STARDOM IS HARD WORK!
familiar faces show up on our TV screens, movie
houses, and thousands of magazine covers. In the
pantheon of modern-day gods, they’ve been
idolized, immortalized, and become sources of inspiration
to thousands of devoted fans.
celebrity status did not come overnight. A life
that sparkles with the glitz and glam was frequently
earned by blood, sweat, and tears. Like the non-showbiz
career people, the stars have paid their dues and
keep on sharpening their skills. That’s how
they can burn even brighter.
in a while, JobsDB.com will chat up-close and personal
with these celebrities. Though not all of us have
been bitten by the acting and concert bug, the values
and lessons in their success story are pretty universal.
SUCCESS IS “SEIZING THE MOMENT, NOT WINNING
Interview by Tinna S. Bonifacio
He is today’s
“host with the most”. From being one
of the country’s most powerful publicists,
Boy Abunda—the poor boy and college dropout
from Borongan, Eastern Samar—bucked the odds
and through hard work and persistence, transformed
himself into one of the most powerful figures in
Talk show host, talent manager, and public relations
man, Boy Abunda’s life is a rich storehouse
of lessons that all of us would do well to learn.
knows of your humble beginnings, growing up in the
town of Borongan, Eastern Samar which is one of
the poorest municipalities in the Philippines. How
did you overcome that?
Because of my so-called ‘humble beginnings’,
I guess I became more driven, more focused and more
unafraid. I wanted a better life, so I used those
‘humble beginnings’ as a springboard
to what I wanted to achieve. It allowed me to open
myself to all the possibilities in life. Because
of it, I became adventurous and not afraid to commit
mistakes. I had nothing to lose. Coming
from the kind of background I had, it pushed me
to be overly ambitious, to work harder, and to overachieve.
I ran after every chance I had.
didn’t get complete your college studies.
Was that ever a hindrance to getting to where you
I don’t want to sound like I’m trivializing
the value of education, but for me, it was never
a factor. I was working in theater, and it [education]
was not something that was necessary for my life
and success in the theater. But I was a good student
while in school. I may not have earned a diploma,
but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t
take school seriously. I was a diligent student.
I worked hard. The self-study that I imposed
on myself was tantamount to earning a doctorate.
It was just a choice between survival and school.
I chose the former.
you were to boil it down to one thing, what would
be the secret of your success?
I return phone calls. (Laughs). Seriously. Because
I make it a point to return phone calls, I get a
lot of jobs and opportunities. Plus, I guess a lot
of it is thanks to hard work. I work every day of
my life like it was the last. I never do things
other tips can you offer?
I can only speak for myself. For instance, I
always listen to the opinions of others. It doesn’t
mean I follow their advice all the time; I just
take what works. I also don’t cry over spilled
milk. I get hurt, I bleed, but give me five minutes,
and I’ll get back up. It’s about being
able to seize the moment, not winning it. Life is
all about making it from one moment to the next.
Who was the person
who helped you most in your career?
I’ve depended on the kindness of so many strangers.
But if I have to single out one person,
it would probably be Tita Conching (Sunico).
I don’t know what it was, but she saw something
in me. One day, she called me to her room—Room
1107 of the old Manila Hilton Hotel—and asked
me, “Would you like to be my PR?” I
didn’t even know what PR was! So I asked her,
“Ma’am, what is PR?” And she said,
“I’ll teach you.” She
really taught me a lot. She made me dream. She made
me believe. She taught me manners and social graces.
Aside from my mom, I can’t imagine life without
Tita Conching. She was my fairy godmother. I drew
a lot of strength from her. She was tough, formidable
and overwhelming, but she treated me well. She paved
the way. So much of me belongs to her. I suspect
it was because she saw a lot of her in me—the
derring-do, the courage, the “I don’t
care” attitude. I wasn’t afraid of hard
work. I wasn’t afraid to clean props. No job
was too small for me. And I guess she saw a certain
class in my kabaduyan.
why did you leave her employ to strike out on your
own, to put up your own PR company? Was that a difficult
decision to make?
It was destined. I loved my job, but my
dreams had become bigger than what I was doing in
the theater. I wanted to fly, to dance.
Nagpupumiglas na ako.
I’d had a taste of the things I could do,
and I wanted more. Of course, Tita Conching didn’t
speak to me for about two years after that. But
when I started to do well, I knew that in her heart,
she was proud of me. I was so much like her. Wala
easy or difficult was it to start your own company
and to build a name?
I was not conscious about building a name. I did,
however, enjoy the process of creating something
out of nothing.
How did you
I immersed myself in learning. My love affair
with books started during that time. Books became
my biggest source of learning. Plus, so many people
helped me. One friend lent me an old typewriter
on which I wrote my first press releases. Another
friend, Girlie Rodis, gave me books. So did Kuh
Ledesma. I became a voracious reader. Also, I took
it one job at a time, and I made sure that I did
each job well.
did you make the big leap from PR to TV?
I’m a by-product of successive “accidents”
in my life. My move to TV was also providential.
It was a product of magic. It wasn’t planned.
I was perfectly happy being a publicist; I was a
name, and I was doing well. I was earning relatively
well. My journey to TV was also the result
of a stroke of kindness. I was doing PR consulting
jobs for GMA-7, when Bobby Barreiro suggested that
I consider hosting a show. “Gamitin mo
ang daldal mo sa TV, and let’s see if it works.”
And he was very persistent. So I said yes.
But like my job in theater, I took my hosting seriously.
I started watching the masters. I reviewed talk
shows. I spent a lot of time learning and studying.
Wala akong inatrasan.
How did you deal with
Criticism can hurt, but the important thing
is to acknowledge the pain. It was painful, but
I learned the hard way. I got used to rejection
early on, even back in the days when I was working
for the MET. But I acknowledged it, and never took
it against anyone. It’s a fact that
in life, some people will like you, some people
won’t. But to me, what is more scary is when
people don’t notice you. It’s better
that they either love you or hate you. I’m
more scared when they’re in between.
did it feel when you won your first award for hosting
from the STAR Awards for Television?
Wow. What an affirmation. Parang nanalo
ako ng beauty contest!
currently have four shows on ABS-CBN. How different
are they from each other?
Before I accepted them, I made sure that they’re
from different genres, so they don’t overlap.
The Buzz is hardcore, mainstream
showbiz chismis. It reaches a very broad
audience, from Forbes Park to Samar. Private
Conversations mixes movie stars with politicians.
Crossing over is actually quite difficult, because
in The Buzz, I’m expected to be flippant
and light. In Private Conversations, it’s
different. I get to interview a wider range of guests.
My first interview in Conversations was
with Deepak Chopra. But I’ve also interviewed
[sexy star] Keana Reeves. My other program, Kontrobersyal,
is more news and current affairs oriented. It’s
a magazine show based on interviews. Homeboy
is very lifestyle. It’s a different format.
Not one of my shows duplicates the other.
advice would you give to someone who wanted to follow
in your footsteps?
What I’d say would be born out of my own experience.
I’ll simply tell that person what I did. I
danced the best way I could. I sang the best way
I could. Along the way, I was humble enough to admit
that there were times that I sold out. I may have
transgressed some rules. It wasn’t always
easy, but I had to survive. The process of survival
was difficult. I may have hurt a lot of people in
the process. That’s something you have to
accept. I always say, “Don’t be afraid
to be a high-riding bitch and a prostitute at the
same time.” Sometimes you have to do that.
Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t
be afraid to bleed. Work hard. Play hard. Pray hard.