Joao Constancia and Neil Coleta on preparing for their roles in MMK: “I See You Bro”

True friendship imbued with genuine love, rooted not in the sight but in the heart, is one of the most beautiful human connections. But sometimes challenges get in the way and put the relationship to the test. For Maalaala Mo Kaya’s next offering “I See You, Bro,” Joao Constancia and Neil Coleta sketch an inspiring brotherhood that transcends disability and misunderstandings.

Before “I See You Bro” airs this Saturday, Joao and Neil joined us for an afternoon of ‘kwentuhan’ in this episode of Kapamilya Chat. The actors shared their experience of working together for the first time and under the new normal.

Neil mentioned that they grew closer. Besides, the bonding helped them radiate onscreen camaraderie. They also made sure to arrive on the set ready for their scenes. Neil was honest to admit that he wishes to explore other characters as well, although he isn’t the type to turn down projects. He simply gives his best in any assigned role. 

Often tapped to play the best friend, Neil said he was rather scared to be typecast in gay roles. “Doon ako natatakot ma-typecast kasi baka masanay ‘yung mga tao, ‘yung viewers na puro gay role ang ginagawa ko. Pero hindi rin kasi gano’n kadali gumawa ng gay roles.”

While this may be a ‘first’ for Joao, he’s been an avid viewer of the drama anthology back in his hometown in Macau that’s why he was nervous and happy upon getting the call. “This is a heavy drama show. Wow! I can’t believe I’m doing MMK,” he said.  

Playing a visually-impaired man, Joao prepared for the role by watching online documentaries about blind people so to understand how they move and live. He also did his research about the character’s glaucoma condition. His acting coach also asked him to watch Al Pacino’s “Scent of a Woman.” Add to that his effort to perfect his Tagalog skills.

Albeit nervous, he did not hesitate to take on the role, saying to be part of MMK is a big honor.  He’s also impressed with the story. Neil feels the same, adding that MMK is both a challenge and a blessing, “Pagdating sa MMK, heavy drama so doon lalabas ‘yung pagiging aktor mo. Doon lalabas kung paano ka magmahal sa trabaho at kung paano mo nilalagay sa puso ‘yung ginagawa mo.” Neil thought he had to gear up after a year-long break from dramas.

They thought of the lock-in setup as an advantage, albeit there are challenging parts as well. Joao noted how it made taping more organized and scheduled. They also had extra time to throw lines and get ready for the scenes. Both actors were open to each other’s pointers and advice. Neil added that the rules and schedules are good training for discipline and time management. They had to wake up at 7 AM and be on the location by 9 AM. They had to limit social interaction as well.

For Joao, this episode imparts lessons about time and communication, a fitting reminder to treasure relationships especially during the pandemic. He said conflict is a normal part of friendships but what matters is the willingness to repair its broken parts. It all boils down to forgiveness and being happy for each other’s happiness. The foundation of a healthy friendship is trust, according to him.

Neil further talked about the role of open communication in sustaining friendships. He owned up to having trouble with pride. He once cut communication with a friend in high school because of a misunderstanding. But as he grew older, and like what he learned in this episode, he realized that the connection is more important than feeding the ego. Joao agreed and added that he isn’t the type to hold grudges.

Joao believes that the person we love can also hurt us the most, saying the pain comes as much as the love given. Neil also had some love wisdom to share: “Kapag ikaw nagmahal, tanggapin mo rin na masasaktan ka. Pero ang pinaka-importante, sa tagal ng panahon na ‘yun ay natuto ka.”

Catch MMK: I See You Bro this Saturday, March 27 on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z. The episode is directed by Dado Lumibao.