Photos by Maine Manalansan
We’re shooting Jameson Blake and Sue Ramirez one midkey sweltering afternoon on the balcony of the IdeaFirst office, and with the way they pose and smile, they look as though they’ve been together for like, years.
The usual artista-type flare I’ve grown used to at these kinds of shoots is charged with goofy energy, the kind of vibe that puts everyone within a 10-foot radius at ease. The word you’re looking for is: chemistry.
And chemistry is a requirement if you’re playing lead role love interests. Sue and Jameson play the characters Norma and Aries respectively in Ang Babaeng Allergic sa WiFi, a film whose vaguely Wes Andersonian trailer trended number one on Twitter shortly after its release. Directed by Jun Robles Lana, the film follows Norma, a girl who’s forced to go off the grid after being diagnosed with a condition that forbids contact with WiFi, cellphones, laptops — the technological comforts most people can’t imagine living without.
But Jameson did, for a month, when he was still beginning his career as a Pinoy Big Brother. “Oo nga! Yeah! Ilang months ‘yan?” Sue chimes. “I was just there for a month. No internet, no clocks, no TV,” Jameson explains. To tell them the time, he says, “We’d just use the sun.” He points upward. “Okay, it’s 12. Diretso eh!”
That was back in 2015, before he joined the dance group Hashtags, then broke through with a dark role in the 2016 indie hit 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten. Sue on the other hand has been in showbiz since 2010, having auditioned for Star Magic after she saw a commercial calling for new talent. “I was like, 697 sa line, diyan sa audience entrance ng ABS,” she recalls.
[READ: A day with the boys of ‘2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten’]
When she mentions that back then she was in a teen variety show called Shoutout, she points at Jameson with the cheekiest grin, referencing that stretch of days in which Jameson found himself in the middle of a small Twitter firestorm when he got called out for requesting free graphic design service. “Shoutout sa iyong lahat,” Jameson says, riding the joke like the good sport he is, at this point comfortable kidding about the whole thing, but also aware that he has that learning experience to carry with him. His apology could’ve used a little workshopping, sure, but one can’t help admire his willingness to poke fun at himself.
Put the two together in a room and you get something that resembles magic.
You can see how well their demeanors jive with each other so naturally. Sue is bubbly, the kind of actress who can go straight into bibo mode as soon as the clapper snaps. Jameson’s disposition is more chill and restrained, the type to break out his million dollar smile sparingly, only when called for, or when you catch him feeling genuine delight. Put the two together in a room and you get something that resembles magic.
Sue and Jameson play the characters Norma and Aries respectively in ‘Ang Babaeng Allergic sa WiFi’, in cinemas starting Aug. 15.
And if you ask Direk Jun, he has only good to say, having handpicked the two for the film. After having produced a film with director Prime Cruz called The Debutantes, Prime showed Jun a test shoot with Sue. “Instantly I knew that I wanted to work with this girl,” he says.
As for Jameson? “Aries had to be played by someone who is effortlessly charming, has great on-screen presence, and [is] an underdog you would root for. And Jameson Blake perfectly embodies all those characteristics.”
The two reciprocate that love, with Sue considering the film a personal highlight in her career. “We had no doubts in accepting the project,” Sue says. “It’s something different. Have you guys thought of making a movie about a girl allergic to WiFi?”
I try to pry Sue and Jameson on what they think about the film’s premise, and it’s almost hard to believe that these two people have such healthy relationships with technology, giving measured responses on the good and bad of the internet.
“I’m thankful for technology,” Jameson says, on dating and closing distances. “You can chat and everything. It really helps a lot.” And in the midst of that technology, sometimes miracles happen. “I witnessed a cousin of mine, [they] met someone online like six, seven years ago, and they’re married now!” Sue says. “So it does work, sana, for the lucky ones.”
“People nowadays are taking the people around them for granted because they’re so hooked on social media, trying to connect online, but forgetting to connect offline.”
That optimism is tempered though with a kind of caution — an attitude audiences might leave with after watching the film. Sue is thoughtful about this. “People nowadays are taking the people around them for granted because they’re so hooked on social media, trying to connect online, but forgetting to connect offline,” she says. Sue is thoughtful about this. “You see families at a dining table, eating dinner and being on their phones all the time instead of just talking to each other.” Jameson rides the sentiment. “You forget to live in the moment.”
During the shoot though, we’re all kind of living in the moment, having fun with two actors who just seem happy to be there. Sunlight dappling the balcony, a tiny shadow on Jameson’s dimple, Sue flashing cheeky grins and bantering like a pro. It’s moments like those that have no corresponding allergy.