Despite going through tough times this pandemic, Arjo Atayde still has a lot of blessings, including acting feats, to be thankful for.

Just like most artists who haven’t been able to work as much since the quarantine, Arjo Atayde misses the hustle especially his Kapamilyas on the set. Thankfully, he recently dived back in for a two-part episode guesting for the drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya wherein he portrays a hero doctor.

Albeit his passion never waned, the filming set-up has been drastically changed by the “new normal.” Arjo expressed hints of sadness comparing the then and now. Yet, he knows everyone must learn to make the most of what’s available and follow the safety rules.

Aside from the thrice-a-week fitness time with his siblings, the actor keeps sane by having people to talk with. For that, he has his girlfriend and family. And at the end of the day, it all boils down to keeping a hopeful attitude.

This year, his wanderlust had to take a backseat due to travel restrictions. He was even surprised to know that he can also turn into a ‘taong-bahay.’ So, while cooped up inside the house, he tried to explore new interests and skills like cooking.

As cliché and difficult as it may sound, Arjo believes that positivity starts within oneself. Either way, whatever situation we are in, survival begins with the way we want to see things. Not that he’s trying to downplay other people’s struggles but he simply has a strong sense of hope, believing that things will eventually get better.

Speaking of better things, Arjo shares the good news about Hanggang Saan, the Kapamilya drama he top-billed alongside his mother in 2017, as the first Filipino teleserye adapted in Turkey with the international title “A Mother’s Guilt.”

“The feeling is surreal. It’s been such a journey doing it with my mom. It was such an experience. It was teamwork, collaborative,” he said of this honor. Arjo doesn’t forget to credit his co-actors as well, saying this feat belongs to everyone in the show. Just ending the series on a high note was more than enough of a reward for their hard work, thus the international adaptation sets the validation much, much higher. “’Yung pagod mo, parang mas nagbunga pa lalo,” he added.

The pride and honor don’t end there as he recently won Best Actor in a Leading Role at this year’s Asian Academy Creative Award for his performance in the iWant series “Bagman.”

Arjo is the type who never expects validation from award-giving bodies, albeit he’s grateful and feeling truly blessed. It hasn’t even sunk in yet. He was even clueless when he started to receive congratulatory messages.

The awarding ceremony will be held in Singapore. And as much as he wants to be there, he thinks it would be impossible to fly due to travel restrictions.

Topping off the plethora of major accomplishments, thus far, is his special appearance for the freshest episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya marking the program’s 29th anniversary. Arjo struggles to explain how he feels about this opportunity but settles for “grateful” and “happy.”

Arjo was welcomed by a lot of changes on the set. They were on a lock-in taping for five days making sure that protocols are strictly followed. Since it is only his first time diving into the “new normal” work setting, he couldn’t pinpoint the better and worse parts yet. Maybe, soon, he can take on another project and experience being in a bigger taping bubble.

MMK’s first episode since the lockdown will pay tribute to Dr. Israel Bactol, a young cardiologist who died while fulfilling his duties as a doctor during the pandemic. The hero doctor’s life story will be narrated in a special two-part episode, with the first one highlighting his highs and lows with his family and the second one baring his love story with fellow physician Dr, Lerma Iglesia (Jane De Leon).

WATCH: MMK Doctor Free Trailer

Arjo himself had meaningful discoveries about the life of doctors, how they are different while on and off their duties, and how they are as human as we all are. Calling it as “one of the best stories” he’s known, Arjo said the episode will impart lessons on unconditional love and dreams anchored on a strong calling for service.

Arjo singled out the ‘hospital bed’ scene shown in the trailer wherein his character was left in the hospital room in isolation. He thanked Director Dado Lumibao for being so collaborative and for helping him pull off that challenging scene

Playing his mother is his own mom, Sylvia Sanchez. It’s their third project together, thus it no longer feels as strange as the first time. He also talked about his first time working with Jane De Leon, saying she’s a good actress and easy to get along with.

The first part of MMK ‘Doctor Free’ episode will air tomorrow, November 28, starring Arjo Atayde, Sylvia Sanchez, Jane De Leon, Hero Angeles, Aldrin Angeles, and Rommel Padilla.