Watch the full interview on YouTube here
MANILA — At just 25 years old, Miles Ocampo can be considered a relative veteran in show business, with a career crossing the two-decade mark next year.
With those years of experience, it's no wonder that Ocampo did justice to the physically and emotionally taxing role of Marites in "FPJ's Batang Quiapo," which has drawn her wide praise and made her a social media darling.
More than week since her pilot appearance in the ABS-CBN teleserye, Ocampo continues to be overwhelmed by the glowing feedback to her portrayal of an assault victim, an expectant mother about to abort her pregnancy, and later, a woman who embraces motherhood.
Doubly impressive for viewers of "Batang Quiapo" is the belated revelation that most, if not all of the scenes in the series don't rely on a script, including Marites' birthing and confrontation with her mother, portrayed by Lara Quigaman.
"Lumaki ako doon sa ang bible namin 'yung script namin talaga. May mga directors and writers na you have to say your line as is, sa script talaga," she told ABS-CBN News.
Recalling being offered the role — she was handpicked by her former co-star Coco Martin, who is also the lead actor and director of "Batang Quiapo" — Ocampo shared: "Siyempre, bago mo tanggapin ang project, 'Pabasa po ng script.' 'Wala pong script,' sabi sa akin. 'Ah, okay, sige!'"
"Parang ako, since Kuya Coco naman siya, Dreamscape naman siya, go lang ako," she said, referring to the ABS-CBN production unit Dreamscape Entertainment. "Nag-trust ako kasi alam ko naman kung gaano sila kagaling gumawa ng mga proyekto nila."
The undertaking proved to be both challenging and rewarding for Ocampo, who credited her co-stars, including Martin and Quigaman, for being dependable and generous in their exchange of on-the-spot lines and emotions.
"You have to be prepared all the time. Hindi ka puwedeng relax lang pagdating sa set," she said. "You have to be ready kasi spontaneous talaga. You have to say yes. Kung ano ibabato sa 'yo, ia-accept mo lang. Iyon 'yung papasok ka sa set na dapat ready ka at may bala ka. Hindi mo alam kung ano'ng ibibigay mong bala, basta may bala ka lang."
The rawness of their performances resonated with pilot-week viewers of "Batang Quiapo," if social media buzz is anything to go by. Ocampo, in particular, even ranked among worldwide trends on Twitter for her scenes as Marites.
"Ang totoo, noong ginagawa ko 'yung project, wala akong ini-expect na anything," Ocampo said. "Ang confident po ako talaga, ginalingan ko. Alam ko sa sarili kong ginalingan ko at binigay ko ang best ko."
Ocampo described the response to her stint as Marites as "overwhelming." She's personally received congratulatory messages from colleagues and ABS-CBN executives, and has been hearing left-and-right references to her "Anak ko 'yan!" line from friends and strangers.
Most importantly, her lauded performance has opened "doors and windows" for Ocampo — opportunities she intends to make the most out of.
"Maraming pinto at bintana ang nagbukas for me because of 'Batang Quiapo.' I'm grateful talaga. Hanggang ngayon, kahit saan ako magpunta talaga, 'Batang Quiapo.' Ang dami ko pong naging anak ngayon bigla! 'Anak ko 'yan!' Iyon na po ang tawag sa akin.
"Until now, paulit-ulit ko sinasabi, hindi ako makapaniwala kasi hindi po talaga ako makapaniwala. I'm just happy na hanggang ngayon, may nakaka-appreciate pa rin sa trabaho ko, sa ginagawa ko," she said.
Interestingly, this latest breakthrough for Ocampo comes at the cusp of her 20th anniversary in showbiz, and as she nears that celebration, the former child star has a clearer-than-ever view of the summit she hopes to scale.
"Habang tumatagal, hindi mo na goal 'yung maging sobrang sikat. It's the longevity, iyon na 'yung goal ko... Gusto ko makilala ako bilang magaling na artista, hindi sikat na artista. Kahit tumanda ako, 'pag sinabi ang pangalan ko — 'Uy, magaling 'yan.'
"Nandito ako sa stage na kailangan ko siyang ingatan, kailangan ko siyang bigyang halaga, para hindi masayang 'yung tiwala at galing na nakita nila sa akin, ng mga tao," she said.
In her sit-down interview with ABS-CBN News, Ocampo also spoke at length about her showbiz beginnings, including her time as a "Goin' Bulilit" cast member; her milestones, such as her first lead roles on TV as a teen ("And I Love You So") and on the big screen ("Write About Love"); and navigating life in the limelight.