KChat: Lovi Poe on Batang Quiapo

Sitting gracefully on Kapamilya Chat’s signature red chair, Lovi Poe tackles her new series FPJ’s Batang Quiapo and what she discovered about Coco Martin as a leading man and director.

She imparted that FPJ’s Batang Quiapo explores the different lives of people in Quiapo, which is one of the busiest places in Manila. While bearing the title of her dad Fernando Poe Jr.’s hit 1986 film, she clarified that they only picked a few inspirations from it. The TV series will have a different story; therefore, contrary to what many assume, she isn’t reprising the original character played by Maricel Soriano.

In the TV iteration, she portrays Mokang, who is very outspoken– ‘bargas’ as she puts it. And that’s their major difference as the real Lovi, of course, talks respectfully to avoid hurting other people. In dealing with bashers, for instance, she’d rather keep quiet. But she also knows when to fight back. One time, she had a funny response to a netizen accusing her of going under the knife.

“You make fun of it kasi, ako, I make fun of myself more than you make fun of me. Sorry, guys, lahat ng panlalait n’yo sa akin, nalait ko na sa sarili ko ‘no. Bago n’yo pa napansin, napansin ko na. I’m the biggest basher of myself,” she detailed in jest.

While Mokang seems a total contrast to her classy demeanor, Lovi can also be ‘kalog’ in real life. Her team even notices their similarities such as the manner of walking. Plus, they both have a strong fighting spirit. The Kapamilya actress also hinted at her character transformation, for which she had to take physical training. As of now, she hasn’t taped any action scenes, but when it comes, her background in boxing, Muay Thai, and target shooting will come in handy.

Lovi admitted she struggles to let go of a character, which is why she’s careful not to bring Mokang’s ‘bargas’ manner of speaking off-cam. But sometimes it’s also fun to infuse a scene with slight realism. Case in point: Mokang and Tanggol (Coco Martin)’s ‘asaran’ moments.

“Meron kaming shinoot recently, tawa kami nang tawa kasi personalan na. Kumabaga, ‘Ah, ‘yan ‘yung tingin mo sa akin, Coco Martin ah!’ Tapos kung ano ‘yung paningin ko sa kanya, lalaitin namin ‘yung isa’t isa,” she shared.

Prior to this project, she was already vocal about her wish to recreate some of FPJ’s works, specifically “Batang Quiapo” since it’s her favorite. Thus, she considers this a dream come true, although this was as unexpected as working with Coco. “What are the chances na ito pala ‘yung magagawa ko ngayon kasi favorite ko ‘Batang Quiapo’ dahil si Papa. Si Ms. Maricel Soriano, huge fan ako. Parang siyang blessing na dumating sa akin talaga, so I’m grateful.”

She always talks to her father through prayers. And recently, she bumped into Maricel, who she hasn’t seen for long after their previous series. She wasn’t able to talk about Batang Quiapo to Maricel as apart from avoiding added pressure, she was so lost in the moment, “Niyakap ko siya dahil na-miss ko siya katrabaho.” She hopes to see the Diamond Star again soon and ask for feedback about her performance in the teleserye.

The Supreme Actress already heard rumors about this project even before it was offered to her. But she didn’t want to assume. “When they told me, I was like, ‘Totoo ba?’ Kasi nasa wish list ko makatrabaho si Coco Martin. When they told me na makakatrabaho ko siya, ‘Yes!’ Sobrang saya ko,” she recalled her meeting with Dreamscape Entertainment Head Deo Endrinal.

Despite the jitters, she’s excited just the same, especially since she’s working with a formidable cast. Lovi is a big star herself but she doesn’t shy away from fangirling over her co-artists. Her biggest starstruck moment on the set was meeting Charo Santos for the first time, “Totoo palang queen-like siya, ‘no? Kahit anong ipasuot mo sa kanya, she’s a queen. Matutulala ka when she’s talking.”

She went on to discuss Coco’s technique as a director, which is spontaneous akin to that of Brillante Mendoza. Although she’s more used to following a script and memorizing lines, she now enjoys improvising actions and dialogues in a scene and learning about camera angles.

“Last taping namin nasa Quiapo Bridge kami, sinabi na sa amin ‘yung lines, si Coco biglang tumawid ng kalsada. Sabi ko, ‘Ha? Tatawid din ba ako?’ Like, literal tumawid siya sa bridge, tumawid din ako. Sabi ko, ‘Dito na ba ako magla-lines? Asan ba ‘yung camera?’ Hindi ko alam. Tapos bubulungan niya ako, ‘Line.’ ‘Yun na, line na ako,” she narrated.

Lovi implied that they must be on their toes at all times. The spontaneity makes the scenes appear natural as sometimes even onlookers are surprised on what’s happening around them. “Minsan nagugulat ‘yung mga tao sa jeep na kami ‘yung sasakay kasi hindi naman siya kasama sa scene.”

Since Batang Quiapo has its comedic flavor, they also get to enjoy fun moments on- and off-cam. One of her favorites, so far, is Mokang and Tanggol's street food trip date, which introduced her to pastil or packed rice dish wrapped in banana leaves. In such scenes, Lovi gets to witness Coco’s light-hearted side. Most of the time, though, Coco is serious, which she understands, knowing he is the captain of the ship.

“Bitbit niya lahat. He’s directing. He’s writing. He’s acting. Sabi ko nga, ‘Ang galing nito mag-multitask!’ Meron one time nag-uusap kami as colleagues, daldal siya, usap kami tapos nadi-direct siya at the same time, tapos pinagbihis siya at the same time for the scene… Paano niya nagawa ‘yun? Kasi kung ako ‘yun, matataranta ako kung ano ba uunahin ko,” she further described Coco as collaborative and detail-oriented.

And as a leading man, he is caring. One time, he gave Lovi her new favorite pastil, and joked, “O, alam mo na, Lovi, ah! Namumuhunan ako sa’yo!”

When asked her discoveries about Coco, she revealed, “Magaling siya mag-multitask. Ang galing niya mag-switch from writer to director to actor in just a snap. Mabibigla ka na lang, kunwari kausap ka niya tapos magsi-switch siya into someone else. Napaka-confident niya kasi iba ‘yung tindig niya lalong-lalo na ‘pag nag-a-action scenes na siya.”

She now understands why the Primetime King is adored by the masses.

Catch FPJ’s Batang Quiapo starting February 13 on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.