REVIEW: Enchong, Zaijian shine in award-worthy MMK “Wheelchair” performances

A family man is one who is admired for his focus and dedication, sacrificing and loving unconditionally for those he holds dear.

Yet when we consider this to define a responsible father and husband, it is even more astonishing to find this in a person who remained devoted to his original biological family, who had since faced immense ordeals.

We can see Melvin (Enchong Dee) who would remarkably fit this description on MMK’s June 8 episode “Wheelchair,” but add to his burdens taking care of his brother Michael (Zaijian Jaranilla) who has special needs, having been afflicted with cerebral palsy, as his father (Allan Paule) and mother (Amy Austria-Ventura) would have their own bouts of life-threatening illnesses. His wife Roselia (Claire Ruiz) would also encounter a difficult pregnancy, bearing a son (JJ Quilantang) with autism.

REVIEW Enchong Zaijian shine in award worthy MMK Wheelchair performances  1

Incessant dilemmas

It seemed the world had been continuously crashing down on him, and Melvin is often struck with incessant dilemmas, particularly in balancing his time and priorities between the family from whom he was born and raised and the family he is building.

And this gets worse after Melvin is now delegated with the sole care of Michael while his mother is recovering from a kidney disease. Because of this, his marriage is tested as his own family problems worsen.

This is exacerbated when his father passes on and Michael’s neurological illness debilitates him even more. With these ordeals, Melvin could only muster the strength from his faith and the immeasurable love he has so he could carry on.

His wife and mother remained supportive, and it provided a motivation, which become the strong foundation to keep both his “homes” upright. It didn’t take long before Michael’s weakening body gave up, and the “pogi” brother Melvin loves so much was gone.

Contented and blessed

REVIEW Enchong Zaijian shine in award worthy MMK Wheelchair performances  2

This devastates him, but such loss could only reveal how much his family would fill in—making him contented and blessed with what he has—an endearing wife, a loving mom, and two gorgeous kids (with two more eventually on the way), leading him to manage a fulfilling life, not without a facing a continuing share of challenges.

We are so inspired and enlivened by this tale, more so with its relatability among viewers, as it is depicted in superb dramatic detail—from the mood of the lighting design to the impact of its musical score. Director Will Fredo instilled the powerful nature of the episode, seeing it in every nook and cranny of the production, especially in pushing the thespic limits of the cast that should lead to acting recognitions soon.

Exceptional acting

Enchong Dee has always been exceptional, and his performance was no different. His sincerity and intensity in personifying his character’s woes are very so effectual and natural, everyone felt undergoing the same journey in a very realistic, compelling fashion.

Amy Austria-Ventura’s portrayal of Melvin’s mom is particularly moving, because you see its essence even without any lines uttered. Her facial acting shows enough credibility and believability that makes viewers witness that she was not actually performing, but be the character in the truest form.

Mesmerizing act

And we come to the most mesmerizing act—that of Zaijian Jaranilla’s Michael. While it is not the first time we have seen an actor play such a difficult part, Zaijian is one thespian who goes beyond what is expected of him. He did not merely carefully study the physical peculiarities and tragic circumstances of a cerebral palsy patient and playing remarkably in its most vivid detail, he also enraptured us with the character’s soul and this truly makes his single dramatic performance stand out. We’ve all known Zaijian as that cute boy close to his Bro, but now he has become that versatile, marvelous actor who continues to take our breath away.

WATCH: How Enchong and Zaijian prepared for their roles in #MMKHaligingMatibay

Netizens were likewise amazed.