A day with Ser Chief and Maya 

A day with Ser Chief and Maya 

Be Careful With My Heart Cast In LA

“Biyuda na ako. Mag-isa ako sa bahay.  Noong wala pa ang Ser Chief at Maya, malungkot ako, araw-araw. Ngayon may pinapanood na akong nagpapasaya sa akin. Nabuhay akong muli, kinikilig at naalala ang pagmamahal ng asawang kong yumao na.” – Anonymous

It was a full day, with a ‘meet and greet,’press conference, rehearsals and the roadshow. It was advertised as Mother’s Day with Ser Chief and Maya, played by Richard Yap and Jodie Sta. Maria.

The press conference

It was close to pandemonium. Three rows of photographers and a handful of writers were giddy.  They took every angle and every mood of Jodi Sta. Maria and Richard Yap. This writer was able to ask the first question.

I shared how at 60 years old, I had become so giddy about a teleserye — a first. Both stars smiled.

How close is Ser Chief’s decent, humble character to the real person, Richard Yap?, I asked.

“I read the piece you wrote (referring to the Asian Journal’s May 5-7 issue of Why Be Careful with My Heart is so Popular), I really liked it.”  He then paused.

“That would not be for me to answer. Ask the people around me who work with me.”

How close is Maya’s wise, joyful, hopeful character to the real person, Jodi Santa Maria?

Masaya po kaming nandito kami. I am learning a lot from Maya and her optimism in life,” Jodi responded.

Another photographer from San Francisco, Bradford admitted he is too busy to be bothered by teleseryes.  He said that Be Careful With My Heart is the only one he watches.

“You are now making history in the entertainment industry and personally, as a human being, how do you want to be remembered by?,” Bradford asked.

Jodi responded: “We have inspired a lot of people in many ways, to inspire other people, na-i-share namin sa nakakarami.

“We just want to be a channel of blessings, to be inspired, to be a source of inspiration [to others] and to promote good values,” Richard responded.

Even this writer got giddy.  A friend remarked: “You live in two worlds. Enjoy the best of both!”

It was more than that. It is anticipating loving exchanges, of what is good about the Filipino, of what is good about family interactions — a wholesome, positive teleserye that one can relax with.

Even the fans attribute the mellowing of their husbands to how Ser Chief talks to Maya.  It is about how infectious love can be, and more so on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day wishes

Another writer, Joy asked “As a mother, [Jodi] what do you long for?  Richard, what do you want your wife to get on Mother’s Day?”

“I can’t ask for anything more, my son is with me, I know he love loves me talaga and it would be too much to ask for more. I just want to be thankful, siguro iyong iba na lang, dahil pag humingi pa ako, parang sobrang sobra na,“ Jodi responded with a heart full of gratitude.

Richard acknowledged he now knows how hard it is to be a mother. “I just want to give my wife all the support and everyday is Mother’s Day for her,” he said.

Creative process, handling fame

They were asked if they have any input in creating the scenes, if they can suggest to the writers at all.  They responded that when the scene is not constructed well, they are able to tell the directors and their input is taken into consideration and “if justifiable, the director accepts their suggestions and also whenever we feel the scene is right [this way], they take it.”

“But, how do you handle the fame and fortune you now enjoy?,” one writer asked.

Jodi responded: “Same person [as] I was, mas marami lang engagements.”  Richard said: “I remain as grounded as possible, and we can’t go around as much as we want to. This morning, we had breakfast at Original Pantry.”

Richard was referring to his impromptu reunion with Alexis Bong Monsanto, his classmate in college.

The questions then segued to how Richard’s business partners felt about him not continuing with the business.

“Before starting my career, I consulted with them before [going into] showbiz, even before Binondo Girl. I did a lot of soul-searching before accepting Be Careful with my Heart.  When I was convinced this is the right thing to do, I went wholeheartedly and I did it full-time.”

Another asked: “How do you get someone interested in watching this teleserye?”

“That is a very tough question. You have to ask your friends.  This show has become successful by word of mouth, ” Richard said.

Richard as a father

Asian Journal got exclusive access to the children of Richard Yap, though briefly.  I asked Ashley Yap (who is 17 and is a senior in high school) how her father is to them: “Sobrang close, not as strict, not masungit as Ser Chief, he is always there for us, he makes time for us, he brings us along with the trips.”

I then turned to her brother, Dylan (who is 10 and in the fifth grade). “Parati akong binibilhan ng games.”  It was allowed by Gia Prokup, sister to Melody Chen, wife of Richard Yap, after a series of texting.

Another writer, Lydia asked: “I would like to thank you, the writers, the directors for this wholesome, delightful teleserye. Abby, how is it working with Ser Chief and Maya?”

Mutya Orquia (who is 7) responded: “Masaya naman po silang makasama.

If joy was a rubber ball, it was passed on, from one hand to the next at the Shrine Auditorium’s waiting area, prior to the roadshow.

Fans of Ser Chief

Fans queued 4 hours before the roadshow began. They came from Hawaii, Fresno, Riverside, San Diego, Delano, Bakersfield, Carson, Torrance, predominantly women.

Nakakain-love,” Maya, 35 from Cerritos admitted.

Zoila, 80 from Carson likes the decent character of Ser Chief.

“It is a very wholesome show, ” added Espie, 76 from Valencia.

Virgie, 90 likes the humble character of Ser Chief.

Nurses gifted friends with VIP tickets for Mother’s Day. They work at Torrance Memorial, Royalwood Care Center and Chapman Medical Center.

Evita Mina, from Taguding, Ilocos Sur, flew in from Pearl City, Oahu, Hawaii to join her sister, Rosanna Lirio, to watch the roadshow. “Nakakilig, magandang tularan ang family values na pinakikita nila, especially how the parents and children relate to one another. Hindi kami natutulog. Galit na galit na ang asawa namin, pinanood namin ng dalawang beses.

“Kapitbisig Group” was formed in Las Vegas, “Kailangan namin ng yakapsule at kispirin.” All burst laughing.

Ana Gaurosch confided that she watches the teleserye every Saturday, from 3 to 8pm.  She came with her friends, Susan Laynes and Jean Atienza, who came from San Jose, all wearing bracelets, with the bejeweled words, “Be Careful with my Heart.”

I can now imagine a heart pendant with Ser Chief and Maya becoming a hot item for all genders to use.

Speaking of genders, the teleserye is gender-friendly, with Maya’s sister, Cute, as her kuya and her ate, a respectful depiction of the lesbian character, Cute, who has a young son, Cho.

Both Cute and Cho’s father, Pards are co-equal as business partners and co-parents, a healthy depiction of life, transcending ages, genders and even classes in this teleserye.

But rapport with the audience has been experienced before, yet not with this magnitude of kilig, felt by millions of Filipinos in the diaspora, where the roadshow was seen in Dubai, Los Angeles, and Florida.

The roadshow

It opened with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Eric Garcetti, declaring May 10, 2013 as “Kapitbisig Day,” the theme of cooperation in the teleserye,  the hopeful message we are in this together, exhorting Filipino-Americans to be involved in the upcoming elections of May 21, 2013 for LA City’s mayoral elections.

It was presented to Nerissa Fernandez, Corporate Affairs of ABS-CBN, by Walnut City Mayor  Pro Tem Tony Cartagena, accompanied by Susan Dilkes.

Jovit Baldovino, winner of Pilipinas Got Talent’s Season 1 and Yeng Constantino, Pop Rock Princess gave opening numbers.

“The sound system was so loud, that voices and lyrics to the songs were drowned out,” one fan remarked.

Fans carried placards, which read: “ Ser Chief, birthday mo naman, pa-kiss naman.” The comedy games took a chunk of time, while some fans expected more songs and interactions between Maya and Ser Chief.

The highlight of the roadshow was the comedy show of Doris and Sabel, played by Tart and Vivieca Vivieca.

Sulit na sulit” was how one fan described it. Laughter and joy were staples of the day and for the fans of Be Careful with my Heart, they filled every seat at the Shrine Auditorium, all 6,300.

To this writer, it will be a long affair with Be Careful with My Heart, as long as the writers of this teleserye sustains its credibility of breaking away from the past, where the audience is highly-respected, where the values of broadcasting is in command (to provide inspiration, to transmit lessons of good family values and joy) where good script is in charge, and where the artists play the roles as needed, and not the scripts custom-made for the artists, without regard to the audience.

I just wish the roadshow mirrored the quality and values of the teleserye! But, what stays in my heart is that the loving characters of Ser Chief and Maya are portrayed by Richard Yap and Jodi Sta. Maria, who are equally loving, caring to fans, and unaffected by fame and fortune.

LA Weekend May 18-21, 2013 Sec. B pg.1)

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