Friday, April 03, 2009

Their Eyes have it....

“After 30 years of training, I am increasingly convinced that hiring

is more important than training”
Stephen R. Covey, Author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Talent managers are like fairy godmothers, they will do magic for their wards to shine in every limelight dance. I love watching them as they quietly work behind the stars.

In October, three giant sensations of Philippine entertainment were in Dumaguete for a film shoot. Film Director Seymour Sanchez has chosen Dumaguete, the hometown of his father, as location for “Handumanan” – a story of an accidental rendezvous of its three characters. Playing the role of Soledad, a writer from Dumaguete who takes a journey home is the multi-awarded actress and Time Asian heroine Chin-chin Gutierrez. The 2008 Urian Best Actor Jason Abalos is Efren, a government auditor assigned in Dumaguete and the 2008 Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “man of the year:” Akihiro Sato is Peru, the top model who had a location shoot in Pura Vida and Antulang. All three were busy building their characters and getting inspired by the natural wonders of Oriental Negros. I had the opportunity as production manager, to have many moments of up-close interactions with the actors, but having them as subjects for this article will not give new dimensions to what is already publicly known about them. I decided to put the spotlight on the “magicians” behind them, their talent managers: JONAS ANTONIO GAFFUD for Akihiro Sato, ANJIE BLARDONY-URETA for Chin-chin Gutierrez and DANILYN NUNGA for Jason Abalos.

The Brazilian-Italian-Japanese male icon Akihiro Sato is under the management of Mercator’s Jonas Gaffud. The name of Jonas’ model management agency came from a word he had seen from an old map while taking up Geography at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Mercator is the word for merchant, he explained. He said it’s a perfect name as selling an image today requires consideration of the global projections. What’s a social scientist doing in the world of model management? Jonas sensed his eye for discovering beauty during his college days. At UP, he met this campus beauty named Zorayda Andam. He told her she was beautiful and encouraged her to join Bb. Pilipinas beauty pageant. He successfully convinced the brilliant Business Economics student to be in the pageant. Jonas gathered all the resources to help his bet win and this included meetings with the UP circle of Binibining Pilipinas beauty scouts led by the country’s walking beauty pageant almanac Wendell Capili and film director Jeffrey Jeturian. Zorayda was crowned Bb. Pilipinas – Universe in 2001 and became Miss Tourism Asia. Jonas got so inspired by the thrill of discovering his first beauty queen. He became unstoppable – he has given our country our bets to the Miss Universe pageant from 2005 to 2008. His new found love meant “goodbye” to geography which had courses like anthropology, volcanology and other studies covering the contours and features of the earth. Now, he is still looking at contours – actually the possibilities of the required features within the physical make-up of a would-be talent. He worked full time in a talent agency and after two years, decided to establish Mercator. Mercator is the agency behind today’s top male models like Rocky Salumbides, Victor Basa, Bruce Quebral and Akihiro Sato, to name a few. A good number of the Binibining Pilipinas beauties are also under Jonas’ Mercator. (.

"Television plays a very important role in shaping our consciousness. For instance, even if we were far away from where the 9-11 tragedy took place, we were still affected by it because we saw what happened on television. The feeling would be different if we just read about it in the newspapers. The same with the EDSA Revolution, we felt the drama because we saw how it unfolded on screen," explained the former Executive Producer Anjie Blardony-Ureta of ABS-CBN News and Public Affairs. It is for this previous job as a network producer of a news program that Anjie is easily recognized by those in the mainstream of the entertainment industry. When she became the talent manager of Chin-chin, their tandem would easily get the respect from those in the business.

The track records of both the manager and her talent are very strong, they mean serious business and they command professionalism in all aspects of the production. Anjie’s mere presence would add credibility to a program. She won’t hesitate to express a comment on something that should be corrected. Her professional life started as an educator in a basic education institution and this background gave her the strength in all aspects of management. It’s a moment of good education when one is with Anjie. She is inviting everyone to become part of their environmental advocacy through the One Planet, One Cradle Production Garden ( The program is greatly inspired by Chinchin’s selection as one of the 2003 Asian Heroes for her dedication to the environmental preservation programs in our country. Chin-chin’s Uyayi (Lullaby) concert is aimed at promoting awareness to the need to save mother earth. Anjie is part of all these not just as a talent manager but because “It is not a choice to make, I have to be an environmentalist and everyone should because it a commitment to make as citizens of this planet.”

Danilyn Nunga wanted to become the next Korina Sanchez. This inspiration was the primary reason why she took up Mass Communication in college. But as she was facing the real world after obtaining the degree, she realized that the arena for broadcast journalists is too loaded with wannabes. In fact, when she applied as a reporter at ABS-CBN, she was told that they would need her at the network’s talent center. Left with no choice, she accepted the job. Her career literally blossomed in ABS-CBN as talent handler of Star Magic, then called Talent Center. She tried other jobs like being a store a manager but she wasn’t as happy as playing the “big sister” for the talents assigned to her. Her job with Jason is made easy for the actor is “very mabait talaga” and she added, “very professional and is really committed to his job.” Days of rejoicing are days of achievements of her “alaga.” “I was the happiest when we received the call that Jason was nominated for Urian.” She was literally jumping when Jason was proclaimed as the Urian Best Actor for “Endo,” the opening film during Dumaguete’s Cinemalaya. A hard day would be with an assignment that’s all face value with no talent to bank on. Danilyn’s dedication to her job was evident during the entire location shoot for Handumanan. We invited her several times to a tour around Metro Dumaguete while her talent was busy working but she, too, was busy making sure that her talent would get to the set on time and that every need would be provided immediately. She really loves where she is right now, and she is willing to stay for as long as she is needed.

All three know what it takes to be a star in Philippine showbiz. With just one look, they can right away spot a talent who is worthy of their touch and packaging.

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