After multiple delays due to the pandemic, GMA Network’s new cultural drama Legal Wives is finally airing its premiere tonight on its primetime block. It airs weekdays at 8:50 PM, right after Alden Richards-starrer The World Between Us. It’s a milestone for the network as it is the first time that the lives and culture of the M’ranao people, the largest of the Muslim cultural-linguistic groups of the Philippines, is the core of a television series.
Legal Wives stars Kapuso Drama King Dennis Trillo, Alice Dixson, Andrea Torres, and Bianca Umali, under the helm of award-winning director Zig Dulay (who also directed GMA’s previous cultural drama Sahaya).
The four lead actors of the show were all present during their recent virtual bloggers conference, which was also attended by creatives from GMA as well as the actors’ handlers/managers.
CinemaBravo asked each one of them about how they feel towards being part of the show.
Dennis Trillo as Ismael Makadatu
For Dennis Trillo, we asked how he feels that year after year he has been landing on big roles since 2002’s Kahit Kailan, immediately followed by successful shows such as Twin Hearts (with Dingdong Dantes and Tanya Garcia, Mulawin (with Richard Gutierrez and Angel Locsin), as well as the two incarnations of Mars Ravelo’s Darna (with Angel Locsin in 2005 and with Marian Rivera in 2009).
CinemaBravo: What can Dennis Trillo say about the idea that he always has a TV series every single year?
Dennis Trillo: “Masaya! Masayang-masaya! Wala akong masasabi kundi puro pasasalamat at hanggang ngayon binibigyan pa rin ako ng ganito kalalaking shows, napapasali ako sa mga ganitong programa. At utang na loob ko talaga iyon sa GMA. Wala akong masabi. Grabe yung pag-aalaga nila na hanggang ngayon nagtitiwala pa rin sila sa mga pinaggagagawa ko ngayon, kaya thank you!
CinemaBravo: Does Dennis Trillo feel any pressure as far as Legal Wives is concerned?
Dennis: “May pressure! Palaging may pressure lalo na kapag may mga ganitong bagong programa. Hindi pa natin alam kung paano ito tatanggapin ng mga manonood. Umaasa kami na sana ay i-welcome nila ito nang buong-buo, nang buong puso…
“Itong programang ito ay hindi lang siya drama, hindi lang siya isang napakagandang kuwento, kundi marami talaga silang mapupulot dito.
“Kahit hindi sila Muslim, kahit anong relihiyon man, iisa lang yung lengguwahe na sinasalita nila dito: yun ay yong tunay na pagmamahal na makikita nila sa programang ito. Kaya sana abangan nila.”
Alice Dixson as Amirah Alonte, the first wife
We took Alice Dixson to a trip down memory lane with the mention of her first full-length series with GMA: Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw in 2002 (with Christopher De Leon, Richard Gomez, and Lani Mercado). Due to its success on television, it was rightfully followed in 2003 by a sequel called Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw Pa Rin. Both series were directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal and Lore Reyes.
Alice Dixson: “When we did Ang Iibigin ay Ikaw, that was in 2000’s, so—my Gosh! 20 years ago!—I think as an actor kasi, you evolve as you have more experiences, right? In your personal life, with the roles that you accept, with the research that you do…”
“Kasi sometimes, when you’re younger and you don’t have a lot of experience, you ‘act’—you pretend to know what you’re doing, right? But when you’re older, you kind of like, ‘Oh, okay, naranasan ko na yan e! So parang I can use my personal experience for that scene.’ Whereas, before, ‘Oh, I don’t have that experience. What’s the best thing I can relate this to?’
“Dito sa Legal Wives, I wasn’t a mom yet when I started the show. Naging real-time mom ako towards the end. Pero my experience with my daughter dito sa TV show ko na ‘to was that of all the other experiences before na parang ‘Okay, [she] is the closest person to me.’
She referred to StarStruck 7 Ultimate Female Survivor Shayne Sava who plays the role of Alice’s character’s daughter, Amirah.
“And also, what else can I say that I brought in?,” she mused. “Direk Al Tantay and I were talking, like, ‘How long have you been in the business?’ I’ve been in the business for 30+ years and siya naman ay 40+ years.”
Actor-director Al Tantay plays the role of Hasheeb Makadatu, the father of Dennis’ character.
“I think we just bring what we can to the roll. Para sa akin, you do your research as an actor, and you try to apply it as much as possible to the character that you are playing.”
CinemaBravo: “Do you still see yourself acting for the next how-many-years?”
“I love acting. I don’t know if I’d be doing it—” She then cut her own trail of thought.
“You know, if you asked me that when I first started my career I would tell you that I wouldn’t have lasted this long.
“Noong time na yon, I was just doing it because it was fun. Now, I am doing it because it’s fun and I consider it as a career.”
Alice also shared that Legal Wives was first offered to her in 2019. In that same year, she appeared in two TV series on GMA: the afternoon soap Madrasta (with Arra San Agustin, Juancho Triviño, and Thea Tolentino) and the primetime action-drama Beautiful Justice (starring Gabbi Garcia, Bea Binene, and Yasmien Kurdi).
“Nasa viewers yan e! Kung pumatok itong show na ‘to, then you’ll see me again. But if not, baka you won’t see me. So panoorin niyo ang teleserye namin.
“If I’m not acting, siguro I will just be a full-time mom.”
Alice Dixson recently surprised the public when she welcomed her first baby at the age of 51. She named her baby girl Aura and calls her ‘her little miracle’ (through surrogacy).
Andrea Torres as Diane San Luis, the second wife, a Roman Catholic
Andrea Torres has recently renewed her contract with GMA Network. She has been working as an exclusive talent for one decade now.
True enough, she is given one big break after another since she headlined the remake of GMA’s yet another successful romantic drama series Sana ay Ikaw Na Nga (starring Dingdong Dantes and Tanya Garcia, Bobby Andrews and Angelu De Leon).
We asked her if she still feels intimidation after having been in the industry for ten years now.
Andrea Torres: “Opo. Meron at meron kasi hindi naman tumigil yung pagka-fan ko e. Kahit na naging artista ako, fan pa rin ako.
“Mahilig pa rin akong manood ng movies, ng TV… Talagang babad ako diyan! Inaaral ko rin yan. Kapag nakikita ko yung mga napapanood ko, iba pa rin yung dating talaga.
“Especially kasi hindi rin nawawala sa ‘kin yung kung ano yung mga pinagdaanan ko, kung gaano kahirap for me na makapasok [sa showbiz]. Fresh na fresh pa rin siya, lagi lang siyang nandito sa tabi ko.
“May mga times na hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala or medyo nasesenti pa rin ako talaga.”
Andrea was last seen in the hit sexy romantic drama The Better Woman where she was paired with ex-flame Derek Ramsay on his first series with GMA. Her acting prowess was pushed to the limits as she played multiple characters (the same way she did in the remake of Sana ay Ikaw Na Nga).
She also admitted that she got intimidated with some of her co-actors, especially on their early days of lock-in taping.
Andrea Torres: “Pinakana-intimidate po ako kina Ms. Cherie [Gil], Ms. Irma [Adlawan], Ms. Alice at saka kay Dennis. Sobrang natuwa ako dahil para kaming naging family sa set.
“Ngayon e parang tina-try naming mag-plan ng something na sana magsama-sama kami ulit. Parang bitin pa rin e, kahit na naka-5th lock-in kami.”
As part of the network’s stringent compliance to the government’s restrictions in film and TV productions, Legal Wives underwent five lock-in tapings — something that has become a routine for full-length series now, making sure that the entire show is canned before they air it.
Bianca Umali as Farrah Valeandong, the third wife and the youngest
Bianca Umali recently got the titular role for the cultural drama Sahaya, where she played the role of a Sama-Bajau who dreams of becoming a successful person and bringing justice and peace among her ethnic group.
It goes without saying that there has to be some adjustments for her to let go of Sahaya as a household name and embrace the intricacy of her totally different role in Legal Wives.
Bianca Umali: “Noong natapos yung Sahaya, honestly, it was hard for me. Sobrang minahal ko po kasi si Sahaya at yung pagganap ko sa kanya hindi ko lamang ginawa sa trabaho, kahit sa totoong buhay, ramdam ko si Sahaya, on- and off-cam.
“Kaya noong natapos yung show, alam din ni Direk Zig [Dulay], lagi kaming magkausap no’n, na halos pareho kaming naiiyak na nag-uusap kami na ang saya namin na nagkatrabaho kami, masaya kami na gano’n kasobra yung pagmamahal namin kay Sahaya at nakatapos kami ng proyekto.
“Noong dumating itong Legal Wives sa akin at nalaman ko na siya po ulit ang direktor ko, nako, masayang-masaya po ako talaga!
“Si Direk Zig, isa siya talaga sa mga pinakamamahal kong direktor. Napakaganda ng trabaho namin together. Natutuwa ako sa kung paano kami nagkakaintindihan at nagtutulungan.
“Also, para kay Farrah, this indeed is my most mature role so far. Malaking paghahanda po ang kinailangan kong gawin: A lot of research. And, of course, dala pa ng pressure at kaba na napakabeteranong mga aktor ang makakasama ko.
“Kaya talagang I did my best na maibigay ko ang more than my best na makakaya ko.”
We also asked how she feels that her home network has touted her from one cultural drama to the next.
Bianca Umali: “Masayang-masaya po ako. Sobrang nae-enjoy ko. Actually, lagi ko itong nasasabi sa team ko, na talagang kahit ang hihirap, kahit ang lalayo sa isa’t isa ng mga role: [noon ay] isang Badjao; ngayon, isang Muslim.
“Nae-enjoy ko na yung mga role na nakukuha ko ay totally different from who I am in real life.
“Again, nae-enjoy ko po yung trabaho ko lately dahil naipapakita ko rin sa mga manonood yung pagmamahal ko sa pag-arte.”
Legal Wives premieres July 26
The revolutionary series features a casting coup topbilled by Dennis Trillo, Alice Dixson, Andrea Torres, and Bianca Umali.
Also starring Ms. Cherie Gil, Al Tantay, Juan Rodrigo, Irma Adlawan, Tommy Abuel, Maricar De Mesa, and Bernard Palanca.
With the special participation of Derrick Monasterio, Alfred Vargas, Mon Confiado.
Introducing StarStruck alumni Shayne Sava and Abdul Rahman.
Also part of the cast are Kevin Santos, Ashley Ortega as Marriam Pabil, Jay Arcilla, Divine Aucina, Raquel Pareño, Melbelline Caluag, Chanel Latorre, Brent Valdez, Kiko Matos.
Don’t miss the world premiere of Legal Wives this July 26 only on GMA Telebabad.