Teejay Marquez Describes His Experience Of Filming 'Meteor Garden' In Indonesia

'Siapa Takut Jatuh Cinta' is the Indonesian version of the hit series!
PHOTO: Instagram/teejaymarquez

Filipino actor Teejay Marquez, who became popular in Indonesia for his viral Dubsmash video in 2015, is back in the Philippines to do projects.

To date, he has already finished two films: Hellcome Home, which is currently being screened in cinemas, and G! LU, which has yet to be shown after it failed to make it to the 2019 Metro Manila Film Festival.

While abroad, Teejay finished doing a TV series in Indonesia, Siapa Takut Jatuh Cinta, a remake of the 2002 Indonesian TV series with the same title. 

Siapa Takut Jatuh Cinta is Indonesia's version of the hit 2001 Taiwanese TV series Meteor Garden, which was aired in the Philippines in 2003.

In an interview with PEP.ph and other media during the recent bloggers' conference of Hellcome Home, Teejay narrated his experience while doing the Indonesian version of Meteor Garden that aired from November 2017 to October 2018.

"Yung Meteor Garden sa Indonesia nag-air na siya last 2018. Mga one and a half years siyang nag-air. So nandun lang ako the whole time.

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"Ang nakakatuwa doon, yung teleserye doon, Monday to Sunday tapos two hours per day.

"Every day, tapos minsan, meron kaming mga nakapondo na pero kapag wala, kung ano yung shinoot doon, yun na.

"Medyo kasi mahilig sila, tulad natin mahilig sila sa teleserye, so grabe yung pagtanggap ng tao kapag teleserye, so talagang Monday to Sunday."

In the Indonesian Meteor Garden, Teejay was cast as Sean, the counterpart of Xi Men or the womanizer in the group, played by Ken Chu.

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According to Teejay, he was considered to portray a bigger role like that of Vic Zhou's Hua Ze Lei or Jerry Yan's Dao Ming Si.

However, Teejay has yet to become fluent in Bahasa, the official language of Indonesia.

He said, "Dapat daw...siyempre namili muna kung Hua Ze Lei or ano, pero since nga hindi pa ako ganun kagaling, ka-fluent na mag-Bahasa, nag-isip sila na gusto ka talaga naming isama, so nilagay nila akong Xi Men.

"Madaldal pa rin yung role ko, pero siyempre ayaw nila na bubulol bulol yung bida nila talaga, so nilagay muna ako kay Xi Men."

At present, Teejay is still in the process of learning Bahasa.

"I learn from experience, nag-aral ako [with a] private tutor pero hindi sila papayag na mag-tutor lang, gusto nila, 'Kausapin mo kami every day.'

"So talagang minsan, tinitingnan ko lang sila sa mata kung anong expression nila.

"Talagang pagod na pagod ako pero nage-enjoy ako kasi minsan, sa atin, tinginan lang alam na natin, e. Doon kailangan mo isipin, kailangan effort pero nakayanan naman and then nag-enjoy talaga ako."

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It was a good thing Teejay used to watch Meteor Garden when it aired in the Philippines, which is why it became easier for him to portray Sean/Xi Men.

"Napanuod ko kasi yung Meteor Garden and sikat sa atin yun, so ang daling i-channel, like apat na lalaking na parang mga sikat sa school.

"Medyo binago lang yung mga pangalan kasi actually, doon kasi nanghihingi ng bayad na copyright yung Meteor Gardenparang $1 billion, ang mahal, per episode.

"So ginawa nila, iniba yung pangalan namin pero same story."

It also helped that Teejay's co-stars were there to guide him through his Meteor Garden experience.

"Thankful ako, sa totoo lang. Grabe yung mga big stars nila doon.

"Tinulungan nila ako, lalo na pag nauutal utal na ako, inuulit namin [yung eksena] pero sinuportahan nila ako kasi alam nila na first ko ito.

"Hindi ako nahirapan. Tinuring nila ako na parang kapatid dahil alam nila na wala akong kasama.

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"Sabi ko iba yung iniisip ko na kapag nasa ibang bansa, mahirap, pero sa inyo, pinagaan niyo lang."

Before Teejay became part of an Indonesian production, he was able to work in several television programs in the Philippines, mostly in GMA-7.

Some of his TV shows were Tween Hearts (2010-2012), Pyra: Babaeng Apoy (2013), Home Sweet Home (2013), and Anna Karenina (2013).

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He also played supporting roles in ABS-CBN's Dream Dad (2014) and The Greatest Love (2016).

How similar is an Indonesian production to a Filipino production?

Teejay answered, "Parehas lang din kung paano tayo mag-acting sa mga teleserye.

"Parehas lang naman taping hours, production, parang Pilipinas lang."

Teejay also pointed out that there is no exclusivity or "network war" in Indonesia, unlike in the Philippines.

"Sobrang daming movie company, sobrang daming network, so 'di ka mauubusan.

"Doon walang network. Kapag artista ka, anywhere ka. So kung merong 20 networks na gusto ka interviewhin, i-interviewhin ka nila. Lahat may trabaho."

On a personal note, Teejay pointed out that he has yet to experience in the Philippines what already happened to him in Indonesia.

"Siguro, hindi ko pa na-experience dito na parang kasi dito, parang nagsisimula pa lang ulit kami and then hindi pa ganun karami yung mga nagagawa kong project dito.

"Pero pagdating ko doon, wow, all eyes on me. Parang lahat, ganun.

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"Ayun yung hindi ko pa nae-experience sa Pilipinas, pina-experience sa akin ng Indonesia and I'm always thankful sa kanila.

"And lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila na you're my second home and no matter what happens, babalik at babalik ako kasi tinanggap niyo ako na parang sa inyo."

Teejay was supposed to do a movie after Meteor Garden in Indonesia, but he opted to return to the Philippines for a vacation.

"After nun, lalagyan daw nila ako ng susunod, pelikula. Pero sabi ko, uwi muna ako.

"Talagang bakasyon lang talaga yung gusto ko para sa lola ko pero yun nga, dahil na-offeran ako."

During his vacation, Teejay was able to do Hellcome Home and G! LU. He also finished doing the iWant original movie You Have Arrived and an episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya.

Teejay also said that Indonesia allows him freely to do projects in the Philippines. For this reason, he could not accept offers to do a teleserye, which takes a long time to tape.

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"Five years naman yung contract ko sa Indonesia and then pwede ako bumalik-balik.

"So kapag nabigyan ako ng opportunity dito sa Pilipinas, susunggaban ko talaga, walang dalawang isip.

"Kasi very understanding naman yung management ko sa Indonesia. Natutuwa pa nga sila, may ginagawa ako dito, at least, makakadagdag rin yun sa presentation yun sa Indonesia, dalawa yung market.

"Willing naman si Indonesia na pelikula lang, at saka ang pelikula doon, 'di umaabot tulad dito na six months.

"Doon po, kapag sinabing pelikula, 12 days, tapos.

"So hihingin lang nila isang buwan. Kaya itong cast na 'yon, yung 12 days, lock in tapusin yung pelikula.

"So pwede lang akong magbakasyon nang one month doon, pag-uwi ko, nakagawa na ako ng pelikula para lang 'di ako mawala sa paningin nila."

Teejay's vacation allowed him to do a project with ABS-CBN's film arm, Star Cinema, via Hellcome Home.

This was made possible by his talent manager in the Philippines, Arnold Vegafria.

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Teejay narrated, "Nag-request kami ng bakasyon doon kasi nahu-homesick na ako. Almost three years na ako pabalik-balik sa Indonesia.

"Tapos sabi ko sa manager ko, parang gusto ko gumawa ng project dito sa Philippines kasi ayoko namang nakakalimutan ako ng tao, gusto ko gumawa uli ng project.

"Yung management, sinabi na may pa-audition daw ang Star Cinema, sabi ko, sige baka chance ko na 'to and then nag-audition ako kay Direk Bobi Bonifacio.

"Sobrang nagpapasalamat ako na ako yung nakuha. Parang feeling ko comeback, at saka first time ko makatrabaho yung Star Cinema so talagang gagawin ko yung best ko para ipakita kay Direk at sa lahat ma hindi sila nagkamali bakit ako yung nakuha nila."

In Hellcome Home, which is currently showing in cinemas, Teejay plays Fred, the eldest son of Beauty Gonzalez and Raymond Bagatsing.

Teejay said that he is very happy that his wish of doing a horror movie finally happened, especially since Hellcome Home has several gory scenes.

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"Lagi ko naman sinasabi, mahilig kami sa mga nakakatakot.

"So noong dumating ako sa position na nakikita ko ulit yung mga madugo na yan, lahat ng gore, in-enjoy ko.

"At least, parte na ako ng isang ganitong klaseng experience na magbibigay ng kilabot at takot, chills sa mga manunuod.

"Ewan ko, parang ang sarap tignan na ganun ka-wild yung eksena, paglabas niyo ng sinehan talagang mapapahinga kayo, mapapagod kayo. Mati-thrill talaga kayo."

Also part of Hellcome Home are Gillian Vicencio, Alyssa Muhlach, Miel Espinoza, and GMA-7 actor Dennis Trillo.

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