COMMENTARY: Jodi Sta. Maria and Ian Veneracion display chemistry in Pangako Sa’Yo pilot episode

by James Patrick Anarcon
May 25, 2015
Eduardo (Ian Veneracion) tries to calm down Amor (Jodi Sta. Maria) when she gets claustrophobia inside an elevator. PEPsters, what can you say about the pilot episode of Pangako ‘Sa Yo?

A man and a woman are bathing in a river as they look lovingly into each other’s eyes.

The woman confesses: “Mahal kita, Eduardo.”

The man promises: “Pinapangako sa ‘yo, mamahalin kita hindi lang buong-buhay ko, kundi buong-buhay mo. Dahil ikaw ang mundo ko.”

This is how the 2015 version of Pangako Sa ‘Yo begins: with the promise of a lifetime of love.

As expected, ABS-CBN did a lot of changes in this remake of the drama series that first aired fifteen years ago. The original version, which was dubbed as the first “teleserye,” aired for one year and 8 months. �

Most of the scenes of the pilot episode already revealed changes that will affect the story arc of upcoming episodes.

Set in 1993 in a town called San Felipe, the remake of Pangako Sa ‘Yo begins with the blossoming romance between Amor (Jodi Sta. Maria) and Eduardo (Ian Veneracion).

The backstories of Amor, Eduardo and Claudia (played Angelica Panganiban) add another dimension that was not shown in the original version.

Amor de Jesus is first seen creating clay pots that are used in “binalayok,” a special dish that is cooked in a kiln oven.

The barrio lass prepares dishes for the luncheon of the Buenavistas. She is seen cooking and doing pottery – another change from the original since the first Amor (originally played by Eula Valdes) worked as a maid of the Buenavistas.

In this new version, viewers got to see relationship of Amor with her family: she lives with her aunt, she has a little sister, and has a father working at a mining company.

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It was also established that Amor had a long-time crush with Eduardo. In fact, his pictures are strewn all over Amor’s closet.

Over lunch, Eduardo and his brother Diego (Bernard Palanca) are raving over the dish called “binalayok.”

Diego informs Eduardo that he knows the person who cooked the dish, prompting Eduardo to exclaim: “Pakilala mo ‘ko, pakakasalan ko agad ‘yan.”

FORESHADOWING AND SYMBOLISMS. There seems to be a lot of foreshadowing in this drama series directed by Rory Quintos, Dado Lumibao and Olivia M. Lamasan.

Right after Eduardo declared that he is smitten by the cook who prepared the sumptuous dish, his mother Donya Benita (Pilar Pilapil) shouted, “This can’t be happening!” �

In a case of excellent timing, the family matriarch seems to be opposing Eduardo’s declaration of love even though she is actually referring to the protest happening in the Buena mine.

In the second body, Amor had her first encounter with Claudia (Angelica Panganiban). Amor is about to ride a jeepney, but Claudia overtakes her, leaving Amor with no space to sit on. To add insult to injury, someone else bumps into her, leaving Amor with a softdrink stain in her uniform.

Visually, their future rivalry is encapsulated in this moment: when Claudia gets exactly what she wants while Amor is left behind to deal with the huge mess. �

The remake also gives a nod to the original version through its own unique way. While talking about their increasing problems surrounding the family fortune, Donya Benita (Pilar Pilapil) suddenly becomes ill and appears to be having an attack.

It will be recalled that in the original version, the matriarch (played back then by Liza Lorena), died from a heart attack. This time, Donya Benita survives and eventually sets up her son Eduardo to marry the daughter of a politician to cement their ties.

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UNDENIABLE CHEMISTRY. The pilot episode showed the undeniable chemistry between Jodi Sta. Maria and Ian Veneracion—a pairing that was initially doubted by some netizens.

Having the two leads stuck in an elevator seemed contrived but it eventually worked since Amor was able to show her vulnerable side while Eduardo’s protective side kicked in. Upon seeing Amor suffering a claustrophobic attack, Ian looked adorable as held her face tenderly and performed the children’s song “Pakitong-kitong” in order to calm her down. ��

Upon watching Jodi’s fun and perky portrayal of Amor de Jesus, viewers might be reminded of her popular character Maya in the now-defunct TV show Be Careful With My Heart. We have yet to see her feisty side when she becomes Amor Powers. Jodi’s versatility will be tested as she should aim to make viewers forget about Maya.

There were some trite plot devices such as the daydreaming sequence of Amor (where she had the chance to kiss her ultimate crush Eduardo) and there were cringe-worthy lines that could elicit chuckles from viewers (Amor thinks about Eduardo: “Ikaw ang langit sa aking lupa.”). �

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This version also gave a drastic change to Claudia’s character. In the original version, Claudia (originally played by Jean Garcia) had finesse and sophistication.

This time, viewers got to see a new Claudia who is funnier yet less sophisticated. Angelica Panganiban’s acting can be very entertaining, but was she too campy? Given her shrill voice and loud-mouthed persona, her character has the potential to annoy viewers.

Banking on Angelica’s flair for comedy, the illegitimate daughter of a governor has the task of delivering laugh-out loud moments (“I believe beggars can’t be choosers but beggars always choose money…).

It is up to Angelica to balance her acting in order to avoid falling into the trap of becoming a caricature. Moreover, she should be more careful since she wouldn’t want to churn out another rehash of her past characters in Rubi and as Scarlet in Iisa Pa Lamang.

But in this pilot episode, Ian Veneracion is the winner. I believe he was able to actually surpass the portrayal of Tonton Gutierrez who was the original Eduardo Buenavista, in terms of charm and looks.

At 40 years old, Ian still has the looks of a heartthrob who can make girls swoon.

This marks the second time that Ian will play Daniel Padilla’s father. Hopefully, he will be able to differentiate it from his portrayal during their Got To Believe days.

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We should also give credit to the episode’s pacing. It was not too slow nor too fast. Almost half of the scenes shown in the trailer already unfolded in the pilot episode.

The excellent cinematography must also be commended. The opening sequence, in particular, was quite breathtaking with its aerial shot of a river.

Fans of the classic lovestory of Yna and Angelo must prepare for more deviations from the original teleserye topbilled by Kristine Hermosa and Jericho Rosales.

It also remains to be seen if Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla will be able to give justice to their roles and if they will be able to match the success achieved by the original version.

Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.

PEPsters, what can you say about the pilot episode of Pangako ‘Sa Yo? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Eduardo (Ian Veneracion) tries to calm down Amor (Jodi Sta. Maria) when she gets claustrophobia inside an elevator. PEPsters, what can you say about the pilot episode of Pangako ‘Sa Yo?
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