Me and My Philippines: musical theater star Aicelle Santos

The Rak of Aegis star talks about travelling too much, her belated love affair with OPM, and the surprising life skill she has yet to learn

Photos by Raffy Yllana

Photo courtesy of PETA

I only get to travel when I’m working. I’ve gone to a lot of places, but nine out of ten of those trips are really for work, with side trips.

Recently I was with my family in Balesin. It’s fun, quiet, and very private. We stayed in Bali village, but there are a lot of different villages… I like the Mykonos village.

I also like the majestic sight of Mt. Mayon volcano, in Albay province, Luzon. I've been to Bohol. And Palawan is really nice. I went to Dos Palmas resort there. And I'm making a note to go to Coron in Palawan.

I’m with GMA TV network, and they have a lot of regional shows, so we’d go to all these events. Sometimes, I’d just turn up at the airport, and I’d be like, ‘guys, where are we going again?’

I don’t know how to swim! It’s on my bucket list. I panic when my feet don’t touch the bottom. At the beach, I like wading in the water and tanning.

Favorite beach? It’s really the beaches of Palawan. Coron is one of my dream destinations. Siargao too. I have a lot of dream destinations, I just don’t have the time to visit all of them.

I love travelling with my family. It’s nice to explore a new place with them. If I had a boyfriend, I’d probably say, “come with me, let’s explore the Philippines!” but at the moment I don’t have one.

I always take my iPhone, because I like taking photos, and my Hawaiian Tropic tanning spray. I love to tan even when it's 12 noon, although I'd sometimes cover my face with a towel.

Rak is my family. It’s fun on stage and backstage. The people I work with, the cast, the crew, are so easy to work with. We are passionate about theatre and passion is really something you do even if you don't get paid very much. This is what Rak gives me. Every time we go out and meet people, they compliment us on our performance. I get comments like "I was touched" by Rak and that's the best reward an actor could get.

Biritera: Aicelle belts out in true Aegis fashion

It was really hard [to transition from singing to acting]. In my first play (Katy the Musical), I was given the title role. I played young Katy. I was onstage with the big theater names, so the weeks of rehearsal were like a crash course.

Acting is a challenge.  How to keep it fresh is a challenge. Every day I need to find a new motivation because one motivation could only work for two to three shows. So you have to find that something new to drive you.

My favorite scene in Rak of Aegis is the one with the bubbles. I really like that! It’s fun, it feels like a cartoon. I also like “Have you seen it again”.

How do I stay healthy? I make sure I eat bananas and right now I'm taking honey with water. When we opened the show, I was sick, but the show must go on. For some, ginger tea works. For me, it’s bananas. If I can get six hours of sleep, that would be good. I also go to the gym for cardio. Stay young, smile, stay positive. That helps.

A really striking play I saw was Dani Girl by the Sandbox Collective [a play about a little girl’s struggle with leukemia]. My sister was a cancer patient. She’s okay now. In the play, there was a song number about the litle girl's hair. I cried. I remembered my sister. We were at the salon when she said, ‘I’m going to have a haircut because I don’t want to see my long hair falling off in the bathroom’

Of course, Rak is also one of my favorite plays to watch because even if I know the lines, when I’m in the audience, it’s still so much fun. I just laugh and laugh.

I usually just hang out at the house, sometimes writing songs. 

I have a single that was released last February called Kapangyarihan ng Pag-ibig. And you can download it on iTunes, Spotify. You should hear it. It’s a song written by Jungee Marcelo and we've done a video that now on Myx, and MTV Pinoy. The album is in the works because it’s self-produced.

 

Sometimes, when people invite me to go out, we’d have coffee. I prefer sitting down over coffee or drinks.

I’m new to Valkyrie (a club in Bonifacio Global City). I was invited by a friend because it was his birthday. I told him ‘I don’t party!’ but okay yeah.

My favorite kind of liquor is cognac. It does work for my voice. I don’t know if it works for other people.

In my quiet time, I read the bible, lately every day if I’m not too busy. I marathon bible-read when I get a break. 

We grew up with foreign music. The OPM (original Pilipino music) songs I like are just a select few. After our first Rak of Aegis run, I came to love and pursue OPM.

Aegis is amazing, they’re the only band of their kind in the Philippines, for all ages. I was with them a few days ago, they were singing their songs on Eat Bulaga. The feeling that the song belongs to the Philippines is amazing, isn’t it?

And then there’s Joey Ayala. He said that before his music became popular, he used to sing American rock, rock n’ roll. And then he went soul searching and found himself and his sound. That's my journey right now, trying to write. I hope I get there someday.

About Aicelle
Aicelle Santos is a singer, songwriter, and actress. Her new album Liwanag was recently released on iTunes and Spotify. She starred in the Philippine Educational Theater Association’s production of Rak of Aegis, which had a successful run late last year.

Interview by Amanda Lago

Published August 2015. Updated February 2016