In the coming year, 2019, spoken word artist Juan Miguel Severo sees himself headlining a concert, in which he will not only recite his spoken word poetry but also perform his original songs.
His dream venue will be Music Museum in Greenhills, San Juan.
“Gano’n talaga ako, ina-announce ko sa universe,” Juan Miguel told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in a recent interview held at the launch of @ Christmas Time. This album is a collection of original and cover holiday tunes of Juan Miguel and his fellow PolyEast Records’ artists.
Juan Miguel talked about his own version of the Bing Crosby classic, "I’ll Be Home for Christmas," in the @ Christmas Time album.
“Binigyan po nila ako ng mga pagpipilian, ’ta’s yun po ang pinili ko,” he said of his contribution in the album.
He admitted to not having a definite reason behind his choice of song as he’s always with his family every Christmas.
According to the 30-year-old writer, "Kahit sa mga tulang sinusulat ko parang lagi kong ina-associate ang pag-uwi sa love.
"And I have lots of, ano rin, relatives. My sister is actually in Canada din, so gusto ko siyang pauwiin dito for Christmas.”
His face lit up when asked if he was given free rein in interpreting his chosen Christmas song.
"Specifically, sinabi ko na sana yung tunog na mag-isa ka lang nag-iinarte sa kuwarto mo,” he said, laughing. “Yun ang description sa gusto kong areglo.”
Juan Miguel may not be able to sing "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" in his dream concert in 2019, but he can perform tracks both from his spoken word and music albums, also under PolyEast Records.
Apart from performing poetry and music, he will also be busy in the coming year with two writing assignments for TV and movie director Dan Villegas: one is an original material and the other an adaptation.
Juan Miguel and Direk Villegas previously collaborated on Hintayan ng Langit, which was an entry to the QCinema International Film Festival 2018 and opened to cinemas nationwide last November.
Hintayan ng Langit, a drama-comedy about dead ex-lovers who meet in purgatory, is an adaptation of Juan Miguel’s own one-act play that was staged at the annual theater event, Virgin Labfest 2015.
The playwright-turned-screenplay writer recalled being inspired by a real-life incident that happened at the wake of his grandmother in 2011.
“May dumating na matandang lalaki na walang nakakakilala, na malungkot,” he said.
"Apparently, manliligaw niya dati. Di sila nagkatuluyan. Kontra ang tatay ng lola ko.”
Three years later, Juan Miguel penned the one-act play and entered it to Virgin Labfest, which aims to discover new playwrights and become the venue for their theater debut.
“’Tapos, 2015 pa lang, napanood na nila Direk Dan at saka Direk Tonette,” he said, referring to the directing and producing team of real-life couple Dan Villegas (English Only, Please; Changing Partners) and Antoinette Jadaone (That Thing Called Tadhana, Never Not Love You).
Juan Miguel remembered what Direk Dan told him at that time: “Sabi niya, ‘Pag naging pelikula ’to, gusto ko, ako ang magdi-direk.’ Kaya habang sinusulat ko yung screenplay, sinabi ko na agad sa kanya.”
He said he’s seen Hintayan ng Langit four times, and he felt good about its adaptation from stage to screen. Eddie Garcia and Gina Pareno portrayed the lovers in this indie film.
"Ako din naman ang nagsulat ng script, so total control din po ako,” he pointed out. “’Tapos si Direk Dan at saka si Direk Tonette, sila yung producers, kaibigan ko naman sila.
“Very respectful sila of my original material. So hindi po naging mahirap yung process ng pag-a-adapt.”
Aside from writing scripts, songs, and spoken word poetry, the performer in Juan Miguel would like to do more acting work.
In The Hows of Us, which broke box-office records when this Star Cinema production opened in August 2018, Juan Miguel plays a close friend of the lead characters played by Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, also known as the KathNiel love team.
He admitted being a KathNiel fan before being cast in the movie, and he became friends with the two popular young stars.
“Sobrang happy,” Juan Miguel said about working with Kathryn and Daniel. “Very supportive sila sa akin, sa lahat ng ginagawa ko.
“I’m so happy to have found this friendship with them. Ang taas ng respeto ko sa dalawang taong yun.”
Juan Miguel also has a recurring role in ABS-CBN's long-running teleserye, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, and he hopes to have more acting stints on TV and in film.
In his many artistic pursuits, Juan Miguel shows depth and creativity that he’s not quite sure where he got.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” said the former architecture student who was about to shift to a film course when he began working.
"Dahil maraming taon akong naligaw. Hindi ko alam kung ano'ng gagawin sa buhay. So sa dami ng taon na yun, ang dami kong natutunan, nagpamuni-munihan.
"Ang dami kong sinubukan na trabaho. Ang dami kong sinubukan na… Life experiences siguro po.
“Sabi nga ni Ricky Lee,” he added, referring to the renowned writer, “kung gusto mong maging magaling na manununulat, kailangan damihan mo ang bubog sa puso mo.”
He also has a strong stand as an independent artist, who believes that “an art that is not free cannot be trusted.”
He then goes on explaining: “Importante ang kalayaan sa sining, especially kalayaan sa pagkukuwento. As an independent artist ang stand ko ay hindi nila dapat pinapakialaman ang mga creators natin.
“Parati namang sinasalamin ng sining ang katotohanan at kung ano ang katotohanan, napupunta sa sining.”
He shook his head when asked which of those artistic pursuits comes closest to him being Juan Miguel Severo.
“Ang parati ko pong sinasabi, I’m a performer and a writer,” he said. “Or a performer who writes and a writer who performs.
"Ayoko lang ding pumili. Pakiramdam ko, pag may pinili ako out loud, baka magtampo yung isa.”
But he knows exactly which is the most financially rewarding.
"Believe it or not, ang pinakapinagkakakitaan ko is spoken word,” he said.