When Janella Salvador first met Maricel Soriano on the set of movie “The Heiress,” it’s as if cat got her tongue.

“I didn’t even know how to greet her because I got starstruck,” she admitted.

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Janella Salvador

When she finally mustered up enough courage to speak with her, Janella noticed the actress warming up to her.

“From then on, I’ve learned a lot from her,” Janella said. “She is the Diamond Star, after all, so she’s experienced a lot in acting.”

Why, Maricel even advises Janella on her love life!

“She tells me to be careful about falling in love,” the young actress said. “’Be wise,’ she tells me.”

The story of “The Heiress” revolves around the characters of Janella’s Guia and Maricel Soriano’s Luna.

Luna is the aunt and surrogate mother of Guia, who devotes her life to protect the latter and shield her from those who want to harm and hurt her.

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Maricel Soriano

However, Luna is a powerful Mambabarang (Demon Sorceress), who’d ruthlessly punish or kill anyone who would steal from her Guia’s love and attention, including her biological mother, Carmen (Sunshine Cruz), and her boyfriend, Renz (McCoy de Leon).

Unbeknownst to Guia, she is the next heiress and the only one who can stop the evil spirit Malalarang that controls Luna. But at the same time, since she is the heir, Guia, is also capable of inheriting the power of her aunt and can also be a threat to those who will belittle her.

Malalarang is described as a powerful dark spirit that intends to use its powers through a human medium, a Mambabarang.

In Filipino folklore, a Mambabarang is described as an evil sorceress who can make and out a powerful evil spell — even death — on a person.

That boy, McCoy

“The Heiress” also sees Janella working with McCoy de Leon anew. The two were cast on TV drama “Be Careful With My Heart” several years ago.

“It’s really nice to be able to work with him again because I saw how we both have grown over the years,” she said.

Having been paired with different leading men, is there a favorite, we asked Janella.

She added at length: “Since I’ve been in love teams before, I think I would like to share the screen with different actors now, for me to grow as an actress. You could be boxed into a love team or there could be limitations when you work with the same person over and over again.”

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Janella and McCoy de Leon

Asked what lessons she learned over controversies involving one of her previous love team partners, Janella simply said those were challenging times, a “rough patch.”

“I think I needed to go through that certain stage in my life for me to become the woman I am today. I mean, now I know better how to handle those kinds of situations, I know how to handle life better.

“I guess that’s how life works: sometimes we’re on top, other times at the bottom. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to prepare for whatever challenge comes my way.”

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Scene from ‘The Heiress’

Thanks, parents

Janella credits both her mom, Jenine Desiderio, and dad, Juan Miguel Salvador, for the talents she “inherited.”

Juan Miguel is a singer while Jenine is singer-actress.

“Each of them established themselves in different ways,” Janella explained. “My dad is more of a rocker, while mom has always been a theater actress. I’d like to think I got a piece of those from them.”

Even her personality is a combination of her parents’ personalities.

“When I met my father and got close with him, I found out we have so many similarities, things common between us,” she said.

“The Heiress” opens in theaters on Nov. 27.

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