Yam, Gerald, JM on how to keep love burning, struggles in a lock-in bubble, and acting techniques

On-screen, the lead stars of Init sa Magdamag Gerald Anderson, JM De Guzman, and Yam Concepcion breathe life to a sizzling love triangle. In real life, they just love to banter and showcase their fuss-free ‘kwela’ sides.

Listen to Yam belt out a song when introduced for this interview and watch her call out her howling pet dog. We can say that one of her biggest assets is her contagious energy. The Kapamilya actress, despite playing complex roles in her current and past projects, remains real and relatable. She even calls herself ‘taong-bahay,’ thus Quarantine Season 2 wasn’t much of a hassle.

Yam expressed how she feels about the show’s premiere. “Oh my gosh! Sobrang puno ng excitement!” Keeping up with and noting his leading lady’s level of zest, Gerald said, “I’m also excited. Siyempre ‘pag mayroon kang pinaghirapan at ngayon ipapalabas na, makikita ng mga Kapamilya, to give them kahit 30 minutes a day na ma-distract muna sa mga pinagdadaanan natin, it always feels good.”

JM joined the banter, also poking fun at Yam’s animated reactions. He and Gerald would copy Yam’s “with all honesty” dialogue throughout, infusing the interview with a bit of hilarity. JM is set to appear by the second week but he is just as eager to finally see the first episodes. “Excited na ako kasi alam kong maganda talaga ‘yung mabibigay namin na istorya sa inyo.”

The actors had script reading and pre-production before the actual taping. Besides that, playing an empowered woman, nurse turned politician Rita, Yam built the character through constant collaboration with the Creatives.

Gerald portrays a community doctor, so he did his research about medical workers and he watched the Hollywood series “Grey’s Anatomy” for peg. He also had to make sure he’s mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for another lock-in taping following his stint in A Soldier’s Heart.

While taping days are unpredictable, JM makes sure he’s all geared up. He likens lock-in bubble to a battlefield, so he must come ready with acting arsenals, “’Pag sa shooting na, giyera na ‘yan, eh. Ang bala mo, nasa preparation talaga. Katulad ng sabi ni Gerald, mentally and emotionally capable ka dapat. ‘Yung sabi ni Yam na building the character, it also takes a lot of imagination. Mahirap na ‘yung trabaho, eh at kung hindi ka pa prepared, malo-lost ka.”

It takes a lot of effort to build an authentic connection with a character. But it also takes a lot of work letting go, especially during on-and-off lock-in taping. Gerald, for instance, had to unwind after their last session, “Pumunta ako sa beach area ko sa Zambales, ni-release ko na lahat. I can’t speak for everyone pero ‘pag nasa taping ako hindi ako relaxed. You have to be one hundred percent ready, so para bitawan ‘yun, napakasarap nun.”

Yam, taking on her first-ever lead, said she’s still learning to easily let go of a character. Sometimes she would carry traces of her onscreen persona even after filming, “Very confusing pa sa akin. Nalilito ako, ‘Bakit ganun ‘yung pakiramdam ko? Wala namang problema pero feeling ko may pain pa rin ako?’ May karga pa rin.”

JM can relate to the struggle as well. He thinks the most effective way is to take some solo time in a quiet place, although it would still take a lot of effort, “Reflect, balikan mo kung sino ka.”

Gerald said he resonates with his character, and it is one factor that made him grab the offer. He can relate to Tupe’s humanitarian passion. JM, on the other hand, plays troubled man Peterson, and he said he was like him during his younger days, “’Yung mga mapupusok na araw ko, wala pang disiplina.”

While she’s never been in Rita’s struggles, Yam has traits similar to that of her character. She likes to believe that they both have pure and forgiving hearts. They are supportive and determined. Just like Rita, she has strong and weak moments yet she knows how to create her own sunshine.

Working with Gerald is a wish come true for Yam. During an interview way back in 2012, she named him as her dream leading man, and it finally happened on her first lead teleserye. She told this story to Gerald and asked him to keep it a secret first. True enough, he did not tell anyone until Yam herself spilled the tea.

As reaction to Yam’s adorable prophesy, Gerald said he’s flattered.  He also lauded Yam’s admirable grit. “When someone appreciates your work and gusto kang makatrabaho, it’s always flattering. Sabi ko nga, si Yam ‘yung isa sa mga perfect examples na if you really work hard at gusto mo talaga, kasi itong industriya na ‘to maraming ups and downs, but if gusto mo talaga, mararating mo.”

Gerald, JM, and Yam believe the lock-in setup has pros and cons. On its advantages, Gerald said it’s easier to build and keep the character. The downside, though, is mental and emotional fatigue, especially during their last two cycles that lasted fifteen days. Gerald related, “Pagdating ng mga 12th to 15th day, sawang-sawa ka na. Nauumay ka na sa ginagawa mo, which is ganun naman talaga ‘pag paulit-ulit yung ginagawa mo for three weeks.”

JM thinks the setup is also more practical, “Hindi ka na gagastos ng gas. Less distraction kasi pag-uwi mo sa home base, matutulog ka na agad.” Gerald agreed, “Ang laki nga ng tipid natin pati sa pagkain.”

Yam, however, is more comfortable with the normal setup. She had less emotional fatigue before. “Kaya kong mag-taping nang buong magdamag pero at least may one day in-between to breathe kasi gamit na gamit ‘yung puso minsan nagiging manhid. Even ‘yung too much information. Sometimes, you just need to breathe and rest.” Then again, she knows she must keep up with the changes and do her job, “Laban na lang.”

In light of the show’s theme anchored on passionate love, we asked the cast how to keep love burning. JM quipped, “Paypayan mo at lagyan mo lagi ng panggatong.” Kidding aside, he touched the concept of love languages.

For Yam, a relationship won’t keep burning all the time but it can be sustained through efforts. “I don’t only look forward to the times na mainit siya. Hindi naman kailangan laging mainit. I also look forward to the times na malamig kasi ‘yun ang mga moments na magde-define sa relationship ninyo.”

Gerald continued from where Yam left off, adding that the ‘frigid’ moments, once survived, will make the relationship stronger. “’Pag malamig, doon n’yo mas makikilala ang  . May mga problema at frustrations at na-survive n’yo ‘yun at bumalik kayo sa mainit, mas mainit pa ‘yun kesa unang init ninyo.” He added that not all relationships can return to its burning point but that doesn’t make it a failure. What matters is trying to work it out. And when it becomes cold, accept the situation, respect each other, and move on.

Catch Init sa Magdamag, weeknights after Huwag Kang Mangamba, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, A2Z and iWantTFC.