Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Alma Reyes

Remembering REX

March-April 2014

On the 27th day of February, 2014, we lost one of our most endearing Filipino talents in Japan, Rex Angeles. It was a rainy Thursday, just as the skies poured their tears for a man, so simple, so generous, so compassionate, and so talented that he gave all of his entire heart to everyone without expecting much in return. Messages of LOVE have been overflowing incessantly since that day from all corners of the globe—rekindling magical memories of how Rex’s omnipresence has been such an enormous part of all our lives.
How strange that about the same time last year, I wrote this tribute to Rex after we sat down one happy day for coffee. 


“We all are dreaming
That some time we'll be in a place of our own
There's always a reason, whatever we do, and that's how life goes on
There is always a reason to fly”

- “Reason To Fly” by Rex Angeles


Spanning about roughly twenty-five years of long and promising years in Japan, Rex Angeles has truly come a long way, from student, corporate man, model, actor, singer to administrator. Filipinos in Tokyo know him as the suave and cool tenor balladeer who often graces community events, concerts, singing engagements with foreign dignitaries, and receptions hosted by the Philippine Amba-ssador, not to mention live shows of his own. Many miss the other side of Rex’s career as model, actor, and school administrator. Rex speaks to Jeepney Press about his personal experiences and challenges in the world of entertainment and business.

“I first started as a model (for commercials and advertisements), then tried acting for movies and television, and went into singing later. But, I’ve always considered myself foremost as an actor. For me, acting is more of a greater challenge since you need to step into somebody’s character and pretend to be that person. Singing is more of expressing yourself from within,” as Rex describes his keen interest in acting. Rex’s first acting debut was in 1990 in the popular TV serial drama, FUZOROI NO RINGO TACHI Part 3 with powerhouse cast, including Kiichi Nakai, Mariko Ishihara, Saburo Tokito and many others. He portrayed the role of Jim, a Filipino factory worker. Some of his succeeding acting portrayals included Aguila, a Filipino exchange student who became a suspect in a murder case in KAYOU SUSPENSE GEKIJOU, a Malaysian sultan's son who was a rival of veteran actor Tetsuya Takeda in the movie PRO-GOLFER ORIBE KINJIRO Part 5, and a Filipino hotel worker in the comedy-drama TV serial PRISON HOTEL. He also did commercials, like Sapporo Beer, Lotte Gum, Asian Spirits, Vidal Sassoon, Nissan, Fujitsu, etc. Being in the cast of the long-running TV drama series, COACH (1996-1997) was Rex’s most cherished and unforgettable experience as an actor in Japan. “I really enjoyed working with the regular cast and crew of that production, like Koji Tamaki, Atsuko Asano, Anju Suzuki, etc. We frequently met at Koji Tamaki’s place and reviewed our scenes, laughing and joking about them. We enjoyed each other’s company and really got along well,” Rex recalls.

In 2011, Rex was lucky to have been given the role of a Malaysian investigator in the successful movie SECOND VIRGIN, with multi-awarded actress Kyoka Suzuki and actor Hiroshi Hasegawa. Rex describes working in the Japanese production set, “In Japan, actors are extremely pampered by the production staff. We get serviced by a private car, meals, and provided with a complete set of wardrobe. Japanese actors are always prompt in the location shooting. Unlike in some productions abroad where the big stars sometimes come late on the set, in Japan, the big actors always come the earliest. Everyone is polite and courteous. There is no drama or intrigue.”

Rex admires Johnny Depp and would like to try different roles that offer a more exciting challenge. “Being an Asian, I usually played the ‘good guy' in an Asian role. But, what I really want to do are the difficult roles, like being a retarded person, for example, where you have to develop your expression to the fullest without lines or a dialogue." Currently after a short break, Rex again started receiving offers to act in several TV variety programs set in location scenes; one of them is Beat Takeshi’s UNBELIEVABLE.

“I joined the chorale group in college in Manila where I gained my professional training, but I was never really interested in joining singing contests and in pursuing it as a career. However, I got into singing when I was offered a guest appearance at the Johnny Litton TV show; I was spotted by Alpha Records' big boss and was soon offered a recording contract, which I eventually declined in the end," Rex recalls his early singing career. He is often invited to sing in many Filipino social events, sponsored by the Philippine Embassy, as well as the foreign communities and organizations in Japan. He has also been sitting as one of the judges in the yearly UTAWIT Grand Finals competition. Rex has done solo shows of his own in Tokyo—at the Tokyo Main Dining Restaurant and Bar in Shibuya, the Gigabar in Aoyama, Blues Alley in Meguro, JZ Brat, etc.  His first major concert in 1997 entitled "Rated R" was held at the Kitazawa Town Hall in Tokyo. He also did a "Jazz and Bossa Night" regular stint at the Tokyo Westin Hotel's The Lounge, singing mostly standard songs of Frank Sinatra, Burt Bacharach, Michael BublĂ©, etc. He maintains his style of singing ballads, mellow pop, bossa nova, and lounge music. “I’m not really keen on concentrating on singing alone as my main career. I think doing regular shows every week and touring can be exhausting,” Rex explains why he chooses singing more as a form of leisure.

Rex, however, is preparing for his next solo live show in Tokyo, hopefully, in spring this year. Be sure to mark your calendar when the notice is out!

Currently, Rex is the Director, Administrator and Co-founder of the Ohana English Pre-school in Yokohama. The school opened in 2004, but dragged on very slowly in the next three years. Fortunately, from its fourth year, enrollment peaked, and the school now is busy as a bee with a full calendar of activities. Rex explains his experience mana-ging this school. “It was very difficult at first to manage the business. Obviously, you have to hire and deal with every staff, then recruit foreign teachers who have all sorts of demands. But, I have to accept that I won’t be young forever. I probably won’t be singing and acting all my life. Japan has blessed me with a heap of opportunities, and this is one way for me to return that blessing by offering my service to children.”

Balancing his routine as actor, singer, and administrator has been a great feat for Rex Angeles. No wonder his future can never look dull. Whether you spot him on the wide screen, on your home TV, or in one of the live houses in Tokyo, you will surely be awed by his tall, stark and debonair presence, and be reminded of a great thing a Filipino is doing outside his home country. Good luck, Rex! We surely look forward to seeing you more in the limelight!

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