Bea Alonzo’s move to GMA-7 after her two decades-long stay with ABS-CBN is now official. Fan reaction to the transfer is mixed, as is the usual with most high-profile network transfers in show business. But whether fans like the move or not, everyone is pretty much in agreement that the 33-year-old is one of the best actresses of her generation.
What makes Bea stand out among most of her peers is how she isn’t associated with just one iconic performance. While her career is heavily connected with that of John Lloyd Cruz’s (another actor rumored to be moving to the GMA-7), Bea’s work can stand on its own even without her perennial onscreen partner. Bea, to many, is Basha of the romantic movie One More Chance. But she is also the tough older sister Bobbie in the family comedy-drama Four Sisters and a Wedding. Her TV roles are just as iconic, with Bea portraying one role after another with relative ease.
Fans, of course, wish that Bea’s career-defining move to the Kapuso Network can be her greatest role to date. But while we wait for the projects lined up for the actress in GMA-7 (a movie with Kapuso actor Alden Richards was announced early this year), let’s look at some of Bea’s best works to date.
Basha in One More Chance (2007) and A Second Chance (2015)
Basha, the young professional trying to find herself after breaking up with her long-time boyfriend, in the 2007 romance film One More Chance is arguably Bea Alonzo’s most important role. While Bea and onscreen partner John Lloyd has already appeared in many soap operas and movies together before this, One More Chance cemented their status as one of showbiz’s top love teams. One More Chance may seem quaint by today’s romantic-comedy standards. But it was groundbreaking for its time. It broke the usual romance film template of the boy-meets-girl, rich-meets-girl, you-and-me-against-the-world narratives that was popular in the 2000s by telling a breakup story. At the center of it is Bea’s performance as Basha, which made the character’s journey of self-discovery grounded and relatable. Romantic films used to just highlight the magic of falling in love; Bea’s Basha showed us that falling in love isn’t always magical, but it’s a journey worth taking anyway.
Gelai in Magkaribal (2010)
Bea isn’t as prolific a TV actress as some of her peers, perhaps opting to choose her roles more carefully. Not all of her television work are winners (the short-lived A Beautiful Affair with John Lloyd Cruz, for instance). But when Bea ends up doing the right project, it works. It is a rich list of good roles—special mention goes to her portrayal of the identity-switching Rose in the 2014 soap opera Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon with Maricar Reyes, Albert Martinez and Paulo Avelino, and her work in the ambitious ensemble soap opera Maging Sino Ka Man with John Lloyd Cruz, Anne Curtis, and Sam Milby.
But if we are to pick one role that defines Bea’s television career, there is no question: it has got to be her work as Gelai in the 2010 sister rivalry soap opera Magkaribal. Sibling rivalry isn’t new in Pinoy soap operas; in fact, it is pretty much standard fare. But Magkaribal elevates the trope by giving it a bit of gloss and sophistication that, at the time, wasn’t common in TV dramas. And no other young actress at the time could satisfy the demands of such a soap opera (and match Gretchen’s natural chic and sass onscreen) other than Bea, reveling in the show’s slightly campy yet emotionally earnest depiction of sisterly hate and love.
Sari in The Mistress (2012)
In the early 2010s, “kabit” movies were a thing—thanks to the surprise box office success of the 2011 movie No Other Woman starring Anne Curtis, Derek Ramsay, and Cristine Reyes. Bea’s contribution to this part of Philippine entertainment history is the box-office hit aptly titled The Mistress, opposite John Lloyd Cruz.
The Mistress shouldn’t have worked. But it did. “Kabit” movies are usually campy, with its core (its Thanos’ Gauntlet, if you will) the confrontation between the mistress and the legal wife. There’s not a lot of that here. In The Mistress, Bea is a mistress who falls in love with JD (John Lloyd Cruz), the son of the married man she is in a relationship with (Ronaldo Valdez). Sari is portrayed as a mistress with good intentions and a heart of gold, but she is still a mistress, so viewers, by default, are supposed to hate her. Of course, the core of the movie is Sari’s relationship with JD, the chemistry of Bea and John Lloyd placed front and center. But the main appeal of the movie is Bea, who hasn’t avoided playing troubled, problematic, not always likable characters, demonstrating here her power to make her portrayals affecting even when her characters are doing the wrong thing.
Bobbie in Four Sisters and a Wedding (2014)
It’s impossible to talk about Bea’s most iconic roles without mentioning Four Sisters and a Wedding. Bea shines as Bobbie, the hardworking sibling who had to sacrifice her personal happiness for the sake of her family. The plot about her conflict with sister Alex (Angel Locsin) is the movie’s emotional core, proving her skill as an actress is not limited to romantic roles. Her breakdown scene near its end, too, is the movie’s most compelling performance.
What makes the movie stand out is how, partly due to Bea’s breakdown scene, Four Sisters and a Wedding became a meme, hence allowing those who didn’t see it in theaters in 2014 to reassess and reevaluate the merits of the movie (reviews of the film at the time were middling at best, and its box office returns were decent but not spectacular). Of course, that's mainly because of today’s meme culture. Four Sisters and a Wedding is available for free on YouTube now with over 12 millions. It is a testament that movies may take a while to find an audience (and it could find that audience with the help of the internet). But it’s also a testament to Bea’s power as an actress.
Mariel in Unbreakable (2019)
Bea cut her teeth as a leading woman in romantic films and TV shows, but as this list shows, she is also just as compelling when she squares off with her female co-stars. The most recent example of this is the 2019 movie Unbreakable. Mariel and Deena (Angelica Panganiban) are best friends whose friendship is challenged by their intertwining relationships and familial obligations. It’s your standard adult friendship movie with a melodramatic ending that’s both cheesy and affecting. But it is also a lot of fun, with Bea’s calm and collected portrayal of Mariel a perfect foil to Angelica’s manic and messy Deena. Unbreakable is not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s a perfect example of how a performance can elevate an average movie, turning it into a fun, engaging romp.