Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WILL THE REAL WILLIE NEPOMUCENO PLEASE STAND UP? (First of four parts) (August 06, 2012)

Willie Nepomuceno as Dolphy

Being the Master Mimic, mostly of current events, Willie Nepomuceno is the fastest gun alive. In fact, he already had a comic take on Chief Justice Renato Corona’s impeachment right after the trial. Called Trial and Error, it featured last 26 May two of the most exciting legal eagles of late – Senator Judge Juan Ponce Enrile and Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas -- together with his usual suspects in Manny Pacman, three Philippine presidents, and, of course his idol, Pidol, to name a few!

The said show was jampacked, as expected, so it had a hit re-run last 2 June.

When the Dolphy faded away last 10 July, he paid tribute to the late great Rodolfo Vera Quizon via his show SONA: Stars of the Nation Atbp. last 21 July.

Everything took place at his favorite Music Museum.

Just like Willie Nep’s tribute on 25 August. Entitled Idols, it will be focusing on the major influences to his performing career particularly those voices he heard over the radio, seen on television and in movies, and those he played in jukeboxes and turntables during his formative years. So they have been responsible for his greatness.

This time, not from his old reliables like Paul Anka, Pres. Benigno Aquino III, Nat “King” Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., Gringo Honasan, Bruce Lee, Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, German Moreno, Manny Pacquiao, Fernando Poe Jr., Elvis Presley, Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, Freddie Roach, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Frank Sinatra, or Superman.

But from such American singers as Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Lionel Richie, and Stevie Wonder as well as their Filipino counterparts in Erap Presley, The Elderly Brothers (or Sen. Enrile and Justice Cuevas), Talentadong PNoy, and, absolutely, Dolphy in his immortal act with Panchito. Expected, too, are Celine Dion and Frank Sinatra. Even Jennifer Holiday and Jessica Sanchez. 

Willie Nep, mind you, was in Dolphy’s list as one of the best comedians in the country with Bayani Agbayani, Vhong Navarro, Vic Sotto, and Michael V.

In his biography Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Mag-Isa, the King of Comedy was quoted by Bibeth Orteza as saying: “Si Willie Nepomuceno, well, isa pa itong antigo, pero ang hirap ng ginagawa niya. Pinag-aaksayahan niya ng time and effort. Bihira ang mga comedian na tulad niya.” Well, he would not be ranked as the #1 Philippine (or Filipino) impersonator by the television show Ang Pinaka… for nothing!

Vim Nadera: You belong to a family of slashers: your father Leonardo was a policeman/ amateur boxer/ dancer while your mother Francisca was a beautician/pianist. How would you describe your very versatile home?
Willie Nepomuceno: Slashers? That's a tough word and our family doesn't even fancy cockfighting.. hehe. I got my toughness and inquisitive mind set from my dad who worked as a detective for the police force. I guess, the love for the arts and music is a trait shared by both of my parents which became a passion for me even at a tender age. That brought harmony and bliss at home.

VN: How are you as a kuya? Are your siblings artists too?
WN:We're probinsiyano by nature and geography so a kuya will always be a protective and caring one though I'm more of the liberal kind. My sisters are not artists, in the strict sense, but they do have fine tastes and could be my "worst critics" when it comes to my performances. And I like it that way to keep me grounded.

VN: After high school, you worked as an illustrator at the Science Education Center in Diliman, that subsidized you as University of the Philippines’ College of Fine Arts major. What was your ambition back then?
WN: I was quite a dreamer then. I wanted to finish school so I can put my creative ideas into fruition when I work perhaps in an advertising agency. It doesn't work that way pala. Reality check was the key word.

VN:You were a student activist, a college councilor in the UP Student Council, a managing editor of the Philippine Collegian and the fraternity paper, The Betan, and a fixture in the campus art and music scene. How did you manage your time as a student?
WN: Looking back, I still have no answer. It simply felt like they were the natural order of things to do. But, of course, I had a few lows. I had at least two semesters of minimal units load on a conditional student status and a few touches of Beethoven's 5th encircled by red ink... not really music to the ears, especially for my parents.

VN:What was your contribution to anti-Marcos rallies?
WN: Initially I formed part of the speaker's bureau of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines which was the umbrella of organized progressive organizations. I also acted as a liaison officer to certain student leaders of other campuses. In the course of several rallies and demonstrations in UP, and atop the Quiapo underpass as makeshift stage, I would notice the impassioned tenor of most speakers. Feeling ko parang galit silang lahat sa mundo. When it was my turn to speak, I experimented by creating make-believe scenarios with Marcos as the main character. The audience lapped it up and henceforth I became a regular fixture in most rallies and that was the beginning of my satirical impressions. Sa UP naman whenever there's a call for a boycott of classes, I would be the first person with the megaphone at the steps of the Arts and Sciences building to work out the initial crowd. Kumbaga parang "jeepney barker" sa sakayan ng mga pasahero.

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