Heaven Peralejo  on winning best actress: ‘Nakaka-pressure, actually’

“Dream-come-true” was how Heaven Peralejo described winning best actress at the 39th Luna Awards given out by the Film Academy of the Philippines last 26 August. She couldn’t believe the dream she had since she was 16 just became a reality that night.

But when the euphoria of victory subsided, the 23-year-old former Pinoy Big Brother housemate had a realization on what her trophy symbolizes. “Nakaka-pressure, actually,” she told DAILY TRIBUNE in a recent interview. “Kasi siyempre I have to live up to the title, kumbaga. Of course, gusto ko rin namang patunayan sa mga tao na I deserve it and hindi ako puwedeng maging complacent.”

Peralejo said she hopes to make more “good, quality films that would challenge me to become better as an actress,” following her award-winning performance in the suspense-thriller Nanahimik ang Gabi under the direction of Shugo Praico.

She also looks forward to playing a variety of characters after pulling off an offbeat role in the movie that vied at the 2022 Metro Manila Film Festival. She really brought to life the story of an ambitious young woman whose supposed romantic rendezvous with a rich and powerful man (Ian Veneracion) turns into a bloody nightmare involving a vengeful victim (Mon Confiado).

Dapat iba naman,” she pointed out on her next assignments. “Iba-iba dapat. Mas gusto kong versatile kesa naman ma-stuck in one role.”

True to her word, Peralejo has been showing versatility in a variety of projects. In the young adult romantic series The Rain in España, which started streaming in 10 episodes in May 2023 on Viva One, she plays a successful architect trying to overcome a heartbreak caused by a college sweetheart (Marco Gallo). She and the rest of the TRIEkada are set to return onscreen for Safe Skies, Archer, the second installment of the “University” book series by young author Gwy Saludes on the Wattpad social storytelling platform.

Peralejo and Gallo are also set to make their first movie together. Before that, the sought-after actress is in the ensemble cast of the upcoming romcom Fruitcake, along with Joshua Garcia, Dominic Ochoa, Empoy, Enchong Dee, Ria Atayde and a lot more.


Love life

While Peralejo admitted being very close to Gallo, who was the first person to send her congratulatory messages on her best actress win and having dinner with afterwards, she said she only has “crush lang” on the Filipino-Italian actor.

“Just liking the person,” she pointed out. “Nothing naman…” Her love-team partner, who’s standing beside her, completed her sentence, “Super serious.” He added, looking at her, “I do like you, seriously.”

Peralejo then addressed questions on courtship: “Let’s see. I don’t think alam n’ya ang tradition…Para sa akin, ang pangliligaw is a big thing. It’s not about traditions, it’s more of the assurance you’re giving to the person — which is me — that you are serious. Your feelings are more than just feelings. It’s something you choose. Whatever happens, happens.”

Gallo shared his thoughts on the matter. “For me, it’s a little different just because of the parents. Here, it comes first. In Italy, you guys see how you are with each other first and if you’re serious, you bring it to the family. Because nakakahiya naman if you go to the family and then you guys don’t work out.

“So, me, I’m just taking my time. Because to me, meeting the parents — I already know Tita” — referring to Peralejo’s mother — “but going to their house and having the intent of telling them apparently, like, officially you want to date their daughter… To me, it’s really important. So, I don’t think it should come first, in my opinion.

“That’s why I’m taking my time because I don’t wanna be rushing this. I don’t want to go to their house pretending to be taking this journey, and, you know, we don’t work out. For me that’s disrespectful to the parents. I really don’t want to mess this up. So, I’m taking my time.”

Meantime, they enjoy discovering more about each other. “She’s really sweet, malambing,” Gallo said of Peralejo, teasing. “Though doesn’t look like it.” She then returned his compliment, saying, “He’s willing to change for the better. That’s a good quality. At least hindi siya stuck in one thinking. Open siya to new ideas, to be better.”