The two faces of Julia Montes
Irish Christianne Dizon (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The rumors surrounding Julia Montes are true. In this cutthroat business where bitchiness is the norm, she is an exception. Our finely honed radar sensed sincerity in the words and body language of the 20-year-old child-woman with two personas. At home, she is Mara, the eldest in a brood of three, the sister who has happily assumed the role of mom to her siblings, the tireless cook who whips up slow food like paella, dinuguan, and kare kare for her loved ones whenever she can. On set and on photo shoot locations like this one, she is Julia Montes, a wise-beyond-her-years actress who has played wife to Paulo Avelino’s cuckoo Nathan Montenegro in Walang Hanggan, the ingénue who gave an excellent performance in the underrated flick Halik Sa Hangin. She’s no stranger to duality, and this month, she’ll finally get the chance to tap into that superpower.

JULIA X JULIA

Julia’s new soap Doble Kara (will start airing this August on ABS CBN) revolves around the story of twins Kara and Sarah. As the title suggests, they’re polar opposites: Kara is the shy, mild-mannered one who loves her family and her art above all things, while Sarah is the sassy go-getter with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Hazel Parfan, the executive producer of the show, says they concocted the project with Julia in mind. After all, the girl has proven her acting mettle in the soaps she has top billed. “Para siyang trumpo ’nung first day ng shooting,” Hazel shares, recounting how Julia had to change clothes, change makeup, and switch personas several times. “Bagsak talaga siya sa pagod kinagabihan.” In this age where rabid love team fans compete for the No. 1 trending spot on Twitter nightly, Julia is taking the road less traveled, choosing herself as partner-in-crime instead of a good-looking boy. “Ako yung tipong tumatalon sa cliff,” Julia says, comparing her career choices to the proverbial leap of faith. “For my age, love team talaga [ang uso], pero ako, bigyan nyo ako [ng iba]. Try kong gawin. Maaring nahihirapan ako pero sige pu push natin. Kaya natin yan.” Her bosses and executive producer don’t doubt Julia’s ability to shoulder the full pressure of making this project a hit (In fact, they have dubbed her “Drama Royalty of Prime Time.”) “Dala niya talaga tong show na to. Kanya talaga,” Hazel reiterates. “Kaya niya.”

MEET MARA

Fronting a show and being responsible for making it a hit is probably relatively easy for Mara who has been working since age five. When other kids her age were worrying about schoolwork, boys, and keeping up with the latest trends, her concerns were more urgent: where to get the money for rent, food, tuition, and all the other things they needed for survival. Her lola had a small salon, but her earnings weren’t enough to support the whole family. Julia’s dad was pretty much absent and her relationship with her deaf-mute mom wasn’t exactly ideal. (“Dahil lumaki ako sa deaf-mute na mom hirap ako mag express [ng sarili ko] even sa intevriews. Hirap akong i-elaborate yung mga gusto kong sabihin.”) At one point, she resented this situation. “Dati, niyayaya ako, tara shopping tayo sa ganito,” referring to some showbiz friends who didn’t have to pay the bills at home. “Bakit sila yung sweldo nila [para] dun [shopping] lang. Kailan kaya ako ganun?” Instead of wallowing in envy, she chose to focus on working hard, saving as much as she could for the family she loves dearly. Good Karma has smiled upon Julia. She now has a number of properties in her portfolio and is one of her mother network’s most promising leading ladies in the making. Every hardship they went through is starting to make sense now, especially when she has to deliver lines that require depth. “Masasabi kong maaring sa looks ang daming mas [maganda], ang daming mas ganito, pero ang edge ko is my emotional maturity,” she reflects. “Yung [mga] nangyari sa akin, naging mature ako, so hindi ko ina arte yung mga eksena. Dadamahin ko talaga. Gusto ko ramdam ko para ramdam ng manonood.”

So don’t make us choose between Julia or Mara. We like them both.

Photo by PATRICK DIOKNO

Produced by DAVID MILAN

Makeup by HARLYN FERNANDEZ

Hair by VILLALYN OCHAVEZ

Styled by MYRRH LAO TO

ACIRC AKO DOBLE KARA DRAMA ROYALTY OF PRIME TIME GOOD KARMA HALIK SA HANGIN HAZEL PARFAN JULIA JULIA MONTES KARA AND SARAH STRONG
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