necklace that was studded but PNB, pwet ng baso yun. Utang na loob!  

“Hinila niya yung necklace, nasugat ako at nasakal ako, akala ko talaga mamamatay ako. The woman was saying ‘Amin na yan! Nagugutom kami rito. Ibebenta namin yan!’ ‘Hindi po totoo, PNB ito, meron pa po akong show na kel angan tapusin!’”

When the woman got stopped and taken away, it dawned on Nanette that “hindi pala maganda ginagawa ko sa mahihirap, akala nila naghihirap sila dahil sa mga taong katulad ko.

“Well, it broke me for a while but then I realized, they don’t know what satire is, they probably don’t know these things. They really thought I was filthy rich. But I said ang kayamanan ay nasa puso ng tao, it’s just there, for who you are. So, there are many lessons (from playing Doña Buding).”

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