Descendants of the Sun main cast (from left) Lucho Ayala, Rocco Nacino, Chariz Solomon, Jennylyn Mercado, Andre Paras, Dingdong Dantes, Prince Clemente, Jon Lucas, Hailey Mendes and Paul Salas are all set for Cebu’s Sinulog festival grand parade.
Dingdong, Jennylyn lead Kapuso line-up at star-studded Sinulog
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Another year, another star-studded Sinulog Festival in Cebu.

Since GMA started stepping up its presence in the regions in 2005, its Regional TV arm has participated in various festivals across the country, whether major, minor, religious or cultural.

As part of the network’s opening salvo for 2020, Kapuso celebrities descended on the Queen City of the South to join revelers in celebrating the annual festival held in honor of the Señor Sto. Niño. And just like the previous years, the Sinulog fest became a platform for GMA to introduce its newest offerings for the year.

That’s why before the country gets to see the Philippine remake of the Korean drama Descendants of the Sun, Cebuanos had the first encounter with the main cast, led by Dingdong Dantes and Jennylyn Mercado. They graced mall shows on Jan. 18 and the grand parade on Jan. 19, which reportedly drew a massive crowd of over two million.

Meanwhile, Dingdong is aware of how high expectations are over the GMA adaptation. “We’re just very, very honored that this project came to us. I’m sure a lot of countries would like to adapt Descendants of the Sun. In fact, it had a remake in China, Vietnam and another Asian country,” he told The STAR and other press. “Most of us are fans of the original. It’s hard to be compared with it. Of course, people will love the original more, and we’re not aiming to duplicate or even surpass its success, we really just want to put our own flavor. We want to offer a Philippine context and a fresh interpretation as actors.”

According to the Kapuso primetime king, it’s their duty to do their best and give justice to their roles otherwise it will be a “disservice to the original and to the fans of the Korean version, na kami rin yun.”

The series is set to premiere on GMA’s primetime Telebabad block this February. “If you loved the original, I hope you will also love our version,” he said.

As for his leading lady, Jennylyn, who’s a favorite at regional events starting from when she won the first edition of the network’s artista search StarStruck in 2004, she waited for a long time for the opportunity to work alongside Dingdong. The first and last teleserye they were both part of was the original Encantadia in 2005. Fresh out of StarStruck, she then played as the “daughter” of Dingdong’s lead character.

“Ang tagal kung hinintay para maging kapareha si Dong. I was very lucky because that was my first-ever show for GMA, then after 17 years, siya naman yung nakapareho ko although we were co-hosts in the latest season of StarStruck in 2019. Finally, I get to work with him after years of waiting,” Jennylyn said.

Dingdong added, “On my part, parang nakakatuwa na from StarStruck, when she won, I witnessed her growth as an actress. I always knew that our paths would cross (at work), napakasaya lang na dito pa sa proyektong ito na very dear to us.”

Meanwhile, the Sinulog weekend was also the opportunity for the network to promote its brand-new Sunday variety show All-Out Sundays and upcoming teleseryes Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday and Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit among Cebuano viewers.

All-Out Sundays host Julie Anne San Jose said that the show is equal parts of live comedy and musical performance. She also said that apart from hosting, “I’m very excited for this year (because) I have a lot of plans when it comes to music. I’m really trying as hard as I can to work on my own music and other (first-time) collaborations which I’m very stoked about.”

As for Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday star Barbie Forteza, she recalled that her first-ever regional show was in Cebu for the series First Time. She was only 13 years old then and she has since starred in various seryes, the highest rated of which happened to be filmed in Cebu, Inday Will Always Love You (2018).

Barbie is happy she’s still around and getting good projects because “bata pa lang ako nag-e-enjoy ako, oh taping tayo, tapos kinabukasan o eroplano tayo, punta tayo sa Cebu, Davao, Iloilo... Until now, ine-embrace ko yun dahil dun OK ang family ko, OK ako, ginagawa ko ang trabahong gusto ko.”

“I’m blessed to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do and I’m getting enough from that, so it’s a win-win situation for me,” added Barbie, who was joined by co-stars Migo Adecer and Kate Valdez during the Sinulog events. Their series, a TV adaptation of the iconic 1984 film Anak Ni Waray vs. Anak Ni Biday is scheduled to debut on Jan. 27.

Other stars GMA Regional TV flew in included Kyline Alcantara and Yasser Marta of the TV adaptation of the 1989 award-wining blockbuster movie, Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit. “It’s about three generations of women played by me, Ms. Mylene Dizon and Ms. Nora Aunor,” said Kyline of her show to be directed by Laurice Guillen.

Meanwhile, regional viewers can expect more exciting events to come because “2020 is a very significant year for GMA Network since we are celebrating our 70th anniversary,” said GMA Regional TV vice president and head Oliver Amoroso in a statement. “We at GMA Regional TV are also excited for what is in store for us this 2020, beginning with the launch of All-Out Sundays, Anak ni Waray vs. Anak ni Biday, Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit and Descendants of the Sun. Our Kapuso in the regions can only expect the best.”


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