Filipino costume and set designer Clint Ramos wins Obie Award

Filipino costume and set designer Clint Ramos wins Obie Award
By Walter Ang
May 25, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Clint Ramos, recipient of 2013
The Village Voice Obie Award
for Sustained excellence
in Costume Design
Set and costume designer Clint Ramos received the 2013 Obie Award for Sustained excellence of Costume Design at the 58th Annual Village Voice Off-Broadway Theater Awards ceremony.

He was also the recipient of the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Scenic Design and a nominee of Outstanding Costume Design for his work on "Wild With Happy" at The Public Theater.

Earlier this year, he also received the 2013 Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Best Costume Design for his work on Huntington Theatre Company of Boston's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

Ramos has designed costumes and sets for numerous productions in New York, across the US and internationally.

"It's been a great year so far. I got recognized for two disciplines that I am passionate about. It feels great," he says via email.

One of his current costume design credits is for the highly-acclaimed Off-Broadway musical "Here Lies Love." Critics have lauded his work as "vast and fabulous" (New York Times), "[providing] beautiful symmetry" (The Hollywood Reporter), and "top-notch" (New York Magazine).

The cast of this musical about the life of Imelda Marcos performed a medley at the Obie Awards ceremony at Webster Hall, New York. Show creators musician David Byrne and DJ/music producer Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook also won an Obie for their music and lyrics. The show features Philippine-born actor Jose Llana in the role of Ferdinand Marcos.

Ramos designed costumes for "Here Lies Love."
Ramos is multi-awarded for his work. He is a recipient of the 2011 Craig Noel Award (sets), 2010 Lucille Lortel Award (costumes), 2009 Theatre Development Fund Irene Sharaff Young Master Award (costumes), 2008 American Theater Wing Henry Hewes Award (costumes), among others.

His recent New York credits include costume designs for "Volpone" at Red Bull Theater and "The Good Person of Szechuan" at Foundry Theater/The Public Theater.

He's also designed for Ma-Yi Theater and National Asian American Theatre Company, two groups founded by Filipino theater artists who've relocated to the US.

Ramos designed costumes for "Volpone."
Across the States, his recent design credits include the set design for Huntington Theater Company's "Raisin in the Sun" (Boston) and sets and costumes for Arena Stage and Alley Theater's "Mountaintop" (Washington, DC).

He designed costumes for Williamstown Theater Festival's (Massachusetts) "The Elephant Man," featuring Hollywood leading man Bradley Cooper in the titular role. The show will transfer to Broadway next year.

Costumes for "Elephant Man" featuring Bradley Cooper.
International credits include productions in London, Dublin, Stockholm, Bucharest, and Russia.

In Manila, he designed the sets of Tanghalang Pilipino's "Mga Gerilya sa Powell Street" in 2008 and Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas' "Marty Stuart/Maria Stuarda" in 2009.

Quezon City to New York
Ramos was born and raised in Cebu but relocated to Manila for college. He attended University of the Philippines' theater arts program with a major in directing and minor in design.

"But I designed most of my shows as well as those of my peers. I was really interested in the physical envelope in which the plays were placed," he says.

DUP artistic director Alex Cortez says, "When Clint was a student, he was much ahead of his time! He is a stickler for details. In his early works as costume designer of "Mayor of Zalamea/ Alcalde ng Zalamea" and as a stylist of "M. Butterfly" and "Noli Me Tangere," Clint showed a sense of artistry destined for bigger things!"

Set design for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottoms."
"Most of those shows were directed by [DUP founding artistic director] Tony Mabesa, someone whom I consider to be a great influence in my choice to pursue a life in the theater," says Ramos.

After graduation, Ramos relocated to the US in the mid-90s. "Most of my professors were trained in the US and I just really wanted to have the same training. I never expected to stay."

Ramos took up a Master of Fine Arts in Design for Stage and Film at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts on a full scholarship.

He had a short stint doing designs for TV and film. "Just like in the Philippines, TV and film are more lucrative but I missed the theater, I missed the intimacy of the connections--both the audience and the collaborators."

Obie vis-a-vis Broadway
Set design for "Raisin in the Sun."
Mia Katigbak, also from the Philippines, director/actor and co-founder of NAATCO, was part of this year's Obie Awards judging committee.

The IRNE Awards "recognize the extraordinary wealth of talent in the Boston theater." The Obie Awards are given by The Village Voice newspaper to theater artists and groups in New York City for Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway productions. The Lucille Lortel Awards are named for actress and theater producer Lortel and are produced by the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers. (The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre or Tony Awards cover Broadway productions.)

Set design for "How the World Began."
The term “Off-Broadway” originally meant productions in theaters outside of Manhattan's theater district. To the general public, the term has evolved to refer to a theater's size. Broadway theaters seat more than 500, Off-Broadway theaters seat 99 to 499, and Off-Off-Broadway theaters seat 98 and below.

Within the industry, seating capacity is considered along with a production's use of the pay scale of Actors' Equity Association, the theater industry's union of professional actors and stage managers, as Off-Off-Broadway productions do not pay union scale.

"Here Lies Love" runs until July 28 at The Public Theater. Contact +12129677555 or visit

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Cris Villonco--how she became the most versatile actress of her generation

Cris Villonco--how she became the most versatile actress of her generation
By Walter Ang
May 18, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Anna Cristina Siguion-Reyna Villonco
Cris Villonco has been cast in English and Filipino productions, plays and musicals, dramas and comedies, classic and contemporary material, in character and lead roles, and earlier this year, even in a male role (well, a female cross-dressed as a male, as Viola/Cesar in Philippine Educational Theater Association's "'D Wonder Twins of Boac," an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night.").

But if life had taken a different turn, she would have been a politician by now.

"Pa-laos ka na," was what her own mother told Villonco in her senior year of high school in the mid-2000s. This was an assessment of her entertainment career: flourishing as a child singer but stalling as a teenager that nobody knew what to with.

Villonco first gained popularity through her appearances in "Aawitan Kita," the seminal television show that featured kundiman and other Filipino song forms. Soon she was being hired to sing theme songs for various charities and organizations.

The exposure led to Time Magazine noticing her role in creating awareness for these various causes and selecting her as a "Hero For The Planet" in 2000.

More opportunities came. Hosting gigs on television. Album recordings. A singing stint at the Vatican in the presence of Pope John Paul II. Cast in a Fernando Poe, Jr. movie. Headlining a solo concert.

Then it all fizzled. "My parents are always the first to give me the bad news. They have never protected me from pain," she says, quashing notions that she lives in any kind of bubble.

It was decided that she would leave the showbiz industry and attend Sarah Lawrence College in the USA to take up Economic Development. "I wanted to eventually take up law and join public office."

Cris Villonco (right) as Young Cosette
in Rep's "Les Miserables."
Upon her return in 2007, Villonco worked for two nongovernment organizations. Her life under the klieg lights a distant memory, that is, until she decided to give stage lights one more try.

"It's my first love," she says. Villonco had done theater a few times when she was still in showbiz. In fact, her stage debut as Young Cosette in Repertory Philippines' "Les Miserables" happened before she even started appearing on television.

When she was a teenager, she'd also been cast in lead roles in Actor's Actors' "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress," and in Musical Theatre Philippines' "Alikabok."

As katipunera Bising Vallejo in Musicat's "Alikabok."
And she'd never really let go of performing even when she was in the US, as she'd taken voice and music classes.

The seed planted by theater may have taken some time in taking root, but it sure bloomed with a vengeance when Villonco returned to it as an adult.

In 2008, she broke into the scene in a very big way by bagging two lead roles: as Ophelia in Rep's "Hamlet" and as Zafira in Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas' "Orosman at Zafira." At the same time.

As Zafira in Dulaang UP's "Orosman at Zafira."
"It was one of the craziest times of my life," she says of traversing the city to get from one production to the other.

"I didn't audition in both productions [and expect to get in] as a career move. I only went to the Orosman audition because the actress who'd been cast as Zafira had to drop out and asked me to audition."

Four more lead roles in different productions followed that year. By the following year, she received a citation from Philstage Gawad Buhay! for Outstanding Featured Actress for her turn as Ophelia.

And then, perhaps even crazier, she up and left to work in Hong Kong Disneyland. Because of a rough patch in her personal life.

"I have been privileged and blessed but problems are problems. Nasasaktan din naman ako. I was losing myself in my anger. I always feel what I want to feel at any moment. So I left," she says.

While bewildered at the absurdity of leaving the heels of what seemed to be a triumphant resurrection of her theater career, Villonco also found a renewed sense of self. "Hong Kong was where I really had my independent period. I discovered things about myself," she says.

Hard worker
As Ophelia in Rep's "Hamlet."
The distance and space allowed her to reset, recharge and recalibrate a return path to Manila's theater scene. And she's been at it since then.

By 2011, she'd gained traction again, landing two plum lead Maria roles. She was cast as Maria Rainer-Von Trapp in Resorts World Manila's "Sound of Music" and as Maria Clara in Tanghalang Pilipino's "Noli Me Tangere," for which she won the Philstage Gawad Buhay! for Outstanding Lead Actress.

"Cris is an addict," she's been described by a fellow actor. Not to drugs, but to working. She takes it as a compliment. "I'm overfocused and overdedicated," she says. "I'm proud to say I'm a hard worker and that I prepare for productions so that I will know my stuff. That's what's gotten me to where I am, contrary to what people say behind my back."

Assumptions and speculations (still) abound when it comes to Villonco, usually in relation to her family background: that her family pays productions for her to get in, that she never auditions for anything because of her family's clout.

"But people see me waiting in line for my turn!" she says, shaking her head and laughing.

Goofing around backstage in RWM's "Sound of Music."
Her family is, for better or for worse, inextricably part of how the public (still) identifies and perceives Villonco. It can be argued that her popularity when she was a young performer, talent notwithstanding, was partly fueled because of the fact that she came from a line of newsmakers all in their own right.

To wit: maternal grandmother Armida Ponce Enrile Siguion-Reyna, singer, producer and host of "Aawitan Kita," former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair (and sister of soprano Irma Ponce Enrile-Potenciano and politician Juan Ponce Enrile); maternal uncle Carlos Siguion Reyna (Armida's son), filmmaker; father Rolando Mario "Opap" Villonco, lawyer known for being Gretchen Barretto's defense counsel in the 1994 "Take it, take it" Filmfest Scam; and mother Monique Siguion-Reyna Villonco, television producer, photographer and pioneering editor-in-chief of the Philippine edition of Town and Country Magazine.

A connection to their names seems to be always highlighted in even the most casual of media interviews with Villonco, simultaneously highlighting and shadowing her.

Moving on
In Rep's "Love's Labours' Lost"
Villonco doesn't pretend to be unaffected by the gossip. She asks pointedly while rolling her eyes, "What is my family going to do? Pay everyone off every time there's a problem? Which we've never done. And in any case, we don't have that kind of money!"

And challenges do exist for her. Villonco talks of being rejected for roles because of her fair skin, of perceptions that she can't speak Tagalog.

"I guess sometimes, based solely on looks, directors can only imagine casting me as the rich tisay or a sacrificial virgin. In real life, I'm a cowboy," she laughs.

"And when people are surprised I can speak Tagalog, I think to myself 'After 20 years of singing on 'Aawitan Kita' and having my grandmother reprimand me whenever I mispronounce Tagalog words--malamang!'"

There is no time, however, for Villonco to dwell on things beyond her control. "You win some, you lose some. And I've lost a lot. But one moves on."

Putting on make-up
What she does manage is the way she commits to and handles her career. And given that she started off as a singer, surprise, she prefers doing plays.

"Because with plays, I don't have to think of or take care of my singing voice. I've always considered myself an actor more than a singer. When I have singing roles, my singing choices are actually based on acting decisions."

But whether doing musicals or plays, typically for Villonco, who's blessed with a photographic memory ("I memorize every period, every comma, every ellipsis of the script."), once she's done reading and learning the music, it's followed by immersion in the rehearsal process.

"I like to get to the core of my character, of the scene, of the story. I have strong opinions and sometimes I need a director to break me before I can figure out the character completely. It's difficult but it's a nice feeling.

"I want to be top of my game and I really delve into the process, so much so that I sometimes create problems for myself," she says laughing.

As Viola/Cesar in Peta's "'D Wonder Twins of Boac."
"I like the torture. I thrive on it. I need to suffer before I can achieve something. I feel like if it's been too easy, I didn't explore all of the aspects of my role."

Exploration is definitely a theme that threads through Villonco's theater career. "I try to always attend workshops or training. You have to keep finding out new things. Theater is constantly evolving and so do techniques and methods."

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Stella Cañete—accomplished thespian, kitchen whiz, entrepreneur

Stella Cañete—accomplished thespian, kitchen whiz, entrepreneur
By Walter Ang
May 10, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Stella Cañete in DUP's "Ang Tagak"
Stella Cañete was recently seen on stage in Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas’ stagings of “The Seagull” and its Filipino adaptation “Ang Tagak,” both as Polina; and “Collection,” as Tatiana Olandres. She was also in De La Salle-College of St. Benilde’s “Imaginary Invalid” as Angelique and its Filipino version, “Le Praning Du Sining,” as Toinette.

During her time off stage, Cañete loves to cook and confesses to an obsession with cookbooks and cooking shows. As a child, she made sure to catch shows like “Cooking It Up with the Dazas” and even a Chinese cooking show that used to be on the air.

“I couldn’t understand a thing the host was saying but that didn’t stop me from making my own interpretation,” she says.

She used to follow recipes diligently but eventually she started to deconstruct them by changing procedures and altering ingredients. “I have some original recipes that I’ve created ‘just by feel.’”

She now runs Cuchina Lasa del Mundo, her “humble home-based food business.” The name suggests an international array of dishes, and it all started with her version of Italian eggplant parmigiana, or, as she describes it, “breaded eggplant strips layered with three cheeses: cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey Jack, served with my herbed tomato sauce.”

She initially sold her one and only product to friends and colleagues; a tray served eight for P800. “But as word of mouth spread amongst friends, requests for new dishes came along,” she recalls.

Shifting gears
Cañete’s foray into theater began in high school. “I had my first acting workshop under Aureaus Solito, who is now a well-known film director.” She also attended several workshops with Philippine Educational Theater Association.

During her freshman year at the University of the Philippines, she became a member of UP Repertory Company. “It prompted me to shift gears from Architecture to Speech and Drama instead,” she says.

She also joined Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. “Tony Mabesa, founder of DUP, opened opportunities for me to take on challenging roles. Since then and until now, I have considered DUP as my theater home base. I wouldn’t have been able to fulfill my dream of being cast in ‘Miss Saigon’ (as Yvette in the Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore productions) if not for the training that I have received from my mentors in UP.”

Cooking skills
Stella Cañete's Eggplant Parmigiana
Cañete’s culinary and entrepreneurial streak started in childhood. She remembers having to tightly budget her allowance during the late ’80s to save up for a small bottle of hairspray just so she could “enjoy the cobra tease hairdo.”

“We were taught to live very modestly.” She knew how to bake and, at the age of 12, made flyers with a handwritten listing of just two products: Chocolate crinkles and oatmeal cookies.

Truffle infused Wild Mushrooms Spinach Fettuccine
Her cooking skills she learned from her mother. To augment her father’s remittances from Saudi Arabia, Cañete’s mother would bake biko and puto, peddling her wares around the neighborhood.

“Late at night, she would prep and bake puddings to sell for breakfast. During summer, she would set up a table outside our house and sell halo-halo.”

“It was my beautiful, strong-willed Nanay who let the five-year-old me play around and experiment in her kitchen. The first chocolate cake I baked in her turbo broiler was awful, but she finished her portion and pointed out the elements of the dish I could improve on. One of the most important life lessons, amongst so many more, my Nanay taught me.”

She then adds, laughing: “My knife skills I learned from watching ‘Wok with Yan’ (a defunct cooking show popular in the 80s).”

Kitchen partner
Stella Cañete and Juliene Mendoza
Helping her out with the business is husband and fellow actor Juliene Mendoza. Both are professed foodies.

“We love exploring all kinds of cuisine! This passion, excitement and mission to taste the wide spectrum of world flavors is what we would like to share with our clients.”

The couple is also part of nine artist co-owners of Taumbayan Bar & Restaurant in Quezon City, a popular hang-out for actors and theater folk.

“Juliene helps me with our business. When I’m pressed for time he turns into my assistant cook. When I get too tired, he becomes my dishwasher. And yes, he’s the delivery guy!”

He’s also her number-one fan. “I always feel kilig every time Juliene tells me ‘You are most beautiful when you cook.’”

In addition to being business partners, “It’s comforting to be married to a fellow actor. There is no need to explain myself when, out of the blue, I talk or sing out loud and blurt out words from my script or score. I can also act out any character at home and he won’t find it weird. At least I’d like to believe he doesn’t.”

Art and soul
Double Cheese Melt Sandwich
Their menu now includes Truffle Infused Spinach Fettuccine & Wild Mushrooms (“Topped with crumbled goat cheese”) and Assam Fish & Lady Fingers (“Milkfish, okra and tomatoes in a rich and spicy Malaysian blend sauce”).

Poultry dishes include Chicken & Fruit Tajine (“With pears and oranges stewed in Moroccan herbs and spices, topped with almonds”) and Wine Chicken & Chicory (“Pan-seared, thyme marinated, and finished in a flambéed red wine sauce”).

Vietnamese Beef Pho Soup
Her beef recipes include Beef Rendang (“Slow cooked with coconut milk and Indonesian spice paste”) and Oriental Beef Stew (“Korean-inspired savory and sweet brisket stew”).

“What’s most important for me, whether an original creation or inspired by a cookbook recipe, is that all the food I prepare is an extension and expression of my love. My passion as an artist translates to what I do with food. I would call my style of cooking as ‘soul food,’” says Cañete.

Cuchina Lasa del Mundo accepts orders at least three days in advance, with delivery services to selected areas in Quezon City only. Advance orders of eggplant parmigiana can be picked up at Franciscan Restaurant, Mile Long Bldg., Amorsolo St., Makati. Contact 0922-8080453.

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Joseph and Francis Matheu: twin brothers–and twin theater artists

Joseph and Francis Matheu: twin brothers–and twin theater artists
By Walter Ang
May 4, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Joseph (left) and Francis Matheu.
When Joseph Matheu was born, no one knew he was going become a brother to twin Francis just two minutes later. "The doctor didn't know because during our mom's check-ups, he would hear only one heartbeat," says Joseph.

Their mother was a biology teacher and their father was a chef. "Growing up, our toys were microscopes," says Francis. In college, both took up Hotel and Restaurant Management.

However, following in the footsteps of either parent wasn't meant to be.

Joseph is now a theater and live events lighting designer, with credits such as Triumphant Peoples Evangelistic Theatre Society's (Trumpets) "Little Mermaid," Gantimpala Theater's "Kanser," and Ballet Philippines' "Romeo and Juliet." He's also been television show Eat Bulaga's resident lighting director since 2007.

Francis is an actor and choreographer. He was recently cast as Basilio in Gantimpla Theater's "El Filibusterismo" last year and has done choreography for Repertory Philippines' "I Love You Because" and 9 Works Theatricals' "The Wedding Singer."

Stepping on stage
Joseph Matheu
While he may have come after Joseph, it was Francis who pursued theater first.

"Theater beckoned when I was a college student. I saw a restaging of Trumpets musical 'First Name.' The summer after that show, Trumpets opened their very first Playshop summer acting workshop and I told our mom that I wanted to attend. I've never stopped doing theater since," he says.

Joseph soon followed the same path and started out as an actor. "When I saw Francis in his very first professional play in the ensemble of Manila Metropolitan Theater Guild's 'Romeo and Juliet,' I realized I wanted to do what he was doing," he says.

Both were cast in the original production of Trumpets' "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" where Joseph played a wolf and Francis played a unicorn. "We were once cast together in a touring production of Trumpets' "Pamilya Maleta" where Joseph played the father and I played his son!" says Francis, laughing.

"That was the production where I started noticing the lighting design," says Joseph. "I turned to look towards the control booth and it was Trumpets artistic director Audie Gemora I saw controlling the lights. He encouraged me to pursue lighting design, he was very instrumental for my becoming a lighting designer."

Going backstage
Francis Matheu
Joseph trained in lighting design at the Cultural Center of the Philippines under Jun Gomez and at Sinag Arts under Shoko Matsumoto.  "I've been juggling acting and lighting since then," he says.

Francis, on the other hand, took up a master's degree in theater arts at University of the Philippines and attended formal dance classes for two years.

"In the beginning, I just wanted to learn the basics so that I wouldn't fall behind during dance rehearsals for shows but dance has become a passion. Whenever I direct for workshops, I always end up doing the choreography as well," he says.

Francis has also done an acting workshop with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and even a kabuki movement workshop. He's facilitated acting workshops for Trumpets and Philippines Opera Company, among others.

Making their own stage
Joseph Matheu
When they're not busy with shows, the twins occasionally provide off-stage entertainment to the theater community whenever one twin is mistaken for the other.

But most of the time, they're providing entertainment to the public with the productions they produce.

"We have been producing plays since 2005, mostly full-length plays and musicals for different clients, mostly educational institutions," says Joseph.

The duo provides production support and equipment to their clients. "Most clients require a full production so we hire professionals like set designers, stage managers, sound technicians and the like to complete our team."

Leveraging their experience, the brothers founded Twin Bill Theater last year with Francis as artistic director Joseph as associate artistic director.

"Staging our own shows is one of our goals and we will get there, most definitely," Francis says. Meanwhile, the pair believes in training, equipping and involving people in the performing arts. "That's why we conduct workshops and seminars."

Bringing others to the stage
Francis Matheu
Under Twin Bill Theater's theater training series, Joseph will conduct a lighting design workshop (May 13- June 1) while Francis will teach a basic acting workshop (May 7-June 2)

"Topics for the lighting design workshop will cover functions, qualities and properties of light, basic electrical knowledge, and safety. Participants will also be taught how to prepare for production meetings, basic lighting layout, and using lighting control panels, among others," says Joseph.

He will share his knowledge based on his own experiences in stage lighting, photography, cinematography, production management and technical direction.

The pair has plans of eventually including fencing as part of their workshop series. "I took fencing classes in college and was able to compete locally. It's actually one of the things an actor must know. Francis learned it too."

Enrollment ongoing for Twin Bill Theater's Basic Acting Workshop (starts May 7) and Lighting Design Workshop (starts May 13). To be held at Dance Forum Space, 36-E West Ave., Quezon City. Contact, 09173928002 or 09274604652.

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Jojo Mamangun, Former Ballet Philippines dancer, shoots Filipino indigenous peoples

Jojo Mamangun, Former Ballet Philippines dancer, shoots Filipino indigenous peoples
By Walter Ang
May 2013

"When I was younger, I didn't have the means to shoot as much as I wanted," says former Ballet Philippines dancer Jojo Mamangun. "I didn't have the time nor resources for photography. A roll of 36 exposures cost a whole day's meal for me. My previous career was my priority back then. Sometimes, I was only able to hold my camera only for cleaning once a month!"

Mamangun had always been inspired by beautiful pictures and was curious to know how they were created. While attending Philippine High School for the Arts, he learned the basics from his father.

"He used to be a serious hobbyist. I would look at old slides my father took from his trips. He taught me about aperture, shutter speed and film ASA (American Standards Association). It was still called ASA at that time and not ISO (International Standards Organization)," he says laughing.

"Unlike now where digital cameras let you check your work instantly, I wasted a lot of film from developing mistakes and photo paper from printing mistakes, but that's how you learn."

Mamangun also learned from photographers. "Doddie Campos taught me about push processing films, which was essential since I was into shooting stage performances."

During his time in BP, the late Noordin Jumalon (dancer, choreographer, and Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance School's dean) also shared tips and knowledge.

"He was an avid photographer. I would also hang out at the CCP Visual Arts darkroom with other photographers."

Head shots
Jojo Mamangun
After BP, Mamangun continued to work on his photography skills in Hong Kong. He'd been based there for several years with wife and also former BP dancer Kris Belle Paclibar when she was cast in a Cirque du Soleil show at the Venetian Hotel. While there, he assisted established photographers such as David Hartung.

Now that he's back in Manila, Mamangun has been holding head shot sessions. "I used to be asked by my colleagues if I could shoot their head shots. For those of us in the entertainment industry, head shots are our passport to jobs and projects. Most of the time, it's the first thing casting directors would see. It's an important investment."

His background as a performer influences his work. "Any photog can make a good photo with a simple camera but understanding the qualities of light (and not just lighting equipment) transforms a good photograph into a great photograph."

"It's easier to direct and interact with actors and dancers since we speak the same language. I try to help the subject discover what look works best. It's not the same as portrait shots, which I also love doing, because some portraits are not the best ones for a head shot."

Mamangun's head shot clients have reported to him that his work has been seen by different casting directors and directors from different cities around the world.

Filipino indigenous people 
Though Mamangun does all manner of photography such as commercial product shoots, landscapes and cityscapes, his passions are dance (obviously) and portraiture.

He has an ongoing personal project called "I.P. Portraits," a series of portraits of Filipino Indigenous Peoples.

The idea came about when he tried looking for photos of indigenous peoples. "I found them outdated. It's high time we 'documented' our indigenous peoples before they become completely forgotten."

"I really wanted to give something back. It's not something big. For this project, I gave out prints to everyone I photographed. It's a newfound joy for me. Seeing their faces light up when they see their photos on print is priceless. I don't have a sponsor but it would be nice to have a mobile printer with an endless supply of ink and photo paper so I can continue this project."

Prints from I.P. Portraits project are available for purchase. Proceeds fund future shoot sessions. Contact 09196970466 or visit