Sunday, June 13, 2010
Of course, the truth is, any amount of success has to involve a fair share of hard work as well and the man forever associated with rock station NU 107FM is no exception.
Well, he may be a lot of other things to other people but for me, Atom Henares ranks among the most intriguing personalities I’ve ever had the privilege of doing a feature profile on.
And he is probably a hell of a loving dad for son Quark and daughter Cristalle, too. With Father’s Day coming up, I guess there’s no better time as any to repost this slightly revised version of that 2008 MAXIM magazine feature.
Photos taken from Atom Henares’ Facebook page.
Interview by EDWIN P. SALLAN
Is Atom really your real first name? What inspired your folks to give you that name or nickname, whatever the case may be?
The A is from Alfredo and the tom is from Tomas, the names of my great grandfather and grandfather on my mother's side. People call me Atom Bomb for short but the bomb is usually spelled B-U-M. That’s because when people ask me what I do, I usually say "as little as possible!” When people tell me to grow up, I ask them, “why would I want to do that?” My son Quark got his name because quarks are particles smaller than atoms.
Most people equate you with NU 107 in particular and rock music in general. How do you feel about that? Do you actually have other endeavors that people are not aware of?
I'm a Harvard MBA so I do have a grown-up side to me. I'm actively involved in the investment and management of a large palm oil plantation in Mindanao, power plants and electric utilities in the Visayas, a paper company and real estate projects including Serendra and Market Market in the Fort.
I have to say all of that because when I tell people that I work with NU 107 they say “Really? Why don’t you go out and find a real job?”
But truthfully people are much more interested in NU 107 and UNTV, our TV station than in my other businesses. UNTV is programmed for news and public affairs during the day and Ang Dating Daan, religious programming at night.
When people ask how I got associated with Ang Dating Daan, I say that we have an ex-deal arrangement. I give them airtime and they promise to make sure that I go to heaven. Do you want to come with me?
Have you always been a big fan of rock music? Growing up, what were your favorite songs? Albums?
Rock rules and some of my favorites growing up were: The Beatles’ “In My Life,” the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction,” Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Chicago Transit Authority’s “Make Me Smile.” I am also a big fan of the Police, U2 and Aerosmith, as well as our very own Juan dela Cruz band, especially their song, “Himig Natin.” The Dawn’s “Salamat” and Eraserheads “Ang Huling El Bimbo” are also favorites. These are bands who made a major contribution to the local music scene.
When you first started NU 107, did you ever think it would become the institution that it is now?
NU 107 is built on my love and passion for rock music. We have been around with the same format for over 20 years. That’s longer than any other station on the airwaves today. And we still sound as fresh today as we did in 1988. As you know, our staff includes major rock artists who eat, live, play and even dream rock music.
But I think our biggest contribution to our community is that we have given Philippine rock artists a broadcast platform to showcase their music 24/7. We support them by producing live events and we honor and celebrate them annually at the NU 107 Rock Awards that is also televised.
Your siblings Ronnie and Juno were once part of in the entertainment industry. Ronnie is still a formidable talent manager who was once a matinee idol in the 70’s and was even a leading man of Ate Vi, now the governor of Batangas. What’s it like being surrounded by all that celebrity?
Despite my unique name and accomplishments I’ve always been known in relation to someone else. First I was the son of Larry Henares, the writer, nationalist and Cabinet Secretary to President Diosdado Macapagal. Then I was the brother of Ronnie, the singer, actor and matinee idol or of Juno the Repertory Stage Actress. Eventually, I was known as the husband of Vicki Belo, beauty consultant for the stars, and since she has become even more famous, now as the Ex of Vicki Belo. Finally, and proudly, I am known in relation to my kids Quark and Cristalle, both of whom grew up so well. . . despite their parents.
I was actually Ronnie’s manager and the money I earned from that paid for my vices at college. It’s really fortunate for me that Ronnie and I look alike. Because when I do something scandalous they attribute it to him. A long time ago I went to Boracay with a Spanish girl who went totally naked on the beach. Three weeks later Ronnie’s wife complained to me that Filipinos are so malisyoso because someone told her that Ronnie was in Bora with a good looking naked foreigner in the beach, when in fact she was with him in Manila at that time. Hindi ko inamin!
One of the highlights of the annual NU 107 Rock Awards is seeing you on stage presenting with some of the sexiest women of the season. Do you have any particular favorites among those women? Any favorite moments?
Rosanna Roces taking her top off on stage was a defining moment for the Rock Awards. You have to remember that there is a lot of intermingling between the rock, indie film and the experimental art scenes. The scene is very young, vibrant and passionate.
Beautiful and sexy stars and celebrities attend and participate in the Rock Awards because many of them are either directly involved in the scene or indirectly connected or supportive of it.
Your son Quark is a celebrated rock musician, a filmmaker and from what we've heard, a babe-magnet like his old man. What advice do you give him when it comes to dealing with women?
I am a big fan of both Quark and my daughter Cristalle, who is the Managing Director of Belo Essentials. In a parent-teachers meeting at Montessori sometime ago, the teachers were so impressed with how smart, hardworking and fun they were. Then the teachers looked at Vicki and I back then and said at each other “some parents really don’t deserve such wonderful children.”
Quark was in the Ateneo honor section in high school, won a Palanca Award for Literature in College and is now an accomplished movie, television and TV commercial director. But Quark and I have the same limitations with women. We are both too gentlemanly. And on top of that Quark is a really nice, decent guy.
As for advice regarding women I think that the Nike ad really nailed it on the head with the phrase “Just Do It!”
When women tell me what a great ex-husband I am, I usually agree and say that means that you have to first marry me and then divorce me before I am nice to you. Seriously, Vicki and I have gone through so much together in our earlier years, when we were both still starting our lives and careers. And then there are Quark and Cristalle. Those are bonds you can not replace. We are very supportive of each other.
We won't ask you how old you are but whatever the answer is, we’re willing to bet that you actually look much younger than your actual age. Do we have Vicki Belo to thank for that?
Vicki is one of the best and most respected dermatologists in Asia. She single-handedly created the beauty industry in the Philippines and is often asked to give talks and lectures in international dermatological conventions. To answer your question: Only Belo Touches My Skin!
Final question, is it great to be Atom Henares? Or would you rather be someone else?
My life has and continues to amaze me. At Harvard, I was the classmate of greats like Meg Whitman, former co-founder and President of Ebay, and Elaine Chow, now U.S. Secretary of Labor. But I was also the classmate of Jeff Skilling, the disgraced President of Enron who is now serving a jail sentence.
I have witnessed and participated in historical and economic events that helped shaped our country. And I have dealt and befriended influential and interesting personalities from Presidents of the Republic to rock stars to celebrity strippers.
I have amazing friends and a wonderful family.
And every so often I ask myself how I got so lucky and wonder what I did to deserve my good fortune. And ultimately I ask myself when I can again become Atom Bum...and respond to the question what do you do by answering as “as little as possible!”