MANILA — From getting hunted to disappearing mysteriously onscreen, Arielle Roces appears on track to becoming a thriller queen, as she takes on her second lead role in the same genre.
Roces plays the titular character in “Section Saint Valentine: The Disappearance of Divine” (SSV), a 9-episode WeTV series premiering Friday on the streaming platform.
The Rein Entertainment (“Bagman”) production follows the mystery behind Divine’s disappearance, with 6 of her classmates piecing together clues to find her.
Roces’ first collaboration with Rein Entertainment is 2019’s “You Have Arrived,” her lead-role debut after being launched as a Star Magic artist the year prior.
Currently managed by Rise Artists Studio, Roces credited the ABS-CBN group for helping her prepare for the role of Divine, which she described as a “very complex” character.
“They’re very supportive. Ramdam na ramdam ko talaga ‘yung pag-aalaga sa akin. May mga workshops na pinapagawa sa akin, tinutulungan nila ako,” she told ABS-CBN News during a media conference for the series on Wednesday.
“They’re very active sa pag-ho-hone ng skills namin. Despite sa kung ano’ng nangyari noong 2020, hindi naging hindrance for them to stop honing our skills, ‘yung kaming mga artist nila.”
Rein Entertainment’s Philip King, who directed “SSV,” recalled being “impressed” with Roces’ performance in “You Have Arrived,” making her an instant casting choice for Divine.
When the production company pitched the series to WeTV, Roces was already part of the project, according to King. Once they got the green light, casting for the six other roles followed.
Joining Roces in “SSV” are Royce Cabrera, Jem Macatuno, Aedel Peña, Raphael Robes, Polo Laurel, and Thamara Pacursa.
The pandemic-set series was filmed for 10 days, excluding the quarantine period for the cast and crew.
The lock-in duration, Roces said, was helpful in her preparation to lend truth to her portrayal of Divine.
“I’m thankful for our quarantine period. I had the time to internalize, to really gather the confidence of Divine, ‘yung kailangan kong attitude niya, ‘yung rebellious character niya. I had to embody that,” she said, also crediting King for his guidance on her acting.
In the series, Divine is shown as a “rebellious, free-spirited” student who isn’t afraid to make enemies, even authority figures, if it means “changing the system for the better,” according to Roces.
While she identifies with Divine’s bubbly personality, Roces said they contrast in terms of the character’s over-confidence and being unapologetically frank.
“Ako kasi, mas pigil, at mas mahinhin ako sa totoong buhay,” she said, laughing.
In events set into motion by Divine’s decisions, she and her classmates in Section Saint Valentine are thrust into situations that endanger their lives. For King, “SSV’s” story also serves as a cautionary tale to today’s youth, noting recent headlines involving drugs and partying.
“We’re parents,” King said of his co-creators. “Medyo relevant siya sa panahon ngayon. ‘Yung mga circumstances dito, nahugot namin from our youth. Sadly, those realities — partying, drugs, and all those things — they are still relevant now.”
The experiences of Divine and her friends, King added, aim to serve as “a word of caution to everyone to respect your limits, and to respect yourself.”
Beyond the youth-oriented issues, Roces said “SSV” covers a range of issues drawn from the ongoing pandemic, including its impact on education, as well as persistent corruption in the government.
“SSV” is one of WeTV Philippines’ 12 local original titles scheduled for release in 2021, on top of 20 local films exclusively streaming on the platform.
Currently in production, and expected for release after “SSV,” is the Ian Veneracion and Iza Calzado starrer “B&B: The Story of the Battle of Brody & Brandy,” about lovers who become competitors in business.