IT was an early call time for the cast and crew of Maalaala Mo Kaya, but lead star Kim Chiu was already in high spirits at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The Kapamilya actress, despite shooting for the past days in various locations, could not contain her excitement playing the former University of Santo Tomas volleyball star Sisi Rondina in an upcoming episode of the show.
“Aaahh! Una, nagulat talaga ako nung napanood ko ‘yung interview niya. Kasi F na F lang talaga ako ng laro niya — as in fan na fan,” Chiu told a handful of reporters during a momentary break from the shoot. “Tinanong ako ng MMK kung kaya ko raw ba. Sabi ko kakayanin. Let’s try.”
Chiu committed fully to role, immersing herself to her idol's story and taking up the sport again after not playing the game for a while.
“Oo [nag-practice ako] kasi parang napanis na ‘yung volleyball ko. Siguro ‘yung mata ko kakapanood ng volleyball medyo fresh pa, pero ‘yung pangangatawan ko wala na, tapos si Sisi pa talaga [ang gagampanan ko]?”
The 29-year-old actress admitted she was nervous portraying the UST captain on the small screen.
“Iba pala kapag nasundan mo ‘yung journey ng tao?” Chiu explained. “Kasi usually [sa] mga MMK [episodes] ikinekwento lang sa amin kung ano ang pinagdaanan ng mga taong i-po-portray namin.
“So mas makapal ‘yung pressure for me na i-play ‘yung tao na kilala mo pala. Well, hindi kami sobrang magkakilala, pero dahil alam ko journey niya, parang kilala ko na rin siya. Ngayon nga lang kami nagkita kaya starstruck ako."
Chiu said she admires Rondina's relentless will to overcome the challenges that come her way. The high-flying spiker grew up poor in Compostela, Cebu before taking a leap of faith to study and play volleyball in Manila.
“Noong binasa ko ‘yung script, bilang fan na fan ka, hindi mo alam na ganito pala ang pinagdaanan niya,” said Chiu. “Kasi ang alam natin [yung days na niya sa] UST, volleyball player na siya, magaling na.
“Pero dito sa MMK ipinakita kung paano siya nagsimula, paano niya ginusto kung paano maging volleyball player, ‘yung journey niya para maging volleyball player. Doon ko nga lang nalaman ang pinagdaanan ng family niya.”
Chiu, who rose to stardom through the reality show Pinoy Big Brother in 2006, felt that she and her fellow Cebuana would have no trouble relating to each other.
“Siyempre pareha mi nangandoy na make big sa [Manila],” said Chiu. “Siyempre hindi namin alam na magiging successful kami sa Maynila, na andito pala ang opportunity namin sa Manila. So kami ang mga Bisdak representing success here in Metro Manila. Ito ang parang New York namin sa [probinsiyana] eh, big city.”
There are parallels to how both of them pursued success, Chiu added. "Kaming artista, iyak-iyak, tawa-tawa. Sina Sisi physical ang kailangan, lalo na siya na kung makatalon pwede na niya lagpasan net ganoon. Pero magkaiba man ang dedication and field namin, pareho naman ang motivation namin na maging successful."
This passion for excellence is exactly what Rondina wanted to impart through MMK's dramatization of her life. For her, champions are those who are fueled by their love of God and family, who chase greatness with faith and determination.
“Masaya ako kasi nabahagi ‘yung buhay ko and sana marami akong ma-inspire na mga katulad ko,” said Rondina.
The MMK episode will air on Saturday, July 20.