Words by: Miko Insame
Featured Photo by: Vianne Borja
She’s uncannily good at two things at the same time.
Abigail ‘Abi’ Sulit is currently performing as part of the cast of Spring Awakening being put on by Ateneo Blue Repertory. Her other theater credits include Mama Shrek in Shrek: The Musical, Tiffany in the lauded Toilet: The Musical, a special guest appearance in Repertory Philippines’ staging of Hair, and as part of the ensemble of Rak of Aegis and Sa Wakas, among others.
In addition to the expanding list of credentials she’s piling up, Abi is also in medical school. Currently enrolled in the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH), she’s putting her degree in Biology to good use. She shares the same vocation as her partner, Francis Jardin, who graduated ASMPH in 2018.
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You are one of the strongest people I know. You’ve had my back althroughout these years and now I have yours. You’ve got this @chizjardin. Let go of your anxieties and fears. God is with you. We are all with you. Do your best tomorrow baby. Make us all proud. ? Love you always ? #No18neanleftbehind #ASMPH2018 #chibi #MeantChibi
I had a chance to sit down and chat with Abi and ask her personally about her roots, her journey so far, and what comes next for someone who’s so skilled onstage but also pursuing a career in medicine.
Abi speaks with a clear easiness and jest to her voice. A comfortable tone that hides tremendous vocal power and skill, she eagerly describes her roots as a performer.
“First year, I didn’t join blueREP yet. But I watched the newbie production and that was All Shook Up and then after kong napanood yung All Shook Up, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to join this org. It’s so amazing, it’s so cool. And so I did. I became BS Bio, Major in blueREP.’”
Originally falling in love with performing at the age of six, Abi began doing workshops with the likes of Neil De Mesa, Isay Alvarez, Robert Seña, and Noni Buencamino. Her church served as her first production company, the first stop of her journey into theater before eventually discovering Ateneo Blue Repertory (blueREP) while pursuing her degree in Biology.
Immediately after graduation, she set her eyes on med school but was determined, at the same time, to partially sustain herself and not let her parents be the sole bankrollers of her medical pursuits. Her foray into the theater world and professional theater came as a way to help herself get into ASMPH. Prior to graduating, she found herself as part of the cast of Sa Wakas. This ultimately fueled her decision that, if she can’t get into med school yet, she might as well continue doing something she loves just as much. She admits that while her passion lies with theater, she’d always dreamed about saving lives and promoting wellness.
“I’ve always wanted to become a doctor; I think, more than theater. When I was younger–as in I really wanted to become a doctor so it was always a dream of mine. Theater kasi it was a passion–it still is a passion. I enjoy performing, but it was always a dream of mine to become a doctor.”
Abi admits, however, that the world of theater has its ups and downs. For Abi, she found herself at times doubtful of the path she took and shared her experience of wanting to stop doing theater altogether. She credits a good friend of hers (unnamed, by her request) who implored her to continue doing theater if not indefinitely, at least for the next year. Abi says that she reminded her that life is not easy, but there should be no space to dwell on your failures and find ways to better yourself and, in the case of getting calls, brand yourself and make yourself stand out.
Abi (left) performing as part of the cast of the Sa Wakas 2018 Farewell Tour (Photo by: Sa Wakas, A Pinoy Rock Musical FB Page)
As far as her roles go, she says her favorite role was that of big girl Tiffany in Toilet: The Musical. A character who’s seemingly invisible to the world but pines for someone who likes someone else, Abi says Tiffany taught her that there is no need to impress others and that you don’t need to conform to other standards as long as you know what you can do and brand yourself.
Abi as Tifanny from Toilet: The Musical (Photo by: Ciary Manhit)
She asserts that shows hide a ton of people that go underappreciated, but deserve all the love because of the work they do that’s unseen but crucial to the show. More than just leads, ensemble, stage managers, technical directors, and others, it’s a group effort that doesn’t aim to highlight one specific person, but to take a moment of people’s lives and to allow them to witness the story they’ve prepared.
“blueREP is home,” she says, “The passion, the love for it talaga, I found in blueREP.” Currently, she takes on another role as part of the cast of Spring Awakening, a show she pitched and staged when she was the Artistic Director of blueREP back in 2013 and a part of the reason she says she came back to perform the show now.
Abi performs for Ateneo Blue Repertory’s 25th Anniversary Concert (Photo by: Vianne Borja)
Her advice for the people who want to do these kinds of things, whether to balance school and theater or excel in a chosen vocation? Love what you do, but commit to what you’re supposed to be doing.
“I think it’s really just giving your 100% when you’re there… like, if you’re in school, you’re in school. When you’re in rehearsals, you’re in rehearsals. When you’re in training, you’re in training.”
What do you think of Abi’s incredible journey into both medicine and theater? Let us know what you think and what Abi said that inspired you the most.