Child star Jana Agoncillo’s welfare is top priority
With 5-year-old Jana Agoncillo as its lead star, the production team of ABS-CBN’s “Ningning” said it had to consult a psychologist and a psychiatrist to safeguard the child’s best interests.
“Our main consideration is always what the child feels. We make it a point to talk to her parents about her moods and needs. We also consult Star Magic (the Kapamilya network’s talent management arm),” said business unit head Ginny Ocampo.
Ocampo said it also helped that Agoncillo “is mature for her age. She is able to express her feelings. She is a bright kid. She amazes all of us. We also made it our priority to always keep in touch with her parents.”
Agoncillo was first seen in the series “Dream Dad,” which also starred Zanjoe Marudo and Beauty Gonzalez.
Writer Mel Mendoza-del Rosario said the difference between Agoncillo’s previous project and the new show was that the old one was about “a group of people who were not related by blood but considered themselves family.”
“Ningning,” Del Rosario said, recounts a family’s journey from the province to the city, as seen through the eyes of a child. She explained: “The inspiration is a child’s innocence.”
Ketchup Eusebio, who was also part of “Dream Dad,” plays Agoncillo’s father in the new series. “I learned a lot from Zanjoe in terms of how he handled his relationship with Jana in ‘Dream Dad.’ With the guidance of our director (Jeffrey Jeturian) and the rest of the staff, I was able to maintain a good relationship with Jana. It was hard at first. I don’t have a kid of my own,” Eusebio shared with the Inquirer.
The actor added: “I befriended Jana. We’re like buddies. I’m not strict with her. I observed how she is with her real-life dad, Jason. It also helped that I have a 4-year-old niece at home.”
Gonzalez said playing mom to Agoncillo in the series was initially challenging.
“I know that it is part of my job as an actor to play any character well. Little by little, I became comfortable with the idea,” she said. “I eventually learned different techniques in interacting with Jana. Instead of pushing her to do stuff, I now try to encourage her to follow my example.”
She said Agoncillo is very easy to work with. “I now enjoy being her mom.”
Sylvia Sanchez plays Mamay, Agoncillo’s grandmother in the series. “Before working on the series, I’ve always wondered why [some] grandmothers love their grand kids more than their own children. I’ve finally found the answer.”
Sanchez added: “Because of my experience with Jana, I’m now ready to be a lola. I already know how to shower my would-be grandchild with love without spoiling him or her. I promise to teach the kid good values.”
The series, partly shot in San Vicente, Palawan, premiered on Monday. It also features Vandolph Quizon, Nyoy Volante, Mercedes Cabral, Pooh and Nonie Buencamino.
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