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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 23, 2023



AJ RAVAL was last seen on Vivamax in the movie “UsXHer” with Angeli Khang last November. But she did the movie in April of last year yet. 

Now, after a long absence during which the grapevine alleged that she gave birth to her and Aljur Abrenica’s love child, she’s now back in a new Vivamax sex drama, “Sugapa”, with Aljur himself.

From November last year to August this year is nine months, but since writers are not allowed to ask personal questions during the movie’s zoom presscon, no one asked AJ about the veracity of the rumors of her giving birth. 

But in her entry in her personal vlog which she did while she’s with Aljur in Canada, she denied it and stressed that she and Aljur hooked up long after he has separated from wife Kylie Padilla, so she is not his “kabit”.

When asked why she was absent for a long time, she said that she went back to school and finished high school now that she’s 22 years old. 

Didn’t she miss acting?

“I did po, pero ilang buwan lang naman akong nawala,” she says. “Nagpahinga. 

"Pero marami po akong ibang nagawa, marami po akong napag-aralang bago. 

"I finished high school sa Alternative Learning System at balak ko pong magpatuloy sa college.

"As to what course, ayoko munang pag-usapan sa public.”

So how is it working with Aljur for the second time after they did “Nerisa” in 2020? 

“When we shot ‘Nerisa’, magkuya ang roles namin that time at talaga namang kuya-kuya ko lang siya noon.

"Dito sa ‘Sugapa’, naging mas comfortable ako kasi nga si Aljur ang partner ko. Kasi nga magkarelasyon kami, wala ng walls between us. 

"Yung feelings namin, nailalabas naming kung ano yung totoo. At sa love scenes, nandiyan pa rin si Direk Law Fajardo to guide us. 

"Habang nagla-love scene kami, nandiyan yung director, sinisigawan kami.”

Why is the title of their film “Sugapa”?

“Sugapa means you get addicted to something. Dito, siguro, naging sugapa kami sa ambisyon namin to have a better life in the city, and sa sobrang pagmamahal ng characters namin sa isa’t isa. 

"But we cannot apply the title to us in real life. Hindi naman kami naging sugapa sa sugal or anything.”

In the movie, they play Ben and Anna, young lovers in the province who want a better life so they go to the city to try their luck.

They vow to strive and achieve success side by side with each other, but life turns out to have other plans for them. 

Contrary to what they expect, they get to face a lot more problems and challenges that put their relationship into a test and also put their lives in danger. 

As they cope with money, lust, obsession and the hunger for power and riches, will everything be worth it in the end? Will love conquer all for them or will they have to go their separate ways?   

Can she relate with her role?

“In a way, my character, si Anna, may pagkakahawig sa akin in real life kasi mapagmahal siya sa family niya at kaya niyang mag sacrifice para sa kanyang mga mahal sa buhay. 

"But I cannot fully apply myself sa role ko, kasi hindi naman ako nanggaling sa probinsiya. I grew up sa city.”

We have seen the movie in its special screening at Viva Cafe and AJ is superb in her role. 

She delivers what may be considered the best performance in her career, specially in her dramatic scenes with Aljur after she found out that she has sold their sex video to be able to pay his gambling debts.

It’s a heartrending performance and we won’t be surprised if she’d be nominated for an acting award.

How is it working with Aljur? 

“He’s so dedicated to his craft. Hindi siya agad bumibitaw sa character niya kahit tapos na ang eksena, so hinahayaan ko lang. I understand it. 

"But to counter yung malulungkot na drama scenes namin, we listen to happy songs ni Katy Perry. Maski para sa ibang eksena, we listen to specific music para tumugma sa emotions namin.”

How does she take the bashers who do not approve of their relationship? 

“Noong una, I got affected by bashers. But si Aljur, hinahayaan lang niya, he doesn’t mind them. 

"So I learned from him. But when I get bad comments pagdating sa acting ko, I try to understand what it’s saying, so it will help me improve sa acting ko sa next scenes ko.”

“Sugapa” will start streaming on August 25 on Vivamax.