Michael V.: dreams happen, dreams change
by Rommel R. Llanes
Jun 14, 2019

"Persevere... Basta kung gusto ninyo, pagtrabahuhan."

As a child, Beethoven del Valle Bunagan wanted to become a waiter.

"Kasi gusto ko yung bowtie," recalls the multi-talented comedian, musician, artist, and vlogger Michael V.

Beethoven del Valle Bunagan is Michael’s real name.

It was given to him by his father Cesar Felix Bunagan, who saw the name “Beethoven” in a music album while at work for a construction company.

"Saka gusto ko yung skills sa paghawak ng tray na hindi nahuhulog," Michael goes on in his 2015 interview with PEP Talk, the online showbiz talk show of PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), to promote his book The Bubble Bible, published by Summit Books.

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Michael says he also dreamed of becoming a boxer after watching Muhammad Ali in one of the heavyweight champion's fights.

"Sinabi ko yun sa tatay ko. Pinagtawanan ako. Kasi ang payat-payat ko nun, e. Sobrang payat ko nun. Parang imposible."

Then Michael discovered he could also draw, so he told his father he wanted to take Fine Arts in college.

"'Naku, anak, mahal ang Fine Arts!'" was the reaction he got from his father, crushing Michael once more.

He was advised to seek another course that his family could actually afford.

The comedian narrates, "Naghanap ako nung hindi ganung kamahal.

"Actually, halos libre, kasi naging scholar nga ako dun, at walang math masyado…konti lang.

"Perfect yung masscom!"

Michael became a student at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila where he took up Mass Communications.

MICHAEL V. & HIS DEEP WELL OF IDEAS

Apart from making people laugh, being creative is second nature to this 49-year-old comedian—his birthday is December 17, 1969—who started in show business as a rapper in 1992.

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His well of ideas looks too deep to ever run dry, and easy proof of this is his latest project.

Michael has always wanted to make movies, and after a long wait the right moment has come.

Family History is Michael’s first venture in movie producing.

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Aside from being the producer, he is also writer, director, and lead star of Family History.

He tells PEP.ph in another interview, following his recent Headliner photo-and-video shoot: "Feeling ko, it’s about time.

"Kasi siguro challenge din sa sarili ko na, 'Gawa naman ako ng something new.' Kasi for the past ten years, wala na akong ginawang pelikula, ever, e. So feeling ko, now is the time. Kasi gusto ko yung flow, yung influx ng Filipino movies ngayon. Particularly, na-inspire ako dun sa movie ni Ogie Alcasid, yung Kuya Wes.

"Na sabi ko, 'Bakit itong kaibigan ko, ang lakas ng loob?' 'Tapos nakapag-produce, nakalabas sa ganitong klase ng pelikula."

Kuya Wes was also Ogie's first venture into movie production.

Ogie's company, A-TEAM (Alcasid Talent, Entertainment, and Artist Management, Inc.), teamed up with Spring Films and Awkward Penguin to produce the film.

The movie, one of the top-grossing films at the 2018 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, went on to win a best-actress award for Ina Raymundo at the Fantasporto Film Festival 2018 in Portugal.

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It had its nationwide commercial run last March.

Michael adds, "Parang, feeling ko, it's time for people like us, na gumawa naman ng bold step para magkaroon ng panibagong marka sa industriya."

But since he is new in the business of movie production, his company, Mic Test Entertainment Inc., has partnered with GMA Pictures, the movie production arm of GMA Network, for his project.

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He also plans to do more films after Family History, "Ako, pinaplano ko talaga na ituluy-tuloy na ito.

"'Tsaka kahit na ano ang maging outcome ng Family History—ke kumita o hindi—ako, nag-enjoy dun sa ginawa ko, na natuwa ako dun sa…Iba yung fulfillment na naramdaman ko nung nabuo yung movie, lalo nung naedit na. Kasi iisipin mo yun, ano? Galing lang ito sa utak ko, e. 'Tapos ngayon, o. Napapanood na ng marami. Lalo na kung napanood na ng mas marami pa at na-appreciate nila. Siguro mabu-boost yung willingness ko to entertain in more ways than one.”

In Family History, Michael plays the character Alex opposite Dawn Zulueta's May.

He says, "Ito ay tungkol sa problematic na relationship ng mag-asawang si Alex at si May at kung ano ang naging epekto ng isang disease dun sa relationship na yun.

"This story is fictional and yet yung mga elemento rito, hango sa mga totoong kakilala ko."

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According to Michael, the movie depicts true-to-life cases that they’ve researched on and that they feel need telling.

He says, "Ako, personally, yung mother at father ko, cancer survivors yan. May pinagdaanan silang kakaibang disease, kumbaga.

"Marami pang ibang tao na iba naman ang pinagdaanan. Yun yung mga naging inspirasyon ko. In-interview namin sila, nag-research kami tungkol dun sa iba’t ibang klaseng disease na puwedeng gamitin sa istorya. And true enough marami talagang istorya na parang humihingi ng pagkakataon na maisapelikula o maipakita sa marami. Para at least malaman ninyo kung ano ang pakiramdam ng pinagdadaanan ng mga tao."

MICHAEL V. PRAISES HIS TEAM

He is very much hands-on as a newbie producer, but Michael leaves the technical aspects of making Family History to the experts whom he praises to high heavens.

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He says with pride, "Sa ngayon kasi habang nanonood ako ng mga Filipino films sa Netflix at saka sa mga sinehan, nakita ko kung gaano ka-on par na tayo with, I would say, even Hollywood, pagdating sa technical aspect.

"Especially, kung ang genre mo is either drama or comedy or love story na hindi kailangan ng elaborate na special effects.

"Particularly yung mga D.O.P. natin, yung mga director of photography—ang gagaling mag-ilaw, ang gagaling humawak ng camera.

"Dun ako na-impress, at na-inspire to create something like this. Kasi parang wala nang poproblemahin, e.

"Hindi ko na iisipin kung paano ie-execute nang ganun. More or less, alam na nila yung gagawin nila.

"Even yung mga producers na kasama namin dito sa pelikula, alam na alam nila yung kailangan nilang gawin, all I had to do is come up with the story and tell them what to do."

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But since this is his project, his brainchild, he could not help getting very involved during the making of the movie.

"Isa mga 'flaws' ko e gusto ko agad makita yung resulta," he admits.

"Kaya as soon as matapos yung isang araw ng pagsu-shoot, hinihingi ko agad yung materyales. So, gumagawa na ako ng rough na edit.

"So, after the shoot, the following day, meron na akong na-edit na mga eksena.

"'Tapos binibigay ko dun sa editor for further evaluation at saka kung mapapaganda niya pa."

MICHAEL V. THE VLOGGER

Editing a video is another passion of Michael, a skill he is able to hone as a YouTube vlogger.

Last year, Michael started #BitoyStory in the video sharing site to house his vlogs or video logs.

He named his YouTube channel after the moniker that has stuck with him since high school.

It was also his on-point impression of the “man-child” character Bitoy popularized in the 1950s by the comedian Bentot.

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His videos feature gadget reviews, interviews, reactions to other videos, and recently, promotions of his movie.

#BitoyStory has more than 400 thousand subscribers to date, and the numbers keep growing, especially when Michael has a new entry.

But despite his many followers, Michael concedes that vlogging is not that important to him now.

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"Yung #BitoyStory? Medyo nagkaroon ng konting setback dahil sa paggawa ng pelikula. At, as I explained dun sa vlog ko, hindi ko siya talaga career, e. At this point. I’m not saying na hindi ko siya magiging career, o magiging siya na yung next move ko. Pero it definitely is on the backseat at this point ng mga activities ko sa Pepito Manaloto at sa Bubble Gang.

"Pagka may mga nagre-request na, 'Sana maging weekly or monthly, o daily…' Wala akong ipinangakong… hindi nga ako makapangako nga, e."

He clarifies, "Wala akong maipangako dahil napaka-erratic ng schedule ko.

"Pero I make sure na I get in touch with them. Dahil, in a way, parang na-establish ko na na audience ito.

"And I think and I hope na itong mga #BitoyStory Squad ko—itong mga subscribers ko sa YouTube—sila yung isa sa mga grupo na tutulong sa akin sa pagtaguyod nitong Family History."

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MICHAEL V. AND CAROL

One of his vlog entries features a 31-minute video about his trip to New Zealand with his family.

But near the end of the video, Michael talks about his vacation with his wife, Carol, at the Amanpulo resort in Palawan.

They have been married for 25 years, and the trip to Amanpulo was their anniversary celebration and their way of fulfilling one of their #couplegoals.

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PEP.ph asks Michael if it has always been smooth-sailing for him and Carol.

Michael begins his answer with a question he got from his social media followers.

"Dun sa mga responses ko sa pinost ko dun sa Instagram at saka sa Facebook at sa Twitter, regarding dun sa Family History na teaser, maraming nagtatanong. 'Base ba iyan sa totoong buhay ninyo?' 'Nagkaroon ba kayo ng problema ni Misis kaya naisulat mo yang istoryang iyan?'"

In the teaser, Dawn Zulueta's character May, Michael's character's wife, looks stunned and confused when her husband forgets to kiss her before he goes to sleep.

Michael recounts his response, "I wouldn’t say na perpekto yung relationship namin. Siyempre, meron ding ups and downs. And there were times na sobrang down talaga. Hindi naman umabot dun sa puntong kami’y maghihiwalay na.

"Pero lumilitaw yung differences ninyong dalawa bilang individuals, kasi hindi naiiwasan. Tao lang kayo, e. Tao lang kami. Kaya ko sinasabing 'kayo,' dinadamay ko na kayo. Yung mga nakikinig at nagbabasa ngayon.

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"Asahan ninyo na hindi smooth sailing talaga palagi. But pag dumating kayo dun sa open sea na talagang walang kaalun-alon?

"Naku, napakasarap! I-enjoy ninyo yung times na hindi kayo nag-aaway, hindi kayo nagtatalo. Enjoy-in ninyo na lang.

"At saka huwag ka nang gumawa ng mga kahit anong magiging cause ng mga alon na yun, paglaki ng alon. Huwag mo nang simulan."

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Carol is also Michael's manager. Does their manager-talent relationship ever run in conflict with their being husband and wife?

He says, "Nag-o-overlap yan, e. Akala ko nga pagka yung ganung relationship, puwedeng maisantabi yung manager-talent relationship. Pag-uwi ninyo sa kuwarto, akala ko matatapos na. Pero hindi maiiwasan. Minsan you get to discuss about things.

"Madalas ako yung nagko-cause ng disagreement, kasi ako yung matigas ang ulo."

His advice to husbands: "I always remind myself to keep an open mind. Kasi madalas yung mga asawa, may point talaga, e.

"May point talaga ang mga babae. Na dahil nga napakatigas lang ng ulo nating mga lalaki, pagka naisip mo, ‘tapos nakita mo yung resulta—tama sila, e.

"So plenty of times dapat makinig ka na lang."

MICHAEL V. AS A FATHER

Michael and Carol are blessed with four lovely and talented children: Milo, 24; Yanni, 20; Migo, 15; and Maypaul, 10.

Is Michael a strict dad or a cool dad?

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"I wouldn't say I'm that strict, pero istrikto ako roon sa mga tama at mali; otherwise, anything in between, medyo lenient ako diyan.

“Pero pagka dumarating yung punto na, 'O, parang mali na yang ginagawa ninyo,' meron kaming 'three-count rule' sa bahay, e. Parang strike one, strike two, strike three—pagka hindi ka pa nakinig dun sa unang dalawang warning, yung pangatlo medyo may consequences na yan."

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Does he consider himself a disciplinarian?

"Feeling ko, mas disciplinarian si Misis, pero mas takot sila sa akin.

Ayaw nilang nagagalit ako. Ayaw nilang nag-iinit ang ulo ko't sumasama ang loob ko."

And what draws the ire of Michael the most is "disrespect, most especially."

He elaborates, “Pagka nakakaramdam ako ng disrespect para sa asawa ko, sa mommy nila, sa nanay nila… yun yung isang madaling magpainit ng ulo ko.

“Pagka medyo umaangil sila sa nanay nila, yun, talagang nakakapag-ano sa akin. Nag-e-evoke yan ng isang negative na emotion.”

Overall, his household is a happy one and Michael is definitely pleased with the way his children are turning out.

Yanni, whose real name is Brianna, has been featured in various websites for her musical talent.

Last year, she impressed with her soulful rendition of her dad’s original composition "Ayoko Na," which was used in an episode of Pepito Manaloto.

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About his third child, Migo, Michael said, "Mahilig tumugtog. Ang instrumento niya ngayon, bass.

"'Tapos interested siya sa music creation, 'tsaka sa sound design. Basta may kinalaman sa auditory art. So nakikita ko yun na siguro in the future, mag-e-expand pa yun. Hindi lang malilimitahan sa ganun. Baka nga, siya yung sumunod pa na isa."

During the interview, Michael clearly fills with pride talking about his children.

"Yung bunso ko na mahilig din kumanta at mag-perform, feeling ko, isa rin yun. Lahat sila merong maliliit na Michael V. sa genes nila, e."

MICHAEL V.'S WORDS OF WISDOM

What advice can he give to his kids, especially those who plan to follow his footsteps in showbiz?

"Persevere, 'tsaka yung passion ninyo dapat hindi mawala. Basta kung gusto ninyo, pagtrabahuhan.

"Hindi kasi puwedeng dahil anak lang kayo ni Michael V., naging sikat na kayo o nakilala na kayo. Hindi yun ang batayan ng isang magaling na talento.

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"Dapat talaga, pagyamanin mo yung binigay sa iyo ni Lord."

He emphasizes that it was never his way to impose on his kids.

"Never akong naging ganun. Kaming mag-asawa, we encourage them to do what they want to do. Every time or anytime they want to do it.

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"'O, gusto mong maggitara? Sige, try natin. Pagka magaling ka na, bibili tayo ng magandang gitara.' Parang mga ganun. 'Gusto mong mag-painting? O, sige, try mo muna itong mga pang-painting na ito. Pagka naging magaling ka na, bibili tayo ng mas magandang materyales.'

"Something like that. Pagka talagang nakahiligan nila, tinutupad naman namin ang mga sinasabi namin.

"Pero hindi kami nag-i-impose na, 'O, kung ano ako ngayon, o kung ano si Mommy mo, gayahin mo.' Ang ini-impose lang namin na maging kami ay yung maging respectful sa parents at saka yung obedience. 'Sana ganun kayo, kasi ganun kami.'"

He seems like an old-school-type of a father. Did he take cue from the way his father raised him?

Michael shakes his head before answering, "Ang ginawa ko lang e, ‘Ano ba yung mga ayaw ko sa tatay ko?' Dun ako nag-focus. Kasi marami na 'kong gusto, e, dun sa paraan ng pagpapalaki sa akin ng tatay ko. So, ang inisip ko naman, 'Ano ba yung mga ayaw ko?' At saka, logical ba na naging ayaw ko yun? Pagka if it makes sense, then I will try not to be like that to my kids. So far, nag-work naman."

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If he could talk now to his old self when he was a new father, what would be his advice to him?

"Siguro ano… play it by ear...huwag mong hayaang diktahan ka ng mga prinsipyo ng ibang tao.

"Basta kung ano yung nararamdaman mong magiging tama para sa inyong mag-ama, yun ang…

"Sabi nga ng Sex Bomb dati, 'Kung ano ang nasa puso mo, sundin mo.'"

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Jay Tablante

SHOOT PRODUCERS: Nikko Tuazon & Rommel R. Llanes

ART DIRECTOR: Jeremiah Idanan

STYLIST: M Barretto

GROOMING: Maria Bernardino

VIDEO PRODUCERS: John Henri Mariano, Mart Francisco & Chelle Mempin

VIDEO EDITOR: John Henri Mariano

Special thanks to Ms. Marian Domingo of GMA Corp. Comm.

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