|ALL OF ME|
Vim Nadera: What are your most unforgettable experiences in doing the following celebrities:
Willie Nepomuceno: Maybe I should only cite the more memorable ones:
(1) SAMMY DAVIS, JR. - I finally met with my idol when he had a gala show at the Manila Hotel and two more at the Folk Arts Theater. I watched all three. I was formally dressed for the Gala and the audience were observing my reactions since I practically do what he does -- impressions of singers. I had with me one of his earlier albums titled Impressions and half deciding whether I should seek for an autograph of a fellow entertainer, never mind if it's embarrassing considering my stature then. I listened to my heart. He has always been my inspiration so I ran towards him when he got down and had my album signed. That was one gem that stood out in my music room for years... until Ondoy swept it away.
(2) DOLPHY: When it comes to self-deprecating humor, Dolphy is tops and that was what has kept him as the King of Comedy. In one gag, he was supposed to drench my face with a glass of wine but I refused because I still have other gags to shoot and it will ruin my prosthetic make up and wig. He readily volunteered to take my place since we were doing a double mirror gag. I was, of course, reluctant to do it but he insisted. He told me it's been done to him innumerable times and worst because the water had even been gargled before it was spat on his face. Whenever I do impressions of him in my shows, I can feel the overwhelming love of the audience for him, that's why I always savor being the Comedy King... even for a brief moment.
(3) JOSEPH “ERAP” ESTRADA: We started on the wrong foot as early as when he was the Mayor of San Juan. A month or so after I did an FPJ-Erap act, he bumped into me at the rest room of the Manila Hotel and reprimanded me, politely though, that I embarrassed him before his friends in the industry who watched my performance. Since then he would always ignore me even in formal gatherings. At one time, I thought he could no longer ignore me and I was looking forward to the opportunity of reconciling with him anyway, since I was seated with his fellow Senators when he arrived. I couldn't believe he would skip my hand even when I was seated in between the two Senators. Eventually though, we reconciled at the intercession of his PR man when he became Vice President and since then we would hug each other when we cross paths. Now he even sends me lechon on my birthdays. He's such a charismatic man, you simply can't afford to get mad at him.
(4) PANFILO “PING” LACSON: First I got a call from his staff early in the morning telling me they learned I was doing an impression of their boss in my show and they would want me to announce some sort of a disclaimer before the show begins. I said I don't do that and ask if it was a threat. He said no, they just referred the matter to their lawyers and they're requesting for a disclaimer. I asked again, Is this a veiled threat? No, we just want you to read a letter from the Senator. I told them I have high respect for Senator Ping and I was worried their request would boomerang instead. They insisted , so I read the letter. The audience laughed so hard and I haven't started the show yet. It was a disclaimer on the Senator's much rumored gender preference. Personally, I don't think Ping Lacson would go down to that level. May mga eager beaver lang siguro na nagpapalakas. In the first place, there were no such insinuations in the show.
(5) FERDINAND MARCOS: I do him with much passion because I have a cause that goes with it. I was an activist and that time was my baptism of fire in politics even before he declared Martial Law. It was the military though who would come to watch my shows and request me to stop my impressions of their boss "because he's our President." Naturally I would agree because they're high-ranking officials but if I have a gig the next day, I'd still ignore the request.There were other instances where public speculations of me standing in for his absence filled the grapevine especially when he supposedly had a medical operation and made himself scarce even to media people. When the Dovie Beams love tape was played over DZUP, during the Diliman Commune, Malacanang Palace defenders were quick to say it was only me faking the supposed scandalous tape. The last one happened during the tailend of Edsa 1 when only his voice was answering media questions as to his whereabouts. He practically lost his credibility denying it was me instead of him making the pronouncements. And when he was put on live television he had to say “as you can see, I am not Willie Nepomuceno.” That was the funniest punchline I ever heard.
(6) FIDEL V. RAMOS: I've done him previously immediately after the Edsa Revolt but I had to think twice when he became President. He was perceived to be a psy war expert and a "pikon." However the "social commentator in me prevailed that this a job I had to do, so I did. After all, if I survived the much feared Dictator why can't I survive his mild-mannered cousin. That day when I met him face to face like a mirror I said to myself I'd simply shake his hand after my act and no longer sit beside him for the media photo op. Much to my surprise, instead of shaking my hand, he whispered "high five tayo." The following day all front pages of national dailies carried our twin photo. Mas ma-gimmick pa pala sa akin.
VN: What are the chances of an impersonator becoming a National Artist?
WN: That'll be the day. I'm optimistic though that the way things are in the industry, I'll finally get The National Arthritis Award.