REVIEW: Born For You pilot truly brings back the heartstrings on primetime

Usually, a song is an incidental element in producing a teleserye, with a title so inviting and provocative to influence the story and its destined narrative path.

But in one rare moment, the story revolves around the song, an actual composition being depicted in the tale, which ties in important characters into that destiny, especially the main lead romantic pair, into what has been called as the “red string of fate.”

From the title itself, Born For You, anyone would surmise a story about destiny. In fact the song, written by the prolific American composer David Pomeranz, is all about being destined for someone from the point of birth, which enlivens that ancient Asian belief of a red string tied by the gods on the ankles or little fingers of those destined for one another. 

Good start

The story is one effective “melting pot” of these creative, cultural, and even religious ideas about those being made for each other, which is in fact a fantastic launching pad for that kilig yore.

And, with its pilot, Born For You indeed was off to a very good start.

Even as kids, Kevin (Elmo Magalona) and Sam (Janella Salvador), already had that red string intertwined between them—from that nursery section in the hospital as babies, to being a stone’s throw from each other at the mall as young kids, and eventually as teenagers on a pedestrian crossing in downtown Tokyo.
But both had entirely disparate existences—she from a hard-up family, wherein his Japanese-Filipino dad Buddy (Bernard Palanca) and mom Cathy (Vina Morales) are struggling musicians making both ends meet.  He is the son of an OPM recording artist, Mike (Ariel Rivera) and a composer and music label heiress Marge (Ayen Munji-Laurel).

Buddy, who also works as a music shop attendant, and Cathy live a simple life but have big dreams for one another. He wishes a Big Dome gig for their family band, and envisions Sam as a solo singing sensation taking the Araneta by storm. 
To make this a reality, he started teaching Sam some basic guitar chords using a ukulele on display at the music shop he works for and promised to buy it for her someday.


Actually, Buddy, Cathy and Mike were all bandmates in Japan, the place where all their lives had first meshed.  Their lead singer, Mike, had left the group to pursue a recording career with the help of wife Marge, whose father Ralph is the owner of Scion Records, which produced Mike’s first hit. 
Yet it seemed that hit was his only one. Mike could not produce a good follow-up hit, prompting Ralph to let go of him.  As such, his recording career was on hold.

Buddy and Cathy, on the other hand, also had a crisis to deal with. Sam was afflicted with dengue and they had no resources to cover the medical and hospitalization expenses. Buddy’s only option left was to approach Marge and ask for financial assistance and make her listen to a song he wrote, Born For You, hoping that Cathy would sing and record it. He did get the amount he needed to pay for the hospital bills and Sam was discharged without any problem. 

As she was enamored by Buddy’s song and saw it as a perfect vehicle to resurrect Mike’s singing career, Marge treated the amount she lent Buddy as payment for full rights to the song.  And, when Buddy went back to Marge to ask about the song and found out she was interested, he was shocked to find out Marge was planning to have Mike sing it, not Cathy. 

Tragic death

Buddy then pursued Marge in frustration and saw her car heading off. He tried to run to Marge’s vehicle but was hit by an approaching AUV near the exit of the office premises. Buddy died instantly.

Cathy was devastated upon taking a call informing her of Buddy’s death. But it was all the more tragic that she did not know the existence of a song Buddy had written for her and that Marge has taken all the rights and attribution to it.

Marge’s presence at Buddy’s funeral with Mike made the scene abhorring. 

With Buddy gone, Marge took the song as her own and made Mike record and sing it.  At a press conference, Marge claimed she composed the song, which eventually turned platinum and made Mike an even bigger recording star.

Yet, as they had celebrated this big comeback, the young Kevin saw a demo disc on his mom’s table that turned out to be the original copy of the song Buddy had given Marge. He listened to it and was puzzled to find out it was not his dad singing.

First meeting

Then, as both Kevin and Sam visited a mall at the same time, the grieving young girl chanced upon the music store where Buddy worked and wept as she saw the ukulele her father promised to buy for her. And, by sheer fate, Kevin also entered the same store to buy a guitar pick and noticed the tearful Sam. 
They now meet for the first time. 

He approached her and asked why she was crying. She told him it was because her father died. Kevin then said he would always listen to music when he feels sad and made her listen to the music on his portable CD player, which was playing the demo disc he found on Marge’s desk.

She was shocked to hear her dad singing Born For You, the same tune she heard him singing to her as she laid sick in the hospital and the same song incidentally being made popular by another singer, Kevin’s dad Mike.

Magnificent tale

Truly this pilot episode has succeeded in preparing viewers for an extensive, heartwarming, joyful, and rip-roaring ride in one magnificent tale of love, destiny, and of course the splendor of music in our lives. Creative execution is paramount, as piecing together the compelling plot and sub-plots that would further carry the show to its impeccable twists and turns became an enjoyable treat for everyone, thanks to director Onat Diaz. 

Production design was splendid, as it truly depicted the scenes in a very realistic yet astonishing manner with characters well laid-out and portrayed giving the viewers a clear peak of what to expect in subsequent episodes. Indeed, the show has brought back the heartstrings to primetime.

Vina Morales was particularly impressive in giving a heartfelt portrayal of Cathy as viewers could genuinely feel the joys and pains the character goes through. Ayen Munji-Laurel was also noteworthy for her playing the sinister yet understandable Marge, who would do anything for her husband. But the most electrifying part is when we witness Ariel Rivera sing again after a long time. His Born For You rendition really brings the goosebumps.

Fitting climax

But we are most affected, even with tears unexpectedly flowing, by the young Sam (Ashley Sarmiento) in a riveting performance breaking down in tears realizing she won’t get that ukulele from her dad anymore. That fitting climax surely is the most unforgettable.

And, with reason, netizens were really astounded, as the episode hashtag #BFYTheRedString was the Philippines’ top trending topic on Twitter.  Here’s what they have to say.