Ending "Dading" Part 1: Interview with Gabby Eigenmann and Benjamin Alves

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gabby Eigenmann, Chynna Ortaleza, Glaiza De Castro and Benjamin Alves.

If your afternoon after Eat Bulaga and Half Sisters is good, then it'll only be complete when you watch this show Dading. It's a monicker used to connote Dad and "Bading" which is a street term in the Philippines for gay. It talks about the life of a Gay Father, his wife, her ex boyfriend (who's also the biological Father), the current girlfriend, their friends and the cute little daughter where their lives spin on. 

I take my time everyday to actually watch them. I love the show genuinely because it's like life. It's not just about the gay guy, the thing delves more on relationships, on family and how it is to be family. The series is about to end though, and that hit the stars of this show right in the heart.

Gabby Eigenmann

This was a pretty difficult interview because we were going to talk about the show's ending. We met Gabby Eigenmann who played Ricardo "Carding" D. Gonzales or the main character named Dading. He was crying. Why? It must be the long hours of shooting, it must be because the last scene demanded crying, much of it though is that he didn't want the show to end. He didn't want to see the people he worked with these past few months to go. The bond they formed while shooting was something he never thought would occur. Let alone happen in this lifetime. This is Gabby's first lead role in a TV series and he's proud to say that he did all he can to do justice to the life of the character he's portraying. That, was the vibe I got from him during this interview.

About ending the show, he says "It was a good run, we accepted it. As the say, "All good things must come to an end". We'd rather end the show leaving a mark, still heard, rather than having a plateau and start going down on the ratings then decide to cut it. We're finishing the whole season, it wasn't extended or wasn't cut short. We're just finishing what's stated on the contract which is good, so in spite of the feed back, not just us but the whole line up of afternoon programs... it did pretty good. We're happy, we're happy but we are somehow sad because we've come to know each other more, we've come to like be really close to each other and when it comes to the scenes, it just comes out so automatically. We're as if we were the real characters already... that's what I'm going to miss the most in this show."

When asked about how he fared as the lead actor on this show, he says "Oh really?! I don't know. I've only acknowledged fulfillment amongst people who are interested in watching the show. I get from them the most genuine comments and feedback where I can acknowledge and say that I did pretty good. I really didn't expect that I'd even have haters, or people to contradict the role I'm playing but I was sort of happy that they thought that I was really gay. Just the thought of that was a plus factor for me that I was portraying this character wholeheartedly. Something that I took to heart, that people already had doubts about my sexuality (mentions Gabby Eigenmann must be gay etc.) so I didn't want to own everything because it's not just me on the whole show, but the whole cast, my co-actors, the Director, so if I were to speak  for all of us... we did pretty good.

If I were gonna judge, not myself but all of us, we really did good and it feels so good too. It is sad, but it's good because we can even feel that love internationally, that a lot of people are waiting for this in other countries. That feeling, where you get fans from Toronto, from Dubai, it's just so fun because the last time I heard that level of praise was in Munting Heredera, but this was on a different level... it's one of the reasons why I'm going to miss this show. This is also the first full length show where I had to portray a gay man and it was automatic when the camera rolls, the memories of it just makes me happy. It's because of the people who watch the show.. I give all the credit to you."

When asked aside from portraying a gay man, what other things have you realized while playing this role, he answers "Know them more. I observe, I have friends who are gay. I talk to them, I go out with them, but portraying this role made me realize that they come from a different place and I can feel that it's not just about love, a partner, it's the love of child, a partner, they are very passionate about what they want to achieve in this world... not just their life... to change the world where they would all be accepted. So it's like fighting for equality and treatment because let's admit it, there still are some areas where it's not fair for them. It's an eye opener for people who want to come out, to express themselves, to ultimately be who they are, and what they are." It's part of the reason why he's going to miss this show too much and miss the people he worked with.

Benjamin Alves

I've been able to talk to Benjamin Alves a couple of times now and he's a very good guy. He's like the perfect husband material in real life (for most ladies), something that you can probably take home to your Mom and present as your soon to be husband. In the series though, his character Joemar Rodriguez is a bit different. He's what you call flawed, for the right word. He left his ex-girlfriend pregnant and had Gabby Eigenmann's character take care of it. Then he comes back and instigated becoming the kid's (named Precious) father. Other than that, he also took the chance to rekindle the relationship with his ex-girlfriend of whom was already married with another guy, thinking that love could always get away with it. Then comes the reality of marriage, their existing relationships, and the one who matters most... the kid. It just was complicated and I don't think it's going to end well.

That's Joemar. We asked Ben if the thought of ending the show has sunk in already. He said "Yeah, I kinda wish it wasn't. Somehow, I had that longing of the program not to end. Very rarely that you think of that, because while you're working, you get tired, sometimes you just got to take a break, but I'm always with them... Gabby, Chynna, Glaiza, Precious, Gardo and other stars of the show.. our dynamics are different, we went from the other taping location just now and we all went here together in one van when we could have even just used our individual cars. We all rode together. We could have actually rested but we're different, we want to be together. We had early dinner and when we came back Gabby was like "I was looking for you guys!".. we have a bond like that... and that's what makes it sad.. but that's few more weeks and it's all going to end. The bond and the show, you can't replace that. We'll have other shows but you know... it's very rare that you get the same cast, it's very rare that you get the same people on the same show and that's kind of sad

How was it playing Joemer? You probably have gotten lots of slack and haters or mixed feedback because it looked like you were destroying their relationship. 

He said "I even tweeted sometime and I was like "Wala bang may gusto kay Joemer?!" (Is there anyone who likes Joemer?) or the Joemer and Beth pair but a while ago when I was getting punched by Gabby's character, people online were already saying he was stupid, he should die, words on that level... that's funny.. some now try to understand his situation. The writers did a good job on putting him not just on the "lust" part of the story, but he has feelings, he's not selfish, immoral, and they do have a past. If there are a lot of haters, that's okay... that's the whole purpose, that's the reason Joemer is there. That's the reason why there's a conflict with him, Carding, Beth and Precious. If that wasn't the reaction, then I would have a problem, I would have to question if mine was effective, our acting and dynamics were effective and if we are giving justice to the role. The writers have done a good job with the consistency. 

It's not just the typical story of someone getting kidnapped, holding ransom, nothing like that. It was very human. That's very rare to see on an afternoon soap for one, in that pace. They weren't gonna do it too extravagant or too melodramatic, so we see we are giving it justice because there are people out there who really get mad at us. It's so okay, you're doing your character and the end results not always to be liked. The goal is to still keep an angle where people would still be able to understand me. I'm just doing it truthfully and whatever the reaction is, I'm okay with that." then I told him you might have just convinced them far enough that you are Joemer so you are doing a pretty good job at that if they react that way. He agreed. "It's a sign. Like being called your characters name, especially towards the latter end of the show. People have always been trying to ask me about Beth. Trying to find if I was with her. Sometimes I wish I had a day off but often they attach us to the roles we get, even on Twitter or Instagram. The demographics are also nice because I see older people, some young ones, some ask about the parental aspect, some young ones relate to the "kilig" (fondness) with Beth and Joemer especially on the flashbacks. It's so nice to see there's a wide range of Filipinos that watch us in Dading.

 Did they already tell you about Dading being showed in other countries?

He says "That would be nice. I wonder what they'll call it in other countries? You know where the term comes from right? If it's like Dad and Gay, like dagay (then we laughed it off). Hopefully we can also go there. They usually bring the artists when they launch shows like that in other countries, that alone would be so special... to have a vacation there, to also promote it.... that would be very nice. The product that you put out doesn't end locally, still alive, and that's what you really want for your show.. a conversation and think that it gets recall from people, from the viewers.

With the success of your show, would you think there would be another show that would be able to top this one? 

He says "You always pray that there's bound to be one. Not just my show but anybody else's show, I just want the next show to be more successful. I think the one replacing us is "Ang Lihim ni Alessandra" (Allesandra's Secret) and I hope that they do better than us, that's always the case. There's like no thinking that our show is better than this one or even if they did a show with the same theme as this I wouldn't mind if it would do better than ours. You want it to progress, for everyone even if it's not on the show. We are in only one network. So that's the one thing I want to happen with the show replacing us and yeah I'm confident that it would be able to do that. There's so much story to be told and in that sense, you know GMA has great actors, writers and directors. I just want all the shows to do well."

Do you already have another show after this one?

He says "Not yet, or I might not have been told yet. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. I'm not the type who expects but I do look forward to have another one. I just want to be debriefed, some time off. Although it's almost Christmas and it's always nice to be working at that time, but usually new shows would come January. It would be nice to know but if not, that's okay. I've been very blessed. This show came out from a cancelled one, so I think whatever happens, it always works for everyone. Everyone gets a shot at having work and be seen on TV. I have no quirks that I will have another one and I'm going to be ready for it."

What would you want this particular show to leave behind or folks would remember?

Ben says "There's a lot of stories to be done like a show. It doesn't always have to be in this theme. Our whole show, I hope it opens a lot of doors. There are a lot of ideas. I hope people become more open and receptive to other stories, like MHL or this show. I'm sure people wouldn't have thought telling this story on public TV. It's just new on TV, but you know we've heard these stories before.. I don't know how to say it but there's a lot out there. I just want that to leave its mark. If there's a character that they would need to remember, it's probably Gabby's, like Dading. Everything's there. Gabby even on Day 1 was just so open about it. Even when I came into set he was like taunting me like he was Dading himself. To have to be so naked to do that, to have to be so truthful to that character...that's not easy. If you see the sentiments and they pity Carding a lot, I hope that stays with them, with people. I hope that leaves a mark that when they see Gabby, they somehow see Dading. That's good enough for me even if they don't remember Joemer. At least, I was part of that show."

 "GMA has been very good picking the right people into the right kind of projects. If you're spending a lot of time, on people, on characters, they were very right in doing that and it's a good thing to choose the right people at the right time. I'm not going to be upset if a lead role would not happen for me the next time because my time will come. It's so toxic to think like that. I've been very blessed with the projects they've given me. If they have other plans for me in the future, but if not that's okay." he adds.

Ben would miss Gabby's inspiration. For him, Gabby's always in the right mood for them. He's like the Dad, the head of the pack. He's going to miss that because it's different when Gabby's with them. He's essential to how they move around all day especially when they have long taping hours. Even if they started at 6AM (we even saw how stressed they were) and it was already like 8pm that evening, it was just like they woke up because Gabby is like that. Ben says it's going to be sad to not see each other, of not having him around.

Ben would also miss Chynna a lot, and how she takes care of them all. Chynna brings cupcakes to the set really often and she hangs around or text even if she's not scheduled for that day. She gives importance to them as friends, not just co actors. That sets her apart from other people.

Glaiza is also the closest to Benj's age group. The things they talk about are very light even if they often fight on scenes in the series. It helps a lot that right after a scene, that they're not like their characters because she keeps it in tune. They are on the same page, same wavelength. He says he'll surely miss her for that.

We got to sat down with them later that evening and asked Chynna about the show ending in a couple of weeks. She bluntly said it was like S#!T, mostly sad. She probably felt like Gabby, Ben and Glaiza. Glaiza also said that they're probably all experiencing SEPANX (separation anxiety) and didn't feel being without each other in the show

Stay tuned for part II of this interview. Posting it in a bit!


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