When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star Brandon "The Truth" Vera arrived here in the country during the first week of November, he was totally unaware that he'd do more than just train Richard Gutierrez for his fight scenes in the new GMA-7 fantaserye Kamandag.
"Sabi nila gusto nila magturo ako for the fight scenes," the hulking mixed martial arts fighter said when PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) visited the set of Kamandag last November 7 in Morong, Rizal.
As it turned out, the program's production staff changed its mind and decided to give Brandon additional work.
"Well, that's what I knew," he grinned. "'Pagdating ko dito, that's when they told me that I'll be playing the assassin and try to burn down the church and kill some governor," laughed Brandon before adding, "Biro lang. But I learned that I'll be the bad guy, I guess two days ago."
Brandon is not complaining though. In fact, the Filipino-Italian-American warrior is very excited over his acting debut and says the experience is a welcome break from the rough and tough dealings of his sport.
"To be given an opportunity. I'm having a good time. It's been good times," he affirmed, while relaxing on a couch in the makeshift trailer, which serves as a refuge for the lead stars while waiting for their cue.
BEEFING UP RICHARD. While acting is something Brandon has yet to get used to, teaching and training students, on the other hand, feels like second nature to him.
"Oo naman, I'm comfortable being an instructor, plus si Richard, he's an excellent student. Basta sabihin ko [ng] tatlong beses, alam na niyang gawin. So, sandali [sic] lang na trabaho sa ‘kin yon, e. Ganoon [ang] trabaho ko everyday, training, three times a day. Sandali lang," shared Brandon.
Brandon has nothing but good words for his student Richard Gutierrez."Richard has the same values that I do. We talk about our parents, ourwork and the business. We see eye to eye on almost everything."
There's no difference between how he gives training for Richard and for his other students who are not actors. The only difference, according to Brandon, is that he has to teach and remind Richard to control himself in delivering fatal blows.
"We go through it almost the same," revealed Brandon. "But instead of him finishing the move and actually breaking somebody's arm or making someone unconscious, tigil na before anything bad happens. But everything else is the same, the technique is the same, the training is the same, lahat."
Brandon, dubbed as "The Truth" in UFC, is amused by Richard's dedication and focus in their training. Struggling to find the right Filipino term, Brandon paused and then blurted out, "Madali siyang turuan."
VERY MUCH PINOY. Despite the fact that he grew up in the United States, Brandon's ease when it comes to the Filipino language is simply admirable.
"Tagalog pa rin kasi first language ko," he proudly stated. "Nung lumalaki ako, lola ko nagbabantay sa lahat ng mga bata so we all grew up speaking in Tagalog only. Hindi ako natuto mag-Ingles until pumasok ako ng public school, sa kindergarten, and Tagalog naman lagi ang salita namin sa bahay so nagagamit ko pa rin."
As for an acting career, Brandon is still weighing all his options since he's raring to slug it out again in the ring once his arm injury heals.
Brandon beamed, "Depende. Tanong mo si boss [pointing at GMA Program Manager, Redgie Acuña-Magno]. Hindi ko alam. I'm having a good time. Iba itong industry na ‘to sa industry ko and it's fun. Everyone's very polite and they're so nice. So, it's gonna be interesting. Let's see."