In an exclusive interview with MEGA Active, actress Ashley Ortega shares what it’s like to co-star in the Philippines’ first-ever ice skating drama series
“It’s a dream come true.” That’s what the 24-year old actress said about landing her role on Hearts on Ice, a show centered on Ashley and Xian Lim’s characters Ponggay and Enzo, respectively, who both are described as “crippled dreamers.” And the most interesting thing about this show? Its plot revolves around figure skating, making this the country’s first-ever ice skating drama series.
As a former national figure skater, Ashley said playing a figure skater on-screen has always been her dream role, but it still came as a surprise to her that her dream was realized. “At the back of my head, naiisip ko malabo mangyari ‘yon kasi how would the production adjust on a skating rink? Paano yung cast? Pangarap lang talaga, that’s why I would always admire movies about skating,” she said.
With the show airing this March on GMA, Ashley said she’s grateful for this opportunity, and to Director Dominic Zapata, the production crew, the staff, and the cast for making this show possible.
“It’s not just my dream, [but also] my parents’ dream kasi bata pa lang ako [noong] in-enroll nila [ako]. Hindi rin naman nila in-expect na this will happen,” Ashley said. Jokingly, she mentioned, “I cried when I found out. As in, I was so happy I went to the CR and cried myself out, saying ‘Thank you, Lord. What’s this? Favorite mo ba ako? Am I such a good person for blessing me this much?’”
According to Ashley, her parents first enrolled her in figure skating lessons at three years old. Then three years later, Ashley began figure skating competitively, and eventually represented the Philippines abroad. Her days as a competitive figure skater molded her into the woman she is today, with a competitive spirit and a desire to stand out. “I fell in love with the sport and it really became a part of my life,” she added.
That being said, Ashley soon realized how far-fetched her Olympic dream was in the Philippines. And so, at 12 years old, she stopped figure skating competitively and then entered showbiz later on. In the years after, she wasn’t able to devote her time to the sport like before, so landing the role on Hearts on Ice was a great opportunity for her to use her skills and show Filipinos how beautiful figure skating is.
For four years, Ashley was on a hiatus from figure skating as she devoted her time to her acting career and to other sports as a hobby. There was even a time in her life when she really enjoyed training in Muay Thai at Elorde Fight Factory Manila and wanted to join amateur MMA. “Medyo na-addict ako sa Muay Thai. I wanted to join [as an] amateur but my mom didn’t allow me because masisira [raw] face ko—artista daw ako,” Ashley said with a laugh.
Ashley returned to figure skating in 2022 in preparation for the fundraising event organized by the Philippine Skating Union. “After my taping for Widow’s Web, while waiting for work, sabi ko, ‘Maybe I’ll train first while I’m not doing anything.’ And then, suddenly, I have [Hearts on Ice], so I was overwhelmed and really thankful for the opportunity so lahat siguro ng effort na ginawa ko sa skating, it didn’t go to waste—meron siyang napuntahan. I’m really grateful because it’s a dream come true,” she explained.
Other sports she took up in the past few years include arnis, obstacle sports, and rock climbing. “After Hearts on Ice, I want to do something new again para hindi ako maumay sa figure skating,” she mentioned. She explained that since figure skating is “soft,” she wants to go do something more “badass” and “tough” after, like Muay Thai again or firing.
The story so far
Filming for Hearts on Ice is not all fun and games. For Ashley, shooting can be very physically exhausting. For three days a week, they have to film on the ice during the mall’s closing hours from 10:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. She also trains for two hours at the skating rink on a regular day. As a result, she often finds herself with bruised legs and sore feet, but she pushes through in spite of it. She said, “Every time I would feel the physical pain, iniisip ko na lang, ‘Ginusto ko ‘to diba? Pangarap ko ‘to. I have no right to complain.’”
Through it all, Ashley maintains her positive attitude. She also commended her co-star Xian for becoming a professional figure skater for the show. She said, “I really admire Xian Lim for being so passionate about his craft. Sometimes, mas masipag pa ‘yun mag-training sa akin. Mas maaga pa siya sa skating rink para mag-train. I trained for like eight months for the show. Xian trained for, I think, about five months already, and he’s a fast learner.”
On that note, she emphasized that they have a happy set and a happy show thanks to the cast and crew. “It’s so magical. Direk is so galing. It feels like every little girl’s dream,” she added.
With all that said, Ashley highlighted the key themes of the family-friendly show, such as love, friendship, failure, forgiveness, and rejection. “Failing is part of life. What’s important is we know how to keep going, to recover from that downfall. ‘Yun ‘yung lesson sa show,” she said.
Finally, Ashley ended the interview with these sentiments: “You’re never too old to start figure skating. If you’re game to do it, why not? If you’re planning to start figure skating at a very young age, that’s better, especially kids because you’re more flexible.”
“I hope, actually, pag nag air na yung Hearts on Ice, a lot of people would try figure skating because it’s a different experience in life. It’s fun. You can do it with your friends, do it with your family. And siyempre, it’s hot here in the Philippines. When you’re inside the rink, it’s cold so enjoy niyo yung temperature,” she added with a laugh.