And all to launch his own blog (at www.direkfreddie.com).
Well, not an ordinary blog--and no ordinary blogger, either. In a career that now spans four decades, Freddie Santos has directed some 500 shows and nearly 3,000 performances in virtually all areas of local live entertainment--theater, concerts, TV shows, fashion extravaganzas, events, product launches--you name it, he's done it. He's an institution, in short, with the requisite arsenal of to-die-for backstage stories and anecdotes about all the stars, celebrities, big names and wannabes he has worked with through the years to back up his authoritative place in the local entertainment ecosystem.
For example: Want to know what it was like when Regine Velasquez, all of 16, starred in her very first concert at the Music Museum? Ask Direk Freddie. (It didn't work, he said, and Regine knew; as soon as the show ended, she slumped on the floor and wept like a baby.)
What better way to share stories like this than through blogging? And since Direk Freddie's forte is turning events into, well, Events, could you fault him for giving his blog's debut the same treatment? Or as he writes in his blog intro:
“After having been involved in so many performances, mostly directing them, I’ve gathered more memories for one brain to try and remember... and I really don’t want to forget them.
During the 70’s till the early 80’s, it was mostly legitimate theatre. On almost any given weekend, you could catch stage productions done in English, Filipino, Chinese and/or Spanish. There were also a lot of nightclub, folkhouse and lounge acts at this time.
Then, from the mid-80’s through the 90’s, pop and rock concerts dominated the live entertainment scene. These were usually held on a weekend closest to a payday. Name the size, name the artist, name the accent, we had it.
In the 2000’s, live-wise, much work could be found in corporate and social events of every conceivable size and nature. From Shampoos to Software, Energy Drinks to Buildings, Debutantes to Diamond Honourees, these were the new stars of the show.
I, most gratefully, have been active in all these phases, to the point that I have not raised a family, enriched myself with noble causes or enhanced my life with personal relationships by the score, all the time doing my best to share the exhilaration of Live Performance.
In the simplest of terms, my life is Live.”
Hence the name of his blog: Direksions--Life Blogs of a Live Director.
Another big difference between ordinary blogs and Direk Freddie's--he's fully mapped out the topics and stories he plans to blog about, broken into chapters and beginning right from when he entered the business of show (“I arrived from Arvada at the age of 17 brimming over with aspiration and opinion…not always a great combination. I expected to become a star, IMMEDIATELY. I mean, didn’t this country realize how fantastic, how astronomical a star I could be?!”).
In the next few days, months and years, assuming he does not tire of blogging, Direk Freddie will be dishing out on his experiences and associations with the likes of Repertory Philippines, the Metropolitan Theater, Trumpets, the heady concert scene in the '70s and '80s when a new generation of artists came to the fore (Martin Nievera, Gary V., Kuh Ledesma, Zsazsa Padilla and Joey Albert--“all English-speaking,” noted Direk, which made the then-plainspoken Regine Velasquez's rise all the more notable), his forays into foreign stages and productions, the acclaimed musical he wrote (Widows, Orphans and Wildebeests), all the commercials and workshops and talent shows and talents he's husbanded to the spotlight, etc.
It promises to be a feast of precious reminiscences that should have connoisseurs of pop culture, entertainment junkies and the plain curious alike making visits to Direk Freddie's blog a habit.
More, not only will they get to read his blogs, they can also hear him narrate them--all the chapters have embedded audio, with Direk Freddie himself reading the entries he's written. (Since he's also an actor, with a big theatrical voice to boot, hearing him deliver his own lines is quite a treat.) He also promises to post rare, exclusive footage and video clips of his shows and productions from his private archive.
Now, how juicy, detailed and uninhibited would your stories be, I asked Direk, since most of the people you'd be talking about are your friends?
Well, yes, he said with a big laugh. “But some of them are not!”
Here's Direk walking his guests through the contents of his blog. Take note, at 2:24 in the brief video below, he mentions a blogger from whom he got his, uh, inspiration. Hmmm, who could that be?
Post-lunch, I cornered Direk for an on-cam chat. (Money quote, on why he's going online: “Mainstream is no longer where mainstream is!”) But my bitch of a Flip video camera decided it would ruin the moment by conking out midway--though not before I captured something quite remarkable.
George Yang, one of the country's richest men and owner of the Philippine franchise of McDonald's, appeared and approached Direk.
“Oh, you missed it! The whole event, finished na!” exclaimed Direk Freddie.
“Ay! What exactly are you doing?,” asked Mr. Yang.
“It was the whole blog!”
“Ha, what is blog?” asked Mr. Yang.
Then pffft went my camera.