Jessy Mendiola is set to reprise the role of Maria Mercedes played by Mexican superstar Thalia back in the '90s.
Directed by Chito Roño, ABS-CBN's remake of Maria Mercedes is slated to air starting October 7, 2013.
During a recent blogger's conference, Jessy, Jake Cuenca, Jason Abalos and Nikki Gil talked about the Philippine version of this Mexicanovela.
Jessy was asked if she is familiar with the original teleserye.
She admitted: "I know the story. I'm a Thalia fan ever since Marimar pero ang pinaka alam ako ay Rosalinda at Maria la del Barrio. Ang alam ko itong Maria Mercedes ang pinaka sensual."
Is she ready to do a sensual role?
"At first sabi ko, 'kaya ko ba ito?' But as time went by, nakuha ko na. Naging comfortable na ako sa sarili ko. Parang nakakatuwa lang na kaya ko pala. Well, I did sexy in Paraiso but this is way different."
Jessy was also asked if she felt pressure about being chosen to star in the Philippine version of Maria Mercedes.
She pointed out that she had to adjust to being Maria Mercedes. "Yung characteristics niya na spunky and pagiging lively...
Ako in real life, ngayon lang ako natututo na maging masayahin, open, bubbly.
"Physically and personality-wise, dun pa lang, napre-pressure na rin ako. Pero with the help of the other cast and the director and the staff, madali ko naman siya nagawa.
"Pero nung nakuha ko na, natuwa naman po ako."
Jessy has two leading men in this teleserye: Jake Cuenca as Luis and Jason Abalos as Clavio.
When asked to give their first impressions about each other, Jessy revealed that Jake told her that she is "masungit."
To this, Jake agreed then described his leading lady Jessy as "intimidating."
Jessy reacted by saying, "To my suprise, Jake is very sweet and very caring."
The actor teased Jessy, "Kulang. Kailangan dagdagan ko pa ang pagiging sweet and caring."
Jessy instructed the media by saying, "Interviewhin nyo ulit ako after a month."
How is Jake sweet to her? "Palagi siyang nangangamusta. Kapag alam niyang pagod kami, [she demonstrates how Jake would put his arm over one's shoulder] sinasabi niya, 'kaya natin 'yan.'"
Jake admitted, "When I first met her...Usually I'm very confident but when I met her, I threw my confidence out of the window. Ang gandang babae unang-una saka ito, kapag nakita akong malungkot, napre-pressure akong pasayahin siya. That's my working relationship with her and I think it works.
"Hindi ako titigil sa kaka-alaga sa kanya."
When asked to elaborate about his role, Jake pointed out:
"This role is really refreshing for me, coming out of the provocative projects that I've been doing recently."
He elicited laughter when he quipped: "Ang sarap ng feeling na ma-pair sa babae ulit."
Jake recently starred in the indie film Lihis, wherein he was cast as an NPA rebel who is in love with Joem Bascon's character.
(Read: Lihis movie review)
Jake continued: "This is where I started. This was my place in showbiz even when I did all these provocative projects...being a matinee idol. I'm so happy that they put me in this.
"This is also my roots because it's also Spanish."
Jake's father is a full-blooded Spaniard who married a Filipina.
"The way that I tackled it very differently, with a sense of maturity. With everything I learned so far in my career, this is the new version of myself," declared the 25-year-old actor.
"There's a lot to look out for. Ang kailangan niyong abangan kung gaano kasarap magmahal. How festive loving someone is.
"And you'll see it with my scenes with Jessy and you'll see it with my scenes with Nikki. Makikita nyo rin kung paano kami
ni Jason Abalos na mag-agawan sa isang babae. Hindi naman mahirap paniwalaan yun kasi ang pinagaagawan naman namin ay si Jessy Mendiola."
How hard was it for Jake to shoot the daring scenes for this teleserye?
"It was easy," he said with a laugh. "Jessy was very willing. We all recognize that this is Jessy's break and she is doing everything she can to make it work. Napadali kasi madali naman talaga makatrabaho si Jessy."
For his part, Jason believes that Jessy is well suited to bring life to Maria Mercedes.
"Si Jessy nagustuhan ko siya bago pa kami magsimula sa show, nagworkshop kami at nakita ko ang totoong pagkatao niya. Kaya ko nasabi na bagay kay Jessy itong Maria Mercedes.
"Hindi naging mahirap mahalin si Maria Mercedes kasi sa pinapakita ni Jessy. Para sa akin, hindi ganun kahirap gawin ang trabaho ko sa show."
DIFFERENT KIND OF KONTRABIDA. Nikki Gil said that she did not have hesitations about accepting the kontrabida role of Mistica, a sultry and selfish woman.
She quipped: "Hindi ako nagdalawang isip kasi mas masarap ang location ng kontrabida na mayaman. May aircon, mansion. Yung pinanggalingan ko Apoy sa Dagat na amoy isda ako at talipapa. Kasi sabi ko gusto ko 'yan."
As Mistica, how is she going to be "tough" on Maria Mercedes?
Nikki explained, "I can't really say that my character Mistica is the classic kontrabida na unang tingin mo pa lang sa kanya, she looks like trouble. I think, sina Direk Ruel [Bayani, business unti head] were able to craft a different kind of kontrabida na I'm hoping medyo kakapitan nyo pa siya ng konti before completely hating her.
"It should be very interesting. It's easier to be clearly an evil kontrabida...but it's a different kind of kontrabida.
"So far, konti pa lang ang nagagawa ko but iba ang nuances niya. Hindi siya ang typical na [Nikki demonstrates raising her eyebrows] 'madaan ka sa tingin' kontrabida. Hindi siya ganun."
Will she and Maria Mercedes have catfights in this teleserye?
"Siguro we'll leave that to your imagination. Surprise na lang siguro. Abangan nyo na lang but one thing's for sure, kakaibang kontrabida siya," assured Nikki.
Aside from starring in Maria Mercedes, Jessy also sang the theme song of ABS-CBN's remake of this Mexicanovela.
(Watch: Jessy Mendiola gives "sample" of theme song)