Gino Roque and Heaven Peralejo are two strangers who find love amid the pandemic lockdown in the WeTV romantic-comedy series Pasabuy.

Gino, 25, is John, an aspiring musician trying to recover from his heartbreak. Heaven, 21, is Anna, a famous vlogger working on her latest video, while having secret feelings for her manager. As borders are ordered closed, they end up stranded in the same resort and cross paths at a community chat room while asking others to buy their essentials, as in “pasabuy.”

Pasabuy started streaming last weekend for free exclusively on WeTV. Episodes drop every Friday night at 7.

The STAR had a glimpse into the lead stars’ onscreen chemistry during a recent Zoom interview. They said their six-episode series directed by actor Xian Lim is about people from “different walks of life and in different stages of love” meeting at an unlikely time.

“So, you have these two characters, polar opposites, who are now forced to be in the same proximity as each other. And then you’ll see how, since they’re opposites, they hate each other, and eventually become friends and then maybe something more. But the kilig thing is, when the lockdown is over, will they go back to their separate lives?” Gino said.

The series is the second WeTV venture co-produced by Gino’s Forza Productions. Last year, Forza also came up with the rom-com Beauty and the Boss. The young businessman (who belongs to the family who owns the Kamiseta brand) said that ever since he entered showbiz via ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother (PBB), “producing was really something I had in mind, and the partnership we have with WeTV is so special because now we’re able to create content that we believe that the masses want to see.”

As for Heaven, she related that she was just fresh from shooting a film when she got the offer to be part of the series. Both started in showbiz via PBB, but this was the first time they worked together in a project.

Asked for her first reaction to getting cast in Pasabuy, the actress recalled, “Sinabi sa akin that I have a new show, and if I want, it will start in, I guess, two days. I didn’t know the storyline, ang sabi lang sa akin that it’s gonna be produced by WeTV and Gino Roque. And at the time, not too sure because di ako mahilig mag-research ng tao because I don’t like dun ko sila nakikilala through the perspective of the media sa kanila. I don’t want that because, like for example sa akin, siempre maraming perspectives sa akin yung media. I am more that, alam mo yun? So, I just said yes. I said, bakit ko tatanggihan? This is work. The story, I just received on the way na ata to the taping, so I didn’t know. May mga non-negotiables lang akong sinabi (through my handler).”

She has since been thankful to be part of Pasabuy because it turned out to be the “perfect” story for her. “Sobrang thankful naman din ako that I said yes to this project because it felt like sobrang perfect lang niya ngayon. It fits my life. Basta, lahat was just meant to happen.”

First impressions

Gino admitted that at first he wanted to cast a friend as leading lady. “As a producer kasi, I want to be safe, I want to get someone who’s a friend of mine so that there’s (built-in) chemistry already. And then, when Heaven came into the picture, I was scared because what if there is no chemistry and the whole series is hinged on that.”

His worry appeared to be unfounded after their first meeting. “Literally, the very first second I met Heaven — she even had a guesting at the time, so I bothered her at her guesting and that was when we started talking — I realized I haven’t met someone as bubbly as her. Usually, when I meet a new person, a leading lady, a co-actor, na-sha-shy sila for some reason, but with Heaven, talaga as in wala. I feel like in an instant, hi, how are you, and I’m like, oh this is great…”

He further praised his co-star: “Everything about her, grabe. I mean, she’s super pretty, di ba? That’s an extra that really helped. Everything talaga about her. And I hope people get to see that in the series because she’s also a fantastic actress.”

“Of course, I’m very flattered. Ang ganda ng sinabi mo boss,” Heaven reacted, thanking her leading man.

As for her first impression of Gino during their first meeting, she shared, “I remember the first topic na in-open niya sa akin ay PBB. So, yung PBB niya. But hindi ko talaga alam, honestly. Of course, there are some clips on Facebook but I don’t usually use Facebook. But naririnig ko na pangalan niya — in a good way naman.

“First impression ko kay Gino, oh my God, he was so tall. He’s so tall, guys! Feeling ko yung height ko, wala pa sa shoulders (niya). (So I was thinking) ang tangkad niya, so paano ako? Ang sobrang liit ko (laughs). But first palang, gentleman na siya eh, so na-appreciate ko naman yun. Kaya naging comfortable rin naman ako na kasama siya sa Pasabuy.”

Heaven also noted that in the series, it’s her first time to do comedy.

She said, “Puro drama yung binibigay sa akin and I’m more confident in that (genre) to be honest. Siguro sa sobrang dami kong mailuluha sa buhay ko, dun ko na lang iluluha and at least like meron pa akong TF (talent fee), guys, joke (laughs)! And when it comes to comedy, I don’t really see myself as funny?”

But Gino was quick to counter that Heaven is funny, whether she’s on set or not. “Guys, you will see the funny side of Heaven, she’s naturally funny… Her subtle reactions like, for example, after the show, when she’s tired, she’ll just make a face, so cute, and I’ll just be laughing on the side. I don’t know, I just find it easy. She’s not intending for herself to be funny, but for me, watching her, (she’s) just that.”

Love lessons

Heaven said that she can see a part of herself in her character, especially when it comes to love and relationships.

“OK, si Anna guys, baliw sa pag-ibig in a sense na gusto niya yung manager niya, parang hopeless romantic siya. So, basically, parang si Heaven, medyo baliw din sa pag-ibig. But OK naman in a way, because lahat naman yata nag-go-go through that phase na sometimes mababaliw ka talaga sa pag-ibig.”

She further shared her thoughts on love in relation to her character, “Pero nandun din sana yung realization and learnings. So, once na-go through (mo) na yung pagiging baliw sa pag-ibig, and once na-realize mo na what you deserve and kung ano ang worth mo, good, perfect!

“Like the same with Anna. She also realized that when she was staying at the resort. Of course, ayaw niya mag-dive into a relationship with John, even though may feelings, yes, because gusto muna rin niya makilala yung sarili niya and she wants to know kung paano talaga yung mahalin yung sarili.”

Heaven said that she and her character are both in that stage of “self-love.” “I’m just finding myself (like Anna). And I’m learning to love myself so that in time, with Anna in time, if ever mag-dive into a relationship, super full ka na. Like, alam na alam mo na lahat like what you deserve and ano yung worth mo.

“So yeah, basically si Anna and si Heaven, may mga hindi tumutugma but most likely (similar), that’s why hindi siya mahirap i-portray kasi malapit siya sa akin.”

In his previous WeTV series Beauty and the Boss, Gino’s character was “like literally who I was that he didn’t have to change,” but in Pasabuy, it’s something totally new to him. “Like John sings, he’s very goal-driven, he wants to make it as a musician. I mean, it’s polar-opposite of who I am. Because for me, as a person, I tried to do my own thing at the same time connect to what I’m good at or what I’m used to.”

Nevertheless, he was able to relate to his character in the way he is when in a relationship. “Because he invests a lot in it and like, for me, even though my last relationship was four years ago, I really invested a lot. And it hurts when it doesn’t work out because you get into a relationship as a practice of marriage. So, I feel like that’s where me and John kind of sit in (together), you wanna fight for it talaga.”

Meanwhile, they hope the show genuinely entertains the audience, especially since there’s still a pandemic. “What we want people to get out of this is… at least for 30 minutes, let them forget about their problems and then forget about this whole pandemic,” Gino said. “We just want people to feel happy, kilig, and talk about it and create this story because for me, what I want at the end of the day is for people to be entertained.”

Forming part of the cast are PBB Connect alumna Ella Cayabyab, Ralph Malibunas and Gail Banawis, as well as MJ Cayabyab as Anna’s producer and bestie Ge, and TikTok personality Nana Silayro as Madame Minchin.

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