The long wait is now over, especially for the fans of Donny Pangilinan and Belle Mariano (a.k.a. DonBelle) who had been anticipating for them to headline their first-ever teleserye together. And last October 16, “Can’t Buy Me Love” finally arrived on primetime – and our nights have never been the same again.
We immediately found ourselves hooked just on the pilot episode, which chronicled the tragic pasts of Bingo and Caroline and how their totally different worlds collided.
Bingo, whose real name is actually Andrei (Jeremiah Cruz), is essentially orphaned after his mother Annie (Ina Raymundo) abandoned him to supposedly settle a one million-peso debt, while his alcoholic and drug addict father Gilbert (Bernard Palanca) apparently died from a heart attack.
Left to fend for himself at a young age, Andrei tried to make a living by working as an assistant to Mang Balong (Ronnie Lazaro), a fish vendor at a wet market. One day, after his duty, he met Lola Nene (Nova Villa), who he saved from being run over by a truck while she was crossing the street. She tagged him along with her to a bingo game, in which she interrogated him about his life and decided to adopt him. As if he’s her lucky charm, she nicknamed him “Bingo” after they won the game through the card she assigned to him.
On the other hand, young Caroline (Chastity Dizon), saw the bloodied lifeless body of her mother Divine (Shaina Magdayao) after an unidentified person invaded their house – the same rainy evening that Bingo was left by his mom on the street and hurriedly embarked into a car.
The tragic demise of her mom has forced Caroline to live with the legal family of his father Wilson (Rowell Santiago) at their mansion. Her stepmother Cindy (Agot Isidro) and her stepsisters Bettina (Jana Agoncillo) and Irene (Althea Ruedas) ganged up on her to bully her, as their way of reminding her that she is not welcome nor will never be a part of their family. Aside from her dad and the nannies, her stepbrother Charleston (Albie Casiño) is the only one who’s nice to her in that household.
Fast-forward to present, grown-up Bingo (Donny) makes both ends meet by juggling odd jobs, such as online selling and delivering goods. This inspired him to come up with the OPIP (Online Piso Insurance Program) business plan, which he was supposed to pitch to Golden Lotus Corporation owned by the Tius. However, he wasn’t able to do so due to the series of unfortunate events that he encountered along the way, which included being hit by a bus after being cut by the car driven by Caroline, who was on her way then to her old house to commemorate the 10th death anniversary of her mom.
Possessing a never-say-die spirit, Bingo still tried his luck after being shooed away for being tardy by sneaking into the engagement party of Bettina with her fiancé Edward (Enzo Pineda) and pretending as a waiter. He was hoping to meet Wilson in person and pitch his business plan right at the event, but once again failed after the security officers noticed him and took him out of the venue. However, it was Caroline who he met as he served her champagne.
Caroline immediately left the venue after the heated confrontation that she had with her family after she brazenly declared during the party that she caught Edward making out with Bettina’s best friend Liv (Rhen Escaño). Bettina assumed that she was just trying to spoil the occasion by making up scandalous stories and even accused her of seducing her fiancé.
They literally bumped into each other, yet didn’t have the chance to have another interaction since the horrified Caroline swiftly went inside her car upon seeing the blood dripping from Bingo’s nose as he passed out. She went on a shopping spree and slept at a hotel.
Bingo was enthusiastically welcomed by his family and friends with a small party, assuming that he got the grant. They were, of course, appalled upon learning that he figured in an accident, but he assured them that everything’s just alright.
The following day, her family forced Caroline to make a public apology to the Liaos regarding the scandal. However, she initially refused to do so, telling her stepmom and stepsister that she wouldn’t take her statement back and would just keep mum about it. Cindy reminded her of their family’s kindness towards her, while Bettina slapped her twice. Their argument only ended when Wilson arrived into the scene and commanded her to apologize to the Liaos to put an end to the issue once and for all.
As Caroline left the mansion, little she did know that someone was planning to kill her that day. She was supposed to go elsewhere, but since all flights were delayed due to airport system problems, she decided to just stay at the “Eclipse,” or the yacht of her ahia (eldest brother) Charleston.
Wanting Lola Nene’s to undergo eye treatment after she got into an accident again due to her poor eyesight, Bingo accepted the offer of their new neighbor Kenny (Alwyn Uytingco) and his friend to give him brand-new set of eyes from a donor in exchange of P200,000. It was revealed that Bingo’s mom gave him a whopping amount of cash before she left a decade ago, which he kept at his father’s tomb. He took it that night and went straight to the marina where he and Kenny were supposed have their transaction.
Coincidentally, his best friend Snoop (Anthony Jennings) was also there as he served as the driver of Caroline’s abductors. She managed to escape by jumping off the yacht, which made her kidnappers retreat. Bingo saw it and immediately jumped in the water to save her from completely drowning.
Unfortunately, one of the abductors (Alex Medina) caught him while applying CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) on her. They brought the two of them at their hideout, in which Bingo overheard one of the guys saying that he’s not keen on killing the girl. Thus, he offered him the P200,000 he had in exchange of letting him and Caroline flee.
He brought the unconscious Caroline to their humble abode. Unbeknown to him, Kap Tin (Hyubs Azarcon) caught them the night before and spread malicious rumors in their neighborhood about it the next morning. Bingo, Monching (Ketchup Eusebio), and Lola Nene had a hard time convincing Caroline as soon as she woke up that they were not her kidnappers. Bingo responded to all her questions, insisting that he was at the marina for a different business and asking her to just pay the P200,000 ransom he paid for her ransom if she doesn’t feel like thanking him.
Charleston got back home and promised to fix their current family dilemma with the Liaos, as he firmly believes that it was Edward who’s the real at fault. She sought the help of her friend Stephen (Darren Espanto), who promised to lend her money as payment for Bingo in exchange of bringing her back to their house. Instead of heeding to her father’s demand for her to stay and apologize to the Liaos, she once again left and attempted to seek refuge to a hotel.
Unfortunately, all her cards were declined, compelling her to stay at the lobby where Bingo, who had been discreetly tailing her since she left their tenement, was able to catch her. She tried to shoo him away, but he resisted, saying that he would keep on prying in her dealings until she’s able to pay her debt to him. Thankfully, Bingo didn’t leave for he was able to rescue her again from an unknown man who tried to harm her.
Rave feedbacks from netizens
“Can’t Buy Me Love” absolutely got us sold and seated – as how Gen Zs put it – just on its pilot week. True to its lead stars’ promise of bringing us a different kind of everything, it has indeed offered us the type of kilig, comedy, drama, and even action which may be already familiar to us as we’ve seen a lot of those before in other series or movies, yet they executed in a tastefully unique way.
Since this is their teleserye debut as the headliners, everyone surely anticipated how Donny and Belle would take the lead. And they indeed delivered as both of them did impressive jobs in portraying their respective characters Bingo and Caroline, even though their personalities onscreen are extremely different in real life. Donny amazed us with how he’s able to leave no trace of him in Bingo from the way he moves, dresses up, and most especially speaks. At the same time, Belle astonished us with how she’s able to prove via her portrayal of Caroline that she can actually both slay as a bida and kontrabida, as well as to effectively convey the stoicism that her character requires.
Even though they didn’t have any romantic scenes yet, DonBelle already made us kilig with their oozing chemistry by just simply sharing the same screen together and with their adorable bardagulan or arguments. And we really can’t wait to see more of them in the coming episodes!
Aside from the lead tandem, the supporting cast members have also fascinated us with their respective performances. Firm yet loving patriarch Wilson Tiu suits Rowell Santiago so well, and the same goes to Agot Isidro, who nails being Caroline’s cunning stepmother Cindy. Of course, Kaila Estrada and Maris Racal have also impressed us with their portrayals of her wicked stepsisters Bettina and Irene, respectively.
On the other hand, it’s certainly a delight to see veteran actress Nova Villa and her dramatic and comedic chops again in a Kapamilya program as she endears us as Lola Nene. We’re also looking forward to see more of Ketchup Eusebio and the rest of Team Binondo, comprised by Anthony Jennings, Alora Sasam, Vivoree Esclito, Karina Bautista, Katya Santos, and Hyubs Azarcon as they immediately got us amused just on their initial appearances.
Albie Casiño, Chie Filomeno, Darren Espanto, Joao Constancia, Kakai Bautista, Ruffa Gutierrez, Enzo Pineda, Ina Raymundo, and Shaina Magdayao have also thrilled and endeared us (and even got us gigil) with their respective exposures in the pilot week.
Apart from fascinating performances of the entire cast, “Can’t Buy Me Love” also enthralled us with its quirky animated OBB and cinematic visuals that perfectly captured the different worlds of Bingo and Caroline. Of course, we’re also excited to see how top-notch directors Mae Cruz-Alviar, Cathy Garcia-Sampana, and Ian D. Loreños, as well as brilliant writers Generiza Reyes-Francisco, Rona Co, and Gena de Jesus-Tenaja are going to maneuver the expansive, interesting, and exciting storyline of this series.
With these, it wasn’t surprising that it has been the consistent number one show on Netflix Philippines and among the top shows on iWantTFC. And despite the advanced releases on the said streaming platforms, it still amazingly logged impressive ratings on free TV throughout the entire week and a record-breaking 454,413 concurrent views on Kapamilya Online Live during the pilot episode. These are absolutely unbelievable feats for a TV show that is slated in the second slot of primetime. Here are some of the rave feedbacks posted by netizens on social media regarding the first five episodes of “Can’t Buy Me Love”:
Are you looking forward as us to see the next happenings in the lives of Bingo and Caroline? Well, you better not miss an episode of Can’t Buy Me Love, weeknights after FPJ’s Batang Quiapo, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.