The cast members of Viva TV and Project 8 Projects’ forthcoming youth drama series, The Seniors, harked back to their senior high school days, including the good and not-so-good memories, during a digital media conference. The show stars Julia Barretto, dancer-actress Ella Cruz, singer-actress and former Pop Girls member Andrea Babierra and actor-comedian Awra Briguela.

The series is about four students in a provincial public high school, who must face life and love problems in their final year in high school.

Julia attended regular classes for a time but was mostly homeschooled during her high school years.

“I was surrounded with really good people and until now friends ko pa rin sila,” she shared.

“They never made me feel any superior-ness. They kept me grounded actually. I was glad that I was able to experience (a) normal school for a time because that humbled me and that kept my feet on the ground. Wala namang mean sa akin nun.”

She was thankful that she didn’t experience any bullying incidents in school. But, “I think the bullying comes in real life,” she added. “In the outside world. Outside of high school. Matatag tayo, matapang tayo pinalaki kaya hindi tayo nagpatalo sa mga bullies.”

Her most memorable moment back then was when she graduated from high school, which was the wish of her mom. She recalled, “I was working more than I was present in school. Although I had days that I was in school. I think what I would say was a memorable moment for me when I re-entered the industry, I remember my mom just asking me for one thing. Ang hiniling niya lang sa akin was to please finish high school.”

“So, I think the day that I graduated, I think I would say that was my most memorable moment in my senior year. Natupad ko yung wish ni mommy,” she added.

Ella, on the other hand, had very toxic high school days, she revealed. She was enrolled in a private school in Bulacan from grade school to third year high school, and then transferred to a homeschool institution in Quezon City (QC) in her senior year.

“To be honest, yung high school talaga, yung isa sa pinakamagulong parte ng buhay ko,” Ella began. “I was bullied. Siguro kung magtatanong kayo kung ano po yung na-bully sa akin, isa is maliit ako. Tapos isa, laos na artista na daw ako. Pagka-wala akong projects, sinasabihan ako ng mga ganun. Tapos sinasabi nila na nakakapasa lang ako ng grades kasi daw binabayaran ko daw yung mga teachers kahit daw lagi akong absent.”

Andrea Babierra, Julia Baretto and Ella Cruz

She continued, “Tapos nagkaroon pa one time na I was just walking sa hallway po namin, tapos biglang kinorner po ako nung mga kaklase ko. Tapos bigla nila akong sinabihan ng ganun, out of nowhere na walang reason talaga.”

The scenario had changed when she moved to a new school in QC, where she met her true friends. “Sila yung talagang maasahan mo through ups and downs,” she said.

“Sobrang thankful ko na nakalipat ako kasi dito sa Bulacan, wala akong friends. Pero yung mga naging friends ko sa QC, they didn’t care na artista ako. And until now nagtutulungan kami sa business. Masaya talaga ang senior year.”

For her part, Andrea was a competitive student in high school. She would join beauty pageants in Lucban, Quezon. “Pero naka-experience po ako before na (sinasabihan na) maputi lang naman yan, hindi naman maganda,” she shared. “Yung mga ganung kunting bully. Hindi naman ako sumasagot sa mga ganun. Kumbaga parang masyadong mababaw po.”

“Although nung high school, medyo uso yung mga iringan sa mga higher year and lower year. I can say that my high school years (were) one of the happiest years in my life so far,” she added.

Like Ella, it was also the time when she was able to meet people who would become her main circle of friends. At present, even though they each have their own respective careers here and abroad, they remain in touch with each other.

Moreover, Andrea was a consistent honor student since grade school, but it was in high school where she got exposed to vices. “Simula nung nag-high school po ako, parang medyo napariwara (ako), pero hindi naman po parang, in a way, na bumabagsak sa klase. I’m still part of the pilot section,” she said.

“Pero nung high school years po ako natutong uminum talaga. Ako po ay taga-Lucban, Quezon. Kumbaga uso po dun yung lambanog. There were times na mag-sho-shot kami during lunch, during breaks and then, papasok sa school. We would continue the drinking session after class.” Now that Andrea, 26, is of legal age, she still continues her drinking habit, she quipped.

The Seniors is created and produced by box-office directors Dan Villegas and Antoinette Jadaone, and directed by budding director Shaira Advincula-Antonio.

(The Seniors starts streaming on Vivamax on March 20).

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