Kris Bernal: Girl-next-door no more
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - May 7, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of  their history,” celebrated novelist George Orwell once said.

After performing in an epic re-enactment of  history, actress Kris Bernal couldn’t agree more.

Joining the roster of selected actors to take part in the recent historic Battle of Mactan re-enactment is the 27-year-old Kapuso talent. The “Starstruck” winner portrayed Reyna Bulakna – wife of Mactan chief Datu Lapu-Lapu – who thwarted the initial attempts of foreigner Ferdinand Magellan in conquering the Philippines in the name of Spain.

Surrounded by Cebuano performers, Kris channeled her inner queen with all the grace and refinement she could muster. Clad in a detailed ethnic ensemble, Kris, alongside “Pinoy Boyband Superstar” contestants, Tony Labrusca (who played Datu Lapu-Lapu), and James Ryan Cesena (Ferdinand Magellan), recounted the epic battle on the shores of Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City, where the encounter originally took place in 1521.

The re-enactment was in line with the city’s Kadaugan sa Mactan celebration, in honor of Datu Lapu-Lapu’s victory and patriotism that kept the island free from invaders.

“First of all, it’s an honor to be part of our history,” Kris said in an interview after the early morning re-enactment. “Malaking bagay ito para sa akin.”

The petite TV star admitted that she was not familiar with the battle and was grateful to experience and learn about Cebuano culture. According to Kris, the play gave her the opportunity to connect with her roots and allowed her to know more about herself and her fellow Filipinos, all the while at awe with our ancestors’ bravery and patriotism.

“Masarap sa feeling to know that I was chosen to be part of something this big, and I can’t wait to go back to Manila and tell all of my family and friends about what I’ve learned, about what really happened and say that I got to be part of it,” she said.

Kris boldly shared that she didn’t have much trouble performing, and that much of that confidence had to do with the Cebuano talent surrounding her. She says that despite the summer heat, the rest of the performers who came in all ages and backgrounds were energetic and vibrant and she couldn’t help but give everything to her performance.

She marveled at the production and the effervescence that her co-performers radiated.

“Sa Cebu lang talaga ako napasayaw ulit,” the actress revealed, now that GMA-7 doesn’t have a musical program in its Sunday noontime slot.

“It’s my first time here [Mactan Liberty Shrine], and I’ve only seen the places in pictures. I didn’t know it could be this beautiful, the same way the people are beautiful. Nakakahiya naman sa kanila if I didn’t do my best.”

Demanding task

The year has brought a lot of opportunities for Kris. With a daring magazine cover and a brand new teleserye, the actress is determined to leave her inhibitions behind.

Kris will be starring in a remake of the GMA drama series “Impostora,” which featured Sunshine Dizon and Iza Calzado in the original.

The series, which is set to replace “Legally Blind” on GMA Afternoon Prime, is loosely based on the 1995 film “Sa Isang Sulok Ng Pangarap” starring Alice Dixson, and follows the story of sisters Lara and Sara as they face the troubles brought upon them by their wicked relatives. The 2017 reboot does not have a final air date yet, but Kris says they’re looking at a June debut.

“So far, it’s great. My leading man, Rafael Rosell, is fun to be with. He is professional, he comes on time, he knows his lines, and he is intense. We have lots of fun but there are parts of the show that I find challenging. Unlike in the original which had two actresses playing the twins, this one only has me in it,” Kris said.

She described the tough process of playing dual roles, and the nuances that come with it. She says that the constant costume changes, adjustment in set directions, and especially the differences in acting for her characters have been a real struggle.

“It’s a tough thing to do because the characters are different people with different personalities, so having to shift from one person to another is a demanding task,” admitted Kris, adding that technicalities in filming and working the angles all by herself without a body double aren’t easy at all.

“As an actress, I need emotions from my co-actors, especially that this is heavy drama. But here, I had to be more creative and work twice as hard because I have to act with myself.”

Asked whether her “Impostora” assignment is more challenging than her role in her former primetime series “Little Nanay,” Kris found her previous character as a mentally disabled woman trickier than her dual portrayals in “Impostora.”

“Playing a disabled woman required acting from head to toe. I had to study their movements, and their behavior so it had to be really tough. At least in ‘Impostora,’ I can peg the characters and have a lot of references when it comes to attacking the story because there are movies, and the theme discussed isn’t as complex. But putting myself in the place of a disabled person is an entirely different story.”

Kris, who is this month’s FHM cover girl, is more open to taking risks now than ever before.

The entrepreneur is also currently learning the ropes of franchising, as she hopes to someday expand her food businesses outside of Manila.

Now that she’s ready to roll the dice not just in acting, but in improving herself, being true to who she is and what she wants to be, nothing is holding the actress back, not even bashers.

Kissing her wholesome, girl-next-door image goodbye, Kris still looks to the past for comfort and humility but is looking forward to what adventures the next sunrise brings.

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