TYPE OF REVIEW : HINDSIGHT REVIEW
No spoilers. Click here for First Impression Review
In my First Impression Review, I mentioned how GMA Network’s Hearts on Ice is able to tick off familiar Filipino teleserye boxes, but still offer a unique and refreshing approach to those familiar themes. The series’ 68 episodes definitely maintained that perfect balance. And it has wrapped up its run as a fully satisfying, enjoyable and inspiring series.
The highlight, among many commendable aspects to the series, is definitely the cast. Really a strong, excellent group of actors that were well-suited to their roles and what was asked of them. There were a lot of fresh faces such as current Philippine national figure skating team member Sky Chua as now-reformed bully Sonja. Her character arc, especially as it related to Ashley Ortega’s Ponggay helped to really illustrate the competitive nature of not just skating, but sports in general. And of course the typical pressures and struggles of youth and bullying.
Roxie Smith delivered a breakthrough performance as Monique. Rita Avila definitely offered up some very intense and surely difficult scenarios as the violent, overbearing stage mother Yvanna. Chronicling the mental toll Monique suffered as it related to sport as well as past trauma really presented an eye-opening look at stories rarely, if ever seen on Philippine TV.
Ina Feleo also gave an unexpectedly surprising performance. Surprising, not because of her talent as she has proven herself many times before. But surprising in how the series was able to also tell a fascinating story about her character Wendy. Again, real and relatable human emotion with the refreshing context of sport and figure skating.
Definitely no surprise with the performances from Amy Austria-Ventura, Tonton Gutierrez and the warmth Lito Pimentel brought to Ponggay’s loving father Ruben. The veteran actors had no troubles giving the series its needed heft and authority. Xian Lim’s experience was also on great display as he balanced his character’s own personal story alongside the requisite, though never overpowering romantic angle of the series.
And of course, Ashley Ortega. This role was literally made for her. Finally getting the lead role she has long worked for and long deserved, Ashley Ortega proved her worth and then some. Her figure skating skills were as naturally graceful as her effortless performance. Being able to offer up the many sides of Pauline/Ponggay’s personality, everything from the happy to sad to dramatic; Ashley Ortega undoubtedly delivered.
Hearts on Ice was able to tackle many different aspects of sports and especially figure skating. Though perhaps there was still a lot that could have been explored and some potential left on the table, the series was still able to thoughtfully tell these stories that are not normally told or heard in mainstream Filipino media. And that goes for actual, real-life athletes especially.
When Philippine media is so obsessed with the idea of “celebrity” and how being an artista is the only dream worth having for those who want a better life, seeing a series like Hearts on Ice is so welcome and relevant today.
Being able to inspire and offer up some hope for especially young Filipinos to pursue their dreams, no matter the field, will be one of the series’ major accomplishments. The series has an empowering message. And one can only hope that the series can empower young dreamers to continue to dream big.
Of course, many of those dreamers will need a bit of tangible help too. So we also hope that those who can will be able to help make those dreams become reality. There is so much untapped potential when it comes to Filipino athletes. Sadly because of lack of resources. But with a show like Hearts on Ice and hearing more stories from those who have experienced and maybe even overcome those hardships, we can have hope that there will be more realized dreams in the future.
Overall, Hearts on Ice‘s thoughtful and satisfying storytelling was a joy to watch. The refreshing nature of the premise itself coupled with an excellent cast and careful production really powered the show to be one of the best and simply most enjoyable and satisfying local series in a while. And its inspiring message offers a welcome bit of hope and empowerment.