Meet the expanded ‘univerkada’ in  ‘Safe Skies, Archer’

After the success of The Rain in España, which started streaming in 10 episodes last May on Viva One, the next installment in the hit “University” book series by young author Gwy Saludes on the Wattpad social storytelling platform is coming out this October.

In the upcoming Safe Skies, Archer book-to-screen adaptation, the story’s focus shifts from the TRIE couple Luna (Heaven Peralejo) and Kalix (Marco Gallo) to one of Luna’s closest friends Yanna (Krissha Viaje).

There are subplots involving Luna and Yanna’s other kabarkada Via (Bea Binene), Kierra (Nicole Omillo) and Sam (Aubrey Caraan), along with Luna’s best friend Sevi (Gab Lagman) and Kalix’s katropa Adonis (Andre Yllana) and Leo (Frost Sandoval).

New characters are introduced in the story, notably Yanna’s love interest Hiro (Jerome Ponce) and Kierra’s new man Shan (Jairus Aquino), as well as Shan’s sister Elyse (Hyacinth Callado). The expanding TRIEkada is now referred to as a ‘Univerkada.’

Krissha Viaje and Jerome Ponce.

Viaje admitted in a recent press conference that she feels most pressured among the cast members. “This is the very first series na pagbibidahan ko, (where I will be the lead),” said the 30-year-old actress, who started in showbiz as a member of the song-and-dance GirlTrends group on It’s Showtime.

Ponce agreed with his leading lady in the series. The former teen actor in the hit daytime drama Be Careful with My Heart explained, “Iniisip ko how I’m gonna gel with the series itself… Ang character ko, kung paano ko siya magagampanan nang maayos, lalo na ’yung intensity at gaano kaganda ang ginawa nila no’ng una.” (I think of how to portray my character in the best way, given how great they did the first series.)

Aquino, who began his acting career in the kiddie gag show Goin’ Bulilit, vowed, “We’re gonna do our best, siyempre to hit all their expectations. We’re just gonna blend with them.”

Callado, on the other hand, feels “very lucky and grateful” to be given her first acting break. “I’ve been a singer my whole life,” she said. “But there’s always a part of me that dreams of becoming an actress. Being with Viva gave me that opportunity to explore that part of me.”

Peralejo and Gallo, who gave stellar performances in TRIE, expressed excitement and support for Viaje and their three new castmates.

“Habang tumatagal kami, lalong dumadami ang cast,” she said. “Nagiging part din ng family namin. Sabi ko nga kay Krissha, susuportahan ko talaga siya the way na sinuportahan n’ya ‘ko. And I think it speaks for the whole cast kung paano kami magsuportahan, as in 100 percent (Our cast keeps expanding, and they become part of the family. I told Krissha I will support her the way she supported me. That’s how the whole cast supports each other – 100 percent).”

Gallo concurred with his love-team partner: “I had a good experience with The Rain in España, so I’m excited for Jai and Jerome and Hyacinth to be on the group now… You’re gonna be working a lot, traveling a lot. I’m excited for you, guys. It’s gonna be months of fun, hard work and something to remember forever.”

Aside from new cast members, Safe Skies, Archer has a new director in Gino M. Santos, who takes over the reins from Theodore Boborol. Santos said he’s hands-on with the project, revealing that “I was there during the chemistry test, all the auditions.”

He added, “We were looking for someone who would fit the characters, not just the physical but also the inner. When we casted these characters, these actors, one thing is mata talaga ang importante sa akin (the eyes were the most important factor). Jerome stood out for how he looked at the character Yanna. Hyacinth and Jairus also together as brother and sister, as siblings, importante rin ’yun. I’m happy with the outcome, the selection.”