MANILA -- This pandemic that altered everyone’s lives, many ventured into things or activities that they never tried before.
Noted hairdresser and make-up artist Bambbi Fuentes, who has been into the beauty business for more than 25 years for now, tried her hand at talent management and film production just last year.
“The pandemic made me do things I never did before,” Fuentes told ABS-CBN News. “Most of my appointments got cancelled in 2020 and 2021. I was just home watching Netflix.
“I was in the four corners of my room, doing nothing and I was so bored. Then I realized why not make a new career like managing a talent? I used to reject so many artists thinking they were not ready yet to make a name for themselves.”
The first talents were Khai Flores and Krista Jocson. “Khai was with a modelling agency and my friend, Rex, was also part of the agency,” Fuentes shared. “They were more into modelling.
“Krista, I saw on Facebook, then I asked her mom if the daughter wanted to be in showbiz. She’s now 21. Then many others who followed were referred by friends. Another was Leon Adriano, the teenage grandson of Rosanna Roces. One thing led to another.”
Today, Fuentes’ Dragons Talent Management has 22 artists in its stable. The others are for beauty contests, while some are for singing or acting. She partnered with a friend, Christine Areola, who owns Bait Lehem House of Bread.
They have a talented all-girl group, Gandaras, who had such a rigid training in voice, personality development and dance last year.
“Physically exhausting talaga,” Fuentes observed. “There’s no easy way to make it in showbiz. It’s pure hard work and perseverance.”
Gandara members are Christa Jocson, Emcei Abuso, Mosh Gerodias, Ash Carpio, Mira Aquino and Shira Tweg.
EYE FOR TALENT
For someone who has been in the beauty business for more than two decades, Fuentes can easily gauge a talent when he sees one. “I know a talent will become a star when I see one. I guess I have a third eye.
“The X-factor mahirap hanapin ‘yun. You can be beautiful or handsome, but if you don’t have the ‘It,’ I can easily detect that. I worked with the stars, from Dindi Gallardo and Michelle Aldana to Ina Raymundo, Dawn Zulueta, Kris Aquino and lately, Marian Rivera and Julie Ann San Jose.”
Dragons Talent Management started in February 2021. “We have the talents already. Then we started pitching our first film project, a trilogy. I realized that during the time I was locked inside the room.”
Director Enzo Williams, who did “The Escort” and six seasons of “Ang Probinsyano,” was tapped to work at the helm of the horror flick, “Nasugbu.”
However, Fuentes decided to do a short film first, with AIDS as her advocacy. She approached a few friends who know how to write, but he was turned down. Hence, Fuentes was compelled to write a 10-minute script for the short film.
Surprisingly, Fuentes was able to write the script of “Sugat sa Dugo,” which he finished in five days.
However, the director, Danny Ugali, convinced Fuentes to write a longer script for a 40-minute film. Her instant worry was where to get the budget.
“My relatives were the first ones to pool the funds,” Fuentes admitted. “My brothers and sister came to help. Also my BFFs in the US. We were able to raise funds.”
When they started filming, Fuentes’ artists in Dragons Talents Management were asked to audition. Khai Flores got the lead as the guy who contacted HIV, with Mira Aquino as the female cast member.
“Before we knew it, we were already joining the International Film Festival Manhattan (IFFM Autumn) in New York last year,” Fuentes said.
By October 2021, Janice de Belen was announced to have won Best Actress for “Sugat sa Dugo” and Fuentes couldn’t be any prouder. De Belen plays the mother of Flores in the dramatic film, that also bagged the Independent Achievement Award for Producing.
De Belen was an easy choice to play the mom in the film, according to Fuentes. She was one of the early stars who trusted Fuentes to do her hair and make-up.
“Janice was perfect for the role,” said Fuentes. “When she learned that ‘Sugat sa Dugo’ is an advocacy film, she agreed right away.”
De Belen’s trophy was received in Manila by Fuentes and Areola, producers of “Sugat sa Dugo” who attended the awarding ceremony organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines at the Manila Metropolitan Theater last year.
“My friends who watched the short film in New York told me bitin daw,” Fuentes said. “I told them, ‘What do you expect from a 42-minute film? Bitin talaga.’ They requested to make the film full-length.”
Fuentes plans to field “Sugat sa Dugo” in other film festivals abroad.