Out of all the words people use to describe Sofia Pablo, “sweet” probably takes the cake.
It’s no wonder people throw this word around a lot to describe the 16-year-old star—her inexhaustible enthusiasm, contagious smile, and sweet disposition will undoubtedly make you want to be her friend. Many may know her for playing one of the titular characters in the television drama series Prima Donnas, but don’t be fooled—she’s not a prima donna IRL.
Now, almost at the cusp of her childhood and adulthood, Sofia looks back on the duality of her experiences as a *normal* kid and as a child actress. While she may have spent most of her life in the public eye, she also carries with her fond memories from her early childhood, right before she stepped into the limelight. Like many kids, she played house and built forts inside her room, with imagination and creativity as her fuel.
Sofia Pablo for Candy's Next Big Thing March 2023
“Isa po sa favorite memories ko ng childhood ko was ‘yung nagtatayo ako nung mga tent sa loob ng room para feeling ko po nasa camping ako with mommy. As in gamit po ‘yung kumot, sinisipit ko siya sa mga wires, sa mga cabinet,” she recalls fondly.
Aside from making up worlds inside the comfort of her home, she also got the chance to play games with neighbors her age under the sun. “Marami akong naging kalaro so naranasan ko po ‘yung mga laro na agawan base, tagu-taguan. I really enjoyed naman po ‘yung childhood ko.”
As she talks about her dreams, interests, and current projects, it’s unmistakable that she has a joie de vivre that she will always take with her, even beyond her youth.
Fresh from the success of the first season of Luv is: Caught In His Arms, Sofia is now a leading lady in her own right. However, she will always treasure the days when she was just starting, no matter how small the roles she got. “Nag-start po ako sa showbiz, as in ‘yung Philippine television na, puro po extra and mga talent—as in mga passers-by lang, ‘yung mga nakaupo lang sa likod, ‘yung mga halos hindi na po nakikita,” she reminisces. “Pero malaking help din [sila] sa scene kasi without them, parang walang buhay ‘yung background.”
Tweed Dress, P3495; Pink Cardigan, P2995, both URBAN REVIVO, Mall of Asia. Rosie Necklace, P310, HEAD OVER BEADS ACCESSORIES, Instagram/headoverbeads. Valeen Platforms in Nude, P1250, TUTUM SHOP, shopee.ph/tutumshop. Chunky Pastel Ring in Cream, P40; Heart Ring in Pink, P30; Darla Bracelet in Pink and Yellow, P80, all BEADSY, shopee.ph/__beadsy.
Her first notable role was in the 2014 Cinemalaya movie Mariquina. She played the role of young Imelda, whose teenage counterpart was played by Barbie Forteza, and whose adult counterpart was played by Mylene Dizon. It was after this silver screen project that she started getting more opportunities to act on television.
Albeit bittersweet, her experiences in trying to make her way into showbiz—and to where she is now—are all memories she holds dear. Sofia recalls an audition where she decided to go all out by ripping and making holes in her clothes to make her look *more pitiful.* Despite her dedication, though, she didn’t get the role because she didn’t fit what they were looking for.
“Isa po talaga sa naaalala ko nung batang-bata pa po ako, kasi [it was] one of my first auditions, [is that] super nag-try po talaga ako na umiyak, maging kawawa. Binutas ko pa ‘yung damit ko. Sabi ko kay mommy, “Mommy, rip my clothes para makuha ko [‘yung role].’”
While the audition may not have ended successfully, she held on to the words the director told her: “Maybe we can work next time.” And funnily enough, she crossed paths again with the same person, years later—this time, as the director for one of her biggest projects to date!
“Sinabi ko po ‘yun sa kanya, [kay Direk Gina Alajar], nung naka-work ko na siya sa Prima Donnas as our director,” she shares.
Sofia started her career when she was around eight years old, doing commercials and playing the young counterpart of characters. She’s always enjoyed acting, but it was during her Prima Donnas days when she realized that she was in it for the long haul.
“[When] I was [younger] po, ine-enjoy ko lang talaga [mag-acting] since happy ako when I act. Pero na-realize ko po na ito na talaga ‘yung gusto ko when I was 12, nung nagma-mature na po ako,” she recalls.
“Sabi ko, ‘Ito talaga ‘yung gusto ko maging pagtanda—hanggang pagtanda.’ Kasi pwede naman na nung bata ako, I enjoy it, and then pagtanda, hindi na. Pero nung nagma-mature na, sabi ko, ‘Hindi, ito talaga eh, so I will really pursue this.’”
Although it has always been Sofia’s dream to become an actress, she also wants to soar high outside of the showbiz industry. Another childhood dream that she hopes to fulfill is to fly—literally.
“Hanggang ngayon po, besides sa pagiging actress, ang dream ko [rin] is maging pilot, as in ‘yung mga pilot sa airplane. Kaso, medyo mahirap po isabay sa pag-aartista,” she admits.
When she’s not busy working, she also likes to spend time on her other interests and creative pursuits. “‘Pag rest day po, I spend my time painting and swimming, tapos playing with my dogs. Then, of course, studying,” she adds.
“Bina-balance po talaga since sabi ni mommy, ‘Kapag nag-fail ka sa school, hindi ka na pwedeng mag-artista!’ That’s the condition: balance. Kailangan po balanced.”
Sofia is naturally a bubbly girl, and this was especially evident during her shoot with Candy. From requesting BLACKPINK songs to get her in the mood to joking around with the Candy team in between layouts, it's clear that she exudes a natural charm that makes everyone love her.
This joy that Sofia brings wherever she goes is so evident that her fans decided to christen her and her on-screen partner, Allen Ansay, with the name Team Jolly.
Cable-Knit Cotton Sweater, $138 (approx. P7518), POLO RALPH LAUREN, thrifted from Instagram/bubblegum_ph. Pink Button-Up Shirt, P2295; Denim Skirt, P2495, URBAN REVIVO, Mall of Asia. Lilo Fur Block Heels, P990, TUTUM SHOP, shopee.ph/tutumshop. Chunky Pastel Ring in Sky, P40; Nabi Ring in Nabi Blue, P35; Niki Bracelet, P179, BEADSY, shopee.ph/__beadsy.
“Fans po ‘yung nabigay nung [name na] Team Jolly,” she shares. “‘Nung nagsta-start po kami ni Allen mag-[upload ng] TikToks and mag-vlog, bigla na lang kaming tinawag na Team Jolly kasi na-observe po nila na pareho [raw] kami ng characteristics and ugali. Pareho [raw] po kaming mahilig magpasaya and magpatawa.”
This similarity with Allen is one of the things that instantly made them click. Nothing needs to be forced between the two for the sake of working well together in front of the cameras. Inevitably, their authentic connection in real life translates into anything they work on together.
“Favorite thing ko po about working with Allen is ‘yung magkasundo po talaga kami, on and off cam, and effortless po ‘yung kilig scenes, effortless po ‘yung chemistry,” she tells Candy.
Even when Sofia and Allen are not doing a scene, people can’t help but notice that they make a good team. “Ang saya po kasi with Allen, hindi namin alam why, pero kahit nag-uusap lang po kami randomly sa gilid habang nag-aantay, sabi po ng mga tao, ‘may chemistry talaga,’ so tuwang-tuwa kami. ‘Talaga? May chemistry talaga tayo?’”
Flourishing Like Florence
Both as an individual and part of a love team, Sofia wishes to make other people happy through the characters she plays on-screen. When asked what she wants people to think of when they hear the name “Sofia Pablo,” she says, “Gusto ko pong isipin nila… She is an actress that is talented and kaya niyang magpangiti ng kahit sino na tao.”
This is why playing the role of Florence Almero in the primetime series Luv is: Caught In His Arms will always have a special place in her heart. After hearing that she made a lot of people happy through her work, she can’t help but wish for more opportunities just like this.
“Super happy ako sa role na Florence kasi ang dami pong nagco-comment na napapangiti ko sila,” she gushes. “Sana marami pa akong magampanan na ganung roles… Since si Florence nga po super good vibes, and kahit may problema, nakakatawa pa rin po siya.”
Ticking the Boxes
When it comes to *dream roles,* Sofia says that she’s already fulfilled one of them when she played the role of a mermaid in Raya Sirena.
“Mermaid po kasi talaga ‘yung dream role ko so na-check na po siya,” she says happily. “Naranasan ko po na mag-underwater shoot sa totoong dagat. Unforgettable experience din na nakapagsuot ako nung mga mermaid tail for TV!”
Most of Sofia’s past projects gave her the chance to prove her acting prowess when it comes to drama, romance, and comedy. If given the chance, however, she would like to try something out of her usual genres.
“Dream project ko po is ‘yung hindi ko po comfort zone… ‘yung may [konting] action na kilos, ‘yung parang [sa] All of Us Are Dead, ‘yung mga hinahabol ng zombies. So siyempre required po ng mga action, ‘yung mga martial arts,” she says with a hopeful tone.
“Gusto ko po mag-try ng something na macha-challenge talaga ako na hindi lang acting iisipin ko, kundi pati ‘yung physical na gagawin ko.”
Believing and Doing
As both an actress and a high school student, Sofia tries her best to give the same amount of effort into both work and school. As she said so herself, balance matters. Currently a tenth grader, she puts a lot of value into her education and wishes to continue studying until she’s earned herself a college diploma.
“Ako po, gusto ko pong ituloy-tuloy [ang pag-aaral] para alam ko po sa sarili ko na I finished what I have to, before ko tuluyang i-give ‘yung full time ko sa pag-aartista,” she shares.
“Para at least kapag mas dumami ‘yung projects—habang tumatanda po ako, since mas marami nang pwedeng gawin—wala na po akong iisipin na school. At least, finished na and nabigay ko na ‘yung diploma ko kay mommy.”
The admirable young lady is also a big believer in manifestation and in Theodore Roosevelt’s words: “Believe you can and you're halfway there.”
“‘Pag mina-manifest niyo po talaga siya, it really comes,” she says. “‘Di mo na lang mamamalayan, na dahil pinapaniwalaan mo na you can, or you can get it, andiyan na siya bigla sa harapan mo.”
Just like Sofia herself, we’re big believers in the great things she can achieve. Life may not always be so sweet, but her joie de vivre will surely remain and keep her headstrong as she flourishes in her career.
Produced by: Leika Golez and Cheska Santiago
Photographed by: Wilmark Jolindon
Art Direction by: Bacs Arcebal and Pauline Moyano
Sitting Editor: Marj Ramos-Clemente
Video by: Jino Del Mundo
Styling by: Leika Golez
Makeup by: Kaye Misajon
Hair by: Bee Amarga Buangan
Nails by: Darling Lucero of Posh Nails
Words by: Trixie Santiano