(Random Manila weirdness; story by R., as told to me)
If you've seen the latest Milo commercial on TV, I'm in it; I am the guy wearing green boxer shorts.
I was recruited by our janitor in school. He had whispered to me that he moonlighted as a TV commercial casting agent, and the "new project" needed 500 heads as extras. Would I want to try? Promised with a Php3000 take-home pay (of course after taking his cut), I said yes.
That meant waking up at an ungodly hour of around 4 AM on an ungodly day of Thursday. In my haste and excitement, I pulled out the wrong costume from the cabinet: my extra-large green boxers, flecked with white helmets.
The venue: Quezon City Circle. How many miles away is that from Paranaque? When I came in, the other 499 extras were already milling around changing to our uniform of green Milo running shirts (given away by the sponsor). I learned it took eight buses in all to bring them all in.
I was horrified to see everyone changing to another uniform: black running shorts! Bummer. I just pretended they all made a big mistake.
Soon the director's voice could be heard blaring from a megaphone, issuing jokey instructions that said, Let's do this fast, let's not waste each other's time. His staff were all very professional -- cameramen, crowd control people, makeup artists...
Some homely-looking kids who looked like they were picked up from the street were the center of attention. Turned out they were literally picked up from the street in their houseclothes: Manila's street-children! Heard the lucky kids were being paid a huge sum. With them was a guy with a lean muscular build, around 5'9''. A model.
We did some simulation jogs -- that's all we did. Jog one step forward, then jog one step backward at one spot -- like idiots. We were to appear like really jogging in the commercial most of the time, but it's funny how everything was faked/staged. We had several rounds of rehearsals before we perfected the right moves. Sometimes, we also went up and down the wide-stepped stairs in the Circle.
After we wrapped up, I rushed to the office at Quirino-Taft. It was already way past 9AM: I was late. Expecting a cut in my paycheck, I was, however, greeted by everybody like I was some celebrity worth a thousand bucks. I am already thinking of shifting careers.
Weeks later, I shouted like crazy the first time the ad came on in Channels 7 and 2, calling out to the entire neighborhood to watch. In the ad, especially in the much-abbreviated version that came out in latter days, I appeared a fraction of a second at the opening -- a pair of white helmet-flecked green boxers floating in a sea of black running shorts, then -- bam! -- nothing more. I didn't even catch a glimpse of my stupid face.