Friday, September 25, 2009

Look Who's Talking!

The Unseen Faces Behind the Mic
By Maria Alina Co

(Published in Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, September 20, 2009)

Without voices, it must be an awfully dull world. Can you imagine Naruto fighting Sasuke without dialogue, or endless static on your favorite radio station?

That would be such a bummer, right?

That’s because voice gives emotion, color, and spark to what we see on the screen. They render clarity to the story unfolding before us. However the voice-over talents in cartoons and radio are often faceless and nameless. They hide in the dark, in a manner of speaking.

That’s why we’re putting the finest voice actors in the limelight this time. And guess what, they’re not only talented and already making waves in the industry, but they’re also very young and personable.

Playing while working

At only 13 yrs. old, Kat-Kat Tolentino has voice-acted and dubbed for over nine TV programs.

She was only eight when she auditioned for the first time. “I used to tag along my Dad in ABS-CBN for his dubbing sessions. It was fun watching the shows on TV, so I told Papa I wanted to try it out.” Her father, Neil Tolentino, is a Dubbing Writer and Director for Hero TV. “My first audition, I cried. My Papa said I wasn’t good enough. I flunked.”

The next year Kat-Kat landed a lead role as Shahaku in the anime Three-Eyed One. “Among all the shows I dubbed, this is my favorite. It was my lucky project since I had more after it. Plus it was very challenging since Shahaku was a little boy.”

Sweet and girly, it’s hard to imagine Kat-Kat as a young magical boy with a third eye. But she does it by being in character. Dreaming of taking Theater Arts or Music someday, Kat-Kat manages to juggle her school and dubbing career. “It’s really fun because it’s just like playing with your friends and making voices. The best part is you get to earn money at the same time. Like me, I’m only 13 but I bought my own cell phone and I get to help out in the family budget.”

Dubbing Contest Champions

For Jill Fernandez and Ed Jaluag, it took talent and a lot of guts to join dubbing contests like Hataw Hanep Hero.

“Imagine dubbing in front of a huge crowd! It was an exhilarating experience,” quipped 18-year old Jill. Luckily, she bested 600 contestants and bagged the prize—a scholarship in Creativoices where she honed her voice-acting skills.

After graduation, Creativoices Owner and the Voice Master Pocholo Gonzales cast Jill as leads for Bokura Ga Ita and Negima, both anime series that aired on Hero TV. The rest is history. Currently, she is the voice behind Lemon Angels’ Tomo on Hero and Boys Over Flowers’ Ha Jae Gyeong on ABS-CBN. “I enjoy what I’m doing. I like the shows and the bonds I form with my fellow dubbers.”

For Ed, a 24-year old Video Editor, winning the fourth Hataw Hanep Hero saved him from resigning his job. “I was into Theater in high school. At work, I got bored not being able to express myself.”

A toy-collector and a cosplayer, Ed was naturally drawn to dubbing. After finishing the workshop, Ed landed one of the lead roles and a total of 25 minor roles in ABS-CBN’s KimPossible.

A Nice Voice

“People used to always say I had a nice voice, and so I thought I was a natural to get into the voice-acting industry.”

But it was only when Albert joined the workshop that he realized he still had so much to learn. 20-year old Albert is a student DJ in RX 93.1’s Radio1. He is also the President of the Society of Young Voice Artists of the Philippines (SYVAP), an organization that aims to promote voice acting as an art and career. Jill and Ed are among the 200 members of SYVAP.

“I continue to learn in SYVAP and realized there’s much more to voice acting-- from dubbing to DJ-ing, hosting events, reciting poetry, storytelling and radio dramas. A voice actor is anyone who expresses himself creatively through his voice.”

Founded by Pocholo Gonzales, SYVAP serves as a venue for aspiring voice artists to hone their craft through volunteerism and teamwork.

“The secret to being a good voice actor is to treat it as an art. Then if you’re good, the money will just come,” Gonzales said.

Living Their Dreams

Voice acting is a tough craft, but a lot of fun, especially when you’re passionate about it.

“When I dub, I forget all about my problems because I’m not myself but rather the character I am dubbing. I can become an anime, a super hero or a beautiful Korean, whatever the role requires,” Jill shared.

For Albert, one just has to believe in himself. “Being a voice actor really boosted my self esteem. I have become self-confident. I just love being heard and I want to share this to others.”

Ed added, “I love dubbing. I can do this every day of my life and will never feel like I’ve worked a day.”

*To know more about SYVAP, email for more details.

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