Why I mourned Miss Saigon

“Gaga, umiyak ka nga??” my friend asked.

Yes, I did. I mourned it. OA noh?

But as in all failures or botched up dreams, you must mourn and then move on. In grief education, it’s also taught that acknowledging is the crucial, non-negotiable and necessary first step. Well, here I am proclaiming it—I wanted it. And I didn’t get it.

I was actually a little apprehensive about putting it out there. I didn’t want to tell people I was even auditioning, because should the odds…not have gone in my favor (which was what happened anyway), I didn’t want to have to explain and lalalalala. And, you know, the less people know, the less painful the blow.

Miss Saigon meant more to me than a regular “You win some, you lose some” audition.

To me at least, it meant taking a leap of faith and allowing myself to dream again. It meant meant going back to my “first love”. It meant fighting for something I thought I could already walk away from. It meant working my butt off and hoping that it would actually pay off. It meant going after MY OWN DREAM after…feeling that I had lost myself somehow this year. 

I spent 2012 working and focusing on my priorities (a.k.a Arlington, The Black Fleet and of course, the people that truly matter in my life). This meant keeping the nagging thoughts at bay and silencing the “need for theater”. A better part of the year was spent supporting others and being on the sidelines.  In the process of being strong and constantly being there for others… in the act of working, supporting, giving, sacrificing and keeping it all together—I just lost myself somewhere along the way. Thus, I wanted a little “me time”. I wanted a “me opportunity”. If I were to be completely blunt, I wanted to be selfish.

I wanted this so badly because I felt I deserved it (Kapal noh?).

This, after a whole year of giving and giving and somehow losing grip & sense of the old Sab. But I guess, the timing still isn’t right? I guess, Sab still isn’t ripe enough for the world’s bigger adventures. 

Anyway! I spent 35 days in “Saigon Camp”, going berserk and reminding myself that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. For an entire month, I followed a strict schedule—of voice lessons, exercise, character study, video and script research, and talking with my uncle Brian (who was in the national tour of Miss Saigon! So proud BUT jealous of you!).

 See photos for proof. (On a side note,  I am such a dork for compiling EVERYTHING.)

In retrospect, I’m still glad I compiled everything. Sure, it makes me a little sad looking at the folder but I think I’ll start doing this from now on. It’s good work ethic and training for the future. 

However disappointed, I am grateful for how it happened and thankful for the solid support given to me by my family and friends. THANK YOU for dreaming with me and believing in me.


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So, registration day came and like others vying for the Monday slots, I came at around 6:30 am, thinking I was ahead of the race. Late na pala ko sa lagay na yun! There were about 100 people ahead of me. There was somebody that actually spent the night there.


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In line with me were Marvin Ong, James Stacey and James Gregorio (Yes he lined up with us. In fact, it brought him so much joy and pride that he was actually handed a blue form. He was so amused. It was an “accomplishment”. ) After about 4 hours of actual sweat, I finally got the pink slip/stub/golden ticket.


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Audition Day

My mom tells me that she’s decided to go with me. (Mother’s intuition I guess—that I’d be needing her that morning. Ha-ha.). When I got to POC, they were about an hour behind schedule. The auditionees moved from seat to seat and inched their way closer. TV crews were documenting like vultures. That d@mn door kept swinging open!

People were walking out with feigned smiles (if they didn’t get called back) and megawatt ones (if they did). As for the rest of us, we sat there waiting for fate—expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

The Audition

Director: Hello there, Isabella. What are you going to sing for us?

Sab: I’ll be singingI’d give my life for you

Director: You’d give your life for me?

Sab: Oh, I would. (Cue laughter. In my case, it was VERY nervous laughter. Haha.)

So I sang my heart out and midway, I saw the director writing something.  I’m not sure if that was a good thing. Either way, it pushed me to sing louder (perhaps a bit too loud, that it might have sounded like…screaming?). I don’t really remember. I do remember that my voice cracked a little bit towards “You will be who you want to be… can choose whatever…” but overall, I felt as if I was about to faint. That’s how much energy I was giving. It felt like as if I was baring my soul. At that moment, I didn’t give a damn about how I looked or sounded. I just sang my lungs out.

(End of song)

Director: Well done, Isabella. Glad to have met you. Thank you.

So I left the room and tried to keep it together. I walked out, still in a daze and pretty much confused by what just happened. In my head, I was thinking, “Wow. That was it. That was it? ???? It’s…over. Just like that.”

The Exit

Driver Bert: Okay na, Sab? (with thumbs up)

Sab: Hindi eh, Bert. No callback.

Driver Robert: Ha?? Ano ibig sabihin nun?

Sab: Wala, yun na yun. Probably not for me.

Driver Robert: Haaaa? Upakan ko sila gusto mo?

Sab: Haha, ano ba! Where’s Mom?

I got into the car and smiled at my mom. Because hey, big girls don’t cry. But moms have a way of breaking those walls. They have a way of making you feel safe and making you feel that it’s okay to be weak, to feel disappointed, to cry, etc. The moment my Mom hugged me, I just cried. No holding back or trying to be strong. I just let it all out. And it was the kind of crying that I hadn’t succumbed to in a while. It felt good and bad at the same time.

A week and a day have passed and I believe I’ve recovered. Ha-ha. Of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t even get called back, but who am I to question that? Who am to fight fate or question God? Who am I to say I’m more deserving than others? Who the hell is Sab Jose? 

My biggest takeaway?

It’s alright to dream, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep your feet on the ground either. In the world of theater, you must be prepared to leave your ego at the door. You must be prepared to question yourself ALL THE TIME. You must be prepared to get your heart broken, to believe then get disappointed, to experience joy and heartbreak in the same breath or sentence.

Theater is good training for life. It keeps you grounded, prepared and disciplined. It teaches you the value of hard work, sacrifice, timing, prayer, humility and patience. It teaches you that while you don’t always get what you want, you’re given what you need.

P.S. Don’t worry, Tito Brian. I still believe. 😉

Disappointment is the price you pay for dreaming, but the prospect of getting it someday

and getting there somehow, makes it worthwhile.  ©

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