Iza Calzado gets a bit ‘senti’ as she looks back on Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin journey

Seasoned actress Iza Calzado was a force to be reckoned with, playing the other half of Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin’s female power tandem. The bida-kontrabida heroine looks back on the experience of doing the groundbreaking teleserye – all the fun, challenges, and lessons learned. 

Things get a bit sentimental as Iza begins to reminisce on their journey – especially the stops and turns, the debacles and moments of glory, “Ang ganda ng journey ng show na ito. Mula nagsimula, natigil dahil sa pandemya, unang sumabak sa digital platform, lumaban habang wala tayong prankisa.”

During one of ABS-CBN’s darkest seasons, Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin took a stand and carried the torch for the network, “We have to show them that even without a franchise, the teleseryes of ABS-CBN will keep on fighting and we will continue to champion what ABS-CBN stands for which is to be in the service of Filipino people by providing entertainment,” she adds.  

The lock-in cycles were full of ups and downs but passion kept them going. The Kapamilya spirit did not fail, proven by the show’s consistent viewership. “I think we are ending on a really good note,” says Iza, who is overwhelmed by a gush of mixed emotions.

While endings are sad, she’s also happy that the teleserye thrived amid the circumstances. She’s grateful to the people who mounted the show and the viewers who never left. “You have to accept that it has come to an end in this form. Malay mo, one day, may Book 2 o maging ‘The Musical,’ she quips.

The sentimentality is plucked from their happy memories of lock-in bonding. Iza reveals that a lot of crying happened on their last taping cycle. She will miss the chit-chats and food trips after a day’s work, and the jamming sessions.

As a luminary sharing the screen with some bright newcomers, Iza is there to help and guide, just as how Maricel Soriano is to everyone. She knows rookies can be shy, so she doesn’t mind being the first one to make a move and break the ice. “As somebody na mas marami nang taon sa industriyang ito, ano ba naman ‘yung kumatok ka, mag-hi ka, initiate a conversation because perhaps they’re shy. That’s where it all begins. You establish a connection with your fellow actors para maging komportable.”

For instance, she approached and chatted with Kira Balinger on the latter’s first day of taping. She also became Kira’s second mom on the set.

Iza reminds these young stars that team work is vital, “Parang sa akin, ‘Huwag kang mag-alala. Nandito ako, teamwork ‘to. Hindi natin pababayaan ang isa’t isa. Nire-reassure ko lang na, ‘Hey, we got this.’” Taking us back to a scene with Grae Fernandez, she remembers telling him, “Please be with me in this scene. I hope you trust me.” 

True enough, the teamwork and connection help them deliver hardcore confrontations – a big staple for Iza and Jodi Sta. Maria’s respective characters, Ellice and Marissa. The Kapamilya actress gives us a glimpse of its process starting with taking instructions from the directors. Then, it is followed by collaboration between the artists. It’s important that the stars are aware of every factor –such as slight accidents – encompassing their jobs. This way, they can take things just professionally.

“Alam na namin na trabaho namin ‘yun. Masaktan man ako, it is not Jodi hurting Iza or Iza hurting Jodi, it is Marissa hurting Ellice and vice versa. So, for me, it’s all part of the job,” says Iza, adding that they, as artists, would also feel if a co-actor intends to make it personal.

On the most challenging scene she did in Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin, she picks the iconic pearl-grabbing incident with Jodi. The award-winning star gives us a trivia. Recall the pilot scene wherein she was driving a car while roaming around La Cascara with Jodi. The catch is Iza accidentally bumped the car while manoeuvring it.  

She also hints at some dramatic and riveting scenes among Ellice, Gabriel (Sam) and Hope (Kira Balinger) for the finale episode tonight.  

We can see how much Iza loves her co-stars with her choice of words to describe each of them. With a smile of admiration, she says working with Jodi is a blessing, “The more I get to know her, the more I love her. It’s a gift to work with someone like her. She also calls it a “partnership.” They worked together for the horror film “Maria Leonora Teresa” but it is through Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin that their friendship got deeper. She has always been a fan of Jodi since Tabing Ilog, mesmerized by the actress’ beautiful eyes and acting prowess.

For the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano, she goes for the words “intense.” Iza is amazed not just by Maricel’s intensity as an actress but also by her lofty ways of loving other people. Just her manner of expressing herself exudes so much inspiration, wisdom, and artistry. Iza says, “She’s an artist talaga. Alam mong bata pa lang siya, it’s so second nature to her. When I look into her eyes, parang vacuum na hinihigop ako.” She adds that ‘Inay Maria’ is very nurturing and caring, always selfless and generous of her acting genius. 

For Iza, it’s a “joy” to work with Sam Milby. As she got to know him, she realized that people are so drawn to him because of many good qualities more than just his handsome face. “It’s not just he looks good but he’s a genuinely good person. He doesn’t really speak ill of others. Masaya siyang kasama din at kabiruan. Hindi siya stiff, masarap makipagbiruan sa kanya.”

Iza has lovely words to share about young stars Kira Balinger and Grae Fernandez, and she swears it comes from her heart. She says working with Kira is like “watching a flower bloom,” having been a witness to the young actress’ growth on the set. “I still remember how she was like on her first day and how she progressed and came into her own and found ‘Hope,’ kumbaga how she trusted herself in the process and where she is now. And she hasn’t even fully bloomed yet.”

There were traces of sentimentality, and love, in Iza’s eyes as she speaks about how grateful she is to be playing Kira’s mom in the series and to build a real-life connection with her. They share a lot in common and it made the mother-daughter rapport easier to establish. 

Meanwhile, for Iza, working with Grae is like “watching him come out of his shell.” She says he’s an old soul, a type of guy who likes to keep things to himself. But since she is known for her sunny attitude and appetite for ‘kwentuhan,’ she was able to witness another side of him, and she’s glad she did. “He is quite fascinating because he is not like the usual kids his age. I’m really grateful that I’m given the opportunity to get to know him at malalayo din ang mararating nito katulad ni Kira.”

Looking at Kira and Grae’s potential, Iza couldn’t help but feel excited to see where life takes them. She thinks the future looks bright for them. “I’m so happy na sila ay pinagtagpo sa tamang panahon. I really see their careers flourishing and them soaring high. I tell them, ‘Just take care of each other and be good to each other. The rest, we have no control over that. Basta work well together and just create the chemistry.’ But also, I wish them well individually because they are both artists in different ways,” she says of KiRae.

Iza has heard a lot of good things about Joseph Marco even before they met, thanks to their common friends like Ria Atayde. She liked him all the more when they finally met. It seems they’re on the same vibe that’s why they instantly hit it off. “Joseph is so chill but also makulit humirit. Gusto ko ‘yung may ka-banter, like with Sam. He is so sweet and very expressive siya, ah.”

Iza has been friends with Rita Avila on social media even before doing Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin. She says her onscreen mom reminds her of her real mother. She calls Rita nurturing and giving when it comes to sharing scenes. Just like her, the veteran actress also has an inner child. “May little girl din inside her and ako kasi may ganu’n din ako parang bata pero ‘di hamak po ako na mas playful, siya mas mellow lang.”

Her rapport with Simon Ibarra was established on the set of the critically-acclaimed film “Culion.” But she got to know him better through this series. Iza says about him, “Mabuting tao at may pagmamalasakit sa lahat. Mahal ko ‘yan si Simon.”

Dissecting her character’s journey, Iza imparts lessons about communication and compassion. She hopes viewers are also reminded that selfishness will never bring good. And the end of the day, as humans, we live for forgiveness. 

Iza thanks the viewers who supported the show since day one. Don’t miss Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin “Heart-Stealing Ending” on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z. Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin was created by Dindo C. Perez and Julie Anne R. Benitez and directed by FM Reyes and Avel Sunpongco.