Whoever said gifted children will grow up in laboratories probably hasn't met Paulo Avelino. Unknown to many, the actor attended elementary at Baguio City SPED Center where only children with exceptional abilities are admitted.
Considered one of the country's best schools where students with high IQ and learning difficulties meet, the SPED Center has been Paulo's playground during his formative years. But for the "Walang Hanggan" actor, he grew up not minding he's part of a chosen few fast-learners: “Normal lang. Like any other elementary schools, just go to school. Sa'min lang iba kasi you get to mingle with people with learning difficulties,” he told Yahoo! Philippines OMG! at the launch of LG's L3 smartphone series II.
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The school also taught him well to be mindful of the children with disabilities—and communicating with them through sign language. “Sa 'min kasi tin-rain din kami to understand them as much as possible. to communicate with them. Like how could you communicate with a blind child tapos bata ka pa? You learn to understand them more.”
Though he regrets not finishing school when he paused to enter showbiz via Starstruck, Paulo says continuing his Entrepreneurial Management course is still an option. He may even try Film-making.
“Of course I wanna finish my studies. But sabi nga nila, ang success parang diskarte sa buhay. But I'm not discouraging anyone. Ako, I wanna study. Gusto ko rin mag-aral. I mean after graduating, kung tamad ka rin, wala rin mangyayari so kailangan mo rin dumiskarte. You need to strive for the best.”
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'Acting is my calling'
Paulo seems so passionate about acting and the movies that he can't see himself doing something else as of the moment.
“It's basically all I do. It's what I want to do. It's what I'm best at. I can't really be a salesman because I don't really talk that good. I can't really do sales talk. But with films and acting, kumbaga, parang it's my calling.”
While he's steadily gaining ground in the local film critics' circle, Paulo is optimistic the Philippines' first Oscar will soon become a reality, especially now that a growing number of local films are participating on global stage like the Cannes film fest: “I'm very happy and proud now dahil there are two films at Palm d'Ore and may Eric Matti's film featured in Cannes. So parang ang saya saya ko rin for them nakapasok sila.”
“Hindi natin mapasok ang Oscar because of production value. So siguro one day, one day umangat ang ekonomiya natin, umayos lahat.”
Of Mayon and Rinconada Bikol
After his first indie venture in the Cinemalaya film “Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa” where he earned his first Urian Best Actor trophy, Paulo is off to his second film festival movie, “Debosyon” by Alvin Yapan.
For Paulo, going indie gives every actor a license to be more playful with the character—something mainstream studio outfits are not known for. But the indie scene is not without sacrifices. For instance, Paulo had to deliver lines in Rinconada Bikol, a local language he barely knows. He also had to adjust with the lean production of the movie, set the perks of the stars aside, and flex some muscle to help carry some production materials.
“Nakikitulong kasi maaawa ka rin sa mga tao imbes na pabalik-balik sila carrying the lights or other things, eh 'di tulungan mo na lang. Konti lang naman dala kong gamit so just help them. At least we could save time. When we reach the location shoot na lang,” he says of his experience shooting the movie at the foot of Mayon Volcano.
Executive producer Alemberg Ang explains Paulo's intent to help with every bit of the production served a dual purpose: “Partly dahil kulang sa tao and partly dahil gusto namin siyang itago sa mga tao at 'di pagkamalang artista.”
More: Paulo Avelino: Now an in-demand actor
On being an endorsement magnet
Aside from scoring TV and movie projects, Paulo enjoys a lot of endorsements that he's proud he personally uses: “It's hard to endorse something you don't feel like using. Ako kasi the best feeling is when you endorse something and at the same time you use and love the product.”
“Everything is not about the money. Iba rin kasi kapag masaya ka sa produkto na ineendorse mo at ginagamit mo.”
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