ABS-CBN’s new show Pasion de Amor features two new faces: former varsity athlete turned aspiring actor and model Benj Bolivar, and Century Tuna Superbods grand winner Mauro ‘Maui’ Lumba, who join the cast of the sizzling primetime drama that airs right before TV Patrol.
Pasion de Amor, which is directed by Eric Quizon and premiered last June 1 on the Kapamilya network,is the story of love and revenge between two sets of siblings, the Samonte brothers (played by Joseph Marco, Ejay Falcon and Jake Cuenca) and the Elizondo sisters (Ellen Adarna, Arci Munoz and Coleen Garcia).
The original was first aired in 2007 and featured Mexican superstar Mario Cimarro in the lead role. In this currently-airing ‘Filipinized’ version, Benj plays the best friend and co-worker of Joseph Marco’s character.
“The story is, I met him at this bar called Armada na owned by the family ng mga Elizondo sisters. Si Joseph, nag-applydoon. Ako ang naging best friend niya. Matagal na ako dun sa bar, kaya marami akong alam na family secrets ng magkakapatid.”
The show is Benj’s first acting assignment since Moon of Desire, which was almost a year ago. Benj was surprised when he got the callback from the show’s staff.
“Nag-audition ako, nu’ng nagpa-go-see sila ilang months ago,” he says. “Di ko nga inexpect ang callback,hanggang tinawagan nila ako at sinabing na-shortlist daw ako.”
He’s been learning a lot from his co-stars, especially Joseph Marco who, like him started out modeling until he got his big break in showbiz. He’s been advising Benj to be patient with the pace of his career.
“Ine-encourage niya ako lagi, 'wag daw ako maiinip, and to just take it one day at a time daw.” - says Benj.
But Benj’s bigger goal is to eventually make his mark as an indie film actor. He dreams of doing gritty character roles like the one done by his idol, Hollywood actor Michael McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, the Oscar-nominated film about a Texas electrician who suffers from AIDS.
According to Benj, he’d be willing to do any role or character—he’s even open to gay roles or play a serial killer—as long as what he’s asked to do is essential to the story.
“Okay lang naman sa akin, lalo kung kinakailangan talaga.”
Meanwhile, Century Tuna Superbod winner Mauro ‘Maui’ Lumba also wants to try doing character roles, and he finally gets his chance with his role in Pasion de Amor, where he plays akontrabida-type role as one of several ‘goons’ employed by the Samonte brothers as they exact revenge for the death of their sister. It might not be a major role or guarantee a lot of screen exposure, but as far as Maui is concerned, it’s a step in the right direction, acting-wise. It’s what every beginner or newbie like him dreams of.
Of course, there are still many things he longs to do to prove that there is room for him in this business.
“Mahilig talaga ako sa mga action films and roles, actually, ang dream ko, maging action star. Gusto ko sana buhayin ‘yung action genre ulit” - says Maui, who longs to prove that there’s more to him than just his good looks and hunky body.
Maui’s goal—aside from being an ambassador for health and wellness—is to prove that he is different and has the potential to stand out from among all the newcomers now angling for a spot in showbiz. Says Maui:
“I just want to be different just by being consistent, but ‘yung roles sana, iba-iba and not always the same. I want to be challenged in different ways. Gusto ko din na ‘yung look ko, maiba sa ibang mga artista.”
Like Benj, he’s willing to go out on a limb and take a risk with his roles and assignments. He’s excited to see what the future holds.
“I really want to be an actor,” says Maui.
He feels that all the guidance he’s received, the workshops and training he’s attended will really help him achieve his goal.
“Kailangan lang siyempre, tiyaga, and to be patient and believe in yourself, things will happen at the right time,” - he says philosphically.
Pasion De Amor, which premiered last June 1 before TV Patrol, is the fourth telenovela locally adapted by ABS-CBN following the successful remakes of Rubi and popular Thalia-seryes Maria La Del Barrioand Maria Mercedes. It also stars Aubrey Miles, Michelle Madrigal, Ahron Villena, Daria Ramirez, Alex Castro, AJ Dee, Ron Morales, Zeppi Borromeo, Ashley Rivera, Benj Bolivar, Nathaniel Britt, Mauro Lumba and June Macasaet.