Karina Bautista and Aljon Mendoza lent their voices to the first of twelve episodes of “Dear MOR Celebrity Specials,” a Made For YouTube audio program from MOR Entertainment that features love stories from Pinoy letter-senders.
For its season premiere, “Dear MOR Celebrity Specials” tapped KarJon to dramatize the tale of letter-sender Cherry, who harbors special feelings for her childhood friend Jake. While the meat of the story is Cherry’s difficult and heart-tugging situation of falling for a guy with high emotional walls, Dear MOR: “The Broken Hearted” also dabbles in themes of family drama, ‘Marites’ culture, and mental health awareness.
DJ Bea, who also acted as the narrator, opened the show by reading a few lines into the letter, introducing the main characters Cherry (Karina), her best friend Lester (Dan Capucion), and her ultimate crush and Lester’s brother Jake (Aljon).
Photo credit to aljonmendozaa IG
The start of the narrative sounded like a quintessential love-triangle trope. Cherry wished to confess her feelings for Jake after high school graduation, only to find out that he left for Manila. She panicked and tried to contact Jake, scared not to see him again. He picked up the phone and eagerly talked about finally meeting the woman he’s been longing for, as if confirming rumors that he has a girlfriend in the city. Seeing how broken Cherry is, Lester worked hard to cheer her up. She asked for time alone to be able to move on, but she just can’t.
Photo credit to karebaustista_ IG
The story simmers as Jake came home a year later. However, what we thought would be a sweet reunion between friends turned sour when Jake started to push people away. The naysayers chalked it up to heartbreak. Cherry thought so too. Feeling for his pain, she tried to let him open up but only to witness a shocking drama between Jake and his family. Lester had to meddle when Jake got rude toward Cherry, sparking off a brawl. Jake unleashed his pent-up emotions, demanding his family to just let him suit himself. He also lashed out at Lester, exalting his ego by declaring that Cherry’s feelings for him cause Lester to act jealous.
Through her Marites friends, Cherry learned that Jake works in a convenience store and lives in a small apartment nearby. From there, the narrative gets more expressive, stirring all kinds of feels. Our hearts fluttered for Cherry as she works hard to break Jake’s emotional walls. She drops by his place almost every day, bringing him food and other gifts. She thinks Jake is just going through a difficult phase, maybe grieving over his breakup, so he needs a friend to vent out to.
At the same time, we wanted to stop cheering for her. All she gets in return is an emotionless three-second glare before he closes the door after receiving the food she prepared. We wanted Cherry to find her worth and stop throwing herself at an emotionally unavailable guy. But at this point in the story, she is also teaching us that we shouldn’t give up on the people we love because they might be hurting in silence. She believes Jake’s detachment has underlying reasons. True enough, Jake, giving in to Cherry’s persistence, broke down and acknowledged his feelings of resentment, rejection, and loneliness.
The picture gets clearer as Jake revealed that he was abandoned by his mom, who is his foster father’s sibling. So, he went to Manila on their graduation day to be with her. His mom has unstable behavior, causing a cascade of consequences. He said his mom hated him. Later on, his mom took her own life, and Jake blames himself for what happened.
Cherry ends her letter on a hopeful note, with a promise to always stick by her heartbroken friend Jake’s side as he heals from a painful past.
The letter alone was enough to evoke memories of young and sweet love. But Karina and Aljon’s voices, as well as that of the other cast members, made the story even more immersive. KarJon made the episode start as cute and naturally dance into a mature ending we didn’t see coming.
Aljon is commendable for pulling off Jake’s cold and sarcastic moments with conviction. His balanced performance drenched Jake in just enough enigma and passion, particularly in his dramatic monologue in the latter part. It’s easy to get absorbed by Karina’s emotions as well. She will convince listeners to root for Cherry’s dream relationship with Jake at one moment, then, pray she stops chasing him the next. And as she delivered her final dialogue, we can’t wait to see what happens next in Cherry’s journey to love.
Apart from Karina and Aljon, more Kapamilya stars will be giving life to the next featured stories on “Dear MOR Celebrity Specials,” available on MOR’s YouTube Channel, from June 10 (Friday) to August 26 (Friday).