Marvin Acero Ablao is a dancer, actor and visual artist from Bohol, Philippines. He has received extensive training in contemporary dance and classical ballet since 2008, and has coached dance and theatre to various youth communities in his province.
He started his theatre journey in 2016 as a member of Kasing Sining Teatro Bol-an Ensemble. Marvin’s works include Dagohoy: Dagon sa Hoyohoy The Musical and Blue Way (Bohol Dance Project Company), created by Romanian choreographer Gigi Caciuleanu.
In Singapore, he has performed in The Chowk Show 2021 (Chowk Productions), Waltz of the Flower, an original piece by ITI alumna Caroline Chin, at The Substation SeptFest 2021 and Room 0505 (2020) with alumna Lina Yu.
Marvin came to ITI to hone his skills as an actor and ultimately give back to his community in Bohol as a performer, educator, and researcher. He also intends to explore and experiment with different mediums of art through theatre.
Marvin is a recipient of the Tan Chay Bing Education Fund Scholarship and a beneficiary of the Möbius Fund.
What were you doing before coming to ITI?
I was a fast-food restaurant manager and a member of Kasing Sining Teatro Bol-anon Ensemble, a theatre community in my province.
Tell us how you found out about ITI, and why you chose to come here.
I’ve been dancing since I was a kid and pursued various dancing opportunities growing up. The feeling of entertaining people fills me with a special kind of energy, an electric feeling inside.
I knew I wanted to explore other possibilities outside of dancing and to further my knowledge in the performing arts so I can share it with everyone. That was when my friend and alumnus Felimon Blanco told me about ITI.
What were some of your thoughts on your first day here?
It was wonderful to see people from different walks of life coming to work and learn together.
What is it like to train here at ITI?
I think I’m very different in my personal life and onstage. But the training here has helped me to blur the two personalities together, to create a true self — a genuine Marvin. It helped me realise how important and healthy it is to be honest and comfortable when performing. To put my shyness aside and be in the moment onstage. And when I do that, I feel like a queen, a goddess. I’ve learnt to be relatable and true to myself.
During the training, I just opened my heart and mind to digest, and truly enjoyed the process. I have high respect for the traditional forms and the master teachers, who readily impart their knowledge to us — the contemporary actors. I am also very grateful to my teachers, who are so compassionate and driven, and true to their craft.
Any reflections on your experience working with classmates from various countries?
That there should be no boundaries in communication in an intercultural institution. I’ve learnt how to be compassionate and respectful when dealing with people of different languages, cultures and countries in various scenarios. That we have each other to share ideas and learn with, as well as to appreciate our differences.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at ITI?
There are too many, but if I had to pick one it would be the annual Angels Dinner, an event organised for ITI’s donors and supporters. Seeing everyone gathered together — the people behind ITI, the staff, teachers and students — and celebrating theatre, it’s a treasure. It feels like a community and family; and to me, that’s the essence of theatre.
How has your time here shaped or changed you as an actor?
I’ve learnt about compassion and understanding human nature to help others, especially in this difficult time caused by the pandemic.
And to keep going in my journey as an actor. If I stumble, just get back up and wear that crown, because I’m alright.
What are your plans after graduation?
I want to experience more of the stage and performing. And when I’ve gained enough knowledge, I want to share the gift of knowledge back home through teaching, especially to youth.
What would you say to someone coming to ITI?
Be who you are, achieve your dreams.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank?
My heart is very thankful to ITI, and I’m really blessed to have felt so much love while training here.
Thank you to my parents and my support system, Lutgardo Labad, Eduardo Dalusa, Butch Solajes and Sandhya.
Thank you Kasing Sining Teatro Bol-anon Ensemble and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines.
Thank you to all my teachers and Sasi, for your wisdom and patience.
Thank you Tan Chay Bing Education Fund for the assistance in times of drought.
Thank you Raka Maitra and Chowk Productions.
Finally, thank you to my classmates — we did it.
ITI helped me realise how important and healthy it is to be honest and comfortable when performing. To put my shyness aside and be in the moment onstage. And when I do that, I feel like a queen, a goddess. I’ve learnt to be relatable and true to myself.