It’s been over a decade since Zaijian Jaranilla made his acting debut via Kapamilya series May Bukas Pa. The wide-eyed little boy has grown into a fine young man. Yet, people still call him ‘Santino’ to this day, a sign of the iconic character’s everlasting impact on Pinoy viewers.
After May Bukas Pa, he appeared in a slew of teleseryes and movies that highlighted his brilliance as a child and teen actor. In this episode of Kapamilya React, our favorite miracle boy looks back on his past portrayals and shares his fondest memories on the set.
May Bukas Pa (2009)
The show that skyrocketed Zaijian to stardom was a game changer. It tackled spirituality and miracles, quite a new material for the primetime block usually dominated by love stories and heavy dramas. As a child wonder, he gifted viewers with inspiration and he taught them to always be faithful to Bro.
While he had a big role to portray, Zaijian had a work-play balance on the set. He felt no pressure and he wasn’t aware of Santino’s transforming effect on people’s lives. Today, Zaijian loves hearing his former co-stars’ anecdotes on his performance and adorable childhood shenanigans. He never stops thanking the people who loved his now-iconic character.
After the massive success of May Bukas Pa, Zaijian once again stole hearts in the fantaserye Noah which championed environment conservation. The young Zaijian topbilled the series with no less than Piolo Pascual and was joined by an ensemble cast of big stars.
Zaijian shed off Santino’s bubbly character and took on Eli’s jungle boy persona. “Basta ang sinabi lang sa akin, mag-acting ka na parang unggoy, nakayuko lagi,” shared Zaijian.
And as a jungle boy, he also donned hair extensions for the show. “Bilang bata, iritable ‘yung ganoong feeling. Hindi ko alam kung paano ko natiis ‘yung extensions ko na suotin ‘yun ng buong araw kasi nga ang init-init, nasa gubat kami lagi. ‘Pag nag-harness kami sobrang hirap pero sobrang saya kasi ‘di naman ako takot sa heights,” he said.
Ipaglaban Mo (2018)
As he transitioned from a charming boy to a teenage heartthrob, Zaijian started to take on more challenging portrayals. In 2018, he displayed an excellent performance as a rebellious student who ended up killing his teacher played by Dimples Romana in an episode of Ipaglaban Mo.
It was his first time portraying a murderer, thus it became a test of his talent. Apart from the guidance of his co-stars and director, Zaijian also took inspiration from crime movies and contemplated the character’s thoughts.
On the death scene, Zaijian shared, “Nakakatawa po ‘yun, eh. Kasi hindi po pwedeng gumamit ng totoong kutsilyo ‘di ba? Pagkasaksak ko po kay Tita Dimples, bigla pong nabali ‘yung kutsilyo tapos nag-cut kasi kita po ‘yun sa camera.”
From drama to dark crime, Zaijian conquered action next via epic fantaserye Bagani where he played Liksi. Not only has he won plaudits for his performance, he also impressed viewers with his well-toned physique. Zaijian credits their vigorous Wushu and Parkour lessons.
“Sobrang saya po ng mga action scenes kasi one year din po ako nag-prepare. Nag-train kami ng Wushu tapos nag-training kami ng Parkour para prepared ‘yung katawan namin. Feeling ko po, sa Bagani naging fit ‘yung katawan ko,” he said.
Zaijian also looked back on the fun times he had with co-stars led by Liza Soberano, Enrique Gil, Matteo Guidicelli, and Makisig Morales.
“Ang dami pong memorable moments lalo na pag off-cam, ’yung mga artists magkakasama po kami sa isang tent. Kahit pagod kasi nga puro action tapos malayo kami, sa Bulacan area kami, kahit pagod, ang saya ng set namin,” he added. Zaijian dreams of doing another action series in the future.
Watch Zaijian react to his past television appearances!