Young but not restless
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - April 5, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Barbie Forteza and Joshua Dionisio may have it made as stars of the hit GMA teleseries First Time. But off-cam, Barbie, 12 and Joshua, 15, act more like playmates than the loveteam that they are on-cam.

Barbie won’t mind if Joshua playfully describes her as cheerful but makulit, because that’s what she calls herself.

Barbie admits Joshua found her so funny in one serious scene in Stairway to Heaven, their first starrer together, he burst out laughing.

Asked what gift each has given the other, Joshua blurts out: “A brand called Buhin! As in Tatakbuhin!”

Unfazed, Barbie retorts, “I gave him a Tomato brand which I just saw lying around in stores,” she counters.

Barbie teases Joshua about his chinky eyes, which she says gets too small she can’t see them anymore when he laughs. Joshua shoots back by telling everyone Barbie still plays like a kid on the set.

Instead of taking offense, Barbie admits, “Yes, naglalaro pa kami ng taguan ng mga pinsan ko.”

The ribbing is so natural and spontaneous, you catch yourself laughing.

And that’s where their secret lies. Barbie and Joshua are friends off-cam. Like all good friends, they don’t wear masks or create images for the other.

Their teleseries may dwell on puppy love. But they know that in real life, this is something that has never entered their mind, yet.

“I’m still too young to fall in love,” Barbie says.

Joshua agrees. He goes, “Trabaho lang, walang personalan ito.”

Both know they just happened to be in the right place and at the right time. Their tandem, first tested as the young Cholo and Jodi in Stairway to Heaven, hit it off at the very instance it debuted on TV.

Barbie and Joshua never thought things would come to such a head.

“I didn’t think we will have a follow-up project this soon after Stairway,” admits Barbie.

Joshua offers an explanation. “It must be the good story,” he observes.

Whatever it is, their growing following is teaching him how to slowly get out of his shell.

 “I’m shy,” he admits. So facing shrieking fans and shaking their hands during mall tours is an ordeal.

Barbie is also adjusting to her growing popularity.

“Whenever I go to the mall, I go straight to where I want to buy something. No more hanging around,” she says.

Otherwise, the fans will swarm around her.

This Angelica Panganiban lookalike is getting just what she wished for when she was still trying to make her mark through her beautiful long hair and killer smile in TV commercials like the one for Jollibee, which she did at age 10.

Back then, Barbie recalls walking along EDSA and not getting a single sign of recognition from anyone. She would also line up and audition for roles like any untested talent would.

“All I wanted back then was to see myself on TV,” she recalls.

Television has not only granted Barbie’s wish. It has also made her a star. The juicy role of Cindy Gomez in First Time just landed on her lap.

She has fans from all over. Barbie even considers one of them, who is based in Alaska as her best friend.

“It all started when she commented on my Nido commercial via YouTube,” recalls Barbie. She liked what she read and sent a thank you note. They have been exchanging friendly messages since.

Now, Barbie can buy her favorite things, like pairs upon pairs of shoes and earrings. But she can no longer watch those romantic movies she’s so fond of, like Twilight, in the mall. The price of fame dictates that she contents herself with DVDs.

Joshua, for his part, can buy several black leather jackets that make him look like his idol, Robin Padilla.

Fame and fortune don’t sweep them off their feet, though. They may be young. But Barbie and Joshua know they need fallback positions.

Thus, both are holding on to their studies. Barbie is still in the grades while Joshua is a high school distance learning student.

Barbie wants to take up Hotel and Restaurant Management and become a chef. Joshua was so fascinated when he went to a chiropractor’s office to for a check-up, he wants to become one someday.

Joshua’s shift from ABS-CBN to GMA taught him this early that nothing is permanent, especially in showbiz. Things happen when you least expect it.

“I stayed with Star Magic for seven years. I auditioned for Stairway to Heaven. Now, I’m so happy with the way things are going. It’s just now that I’m being recognized like this.”

It was for the ABS-CBN drama series Maalaala Mo Kaya that Joshua won the PMPC (Philippine Movie Press Club) Star Awards for Television Best Single Performance by an Actor trophy.

Joshua starred in Panday with Jericho Rosales and played one of the lead roles in Kung Fu Kids.

His one big dream is starring in a TV sitcom someday. Joshua may strike you as a serious guy like Lucas Ynfante, his character in First Time. But a brief chat with him shows there’s a kookiness trapped inside that serious face of his.

“I worked with Bayani Agbayani once, and I can’t wait to try what he’s doing,” Joshua explains.

Barbie has her own wish list as an actress.

“I want to grow, to learn. That’s why I dream of playing a cuckoo or a blind person,” she reveals.

Figures why her idols are dramatic actresses like Sharon Cuneta, Cherie Gil and Judy Ann Santos. Marian Rivera is also on the list.

Barbie has also made a couple of movies, like the Metro Filmfest entries Wapakman and Ang Darling Kong Aswang.

A full-blown movie with Joshua would be welcome.

“But the story must be different, so we can present something new to our followers,” reveals Joshua.

This teenager knows his limits as much as he does his capabilities. The attitude is amazing and refreshing, especially for someone so young.

There may still be hope among our young stars, after all.

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