In "Love on Air," the new episode of the romance drama anthology "Stories from the Heart," Khalil Ramos and Gabbi Garcia play a DJ and an online seller, respectively, who are forced to pretend they're dating for a love advice radio program they host.
It's a situation the two Kapuso stars wouldn't find themselves in, because they're actually real-life lovers. But if they were to put themselves in the protagonists' shoes, how would they handle it?
If her family's livelihood and welfare depended on it—like her character, Wanda—Gabbi said she would be compelled to do the same. "It depends on the circumstances. If my family is on the line, if I need to work hard for them so they could pay rent, then I would do it," she told the Inquirer in a virtual conference for the series, which airs weekday afternoons starting Nov. 29.
Otherwise, Gabbi's values dictate that she "protect" herself. "If I have to do it just because it's what people want, I feel like the urge to protect myself from it is greater. I think it's a trap and will not be good for someone's mental health," the 22-year-old surmised.
Khalil echoed his girlfriend's sentiments, adding that the performative aspect of maintaining a make-believe relationship must be exhausting.
"I don't necessarily agree with forcing it. But if it happens naturally, why not? I can only guess that pretending is difficult because every day is a performance," said the 25-year-old actor-singer, who admitted that he once thought it was something that was needed to succeed in show biz.
"It was the norm before … that if you want to be part of a successful love team, then it has to be real," he related.
But as Gabbi pointed out, there are times when difficult situations require difficult decisions. "That's something our characters have to go through. They had to make decisions that are the opposite of what they believed in to get through their circumstances. Sometimes, you're compelled to do things you never imagined yourself doing," Khalil said.
Directed by Paul Sta. Ana, "Love on Air," follows Jojo, a disc jockey still stuck in the rut, a year after his former lover and radio show cohost left him; and Wanda, a young woman who takes on various odd jobs—including online selling—to support her family and send her younger brother to school.
Wanda lands an offer to host a new radio program with her newfound friend Jojo. Their boss asks the two to pretend that they like each other. But later on, Jojo finds out that Wanda is the mystery listener who harangued him on air, because he apparently gave her friend terrible advice.
Playing Wanda was a challenge, Gabbi said, because their personalities couldn't be more different.
"It's my first time to play someone so animated, quirky and kalog. She's so different from my real self, so the role required a lot of energy. It was a big adjustment and I had to give my best effort," Gabbi said. "But I really had fun playing her because there's a lot of color and layers to her. She has been through so much in life, which toughened her up."
Khalil, on the other hand, said Jojo is probably the "wordiest" character he has played. "As you would expect from a DJ, words are his tools. He's a traditional guy. His beliefs are not the norm anymore. But then, he meets someone totally different and uses a platform foreign to him," he said. "We had so much fun exploring our characters because they're both new to us."
Asked how they manage to work with each other and, at the same time, keep things fresh, Gabbi said: "We're best friends first, before partners. We enjoy doing things together. We have similar hobbies. And I believe that keeps us going. There's something new whenever we see or work with each other."
"You just have to have fun," Khalil added. "We work on something we both enjoy and love doing … We love collaborating. And as long as we're having fun, that's how we keep the fire burning." INQ
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