REVIEW: Barbie Imperial earns praises via compelling, heart-wrenching performance in MMK “Lipstick”

Every time someone commits a mistake, one of the initial questions that are often asked to him/her is, “Ganyan ka ba pinalaki ng magulang mo?” (“Is that how your parents brought you up”), and there are also instances when people would hurl snide remarks, such as “Palibhasa kasi kulang sa aruga ng magulang” (“That’s because he/she lacks affection from his/her parents”).

While these could be true, since parents are expected to nurture and raise their children well and they play a huge role in paving their way towards a bright future, the latest episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya titled “Lipstick” dispelled this notion. The heart-rending tale of Maria Pau, a Filipina life coach based in Australia who had gone through a lot of setbacks and struggles in life before getting to where she is at present, serves as an inspiration to many.

Great performance by the cast

Promising young actress Barbie Imperial was tapped to headline the episode, who really did a great job in telling the story of Maria, and piercing our hearts at the same time, through the compelling and impeccable acting she showcased.

Of course, the brilliance of seasoned actress Ina Raymundo as the negligent mother Sally was impossible to miss as well, as she was able to make us despise her with how her character coldly behaved whenever her youngest daughter was around and how she treated her indifferently.

The supporting cast, comprised by Simon Ibarra, Ashley Sarmiento, Denise Joaquin, Gilleth Sandico, Cindy Miranda, Marco Gallo, Jomari Angeles, Markus Paterson, David Chua, and Ingrid Dela Paz, all indeed deserve to be acclaimed also for the excellent performance they exuded in playing their respective roles. They truly contributed to the magnificence of the said episode and making it definitely one for the books!

Rousing, riveting anecdote

Apart from the remarkable performance of the cast, what made the episode truly a must-watch was the inspiring journey of Maria, which reminds us of the legendary bird phoenix that’s capable of arising from the ashes and start a new and brighter life.

Growing up to an impoverished family who only relied on the income that their patriarch earn from vending, the young Maria (Ashley Sarmiento) had witnessed how her parents would frequently fight because of money. Since her father (Simon Ibarra) seemed to be already contented with what they have, their ambitious mother, Sally (Ina Raymundo), all of a sudden decided to fly to Australia with one of her sisters to find a better opportunity there.

Thus, she was left under the care of her doting dad and two domineering aunts (Denise Joaquin and Gilleth Sandico), who would always push her to sell their goods around the neighborhood and insult and compare her to her mom. Then, Sally came back one day to fetch and take her to Australia, wherein she was able to live a more comfortable life and continue to excel in her studies, while Sally got into a relationship with an Australian.

However, Maria’s stay there got impeded when she was caught stealing lipsticks at a local store because of having no money to buy them, and at the same time, of her pursuit to impress her schoolmates and be friends with them. This absolutely infuriated Sally, which made her decide to send Maria back to his father in the Philippines.

Despite what happened, Maria was still persistent to go back to Australia to finish her studies, which her father strongly supported. After saving enough money from working in a travel agency, she immediately booked a flight back to the “Land Down Under” and stayed at her eldest sister’s house since their mom didn’t want to see her again.

Just when she thought that her disposition there would be better, Maria still found herself longing for affection and attention that her mom failed to bestow her, which she obtained from her peers who influenced her to smoke and drink alcohol. Unbeknown to her, that would ignite all the problems that she’s going to experience, which started when her sister caught them in the act and unhesitatingly kicked her out of her house.

Maria tried to ask her boyfriend then (Marco Gallo) for help but to no avail. She also called her mom, but instead of showing concern, she told her that she truly deserved what she got and she either go back to Manila or learn to live on her own.


Hopeless, she eventually resorted on working as a prostitute to earn a living, wherein she met the cunning “Cheng” (David Uy Chua), one of her affluent customers who offered to support her studies and her luxuries. However, instead of fulfilling her dreams, he was actually the one to destroy it as he tagged her along to various rave parties and introduced her to illegal drugs. In the end, she realized that she only got lured after he suddenly dumped and even defamed her in front of other people and his new girlfriend.

Miserable, she once again reached out to Sally to ask for help by coming at her house. But instead of taking her daughter in, she shooed her away and told her that a prostitute and drug addict like her wasn’t welcome in her residence.

While Maria was at the lowest point of her life, another guy came named Estefan (Markus Paterson). Unlike her past romances, her life drastically changed in his arms as she completely bade her vices goodbye and he genuinely supported her in her pursuit of finishing her education. She was able to graduate with a double degree in Philosophy and Psychology and was looking forward on settling down with him as they approached their third anniversary.

However, just when she thought that Estefan was already the right one for her, all her hopes crumbled as he confessed that he had no plans of marrying her since his parents would only want someone who’s the same race as theirs and he didn’t want to argue with them about it.


Alone and depressed, Maria seemingly found a glimmer of hope when Carlo (Jomari Angeles), a fellow Filipino who unbeknownst to her already knew her after seeing her in one of the parties she attended with Cheng. She once again entrusted her heart and had it broken in the end upon finding out that Carlo was actually a drug dealer and a pimp. He and his friends drugged her and almost got her raped by one of their customers, but she was able to escape.

She went straight to her mom’s house to ask for help, but Sally still pushed her away. That’s when their heated exchanged happened, with the latter recounting everything she did for her and her sisters and the former reiterating that what she really needed was her love and not the material things she showered them. As all the bad things that happened to her got overwhelming for her to handle, Maria apparently lost her will to live and decided to end her life via drug overdose.

That didn’t succeed and she was found afterwards aimlessly strolling along the beach by her Filipina friend Daisy (Ingrid Dela Paz), who brought her to a psychiatric facility. That was when Maria’s journey to healing began and she was able to conquer her borderline personality disorder via undergoing a series of spiritually-centered therapy. She was able to finish her master’s degree in Public Health and Addiction Studies and mended her relationship with her mom, who was then stricken with cancer. For the first time, she was able to feel the sweetness and warmth of a mother’s love when Sally embraced her and congratulated her for what she had achieved.

At present, Maria Pau works as an addiction specialist in Australia and serves as motivational speaker for people who have gone through the same plight as her. She’s also authored a self-help book titled “Kill Your Addiction Before It Kills You”.

Realizations and rave feedbacks

This MMK episode indeed never failed to touch the hearts of a lot of viewers because of its relatable and beautifully-written script by Mae Rose B. Balanay-Batacan and leave a lasting impression on our minds through its splendid pacing and awe-inspiring production value as pieced together by top-caliber director Myla Ajero-Gaite.

Maria’s story nullified the notion that the parents’ dispositions and their nurturing techniques dictate what will happen to their children in the future. While those inevitably form part of us, but everyone is given his/her own mind and the freewill to decide and choose what he/she wants to happen in his/her life, especially when one is already an adult. So at the end of the day, we’re the ones who are still responsible for ourselves.


At the same time, parents should be reminded that it’s their lifetime responsibility to nurture, guide, protect, teach, and love their children, as well as provide them a bright future. Thus, if they want to see their offspring as effectual and good-natured individuals, they better start right and raise them well no matter what it takes.


Besides, there’s always room for second chances so there’s still a hope for us to rise up once we commit mistakes. However, we should also stay cautious of our actions and be smart in making decisions.

The netizens were impressed and had the same realizations as well, including the letter sender herself!

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Grabe what a portrayal of my life story - super duper thank you @MMKOfficial #MMKMeetMaria pic.twitter.com/TfKQI2Nq0x

— Recovery Coach (@OzRecoveryCoach) September 16, 2019