Lovi on her dad FPJ, Maricel Soriano and the sky-high expectations for ‘Batang Quiapo’
While actress-singer Lovi Poe admits that she is her own harshest critic, she said that she also allows herself to enjoy a pat on the back for a job well done.
In fact, when she performed in the concert “Some Kind of Valentine” with Christopher de Leon, Edgar Mortiz and Tirso Cruz III last Feb. 3 and 4, Lovi told us how thrilled she was to pull off singing her cover of Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
And if you’ve seen a video of that particular rendition like we have, you’ll be impressed as much by Lovi’s larger-than-life presence as the toe-curling and diva-channeling vocal runs that were distinctly her own!
“It’s been a long time since I last performed onstage, so I was so happy to perform songs that people didn’t expect me to sing, like ‘Natural Woman’ (laughs),” she told us in a one-on-one chat last Friday, arranged by Dreamscape Entertainment, the team behind “FPJ’s Batang Quiapo,” which premiered last Monday. “After the concert, I was so happy I couldn’t sleep … because singing is my first love. I got home exhausted but happy, because my adrenaline was so high!
“Sobrang saya ko, so feeling ko, pumikit lang ang mata ko. So when I woke up the next day, I was still so happy. There’s truly nothing more exciting than the instant feedback you get from a live audience.”
Well, we reckon Lovi isn’t getting much sleep these days, given the string of high-profile and critically acclaimed projects she topbills.
The impressive list includes the eagerly anticipated TV series “Batang Quiapo,” international starrers like “The Chelsea Cowboy” (with Alex Pettyfer) and another one that has just begun filming (she left the country last Valentine’s Day to shoot her scenes), as well as Lovi’s back-to-basics foray into provocative indie films like “Latay.”
Last week, we chased the elusive “Latay (Battered Husband)” from Glorietta 4 to SM Megamall, before we finally caught a screening of it at SM Sta. Mesa. And we’re glad we did, because director Ralston Jover’s gut-wrenching psychological drama happens to be the best and most fully realized local film we’ve seen so far this year.
It’s about a Taiwan-bound OFW, Lorie (Lovi, as convincing as she is scary), who uses her remorseful husband Olan’s (Allen Dizon, similarly exceptional) impending infidelity as an excuse to verbally and physically abuse him.
Despite her fashionista image, the 34-year-old actress once again proves she can get down and dirty when she needs to get under the skin of a complex character. It is a testament to the actress potent thespic chops that you don’t see her as a kontrabida through and through because she manages to “clarify” Lorie’s soul-crushing cruelty.
Lovi’s participation in Coco Martin’s “Batang Quiapo” is also one of the brand-new series’ biggest draws—along with the casting of some of Tinseltown’s most enduring actors, like Tommy Abuel—because it’s inspired by one of the biggest blockbusters of Philippine show biz’s action king Fernando Poe Jr.
FPJ passed away on Dec. 14, 2004, six years before Lovi began winning much-deserved acting awards for “Mayohan” (at Cinemalaya) and “Sagrada Familia” (Famas). She is consistently terrific, even in films that don’t quite live up to their promise.
Asked what it is about a particular project that she says yes to, Lovi mused, “If it’s something new and it challenges me, it’s almost always a yes. I go for something that scares and excites me at the same time. I do it if it makes me a little nervous or when I have a lot of questions about a role I want answered.”
No brainer for Lovi
As for “Batang Quiapo,” Lovi said that accepting the offer to do the series has been a no brainer for her.
“The No. 1 reason for me to do ‘Batang Quiapo’ is because, as I often say in interviews, it’s one of my favorite movies of my dad, which also starred Maricel Soriano (her costar in the 2014 TV series ‘Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real’),” she explained. “Another great reason is that it’s a Coco Martin series … I’ve always wanted to work with him.”
“Batang Quiapo” was released 37 years ago. What sets the series apart from the movie and the TV adaptation of “Probinsyano”?
“What sets this series apart from the movie is that, as Coco mentioned, he made sure the show is nothing close to the film because he wants to give it a different flavor. ‘Probinsyano’ was on air for seven strong years, so in my head, I thought living up to that would definitely be a daunting task. I’ve seen parts of it and, I must admit, ‘Probinsyano’ would be hard to beat.
“But when I watched ‘Batang Quiapo’s’ pilot episode recently, I was in awe of it, to be honest. It’s like I was watching an international action series. Ito ‘yung klaseng show where I’ll have nobody talk to me while I watch and munch on something at the same time (laughs). You’ll know what I mean when you see it.”
No, Lovi isn’t reviving Maricel’s character, Lovi reiterated. “It’s a different character—and they really changed the story. I play Mokang, whose story resonates with me in more ways than one. Mokang wants to get out of there and flourish. She has a lot of dreams, so she goes to school and saves for her future—and that’s something I relate to, because I’m one person who just wants to keep growing.”
Soriano’s iconic screen slaps
Speaking of Maricel Soriano, we asked Lovi in jest if she also became a “recipient” of the beloved Diamond Star’s dreaded “high-velocity, high-impact, amnesia-inducing” screen slaps when they costarred in “Mrs. Real.”
“Yes, of course!” she said, laughing. “But you know what? She didn’t slap me hard. I remember her telling me, ‘Ayokong sampalin ka ng malakas … ’ Nag-alalay talaga si Ms Maricel, that’s why I love her so much. So, thank you, Ms Maricel! She is great in dramas, but she was also in hilarious comedies that I’m obsessed with—there’s nobody quite like her.”
We also asked Lovi if her dad was aware that she wanted to pursue a career in show biz. Did FPJ have any tips for her in that regard?
“Yes, my dad knew about it,” she said. “But actually, it was more of an advice than tips, like ‘Let’s wait for the right moment …’ Same with my mom, who wanted a different direction for me because she knows how challenging it is. But look where I still ended up (laughs)!”
We know that Lovi’s heart is in a happy place these days (thanks to her boyfriend, Monty Blencowe), but since it’s the Valentine month, we asked her to recall how she recovered from past heartbreaks and when she knew she had moved on.
“Gosh, you mean when you’re ‘ready to kiss other people again’ (laughs)?” she said. “Actually, that’s a line from one of my favorite songs, Lennon Stella’s ‘Kissing Other People.’ A lyric of the song asks, ‘How do you really know that you’re not holding on anymore?’ And it says you have moved on when you’re ready to kiss other people again. It’s such a beautiful song!
“Sometimes, you’re not ready to move on, but you have no choice but pick yourself up and carry on with your life. That person has become part of our day-to-day routine, so breaking up is like getting rid of a habit—and that’s what is most painful about it. We got used to having that person around.
“So, it’s a process that you really have to take. And before you know it, hindi mo namamalayang nakapag-move on ka na pala. Then, one fine day, you realize he’s no longer part of your routine, and you don’t think about him anymore.”
Lovi asserted: “It’s sad, yes. But think of it this way: Every heartbreak is a step closer to the right person.” INQ