Ariel Villasanta


 

By Jon Verzosa

 

2003

NBC Tent, Taguig

Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Cosmo Blitz, Fashion Week

The show was over and the crowd was neurotic.  My best friend Norman Cautivar and I were bursting.  The almost-two hour fashion show (that featured half-naked men and women) had us literally feeding on mineral water making our bladders scream for its enormous liberation after.

The smell of sweat, moisture and musk hung madly beyond the interim of the entire venue and as we both snaked through the pressed bodies of on-lookers, press people and models, we had to stop fleetingly like cars stopping for checkpoints.

Annoyingly, the road to the blessed bathroom was long and tough.  With cold sweat teeming out of my forehead, I wanted to shout, “We need to pee nnnnnoooooowwwww !!!”  but comedic duo Maverick and Ariel (who were taping interviews for their show) stopped me from doing so.

It all happened so fast.  We were ten steps away from them and the blatant pair saw us scampering towards the bathroom queue and stopped us.  Ariel pointed at me and said, “Yes, you!” Norman saw all that, choked a big “NO!” and ran off like crazy and left me with Maverick and Ariel. Seconds later, the lights were on me, the cameras started rolling and half-way towards the ludicrous ambush interview, I swear I was already peeing in my Diesel pants.

 

2011

Ortigas

Ariel Villasanta Interview

I was already laughing even before the interview started.

I was privileged to tell that NBC Tent story to Ariel Villasanta one humid afternoon in their AVP Productions office last week and we both variably gassed through it acknowledging how time can bring two people together again, so much so that peeing was involved.

I also had to tell him that back in 2003, in that interview, they commended on what I was wearing which was a high-pitched floral shirt so atypical of me but was aligned to their dynamic duo ‘Maverick and Ariel’ whose fashion sense glorified the 70s and its outlandish scheme to cause one’s eyesight to blur just by merely looking at them.

 

 

Ariel with ‘partner in crime’ Maverick Realova are taking the ’70s look seriously

 

 

 

“Why the 70s, Ariel?” I asked.

“There is quite a history to that” he began, “First, there was music.  I have always been a big fan of 70s music.  No, no, not Fleetwood Mac or the Rolling Stones but the classic cheesy rock like Bee Gees.  I am a big mush to begin with, so I worshipped these baduy songs like ‘If You Leave Me Now’ and all that.  I guess in a sense there was something liberating about the ’70s.

“Well, mainly because that was my generation!” Ariel laughed at his own joke and continued, “Secondly, I have to say that style takes form in many ways and since I have always believed in building an image that is based on what I like and what I can justify through time, dressing up loud and screaming, if you may say so, is something very cosy to me.”

After he finished his sentence, Ariel told me that gearing up for a costume meant even digging up old clothes and buying jeepney accessories and integrating them as costumes.  “Who cares if you looked like a walking vehicle?” he joshed some more.

Ariel Villasanta or more prevalently known as Ariel with the Capital A started his showbiz career in the 80’s as Pekto of the syndicated comedy show Iskul Bukol. He then had some TV and movie stints. However, Ariel has set show business aside as he concentrated on his day job as a Creative Director of the HR Department in PLDT (Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company).

“What was amazing about that time at PLDT was inasmuch as showbiz went on hiatus; I was still pretty much full of zip in the creative structure.  There’ve been a lot of events that essentially needed my guidance and I am so grateful at the time that my showbiz background proved to have instilled my passion for the arts.  As they say, once an entertainer always an entertainer”

“How is it being a cousin to Joey de Leon?” I asked.

“I was Joey’s assistant for four years even before I entered the public eye.  It was a very professional relationship.  I guess that is something good in our family.  In more ways than one, we can work together; grow professionally together but the nepotism would have to take a backseat because perhaps it is inherent in our clan that talent should primarily be disclosed and everyone has all the right to be where they are because they have the talent.

“I have learned a lot from Joey particularly the ins and outs of showbizness but as a growing artist at the time, I had to succumb to see and come into contact with what’s in-store for me on my own.  That is a universal belief.”

“And that is good?” I interrogated.

“Yes, because ironically, it should be the philosophy of showbiz per se.  Alam mo, just recently, medyo nalungkot ako kase I realized na madaming mga nasa puwesto ng kasikatan ngayon na wala namang mga talent.  It is sad to think that merely because of politics and having connections, mediocre talents are being hailed as stars while the real talents secrete under the rocks eating Sky Flakes, waiting for the so-called stars to fall.”

A self-confessed non-smoker and non-drinker, Ariel’s resume consummates success and he has proven his talent not only in the heart of Pinoys throughout the years but also in award giving bodies.  Educated at Colegio de San Juan de Letran and just fresh from the success of Mommy Elvie @18, Ariel was once nominated for his comedic performance in the Golden Screen Awards for the hit show Misadventures of Maverick and Ariel. The pioneering reality show from then ABC-5, with partner Maverick Relova a.k.a Maverick Only also got nominations from the Star Awards and the Asian TV Awards. When asked, Ariel says ‘comedy is his life’. It also seems that wittiness runs in his blood.

 

 

Ariel says that he inherited his sense of humor from his mom, Elvira Villasanta a.k.a. Mommy Elvie

 

 

 

“Even back when I was a little boy, I grew up in a family that loves to laugh.  I was the only son (to Elvie Villasanta of the much-famed docu-reality-comedy series Mommy Elvie @18) but I was surrounded by relatives who were natural comedians.  Even my mother can let go something hilarious in a drop of a hat effortlessly.  So, yes, I must say that I live for comedy because for me, that is the only bridge that I know to make people feel inspired.”

“You are a TV host (Totoo TV on TV-5) a singer, a producer, a comedian, a radio host at 92.3 News FM . . . you have done almost everything throughout the years, where else are we going?” I asked, feeling almost full even from the initiation of the interview.

“Well, I have done reality shows on television in the recent years, so I guess that is where I am heading.  There is something timeless about reality shows and moreover, my team and I get to showcase the real side of things about life, love and the (expletive deleted) that goes with it.  It is all about being raw and having fun and dropping all the infuriating politics of showbiz and like I said, where there is fun, that’s where I’ll go.”  He beamed and landed a fast kiss to his wife, Cristina Villasanta, who came in the room to say hi.

Not a surprise that his recently concluded show, Mommy Elvie @18 will be having its second season very soon as it gained a lot of following with their mother-and-son bonding and sometimes misadventures. His simple conversations with his 83-year old mom Elvie Villasanta turned out to be riotous. Their multi-awarded director Aleah Aliporo-Eugenio who conceptualized and co-wrote the show with Ariel says, ‘Ariel is a natural comedian. And he loves his craft. He has enough passion to make a simple situation so funny, without script!’

 

 

Ariel and Cristina: Love To Laugh… Laugh To Love

 

 

 

“Ariel, I always ask this to everyone I interview, so you have to answer it before I pee in my pants again from all that laughing.  How would an Ariel Villansanta be remembered?” I asked my proverbial final question.

“Wow!” he exclaimed and laughed, almost mocking me. “Well, simple lang naman.  With all due respect to all the comedians that I idolized throughout the years like Dolphy, Panchito, Apeng Daldal et cetera, I probably want to be remembered as the pioneer of reality TV.  Some people fondly called me the King of Philippine Reality TV and I think that is brilliant pero apart from that, I want to be remembered as the one who said that ‘comedy is the best policy’.”

 

 

The Writer with Ariel Villasanta

 

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