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Wonder Kid: 8-Year-Old Follows in Showbiz Footsteps of 'Wowo' Johnny Manahan

Jaime Mahanan Yupangco plays Tiny Tim in 'A Christmas Carol.'
IMAGE 9 WORKS THEATRICAL
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At the age of 8, Jaime Yupangco will be performing in his first production on the professional stage. He's this year’s Tiny Tim in Globe LIVE and 9Works Theatricals' production of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.

Before immersing himself in the role of the kind-hearted child with an unfortunate limp, Jaime polished his acting chops through a few school plays and took singing lessons at the British School with teacher, Perpy Heath. Just before the audition, he trained with vocal coach Sweet Tiongson. 


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As soon as Jaime got the part, his mother, Juana Manahan Yupangco says he immediately cracked open the classic and proceeded to read the entire book—no small feat for someone so young. His parents explained the era it was set in and its supernatural genre, which Jaime initially found slightly creepy. But ultimately, the book’s values and the part of Tiny Tim warmed his heart. He loved the stage version even more, paired with the musical genius of Alan Menken.

Christmas at Jaime’s home begins the day after his birthday on October 17, when it’s become a family tradition to put up the most festive holiday decorations together. The family gathers to decorate Jaime’s grandparents' home, where they also spend Christmas Eve. Come Christmas Day, the family gathers at Juana and Rick’s home to open more presents.


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Juana tells us that Jaime’s "Wowo"—his maternal grandfather, Star Magic head Johnny Manahan—inspires him the most. Jaime sticks closely to Wowo, who provides useful insight into the world of showbiz.

“When we all saw that Jaime was inclined to singing, dancing, and acting, the whole family was supportive and introduced him to the greats,” says Juana. Thanks to his family’s influence, the eight-year-old has come to revere icons such as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Fred Astaire.

Aside from vocal lessons, Jaime learned the ropes of hip-hop from G-Force, choreographer to the stars. The gifted boy also has a number of other passions, including cooking, fencing, swimming, and golfing. His mother adds, “He’s a voracious reader and is quite talented in drawing.”


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But none of these hobbies place quite as high as singing and acting on Jaime’s varied list of interests. At an early age, he’s already set on becoming an actor and on completing his university studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), which is right next to his mother’s alma mater, University College of London.

Jaime’s parents and the rest of his family readily offer him immense support. His parents take him to plays and musicals. They download all his favorite songs and play them during car rides. Juana goes the extra mile and practices routines and songs with Jaime until he memorizes them. Rick, his father, encourages his knowledge of different genres of music. Juana says that when Jaime was in kindergarten, the teachers told her he was singing '80s music. 

Additionally, grandparents Johnny and Tats Manahan offer undying support. Tats, a dancer, teaches Jaime dance moves. She also keeps the family up to date on the theater scene, in which she is involved. Johnny, on the other hand, gives Jaime speech and acting tips.

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Whether Jaime lands future roles or not, he has a support system cheering him on, no matter what. 

Globe Live and 9 Works Theatrical's "A Christmas Carol" directed by Robbie Guevara plays at the Globe Iconic BHS Amphitheater in December. Tickets available via Ticketworld at 891.9999, ticketworld.com.ph

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Features Editor
Hannah is originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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