First aired in November 2019, Ipaglaban Mo: Totoong Magulang episode told the story of Ernie (Sid Lucero) who raised and loved Maya (Yesha Camile) like her own daughter. Theirs was a happy home despite the limitations until one night, couple Lisa (Jamila Obispo) and Dindo (Manuel Chua), knocked on their doors and begged for a shelter tagging along Dindo’s brother, Jericho (Royce Cabrera) with them. The notable tension was later on expounded. Maya was unaware that Lisa and Dindo are her biological parents. Conflict escalated when Ernie found out that Maya was raped by none other than Jericho. Determined to seek justice for the child, Ernie made the necessary legal steps. But, his fight was thwarted by Dindo himself raising questions on Ernie’s legibility as Maya’s guardian in order to protect his brother.
“Totoong Magulang” was among the most highly-applauded episodes of “Ipaglaban Mo” in 2019 highlighting the ambiguity of statutory rape law in the country. Sid Lucero, given credits for his sterling performance as Ernie, admittedly failed to keep a tight rein on his emotions upon realizing the whole script to the point of going quite over the top. He thought it was hard to maneuver a précised character while sticking to the actual events surrounding the story. The actor broke a table while filming that scene where he went berserk upon learning about the abuse. “Noong nalaman ko ‘yung story sa set, ire-rape pala, so ‘Oh my God.’ Nu’ng gagawin na namin ‘yung eksena, hindi na siya madali kasi maraming points na hiningi si Direk na hindi ko na sinundan eh. I wish I could have done that in a more controlled manner. Ang dami kong gustong gawin pero ‘di magawa kasi that scene was designed with such limitation para maging as faithful as possible to what really happened,” recounts Sid.
The sting of Ernie’s pain still lingers on Sid as he looks back on that episode. And as much as he wants to eradicate such despair out of his system, he’s also aware of the corrupt realities in our society. Sid, blessed with a daughter of his own, couldn’t imagine waking up to the same kind of nightmare. “Mamamatay na lang siguro ako,” he muses, still anguished over Ernie’s experience.
Keeping up with Sid’s exceptional act was Royce Cabrera, the psychedelic bad guy in the story. It wasn’t easy for Royce to forge such evil persona but professionalism and faithfulness to the real-life narrative fuelled his performance. “Kahit na mahirap man sa loob pero trabaho, kailangan ko ipakita talaga na halos mainis ‘yung viewers kasi ‘yung totoong Jericho, gan’un talaga ginawa niya,” shares Royce, adding that those convinced of his acting have jestingly looked at him in a bad light.
The acting showdown has put pressure on Royce. “Nandoon ‘yung kaba kasi Sid Lucero ‘yan, eh,” he confesses. But, Royce is always up for challenges and, as a newbie, he is glad to leave the set bringing home experience, learning, and inspiration he gained from the acclaimed seasoned actor.
The actors commend child star Yesha Camille who played as the young victim. Royce was amazed of how Yesha, at 10 years old, seemed equipped with a different level of maturity. “You just can’t get any other girl to do such role,” Sid compliments.
A wide spectrum of biting issues was explored in the episode, the cases of statutory rape in the country, for one. According to Sid, they wanted to serve the viewers with thought-provoking awareness and arouse everyone to start asking questions. This story, after all, is a socially relevant scenario. Meanwhile, Royce points out the intricacies of human and familial interactions besides putting trust on someone.
Catch the replay of Ipaglaban Mo “Totoong Magulang” on Saturday, April 25 after It’s Showtime.