Review: ABS-CBN’s Magkaribal Injects Fresh Style in Bland Philippine TV Landscape

Philippine television is rarely groundbreaking. Once in a while a series comes along that manages to capture the audience with a fresh story like last year’s May Bukas Pa or a show tugs at the heartstrings like currently airing Momay. But usually, Philippine TV is full of tired clichés and paint-by-numbers dramas.

So it is refreshing when a show like Magkaribal comes along that doesn’t stick to formula.

It may not be groundbreaking television, but it is different from the rest of Philippine primetime. The series tells the story of two young sisters who are tragically separated and grow up in opposite worlds, but whose paths will cross in the future when hope and dreams and thoughts of revenge take over.

Anna and Angela grew up in Manila’s Divisoria district, known for flea markets and cheap buys. Their mother is a seamstress and their father begins working abroad where he ends up meeting top fashion model Vera Cruz with whom he begins an affair.

Tragedy strikes when everything comes to a head and their father leaves their mother for Vera. Their mother is killed in an accident when confronting Vera and now they are left to take care of themselves, running away from possibly getting put in the care of the state.

Life on the streets gets little Angela sick and when they need money, 15 year old Anna turns to prostitution. She gets the money she needs, but tragedy strikes again as the hospital Angela is at goes down in flames.

While Angela survives the fire, Anna now feels alone and angry, knowing all this is thanks to Vera’s homewrecking. She ends up in the care of a fashion designer, Ronaldo Valera who vows to groom her to be the heir to his fashion empire.

Meanwhile, Angela goes back to the streets where she eventually gets adopted by a couple who live in Divisoria, the woman herself a seamstress.

They grow up. Anna is now Victoria Valera, an international fashion model. Angela, now Gelai is a seamstress alongside her adopted mother in Divisoria. Their father and Vera are married with a daughter, and Vera herself, reigning over her own fashion empire.

As Gelai dreams of becoming a famous designer, she will soon cross paths with the woman that ruined her family. And she and her sister reunite without knowing who the other really is.

So begins the story, three weeks in and it has already been a fun ride.

Despite its very dramatic start, the series easily found its groove with a nice balance of lighthearted humor and romance with the dramatic fierceness of the fashion world.

I could care less about fashion, but thankfully you don’t need to care about it to enjoy the series.

Magkaribal sets itself apart from the rest by avoiding things we’ve already seen before; no overdramatic screaming matches, no scene chewing performances, no forced action sequences, no predictability. And best of all, it is not a chore to watch. You actually have fun watching the series instead of being frustrated (which is what you feel when watching most Philippine TV).

It also has a very appealing and very capable cast led by young drama vet Bea Alonzo and in her first television series, Gretchen Barretto. Joining them are Derek Ramsay, Angel Aquino, Enchong Dee, and Erich Gonzales.

Magkaribal has had a very enjoyable and promising start. Let’s hope they can maintain the quality throughout its run and avoid falling into the same pitfalls of its primetime predecessors.

4 thoughts on “Review: ABS-CBN’s Magkaribal Injects Fresh Style in Bland Philippine TV Landscape

  1. I agree. Though, on a second thought, I was thinking maybe they could’ve made this series more ‘anti-teleserye-formula’. I mean, the writers could’ve avoided accidents, burning hospitals, etc. Still, it really is fun to watch. Kudos to Jesse Lucas for his musical scoring and to Director Mae Czarina Cruz! If I’m not mistaken, these two were also behind 2006’s ‘Maging Sino Ka Man’.

  2. I very much appreciate that the series continues to be character driven, their good and bad decisions, flaws and all. Unlike other teleseryes that continue to rely on contrived events and situations to forward story.

  3. The first few episodes were interesting. However, as the program went along, it became tiresome. Tiresome because it just had a lot of “negativities” to the “extremes” —> extreme hatred, extreme thirst for revenge, extreme jealousy, extreme desire to please a mother, extreme rejection of an adopted child, extreme form of abuse against women and children, extreme disrespect towards colleagues at work, and of course, extreme poverty and wealth…

    The story had a hint of theme about love between sisters. However, same was over-powered by the program’s emphasis on these “extremes”…

    I got tired watching Angel Aquino who was always extremely angry about her daughter, employees and well, about almost everything in life (except her spouse, Manuel).

    I also noticed how someone would cry every 5 minutes or so…This is just tiring…

    I do not think that the main theme of the story is about sisterly love. I think it is about abuse, disrespect, jealousy, hatred and revenge.

    There was no “balance” at all. For me, it’s about evil nature of human beings…

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