I’ve known Ronaldo Carcamo—better known as Ony Carcamo—in the 90s when I was writing for a tabloid where he was a writer in the lifestyle and human interest pages of the paper. Ony was running around with the brilliant editors and writers like Jim Alcantara, Marc Guerrero, Lourd de Veyra etc.
After my stint with the tabloid I didn’t see Ony anymore but I’ve been hearing and reading his stories in print for the last decades. Aside from writing daily columns on interesting topics, Carcamo also wrote and won literary pieces that he entered to the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. As a matter of fact, he took home two important awards from the premiere and prestigious literary contest in the Philippines. He both won Third Prize in the One-Act Play “Pal” and in the short story for children “Ang Mga Tsismis sa Baryo Silid” in 1987 and 1995, respectively.
What made me more interested in him was his practice of ventriloquism, the process of creating illusion by a ventriloquist that the voice heard from a puppet in tow comes from the dummy itself instead of a recorded audio.
Carcamo’s new art form reminded me of my childhood penchant for Kiko, a wooden puppet with a cap, dressed in tiny checkered shirt and smallest sized denim pants. Kiko talked and reacted to his puppeteer in a repartee on anything under the sun but eventually ending in selling a product he helped market especially in the countryside.
According to Ony, Kiko the puppet was a generic name for a dummy. Its source was the ventriloquism of National Artist for Film Manuel Conde who named his marionette Kiko from the surname of his friend and painter Botong Francisco, National Artist for Visual Arts.
Carcamo later fell into the magic of ventriloquy on his exposure to the art from his colleague in the advertising agency, Jun Urbano, son of Manuel.
The first time I saw Ony pulled the string of his puppet Kulas was when Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) President Arsenio J. Lizaso—also known as Nick Lizaso, theater, movie and television actor, director, writer and producer—was installed as the new Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) early this year.
It was an amazing performance that even the 2018 Miss Universe Catriona Gray, singer KZ Tandingan, pop artist Julie Ann San Jose, among others as guests in the event were mesmerized by Carcamo’s magic and wonder of puppetry.
That is why when Nick thought of the online art show “Sining Sigla” as part of sustainable arts and culture showcases in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first man to navigate in his mind was Ony. Producing MALA (Movies Adapted from Literary Arts) like the classic epic “Ibong Adarna” in ventriloquy was assigned to him as a screenwriter and adapter of the literary gem. This was to enhance the purpose of arts stir consciousness among people, especially children, to enjoy them in the middle of the restrictive atmosphere brought about by the virus. Lizaso’s online show on “MALA ‘Ibong Adarna’” also took action to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by keeping the Filipino audience at home and by watching art shows live streamed in the CCP President and CCP Facebook pages.
In the pre-prod stage of the Ony project, Carcamo got Xian Lim to direct his script which was a successful collaboration. “Magaling si Xian sa puppetry. Kasi, ventriloquist din siya. Natuto siya kay Juancho Lunaria (Xian is good in puppetry because he is also a ventriloquist. He learned so much from Juancho Lunaria),” informed Ony.