‘Return to Paradise’ introduces two strangers, one island

Summer is not yet over, at least for the newest afternoon drama Return to Paradise starring one of GMA’s leading heartthrobs Derrick Monasterio and newest leading star from Sparkle, Elle Villanueva.

Launching their world premier as they opened the month of August, Return to Paradise’s pilot episode, according to NUTAM People Rating under the market research of Nielsen PH, reached a seven percent rating. It also landed number eight on the trending list of Twitter Philippines.

Newest love team

Elle Villanueva and her first pairing with the Kapuso hunk and heartthrob Derrick Monesterio brought a new and different chemistry. They portray Eden Sta. Maria and Red Ramos, two college students trying to survive a plane crash having found themselves in a remote island. Alive in the middle of the unknown, the two will test the island waves and skies as they will depend on each other to live.

Now going back to their lives after being rescued, Eden and Red discover that their families have a long withstanding feud that is impossible to reconcile.

Being a new pair and given the show’s numerous intimate and daring scenes, building the chemistry of Monasterio and Villanueva was challenging, shared director Don Michael Perez.

“Kung ano ‘yung umpisa ng kwento, sinundan namin siya hanggang sa mag-progress ‘yung kwento as per script so, more or less they grew with their characters. By the time we got into the scenes na kailangan ng maging intimate, kailangan na nila mag-bond, kailangan na ipakita ‘yung love for each other, naging organic ‘yung development ng characters nila,” he said.

The two actors, who only saw each other during workshops, have their own versions of first impressions.

Monasterio, prior to meeting Villanueva in person, already knew her through social media.

“I found her mysterious, too. Hindi ko pa siya masyadong na de-decode nung first time naming mag-meet,” he said.

“Kaya sabi ko sa kanya parang suplada siya ganun, kasi ‘yung vibe ni Elle chill lang. Ewan ko siguro chill lang din ako kaya kami nag-connect. Mabilis naming na-trust ‘yung isa’t isa,” he added.

‘RETURN to Paradise’ is Elle Villanueva’s first lead role.

He also emphasized how helpful the workshop is to build their bond together and how it made them feel at ease despite the tensions.

Meanwhile, Villanueva, who is making her big leap in the industry with Return to Paradise, admits that the role challenged her.

“Hirap na hirap po talaga ako sa mga touch, kiss, mga love scene kaya ‘yung workshop po nakatulong sa’kin. Grateful ako na si Derrick ang naging leading man sa unang teleserye ko. Dahil sa kanya, napadali ‘yung trabaho dahil comfortable kami sa isa’t isa,” she admits.

As the two got to know each other throughout shoots, Monasterio shared, “Nag-post ako sa Instagram ng picture naming dalawa na ang caption ko is about dependability. Kaming dalawa nung nasa island kami, kasi kami lang ‘yung dalawang actors doon, first time talagang nag-depende kami sa isa’t isa. Not just Red and Eden but as Derrick and Elle.”

Introducing Elle

Starting her career strong, Elle Villanueva, 26, the new rising star of Sparkle and GMA artist, debuted as the leading lady of Return to Paradise.

Prior to entering the world of show business, the actress was part of the corporate industry. She started her entertainment career through commercials.

“Wala naman po talaga akong planong i-pursue ang pag-aartista but then I wanted to be an artist when I was younger pero hindi siya pinush ng parents ko. So now na naka-graduate na ako, I got my diploma, may safety net na kung baga. I tried to audition every Friday sa audition ng Sparkle.”

After all the auditions she went through, Villanueva eventually got accepted in 2020.

Return to Paradise airs every Monday to Friday at 3:25 p.m.

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