Tado, the offbeat hero
MANILA, Philippines – At around 7:20 in the morning of February 7, a Bontoc-bound bus fell into a ravine, killing 14 passengers. One of the 14 was Arvin Jimenez, a comedian more popularly known simply as Tado.
Tado was a lot of things to a lot of people. He was part of the inimitable cast of TV's Strangebrew, and BrewRATs on radio, shows that would be fondly remembered for the eccentric humor that was novel during its time.
He acted in several movies, including Lav Diaz’s Hesus, Rebolusyonaro, Yam Laranas’ Radyo, Doy del Mundo’s Pepot Artista, and recently, Brillante Mendoza’s Captive. Along with Lourd de Veyra, Noel Cabangon, Buhawi Meneses, and Ronnie Lazaro, Tado founded Dakila, an advocacy group that uses culture, from films to music, to inspire awareness and change. (READ: Dakila's statement about Tado's death)
He was an entrepreneur; the comedian had a t-shirt shop called LimiTado in Marikina, where he once ran for city councilor.
He loved the city. “I [used to] see him regularly around Marikina, organizing community bike rides, writing for the Marikina newspaper, hosting radio shows in the city hall and doing all sorts of crazy promos for his LimiTado shop,” recalls his friend and colleague, musician Raymund Marasigan on Facebook. “He and his wife Leiz had boundless energy, working in film, TV, art, music, and the community.”
To most of us, it was Tado as a public figure who will be missed. In any given location in urban Manila, characters with Tado’s physical features would have been dime a dozen. However, in the world of mainstream show business where fair skin, bulging muscles and mestizo features are essential, Tado was an offbeat character.
“Lakas ng dating niya. Long hair, big glasses…laftrip,” writes Imago guitarist and friend Zach Lucero, in a tribute on Facebook, describing Tado’s signature look. “I got along with him immediately.” (Lucero is a former dj for NU107, the radio counterpart of UNTV, where Strangebrew aired.)
Tado bore the role with pride and a certain sense of rebelliousness – he kept his hair very long and unkempt, wore nondescript shirts, and bonjing shorts with suspenders. He veered away from anything that conventionally bought pogi points. (READ: 'Bio-eulogies' to Tado)
To those who were close to him, Tado represented that rare artist who was fueled not by fame or fortune but by his convictions. Tado was not content with making a bad day a little better with laughter. He was an advocate, who made use of the popularity he invested in as a tool for revolution. His entire career was engineered to change mindsets and perspectives.
Filmmaker Quark Henares recently said via Facebook that Tado’s beliefs never changed despite receiving more recognition later on in his career: “In the early 00s Tado was the stamp of Philippine indie cinema: everyone had to have him in their films. Then he became a mainstream phenomenon, and frightened the suits because of his refusal to compromise his political views.” In a space where so much of the material was benign, Tado's certainly was not, charged with individuality and his signature humor.
Our eyes have been trained by mainstream media to appreciate beauty that is often only skin deep. Tado, with his lanky frame, long hair, his quick wit, those quotable quotes, showed us that there could be more, much more, to entertainment today.
Very few of us can ever claim to have lived a life for the cause one invested in so passionately. Fewer can claim to have died while upholding it. Tado can carry that rare honor to the sweet hereafter. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.