Nonie Buencamino’s greatest love

In Photo: Nonie Buencamino, Gerald Santos and Icko Gonzales

Nonie Buencamino has been an actor more than half his life and he continues to surprise us with his many textured performances on film, television and the stage.

Over the past few months, Buencamino has been providing a solid acting foundation in the widely followed ABS-CBN afternoon drama The Greatest Love, as leading man to the Alzheimer’s-stricken central character played by Sylvia Sanchez.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying my stint in the show,” he gushed, adding, “Aside from getting to play the leading man, which does not come too often at our age, my thirst for a good script and wonderful co-actors are almost always quenched. I like the way the creative people plot out the narrative aspect week after week, and how the small cast is able to go beyond our respective characters and make each scene look as natural and real as it can.”

Aside from Sanchez, for whom Buencamino has the utmost respect, he also takes fondness with the new generation of coactors he has been working with for the past many months: Andi Eigenmann, Matt Evans, Aaron Villaflor, Ruby Ruiz, Dimples Romana and Joshua Garcia.

“On the set, we are no different from a real family. Each actor gives what he or she can, and we work as one unit in order to make every line, every emotion and every movement as natural and real as possible. Well, it’s a given that most drama series these days require a lot of confrontation scenes and unloading of tears, but we try to up the ante a little by not conforming to the norms of what the local TV industry has gotten used to.”

Now that the show is on its final stretch, Buencamino can’t help but feel a little sad.  “I think most of us are getting ready for some separation anxiety when work finally wraps up in a few weeks.  Imagine, we have been together for many months and went through roller coasters of emotions day in and day out.  I will surely miss the camaraderie and the genuine love.”

Despite being a sought-after actor,  Buencamino’s greatest love remains his family, who has now moved to a new sanctuary far from the center of the city. “It was a decision we made after our new home was offered to us more than a year ago. We have all settled in and gotten used to the travel hours.  We’ve got a lot of open space and a lot of trees and land where we can plant and do a lot of gardening. I can walk with my dogs during my nonwork days.  In fact, my big dog just gave birth and we have eight new puppies to take care of. There’s a lot of breathing room in our new house and we all love it.”

Buencamino will take a very short break before he plunges into his next acting assignments: a new film and a new TV series where he will take on a shady role, so different from the loving, generous, patient and understanding character of Peter in The Greatest Love.

SOMETHING BIG VERY SOON

The underrated singer Gerald Santos just wrapped his latest major concert and is raring to explore new horizons very soon.

The show, aptly titled Something New in My Life, was held at the SM North Skydome and featured a carefully selected repertoire of songs performed by the man of the moment and his first-rate roster of guests that included the UP Concert Chorus and Regine Velasquez.

The most applauded numbers included classics, like “What I Did For Love” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, where he hit the most challenging notes with ease and precision. Also among the crowd-favorites were Ed Sheeran’s big hit “Shape of You” and the Bruno Mars chart-top “Versace on the Floor”.

But what gave the audience goosebumps was his take on “Bui Doi”, the short but painful song from musical Miss Saigon sung by the unrequited Vietnamese lover Thuy.

Santos ended the night with his hauntingly beautiful version of “Impossible Dream” from the musical Man of La Mancha. The intimate concert was produced in celebration of his 10th anniversary in the entertainment business.

“I’m at a loss for words over this opportunity to perform in a major concert. It’s an honor to share the stage with artists I look up to. It’s special because it might take many years before I’m able to perform in a concert again here in the Philippines. I’m spreading my wings very soon and taking on a different musical adventure,” he shared, letting us in on a life-changing big step that he is bent on taking.

Reports have it that Santos will be off to a grander, bigger stage before the year ends, being the only Filipino to have passed the rigid auditions for the celebrated musical about love during the Vietnam War that has catapulted Filipino talents, like Lea Salonga, Rachel Ann Go and Jon Jon Briones, into A-list international musical artists.

Indeed, Santos has gone a long way from the time he emerged as the grand champion of Pinoy Pop Superstar, a singing contest produced by GMA. Since then, he has won awards for many of his musical compositions and featured performances in concerts. His last big win was at the 28th Aliw Awards, where he took home the Best Major Concert trophy from more celebrated artists.

We wish Santos only the best as he soars to greater heights.

IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR

Producer, actor, program presenter and corporate executive Icko Gonzales wears the director’s hat for the special Lenten presentation of CBN Asia’s this Good Friday. (See related story.)

Titled In My Father’s Arms, the drama special was conceptualized and cowritten with John Valdes Tan and features Jodi Sta. Maria in the lead role.

“I’m very privileged to be able to direct this special, heartwarming story about forgiveness, acceptance and rebirth,” he said. “There are many who choose not to be on vacation mode this Holy Week and just stay at home to reflect. But whether you’re home or away from home, as long as there’s TV, you can try to catch this Holy Week drama special.”

Gonzales added that he is honored to have Sta. Maria for his lead actress in this drama special. “Jodi is a very intuitive actor. She is a pro and needs very little guidance because she goes to the set prepared. It also helped that she is deeply ensconced in her faith.”

The director is also thankful to have a cast of competent actors, like Anna Marin, Bimbo Bautista and TJ de la Paz to support Sta. Maria. “Working on the set was both fun and meaningful with these actors.  I love it when my actors are collaborative because it makes the work easier.”

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With more than 20 years as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist, Ricky Gallardo is also a businessman. Equipped with decades of advertising experience, his interests include arts, cinema, fitness and communications.

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