Almost exactly a year ago I was tasked by ISDA MAGAZINE Editor in Chief SHANDII BACOLOD to do the cover story for its July issue. Of course I was delighted with the thought of having to chat away over coffee and smokes with the then WOMAN OF THE HOUR. It had to be at a circumstance of such that I would have the full attention of ANGELI BAYANI. I met here first at Mercedes Cabral’s birthday bash where we merely exchanged strange pleasantries; strange since she is a lady you’d feel you’ve known for years even if you were just introduced a swig ago. This time, so much has changed. Fresh from gracing Cannes with not just one film to her film but two; Singapore’s ILO-ILO and our own NORTE, HANGGANAN NG KASAYSAYAN. Meeting up at a Morato coffee joint, I was simply mesmerized with her cozy cool aura with not a nip of apprehension to once again laugh like a hyena with our jokes while picking on her thoughts at that particular period of her life as an actress in an industry with a very short memory. Here is the piece I made which I am reprinting as tribute to fabulous actress-gem of our generation. Of course after winning this year’s BEST ACTRESS in the Gawad Urian awards , ANGELI BAYANI has truly scratched the surface and how!
Has she landed softly back to reality after being sent to stratospheric heights by the deafening standing ovation her films [Anthony Chen’s ILO-ILO from Singapore and Lav Diaz’ NORTE , HANGGANAN NG KASAYSAYAN ] received in the recent Cannes Film Festival? Yes, honestly, but ANGELI BAYANI would rather puff some smoke and give you a girlish gaze trailed by an enigmatic smile…
“Actually, na-offend ako sa mga tanong kung nakababa na raw ba ako… let’s face it, part yan ng job mo bilang actor na tanggapin ang karangalan para sa mga obrang sinalihan mo’.
(yes, to receive a Cannes approval so to speak is all glamorous and stuff, but at the end of the day – it’s still part of your job.) Never underestimate this lovely petite actress who is at the prime of her league; her craft comes first and the accolade that may be thrown her way are just tasty sprinkles on the icing.
“I can never sit back or float on a pool relishing on how it felt to be there, much less being acknowledged! I’m a working actress and the affirmation comes with the load of work that may come my way now…”
Best known for her poignant performances on the Tanghalang Pilipino stage , Angeli made a major crossover to films in Nick Olanka’s 2007 Cinemalaya entry ANG HULING ARAW NG LINGGO. From thereon came a string of sterling roles which gave her a no-nonesense mileage as an actress.
“Some are actors by profession; some consider it [acting] as a craft … so I asked myself then, HOW bad do I want to be here?
She heavily breathes as if her life was at stake. Indeed , to be around the circle and wish to be defined as part of it, a strong decision should be made. When asked what should upstarts in the industry bear in their hearts to make it, she pensively rolls her eyes:
“Be thankful with the good breaks that is tossed their way, nurture their talent and crave for improvement in every which way but most of all, they should know what they hunger for!”
Undoubtedly, she has scratched the surface and the name ANGELI BAYANI is that celebrated petite lady of no mean talent in the industry, but as she is, nothing has changed. She still is the incorrigible loner who would rather sit alone in some corner café; cut a lotus pose on top of a hill or just be happily oblivious of what the rest of the world is up to! Also a mother to a fine five year old boy, she lavishes downtime with him watching kiddie films; which are to her amazement isn’t at all kid stuff.
“We should always connect to the child in all of us; I love watching them because they bring you back to the person you once were… habang pinapanood mo ‘yang mga THE TOY STORY na ‘yan, meron silang ‘wapak’ factor na kung ang dating sa mga bata ay fun and adventure sa atin naman ay ang lupet! I think that should really is the key, we should always remember the kid we were who dreamed of being what we are now or what we never became!”
Standing before a long road yet to trod and trail through the perfumed accolade she has brought the country, Angeli is all leveled up to compete with her past feats. She hungers for a role that she would totally find despicably appetizing; a role that would stretch or break some of her mean acting bones.
“I still have to do a Shakespearean play that the director would let me do what I want to do on my character… please, anything. King Lear, Richard II, Hamlet … even Romeo and Juliet!
… and she babbles on. With a name so potent now through the walls of the powers that be, saddle up baby… you just might get what you wish for!