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  (Top frame) Gretchen Barretto (left) and Bea Alonzo are rivals who turn out to be sisters in ABS-CBN's upcoming primetime show Magkaribal. This fashionserye, which will air starting June 28, also stars (bottom frame, from left) Mark Gil, Angel Aquino, Enchong Dee and Erich Gonzales. Photo: Jocelyn Dimaculangan

Mannequins showing haute couture dresses were displayed at the lobby of the 9501 restaurant in ABS-CBN compound last Thursday night, June 17. A red carpet was also laid out and flower petals were strewn all over the floor, all indications that this was no ordinary press conference.

Indeed, it is no ordinary media launch since Magkaribal ushers in a new genre in television that ABS-CBN refers to as a fashionserye. This primetime series aims to show not only the glitz and glamour of high fashion but also the more practical side of fashion. Directed by Nuel Naval and Mae Cruz, ABS-CBN's first fashionserye, Magkaribal, will air starting June 28, 2010. 

Director Nuel Naval points out: "For the first time in teleserye history, we will show fashion para sa masa as [represented by] Divisoria fashion and yung haute couture, ang fashion ng mayayaman and how paano ito magmi-meet...Ipapakita namin that fashion is not only for the rich. Hindi alienating ang fashion."

Renowned Filipino fashion designers are also expected to guest in this fashionserye as themselves.

Magkaribal also serves as the first soap opera of Gretchen Barretto. In the past, La Greta has appeared in Maalaala Mo Kaya, the drama anthology show of the Kapamilya Network. This time, she is cast in a role that fits her to a tee: a top fashion model.

Gretchen will be bringing life to Victoria Valera, a self-made woman who becomes a top fashion icon in the country.

Bea Alonzo is cast as a simple lass named Gelai who finds joy in designing dresses. She describes her character by saying, "Ako si Gelai Agustin, ang kapatid ni Victoria. Sa umaga tindera ako pero sa gabi, designer ako ng gowns para sa mga sumasali sa beauty contest. Hindi ko alam na may kapatid akong top fashion model kasi nagkahiwalay kami noong bata pa kami. Dun mag-re-revolve ang story...kung paano kami maghahanapan sa story at kung paano kami magiging magkaribal."

But Bea points out that Magkaribal is not only for women. "Hindi lang siya woman-dominated show kasi meron ding part kunsaan nag-URCC champion si Derek [Ramsay] saka si Enchong [Dee]. Meron ding scenes for guys."

Derek Ramsay's character named Louie already met Gelai (Bea) when she was younger. Their paths cross again when the budding fashion designer tries to penetrate the highly competitive world of fashion.

In the show, there will be a power play going on between Victoria (Gretchen) and Vera (Angel Aquino). "Vera is a very powerful woman in the field of fashion," says Angel about her role. "She was a professional model who went abroad. She meets a man na meron pala siyang family. I love my husband so much that I will try to keep him and my profession."

Erich Gonzales is cast as Chloe Adella, the adopted daughter of Vera. "Lagi niyang sini-seek ang approval ng mom niya, kahit na anong gawin niya. Gusto niya masabihan siya ng mom niya one day na 'I'm proud of you.' Ang kaibahan dito, si Enchong ayaw niya talaga sa akin kasi ang arte ko at may iba siyang gusto: si Bea."

Enchong Dee is cast as Caloy Javier, a character that the young matinee idol described as "ang pinakagwapong kargador sa Divisoria." He tries his best to win the affection of Gelai (Bea).

Robert Arevalo is cast as the dean of fashion design and this marks the first time that the veteran actor portrays a gay character.


DIVISORIA AND TONDO LOCATIONS. PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked Bea if she already shot some confrontation scenes with La Greta and she replied, "Konti pa lang and we have yet to shoot a lot of scenes kunsaan magkakaroon kami ng confrontasyon at mga mabibigat na eksena together. Pero sa ngayon kasi, ang nasu-shoot pa lang namin yung establishing ng characters na napakaganda na rin."

The young actress admitted that she enjoyed going to the shopping areas of Divisoria. "Makikita n'yo [sa TV series] kung gaano ka-colorful ng Divisoria. Ang fashion capital nga ng Pilipinas, 'ika nga, ay ang Divisoria. Nag-enjoy ako mag-shoot dun kasi ang daming mabibili at talaga namang napakasarap kasi kahit na umuulan ngayon at napakaraming tao. Feeling ko, hindi ako makakapunta dun kung hindi kami nag-shoot dun. Pangarap ko dati na makapunta dun at ngayon, nakapunta na ko. Ang ganda pala ng Divisoria."

Members of the press curiously asked if Gretchen also went to Divisoria but according to her, she went to Tondo for some of her scenes. "Sa Tondo ako nakapunta. Binisita ni Victoria si Gelai sa Tondo for one day. Hindi pinapasok yung bus ko! Na-karma ako kasi sa dulong-dulo [ang location]. Nag utility car ako. Masaya kasi ang dami-daming tao...buhay na buhay."