As you find a true love that seems so perfect, chances are, the worst ordeals are forthcoming that would ultimately prove and confirm how genuine it really is.
MMK’s “Sulat” is one stirring retelling of a story so close to the longtime drama anthology’s essence—how love stands the tests of time, hardship, separation, and circumstances beyond control.
Cze (Kim Chiu) is smitten by Bernard’s (Gerald Anderson) unrelenting and enamoring pursuit, starting from those innocent stares when they were children until they had become friends as they grew older. Bernard was very much persistent for so many years, which speaks of the true love he feels for Cze, as he constantly asks her through scribbles and doodles on a writing pad, if she had fallen in love with him. Always, she would respond on the same pad with a “Hindi pa.”
Bernard is actually skillful in making illustrations—a hallmark that captivated Cze as she would receive countless drawings about how he truly feels for her. He would also assist Cze in all her projects in school that need illustrations, which she totally appreciates.
And, as he gave a set of drawings anew to Cze, he popped another scribbled question: Mahal mo na ba ako? Cze was again speechless at first but Bernard expected she would again scribble the same words again and said there’s no need to rush for any reply. But there and then, Cze finally responded, “Oo.”
It was then the peak of bliss for both as they enjoyed their relationship, as both truly felt a genuine love for each other. Until Bernard’s family intervened.
Bernard’s grandmother, Lola Edad (Eva Darren), who had been very much opposed to their relationship, confronted Cze at her home and demanded that she break up with him. Their relationship, she said, was keeping Bernard distracted, as he would only think of her and not mind his studies and other important things. Until Lola Edad asked in the end, “Alam mo na ba?” which left Cze clueless.
Leaving for US
When Cze met Bernard, he revealed that he was leaving for the US to study and possibly staying there for a long time. Cze was adamant and pleaded to Bernard not to leave. But since it was a family decision, it was something he couldn’t go against, as much as he wanted to just stay in the Philippines.
After a heartwrenching farewell, Bernard vowed to Cze that he will return and spend the rest of his life with her.
As he set foot in the US, Bernard had so much difficulty adjusting to American life, and would express this to Cze, as they exchanged letters. Letter-sending was their main mode of communication, given the high-cost of phone calls.
In one phone conversation, Bernard told Cze that it was difficult for him to stand the loneliness he feels, especially when she was not around.
Cze urged him to save up so he could eventually return to Manila. But Bernard said it would be difficult because it would go against the wishes of his father Angelo (Jong Cuenco), who had invested so much to petition him to migrate to the US.
Bernard led a difficult life of a working student in the US, as he took a job of a waiter while he struggled in school. Cze also took a job as a part-time fastfood store service crewmember so that she could still call long distance and send letters to him.
But time came when Bernard’s already strenuous relationship with his dad came to a head. Angelo asked Bernard to give him all his earnings in his part-time job because he had become bankrupt. Bernard refused and had a heated argument with Angelo, who told him to pack his things and leave his home. From thereon, Bernard was left to fend for himself, and would just sleep in his car in the freezing cold as he sought odd jobs just to survive.
And, as he faced these ordeals, he was unable to call or send any letter to Cze. As her letters went unanswered, Cze went to Lola Edad and Bernard’s other elderly relative Lola Conching (Gigi Locsin) and asked and pleaded for any information about Bernard’s whereabouts and why he hadn’t been in touch. Both curtly told Cze that Bernard had already forgotten her and that he had a new girlfriend, as they demanded her to forget him as she was preventing him to lead a new life.
Far from the truth
This was totally far from the truth, as Bernard had only Cze in his mind throughout his sufferings, still sure of his vow to return to the Philippines and reunite with Cze again. But Bernard was also relayed falsehoods about Cze, claiming that she had already moved on from their relationship and had a new boyfriend.
In his despair, Bernard just focused on his troubles at hand and not communicated with Cze for the next six years. While Cze still had Bernard deep in her heart, she veered away from her emotional distress and found companionship with Rico (Edgar Allan Guzman), whom she met in a restaurant.
While living a life on his own, Bernard had been involved in a dangerous predicament that led to his being shot while walking down the street with friends. As he was being treated in a hospital, Angelo was there to take care of him. He recovered by sheer luck as the bullet that entered his body didn’t hit vital organs. Tormented by what Bernard has gone through since he kicked him out of his house, Angelo apologized and said he would do anything for him.
This led to his father’s granting of his request to go back to Manila and meet Cze again with an engagement ring in his hand.
When he did return to Manila, Bernard went to a mall and was surprised to see Cze at a print shop. He was so happy to see her again and as he reached out to her, she looked at him in shock and disbelief. Their first meeting after six years became an ominous encounter. While he was ready to finally make a marriage proposal, she was frigid and showed displeasure over the years of absence in her life despite all the efforts she made in trying to reach him.
Cze showed Bernard that she was already pregnant with Rico’s child and they were set to get married soon. She was at the print shop for the wedding invitations.
As she was about to leave, Bernard pleaded if they could talk. When they finally let out all their frustrations and heartbreaks for the past years of miscommunication—falsehoods about supposed new relationships—the message was clear: It was over. Cze was already pregnant and is set to walk down the aisle.
Heartbroken, Bernard went out and threw the ring away. Cze still explained to Bernard in a letter that while she still had feelings for him and had hoped that someday they would fulfill their promises for each other, hindi na pwede. To which Bernard replied yes in a text message because of the obligations she would now fulfill as a wife and mother.
Bernard went back to the US and Cze married Rico. Cze had since gave birth to her daughter (Myel de Leon).
However, Cze’s marriage to Rico was not ideal to say the least. As Rico worked overseas, he would not communicate that often to Cze, much to her deep resentment especially when he showed less concern for their child. As they continued fighting and often led to domestic abuse, sometimes witnessed by their daughter, Cze decided to file an annulment case after discovering that Rico had a mistress. Cze fought for child custody, while Rico had no issue with it provided he would get all their conjugal properties. This hurt Cze so much because it proved Rico never cared for their daughter.
As they lived their own life after the annulment, her now 9-year-old daughter taught her the basics of having a Facebook account. And while she was teaching her how to add friends, they came across one eye-catching friend suggestion: Bernard. When the kid asked Cze if he was a friend, she immediately made a friend request. Cze objected at first, but her daughter told her she could not withdraw the request.
Then by chance Bernard was online from his apartment in the US. He quickly accepted the friend request and chatted with Cze. From a text to a video chat, both asked how they were and that it has been really nine years since they last talked.
They both regretted the fact they didn’t fight for their love given the circumstances they faced, as Bernard learned of Cze’s annulment and that he revealed he was still single through the years. Given that they truly know how much they loved one another, it would have been a lot better if both did more for each other instead of just accepting their perceived fate. But both stopped short of totally reconciling because Cze already has a daughter who should give her approval.
From the start of “Sulat” till the end, Cze had been talking to her daughter at a restaurant, telling her story of a man whom she loved once and loved until now. And that while she truly loves him, she loves her even more and would ask her if it was okay having him back in her life. Cze told her it was okay if she would not approve of it and that she would accept it.
But, in the end, as Bernard meets an emerging Cze from a small neighborhood church with flowers at hand, you would now know that their reunion has come to pass and their vow to each other fulfilled. And, Bernard again showed a scribble, “Mahal mo pa ba ako?” to which she scribbled back an emphatic, “Oo.”
Nothing else can truly make such a love story so gripping and electrifying than the tandem that truly felt its essence and depicting it in the most genuine way. Kim Chiu and Gerald Anderson have been through it all, and with this touching tale of Cze and Bernard, it further shows how impressive they are in giving such story of true love to life.
What’s so impressive about the episode is that it’s not too wordy and verbose. Viewers would get to know and feel the sentiment, the emotion, and the message by one look in the eye, one twitch in the eyebrows, one bow of the head, one gnawing of the teeth. Actually we don’t express too much by words but by actions—an important achievement in this depiction.
And most importantly, we all did feel for each tear and each shout for joy, especially getting affected by all their ups and downs, turns and screeches. Those scribbles and illustrations did help in making the story so effectual.
Dado S. Lumibao again stretches his string of directorial masterpieces and Mae Rose Balanay and Arah Jell Badayos takes their masterful storytelling to the hilt.