Khalil Ramos, Ashley Ortega tackle Gen Z problems in ‘As If It’s True’ | Inquirer Entertainment

Khalil Ramos, Ashley Ortega tackle Gen Z problems in ‘As If It’s True’

/ 12:14 AM July 21, 2023

Scene from “As If It’s True”

Scene from “As If It’s True”

Ashley Ortega and Khalil Ramos, stars of the indie drama “As If It’s True,” said working on the film forced them to step out of their comfort zone because they had to shoot several “intimate scenes” on their first day at work.

The film by John Rogers is an entry to the 2024 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, which will run from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18.


“When I first read the script, I got nervous because there were intimate scenes that I would be doing for the first time ever in my show biz career. But since I want to grow as an actress, I said ‘yes.’ This role really pushed me to my limits,” Ashley told Inquirer Entertainment during a recent luncheon hosted by Cinemalaya.


“I was lucky that Khalil was my partner here. I never felt uneasy around him, especially when we had to do our intimate scenes. He’s a professional. Off-cam, we were given the chance to work on our relationship by having long conversations. I guess this was why when we were already in front of the camera, we looked comfortable being with each other,” she observed.

Khalil said it helped that they attended acting workshops together prior to filming. “It’s very important that trust is established between actors. I remember our workshop moderator telling us to sit face-to-face and then say to each other how much we trust one another,” he recalled. “She was very supportive, too. Sobrang game siya! I was very happy that she easily felt at ease around me. It was important that we didn’t look awkward.”

Ashley Ortega

Ashley Ortega

Love and exploitation

Ashley plays Gemma Watson, a social media influencer or content creator who is burning out from trying to maintain the interest of her followers. She meets James (Khalil), a struggling musician suffering from depression. They enter into a relationship with the mutual intent to capitalize on the other. Gemma uses James for content by presenting him as a perfect aspirational romantic partner, while James leeches off Gemma’s wealth and connections to further his own music career. But, as time passes, their intentions don’t pan out as they expect, and a blur forms between real love and exploitation.

Khalil explained why it wasn’t too hard to say “yes” to the project. “Ever since the pandemic, I’ve been itching to go back to making movies. Second, the story is really compelling. It explores a lot of problems that the new generation is facing. We know that the platforms where artists express themselves are changing. Social media has emerged,” he began. “This film tackles that problem of the Z Generation in relation to how to stay authentic, and deciding whether or not to show what’s really happening in your life to [the] public.”

When Khalil was asked whether the scenes he did in the film would make his real-life girlfriend Gabbi Garcia jealous, he said: “Gabbi and I are very lucky that our relationship has a strong foundation. We both understand the nature of our work, and we’re very professional about it. Gabbi is happy with all the projects that I do. I am, too, with hers. The intimate scenes are not the highlight of this film. It’s the story of two people finding out what love in their generation really is.”

He also said he’d love to do another project with Gabbi, but there is nothing lined up for them soon. “Right now, I’m also focused on ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ We have daily rehearsals. I’m super excited about that. I’m very much aware of people’s expectations. I always think about that before I sleep at night,” he said.

Khalil Ramos

Khalil Ramos

Career plans

Khalil will alternate for the lead role of John with primary actor Jef Flores. The musical will run in August. “I’m so nervous, especially because the songs are all so high and difficult to sing. I’m lucky because the entire cast and crew would always encourage me and cheer me on,” he added.

As for Ashley, who boldly declared that she is currently single, she said she would rather focus on her career at the moment. “I’d rather not dwell on why the right guy is still absent in my life. I’m glad I was busy shooting for both ‘Hearts on Ice’ and ‘As If It’s True,’” she said. “I’m on break starting this month. I taped for ‘Hearts on Ice’ for seven months, and now I want to travel. Although I’m not totally saying ‘no’ to dating, I’m just not looking for someone new right now.”

Ashley also said she would not turn down offers to portray “sexy roles” in the future, especially if the story is “something that would make me grow as an actress.” She added: “I’m done with playing pa-cute characters. For example, I was shocked when I first read about the intimate scenes in this movie, but after reading the entire script, I said I’d do it because I know it would really challenge me.”

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“As If It’s True” is coproduced by IdeaFirst Company. The 19th edition of Cinemalaya will be screened at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

TAGS: Ashley Ortega, Cinemalaya, Khalil Ramos

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