In praise of Xian

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As a person, Xian Lim is nice but also comes off as one of the most misunderstood stars in this business. He has, more than once, become the target of intrigues, bad publicity and controversy, and since joining showbiz he has learned a lot of lessons, most of them the hard way.

In an exclusive chat that centered on his latest big-screen outing, the Star Cinema dramedy Everything About Her (where he co-stars with Vilma Santos, who plays his “terror-bitch” of a mom and Angel Locsin) he shares, for instance, how he taught himself to deal with bashing and criticism over time. “Karamihan ng lessons talaga, natutunan ko the hard way,” admits Xian. “Especially with bashers, they’re always going to be there. Before, I was trying to block them but I wasn’t able to block all of them. So what I did was, I learned to absorb what they say. Intindihin mo kung saan ka nagkamali, and accept it, but at the same time, you can’t say you’re not affected. Magsisinungaling ka sa sarili mo. Before, I was on the denial stage. I kept telling myself ‘wala ito’. But there came a time that I realized, dapat i-acknowledge ko na. So I started acknowledging the bashers. And yes, I would admit I feel bad. On the Internet, they have a freedom of speech. They will say whatever they want to say. Don’t let it define who you are. Learn from it, but just be honest with yourself (when you feel hurt).”

His mom, the former Mary Ann Cruz, would feel bad for Xian, especially at the start of Xian’s career, but he reassured her by keeping their communication lines open.

“My mom, naapektuhan siya bilang mother sa anak, masakit para sa kanya and she worries a lot for me. Ako naman, I am very open lang. ‘Yon lang ang mabibigay ko sa kanya. I couldn’t hide what’s on my mind. So let’s say, I’m depressed or I feel really bad, I will tell her so she knows what’s going on. Di ako nagtatago,” he says.

Vilma also feels for Xian. During one of the press gatherings for their movie (which opened last week), she defended Xian against bashers who felt Xian shouldn’t have been included in the movie, maybe because they felt he wasn’t capable of going toe-to-toe with her. “I am hurt whenever I hear negative comments about Xian,” said the Star for All Seasons. “But you’ll be proud of him in this movie.”

Everything About Her — which is one of the rare times that Xian has a project that doesn’t involve Kim Chiu — is one of the big breaks that he’s gotten this year. His career has been on the upswing for months (since 2015, in fact), starting with his landing the Paddington Bear project, then he went on to do this movie with Vilma and Angel, and he still has more waiting in the wings, including possibly a new album and a concert for 2016. He will also be reunited with his screen partner Kim in The Story of Us.

For now, though, he’s just glad to have been given this break working with Vilma. Xian says he learned from Vilma how to go beyond the script and how to not be so smug about his achievements. And to always rely on their director (in this movie, it’s Bb. Joyce Bernal) to guide him through.

Vilma’s approach to work was an eye-opener for Xian. “I thought, especially at her stature, may gano’n, pero hindi, you’re only human and you owe it all sa mga katrabaho mo. Yon ang lagi niyang sinasabi na ‘It’s the people around you that really matter.’”

Xian plans to take all these lessons into 2016, and make himself not just a better actor, but a better person.

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