Kylie Padilla is literally going back in time to move forward in her future. After a tumultuous 2014 first half, Robin Padilla's daughter is proving she is not just his little girl anymore as she decided to take on big challenges in her career this second half.
She landed the Leonor Rivera role in GMA-7’s “bayani-serye” Ilustrado, besting several other Kapuso actresses, aside from starting work on her first Regal film Dilim and launching her first album titled Seasons.
On her last taping day as Leonor Rivera this week, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) caught up with her during a press set visit to Ilustrado at their location for the day, the Philippine Normal University.
We asked how she prepared for the role. She shares, "nanood ako ng documentary about Jose Rizal and nagresearch din sa Internet, sa YouTube." She admits that conquering her fluency in Filipino was helped by the preparatory acting workshops the Ilustrado team put in place before they started taping.
How would she describe Leonor Rivera after having played her for the past months in Ilustrado?
She chooses her words carefully, "I think that Leonor is a modern woman trapped in a world where a woman was supposed to be sobrang tahimik, yung closed masyado. Strong-willed siya, at nag-iisip siya."
She repeats that Leonor is strong-willed but not hard-headed. She gives an example of when Leonor is asked to do things by people around her, she would ask why. "Kasi may mga lines siya na hindi lang ako nandito para magpakasal, manganak. Gusto niya more than that. Nung na-in love siya, gusto niya talaga yun. Walang magsasabi sa kanya na hindi pwede. Hihintayin niya talaga si Pepe," Kylie ends with a laugh, just as her leading man, Alden Richards, steps into the empty classroom we've interviewed Kylie in.
When prodded if she can relate to that quality of Leonor, Kylie lets out a series of giggles and says, "sobra akong nakakarelate!"
From across the teacher's table, Alden quickly agrees and flashes Kylie a huge smile.
Kylie explains, "'Pag may gusto ako, gagawin ko. Ako, medyo stubborn. Alam kong hindi tama. Pero at that moment, gusto ko. Tapos kung pagsisihan, kailangan talaga may matutunan ka. Nandoon ako sa stage na yun, bilang 21 years old, growing up, experiencing different things, mayroon talagang pinagsisihan."
How is she dealing with the heavy expectations on them as part of a show that is marking many firsts?
"Actually, nung ginagawa namin noon hanggang ngayon, wala naman akong iniisip na pressure kasi si Direk, nagustuhan naman niya yung ginagawa ko. But then eto, nung parating na yung airing date, medyo kinakabahan ako ng konti. Pero ginawa ko naman yung best ko, kaya wala naman masyadong pressure. Kasi may faith naman ako sa ginawa ko at happy naman sila."
Ilustrado is GMA's first historical series to air on primetime TV starting October 20. This 20-episode series follows the life of Jose Rizal from the Philippines to Europe, following his love life as well from Leonor Rivera to Nellie Bousted (played by Solenn Heussaff) and Consuelo Ortiga (played by Max Collins).
Like the award-winning mini-series Katipunan, Ilustrado is also produced by GMA's News and Public Affairs group. They have tapped historical consultants like Michael Charleston "Xiao" Chua, Dr. Victor Torres and Dr. Lars Ubaldo. They are using the sophisticated Arri Alexa camera and other high-end lenses provided by CMB Film Services Inc.
Aside from Alden, Kylie, Solenn and Max, Ilustrado also stars Eula Valdes as Jose Rizal's mother, Jaclyn Jose, Ricardo Cepeda, Freddie Webb, and Polo Ravales.
Cast members of Ilustrado
Kylie remarks that working on this show has taught her to just "let the emotion ride, hayaan mo lang yung emosyon, huwag mo masyadong ipa-control. Before kasi sa previous shows ko, iniisip ko pa kasi masyado yung eksena. Dito, hinayaan ko nalang kung ano maramdaman ko. Kung ayaw ni Direk, take two."
The 'direk' Kylie is referring to is King Marc Baco, who is assisted by Norberto Domingo for photography and Mary Honeylyn Alipio for the screenplay.
She says that she also learned to appreciate Jose Rizal again after watching Alden portray our nation's national hero.
What about Jose Rizal's character did she gravitate to?
"Ang galing niyang tao, kasi, yung pamilya niya, mayroon na sila, e. Matatalino sila. At pag may gusto sila, ipaglalaban nila. Tapos nung si Jose Rizal napili nila, talagang hinubog siya. Kahit na wala siyang choice, ginawa niya pa rin para sa pamilya niya. Nag-aral siya, ang hirap, di madali yung ginawa niya. Sobra yung focus niya."
How about Rizal's infamous womanizing? What did she think of that?
Kylie quickly answers, as if rushing to Rizal's defense, "sa tingin ko, mahal niya talaga si Leonor. Kaso lang, hindi sila pwede. So, after ni Leonor, di na masyadong seryoso si Rizal. Kung sino nagustuhan niya, okay gusto kita pero yung ganoon ka ano kay Leonor, kasi diba seven years sila nagsulatan, matagal din yun," also showing that Ilustrado's Rizal is a more human, less heroic presentation than we're used to seeing.
Leonor Rivera, in the way their story is presented, did not know about Rizal's extra-curricular activities. Would Kylie Padilla accept a womanizer had she known? Answering carefully once more, Kylie remarks, "'Pag mahal mo yung tao, at kaya mo pa, kakayanin. Pero darating din yung hindi mo na kaya."
She adds though that if she has experienced it, "at least kung mayroon man akong naranasan na ganyan, at least magagamit sa art," showing a more mature side to herself now.