No projects, no food: Why Herlene Budol would rather be tired than jobless
While she did admit that she has a lot on her plate at the moment, Herlene Budol belied reports that her other gigs and projects caused scheduling conflicts and taping delays in her upcoming television series, “Magandang Dilag.”
“My other engagements were also obligations. But they weren’t an issue. It’s give and take when it comes to scheduling. I don’t know where that came from. But still, I’m thankful for the write-ups. Good or bad, publicity is still publicity,” Herlene told reporters at a recent press conference for the said afternoon show.
“No, [I didn’t cause delays],” she stressed. “I respect my co-actors a lot. I value their time.”
Herlene first gained recognition in 2019 as co-host in Willie Revillame’s now-defunct variety show “Wowowin,” where she was dubbed “Hipon Girl.” She ventured into acting, doing guest appearances and playing supporting roles in episodic shows like “Magpakailanman” and “One of the Baes.”
In 2022, Herlene tried her luck in the pageant world. She surprised fans by entering the Binibining Pilipinas where she finished first runner-up and won seven special awards. She is also set to compete in the upcoming Miss Grand Philippines pageant.
But perhaps her biggest achievement yet is landing her first soap opera lead role via “Magandang Dilag.”
Herlene is striking while the iron is hot. It can get exhausting and overwhelming at times, she admitted, but she can’t afford to stop working: She comes from a humble background and is a family breadwinner.
“’Di baleng walang tulog. Napapagod ako pero ‘pag ‘di ako napagod wala kaming pera, pagkain, kahit ano. It’s much better to tire yourself doing something worthwhile instead of doing nothing. Pagod, pawis at dugo ang puhunan ko,” she said.
Is she worried about being burned out if she carries on with this kind of schedule? “Walang sawa dito. Ang kapal naman ng mukha ko kung ganun. A lot of people dream of having the same opportunities I’m blessed with… I won’t take anything for granted. I will love my career and take care of it,”she said.
The show, which airs weekday afternoons starting June 26, follows Gigi (Herlene), a woman who tries her best to maintain a positive outlook in life despite being deemed physically unattractive by the people around her. Her world turns upside down when she inherits an enormous fortune from her estranged father.
Gigi falls in love with the man of her dreams, Jared (Rob Gomez), a prominent triathlete and endorser. She’s unaware Jared is actually in a relationship with the rising politician named Blaire (Maxine Medina), and the two are only out to fool her and steal her money. Luckily, lawyer Eric (Benjamin Alves) comes along and shows genuine concern for Gigi.
Director Don Michael Perez said he had very little expectation of Herlene doing a heavy drama project because he used to see her merely as a comedian. Herlene proved him wrong in the end.
“She was born ready for this role, I would like to believe,” Don Michael said. “When I came in, they had already done some preparations. I knew her only as a comedian. But I was told that the show was a vehicle to launch Herlene as a dramatic actress. I didn’t expect much. But I was surprised. Kayang-kaya pala niya. For a relatively newcomer, she has good acting skills.”
The biggest challenge for Herlene is memorizing lines. Her brain cells, she joked, are just at level two of 10. She found out that writing down her script was what works for her.
“When I was in college I used to cut classes when there was a recitation scheduled. Now, it’s my obligation to read and memorize so I do my best. I read my lines first and then write them down one by one—even my co-actors’ lines,” she related.
Her efforts aren’t lost on her veteran co-actors, Chanda Romero and Sandy Andolong, who had nothing but good words not only about Herlene’s work ethic, but also for her humor and her genuine, what-you-see-is-what-you-get personality.
“I was amazed when I saw her with all her notes on yellow pages. So I was like, ‘Oh this girl means business,’ Chanda related. “I was hoping that she would have the same level of dedication until the end of taping. And she did even if she was tired and had a lot to do. She respects her colleagues, our time and effort. She knows that this is a craft.”
A piece of advice
It’s hard not to love Herlene, Sandy added, because the young actress is “real, honest and has no pretensions.”
“She’s courteous and eager to learn and become a good actor. She wants to make a name for herself. She takes care of her family—that’s a big thing for me. I like that they’re her top priority. It was easy to get close with her. We see her as a daughter,” Sandy said, adding that the role of Gigi suits Herlene well.
“If I could give her a piece of advice, I would just tell her to continue being honest and genuine… She comes on time, prepared, so no problems about that,” she added. “She writes down her lines and she’s not shy about it. It just shows that she really wants to learn.”
Herlene couldn’t be more grateful for the guidance of her seniors. And it didn’t hurt that Sandy and Chandy fed her during taping.
“You will never grow hungry with them. They always have my favorite food like tuna and lollipops. I appreciate their guidance because I never imagined I would be able to even talk to them. I asked them if they could slap me, but they didn’t want to. It would have been an honor,” she said, laughing.
In some ways, this new milestone in Herlene’s career feels bittersweet. It was her grandmother’s dream to see the beauty queen-turned-actress star in her soap. Unfortunately, her Nanay Bireng passed away last year.
“Sayang ‘di niya naabutan. But I hope she’s proud. I love you! I’m super happy and I hope you can see me right now,” she said.