Ara Mina, who counts FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano as her longest project, had interesting stories about her co-stars and their lock-in bonding moments, and reacted to Ellen Padua’s death scene. Plus, Nonong Ballinan and Whitney Tyson detailed their favorite blooper and how the teleserye changed their lives. Check out their amusing behind-the-scenes ‘kwento’ in this episode of Kapamilya Chat.
Ara calls her FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano stint an answered prayer, “two years kong pinagdasal,” and it was, of course, worth the wait. But she had to be killed off ahead of the show’s finale season with a death scene that shocked viewers – a pregnant Ellen, her character, miscarried while escaping the Agilas and the assassins, then shot by Lolita (Rosanna Roces) on the forehead.
Ara needed to leave for personal reasons and was therefore killed off in the show, “Mahihirapan ang writers na mawala ako ng ilang weeks kasi um-exit ako no'n, hindi pa tapos ang lock-in taping namin, so they have to kill me. Kasi nga nasa amin na ang istorya, nakuha na ng mga Agila sina Ellen at Mariano, so mahihirapan sila.”
She further shared what went down on that particular day filming death scene, “Naawa din ako sa sarili ko do'n ah. Kasi nag-start kami lunch time, then 2:30 am na ako natapos. From that scene, nag-shower lang ako, bumalik na ako ng Manila. So, wala akong boses pag-uwi ko. I was very, very tired the whole day kasi tinatapos 'yung eksena ko na puro iyak, puro takas.”
The takes got intense and draining since it must look realistic, “Nakailang takes din ako kasi siyempre hindi ko pa naranasan mabaril sa ulo. Kailangan mag-jerk. Kasi 'pag lingon ko, doon ako biglang mababaril. So, nakailang takes 'yun pero na-execute naman.” Directors John Prats and Coco Martin teamed up to make it a highlight scene for her, and she’s thankful for that.
She’s also pleased to have shared a big moment with Coco’s character, Cardo Dalisay, before her exit, “Naalala ko, kasi nasa ibang grupo ako, sa Palasyo set, sinasabi ko kay Coco 'pag nagkikita kami sa swab testing, ‘Hindi pa tayo nagkakaeksena.’ Sabi niya, ‘Huwag kang mag-alala, 'pag malapit na tayo matapos magkakaeksena na tayo.’ Sabi ko, ay, malapit na nga talaga matapos kasi magkaeksena na kami.”
Ara was part of the series’ two out of seven years on air, enough to collect solid friendships and acting experiences on set. As an actress, there’s nothing more fulfilling for her than working with veteran stars enveloped in wisdom and experience. She’s amazed by their brilliance, which sparkles more because of their humility.
“Lahat sila professionals. Masarap katrabaho ang matatagal na sa industriya kasi they love their craft. Ang gaan kasama na parang hindi ka nagtatrabaho. Pero, pagdating sa aktingan, seryoso sila. Pero, off-cam, hindi ka makakaramdam ng ere. Hindi ka makakaramdam na, ‘O, Lorna Tolentino ako. Tirso Cruz ako. Rowell Santiago ako.’ Hindi gano’n ang nafe-feel mo, kasi minsan merong mga gano’ng artista, eh. Pero 'yung matatagal nang artista katulad nila, that’s why they’re blessed, that’s why ang sarap nila katrabaho.”
She’s grateful to have worked with the industry’s brightest actors including Tirso Cruz III, who portrayed her husband. They previously shared series and movies together, one of which they played father-daughter for. She said it's always a breeze working with him. Not only is he a generous co-actor but he also shows good humor off-cam, said Ara, “Napaka-cool! Mukha siyang istrikto 'pag napanood mo, eh, mukhang boring. Pero ang saya kakuwentuhan. Bumabangka din ‘yon si Tiyo Pip. Marami kang mapupulot. All ages, mas matanda o mas bata sa kanya, nakakasundo niya, nakaka-vibes niya.” Fun fact: Tirso organizes their zumba sessions.
Ara was put in a fierce rivalry with Lorna Tolentino on screen, but in real life, they're like sisters – and she feels blessed for it. She smiled, “Matagal ko na siyang gustong makatrabaho at nakakaeksena ko pa siya sa Probinsyano kaya ang saya-saya. Ang sarap sapakiramdam.”
Ara and Lorna, who fondly call each other Beyonce and J. Lo, respectively, took on delicious roles as Team Promdi’s head foodies, “Ang nakakatuwa 'pag magkasama kami hindi kami nawawalan ng pagkain. May baon ako, may baon din siya. Hindi kayo magugutom 'pag kasama n'yo si Ms. LT at ako.”
Ara, who owns a café, used to bring cakes for the whole cast and production, “Lagi akong nagbabaon. Dati, no’ng lock-in namin sa Batangas, nagpapa-deliver pa ako from our Alabang branch to Lipa, Batangas. Pero noong sa Ilocos na kami, nagbabaon na ako ng isang cooler.”
She’d also take turns cooking with her roommate Whitney Tyson. Even Rosanna Roces spoiled them with her cooking. Sharon Cuneta loved to treat them with special dinner, too, “Namakyaw si Ate Sharon ng steak tapos lahat kami may tig-iisang steak. Ipapaluto niya tapos mag-ge-get together kami sa isang long table.” This goes to show that food is one thing that kept them bonded in the bubble.
Years of working together turned the cast members into a family, growing much closer when they became the first series to work in a taping bubble. The cast members would gather during rest days to have fun with food trips and karaoke sessions. It would become much merrier when they celebrate a cast member’s birthday.
Apart from fitness and food, they also bonded through TikTok, which was Rowell Santiago’s influence. To clarify, Ara said they undergo swab tests almost daily to ensure their safety in the bubble, to the point that it became a running joke among them.
Lastly, she talked about Coco Martin’s very focused and intense work attitude. She said Coco set the standard for excellence, “Serious kasi siya, eh… Mabilis ang aksyon kaya kailangan nakikinig ka sa kanya. Kailangan all-ears ka sa kanya 'pag nagbigay siya ng instruction.” Coco is spontaneous and creative, so someone has to take down notes when he’s giving instructions or revising the script on the spot.
Ara first worked with Coco in "Ligaw na Bulaklak" (2018), his first Kapamilya teleserye, wherein they played siblings. She therefore witnessed his career evolution and is proud of the artist he has become.
Don’t miss the finale week of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano “Ang Pambansang Pagtatapos,” weeknights, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.