Fernando “Nanding” Josef

Fernando “Nanding” Josef



By his own reckoning, actor Fernando “Nanding” Josef—now artistic director of Tanghalang Pilipino—has spent 40 years in theater. This, he said, is instrumental in his getting the kind of unique education he would never have learned in the classroom.
Before his current position, he was director of the Philippine High School for the Arts and vice president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Josef’s formative years were at the Philippine Educational Theater Association (Peta). He got in when he auditioned for its laboratory productions during the time of now National Artist for Film Lino Brocka and Cecile Guidote Alvarez. His first director was Jojo Purisima, now based in Europe. Recalled the actor: “I was already teaching Zoology at that time, having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from UP Diliman. I took it up because I was told the subject could be of use when I moved to Medicine. I wanted to become a doctor only because I wanted to improve the family finances.”

At that time, he had no idea what acting was all about. He thought that actors were filthy rich and that, if he became one, he could help his family. Josef said he came from a very poor family of farmers, fisherfolk and shoemakers in Marikina. Becoming famous was not even in his mind. He just wanted a way out of penury.
But soon, his interest in Medicine waned, and he was stuck to being a Zoology instructor earning P4,000 a year.
In the Peta of the 1970s, he found himself in the company of some of the country’s best theater artists such as Lily Gamboa (now Boyles), CB Garrucho, Joy Soler, Soxy Topacio, Maryo delos Reyes, Gardy Labad, Frank Rivera and Nonon Padilla, among others.