Unsung Heroes of the Airwaves: An Interview with Voice Acting Legend Joonee Gamboa

In the world of entertainment, there are often unsung heroes who toil behind the scenes, shaping our experiences without ever stepping into the limelight. One such luminary in the field of voice acting is Joonee Gamboa, whose remarkable journey through radio, theater, dubbing, and commercials has left an indelible mark on the industry. In an exclusive interview, Gamboa shares his fascinating voyage through the world of voices and reveals the secrets behind his success.

A Fortuitous Beginning

Joonee Gamboa's journey into the world of voice acting was nothing short of serendipitous. He candidly admits, "I never trained for it." His career began as a radio announcer back in 1959, a time when radio was the primary source of entertainment. Gamboa was not hired for his announcing prowess but rather for the treasure trove of voices he possessed. "I was like a chameleon," he chuckles. "I could switch from one voice to another."

One of his notable early radio programs was titled 'Shortcut Barbery,' where he portrayed a barber who played multiple roles, including his customers. It was this versatility that first ignited his passion for the craft of voice acting.

A Self-Taught Maestro

Gamboa's journey was marked by a lack of formal training and limited resources, yet his determination and ingenuity knew no bounds. "I couldn't afford workshops," he recalls. "Everything I have, everything I use now is self-taught or learned through experience." This hunger for learning led him to explore various theatrical avenues, from the Barangay Theater field in Abellana to the repertory groups led by Vic Diaz.

To enhance his English-speaking abilities, Gamboa adopted a neutral accent, transcending the boundaries of regional or national dialects. "When you speak, you have no country," he notes, emphasizing the importance of this skill in both voice acting and theater. His ability to seamlessly switch between accents and languages became a hallmark of his career.

The Dubbing Era

In the 1960s, Gamboa transitioned into dubbing, where he lent his voice to a plethora of films, including those of the legendary Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ). Among his most iconic roles was providing the English voices for FPJ's films, which were showcased in theaters in Hawaii. Gamboa's talent also extended to foreign films and beloved classics like "Voltes V," where he portrayed characters such as Doctor Smith and Captain Hook.

Radio Drama and Theatrical Roots

During the interview, Gamboa revealed his occasional forays into radio dramas. He recounted a memorable collaboration with fellow artist Choy at DZRH. When asked about the differences between radio drama and theatrical acting, Gamboa stated, "All acting is the same to me. The important thing is that it's true and sincere." He emphasized the need for actors to convey authenticity through their voices when the audience cannot see their actions.

The Art of Commercials

Voice acting in commercials presented its own set of challenges and rewards for Gamboa. He believed that, in commercials, the message is paramount. "They have to say 'yes' when I finish talking. They have to understand what I'm saying and be convinced when I'm finished talking," he explained. Gamboa's dedication to making the message interesting and engaging is a testament to his commitment to his craft.

Recognition and the Invisible Artist

In a thought-provoking reflection, Gamboa acknowledged the lack of recognition for voice artists, a sentiment echoed by many in the industry. He acknowledged, "They don't know who it is." Despite this, he emphasized that the true mark of success lies in the impact of the message delivered rather than personal recognition. "What you talk about as a voice artist becomes very well-known, but they don't know who it is. The message is what's important, not you," Gamboa noted.

Joonee Gamboa's remarkable journey through the world of voice acting is a testament to his unwavering passion, dedication, and adaptability. In a career spanning decades, he has not only lent his voice to countless characters but has also left an indelible mark on the industry. Gamboa's story is a reminder that behind every great performance, there is an artist who gives life to the words, often quietly, but always brilliantly.

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