JC Santos and Cedrick Juan: Exemplary Theater Peers

Santos and Juan won major acting awards at the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival.

By: Jan. 09, 2024
JC Santos and Cedrick Juan: Exemplary Theater Peers

Manila, Philippines--JC Santos and Cedrick Juan are theater actors who crossed into mainstream entertainment, offering what they can as stage-trained artists. However, their triumphs in their careers and the now extended annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) didn't come as an overnight success.

As Best Supporting Actor and Best Actor winners for the thriller “Mallari” and historical drama “GomBurZa,” respectively, Santos and Juan embody the sum of their dedication and determination as individual actors.

Theater Learnings

Santos, as Bro. Lucas Alarcon, the surprise antagonist in the “Mallari,” MMFF’s Third Best Picture, shares the lessons that came in handy when he began acting in TV and film, "In studying the theater arts program, you don't just become a performer.

"You will be given designations in every production. For example, for a particular production, you will be costume staff. Or you will be the props head in another production. One can be a refreshment server, 'kargador' (a porter), set construction carpenter, lights and sound boardman, or a marketing or sales staff.

“Basically, naikot ko lahat ng trabaho kung paano gumawa ng isang show habang umaarte sa entablado."

While this year's MMFF Best Actor, Juan, who portrayed the historical Padro Jose Burgos in “GomBurZa,” Second Best Picture, has this to say, "The core lessons I always carry with me, whenever I act are the things I also do in my daily life.

"First, to always find 'truth' in what I do and say.

“Second, acting is reacting. One should know how to listen first.

“Third, always play as an ensemble.

"Fourth, 'vanity will kill anybody.' There’s a tendency for actors to be too conscious about their looks whenever they act and speak.

“[And] Fifth, be 'present' always because there are roles with alternate actors in theater, and they will have different ways of interpreting their characters, energy, and dynamics."

JC Santos and Cedrick Juan: Exemplary Theater Peers
Cedrick Juan as Padre Jose Burgos in 'GomBurZa' 
(Photo: JesCom Films)

Catapulted to TV and Film

It is but natural as actors that they expand their territories. And eventually, excel as well.

Santos got noticed when he did “Esprit de Corps” (Mac) in the 2014 Cinema One Originals Film Festival. In 2016, he debuted on TV via “Till I Met You” (Ali) with James Reid and Nadine Lustre. His first lead role in a film was in “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” (Fidel) for the first-ever Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP).

Juan, on the other hand, did “Oro” (Bong), where he was nominated as Best Supporting Actor, and “Die Beautiful” (Erika) at the MMFF 2016. In 2018, he did two film festival entries in two separate festivals, “The Panti Sisters” (PPP) and “Utopia” (Cinema One Originals). He also did “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral” (Col. Jose Leyba) that same year. On TV, he did “Paano ang Pangako? “(TV5) in 2020-21 and “Fit Check: Confessions of an Ukay Queen” (Amazon Prime) in 2023.

Santos shares, "I once heard na, 'tiga-theater ka naman, effortless na yan!'

"No. I made it effortless because I didn’t sleep much last night. I had to keep practicing my lines. I had to deliver my lines 100 to 200 times para maging muscle memory siya. At kahit may ginagawa akong iba, nasasabi ko linya ko.

“Hindi rin nakakatulog yung wife ko kasi iniistorbo ko s’ya to throw lines with me.

“If it's a fight scene, I must punch the air 100 to 200 times, para hindi ko masuntok yung co-actor ko.

“Kung ibang dialect or language ‘yan, I have to make extra effort para maulit-ulit ko siya hanggang magtunog native tongue."

Juan’s thoughts are short but sweet, "Always come prepared and have a presence of mind."

JC Santos and Cedrick Juan: Exemplary Theater Peers
JC Santos as Bro. Lucas Alarcon in "Mallari"
(Photo: Warner Bros. Philippines)

Advice to Aspiring Actors

Santos and Juan acknowledge their theater roots have brought them to where they are today.

The two see theater as having something to do with a shared humanity. It can be explosive and affective to the audience and the people they work with. It has taught them to be collaborative and humble and continuously pursue excellence in all they do.

Santos says, "It sounds a lot of work pero ‘yun ang work, eh.

"I value the preparation and repetition. With repetition comes mastery. I think hindi lang to naa-apply sa field ko, also in every field or pursuit of excellence. Well, think that hard work pays."

Juan says, "Again, always work as part of an ensemble. Treat everyone as equal.

I learned two core values in theater: 'You are only as good as your last performance.’ And 'there are no small roles, only small actors.'"

As peers, Santos and Juan worked together in the theater as early as 2013.

They even shared the stage twice via Jose Estrella's stage adaptation of “Adarna” (Dulaang UP, 2013), where Santos played Don Juan and Juan played Don Diego. They also worked together in “Bilanggo ng Pag-ibig” (Dulaang UP, 2015).

Santos was last seen on stage in John Logan’s “Red” (2023), while Juan later appeared on stage in “Mula sa Buwan” (2022), a musical adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s “Cyrano de Bergerac.”