Sometimes the realm of love isn't exclusive between two people, making it a more complicated matter than it's supposed to be. It can entail stretching your affectionate blanket to the people you're both surrounded with - the immediate family!
In the recent episode of "Maalaala Mo Kaya" titled "Cross-Stitch", Rey and Mildred (Rayver Cruz and beauty queen Bianca Manalo) are a young couple in love. Though their relationship seems to run smoothly, Rey's Tiya Armelita (Connie Reyes) provides a substantial bump in the road. Simply put, the aunt doesn't like Mildred and she has no qualms showing her dislike. To the surly spinster who reared Rey as a child, Mildred is "hindi mabuting babae". As Mildred tries doubly hard to please her, it becomes clear she will never be good enough for the irritable aunt. This eventually leads to Mildred breaking up with Rey. But two years into the future, Rey and Mildred find each other again. Though they still have feelings for each other, Tiya Armelita is still in the picture. In fact, her resolve against Mildred is as resolute as ever! How do they summon a happy ever after? Or won't they?
Though the first half of the story treads into comic grounds (the church scene, the noodle-sucking scene, the perfume-at-the-market scene, the kitchen tutorials), the latter half soon finds the couple directly confronting their dilemma - and failing miserably!
Bianca Manalo portrays Mildred with an easy and graceful countenance, thus her regal bearing adequately subjugating whatever bad mannerisms that newcomers are commonly afflicted. In such instances, such inherently "queenly" poise can render an actress bland or flat (see: Gloria Diaz in "Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa"; Charlene Gonzales in "Ikaw Ang Miss Universe ng Buhay Ko", "Dyesebel"). The MMK episode can boast of some powerful moments here: When Tiya Armelita confronts her for letting Rey sleep in her place during a storm (without saying much, she limns emotions of embarrassment and self pity - and without resorting to histrionics); When Rey and Mildred go out for the first time after a 2 year break-up, then Rey takes her palm and writes "I love you" (and we see Bianca in her quiet brilliance as tears just flow).
Of course, Bianca is a novice. This would be her first take on a full-bodied character (she's basically a walk-on character in "Magkaribal") and she does well. The scene where she eventually invites Tiya Carmelita to her wedding seems a bit cruddy, but can you imagine what she would be capable to do on her 5th lead role?
Now, let me move on to the fabulous Connie Reyes. It is really hard to say any more than how brilliant this actress is! After all, isn't she among the first to star in a top rating drama anthology ("Connie Reyes On Camera") on television? Connie Reyes humanized the caricaturish Tiya Carmelita so much so that we sincerely understood her character.
MMK mines stories of ordinary people like they are resplendent treasures. And we do salute Ms. Charo Santos-Concio for celebrating the lives of the Filipinos in beautifully told stories.
Congratulations to Miss Venus Raj for placing 5th at the recent Miss Universe Beauty Pageant in Vegas. It was a bit of an embarrassment hearing her with a silly reply that bordered on stupidity, considering she's a Journalism graduate "with honors". I had an inkling she was in trouble when she started with a "You, know, sir" followed by a gay beauty contest boxed reply: "Thank you very much for that question!" I actually thought hers was the easiest among the questions asked that night (regulation of internet use among minors, costume and the freedom of choice, death penalty). In fact, isn't that a tired routine question asked in pageants? Every seasoned pageant veteran must know the answer to that!
Let's hire an interpreter next time. I used to be so resistant with this idea in the past, but hey, reality is, English isn't our native tongue, and when beauty pageants require beauty queens to be able to express themselves, present a scholastic discourse, and expound on a topic, they should be able to do so in their dialect - be it Tagalog or Visayan or Tausug. Hiring an interpreter would also bide them those precious few seconds to fork out and exhume a legible, unflustering reply before opening their mouth!
Donald Trump, according to a tweet by Dyan Castillejo, even said: "She looks like she was born into royalty!" Major royal blunder, that is. And if I do express disappointment over this fiasco, it's not because we disrespect her. But maybe we believed so much of what she was capable of doing. I am sure she felt the same. She wanted that crown more than we do. Isn't that thought comforting?
Overnight, a part of me was grieving for missed opportunities. The Universe crown was practically hers. Even U.S. talk shows said so. Until she opened her mouth! But milk has been spilled, and the fact is, she finished 5th among 83 beautiful, talented girls all over the globe. She clobbered 78 other girls, including Ms. USA! Atta girl! On that perspective, this victory is nothing to scoff at. Not quite what we had in mind, but not a bad deal at all.
Let's all wait for another 11 years for a top 5 finish, ok? Maybe by then we'll have a "major, major" victory.