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EXCLUSIVE: Angel Locsin Is Back—After A Hiatus, The Action Drama Queen Returns To Her Primetime Throne

 

True to her name, Angel Locsin has been flying onscreen for most of her acting career. If you ask someone on the street to think of a Filipino superheroine, an image of Angel in red would probably enter their minds. But like all stories of seemingly unbeatable protagonists, sometimes the biggest battles aren’t fought against someone else. Sometimes, the biggest challenges come from within.

It’s been four years, give or take a few months, since Angel Locsin last headlined a primetime television show, The Legal Wife. A true travesty especially since she has been a fixture of all our evening viewing habits for the better part of the last decade. At one point, half of the Philippines tuned in to watch her show. The other half probably didn’t have TVs.

But as anyone familiar with Murphy’s Law knows, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” A disc bulge developed in her spine, triggered primarily by Angel’s intensive training for her much-anticipated reprisal of Darna. "Kapag may trabahoibinibigay ko talaga 'yung best ko. Ganu'n ko kamahal 'yung craft and 'yung role, inaalagaan ko," she mentioned in an interview with Boy Abunda in 2015.

She had no choice but to give up the role and undergo two major operations on her neck and lumbar area. Angel then underwent therapy three times a week for two years. “2 and half years din ata akong puro gamot,” she shares.

 

READ: #MetroSocietyMostInfluential: Online Sensations (Angel Locsin)

 

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No one would have batted an eyelash if she called it quits, then and there. Maybe choosing to go a more dramatic route for her acting career. But as she posted on her Instagram, “2015 - challenged me. 2016 - broke me. 2017 - changed me. 2018 - opened my eyes.” Angel wasn’t quite done kicking ass yet.

Wala naman akong pinagkaabalahan pero ang saya kasi bakasyon,” she jokes about her brief TV hiatus. Hearing her talk like this, one wouldn’t even think that Angel went through such a life-threatening situation that could have left her paralyzed. “May good naman kasing nangyari sa’kin, like new investments,” she points out.

At home, she found new ways to amuse herself and “annoy” her family. “Mahilig kasi akong maglinisKaso naiinis sila kapag naglilinis ako kasi umiikot ang bahay,” she mentions with a chuckle.

She also found ways to hone her craft at home by reading books and streaming movies and shows, figuring new acting styles along the way. But, obviously, acting in theory is different from acting in real life. And a true workaholic often struggles with the concept of “bakasyon.”

 

Strapless dress by Debbie Co, boots by Christian Louboutin, and jewelry by Nami

 

Sa generation kasi namin hindi uso ang nagpapahingaNgayon lang naman naging strict sa working hours. Before ginagawa namin more than 24 hours,” she recalls. At her “peak efficiency,” Angel mentions just sleeping for two to four hours then resuming work. “Dati ‘pag may two days lang akong napahingamay sakit na ako nu’nHindi sanay ang katawan ko ‘pag nagpapahinga.”

She often just stayed at home. “Ang problema, minsan isolated ako masyado. And isolation is not good. Masyado kang madaming iniisip,” she says, mentioning moments of doubt that made her think of quitting the industry—but not because of her self-worth. She just felt she wasn’t giving her full potential to ABS-CBN and the company’s return of investment on her wasn’t what it should have been.

The higher-ups at the network thought otherwise. They asked her if she had demands. Angel said she didn’t have any. She wasn’t asking for anything. Not even a new show. Still, they invited her twice to pitching sessions where new show concepts were offered to her. Nothing spoke to her at first but then Dreamscape presented her with a good story and a character that felt relatable: The General’s Daughter.

 

“Sa trabahong ‘to, ang daling lumaki ng ulo mo. Kailangan bantayan mo talaga. Napaka-privileged mo na may nagsasapatos sa’yo, may naghahanda ng pagkain mo, ng damit mo. Imposibleng hindi papasok sa utak mo ang lahat ng ’yun. So kailangan gawin mo lahat ng makakaya mo para bumalik ka sa core mo, kung sino ka talaga kasi ang daling mawala nu’n.”

 

 

 

Soldier on

The story is about Rhian Bonifacio, a soldier and a trained assassin hiding in plain sight in the military. She was conditioned from birth to kill somebody whom she doesn’t know is her father. But all her resolve and training start to fade away once her target and his family start showing her kindness that she has never felt before but somehow she’s been looking for all her life.

It was a concept five years in the making and was specifically created by Dreamscape with Angel in mind. Angel is paired with Paulo Avelino and JC de Vera in this serye, and is joined by other seasoned actors like Albert Martinez, Janice de Belen, Eula Valdez, Tirso Cruz III, and Maricel Soriano. Young artists like Arjo Atayde, Ronnie Alonte, Loisa Andalio, and Ryza Cenon also complete the show's star-studded cast.  

According to Kantar Media, The General’s Daughter registered a nationwide rating of 34% for its pilot episode, with the second episode surpassing that figure at 35.1%.

 

Green turtleneck by Zara Knit, printed flared pants by Zara Woman, white "Jose Suit" double-breasted blazer by Rajo Laurel, and jewelry by Nami | Chair from Prizmic & Brill

 

While on her break, Angel trained and learned new skills like Libre Knife Fighting. But ever the realist, Angel knows it isn’t the same as before. She says, “I’m 33 naKailangan nang makinig sabody mo kung ano’ng sinasabi niya.” Since going back to work, her initial assessment of herself was that she could work for two days but on the third day, she was out like a light. Despite that, she has insisted on doing her own stunts except for a Manila Bay scene which would have required her to get five kinds of tetanus injections.

“Doubts? Nu’ng ginagawa ko na siya. Ang hirap pala niya talaga,” she jokes when asked if her physical limitations made her take pause of her role as Rhian. “Nalulungkot lang ako na hindi na ganu’n kumilos ang katawan ko like before. Alam ko 'yun. And kailangan ko ‘yun tanggapin dahil 'pag tanggap ko, magagawan ng paraan.”

Angel maintains her energetic presence on the set, though, refusing to take even catnaps in between takes. “Feeling ko, I’m responsible sa mood sa set. Kung bad trip akonatataranta ang lahat. The General’s Daughter nga ’di ba? So kailangan ako ang mag-set ng mood.”

 

“Hindi ko alam kung hanggang kailan ako dito. Siguro hanggang kailangan pa ’ko ng mga tao. Hanggang gusto pa akong makita ng mga tao, andito ko.”

 

 

 

No pressure

Fairly recently, she bought a beachfront property in Zambales for her daddy Angel. “Gusto niya e,” she jokes. Proudly a daddy’s girl, Angel thinks this won’t be the last or the grandest thing she’ll buy for her father who turns 93 this February. When asked if her dad is pressuring her to settle down, she says, “Hindi naman ako nagpapa-pressure though name-mention niya.”

Matagal na rin naman akong ready. Pero this year, may responsibility pa ako sa show. Kung darating, darating. Kung hindi pa, okay lang din.”

Angel admits that she and her boyfriend, film producer Neil Arce, have actually discussed these things. Even parenthood. “From kambal, naging isa na lang kasi nakita ko ang mga kaibigan ko kung paano mag-alaga. Isa-isa muna. Pero at least two.”

Yet, she refuses to bow down to the pressures dictated by society. “Babae ako so dapat daw may deadline pero bakit ka naman sasang-ayon sa ibang tao? It’s your body. Mas alam mo kung ano’ng kailangan mo. Kung ano’ng makakabuti sa’yo. Kung kailan ka ready, ‘yun ang sundin mo. Hindi kung ano’ng sabi ng society.”

 

“I won’t promise anything but kung kilala nila ako, alam nila kung gaano ko minamahal ang role, kung gaano ko kamahal ang show.”

 

Luggage from Prizmic & Brill

 

 

Reason for staying

After 17 years in the industry, Angel proudly says it’s not really about showbiz. “Hindi lang ‘yun ang life. Kailangan mo ng reason kung bakit ka magtatagal dito and hindi lang dahil gusto mong kilala ka ng tao.” For her, it’s about her passion for acting and bringing relatable characters to life, fictional heroes that make you feel you have somebody on your side just from watching them.

And even if she admits she has made mistakes along the way—“Ang dami kong mali, actually”—she doesn’t have any regrets. “I wish I had more confidence to say 'no.' Pero lahat ng mistakes, memories, ’yun ako ngayon’Yun ang bumuo sa’kin.”

Angel is far from finished, though. She still has dream gigs she wants to do. like a lead role for a gritty action movie or a really good, socially relevant indie film. “Alam ko namang hindi ko magagawa lahat pero kung mabibigyan ako ng opportunity, suwerte ko.”

But for now, she's focused on The General's Daughter. “Rhian is very human. Nagkakamali siya. Wala siyang superhero complex pero tingin sa kanya ng mga tao, superhero.” Some would say they are similar in more ways than one. Powerful females, who have seen their fair share of battles and yet came out tougher after their experiences.

Or maybe, that's just Angel masterfully imprinting herself unto another breakthrough performance. And though her role this time around is keeping her grounded, an angel doesn't really need to fly to be amazing. She just is.

 

"Lahat ng mistakes, memories, ’yun ako ngayon. ’Yun ang bumuo sa’kin.”

 

 

Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz

Photography by Dookie Ducay

Creative direction by Chookie Cruz

Sittings editor: Geolette Esguerra

Makeup by Lala Flores, assisted by Emman Magpantay

Hairstyling by Nante Alingasa

Styling by Cath Sobrevega and Riri Verano

Video producer: Joan Ko

Videography: Berwin Coroza

Liaison editor: Francis Simeon

Shoot assistants: Cara Tirona and France Teves

Special thanks to JD ChingBillet Sangalang, Dreamscape, and Prizmic & Brill