Take Off

(Taken from the Waiting in the Wings Souvenir Program)

Dear You,

Six years ago, I graduated and set out to find my place in the world. As a toast to legit adulthood, my parents sent me on a graduation trip. I decided I wanted to go back to London. I grabbed the opportunity and took a short course in Musical Theater during that short trip. Like a whirlwind romance that knocks the wind out of you, my brief love affair with London left me yearning for more. I knew in my heart that I wanted to pursue theater full time, but I was petrified of the repercussions. In short, I chickened out. I figured, “Find a decent paying job, do theater on the side, settle down, have kids, live comfortably, die painlessly,”

Also, life had other plans for me. I had to fly back to Manila shortly after since I had committed to do a few shows back home. After that came a string of productions which I did on the side— Wedding Singer (9Works) RENT (9Works) Peter Pan (Repertory Philippines) Grease (9Works) and Shrek (Atlantis).

I got involved in the family business and it changed me in ways no other industry could. During my time in Arlington, I wore A LOT of hats. I was in Sales and Marketing. I was my Dad’s right hand man. I opened a playroom for grieving childen. Oh, and I became a certified memorial host for funerals (yes, there is such a thing). Suffice it to say, my time in Arlington filled me to the brim and it became my life for four years. I guess you can say that theater had to take a backseat. I consoled myself with the thought that I’d do a production a year to scratch the proverbial acting itch.

Then came The Sandbox Collective. The thing that led me back into the theater but actually had me working on the sidelines or in the wings, so to speak. During the wildly successful run of No Filter, I couldn’t shake off this feeling in my gut. I wanted to go back to performing. But how? What now?

I was in a rut. A funk. A quarter-life crisis that had me sobbing in the most random places at the most inopportune times. At some food court in San Francisco, in between bites of Panda Express, Mom and I had a long talk about life, love and career (ah, yes…the three major pillars). I had been feeling shitty about my career and life trajectory. I had been lamenting the feeling of “being left behind” by everyone in general. Then and there, we decided that I was going to give theater one more go. And that this time, I was going to go all in.

Cut to January 2016, my parents flew with me for the International Auditions (if only to make sure that I would show up, haha). To be completely honest, I went in there without the intention of actually getting in, but to tell myself I tried anyway. I was preempting failure by convincing myself it was too late for me, that I was rusty and that I probably wouldn’t make the cut anyway. I mean, hello, 20 slots. From people all over the world. Who was I to make the cut?

After a grueling 8-hour audition and two weeks of complete torture (it’s the waiting that kills you), I got the acceptance letter. I was offered a place on the Masters Program in Musical Theater at Guildford (GSA).

Tonight, I want to take you on a journey. Let me tell you my story—warts and all. In the words of Millie (Thoroughly Modern Millie), let me show you the “highs, lows, tears and laughter” of someone waiting in the wings of the theater, and elsewhere in life.

Tonight, I will step out of the wings, into the light and take off.

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Waiting in the Wings Video by Bettina Jose

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