Gabriela Pangilinan aka Gab Pangilinan is a stage actress who officially began her theater career when she resigned from her corporate job and joined the ensemble of PETA’s hit musical Rak of Aegis back in June 2014. She hasn’t stopped acting on stage since and recently ventured into television and film. She was in the powerhouse cast of MusicArtes Inc.’s Godspell and she appeared in her first independent film, Sinandomeng, an entry to 2017 ToFarm Film Festival. She will continue to do the role of Nancy Jane in D5 Studio’s online web series, Forever Sucks, which will launch its 3rd season soon.
Full Name and Alias: Gabriela Pangilinan / Gab Pangilinan
Location: Quezon City
Education: AB COMM graduate Ateneo de Manila University
Tell us something about yourself that people don’t know:
I was an intervoice broker for foreign exchange for a year before I started theater.
What is your current state of mind before we continue with the interview?
The world is small, and it’s getting smaller.
When did you first know you wanted to become an stage actor?
I think I’ve known all my life, but I was never brave enough to pursue it. I’ve been doing musical theater since I was a kid so being a stage actor has been a dream of a mine for as long as I can remember.
What was the first show you ever did? And how was the experience?
My first professional show was Stages’ High School Musical. I was 15 years old. It was the first time I ever worked with Audie Gemora and Menchu Lauchangco-Yulo, and I remember thinking to myself that when I grow up, I want to be just like them. However, it was priority for me to finish school so I didn’t continue professional theater after. I would consider Rak of Aegis as my second “first” last 2014, the official beginning of my theater career, 8 years after.
What has been your favorite role so far?
Ti moune from Once on This Island has always been a dream role of mine since 7th grade so when Ephesus Teatron held auditions for it last 2014, it was a non-negotiable for me. I cried when I got it! Haha. My ensemble role in Rak of Aegis, Jopherlie (yes yun pangalan ko haha) is also my favorite. Won’t ever get tired of doing that role!
Have you ever played someone of the opposite gender? (If not do you want to try it?) What was that like?
I don’t think I have. It’s definitely something I’m willing to try. I think I’d make a good boy! Haha
Have you ever forgotten your lines, or a prop, or choreography during a performance? What happened?
Nothing too major but I’m pretty sure I’ve messed up my lyrics or lines more than once during a show. Oh! I slipped and fell when I jumped to cross the baha during a production number in Rak of Aegis because the floor was wet and slippery… but of course we had to keep going. The show must go on!
What is something that you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out as an actor?
WARMING UP IS EVERYTHING. Never overlook warming up before a show because one wrong move can injure you.
Besides acting, what other trainings have you had (voice, dance, stage combat, etc.)?
I’ve had a few voice classes both for singing and vocal work. For dance I’ve tried jazz, street and basic tap classes. I’m the type of person who likes learning new things all the time.
How do they memorize a lot of lines? Read, read, read. Sometimes I write my lines down and I record them on my phone for me to listen to. Also, I make sure I understand my scenes and the journey of my character. It’s always easier to memorize when you understand.
If you could choose, who are the three actors would you really want to work with?
Stella Cañete-Mendoza, Kalil Almonte, Angela Padilla. I’m a fan of them!
Why do you think so many aspiring actors end up giving up on their dream?
I think it’s because nothing is certain. It is a difficult industry to be in and many times, people get burned out.
What is something embarrassing or unexpected that happened to you on stage?
The fall I mentioned in the question earlier was embarrassing. I don’t remember the details much anymore but I do remember the pain. Haha!
What are some of the greatest fears you think actors/actress face?
Actors use their entire being when acting. Body and soul. I think some of an actor’s greatest fears are injuring themselves to the point of immobility, or for musical theatre actors, losing their voices. Basically, if anything gets in the way of you being capable of using your talent/gift that would be a nightmare.
What do you need in order to become a successful actor?
I think I just need to keep acting, keep learning, keep listening. I must never ever think I know enough, because I don’t. There is always something new to learn.
What makes a good stage actor in your opinion?
What is the most rewarding part of stage actor?
When you are reminded that what you’ve done on stage is so much bigger than yourself. Be it because of the audience’s reactions during curtain call, or when someone approaches you after to congratulate you, and my personal favorite is when someone would go out of his way to message you online to tell you how your performance touched or affected them. It’s never about you. It’s always about the people you affect.
What are the pros and cons of being a actor? Please be specific.
Pros: It’s all about heart – exposing your heart and being vulnerable and being true. Why wouldn’t you want a job doing what you love?
Cons: It isn’t for the weak. You have to know what you want and you have to stick by your values because no one can deny it can be a toxic environment.
What goals are you working on your career and how will you know you have reached it?
Honestly, I haven’t really thought about it. I just want to keep doing. I just want to keep working with different kinds of people, and learning from my co-actors, directors, etc. Every production is a new adventure and I always have something to take home with me. I still have a long way to go and I plan to just keep working on giving, all the time.
If you weren’t a stage actor or an artist, what would you want to be? Why?
I thought long and hard about this. I thought of maybe being a small business owner- specifically a cafe or maybe a Potato Corner franchise! Haha. Or a fitness instructor, marketing professional or… a professional traveler? I want to do everything! But seriously, I think I could be a production manager. Anything related to theater, I’m willing to learn.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. That’s something I always keep in mind. How much do I want it? Will I be able to sustain myself with it? What if I fail? All questions aside, I just knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life. I went for it and I never looked back.
How do you see yourself 20 or 30 yrs from now?
I could be doing this my whole life.
What legacy you will leave on?
Oh my. I don’t think I have enough experience to leave any kind of legacy right now but if I ever needed to be an example to anyone, I would say: Don’t ever be complacent. Don’t be selfish. Don’t stop working hard. And most of all, don’t ever lose yourself and lose sight of who you are amidst the whirlwind that is this industry.
The work is difficult but wanting it more than you are afraid of it will bring you a long way. Look. I’m still here and I hope to stick around for a while. Couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Photos from the official facebook page of Gabriela Pangilinan