Of theater actors and catfood -- Part 2

[Facebook "Share" and Twitter "Tweet this" buttons are found at the bottom of this post.]

It took a few days to collect the following info found below and, therefore, this post will be outdated by the time it is uploaded, nonetheless, here goes:

The theater actors and catfood fiasco continued to blaze hours and a day or two after that morning when I first encountered it in Facebook.  Websites like pep.ph and spot.ph covered the goings on and published related articles containing quotes and reactions from various sources.

Here, though, are four statements that I've collected to serve as a concluding second part to my own previous post about the scenario:

Bea Santos, the theater actor who was cast in Rafael "Rafa" Santos' entry "Samarito" to Cinemalaya Film Festival 2011, made a public statement of her own:


by Bea Santos

I told myself that I would try to remain as quiet about the Rafa Santos issue as possible, but it seems as though people will always have questions about it, most especially to me because I was in fact the theater actress in his film.

How do I feel? Insulted, disappointed, shocked, appaled, hurt and betrayed. And yes, I did confront Rafa about what he said. And although it would be interesting to share how the conversation went, I choose to hold that private as it was between the two of us.

I think the bigger question for us now is, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS? Rafa may have joked about how we are treated as actors but I think the reason why the reaction from our sector is huge is because there is truth in it. Sure we are not paid in cat food and we actually eat rice and ulam on set during shoots, but it is a known fact that we do not expect high talent fees and will do things for the love. Now, is that really so bad? What I think we have is passion—passion for the work we do, passion for acting, passion for telling stories. And if we choose to accept jobs that pay low, it is no fault but our own and we should not blame anyone else. I for one have done probono work to help people, or simply because the material is so good that I cannot let the opportunity of being part of it pass. Lines can be drawn. We can always choose the work we do, demand for higher pay, and demand that we be treated just like any other talent, celebrity status or not. After all, we are good at what we do and deserve no less than that.

I think that this is a wake up call. A harsh one, but a call to action nonetheless. Now that we know the perception of people in the industry about theater actors in terms of rates and fees, we can work together in changing this paradigm. All we really need to do is assess our worth and accept no less than what we think we deserve.

This is the last time I will write about this issue. I would personally like to move on from it. While in the future, I may forgive Rafa as a friend, I have made the decision not to work with him anymore. It just makes sense that way.

I wish all of you theater actors, who have been so actively fighting against the catfood and skyflakes issue peace and more success. I admire your passion and this just makes me even more proud to be called a theater actor.

And for the record? No, I was never paid in cat food and we were not fed skyflakes three times a day. Besides, I would never have accepted cat food. I am a dog owner, and I dislike cats. :P

Shortly after, Philippine Educational Theater Association posted this in its official Facebook page:

Philippine Educational Theater Association - 
Official Press Statement, Re: Rafa Santos
by Peta Tapets on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 at 5:34pm

Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) along with the entire Philippine theater community is deeply disturbed and offended by the insensitive remarks made by Cinemalaya director Rafael (Rafa) Santos in his recent interview on ABS-CBN News Channel’s (ANC) Cityscape stating:

“Theater actors are better to work with because they don't complain, you can feed them sky flakes three meals a day, and pay them in cat food basically... “

PETA in its 44 years of theater practice has worked with hundreds of artists who have shaped and re-shaped the theater industry. PETA is witness to the professionalism and artistry of theater practitioners despite minimal support and recognizes that they are a major force in contributing in the evolving art and culture tradition in our country, and for this alone – they must be given due respect.

PETA is aware of Santos’ open letter of apology sent today via Cinemalaya’s group email but demands him to have a public apology on television addressed directly to the theater community.

And finally, as we approach our Shakespeare Theater Season, we borrow from the Bard’s wisdom:  “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

Then, the Philippine Theater Actors Guild came out with this statement in its founding president's Facebook page:

TAG Official Statement RE: Rafael Santos
by Kalila Aguilos on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 2:40pm

We, members of the Philippine Theater Actors Guild (TAG), are outraged.

The insensitive statements of Rafael Santos do not only demean our craft as actors but reinforce the prevalent view with which society, the entertainment industry in particular, regards theater actors and artists—as mere commodities in the realm of television and filmmaking. Rafael Santos has now become the very image of the contempt and ridicule thrown our way as a community.

We have had enough!

As theater actors, we go through intensive training and harness our discipline to hone and continually develop our craft.  It is this same discipline we bring to any project and share willingly in every endeavor we are involved in.

The “cat food and sky flakes” metaphor speaks of the crumbs fed to us, which we have been forced to endure.

We have had enough!

The controversy sparked by his irresponsible remarks, intended as a joke perhaps, but one that failed terribly, is a reflection of an industry that has long lost its soul to commercialism and profit.  The theater artist has become an aliping namamahay -- a slave to a fiefdom ruled by commerce and mediocrity.

We have had enough!  We are now claiming our space.

We demand an apology from Rafael Santos. We demand that this apology be addressed to all theater actors, and be made in the same venue that he has maligned us.

But beyond this controversy, it is imperative to set the direction that TAG envisions for our community: a community of professionals that is respected and acknowledged in the art and entertainment industry.  We are united in our diversity and determined to collectively act and realize our dream – respect for the theater actor.

In the end, we dare claim that a society who respects its artists is a society that keeps its soul.

Philippine Theater Actors Guild, Inc. is an association of professional theater actors in the Philippines organized to represent theater actors in various public and private fora. Its primary goal is to protect and uphold the rights of theater actors in any medium/genre/form existing and about to exist. Its end goal is to be able to bring our concerns to the fore, and in coordination with other artists groups, work towards getting Artist protection written into law.  Kalila Aguilos is Founding President and Jack Yabut is the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Rafael "Rafa" Santos eventually came out with this:

Letter of Rafa Santos to the Theater Community
To the Artists, Patrons, Advocates and Enthusiasts that form the Theater Community:

My name is rafa santos. I recently made an unfortunate remark about your Community that, to say the very least, I am not proud of. I was trying to be funny, but what I didn't realize at the time is that an artist's passion is not something to be humorous about. The Community collectively expressed its anger at my words and I do not take that against you. Your feelings are warranted, understandable and just.

What I clumsily and ungraciously tried to opine was that Theater actors, in my estimation, represent the pinnacle of the craft. No one else bears the spirit, that intense ardor for authentic emotion and humanity in a character than a thespian trained for and bred on the stage.

Some of the most evocative experiences I've had in the midst of art have been spent staring up at an immortal stage featuring true masters of performance as they serenade captive audiences stage with ruminations on the human condition set to verse. As art begets art, the Theater has breathed inspiration into countless other works of genius across all media, rendering its cultural and creative impact immeasurable especially with regard to Cinema.

Please don't take my calamitous statement as indicative of Cinemalaya or independent Cinema as a whole. If I made it seem like you are fortunate to get work, nothing could be further from the truth. We are blessed to be able to work with you. You are the life in our characters and the weight in our conflicts. It is my sincere hope that the imprudent rambling of a naive pretender doesn't tarnish the enduring relationship between your community and that of Cinemalaya and independent film.

Without reservation, without hubris or pretense, I apologize. I have hurt many of you deeply and that will take a long time to rectify. Some of you may never forgive me. I don't blame you for that. I only pray there is some healing, perhaps even change that can be derived from this. And maybe, God willing, the healing can begin.

rafa santos

Again, not to make light of this obviously sensitive and complicated situation, but having have worked (and sometimes still working) in  theater, advertising and marketing, I've been thinking: my exposure to these three industries/professions are causing my brain cells to percolate and making me wonder out loud that this would actually be a nice opportunity for Skyflakes to come out with a print ad or TVC featuring renowned (or even non-renowned) theater actors.  

The story behind the visuals and copy could be something to the effect of highlighting theater actors' pride in their craft (and, of course, Skyflakes humbly being proud to be part of and in support of such a rigorous, skilled and fun endeavor).

Perhaps visuals could show actors bonding during a break in rehearsals, sharing a laugh or two while munching on Skyflakes. For a bit of drama, scenes in the middle could show an actor being berated by a director (tee hee!) or sweating heavily while rehearsing a complicated dance routine or holding up a tattered script, struggling to memorize lines ... scenes like that.

If anyone from Skyflakes or the ad agencies uses my idea, I will totally sue you, unless you pay me first ... kekeke.  I will consider being paid with Skyflakes, but the quantity has to be commensurate to X amount in Philippine Peso (amount to be discussed) and only if it comes with a contingent amount of foie gras ... well, okay, Reno liver spread will do. But seriously, I'll sue!

What do you think of this situation?  Share your comments.


Anonymous said...


25 years old is a bit long in the tooth to be as insecure as this director's profile suggests.

Anonymous said...


Worth a look at his director's profile. 25 is a bit long in the tooth to be this naive.