How Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez survived love lockdown test
For Carla Abellana, spending the past year in quarantine with her boyfriend, Tom Rodriguez, has been a relationship-building experience.
“We were used to not seeing each other all the time when we have work. When Tom is shooting a soap, he’s always out and vice versa. But this 2020, Tom and I spent most of our time together,” she said at a recent virtual conference for her GMA 7 drama series, “Love of My Life,” which resumes airing new episodes on Dec. 28.
It was quite the challenge, Carla said, as the two of them juggle household chores and the ever-evolving work setups and production amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Work from home was difficult at first, because we had no cameramen, lighting director, etc. We had to do everything ourselves. We had to acquire or upgrade our equipment,” she said. “Of course, we have to do housework. But eventually, we figured out a system that works.”
She wasn’t afraid to admit that she and Tom did have misunderstandings once in a while. But that’s OK, she said, because such challenges only helped them grow as a couple. “The pandemic tested us. We learned a lot from each other. I would say that our relationship became even stronger,” she said.
How do they deal with disagreements? “We give each other time. That’s how it has always been for us, even before the pandemic,” she said. “We’re quick to reflect and apologize. We don’t let such things go unresolved. We talk about them, because we don’t want to end the day on a negative note.”
And more importantly, the couple refrains from playing the blame game. “We have to keep in mind that all these things are new to us, and that we have different ways of dealing with them,” pointed out Carla, who has been dating Tom for six years now.
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old Kapuso star said she’s grateful that her soap wasn’t scrapped or canned. “I’m just happy that I have work to come back to. The beginning of the quarantine was very difficult, but the past month has been busy,” she said.
In “Love of My Life,” Carla plays Adelle, a widowed single mother, who falls in love with a well-off architect, who later on gets diagnosed with a terminal illness. Getting back to character, after an extended break from acting, was quite “overwhelming, she admitted.
“There was a particular scene where I had to cry, and control from which eye the tear should fall. I was able to do that before—and I’m usually able to—but just I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t cry even after trying everything. It was my first time to experience something like that. Usually, I can cry with or without preparation. That’s why I felt pressured.”
Since the soap had to be finished via locked-in taping, some compromises had to be made. “There were plot adjustments. Some of the characters are no longer there, like the kids who are not allowed to work at the moment. And we could no longer tape at the mansion that we had already established as our home,” she said.
Like most people, Carla can’t wait for this trying year to end. But still, there’s no telling how the next one will unfold. We shouldn’t let our guard down, she stressed. “It has been a difficult year, especially for those who lost loved ones. So we should continue to be careful, mindful. We should always be on our toes. While we’re all excited for 2020 to end, we have to make sure we take with us the things we learned. And it doesn’t mean that COVID-19 will just disappear.”
And unlike last year, Carla will be keeping her expectations and plans for 2021 conservative. “I know we have been raring to do the things we couldn’t this year. But I won’t take unnecessary risks. Usually, I book flights in advance for our family trips,” she said. “This time, we will just focus on making up for the lost time.”
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