^

Supreme

In character

Don Jaucian - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Angel Aquino sat at a corner of the dressing room, alone, and without an entourage. She was earlier than expected, the expected being two to three hours late like the run-of-the-mill actress who’s had her fair share of primetime spotlight. But Angel Aquino isn’t just an actress. She belongs to an elite league of character actors of Philippine cinema who’s graced both the biggest teleseryes and the most acclaimed Filipino films of all time. So just in case she wants to throw a b*tch fit, request “just blue M&Ms,” or have an entourage of 20 people around her at all times, it’s totally fine.

She confesses she’s always been like this at shoots. No managers, assistants or anything. While waiting for director Erik Matti (who she worked with in On The Job), who’s interviewing her for her first-ever Rogue magazine cover for the November cinema issue, she proceeds to gush about how she’s been reading Rogue for the longest time, and it’s not some syrupy lip service, mind you. She goes into detail about every article that she’s read, the memorable covers (“The Cherie Gil cover in your first cinema issue? That was great!”), and the cover girls that she loved. All this time, it’s still hard to imagine that this powerhouse of an actress is quite content being tucked comfortably in a bare dressing room of a studio. Maybe it’s the need to neutralize everything after a long day of slinking around in someone else’s skin.

Ability to disappear

Character actors have this ability to disappear and slip away unnoticed. Devoid of any pretense, stellar requirements, and skin-crawling diva antics, these actors imbue a certain degree of authenticity to the lives that they play on screen. Whereas superstars lend presence to the roles they play, character actors fully inhabit the minds and bodies of whatever is thrown at them, whether it’s for a lead or something that requires only mere minutes of screen time.

“It’s wonderful that we’re in that age that this kind of acting is really appreciated by the audience now. Before wala eh. Extra yun eh. People didn’t even know the terms bit player or character actor. Wala, extra. Kung hindi ka si Vilma, kung hindi ka si Gabby Concepcion, wala, extra ka,” Peque Gallaga says. A prime example of this is Vilma Santos’s recent turn as a bit player in Jeffrey Jeturian’s Ekstra. The role requires the minimum amount of stellar power — or even the lack of it. It’s still the Star for All Seasons that you glean in her every move.

Actresses like Angel Aquino, or her contemporaries like Mylene Dizon and Angeli Bayani or veteran actors like Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, and Pen Medina burn the imprint of their characters on film. Whether it’s characters like Lazaro’s machete-wielding maniac, Medina’s rapist, Torre’s sage hired gun, or Dizon’s terrifying villain, the incoming golden age of cinema, as Gallaga posits, is only made brighter by the presence of these actors.

With the increasing number of Filipino films and the increasing relevance of film festivals celebrating the strengths of Filipino filmmaking, we can only hope that Philippine cinema gets back on its feet, and even further into the international filmmaking scene. “It is a good time for Philippine cinema,” says Angel Aquino.

* * *

Rogue Magazine’s cinema issue is out in newsstands. Tweet the author @donutjaucian.

ALL SEASONS

ANGEL AQUINO

BUT ANGEL AQUINO

CHERIE GIL

CINEMA

ERIK MATTI

GABBY CONCEPCION

JEFFREY JETURIAN

JOEL TORRE

MYLENE DIZON AND ANGELI BAYANI

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