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How 'Love Thy Woman' takes inspiration from Filipino-Chinese culture

MANILA, Philippines – Following their last teleserye The Story of UsKim Chu and Xian Lim are back on television in Love Thy Woman, a story inspired by Filipino-Chinese culture.

Under the direction of Jeffrey Jeturian, Andoy Ranay, and Jerry Lopez Sineneng, the story revolves around a modern Filipino-Chinese family. Adam Wong (Christopher de Leon) is married to Lucy (Eula Valdes). They have a daughter, Dana (Yam Concepcion). In the middle of his problems with Lucy, Adam finds himself falling for another woman, Kai (Sunshine Cruz), who later gives birth to a daughter, Jia (Kim Chiu).

THE PATRIARCH. Christopher de Leon returns to television as Adam Wong in 'Love Thy Woman.'

THE PATRIARCH. Christopher de Leon returns to television as Adam Wong in Love Thy Woman.

'

THE FIRST WIFE. Fresh from 'The General's Daughter,' Eula Valdes is back on television as Lucy Wong, the first wife of Adam Wong.

THE FIRST WIFE. Fresh from 'The General's Daughter,' Eula Valdes is back on television as Lucy Wong, the first wife of Adam Wong.

KIND SECOND WIFE. Sunshine Cruz is Kai Estrella, a lounge singer who gets Adam Wong's attention and gives him his second daughter Jia.

KIND SECOND WIFE. Sunshine Cruz is Kai Estrella, a lounge singer who gets Adam Wong's attention and gives him his second daughter Jia.

If the conflict between the wives and the daughters wasn't enough, the relationship of the Wong family is tested when Dana and her husband David Chow (Xian Lim) get into a car accident, and Dana ends up in a comatose state.

David turns to Jia for comfort, who in turn finds herself falling in love with him.

JIA'S PREDICAMENT. Kim Chiu is Jia Wong, the second daughter of Adam Wong who finds herself falling in love with her half-sister Dana's husband David Chow (Xian Lim).

JIA'S PREDICAMENT. Kim Chiu is Jia Wong, the second daughter of Adam Wong who finds herself falling in love with her half-sister Dana's husband David Chow (Xian Lim).

MAN IN THE MIDDLE. Xian Lim is David Chow, a Filipino-Chinese young man raised in Singapore who marries Dana and later falls for Jia.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE. Xian Lim is David Chow, a Filipino-Chinese young man raised in Singapore who marries Dana and later falls for Jia.

THE FIRST DAUGHTER. Yam Concepcion is Dana Wong, the first daughter who always wants to be first in the eye of her father Adam.

THE FIRST DAUGHTER. Yam Concepcion is Dana Wong, the first daughter who always wants to be first in the eye of her father Adam.

A look into the second family's story

At the press conference last January 24, Kim and Xian, who both come from Filipino-Chinese families, talked about what viewers can expect from the show. 

"Ako, portraying my role in this teleserye, ako kasi in real life, I am [part of] the first family. My dad also has a lot of wives," Kim shared.

"Pero kami yung una, so it's kinda challenging for me to play the second family. Kasi parang sila yung hindi masyado pinapansin. (We're actually the first family, so it's kinda challenging for me to play the role of the second family. Because they are the ones who are not really talked about)."

"Ito talaga yung nangyayari sa pamilya ng totoong Chinese family. Kaya pagtinitignan ko, pag aarte kami, shucks kawawa din pala ang mga anak ng papa ko. Pag first family, ikaw yung pinakamatapang. Since my character puts me as part of the second family, I understand what they are feeling yung mga kapatid ko sa labas."

(This is a reality for some Chinese families. So when I look at it, when I start acting, I realize I feel bad for my dad's kids. If you're from the first family, you're the bolder one. Since my character puts me as part of the second family, I now understand what my other siblings felt.)

REAL EXPERIENCE. Kim, who is of Filipino-Chinese heritage shared that the show will give viewers a look into experiences of some Filipino-Chinese who have second families.

REAL EXPERIENCE. Kim, who is of Filipino-Chinese heritage shared that the show will give viewers a look into experiences of some Filipino-Chinese who have second families.

Xian, meanwhile, said: "The traditional, yun nga yung mga way back medyo hindi pa tanggap na may first, second, third... Dito in our world sa Love Thy Woman and even now in our society, I think is more open to admit na oh this is my half-brother, this is my half-sister. (Traditionally, you wouldn't acknowledge that there's a first, second, or third family. In our world in the TV series, they're more open to admit that – this is my half-brother, my half-sister.)

"So me and Ms. Zsa [Padilla] are within the modern side of things. Hindi na kami sobrang traditional (We're not very traditional)."

Christopher has played a similar role before, in the Mano Po movie series produced by Regal Entertainment

"Doon sa (In) Mano Po, I was pure Chinese," said Christopher, who has appeared in 3 films from the series. In the TV series, he plays a half-Chinese businessman who eventually rises to become a tycoon. 

"Ang scope nung Mano Po was a little smaller although Adam, the character was also rich. Adam Wong here [in Love Thy Woman], is a tycoon, a billionaire. So it's an empire, so the scope is a lot bigger and it's not the same. The story is not the same definitely, although the background, the premises... is more complicated."

(The scope of Mano Po was a little smaller although the character was also rich. Adam [in Love Thy Woman] is a tycoon, a billionaire. So it's an empire, so the scope is a lot bigger and it's not the same. The story is not the same, definitely, although the background, the premises... it's more complicated.)

Director Jerry Lopez Sineneng said they took inspiration from films like Mano Po and Crazy Rich Asians.

"Makulay na makulay talaga ang Filipino-Chinese culture. Kasing kulay din naman ng Filipino culture. Very interesting, medyo may kaunting iba pag-iisip ng mga Chinoys compared sa pure Pinoys. Iba yung tingin nila sa business, sa love, sa ganyan."

(The Filipino-Chinese culture is very colorful. It's colorful like the Filipino culture. It's very interesting because Chinoy culture is different from Filipino culture. They look at business, love, others in a different way.)

The trailer for the show shows various locations in the Philippines and Singapore, where the teleserye was shot.

The show also stars Ruffa Gutierrez, Jana Victoria, Jennifer Sevilla, Chienna Filomeno, China Yoo, David Chua, Shido Roxas, Tim Yap, Kimberly Tan, Mari Kaimo, Tori Garcia, Turs Daza, and Karl Gabriel.

Love Thy Woman premieres on February 10. – Rappler.com