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Liza Soberano on doing Trese: Iâve learned to be braver
Liza lends her voice to Alexandra Trese, the badass heroine in the Netfl ix Original Anime series Trese, which premieres today. ‘I love everything about her! I believe we’re very similar because we both would do anything and everything for our family and the people that we love. And we’re both brave. She is brave in the sense that she is willing to risk her own life to save other people. I’m brave in the sense that I don’t back off from the things I believe in. And I feel like I’m actually becoming braver because of her.’
STAR/ File

Liza Soberano on doing Trese: I’ve learned to be braver

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2021 - 12:00am

Liza Soberano stepped out of her “comfort zone” by lending her voice to Alexandra Trese, the heroine in the Netflix Original Anime series Trese.

Premiering on the global streaming service today, the six-episode horror/supernatural series is adapted from the Philippine graphic novel with the same title created and first published in 2005 by Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo. Showrunner is Filipino-American producer and animated film director Jay Oliva of Wonder Woman and The Legend of Korra fame.

Trese unfolds in the urban jungle that is Manila. As a paranormal detective, Alexandra Trese deals with mythical creatures of Philippine folklore — from the “people of the ground” duwendes, the giant kapres living in trees, to the “vampiric” tiyanak that assumes the form of a child — either coexisting peacefully with humans or wreaking havoc like the hardened criminals from the underworld.

According to the 23-year-old Kapamilya star, she loves everything about her character, whom she described as this badass “protector of peace and harmony between the living and the supernatural beings.”

Liza recently told The STAR in a virtual one-on-one chat: “I love everything about her! Actually, when I was reading the comics, I fell in love with the story and I was like, why didn’t I read this, why didn’t I discover this earlier? I’m a fanatic of fantasy and anything supernatural, I love horror movies and everything.”

Nevertheless, when the actress first found out she was being enlisted for the Netflix project, she had her reservations.

“At first I was like, what, Netflix? Of course, I wanted to do it but then, when I heard that it was an anime, I was like, ‘So, that means I’m gonna have to do voice acting.’ And I wasn’t really sure if I would be able to pull it off, if I would be able to give justice to the character,” Liza admitted.

“Before I accept any project, I always want to know if I’m going to be able to do a good job because I know how hard everybody works on each project. I want to be able to give my 100-percent.”

Despite her hesitation, Liza noted that she’s also at a point in her showbiz career where she wants to dive into uncharted waters. “I wanted to experiment and do something outside of my comfort zone. And this is completely outside of my comfort zone because I’ve never done voice acting, and it’s also a genre that I’ve never done.”

The Fil-American beauty does the Filipino-dubbed Trese, while You and Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell — who’s part-Filipino, in case you don’t know — takes on the English-language version.

For Liza, there’s not much difference between voice acting and acting on screen in terms of difficulty. “Even if you’re just voice acting, you still need to feel that emotion that you need to convey through your voice. In voice acting, you have to give more emphasis on whatever emotion that is,” she explained.

“The advantage of actual acting is you have visuals to kind of deliver that message. In voice acting, you don’t have that. You only have whatever the character or the animation is showing you. You have to give life and more depth through your voice, which is kind of difficult because you also have to create this character in your mind not only based on what’s in the script. You also have to kind of create your own version of the backstory and how you think that character is if she were you.”

An essential part of her preparation was getting her Tagalog lines right.

“Actually, weeks before dubbing, I forced myself to only speak in Tagalog at home. To everybody who would call me, I would try my best to speak in Tagalog because through the course of the pandemic, I was mostly talking to Quen (actor-boyfriend Enrique Gil) and to my family and they all speak in English, so my accent medyo it came back. So, I made sure to speak in Tagalog, read in Tagalog and sing Tagalog songs. Before, I took Tagalog lessons so I tried to do all of those warm-ups that I used to do.”

Here are more excerpts from the exclusive interview:

What was the first thing you did after learning you’re going to be part of Trese?

“The first thing I did was look for a copy of the comics, which I could not find anywhere. I could find a few of them, like Book 1 and Book 2, but I couldn’t find the complete collection and I wanted the complete collection of course. So, I had my handler message the (executive) producer, Miss Tanya Yuson, and she was able to give me her own personal copy that she has been saving for how many years. I’m really happy because at least now, I have that memorabilia as well. I also did self-study and self-research on how voice acting works, how to warm up your vocal cords, how to kind of lower your registers or the register of your voice, and just different techniques of voice acting.”

In what ways are you similar to Alexander Trese?

“I believe we’re very similar because we both would do anything and everything for our family and the people that we love. I would say that I’m very responsible, she is very responsible as well. And we’re both brave. She is brave in the sense that she is willing to risk her own life to save other people, to protect them against supernatural beings and just facing supernatural beings alone is scary enough.

“Me, I’m brave in the sense that I don’t back off or stand down from the things that I believe in. If I have an opinion, I make sure that I voice it out because I want to be true to who I really am. And I feel like I’m actually becoming braver because of her — in a way, too. After reading the story and going through the whole process of Trese, I’ve learned how to become braver.”

How much do you believe in the supernatural and care to share some personal experiences, if you have any?

“When I was younger, I was always trying to connect myself with the ‘underworld’ (laughs). I was always interested in ghosts, scary stories and stuff like that. When I came to the Philippines at the age of 10, of course, people were telling me about the tiyanak because I had an auntie who was pregnant at the time and they were saying oh, the tiyanak is going to come here and get her baby. So, for the longest time, I was so scared to be under the same roof as her because I thought a tiyanak would come and murder a soul just because she’s pregnant.

“There were other instances in which I would be taping and it would be raining and then it would be sunny at the same time. And people would be like, o, may kinakasal na tikbalang. So, till this day, I still have that in the back of my mind whenever that happens.

“When I was younger, I also had an uncle who had no hair at all — no eyelashes, no eyebrows, no mustache, no hair on his head. And when I was younger, as insensitive as it may sound, I would always ask him how come you don’t have hair, and he told me that when he was younger, he peed on a tree and the duwendes took all his hair. Of course, when I got older, I found out that alopecia was a thing.

“So, I found out that he was lying for the longest time. But I was always scared of that and whenever my male cousins, my brother or my dad would pee in some random areas, I’d be like, I wouldn’t do that if I were you (laughs).

“But I did have first-hand experience when I was in the province. I studied there for a year and there was a time when I was getting sick every so often. One time, I woke up with a big cut on my thigh and I didn’t know where it came from. So my dad brought me to a manggagamot. And then they asked for the diagnosis and they were like, may kapre na may crush sa kanya, so ‘wag kayo magsasampay ng panty niya sa labas (laughs). That’s what they told me. That’s the only instance where I ever had a ‘supernatural happening,’ I guess? But I don’t know if I completely believe it.”

If ever, would you be open to doing a live-action version of Trese?

“If a live-action series were offered to me, why not? Like I said earlier, I love the story. I love Alexandra Trese! Based on what I saw when I dubbed, I wanted more. I was craving for more! I was like, oh this is it? This is the end? I didn’t want it to end. So, that says a lot about the story. It’s really captivating and it immerses you into that world just like how it is with Harry Potter. I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter and the reason why I love it so much is because it brings me to a completely different universe.

“With Trese, it brings you to another universe but it’s also somewhat familiar to you because it’s set in Manila. And it teaches you about Philippine mythology, and a lot of our culture is incorporated into it as well. If there were a Part 2 (of this series), a question that I would probably have, because if you’ve read the story and the comics, she has a twin sister, so I want to know, is she really dead? That’s all I want to know.”

LIZA SOBERANO
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