It wasn’t easy for dramatic actor Jake Cuenca to imbibe the role of Juan Samonte, the eldest among prime time TV’s most popular trio of sizzling brothers nowadays in ABS-CBN’s hit series Pasion de Amor.
To begin with, he had to grow his hair to fit the bill of the handsome, powerful and vindictive Juan in the Filipino adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Pasión de Gavilanes, making him uncomfortable initially.
“It was a hard process to grow the hair,” Jake told The Manila Times on Thursday at the announcement of Pasion de Amor’s upcoming new chapter. “There was the awkward stage when niloloko ako ng mga tao na, ‘Uy! Ano ba yan!’ And then when everything started going well for the show—nung nakuha na ng production yung tamang timpla na ilagay yung ganitong klaseng passionate love story sa earlier prime time slot—I also fell in step with my role and I even started enjoying the long hair,” he recalled.
Of course, Jake has always had the kind of physique the sexy drama requires, but he added with a laugh, “Honestly, when the time comes that I’ll need to cut my long hair, baka mahirapan akong gawin yon.”
More than achieving the look of his Spanish-speaking counterpart for the show, however, Jake opened up that what has made him more attached to his character are actual life lessons he learns from the fictional Juan.
(In the story, Juan Samonte who grew up in a tightly knit family leads his brothers Oscar [Ejay Falcon] and Franco [Joseph Marco] in avenging the death of their only sister against the rich Elizondos).
“Kuya din ako tulad ni Juan Samonte, and I wasn’t always there for my baby sister,” explained Jake. “Ang natutunan ko sa kanya—with how he is with his family and his brothers—is how to stand up as a kuya. And I’m making sure now that I do that for my family and my baby sister.”
True enough, during the course of the interview, Jake’s big brother side kept cropping up as he started dishing out advice to his co-actor Ejay, who has admitted he is eager “to get to know” fellow Pasion de Amor star, the sultry Ellen Adarna, better.
“Sabi ko nga kay EJ, minsan ako din, may nararamdaman dahil sa character na ginagawa ko sa isang project. So ang advice ko sa kanya is to take their time,” Jake imparted.
The well-spoken actor—who has essayed leading men roles to antagonist roles in his thriving career in ABS-CBN (Tayong Dalawa, Rubi, 100 Days to Heaven, Maria Mercedes)—went on to reveal that while he has gotten into tiffs and controversies in the past, he has let go of “many bad habits” now that he is seriously involved with a non-showbiz girlfriend.
“Hindi ko naman sinasabing good boy na good boy na ako,” he laughed, “pero I can say I’ve matured in many ways and, yes, it’s because of my girlfriend.”
To be sure, even in terms of acting, Jake continues to grow especially with the demands of a powerful series like Pasion de Amor. As the series continues to conquer its timeslot in national TV ratings, the actor, along with the rest of the cast in Arci Munoz, Colleen Garcia and Ellen Adarna, have all upped their game to keep viewers glued through to its extended run.
Pasion de Amor promises to heat up further in the coming weeks as the show opens a new chapter in the lives of the Samonte brothers, whose worlds turn upside down as they enjoy the view from the top with their newfound fortune and power.
New characters will also help thicken the plot with the entry of veteran actress Pilar Pilapil, Pen Medina, and Kazel Kinouchi, as well as the return of Teresa Loyzaga.
“It’s going to be very exciting,” smiled Jake.