Looking back on my careers in theater, radio, print, TV and film, I have retroactively realized that I was blessed with the official and unofficial mentorship of some of the finest teachers a young talent could ever hope to have. My thanks to all of them!
At the Ateneo de Cagayan, my most influential mentors in theater were Fr. Victor J. Helly and Armando Baltazar. At the Ateneo de Manila graduate school, I benefited greatly from teachers like Fr. James B. Reuter and Rolando Tinio.
At Northwestern University in the States, where I got my M.A. in Radio-TV-Film, my visionary teachers were similarly famous names in US TV, theater and film.
I also learned a lot from my erudite and experienced mentors at the Center for Educational Television Overseas in London, where I took postgraduate studies on a Colombo Plan grant.
In the Philippines, my earliest mentors in radio when I was still a callow teenager were the best—Henry and Reuben Canoy of Radio Mindanao Network. They had only two stations in Cagayan de Oro then, so they had the time to train me personally, and I imbibed a lot from their sterling example.
After I finished my graduate studies abroad, Henry tapped me to direct many TV shows at IBC-13, so I owe him a lot for that “baptism of fire,” as well.
Ditto for Geny Lopez, who was not only the owner of the Manila Chronicle, where I first worked as a journalist, but also the head of ABS-CBN, where I wrote and directed a number of shows, including “Two for the Road” with the iconic Elvira Manahan as host-producer.
Speaking of La Elvira, she was a major influence on me, not just professionally but also personally, because I became her close friend. I learned a lot from her exuberant love for life, as well as her refusal to abide fools and charlatans.
Also a key influence, this time in the field of journalism, is my first editor, Eggie Apostol, for whom I wrote in Woman and Home, the weekly magazine she edited for the Manila Chronicle.
Eggie also became a good friend. Like Elvira, she taught me life lessons that you can’t pick up in the classroom or at the workplace.
I became such an Eggie loyalist that I followed her wherever she went, to Mr. & Ms. magazine and then to the Inquirer, where she entrusted me with responsibilities like editing the Lifestyle section, the paper’s Sunday magazine, and now Saturday Special, plus a column.
On TV, my other mentors included producer Pete Roa and ETV pioneer, Leo Larkin.
In the theater, Tinio was a key director and friend, and I ended up acting in more than 40 of his productions—!
Rolando also greatly influenced me in my big decision to shift from English to Filipino theater, for which I am deeply grateful.
I was also lovingly mentored by Bert and Daisy Avellana, and I acted in many plays directed by Zeneida Amador, Behn Cervantes, Joey Gosiengfiao, Sarah Joaquin, Tony Espejo, Bill Kane, Wallace Bacon, Jonas Sebastian, Jimmy Asencio—and then some!
In the movies, my mentors were icons like Eddie Romero, Joseph Estarda, FPJ, Marichu Maceda and Cirio Santiago. —To all of them, my deepest thanks!