We are living in a world of constant metamorphoses. The ability to constantly innovate and adapt not only translates in having different interests but also ricochets versatility. It also takes many years of consistency to be able to enjoy successes. All key determinants to be a polyvalent.
It has been a privilege to interview the multi-talented Pau Camarines. Armed with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, having majored in Financial Management, Pau’s approach to the performing arts is dedicated, rigorous and layered. He was all of seven, when he started to participate and compete in school as well as inter-school events in the Philippines. A self-taught dancer, Pau wears the myriad hats of a Dancesporter, Fire & LED Performer, Singer, Host, Animated Character, make-up artist, Costume Designer, Theatre Actor, Voiceover Artist, Zumba instructor with equal ease. How does he do it? Well, let’s ask the polyvalent.
Tell us about how this journey began.
It all started as a kid when I was in elementary school. Dance was taught in school, as one of the co-curricular activities. My mother was a teacher in the same school and she encouraged me to participate in all activities. As a child, whenever I performed, I used to be thrilled, feel ecstatic with the thought that everyone in the family looked at me as if I owned the stage! I remember, I was just around when I started to participate in the school events and also compete for inter-school and inter-division Philippine folk dances. These were the years of life that I guess I can say, my skills were getting honed, my potentials unleashed. My teachers supported me and took me for competitions. In my years in elementary school, I really wanted to be the best dancer and I taught myself by watching movies or TV shows. I was never formally trained.
You have done so much in such little time, what pushed you?
Well, I have been a multitasker. I always wanted to do more, learn more and achieve more. I am a dancer, a singer, a make-up artist…I was a Radio Jockey and would be invited to host shows. I would participate in dance competitions. I learnt the Latin forms of dance. I am a performer. The stage is where I love to be.
Once when I was organizing an event, I realized the costumes were not up to the mark, as in – not like what I had expected them to be. By the way, I can also sew. So, I took the costumes home and tailored them to meet my expectations. Mind you, it is a manual sewing machine, where you use your feet to pedal. Basically, I want everything to be perfect so in order to get that perfection, I may go to any lengths. Last week I planned and organized a wedding. That meant the music, singing, floral arrangements, make-up for the bride. All this is possible only when you push yourself to learn more.
At school I was an honors student, meaning the government granted me a scholarship for being good in academics. Meeting my mother’s expectations mattered to me, that was very important. All this put together, kept motivating me to do better and push myself harder.
Was there ever an experience that you would attribute as the turning point of your life?
This was in my teens, maybe 17 or 18. My friends had established themselves and were going to Japan to be dancers. Apparently Japan pays entertainers and performers well. I had an opportunity to go with them, that would have been a huge break. I tried to seek my mother’s permission to join them but was not allowed to. She insisted that I complete my education first. Her question was – of what use is all this if you are not qualified. That was like a wake-up call. I was happily pursuing my passion for performing arts, while my mother snapped me into reality. I must admit, I was upset then. But I respect my mom – a single parent. Today I can teach finance and accountancy, among other things, and am proud of that. So, that moment changed my perspective towards what to prioritize in life.
High school life is the most memorable life for most people. Yet, you were different. Why is that?
Indeed, High school life is the most memorable life for most people. In My high school years, I was very focused with my studies. Since I was half government scholar in a private Catholic school, I needed to maintain my grades in both curricular and co-curricular activities. However, I would still participate in some school events and competitions whether that be academic competitions such as Quiz Bowls, or Dance competitions and even sports. I used to be extremely focused through those years. My marks could not slip down or I would lose my scholarship. My activities counted, as they added to my credits. Focusing in academics and excelling in my academics and gaining points to help me in my future is all that mattered then. Fortunately, I finished school with flying colours.
What brought you to the UAE? What have you been able to achieve here?
I came to the UAE in 2013 because I wanted to explore the world beyond the Philippines. I was a Radio Jockey in my country then and had achieved a lot there. I had my uncles in the UAE and it seemed to be the best option because I did not have people in other parts of the world. After I landed here, I got my first job in one of the hotel group chains. Three years after that I got to work with Dubai Parks, where I could actually use my talents. I believe if an artist settles for something then he starts stagnating. I did not want that. So I moved on into the world of fitness as a salesperson. I was very good at my work, marketing, selling, and customer servicing. When that contract got over, I wanted to do something more. I want to use every skill I know to the fullest and now enjoy being a freelancer. For example, being a make- up artist. My friend from the Philippines taught me all that I know about make-up. Today I am a pro at it, I am able to use this skill in many ways. As Asians, I think patience is a natural characteristic we are born with. I have been trying and patiently exploring. Each experience has been tremendously rewarding. I have done work and things I am good at…perhaps that has been my achievement. But you cannot do this alone, you need help, support and guidance.
My uncle Michael Camarines has always been there to help me and support me whenever I need him. I owe a lot to him, my only relative now in the UAE (he is kind enough to take my pictures / head shots whenever I need his help). To surmise, I am not done yet, there is a long way to go.
What is most important to you now – at this point of your life?
Strangely, it is a thought that I go to bed with each night. What is it that I want now – at this juncture of my life? You see, the world over the pandemic has been unkind – especially for entertainers like myself. We used to be so busy and wanted at all times. While I have a lot of aspirations, right now for people like me the needs are different. In an audition when there is a need for 5 people, 400 people register! There is so much competition, and I think a dearth of work. One thing the pandemic has taught us is that one has to be versatile, one has to be creative, you cannot just rest on your past laurels. You have to come up with new ways of doing old things. Even I started treading on paths I had never imagined – weddings, birthdays, parties. I offer complimentary make-up when I do events. Indeed, pre-COVID times were different. However, things are getting better now, I can see that. However, this will take time.
Do you have any audition experiences to share? Some best or worst moments?
The best audition I had was when I got to perform in front of this famous group you called STEPS. I had been their fan since I was in Elementary school. They had a concert in Dubai Opera, and I auditioned for the backup dancer and I saw them! I have recently worked with Jessica Alba and Zach Efron when they shot a movie here. But STEPS WOW!
Do you have any audition tips for newcomers?
Well just give all your best and showcase all that you have got. Show everything you know, all your talents because you never know why you will be picked. Maybe they only want a dancer, the audition is only for dancers. But the chances of a multi-talented person getting selected is much higher than a person who can only do so much. That way you have an edge over the others. Sing if you can. Do magic if you can.
Can you also do magic?!?
No…I cannot…(laughs)…coming back to the best advice – don’t stop chasing your dreams! You may get rejected, but that is a part of the game. Learn to accept rejections and take it as an impetus to do more, do better. It is not like you will be picked all the time. There are a lot of performers here in UAE, Filipinos but also from other parts of the world, and they are also very good. They have a lot of skills as well. Therefore, one should know how to accept failures and continue chasing one’s dreams. I have had an experience when I auditioned for an event and they said “First and foremost, we want to tell you guys that the client does not want Asian performers”. I did find that statement a bit racist, but then it is fine as long as we get a chance to show you what we’ve got. Maybe not today, perhaps in the future. That according to me should be the approach and attitude.
What does Pau the performer want to show to the world?
I want to be known as a great performer but that is not all! I also want to be known for my philanthropic work. I believe in giving back to society. During the pandemic I tried helping the frontliners in the simplest ways I could through a feeding programme by giving food packets. It gave me a great sense of fulfillment. I have this really big desire to help people that are less fortunate. I want to do a feeding programme, tie up myself to certain organisations to do charity work. I just have like $1,000,000. I will really have a charity organisation to help the needy, especially the elderly. I have a really big heart for the elderly. So I want the world to know me as someone with a really big heart!
Your advice to the youth.
Make hay while the sun shines! In times of this pandemic I have learnt that. Work hard, save money, save for the future, because you never know what the future has in store. Chase your dreams, fuel your passion, keep reinventing yourself…but while you are doing all that – save for the rainy day(s). I have always strived to stay true, to my mother’s expectations and my expectations. We all work hard to make a living. Is that enough? Live and pay for your expenses? I am sure the answer will be no. Hence, while we are in the rat race be prepared for roadblocks. Life is all about experiences, it is about learning your lessons. Many of us may have learnt bitter ones, during the pandemic. Nobody expected this, nobody predicted this – right? Unforeseen circumstances may hit any time, the key is to be diligent. Save your money.
What do you express through your performances?
I can identify myself as not just a dancer…when people ask me “Are you a dancer?” – I will say I’m a performing artist. Yes, that’s what I want people to call me. A performer that leaves them in a state of trance. When people watch me, they should be able to forget all their woes, their pains, their problems. My performance must transport them to a different world, one of happiness. Yeah – I want their stress to be relieved.