Indie actor survives loss of projects

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GEORGE VAIL KABRISTANTE

It’s not unusual for a ramp and commercial model ending up in showbiz as actor, a de rigueur in fact. This was almost true with the case of Randy Panotes, past winner of Maharlikang Pilipino promoted by dear departed entertainment writers Oskee Salazar and Billy Balbastro.

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Prior to his winning said title, Randy was into commercials and modeled for designers Bert Balingit and Ramon Depositario.

His precocity in acting since high school gave him the plum role in Alberto Florentino’s Ang Mundo Ay Isang Mansanas. He wrote and directed a play titled Mumunting Anghel while in college with marginalized street kids as actors. It was staged at the University of the Philippines by a religious group as dramatic centerpiece to address grinding poverty in the city.

Up from his win, Randy was discovered for the movies by Balintataw stage actor-turned talent manager-cum-movie reporter Throy Catan who gave him his screen name Jcee Martin.

Jcee’s baptism of fire was in the movie Green Paradise, an indie film with then unknown Cristine Reyes in the female lead.

Soon he would be doing a string of low-paying teleseryes for top networks. He was into all sorts of tawdry assignments from action, drama to reality shows. He made it to the Top 10 out of 100 competitors in a blind dating reality game show on TV5 which he co-hosted with Ana Dizon.

The new movie actor had to double his efforts in the direction and would grab at every opportunity decent enough to augment his currency value. He played Elias in Noli Me Tangere, directed by Jonas Santos that toured the country for about five years. His co-actors were Joshua Garcia as Crisostomo and the grown-up Maybelyn dela Cruz Santos of Home Along Da Riles fame as Maria Clara.

Unfortunately, the dying mainstream movie industry caught up on him. There was not much offer anymore except indie films that came far and between and did not pay well.

This made him put his acting career in abeyance and went full-time making use of his persuasive ability to engage much more as agent for Pru Life insurance company. He is now a multi-awarded employee and the youngest branch manager of the company with perks to travel abroad with his family. A couple of strides higher will get him the much-coveted position as district manager.

Randy or Jcee still hopes to go back to acting which he considers a passion derailed if only for sometime. His long shot ambition however is to write, direct and perhaps act in his own dream movie about a dirt poor’s search for a patch of sun in a country held hostage in the gridlock of greedy oligarchs and insensitive, corrupt politicians.

Words from an actor who is a dead ringer for the young Anthony Hopkins that has something in-between his ears earned through sheer grit and hard work.

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