THE TALE OF THE EAGLE AND THE CHAMELEON
#Jowable director Darryl Yap likens his lead star Kim Molina to both an eagle, “because she is sharp” and a chameleon, “because ang galing-galing magpabago-bago...Imagine, may Kadenang Ginto siya, may General’s Daughter, may Rak of Aegis...pag dating sa movie set, iba na naman siya.”
He is of course referring to the several on-screen roles that Kim is juggling between in the past months, which all coincided with the filming of #Jowable: as 2nd Lt. Maria Lilybeth "Billet" Abarquez in The General’s Daughter; as the sidekick kontrabida Savannah Rosales in Kadenang Ginto, and as the ill-fated Aileen (a role she is presently reprising) in the re-staging of Rak of Aegis. Direk Darryl even forgot to mention Peng, her marriage-before-sex believer character in her digital film, Momol Nights.
Indeed, one needs a good amount of intelligence and talent to pull these all off. And Kim has a wellspring of both.
MEANT TO PERFORM
Kim Molina is Kimverlie Soriano Molina in her legal documents. The unique spelling of her name alone seemed to already say a lot about the colorful future she’s enjoying now.
“Yes po, spelling ng pangalan ko K-I-M-V-E-R-L-I-E,” Kim spells it for pikapika.ph, laughing. “Ewan ko po kasi ang mommy ko talaga ang gusto niyang name ko lang is Kim from Miss Saigon—kasi sobrang fan talaga sila [ng dad ko] ni Lea [Salonga]. Tapos ’yong first kasi... ’yong original na [Miss Saigon] sa West End, 1989, e, pinanganak ako 1991. For like, two years, sobrang fan sila kung ano’ng nangyayari kay Lea, alam nila. So, Kim lang ang gusto ni mommy. E, hindi ko po alam ’yong tita ko kasi nurse doon [sa ospital] so para pahabain lang, maging unique yata, ’yon yata nangyari. Hahaha! Kaya naging Kimverlie.”
This tita seemed to have predicted that her niece was meant to be watched and be appreciated.
But Kim becoming a musical and acting gem wasn’t all the workings of fate. There’s artistry in her bloodline. And she, with the ministrations of her dad, worked hard to improve on what were already God-given.
Her dad was one of the pioneer students of Center for Pop Music Philippines, the first and largest training school for voice and theater performances in the country, under the late Butch Alvarracin.
“So, my dad is one of those pioneer students na hino-hone niya ta’s actually trivia po, si daddy nakasama po siya sa student pop noong college siya ta’s nagko-contest din po siya,” Kim says of her dad.
That is why when Direk Darryl adds that, “This girl deserves everything more than anyone else,” we could not help but agree.
She goes on: “Dati po ’yong lola ko dati po siya singer ng Sampaguita Pictures. Ta’s ’yong lolo ko po kasi, si Arnold Molina, dati po siyang director... nag-scriptwriter and director. May mga ilan movies ni FPJ [the late movie king, Fernando Poe, Jr.] na siya po ’yong nagsulat. So, ’yon po ’yong background ng Molina side ko.”
When she was four years old—turning five—she was uprooted from the Philippines to live in Saudi Arabia, where her singing dad practiced his other calling: Dentistry.
“My dad po kasi is dentist by profession,” Kim starts narrating. “He practices dentistry on the weekdays and weekends ano po siya vocal coach. May studio po kami sa Saudi... ang nangyari po noon, sinubukan lang niya. Para mawala rin ’yong homesickness ng daddy ko, tinuruan niya akong kumanta.
“Tapos pag may mga Filipino Community Day sa Saudi Arabia, ako po ’yong nagpo-front act for ’yong mga artists na pumupunta doon. Si Kuya Yani [Bayani Agbayani], kilala na niya ako bata palang ako. I was seven years old, ako ’yong frontact, ako ’yong nagsasabi ng, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Bayani Agbayani!’ Kay Tito Rannie Raymundo... tapos, sobrang bata pa po ako noon. Hanggang sa pag kasi malaki na at may hubog na ’yong katawan hindi na p’wede mag-live na kanta since very strict sa Saudi Arabia.”
She says Saudi was a very restricted environment that she—and her eventual two siblings—could not help but become sheltered.
“Ibang-iba kasi po sa Saudi I can’t go anywhere without my dad,” Kim recalls. “Meron po kasi kaming tinatawag na Iqama—’yon po ’yong residential ID ng mga taga-doon sa Saudi na hindi naman citizen. So, kahit sa’n ako pumunta kasama ko si daddy o kaya si mommy... kung kanino ako dependent. Kasi kung hindi ko sila kasama, maraming tanong ’yong mga Mutawa...Mutawa po kasi ang tawag, ’yong parang mga high police po nila. ’Yong mga Mutawa may kasama laging police. So, naglilibot po ang mga ’yon. Pag nakita nila ’yong ibang lahi tatanungin nila kung sa’n galing, kung anu-ano po...”
But their confined situation did not restrict them from becoming musical artists and from proliferating this same artistry. On the side, the Molina family also do some serious pay-it-forward schemes.
“So, what happened was my dad decided to train younger OFW [Overseas Filipino Workers] kids and at same time it’s not just for the income...for extra income, of course it’s part of it but also...kasi, si daddy active din po kasi siya sa [Philippine] embassy...’yong mga for distressed Filipino workers? Tinutulungan po namin.
“We have beneficial shows tapos ’yong makukuha po naming pera pinangbibili namin ng mga tickets noong mga OFWs na walang pera pang-balik sa Pilipinas. So, kumbaga, bata palang ako na-hone na rin po ako ng daddy ko na aside from performing for people, as much as possible, we help people. ’Yon po ’yong nakalakihan ko.”
In her teen years, she began joining musical competitions.
“Opo sumali ako ng contest TFC [The Filpino Channel] din po ’yon, ABS [-CBN] din po ’yon,” Kim relishes the memory. “Sumali po ako doon kasi sabi ng daddy ko pag naka-lampas ako ng ilang levels, ibibili niya ako ng cellphone. So, kasi each ano po ’yon Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait, Dubai...hanggang sa nakapunta kami sa Dubai for grand finals. Doon ko po first nakilala si Tito Randy Santiago, Tito Rowell [Santiago]. Kumbaga, parang dire-diretso.”
Kim, then only 14 years old, says she wasn’t thinking of anything big in those days. But she admits feeling a different high at the fact that people can see her contest videos on YouTube later on.
“Ako naman po parang tuwang-tuwa ako na makikita ninyo sa YouTube yong videos no’ng contest na ’yon. Para lang po akong batang tumatalon-talon, kumakanta ng Emotions. As in hindi alam na gano’n kalaki...na bahay at lupa ’yong premyo. Dahil po doon, nakakuha po ako ng house and lot noong bata po ako. Pero binenta na po namin ’yon dati.”
ATLANTIS TO AEGIS
At 16, she went home to the Philippines for good. By then, she has already gained enough confidence as performer by having joined several singing competitions abroad, which also landed her guesting stints in the ABS-CBN Global channels. Thus, she began auditioning for theaters. Her first singing-acting gig was for Atlantis Productions’ Tarzan the Musical, which paved way for more roles in the same production.
At that time, although she found out she could also act and just sing, the idea of singing or acting for TV or film never crossed her mind.
“Lumaki ako sa Saudi, TFC girl po ako. Lahat ng teleserye [ng ABS-CBN], napanood ko no’ng bata ako,” Kim explains. “Alam ko na sobrang gaganda nila. Tinanggap ko na hindi naman ako gano’n. I just wanted to sing. I just love the fact na na-e-entertain ko ang tao sa pagkanta ko. Hindi ko in-expect na magpe-pelikula po ako, na mag-a-artista ako.”
Although she owes her acting training with Atlantis Productions, Kim admits that playing Aileen on Rak of Aegis for PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association] certainly opened a lot of doors for her.
“I owe it to my theater productions family,” says Kim. “Kasi dalawa po sila, e, Atlantis and PETA, but then sa Rak of Aegis po kasi din po nag-start na mas maraming doors nag-open for me, for most of the cast.
“Sa Rak of Aegis lang po kasi na sabay pareho na umarte at kumanta, do’n na rin po nakita ng mga naging kaibigan na rin natin na kaya ko pala.
“So, do’n na rin po na-hone ’yong talent ko po dito na minahal ko na rin, in-embrace ko na rin. Naniniwala rin po kasi ako na kung desidido ka sa ginagawa mo, at saka kung sa tingin mo kaya mong gawin at kung napapalibutan ka naman ng mga tao na hindi sila maramot na mag-share ng kung ano ang alam nila, matututo at matututo ka.”
And mind you, those doors opened without her even knocking.
DOCTOR AT HEART
But with all her accolades now as a multi-media performer (she’s also a recording artist!), Kim, from time to time, still thinks of her other would-be self.
“Supposedly magiging doktor po ako. As in. Yes, ’yon po ’yong main na pangarap ng parents ko for me,” Kim reveals. “Sobrang strict ng parents ko when it comes to my studies. They would let me join extra-curricular activities, but at the same time, dapat ’yong grades ko maayos dapat. Pag nawala ako sa honor roll, I can’t, I won’t be able to sing anywhere. They won’t let me. So, ’yon po, nagbago lang lahat ng desisyon ko na maging doktor no’ng TFC [The Filipino Channel] Pop Star... that was 2006.”
If that did not happen…
“Actually, lagi po ’yon tinatanong sa akin kung ano ’yong frustration ko? ’Yon po. Every time pupunta po ako sa hospital, tinitingnan ko sila. ‘Ay, dapat ito ’yong ginagawa ko.’ Kasi sobrang passionate din po ako when it comes to Biology, when it comes to anything about Science. Sobrang nerd ako, nerd ako when it comes to that. Sobrang... like for example, the people close to me when they get sick, sobrang inaalagaan ko, gustong-gusto ko siya. Kaya parang nanghihinayang ako sa part na ’yon lagi until now. Pero masaya naman po ako.” —Kim on being a frustrated doctor.
“I’m in the hospital right now, I’m on call. Kasi ’yon po talaga...actually lagi po ’yon tinatanong sa akin kung ano ’yong frustration ko? ’Yon po. Every time pupunta po ako sa hospital, tinitingnan ko sila. ‘Ay, dapat ito ’yong ginagawa ko.’ Kasi sobrang passionate din po ako when it comes to Biology, when it comes to anything about Science. Sobrang nerd ako, nerd ako when it comes to that.
“Sobrang... like for example, the people close to me when they get sick, sobrang inaalagaan ko, gustong-gusto ko siya. Kaya parang nanghihinayang ako sa part na ’yon lagi until now. Pero masaya naman po ako.”
Had she chosen the medical path, she’s either a pediatrician or an anesthesiologist by now. But Medicine’s loss is Art’s gain.
And it only takes a real artist like Kim to play a character that is totally the opposite of who she is off cam. Elsa, her bitter, foul-mouthed, no-boyfriend-since birth alcoholic character in her launching movie #Jowable is not, even in small dose, her.
For one, she doesn’t drink. For two, she is happily in love. And for three, she is well-loved by everyone.
But she gave life to Elsa as probably no one else could. In the words of her director: “Isang malaking katarantaduhan kung hindi si Kim ang gumanap nito.”
“Ako po ay... every role na ginagampanan ko po ngayon at kung pa’no ko po siya nagagampanan, I owe it to my theater background,” Kim explains. “Kasi doon po sa teatro po kasi tinuruan po kaming pa’no gumawa ng sarili mong back story. If you don’t have any. Kumbaga, the journey of your character depending on the script. You have to study it. So, kuha ka ng pegs, you watch a lot of movies, you read a lot of books tapos kuha ka ng pegs mo d’yan.
“Doon ko po na-aral si Elsa and at the same time, actually medyo nahirapan po ako kasi as a person hindi po kasi ako talaga mainom as in mainom? ’Yong tolerance ko po sa alcohol, wala. Kinukuha po ako ni Baby Jesus. Hahaha!” Which means she passes out.
“Alam po yan ng mga nanay natin ditto kasi si Mommy Candy [Pangilinan], nandito as in talagang wala. Siguro isang bote, kalahating bote, wala na po ako. Pulang-pula na po ako. So, kinailangan ko pong mag-observe ng mga tao. Well, observer naman ako as a person talaga. So, ’yon po ang ginawa ko pag lalabas kami.”
With the abundance of blessings, Kim in certainly on Cloud 9 these days. But with #Jowable, her launching movie, being showing soon, she she’s also as nervous as hell.
“Iba po ’yong feeling, e. Kumbaga, although this year po kasi, this year, it’s a blessing for me. It’s been a roller-coaster of blessings for me. From the moment starting from Kadenang Ginto palang na sobrang nagpapasalamat po kami na kinagat po ng tao lahat. Tapos after Kadenang Ginto, nag-General’s Daughter pa po, tapos Momol Nights...Momol Nights actually was my very first lead digitally. So, kinabahan na po ako noon Halos sabay ko pong ginawa... after Momol, the month after, I did Jowable already. Hindi pa siya nag-sink in kasi habang nagsu-shoot kami for Jowable, nagpo-promote po ako ng Momol. So, nagsi-sink in nalang lahat no’ng, ‘Hala ang dami nang nangyayari.’
“...With the help of the people around me—the cast, the prod, the creative team, my bosses in Viva... kumbaga they’re just embracing me as a person, of what I could give to the audience and to the project. Kumbaga, ’son nalang po ’yong pinanghahawakan ko, na they trusted me with this. So, I just have to trust them for trusting me. So ’son nalang po ’yong incise ko,”—Kim on how she deals with the pressure of having a launching solo movie
“Ngayon pong month na ’to hala, kaya medyo kinakabahan po ako. Sobra. But with the help of the people around me—the cast, the prod, the creative team, my bosses in Viva... kumbaga they’re just embracing me as a person, of what I could give to the audience and to the project.
“Kumbaga, ’yon nalang po ’yong pinanghahawakan ko, na they trusted me with this. So, I just have to trust them for trusting me. So ’yon nalang po ’yong iniisip ko kasi kung if I think of other things, I’d probably just sit in the corner and don’t talk at all.”
#Jowable, which is Rated R-13, is screening in cinemas nationwide starting Wednesday, September 25.
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