“It was tough being a team leader. I would lock myself inside my room for hours, just thinking of a good concept for the show,” said singer Mark Bautista of his reason for taking a break from performing on the GMA 7 weekly variety program, “Sunday All Stars.”
Mark Herras assumed Bautista’s position for a week before SAS producers declared a reshuffle and assigned Rochelle Pangilinan as leader of Tropang Trending, starting with the July 21 episode.
Bautista recounted: “I researched intensively. When I couldn’t make it to technical rehearsals, I ‘met’ with my group mates on Face Time to make sure they were doing things right. I put all my time and effort into it. I told myself I couldn’t be like that all the time. I neglected other commitments.”
Your team won twice in a month while you were the leader. What was your secret?
That team is extremely talented—with good dancers like Mark and Rochelle and some other members, especially Rachelle Ann Go, who are great singers. Plus, they’re all hardworking. I always asked them for suggestions. Our every performance was a real team effort. On top of which, we got a lot of help from the choreographer, writer, stylist and music researcher assigned to us.
What were the problems you encountered as group leader?
For our first episode, we were given a lead time of one month. For the following episodes, that was cut down to one week. We didn’t have an easy time of inviting guest performers, either. We wanted Gloc 9 to sing with us, but he was busy. We wanted to invite other personalities but the other groups got to them ahead of us. We also needed to decide quickly on the songs we would use—or else the other teams would get them for their production numbers.
What were you like as a group leader?
Very hands-on. For the team’s first performance, I personally searched for trumpet and saxophone players. For the number that featured a marriage proposal, we just got lucky. I talked with the guy and he agreed to do it. I did, however, like the fact that I was able to exercise my creativity through the show.
Were you, at any point, worried that the problems would cause conflict in the group?
Yes that was a concern. I was always thinking it could happen, especially if members were always late, or missed rehearsals. We tried very hard to avoid that, and I was glad they trusted me.
Did you work with a dialogue coach for the stage play, “The Full Monty”?
No, I didn’t. It helped that I competed in oratorical contests when I was in school. I joined nationwide contests and, modesty aside, won all of them. That was in college, when I was studying Architecture. Also, I used to want to become a newscaster. I remember imitating CNN anchors.
Our director Chari Arespacochaga (Atlantis Productions) guided me every step of the way. There were times when I didn’t understand the humor in the play, so she had to explain it to me. It helped that I isolated myself for a month. I didn’t go out. I turned down all invitations from friends. Also, Direk Chari advised me not to speak Bisaya at home.
While this was ongoing, I watched relevant movies and studied the script intently. It wasn’t required of me, but I made sure I had memorized all my lines before the first day of rehearsals. On stage, I surprised myself when I turned into a totally different person; I became my character.
Will you be doing another stage play soon?
I must confess it’s addicting. After “Noli Me Tangere” and “The Full Monty,” which were both very challenging, I told myself I’d do another one only if I came across a material more demanding than those two.
How are you preparing for your 10th anniversary celebration?
I have a concert, “The Sound of Love,” which will feature mostly classics and standards. It will be more mature compared to my previous shows. I will sing modern songs with a twist. I will also perform classic hits like “Ngayon at Kailanman” and “I Need You,” but with new arrangements. I’m very thankful to Ms. Regine (Velasquez) for being my guest. The show will be on Aug. 9. The UP Singing Ambassadors will be performing, too. I’m happy that it will be held in a venue that is small and intimate—the Music Museum. I want the show to be short but compact. GB Sampedro will direct.