When one forgets prejudice and hatred, and remain endearing to those who may not turn out the way we expect shows love’s truest form.
Who else can express that kind of love than those who have kept close watch at you, being there for you at all times, reared and molded you to what you are today.
It can be your parents, your siblings, your relatives, or definitely your grandparents, whose caring and loving sight and touch, including those precious reminders, we always enjoy unconditionally.
Especially if that grandparent was all that you have from the day you were born. Who will else will know you more and accept you for what you really are?
In the MMK episode “Pintura,” that kind of love was put to the test and gleefully, it prevailed amid precarious circumstances.
Gilbert (JB Agustin) was left to the care of his grandfather Ilong (Phillip Salvador), who has long been known as a neighborhood toughie in Barrio Obrero in Tondo working as a painter in construction projects and an overall handyman. He was an arrogant, mannish bruiser, who won’t think twice getting into fights when threatened or shamed.
When Ilong alone reared Gilbert after the child’s teenage mom Elang (Ella Cruz) left home to find a job, he was simply in paternal bliss. He would feed him, nourish him, and take care of him as he gets ill. Ilong even carries the child wherever he goes, and even instructs a neighbor who took care of Gilbert the proper way of carrying the child as he worked in the construction site.
Ilong was doting and dutiful, and when Gilbert began his elementary studies, he was always there to support him even with his meager income. Ilong was ecstatic when he learned Gilbert achieved first honors in class and eventually graduated valedictorian as he expressed his love and utmost pride of his grandchild, who he thinks would become like him—also a manly, virile toughie.
Little did Ilong know, Gilbert was actually not what he thinks he is. He was happily gay.
Yet, he had concealed his true self in fear that Ilong would get incensed and reject him.
But as he entered high school, Gilbert (Jerome Ponce) had not been so suppressed. In fact, he has already been known as openly gay, mimicking beauty queens and giggling those soft hips as he danced in class.
But then as he arrives home each day, Gilbert reverts back to his disguise, feigning who he truly is. Not until he joined a dance contest among gays during a town fiesta and Ilong happened to be there did his long kept secret became known. While Ilong still supported Gilbert by urging the audience to clap for his grandson, he went home dejected and refused the prize money, which Gilbert won and hoped to contribute to the family expenses.
Since then, Ilong hardly spoke to Gilbert, who was hurt that his grandfather changed when he learned he was gay. And when Gilbert had graduated from high school and was on the verge of entering college on a scholarship but would need to make initial tuition payments, Ilong stoically told Gilbert to discontinue his studies because he was finding it extremely difficult to make a living.
Gilbert angrily asked his grandfather was it because of his being gay that he is now refusing to support him? Ilong was mum as Gilbert stormed out of their home. Even if Ilong opposed it, Gilbert tells his best friend Andoy (EJ Jallorina) that he will still find a way to get a scholarship to enter college.
After their last encounter, Ilong had been affected by what Gilbert said. Gilbert had since found a way to pursue to get a scholarship and told his grandfather he would not need his help. This hurt him, indicating how much he still loves his grandson. His love for his grandson prevailed over whatever prejudice he had towards gays and thought he must still be there for Gilbert no matter what.
Because of this, Ilong still toiled in construction work despite his failing health just to earn enough money for Gilbert. But the heavy loads were just too much for him, leaving him gasping for breath, collapsing and losing consciousness.
He was brought to the hospital, where Gilbert rushed to his side, tearfully apologizing to him for the hurtful words he said. But a recovering Ilong told him it was he that who must apologize to him for judging and silently maligning his being gay and that he has learned to total accept him with all his heart.
And, as Gilbert was about to graduate and Ilong had no gift to give, Gilbert proudly told him he already received it. It was the toga he was about to wear.
A touching story, MMK’s “Pintura” shows the extent of grandfather’s love and how he would alter his perceptions and beliefs for the sake of that one person he holds so dear.
Multi-award winning actor Phillip Salvador extends his streak of memorable performances with this TV appearance. He not only dwelled in his signature persona as the man of the hour, but shows his heartfelt portrayal of a compassionate man willing to give anything for one he loves. Jerome Ponce made the essaying of Gilbert not to draw laughs but make people understand what gays go through in the real world with natural face acting and accurate mannerisms and expressions. We also admire the young Gilbert, JB Agustin, who truly thrilled us with a no-nonsense understanding of the character, which he nailed and went beyond what is expected of him.
Director Efren Vibar again gave us a wonderful episode deeply etched in our hearts and minds.