I first decided to check out GMA’s Hiram na Alaala because I liked the main cast and was very happy to see Kris Bernal getting a major lead role in what appeared to be a straight drama. The concept of the series, “shared memories,” was also intriguing. But the Baguio setting, charming chemistry between Kris Bernal and Rocco Nacino and the abundance of Ilocano dialogue was what kept me interested.
The story progressed well enough and it quickly and effectively established Kris Bernal and Rocco Nacino’s Andeng and Otep as a couple you could easily root for. Naturally, if you’re watching this or any Filipino drama, you know what’s up. Rocco Nacino is 2nd lead to Dennis Trillo, so of course Andeng and Otep are not meant to be.
That would be fine and all, but the show itself as it developed over the first month or so (including a very slow few weeks) made it appear that an Andeng-Ivan (Dennis Trillo) endgame was just not possible. Andeng had absolutely no feelings for Ivan and even when Otep was presumed dead, she clung to Ivan believing he really was some reincarnation of her beloved Ilocano-speaking Otep. (Don’t ask.)
Intriguing soapyness, no doubt. And that all came to a thrilling climax when Otep popped up alive at Ivan and Andeng’s wedding.
At that point, I thought; Now the big drama and conflict begins. I was interested in seeing where the story would go from there.
I still knew the endgame would be Dennis Trillo and Kris Bernal’s characters ending up together (it’s in the darn title card, for goodness sakes). But at that point, I saw absolutely no way that was possible without turning everyone on the show into idiotic psychopaths and throwing the goodwill the show had at the start right down the drain.
And that’s pretty much what happened.
I definitely did not expect the show would make a complete 180 and basically crawl through contrived mental insanity, random obsessive pregnant women and graphic torture porn/spousal abuse that had absolutely zero relevance to the main story.
Speaking of relevance, the main premise of “hiram na alaala” or borrowed memories ended up inconsequential, despite Andeng’s contrived narration in the final scene of the series.
Otep being diagnosed with PTSD and seeing how he and his family and girlfriend deal with it would’ve made for a very enlightening story. This isn’t something that is often, or even ever touched upon on Philippine television. Definitely not in a serious manner, at least.
What became increasingly evident was that the show pretty much used PTSD as a reason to basically throw someone you supposedly love to the side and lose your virginity to the other guy who has issues of his own, not related to any post traumatic stress.
So, the typical “turn the 2nd lead into a kidnapping/baril-toting psycho” trope was very much present here even though they appeared to be avoiding most Filipino soap opera tropes at the beginning. And so the series wrapped up this week, of course with an Ivan/Andeng ending. But without any foundation or justification to make it at all believable.
What’s even worse is that the series wasted such a solid cast in Kris Bernal, Rocco Nacino, Dennis Trillo and especially Lauren Young. All deserved better. Even Sheena Halili who was more of a lead actress than Lauren Young was given the opportunity for.
Lauren Young must have done something to piss off the writers of the series because instead of being one of the lead actors of the series (as advertised and title carded), she merely popped up from time to time as if she was some kind of guest star playing a (literal) crazy woman. Definitely one of the many inexplicable story decisions on a show that collapsed halfway through.
“Ay apo!” indeed.
Once a very promising and fresh series became a gratuitously violent and nonsensical example of what’s wrong with contemporary Filipino drama.