Rarely does a Filipino soap opera inspire any kind of strong, legitimate praise worthy of recognition. Hell, rarely does a Filipino soap opera inspire period!
But ABS-CBN’s 2010 series Magkaribal proved that maybe there is some quality life on Philippine television.
Magkaribal is a story about sisters separated by tragedy and unknowingly reunited as rivals (or magkaribal) more than a decade later was excellently plotted in a way that never produced a dull episode. The series maintained a consistent flow that didn’t take detours and u-turns like most Filipino soap operas do.
There was a clear beginning, middle, and end. No pointless subplots. No hair-pulling missteps.
The cast was strong, all solid and enjoyable performances. Led by Bea Alonzo’s strongest performance in years, the series yielded breakthrough performances from Gretchen Barretto (in her first series role) and most especially Angel Aquino who was a revelation. Enchong Dee and Erich Gonzales took major steps forward with the series as well, moving towards mature roles after two straight series as angsty youth. Its supporting cast in Arlene Muhlach, Robert Arevalo, John Arcilla, Mark Gil and a scene stealing Bianca Manalo all did their part as well.
Magkaribal’s setting in the Philippine fashion world helped to make the series new and different. And the creativity of the series in their on-air look and feel from opening and closing credits sequences to the music direction and of course the wardrobe all added up for a refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying experience.
Not since 2007’s Maria Flordeluna has a series defied expectations. From not needing overhype to being the most solid performer for a network in crisis, Magkaribal is and was a winner through and through.
And if there is one series that deserves to represent the Philippines at this year’s International Emmys, it is Magkaribal.