It is easy to believe that Maja Salvador had the dreamiest lockdown experience others could only wish for. She was stuck in the tranquil paradise island of Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan, so that means feasting on fresh seafood, marvelling at the summer view, and just enjoying the chill ‘buhay-probinsya’ life. All these she experienced with boyfriend Rambo Nunez and his family.
Maja would admit, however, that her quarantine life wasn’t as relaxed as it seems. There were days when even a jolly person like her would be disrupted by anxiety, since she wasn’t only dealing with the pandemic but with fearful thoughts about her home network’s situation as well. “Na-discover ko na hindi mo matatakasan ‘yung feeling na ang daming iniisip, takot ka… Na-experience ko ‘yung parang buong araw nag-iisip ako kung anong mangyayari sa future. Nagpa-panic ako,” shared Maja. The trying times made her see the glaring effects of a crisis. She realized we are all indeed equal. “Inisip ko, lahat talaga apektado – walang mayaman, walang mahirap. ‘Yung masayahin pwedeng maka-feel ng ganun, what more doon sa mas marami pang pinagdadaanan.”
During those times of uncertainties in a distant and isolated region, Maja sought comfort from the people around her. The locals’ optimism and contentment with the simple life coupled with her spirituality helped her manage her fears. “I know God will always provide kung ano man mangyari. Kailangan ang faith pa rin talaga. Kailangan matindi pa rin talaga ang kapit kay God.”
Knowing that other people had it worse, Maja and Rambo initiated #HomeButNotAlone, a relief operation that aims to provide assistance to frontliners and families most affected by the pandemic. Through the help of their friends in the industry, the lovebirds created a series of entertaining online content to collect donations from the viewers. She said, “Noong ginawa ‘yun, nagpaka-singer ako. Siyempre alam naman nilang sumasayaw ako. Then, nagpaka-trainer din ako, ‘yung mga zumba, workout ganyan. Kasi hinahanap hanap ‘yung pag-eentertain.” The charity drive helped Maja divert her fearful thoughts to hopes of a more positive and brighter future. The Kapamilya actress expressed gratitude to showbiz friends who shared their talent and time for a good cause.
After almost four months spent in the paradise island of Palawan, Maja is back to her usual hustle. Among her first assignments is to invite viewers to catch the replay of Maalaala Mo Kaya “Regalo”, first aired in 2006 and one of the drama anthology’s bests.
Maja emphasized there’s more to this tearjerker piece than just being headlined by two of the biggest thespians in the industry – Vilma Santos and Ricky Davao. It follows the life of Vilma’s Daisy Hernandez, an empowered woman and selfless mother who refused to capitulate to the sufferings of her daughter with cerebral palsy played by Maja. Talking about Vilma’s character, Maja shared, “Binigay niya lahat ng oras pati trabaho kinalimutan niya noong kinailangan siya ni April. Itinodo na niya ang pag-aalaga at pag-aaruga.” The masterpiece took one whole year of shooting, given Vilma’s limited schedule. The veteran actress had to juggle her taping days with political obligations.
Maja’s raw yet compelling portrayal as April Hernandez is a big factor in the episode’s purely excellent outcome. Her character is an epitome of strength and hope, a diligent student who never lets sickness dismantle her capacity to excel, love, and give happiness. To repay her parents’ sacrifices, April does her best as a student and a daughter. Her affectionate nature has the power to kiss her parents’ weariness goodbye.
Maja has a lot of people to thank for her enthralling performance in the episode including the Star for All Seasons herself and Director Olivia Lamasan, who artists fondly call as ‘Inang.’
This project is a memorable one for Maja. Besides working with a stellar team, she also had to audition for the role. “Nag-audition kami ni Erich Gonzales… Kahit anong luha na lumabas sa amin kulang na lang pati kaluluwa, kapag hindi niya [Direk Olivia Lamasan] naramdaman na totoo ‘yung iyak mo, hindi ka niya papahintuin,” she recalled. This was also her first project with Nadine Lustre, who portrayed the role of her younger sister.
Maja continued, “Si Inang, ang bilin sa akin, ‘Kapag nasa set ka na, hindi ka na si Maja. Ikaw na si April.’ Ang hirap na hindi mo ayusin kasi nakakahiya. Makalimutan mo lang ‘yung kamay mo, from the top ulit. Hindi magiging maganda ang flow ng storya. Hindi kakapit ang manonood kung hindi sila maniniwala na ganun ang kondisyon mo.”
“Pati pagsasalita ko nu’n, ‘pag tinanong ako ni Inang kailangan ang sagot ko as April. Hindi niya pinabitawan sa akin si April.” Maja had to knit April’s character to her own flesh, so she had to act like a cerebral palsy patient all throughout the taping day, even during her free hours on the set. She would only get to take a break for a few moments inside her car.
The experience, though challenging, made her appreciate her craft even more. And learning from the showbiz’s top calibre actress, Maja was taught that it is important to embrace the character wholeheartedly. “Sabi ni Miss Vilma, ‘Huwag mo isipin kung paano ka umiyak. Isipin mo kung paano sila mapapaiyak.’ Ibig sabihin, kailangan mo mag-dive in.”
The episode’s takeaways on selflessness, love, and quality time spent with loved ones will certainly arouse the viewer’s emotions, now that the world is plunged into a dark season of uncertainties. With these lessons in mind, Maja continued, “Huwag natin hintayin na magkaroon ng pandemic para bigyan ng oras ang ating pamilya, para mas ipakita kung paano tayo magmahal sa bawat isa.” She added that times may be trying but love, especially when unconditional, is a powerful weapon in fighting the weariness. This kind of love, Maja stressed, is what she will bring with her as she builds her own family in the future.
Star Magic’s Love from Home
With the goal of lifting other people up through their inspiring stories of optimism and love, Star Magic artists shot meaningful self-portraits in the comfort of their own home, showing a glimpse of their quarantine life. These photos were taken during the lockdown period.
Celebrities got to showcase how creative and resourceful they are behind the spotlight. Even without the usual production crew and glam team helping them during photoshoots, artists delivered stunning results with their own ‘magic.’
Maja’s entry was shot in her boyfriend’s family’s house in Puerto Prinsesa Palawan, where she spent the quarantine. The actual photoshoot was a bit easier for her. The Nunez family knew a photographer who volunteered to take her portrait.
It was a collective effort. Maja did her own make up while her personal assistant was handed the wardrobe responsibility, with minimal help from their resident stylist. “Si Ella, ‘yung aking kasama ay inutusan kong bumili na lang ng outfit. Naging stylist ko siya noong time na ‘yun, so bahala na siya no’n. Pero siyempre nagpatulong siya sa stylist namin, si Cath Sobrevega.”
It was Maja’s call to do the photoshoot as quick as possible since she didn’t want to make a scene in the Nunez household. “Alam mo ‘yung shoot na ‘yun parang wala pang isang oras. Kasi nahihiya ako sa sister ni Rambo kasi bahay ng sister niya ‘yun. Parang nanggugulo ako sa bahay ng may bahay,” she related.
“Todo pakiusap sa sister ni Rambo na, ‘Ate pwede ko bang gamitin ‘yung carpet mo, ‘yung balcony n’yo.’ Even ‘yung banyo niya.” Maja is thankful for the Nunez family’s hospitality, for the pictorial wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for their support and kindness.
The Star Magic “Love from Home” is an effort to raise funds for the ABS-CBN “Pantawid ng Pag-Ibig (Isang Daan. Isang Pamilya)” campaign.
Yes or No Challenge
Sometimes it only takes a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to get to know a person better. In this game, we’re digging deeper into Maja’s quirks and psyche as she either confirms or denies each given statement. Kicking off the game was the question, “Naranasan mo na bang hindi magpalit ng underwear for two days?” The beautiful actress said ‘no.’ Although, there are days when taking a shower becomes a struggle so real, and even Maja is guilty of this.
The Revenge Drama Queen has not yet fallen in love with a guy five years older or younger than her. “Parang 2-3 years lang lagi, nagkakataon lang,” she explained.
“Naka-more than ten takes ka na ba sa taping?” Maja’s answer was ‘yes,’ especially when everyone on the set are holding their laughter. She last experienced this on the taping of The Killer Bride with her ‘makukulit’ co-stars Joshua Garcia and Janella Salvador.
Maja doesn’t sleep naked. “Kasi malamigin ako. Kahit walang aircon kaya ko matulog nang naka-taklob.” Her fans could attest to this.
Even ‘the’ Maja Salvador gets starstruck as well and she isn’t shy to ask for a photo opportunity. Her most recent fangirl moment was seeing Maymay Entrata after her Pinoy Big Brother stint. “Hindi ko alam kung matatandaan ‘yun ni Maymay, trade launch tapos nakita ko siya. Sabi ko, ‘Uy! Maymay pa-picture naman.’ Tapos, sabi niya, ‘Hala Ma’am! Hala Ma’am! Sorry Ma’am!’ Kasi nga aliw na aliw ako sa kanya,” Maja confessed. She also owns up to feeling mesmerized with Maymay’s beauty and confidence.
As the game went on, Maja revealed that she also tries her luck in the lottery, searches about herself on Google, and takes home dessert from parties. Another fun fact about Maja – she brings home hotel laundry bags and recycles them into shoe bags.
Maja’s remedy for heartache is travelling and not bottles of alcohol. “Kapag broken-hearted ako, hindi ko dinadaan sa inom. ‘Yung lahat ng sakit ife-feel ko lang ng one week tapos the following week, wala, okay na ako. Kailangan kong maramdaman, nagiging honest ako sa sarili ko. Instead na walwal, travel, ‘yung binubuo mo sarili mo” shared Maja. The last time she got drunk was during Wildflower’s thanksgiving party.
Isa Laban sa Lahat (The Fans VS. Artist Edition)
If there are people who know Maja to the core, besides her family, these would be her devoted fans turned good friends. In this game called “Isa Laban sa Lahat (The Fans VS. Artist Edition),” three certified Maja fanatics showcase their knowledge about their idol.
The first question was, “Ano ang pinaka unang teleserye ni Maja?” Everyone got the correct answer – It Might Be You.
“Saan pinaglihi si Maja?” – the answer is sweet corn. “Kaya ‘yung buhok ko noon kakulay ng mais,” Maja revealed.
Through this challenge, we discovered that Maja’s first celebrity crush is former loveteam partner John Prats. Her first interview with Boy Abunda for The Buzz happened in 2003.
Maja received a total of 20 local and international nominations for her portrayal of the iconic role of Lily Cruz/Ivy Aguas in Wildflower. In this item, Maja wrote down a wrong answer while one fan got it right.
Maja shared that she was 21 when her romantic history with boyfriend Rambo Nunez started.