Thursday, Mar 04

Actors In Search of the Meaning of Life

December 02, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Having performed in over 200 musicals and plays, Roeder Camañag (left) is one of the most veteran actors in the Water Repentance Text production. But deep inside, he wonders if there's any meaning to everything he has done up to this point in his life. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Two actors for the upcoming Water Repentance Text stage adaptation share what they want to repent for. Having built their solid reputations from the ground up, they say that they now find themselves asking the meaning of everything that they’ve done up to now.


Theater isn’t financially satisfying, as freelance actor Paul Jake Paule attests. But it didn’t deter him from pursuing the art as the only one among his five siblings to do so. Over the years, he gradually built his portfolio by accepting as many productions as he could. His hard work eventually paid off as he later became a director for Artist Playground, an art company based in Quezon City.

Soon, he found himself questioning the career path he chose. His zeal for acting is undeniable, but he wonders if it’s really helping the family financially since they have helped him got this far. And as a result of taking too many acting jobs, he got sick.

“I was so focused in my work that I didn’t want to run out of work. I’d join every production I could find, and it got to the point that I was working in four productions simultaneously. I’ve become too greedy for roles and projects. But now, I only take on one project at a time and give others a chance since [my greed] took its toll on my health,” narrated Paule.

As one of the actors recruited for the upcoming Water Repentance Text stage adaptation, Paule wish to take this opportunity to repent. He wants to learn what it means to do good things for others instead of just for himself.

“I’m confident that I’ll experience something new from new co-actors and a new environment. I can learn new ways to handle people, as well as relate and communicate with my colleagues,” he added.

His close colleague and co-founder of Artist Playground, Roeder Camañag, is also part of the Water Repentance production. A veteran of over 200 musicals and plays, he has a solid reputation in the acting industry. Despite the accolades, he says that he feels empty inside. Everything he has done at this point in his career, he adds, doesn’t seem to hold any meaning to him.

“I realized in this production that, as an artist, you couldn’t help but feed your ego. There’s a big ego, and in the process, you hurt people with your temper or your hurtful words. As an actor and director, I’m guilty of that. I’ve done a lot of that in past,” Camañag shared.

“I guess the reason is that all that I’ve done [up to now] is for myself. I’ve never done anything for others,” he added.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen says people’s desires are like a bottomless pit; they always expect more, be it wealth or fame. As a result, people suffer dearly whether with sickness or any other form. She urges people to be thankful for the blessings in their lives and to turn to the bigger picture, which is the effect of their afflictions to others and the environment. The Water Repentance Text is an opportunity for everyone to realize what truly matters in their lives.

“The message of the Water Repentance Text is sinking in, especially now that I’m approaching my 50s and in the crossroad of my life. At this point in time, I’m looking for spiritual enlightenment. And being a Catholic, the idea of the Water Repentance Text strengthens the idea of living a simple life and an enlightened way of living,” said Camañag.

  • In this rehearsal, Roeder Camañag (right) plays as the unscrupulous contractor. His colleague Paul Jake Paule (left) acts as his assistant. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The entire scene of one episode of the Water Repentance Text plays out, where an elderly couple (far right) is stripped of their land for construction. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The actors go over their rehearsal footage. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Even with experience, the actors still rely on the tutelage from their Taiwan instructor Chen Ting (second from right). They realize that getting the scenes right requires them to get out of their comfort zone. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Lee Tzu Yueh (right), overall director of the Water Repentance Text production, teaches Roeder how to make his acting more convincing. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】