There’s a big difference between a bit player and an extra. Ask any bit player and he will emphasize that an extra is just an extra, like a prop that enhances the scenery, while a bit player has a dialogue or dialogues, supposedly. And in times when there’s no dialogue involved, a bit player has a marked presence in the scene (sequence), being a salient ingredient that the scene couldn’t be shot without the bit player. And, normally, a bit player has a name in the script.
Cloaked behind the moniker Malufet, this bit player is proud of his accomplishments in showbiz. No matter how small, but nonetheless meaningful, Malufet cherishes his forgettable roles. “Marami na rin akong nilabasang pelikula sa sinehan pero hindi ko na matandaan ang title. Mostly ay puro JE productions ang gumawa, yung production ni President Erap. Pero mas marami sa TV kaya lang puro sitcom.”
Malufet’s showbiz inclination was accidentally sparked by Mrs. Norma Lai, his college professor. “Bale si Mrs. Lai ang naka-discover sa akin, professor ko sa language laboratory sa UE high school dyan sa Recto nung 1967. Actually speech ang subject kaya nakita nya sigurong magaling ako sa speech,” Malufet restrains a chuckle to signify seriousness in his declaration although he fails to clarify the relevance of his speech skills in showbiz.
The good professor accompanied Malufet to Channel 5, formerly located in Pasong Tamo, Makati. “Wala sa kaalaman kong siya ang producer ng TV series na Tisoy. Si Jimmy Morato ang bida run, title role siya at ang leading lady naman ay si Pilar Pilapil. Starring din si Bert Tawa Marcelo saka si Aling Otik, hmm, Moody, oo, si Aling Moody nga pala yung Aling Otik.”
Malufet was a fixture in the sitcom Tisoy for more than a year. “Enjoy talaga kasi kasama mo ang mga artista. Kita mo kung talagang pogi si Tisoy (Jimmy Morato) saka kung talagang magaganda ang mga babae. Kahit siguro walang bayad, puwede na lalo na kung mababait ang mga artista. Meron nga yung iba kahit nasa labas na ng studio ay babatiin ka pa, cowboy na okey-okey ang ganun, nakakasaya sa mga pareho kong bit player lang.” A trace of his being startruck, Malufet names some of the popular actors and actresses he had seen in person particularly those who still remembers him now.
“Si Ka Bert ang pinakamasarap kasama,” Malufet mimics the late Bert Marcelo’s trademark chuckle. “Sikat na siya nung time na yun pero wala ere yang si Ka Bert. Saka ang tingin nya sa tao pantay-pantay lang. Siya yung tipong pag may problema ka eh mag-emote ka sa harap nya (laughs). Sayang nga kasi hindi nanalo nung kumandidato sa Bulacan. Tapos, ano, yun pa yata ang ikinamatay. Sad talaga.”
“Yang si Mr. Shooli, I am sure na kilala pa niya ako. Matagal ko rin syang nakasama eh. Mabait yang si Direk Banong saka ang daming alam. Hindi ka mapapahiya dyan kasi marunong siyang makisama sa tao. Si Leo Martinez, ala eh, hindi na siguro nya ko kilala kasi ilang beses ko lang syang nakasama sa shooting.” When asked where he had met Jun Urbano, Malufet exhibits a gesture of forgetfulness and changes the topic, “May kalabuan na kasi itong isang mata ko, kailangan na sigurong tanggalin ang katarata.”
TV tapings were like excursions with the food and camaraderie. “Pero ang gusto ko talaga ay yung nakikita ko ang mga ugali ng sikat na artista. Saka ang dami ko ring natutuhan sa kanila like yung projection ng mukha, profile yata ang tawag dun. Pati yung boses. Kaya lang bihira ako sa boses kasi madalas puro mukha ko lang ang gusto ng cameraman (laughs). Pero sa totoo lang, sa tagal ng panahon ng taping namin, siguro kaya ko na ring mag-director.” Not a laughing matter, that statement runs true with some directors who learned the trade by mere observation. And especially if one has an eye for details, the potentials of being a good director is there. The number of digital movies is on the rise now because so many new directors have mushroomed overnight. Talk of innate talents.
But on the other hand, those TV tapings had some disadvantages too. “Napakahirap din ang maging artista kasi bukod sa lagi akong napupuyat at wala sa oras ang vtr, yung video tape recording, nasira rin ang pag-aaral ko.” But his failure in schooling couldn’t be solely blamed on the TV tapings. Since his shows were on free TV, almost all his classmates had seen his TV appearances, making him popular in school especially with the girls. And that popularity, he admits, somehow contributed to his failure in education although he is somewhat financially stable.
And being popular with the girls had the advantages and disadvantages. “Nakakahiya nga pero totoo ito. Natuhog ko ang magkapatid pa!” Not wanting to be branded a womanizer, Malufet immediately offers an explanation. “Aksidente lang naman talaga yun. Siguro talagang iba pag sikat (laughs). Pero hindi ko naman tinakbuhan.” Malufet’s love story is actually one for the books of a scriptwriter because it involved not just two sisters but three. And what’s remarkable was his gallantry to take up the responsibilities. He’s been happily married for 25 years with his third wife (the youngest of the three sisters).
“Ang memorable incident sa akin ay yung isang pelikula ng JE Productions. Dragnet ang title at customer ako sa isang massage clinic… Ondori massage clinic ang location shooting namin sa Aurora Blvd. Ni-raid ng mga pulis kasi naging red house na, yung gamit sa prostitution.” Malufet laughs before continuing. “Matindi ang eksena ko dun, nakunan akong naka brief lang..Ayoko sana kaya lang malaki ang offer sa akin kaya napasubo na ako. Sabagay marami naman kami sa eksena na yun.” He never dreamed to be a bold star and that scene remains vivid in his mind because of the vulgarity.
When the bomba/bold films dominated the movie industry, Malufet ventured in other endeavors. “Bumili pa nga ako ng kabayo, yung pangarera. Bright Sun ang pangalan.” Although his racehorse did not make money, Malufet was content that he was able to recover the investment. What’s important to him was to be called a horse owner since horse owners are also like celebrities in the eyes of horse racing aficionados.
Malufet while playing billiards at Starmall
Another field he dared to tread was billiards. “Nakakalaban ko yung mga sikat nung araw gaya ni Django Bustamante.” Humility aside, Malufet used to terrorize the billiard halls of San Juan and Makati. That was how he earned the moniker Malufet because he was merciless in the billiard tables. And that was also how he earned a lot of money. “Eh pustahan kasi ang laro lalo na pag mainitan na eh di ang lalaki ng hamig ko. Eh di nga ba’t nakabili ako ng kabayo? Kotse rin. Ang dali ng pera pag magaling ka sa bilyar. Lalo pa kung magaling kang dumiskarte.” His last statement is some sort of explanation why some billiard players sometimes lose. According to Malufet, you should not always win because you will run out of opponents. In other words, you have to lose just for the sake of losing in billiards.
From acting to billiards to horseracing. Most of Malufet‘s children are already professionals and he just whiles away his time in horseracing and website forums. “Enjoy sa internet, nakakalibang talaga lalo na yung mga forum na yan. Parang nakikipagkuwentuhan ka na rin.” But Malufet misses the fun of TV tapings. “May pending application nga ako sa isang channel, di ko muna sasabihin kasi baka mahilaw. Iba pa rin kasi sa showbiz, masaya talaga.”
To close the interview, Malufet wants me to reserve space for his last movie. “Ang kahuli-hulihan kong pelikula ay ang Thunder Blow nung 1970. Kahit bit player lang ako dito pero marami akong eksena at dialogue. Bale sosyohan ito ng Yangtze Production at JE production,na ang mga bida ay sina Jason Pai Pew (Hongkong action star) at si George Estregan. Pang-international release.” Malufet has so many kind words for President Erap, not ashamed of showing his loyalty as a fan to his idol. His dream was to be the sidekick of Joseph Estrada in a movie – shades of Dencio Padilla for FPJ or Babalu for Dolphy. But the dream was never realized.
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