Spotlight on Wildflower TV Series Villain Aiko Melendez

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Aiko Melendez during the mini pressconI had a chance to interview the Wildflower TV series villain Aiko Melendez personally last Thursday, March 16 at a restaurant in Quezon City.  Usually, the focus would be on Maja Salvador, the lead star of the ABS-CBN teleserye. After the interview, I’d say it’s worth setting the spotlight on the antagonist as well.

The actress has matured in every aspect. In her younger years, she has proven to everyone that she’s an actress. She received several acting recognition more than her contemporaries had.

At some point she was not very much in the limelight and even went on to become a politician. But despite that, she was able to comeback in showbiz as if she she never left. Now, the Wildflower TV series villain is enjoying her part as Gov. Emilia Ardiente-Torillo.

Aiko Melendez in Wildflower TV Series
A scene in Wildflower (Screen Grab via iWant TV)

Asked how the new soap is doing, Aiko shares that the show is doing good as far as rating is concerned. She mentioned that they got a 23.5 ratings last Wednesday, March 15 which considered the highest all-time in that particular time slot. At the moment, they do taping almost everyday.

Aiko has only praises for the lead actress of Wildflower, Maja Salvador. She explains that Maja is easy to work with and admires the young actresses’ work ethics.

Maja Salvador leads the cast of Wildflower
Maja Salvador leads the cast of Wildflower

The Wildflower TV series is actually not Aiko’s project. She was supposed to be part of another show in the Kapamilya network where she’s tapped to portray a goody-goody mother role. While waiting for 3 months for the script, revisions, etc., they got a call from Director Ruel Bayani, who pitched the story and told her “we have this soap and we have you in mind…”

Upon learning that it will be a “contravida” role, she asked why? She was assured that the character is a villain role with a twist and even received suggestions to study characters in movies such as Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada.” The actress takes on the antagonist role with a different attack. She points out that her speaking voice had to be changed and make it annoying.

Aiko Melendez as Gov. Emilia Ardiente-Torillo in Wildflower
Aiko Melendez as Gov. Emilia Ardiente-Torillo in Wildflower

We’re used to seeing villains on Philippine TV and movies tackling on the role on a very physical way with full-on hard make up, hysterical,  et al. Aiko said her attack is more internal as can be seen in Gov. Emilia Ardiente-Torillo’s mannerisms, etc. This has kept people around her, including her friends, guessing who was her inspiration behind the role.

The Asian Artists Agency talent feels blessed to have accepted the offer. But it’s interesting to note that Aiko actually requested her character in the Wildflower TV series as one having a redeeming factor; not just a bad one through and through. As a child, her character in the soap is actually a battered daughter. Then she grew up and married a womanizer (Played by Wendell Ramos). Viewers can see through and empathize with the villain. I’d say that’s very unique.

Aiko Melendez does her research to delve on her role differently in Wildflower
Aiko Melendez does her research to delve on her role differently in Wildflower

I clarified about accepting “contravida” roles to which she replied that she’s not deliberately choosing the antagonistic role. She pointed out that she’d accept any role as long as it fits her well and not take on projects just for the heck of doing something. Her manager, the King of Talk Mr Boy Abunda screens the offers that goes her way. She shared that they want her roles to have a mark and not be forgotten to oblivion after the show has ended.  Aiko Melendez is aware that she needs to protect a reputation in the industry.

As Gov. Emilia Ardiente-Torillo in the Wildflower TV series, Aiko finds it easy to pull through as a politician. She is able to tap on her personal experience as a politician herself, particularly in the character’s manner of speaking. But she points out that they are still at the tip of the iceberg as far as the story line is concerned. The soap will tackle a lot of things and has interesting twists, said the actress.

Aiko sought to have her character as Emilia Ardiente-Torillo to have a redeeming value in the soap
Aiko sought to have her character as Emilia Ardiente-Torillo to have a redeeming value in the soap

I am aware that taking on a role of a villain can be tiring. I asked her about it and said that her role is draining because she had to be mindful of herself inside and outside the taping. She said that the real Aiko creeps in at times during taping and she had to be reminded of such, particularly the way she’s voicing the character.

Shifting from her bubbly self to her Wildflower character is difficult. But because they’ve done workshops together prior to starting taping, they were able to bond together and eliminate awkward moments from the start. Aiko even said that Maja would ask her to be prompted if she’s not doing good in a particular scene, and she does the same. All these without getting offended.

Aiko Melendez as Gov Emilia Ardiente-Torillo in WildflowerI got curious as to how she prepared for the Gov. Emilia Ardiente-Torillo role. Apparently, she was given 3 characters to study for her voice, mannerisms, weird look, graceful moves. So when you see Aiko on your screen talking with a twang, laughing in a squeaky way but with a little finesses, that is the result of all her hard work.

She also said that she would try to research and ask around for new shows to find characters that she could study. Aiko even downloaded Netflix to be able to observe other villains. This is actually a good way to learn other styles and break free from the usual “contravida” stereotypes that we often see on Philippine TV and movies.

She will definitely be able to put her research to good use when the time comes and she gets to act her dream role of being a schizophrenic like Jodie Foster in the movie Silence of the Lambs. Aiko pointed out that Jodie Foster is her idol and would like to be like her who eventually became a director. She has plans of becoming a director soon and has plans of taking directing classes.

Pretty soon we’ll be watching movies directed by Aiko Melendez. Incidentally, the actress has just finished 3 movies – Pwera Usog, the indie films Balatkayo, and New Generations Heroes. Balatkayo will be shown in Dubai and Singapore first before hitting the theaters in the country. The film New Generations Heroes, where she portrays as an English teacher in Korea will be screened in Europe first.

Wildflower Lead CastDon’t forget to focus your attention to Wildflower TV series villain Aiko Melendez when watching the soap. After the interview, I made it a point to watch the episodes on the iWant TV app and I must say, she is at her best. Wildflower airs right after Minute to Win It on ABS CBN.

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