REVIEW: MMK Kadena keeps love, hope unrestrained for the mentally ill

As a man tries to make up for his marital sins by being an ideal husband and father to his family, how much more love can he give to his love child stricken with a debilitating cognitive defect?

This is the difficult reality Bernard (Joey Marquez) faced more than a decade after giving up his daughter out of wedlock, Pauleen (Coleen Garcia), to a distant relative Loling (Loli Mara) and her husband Florentino (Jerry O’Hara) for adoption. Loling took Coleen back to Bernard after the teenager had been languishing in drinking sprees and had been so obliging and vulnerable to temptations of the flesh and illegal drugs with her so-called friends.

Inexplicable condition

As Pauleen was now under Bernard’s care, he first thought that her actions were out of rebellion. But as Pauleen’s strange behavior degenerated further into unruliness, now committing more incidents of theft and even engaging in prostitution all in a stoic, unaffected stance, Bernard became desperate and desolate about her child’s inexplicable condition.

Everything came to a head when Pauleen stole money from her half-sister Mikee (Nikki Bagaporo) and got into a run-in with Bernard’s wife Melda (Alma Moreno). It wasn’t looking good even for Bernard’s own family, as Pauleen’s condition worsened and became uncontrollable.

After Pauleen gets involved in another robbery, angering townsfolk, Bernard made a painful decision that left him in tears. That is, chaining Pauleen to the crib she was sleeping in so that she could not leave their house anymore and wreak havoc in the community.

While Bernard thought this is the only way to deal with the problem, it became a tougher personal burden for him to bear. Until the husband of Meldy’s friend who works in ABS-CBN visited them and took a picture of the chained Pauleen and sought the help of the network’s integrated news and current affairs program Mission Possible.

Numerous cognitive illnesses

The show heeded Bernard’s request for assistance in seeking an accurate diagnosis of Pauleen’s condition. And, as she was brought to a medical practitioner, they learned that Pauleen was suffering numerous cognitive illnesses that make it difficult for her to learn and comprehend, delineate what’s right from what’s wrong, and even hear voices in her head in justifying her wrongful actions. To top it all off, she was suffering from constant epileptic attacks that worsen her condition.

The good news was that Pauleen’s condition was still curable, and that this can happen through proper and monitored medication inside a rehabilitation center, where she is still confined to this day and has since showed stark improvement after more than a year since she was admitted.

Soon, Pauleen will be reunited with an exultant father who now did not give up on his child until she is ultimately healed.

Painful journey

The episode, titled “Kadena,” wonderfully and accurately captures the painful journey of a person afflicted with such a serious cognitive disorder and how this affects the people who keep close watch.

But what was evidently the most praiseworthy factor that made the episode stand out is Coleen Garcia’s intense, heartwrenching, yet colossal performance as the mentally ill Pauleen. While the role can easily suggest overplaying it with unnecessary mannerisms and gestures, Coleen kept it real and natural with an accurate, well-researched depiction. One would really feel and empathize with the character as she portrays Pauleen’s struggles. Coleen’s future as a multiple award-winning actress is definitely forthcoming.

And, we are really moved with Joey Marquez’s impressive, solid dramatic performance as Bernard, which is a far cry from his usual light and comedic roles. Moreso, his onscreen reunion with ex-wife Alma Moreno was a cheery delight, as you could still trace some beautiful chemistry between them. The way they look at each other, and even how they hug and exchange lines really present their longtime familiarity and intimacy.

Above all, director Elfren Vibar put it all together so well in terms of creative and production elements and guided the cast to deliver their unprecedented best.