“The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.” –John C. Maxwell
I met actor Leon Miguel before he won an award for his role in the film “Tinubdan” at the 2019 International Film Festival Manhattan. We met at New York City’s Pennsylvania Station when he met with me and the film’s director, Ricky Dumapit.
Miguel, whose real name is Noel Aparilla and is also a model and engineer, had visited his kababayan in Masbate, his former mentor, Edgardo ‘Jun’ Arbolado, a spiritual leader based in Virginia.
Arbolado asked me to meet his childhood friend, who has been acting since 1994. Miguel, who is often cast for his exotic Asian face and notable acting, considers Arbolado “one of those who helped motivate and inspire me to become who I am today.”
Miguel first developed his acting prowess as Arbolado’s protégé in Masbate. He eventually graduated from the Actors Workshop Foundation, where he learned to “strive constantly to achieve realism” in his performances.
“Brother Jun was one of those who believed in my talent and capacity to act,” the actor recalled.
He has since appeared alongside David Hasselhoff in “Legacy,” Dean Cain in “Subject I Love You,” Hiroyuki Sanada in “Emergency Call,” Satoshi Tsumabuki in “Pandemic: Kansen Retto,” among other works. Additionally, he also played a bank robber and vicious killer in “Metro Manila,” directed by Oscar-nominated director Sean Ellis.
Miguel described Ellis as “so meticulous” that one scene was repeated 50 times, which drained the lead star, John Arcilla.
Now based in Los Angeles, he has not forgotten his roots and always wanted to visit Arbolado, his wife, and their children.
Miguel described his friend and mentor as a “cool person” who “tolerated” his imperfections.
For Arbolado, he went on to become a successful broadcast journalist in Roxas City, Capiz and served as regional manager of IBC-TV 12 in Iloilo City before settling in the United States.
The Filipino actor first got his exposure during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, which showcases a diverse selection of independent films and has become an outlet for independent filmmakers of all genres. He made his debut as a Katipunero in Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara’s TV series “Bisperas ng Kasaysayan.” Tribeca was a fitting reward for Miguel, who worked as civil engineer before getting the showbiz bug.
Miguel’s star shone in the film, “Graceland.”
The film was one of three Filipino films screened at the festival, alongside Miguel Calayan’s short “Prima” and Ramona Diaz’s documentary “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey.”
He said he enjoyed playing the “underdog” and has been cast as a kidnapper, gangster, thief, guerrilla, rebel, and murderer.
Miguel played an Abu Sayyaf insurgent a number of times, most notably in Brillante Mendoza’s “Captive” and Sigfried Barros-Sanchez’s “Tsardyer.”
“I make sure that even if I play a criminal, I still show the human side,” he explained. “I want the audience to understand why a person turns to crime.”
According to a recent Facebook post, Miguel is currently in Texas and will seen be filming “Reaching The Sky,” directed by Nicholas B. Cinco.
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Alex P. Vidal, who is based in New York City, used to be the editor for two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ