Best of Philippine Showbiz

Zanjoe Marudo and Maja Salvador: The Perfect Pairing At The Right Time

  • November 3, 2018
  • INSIDESHOWBIZ.PH TEAM

Cue the opening taps of the drums in the Finesse remix by Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B and you will immediately feel the party atmosphere as the vibrant hit blasts away and the people onstage break into dance. The bursts of color from the costumes and lights add to the celebratory vibe. Maja Salvador shows off her usual amazing and on-point dance moves while Zanjoe Marudo follows suit, also not missing a beat, plus being able to hold his own against the renowned Dance Princess.

This was a performance on the variety program ASAP which caught the attention of Filipino audiences and netizens alike. “Sobrang proud ako kay Z. Pinost ko pa nga [on Instagram] kasi totoo. Dahil nung rehearsal, iniwan ko na rin siya kaagad kasi meron akong birthday prod rehearsal so nagkita nalang kami the following day. So nakakatuwa na pagdating dun, parang akala mo ni-rehearse niya ng isang linggo,” Maja tells Inside Showbiz Weekly.

“Sobrang confident siya, sobrang cute, sobrang alam mong feeling mong parang gusto niya talaga ‘yung ginagawa niyang nagsasayaw. Hindi mo ma-fee-feel na awkward siya, hindi mo mararamdaman na ‘Nakakahiya ‘yung ginagawa ko,’” she states. Zanjoe lets us in, “Tuwing wala pa ‘yung steps, tuwing ad lib, [sinasabi ko,] ‘Hindi ko na kaya!’” But he admits, “Masaya. Sobrang saya. Ang sarap kaya. Nakaka-ano… nakaka… nakaka-young.”

This line causes Maja, 30, to erupt in laughter and remind Zanjoe, “Bata ka pa naman.” The 36-year-old actor explains, “Sumasayaw ako na alam mo ‘yun energetic ka, nakakabata ‘yung dating. Ang sarap.” Such moment was not just a production number to promote their movie To Love Some Buddy. It is also a testament of how cool their working relationship is, without any pre tenses and drama. It is pure fun, and the audience instantly felt it.

 

PERFECT COMBINATION

Maja and Zanjoe have been in show business for more than a decade already, yet this is the first time that they are paired up in a major project. They have been part of just a single scene in the now-defunct romance anthology Your Song. They were also in two movies together, the romantic-comedy 24/7 In Love and horror film Cinco, but in separate episodes.

“Iyan ‘yung tinatawag na perfect timing para sa perfect project para sa perfect combination naming dalawa. Wow,” Maja says of their upcoming movie. Zanjoe briefly breaks into song, “Perfect combination,” before agreeing: “Oo siguro ‘yung panahon na rin ang nagsabi na eto ‘yung tamang panahon, eto ‘yung tamang project na pagsamahin kami and ayun ‘yung tama.”

They play the roles of Faith and Julius in the Black Sheep production written and directed by Jason Paul Laxamana. It is a tale about best friends who became lovers. Maja notes, “Eto talaga ‘yung first major project naming dalaw. Nagsasama kami sa out of the country shows pero ito ‘yung project na nakilala mo si Z bilang si Zanjoe, hindi lang artista kundi normal na tao.”

Zanjoe notes, “Sobrang thankful na hindi ko naman na-imagine na makakatrabaho ko pa siya so nakakatuwa na nangyari siya itong taong ito kung kailan kailangan ko ng mga ganitong klaseng projects, ‘yung mga gusto ng mga generation ngayon (millennials). ‘Yung medyo raw at real diba? Kahit papaano nakakatuwa na nabigyan pa ako ng ganitong klaseng pelikula tapos si Maja pa ‘yung nakasama ko.”

 

MUTUAL ADMIRATION

As both acclaimed actors are busy with promoting their movie, it is a nice thing to hear from them that they are already eager to work with each other again. “Hopefully, magsama pa kami sa ibang project and sana soon,” says Maja. “Meron ka kasing makakatrabaho na [sasabihin mong] ‘Huling trabaho na namin ‘yun!’ Eto, siya ‘yung kahit ilang projects ang i-offer basta with Z, game ako.”

Aside from being a versatile and competent actor, Maja admires this trait of Zanjoe: “Iyan, puyat na puyat iyan pero tignan mo walang bakas ng sungit ang pagiging professional niya. Sabi ko nga pagdating sa trabaho, siya ‘yung parang boy version ko na gusto parati positive lang. Kung anong kailangang gawin, gawin na agad. Marunong makisama sa lahat. So ‘yun, mabait naman.”

Zanjoe returns the compliment, “‘Yung passion niya talaga na hanggang ngayon parang andun pa rin ‘yung hunger, ‘yung parang laging first project para sa kaniya ‘yung gagawin niya. Kunyari may bago siyang soap, may bago siyang movie, makikita mo parang excited pa rin, lagi siyang parang unang project.”

He continues, “Siguro nag-co-complement kami dahil sa paggawa namin nitong pelikula. Light siya, mag pagka-baliw, may romance, merong friendship. Parang ang dami naming scenes na na-experience dito and sa tingin ko hindi kami masyadong nahirapan o nag-adjust. Parang nag-co-complement kami sa mga gusto naming mangyari and excited ako na sana sa iba, heavy drama naman o medyo mga mabibigat naman na eksena o kuwento kasi ito na-try na namin ‘yung light so ‘yun, sana marami pa, baka doon mag-complement din kami.”

SIMPLE YET COMPLEX

The story of To Love Some Buddy does not just deal with how two best friends fall in love with each other, but also about the highs and lows of their relationship thereafter. According to Maja, “Kahit na sabihin na ang daming kuwento na ganiyan, ano ito, mas real ‘yung atake, mas real ‘yung kuwento. Hindi namin kayo bibigyan ng fairy-tale na story. Sa totoong buhay, walang masayang relasyon lang.”

She goes on, “Lahat pagdadaanan mo, lahat ng emosyon at ‘yun ‘yung ibibigay ng pelikula namin kasi anong mangyayari sa iyo kung ang mawawala sa iyo ay hindi lang isa kung hindi dalawa—best friend mo atsaka ‘yung boyfriend mo?” Zanjoe concurs, “Simple lang naman ‘yung storya niya. Siguro kung paano namin siya binuo as kami ni Maja, si Direk Jason, kung paano namin binubuo ‘yung bawat scene na not too trying hard pero real siya, relatable.”

Zanjoe comments, “Basta ako nabibilib ako lagi kay Direk dahil ang lalim nung mga atake niya sa bawat scene. Akala mo simple lang pero ang dami palang ibig sabihin ‘pag nakita mo na siya sa sinehan, ‘pag nakita mo na ‘yung picture mismo. May mga meaning na doon mo lang makikita, hindi ko nakita nung ginagawa namin. Exciting siya and siguro feeling ko naman ‘yun ‘yung hinahanap ng mga tao ngayon, ‘yung ganun na hindi masyadong fancy.”

LEARNING FROM DIREK JASON

This is Maja’s first time to work with Direk Jason while it is the third time for Zanjoe, following The Third Party with Angel Locsin and Sam Milby and Fallback with Rhian Ramos and Daniel Matsunaga. Although Maja and Zanjoe are considered seniors to Direk Jason in terms of longevity in show business, they admit that they look up to their director because of his knowledge, artistry, and wisdom.

Si Direk Jason bigyan mo ng mga simpleng script, simpleng storya nagagawa niya ng kumbaga exciting, entertaining, laging ganun. Tapos ang pinakagusto ko kay Direk Jason kaya na-e-excite ako lagi makatrabaho siya, ‘yung unpredictable siya. Hindi mo mahuhulaan, parang ang hirap hulaan ang mga susunod na mga nangyayari. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung magic niya, unpredictable. And kung ano ‘yung typical na nakikita ng tao, napapanood ng tao, hindi ‘yun ‘yung gagawin niya,” states Zanjoe.

“Iba pa rin ang mata ng direktor,” Maja says of the filmmaker who is also known for 100 Tula Para Kay Stella and The Day After Valentine’s. “Welcome siya sa ideas mo, sa kung ano ang gusto mong mangyari sa character mo. Iba ‘yung utak talaga ng mga direktor kasi ‘yung sinasabi ni Z na unpredictable, parang ganito namin siya ginawa sa eksena and then nung nag-dubbing na kami, ‘Ah kaya pala ayaw niyang tanggapin ‘yung idea na ‘yun kasi ganito ‘yung atakeng gagawin niya.’”

Zanjoe also points out, “As a director, as an artist, meron siyang ugali na naniniwala sa kakayahan niya, sa knowledge niya. May sarili siyang desisyon. Hindi siya ‘yung basta mo nalang masasabihan kung ano ang puwedeng gawin. Alam niya kung ano ang gusto niya, ‘yun ‘yung gusto ko. Meron talaga siyang paninindigan pagdating sa paniniwala niya sa isang eksena lalo na kung siya ‘yung nagsulat. ‘Yun ‘yung tiwala lang kasi ‘yung finished product naman, lagi akong happy sa mga ginagawa niya.”

WORDS OF ADVICE

With regards to their movie’s theme, Maja and Zanjoe disclose that they have never fallen for a best friend. “Hindi sa best friend eh pero kaibigan. Eh magkaiba ‘yun eh. Ako kasi, may best friend ako: si Enchong [Dee], si Rayver [Cruz]. Pero hindi to take ng ganung next level kasi pakiramdam talaga nila na may wall ako na ‘Eto tayo,’ parang ganun,” shares Maja. Zanjoe also admits to finding a kabarkada cute but he just said to himself, “Save nalang natin ito [friendship], huwag na natin sirain.”

But, speaking from having played characters who took on the chance for love with their best friend, they surprisingly encourage those best of friends who are wondering if they should enter into a romantic relationship. Zanjoe remarks, “Naku ang sarap ng feeling na ‘yan, ‘yung nagtataguan. Enjoy lang nila, enjoy nalang nila diba?” Maja agrees, “Enjoy niyo muna, huwag niyo munang aminin.”

She expounds, “Sa akin naman, kung hindi kayo nagmamadali, enjoy niyo muna. Pero kung ramdam niyo naman na isa sa inyo at siya rin, meron, eh magpakiramdaman na kayo agad. Pero kung ‘yung isa may jowa, eh alam mo na kung ano ang posisyon mo. Basta kahit ano pa ‘yang nararamdaman mo, isa lang naman ‘yan: maging honest ka lang sa sarili mo kasi sarili mo na ‘yun so huwag mo nang lokohin ang sarili mo.” Zanjoe adds, “Mararamdaman niyo iyan kung ‘yan talaga ‘yung para sa inyo. And try niyo. Paano niyo malalaman kung hindi, diba?”

PERSONAL TAKEAWAYS

While they have yet to come to terms with the fact of falling in love with a best friend in their personal lives, they are still able to learn more than a thing or two from the story of their latest movie. Maja shares, “Kahit best friend mo, hindi rin kayang laging sabayan iyang topak mo. At mas nakita ko [sa pelikula] kung paano maging girlfriend ang mga babae.”

She adds, “‘Pag pinapanood mo [iisipin mo] ‘May pagka ganiyan ba ako?’ ‘Yung tatanungin mo ‘yung self mo. So in a way ‘pag papasok ka sa bagong relationship, parang medyo i-che-check mo lagi ‘yung sarili mo kung baka maging ganun ka. Kasi minsan kaya kayo nag-cli-click ng kaibigan mo o ng magiging partner mo kasi okay kayo. ‘Yun siya, ‘yun ka, kung ano ‘yung minahal niya. Pero once na may baguhin ka, paano kung hindi ganoon kadaling mag-adjust ‘yung isa sa inyo? How will you save it?”

As for Zanjoe, “Kung papasok ka sa isang relationship, kailangan willing ka maging open, willing ka mag-adjust and ayun, give and take ‘yan eh. Hindi puwedeng one-sided lang. Dapat laging dalawa kayo. Huwag kang masyadong too comfortable lalo na ‘pag magkaibigan o close kayo kasi ‘pag nagiging masyado kang kumportable sa isang bagay, minsan nagiging selfish ka. Kailangan maging careful ka rin sa feelings ng iba.”

These are just some of the lessons that Maja and Zanjoe hope for moviegoers to realize as they come to know the story of Faith and Julius. They wish for audiences to appreciate their characters’ fun and fuss-free friendship, as well as their subsequent love story. They also yearn for viewers to embrace their characters’ story wholeheartedly no matter how it will play out in the end.

Words by Rosy Mina | Photography by Yukie Sarto | Art Direction by Bria Cardenas | Editorial Design by Nix Villaruel | Sittings Editor Vani Altomonte | Brand Associate Walter de Jesus | Publisher Archie Carrasco

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