Music artist Bamboo as film actor? “That’s a 99.5 percent No!”

IMAGE Noel Orsal

OPM rock star and The Voice of the Philippines coach Bamboo laughs at the thought of becoming an actor. The singer-songwriter reveals that, in fact, he was offered a movie role before but he chose to keep going with his love for music.

Bamboo said in a sit-down with the press, “The biggest joy for myself is just creating an album… that’s just the best part of what I do. So, for me to do teleseryes, I th

Music artist Bamboo Mañalac believes in reinvention and “never saying no to anything.” But would he go for acting?

“That I can honestly say, that’s a 99.5 percent No!” the No Water, No Moon artist stated firmly at a press conference, Wednesday afternoon, September 25.

The singer-songwriter, former frontman of the Rivermaya band, simply reasons that he knows his place under the sun and will not in the near future be an actor.

“I just enjoy what I do. I really love music.

“It’s what I do, it’s what I love. I can’t see myself not doing that…”

Musicians turned actors are nothing new, of course. Bamboo’s contemporaries—Rico Blanco, who Bamboo preceded as Rivermaya’s vocalist; Kwjan frontman Marc Abaya; also The Dawn’s Jett Pangan—have tried extending their artistry on stage and primetime teleseryes.

It will not be the case for Bamboo, however, who knows himself too well—“Whenever I do something, I’m in a hundred and ten percent. I can’t go half in.


“So, I can’t say I’ll do half-this and do half-music or half-whatever. I can’t do that.”

“I’M HAPPY WHERE I’M AT.” Having previously done albums with Rivermaya in the ‘90s, with the Bamboo band in the early 2000's, and then last year as a solo artist, Bamboo is sure that he was made to create music.

He says his biggest joy lies in creating an album.

“That’s just the best part of what I do. It’s going through that process, falling in.

“Like Alice In Wonderland—falling down that rabbit hole—and finding yourself, finding that album.

“That’s what I love about what I do and collaborating with lots of other musicians.”

Teleseryes? Bamboo turns down the idea, flat out.

“I think that requires time.”

He mulls a little and laughs out loud, “I don’t think the world’s prepared to see my acting! Or slapping anybody!


“So yeah, I’m happy where I’m at. I’m very happy where I’m at.”

MENTORING. It would be interesting to know that Bamboo, who majored in film back in college (he'd rather not disclose which schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco), was offered a film project before.

“I don’t think I can commit to the whole project, especially given what I’m doing now.”

Coaching along with artists Apl. de. ap, Lea Salonga, and Sarah Geronimo in the reality talent search The Voice of the Philippines indeed takes up most of Bamboo’s time. Being the resident rock coach in the show takes more than occupying one of the famous swivel chairs.

Mentoring has become something bigger to Bamboo, enough to bear his discomfort at seeing his face on television.

Aside from the “no scripts, no acting” part about The Voice, Bamboo says that the coaching part is his favorite experience.


It has been “humbling,” he says, to meet talented musicians who need the support, the push that he himself got when he was starting out.

“With proper mentoring lang talaga, I really think they can bloom into something else.”

Part of coaching is pointing out what's lacking in a contestant's performance.

Bamboo dishes out, “What I discovered with all these young guys is they’re all… musically, they’re not very diverse.”

He noticed that the new talents tend to be “locked in” or stuck in their respective influences when they should be listening to various genres of the different decades.

“Like when you say, ‘Show me your influences.’ They would say, ‘Adele, Bruno Mars’ and that would be the floor na for them.

“If I give them a Beatle song, they would say ‘I never sang that,’ ‘I don’t know that song.’”

And there’s the rub! Bamboo stresses that that's what differentiates the new talents from the guys of his generation.


“Di ba, sila Ely [Buendia], sila Rico [Blanco]? The guys knew music backwards and forwards.

“They listen to U2, Jimi Hendrix, name it. Queen, di ba?

“We were students of the game. We understood the whole history of what this thing’s about.”

Bamboo is bent on instilling music history in the contestants, so much so that when his team was down to six, he gave each one a biography of a particular music legend.

“One guy, I got a John Lennon book… I got every single person a book.

“I told them to read and learn from that. That happened to me. Someone did that for me.

“He gave me books about U2… that helped me.

“Parang, ‘Okay, this is what I can expect of myself and of, later, what I want to be.’

"I hope I was that to them.”

OPM CHANGING WITH THE TIMES. Word has gotten around that Original Pilipino Music (OPM) has reached its demise. Gone are the days when artists like the APO Hiking Society, Mike Hanopol, Florante, Sampaguita, and Jose Marie Chan actually created original music, forging genres that made the local music scene richer.


The notion that OPM is dead stems from the reality today that giant recording companies have ceased to take a chance on new artists.

In order to sell music to the masses, they instead repackage the hits of yesteryears—commonly called revivals— to be sung by popular actors turned musicians or by young artists who just re-popularize the said covers and fail to innovate OPM.

Independent bands, also artists like Gloc-9, Ely Buenida, Rico Blanco, and Bamboo, are fighting for OPM’s survival as they try to put out original music despite the “age of covers.”

Bamboo personally believes that OPM is not dead. He suspects that it is “discovering” itself again and changing with the times.

Social media has a lot to do with these changes, the singer says, as the local audience finds it easier to access music from different parts of the world.

“People can see the stuff of what’s happening now. Bukas na yung mundo.”


He adds, “Kids these days, they’re listening to stuff that’s not mainstream, e. Iba na yung taste, e. Nagtse-change na, e.

“It’s evolving, which is a good thing. I’m excited about that.”

Bamboo predicts that in the next two years, a young artist would come about and “just shock us.”

“Some kid out there, some sixteen-year-old tinkering with his iPad or his computer… will create something special and put it out there.

“And we’re all gonna be blown away by it.”

It is the dream, an optimistic Bamboo says.

He asserts, “I don’t think OPM is dead. It is alive and well. It’s just that the landscape has changed, di ba?”


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