Freeman Cebu Entertainment

Julie Anne & Rayver: Bringing out the best in each other

Januar Junior Aguja - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  “Like a supernova” was how Julie Anne San Jose described what ensues when she and Rayver Cruz perform together on stage – and so bigwigs thought the next logical step was a full-on concert that would feature more of the explosion that is JulieVer.

Promising a fun, experiential, inclusive experience for their live audience, the Kapuso tandem banners “JulieVerse”, a concert happening tonight, November 26, at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Pasay City, Manila.

Directed by Paolo Valenciano, the show is produced by GMA Synergy , the same team behind “Limitless: A Musical Trilogy” which was a three-part virtual special of San Jose’s musical journey set against the picturesque locales of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

“When I did ‘Limitless’, we featured different locations in the Philippines that really left a mark in my heart and in my mind, and these molded me as a person. I really learned a lot,” the singer-actress said during a press conference at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu when they breezed into town to grace the hotel’s Christmas Tree of Hope Lighting Ceremony. Now on its 13th year of partnering with GMA Network, the Christmas Tree of Hope aims to raise funds for the GMA Kapuso Foundation.

It was on the second installment of the “Limitless” series, titled “Heal”, where Cruz appeared as guest and they both explored the Visayas island of Siquijor. They also offered a duet in the finale titled “Rise”, where Cruz revealed it was her who inspired him to share his guitar-playing skills to the public.

“With ‘JulieVerse’, you’ll be seeing more of me and Rayver together,” said San Jose. “If in ‘Limitless’ it was more of solos, this time we have more numbers together.”

Darling De Jesus-Bodegon, First Vice President for Entertainment Group, said in a press release that after the success of the “Limitless Trilogy” – which won a silver medal at the 2022 New York Festivals TV and Film Awards in the Entertainment Variety Special category – there was a clamor for a follow-up project.

“It was not at all difficult to come up with the next one because as with all great narratives, Julie’s story continued organically. This time, we get to continue that story with an artist that truly complemented her talent and personality,” she said.

Twin flames

Paired up in “Studio 7”, “The Clash”, and “All-Out Sundays”, and likewise delighting their fans with TikTok collaborations, San Jose and Cruz’s “undeniable chemistry” wasn’t lost on network bosses.

“Their spark continued to ignite which brings us to this night when we celebrate them as the perfect epitome of ‘twin flames.’ This is the story of two people na pinagtagpo at tinadhana,” De Jesus-Bodegon added.

“Another truly exciting part of this project is that now, we finally get to share Julie Anne and Rayver’s story live on the concert stage. We are excited to share the screams, the gushes, the gasps, the ‘kilig’ with our audience. We conceptualized this show to give the audience an inclusive experience. We really want them to feel that they are inside the JulieVerse.”

Also set to make an appearance in “JulieVerse” is another Kapuso pair, Sparkle artists Kyline Alcantara and Mavy Legaspi.

“I’m excited because Juls brings out the best in me,” Cruz, 33, remarked. “Every time I perform with her on stage, I strive to do better.”

San Jose returned the compliment as she expressed pride in witnessing first-hand his evolution as a musician.

She said, “He has so many skills that not a lot of people know, which they will see in ‘JulieVerse.’ Limitless din yung kaya niyang gawin.”

“Aside from our shared passions and interests, I also learn a lot from him when it comes to life. You want someone to support you in everything you do – and that’s him.”

No rush

Oliver Victor Amoroso, First Vice President and Head of GMA Regional TV and Synergy and Acting Head of GMA Integrated News, recalled how mounting “Limitless” last year amidst a global pandemic was a leap of faith. San Jose expressed gratitude for the trust, more so that she came out of the project with plenty of realizations.

“We made it during the middle of the pandemic and we were all really scared to go out even if we wanted to. It was a spiritual kind of experience where we got to love more the lives that we have, since we always search for what we don’t have,” she reflected.

“We learned to appreciate the little things like the simple act of waking up each morning…thank you Lord I’m still alive! There’s also discovering the culture and traditions of the places we went to…To sum it up, it served as a sort of retreat.”

And also an indication of the sweet music that was about to come?

In the first leg where the “Limitless” team went to Sultan Kudarat, San Jose shared that they were welcomed by a tribal family who believed that if one can manage to slice open an entire “tinolang manok” from the middle, it augurs that a romance is forthcoming.

“At that point it wasn’t in my mind to be in a relationship. Chill lang ako, I wasn’t in a hurry,” she said with a laugh. Turning to Cruz, she quipped, “And then, nag-guest ka sa Siquijor. Ayun.”

Asked if their courtship has progressed, San Jose said that while Cruz has all her preferred attributes, they are still enjoying each other’s company as best friends.

“I’m in a very good place right now. I’m happy that a lot of people love and support us together. Si Rayver kasi hindi siya mahirap magustuhan. Napakabuting tao, napakabait, marespeto sa magulang – he has all the qualities of an ideal guy. I’m grateful that he came into my life because I’ve also grown with him,” she said.

San Jose appreciates how he makes the effort to visit her at home and woo her family – a big plus in her book since her folks’ approval is one she values.

“I have a reserved, conservative, traditional family so growing up, that’s what I was used to. Tanggap nila si Ray which really warms my heart because my parents’ blessing is important to me. Nakakatuwa when we’re all together and bonding, walang iniisip na iba. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam. Each day I get to know Rayver more.”

After the concert, both stars confirm that “definitely” a JulieVer television series is in the drawing board for a 2023 airing.

For now, San Jose is basking in the “surreal” feeling of being part of the hit primetime program “Maria Clara at Ibarra”, a fantasy series revolving on Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” novels. It stars her alongside teleserye heavyweights Dennis Trillo and Barbie Forteza.

As she tells it, her handler informed her to audition for the Maria Clara role a day before the schedule, and so she had to scramble to get her Latin prayers and Spanish pronunciation up to par.

“I didn’t expect [to get the part] because the character is so far from my personality…ang hirap. First of all, hindi ako mahinhin, may pagka-siga ako maglakad,” she said.

The cast and crew are in high spirits seeing all their hard work pay off. “At first we were nervous because that’s Rizal’s literature and Philippine history that we’re tackling. It’s no joke,” she added.

“Thankfully we have a very good team of writers and consultants. We even have historians and Spanish coaches. Our director is also very meticulous. As for me, it’s an honor to be working with Barbie and Dennis Trillo.”


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