Titser, a new series following the storyline of Bayan Ko, is an original presentation of GMA News TV.
Mara Lopez, last seen in Cinemalaya's Debosyon directed by Alvin Yapan, now appears as a regular cast member of Titser.
Her character Rosa is the best friend of Michelle, portrayed by Lovi Poe. They both idolize their teacher, portrayed by Agot Isidro in the TV series.
Mara explains, "ang relasyon namin dito ay very friendly competition kasi magkalaban kami kung sino talaga magiging valedictorian."
Titser starts off featuring Lovi Poe and Mara Lopez as classmates in high school, set in the same province as the one Bayan Ko created.
Mara continues, "pareho kaming matalino, pareho kaming nagko-compete sa klase. Kahit sa labas ng classroom nagko-compete pa rin kami sa pagtuturo sa kabataan."
So how does Rosa start to experience real world conflict if she is always in friendly competition with Michelle?
"Ang conflict naman sa character ko dito ay pareho kami ni Lovi Poe na gusto maging parang si Agot Isidro na isang teacher."
Mara then points out, "ang problema, si Carl Guevarra, mabubuntis niya ako."
Carl Guevara is cast as her high school sweetheart who gets her pregnant, as Mara says, "which is very common naman in this day and age."
That in itself wasn't actually the hardest part, Mara admits, "for me, very challenging na role kasi mabibigat na eksena lalo nung nabuntis ako. Siyempre magiging young mother ako. Pero ang kailangan abangan siguro ay kaya ko pa ba maabot ang mga pangarap ko kahit na sa napakabatang edad ay nagkaroon na ako ng anak, di ba."
She says she enjoys working with Lovi, "nakakatuwa kasi nga kami ni Lovi, sobrang saya niya katrabaho at magkasundo kami."
"Kahit na minsan walang taping, lumalabas kami, once yun, nanood kami ng Up Dharma Down..."
She also adds, "in between takes, sabi naman ni Direk, very good daw yung chemistry namin at mukha daw talaga kaming high school students."
She says to achieve this young look, as she herself is already 21, "pagdating sa make-up, talagang natural look lang," even sharing she does her own make-up to keep it all as real as possible.
For those familiar with Alvin's style as a director, these familiar touches will continue to make themselves felt in Titser, especially in the quality of shooting ala-indie film style.
What is the implication of this newest project on Mara's standing, network-wise?
The former Survivor Philippines castaway explains, "actually under contract ako with Titser and hopefully after Titser, magsunod-sunod na po kasi eto talaga gusto ko gawin, yung umarte."
She hopes, "sana sa Titser makita talaga nila yung talent ko as an actress kasi nga mabigat talaga yung role ko dito."
Titser released a primer on August 4, 2013 and started airing its first-full length episode on August 11, 2013. As of August 3, Titser had already finished 13 of an estimated 20 scheduled taping days, setting a good work pace for its actors who are involved in other projects.
Mara explains her choice to come on board Titser after the indie film Debosyon, "I said yes to this kasi it's another work of Direk Alvin Yapan. Si Direk din kasi ang nagsulat.
"Alam ko kapag si Direk ang nagsulat, maganda yan. At gusto ko rin gumawa ng teleserye na iba sa ibang teleserye.
"Yung hindi ordinaryong love story na naman: may mai-in-love, tapos, ang dami-daming drama, ganoon. Eto, may drama siya involved. Pero it has something to do with the real world."
The series was inspired by an I-Witness documentary done by Sandra Aguinaldo, parts of which were included in the August 4 primer.
Mara also says about her decision to be part of Titser, "no offense to the mainstream, very mainstream teleserye, di ba. I wanted to do something that's different. Dati, nung nasa ABS ako, lagi akong kontrabida sa isang teleserye."
Mara is happy with the breadth of acting and variety Titser has opened for her, "eto yung first time ko na magkakaroon ng role na it doesn't involve around the romance, hindi siya romantic. I wanted to do something different."
"Very happy and blessed. It's a blessing to be part of this show talaga.
"Suportahan natin ang Titser, sana ma-open na yung eyes ng pati masa to appreciate something na hindi yung paulit-ulit na lang.
"Parang movie siya actually, na teleserye. I could definitely say this is different from everything."
Tackling a subject that revolves around teachers is also very interesting for Mara, "especially teachers, they are very under-recognized and underpaid sa trabaho nila, kapag napanood ang Titser, marerealize ng tao ang value ng isang guro."
Mara confesses to her own shortcomings in acknowledging back then the role of the teachers in her life.
"Ako, hindi ko rin na-appreciate noon. Ang pagpunta sa eskwelehan, routine lang, e. Pero doing Titser, narealize ko: oo nga 'no, kung wala teacher ko noon, wala rin ako dito ngayon.
"Kasi Comm Arts graduate po ako ng La Salle, and maaga akong grumaduate." Mara finished her college education at 18 years old, primarily because she was accelerated.
"Funny yung mga ending namin," Mara adds, noting the show is also able to give hope and entertainment, because it's "very light and happy."
"Siyempre may mga maraming eksena na heavy. Di naman pwede puro light. Pagdating sa ganitong klase ng teleserye, suportahan natin. Iba. Hindi usual. It's something the Filipino people will appreciate."
Titser air every Sunday on GMA News TV Channel 11 at 7:15 pm, tackling issues in education, corruption in the educational system, lack of good teachers and high drop-out rate of students. Titser also stars Rocco Nacino, Mikael Daez, Carl Guevarra, and Gardo Versoza.
Mara Lopez is glad to veer away from kontrabida roles
by Kaye Estoista-Koo posted on August 14, 2013