Photography: Stephen Capuchino
Art Direction: Jobo Nacpil
The Ironies in Jake’s Life
Anyone who’s probably listening to 31-year old Los Bastardos star Jake Cuenca will nod in agreement once he says little truths about life. “We all have skeletons in our closets. We all have done things that we’re not proud of."
Jake also associates this with his character Alexis in his newest movie, KontrAdiksyon.
Photo from Kontradiksyon trailer (Youtube: UniversalRecPH)
There, he plays the role of a human rights activist-turned-PDEA agent by day who, ironically, kills vigilantes at night. “This is one of the heaviest,” continues one of the busiest men in showbiz, about his new role that he describes as a very difficult one—a person who experiences a tragedy that will shake his beliefs, and make him question himself. “The biggest challenge was to carry that experience, to really be honest about it, and allow that experience to eat me up for 4 to 5 months.”
Being a villain and a hero at the same time isn’t new to him, which is basically what sets him apart from the rest: he can be multifaceted, most of the time contradicting, and yet he could do it so seamlessly. It’s not wrong to label him the ‘Master Kontrabida’ of his generation for having played a lot of these roles in many Kapamilya teleseryes like Sana Maulit Muli, Ikaw Lamang, Tayong Dalawa, and Palos.
Photo from ABS-CBN Entertainment
While there are only a few actors who can nail these kinds of roles, Jake takes pride that he’s always bold and brave to do anything beyond what had been done by him, without thinking of what others perceive of him—as long as he’s doing his best: “Sabi ng director ko, kinast nila ako kasi when I do a villain role, I do it full-on. I don’t think what people are gonna say. I throw caution to the wind. I don’t care if people are gonna love me or hate me. So when they offered me this film, I saw that right away.”
At the end of the day, though, Alexis is different from Jake Cuenca, he points out. “First of all, ‘pag pumipili ako ng role, I really go as far from myself as possible. That’s how I challenge myself,” he says.
Jake recounts that in his real life, there have been plenty of contradictions between now and then.
“Kasi part of growing up and growing up in the industry is socializing, going out, meeting different people. You are easily distracted because it’s an industry full of many distractions. When you’re younger and you’re in a relationship, it’s difficult talaga,” he admits and shares he knows better now. “The most important thing to know is that you’re gonna make mistakes, but the most important thing talaga is to learn from every single one. Me and my life right now, where I am, I’ve learned from every single mistake, and I’m applying it.”
The movie KontrAdiksyon also tackles addiction—yet Jake asserts he had actually been quite addicted to simply improving himself.
“I’m addicted to further bettering myself, to acting, to obtaining a quality life, a good life, real happiness. I live every day like it’s my last. I live it one day at a time, but I make sure in every day that I spend I give the best like I give everything,” he beams. “Before I sleep at night, I like to say, 'You know what, I gave everything. There’s nothing about today that I would change because I have it my best.' I am addicted to that feeling.”
It’s an addiction that Jake says he won’t ever give up.
ALSO READ: Jake Cuenca reveals: I have an Agimat
The Real Ritz
25-year old Los Bastardos actress and Banana Sundae mainstay Ritz Ann Riggie V. Alzul or better known as Ritz Azul will also play a vital role in KontrAdiksyon alongside Jake.
“Pine-play ko dito si Korina, na asawa ni Alexis,” she describes her character. “May anak kami, dalawa. Habang may asawa na ‘yung character ko, nag-aaral pa rin siya ng law. Pero, sinasabihan niya ‘yung asawa niya na isantabi ‘yung law. So ‘yun ‘yung contradiction sa character ko.”
Like Jake, Ritz felt her newest role to play is totally difficult to carry, something she’s never felt before. “Sobrang heavy, plus after no’ng shooting, naiuwi ko pa ‘yung feeling,” she reveals. “Gano’n siya kabigat. First time ko naexperience ‘yung naiuwi ko ‘yung feeling ng character ko sa bahay.”
She also shares that she and Korina have a fair share of similarities and stark differences in real life.
“Mapagmahal sa mahal sa buhay, siyempre tsaka tingin ko, mabilis siyang magtiwala, like me din. Pero siyempre, nag-aaral siya ng law, so tinitingnan niya ‘yung pros and cons palagi in the story, na ganoon din naman ako."
She further went on, sharing what she feels are contradictions in her life.
“Unang-una hindi ako nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Siya (Korina) nag-aaral pa ng law. ‘Yun ‘yung pangarap ko dati, mag-aral ng law dati, na hindi ko nagawa.”
She adds: “Pagpasok ko ng showbiz, contradicting siya, kasi hindi ako nanonood ng TV. Wala kaming TV nong pumasok ako sa showbiz, wala akong kaalam-alam sa showbiz,” she smiles as she recounts it. “Tapos alam naman natin ‘yung showbiz industry na siya ‘eh, modern, kabaligtaran ng conservative. ‘Eh conservative ako, sobrang contradicting ng bagay na ‘yun.”
Ritz has been in the industry since 2011, had a sexy cover debut in a men’s magazine in 2012, and yet she reveals that there are times that she’s still experiencing “culture shock”: “Hanggang ngayon naku-culture shock pa rin ako. May times na nasya-shock parin ako pero mas madali ko na siyang natatanggap.”
One can tell that Ritz has a big part of her that’s far from her image as an actress. She’s answering the questions slowly, compared to her playful and hilarious characters in the weekend gag show Banana Sundae. “Ay nako, Banana Sundae, sobrang contradicting din sa akin kasi sobrang seryoso kong tao,” she admits. “Do’n lang ako natutong mag-loosen up.”
These contradictions in Ritz’ life taught her lessons. “Natuto ako ng madami,” she says. “Ngayon ko lang narealize na ‘pag may contradictions ka sa buhay at tinanggap mo, mas lalawak ‘yung knowledge mo, ‘yung wisdom mo. Ma-o-open ‘yung mind mo, mas kumbaga better person ka kung tatanggapin mo, hindi lang ‘yung nakatingin ka lang sa isang side.”
Regardless of these ironies, Ritz’ captivating persona is something one will find easy to fall in love with— on the screen, or not.
Grooming: Jay Herrera for Jake Cuenca (@jaybherrera)
Stylist: David Milan for Jake Cuenca (@davidmilan)
Makeup: Makeup by Lin Uy for Ritz Azul (@makeupbylinuy)
Stylist: Myrrh Lao To (@myrrhlaoto), Zia dela Rosa (@ziadelarosa), and @mc.king.tosh for Ritz Azul