Piolo starting all over again: Piolo Pascual admits feeling the pressure while doing his latest Star Cinema starrer
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Although his last two big-screen outings saw Piolo Pascual tackling offbeat roles (a mentally-challenged man in 24/7 In Love and a conflicted NBI agent in OTJ), the actor is easily described a “pro” at romantic films. But Piolo surprisingly admitted that he found himself really “scared” and “pressured” while shooting Star Cinema’s romantic drama Starting Over Again opposite Toni Gonzaga and directed by Olivia Lamasan.

“There was this one scene — the confrontation with Toni — wherein I was really intimidated. I had to tell Inang (as he fondly calls direk Olive) and asked for help because what Toni gave in that scene was just so sincere, so raw, Take 1. But with me, we had to do another day to shoot it again because we weren’t happy. I mean, they weren’t satisfied also. So, before we did the scene, I had to ask her, dinadaga ako, and as a person, as an actor, you don’t say that, you don’t do that, because you’ll lose confidence,” intimated Piolo during a presscon over the weekend.

“So, I had to ask permission from her, para lumakas yung loob ko, kung pwede ba akong uminom ng konti, katulad ng ginawa ko sa Milan, kasi sobra akong takot sa eksena. I just wanted to do it right because I owe it to the character. So, if you’re asking me if there’s still anything that challenges me, definitely, in this movie, I was very insecure. Sobra akong na-pressure sa tandem of Inang and Toni. I was really scared,” he added.

Piolo first worked with direk Olive in the TV series Sa Sandaling Kailangan Mo Ako in 1998 and last worked with her a decade ago in the movie Milan. 

Direk Olive said that when she first handled Piolo, he had just returned from the States and decided to give showbiz another try. She has since seen him grow in maturity as a person, but she said that Piolo has always been very serious as an actor, who asks a lot of questions.

The lady director, who’s also behind such successful romantic movies Sana Maulit Muli, In My Life, In The Name of Love and The Mistress, rarely does films these days because of her responsibilities as the head of creatives for Star Cinema. “But (ABS-CBN) allows me to do films maybe once in every two years” and for the longest time, she had been looking for a material that would fit Piolo. “I told Piolo, ‘Sa laki ng achievements mo sa buhay, parang hindi na kita mahawakan so naghanap ako ng role na maramdaman kita uli.’”

Piolo said, “I have so much respect for Inang. I started out with her, and after I was able to work with her in Sa Sandaling Kailagan Mo Ako, I could take anything. Sobra yung experience, sobra yung learning.”

He added, “I thought I already the hit the glass ceiling of being an actor, na parang di na ako matsa-tsa-challenge, but working with Inang (again), she made me realize that there’s a reason why I’m here (in the business).”

Starting Over Again is also a reunion of sorts for Piolo with leading lady Toni. They first paired 13 years ago in a popular softdrink commercial which had Toni, then a nobody, playing a starstruck student screaming her lungs out, “I love you Piolo!” 

After failed attempts to work together in a project, this story based on a script by Carmi Raymundo about exes who cross paths again many years after a bitter break-up became the vehicle for Piolo and Toni’s return team-up. The story, which also takes inspiration from a real website that allows users to send e-mails to be received in the far future, “will give an alternative definition on new beginnings and second chances,” according to the media release. Based on the trailer, the movie teases with the thought: Will the characters of Piolo and Toni pick up where they left off and start all over again, or give themselves a proper closure and resume their separate lives?

Piolo said, “I think it’s just the right time and the right material. We both appear in ASAP and every time we would ask each other when we were going to work with each other, laging may humaharang. I don’t know what force or anything, but it just wouldn’t materialize because it was either she was doing something or I was doing something or our schedules couldn’t meet. When we finally had the chance to do this film, I realized that more than it being worth the wait, I think it just fell into place... It’s a blessing that we waited this long.”

Once upon a time, too, Piolo and Toni was romantically linked to each other. Toni said that they’re both hesitant to discuss it as it might be misconstrued as a gimmick to drum up their pairing. But when prodded to talk about it, Piolo recalled that they did date when Toni just transferred to ABS-CBN from GMA 7. “But I realized, and I thought to myself that it would be too unfair to get in the way or be a hindrance to her dreams to be a certified actress… Nagparaya tayo kumbaga. I guess it’s as simple as giving her the chance to shine on her own; it’s difficult for anyone to have a boyfriend or girlfriend and to juggle things all at the same time, and she was starting out then.”

For her part, when asked why nothing came out of it, Toni laughingly said, “I don’t know. He used to drop by during PBB or (see me in) ASAP, and I felt like (referring to the attention), ‘Why is this happening to me, it’s embarrassing!’ I was embarrassed for myself because I placed him on the pedestal from the very start. My commercial with him opened up so many opportunities for me that’s why from the start, I already put PJ on the pedestal, everyone’s dream guy. So, I could never imagine… May malisya pero sa sobrang hiya ako, parang ano ba ’to? Piolo Pascual! (I thought) what will the people say because of course, you’re still ugly when you’re starting in showbiz (laughs).”

The TV host-actress added, “No, he wasn’t in love with me. I will never claim it. Nahuhumaling lang (laughs)! In all honesty, it worked well that it didn’t go into the next level, that it didn’t develop (into a romance).”

That episode will now remain a fond memory, with Toni happily in a relationship, and Piolo seemingly not in a rush although the actor is being linked to Shaina Magdayao.

Piolo refused to put any label on his relationship with Shaina, saying that “we’ll just keep it to ourselves… there are things that are better not publicized. We deserve that, you know. (But) we click. Sobra kaming OK. Ang saya lang. We really enjoy each other’s company. We’ve been friends for so many years now. I guess that’s where we are at. But if there’s any girl whom I’m closest to, there’s no one else but her.”

Asked about how his love life is doing, he said, “I don’t know how to answer that. I guess bottomline is priorities. I’ve always been vocal about wanting to spend time with my son and do other things. But whatever you see, these are things that are born out of I guess wanting to have a companion, be with someone and you go from there. You just don’t know where it’s gonna go…(But) it will happen in the right time. I’ve been praying for it. I know it’s gonna happen in God’s time.”

Starting Over Again, which also stars Iza Calzado, Joross Gamboa, Bryan Santos, Beauty Gonzales, Cai Cortez and Edgar Allan Guzman, is part of Star Cinema’s slate of 20th-anniversary offerings. It opens in cinemas nationwide on Feb. 12.

INANG PIOLO PIOLO AND TONI PIOLO PASCUAL SOBRA STAR CINEMA STARTING OVER AGAIN TIME TONI
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