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Sunday, November 9, 2008

No innocence lost

No innocence lost

I used to feel sorry for child stars.

I mean, in the many years I’ve been covering the showbiz beat, I have seen the classic case of children being pushed by their fathers and mothers to enter showbiz. In some instances, it’s because the parents are frustrated stars. In most cases, however, they think their child can be their quick ticket to making big money.

And why not? Showbiz child stars may be paid a little less than their more mature contemporaries but, hell, it’s still a lot of money. Look at Niño Muhlach. His father cunningly invested his movie money to a lot of lucrative businesses and now, even if Niño doesn’t work for one second for maybe a decade, he can still live pretty well.

Unlike in the US, child actors here aren’t that much protected by law. Yeah, sure, they have to get a Department of Labor and Employment permit to work per project, and the number of hours they can work are limited as well, but the conditions can still be pretty harsh for child actors. That’s why in the US, many child actors have identical twins so that if one twin has used up the four hours the law allows for him to work, his identical twin takes over. Of course, in the Philippines that’s not the case. Someone told me that child actors work and work and work as if there’s no tomorrow…making them forget their childhood and innocence just so that their parents can quit their jobs and just live off on what the child is making from movies and TV appearances.

But that’s not the case with two young actors I spoke with recently: Nash Aguas and Makisig Morales. They are two of the busiest child actors in showbiz nowadays. They have their own regular shows and even a slew of endorsements.

Nash turned 11 recently but has been working his behind off for more than half his life. Nash made his TV debut in the defunct ABS-CBN noontime show Magandang Tanghali Bayan via the “Batang F4” talent contest. He joined another reality-based contest, Star Circle Kid Quest, and eventually was declared the show’s first big winner. Since then, he has appeared in a number of movies and was a regular in a number of soap operas, the most recent one being Lobo. He is currently shooting Land Down Under with Piolo Pascual and Angel Locsin, and he was chosen to be the voice of the lead character Buboy in Dayo, the first Filipino digital-animation film and an official Metro Manila Film Festival entry for this year.

Meanwhile, Makisig Morales has been performing since three. He joined the Little Big Star talent show and even while still a contestant, he was offered the lead role of Super Inggo, which launched his career. Since then, he has made a number of movies with Vhong Navarro and even with Sharon Cuneta via Caregiver. He even recorded an album, along with fellow child performers. Their group is called Mak and the Dudes, and the album features covers of various oldies. Makisig, along with other child performers Jairus Aquino, Kyle Balili, Andre Garcia and Paul Salas, recently joined Star Magic.

While both are quintessential child stars, they surprisingly do not fit the mold of the “lost innocence” child star I described earlier. In fact, both seem to thoroughly enjoy their work that they can’t think of do anything else. Of course, both are still studying, and both Nash and Makisig consider their work as their downtime.

“It’s like I’m in another world when I work,” said Makisig. “When I act, I do all these characters and when I sing, I’m like a messenger of the emotions of a song. I really have a good time.”

“When we do our shoots, that’s the time I can see my friends,” explains Nash. “You see, I have my friends where I live and where I study but when I do my tapings, I also see the other child stars and they are some of my closest friends. I really have a good time when I work, and I’m not forced to do so.”

In fact, one time I spoke to Nash’s mom, who told me that she would want Nash to have a normal childhood. However, it’s her son who really wants to be in showbiz. Makisig’s folks, on the other hand, noticed early on that he really had a talent for performing and they didn’t want to waste “God’s gift to the child.”

But while they are child stars, they think like adults. Precocious Makisig is aware that a lot of kids look up to him and he knows that he is a role model to them, but, at the same time, he encourages them to have fun. Meanwhile, Nash is working hard because, in his words, “we have to save up for the future… for college and for life.” When I grow up, I want to be like them.




JoKer DeTor
Showbiz Top i-News

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