THE COLORFUL, versatile actor Bernardo Bernardo was so quotable in my Q and A w
ith him via e-mail that my recent
column on him
ran in two parts.
Despite the two-part space devoted to BB, who just finished the LA premiere engagement
of the play âThe Romance of Magno Rubi
oâ (with a wonderful cast that includes Ramon de Ocampo, Paolo Montalban, Arthu
r AcuÃ±a and Jojo Gonzalez), we still have some quotable quotes left from our i
nterview. So we are sharing some of the Q and A segments which did not get prin
ted due to space constraints.
And here's a photo of Bernardo Bernardo (standing) with Ramon de Ocampo in "The
Romance of Magno Rubio" courtesy of Matt Zugale.
A lot of Filipinos in the US remember you fondly from the period when t
hey were still living back home. They saw you in the movies, TV shows and plays
. Most people smile when they recognize you. But some have probably mistaken yo
u for someone else or have forgotten your name. What have been your humorous ex
periences in this regard?
With or without Alzheimerâs, people do tend to forget. So, I either understand.
The elitist theater life gave me my creative chops and credibility, but it was
the mass-targeted TV sitcom that made me a household name for a while, through
âHome Along Da Riles,â and the reflected unsurpassable star magnetism of the li
ving legend, Dolphy.
My arched eyebrows and whisker-capped Bardot pout were familiar emblems of Kevi
n Cosmeâs swishy, snarky arch-nemesis Steve Carpio for 10 years (with regular r
eplays on TFC global cable up to now). Still, people would mistake me for: Pasa
y Cityâs Councilor Du Jour Justo C. Justo (gay, moustache, double name -- Bingo
Worse, in a very public setting in the US, like a church, maybe; someone would
say, very LOUD, without any malice (with a resounding slap on my shoulder): âHo
oooy!!! Kilala kita! Ikaw yung BAKLA!!!... sa TV! Ano ngaâng pangalan mo?!â
What have been the most memorable incidents so far, on and off the stag
e in your performances of âThe Romance of Magno Rubioâ?
Actors get to be very territorial. When I did the Chicago Victory Gardens Theat
re run, I auditioned and was given solos for both Mike Velardeâs âIkawâ and Fab
ian Obispoâs âYouâre Not From,â and did obligatory chorus parts for âAko Poây P
The winds shifted.
For the Off-Broadway revival, Paolo was given âIkawâ and Ramon did âYouâre Not
From.â I was designated chorus and assigned to sing falsetto (which I hated!) a
nd I had to learn to play the freakinâ mandolin!
You can say, I was not a very happy camper. It was a damp late spring in New Yo
rk and I was living in a friendâs hallway in Elmhurst (grappling with noise, co
ckroaches and mice) and had to walk, take a bus and a train, transfer, then wal
k again, to and from rehearsals lugging my rehearsal bag and the mandolin.
So, there I was during crash mandolin sessions with Fabian Obispo, gingerly hol
ding this stringed instrument, saying, âAlright, Iâll take it home but Iâm not
going to learn it.â In the meantime, Paolo was learning to play the harmonica b
eautifully and improvising with virtuosic skill on the mandolin while Ramon was
channeling his inner Andres Segovia, evoking wondrous sounds from his guitar!
And I couldnât even get a decent note out of the plucking mandolin!
Finally, with dogged determination, I triumphantly learned to play my mandolin
part. We were all happy and surprised. End of story? Not quite. During the tech
nical run, I realized that I was positioned in a dark spot where, without my ey
eglasses, I could not see the strings!
The saga continued.
The unintentionally funny incidents?
Donât tell anyone. Ramon de Ocampo is a health buff to the extreme. At one time
during the run, Ramon had a high colonic prior to a show. Uh-uh. And somehow i
t made him air-headed.
For the first time ever, he was delivering his memorable monologues with a touc
h of Alzheimerâs! And in a shadow scene highlight of the play where I mouth his
lines (lip-synch), offstage people were stifling their laughter at my hopeless
ly rattled expression, my blabbering lips chasing in a tremulous twist after Ra
monâs on-the-spot monologue changes!
Now, I know why they call it a HIGH colonic!
In fairness to Ramon, he is known for his razor sharp memory. He knows everybod
yâs lines. Out of the corner of my eye, during line rehearsals, I would see him
mouthing the lines being delivered and I pretend not to notice. He gets really
, really impatient when people flub their lines.
At one time, during a show, he delivered my lines to me! The expression on his
face when he realized what he was doing was priceless.
Photo by Matt Zugale