Image credits: Mark Sicat Dela Cruz
I’ve been starting at my laptop’s screen for the past 45 minutes or so, but I can’t seem to know how to start writing this entry. I’m still reeling from watching the second of Magpakailanman‘s 5th Anniversary Specials entitled Kuwentong Marawi, Sa Mata Ng Isang Sundalo, featuring Alden Richards as Pfc. Jomille Pavia.
One word: BITIN. I want more.
First of all, for a TV show, the production values are top-notch. The screenplay, cinematography and production design are fit for the big screen. The battle scenes are well-executed; you won’t see as much blood and gore due to the limits of it being aired on Free TV, but the ‘feel’ is there.
Image credits: Leysam Sanciangco
As for the story itself, the writer was able to truly present the situation in Marawi in the eyes of a soldier who witnessed all the ugly realities of war: brothers killing each other, women of all ages being sexually violated, even children who sacrificed their lives at an early age because they were brainwashed to do so. The episode was also able to show how war truly affects not just those who are on site, but also the families of the soldiers deployed for battle. It’s something that all of us who are tucked safely in our respective homes do not fully relate to because we are shielded from it. To paraphrase what the character played by Phytos Ramirez said, “isinasakripisyo ang buhay ng isa para makabuhay ng lima” (they sacrifice one life so that five more will live).
Of course, I can’t leave this entry without talking about the acting. I kinda expected this because it’s Alden, but my golly… he still surprises me with the depths that his talent can reach. He started the episode with some light moments, at times even unleashing his expertise at bringing in the kilig. Sorry, I know it’s not about the love story and it’s a big issue to some people in the fandom, but can you blame me? Alden just has that innate chemistry with any on-screen partner and Reese Tuazon is no exception.
Image credits: Magpakailanman7 Official Twitter account
Then came the heavier parts, and while I already expected him to do well, Alden was still able to bring his skills to a whole new level. Alden is famous for acting with just his eyes, and he was able to fully utilize that here particularly on those parts where Pfc. Pavia was slowly realizing how unbelievably devastating war is. I always have scenes where the acting makes a mark on me and on this episode, I have two: (1) When Pfc. Pavia saw for the first time the number of innocent civilians who were killed in battle; and (2) when he realized that the kid whom they chanced upon when they arrived in Marawi was a child sniper from the Maute Group. In those scenes, I felt how Pfc. Pavia was terrified, not for his own safety, but because he can’t believe that war could be THAT cruel. In his interview with Ms. Mel Tiangco, Pfc. Pavia was asked what he was praying for while on the battle field. His answer was, he’s always praying that God would forgive him for killing those people because he knows that one of the Ten Commandments is ‘thou shall not kill’. I was surprised at that. One, because the usual human instinct is to pray for his own safety but Pfc. Pavia isn’t like that, which is surprising for someone who used to have a happy-go-lucky lifestyle as shown in the story. Two, because Alden was able to accurately portray that trait of Pfc. Pavia in those scenes that I mentioned above.
The supporting cast also gave credible performances. Special mention goes to Marc Justine Alvarez who played the child sniper. I was seriously terrified when it was revealed that he was with the Maute Group. The kid gave a very effective performance.
All in all, it was an excellent episode and a fitting tribute to the heroism of our brave soldiers. Kudos to director Mark Sicat Dela Cruz and the people behind this Magkailanman episode for a job super-well done.
This is a part where I will drop my remarks which are bordering on shallowness. Hey, I’m a fangirl. I’m allowed to be shallow at times, right?
1. There’s only one part that I nitpicked on the episode and it’s this: That scene where one of the Marawi survivors said that it’s her birthday and going home will be a great birthday gift for her. As I have learned from my Muslim friend who’s also an avid Alden fan, Muslims do not celebrate birthdays and particularly those from the Maranao Tribe are very strict about it . It’s a very minor detail, but I’m a chronic nitpicker, so…
2. I’m not Kapampangan so I really don’t know if they did the Kapampangan dialog and accent right (except for Roi Vinzon who is from Pampanga), but every time Reese Tuazon delivers her lines I could hear my Kapampangan boss talking in my head. So I guess she did well?
3. It’s such a delight to see Alden not sporting his usual gelled hairstyle for once. He looks so hot whenever he removes his helmet. Hey, RJ, it’s been three years. Time to change the hair, maybe?
4. Alden in military garb = It’s been rumored – and he has expressed desire to accept the role – that he might be playing Big Boss in the local adaptation of Descendants Of The Sun. If this Magpakailanman episode is a look-test for his future participation in the Pinoy version of DOTS, then he certainly passed with flying colors.
It might look like a slow year for Alden, but I think 2017 is a great year for him as an actor. Let’s see, he had:
1. Franco, a person with autism, for Eat Bulaga’s Lenten presentation, Kapatid – he won a Best Single Performance By An Actor award for this one;
2. Dr. Dalvie Casilang, a doctor to the barrios, for Wish Ko Lang;
3. Jessie in Daig Kayo Ng Lola Ko, where he showed his flair in comedy;
4. Boni Ilagan, in the critically-acclaimed documentary Alaala;
5. Pfc. Jomille Pavia for Magpakailanman.
Not bad, right? I mean, we had some (some? ) issues with Destined To Be Yours but Alden had quite a number of acting highlights in that drama, too.
If things will turn out the way it’s planned to be, I am so looking forward to what’s in store for Alden Richards in 2018.