Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Not 'Just Julia'

My girl Julia Barretto at the grand presscon of her most recent teleserye, the afternoon drama And I Love You So. I can't wait to see her act again, this time on the big screen in the teen slasher flick Bloody Crayons.
The only people who say that Julia Barretto is mataray or a snob are those who don’t really know her. 

I can say that with impunity because I’ve known her for years, and the girl that I know is nothing like what other people make her out to be. So I decided to write this blog entry as my belated birthday gift to Julia—she turned 19 last March 10—and to set the record straight. 

Julia is easy to get along with. 
I remember watching her on the teleserye Walang Kapalit, which aired in 2007, long before I met her in person. She played the young Melanie Santillan opposite Sam Concepcion, who played the young Noel Borromeo. 

As the story progressed, the characters grew up and Julia’s aunt Claudine and Piolo Pascual took over those roles. At the time, I was very impressed with Julia’s acting ability—at all of 10 years old, she struck me as precocious—and her chemistry with Sam. In fact, part of me wanted Melanie and Noel to stay young so Julia and Sam could keep playing them. Hehe. 

Fast forward to five years later, the year I was assigned to cover a dance rehearsal for the 2012 Star Magic Ball. I didn’t know that she and some of my friends were joining the cotillion that year, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Julia sitting with my good friend Jane Oineza in a corner of the dance studio. When Jane noticed me in the doorway, she waved me over and introduced me to Julia. She turned out to be very accommodating and easy to talk to. Not only did Julia agree quickly when I asked her for an interview, but she also answered all of my questions. I honestly felt like I was talking to a friend I had known forever instead of a celebrity I had just met. 

As I wrapped up the interview, I told Julia, “It was nice meeting you. I hope we can hang out at the ball.” Her response? “Nice meeting you too. Yeah, of course! See you there!” 

Julia and I did hang out at the Star Magic Ball. I spent most of that night table-hopping and taking notes as part of my job. But I made sure to drop by Julia’s table, where she was seated next to Jane, and later that night we all ended up at the photo booth with Khalil Ramos and Sofia Andres. Check out a video I made featuring our photos below (switch to full screen mode for a better view):


My friendship with Julia grew from there. We got more chances to bond when she was included in Star Magic Circle 2013. I would visit her and her batchmates at work whenever I could. Eventually some of us started going out in one group, which their fans eventually christened J-Force because its members—Janella Salvador, Julia, Julian Estrada, me and Jon Lucas—all had names beginning with the letter J. We also chronicled most of our bonding sessions using the Keek app.

We made a lot of happy memories as J-Force, which brings me to my next point. 

Julia is accommodating 
One evening in 2013, Julia, another J-Force member and I were walking down Bonifacio High Street when we were approached by some guys who wanted a photo with Julia. She obliged and we went on our way until we were stopped by more people, all of whom wanted photos with Julia and the other J-Force member we were with. After both of them nodded their assent, I stepped aside and watched as the fans rushed forward excitedly. 

Honestly, I think Julia and the other J-Force member would have been justified if they’d said no. Even celebrities are entitled to a little privacy, especially when all they’re trying to do is kick back and relax. But in Julia’s case, not only did she accommodate everyone who asked for an autograph or a photo with her, but she did so patiently and with a smile to boot. 

While they were all posing, a crowd formed around them as more people realized that there were celebrities in their midst. My eyes darted nervously from one autograph hound to the next as I realized that they had no bodyguards, so if things got out of hand, I would have to get all of us to safety by myself—and I wasn’t sure little old me could manage that. 

Wanting to avoid that, I stepped forward and discreetly tugged on Julia’s arm. When she turned to me ever so slightly while posing for yet another photo, I whispered, “Jul, I think we should leave. Lumalaki na yung crowd and I’m afraid na baka magkagulo if we stay any longer.” Eventually, she and the other J-Force member allowed me to lead them away, but they waved goodbye to their fans as I did so. Julia later explained why she did that. 

Julia said, “Our fans don’t see us around often, and if all they want is an autograph or a photo, we should give it to them na. We owe them a lot din naman in return for their support.”

Long story short, we ended up stopping for fans a few more times after that, at Julia’s insistence. 

Julia is like that with practically everyone. My Filipino-British best friend Tim Macardle, who was an extra on And I Love You So, told me that Julia was very nice to him on set. In fact, when he asked her for a photo after taping one day, she obliged him and even chatted with him for a few minutes. When Julia’s car and driver arrived to take her home, she even wished Tim a happy birthday before leaving. Is that how a snob behaves? I think not. 

Julia is caring and wise. 
Soon after Julia and I became friends, I figured out that she’s actually more mature than I am. That’s saying something, considering that she’s 12 years younger than me. I don’t even think there’s a number for all the times she’s given me advice on dealing with my problems. 

Like when some guy broke my heart in 2013:


Or when she wished me a happy birthday last year: 


As you can see, Julia didn't make it to my party, but she made up for it with this message. Months before my 30th birthday, I told her I was seeing a therapist, which I think is why she felt compelled to text me this reminder. Sweet, huh?

People have said all kinds of things about Julia. The documentary ABS-CBN produced for her debut painted a picture of Julia as a star in her own right, apart from the constellation that is the Barretto family. But I think there’s so much more to her than being an actress, endorser and magazine cover girl. She’s not just Julia—pun intended. She’s also a devoted daughter, sweet sister, loving friend, and all of us who know the real her are very lucky indeed.

Did you like this post? Sound off in the comments!

Main photo by Nimfa and Sany Chua for Jules Explains it All.

6 comments

  1. This is so accurate! Send my regards to Julia :)

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  2. sabi ko na nga kaya hindi talaga mawala wala ung admiration ko kay julia kasi alam kong she's a good person.

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  3. Thank you for this Julian. She is truly beautiful inside and out.

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  4. Thanks for this! :) I'm a fan of her since 2013 before pa ng launch ng Star Magic. :) Sana maging kaibigan ko si Julia

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  5. Thanks for this :)
    I know Julia B. is a nice girl too.

    Hindi ko alam if legit account ba ni Julia sa fb yung nakakachat ko dati.Basta I remember everytime I asked a question laging may sagot siya.She so accommodating.One question na natandaan Kong itinanong dun eh kung kanino siya mas close saMommy o Daddy niya then She replied na mas close siya sa Mom niya.I just wanna share it :p

    Maybe namimiss interpret lang ng iba si Julia dahil sa look niya.Intimidating kasi yung dating niya knowing Filipino napaka judgemental.Pagmaganda tapos Fashionista ang tingin nila is Mataray,Mayabang tapos snobber.Then dagdagan pa ng pangagatung ng ibang columnist mas lalong napapasama yung image niya.

    Thank you for this Sir Julian :)

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