“Lolong” lead stars (from left): Arra San Agustin, Ruru Madrid and Shaira Diaz
All too often, actors working on a film or television series end up being nothing but “taping friends.”
But that wasn’t the case for Ruru Madrid, Arra San Agustin and Shaira Diaz, who managed to build genuine friendships while shooting the fantasy-action “Lolong.”
“Sometimes, when you do shows, there are some people who would just pass by. ‘Taping friends lang.’ But here it’s different. It has been a while since our taping ended, but we still look for each other—even the staff and members of the production team. It feels good that we still check on each other,” Shaira told the Inquirer in a video conference for the primetime series, which ended last Sept. 30.
The actress grew especially fond of Arra with whom she has “built a sisterhood.” “That’s how we treat each other now… We do things together,” Shaira said. “And we always look forward to seeing each other.”
The three Kapuso talents had already worked together prior to “Lolong.” They starred in the “On My Way To You!” episode of the drama anthology “I Can See You.” But since shooting lasted for only five days, they didn’t really get a chance to get to know each other.
“After those five days, we all went our separate ways. So I didn’t really expect to be friends with them. And I think that’s one of the reasons we had good rapport onscreen—the genuine friendships behind the cameras,” Arra said. “And everyone was kind. There were no issues. Walang maarte—we take things as they are. No one is judgmental.”
Ruru believes that the outcome of the show wouldn’t be as good as it was if not for his two leading ladies. “Though you expect to get close with your costars… it’s not to this extent. They inspired me to do my best and finish strong… Everyone gave their best and we supported each other. Working with actors who are passionate and generous can be really motivating.”
“I hope we get another season because that would be a riot!” Shaira added.
And their wish for a “Lolong” reunion may very well come true. While the show enjoyed good ratings during its run, there was no way to extend it, because it was a canned show that was filmed during the height of the pandemic—back when production teams were limited by ever-changing restrictions.
Luckily, the possibility of doing a second book is currently being explored. “The creative team is preparing for a potential second book… We had overwhelming support during our first run, but we couldn’t extend it just like that because it involves heavy and intricate graphics work. But we’re preparing for the next fight,” executive director Mark Anthony Norella said.
Because of strict health protocols, the “Lolong” team had to film the majority of the scenes in just one location, the Villa Escudero in Quezon province. But now that there’s more freedom of movement, Norella said he hopes to expand the show’s universe to showcase more places in the Philippines.
“We shot the show at a time when we had a lot of restrictions to work with. We had to stay in one place only; we couldn’t leave and go elsewhere. But hopefully, for the second book, we get to explore new places, because environmental conservation is one of the show’s themes,” Norella said.
And new locations or settings can only mean new characters and storylines. “Having new characters is a big possibility. That’s what we’re hoping for,” he added.
“Maybe we can have new magic-wielding races,” Ruru suggested.
Just the same, Ruru will make sure he’s ready should the planned second book actually materializes. “I love challenging myself, whether it involves learning new skills, studying martial arts or simply improving my physical appearance,” he said. “The second book should be better. That’s the goal.” INQ
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