BiGuel, the next big thing

KAPUSO DAY - Butch S. Raquel - The Philippine Star

GMA’s youngest love team Miguel Tanfelix and Bianca Umali  nicknamed BiGuel  might possibly be the next DongYan, say a number of showbiz insiders. The 16-year-old actor is being groomed as the next leading man; whereas14-year-old Bianca, his screen partner, is equally gaining traction as a primetime sweetheart. 

The teen stars are unruffled by the pressure. “I just do my best in the programs I am assigned,” says Miguel, who received a Star Awards Best Drama Actor nomination last year for his portrayal of a mentally-handicapped boy on GMA’s top-rating series Niño. “These are big shoes to fill,” referring to his long-time idol Dingdong Dantes, “but I take it as a challenge to prove myself by improving my craft as an actor.”

Bianca, long admired for her striking good looks, takes the pressure in stride. “I actually don’t mind the pressure,” she says, marvelling at Marian Rivera’s career story. “In fact, I’m focused more on being thankful to GMA for having high expectations and great plans for me.”

Miguel and Bianca’s good chemistry captured the primetime market in Niño, which ushered in more projects for the teen duo. Following Niño’s success, Miguel and Bianca signed on for Sunday sitcom Ismol Family (with Ryan Agoncillo and Carla Abellana) and primetime drama Once Upon A Kiss.

Handled by multi-awarded director Joyce Bernal, Once Upon A Kiss assembles a seasoned cast including Michael de Mesa, Manilyn Reynes, Mylene Dizon, Cris Villanueva, Tessie Tomas, Nova Villa and Gabby Eigenmann. The teen stars couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to learn from respected industry players.

Miguel says that he’s looking forward to working closely with his co-stars. In the series, Miguel and Bianca play childhood best friends caught in a rich boy-poor girl dilemma.

The duo is also grateful to direk Joyce Bernal, who has spearheaded a string of top-rating primetime programs in her long career: GMA’s Marimar, Dyesebel, Stairway to Heaven, and My Destiny, among others.

“Makisama ka ng maganda sa mga katrabaho mo para maganda rin ang ipakita nila sayo,” Miguel echoes direk Joyce’s wisdom on set. “Never stick to the script,” Bianca adds, recalling the lady director’s lessons on scene improvisation.

Off-cam, Miguel and Bianca are very good friends who love to “try out new places to eat and watch movies.” Miguel is quite the joker, says Bianca. “I love how corny he is. He never fails to make me laugh.”

Miguel, a StarStruck Kids alumnus, is one of the few teen stars who opt to attend regular school. The Cavite-born actor is currently finishing his senior year in Cavite School of Life.

“It’s fun, I get to interact with my friends and classmates,” he says, favoring the social nature of the academe over the much more solitary feel of a home-study program.“It feels different when you’re in a real school. I can be myself.” On his days off from school and work, he plays basketball or practices wake boarding.

Miguel loves the outdoors, while Bianca prefers curling up to a new book. She names bestselling author Neil Gaiman her favorite novelist. “I like how dark his books are, and also how deep he uses his words.”

The self-confessed bookworm also does Muay Thai training or runs leisurely on her spare time. “And of course, school!” she smiles. Bianca is currently enrolled in the home-study program of Learning Garden Montessori School in Parañaque.

Miguel and Bianca share the same talent in dancing. “I want to have a dance show,” he reveals, lifting from his own bucket list. The teen stars frequent mall shows and regional tours where they showcase their talents in singing, dancing — and for Bianca, rapping. The young actress idolizes international rappers Iggy Azalea, Karmin and local rap icon Gloc-9.

Both are also very family-oriented, grounded teenagers. Bianca, orphaned at an early age, grew up in the care of her paternal grandmother. Her mom succumbed to cancer in 2005; her dad died of a heart attack two years after. “My lola spoils me so much sometimes and she takes care of me a lot.” Bianca also claims to be in close contact with her half-siblings from both her parents’ first marriage.

Miguel is equally a “family person.” He says, “I always find time for family because I am mostly in tapings and events. I love bonding with my younger brother, Yuan.”

Bianca is really a simple girl at the core. Her first showbiz purchase — a Toyota Avanza — is one such testament. “It was one of the things I needed the most,” she reasons, calling the purchase a “blessing” and a “prize” for her hardwork. “I don’t have many material things on my wish list. All I’m saving up for is school and for traveling around the world.”

Her rules are just as simple: “Keep both feet on the ground, always look back where you came from, and never forget the people who helped you get there.” Miguel agrees 100 percent. “And treat people how you want to be treated.”









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