It may only be an incarnation of the well-loved Mexican telenovela Maria La Del Barrio top-billed by phenomenal Latina star Thalia, but ABS-CBN gave it a different twist suitable to the taste of Filipino audiences. It garnered positive reviews and dominated its timeslot throughout its whole run from August 15, 2011 to March 2, 2012.
A story of vengeance, unconditional love, and relentlessly achieving dreams, Maria La Del Barrio followed the life of the young barrio lass Maria Hernandez (Erich Gonzales) who made a living as a charcoal maker. Despite having a poor life with her adoptive mother Casilda Dimaculangan (Ai-Ai Delas Alas), she still possessed a sunny personality and dreamt of becoming a furniture shop owner like her mother Sandra (Assunta de Rossi), who allegedly died in a conflagration. When Casilda fell ill, she was forced to work as a maid to the Dela Vega family, who, unbeknownst to her, betrayed her mother before.
Maria grew closer with the patriarch Fernando (Ian Veneracion), who was her mother’s ex-fiance, while his wife Victoria (Angel Aquino) was Sandra’s former best friend and business partner. Victoria double-crossed Sandra as she took both her lover through an arranged marriage and their business Amore Designs. With Maria’s extreme closeness with Fernando, the servants and the eldest of the children Luis (Enchong Dee) suspected that Maria was having an affair with his father. Thus, with the help of his friend Soraya (Paw Diaz), he plotted to make her fall for him with the real intention of breaking her heart and forcing her to leave.
He succeeded, but he also fell to his own trap as he developed feelings for her. They had a child, but the kid was stolen after she gave birth. This incident took her sanity away.
Their paths crossed again, with Maria being affluent while Luis was already married to Sabrina Villabrille (Jewel Mische). Their love and longing for each other grew stronger despite their painful past and complicated present, compelling them to commit an illicit affair. Their romance was tested with the various struggles that came their way, such as the shocking comeback of Sandra to retaliate against Victoria, the revelations behind Maria’s wealthy transformation and the sudden loss of their daughter Andrea (Alyanna Angeles), and Sabrina’s strong grip to keep Andrea under her custody.
In the end, Sandra and Victoria were able to mend their broken friendship, while Sabrina made peace with Luis and Maria. The couple were finally engaged and their family became complete again.
Aside from its riveting plot and powerhouse cast, it’s really impossible not to get attached with the youthful and cheerful disposition of Maria as she roamed around wearing her wooden crown at the top of her long curly locks. Erich and Enchong indeed exuded spellbinding chemistry, gaining not only the attention of their viewers, but the Most Popular Loveteam recognition as well in 2012 from the prestigious Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation (GMMSF) – Box Office Awards.
Moreover, the jaw-dropping revelations and the clashes between Victoria and Sandra, as well as between Maria and Sabrina were highly anticipated. Of course, who would forget the upsetting break-up scene of Maria and Luis and when the former crashed to the wedding of the latter?
Indeed, Maria La Del Barrio is one of the most successful Pinoy teleserye adaptations ever made.