Actors are often praised especially when they do physically intense scenes. But behind many of them are stuntmen who act as their doubles.
Dingdong Dantes, who has worked with many stuntmen over the years, saw the need to finally recognize them.
“In my two decades in the industry, I’ve been working with them and my life and safety lie on their hands. When we’re shooting in tall buildings with wires, they’re the ones holding the cables. They’re usually in the background, not in the limelight. For me, they are unsung heroes,” he said.
The actor acknowledged stuntmen need the same support and guidance that more popular actors get
“They are also actors, but their lives are more at risk. They’re like the frontliners.”
In support of Filipino stuntmen, Dingdong, together with the Yes Pinoy Foundation, partnered with Stunt Association of the Philippines (SAP) to conduct international stunt action training program called “Project #BeScene.” It aims to unite the local stunt community, uplift the skills, welfare, and safety of the audio-visual industry, and promote global competitiveness.
“So, how do you give them importance? There must be upgrade in the skills that they can really use. I have worked with a lot of stuntmen, many of them have passed away already. Our intention is to uplift the skills of the stuntmen in the Philippines. To be world class not just in terms of performance, but also safety,” he said.
The training was done under the helm of Seoul Action School (SAS) from Korea. Among the projects under SAS were the Korean series “Goblin” and “Kingdom,” and the widely-popular movie “Train To Busan.”
“We flew in the instructors of SAS from Korea. We conducted a five-day workshop with select stuntmen here. We made sure to send invitations to many stuntmen groups here, so they can send at least two representatives. Whatever they learned here, they can also share it with their colleagues. The Philippine Red Cross taught them about safety, while an insurance company informed them about financial literacy,” he said.
Dingdong and his partners sought the help of SAS as Koreans are known for their talent and discipline. South Korea has managed to promote their Hallyu wave and K-pop globally over the years.
“I’m not saying that we are not capable. What I’m saying is that we’re open to learn from our neighboring countries. They said that they also learn from us as much as we learn from them. We give much respect on how much they value their craft. Even just with their process, we can already learn a lot from them,” the actor said.
Over 120 Pinoy stuntmen joined the graduation ceremony, while an SAP Handbook of guidelines was also drafted and handed over to the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). Their support doesn’t just end in this training, as he also recommends having a consultation with stakeholders, producers, and directors.
Present during the graduation rites were FDCP executive director David Fabros, Seoul Action School – Korea action director Bruce Sunwoong Kim, Brian Poe Llamanzares, Mark Lapid, Quezon City Cong. Alfred Vargas, and SAP officials Ian Ignacio, Ralphe Roxas, and Erwin Tagle.
“There are many issues that need to be raised and heard. There must be an organization, at least for members from all sectors to feel the malasakit. The bottomline is that we need to have better quality films, so we’ll have better quality of life. It is our commitment to really support this cause. It fits our vision of education and upliftment. What’s important here is to have a discussion. It’s already a victory for us to take small steps,” he said.
Dingdong can share the knowledge he gets from this training to his fellow cast and crew of GMA’s upcoming teleserye “Descendants Of The Sun.” Portraying the roles of soldiers, Dingdong and his co-stars Rocco Nacino, Paul Salas, and Jon Lucas, had an intense training with Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Special Forces.
“We really bonded. You cannot just get that bond overnight. You cannot just easily act out how tight you are as a unit. The better way to do it is to go through training in the sun, in the mud,” he said.
Dingdong hopes to represent our soldiers properly and with dignity. Fans are still rooting for their favorite actresses who can play Dingdong’s love interest in the remake of the Korean drama. Speculations abound that it could be Jennylyn Mercado but nothing is official as of this writing.