Barely scratching the surface of what he can be and do, Ian Pangilinan shows us more to him that makes it known—he is without a doubt one to watch out for.
“Wait I lost my train of thought,” says Ian Pangilinan in what stands to be the standard of conversations these days. Reduced to rectangular blocks switching at every vocal shift in the dialogue, the young actor disappears from the Zoom interface as he grapples for what he wanted to say before coming to a halt mid-sentence. Retracing on the sentence he stumbled upon in an impassioned articulation, he eventually finds his bearings and is able to carry on the conversation. The same would happen a little later when he was finding the right word to describe how truth factors into his preparation and performance as an actor.
This isn’t anything new when it comes to talking, especially when one really gets into the discussion. While others are quick to just move on and start over, Ian Pangilinan stayed right on course and focused hard to get the right word. Eagle-eyed as it may be, it is this deliberate attention that exemplifies his responsibilities to expression. Careful and considered, you could practically hear the gears of his mind whirring as he talks at great length, making for a most informed and insightful exchange.
Figuring Out Ian Pangilinan
Mindful in his approach, everything in his periphery has to be to his standard, whether it be a TikTok video, a follow-up question via email, or the next acting piece he will immerse himself in. There lies what sets him apart, which accounts for the success he has earned in the first of his professional acting career. Some would liken it to catching lightning in a bottle, the highly unlikely occurrence that makes more sense in the romanticized scope of literature. But what is definitively impossible has been made real, because Ian Pangilinan is not only brimming with talent, he is also committed to putting in the work.
Ever since his breakout role as Vlad in the highly successful run of Gaya Sa Pelikula, the young man trained in the hallowed halls of theater has expanded his reach on television, online, and social media. Bursting into the scene at such an unlikely time, he is making things work to his advantage, right here, right now. Aside from TV and digital shows, he has also explored music with two releases under his belt—the achingly tender Kilometer Zero and the brazenly hopeful Katabi.
The Full Immersion
Raring and ready for more, Ian Pangilinan is in no rush to reach greater heights and his full potential. He knows he’ll get there, for sure. What he wants to do is to take his time and enjoy the ride, because the many firsts he has experienced and will still experience don’t come twice. There is a lot more that he wants to do, but instead of reckless abandon, he is staying still and figuring out the right words to complete his sentences and thoughts.
He wants to fully immerse himself in the moment—and that we totally get. (That was the word he was trying to recall earlier, by the way. Things just work out the way they’re supposed to after all.
What does connection mean for you?
I think it’s about the absence of “walls.” We often interact with people with preset walls, such as not revealing too much about ourselves, putting on our best front, etc. All these are in the hopes that we don’t allow the other person to know about our true self too much. The underlying fear is that, if they know us too much, they’ll know how to hurt us. A connection is formed however, when you trust someone and let down your walls. Not will they know your true self, but you also abandon the fear.
While Gaya Sa Pelikula is a work of fiction, it is a story rooted in lived realities of queer people. How much of your own truths did you have to access to bring your characters to life with so much depth?
The truth that I use is the very, very personal story of Vlad. I make sure that Vlad really has his whole life that I embody, step into, and consider. I think it’s very important to have that kind of truth, because it makes the character very authentic. It doesn’t feel like you’re acting anything, but rather you are just showing the life of this character on the screen. Especially with a story like this, which is so personal and so specific, it’s important to do that to make sure that nothing feels put on.
There is that aspect that it does not come off as self serving, especially with coming-of-age films and media, which this very much falls into. It’s not performative, because you are on that journey with those characters. It’s a lot more immersive if the characters feel authentic and lived, rather than performed, which is why it’s so important to have the truth aspect in there to make sure that there is no pretending, there is no acting, if that makes sense? It is just the character being and existing and the audience being able to take a look into their life.
Not just in this industry, but in the journey of growing up, it can get easy to get lost or forget things. How have things changed since and what do you hope that you hold on to, even as time passes by?
Not a lot has changed in my goal to create art, but the thing that changed is the responsibility to a bigger audience. And that may come in something as silly as tweeting to something as heavy as ensuring that my future projects moving forward will also be able to deliver the same justice to the character I was able to do with Gaya Sa Pelikula.
Minsan nakakasilaw the fame, the money, that it might be easy to lose sight of the love and care for the art. [I’m definitely] happy, but also, I need to remember why I came here in the first place—not for money, fame, or recognition, but for the art.
If a young boy or girl, or even a younger self comes up to you and says, I want to be like you when I grow up. What lesson or wisdom would you share to get them started on their journey?
You are so much better that you think you are. You are so much stronger than your demons.
What for you is self-care and how do you practice it in your life?
My form of self care is taking a moment to realize that you are important aside from doing a splendid job at work or with your passion, you’re still a beautiful human being. You are not defined just solely by your talents. Taking a moment to nurture that other aspect of aside from the part of you that loves work, the aspect of you that loves people, that loves dogs, that loves food…those things are just as beautiful and just worth taking care of as the side of you that burns for your passion.