The coming of El Presidente

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - November 13, 2015 - 9:00am

It was a plan I thought would be far from realization. Competing with his myriad commitments is next to impossible. I pursued to ask a slice of his time even if his Cebu stay is fleeting. A breather with his loved ones, and for business, but more than being a businessman, first and foremost, he is a consummate actor.

Actor Mon Confiado, known for character roles, a greater majority has been conveniently associating him with the most-hated roles: rapist, thief, gangster and crook. And perhaps for this reason others would not consider him to be one who can be the lead of the story, be it on stage, in movie or teleserye. Typecast as villain but perfectly fine for what he considers is how one gives justice to a role. In the industry that he is in, aside from the requisite talent, other important ingredients: passion and dedication.

I have known Mon since our film Swap, shot entirely in Cebu. He played Colonel Sanchez, a PNP officer, heading an investigating team for a kidnapping case who recovered the child from the captors. And when the film has been receiving invitations for international screenings, I was fortunate to be with Mon especially when it was the only Filipino film that was screened for competition in the second Silk Road International Film Festival in Fuzhou, China.

At first, to me, he is like a combination of Robin Padilla for some of his mannerisms-the bad boy moves, plus the way of talking. Another actor that I associate with him is Nonie Buencamino because of facial expressions. And why not, a Johnny Depp, in totality.

With over 300 films, and counting, after only 20 years in the film industry, Mon Confiado is easily regarded as the industry's busiest actor. Not too many, however, are aware that Mon has also over 700 guest appearances on television to his credit. In his performances, it is easy to see his versatility as an actor, making himself adapt and play different characters superbly.

Fresh from the Heneral Luna success as the El Presidente Emilio Aguinaldo, Mon's guestings are everywhere. And when I invited him to speak to my students at UP Cebu, he didn't have a second thought. With a little concern that he is not used to the formal proceedings of a conference or seminar so I wanted in him to erase such apprehension that it would just be an informal way of sharing his experiences in movies, stage and television. He was received not only by my students in Humanities 1, Literature 1, members of UPSTAGE my theater group, administrative and staff, alumni but also other friends in the performing arts. He is truly an El Presidente!

Prior to his talk, as a matter of courtesy, I introduced him to the dean, lawyer Liza D. Corro, who was happy to welcome him. The rest of the staff were equally in high spirits as they asked him for picture-taking.

At the jam-packed Performing Arts Hall, the students were eager to listen to an ultimate actor as he shared his rich experiences. Shown were photos of different characters and he willingly explained them like his character in Hamog, Hamda Marwan in Mandirigma, and in other films in Felix Manalo, Miss Bulalacao, a Cinema One Originals entry where he played as a priest. He made sample of his audition piece for his role as Emilio Aguinaldo. When he did this, the audience was so quiet-roused in awe after the delivery.

Citing Robert De Niro as an inspiration, Mon invests heavily on any role assigned to him. Whether he needs to lose or gain weight, learn a new dialect, lighten or darken his skin color or use any of his extensive collection of hairpieces, moustaches and costumes, he is prepared to do whatever it takes to get his character right. He does his own make up. In the film Iisa, he was willing to have his hair shaven in just a portion of his head and placed with prosthetics resembling an open wound.

 Mon maybe acting bit roles but he played them with greatness. As Emilio Aguinaldo, perceived a villain, with a tremendous impact–many hated his role but after watching many also wanted to have picture taken with him. Perhaps, doing films does not bring exorbitant financial reward but the fulfillment derived from playing every role is incomparable.

He stays where his heart beats–and remains grounded. Mabuhay ka, El Presidente! Mabuhi ka, Mon! 



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