COVER STORY

What does it take to be an actress?

Iza Calzado, Angeli Bayani, and Max Collins — young Filipina actresses who have made waves in local and international cinema — are fighting to uphold legacies of substantial and stellar female performances in Philippine film, even as they struggle against the difficulties that local actresses face in the industry.

 

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Are Filipino actresses taken for granted? Are actors in local cinema so few and far in between that when a rare bird figures on screen, he is lionized to the point of aggrandizement? Until today, premium is, justly, given to the likes of Eddie Garcia, Joel Torre, Christopher De Leon, and Richard Gomez. Their reigns are still supreme, a legacy that actors like John Lloyd Cruz, Dennis Trillo, and Coco Martin had to contend with when building their own body of work.

But for the actresses — as Iza Calzado, Angeli Bayani, and Max Collins, point out, in an interview with CNN Philippines Life — the list is substantial and stellar. Their forebears and contemporaries are recognized for the sheer talent of holding films just by their acting capabilities, telegraphing the spectrum of the human condition on celluloid. Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Jaclyn Jose, Maricel Soriano, Sharon Cuneta, Claudine Baretto, Judy Ann Santos, Nida Blanca, Gloria Romero or even modern actresses such as Bea Alonzo, Angelica Panganiban, Jennylyn Mercado, and Meryll Soriano. These are names that are immediately recognizable and command a strong body of work.

CNN Philippines Life gathered Calzado, Bayani, and Collins to discuss the state of the Filipino actress today. Calzado is making rounds after the controversy surrounding Jerrold Tarog’s “Bliss,” which won her the Yakushi Pearl Award for Best Performer in the Osaka Asian Film Festival earlier this year. Bayani is headed to Cannes Film Festival, her second time, after Carlo Francisco Manatad’s short film, “Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month,” was selected at the Semaine de la Critique (International Critic’s Week) sidebar — hallowed ground where the first and second films of Wong Kar-wai, Guillermo del Toro, and Jeff Nichols have received attention. Collins just wrapped up filming Mike De Leon’s “Citizen Jake,” his comeback after his last film, "Bayaning Third World,” almost two decades ago.

Max Collins, Angeli Bayani, Iza Calzado The forebears and contemporaries of actresses today are recognized for the sheer talent of holding films just by their acting capabilities, telegraphing the spectrum of the human condition on celluloid. Photo by RALPH MENDOZA

Collins confessed she was excited with the prospect of joining a discussion with her fellow actresses. During the roundtable, she listens to them in awe, a veritable sponge whose career will likely be catapulted by just appearing in De Leon’s film, following the footsteps of actresses such as Charo Santos, Dina Bonnevie, and Sandy Andolong. Collins is a relative newbie most known for her role in the revival of GMA-7’s “Encantadia,” and perhaps her selection for the role has raised some eyebrows — she’s even bested actresses such as Calzado for the role. But perhaps there is something about this ingenue that De Leon thought compelling enough to cast her.

Bayani is one of the most underrated actresses of her generation. Ang Lee called her “a national treasure” and she’s worked with some of the most acclaimed directors of contemporary Filipino cinema. She is one of Lav Diaz’ go-to actresses, has bested Nora Aunor in the running for the Gawad Urian (she won for the 2013 film “Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan”); lauded by the mother of French New Wave Agnes Varga for her performance in Anthony Chen’s “Ilo Ilo” and has consistently propelled films such as “Bwaya,” “Ned’s Project,” and “Iisa” by her acting prowess alone.

Calzado confesses she wants to work with Bayani, whom she met for the first time during the roundtable. Calzado fuses star power and acting chops — honed in films such as  “Milan,” “Sigaw” (remade in Hollywood as “The Echo,” where she played the same role opposite Jesse Bradford), and “Barber’s Tales.” She treats primetime seryes — she currently appears in ABS-CBN’s top-rated teleserye, “A Love to Last” — as her bread and butter for the time being but is aching to get more roles in film.

Max Collins, Angeli Bayani, Iza Calzado Max Collins, Iza Calzado, and Angeli Bayani. Photo by RALPH MENDOZA

The state of the Filipina actress? A mixed bag mostly. It has reached lofty heights but recognition is still due to some of the stalwarts who have given Philippine cinema recognition in the global playground. Case in point: Bayani, who has impressed auteurs, and yet still languishes in small roles on television.

Para sa akin napaka-sad nun ah,” Calzado says. “Tingnan mo naman, artist natin siya. She’s probably more well known in Cannes than in her own country.” The problem, Calzado thinks, is such films are not accessed by the masa. “It’s not like pinapalabas ‘yun sa T.V. natin. Wala tayong channel na nagpapalabas ng indie films natin — free to air indie films. Nobody does it. ‘Di naman kasalanan [ng audience], kasi ‘di nila napanood eh.”

CNN Philippines Life sat down with Bayani, Calzado, and Collins to discuss the pleasures and perils of working in the local entertainment industry, the sting of rejection, and how actors and actresses should be valued not just by star power. Below are edited excerpts from the interview.

I was talking to Max earlier and she said she had hesitations about auditioning for “Citizen Jake” because she had insecurities that came from being rejected so many times. Was the experience the same for you guys when you were starting out?

Iza Calzado: I still get rejected! I got rejected for “Citizen Jake.” (Laughs)

When I was younger, my first rejection was for “Santa Santita.” This was way before Angelica [Panganiban] came on board. I was supposed to be paired up with Aga Muhlach and he was already on board. Test shoot na kami. Pirma na kami. Ayaw ni Direk Laurice [Guillen].

I was 19, bago ako sa industriya — two months in the business when I got cast in it. Complex kasi ‘yung role. Mabigat ‘yun. And at that time, masyado pa akong pa goody-goody. Hindi pa ako empowered as a woman especially as an actress. Plus physically, I had more insecurities pa […] It was a smart decision on Direk Laurice’s part to take me out of that project. And it also saved me from embarrassment.

Sometimes kasi rejection is good for you. Not for your ego, but with that, feeling ko mas nakabuti pa siya sa akin.

Max Collins Max Collins is a relative newbie most known for her role in the revival of GMA-7’s “Encantadia,” and perhaps her selection for the role has raised some eyebrows — she’s even bested actresses such as Iza Calzado for the role. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

Angeli Bayani: 'Pag theater, nakaka-intimidate ‘yung mga alam mong magagaling sila, ‘yung iba diyan nag-vo-vocalize tapos ikaw nakaupo ka lang tapos hindi mo alam kung gagayahin mo ba sila. Half [of] the time, you just want to back out and go home pero siyempre nandun ka na, gagawin mo na lang. And then you get rejected, over and over again tapos sa utak mo “dapat kasi umuwi na lang ako.” […] I had a teacher who decided to teach us how to audition.

Iza Calzado: I [also] took a class in audition techniques. What did they teach you?

Angeli Bayani: Well, first of all, how to enter is really important. How to enter and how to greet everyone in the room. How to introduce yourself, those are all things we take for granted. The mindset kasi that you should have when you’re auditioning is that they want to hire you. That’s why they’re holding the audition in the first place.

Iza Calzado: I studied audition technique for seven weeks. At the Aquila Morong studios. What they do is they simulate an audition. So you’re given a character assignment ... pagdating ko doon, walang nag-uusap kasi first day. Pagpasok ko ‘yung unang sinabi ko, “sorry.” Pinoy na Pinoy! They said, “What are you sorry about?” Ang dami ko nang sinabi. They don’t actually teach you a “technique,” but because you keep doing it and doing it [you learn a lot]. I think auditioning is really being confident. Gusto pa nga nila 'yung wala kang pakialam. Pero doon ‘yun, dito hindi ko alam. Kasi I auditioned for “Bliss” and I auditioned for “Citizen Jake,” parehong time gusto ko kalma lang ako.

Max said she was super nervous and it helped her with her audition ...

Max Collins: It helped kasi the audition piece is natataranta. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung naramdaman ko. Nauutal ako tapos [my hands were shaking] so bumagay sa eksena.

Iza Calzado: But this wasn’t the first time you auditioned?

Max Collins: Yeah, usually Cinemalaya.

So you’ve really been trying to get more film roles?

Max Collins: Yeah. But I never get anything I audition for. So parang dun ako nag-give up, I guess, in a sense. If I read the script and I see na hindi bagay sa akin, hindi ko pipilit ‘yung sarili ko.

So you learn to be smart about the roles that you audition for?

Angeli Bayani: You have to be. The first thing you need to do as an actor is kilalanin ‘yung sarili mo. There are different character types, identify mo which one you fall under. You can play this, you can play that. So when you come to auditions, you just dress the part. Tapos there’s really not much work to do except read the sides or memorize. Kasi kung pipilitin mo talaga, sasaktan mo lang sarili mo.

Iza Calzado: Visual kasi ‘yung industriyang ‘to.

"There’s only one role that we can play. Usually it’s either mataray or mayaman, but now there are more options because of the young indie directors. Back in the day, hindi naman ganun ‘diba? Kapag tisay ka, it’s only one kind of role." - Max Collins

Was that a hard lesson to learn?

Iza Calzado: I knew that from day one. Naniwala ako na kaya ko.

Angeli Bayani: Ako hindi. I have had more rejections than acceptance sa projects, and it's more painful for me because it's not just about ego. Rejection for me, hanggang ngayon, means going hungry, being homeless, patong-patong na bills.

One audition I went to, wala talagang role for me and it was so embarrassing kasi literal kong nilako ang sarili ko, na I can do anything. Ending, there was someone else in the room who got me for a different project.

Minsan tuloy naiisip ko, sometimes it's not talent that gets you the job. It's putting yourself out there. Na honestly ang hirap gawin lalo na kung wala ka nang pamasahe. [Laughs] Pero ganun eh.

Max, you were saying it was kind of a hindrance for you. That you get typecast as a mestiza.

Max Collins: Yeah, because there’s only one role that we can play. Usually it’s either mataray or mayaman, but now there are more options because of the young indie directors. Back in the day, hindi naman ganun ‘diba? Kapag tisay ka, it’s only one kind of role.

With you guys, is it the same experience? You had to get yourself out of being typecast?

Angeli Bayani: Sinabi ko na ang dami ko nang daster sa bahay, bigyan niyo naman ako ng ibang role. And then finally binigyan ako ng iba, wala pala akong damit na pang-mayaman!

Max, what’s next for you after “Citizen Jake”? More film roles?

Max Collins: I have no idea, I don’t want to expect anything. I really hope the film does well for everybody else and siyempre for myself but I don’t want to have high expectations kasi baka masaktan lang ako.

You’re following a long line of actresses who’s had their careers built or bolstered by being in Mike de Leon films.

Iza Calzado: How was he [Mike De Leon] on set? I’m interested to find out. Because when I auditioned, first of all, man of few words and hardly any expression on his face.

Max Collins: If he doesn’t talk, he doesn’t talk. But when he makes kwento, tuloy-tuloy na.

Iza Calzado: I learned he likes dogs.

Max Collins: He has a dog named Max. [Laughs]

Iza, “Bliss” was a very controversial film. Is there a certain pressure because you won an acting award?

Iza Calzado: I always ask, “What’s your opinion? Really.” Because when I watch myself, I’m never satisfied with my work. It’s hard because as much as you don’t want to seek validation from outside forces, it’s the only way I can validate that I did a decent job. I’m also not too hard on myself, when people say that I wasn’t good [at something], I say, “Okay next time babawi ako.” In the same way, if I’m good at it, I also don’t understand why I’m good at it.

Sana talaga it makes money for our producers and other producers to want to make films like that. Sana maski wala kami sa SM, kumita kami.

max iza angeli.jpg Max Collins just wrapped up filming Mike De Leon’s "Citizen Jake," while Angeli Bayani is headed to Cannes Film Festival after Carlo Francisco Manatad’s short film, “Jodilerks Dela Cruz, Employee of the Month,” was selected at the Semaine de la Critique (International Critic’s Week) sidebar. Meanwhile, Iza Calzado is making rounds after the controversy surrounding Jerrold Tarog’s “Bliss,” which won her the Yakushi Pearl Award for Best Performer in the Osaka Asian Film Festival earlier this year. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

Max, on set, how different was it from your previous experiences?

Max Collins: Well, ‘diba, si Direk Mike is very, I guess, private about his space? So it’s a closed set, so nobody can really go in. So you can feel the story more, and you can really live through it, because there’s nobody bothering you. Kasi ‘diba sa teleserye … nakaka-distract. But with this set, we don’t really have that many distractions.

So that was a better experience for you?

Max Collins: Yeah, because you have the freedom to kind of figure out … Not just to feel the space, but also to move around freely, because you don’t really have to … like with teleseryes, which I’m used to, [it’s like] “Okay, eto na ‘yung blocking mo,” and you can’t really move much. With Direk Mike naman, he lets us kind of figure out what feels natural to us, and then we’ll block it. Then we’ll do wide shot, a close up … With teleseryes, you can’t really move much.

Iza Calzado: Every time you do a film, if you’re coming from a teleserye, you have to learn how to simplify pa, and lessen the kanto. Kaya ang hirap kapag nag-te-teleserye ka at nag-pe-pelikula at the same time. It can be fun and mahirap at the same time.

Max Collins: Or like masyadong dramatic parati, ‘diba? But with “Citizen Jake,” we didn’t really have to be so dramatic. It was more of like how we felt … what fits the situation.

Iza Calzado: Pero ‘diba hindi siya actor’s director?

Max Collins: No … He’s more technical. Sabi rin niya, he thinks actors don’t really need workshops, like workshops on acting. Kasi everyone has the innate feelings, but they need workshops on how to act for film, because it’s different. Things like that, what’s nice on film. That’s what he said.

Did you guys have directors na sobrang … As in every move, sinasabi sa inyo?

Iza Calzado: Oo.

[Everyone laughs]

Iza Calzado Iza Calzado fuses star power and acting chops — honed in films such as “Milan,” “Sigaw” (remade in Hollywood as “The Echo,” where she played the same role opposite Jesse Bradford), and “Barber’s Tales.” Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

Angeli, you’re coming also from theater … Ikaw, nag-T.V. ka, nag-theater, nag-film, do you feel schizophrenic at times na parang drop, tapos

Angeli Bayani: Ay, no. Nung nasa theater pa ako, sobrang hardcore ko kasi … I actually believed I would live and die on stage. Tapos … May nagsabi sa akin na co-actor ko, “Hindi ka bagay sa teatro.” Tapos na-offend ako nang bonggang bongga. ‘Di pa kasi ako nag-t-T.V. or film nun. And when I finally did, I didn’t see him for a long time, tapos ‘yun na ‘yung nanggaling na ako ng Cannes ... Lahat na nangyari, tapos nagkita kami after a long time sa Taumbayan. Sabi niya sa ‘kin, “O, anong sinabi ko sayo?” Sabi ko, “Oo na.”

‘Yung first time kong mag-T.V., kasi I did not know how to favor sa camera. Grabe, ang first ko sa camera kasi, ay si Lav [Diaz]! Eh si Lav, ito lang naman ‘yung camera niya eh. So, siyempre when you’re shooting a nine-and-a-half-hour film [“Death in the Land of Encantos”], you tend to forget that the camera is just right there, ‘diba? Tsaka siya sinusundan lang niya … Kumbaga, babad lang eh. So, hindi ko alam.

Buti na lang, ‘yung co-actors ko doon sa T.V. nung first time na ‘yun, si Ms. Candy Pangilinan, tapos ayun na nga, kailangang umiyak. Yumakap ako sa co-actor ko, tapos iyak, iyak, iyak. Ilang take na ‘yun, ah. Si Ms. Candy, “Dito mo lagay ‘yung ulo mo.” Alam mo ‘yun? ‘Yung ‘di ko alam, importante ba ‘yun?

Tapos ‘yung … oh my God, ito sobrang embarrassing. Kasi ‘yung isang camera, naka-crane. Tapos ‘di ko alam na nag-crane siya, ‘yung isa. Tapos ‘yung isa, nasa loob ng kwarto, tapos may pa-crane keme sa labas, gumaganun-ganun. ‘Di ko alam, na kasama siya sa eksena, ‘diba? So pasok lang akong ganyan, siyempre hinaharangan ko ‘yung camera all the time. Tapos, ‘yung sumisigaw na sila, “Angeli, gumalaw ka! Angeli!” Sabi ko, “Ha? Ha? Ha? May camera dito? Nasaan ba ‘yung camera na sinasabi niyo?” Putang ina, pagkatapos nilang mag-cut, naka-ganun lang ako. Feeling ko ako na ‘yung pinakatangang babae sa buong mundo.

"I have had more rejections than acceptance sa projects, and it's more painful for me because it's not just about ego. Rejection for me, hanggang ngayon, means going hungry, being homeless, patong-patong na bills." - Angeli Bayani

Are there good learnings from working on T.V.?

Iza Calzado: Patience.

Max Collins: Yeah, like, you shoot for 24 hours, you learn to wait.

Iza Calzado:  And, actually pagod. Kasi sa T.V. ‘yung pinaka-nakakapagod kasi, you’re doing so many scenes in one day. Sa film … well, unless you’re doing something super indie na ‘yung andami niyo talaga in one day … But most films, generally, a few scenes a day lang. Endurance sport siya. Iba rin ang endurance ng stage, because it really is tiring, pero isang bagsakan ‘yun. Tapos tulog ka na lang after. Ito, wala kang tulog hanggang umaga.

Max Collins: Me naman, kasi you can’t get through it without fake-acting.

Iza Calzado: Sometimes. Kapit-patalim na lang.

Angeli Bayani: Actually, I learned to be more honest na rin. ‘Pag hindi ko kaya, at ayokong i-peke, sasabihin ko talaga, “I’m sorry. [Laughs] Hindi, pero totoo eh. You want to please the director —

Iza Calzado: Kasi nga tao ka! Hindi ka machine.

Angeli Bayani: ‘Diba? You want to please the director. Hindi, kasi, without naming names, bigla na lang wala naman sa script tapos ito pala ‘yung kailangan, tapos “Huh? Ganun?” Tapos naka-set-up na, tapos andito na ‘ko. Parang, “Ah … teka lang ah ..." Tapos iniintay na lang ng forever na tumulo ‘yung luha ko.

May times, you get lucky ‘diba? Bigla na lang luluha ka, pero may times talaga na … “I’m sorry. Wala talaga.”

Max Collins: One time, naka-prosthetics ako tapos napansin ko na mga 25 minutes na, inintay nila akong umiyak …

Iza Calzado: And I’ve experienced theater once. Only once. ‘Di pa nga siya ‘yung parang may dialogue, eh. I was narrating. But it was so liberating for me to know that I knew the lines. I knew my lines, and I understood each and every word that I was going to say. I could make it faster, I could make it slower, because I knew it. My body knew it. My mind definitely knew it.

Whereas, you get there, T.V. Kaya a lot of us sound like robots. You know? Like, ugh! Parang, paano ko lalaruin ‘to kung hindi talaga siya nakatatak nang sobra sa utak ko? Tao ka lang, e. ‘Di ka naman machine na nilagyan ng … Maybe some people are blessed with photographic memory. They read it, and they know it right away. Not all of us are given that gift. And, you know, you wanna be able to express it in the most sincere, genuine, and heartfelt way, but how can this connect to this if you’re thinking so much about the words and the lines?

Angeli Bayani Angeli Bayani is one of the most underrated actresses of her generation. Ang Lee called her “a national treasure” and she’s worked with some of the most acclaimed directors of contemporary Filipino cinema, including Lav Diaz. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

How was shooting a short film, “Jodilerks Dela Cruz,” different from the feature films you’ve done?

Angeli Bayani: One day [shoot]. Actually, one evening nga lang eh. Well, first of all, sobrang fun siya kasi it’s Carlo Francisco Manatad. Alam mo ‘yun? May brand siya of comedy na … I was so excited about. ‘Yung ganun. Kasi ‘di siya typical comedy natin. Black comedy siya. Tapos hindi ko maintindihan nung una kung bakit ako ‘yung kinukuha niya. Kasi nga ano, laging dramatic, daster. So nung ganito na ‘yung role, tapos ganun na ‘yung story, tinanong ko pa siya, “Seryoso kang ako ‘yung…?” Tapos oo daw. Tapos na-gets ko naman kung bakit eventually, nung nakita ko na, when we were shooting.

Dahil nga black comedy siya, ‘yung tipong… ‘yung character na sinulat niya ‘yung tipong gagawin niya kung anong naiisip niyang gagawin niya.

I had to unlearn something nung ginawa ko ‘yung shoot na ‘yun. Kailangan kong i-let go na … Ito ‘yung literal na kung wala talagang nakatingin, anong gagawin mo? Ganon. Tapos sobrang sarap. Ang fun, ang liberating.

Coming from film festivals, and someone who will eventually go to one, do you guys have notions of how you could act? But when you get here…

Angeli Bayani: Parang lahat posible. And then you meet so many filmmakers and producers na andun and they are interested in working with you, ganyan. O sige, exchange ng contact details. Uuwi ka nang ganun ka ka-high, pero pagdating dito, wala. Parang you’re just thankful na na-experience mo siya. Actually, hindi naman mahirap ibaba 'yung sarili mo eh [laughs] kasi pagdating mo ayan agad ang realidad.

When you were shooting in Hollywood, did you have expectations of yourself that after it you’d have something there?

Iza Calzado: I really wanted to at that time. I did not want to go back to the Philippines anymore. Parang kaya lang, I had a contract here in the Philippines, I was too young and too scared, I was SAG-eligible. I mean I still have dreams of going beyond the Philippines and that’s the ultimate goal 'diba? Not because you don’t want to to work in the Philippines, but you want to try it out yourself. Sa akin it’s about challenging yourself eh. Putting yourself in a new environment, doing something new. So that’s still in my head. At that time I was too young, too insecure, too unsure of myself to try it out. Then I fell in love. Tanga. Siyempre akala ko, wala, kalimutan na, sayang. Not my boyfriend now ha. Kasi my boyfriend now is very supportive. And it’s easier said than done. Believe me. I’ve tried a bit. And it’s hard.

Mangyayari siya kung mangyayari siya. ‘Di mo siya kailangang pilitin. Ang sarap lang siguro nung pakiramdam na bago nga, may working hours, pero at the same time, you go where the work is. Punta ka nga dun pero wala ka namang trabaho, nganga ka. Sa Hollywood ka nga, teh, wala ka namang trabaho. Grabe ang competition sa kanila.

Max Collins, Angeli Bayani, Iza Calzado While film is an ideal medium to showcase diverse roles, the three actresses don't expect that the same can be said of television. "I don’t know if it’s going to happen in the next five years," says Iza Calzado. Photos by RALPH MENDOZA

Max Collins: I went to an audition once for “General Hospital,” when I was 16. So I stayed with my aunt kasi I auditioned for a while. ‘Yung room full of set cards, and they don’t even look at it.

When I was kid, I auditioned sa mga Disney, and it’s funny because I got one callback. And then the second time, ‘diba two casting directors lang in a room, then I go into the room and it’s a whole table of casting directors, and I couldn’t do it. I just froze. And I was like I don’t wanna do it anymore. Kasi it’s the fear.

Roles are diversifying globally. Are you expecting that the acting profession itself will branch out to different roles, not only on film but on TV?

Iza Calzado: [In] film, definitely mangyayari. T.V., I don’t know if it’s going to happen in the next five years.

Angeli Bayani: Dati kasi, radio, now it’s teleserye. Nag-ta-transfer lang siya ng medium but it’s the same formula. I don’t think magbabago anytime soon.

Iza Calzado: Kasi as long as we’re catering to the masses and what they want, it won’t. But I’m hoping they will change. We will always have that. It’s good, it’s all right, pero I think it’s also time to challenge the audience.

Angeli Bayani: Kasi they keep saying na, baka ‘di maintindihan ni Aling Chuchu ‘yan …They always say that but when you actually look for Aling [Chuchu], [she says], “Ooh, nakita ko na ‘yan. Napanood ko na ‘yan.” ‘Di porket nasa bangketa lang ‘yan, di na nag-iisip ‘yan.

Iza Calzado: Feeling ko they’re undermining their intelligence.

Angel Bayani: I think if they just stop thinking about ratings for one day. Alam mo ‘yun? And just think about the stories. Suntok sa buwan ... I think what’s going to happen is they’ll make it into digital.

Max Collins: That was what I was gonna say, because everyone’s moving na online. That’s where it’s gonna start kasi that’s where we’re headed.

"Pero kulang pa rin tayo ng roles for girls. Dito naman ang problema, sobrang ang lead hanggang 30 [years old] lang or less." - Iza Calzado

Is the pay gap also an issue here between actors and actresses, like [how it is] in Hollywood?

Iza Calzado: To be honest, I think we’re better off. I had this conversation with Tia Carrere, when we were in L.A., and a director friend. So we were talking about that. And it never really dawned on me that there were less roles for women in the Philippines, kasi it seems like puro babae ngayon bida ng teleserye.

I don’t know about pay. I don’t know the difference between the guys’ and girls’ pay. Pero feeling ko ‘yung mga lalaki mas mataas. Kumbaga kung same level sila ng girl, feeling ko mas mataas ng kaunti ‘yung guy. So baka, pero hindi naman sobrang laki ng difference na aangal ka pa.

Pero kulang pa rin tayo ng roles for girls. Dito naman ang problema, sobrang ang lead hanggang 30 [years old] lang or less. At least sila hanggang 35 or 40, meron pang pang-lead eh. Kaya nga ang galing nga nung kay Sylvia Sanchez, ‘yung nag-lead siya sa [ABS-CBN teleserye] “The Greatest Love." Kasi ang laking bagay nun. ‘Yung at that age, lead ka pa ng isang soap. ‘Yung tumatakbo ‘yung story around you. Kasi she has Alzheimer’s. So the story revolves around her Alzheimer’s. Dito medyo rare. The story normally revolves around the love team.

The shows here are built on love teams. Have you ever had a love team?

Max Collins: My God, nakalimutan ko na. Dion Ignacio. Sa ano, “Inamorata” … It wasn’t my decision [to be paired], I always get roles with everybody else, different partners. But that project worked, because we had a fanbase, but wala ‘di nasundan.

Iza Calzado: Ako, Piolo Pascual, Dingdong Dantes, but it didn’t work either.

You’re almost always the strong other woman.

Iza Calzado: You just know if it’s gonna work or not. ‘Di mo ko mapa-love team. ‘Di ako ma-pabebe. ‘Di talaga nag-work. I can play a love story, pero hindi pwede the whole time parang in love lang tayo. It has to be meatier than that.

Angeli Bayani: ‘Yun naman palagi 'yung conflict ‘diba? I’m in love, and the world is against us. Tapos may sasabog na kotse.

[Everyone laughs]

***

Hair and makeup by SYLVINA LOPEZ. Shot on location at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, 2135 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City. Photographer's assistant: REDGE HAWANG.