Karina Bautista and Aljon Mendoza continue to move up the love team ladder, after less than a year since stepping out of the Pinoy Big Brother house and joining showbiz. Their chemistry led them to playing supporting roles in a top-caliber series right away via Sandugo where they shared screens with veterans like Vina Morales and Gardo Verzosa. And in the middle of doing this afternoon serye, the newbies started working on their first lead roles in “Labyu Hehe,” the second episode of “Ampalaya Chronicles” series on iWant.
The pair gushes over their biggest project to date, overwhelmed and grateful for the trust they continually receive from fans and the management. Karina and Aljon are determined to prove themselves worthy of the ‘risk’ and assured that they went the extra mile as actors.
“Labyu Hehe” revolves around two best friends whose innocent friendship will progress into romantic feelings for each other, complicating, and embittering, their lives. “Normal na magkakagusto ka sa best friend mo, nasa sa’yo na kung lalabanan mo to keep the friendship,” expresses Aljon whose role required a natural flair for spoken word poetry.
Admittedly, the young actor had problems with public speaking from memorization to delivery. He, therefore, took his workshops seriously and watched a number of spoken word performances. Consistent tongue twister exercises also helped improve his speech.
Karina approached Elisse Joson – her Sandugo co-star and lead actress of the first “Ampalaya Chronicles” episode – to ask for useful tips. The success of Elisse and Khalil Ramos’ episode brought pressure to Karina. But more than the high expectations, she also struggled with the fatigue from juggling two big projects at the same time. She, nevertheless, did not complain, and opted to focus on the rush of excitement and just deliver her best. Karina even recalls drowning in overwhelming emotions after they finished filming. She cried while inside her van, her tears being a mix of relief, joy, and exhaustion.
In “Labyu Hehe,” Karina portrays the role of Peng who has a boyish personality. While she used to be one of the boys in high school, Karina still had to be careful in mounting realism to her character. She had to pepper Peng’s boyish acts with the right amount of female softness. Karina adds that Peng is a hardworking daughter, someone who likes to keep the household under her control after her mother’s demise. Asked if there’s a lesson she learned from her character, Karina muses, “Sometimes it’s okay to ask for help and to have someone around. You don’t have to face everything alone.” And about her craft, Karina realized that learning and exerting effort do not come to an end.
Aljon, on the other hand, plays as Sol, a guy trapped in his parents’ high expectations. Dealing with the pressure, Sol will often confide to his best friend until the emotional attachment develops into special feelings. Sol’s character will be relatable to many, but Aljon hopes that those dealing with parental expectations may also realize what he learned from Sol. “Pinagsasabihan ka nila dahil mahal na mahal ka nila,” shares Aljon. In terms of his acting experience in “Labyu Hehe,” Aljon admits that he was starstruck with Roxanne Guinoo who plays as his on-screen mom. He even felt kilig when Roxanne followed him on Instagram and, of course, he clicked the ‘follow back’ button right away.
Catch “Ampalaya Chronicles Presents: Labyu Hehe,” streaming on iWant starting June 3, and find out if love is worth risking the friendship!