Lovi Poe gets real
Cate de Leon (The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - When Lovi Poe rose to fame, we came to know her as that sultry and dusky beauty. Hers was an otherworldly kind of sophistication — exotic, and you’d get the feeling that she walked on a plane that was somewhere beyond your reach. And somehow part of her appeal was that she didn’t seem as easy to comprehend as her lighter-skinned “It girl” counterparts. She was glamorous, fiery, but at the same time mysterious.

These days, though, the screen seems to have been lifted. Gone are the come-hither smokey-eye makeup and the big, wavy hair that seemed to hide all her secrets. Where that woman used to be, we now see a simple and plain-faced morena girl, who could just as easily be any other Filipina. And while some of us may feel nostalgia for the Lovi who appealed so much more to our sense of vanity, this was a conscious decision on her part. “It’s actually really refreshing,” she says about seeing her practically bare face on TV. And when she shows up on the set of our Supreme shoot, she looks just as unassuming, having just come from an early morning taping.

Grounded roles

Lovi’s new look has come with a new slew of roles that are a lot more grounded than some of us have had the chance to experience. Putting sexy and sophisticated on the back burner, she now willfully disappears into the everyday woman, probably even those we would consider to be underdogs, and brings their stories to life.

In her new and upcoming GMA soap, Akin Pa Rin Ang Bukas, which premieres on Sept. 9, Lovi plays the bastard child, Lovelia Villacorta. “It’s about a girl who struggles to have the love of her family,” Lovi explains. “There will be things that will be taken away from her that she will want to get back. I wouldn’t call her vengeful per se, but it’s just the only way for her to heal the wounds of the past,” she says of what drives her character.

Notably, she has also been starring in the docu-drama Titser as Michelle, a high school valedictorian in Barangay Old Boso Boso in Antipolo, who dreams of becoming a teacher.

“I realized while I was shooting Titser, a lot of us take our education for granted, because most of us have it. Our parents pay for it. But other people struggle to go to school. Others really work hard for it, even just to get to Manila. That’s the struggle of my character. If only I knew of this back then, I would have taken my classes seriously.”

Real issues

What Lovi found most shocking about immersing herself in these issues is the corruption that is present even in public schools. “There really are principals who become corrupt, which we included in the story. I find it shocking na hindi nila naisip ‘yung mga bata na nasa public school na nga, mangungurakot pa sila.”

“It’s a ripple effect,” she continues. “Pag meron kang sinimulan na gawin na masamang bagay, it gets bigger and bigger. Malaki ‘yung epekto sa lahat, hindi lang sa mga estudyante.”

What Lovi finds most inspiring, though, are the real-life teachers on whom her character is based. “Nagtuturo na siya kahit hindi pa siya teacher. A lot of teachers have the chance to get into other lines of work, yet they still choose to teach because they really have the heart for the kids there.”

Consequently, she also regrets being one of the kids who used to make noise in class. “I’ve always loved and had the highest respect for my teachers, but now I get to empathize with them more because I see the hardship that they go through. I mean, ang hirap siguro ng nasa isang classroom na magulo. And I was one of them. Mahirap pala talaga magturo.”

Yet another production to look forward to is the much-awaited film Lihis, a movie that revolves around the NPA during martial law, and the gay romance that grows in the middle of it, during a time when the taboo was that much stronger. Lovi’s character finds herself in the middle of her co-stars, Jake Cuenca and Joem Bascon.

Indeed not seeming to miss her glamorous image at all, Lovi believes it’s high time for her to be taking on such roles. “It’s important to me because we have to open our eyes to these things that a lot of us aren’t even aware of.” It is for this that Lovi has abandoned the smoldering stares and slinky silhouettes for the time being — to effectively flesh out the stories of the people we dismiss, misunderstand, and, in some cases, don’t even get to hear about. If that’s not both hot and admirable, then I don’t know what is.

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Tweet the author @catedeleon.

 

Photos by BJ PASCUAL

Produced by DAVID MILAN

Styled by MIGUEL URBINA TAN

Makeup by JOYCE PLATON of Shu Uemura

Hair by BORGE ALOBA for L’Oreal Professionnel

Assisted by LEI ANGELIQUE CRUZ and DAMIEN ALDEGUER

Clothes by Mango

 

AKIN PA RIN ANG BUKAS BARANGAY OLD BOSO BOSO JAKE CUENCA AND JOEM BASCON LOVELIA VILLACORTA LOVI OREAL PROFESSIONNEL SHU UEMURA TITSER WHAT LOVI WHEN LOVI POE
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