MMK celebrates its "debut" with month-long celebration this August

"Akala mo ang galing-galing mo na, ang tibay mona, but when you read about other people's stories, what they're going through and how they survived, it would be so humbling," says Maalaala Mo Kaya hostMs.Charo Santos-Concio. The drama-anthology show will be celebrating its 18th anniversary with a month-long celebration on ABS-CBN.

Maalaala Mo Kaya celebratesits "debut" by showing five special episodes to its avid viewers thisAugust.

For the first episode (airing August 1) celebrating MMK's 18th anniversary, the longest-running dramaanthology on air shows the other side of Ai-Ai delas Alas. The Concert Comedy Queen will play the lead role in the tragic story of a poor mother in CatbaloganCity in Samar. Erich Gonzales will play Ai-Ai's daughter in this tearjerking episode.

Then, for the four succeeding episodes, MMK teams up with The Filipino Channel, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The four remaining episodes will present the stories ofPinoys living in the United States.

TFC assistant vice president Jeff Remigio described their collaboration with MMK. "I think it took about ninemonths bago nabuo itong apat na episodes na ito, from the conceptualization allthe way to launch this August. When wepitched also that we're celebrating 15 years of TFC, parang akmang-akma namanna MMK is celebrating its 18years. So, sabi namin, it was a goodproject to work together. It wasendless nights. You know naman the timedifference in San Francisco and Manila-teleconference, videoconference just sowe could gather the right materials para dito sa month-long celebration ng MMK."


Although MMK had gone to the United States to feature thesestories, its host ABS-CBN President Charo Santos-Concio assured the public that these episodes were all based on real life stories. "We only feature true-to-life stories sa Maalaala Mo Kaya, that's the brand essence of MMK. And we have stayedtrue to the equity of the program."

She also added, "Sa palagay ko, with all modesty, ourstories have continued to touch the lives of our viewers. These are true-to-life human experiencesthat resonate with the viewers. Maramingaral silang napupulot, nai-inspire sila. Hindi ba, minsan kapag may nakikita kang kwentong kapitbahay mo o ngkaibigan mo na mas mahirap ang pinagdadaanan, it alleviates your ownsuffering. I think that's one of thesecrets that's why this program has stayed this long."

(Click here to read more about MMK's 18thanniversary special episodes)

THE BEGINNINGS OF MAALAALA MO KAYA. During the press conference for itsannviversary, Ms. Charo recalled how the network came up with Maalaala MoKaya.


She narrated, "Noong bago pa ko sa television, ang tingin saakin, e, sa pelikula lang daw ang alam ko. So, tinanong ako, ‘Kungpapalitan itong programang ito, anong ipapalit mo?' [Sagot ko], ‘Two weeks, I'll get back to you.' [Sabi naman nila],‘Anong two weeks?' Sa television, theshow must go on. Hindi katulad sa pelikula, pwedeng palitan ang pelikula. Pwedemong sabihin na hindi mo na itutuloy to, pero sa telebisyon, everyday talaga,kapag time mo, time mo, the show must go on.

"E, may paper clip dun sa mesa, ‘Ay, paper clip! Paperclip,ito'y isang ordinaryong bagay lang sa ating lahat pero maaaring sa isang tao aymay kahulugan ito dahil may kwentong bumabalot sa likod ng paper clip na 'to. Para kang tine-test, ganyan. So, pwede tayong magpadala ng sulatsa ating mga..from our viewers, na magmemention sila ng object. Ano ang kwentosa likod ng... Ang sagot sa akin, ‘Hindi, pangit yan, baduy at saka Ingles.' [Sabi ko], ‘Ito na lang ‘Maalaala mo Kaya?'"


Creative head and director Olivia Lamasan then narrated what happened next, "'Tapos, noonguna, inaano pa natin na, ‘Sige pupunta tayo sa mga preso, lahat sila maykanya-kanyang kwento. And then, bakit ili-limit lang sa preso? Buong Pilipinasna, we'll invite them...So, yung mga ganon ang mga pinag-brainstorm namin.'"

What was your first episode?

Ms. Charo remembered, "'Yong kay Robert Arevallo and RomnickSarmienta. Kasi nga hindi pa kami pinagkakatiwalaan noon. Kasama ko... [Tungkol sa] Rubber shoes,mag-ama. Sabi nila, ‘I-test muna natin kung marunong kang magproduce for TV,mag-pilot ka muna, tignan natin kung papasa. Pulot-pulot lang ang props mo,wala kang budget.'

"So, nag-research kami, nakakita kami ng kwento ng mag-ama.Si Robert Arevallo yung father, isang metro aide with a son who goes to schoolna si Romnick Sarmienta. Na ang pinag-aawayan nila kasi gusto niyang magkaroonng rubber shoes, bagong rubber shoes, so ayun."

CHANGING SMALL DETAILS. While all the stories of MMK are based on letterssent by the viewers, the staff admitted that they sometimes change detailsto make it more appealing to the audience.


Director Dado Lumibao explained, "Actually, as much aspossible we try to be loyal sa letter-senders' story. Pero siyempre, di naman tayo gumagawa ng documentary, parang angginagawa lang namin is pushing the drama. Otherwise, 'yong kwento mismo, 'yong mga conflicts are there, hindi namingbinabago."

Direk Olivia seconded, "'Yong essence is alwayspreserved. Kaya lang, kunwari, wepushed the drama kasi based sa research mo, you read, alam mo ang kwento hindiaakyat. So, ang fiction doon would beto push the drama. But the essence ofthe story is intact."

In connection to this, Ms. Charo was asked about the anepisode that featured Angel Locsin playing the role of a UP graduate who turnedout to be a taong grasa. (Click here toread related article) After the episode, a certain personcomplained that the story was "distorted" (Click here to read related article)

Without going into details, Ms. Charo explained, "Imet with the staff after the incident. I was telling them, ‘When it's an institution that is concerned, youhave to verify.' Of course, you'relistening to the version of the story from the storyteller's perspective. Pero sabi ko, ‘Kapag meron nang [nabanggitna] institusyon, kailangan nang i-verify.'


"Another thing is we should be very, very careful. We can change naman some detail, we don'thave to mention. Ang sabi ko, ‘Youknow, kung nagkamali tayo, let's apologize. We don't lose anything for saying sorry.'"

Don't miss five true-to-life heartwarming storieson Maalaala Mo Kaya's 18th anniversary special this wholemonth of August. The episodes will air on ABS-CBN starting tomorrow, August 1, right after The Singing Bee.


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