MANILA, Philippines — Ayra Mariano, like all other actors out there, knows the value of entertainment, especially in these trying times. Thus, the Kapuso star feels lucky to be part of Heartful Cafe and cheer up viewers weeknights, right after First Yaya. The original romantic drama series is also simultaneously aired on GMA Heart of Asia.
“I (consider) this project very important as it will serve somehow like a light at this time of the pandemic, when there’s hopelessness (among people),” said Ayra in a virtual media conference. “With our show, you will feel good, get inspired, matutuwa ka and kikiligin ka (romantically thrilled). Like what the others have said, yung mga tao pagod na sa news about the pandemic (people are tired of hearing news about the pandemic). It will serve as a little source of kaligayahan (happiness) to all.”
Ayra and Heartful Cafe co-stars Julie Anne San Jose, David Licauco, EA Guzman, Victor Anastacio, Jamir Zabarte and Zonia Mejia seem to welcome the idea of them being givers of feel-good entertainment. With that, Ayra is grateful to GMA and GMA Artist Center for this work. You know work opportunities are few and far between, pandemic time.
“Of course, we feel the support of GMA,” said Ayra. “My handler texted me that there was a lock-in taping.” She preferred this work set-up that would require her to say in one location for a long period of time. Its health protocols assured the safety of Ayra and her family.
Last year, Ayra was also tapped as one of the episode hosts of Cool Hub, a GMA online tambayan, on GMA Artist Center’s YouTube Channel. She, Yasser Marta, Manolo Pedrosa and Myrtle Sarrosa shared their hobbies and interests (in art journaling, motorbikes and cars, fitness and gaming) and celebrity passions and collections. Ayra’s work playground was her home.
For Heartful Café, however, she had to be in a taping bubble. The entire cast including Ayra agreed the acting advantage of lock-in taping as described by direk Mark Sicat dela Cruz: “What’s good about lock-in taping is you (and your co-stars) have been together for 12 hours, bitbit mo yung character. You get to sleep for eight hours, (wake up) and prepare for two hours and tape again. nabibitbit mo yung character araw-araw (You are connected with your character every day). Unlike in the pre-pandemic style, (let’s say) your taping is Monday, the next taping is Friday. You have Tuesday to Thursday na nawawala ka sa characterization mo. With everyday taping, you are more attuned to your character.”
By this time, viewers have known that Ayra is Mars, the loyal companion of Heart (Julie Anne), and the cashier-cum-barista of Heartful Café. Also joining her to welcome customers and brew the coffee they love is Roco (Victor), the master barista. As shared by the information given to the media, the university campus coffee shop is owned by Heart, who plays cupid to customers and meets young entrepreneur Ace (David). From there, the tales of romance between Heart and Ace and why not, Mars and Roco begin.
In real-life, for a man to win her attention, Ayra said she had to feel the sincerity and the genuineness of his intention and action. The young actress preferred a gentleman over “pa-cute lang” guys.
As for fellow StarStruck graduate Migo Adecer’s decision to put on hold his showbiz career, Ayra had this to say: “Well, I consider Migo as one of my closest and trusted friends in showbiz. Kasi napag-usapan din namin (yun). Well, I’m happy for him because it was his decision and maybe he felt that he needed to spend (more) time with his family (in Australia), take a break or enjoy his life na hindi nag-sho-showbiz (away from the klieg lights). Masaya ako sa anong desisyon niya. Good luck on (this new chapter in his life) and what lies ahead of him.” By the way, Migo will make a guest appearance in Heartful Café.
In the meantime, Ayra will also join viewers in following the series narrative as it brings them to Heartful Café, where coffee drinkers converge and all the magic happens, as they say.
(For viewers abroad, they can also watch the series on GMA Pinoy TV. For the program guide, visit www.gmapinoytv.com.)