Photography: Stephen Capuchino
It’s a bright Sunday afternoon in Quezon City, where the hustle and bustle of city life quiet down,because it’s the day when people opt to stay at home to relax and prepare for work the next day.
But not for Jodi Sta. Maria. On this particular Sunday, the 36-year-old actress is having a photo shoot for the promotion of her upcoming film, Second Coming, which will open in cinemas nationwide on February 27.
After an entire day of dressing up, being made up, and posing for the cameras, Jodi remains energetic and congenial. She keeps smiling as she sits down with StarStudio.ph to talk about her upcoming projects and new accomplishments. It’s like her day had just started, as she enthusiastically narrates her recent experiences to us.
Second Coming marks Jodi’s return to the horror movie genre, after the success of Maria Leonora Teresa in 2014.
The official poster of Second Coming. Photo from Instagram (@realityentertainment).
“We really wanted to make this film na maganda,” she says of her new movie that took two years to finish. “We’re really hoping for a good response from our audience. Masaya siya, fun, exciting. Hindi man naging madali ’yung shoot, but it’s very fulfilling to be able to finish another project.”
She goes on sharing the gist of the Reality Entertainment production that’s directed by Jet B. Leyco and costarring Marvin Agustin.
Jodi with co-stars Angelica Ulip (left) and Marvin Agustin. Photo from Instagram (@marvinagustin).
“It’s about a ghost haunting the present family because she has an unfinished business,” she explains. “This mother ghost has one common goal, which is to protect her child, and not only that, but to also protect the current partner of her ex-husband. From there, abangan niyo na lang kung ano mangyayari because I might be spilling too much!”
Jodi is the current partner of the mother ghost’s widower (played by Marvin), and when she moves in with him, she senses something sinister about the house.
The actress describes her character as a protective mother to both her biological and stepdaughter. She finds it unique from the other roles she’s played in the past.
Photo from Instagram (@realityentertainment).
“I always wanted to embark on roles na hindi ko pa nagawa before, as much as possible,” she points out. “Being in the business for 20 years already, I just want to keep on challenging myself to do things na hindi ko pa nagawa before and ’yung challenge din doon ay paano ko ba babaguhin ’yung role na kapag in-offer ko sa audience ko, hindi nila mako-compare [sa ibang character ko] so that’s what excites me. It’s that challenge to make it different.”
Jodi notes that in Second Coming, which is a psychological thriller, she’s able to use her background in psychology. She’s taking up BS Psychology at Southville International School and Colleges in Las Piñas, and last January, she was awarded a certificate for getting the highest grade point average in her department.
Jodhi showing her Certificate of Recognition from Southville International School and Colleges. Photo from Instagram (@jodistamaria).
“[It] helps me understand where the characters are coming from,” she explains. “[I can] create a background for each of them.”
She happily reports that she also learned a lot while making the movie, especially when it comes to maintaining a good relationship with her colleagues.
“I’ve learned na habang tumatagal ka sa business na ’to, padami nang padami rin talaga ’yung mga taong nakakatrabaho mo at nakakasalamuha mo,” she says in reflection. “As much as possible, you maintain a good working relationship with your crew.”
Additionally, her role in Second Coming gave her more lessons on motherhood, such as realizing that a mother would go to unimaginable lengths just to protect her child.
RELATIONSHIP BASED ON LOVE
Speaking of motherhood, Jodi’s eyes shine even more at the mention of her only child, Panfilo S. Lacson III, nicknamed Thirdy, who turned 13 last December.
“Being a mother to Thirdy is the best thing that happened to me,” Jodi beams. “It’s not something that I would trade for anything in this world. I have a boy who is very loving, caring, protective, sweet, talented, smart. I’m not saying this because I’m his mother, it’s because it’s the truth!”
Jodi with her son, Thirdy (right). Photo from Instagram (@jodistamaria).
Jodi’s just thankful to the Lord that her son grew up well, seeing him in the future as a man of character, not just of words. For instance, she marvels at Thirdy’s views on the opposite sex and teenage romance, such as “Kapag gusto ko, gusto ko. Kapag ready na ’ko, ready na ’ko.”
She shares a few of her reminders to her son: “You have to really take care of a woman’s heart. I hope that you will see them as how God sees them, how special, wonderfully, and fearfully made. If possible, don’t court anybody [who] you don’t have long-term intentions with, or you don’t intend to marry. Don’t waste emotional investment, don’t waste time.”
She also teaches him to be his own person and be proud of himself. She has no problem communicating with him as they have a relationship that’s based on love.
Photo from Instagram (@jodistamaria).
“He would follow what I say because I love him and he knows that, and he knows that I want what’s the best for him,” she says. “It’s more of a relational thing now compared to before na [I’m] his mother and [I] have authority over him.’”
The youthful actress adds that she and her son are best friends—but with boundaries. When Thirdy goes overboard, she gently tells him, “Babe, I’m still your mother.”
In a few years, the teenager will grow up to be an independent adult. When asked what advice she’ll give to Thirdy when he reaches that stage, she says she has nothing but hopes for him.
Photo from Instagram (@jodistamaria).
“I hope he lives a meaningful life, a purposeful life,” she says. “I hope that he lives a life that he could be truly proud of, and if there will be bumps, holes, and valleys along the way, I pray that it would not derail him from his goals or from his purposes. But I hope that he would always anchor himself to something that is greater than himself—and that is God.”
THE HEALER IN HER
Jodi herself lives a purposeful life by venturing into different fields aside from acting. She recently started her own vlog on YouTube and her acupuncture practice.
In an Instagram post she made in October 2018, the actress announced that she had become a certified Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist (ADS) after a week of intensive training in Dumaguete city in Negros Oriental.
Jodi after becoming an official ADS in Dumaguete. Photo from Instagram (@jodistamaria).
“When you start your day healing people from 8AM to 5PM, you realize that this is hard work,” she wrote in her post. “It is when we meet others’ needs that our needs are satisfied in the process. By healing an individual, you heal a community. You need not be a medical practitioner to do this – all you have to be is someone who cares for another person’s well-being.”
As a BS Psychology student, she’s inspired to look for other treatment modalities that she may offer to her future patients. She recalls that she was already looking for a good treatment combination for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy when she was introduced to the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) Protocol or the ear acudetox.
Jodi doing acudetox to her Mea Culpa co-star Kit Thompson. Screengrabbed from YouTube (Jodi Sta. Maria PH).
“I have actually tried it for myself, and it’s been very effective,” she points out. “During that time [when I was introduced to the NADA protocol], I was already experiencing high levels of anxiety because of my workload, school load, and all other stuff that’s been going on in my life.”
After experiencing how effective the protocol is, Jodi vowed to learn its process and offer it to family, friends, and especially to people who need it. She then invited people into her home to practice and held acudetox parties for her friends and their other friends to see its effectiveness.
“It originally started in The Bronx, New York in 1985 by an American psychiatrist named Michael Smith. It was originally developed to treat addiction,” Jodi says, explaining the protocol’s history. “And then later on, they found out that it can also address behavioral issues and psycho-emotional issues because it has been proven how our organs store psycho-emotional feelings of anger, grief, and fear.”
Jodi performing acudetox to her Mea Culpa co-star Tony Labrusca. Screengrabbed from YouTube (Jodi Sta. Maria PH)
She then explains how the process is done (which you can also watch right here!). She says it involves five fine sterile needs that are punctured onto five pre-determined ear points, such as the sympathetic, kidney, lungs, shenmen, and liver. This helps the patient relax and address fear, sadness, and grief, as well as trust the process.
“These are gateways,” Jodi explains. “I would always see it as a safety valve. If there is an excess condition or pressure inside of you, it helps release those excess conditions and pressures inside of us and that will maintain balance. The good thing about it is we come to a realization wherein our bodies have the ability to heal itself while going through the process.”
It was a personal choice for her to study the NADA protocol, which began during her one-week stay in Dumaguete. She attended theoretical sessions and did field work to gain her certification to become an ADS, which, in turn, gave her a new perspective about helping people.
“There are so many people out there who are suffering,” she reflects. “Most of us wouldn’t want to get near [them] because we don’t want to get infected by their pain. But I have realized that it is only by getting close to these people that they would be close enough to catch our love and compassion. By helping an individual to heal, then, maybe we can heal an entire community.”
“Andaming taong nangangailangan ng tulong,” she concludes. “I’m just really coming from a place of just really wanting to help and serve people.”
Art Direction: Alfred Amado
Make-up: RB Chanco
Hair: Jay Wee
Photographer's Associates: Ryan Dela Cruz, Tony Valete