TAGS: halik, yam concepcion

Photography by: Stephen Capuchino

NEWS FLASH: One of the most talked about actresses today, Yam Concepcion, is NOT Jade Flores-Bartolome, the role the actress currently plays in the top-rating drama series Halik—that’s also one of the most talked about characters on TV today.

We need to make that clear distinction first, because our cover star Yam has found out these past weeks that the line between reality and reel life has undeniably blurred for fans and non-fans alike.

 

Photo from Instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

To recap, Jade has had a series of unfortunate events as of late. An orphaned girl who has big dreams for herself, the TV character has turned into a vengeful and scandalous mistress. Although her history explains her behavior, she is simply lonely, and is just always—like most of us—looking for love.

 

 

 Yam, as we find out during a recent house visit, has nothing but love from her straightforwardly cool and cheerful family of three.

 The actress admits that although she, too, like Jade, comes from a broken family, she has never felt lonely. And as we have witnessed, the articulate 30-year-old is a shy and talented artist, who knows exactly what she wants, and works hard for it. And, she is in a happy relationship with her boyfriend of four years.

 

 

A few minutes into our interview, we are as hooked on this woman—while the viewing public is glued to her primetime teleserye.

 

THE HAPPY FAMILY

 

Born on May 27, 1988, Lorraine May Concepcion was raised by her single mother, Bebs Concepcion. Her nickname, Yam, came from her second name spelled backwards.

 

Photo from Instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

She describes her childhood as “very normal.” She says, laughing, “Ako ’yung sobrang bini-baby kasi ako, spoiled brat ako, e. I’m a brat.” Her mother Bebs, who’s observing the photo shoot and interview, laughs along.

 

Although Yam’s maternal grandmother is half-American and her paternal grandmother is half-Chinese, Yam says her family is very Filipino. She then goes back recalling her childhood.

“Laro-laro lang kami dati, Chinese garter,” she says. “I’m not really a fan of Barbie Dolls, more on Polly Pockets, mga Dear Diary. Favorite ko ’yun. Collection ko ’yun dati.”

 “Mahilig din ako lumabas, kaso nagagalit sila sa akin,” she adds, referring to her elders, who’d always tell her. “Si Yam, maaarawan.” She points out: “Sabi ko sa ’yo, sobrang overprotective sila.”

 Yam’s brother, Ced Concepcion, who is five years her senior, was her regular playmate as a child. Ced, who sometimes sits on one of the couches in their living room and observes while the interview is going on, was Yam’s constant companion—and he still is.

 

 

 “Kaya siguro medyo boyish din ako, ‘rock and roll’din, di ba?” Yam says, when asked about her relationship with her only brother. “Dati idol ko siya, ngayon hindi na, ngayon idol niya ako. Haha! Joke lang.” Yam looks at her brother, who gives a sheepish grin as a reply.

 

 

 “Hindi kami sweet sa isa’t-isa,” she continues talking about her brother. “’Yung lambingan namin, asaran. ’Yun, mahilig kaming mang-asar. Random lang, mga nonsense lang. Gaguhan.”

 Although Yam admits to being very shy, she recalls a childhood that was filled with hopes of performing, especially in front of the camera.

 “Kasi bata pa lang ako, may mga video-video na akong ginagawa,” she recalls. “Wala pang cellphone na camera, so ’yung ginagamit namin handy camera. So ’yun, vini-video ko sarili ko. Umiiyak akong mag-isa sa video. Hindi pa uso ang selfie no’n, ’tapos nahuhuli ako ng kapatid ko. Haha!”

 She was also a fan of the South Korean TV network, Arirang TV, where she would watch travel shows and TV hosts interviewing different subjects.

 “So ’yun, ginagawa ko din ’yun. Kapag Araw ng Patay, punta kami ng Manila Memorial Park, mag-i-interview lang ako doon ng mga tao. Random people.”

 It was also a time, she says, that she became a huge fan of the 1999 lifestyle TV show, F!. “Ginagaya namin dati ng best friend ko sa Assumption, ’yung mga host, sina Cher Calvin, Angel Aquino, ’tsaka si Daphne Oseña.”

 

Photo from ABS-CBN News

 

Looking back, Yam admits she may not have been aware of her potential to work in front of the camera until recently. Also, Yam, who studied at the Assumption College in San Lorenzo Village, Makati City from preparatory school until high school, explains that her all-girl school did not allow its students to appear in any form of advertisement.

 “Pero gusto ko na rin talaga before na mag-commercial,” she confesses. “Pero never kong inakala na I’ll be really acting. We’d have plays sa school. Ayun, ako si Ibong Adarna, ako ’yung madre sa The Sound of Music, gano’n. So mahilig din ako sa performance-performance.”

 To express herself still through the arts, Yam pursued a degree in Multimedia Arts at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Manila. She became an art teacher, and to this day, she still pursues her painting. She is also the drummer in the rock band, Ursa Minor, where her brother Ced is the vocalist. Indeed, this beautiful woman has art and talent running through her veins.

 

Screenshot from Instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

She further explains her love for music, which remains a big part of her life still: “I love rock music. Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Hum. I like Alanis Morissette also. I grew up listening to her music, sa cassette pa. Placebo also. We have a collection of vinyls.”

 Through all this journey of self-discovery and exploration, Yam credits a big part of her determination to her “number one fan”—her mother.

 

 

“Simula no’ng wala pa akong fans noon, siya pa lang, e,” says the now-hot property of Viva Artist Agency, the talent-management arm of the entertainment and film production company, Viva Entertainment, Inc. “Nandiyan na ’yan si Mommy. Sinasamahan niya ako sa meetings, sa Viva. No’ng wala pa ako projects, sinsasabi ko, ‘Ano ba ’yan, Mommy.’ Ganyan. ’Tapos chika kami. ’Yun, hanggang sa ngayon, dumami na siya, ’yung mga fans. Haha! Nag-multiply.”

 She continues to wax poetic, while her mother bows her head down as she listens intently. “Si mommy ko talaga, makikita mo, siya lang talaga nando’n sa akin, simula’t sapul,” she says affectionately. “Siya ’yung nag-i-encourage sa akin. ’Tsaka siya ’yung inspiration ko kung bakit ako malakas. Kasi parang hindi dahil mommy siya na alam natin ’pag may mom ka, ’yun palagi kakampi mo. Di ba? She means well sa lahat. She wants the best for you, what’s good for you. ’Yung advice niya sa akin, gano’n, ‘Kaya mo ’yan.’”

 Then, in a typical Yam moment, she injects a jest: “Pero actually ngayon, siya ’yung nasi-stress. Haha! Ako ’yung nag-a-advise sa kanya. Sa mga bashers. Sabihin ko, ‘Bayaan mo na kasi.’ She reads the comments, and kaya ko nalalaman dahil sa kanya. Haha!” Mommy Bebs lets out a tiny laugh.

 

The Other Love of Her Life

 

More than the obvious truth that Yam’s life is focused on her family, there is also one noticeable aspect of her life that makes her happy: her boyfriend Miguel Cu-Unjieng, who’s 30 years old. And the one person who made their meeting possible is no other than her mother.

 

Photo from Instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

Yam and Miguel met through a common friend, who at the time worked at the SM Investment Corporation, where Miguel also used to work. One time, the common friend invited her to a house party, partly to meet him.

When we get to this topic, Mommy Bebs turns too eager to tell the love story, so much so that she gets ahead of Yam’s storytelling. She reminds her daughter: “Ayaw mo pumunta, pinilit kita. Sabi ko, ‘Sige na, punta ka na doon. Sayang naman ’yun, mamaya, guwapo.’ Guwapo nga. Haha!”

Mommy Bebs tells us more information, while looking at Yam. But hilariously, at one point during the interview, Yam interrupts her mother while chuckling: “Ang daming sinabi, sandali lang.”

Yam then goes back recounting the day she met Miguel, which happened sometime in 2010. “Actually, ’yung friend ko, sinundo pa niya ako.” And when she met Miguel, she was impressed. “Oh my gosh, he’s so smart. He’s such a nerd. Super nerdy, sobra. I said, ‘This guy is such a geek, in a cute way.’”

 

Photo from Instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

It was during that party when Miguel got her number. After that, the two started playing the online game, Draw Something, where each player would take turns finishing a sketch or a drawing. They then went on texting each other.

“Eventually, niyaya niya akong mag-date,” Yam says. Then she shares how that first date went. “Nanood kami ng movie, ’tapos kumain kami sa labas. Hindi ko maalala ’yung movie. Basta pangit ’yung movie. Actually, wala nga akong maintindihan, e kasi naka-focus ako sa kanya, e. Haha! ’Tapos ayun na, nagsimula na doon, lumalabas na kami palagi.”

But, their love story had to end—temporarily.

Miguel went to the United States to take his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yam remembers that time vividly. “Sabi niya sa akin, ayaw daw niya maging unfair na itatali lang niya ako, aalis lang din naman siya. So hindi natuloy.”

Two years later, after finishing his masters, Miguel went back to the Philippines. It was at that moment when Miguel confessed to Yam how he felt. Yam is all smiles when she tells us, “Sabi niya, doon daw niya na-realize na he can’t live without me. Nag-Tagaytay [City] pa kami. Hindi niya ako tinanong. Ako pa ’yung, ‘What’s your question?’ Haha! Ako pa ’yung nag-push. ‘Itanong mo na ’yung tanong,’ na kung kami na.”

 

Photo from instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

They became officially a couple that day: January 5, 2014. 

Two days later, Miguel, whose work is related to environmental sustainability, flew back to the U.S, where he was already working at the time. “Mas okay ang job opportunities niya sa States kaysa dito,” Yam explains.

Four years after that fateful day, Yam and Miguel are still in a happy and loving relationship. Yam says that the keys to their successful long-distance relationship are constant communication and trust. The latter, she soon finds out, is harder to come by.

“It took a while for me to trust him,” Yam admits.  “Mga siguro, this year lang. Magfo-four years na kami. Doon lang niya na-earn ’yung trust ko. E kasi first boyfriend ko, bad experience, so feeling ko, lahat ng lalaki, manloloko.”

When we ask if Miguel has the same trust issues, she replies: “Ever since, trust na niya ako. Haha!” We then ask if her role in Halik has effect on their relationship. Jesting, she says, “Di naman niya napapanood, so okey lang.” Then she turns serious, “Si Miguel, sabi niya, ‘You just need to tell me.’ Hindi daw niya maiiwasan magselos. Siyempre magseselos kasi ang wild naman ng mga scenes namin doon. Pero very secure na tao naman kasi siya.”

Yam admits that sometimes, too, jealousy hits her in the gut: “Topak din ako minsan. Unahin na natin ’yung mga nega kasi tao lang naman ako. Selosa ako. Minsan nakakapikon na. Hindi siya cute na selos. Haha!”

But her other qualities more than make up for her jealousy fits. “Maalaga ako, very maalaga ako,” she says. “I make sure na naalagaaan ko siya. I like to cook also, nilulutuan ko siya. Actually, I’m quite funny. Hahaha! I make him laugh naman.”

 

Photo from Instagram (@yamconcepcion)

 

Yam jokes that she’s hoping Miguel might see what she has been up to when he comes home for Christmas. “Parang hindi siya aware sa nangyayari sa career ko,” she says. “Kasi ngayon hindi pa niya masyadong naiintindihan. ‘Bakit wala kang time?’ Hindi ko ma-explain. Siyempre minsan gusto mo na lang matulog.  Well, he’s such a smart person, I bet he will understand.”

She explains that sometimes, she brings her character, Jade, when she’s communicating with Miguel: “Siyempre pag-LDR kayo, di kayo nagkikita, minsan nakakapraning, e. Parang, ‘Oh my god, is he really loyal?’ Especially with Halik, ’yung theme, minsan ’yung character ko nahahalo ko. Sabi niya, ‘Why are you always mad at me?’ Ang hot-headed ko daw. Sabi ko naman, ‘I’m sorry, nadadala ko ’yung character ko.’ Naiinitan ko siya ng ulo.”

She says that they’ve never had a big fight, and no argument couldn’t be resolved by talking to each other on the messaging application, Whatsapp. “Lately kasi sobrang pagod na pagod ako, nagtatampo na nga sa akin,” she says. “Hindi naman perfect ang relationship. May times din na nagtatampo. Kailangan ko lang mag-explain. Matalino din kasi ako, e. Joke lang! Haha! Kung may MBA siya, ako may MBA sa kalokohan. Haha!”

The Halik star then expresses how much Miguel means to her: “Ang dami kong natututunan sa kanya. Lahat ng advice kay Miguel, the best advice ever. As in grabe. And he’s such a positive person, a positive influence in my life, as well.”

She tells us that they have talked about what they want their future to look like, and she can only be excited. “Gusto namin ng fishing. Urban Outfitters! Joke!” she laughs. Miguel goes fishing often as one of his hobbies. In fact, during their first meeting, Miguel had to leave the party early because he had fishing the next day.

 

Photo from Instagram (@mrcuu)

 

Then Yam continues to talk about their dreams.

“Kahit sa California [U.S.A] lang na our own family house, na meron kaming aso na golden retriever na ang ipapangalan namin ay Friedrich Nietzsche.”

Yam pretends that the dog already exists and calls out, “Friedrich! Friedrich!” Friedrich Nietzsche is the name of a German philosopher who died in 1900. Miguel is a philosophy major from Santa Clara University, California—thus the dog’s name.

Then Yam goes on: “Naisip na naming ’yung mga ganyan. Meron kaming garden. Magtatanim kami ng fruits, vegetables, gano’n.”

She clarifies that although they both love imagining this dream of them having a house in California, she says that they love to make both Manila and California her home base.

For now, while they are both starting to realize their dreams, Yam stays put with her family at their home. “Gusto ko kasi while I’m not yet married, I’m gonna spend time with my family muna, with my mom,” she declares. “Saka na ako bubukod. I choose to stay here with my mom kasi, you know, ’pag nag-asawa na ako, it’s a different story. So while I’m still single, I’ll spend time with my mom and just take advantage of the time we spend together.”

Art Direction: Alfred Amado
Shoot Assistants: Tony Valete, Ryan dela Cruz