Dito at Doon Star JC Santos on Finding Unexpected Love in Quarantine
“Naka-survival mode tayo ngayon, kaya vulnerable lahat ng mga tao”
TBA Studios’ newest rom-com release, Dito at Doon, takes place during the first Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). Carlo Cabaog (JC Santos) and Len Esguerra (Janine Gutierrez) form an online-turned-offline friendship through a heated e-numan. As quarantine extends, they carry out a number of failed attempts to meet—will they finally succeed?
Theater, TV and film actor, JC Santos, fills us in on his newest role on-screen, as Caloy, and off-screen, as a father, in an exclusive one-on-one.
Wonder: How have you been, with the recent surge and everything, while adapting to the times especially marketing your new film?
JC: “Nakakalungkot…ang hirap kasi ‘di ba, kaya kami naging storytellers dahil gusto namin ng audience lalo na ako, galing ako from the live scene—I’m from the theater. Ang hirap kapag walang audience, mabigat sa performance. Well, kailangan muna mag-adapt for now, sa mga nangyayari. (It’s upsetting…it’s hard because we became storytellers to have an audience, especially, for me, since I come from the live scene—I’m from the theater. It’s difficult to not have an audience, it’s heavy during a performance. For now, we have to adapt to what’s happening.)”
W: Can you tell us more about your character Carlo in Dito at Doon?
JC: “My role’s name is Carlo Cabaog… This was set in the first few weeks of the Enhanced Community Quarantine. So, [he] comes from the province of Cebu. Nagtratrabaho siya sa Manila para mag-provide sa family niya, as a breadwinner. He’s working as a delivery guy then nag-meet sila sa isang e-numan, and dun na nagsimula ang journey. (He works in Manila to provide for his family, as a breadwinner. He’s working as a delivery guy then [he and Len] meet in an e-numan, and the journey starts there.)”
W: What do you appreciate most about your partner in the film and, notably our March cover girl, Janine Gutierrez?
JC: “Definitely, ibang-iba ‘yung flavor namin ni Janine. Ang mahirap sa pelikula namin is the text, it’s very talky. Every time kasi, iba’t-ibang set siya, because it’s a video call conference. Every time mag-uusap kami, kailangan magbago-bago ‘yung shots. The thing about it is, you have to repeat it every now and then. And what I love about Janine—eh kasi it’s a theater process—she managed to make it fresh every time… I think si Janine, deserve niya ‘yung ‘best actress’ [title] dahil kaya niya mag-adapt sa kahit anong process. That’s what I love about working with her. (Our flavor is definitely different. The difficult thing about our film is the text, it’s very talky. It’s a different set every time because it’s a video call conference. Every time we talk, the shots have to change. The thing about it is, you have to repeat it every now and then. What I love about Janine—it’s a theater process—is she managed to make it fresh every time… I think Janine deserves the “best actress” [title] because she can adapt to any process. That’s what I love about working with her.”
W: Since the premise of the film is finding unexpected love in a pandemic, do you think it’s actually possible to find love during these terrible times?
JC: I think, yeah, kasi everybody’s on the edge right now and lahat tayo just seeking for something real. Nandun tayo sa point na sana may makapagpasaya… I think may possibility na may ma-light na fire [when it comes to] love at kung matapos man ‘to, andiyan pa rin sila, posible for me. Naka-survival mode tayo ngayon kaya vulnerable lahat ng mga tao. (I think, yeah, because everybody’s on the edge right now and we’re all seeking for something real. We’re at a point when we hope that someone can make us happy… I think it’s a possibility, that there will be a fire lit [when it comes to] love and if this ends and they’re still here, it’s possible for me. We’re in survival mode that’s why we’re all vulnerable.)”
W: Our theme for April is “Every Body” wherein we feature bodies of all genders, shapes and sizes. Now that you’re a Dad, has there been a different approach you’ve taken towards self-care?
JC: “Ang daming nangyari sa’kin nitong nakaraang taon, for that good seven months na wala pang work. First, nagka-baby and everything. First time ko ma-discover ang skincare routine because of my wife. Before nag-pandemic, I was [shooting] a series, an international one, and nasira ‘yung skin ko kasi ang dumi ng set every time. So my wife [said], ‘Ikaw lang ang artistang hindi nag-aalaga ng balat mo,’ so na-appreciate ko [having a routine] and hanggang ngayon, ginagawa ko siya. (A lot of things happened the past year, for that good seven months when I didn’t have work. First, I had a baby and everything. It was my first time to discover a skincare routine because of my wife. Before the pandemic, I was [shooting] a series, an international one, and my skin broke out because the set was dirty every time. So my wife [said], ‘You’re the only actor who doesn’t take care of his skin,’ so I appreciated [having a routine] and until now, I still do it.)
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[When it comes to] my baby, it’s a different appreciation. Every time I’m on set, [working on] a love story, I’m always on the search [for] ano pang maibibigay ko (what else I can give) in terms of love. Now, having a baby, having to take care of someone who’s fragile and vulnerable every time, lumalim ‘yung idea ko of love (my understanding of love has deepened).”
Can love exist in these uncertain times? Watch the much-anticipated film, “Dito at Doon” exclusively on Upstream.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver