Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon’s reunion is made possible by JG Productions Inc.’s Rowena Jamaji and Rajan Gidwani.
There are but a few movie pairings in Philippine cinema that will always be revered, and certainly on top of the list is the enduring team-up of showbiz icons Vilma Santos and Christopher de Leon. If there is such a thing as meant to be, Vi and Boyet are it — the perfect lock and key to one another whether they play unknowing first cousins who passionately fall in love in their very first movie (Celso Ad. Castillo’s “Tag-Ulan sa Tag-Araw” in 1975), or as ill-fated lovers who meet again and yearn for second chances in their last film (“Mano Po 3: My Love” in 2004).
As such, the announcement of their reunion movie after almost two decades is nothing but exhilarating, be it for the industry, movie critics, their generations of fans and Santos and de Leon themselves.
“When this movie was offered to me, I asked for the synopsis and who I’d be cast with,” the Star of All Seasons related at the contract signing with JG Productions Inc., the film outfit responsible for this Vi-Boyet reunion. “When they said, ‘Si Christopher de Leon,’ yes agad ang sagot ko!”
As for de Leon, he recalled, “Napa-wow ako kasi pumayag si Vi after reading the script.”
As everyone knows, Santos had been primarily devoted to the city of Lipa and the rest of Batangas province in her last 24 years in elected office. She made less than a handful of movies during this long stretch, rendering 2016’s “Everything About Her” her last film to date.
Bowing out of politics with an impressive track record in June 2022, the country’s beloved Ate Vi promised to be more visible in showbiz again for the wider public who has missed her top-caliber acting on screen.
Happily, the pair of multi-awarded actors agree that JC Production’s “When I Met You in Tokyo” is the perfect movie for their reunion. Written by Suzette Doctolero, whose last script was GMA Networks’ highly-acclaimed teleserye “Maria Clara at Ibarra,” it is an age-appropriate love story for the veteran actors, which also sheds light on the plight of OFWs.
Entirely set in the Japanese capital, shooting began over the weekend after the sizeable cast and crew left Manila together.
“We were both looking for a love story where we shouldn’t be pa-cute but will still make the audience fall in love? Let’s face it, we’re no longer 21 anymore, and this story was hard to find. But when you watch it, we promise you, you will fall in love and tell yourself there is still hope!”
“The story is light, romantic and a visual feast,” added de Leon, who also signed up as associate director upon Santos’ request, alongside filmmakers Rado Peru and Rommel Penesa. “We have a very good storyline; we have music, that’s why the title is ‘When I Met You.’ If you listen really hard to the song’s lyrics, it will tell you the story of what we’re going to do.”
Believing her acting skills to be rusty after seven years away from the cameras, Santos said she’s counting on de Leon to get her back to sterling performance level.
“Christopher de Leon is such a big factor in my return to the movies. It’s just that we are very comfortable with each other. With Boyet, magsasalita pa lang o magda-dialogue siya in a scene, alam ko na agad.”
Over 20 box office movies are proof to this, with the pair’s working relationship developing as far back as when they were both young and single.
Given such history, The T-Zone could not help but ask the made-in-heaven screen couple whether they ever fell in love for real before they met their significant others and started their own families.
“She was extremely beautiful, and she is extremely beautiful. Who wouldn’t fall for her? Crush ng bayan yan eh, but what we developed this strong and platonic friendship as partners. She would run to me if she had problems, and I would do the same when I had mine,” de Leon proudly expressed.
“The relationship that we have is built on respect for one another. We love one another, definitely, but it is love in a way that even if we each had our own families, we would always look out for each other. I want his life to be good, his life with his family to be good, and he wants the same for me. So the care and respect have always been there to this day,” Santos elaborated.
At this crossroads, Philippine cinema’s revered Vi and Boyet are just amazed and grateful for the fact that they still have the public’s support as a love team decades and decades later.
“Imagine, Yet-Bo and I were still so young when we first got together, and we’ve kept going since then. Until we started making relevant films. Until we both got married and had our own families. And until today, we’re still here, and we’re still doing a movie together,” the Star for All Seasons enthused.
“The chemistry that we have, plus the fact that our audience has accepted us for so many years, is the reason why we have something to offer again. Yet-Bo and I already have an audience and fans, so we are excited to do this movie for them and hopefully more.”
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