Sam Milby hopes he won't disappoint Judy Ann Santos

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Sam Milby

MANILA -- The pressure is on for Sam Milby, after being personally chosen by Judy Ann Santos to be her on-screen partner and "kontrabida" in her highly anticipated comeback series.

The 29-year-old actor was initially at a loss for words during a press conference held Tuesday for the upcoming series "Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala," when asked for his reaction.

"Being hand-picked by the queen, you can't help but just say, 'Honored, privileged and thankful,'" said Milby, who is teaming up with Santos for the first time in the project.

"Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala," which will start airing Monday during ABS-CBN's Primetime Bida block, is billed as the return of Santos as the "Queen of Pinoy Soap Opera."

"Sana lang hindi ko siya madi-disappoint," Milby added, "Si Juday (Santos), ang management, everyone."

In the series, Milby portrays Eros Diomedes, a rich young man who develops an aggressive temper from growing up surrounded by a domineering family. He falls in love with Anessa (Santos), a woman he meets while on a business trip in the province.

Admittedly, Milby had said he finds it challenging to take on emotionally charged scenes opposite Santos, adding that he still continues to work on being fluent in speaking Filipino.

"I'm challenged by myself, the management, sa mga viewers, kay Juday," said the actor, who grew up in Ohio in the United States.

"I'm my own worst critic, I'm very hard on myself, I'm a perfectionist minsan... Nakakahiya naman, eh, kasi ka-eksena mo si Juday (Santos), si Tito Pip (Tirso Cruz III), si Tita Coney (Reyes)," he added, referring to his other co-stars in the series.

Being critical of his own performances, Milby said, has fortunately paid off.

"I'm just pressuring myself to really improve, kasi gusto ko talaga ipakita na I'm taking this seriously, to improve improve on my craft... Ngayon, nag-iimprove na ako, and my confidence is getting a lot better," he said.

Directed by Jerry Sineneng, Tots Sanchez-Mariscal, and Malu Sevilla, "Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala" also stars John Estrada, Susan Africa, Mylene Dizon, Matet de Leon, Empress, Bryan Termulo and Joseph Marco.