Popoy-Basha Forever
Irish Christianne Dizon (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2015 - 9:00am

Eight years after ‘One More Chance’ (a.k.a. the mother of all Pinoy millennial hugot films), John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo attempt to create a film number two that’s just as unforgettable as number 'One.'


MANILA, Philippines - Nabura yung BB cream ko,” says this petite 30-something woman to the amused usherette stationed at the cinema’s doors. Right on her heels is another usherette who dramatically tells her colleague, “grabe, giiirl, iyak ako nang iyak.” A lot of people are starting to stream out of the movie house: straight couples, gay couples, high school and college students (who may or may not be cutting classes), senior citizens, and even a few children. Most of them are puffy-eyed and animatedly discussing the film they just saw: A Second Chance, sequel to the 2007 cult classic One More Chance, starring John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo.

It’s our batch’s turn to discover what has become of Popoy and Basha, the fictitious, quintessential Pinoy couple who mirrored our personal heartbreaks on the silver screen nearly a decade ago. (“Lahat naman ginawa ko na ah! Ano pa bang gusto mo?! Ano pang gusto mong gawin ko?! P*tang ina naman, Bash! Ganyan ka ba katigas?! Ha?!” Aaand cue the waterworks.)

Despite it being a work Wednesday, the 1:45 p.m. screening is sold out, and you can hear all sorts of side comments uttered throughout the movie. From “Naku, ganyang-ganyan kami nung bagong kasal, pero sa umpisa lang yan” (apropos of the slightly cheesy, crazy in love newlywed scenes) to “Ako, pag nag-aaway kami, alam ng asawa ko na sa kusina ako nagmumukmok” (in response to Basha’s banyo breakdown after an intense fight with Popoy over new cups and curtains). You want to tell these viewers to shut it, but you don’t. That they’re reacting this strongly means Bea and Lloydie have done it again — make us forget they’re Bea and Lloydie; make us see love, marriage, and everyday reality a little more clearly.

What was

A week prior to the opening day of A Second Chance, John Lloyd and Bea revealed their fears about this completely unexpected sequel. “Noong una, parang ayaw kong gawin kasi sayang naman, ‘di ba? Sabi nga nila classic masyado. Bakit kailangan pang galawin,” admitted Bea.

It was already past midnight, and we were at the Star Magic office, still surprisingly full of employees. “After your interview kasi, we still have to do Q & A with them for the One More Chance documentary,” whispered Ely Haig, promo specialist for Star Cinema, answering my unspoken question.

John Lloyd made himself comfortable on the white couch next to Bea, and said, “We had a choice [whether to accept or decline], pero kung lahat sila game,” he said, referring to Bea, director Cathy Garcia Molina, and screenplay writers Vanessa R. Valdez and Carmi G. Raymundo, “parang…” A smile of surrender.

It was Carmi who came up with those killer One More Chance lines “Mahal na mahal kita… ang sakit-sakit na” and “Ako na lang. Ako na lang uli.” But she is actually — get this — a veritable NBSB, No Boyfriend Since Birth. “I’ve never been in a relationship. EVER. I have fallen in love, but the affection was never returned. So baka dun nanggaling yung mga hugot. Daanin na lang sa pelikula ang mga hindi masabi,” she disclosed in an email interview.

In the same thread, Carmi shared how One More Chance actually happened by chance. She and director Cathy Garcia Molina were originally trying to develop a movie for John Lloyd and Sarah Geronimo, but the schedules of the two stars just wouldn’t align. (Thank you, Sarah G and your super packed schedule for giving us P&B!) In the meantime, management asked the writer and the director to cook up a Bea-JLC project instead, which was a challenge. “At that time, sunod-sunod na yung mga naging movies at teleserye nila John Lloyd at Bea, so we really had problems conceiving a story for them. Ano pa di ba? Sila nanaman?”

The two creatives were so stumped, Cathy even asked JLC to join the brainstorming session. The director had a breakthrough at that meeting: she decided to “do a story about the anatomy of a breakup.”

The premise went against the tried-and-tested Star Cinema boy-meets-girl formula, but the bosses miraculously green-lit the project. To develop the plot, Carmi interviewed different people about their breakups, and their anecdotes, tweaked here, modified there, enriched the story of Popoy and Basha. “’Yung balat ng manok, originally tiyan ng isda yun.” And that three-month rule? Sorry, but Carmi dropped this bomb: “Wala talagang gan’ung rule! Ginawa lang namin ni Van inspired by the sentiment of one of our interviewees na ang bilis naka-move on nung girlfriend niya, wala pa daw three months.”

The timetable was so tight, she and co-writer Vanessa, at one point, wrote the movie’s now-iconic lines (“She loved me at my worst, you had me at my best. At binalewala mo lang lahat ’yun.”) on tissue paper and paper placemat during an intense writing session at a coffee shop. The whole crew was on standby, and the two had to crank out a script, pronto. “Itinatawag na lang namin kay direk kung ano ang dialogue. We never thought those lines would be remembered, kaya ayun, nawala lang namin yung mga tissue at placemat na ‘yun. Sayang. Haha!”

No one on their team expected the movie to become an indelible part of Pinoy pop culture, but looking back, Carmi thinks it has a lot to do with the story’s relatable quality.  "Lahat naman nasasaktan eh.” Bea presented an alternative theory: "It’s a break-up movie na point of view ng lalaki ang kinukuha. Hindi yung babae yung umiiyak, yung lalaki ang umiiyak,” she ruminated. “Tapos si John Lloyd pa yung iiyak, mukhang vulnerable talaga. Kawawang kawawa.”

What is 

Speaking of John Lloyd, the actor had a cute confession: “Ang nakakatawa, kami na yung gumawa, tapos ang tagal-tagal na n’un, [pero] every time na papanoorin ko, naluluha pa rin ako.” And he’s not the only one still affected by Popoy and Basha. Two years ago, screenplay writers Carmi and Vanessa had a lot of questions running in their minds about the two. “Did the coffee date push through? Did they get back together? Was one of them already in a new relationship when they saw each other again? Pero hanggang dun lang,” shared Carmi. “It was too terrifying to cross that line.” 

Cut to mid this year, when management gave the go signal for a project made especially for John Lloyd: a film “about a married couple and the realities of marriage.” Director Cathy Garcia Molina then sent a two-word text message to Carmi that signaled the continuation of Popoy and Basha’s story: “What if…”

 “Alam ko na na she was referring to Popoy and Basha. Sabi ko pa, ‘Are we sure? Kasi hindi natin ‘to gagawin hanggang hindi tayong lima (Lloydie, Bea, Van, Direk, and me) ang umo-oo na tatalon na tayo,’” Carmi shared. “We knew the risks. Pwede naman kasing iwan na lang sa kung paano nagtapos ang One More Chance eh.” Soon after, the key staff and cast spent a night just reconnecting — so much has happened to them in the past eight years — and acknowledging their fears about the sequel. “What if we fail? What if it doesn’t live up to the previous movie? What if masira lang natin yung kwento?” In the end, they pulled a Basha and decided “to stop wondering what if.”

“I want to know what is,” said Carmi, echoing Basha’s sentiment. “Kahit gaano pa kapangit, kahit magiging masakit. It was a leap of faith for all of us. And so we went on to make this sequel.”

Director Cathy Garcia Molina shared in an email interview that doing A Second Chance was more challenging for her actors. Getting to a real place while they were filming One More Chance was easy. They had both gone through painful breakups, and were familiar with heartache. But playing a married couple for film two was no easy feat. “It’s [marriage] something alien to them, so umaasa lang sila sa script, umaasa sila sa akin at sa mga kwento ng mga kaibigan nila who are married already.”

The best thing about making the sequel, says the director, is her much-improved relationship with Bea Alonzo: “We became more open to each other. I knew more about her this time around, so it was easier handling her.” (FYI, the director and JLC are tight friends outside work.) Bea, the director shared during a press con, felt like a “bold star” during filming. “Kasi di ba pag mag-asawa na kayo walang hiyaan, kaya mong maghubad sa harap ng asawa mo? In fact, we are a little tame pa nga kasi we wanted to get a PG rating para mapanood ng mga bata.”

The director believes her lead stars’ purely platonic relationship is the secret sauce that adds magic to their projects, like this one. “Alam mo naman pag mag jowa tapos nagkatampuhan at kailangan mong kunan ng eksena, ay! Juskolord! Sila walang ganun. Kapag trabaho, trabaho lang agad. In character agad.”

Will Popoy and Basha’s story end up becoming a trilogy? It’s all up in the air at this point. Carmi says, “I don’t know. I’m still wondering kung paano tatanggapin ng mga tao ang continuation ng kwento nila.” The director echoes Carmi’s trepidation. “Juskolord! Sasagutin ko yan pagkatapos na ipalabas itong pelikulang ‘to. Baka audience na yung umayaw mismo. Sabihin nila ‘Tama napo!’ Tingnan natin.”

Back inside the cinema, there is a collective squeal. (No spoilers allowed, so you’re going to have to see the film for yourself.) The movie comes to an end, but no one is ready to leave. We sit through the bloopers and only stand up when the screen goes black, a sure sign that no Marvel-esque teaser was coming. As we exit the theater, I see the long line for the next screening. “Kuya guard, puno?” “Sold out, ma’am.”

Late that evening, I saw this posted on Instagram: “The overall total of A Second Chance first day gross is at (sic) whopping P43.3 million!” That's already 1/3 of  One More Chance's overall gross in 2007 (P156 million).

So Cathy, Carmi (and Bea and Lloydie), I guess you have your answer.

* * *

Tweet the author @IrishDDizon.

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