Jan Vincent Ibesate, commonly known as JV, has been with the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company for about 2 and a half years, and is also the acting coordinator for the AC. His most recent production with TP was Mabining Mandirigma, essaying the role of the illustrado Pedro Paterno. I lucked out swinging by the TP office during his downtime for a little chat.
How long have you been with the Actors Company?
Since 2013, so roughly a little over 2 years.
When did you start acting?
Non-professional acting, I started high school days pa lang, when you discover that you have a knack for acting. But when I wanted to become an actor, college sa UP.
So what made you decide to act?
I don't know. It came out naturally. Natatawa ako kasi I never thought of it as a profession. Pero yung recollection ko nung bata pa lang ako, I would put curtains on top of our beds, tapos kunwari stage siya, but I didn't know back then that it was already a sign that I already wanted to become an actor. Ngayon lang, na parang feeling ko na it's a profession talaga.
What were your previous theater experiences before becoming part of AC?
Before becoming an AC scholar, I was already doing theater sa iba't ibang companies, pero medyo madalang lang, kasi meron akong corporate job. But I did productions for maliliit na companies lang.
You said before that you had a corporate job. Paano mo na-balance yun before?
Matagal-tagal na pakiusapan sa boss. (laughs) I started doing part time theater when I moved from one company to another (Globe). When I moved to Globe, luckily they also practiced work-life balance. So when I said that I wanted to pursue while doing the work, they automatically said yes. So what happened was they gave me a work schedule that will fit the rehearsal schedule. So like for example, I come in at work at 7am, I leave at 4pm so I can be at the rehearsal space by 6pm.
Hindi ka naman nangangarag?
Medyo. There was a time na napagsabay ko yung corporate job at yung AC. Sakin, what happened was I told them that I got a scholarship tapos that I have to take classes from 1pm until 10pm. So what they did, yung boss ko, as long as I complete the 40 hours--I can come to work at 6am, I can leave at 12nn--so I can get to class. But hindi siya healthy eh. It only lasted siguro 6 months, after that, burned out na talaga.
What made you decide to try out for Actors Company?
Meron akong isang production before, Livin' La Vida Imelda. It was a show by Carlos Celdran. One of my co-actors there, si Andrew Cruz, was an Actors Company scholar. Pero batch 90's pa siya. I was already asking him what was it like na maging AC. Tapos kasi nung time nila, I think sobrang hirap yata talaga nung process, na you never get casted kaagad. So meron siyang mga horror stories, tapos sabi ko, "Oh my God, baka hindi ako pang Actors Company." But then I also met other former AC people, nakatrabaho ko before. And sabi nila, parang nagbago na. So nagkaroon ng auditions ng AC, I tried. And I got in.
In your opinion, what does it take to be part of the Actors Company?
What's good about AC is that they don't require you to be a great actor kaagad. I think what they wanted to see from you is your ability to learn. Kasi I think a good actor is the one who learns, who wants to learn more. Otherwise, wag ka na mag-AC. Mag-professional actor ka na, mag-freelance ka na, kasi you can get roles naman. You can pass auditions. But I think, kami sa batch namin, we all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses. And I think what they saw from us are opportunities for us to learn to become better actors, so when we got in, it’s not like, "Uy, ang galling ko, nakapasok ako sa AC." Ang naisip ko agad nun, baka they saw me as someone who can practically learn more from what they will be able to teach us, na hopefully na mai-apply sa mga next productions.
You get lots of training and classes in acting, movement, voice, etc. Do you have a favorite class among those?
I know that I can sing long before I know that I can act. Parang bata pa lang ako, that's always been the talent na alam kong meron ako. So yung voice class namin. If it's Wednesday, sobrang gaan siyang feeling sakin, kasi alam ko na that's one of my strengths. Tapos OK rin kasi yung voice teacher namin eh. And meron akong ibang points for improvement na nakukuha ko, na nai-improve ko because of the class. So ayun, voice class talaga.
Can you describe a typical day as an AC scholar?
Even if there's a show, we still have classes. Not unless it's tech week, kasi pag tech week diba, it's 1-10pm. But if it's a regular day na nagre-rehearse for a show, we have classes from 1-5pm, and then we have break from 5-6pm, and then rehearsal from 6-10pm.
Other than your classes, shows, rehearsals, what else do you do?
Kasi we all know naman that the pay in theater is not that big. Actually, very true for us, kasi we don't really get sweldo unless we have a show. Allowance lang, which is very maliit talaga. So what I do, since ang background ko sa corporate ay PR (public relations), I write. I'm connected now with an events company, so I write for events, I conceptualize, I pitch in events for them. So actually full time theater actor but official source of income ko ay yung events company. (laughs)
At least you have something to fall back on.
Yeah. Kasi parang for you to stay in AC, you have to have backup financial resources. Marami nang umalis na AC, because of finances.
Do you think that the starving artist is the most common misconception people have about actors, or meron pang iba?
Sakin kasi, there's no such thing as a starving artist. You only starve when you're tamad. Kasi like for example, me, if I don't get any productions, I'd go to something that I'm capable of doing and earning from it. And if you're really a great actor, you can find ways, you can audition for as many roles as you can. You can audition for as many productions as you can. Kasi for me, yung concept na "Uy, magugutom ka diyan"--it doesn’t make sense kasi. Kung masipag ka, kung madiskarte ka, you won't starve.
You mentioned you all have your strengths and weaknesses. For you, what's your core gift, or X-factor, that you believe is a good asset as part of the Actors Company?
Nagkakaroon kasi kami ng evaluations every year. And I think it's really voice talaga for me. But it's far from being excellent, pero at least I think that’s what got me in AC. So the others are syempre for improvement pa.
What’s your favorite production so far?
I think Sandosenang Sapatos. That was my very first TP production, and parang ano siya sakin eh, biglang suntok. Kasi the first day of rehearsal, music rehearsal yun, so ok, Sandosenang Sapatos, ni-brief na kami about the story and all that. Ang unang tanong sakin ni Sir Tuxqs, nilapitan niya ako, "Hi JV, welcome to AC. Marunong kang mag roller blades?" Sabi ko, "Sir, pwedeng matutunan." It took a lot of perseverance, it took a lot of guts for me to learn it. Parang it’s one of the hardest na productions. It may look, "Aw, cute, naka-rollerblades sila." But it's really the process itself. Every night umiiyak ako, the first few weeks.
But you pulled off a really good show.
I think the people saw how hard the production is and how bigay na bigay yung actors, kasi nga we went through a lot for that. Ako, seryoso talaga, umiiyak talaga ako gabi-gabi, parang iniisip ko, pwede naman akong mag corporate na lang. Bakit pinapipilitan ko ang sarili ko mag rollerblades?
What's your favorite character that you’ve done?
I'm not sure if you’ve watched Melanie. It's a commissioned work from UNICEF. It's about the spread of HIV and AIDS. Yung character ko dun, sobrang for me, pinaka-real life sa lahat ng ginawa ko. Yung ibang characters ko parang hindi naman siya normal. (laughs) Walang ka-normal normal. Yun lang talaga, na baklang dancer na malibog na nakakuha ng AIDS. Ang daling hugutan ng emosyon kasi alam mong totoo yung character mo.
What's the most challenging role you've done?
Kama. La Ronde. Recital. First time kong na-feel sa sarili ko na ang tanga-tanga ko as an actor. May way si Sir Dennis (Marasigan) eh. He will make you feel like meron siyang hinahanap sa iyo eh, na up until the the show itself, mararamdam mo na, parang hindi ko yata nabibigay sa kanya yung gusto niya. Ang ganda kasi ng process. Alam mo naman yung process ni Sir Dennis, diba? He won't give you the role unless it's a few days before the show. So it's one of the most challenging kasi apart from memorizing... Actually siya yung may pinakamaraming linya. Tapos meron pa siyang monologue dun na one page. Yung role ko kasi dun, count, yung konde, the last one. Meron siyang monologue na pagkahaba-haba. So apart from memorizing the lines, it's really getting into the character, na buti na lang si Sir Dennis was able to... alam mo naman yun eh, objective, and then the rule of three... It helps. Pero up until the TDR, feeling ko talaga, parang walang nangyari sa two years ko ah, ang bobo-bobo ko as an actor. Kasi I think it's just his way of making you feel na hindi na hindi ka makampante sa role mo. So it was really challenging. Isa yun sa mga iniyakan kong role. Kami ni Aldo (Vencilao) yung favorite niya nung time na yun. Pero that's his way eh. I mean, he knows how to make you do better. Medyo harsh, pero at least you learn.
With what you’ve accomplished so far, where do you see yourself as an artist in the next 5 years?
Ang immediate goal ko is to reach until I become a member of the company. Not just because it's a tenure thing. But because I think from what I saw, the past members of AC, kahit si Tad (Jonathan Tadioan), sobrang hands down ako na kahit ano na role na ibigay mo sa kanila, they can do justice with the role, so I want to be in that stature. Kasi as it is now, pahirapan pa eh, mahirap pang pumick-up ng role. I think gusto ko na maabot ang status na yun, like yung status ni Mayen (Estanero), yung status ni Bong Cabrera, yung status ni Angeli (Bayani). If they're given a role, they automatically give the best performance. So feeling ko, immediately, yun yung gusto ko marating. Tapos technically it will take you a minimum of 5 years eh. So up until that time comes, yun talaga, mag-stay ako sa AC. But apart from that, honestly I don't know. After becoming a member, wala pa.
Now for something different. Think of one thing that would best represent you in each of the 5 senses.
Alcogel. (laughs) Neat freak kasi ako minsan,tsaka gusto ko palaging mabango, for some reason. Oo, kilala yan, tanungin mo sa lahat ng AC.
Carpet. Yung fluffy na carpet. Kasi I like things soft.
Yung seafood kare-kare ng Kanin Club. Kasi pag natikman mo siya, wala ka nang hahanapin pa. (laughs)
Lahat ng kanta ng The Corrs. Kasi kahit stressful ang araw mo, pag narinig mo yung mga kanta nila, parang OK, masaya. OK lang, diba? Iba yung feeling. Lalo na yung "Paddy McCarthy." It doesn't have lyrics, but every time I listen to it, parang ang sarap maging Irish, no? May distinct sound siya.
CCP. The façade ng CCP. Kasi iba yung feeling that it gives you whenever you look at it. Gusto ko lang i-share na hanggang ngayon, nandun ako sa phase na... Naglalakad lang kasi ako from LRT, minsan from Harrison, papuntang CCP. Alam mo yung kinikilig ka pa rin? Oh my God, andito na ako, eto na siya eh. Parang si Doray (Dayao) kasi dati, AC apprentice, sabi niya dati dinadaanan niya yung CCP, tapos iniisip niya, ano kaya yung feeling na magtrabaho diyan? Tapos ngayon na nagtatrabaho na siya, iba yung feeling. Ganun din sakin, kasi parang kinikilig ka pa rin na parang, totoo ba ito? Andito na ba talaga ako?
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
The best advice that I received was from a former boss, yung boss ko sa Globe. Before I left, sabi niya, "I admire you for doing something that you really love. But just make sure that you have a backup. Or at least an additional source of income. Kasi hindi mo kailangang maghirap at hindi mo kailangang mamalimos para lang magawa mo yung bagay na gusto mo. So kung gusto mo talaga yan gawin," –and I still live with that statement—"na kung gusto mo talaga ang isang bagay at alam mong hindi ka kikita sa kanya, maghanap ka ng ibang way para matuloy mo siya."
What’s the best advice that you can give?
Cliché pero… If you know that you're good at something, regardless of the risk, go for it. Kasi you may not have the comforts when you follow through that dream, pero at least you know in your heart that you're doing something that you love and that you're in the right direction. Kasi I've seen a lot of people, even my former boss, he was a frustrated musician, and he's already old, he’s rich, but wala nang avenue for him to practice that. And so I saw from a very important lesson na if you really want something and if you're really passionate about something, start young. Start when you still have the energy. The future may not be as bright as what you hope it will be, but at least you're doing it. I mean, maano bang maghirap ka ng konti? At the end of the day, makukuha mo rin naman siya, if you're really passionate.
*Photos courtesy of JV's Facebook page and Erickson Dela Cruz.