Hindsight Review: ABS-CBN’s Mara Clara – What Philippine Primetime DOES NOT Need

I basically retract everything I said in my initial review of ABS-CBN’s remake of Mara Clara.

Instead of being a wonderful showcase for grossly underused young Filipino talent, it has somehow been twisted into a series that borders on being teenage torture-porn.

Screw the work for the talented teens if they’re only going to have to bring to life such frustratingly horrible material.

Mara Clara has become an excellent example of outdated, paper-thin Philippine storytelling and a lesson on excess.

The show’s heroine, the teenage Mara, has been literally beaten to death by her father and has since been thrown into a daily, endless loop of being harassed and verbally and physically abused by Clara and her mean girl (for lack of a proper, harsher term that even I would personally censor) cronies for shallow reasons, not to mention it being fun.

Now, Philippine soap operas are built around the underdog that gets pushed around and mistreated. And some of the most popular soap operas of all-time feature despicable villains pushing, shoving, and stepping on the underdog hero or heroine (many times literally) for months and even years before the series finale when… *poof* all is forgiven.


Philippine television has cultivated an audience that can root for irredeemable characters just because they’re played by a handsome or pretty actor, in turn cultivating an audience and a culture that has come to accept an underdog getting abused and pushed around with few and far between spurts of fighting back before getting thrown back in the endless cycle.

This is 2011.

A year after countless news stories of schoolyard bullying driving kids and teens to hurt themselves or worse end their lives.

Mara Clara could have been (and there is really no hope left) a series that, though after school special-y, showed bullying is wrong and shown that the bullied can stand up for themselves without having to stoop to the level of those pushing them around.

Instead, it passes each slap, each smothering of the face, each hospital visit, each shove into the table with a “Oh, it’ll all pass.”


If there is an excess in the paper-thin villainy and harassment-porn, there is just an excess in the submissiveness of those being harassed. You rarely see, if ever, a Philippine soap hero or heroine that stands up for themselves. Instead, relying on some deus ex machina-powered series finale that makes all the hurt go away.

Probably the main problem lies with the writers and directors of the show who resort to tired Philippine TV tropes and typical Philippine plot holes. That the more abuse, the better to get more people rooting for the mistreated.

And probably the most frustrating thing about a show like Mara Clara, is that all will be forgiven in the end. All forgotten, from the abusive father to the conscience-less bitches, Philippine TV likes to redeem every villain every chance they get, furthering the notion that, hey, you may have been an asshole… and you haven’t changed your ways, but the most punishment you’ll get is a slap on the hand and no dinner.

It doesn’t help when the writing is so lacking that none of the villains have been written with a single redeeming quality. Are you supposed to understand these pieces of sh*t people? Understand why they are doing these things?

It would probably be easier and more realistic to explain it all away with a mental disorder, but no… somehow, these characters are in their right mind.

Of course, bullying and abuse exist in the real world, but presenting some unrealistic, complete fantasy world of harassment and abuse-porn with no authority and consequence isn’t helping any cause but the pockets of those involved in production.

And really… is this supposed to be enjoyable television?

0 thoughts on “Hindsight Review: ABS-CBN’s Mara Clara – What Philippine Primetime DOES NOT Need

  1. i really love watching ur soap opera but the episode last night was somewhat disgusting,especially the role of the principal and what she did regarding the case of the stolen answer key or sheet,it was obvious the true culprit was clara and yet she was not punished,the gay friend of mara who witnessed the conversation between clara and migs was convincing enough to make her decide what to do to clara but our dismay,naguyo n naman sila ng bruha.sna huwag nyo naman niloloko a

  2. i really love watching ur soap opera but the episode last night was somewhat disgusting,especially the role of the principal and what she did regarding the case of the stolen answer key or sheet,it was obvious the true culprit was clara and yet she was not punished,the gay friend of mara who witnessed the conversation between clara and migs was convincing enouagh to make her decide what to do to clara but our dismay,naguyo n naman sila ng bruha.sna huwag nyo naman niloloko ang mga televiewers,ksi nagiisip din naman kmi.nakakagigil n tlaga yn c clara,i want to see her back to where she is suppose to be,squatters area with her equally bad father,dali dalian nyo naman un facing ng story,i cnt wait to see the scene i want to see.more power. ang galing ng casts tlaga.super involved n ako sa story.keep it up!

  3. Again this episode does nothing to promote family values. It once again depicts everyone around Clara as being a bunch of idiots that she can easily manipulate, especially the principal and most of all, her mother Almira who is either pretending to be blind to the schemes of Clara or Almira had a brain half the size of aa split pea! Clara once again goes unpunished. And Desiree whose thinks she is so pretty but whose face looks like a chipmunk should also be punished for her part in the crime of stealing the answer key. The writers of this episode only promote the idea that you can get away with cheating as long as you are rich, can lie your way out of punishment, and have an airhead, brqinless mother like Almira who never punishes Clara. Almira is really one idiot. In the next episodes, I hope someone will give Desiree a mirror because she is one ugly bitch. Yes I said it! She also never gets punished. The writers are teaching that bullying is okay, even in a so-called private Catholic school. Get your act together writers and make episodes that are more family and value oriented. Get Desiree a mirror as well!!!

  4. Ang pangit talaga ni Desiree. Siya ang gumagawa ng gulo. Trying very hard si Desiree na magmukhang tao pero ang totoo ang mukha ni Desiree ay parang uwak at unggoy na ipinagsama. Wala na kayong salamin sa set?

  5. I completely agree with Gil. ABS-CBN promotes Mara Clara as a family series. But it is not a family series no matter which angle you look. I’m sure that the show has morals for our children’s generation.

    First of all it’s such an insult to the wealthy kids. I don’t think Clara’s behaviour would be tolerated-no matter how rich you are-in any school.

    Second of all there is nothing wrong in looking at the flaws of a drama series. Every audience have their opinion. There is no right or wrong. In fact it should help the writers, and the staff involve to make a upcoming shows better. Sadly, they really don’t take it into account.

    Lastly-definitely agreeable. They always develop the antagonist for weeks-even months. They leave the protagonist with a short story line of success, but never show karma in effect on te antagonist.

    People have their rights to their opinion. And people who are born and raised in the US should know that. In case that individual don’t know it. It is the freedom of speech which is protected by the First Admendment.

    Some people are hypocrites and apparently, the show is intended for audience who have nothing to do. 🙂

    It’s really good to know that there are a few of us who realize the low quality of Filipino drama series. I’m not insulting the Filipino writers because if we look in the past, we can see better drama series.

    Mula sa Puso
    Pangako Sayo
    Sa Dulo ng Walang Hangang
    Labs Ko si Babe

    Just to mention a few of them above. 🙂

  6. sana nd na makabalik xa bahay ng mga del valle c clara ,para nd na maapi c mara ,kainis kc alvira kc may care xia kay clara……………pang squater lng talaga c clara……………bagay nd tao

      1. maybe youre not just looking deeper. 😉 trust me, you’ll appreciate it once you get deeper into the characters.

        oh yeah, pls. don’t think of me as a hypocrite for saying this show is actually (just like one of your commenters have said^)

      2. maybe youre just not looking deeper. 😉 trust me, you’ll appreciate it once you get deeper into the characters.

        oh yeah, pls. don’t think of me as a hypocrite for saying this show is actually (just like one of your commenters have said^)

  7. I agree that bullying should not be tolerated in school. Why can’t Mara stand up for herself? Young Filipinos should be taught the value of standing up for themselves. “Api” should never be a term to be tolerated by the new generation. You can stand up for yourself even devorcing your parents when you are not valued or treated right. Nobody deserves to be treated like that. As far as the villain Clara, parents should not tolerate selfish, domineering, arrogant, and ill-mannered child. The problems is, YES you writers. People should not believe that it is OK to be patient and just accept the abuse. We are better than that, please make the plot a little more intelligent and worthy of our time. Let our children learn the true meaning of standing up for their rights. Thanks.

      1. yeah, actually that’s one of my few criticisms of the show. but hopefully they will work on that, since clara’s character is already showing a lot of depth (trust me, you’ll understand what i mean soon enough).

        anyways, here’s my question for you. if you were the writer, how would you do the story?

        1. Well, first thing, remove the pointless story with Desiree del Valle’s character. There’s no point.

          And the center of the series, Mara and Clara, show that Clara isn’t invincible. She’s been able to torture Mara with no one, not one single person reprimanding her for her actions. Mara got burned with an iron and nothing… nothing came of it but just another over the top moment.

          Then you have Mara and Christian easily forgiving Clara and friends for their crap. Forgiveness is earned and yet they easily give it to Clara even when she doesn’t ask for it. WTF?

          The writers are writing these characters with as little brains as possible and that is definitely not reality. The sole purpose of the series continues to be about api-apihan.

          Want a well-written api-apihan teleserye? Watch Maria Flordeluna instead. Villains with depth and bidas that fight for what’s right instead of allowing to be stepped on.

          Mara Clara has none of that.

  8. i agree with you on the part with cristina. or they can use it for something. like what if this is the point where mara finally snaps and shows her hatred of gary when she realizes he is helping cristina in destroying her family (i assume that you’re still watching the show, since you are still able to catch up with me 😉 )

    on clara, that is actually why her character is rather interesting (to me at least). because if you have seen the earlier parts, she is actually capable of genuine kindness, when she was shown to cherish her friendship with mara so much. kumbaga, one can assume that it’s her misplaced pride which makes her evil, and which is keeping her from returning to that state. which is also why it is interesting to see how she changes when she finally accepts susan as her mother after experiencing her kindness

    on everyone forgiving clara, well that’s also irritating, which is why it is rather interesting to see both lola lupe and yaya vonnel becoming the most rational characters because they see that there is something wrong with that.

    ahaha! sorry for the lengthy reply. i’m starting to enjoy our conversation. try visiting this forum. they also have a lengthy discussion there. you’ll find their points interesting. i sort of mentioned you there (i’m a member)



  10. David Divco, Danica Domingo and Reggie Amigo are the evil writers of the remake of Mara Clara. They are a disgrace to Emil Cruz Jr. This remake is all evil. This is not a family show – this show should have a warning that says everything in this show is evil. Can the viewers learn anything from this teleserye? NONE. The remaining episodes will just be slapping face, disrespecting elders, disrespecting other people, yelling, beating minors, beating wife, lying, cursing, accusing other people, bearing false witness against the neighbor, etc. These writers are reinforcing all the evil acts. They are evil writers!

  11. You Know, Not Everything Is Evil In Mara Clara, Actually You Can Feel The Family Oriented Value In The Show. Like How Mara And Suzanne Are To Each Other, They Can Cling On Each Other Forever And You Can Feel The Love That They Have As A Family No Matter What Happens, Oh And Also How Hard Suzanne Works, And Comforts Just To Get Clara`s Affection! You Should Notice The Strong Bonds Of Them Together. Gary May Be An Evil Man But He Only Does It For His Daughter, And Lover, Alvira. At Least He Has A Heart. As Well How Mara Shows A Good Model When She Studies Hard Even At The Worst Of Times In Her Life, No Matter How Rude People Are, And How Evil She Is Still Able To Forgive, It Reminds Me Of The Saying From God: LOVE YOUR ENEMIES. That Has Taught Us A Lesson Anyone Finds It Hard To Do. Lastly Maybe Most People Think Clara Is REALLY evil, It May Not Be Like She Has No Heart Either, She WAS Friends With Mara before, And Its Not Too Far To Become Friends Again. This Story Also Reminds You Of Your Highschool Sweethearts, No Matter How Tragic Or Sad, You Cant Get That Feeling Of Love Out Of Your Mind, It Certainly Excites Me Of New Episodes. Oh And Please, Ayoko Ng Gulo, Just Go With The Flow Guys, Its Just A Telesrye, And Anyways, Most Younger Viewers Sleep Early Nowadays, So They Should Have Probably Not Seen The Show, Cmon Guys, The Writers Needed Something Exiting, If You Dont Like It Then Dont Watch It . Well, Peace!!

      1. if you only realize what you’re saying. the writers use unrealistic scenes para lang maka attract ng attention at mapa-react ang audiences.

    1. You know what, if only that You’re Not Typing Like This As If You’re Raping The Shift Key and making a fool out of yourself by mindlessly being subjected to such shows, the Philippines would’ve been a better place.

      I don’t want to argue, either, but this “teleserye” shit’s getting way old. Get real, Filipinos.

  12. I just find the show really hard to watch because they keep interrupting my dishwashing detergent, hair fall deterrent shampoo, children milk shows with commercials about two girls getting beat up. It’s really bothersome. Thank God the commercials are only ten minutes long while my other health care product shows that tell me how to keep white are 30 minutes. What I really like about my shows is that right after one ends another show just like it comes up, but then they keep interrupting that show with commercials about vampires and wolfs. You’d think they would get other people to sponsor their show…oh well.

  13. To the writers (Danny Diuco, Danica Domingo and Reggie Amigo), wala kayong mga kwentang writers. Wala kayong moral values. Ang take home message ninyo sa manonood ay puro kasamaan. Sana makarma kayo sa mga pinagsusulat ninyo. Lagi na lang kasamaan ang nananalo sa inyo. Ang kabutihan mananalo lang siguro sa last few episodes baka nga hindi pa. Wala kayong magandang aral na ibinibigay sa manonood. Lahat na lang patayan, sampalan, sigawan, siraan, kasinungalingan, sunugan, katangahan, kabobohan, pag-iisip ng masama sa kapwa tao, etc. Wala bang laman ang utak ninyo kundi kasamaan? Heto ba ang masasabi ninyong magandang remake? Ang baba ng standards ninyo. Hindi kailangang mag-isip ng manonood kasi predictable ang mga episodes ninyo – basta katangahan sa bida at katalinuhan ng mga contrabida ayos na sa inyo. Basta nananalo ang kasamaan ayos na sa inyo. Nagtatalon na kayo sa saya kasi akala ninyo naloloko ninyo na naman ang mga manonood. Luma na ang istilo ninyo. Panahon pa yan ng sinauna. Niremake ninyo nga pero wala namang kwenta. Hindi ninyo na lang sana niremake kung ganyan lang kapangit ang gagawin ninyo. Papaano kasi mga walang pangalan at gutom ang mga writers . Pipitsugin lang ang kinuha ng ABS CBN kaya substandard ang kinalabasan. Binabase lang ng ABS CBN sa ratings kesa sa quality. Low quality lang ang remake. Kaya lang mataas ang rating ng remake dahil sa dating Mara Clara. Inaabangan ng mga tao ang katapusan. Pero generally lahat ng nanonood ngayon ng Mara Clara ay napapangitan sa istorya. Gusto na lahat ng mga manonood na matapos na. Ano bang kwento ng Mara Clara? Pinagpalit na bata ng ipinanganak tapos nalaman ang totoong nangyari. Ayan lang ang istorya at 99% ng istorya ay puro kasamaan na. Ginagawang tanga ng mga writers ang manonood pero ang lumalabas na tanga yung mga writers. Sana masisante na kayo at wala nang kumuha sa inyo dahil kung ako ang producer hindi ko kayo pagtitiyagaan kahit mumurahin lang kayo. Mas gusto ko ang mataas na kaledad kesa sa mga pipitsugin at patakbuhin na mura ang bayad. Matatalino ang mga manonood ninyo. Kung ganyan lang ang standard ninyo mag-iba na kayo ng trabaho kasi wala kayong talent sa pagsusulat.

  14. Dati gabi gabi namin pinanood ang Mara Clara dahil maganda ang pagkaka remake. Pero ngayon lumipat na kami ng ibang channel kasi sobrang brutal ang pangyayari. Nakakataas ng BP. Puro nalang masama at pang aapi ang ginawa ni Garry at mahirap panoorin sa mga bata kasi nakaka influence ito sa kanila. Sana kung sino man ang director na nag direct nito sana baguhin nyo na ang concept nyo. Anyways, mas maganda naman ang show sa GMA 7. Lahat ng kapitbahay namin lumipat na rin kasi hindi nila nagustuhan ang mga episodes ngayon sa mara clara. Akala siguro nyo nagustuhan ng mga tao. Panoorin nyo mag isa.

  15. why not try to look on the bright side, ndi lng ung kasamaan ung nakikita ninyo. Pansin q lng, s mga frends, clasm8s at qng cnu2x p, mapanlait ang mga taga channel 7? Journalist student aq and being biased is what we try to avoid but to tell you, being judgmental is what makes you critics say those things. Andami keang values ang makukuha jan, parang s ‘Gulong ng Palad’, in the end, napatawad din ang my kasalanan. Anung gus2 nyo mangyari ky clara? Mamatay? C gary nlng ang dpat mamatay. People will change pero aun ang sabi ng director at writer eh, qng wlang kontra bida, edi panget n, kht sbhn nyo n over n ang pag aabuse at konti lng ang justice n nkukuha ni mara, staying humble is what we should always keep in mind. Look at the positive side. Ndi p nga ntatapos, panget n kgad ang tingin ng karamihan eh. Andaming moral values ang makukuha d2, you’re just not looking closer.

    1. Well, there are no positive sides anywhere in this series.

      And also being a student of journalism, there is no such thing as an “unbiased” journalist. Journalist must be fair and balanced, but it is impossible to be unbiased. But I digress, because that has nothing to do with critiquing a television series.

      The only moral values you can pull from Mara Clara are:
      -Villains are smart and cunning and never get caught.
      -The victimized are stupid, idiotic, naive, have no brains and are weak… and will never change.

      Yeah, plenty of positivity there.

  16. i know i will get all negative comments and ratings but being blind is not a problem, the real problem is doing another bad thing or even simple comments. They wouldnt call it the mother of teleseries if it wasnt for the good value of the story. Being unrealistic is not a problem. It’s fictional and it is rated ‘parental guidance’, if you dont like it, dont watch it. just dont throw stones at something not hurting you. Some scenes may be irritating and over repeated but dont hurt yourself trying to wonder why they do that. It’s the twist which is catchy. Sooner or later u will find out…

    1. First of all, Mara Clara, THE ORIGINAL, is the mother of teleseryes because of its success and length. It is not called the mother of teleseryes because of a lackluster and most of the time poorly written 2010-2011 remake.

  17. just like the recent issue about the child abuse by willie revillame. If they wouldnt say rude things and give malicious comments about the child, that child would be living fine by now. But no, everytime people will see him, they are going to tease the young guy… Just to say, dont be so sure about what you’re going to say, you may never know, things might change, in a good way and for the better quality of the tv series…

  18. Nominado ang Mara Clara sa BANFF award. Hindi dahil nominado sa award na ito ibig sabihin maganda ang teleserye. Kailangang lang magbayad ng C$250-300 at magbigay ng isa o dalawang episodes para ma-nominate sa award na ito. Maaaring basehan lang ng judges ang kanilang desisyon sa mga episodes na pinadala sa kanila. Sana mag-research sila para hindi limitado ang kanilang kaalaman sa mga nominado. Maaari kasing ang ipadalang mga episodes ay magaganda subalit ang kabuuan ng teleserye ay walang katuturan. Merong mga ilang kalahok sa soap at teleserye category kasama na ang Baker King. Sa Hunyo malalaman ang resulta. Bisitahin natin ang website ng BANFF. Kailangan sigurong malaman ng organizers ng BANFF award ang saloobin nating mga manonood.

    1. I absolutely agree! I actually wrote a little post about my annoyance here: http://dryedmangoez.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/%e2%99%aa-one-of-these-shows-is-not-like-the-others-%e2%99%aa/

      I sincerely hope this nomination doesn’t let the writers/directors and ABS-CBN think Mara Clara is some kind of excellent production. Because it is not. They probably submitted one of the earlier episodes which were definitely well done and promising. But as we all know, that is not the case now.

      There are also many people who believe that we must support Mara Clara in these BANFF awards no matter what because we MUST support Filipino-made things at all times. But I completely disagree. I think the other nominees are much more deserving of winning an award than Mara Clara. It doesn’t matter if your country made it or not.

  19. This explains why I’d rather watch stuff from the interwebs instead. Pray, tell, is this what you Filipino broadcasters feed to your audiences? Things that aren’t really redeeming at all?

    1. Thank goodness for the existence of the internets and cable companies in the Philippines.
      What is unfortunate is the masses who have no access nor extra money for things like cable and internets have to suffer through the subpar crap thrown at them by the over-the-air broadcast networks. 🙁

      1. The problem is that they’ve been spoon-fed by them big media companies with worthless melodramatic junk from the beginning. Simply airing shows like “Heroes” or doing a similar intellectually-minded take may not do wonders for people who’ve been doofuses for so long. Unless if you’re the president of Singapore.

        To make things brief and straight, garbage in, garbage out.

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