If you happen to see an adult man looking so low key and father-like, emanating a humble kind of feeling and very Filipino ways, on those big events of premiere nights and film showings- that could be Mr. Abe Pagtama, surely, one of the best actors that this blogger had admired.
He is so gentle, thoughtful, warm and kind- almost like a real father who cares. His ways are well-mannered, the way he speaks, so soft and reassuring. And his thoughtfulness could melt your heart down.
This actor, who has been appearing in many filipino independent films for the past years, is one of the best, again we say, that we had seen so far. He’s the “camera-holder” in the Cinemalaya 2013 film Kamera Obskura, a film directed by Raymond Red. He’s the child hostage-taker in the horror film Diplomat Hotel, directed by Chris Ad Castillo, he’s the evil villain in Rekorder, directed by Mikhail Red. And many more.
But he was never given the proper ‘accolades’. Back in the U.S. wherein he resided most of his life, he joined the Hollywood scene, portraying an Eskimo man in a TV series there, an Hawaiian in some films, and a lot of gangster roles.
“Ironically, I never played a Filipino man-character in those film and TV projects that I got in Hollywood”, Mr. Abe Pagtama started saying to a blogger during a coffee-interview at Coffee Bean in SM Megamall. “I was always casted as an Eskimo man or an Hawaiian man. But I was happy, anyway. Somehow, I longed the Philippines and I wanted to act here. When I met Raymond Red in the U.S. more that fourteen years ago, that’s how it all started. I appeared now in some Filipino indie films.”
And Mr. Pagtama simply flies back and forth from the U.S. to the Philippines. Isn’t it expensive? We asked.
“Ha-ha, I get free tickets, anyway”, Mr. Pagtama answered. “I attend some conventions and they give me free plane tickets. My work, really, is somewhat on the marketing side. It’s the one the pays my bills. And acting is only my passion.”
Mr. Pagtama is now currently in the Philippines to shoot new films with directors Raymond Red and Mikhail Red.
“I am casted in direk Raymond Red’s new film for the upcoming Cinema One Originals film fest”, Mr. Pagtama continued saying. “I am one of the rebels there in the film Mga Rebeldeng Walang Kaso, which is loosely based on the direk Raymond’s rebel days during his youth when he joined a group of friends fighting for an alternative cinema. The film happens only in one day. Raymond was only 17 years old at that time, together with other film rebels like Cesar Hernando and the rest. I am so glad to be a part of this film.”
Mr. Pagtama had already started shooting the film. And he felt so comfortable working with direk Raymond Red, whom he considers a very close friend. Then, on the coming month of November, Mr. Pagtama will start shooting for Mikhail Red’s (son of Raymond Red) new film. The film is entitled Birdshot.
“And next year, on the upcoming Cinemalaya 2016, I will be doing three film entries for Cinemalaya”, Mr. Pagtama added again. “I was casted in three films there and I am so happy. But I have to go back first to the U.S. for a brief period of time before I do those films.”
Mr. Pagtama doesn’t easily accept film roles, you see.
“When I accept a role, it depends on the script”, he said. “Kapag nagustuhan ko lang talaga ‘yung role, that’s the time I accept it. Then afterwards, I research for the kind of character I will portray. I change my looks based on the character. I sometimes become flamboyant, sometimes looking arrogant and evil, and I also let my beard grow if the character asks for it. That’s how serious an actor can I be.”
Mr. Pagtama has been acting in Hollywood since 1970’s. That’s why it’s really an honor for every Filipino film artist to have him around now. He wants to contribute something for the Philippine Cinema.
“As long as I am needed here, I will come”, came Mr. Pagtama’s last words for the interview. “I am a Filipino by birth and by blood. Nothing gives me more happiness but to work with my fellow Filipino film artists.”
Very well said, Mr. Abe Pagtama. And we promise, more of you on this humble blog site.
(words by robert manuguid silverio)