Sarah Geronimo had butterflies in her stomach before the premiere of her second movie, You Changed My Life in a Moment, with John Lloyd Cruz last February 24.
"Abot-abot ang kaba, kasi po, kung nag-work nung the first time, first team-up namin, siyempre nandun yung worry na magwo-work din ba ulit?"
We asked her, "What's the edge of the sequel over the first?"
Still a bit jumpy, Sarah replied, "Naku, iyan po ay hindi ko naman din masasagot, kasi siyempre, magpi-premiere night pa lang tonight, so, gusto ko naman manggaling sa kanila yun, ayokong manggaling sa akin."
But one thing was obvious during the premiere night—the fans were thrilled!
THE KILIG FACTOR. In showbiz, the word has become a must for any love team to succeed. Decades ago, popular love teams would create gimmicks just to win over the fans. Publicity went to the extent of making the public believe a relationship thrived on and off-cam.
But these days, Pinoys prefer the real thing over gimmickry. They dislike it when love teams pretend to be in a real-life romance. They grimace at fake sweetness.
Sarah and John Lloyd started from scratch. They were not even friends, and they never gave the illusion that their team-up would progress into something deeper than work relationship.
When Star Cinema announced their first project together, skeptics raised their eyebrows while the staunch supporters of the John Lloyd-Bea Alonzo love team even declared a "boycott."
There was no doubt about their individual popularity. John Lloyd was the reigning Box Office King for the movie One More Chance, where he was paired with perennial screen partner Bea Alonzo. Sarah was the Concert Princess with several platinum albums to her name and sold-out performances at the Big Dome.
But the big question then: Would popularity be enough?
The film outfit of ABS-CBN took the risk and released their first movie, A Very special Love, on July 30, 2008. After its eight-week run, it reportedly raked in 180 million pesos and led the box-office race last year.
PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) asked Sarah about her preparations for the project.
Did they have bonding sessions together? She just shook her head.
Did they do anything so they would feel comfortable in each other's company? Again, she gave a no-answer.
Then she explained, "Yung maganda dun sa team-up namin ni Lloydie [John Lloyd's nickname], kumbaga, hindi kailangang magpraktis. 'Tapos yun, kusa na lang lumalabas kasi parang nahahawa ako sa pagiging magaling na actor niya. Kapag pumupunta siya sa set, talagang mararamdaman mo na siya si Miggy Montenegro, yung character niya.
"At ako as Laida, ayun, naa-absorb ko yun, yung mga traits nya, yung characteristics niya, ayun na lumalabas naman po nang kusa kahit na hindi na masyadong pinagiisipan..."
PEP also got the chance to ask John Lloyd the same question right after the premiere night of his second film with Sarah.
He exclaimed, "That's the beauty in doing a film, you get to portray a certain story, a certain relationship na parang kung hindi mo maipo-portray, then there would be no moviemaking at all. So we're blessed na ano, in a way we're being effective, 'no? Alam mo yun, yung portrayal coming into life or has come into life, masaya kasi you can make people believe."
No doubt, Sarah and John Lloyd have that kilig factor, which came out effortlessly in both movies.
THE SUCCESS FORMULA. How did that chemistry become possible between two people who never got the chance to work with each other before?
Some said: Story.
How they met, what she did to make him notice her, when he started thinking about her, how they realized they love each other, what would sustain their love for each other, how they would survive the odds—both movies presented very typical scenarios, which every Pinoy could easily relate to.
The magic was on direk Cathy Molina's storytelling method, which was light, fun, and straightforward. She did a good job in creating that spontaneous rapport between the characters, especially John Lloyd's and Sarah's. The screenplay and the direction infused a large dose of wit and humor, plus a bit of drama, in most scenes.
Others pointed out: Portrayal.
What's a good story without good characters and actors?
The two lead stars played their parts so well that it would be hard to imagine another actor playing Miggy, or another actress playing Laida.
Sarah, who's relatively a newbie in the acting field, said it helped that she and Laida have a lot of similarities, "Yung pagka-jolly, yung pagka-gullible minsan, pagiging mapagmahal niya, yung konsepto niya sa love..." The result was a very natural, almost inherent, portrayal of her character.
John Lloyd, on the other hand, had already proven his versatility as an actor. He's been acting for more than a decade now and has played almost every role on television and in the movies. In both films, he had shown his funny side, at the same time, depth.
The meaningful glances, playful banter, sweet lines and gestures were enough to make the viewers melt with kakiligan.
When we asked Sarah about the success formula of her team-up with John Lloyd, she could not pinpoint it herself. "Mahirap pong magsalita, eh..." she said.
But all together, it's their popularity, the story, the chemistry—and that element of surprise.
Last year, a showbiz reporter remarked incredulously, "John Lloyd and Sarah, anong gagawin nila?" But after watching both films, the only word he could utter was, "Bongga!"
It's been a week since the opening day, and so far, according to the reviews, so good. Maybe Sarah can set aside her "abot-abot na kaba."