You can fall in love at any point in your life for the very first time.
This is the premise of the upcoming Paul Soriano film, First Love, which stars Aga Muhlach and Bea Alonzo. Cosmopolitan sat down with the two romance genre icons where they discussed the meaning of love and what they've learned in their lives so far.
"It was magic, and I feel like it was in God's hands since day one." —Aga on working with Bea
Aga On Movies, Maturity, And More
What can you say about movies now and how they have changed since the time of Bagets?
They are better now. When I was 14, I was a lousy actor. Now, you see bata pa lang, first movie pa lang, may nakikita ka nang galing. You know, when I was in my 20s, I thought I was doing well, and when I was in my 30s I watched my movies in my 20s, I was like, "Yikes. Ang babaw." When I was in my 40s and I watched my movies from my 30s, I thought, "Okay, I am getting there." It is never enough, and I never looked at myself as a performer; it has to be the film as a whole and not just about my performance. Sometimes, the story is so complicated, hindi maintindihan, it becomes chop suey, and it flops. It is better to have a simple story and you do it right.
How long did it take you to make First Love?
It took one month in Vancouver, naka–lock in kami, and we did the filming in its entire sequence from scene one. But the script and everything else went back and forth, even before I did Seven Sundays. Paul (Soriano) and I have wanted to work together for a long time. He told me he had a project for us, and he even drove to Las Vegas from LA to show it to me. We discussed it but realized that it was not there yet. When he found the right one, which is First Love, I told him I wanted to work with Bea, and it was really fate—because he flipped the pages of the manuscript and showed me that Bea was the choice for leading lady.
What can you say about working with Bea?
Hanga ako, sinakyan niya yung project nang buong-buo. She played it really well. I made her nervous on the first day because I told her, "Not to pressure to you, pero ikaw ang anchor ko dito ha? Nakita ko yung nagawa mo, at hanga ako." Lahat ng reaction niya, it was there. Ang laking bagay when you do a scene 'pag sinabi mo yung line na ito and you expect this reaction. She gave me this. It was magic, and I feel like it was in God's hands since day one.
"I still pursue my wife until now which is what all husbands should do." - Aga
What are your thoughts on first love and how has your definition changed through the years?
I did not like the title at first. I am very careful with my projects and I don't want to be criticized na after all this time, ang title ng movie ko, First Love. But they explained it to me, Olivia Lamasan called me and it was about love between two adults and how first love can happen to you anytime.
In real life, it has happened. Just when you thought you had your first love, then you meet someone, then you fall in love so many times, and then you think, "Oh, my god, this is it!" You wouldn't know until you meet your real first love—whom I married. To describe my relationship with Charlene (Gonzales), I would say there is nothing more I can ask for. But it is not just about me and my wife. I still pursue my wife until now which is what all husbands should do, but with my wife and I, we are also thinking about how we can be better parents to our kids and what will be doing when the kids are grown.
Your kids are growing up. What advice can you give them about their first love?
I'm sure may crushes na sila, and they may have had their first heartbreak from the crushes. I will tell them, "Ayus lang yan." When they have issues with their friends, I like to hear about it. They open up to me, because when they do, I tell them, "Kaya mo yan, you can deal with it." As a parent, I let them be, I am there para saluhin sila, but I let them experience life.
Ibang story na kapag may karelasyon na sila. I'm ready, but I am not excited for it. (laughs). Iniisip ko lang minsan, "Who is the guy who will hold my daughter's hand in front of me? Who is the girl my son will bring home?"
"I stopped working for almost eight years and I had the time of my life. I take it one step at a time, and it's all good." - Aga
Technically, you are the "first" Tito of Manila, because you were "Tito Aga" in Okidokidok.
It took some time to realize and accept that. I don't hide my age, 49. I love my age. It took time to adjust when people started calling me tito or kuya. (laughs). To figure out why, I asked Tito Ron (Ronaldo Valdez), whom I was calling tito when we were doing May Minamahal. I asked him when we were doing Seven Sundays, "How old were you then?" I was 22 or 23 at the time, and we started computing. He replied, "I was 47!" It was a lightbulb moment. "Oh, that's why!" It was the same with Kuya Ipe (Philip Salvador), tinanong ko siya how old he was when we played basketball when I was about 28. He was 45 naman then. It's good, now I understand. (laughs).
Are you active on social media?
I have nothing against it because it is the now. However, I see a lot of celebrities who live in their own world because of it. They are like, "I have one million, two million, four or five million followers." Para sa akin, and then what? But that's because I am a purist, even with my Instagram, yung anak ko sinasabi sa akin, "Dad, you have to put your posts this way," dapat daw "curated," and I'm like, what? I don't want more followers, I have my followers. They are quiet, but they are there. When I come out with a movie, you see them.
Nakikita ko yung mga maraming nagpo-post of things that they do every day, yung mga nasa bedroom sila. I tried it, I took a picture, then I deleted it. No, it's just not me! (laughs). There is one time, though, just a couple of weeks ago, that I posted a video of my family. It was crazy! I got, what, 900,000 views and I gained about 300,000 followers in just two days. Crazy!
The message of the movie is "seize the day." Do you apply that as well?
Yes. I believe that you should enjoy life. Don't take life too seriously, especially now. Grabe na e. People are too stressed. It says in the bible, worrying will not get you anywhere. If there is a problem, tackle it. Some people turn to drugs, alcohol, and partying—but when you wake up the next day, the problem is still there. Since I found my God, our God, it has been a joyride.
People say it's easier for me, kasi may pera ako. But, we all have the same problems—paying the bills, paying for our children's education, pang-sweldo, but I don't worry about it. When you wake up with nothing, then there's nothing. If you don't compare yourself with others, you will be more at peace. This competition we have in life takes the joy out of living.
I stopped working for almost eight years and I had the time of my life. I take it one step at a time, and it's all good.
Bea On Bucket Lists And Loving Better
Aga had you in mind for the project since the very beginning. How does that make you feel?
Kinilig ako! I've always wanted to work with him—girls in my generation already have, sila Angel (Locsin), Anne (Curtis), and Angelica (Panganiban). Naisip ko na baka wala na akong chance. Then this came along, and it was the perfect project.
Which of his movies did you watch?
Halos lahat, except those that came out when I was too young, like the Bagets movie. My favorites are Sana Maulit Muli, Basta Kasama Kita, May Minamahal, Dubai, and Kailangan Kita. Halos lahat—kahit yung Narinig Mo Na Ba Ang Latest? napanood ko.
What are your thoughts on finally working with him?
It was a great experience. Alam niya yung ginagawa niya and he gives it 100 percent. Nothing is half-baked. Every single scene, you can see where his emotions and inspiration are coming from, and it is not just on the surface. He knows what is in his heart, and he presents it right at that moment.
"In real life, love does not always come with happy days." —Bea on love
Was there any pressure to perform on that level as well?
It wasn't really [a lot of pressure] for me. I was really enjoying the feeling of being entranced the whole time we were filming. I was so entranced by the performances that I did not realize that we have already wrapped up, na kumpleto na pala yung pelikula.
You were in Canada for an entire month. Did you take the time to see the sights while you were there?
We had breaks in between shooting, and I was able to go around Vancouver. I love discovering spots where the locals go. I like visiting the tourist spots because you learn about their history, but going where the locals eat or hang out is what I look for when I go out of the country.
"I learned that love is complex. When you ask someone, 'Why do you love me?' The answer cannot only be 'because you are wonderful' or "because you make me happy." - Bea
You also went on vacation after shooting and took the time to travel solo, which is on your bucket list. Did it take you a long time to plan the trip and did you enjoy going solo?
It didn't take long to plan; I went with my friend who owns Access Travel and she planned everything for me. Then, when I made a trip to Portugal, naghiwalay muna kami. That one was not really planned out, but I did not stress myself [out] on the trip because it was also a reward for me for finishing my culinary studies. Ginawa ko lang ang gusto ko gawin the whole day, and it was fun!
Traveling solo is different from the times that I was with friends, because I did not have to think about whether they were enjoying or if they were tired or hungry because I was just there alone. But I also realized that it is true what they say that happiness is best when it is shared. It is more fun to be with friends and family, I realized that it is what I prefer talaga.
That culinary course was also on your bucket list. What are you going to do now that you have finished it?
I enjoyed learning in the kitchen. There's this feeling of satisfaction when you create something. I was not like my classmates who had an idea of what they were doing by at least watching YouTube. I had no idea at all when I enrolled. Hindi ako makapaniwala when I was able to do things like use fondant, which I found out was a challenge to make. I could put up a café next year, who knows? I will surprise you na lang. (laughs).
What's your next goal?
Siguro trabaho naman muna ako ulit, soap muna ako ulit. I have accomplished three things off my bucket list for this year and I feel like I have my entire life to do things that I want to do and things that are still on my list. With the three months left [this] year, I want to work and spend time with my family.
What are your thoughts on the movie's message "seize the day"?
As you know, I am the type of person who overthinks. I am a planner, I like knowing what is going to happen next. I am not the "take it one day at a time" type of person. This is why I enjoyed playing Ali for First Love. I got into character first by cutting my hair abruptly. I was nervous about my character becoming a cliché—yung babaeng mamamatay who lives free. I wanted her to come from something real, so that is what I did. For that whole month, I enjoyed because I did not plan anything. I also said what I wanted to say, in a kind manner, of course. I looked for that silver lining in my days, and it came from somewhere true. I was enjoying it.
Of course, Ali's circumstances are different from mine, but there was some takeaway from playing her. Yesterday, I was so stressed, something was off in my day, and I was telling Aga, "Bring me back to Vancouver, I want to be Ali again!"
What are your thoughts on your first love compared to how you look at love now?
I was so idealistic before. It was like I had this checklist of the things I wanted in a man. I had so many deal breakers. Kapag ganito ang lalaki, ayaw ko. Kapag may ginawa siyang ganito, ayaw ko na. Then I learned that love entails sacrifice; that in real life, love does not always come with happy days.
I learned that love is complex. When you ask someone, "Why do you love me?" The answer cannot only be "because you are wonderful" or "because you make me happy." You really cannot define love, you love someone simply because you love him. I learned that love is not perfect, and you have to embrace someone for those imperfections. You just love him.
Catch First Love in theaters on October 17, 2018.
PRODUCED BY: Jacinda A. Lopez
SITTINGS EDITOR: Jillian Gatcheco
ART DIRECTION & PHOTOGRAPHY: Jico Joson
ART DIRECTION ASSISTED BY: Mixi Ignacio
SHOOT COORDINATION: Lou Ferrer
SOCIAL MEDIA: Andie Estella
HAIR (Bea): Ayu Manaog
MAKEUP (Bea): Ting Duque
STYLING (Aga): Ton Lao
GROOMING (Aga): Mabeth Concepcion
- Dresses: Isola Luxe Manila
- Polo: Pull & Bear, Pants: Zara
- Top: Zara, Pants: Zara, Coat: Massimo Dutti, Tie: George