On the Spot: Eugene Domingo

Our favorite comedienne talks about taking on Nora Aunor, dream roles, and favorite cities.

(SPOT.ph) The last time Spot.ph chatted with Eugene Domingo it was 2009 and Kimmy Dora was taking Manila by storm. Fast forward to 2012 and a lot has changed. She's lost a lot of weight, for one, and hey, Eugene Domingo is now a certified leading actress: the film that helped make her that way, Kimmy Dora, now has a sequel. As proof of Eugene's growing stardom, Kimmy Dora and The Temple of Kiyeme surpassed the P100-million mark at the box office.

Despite her success, Eugene remains one of the country’s most down-to-earth, hardworking actresses. This month alone, she’s got two films coming to the big screen: one of them is a musical comedy film, I Do Bidoo Bidoo, co-starring Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, and Ogie Alcasid.

And then there is Bona, a play based on a 1980 Lino Brocka film about a young school girl (played by Nora Aunor) who becomes a die-hard fan of wannabe actor Gardo (played by Philip Salvador). For this 2012 movie version, however, Bona is a spinster call center agent who becomes a fan of Star of Tomorrow contestant, Gino Sanchez, played by Edgar Allan Guzman. It opens on August 24, Friday.


We sat down with Eugene at the press conference of Bona, where the 41-year-old talked about returning to theater, the challenges of portraying a role originally played by Nora Aunor, her upcoming movies, and life in Manila.

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Your version of Bona is more empowered compared to the 1980 version played by Nora Aunor. The 2012 Bona has a job and she's the breadwinner of her family. Do you consider yourself empowered as a woman?

I think I'm very independent. Importante pa rin sa akin yung mayroon akong mga totoong kaibigan, yung nagsasalita ng totoo na hindi ako binobola. Importante pa rin sa akin na hindi naco-compromise yung sining ko, yung pinaniniwalaan ko, yung prinsipyo ko. I think yung empowered are my principles. It's important to have a preservation of my real character.

PETA changed a lot of the elements from the original film. Was that a conscious decision?

Yes. Nag-usap kami nina Direk Soxie Topacio na kahit baldehan niyo ako ng kumukulong tubig, hindi ko kaya yung ginawa ni Nora Aunor. Sinabi ko rin yun kay Ate Guy, so tawa siya ng tawa... The essence of the film is still there, definitely, but we have to cater to more audiences because the socio-political environment and the times then are different from now. Ito ay pagpupugay natin kay Lino Brocka, Cemen Ramones, at Ms. Nora Aunor-sa kanilang klasikong trabaho.

In the play, Bona is obsessed with up-and-coming star Gino Sanchez, who has an extensive social network. He's always on Facebook, tweeting his fans, and replying to messages. Are you like that in real life?

Wala akong Twitter. Meron akong Facebook, at maraming Eugene Domingo sa Facebook. Iba ang pangalan ko sa Facebook. Instagram mayroon din, pero iba ang pangalan ko doon. Pero nakikita ko yung mga Eugene Domingo sa Twitter. Chine-check ko lang kung nakikipag-away sila. Okay naman. Matibay naman sila! [laughs] And I also read yung mga tine-tweet nila. Sine-search ko lang kung nanood na sila ng pelikula ko. Sinusundan ko lang ang mga sinasabi ng aking mga taga-support because importante sila. Importante kung anong takbo nila, kung ano ang mabenta, kung saan sila natutuwa. Importante sa akin ’yon.


A scene in Bona with Baldy, played by Joey Paras

What was Ms. Nora Aunor's reaction when she found out that you'd be playing the role of Bona? What advice did she give you?

Sila po ang nakipag-usap kay Ate Guy, pero nagkaroon kami ng communication recently sa Facebook through Jo-ann Bañaga. Sabi nya, "Binabasa ko kay Ate Guy ang lahat ng sinasabi ko sayo." Tawa daw ng tawa si Ate Guy sa mga sinasabi ko. Tapos susugod daw siya anytime [to watch the play]. Ako nahihiya ako at abot-abot ang pasasalamat ko. And this is really to honor her. I am so Aunor-ed!

So are you a Noranian?

Oo naman. Maswerte ako kase ang mga unang pelikula o sine na pinasok sa akin ng nanay ko ay Ate Guy films, like Atsay, Lollipops and Roses, and Superstar kada Linggo. Honestly, para sa akin natatapos ang mga superstars kay Nora at kay Vilma. Sila lang para sa akin. Pero sa pagkakataong ito na Bona ang ginagampanan ko, eh Noranian ako, okay na ba? [laughs] Ang gulo naman pag sinabi kong Vilmanian ako! Eh ba't ako nag-Bona? ’Pag Broken Marriage, sasabihin ko Vilmanian ako.

You started acting in Dulaang UP back when you were college. What lessons have your learned from your alma mater's theater company?

I love the discipline that they have imparted. I love it! Minsan naiisip ko, yung mga estudyante ngayon na nasa Dulaang UP, sayang hindi na nakumpleto yung mga original na teacher. Yung iba sumakabilang buhay na, yung iba retired na. Nung time ko, kumpleto and we tackled contemporary, classics, Shakespeare, etc. At sabay-sabay ko ring ginagawa na umaarte sa entablado, nagbebenta ng show, at nagbabantay ng audience. Lahat! Well-rounded ang aking naging training at 'yon ang na-apply ko ngayon sa PETA. I really value my training. I really owe this to Dulaang UP.

Do you have dream roles in theater?

Of course I do! Sabi nila Layeta, bagay daw sa akin ang Mother Courage. Pero bata pa ako. Some of the roles I want to play, medyo may edad na sa classics. Pero gusto ko ulit mag sarswela. Feeling ko talaga sarswelista ako. 'Tsaka maganda ang mga sarswelang Pilipino.

Would you ever do a full-blown stage musical?

Siguro hindi naman yung parang as professional as Ana Feleo, kase parang training ’yon from being young. Siguro medyo pop musical.


You said in your 2009 interview with Spot.ph that you wanted to go back to school. Were you able to?

Not yet. But [theater] is like school for me. So no plans yet; hopefully in 2014. But I have voice lessons every now and then.

You've been so busy the past few years. Do you find time to unwind?

Magaling akong ma-ayos ng calendar ko eh. As early as now, I fixed my calendar already for next year. I have certain days or weeks to travel in the Philippines or abroad.

What's your favorite travel destination and why?

New York City. Kase iba yung energy eh. They're diverse, diba? And then you watch plays at walang pagkain na hindi masarap. Then you go to parks and you see different kinds of people. Then you watch plays and you see them dancing, singing, and acting. And then you tell yourself na ang galing galing naman nila! And then just like that, you forget about all your achievements. Then you strive harder because you're aware that you cannot be kampante.

What about Manila? What are your favorite spots here?

Right now, the spa. I go to the salon. I go to my favorite restaurants in Tomas Morato. I go to Uno restaurant and Taste of LA.

What do you love and hate most about Manila?

I love our weather especially when it's not a disaster. If it's a beautiful summer, it's really beautiful. If it's just raining na hindi naman monsoon or storm, iba ang ulan sa Manila. It's more dramatic, hindi katulad ng ulan sa ibang bansa na gloomy. Masaya. Iba talaga ang warmth sa Manila, siguro dahil tropical country tayo. What I hate about Manila is our garbage na nagiging cause ng lahat ng ating delubyo. Sana someday with the lessons learned and discipline starting from our own household, matapos na ’tong mga disaster. Ang dami kasing nagiging biktima dahil na rin sa ating kasalanan.



Photos by by Rodney Baladjay. Additional photos courtesy of PETA and I Do Bidoo Bidoo.

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