So there I was on a Saturday morning, bleary-eyed and hung-over from a Friday night gimik, in pekpek shorts and a ratty old t-shirt with hair in a tangled mass, about to get the newspaper for the day, when I come face to face with — tantarantan tararatantan —- Starstruck Ultimate Survivor Mark Herras. (I swear, Im not making this up, because if I were, I would say Jericho Rosales or Cesar Montano.)
Backtrack. I live in New Manila, right smack in the heart of Manila’s old rich, for reasons born of anomaly rather than pedigree or ancestry. Annoying to keep yourself from getting run over by careening Volvos and Mercedes Benzes as you shuffle your way on foot to E. Rod to wait for a Project 2-3 jeepney. We live right next to a sprawling mansion with an expansive garden owned by an honest-to-goodness old-world Senora (her gardener’s name is Joselito and her mayordoma is Divina — no “Bhoyet”s for the old rich, it seems). The ambience of her house is perfect for shootings, and the proximity to the major networks makes it a done deal.
For the past four years that we’ve been living here, we’ve been spectators to one shooting after the other, and it’s been an endless source of both fascination and aggravation for us. They shot Daisy Siyete next door for one whole season, and it was kind of fun in the daytime, listening to the director bark out orders/reprimands to the cast. They also shot Love to Love here, and when Dingdong Dantes sat on the curb right outside our gate (right outside!), I admit to getting into a giggling fit with my sister. When our Manang was asked to become an extra for a scene (P500 bucks, for opening the gate), we all gathered around the TV to catch that episode of Baul ni Lola. And we were not above shrieking when we first saw the Liquor commercial that, for a fraction of a second, panned our house.
But it has its aggravations too. Like, for instance, trying to review for the bar while hearing “Ispageting pababa pababa ng pababa” ad nauseam and looking out your window, only to see scantily clad girls with fake boobs and faker smiles right outside, gyrating like there was no tomorrow. Every boy’s wet dream. Except I was a girl. A grumpy girl. With a bar exam coming up in a month.
Or the time my mom, a writer, was trying to meet a deadline and frantically pounding away at her computer. They were shooting that liquor commercial, and apparently hired a particularly dim talent. “Cut!” the director would shout. “Carlo, don’t look down!” And then another. And then another. Maybe twenty times in a row, twenty cuts, for the same reason. My Mom, Queen of Darkness senior, went to the window and screamed, “Carlo, DON’T LOOK DOWN!!!. Mahirap ba yon?!?!?!”
Or that other time when I was brought home in a taxi by the guy I was dating, and we kissed by the front gate (we had a drama-rama moment just a few hours before, so the kiss was a little in the province of “Hihintayin Kita Sa langit” or some such Dawn and Richard love opus where people don’t speak the way they do in real life.) Some wisecracking gaffer went “ay may shooting din pala dito.”
* * *
So back to Mark Herras. We made eye contact briefly. He was, okay, kind of cute. I looked away, pretended to yawn, turned my eyes to the Inquirer, and fake-furrowed my brows in intense concentration. I HAVE to read that they raided Satur’s house yesterday. And I HAVE to read it now.
Dream. Believe. Survive. Starstruck.