First Impression Review: ABS-CBN’s Vietnam Rose

No spoilers.



ABS-CBN is the #2 network in the Philippines right now, so there is nothing for them to do but to step it up and return to its glory days atop the Philippine ratings. In addition to the upcoming Panday and Gulong Ng Palad, the network is premiering its most expensive “teleserye” ever in Vietnam Rose.

The story centers on the journey of Yeu, a young Vietnamese girl whose life undergoes devastating changes during the Vietnam War. As a child, Yeu discovers that her mother betrayed her father – a soldier fighting for the South Vietnamese forces – by having an affair with a Filipino soldier. The discovery brings about the death of her beloved father and events spiral out of control. Soon, Yeu finds herself pushed out of her homeland along with thousands of refugees, known in history as the “boat people.” Finding herself in the Philippines, Yeu is adopted by a Filipino family and starts on the path to rebuilding her life.

But can she ever really run from the past? In the present day, Yeu has transformed herself into Carina Mojica dela Cerna (played by movie star Maricel Soriano), a successful businesswoman married to an equally powerful man, Alexander dela Cerna (John Estrada). But unknown to everyone in her glittering social circle, Carina feels unsuccessful and unfulfilled – until she gets a mysterious vision of her mother, who stayed in Vietnam. In her vision, her mother is dying – and Carina decides then and there to go to her homeland. In Vietnam, she finds her mother – but she also finds a half-sister, Tin (Angelica Panganiban), a street-smart young woman who is also resentful of the sister who broke her mother’s heart.

Vietnam Rose is an amazingly dramatic and emotional story. The most gripping sequence in the premiere episode are the scenes during the Vietnam War that are used as flashbacks. The movie-like production of the war scenes show ABS-CBN’s committment to the series. Hundreds of extras and special effects were used for that sequence alone. The actors also present a haunting view of life during the Vietnam War.

The actors, led by Soriano, deliver above average performances (at least for Filipino soap operas) that definitely portrays the story. The final scenes in which Carina listens to her mother’s dying wish and eventually Carina watching her mother die are poignant and beautiful. In utilizing magical realism – a stylistic device showing surreal or magical elements to make a point about a character or situation, they seek to introduce a new look and filmmaking feel to distinguish “Vietnam Rose” from the rest of the teleserye genre.

While most Filipino series begin with big budgets and later lag on in typical Filipino overdrama, Vietnam Rose should stay true to form and present this one emotional story in a mostly flawless and beautiful way, rarely seen on Philippine television.

Weekdays at 4:30PM and 11:30PM on TFC

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