MANILA — At least six actors of the afternoon drama “Bagong Umaga,” which is on its final week, had tested positive for and have since recovered from COVID-19.
Lead star Heaven Peralejo, and screen veterans Sunshine Cruz and Nikki Valdez, previously chronicled through social media their respective bout with the disease and their recovery.
On Tuesday, during the virtual media conference ahead of the series’ April 30 finale, cast members Tony Labrusca, Barbie Imperial, and Keempee de Leon revealed that they, too, survived COVID-19.
“Halos lahat kami COVID survivors,” Labrusca said. “We’re working in a time of pandemic; it happens. But God is good. We all survived. That was pretty unforgettable.”
Labrusca, 25, did not mention the names of fellow actors or crew members who had contracted the disease.
“Bagong Umaga” was in development as early as February 2020, but its production was delayed due to the first lockdown implemented in March that year. Eased lockdown measures allowed the project to finally begin filming in October.
The series was filmed under a “lock-in” setup, where cast and crew are quarantined in three-week cycles. “Bagong Umaga” was predominantly shot within the ABS-CBN compound in Quezon City.
Labrusca, who tested negative for COVID-19 on his 12th day of isolation, credited the production team behind “Bagong Umaga” for assisting them in their recovery.
“Sila talaga ‘yung naging family namin. Sila talaga ‘yung nag-alaga sa amin, made sure that we got home safe, that we had the proper meds, that the doctors were always taking care of us. Nakatulong talaga ‘yun. We were all handling it like a family, para no one felt left out and felt alone,” he said.
Imperial, 22, similarly recalled battling and recovering from COVID-19 during her time in “Bagong Umaga.”
Explaining her decision not to announce her infection at the time, Imperial said: “Kasi ako, palaging throwback ‘yung mga pino-post ko na photos and videos sa story ko. Baka malito ‘yung mga tao na nakasama ko kung kailan ba talaga ‘yun, at baka isipin nila na nakasama ko sila noong day na ‘yun. Baka ma-alarm sila.”
Imperial said she was isolated straight from a cycle of their lock-in taping, and recovered during that self-quarantine period.
De Leon, 48, like Labrusca, attested to the care they were given by the team behind “Bagong Umaga,” as he revealed also having tested positive for COVID-19.
“Thankful talaga ako to the whole ‘Bagong Umaga’ family who prayed for all of us nag-tsi-check every single day sa Viber, sa buong production and staff, na hindi kami pinabayaan all the way, na talagang inalagaan kami,” he said.
“Every day, tsini-check kung kumusta ang pakiramdam namin and everything. Nandoon ang family support ng bawat isa, e. Thankful ako. It’s not just about work, but the family na nabuo, ‘yung friendship, ‘yung relationships.”
Peralejo, Valdez, and Cruz — who had publicly shared their COVID-19 battle — were also present at the press conference.
“Life is short,” Peralejo said, when asked what she learned from her brush with COVID-19. “We should be more present, kasi masyado tayong nag-iisip for the future. ‘Ano ang next kong work? Paano kumayod?’ Pero hindi natin naa-appreciate kung ano’ng meron tayo ngayon.”
“Iyon ang isa sa mga nakuha kong lessons. Naging appreciative ako at mas naging close ako sa family. Mas gusto kong maipakita sa kanila, every second of the day, na mahal na mahal ko sila,” she said.
Bagong Umaga, Tony Labrusca, Heaven Peralejo, Barbie Imperial, Sunshine Cruz, Keempee de Leon, Nikki Valdez, COVID-19