I Feel U: Iza, Maris and Lou share the core of a “never give up” attitude

The second lease on life fills the heart of Kapamilya actress Iza Calzado with overflowing gratitude. Whatever challenges come her way now, it will be easier for her to face and overcome them, for she has already surpassed the most life-threatening trial that is COVID-19. 

Iza grasped unto her faith all throughout that battle, knowing that only God’s grace can bestow her with healing. No matter how scary the situation was, all she did was believe, although she also had bumpy stopovers in that journey. 

Dumating sa point na mapapatanong ka talaga, ‘Why me?’ Then, mare-realize mo din ‘yung purpose. Siguro dahil malakas ako. Thankfully, I’ve been living a healthy lifestyle through the years,” shared Iza. The experience was Iza’s wakeup call to slow down as she was prone to pushing herself too hard. She took diets and workouts seriously but neglected proper rest. 

To those struggling, Iza’s message is, “Hold on to that faith that you will pull through because the mind is also a very powerful thing. One of the challenges of COVID talaga, it’s not just physical talaga, but it’s the fear that can really eat you up. And that’s the battle that you must win.”

The Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin star added that finding your purpose fuels the will to survive. Faith and the power within the mind cannot be underestimated, either.  “In the darkest of times, that’s when the light shines the brightest. It might be like a tiny speck of light in the beginning but the minute you hold on to that, lalaki siya nang lalaki. Hanggang sa mas maliwanag na siya kesa sa dark,” expressed Iza. 

Ten years from now, if she’d look back on these moments, Iza would give her younger self a pat on the back for going through so much yet coming out better and stronger.  

Iza is now back to the daily hustle, the “new normal” way. It feels different to be on a lock-in taping. It is difficult as well. But when confronted by negativities and hard times, she can easily go back to her core grounded on gratitude. Work is so precious nowadays, as how she puts it. The COVID-19 survivor appreciates the little blessings even more. 

Kung meron mang pagkakamali. Kung meron mang pumalpak, maliit na bagay na lang pala talaga ‘yun kumpara sa posibilidad na ikaw ay mag-bye bye. ‘Yung pagpapahalaga din sa pamilya tsaka sa oras na binibigay natin at kung paano natin ginagamit ang oras at plataporma na binibigay sa atin,” she said. 

In a career that spans two decades, Iza proved that she’s a divine actress in both movies and television. Her first work under Star Cinema was the Claudine Barretto and Piolo Pascual starrer, “Milan.” She considers her character, Mary Grace, as one of the heaviest roles she portrayed thus far. She had to be loaded with oversized emotions that Director Olive Lamasan asked her to carry a table and imagine its weight. She thanks the whole team for helping her immerse in Mary Grace’s soul, leading in an effective portrayal. 

It was followed by “Starting Over Again” which she did with Toni Gonzaga. Looking back on those days, Iza poked fun at her bloopers. She was too nervous. Yet, the viewers saw nothing but impeccable acting, not even a hint of the jitters she’s talking about. And it’s a proof of her dramatic brilliance. The iconic confrontation scene between Iza and Toni’s characters was shot overnight. The hard work paid off as moviegoers lauded Iza’s prim and divine take on her character. Thanks also to the guidance of Director Olive Lamasan.  

Iza is quite stereotyped as a dramatic actress. She’s also done some action-fantasy and horror projects. So, a rom-com movie is now on top of her bucket list. 

Currently, Iza is seen as Ellice Cenidoza in the primetime series Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin. The team finished another round of lock-in taping, giving Iza enough time to relax her overused emotions. Yet, the good company and the viewers’ positive feedback soothe the exhaustion.
The Kapamilya star said that she can relate with Ellice’s ambitious drive that may appear selfish to others. She doesn’t want to be ashamed or judge herself for that trait. She keeps on working it out, as one of the lessons brought about by the pandemic. She does not want to judge Ellice’s character, either, thinking that some decisions are easier said than done.  

On her married life with Ben Wintle, the actress gushed over how they managed to surpass major hurdles. She feels blessed to have a husband so selfless and caring. “Mahilig ako noon sa mga bad boy. So, ito, na-appreciate ko talaga na tama ang napili kong pakasalan,” she confessed. 

Their relationship is going on smoothly, “steady,” as she describes it. After all the dramatic plot twists that tried to break their vows, Iza and Ben savor the calm and bliss.  

Asked where she draws unbreakable strength, Iza gives back the glory to the Lord, her number one help. She holds on to her husband, family, and friends as well. They make up her core. 

Lou Yanong 

Before she entered Kuya’s house, Lou Yanong started as a kiddie model at the age of 7. Her sisters thought it was the best way to overcome her boyish nature then. Thanks to their persuasion, Lou found the perfect path for her.

Lou, a young soul up for adventures, joined Pinoy Big Brother without any expectations. She simply loved the setup and the idea of exploring her social circle, just wanting to see what’s outside the modelling world. With an observant attitude and a penchant for reading other people, she thought PBB was a good way to explore. 

Fans secured Lou’s stay inside the house longer than she expected. That was a turning point where she thought, “Kailangan kong lumaban.” More than the BIG 4 finish, Lou left the house with fruitful lessons about life and a character sharpened by the weekly tasks. She became loaded with patience, perseverance, respect for others, self-love, and humility. 

Her romance with housemate Andre Brouillete added color to the PBB life. It’s been an eventful one and a half year for LouDre. Just like any other couple, they get into petty fights mostly sparked by jealousy. At the same time, they trust each other and they’ve both come out stronger yet malleable enough to have space for learning.  

Hindi pa full force kasi marami pa kaming pwedeng matutunan. Pero the trust is there. We had a long talk about our relationship and about how we can’t let fights turn into a big deal. Kasi hindi namin lagi nakikita ang isa’t isa. Wala doon ‘yung love language na touch, quality time, and acts of service kasi nga LDR,” shared Lou.

The Kapamilya artist used to dwell on the consequences of a long-distance relationship. But, surprisingly, she now experiences the dreaded relationship setup. There’s no room for complaining. Lou just wants to make sure this works out for the both of them. 

There are cultural differences as well. The key, according to Lou, is compromise. They both make an effort to adjust to each other’s needs and wants. 

Lou still hasn’t been used to the public attention, and most especially the bashing. Naturally opinionated, she makes an effort to watch her words and actions, knowing that people are looking up to her. She has the precious power to influence others. At the same time, the public will always have something to say. There are weaker days of course. Yet, she motivates herself harder on the days when she feels like giving up.  
In times of hurt, Lou draws her strength from Andre and her family. Above all, she holds on to her faith as the most potent weapon. When the noise becomes overwhelming, Lou simply listens to her favorite worship songs.

Lou would like people to see her as someone real and comfortable in her own skin. “It’s good to change for the better pero not everything. Hindi ko iche-change’ yung sarili ko para lang magustuhan lang ako ng tao. What you see is what you get,” she stressed. 

Giving up is never an option for this strong survivor. Her goals and purpose are clear, thus she’d remain unbothered whatever she encounters along the way because she believes that even mistakes have a purpose to serve. 

Maris Racal 

Maris Racal has gone a long way since her debut in Pinoy Big Brother. The bubbly “Singing Sunshine ng Davao” is now an actress, a recording artist, and an influencer. She recently added another item on her long list of achievements by building her own house, a dream she thought impossible. 

Ito talaga ‘yung pinapangarap ko dati. Noong bago pa lang ako sa showbiz, sa utak ko parang imposible, mangyayari man pero matagal pa. I never knew na after three or four years, magkakatotoo na siya,” shared Maris, who started to envision her own place two years after entering showbiz.

Maris has recently ventured into vlogging as well to make her free time more productive, at the same time, keep in touch with the fans. Add online schooling to her list of quarantine feat. She finished a short online course on power speech and guitar playing. Also, she went into a lock-in taping for a movie.

In her six years in the industry, Maris learned not to rush into things just because of social pressure. As a teenage girl hustling in the vast world of showbiz, Maris used to be unsure of herself. She used to see herself as a bashful girl without true friends. But eventually, things fell into their right places. 

“They will come. Ang pagiging confident mo with yourself, it will come. Kasi sa pagiging bata, kasabay na dun ‘yung insecurities and frustrations mo. If I were to talk to my younger self, sabihin ko lang, ‘Kalma ka lang,’” she said.  

The journey to her dreams, and stardom, was a bumpy road. Yet, Maris never thought of giving up. Thanks to her family especially to her sisters who continue to provide support and guidance. “Sila talaga ‘yung reason why I stay inspired at hindi ako nawala sa path. Kasi minsan ‘pag nasa showbiz ka and all, minsan nawawala ka sa goal mo,” shared Maris.  

The Kapamilya star also draws inspiration from her fans and friends, looking at support system as a pivotal element in one’s success. She feels blessed to have parents who are always present. During her PBB stint, Maris’ parents didn’t mind traveling from Davao City to Manila just to show her support.
Maris still has so much more to dreams to achieve. She wants to widen her audience, so more people could listen to her beautiful songs.