With a love and attention for her craft, her empowered voice, and the potential she has yet to unlock, Liza Soberano, or Hope, as some know her, is breaking out of the mold and steering life on her own terms.
“I’m pretty good at hiding myself or keeping it low-key for people not to recognize me,” professes Liza Soberano with a child-like giggle and an unmistakable twinkle in her eyes. In between the quick mental image search of a celebrity attempting to go incognito with the unmistakable baseball cap and oversized sunglasses, cross-referenced with the millions of eyes focused on her (on social media that’s 16.5 million on Instagram, 4.6 million on Twitter, 3.3 million on TikTok, and 1.49 million on YouTube), it can be hard to believe that one of the biggest names in modern day show business can fly under the radar or hide in plain sight. But she swears by it, letting us in on her respites from the fame, which include trips to the grocery and even the mall. This works well for the woman behind the fame of Liza Soberano, Hope, who says she is actually very shy when not in celebrity mode.
Quintessential off-duty look or not, Liza Soberano prefers to be more insular, tending to her closer circles and people she holds near and dear, which isn’t a difficult switch, especially since by now, she’s used to assuming a role. While the Liza and Hope aren’t mutually exclusive personalities, one isn’t too far off from the other. “I definitely think there’s a difference between the two,” she says. “I always say that whenever I’m in Liza mode, I put on this persona of who I think Liza should be in the eyes of other people. But I think Hope, my actual self, is similar.” Defining and maintaining a boundary between the two is extremely important, especially when the concept of privacy, a currency they hold on tight to, can be tendered as almost non-existent in the landscape of the entertainment.
“Throughout the years I’ve learned to differentiate my personal life and my showbiz career,” she stresses. “So, on social media, what I like to share is anything that has to do with my showbiz career and I feel awkward about sharing personal moments in my life. Although from time to time, I remember to do so because I have a responsibility to my supporters to make them happy and to give them something that they can hold on to, especially now that I don’t have a TV show airing or a movie. So, I tried my best by putting up a YouTube channel to share more about myself. But honestly, to this day, I feel awkward about it.”
Much is almost unfairly expected from pedestalled people, even with the best intentions by the most well-meaning of people, that we tend to forget that they are people, too. So, when and where they can, they strike a definite sense of self. “I feel very uncomfortable with taking pictures, even when I’m here at home. And this has been very apparent, I don’t post much about my private life,” reveals Liza Soberano. “If you can imagine how hard it is in the industry that we work in to be as authentic as possible, especially now in the day and age of social media, every little thing that we say or you know, is said about us, which may be true or not, can be criticized by people. And a lot of people have their own opinions about who we are, our choices, and everything. It can really change the way we see life, the way we think of others. It can change us in general.”
Having been working in the industry for a little over a decade, Liza Soberano practically grew up in front of the camera, one that functions differently when zoomed in and out. In fact, she has been at it so hard, hustling from the get-go that it was only later on that she realized that she was barely spending time with her family.
“As the years passed, I didn’t really know who they were anymore, what they were interested in, and what was their state of mind at that moment,” she details. “During the pandemic, that’s when I really had the time to just sit down and kind of get to know my family again and really get to bond with them. So, yeah, that was a major struggle of being in the public eye and working in the showbiz industry at such a young age was managing my time with family and making sure that I was creating memories with them as well.”
Doubling down on the separation of Hope and Liza, she has made it a point to really draw the line, especially when it comes to reclaiming the time lost with what matters to her the most. “Of course, we’re super blessed to be able to experience all the things we get to do, and of course, the benefits we get out of it. I mean, the money that we make out of it is also really good. But at the end of the day, what are you making money for? We’re not living to work. We want to work so that we can live and create memories, and I think that the most important memories are those that you make with your loved ones.”
Early this year, it was all Hope out and about, taking some much-needed time away with her loved ones in Siargao. A first of many, this would count to be the first time she got to explore another side of the Philippines outside the plane of work, meaning this time, she got to focus on her and her family. “I’ve never really gotten to go places for leisure around the Philippines and it made it so much more special because the whole family was there,” she recalls fondly. “And we were bonding over surfing, over food…just enjoying the beach life. Yeah, that’s one memory that I’ll keep with me forever.”
Above everything, Liza Soberano is really grateful for the opportunities and most importantly, the life she gets to live. However, as she grows into the woman she wants to be, there is more of a desire to author it all it on her own terms, after all, she has worked hard, more than people give her credit for.
It is impossible to have a conversation with Liza Soberano, especially at this pleasantly surprising, but ultimately, fortunate familiarity, and not skew the fact that she is by every standard, beautiful. And while the world is practically at their behest, with rose petals strewn on the path they walk on, it can actually be awkward and for some, a difficult assumption to move past.
“I was never really noticed for my acting. It was always for the way that I looked, and I never really cared about the way that I look. I never gave it as much importance as everyone else gave it [for me.] And of course, I am grateful for the acknowledgement, and I am happy about it, but there’s so much more to me that I want people to know me for,” she says. “But I guess my physical appearance just takes over everything else, all my other attributes, which is sad, but I mean, I’m not ungrateful for the way that I look either. I acknowledge, yes, but also, I wish people would just appreciate me more for my craft, the type of personality that I have, or maybe for my intelligence. But yeah, I guess I’ll just take whatever is given to me.”
This isn’t just some woe-is-me for someone on the higher rungs of society’s convention of beauty, but she makes a strong point, when all else is stripped off, what else is left for people to latch on to? Of course, this can be an attribution of overthinking, but reared in a world that sees and feels too much, this isn’t too far off from the barometer of comprehension. So, what does Liza Soberano do? She works harder.
“Yes, I do get pressured and I do feel insecure. I feel like I have to look or present myself in a certain way or else that means I’m nothing anymore and that’s my problem with people always talking about [just] my beauty, because maybe I’m pretty now, but how will they react 10 years from now? I might not meet your standard of beauty anymore,” she emphasizes. “And then what am I going to be? I’m going to be a nobody, because nobody paid attention to my acting. Nobody paid attention to my intelligence. Nobody paid attention to what I’ve done for this for society. And that’s why I’m trying so much now to veer away from just being known as pretty or being known as a model. I really want to be able to do projects that will make me seem more human to people.”
Look, Liza Soberano will never be a nobody. Sure, just like everyone and everything rooted to the limits of the world; we will at some point move past our prime, and she is well aware of this fact. So, as early as now, she is securing her future, and perhaps, the legacy she wants to leave behind. In this breath, we see less of Liza the star. Actually, at some point of this one-on-one, we lost her completely and Hope became the more prominent and assured voice speaking her heart and mind. Where her Liza is more certain, Hope is more careful, but in the blur that is inescapable when straddling multiple facets, they not only intersect, but essentially become one, bringing the best parts of each other to make for a most realized self.
“I don’t feel like a different person, really. But I think Hope is learning a little bit more, how to be confident and how to speak up. And that’s the side of me that people see on social media when I’m speaking up about certain issues,” says Liza Soberano. “I think by me being Hope, it makes me wiser, a little bit more human, a little bit more down to earth, because I still remember that side of me that is really just a nobody.”
There is absolutely no way that Liza Soberano will be anything remotely less of the star that she is and the person that she is yet to become. As she waxes poetic in her most recent Instagram post, which will catch the sight and sentiment of millions, “Obsessed with the fact that my potential is endless, and my ability to grow is infinite,” she punctuates. Unstoppable as she is as both Hope and Liza, this time, she is focusing on herself, however she damn well wants to define that. After all, this is her story.
CONTINUE READING: THIS TIME, LIZA SOBERANO IS NO LONGER AFRAID
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Creative direction and cover story ANGELO RAMIREZ DE CARTAGENA
Photography BJ PASCUAL
Fashion and beauty direction, styling LYN ALUMNO
Styling Assistants CLARISSE FURIO, RAF VILLAS
Makeup MICKEY SEE
Hair RENZ PANGILINAN
Color by MATTIE GRAFL of KOOP STUDIO
Production design by ROCKET DESIGN STUDIO
Videography KIERAN PUNAY
Video editing & concept 7640 inc.
SR. Multimedia Artist KENNETH DIMAANO
3D Renders by YSA CANLAS
Brand associate ELYSE ILAGAN
Shoot coordination LOUISE ESGUERRA, MJ ALMERO
Special thanks to OGIE DIAZ, IAN BUENAVENTURA, PERRY TABORA
Shot on location at AVIRE TOWER
Film photography by CAMI ALVIS