Maalaala Mo Kaya celebrates its "debut" by showing five special episodes to its avid viewers this August.
For the first episode (airing August 1) celebrating MMK's 18th anniversary, the longest-running drama anthology 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 Catbalogan City 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 of Pinoys living in the United States.
TFC assistant vice president Jeff Remigio described their collaboration with MMK. "I think it took about nine months bago nabuo itong apat na episodes na ito, from the conceptualization all the way to launch this August. When we pitched also that we're celebrating 15 years of TFC, parang akmang-akma naman na MMK is celebrating its 18 years. So, sabi namin, it was a good project to work together. It was endless nights. You know naman the time difference in San Francisco and Manila-teleconference, videoconference just so we could gather the right materials para dito sa month-long celebration ng MMK."
Although MMK had gone to the United States to feature these
stories, 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 stayed
true to the equity of the program."
She also added, "Sa palagay ko, with all modesty, our stories have continued to touch the lives of our viewers. These are true-to-life human experiences that resonate with the viewers. Maraming aral silang napupulot, nai-inspire sila. Hindi ba, minsan kapag may nakikita kang kwentong kapitbahay mo o ng kaibigan mo na mas mahirap ang pinagdadaanan, it alleviates your own suffering. I think that's one of the secrets that's why this program has stayed this long."
(Click here to read more about MMK's 18th anniversary special episodes)
THE BEGINNINGS OF MAALAALA MO KAYA. During the press conference for its annviversary, Ms. Charo recalled how the network came up with Maalaala Mo Kaya.
She narrated, "Noong bago pa ko sa television, ang tingin sa akin, e, sa pelikula lang daw ang alam ko. So, tinanong ako, ‘Kung papalitan itong programang ito, anong ipapalit mo?' [Sagot ko], ‘Two weeks, I'll get back to you.' [Sabi naman nila], ‘Anong two weeks?' Sa television, the show must go on. Hindi katulad sa pelikula, pwedeng palitan ang pelikula. Pwede mong 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 ay may kahulugan ito dahil may kwentong bumabalot sa likod ng paper clip na 'to. Para kang tine-test, ganyan. So, pwede tayong magpadala ng sulat sa ating mga..from our viewers, na magmemention sila ng object. Ano ang kwento sa 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, noong una, inaano pa natin na, ‘Sige pupunta tayo sa mga preso, lahat sila may kanya-kanyang kwento. And then, bakit ili-limit lang sa preso? Buong Pilipinas na, 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 Romnick Sarmienta. 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 school na si Romnick Sarmienta. Na ang pinag-aawayan nila kasi gusto niyang magkaroon ng rubber shoes, bagong rubber shoes, so ayun."
CHANGING SMALL DETAILS. While all the stories of MMK are based on letters sent by the viewers, the staff admitted that they sometimes change details to make it more appealing to the audience.
Director Dado Lumibao explained, "Actually, as much as possible we try to be loyal sa letter-senders' story. Pero siyempre, di naman tayo gumagawa ng documentary, parang ang ginagawa lang namin is pushing the drama. Otherwise, 'yong kwento mismo, 'yong mga conflicts are there, hindi naming binabago."
Direk Olivia seconded, "'Yong essence is always preserved. Kaya lang, kunwari, we pushed the drama kasi based sa research mo, you read, alam mo ang kwento hindi aakyat. So, ang fiction doon would be to push the drama. But the essence of the story is intact."
In connection to this, Ms. Charo was asked about the an episode that featured Angel Locsin playing the role of a UP graduate who turned out to be a taong grasa. (Click here to read related article) After the episode, a certain person complained that the story was "distorted" (Click here to read related article)
Without going into details, Ms. Charo explained, "I met with the staff after the incident. I was telling them, ‘When it's an institution that is concerned, you have to verify.' Of course, you're listening to the version of the story from the storyteller's perspective. Pero sabi ko, ‘Kapag meron nang [nabanggit na] institusyon, kailangan nang i-verify.'
"Another thing is we should be very, very careful. We can change naman some detail, we don't have to mention. Ang sabi ko, ‘You know, kung nagkamali tayo, let's apologize. We don't lose anything for saying sorry.'"
Don't miss five true-to-life heartwarming stories on Maalaala Mo Kaya's 18th anniversary special this whole month of August. The episodes will air on ABS-CBN starting tomorrow, August 1, right after The Singing Bee.