Iba ‘Yan: Angel Locsin assists struggling stunt professionals affected by pandemic

Unemployment in the country already hit a record high with more than three million jobs were lost due to the pandemic. The arts, entertainment, and recreation industries were greatly affected as almost 82% of the jobs in these fields were lost. Featured in the September 13 episode of Iba ‘Yan are moving stories of the unsung heroes who risk their lives with their death-defying moves just to make the perfect action scene--the stuntmen and stuntwomen who have always been brave enough in doing difficult and dangerous stunts in films and TV series.

A veteran stuntman and a legendary stunt director, Val Iglesias is Iba ‘Yan host Angel Locsin’s “tatay-tatayan” or father figure who continues to train people despite the pandemic. He shared that he walks in their village in the morning and that he does boxing routines almost every day. Val, 69, has been in the industry for four decades already and continues to be the fight and stunt director in several movies and TV programs. When he was still young, he actually dreamt of being a police officer or a soldier. However, his parents couldn’t afford to support him because of financial problems. His dad is blind while his mother used to sell karioka. According to Val, his family would always be short of money when he was still young. Until his sibling let him join the group that trains stuntmen. Val shared he only got to train for three months and after that, he failed as he didn’t have the muscular or fit physique, and this led to his depression. His father then told him to not give up. That’s why he trained more vigorously and went to the gym repeatedly. Until he was given an opportunity to be part of the 1970 war drama and action film “Santiago” that was topbilled by The King of Philippine movies Fernando Poe Jr. He eventually became friends with his idol, FPJ. He succeeded even more as he later on became the fight instructor in action films including all the films and series of Robin Padilla, Ronnie Ricketts, and Rudy Fernandez that had car stunts. 

As a stunt director and president of the Stunt Association of the Philippines (SAP), Val doesn’t only teach techniques in fight scenes, but he also coaches the stuntmen to become “action stars” off camera. One of the actors Val trained was Angel herself and Val attested that she has been a true action star behind the camera as she gives help to other people in times of need.

Val’s daughter, Valyn Iglesias, has also been a veteran stunt coordinator and fight director. Valyn said she joined stunt trainings under her dad’s supervision as early as she was around seven years old. When her dad saw that she was interested to learn, Val already started boxing and sparring with her. The mission and vision of SAP include the protection for their stuntmen and the regularization of the stuntmen’s pay rates, which are based on their skills. When the pandemic started, the organization gave help to all the stuntmen even to those who aren’t members of the organization. They were able to distribute 520 relief packs in Antipolo, Cavite, Bulacan, Quezon City, Marikina, and Valenzuela. Valyn and Val were greatly overwhelmed when Angel told them that the Iba ‘Yan team would distribute 500 more relief goods to the members of SAP. Val shared that his dream is to have one village where all the stuntmen in the country can live and train together.

Angel also talked to Jasmen Fuentes, her favorite stuntwoman and a member also of SAP. She’s the stunt double of Angel in The General’s Daughter, and she feels happy every time she gets to work with the Iba ‘Yan host. She said she became interested in doing stunts as she was already into physical sports like taekwondo and softball. “Kung kaya ng lalaki, kaya ko rin,” Jasmen said. She added that the most fulfilling part of being a stuntwoman is when the actor says thank you to her and when the directors give her a standing ovation. She feels like a superhero every time she fulfills her job. She has two kids, but has been away from her eldest, Chloe, for eight years already because she’s is in the province. Jasmen admitted that she misses her daughter so much already.

Jasmen’s current partner is a fellow stunt professional, Alvin Sorema. Since the start of the pandemic, their lives have been greatly affected that’s why Jasmen started selling stuffed toys online. To help Jasmen with her online business, the Iba ‘Yan team gave her ring light, pocket WIFI, and a vacuum that she can use to clean the stuffed toys. They also gave her extra capital to expand her online business and brand-new gadgets for her kids.

Angel also met the Salvadors, a family of stuntmen. Walter Salvador, the head of the family, works as a stuntman, and four of his children followed his footsteps. King, Lorenzo, RJ, Lester have always been guided by their father Walter in doing their stunts. King was greatly affected by the pandemic because when it started, it was also the time when he was about to become a dad. Lorenzo also was affected because the salary that he gets from being a stuntman in ABS-CBN is the one that he uses for his tuition. The denial of the network’s franchise renewal also added to their problem. ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs and the local government of Antipolo offered them relief packs, pre-natal vitamins, and necessities for the children of Salvador brothers. Lorenz was also given pocket WIFI and tablet for his online schooling.

TV Host and Founder of Woman in Action PH Gretchen Ho guested in the show and also gave them 30 bikes which they were able to provide from her organization’s fundraising project. The delivery company MoveOn PH also pledged to help Val and the SAP members to find alternative jobs for them. They gave 50 delivery kits for SAP members. The Iba ‘Yan team also partnered with TESDA for the training of the stuntmen. Iba ‘Yan also developed a website for SAP so that aspiring stuntmen and producers as well can have better access to the list of stunt professionals with their knowledge and skills. Val also received a video message from Vhong Navarro who got to work with him in the sitcom Toda Max and film “Unli Life” wherein Val was the fight director. Vhong gave him financial aid and a new pair of boots, which he can use once he goes back to work. Lastly, he also received a message of appreciation from Senator Lito Lapid who was very grateful to have been influenced and taught by Val.

Witness the incredible power of humanity and compassion as we help each other during these difficult times on Iba ‘Yan, hosted by Angel Locsin, Sundays at 6:45pm on the Kapamilya Channel and Kapamilya Online Live.