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REVIEW: Joshua, Janice show brilliance, depth in MMK “Medalya” roles


There’s nothing better than living your dream, whatever the cost, especially if it’s for something honorable and noble.


That is fighting not only for your aspirations, but also for a country you hold dear.


This was everything in mind and in heart for Private First Class Ian Paquit (Joshua Garcia) on the MMK episode “Medalya.”  Ian considered being a soldier as his calling from the time he played with toy guns as a kid to the moment he bade farewell to his family and enlisted in the Army.


Nightmare


But for his mother Teba (Janice de Belen) it was a terrible nightmare and utter anguish that befell her with every second from the moment Ian left and those moments he is called to duty in the battlefield. She was never comforted or at peace, thinking each passing day about Ian’s whereabouts and well-being. 


And the Zamboanga siege came in 2013 as Ian was already in full military service and was assigned to combat against elements of Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). As the battles were relentless and ravaging, with the human toll rising at the crossfire, Ian and his fellow Army troopers had nothing else in mind but to serve the country and the people who were victimized by the conflict. 



Despite already being grazed by a grenade blast, Ian still heeded the call to fight as his fellow soldiers lay injured and ill and rushed to ground zero. He bravely raced to the war-torn Zamboanga streets to engage with the Muslim secessionist fighters. And as he led an artillery onslaught as an Automatic Rifleman to shield his fellow soldiers from the Army’s First Scout Ranger Regiment caught by sniper fire, Ian did not expect a bullet from behind directly hitting his nape as he reloaded and fell dying, as comrades-in-arms call for medics.


Worst fears realized


Thus Teba’s worst fears have been realized.


And, for four grueling, devastating days, she and Ian’s father Wardo (Cris Villanueva) agonized seeing Ian lay in comatose, now not battling enemies of the state, but fighting for his life. Yet, despite that will to live and even showing signs of life, Ian eventually succumbed to the critical headwound and passed away. He was 21.



For his gallantry, the state conferred to Ian the highest military honor, the Medal of Valor, an honor treasured by his family, yet still inconsolable with their unspeakable loss. And, six years after his death, Ian’s legacy would live in his younger brother, Ironel (Aljon Mendoza), who has been accepted in the Philippine Military Academy for its Class 2023 and considers it an honor to follow his brother’s footsteps. And this, despite years of grief, Teba and Wardo accepted wholeheartedly.


It is quite a praiseworthy effort by MMK to enliven Ian’s story with such a gripping and heartrending depiction. Though some of the fighting and gun battle scenes were not elaborate, they faithfully depict the drama of the conflict. 


Clear and impactful narrative


While the storytelling was not linear, with scenes going back and forth a number of times, the narrative remained clear and impactful, emphasizing Ian’s heroism.


We are so pleased with the return of Joshua Garcia and his performance as the gallant soldier Ian Paquit. Indeed, the week-long anticipation was worth it because he gave yet another deeply felt, natural and intense portrayal that touched us.


BEHIND-THE-SCENES: Mga paghahandang ginawa sa #MMKMedalOfValor


But the most challenging thespic work fell on the hands of Janice de Belen as she played the suffering mother all throughout the episode—from the time Ian left their home to join the Army to the moment he met his tragic fate. And here, Janice did her job splendidly, showing her mastery and brilliance in acting that part with much sincerity and believability.


Netizens were likewise moved by the episode.