LET’S welcome this long weekend with a bang. Okay, make that a big bang or simply Bangs to be more specific. This year, I have been very fortunate to be invited to contribute articles to the long-running woman’s magazine, Woman Today including pieces on relationships and yes, a couple of cover feature stories so far.
One of those cover stories involved the much sought after actress, Bangs Garcia, who is now showcased in one teleserye after another. She has quite a story to tell, as the feature below will reveal.
Photos taken from Bangs Garcia's Facebook pages.
By EDWIN P. SALLAN
IN the new and popular teleserye, Rubi, lead star Angelica Panganiban is being promoted as “ang nag-iisang bida kontrabida” (the one and only heroine slash villainess) in reference to her role.
Well, it’s a title that might as well be given to Bangs Garcia, Angelica’s fellow ABS-CBN talent. One of the hottest names in the industry today, the much sought after cover girl is a lot more than just a pretty face and a drop dead gorgeous bod as she deftly switches from lead to character roles with nary an effort.
Whether it’s the mysterious punk rocker Bangs in the sitcoms, Let’s Go and Gokada Go or the sexy Neptune agent in Palos or the scheming stepsister in Kambal Sa Uma or the unrequited and suffering lover in both Katorse and My Cheating Heart or even her current starring role as the self-sacrificing and hardworking Carmela in Magkano Ang Iyong Dangal?, the 21-year old doe-eyed morena never fails to come up with performances that like her name, leaves us with a big bang.
Originally known by her real name, Valerie Garcia, Bangs (yes, she got her current stage name from those sitcoms) was already a local ABS-CBN talent in her hometown of Davao City long before she got acquainted with the rest of us. Even though she was still a nursing student at the time in Ateneo De Davao, she was also the host of variety show, Kapamilya Sabado Party that was telecast all over Mindanao and also aired on ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel overseas.
“My parents wanted me to take up nursing,” she recalls. “But I actually wanted to take up marketing or any other business course at the time. In my school years, I was a member of our theater group, doing singing and acting and I was also a member of our dance club. I was also a runner-up in a Ms. Freshman campus beauty pageant at Ateneo and prior to my local hosting stint, I won in a Mindanao-wide talent search called Campus Idols.”
Not that all of those extra-curricular activites meant Bangs was a slouch when it comes to academics. A consistent honor student since she was 6, she nonetheless had a hard time fitting in during high school when a group of what she describes as “mean girls” tormented her for much of her four years there. “I was really small and those mean girls were big and one of them was my classmate so it wasn’t easy for me and my self-esteem was at a low point at the time,” she laments. “Everytime I go to school, I felt like nasasakal ako so I had to go outside and I was so emotional pa naman and get affected so easily. That was the time I started to participate in those extra-curricular activities, mostly involving entertainment.”
Thinking outside the box turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise for Bangs. Turns out a major sponsor of the Campus Idols she won was Close-Up. That eventually led to her big break on a national level as one of the finalists in that Close-Up To Fame reality search.
“I made it to the grand finals,” she beams. “What’s great about that search is that the four or five finalists who made it to grand finals were actually from Davao. Ang gagaling ng mga taga-Davao.” Bangs ultimately finished as runner-up in that reality search but that’s only because she wasn’t aware that she needs to heavily promote herself to get those all-important text votes that ultimately swung the tide in favor of the eventual winner.
Her Close-Up To Fame stint also led to an important chapter in her life as she was required to be in Metro Manila for the contest’s three-month duration. “It was the first time for me to be away from my family for such an extended period of time,” she fondly remembers. “I wasn’t allowed to bring any family member with me and I was just living with my fellow candidates. That’s when I learned how to be independent. Handling money, handling myself, being disciplined. I learned a lot.”
“I then auditioned for two more shows in ABS-CBN, Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition and Let’s Go but in the end, I chose to be in a regular show rather than compete in another competition,” she rationales. “And that’s when I became known as Bangs. The show was surprisingly a hit and people identified me so much with the character that well, eventually everyone started calling me Bangs and the name stuck.”
But even as she was maintaining a sweet and wholesome image, her sensual side did not escape notice. “Even while I was still in Let’s Go, I have already been offered to pose for both FHM and MAXIM but it wasn’t until I was given a daring role in Palos that I finally agreed,” she muses smilingly. “That was the time when I got my first kissing scene and unti-unti na kong tinatanggalan ng damit. But I only agreed to up to wearing a two-piece swimsuit.”
As the intriguingly named Sylvia Nazi (wotta name!), Bangs was an undercover agent and ex-girlfriend of Palos who continued to carry a torch for her former squeeze. “In Palos, people already thought I was a bad girl but I really wasn’t although my character was quite fiesty,” she says. “I guess that eventually led to my bad girl role in Kambal Sa Uma, which turned out to be a really big hit. That was a very challenging role for me but I enjoyed doing it.”
To her surprise, people didn’t actually hate her, at least not in the way they reacted negatively in public to other kontrabida actresses. “Walang nang-away sa kin, actually,” she quips. “I’m glad that people were more open-minded. In the internet, people hated my character but in person, they still adored me. I guess, people were able to distinguish my character and my person.”
Judging from the public reaction to the komiks-adapted teleserye, it seems like Bangs is now ready for prime time. But even as she has her sights set on her own starring role in the big screen. With a smooth-sailing path to success, it seems that her lovelife is taking a backseat in the process, something she herself doesn’t deny as she admits to not really seeing anybody right now.
“My immediate family is my priority,” she stresses. “We used to have a leather goods business that closed down so I helped my Dad, who is an engineer, get back on his feet. With my support, he was able to go back to Saudi Arabia where he’s working again. I’m really happy for him.”
As for that other or next man in her life? “Whoever he is, he should be smart. He should be a good conversationalist kasi madaldal ako para makasabay sya sa kin. Looks are really only secondary to me. I’m okay with someone who is not necessarily good-looking but he should at least be presentable enough in terms of how he carries himself, with the clothes he wear and of course, kailangan mabango. But that aside, it’s really his personality that counts the most.”