W.O.M. Women of the moment

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As the world celebrates Women’s Month this March, it was indeed a happy and fitting coincidence that the celebrity newsmakers of the week that was were four of Philippine show business’ most admired females. Looked up to by their generation not only for their beauty and talent, they are more importantly idolized for being the epitome of the modern woman.

Judy Ann Santos

Judy Ann Santos

Judy Ann’s new stand
It has been over a year since the country’s Queen of Teleseryes had a soap opera on her home network, ABS-CBN. She was last seen on primetime in 2013 as Anessa Panaligan in Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala, a heavy drama hinged on a woman’s struggles and ultimate triumph to break away from an abusive marriage.

The show’s finale had Juday uttering the memorable lines, “Ang pinaka-importanteng natutunan ko sa pagmamahal . . . ay makakaya lang nating magmahal kung buo tayo, dahil ang tunay na pagmamahal, makakaya lang nating ibigay kapag buong-buo na ang pagmamahal natin sa sarili natin,” thus effectively delivering the show and the actress’ very own promise to advocate women’s rights in the powerful narrative.

This year, the 36-year-old superstar seems bent on continuing to pursue advocacies in her projects for television with her upcoming series, Someone To Watch Over Me, touching on animal welfare.


Besides presenting a “light, heartwarming and touching” love story in her first team up with Please be Careful with My Heart’s adored leading man Richard Yap, there is a dog named “Kuya” who apparently plays a vital part in the series. Kuya, along with an impressive support cast comprised of Eddie Garcia, Tirso Cruz 3rd and Diether Ocampo among others, was presented at the announcement of the latest Dreamscape project for ABS-CBN on March 4.

“Kasi ‘di ba ang dami nating nakikita sa Facebook na mga aso o pusa na pinapatay; manhandled sila,” said Juday who had just emerged from the show’s very first story conference. “So [we hope]to bring awareness to everyone that animals have hearts and they have feelings too [that]we have to take care of. Lahat naman tayo kailangan natin ng companion sa buhay that we have to take care of in our lifetime, and pati pets kasama dyan.”

In Someone to Watch Over Me, the multi-awarded actress will be playing a role that is very real to her today as a loving mother named Dani; while Richard, who is both honored and excited to work with the Queen of Teleseryes will portray a rich businessman named Edison.

The fresh tandem for primetime said they will have more details on the soap’s plot in the days to come, but promised that a summer airing for Someone To Watch Over Me has been confirmed.

On working with the 47-year-old actor who quickly became a household name despite his late start in the business in 2011,the highly experienced actress in Juday had this to say, “I believe that chemistry just happens. It happens through friendship, it happens through working with each other over time. We will work on it, but maybe not too much, because we might come across too serious. I guess we will just let it be.”

Maja Salvador

Maja Salvador

The sensible Maja
She may not have been the first choice for the much talked about star dancer lead role in the upcoming ABS-CBN series Bridges of Love, but Maja Salvador is not daunted.

“I always want to do something new and ito yon, kasi ito yung pinaka daring at bravest role ko so far,” began the 26-year-old actress at a press conference on March 4, after she had been asked to comment on the fact that Anne Curtis was originally offered the project.

“At kahit na second choice lang ako para dito, OK lang yon. Ang importante ay hindi tayo nagkakamali sa mga pinipili nating proyekto,” she added sensibly.

Maja went on to say that if she remembered correctly, even her infamous character of Nicole in 2014’s phenomenal teleserye The Legal Wife was offered to her only after other actresses had turned it down. Nevertheless, she played the husband-stealing best friend role so effectively that she quickly established herself in the roster of top primetime actors on Philippine TV.

According to the production team of Star Creatives, Maja is sure to shine just as brightly in Bridges of Love an intense love story about a pair of brothers (portrayed by Jericho Rosales and Paulo Avelino) who will be separated by hatred and guilt, and their common love for a woman who will bridge them together

“Pinlano ko talagang pumunta sa mga night club para makapag-research ako sa mga star dancers, kung ano yung buhay nila at anong nangyayari sa kanila after. Pero nasuwertehan din po ako kasi yung makeup artist ko sa set dati po siyang nagtrabaho [sa isang club]at sabi niya siya na lang daw ang mag-kukuwento sa akin ng mga kailangan kong malaman para wag na daw ako mapansin,” Maja shared on how she tackled the vivacious dancer’s character.

Rounding up her approach she related, “The challenge of the role is yung bigyan ng buhay yung character ni Mia Sandoval na bakit n’yo siya mamahalin kahit isang star dancer siya.”

Adding star power to the cast of Bridges of Love are Edu Manzano, Carmina Villarroel, Antoinette Taus, Max Eigenmann, Maureen Mauricio, Lito Pimentel, John Manalo, Janus del Prado, William Lorenzo, JorossGamboa, and Malou de Guzman. Under the direction of Dado Lumibao, Will Fredo, and Richard Somes, the series premieres on March 16 on ABS-CBN’s primetime block.

Alex Gonzaga

Alex Gonzaga

Alex, the free-spirit
“Busy means happy,” is a quote the ever energetic Alex Gonzaga likes to borrow from the late TV icon Joan Rivers these days. Having just finished her hosting duties for The Voice of the Philippines, she is about to begin working on her first solo series on ABS-CBN, on top of regular appearances in the daily gag show Banana Nite, and weekends on ASAP.

“Kaya ’yan! Hangga’t may oxygen, kaya ’yan,” said Alex, quoting from the very role she will portray for primetime, the Pablo Gomez’ magical komiks character Inday Bote. She has become very good at time management, and so far so good, has not encountered any conflicts in schedule and priorities.

“I’m just very grateful na nabibigyan ako ng iba’t ibang projects ditto sa ABS-CBN para sa mga kaya kong gawin—from hosting, to acting, even to singing,” added the 26-year-old sister of one of the network’s most prized stars, Toni Gonzaga.

Being busy, she admitted, has also kept her mind off the engagement of her big sister to longtime director-boyfriend Paul Soriano, which apparently brought her to tears since Toni would have to leave the family home eventually.

“Naka-move on na naman ako doon,” the adoring sister laughed sheepishly. “And si Direk Paul hindi naman siya iba sa’min kaya nakapag-sink in na rin sa akin ang lahat. If ever dumating ’yung time na umalis na siya sa bahay, iisipin ko na lang hindi lang kami nagkikita dahil may taping siya,” Alex laughed again.

Talking more about this new and exciting turn in her career, Alex revealed that for her Dreamscape remake of Inday Bote, she was advised not to watch the versions of Maricel Soriano (Regal Films, 1985), nor an episode Judy Ann Santos did for the character in ABS-CBN’s Komiks series (2006).

“Gusto ng production fresh ang approach kosa role pero sinilip ko na din siya sa You Tube!” the perky actress confessed.

Inday Bote will revolve around the story of Inday, a free-spirited young woman who is ready to do everything for her family. Because of her kind heart, Inday is given a magic bottle that, unknown to her, is inhabited by dwarves (led by new ABS-CBN child star Alonzo Muhlach) with magical powers.

According to Alex, she hopes to show more of the inspirational traits of Inday in her portrayal, outside the wonders the magic bottle will bring.

Inday Bote also stars Matteo Guidicelli, Kean Cipriano, AloraSasam, Smokey Manaloto, Nikki Valdez, Malou Crisologo, and Izzy Canillo. Directed by Malu Sevilla and Jon Villarin, the show is scheduled for a summer premiere on ABS-CBN.

Julia Barretto

Julia Barretto

The dutiful Julia
For a young lady who is just about to turn 18, Julia Barretto has sadly had more than her fair share of heartaches, not from puppy love, but from the saga of family problems that plague her controversial clan.

Still, even if she would much rather take a trip to Europe to mark her coming of age, she has decided to go the traditional way with a grand debut in the hopes that the occasion would help reconcile the relationships of her parents, her aunts, and even her grandparents.

“Everyone is invited,” Julia beamed at a pocked interview on March 5, even if the public was witness to the war of words among her grandmother Inday, her aunts Gretchen and Claudine, and her mom Marjorie on many different occasions.

Just a week ago, Julia also made amends with her dad, comedian Dennis Padilla, who had been slighted by rumors she planned to legally drop his surname [Baldivia] for her mother’s some time in 2014. All is well now, according to Julia, who also announced for the record, she “feel(s) right now, there’s really no need to change [her]last name.”

She also confirmed that her father will be her “first dance” as tradition dictates, and that fellow ABS-CBN talent Iñigo Pascual, “who has become a good friend,” will be her last.

“My debut is really for them [family], and I really hope this will bring peace in our family,” wished the Barretto beauty, who had been a commercial model since she was a little girl.

By 10 years old, she had her first acting experience as the young Claudine Barretto in a teleserye, and at 17, had her very own drama series in Mirabella (2014).

Growing up in the public eye, Julia is set to share more about herself—as a daughter, sister, friend, student and athlete—as she turns 18 in a TV special titled Julia Beautiful @ 18, airing on ABS-CBN on March 29. The show will feature highlights of her actual debut on March 10 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Among well-wishers for her 19 Candles (“just in case someone won’t make it that night) include Dani Barretto, Claudia Barretto, Erich Gonzales, Janella Salvador, Liza Soberano and Maja Salvador. Besides her dad and Iñigo, Matteo Guidicelli, Rayver Cruz, Enchong Dee, Khalil Ramos, Robi Domingo, and Enrique Gil will also be among her 18 Roses.

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