Maja Salvador is known for taking on tough roles. After her turn as Lily Cruz in the super intense telenovela Wildflower (black wedding dress and all), Maja is back as Camila Dela Torre in The Killer Bride, exacting revenge on those who made her life miserable with the help of real-life relative Janella Salvador. The storyline in her latest teleserye is just as intense, with one particular scene involving a dramatic and very real, very hard slap delivered by her character to Geoff Eigenmann. "After they said 'cut,' I immediately told him, 'I love you, kuya!'" she shares sheepishly.
That is how very sweet Maja really is, as attested by her glam team who have been with her for about 10 years of her 17-year career in showbiz. "It's better that they tell you how nice I am, or else sasabihin ng iba na nagbubuhat ako ng bangko," she says with a laugh.
There is more light-heartedness to her these days, and it is because she says she has made some major decisions about how she lives. With her award-winning career (she won the best actress award for Wildflower in the 1st Asia Content Awards in Busan, South Korea), Instagram-inspiring travels, and a super kilig love life, Maja is clearly winning at life. Here are key takeaways on how to make the most out of our lives in the coming decade, according to Maja Salvador.
"There was a point when I realized na puro na lang ako trabaho. This year, I promised myself that I will make more time to relax."
One of the most important things to note about Maja is that she has found real friends in the rough-and-tumble world of showbiz. Her secret is that she nurtures her friendships. "I appreciate even the little things they do for me. I am blessed to have found these people who have been with me through the years."
She notes how they (unsuccessfully) try to pull off yearly birthday surprises: "They also do little things, like sending me my favorite ensaymada when I am feeling down or checking up on me when I am sick. My high school barkada is still with me, and it is really comforting to see that nothing has changed between us through the years, we can still talk about anything and even if we are all busy, we make it a point to get together. 'Pag magkasama kami, para talagang walang nagbago."
One of the major decisions she made was to make more time for herself. "There was a point when I realized na puro na lang ako trabaho. This year, I promised myself that I will make more time to relax. Hindi na ako yung dating Maja Salvador na walang ginawa kung hindi magtrabaho." Her being a breadwinner of the family has had a hand in this, she admits, but now that she is more settled, it was time to focus on herself and what she wanted. She admits that being a workaholic also affected her relationships. "An ex would ask me to block something off from my schedule, so we could do something together. I will block it off, pero kapag may pumasok na trabaho inuuna ko ang work."
This year, she vowed to balance her life. "Gusto ko ma-enjoy ang life na hindi lang puro work. I still work, of course, but I already put my travels on my schedules. When they called me about doing Killer Bride, nasa Immigration ako nun papunta ng Bali. I had my conference call when I was on my trip tapos pagbalik, screen test agad, shoot agad." She does her work but also tells the management way ahead of her plans so they can work around it. She is still flexible, however, and would accommodate reasonable requests like coming in a day earlier.
Being able to find time to relax has made her more focused on work, she comes back refreshed and eager to take on new challenges. "Yung ngayon na mas balanced na ang work at ang sarili ko, achievement para sa akin 'yon, promise," she adds.
On her second chance at love with Rambo: "Ito ang pinakamagaan kong relationship."
"Actually, may mga naka-plan na ako until 2021," she laughs. She is leaving for Canada to spend time with her mother who is already there, then will head to Niseko, Japan in January next year. She is so excited about her Japan trip, she shares giddily. She will be with her boyfriend Rambo Nunez and says it will be a totally different experience for her to share one of her favorite places with a loved one.
When she is alone, she likes to sit quietly and get lost in her thoughts. "At saka foodie kasi ako so ang goal ko sa travel palagi to look for the best restaurants near me tapos pupuntahan ko 'yon." Rambo is a planner, she confides. "He is the type who has an itinerary, kaya ang gagawin mo na lang, gigising, maliligo, makeup, tapos mamimili ng pang-OOTD. I like that," she says. "I really love traveling and it is a bonus that we like the same thing."
She and Rambo were together as a couple several years back, but because they were both busy with other things, they did not prioritize the relationship. "I was working so much then, and he had just graduated and was about to take care of their family businesses. There was no third party or anything like that. We were just too young and too busy, I think." She believes in second chances, but only if the other person really deserves it.
"Ito ang pinakamagaan kong relationship. In the past, may mga relationships na mahirap dalhin, na for some reason, mabigat or may nararamdaman kang toxic kasi hindi tanggap ng lahat or hindi okay sa lahat," she reveals. This one is made even better by the fact that she is close to his mom, sister, and brother. "There was even a point when I was on Tonight With Boy Abunda, and his mom took a photo of me on TV and sent it to their group chat, telling him, 'Bakit hindi na lang siya ulit?' Actually, when we bump into each other at the mall, we would be happy to see each other, and she would also message me to invite me over for her adobo, which she knows I really love."
Little did his family know that she and Rambo had already started texting each other again on Christmas day 2018. "He greeted me, I was in Japan then. E, alam mo naman, malamig sa Japan," she trails off and chuckles. "I realized ito lang ulit yung time na na-experience ko na inabot ako ng madaling araw na may ka-text," she says giddily.
For Maja, maturity matters. "Lahat naman ng relationships ko pinanindigan ko, but there were situations na iisipin ko kung happy ba talaga ako. A relationship between mature people brings out the best in you." When you are in a good relationship, you can stand up for your decisions, and you are more able to adjust if there are situations that come up. "Mas mahaba ang patience mo, but at the same time, you know how to handle yourself," she describes.
"Masarap ang may love life! Sana all," she jokes, and adds, 'ang plastic ko kung sabihin ko na okay lang. Siyempre lahat naman gusto ma-in love. Hello, ang tagal ko din single. At least happy ako ngayon and that is the best part."
"The more you take on challenges, the more you will grow, and the more that you will discover things about yourself."
Maja has been proactive with her career. She pursued The Killer Bride because she found it more challenging than the role that was being offered to her. "I felt that the role they were giving me was something that I have already done. Hindi puwedeng paulit-ulit na lang yung ginagawa ko na agawan ulit ng asawa, I guess yung ganoon, hindi na yata muna. So when I heard the team talking about The Killer Bride, I got curious and talked to them about it. I actually approached management to ask for the project but they said that the role was too mature for me." The actress that they initially tapped had to back out to focus on her family, so perhaps Maja expressing her interest in the project helped her land the juicy role.
Her success places her in a position to give advice to those who are just starting out: "When you first enter showbiz and the endorsements start coming in, you realize that you can really make money from it. But sometimes, doon ka na naka-focus sa pera na kinikita mo and you lose the passion for the craft. Hindi mo na nache-check ang sarili mo pagdating sa trabaho mo dahil sa pagpasok ng blessings."
She admits that she came to that point and God and the universe made her realize it. "May time na puro guesting ako, wala akong movie, wala akong series. Doon ko nakita na hindi ko na pala sineryoso ang pag-aarte. That made me work harder on my craft. Sa industry kasi, kapag ginalingan mo, at nakaka-relate ang mga tao sa character mo, even if you are not the star, hindi ka mawawalan ng trabaho."
It also helps, she says, if you are nice to everyone you work with. "With us, for example, you will not look good without the help of the makeup artists, the stylists, and the people who do the lighting. At the end of the day, it pays to be nice to everyone you work with. Isipin mo din na lahat kayo nandoon para magtrabaho."
Here's a little push from Maja we all probably needed to welcome 2020: Always look for something to challenge you at work, she says. "The more you take on challenges, the more you will grow, and the more that you will discover things about yourself. Don't be too comfortable where you are. Don't stop exploring new things to challenge your capability, no matter how difficult it may seem."
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PRODUCED BY: Jacinda A. Lopez
CO-PRODUCED BY: Lily Tabanera
PHOTOGRAPHY AND ART DIRECTION: Jico Joson
ART DIRECTION ASSISTED BY: Mixi Ignacio
SHOOT COORDINATOR: Lou Ferrer
SOCIAL MEDIA: Andie Estella
SITTINGS EDITOR: Retty Contreras
HAIR: Florenz Torrontegui
MAKEUP: Denise Ochoa