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Hugot to the nth power

It asks the question of how far one is willing to go to fix a person, as Jane finds comfort in Francis who is willing to love her, not knowing if his love is enough to keep Jane.

Louise Lizan

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JC Santos and Bela Padilla star anew in the hugot flick, “On Vodka, Beers and Regrets.”

It looks like the tandem of JC Santos and Bela Padilla’s mission to break hearts is not coming to an end.

If their heartbreaking portrayals of Stella and Fidel in 100 Tula Para Kay Stella or of Lani and Kai in The Day After Valentine’s wasn’t painful and sad enough — Jane and Francis, mixed with relatable scenes and realistic dialogues from On Vodka, Beers and Regrets, will be the reason people will exit the cinemas with tears-stained cheeks and a box of used tissues.

Kami ulit. Masakit ulit (It’s us again. It’s painful again).” Thus reads an Instagram caption of the film’s leading lady, Padilla, for her newest film with Santos. It’s the third time the stars are teaming up for another hugot love story, which is also claime to be the “most painful” one yet.

The film tells the tale of Jane (Bela), a washed-up actress whose career has hit rock bottom, seeking comfort in alcohol, and Francis (JC), a vocalist of a band at the bar she frequents. It asks the question of how far one is willing to go to fix a person, as Jane finds comfort in Francis who is willing to love her, not knowing if his love is enough to keep Jane.

JC and Bela starred in hit films in the past, 100 Tula Para Kay Stella and The Day After Valentine’s as almost-lovers. These films, both directed by Jason Paul Laxamana, were entries at the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino and earned the Audience Choice Awards for 2017 and 2018. The duo has also worked together for an episode in Maalaala Mo Kaya and the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival entry, Miracle in Cell No. 7.

With all these memories and experiences in tow, JC and Bela no longer felt awkward and conscious of each other during filming. “We’ve been working together for three years; there’s no awkwardness left. All we had to do was serve the film’s purpose. I described direk Irene’s script as a coloring book. It’s easy. It’s not a jigsaw puzzle where I have to think of what to do first,” JC shared. “We’ve also reached the point where sometimes we don’t have a script to read from as long as we know the parameters (of the scene).”

“We mature as individuals when we’re not working with each other. So, I feel like whenever we find different projects, we learn something different. And when we come back again to each other, it’s more colorful. But, of course, it helps that we’re so used to each other because we can deliver the scenes well,” Bela said at the thought of still finding new things about JC even after working with each other for a long time.

Back for more pain. The co-actors are teaming up for the third time on the big screen, bringing in a new set of pain and regrets.

Director and writer Irene Emma Villamor, the brilliant mind behind a string of box-office hits like Meet Me in St. Gallen, Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story, Ulan and Camp Sawi, relied on the two’s undeniable chemistry to make the story come alive.

“I’ve worked with Bela a lot of times, so I’m used to her. But JC and I didn’t know each other well, so I said to him, ‘JC, just do it how it has always been when you’re working with Bela, that’s how this movie is going to work, too,’ and directing this film was the easiest for me,” she explained.

“They already have their language, so I followed them wherever they would take me,” Villamor added.

Despite the pain and slow burn that the film is expected to elicit given the leading stars’ reputation in the genre, there’s also the anticipation that things will be better for their onscreen characters in On Vodka, Beers and Regrets, showing in cinemas 5 February.

“The pain JC and I’s tandem brings is like getting a tattoo. You always come back for more. So, I think that’s the kind of pain that we serve,” Bela concluded.

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