Race Matias’s biggest influence in acting, believe it or not, was Spider-Man.
It’s not even his dad, actor-turned-public servant Herbert Bautista or his other relatives in showbiz—his uncle Hero and aunt Harlene, just like his dad, all grew up in the public eye. His late Lolo Butch, the Bautista patriarch, was also a well-known actor-director in his prime.
“I developed my passion in acting very early,” Race told the movie press during the the promo period of Indak, his very first big-screen try out as a Viva contract artist.
“So, you know, I guess I sort of started na... I enjoyed dancing, I enjoyed performing, and from there I started developing a hobby for watching movies, playing video games, reading comics… At some point, you know, I remember my mom asking me what I wanted to be when I grow up… I was the biggest fan of Spider-man… as you can see, I still am…ayan, ayan, oh!” he said laughing as he showed off his Spider-man socks.
(His first encounter with Spider-man on the big screen was in 2002 and the actor that he saw played Spider-Man/Peter Parker then was Tobey Maguire.)
“’Yon po talaga ’yong I guess you could say, ’yong inciting incident ng acting life ko,” Race went on. “I remember, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said, ‘I want to be Spiderman.’ And then she laughed. So, s’yempre ako nainis ako. Ba’t tumatawa? I wanna be Spider-man. Sabi niya, ‘Well, he’s just an actor.’ Then, it just made me realize, ‘Oh, okay. Then maybe I wanna be an actor.’”
But acting, though he has an easy mean to achive it because of his pedigree, had to take a back seat. His parents won’t have it. The deal was, he had to get a degree first. After that, he can take control of his own life.
In the meantime, in high school, he discovered dancing. And he took it seriously. He cfreditedn it for serving him well in honing his performing skills. Dancing even brought him to international stage, competing as part of the group called Legit Status.
“Professionally I only competed once in my life as a dancer, when I was in Hiphop International way back in 2015. I represented Philippines in Legit Status.”
[Race was refering to the World Hip Hop Dance Championships of Hip Hop International (HHI), held in San Diego, California. HHI is said to be the Wimbledon or the NBA of street dance. There, the group won silver for the Varsity Division and Bronze for the Megacrew Division.]
“It was an experience unlike any other,” said Race of his time with the dance group. “I guess it has taught me so many things that I don’t think other journey would’ve teach me. I’m very blessed na, you know, the experience I went through with my team, with my coach, Legit Status, has changed my life profoundly talaga. It really helped me look at whatever it is I wanna pursue with a different perspective.”
And what he wanted to pursue, besides acting, was also to become a filmmaker. And for that, he decided to study abroad.
He was 19 when he moved to New York City to study filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. He lived in a dorm and basically took care of himself.
“The challenge po of living out…I had to learn kasi how to use the washing machine,” Race recalled smiling. “I had to learn na ako na dapat magluluto ng sarili kong pagkain ’cause s’yempre pag nagpa-deliver ako araw-araw ubos ang pera ko and may budget ako monthly, e.”
He was supposed to stay in New York for only two years. But it got extended to three.
“My second year [for the filmmaking course] got delayed,” explained Race. “There was a problem in the.. there was something in the school, e, I can’t remember what it was exactly. But I had to wait for another year to start my second year. In that ‘one-year gap,’ I decided to take up acting. The plan talaga was just filmmaking for two years, then uwi na. But since ’yon nga, may konting ‘postponement’ na one year...so what can I do for this one year? So, I decided to take up acting. Like an actual one-year acting program in same school in New York.
“And then after that, New York offered this bi-coastal experience… the first year of filmmaking [study] would be in New York and the last year would be in LA [Los Angeles, California].
But he didn’t mind the extension. In fact, Race now considers his three-year solo living abroad, as his parent’s most precious gift to him.
“You know like sending me over to the United States, talagang it really… it opened my mind na there’s a whole world out there. Like when I flew to the States, I started meeting people from all over the globe… from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, Nigeria…and it’s really, there was just this moment that came into my head like, ‘Oh, my god this world is much bigger than I thought it was.’ And the only way talaga that I would’ve learn that was when my parents decided to drop me in this foreign country where I have to start everything from scratch, I have to make new friends, I have to learn new skills to survive.
“It definitely was a risk because New York city is not exactly the safest city in the world. But that’s why it was a challenge. You have to be careful. You have to always be as be open minded as you can.”
But Race added that his American twang wasn’t exactly acquired in his three-year stay in the United States. His nerdy side, he said, may be blamed for it.
“Ah, ano po, e, hahaha. . . so, ano po kasi, madalas po kasi like growing up, in high school—or just growing up in general—I was never into sports… never ako ’yong extrovert na mahilig mag-party, maglakwatsa, going to the mall with friends… I was more like after school, uwi ako ng bahay and then nood na agad ako ng movies. So, movies talaga. I spent a good majority of my childhood watching, you know, English, Western movies.
“S’yempre, like after watching a film that really had an impact on me… for the next hour or two, I’d reenact the scenes na nakita ko. And since they were mostly in English, it gave me the chance to practice how to speak English properly.
“And you know, I’ve always been a fan of plays, then English classes in high school. So doon pa mas na-shape back ’yong love ko for the language. So, yeah, that would be it. When I got in the States na medyo it wasn’t so hard anymore to talk…converse with other people from all over the world.”
He said he alway get a scolding from his dad because of his English-speaking ways.
“Actually paulit-ulit niyang sinasabi niya, ‘Mag-Tagalog ka nga, susmaryosep!’ Hindi, ano naman po kasi conversational naman po kasi ’yong Tagalog ko. I mean like pag technical, pag filmmaking ’yong pinag uusapan English term ’yong alam kong gamitin. So, medyo mas mabilis tumakbo ’yong words ko if in English. Pero kapag usapan naman po na araw–araw, ‘Kumain ka na ba?’ Ganyan. Tagalog naman po.
“My mom talks to me in Tagalog. Both my parents actually. Once in a while I answer naman in English pero Tagalog talaga. They want me to be familiar with Tagalog.”
Race is in showbiz now. He’s inked a three-year contract with Viva and he’s just appeared in his first movie. And all that’s because he’s kept his end of the bargain.
“They’re very excited, needless to say,” said Race about his parents’ reaction. “Medyo alam na naman nila na I’ve always wanted to be an actor. So now na tapos na ako and all that, I’m finally embarking on this new journey and they’re very, very supportive.
“And my mom would always use the metaphor na ano…since I’m from La Salle Greenhills, she’d always use the metaphor na bow and arrow, bow and arrow lang lagi…minsan talaga sa buhay kailangan mag- pullback para kapag bitaw mas malayo ’yong maaabutin mo. So, ’yon ’yong metaphor na laging ginagamit ng mom ko.”
As for his dad, he said: “Kasi my dad like even if I didn’t get into showbusiness or acting, he would have been just as supportive. Like, he’s just like that. He wants what’s best for his children, you know. He’s a great dad. You can say whatever you want to him, about him, but what you can’t take away is the fact that he’s a good dad. So one of the things that he told me when we had a talk, like the ‘adult talk,’ na parang, ‘Oh, your career’s about to start…’ He just told me na… ‘Kahit ilan characters ang i-portray mo you have to stay true with your own character.’ Kahit ilang characters na ’yong… bad guy, hero, president, CEO, mahirap, you know, whatever… regardless of how many of those have to put myself..how many shoes I’ve put on, I should never forget where I come from kasi you know, roots before branches. ’Yon talaga.”
HIS BACK STORY
Race, now 22, was born to a non-conventional family.
His mom, Eloisa Matias, was a production executive for The Sharon Cuneta show in 80’s and that’s where she met Race’s would-be-dad, Herbert Bautista, who had co-hosting duties for the show.
His mom and dad never got married. And Race and is elder brother Cray, 24, were cool with it. In time, his dad would father two more kids from another woman and he said that such facts of life were never hidden from him and his Kuya.
“The moment na I started understanding things...I’ve always known na I have another brother, I have another sister from another woman,” Race narrated casually. “And I don’t have any problem with that.”
He’s open in saying he’s not close to his half-siblings. But he said they inspire him just the same.
“Si Harvey at si Athena, they’re lovely,” he says of his half-siblings. “We’re not close like you know, we don’t see each other every day. But I do love the fact that I have them as my siblings ’cause I know they’re just as passionate about what they love doing as I am. And knowing people who are like that continues to inspire me and kadugo ko ’tong mga ito diba? So, it’s only right na we share same interest.”
Race, who naughtily describes his dad as “mapagmahal na tao,” adds that Herbert isn’t the typical every-day dad, but he still manages to be a great dad in his own way.
“From the start, I never had any problem with my dad at all,” Race went on. “He was there in every step… like you know, he never missed a birthday, he never missed a Christmas Day, he never missed a graduation, the family day… all the major steps of my life… so, you know, I appreciate it. He’s a busy guy. I can only imagine how it’s like running Quezon City…”
And since his mom was raising him and his brother solo, he says she imposed the tough-love method on them.
“You know, my mother and I have a very dynamic relationship and it’s tough love lagi, you know like kaming dalawa… you know, she’s a single mom, it makes sense na parang pag nagloloko ako, pag tumatakas ako ng bahay tapos nahuhuli niya ako, nire-remind lang niya ako na,‘Ikaw pag napatay ka d’yan dahil sa kalokohan mo…’”
When asked what he thinks he took after from his dad, Race says: “I’d like to believe na he’s not afraid to make fun of himself, my dad? So, you know, that’s something I’d like to believe I’ve sort inherited from him.”
Asked again if he’s also “mapagmahal” like his dad, Race digs the joke and says: “Mapagmahal din po…ng isa.”
Race grew up in an environment devoid of dramas and rhetorics. He’s accepted his truths early on. Thus, he’s not the kind to hope for a reconciliation between his parents as couple.
“If I would to wish for one thing, it’s the happiness for the both of them—whether or not it’s the two of them being together,” he said in a serious tone. “You know what I mean? If my dad finds someone who makes him happy and that person is not my mother, it’s fine; and if my mom finds someone who makes her happy and that person is not my father, I’m happy.
Needless to say, he’s also open to the idea that either his mom or his dad—especially his dad—could actually marry somebody someday.
“My dad, he’s a …well, for starter, he’s an adult, he can make his own decision and he’s single. So who am I to say na ‘No, don’t go out with that person.’ Ano ba’ng kinalaman ko doon diba? If you think na you’ll be happy with this person then go for it.”
He’s well aware of his dad’s name’s association with alot of women. In fact, he knew about the alleged proposal to the last one. The father and son have touched on the topic a bit and he says his personal stand was to take it with a grain of salt.
Race, mimicking his conversation with his dad about it, explained: “Like, ‘May nabasa ako about you…’ Ganyan, ganyan… ‘E, wag kang maniwala sa mga yan. That’s…kasama sa industriya yan, e.’ And I said, ‘Kung gusto mo, di sige. Go lang.’
“But ’yon nga, going back to the… hindi naman lahat ng nababasa ko totoo…s’yempre alam ko naman po na dapat open-minded ka sa lahat ng nababasa mo. Kasi kung may nagsabi lang na may nakita akong manananggal sa Quiapo, maniniwala ka na ba dahil sinabi ng isang tao ’yon? Hindi naman diba? So, any topic regardless of what the source maybe, you know, it helps to be doubtful of everything that you read. You know, the classic mindset of philosophers… doubt everything.”
But as far as he is concerned, he’s just happy and content with the fact that his parents are the best of friends right now.
“That’s good as any relationship…Walang sugar coat ’yong mom ko. So, kung may problema ’yong tatay ko and he want a hard-pinning opinion on it, he goes to my mom. She’s the best person to go to when it comes to that.”
And as he said, he’d be happy for both—or either of them— should they eventually find their soulmates.
At this early point in his career, Race says he just puts his full trust in Viva.
“I trust Viva knows what they’re doing when it comes to their artists. So, you know, I wouldn’t mind if like, you know, if they see me as a romantic leading character… I trust that. But me, if I have the chance to be able to choose roles that I could do, I like roles na medyo ’yong morality nila is black-and-white…not good character, but not bad character.”
Race, the storyteller, added: “I would love to do things na mapapa-isip ka naman…‘Ba’t mo gagawin ’yon? Ano ba’ng problema mo?’ Pero maiintindihan mo bakit nila ginagawa ’yon. Maybe you as audience, won’t do that but you’re gonna understand why that character are like that… those are the characters I would love to do. For me, mas realistic siya, e. There’s no perfect character, no human being is perfect.”
Does he see himself acting alongside his dad?
“Oo naman. I wouldn’t mind,” Race said approvingly. “I would love to share a scene with him, but I probably wouldn’t want it as like a father and son tandem. Siguro like umm, if I would just give out, like on top of my head lang, if there was scenario na I would be in, he would be that old guy na masungit tapos ako ’yong kupal na bata na nangungulit sa kanya. Gano’n.
“Ayaw ko ng father and son relationship. ’Yong tipong naghirap siya sa buong buhay niya para makuha niya itong gusto niyang kotse tapos no’ng nadaanan niya ako, binatuhan ko siya ng relo or ng sapatos tapos nabasag ’yong kotse. Gano’n ’yong role na gusto kong makasama ang tatay ko.”
There were talks that he might be doing remakes of Herbert Bautista classics from the Viva archieves. But Race says he’s not thinking that far ahead.
“It has come up like, what if I played Teng-Teng, what if I played si Puto, ’yong mga ’yon or like remake of Bagets na pang- millennial, you know. When comes to the role, it all boils down to the material talaga, the script, you know. One of first lessons I learned in filmmaking was, you can make bad movie with a good script, but you can’t make good movie with bad script. So, material talaga. It’s the spine of the story talaga. I wouldn’t mind if the material is good.
(Puto was a Herbert starrer that was shown in1987; Teng-teng is a character played by Herbert in Captain Barbell in1986; and Bagets is the1984 youth classic that starred Herbert along with Aga Muhlach, among others).
“Siguro iniisip niya [Herbert], if they were to remake Captain Barbell, it would be nice if I directed it. But who knows. Like, that’s a long way from here. Maybe somewhere down the line we’ll collaborate on a story together but as of now, I’m on my own journey and we’re both helping each other.”
Whatever he becomes in the future—whether a full-blown actor, a director or a writer—Race says his goal is just to be able to make a difference.
“I would like to be good in storytelling… the ability to touch the audience,” he mused. “I hope one day—whether as an actor, as a film maker, as a writer, whatever… I’m able to let people see a side of themselves that they have not had the chance to see before…if that make sense?
“I want able to touch an audience in a way na it is just as gratifying for them as it is for me. Na you know, if it’s something as simple as, ‘Always put on your seatbelt when you’re driving or like learn to forgive no matter how painful it was, the wrong doing that happen to you…’ something …as long as I’m able to get someone to learn something new, to get something new. It’s something I’m hoping to achieve.”
But given a chance to direct, he says he’s drawn to the horror genre at the moment.
“Horror is one genre na I wanna explore talaga, you know, kasi very ano siya…if horror is done right, it’s not just about the scary whatever chasing a bunch of people… it can be very moving… like, a monster does not necessarily have to be a physical representation of people...a monster can be a manifestation of grief. You know? That something that won’t leave you alone, like it can be manifestation of hatred, or guilt like things na people… like we all have our own monsters and that’s something na gusto ko talagang i-put on screen to show na hindi lang ikaw ’yong -nag-i-struggle with this kind of thoughts.”
But he’s not in a hurry. In fact, he considers his acting newbie status now as a way of studying again. This time, he’s learning about the grind of the local film industry. He wants to know what he’s dealing with first before he dips his fingers at directing.
“I guess that’s one reason din why I decided to pursue acting muna kasi in film you know, like I wanna familiarize myself muna with how things run here in our industry kasi, you know, the technicals medyo natuto ko na ’yon pero, you know, like kung pano tumakbo ’yong makina ng industriya dito,’yon ’yog hindi pa ako sure doon e, hindi pa ako sanay.
“So hopefully sometime down the road makaka-direk na ako pakonti-konti pero yeah as of now the priority is acting.”
And again, given the chance, he reiterates that hen wants to play out-of-the box characters.
“I would love to play a characters na have very…’yong morality nila is medyo gray. They’re not good people, but they’re not necessary bad people either. Like my favorite TV show of all time would be Breaking Bad. And if you’re familiar with the show, it’s basically, just about, you know, morally flawed characters—basically bad guys versus bad guys.
“I don’t know why but there’s something about villain—a good villain—that I find more memorable than a good hero? ’Cause you know, in every story naman, the protagonist is always good as the antagonist, e. So, there’s something about an antagonist that really attracts me as an actor… parang to be able to portray someone who is so...I guess you can argue, some of them are selfless, you know, prideful, greedy… something that reminds the audience na, ‘Oh, you know there are people in this world who are like this.’
“And if you yourself as an audience can relate in this kind of people, e, di maybe you need to take out look at yourself kasi kung nakaka-relate ka sa bad guy di siguro may masama ka talagang ginagawa?”
But ultimately, he wants to play a close-to-Spider-man character.
“Spiderman talaga,” he laughed. “Feeling ko hanggang sa umabot na ’yong mamatay ako si Spiderman pa rin talaga ang nasa puso ko.
“Si Peter Parker kasi di ba ’yong character niya na ’yong binu-bully, ’yong sinisiko-siko lang, ‘Uy tabi ka nga.’ Hinahampas- hampas lang, binabatuk-batukan lang… very ano siya e, that’s a character na… I wasn’t bullied to that extent but I’ve got my fair share of bullying naman. I’ve been on both sides.
“So there’s something about the character of Peter Parker that’s just a loser and then one day he’s given this gift of being able to protect people…and most of the time these people are the ones that bully him… that conflict in his head na, ‘Ano ba? Why do I have to save these people, they don’t even care about who am I?’ And the fact that he gets over that kind of obstacle, that’s something na…you don’t have to be a comic book fan to respect that about his character.
“You know, Spider-man is a great character. Maybe if I’m lucky, one day I’ll be able to portray someone similar to his character. But for now, I would love to play the guy who bullies Spider-man than Spider-man himself.”
Indak is still showing in the following SM malls:
SM North Edsa
SM Mall of Asia
SM Pampanga (Telebastagan)
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