COMMENTARY: Nora Aunor, Lotlot de Leon, Janine Gutierrez deal with ghosts of the past in Karelasyon

In Karelasyon, the characters of Nora Aunor (foreground) and Janine Gutierrez provide the twist – the source of redemption – in what you’d expect to be a bleak story on comfort women.

Who was it who said that the ghosts of the past can haunt the present?

It just means that no matter how hard we try, we are still slaves of yesterday, imprisoned for acts our ancestors did not or did commit.

At first, this seems to be the case with Lola Maring (Nora Aunor), a comfort woman during the time of the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines.

You can’t blame her character in the June 11 episode of GMA-7’s TV drama Relasyon.

This marks the first time that Superstar Nora Aunor had the chance to act opposite her daughter Lotlot de Leon and granddaughter Janine Gutierrez.

The story, based on true-to-life events, shows how the Japanese carried off a then young Maring to rape her many times over. To add insult to injury, they ignored her pleas for help as she wept over her dying mother.

Now a grandmother, Lola Maring is seen shuddering at news about comfort women on TV.

You won't be surprised then to see her faint when she meets the Japanese fiance of her pretty balikbayan granddaughter Rose (Janine Gutierrez).

Nor can you fault her for rejecting Rose’s Japanese boyfriend, who flew in from Japan (where Rose used to work) just to meet his girlfriend’s family.

Past is past? Of course not!


Award-winning director Adolf Alix’s narrative seems predictable at first.

You know what Lola Maring’s reaction to Rose’s boyfriend is, even before the girl introduces him to the woman who used to be a comfort woman.

As usual, La Aunor’s eyes do much of the talking--especially when she revisits the old house that witnessed the atrocious crimes against her and her mother.

Lola Maring’s forced smile over her first meal with Rose’s Japanese boyfriend speaks volumes.

Janine holds her own as the dutiful daughter torn between love for her boyfriend and her family.

It’s the age-old dilemma showing itself once more. Who do you choose: the persons you have loved since you were born, or the man you grew to love as an adult?

The choice, at first, seems either/or. If you choose one, you reject the other.

Until it turns out that Lola Maring is not the only one with a dark secret. Rose has a secret of her own as well, this time in the hands of the notorious crime syndicate, the Yakuza.

Grandma and granddaughter share more than just the same DNA. They share the same sordid past in the hands of the Japanese. And it turns out that compared to her mother and daughter’s story, that of Lotlot de Leon’s (as Nora’s daughter), is the least colorful.

Lotlot, the daughter of a man who accepted Lola Maring, warts and all, didn’t have to suffer atrocities in the hands of foreign men.

Thus, her character is the least prominent in Relasyon. Except for a few confrontation scenes with Rose, Lotlot’s character recedes into the background – swallowed whole by Lola Maring’s and Rose’s intense roles.

It is Lola Maring and Rose who provide the twist – the source of redemption – in what you’d expect to be a bleak story on comfort women. It is they who prove that not all Japanese men are sexually-starved and abusive.

Lola Maring and Rose make viewers believe that the cycle of grief that started with Rose’s great grandmother, continued with her daughter (Lola Maring) – and repeated in the latter’s granddaughter, has an end.

What seems at first to be a family curse does stop. And you wind up telling yourself that God doesn’t sleep, after all. Kind people do roam the earth.

That is the lesson – and the beauty – of this uplifting drama called Relasyon.

Can we have a replay, please?

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.



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