Ask almost every FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano fanatic about the power-hungry Lily Ann Cortez – later on, Cortez-Hidalgo – and they will most likely talk about her evil deeds, quick-witted one-liners, and her iconic bangs in a tone so ‘gigil’ as if she’s a real person.
That’s because award-winning actress Lorna Tolentino, equipped with acting techniques learned from past to present, and through the help of the series’ creatives, has put in the effort to shape every bit of the character to make it remarkable.
For starters, she wanted her hair cut short with bangs for a feistier effect. Yes, Lily’s signature hairstyle was Lorna’s idea, “No’ng first day ko, I was directed by Direk Malu Sevilla. Siya ‘yung nagsabi sa akin na, ‘Ito ‘yung character ni Lily. Ito ang background niya.’ Doon mismo sa first day, sabi ko, gupitin ang bangs ko para maiba.”
From the looks, she worked on the nuances and other elements to make Lily the iconic ‘kontrabida’ she is today.
Apart from what was seen on screen, Lily was made of Lorna’s five-decade’s worth of lessons and experiences gleaned as an actress, including what was taught by her late husband, action superstar Rudy Fernandez, from starring in action flicks together back in the day, “Nag-apply ‘yung mga tinuro sa akin ni Daboy. May mga pelikula rin naman akong nagawa na action kasama siya. So, siya rin ang nagturo sa akin kung paano humawak ng baril.”
She learned a lot from Coco Martin as well in terms of gun handling and choreography, “Maraming naturo sa akin si Coco Martin bilang direktor namin kung paano ‘yung talagang tama, na kung minsan hindi pwede ‘yung habang tumatakbo ka nakababa ang baril mo, kailangan nakataas. Marami siyang naturo sa akin na pointers dahil, siyempre, mas bihasa at masasabi kong mas may experience si Coco when it comes to action.”
Lorna debuted in the teleserye in March of 2019 for a supposed 10-day guest appearance. While others would beg off or haggle for longer exposure, the seasoned thespian is not one to reject opportunities thrown her way, especially if it’s as big as FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.
“I know naman kasi na kahit maikli lang ang role, magiging significant siya, so ‘yun ang iniisip ko. Lahat ng artista gustong mapasama sa FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano because proven na napakatagal na ng show. Ano pa ba? You cannot argue with success. Ano pa ba ang iisipin ng isang artista kundi sana mapasama siya dahil alam mo na pinaghihirapan, pinag-iisipan, at pinagtatrabahuan nang maigi yung show. Alam mong maalagaan kung ano ‘yung character mo,” shared the Grand Slam Queen in this episode of Kapamilya Chat.
We know she’ll stand out, whether it’s a one-scene or a hundred-scene appearance. Besides, it must be the standard by which every actor is measured – through the impact of the performance more than the character’s longevity. “Bilang isang artista, napakahalaga na mabibigyan mo ng buhay ‘yung character na binuo nila para sa’yo. So, even if it’s ten days, hanggang sa umabot na nga ng three years and five months,” she said.
Her supposed 10-day guesting stretched into 3 years and 5 months. And now that the show has ultimately reached the end, Lorna is filled with mixed emotions. She’s starting to feel a bit of ‘sepanx’ but she’s happy they’re ending on a high note, and that she was able to seize the experiences and friendships built in that span of time, two years of which were spent in a “bubble.”
Asked what she will miss in the series, Lorna provided plenty of answers, “Dahil sa lock-in, nagkaroon ng mas matinding bonding at friendship ang bawat isa sa amin. ‘Pag lock-in kasi doon makikita talaga ‘yung pag-aalaga ng bawat isa, ‘yung pagmamahal ng bawat isa, ‘yung concern, lahat ng lessons na matututunan mo.” She walked out of that bubble carrying great memories with her co-stars. Even the ups and downs in the production due to COVID-19 will be part of those memories, “Nando’n ‘yung tension, yung nerbiyos.”
The lock-in setup, albeit a challenge at times, has indeed brought the stars a deeper level of bond. In their happy bubble, they’d do activities together like zumba organized by Tirso Cruz III; yoga sessions fronted by Rowell Santiago and Angel Aquino; swimming; karaoke nights; food trips; and catching up in the villas. Of course, also their TikTok sessions that spread good vibes on social media.
“Ang daming nabuo, ‘yung friendship, ‘yung camaraderie, ‘yun ang pinaka-memorable. At the same time, ‘yun ang mami-miss mo talaga. Sa bawat isa kasi meron akong mami-miss, eh, sa bawat grupo.”
She added, “Lahat ng memories na ‘yun for three years and five months, ‘pag dinadaanan ko, nando’n ang lungkot pero nando’n rin ang saya dahil may natutunan ako.”
The culmination of all these experiences took place just last week as Lorna’s character got its comeuppance – a staggering death scene carefully conceived by the creatives. “Talagang dine-decide nila kung ano ‘yung ending. Pero, siyempre, ‘yun ang pinakatama talaga, dahil sa lahat ng ginawa niya… Medyo mali ‘yung thinking niya at ‘yung puso niya napunta sa hindi masyadong maganda. Kumbaga, hindi na-enlighten si Lily,” she said of why they see fit to give Lily a harsh ending.
The scene was mounted with stunning choreography (Task Force Agila and other troopers shot Lily multiple times causing her to fall on the water), and thus it required elaborate movements on Lorna’s part – all of which she credits Coco for.
“Coco helped me a lot there. Kasi sanay ako na binabaril nang isang beses lang sa lahat ng ginawa ko – isang jerk dito o isang jerk diyan. Pero never ‘yung gano’n na ilan tapos habang umaatras. Siyempre, hindi ako sanay. So, talagang dinemonstrate niya sa akin isa-isa pati ‘yung footwork. Then, your body, kailangan hindi naman OA sa pag-[jerk] kasi minsan meron silang nilalakihan ang movements. But, dapat ‘yung eksaktong movement lang na mararamdaman mo rin ‘yung tama bilang isang audience. ‘Yung tama sa’yo ng mga bala, kailangan maramdaman din nila. At kailangan ‘yung shock factor na, ‘Ha? ‘Yun ang kanyang katapusan?!’” she narrated.
Lorna doesn’t seem to run out of good words to say about Coco, who, she revealed, is well disciplined to wake up at 4 am to work out, “Dahil 6 AM ang call time niya. So, talagang makikita mo ‘yung discipline ng isang artista para talagang mapabuti niya ang trabaho niya. Kahit na alam mong ang gagawin niya sa trabaho ay action pa rin, magtatatakbo ka, ‘yung pagbuhat lang ng baril kung naka-armalite ka ang bigat no’n. So, alam mong physically draining ang kanilang ginagawa.”
But even the physical exhaustion won’t drain Coco of his passion for work. This kind of attitude and big love for one’s craft, Lorna believes, is what youngsters must need to thrive in showbiz, “Love your job kasi ‘pag mahal mo ang trabaho mo, nando’n yung pag-aaral, pakikisama, pag-unawa mo sa mga tao. Hindi lang heart, soul, at body mo ang ibibigay mo, kundi pati ‘yung mula sa mind mo – all aspect.”
Above all, humility, “Kailangan lagi kang nakatapak sa lupa. Huwag mong isipin ang achievements, ilagay mo lang sa likod ‘yan. Kasi minsan kung hindi bukas ‘yung mind mo, baka mamaya, baka meron kang, ‘yung sinasabi nila, hindi magandang ugali na lalabas dahil nga parang sumosobra na ang success mo na nawawala na ‘yung tamang perspective mo sa trabaho. Kaya, kailangan open at huwag lalaki ang ulo.”
Lorna invites everyone to catch the last two episodes of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyanong “Ang Pambansang Pagtatapos” on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.