GMA-7’s newest primetime show, I Heart Davao, has big shoes to fill as it comes on the heels of Meant To Be, the hit rom-com series starring Barbie Forteza, Ken Chan, Ivan Dorschner, Jak Roberto, and Addy Raj.
I Heart Davao’s pilot episode last night, June 26, showed the beginning of the love story featuring real-life couple Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez, with Benjamin Alves as the third party.
Hope (Carla) is a woman with a congenital heart ailment. Her world will be turned upside-down when she goes to Davao to save her family’s chocolate business. Here, she serendipitously and unknowingly meets Ponce (Tom), the proud, brooding, and mysterious ex-boyfriend of her heart donor.
Ponce also happens to be the son of the chocolate haciendero whom Hope eyes to partner with to save her family’s struggling venture. Ponce’s “Dabawenyo Dude” pragmatism will constantly offend Hope’s “Manila Girl” sensibilities.
As Hope’s new life unravels in Davao, she feels a tug from her old self through the constant wooing of her childhood friend Paul (Ben), a brilliant young business executive. All his life, Paul has been in love with Hope that he is willing to temporarily leave his life in Manila to join her in Davao.
The pilot episode opens with a montage of shots highlighting the beauty of Davao province, particularly its forested areas and beaches.
Carla’s character, Hope, is in a cab. She’s going to attend a chocolate fair on behalf of her family’s company, Sweet Solutions.
After stepping out of the cab and walking toward the event’s venue, she eyes a good-looking guy played by Tom. His character named Ponce is meeting up with his girlfriend (Cathy Remperas).
At the venue, Hope is joined by her friend and business associate Judith (Maey Bautista). Her guy best friend Paul (Benjamin Alves) also turns up—to her surprise.
As many rom-coms go, the protagonists start off on the wrong foot, so that tension will build up.
Hope and Ponce compete in trying to get the attention of the people at the chocolate fair and make their products stand out.
She’s then persuaded to sample his chocolate drink, but she finds it too hot so she spits it out and in his face. Startled, Ponce splashes his own hot chocolate drink on Hope’s face.
Again, just like in typical rom-coms, coincidences abound in I Heart Davao.
When Hope goes on a whitewater-rafting trip with Paul and Judith, Ponce also shows up with no explanation. He just joins the trio and the rest of the group of adventure seekers. Hope and Ponce accuse each other of stalking.
At one point during the trip, Paul takes water from the river and pours it on Hope’s head. Ponce follows suit, but Hope suddenly falls from the raft, prompting him to jump and save her.
On the day Hope, Paul, and Judith fly out of Davao, Ponce sees his girlfriend off, presumably to Manila as well.
In Manila, Hope owns a cafe and runs it with Judith. One day, Judith notices that Hope is thinking of Ponce. She then cautions her friend: “Baka ang puso mo, tumalon. Ingat ka.”
Hope goes to her doctor with her mother (Raquel Villavicencio). Hope is told by her doctor that her congenital heart condition has reached a critical stage, but he hopefully tells her that “miracles happen.”
One day, Ponce shows up at Hope’s cafe, but only Judith is around. Judith recognizes him and treats him well. He asks for a glass of water.
He looks agitated, and drops the glass. Judith comments that it’s the first time “na may nabasag dito” and that hopefully it’s not a sign of bad luck.
But as fate—and director Marlon Rivera and writer Chris Martinez—would have it, misfortunes soon befall both Hope and Ponce.
While out on a date with Paul, Hope suffers a heart attack. Somewhere else, Ponce gets in a heated argument with his girlfriend Aileen, who has chosen to stay in Manila. As Aileen, Cathy Remperas gives an affecting performance.
Aileen walks away from Ponce, and in her rush, she doesn’t realize she’s on an open road. A speeding vehicle hits her.
The episode ends with both Hope and Aileen taken in the hospital, setting the story up for more dramatic scenes in the next episode.
AGB RATINGS. How did the pilot episode of I Heart Davao fare based on AGB Nationwide Urban Television Audience Measurement (NUTAM) ratings?
GMA-7's I Heart Davao got an AGB rating of 7.4%.
ABs-CBN's A Love To Last, topbilled by Bea Alonzo and Ian Veneraction, got an AGB rating of 6.2%.
The Kapuso rom-com primetime series rated 1.2 points higher than its Kapamilya rival.