It's been more than a month now since most of the Philippines was placed into a state of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And with extension after extension of this quarantine, it seems as though there's no end in sight to all of this. Many celebrities have conducted their own relief operations to help the less fortunate who haven't been able to take care of themselves. Others have taken the entertainer route online, interacting with fans as a way to inspire.
Both, actress Bea Alonzo has been doing with fervency. Earlier this April, she helped launch a charity drive to provide PPEs for frontliners. She then followed it with a cooking project that had her personally prepare 98 meals for frontliners. In connection, she recently took to Instagram Live the recipe for these love-filled meals only to have a special person in her life surprise her in the chat.
It was long-time onscreen partner John Lloyd Cruz.
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Having starred in many commercially and critically acclaimed TV series and films together, Bea and John Lloyd sent fans into a frenzy with their online "reunion." As the world's hopeless romantics collectively shrieked over their favorite Basha and Popoy catching up, though, the two, now in their 30s, naturally got into a conversation that felt all too... real.
Suddenly, Bea and John Lloyd's chat became a little tense—Instagram Live had turned into a space caught up with their very own troubles.
At one point, John Lloyd opened up about feeling isolated and lonely. He admitted feeling a sense guilt for having a roof over his head, three square meals, and stable internet—all in contrast to so many other people barely affording what should be these basic, simple things for themselves.
John Lloyd, who's on a temporarily break from showbiz, then opened up about his feelings as a new father in a tumultuous time. "Natatakot ako para kay Elias (Modesto)," he said. “Natatakot ako kung paano ko syang palalakihin sa ganitong mundo. Natatakot ako na dito ko sya palalakihin sa ganitong estado ng mundo. Iba na yung ginagalawan natin, eh. Nakakatakot. Ang bilis nang mamatay ngayon. Ang bilis nang pumatay."
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John Lloyd sharing his anxieties would easily draw any parent to relate. After all, he knew this isn't just about the present state of things but also about the future. He might as well have thought: What kind of person will any kid be when his own beginnings here have been as difficult and troubling as it's been now?
This anxiety crept into their conversation later on as well, which led to some tension between John Lloyd and Bea as they talked about the relief operations the latter has spearheaded.
"Hindi ka ba napapagod?" John Lloyd asked. "Palagi mong ginagawa yan. Magluluto, magpa-pack, magbibigay, magpapakain, tapos sa susunod ulit."
"Hindi naman," Bea replied. "Parang, hindi mo nararamdaman yung pagod. Kapag nakakatanggap ako ng videos or pictures, makikita mo yung recipients, ang ganda ng ngiti. Iba yung pasasalamat. Sa totoo lang naman, isang meal lang, or isang bag ng relief goods, pero grabe, iba yung pagsasalamat nila."
"Papaano pag wala na sila sa schedule nyo? Paano pag wala nang ibang naka-schedule sa kanila? Paano pag hindi nyo na kaya?" John Lloyd then pressed, to which Bea had difficulty coming up with an answer.
"Are you questioning my optimism? Ano yan, hindi pwedeng hindi ko alam? Tumutulong lang naman ako," she replied.
"Hindi ko sinasabing masamang tumulong," John Lloyd said. "Ang sinasabi ko lang, dapat tulong lang sya. Tulong lang dapat. Kasi dapat may ibang bahala dyan, hindi naman pupwedeng aasa na lang lagi sa kabutihan ng kapwa, diba? Dapat mayroong nanggagaling sa taas, sa kinauukulan. Ilang linggo na kasi, eh. Parang sobrang tagal na nilang naghihintay."
He was clearly talking about how the national government has been slow to distribute relief goods to the poor, while celebrities like Bea plus plenty of other individuals and organizations have been hard at work filling in for that.
Currently, the Philippines is close to 8,000 COVID-19 cases including 530 dead and 1,336 health workers infected. The government is still distributing relief goods initially pegged at PHP 200 billion, as the poorer sectors get the shorter end of the stick in an economy bound to suffer its first annual contraction in over two decades.
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John Lloyd also had the less fortunate's inner well-being in mind in their exchange. "Kapag gutom, pagkain nakakaalis nyan," he said. "Kapag uhaw, tubig. Kaya lang, paano pag hindi na lang gutom? Paano pag takot na? Paano pag malungkot na? Paano pag galit na? Hindi na yan kayang tanggalin ng pagkain. Hindi kayang tanggalin ng tubig, ng relief ops. Lagpas na yan sa pisikal. Paano kapag yung loob na yung nagugutom? Paano pag kaluluwa na yung walang-wala na? Yan ang nakakatakot. Gutom na nga ang tiyan, gutom pa pati kaluluwa.”
“Kaya nga, wag nang paabutin doon, diba?” Bea said.
John Lloyd replied, still pushing: “Pero paano nga? Andaling sabihin yan, eh. Tayo, okey tayo. Diba? Eh yung iba, paano sila? Okey lang, hindi naman tayo dapat sumasagot nyan.”
Perhaps, almost providentially, and maybe to the fans' relief, it was here where Bea and John Lloyd's conversation changed to reminiscing about their past—reciting lines to each other from their past movies, and John Lloyd picking up his guitar, singing "You Are My Sunshine" to Bea. That was, until John Lloyd's one year-old Elias interrupted by knocking on the door—it was his bed time.
The conversation and all that kilig had to be cut short.
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Banner image by Star Cinema