He is a comedian on the boob tube and the airwaves, where he hosts game and talk shows on top of being news anchor in a radio network and member of the jury of a talent search in a TV show. Way before this, he established himself as an emcee by doing stand-up comedy at The Library in Malate.
But acting is also in his blood, and so is music.
What many don’t know is that Ignacio was a member of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and that he studied at the UP College of Music, major in composition and conducting.
Nowadays, aside from his busy film and TV work, he is also into the buying and selling of houses, tending to a fishpond in Bulacan, and managing a hair-restoration business.
His love affair with theater, meanwhile, started in the 1980s when he accompanied a friend to a rehearsal of a Repertory Philippines production of “La Cage aux Folles.”
“I was content watching the music rehearsals. But then I got bored so I picked up a music sheet and just sang,” he recalled. “As I was a UP music major, I could sight-read notes. Bibot (Amador)—I had no idea who she was then—stared at me and I expected to be hit with something. But, instead of being thrown out, she invited me to be part of Rep. I did Raul Manglapus’ musical “1898” and joined the ensemble of “La Cage.” I also worked as the vocal coach in several productions. Chari Arespacochaga was a member of the chorus that I taught.”
Arespacochaga would later on direct Ignacio in his comeback to musical theater, Atlantis Productions’ “The Full Monty,” staged early this year.
Ignacio said he was so in awe of Amador that he actually carried her picture in his wallet: “Despite the ‘bloody’ stage and backstage encounters we had in the course of several productions, I love Bibot Amador. She was simply brilliant.”
After a long hiatus from theater, Ignacio returned to the stage last year in a new play by Joey Javier Reyes, “Sayaw ng mga Seniorita,” where he shared the spotlight with stalwarts Joel Lamangan and Soxie Topacio. The play, about five gay friends in the sunset of their lives, became one of the blockbuster entries of the National Theater Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
Now he’s all set to play Gomez Addams in Atlantis Productions’ latest offering, “The Addams Family,” which opens at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium of RCBC Plaza, Makati City, on Nov. 15. The musical, directed by Bobby Garcia and starring as well Eula Valdes as Morticia Addams, runs until Dec. 1.
“My theater energy was still so high after ‘The Full Monty’ that I asked direk Chari if I could be part of ‘The Addams Family,’ even in a minor role,” recalled Ignacio. “Then I got a call saying I’m playing the patriarch Gomez, no less. It’s a big, big wow! But, at the same time, it sent shivers up my spine , because I know how difficult learning the part is going to be.”
“The Addams Family,” based on the beloved characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams, is essentially about a “weird” clan trying to interact with a “normal” family—something that the proudly unconventional Ignacio said he understands quite well.
“Gomez may be strange, but I can actually relate to the part. For one, his emotions and sense of obligation to his family are very real! In real life, I am a father to my daughter Sofia who will be turning 18 next year,” he noted.
Ignacio—the son of a teacher-mother and a banker-father who once drove him out of the house for his wastrel ways—got married at one point, and openly admits to being attracted to both men and women.
There is no particular secret to how he manages his multitasking life, said Ignacio. “I manage my time very well and come deadline time, I just do the things I ought to do.”
That goes as well for theater. Come opening nights, he makes sure he is in tiptop shape: “I just come prepared with lines and songs memorized. I usually avoid small talk and silly jokes during rehearsals. In theater, I require extreme focus for myself.”
“Theatre is a paradise,” he added. “It works magnificently for both actors and audiences because people do their jobs well. The ultimate goal is a good show and excellence is the main standard. It is so amazing how talent and discipline do miracles on stage. I wish more of us can discover how beautiful theater is.”