Thai idols thrill Filipino fans

Mario (center) with Gulf and Nonkul as the latest TNT ambassadors. Their idea of saya is spending time with family and being happy together.
STAR/ File

Thai superstar Mario Maurer and actors Gulf Kanawut and Nonkul Chanon were a picture of happiness when they were introduced as the latest TNT ambassadors in the first-ever Thai Idol conference, hosted by TNT.

Living up to the Philippine mobile prepaid brand’s campaign, the heartthrobs never failed to spread that kilig saya feeling during the event. This is also captured in the TV commercial that features Mario, Gulf and Nonkul, along with Sarah Geronimo and Sue Ramirez.

“I’m very happy to know that Gulf looks up to me,” answered Mario when asked about his reaction to Gulf being his fan during a virtual media call.

“I used to see that Gulf had a photo with me when he was young. For me, to meet him in person, he was a very nice boy. I hope he’ll have a great opportunity (ahead of him) and have great works to come for all his fans. I’m very happy that he looks up to me.”

From Gulf’s end, he couldn’t contain his happiness to be with Mario in the same endorsement project.

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“(I had fun) that day,” he said. “I met Mario and Nonkul. (They are) very kind. I was happy to see them.”

Nonkul recalled that they had a two-day shoot: Day one was devoted to the TVC, while day two was for the visuals. “I was having fun during the shoot,” he said. “The set was very gorgeous and very big. For the poster (shoot), I had fun working with Gulf and Mario very much.”

Their memories on this one will last forever. After all, the TNT endorsement is a big project to them, said Nonkul. They had the opportunity to work with the same company that tapped such big names as Chris Evans and BTS in its campaigns.

“My experience was great and (I considered it a) nice moment,” said Mario, “very memorable moment. This is my first time (to be) working with Nonkul and Gulf. Again, working (on something) for my Filipino fans is such an honor.”

Mario also shared that his biggest achievement is having fans who support his every TV and movie project. Fans discovered Mario’s boy-next-door charm and acting talent in hit films Love of Siam, Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Pee Mak. They got to know Nonkul and Gulf in the 2017 highest-grossing Thai film Bad Genius and the top-rating TharnType: The Series, respectively.

As for living in the time of the pandemic and working in the new normal, Mario had this to say: “We have to work (by observing) social distancing, and (we) wear masks and stuff like that. I have a lot of free time to take care of my cars and myself. Stay home and be safe. I try to work on my scripts more.”

The event also saw Mario, Gulf and Nonkul share their fondest memories about the Philippines. They all have graced fan meetings here before.

“I tried taho (a snack food) for the very first time and I really liked it,” said Gulf.

“Fans treated me to a lot of delicious food,” shared Nonkul, adding that balut, a Pinoy street food, was one of them. “That was the first time I saw a duck inside the eggshell. But I did try it and the taste was surprisingly better than I thought.”

“Bet kita” (I like you), “Ikaw na” (You’re the best) and “Gutom ako” (I’m hungry) were some of the Filipino phrases and expressions that Mario, Gulf and Nonkul learned.

Nonkul also gave his two cents’ worth about Filipinos’ love affair with and appreciation for Thai TV series and movies. He talked about “cultural proximity.”

“Maybe we live near each other and our cultures are a bit similar,” he said. “I think it’s normal for us to like each other. We can relate to each other better, (we can relate to) the culture, the people, the acting and the story of the TV series.”

With that, Filipinos can enjoy any Thai narratives and easily understand the kilig and saya told in them.

What’s their idea of kilig or saya?

“When I spend time with my loved ones,” said Mario, “with my family, when we spend time together, you know, like going to the sea (and) going to the mountains.”

“(Mine is also) being with my family,” added Nonkul, “going to all the places we would like to (see) and being happy together.”

Speaking of kilig saya, TNT’s Nasa Saya Yan Kilig Saya campaign is a follow-up to the Nasa Saya Yan. The latter started last year and was headlined by Sarah, according to Jane Basas, SVP and head of Consumer Wireless Business at Smart.

The kilig saya campaign and TVC remind viewers that they can stay connected with the things that give them joy and make them fall in love through the exciting products of TNT.

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