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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 10, 2014

Whole Cast Of 'Ikaw Lamang' Delivers Uniformly Fine Acting In Its Pilot Week

WE WERE invited to the celebrity screening of the pilot week of ABS-CBN’s sprawling teleserye “Ikaw Lamang” at Trinoma. Fans of plot-oriented soaps will surely enjoy this bittersweet love story ala-Romeo and Juliet about a poor sakada (Coco Martin) and a rich hacendera daughter (Kim Chiu) who will go through travails and tribulations to prove their love for each other.

The story starts in 1964. There are two hacendero families: The Hidalgos and the Miravelezes. The Hidalgo family is composed of Tirso Cruz III who’s the mayor of the sugar town of Salvacion, his wife Cherie Gil, their son Franco (Louis Abuel as a boy, Jake Cuenca as a grownup) and Cherie’s scheming dad Ronaldo Valdez. The Miravelez family consists of John Estrada, his wife Angel Aquino and daughter Isabel (Alyanna Angeles as a girl, Kim Chiu later).

Then there are the sakadas or obreros represented by Cherry Pie Picache, a single mom with son Samuel (Zaijian Jaranilla as a boy, Coco Martin later), and Cherry Pie’s parents Daria Ramirez and Spanky Manikan, plus their family friends, sisters Lupe (Meryll Soriano) and Mona (Xyriel Manabat as a kid, Julia Montes later.)

The only good characters among the grownups are Tirso (a kind and humane mayor) and Angel (a battered wife). The rest are tainted: Cherry Pie is rumored to be a slut and Samuel is her bastard son, Cherie Gil is already pregnant by another man when she married Tirso, John Estrada is an irresponsible family man and gambler who set on fire the sugar cane fields of Tirso’s family because Tirso earlier defeated him in the elections.

Samuel and Franco start as friends, with Samuel teaching Franco about how to plant sugar cane and Franco teaching Samuel how to read. But they soon become rivals for the attention of Isabel who quickly gets more attached to Samuel, who is quickly established as the sacrificial and selfless do-gooder of a hero who’ll do anything for a friend and his family.

Franco is also portrayed early on as a villain, scheming like his avaricious grandpa Ronaldo who teaches him all the wrong values in life. He takes credit for saving Isabel in a fire when it’s Samuel who’s the hero all the while. Isabel is a lonely child who finds a special friend in Samuel. Mona is Samuel’s long-time admirer but it’s pretty obvious Samuel regards her only as a friend and nothing else.

When Isabel’s mom learns of her closeness to Samuel, she is sent to a finishing school in London. Franco follows her there. Mona is sent to study in Manila by a relative. Only Samuel is left in the hacienda and he helps other sakada kids learn how to read. The last episode shown to us is set in 1975 and they’re now all grownups. Isabel and Franco return from London as Kim and Jake. Mona returns from Manila as Julia Montes, while Zaijian is now played by Coco Martin. This ends the pilot week.

The teleserye is shot like a movie, what with that sugar plantation fire scene and the big party scenes where everyone is sporting costumes and hair do’s of the era. But the real edge of the show is the exemplary acting of most of the cast members. They all have their fine moments. Tirso stands out in all his scenes as the caring mayor. Angel shines in the party scene where she reveals to her aunt, Marita Zobel, that she wants to leave her husband John. Cherie is splendid in that scene where she reveals that Tirso is not the real dad of her son. Cherry Pie is the “kawawa” type here, shedding tears in so many scenes. The four kid stars are also all superb. Zaijian has the best role as the good boy so viewers will surely sympathize with him, but Louis as the young villain also delivers beautifully. Alyanna is effective as the young Kim and Xyriel also excels as the loyal friend. But when they grew up, someone behind us quipped: “Parang ang layo naman ng hitsura ni Julia Montes kay Xyriel. Sa kulay na lang at ilong, ang puti at ang tangos ni Julia.” But her companion reasoned out: “E, kasi nagpunta yung character sa Maynila. So, gumamit doon ng skin whitening si Xyriel at nagpabago ng ilong kay Vicky Belo kaya nag-ibang hitsura niya.”

See, when fans like a show, they even find excuses for it.