What makes Maja Salvador a joy to work with in 'Niña Niño,' according to Noel Comia Jr.
I learned a lot just by observing them,” said young actor Noel Comia Jr., who added that being on the set of the inspirational drama “Niña Niño” is similar to being an on-the-job trainee.
In the series, Noel’s character, Niño, is the younger brother of lead star Maja Salvador’s character Niña. The siblings left their impoverished life in the city to start anew in the province. There, in their hometown, they experience a miracle that definitely changed their life views for good.
“I keep growing as an actor in a lot of ways while on this particular set. This is because I get to be with different actors, who are all very talented, helpful and giving,” Noel told reporters during a virtual meeting over the weekend.
“Take Ate Maja for example. When we’re in a scene together, she always makes me feel comfortable. She would make sure I’m able to match her energy before we begin our work. There’s also this one scene where she helped motivate me to make sure I really felt the moment. It’s hard to explain in words the joy I feel when working with her.”
Noel added: “Also, whenever she is doing her scenes with Kuya Empoy [Marquez], I make sure to watch them on the monitor. I observe and study how they react to each other. I’m also like that when the other actors are working on their respective scenes. I do this because I look up to them and I know that the experiences I gained here will help me in the future—probably for future episodes or future projects.”
Asked to recall a happy memory while working on the show, Noel said he had so many but the most recent one was when the whole production team surprised him by greeting him on his 17th birthday. “It was unforgettable because I got to celebrate my birthday with everyone there,” he recalled. “I like this team because its members are really very supportive. If you did something that needs correcting, they will point this out to you, but if you did something good, you will get commended, too. We have a very good working environment here.”
A good working environment and its being devoid of distractions helped motivate the cast and crew of “Niña Niño” to work hard enough for the show to merit another season, according to its director Thop Nazareno.
“It was really a challenge for our production team to put together this teleserye in the middle of a pandemic, especially with the challenges of being able to comply with strict health and safety protocols. What’s good about our set is that it is isolated and, sometimes, it has no signal,” said Thop of their set location in Dolores, Quezon.
“The number of COVID-19 cases in the area isn’t so alarming, so we feel comfortable and safe. Also, the support we are receiving from the local government to help keep our bubble safe is something that I consider a blessing,” Thop shared with reporters.
“I also personally make it a point that our set is always a happy one, especially since we are telling a story that’s inspirational. If even our own working environment is toxic, then we won’t be as effective. Everyone is healthy and well-rested. We don’t go beyond our working hours. I believe all these translated well to the audience so much so that we are now given a Season 2,” said Thop of the show that premiered on TV5 on April 5.
In lock-in tapings, the production team usually stays in a bubble for a three to four-week cycle. However, there was one period when Thop said his team decided to stay in the bubble for two straight months just to be able to catch up with the program’s airing schedule on TV5.
“I’m grateful that our show got extended. We need programs like this today when we’re going through something difficult as a human race. This was actually my reason and motivation for creating the show. This is our way of helping people get through the hardships they are experiencing,” he added.
Noel agreed, saying, “I think I can speak for everyone in the show that we didn’t expect it would grow this big. It’s funny because even my cousins would tell me that they often close their businesses early to be able to catch the show. Like what Direk Thop said, our hard work has paid off. Our audiences show their appreciation by watching our program.”
“Niña Niño” airs on weekdays at 7:15 p.m. on TV5. It is a coproduction of Cignal Entertainment, Spring Films and Cornerstone Entertainment.