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Barbie Forteza learns about Noli and El Fili from acting

Jerry Donato - The Philippine Star
Barbie Forteza learns about Noli and El Fili from acting
Barbie plays the Gen Z nursing student Klay in the GMA primetime historical portal fantasy series, Maria Clara at Ibarra, based on Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Since she was enrolled in the alternative learning system in high school, Barbie never had the chance to study the novels. ‘Now, I get to learn about (them), portray a character and enter the world of these literary works,’ says she. ‘I have now the access to (understand) these novels, which I missed reading before.’

MANILA, Philippines — In this pandemic-new normal milieu, Barbie Forteza remains enthusiastic in playing new roles. She was the sophisticated girlfriend Cors in Heartful Café and donned the superhero cape of Captain Barbie in Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko. Then, Barbie essayed the hardworking assistant Steffy Dy in Mano Po Legacy: The Family Fortune.

Tomorrow, Oct. 3, after 24 Oras, the actress is adding the Gen Z nursing student Maria Clara “Klay” Infantes to her ever-growing collection of dramatis personae via the GMA primetime historical portal fantasy series, Maria Clara at Ibarra, based on Filipino hero Jose Rizal’s novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The series airs weeknights.

Through her character, Barbie has the opportunity to traverse from the contemporary time to the past and discover connections between two timelines.

“When I was in high school, I took the alternative learning system. So hindi ko dinaanan yung (Noli Me Tangere), parang napadali, na-expedite ang aking high school, so hindi ko siya nadaanan,” answered she when inquired if the literary piece was part of her subject then, in a recent press conference. Barbie was thankful to be part of Maria Clara at Ibarra for it has given her the platform to wrap her head around the narratives of Rizal’s two novels.

“Ngayon, matututunan ko siya, tapos ma-po-portray ko pa, tapos mapapasok ko pa yung mundo ng Noli at El Fili (I get to learn about the novels, portray a character and enter the world of these literary works). So, talagang may access na ako ngayon sa mga nobelang na-miss ko before (I now have the access to these novels, which I missed reading before).”

With that, Barbie is in learning mode. The actress shared that the project was conceptualized in October of 2020, the height of the pandemic. She admired her network for creating content that tackles important issues of the day and looks back on the history despite the challenging times.

Barbie added that director Zig Dulay and the entire creative team carefully crafted the Maria Clara at Ibarra narrative and storytelling, as well as “kung pa-paano namin magagawa ng maayos at ma-execute ng tama (how we could do it properly and execute it correctly). We were just thankful that the concept got approved and I am part of the show, another important milestone in GMA primetime.”

Working on the Maria Clara at Ibarra set, Barbie had the chance to collaborate again with close friend Julie Anne San Jose, as Maria Clara, and for the first time with her long-time crush, Dennis Trillo as Juan Crisostomo Ibarra. “Bukod naman po dun, iniidolo ko talaga yung talento niya sa pag-arte, isa sa mga award-winning actors natin (Aside from that, I really admire his acting and he is one of our award-winning actors). It’s really an honor for me to be working with him.” It’s a dream come true and a ticked-off item on her wish list.

Although being in a bubble is not new to her, Barbie had her first long lock-in taping experience, which required her to be away from family for almost a month. “Mahirap siya dahil nakaka-homesick, ang layo ng Ilocos (It’s difficult because you get homesick and Ilocos is far),” shared she, who found a second family in the show’s production team that looked after everyone’s welfare.

Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and its sequel El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed) reflect the social problems of the Filipino hero’s times. Some of their themes are relevant to this day. Following Barbie’s line of thought, one can say that viewers should watch it to appreciate the value of the novels. “At pag-usapan muli at mapanood para mas maintindihan natin ang mga nobela ni Dr. Jose Rizal,” said she.

Barbie’s Klay will be the point person and the perspective that viewers will follow in navigating the historical-fantasy series.

BARBIE FORTEZA

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