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REVIEW: MMK Toga emphasizes how family redeems us from hardship

It was a tale of incredible hardship one could ever face yet found redemption in the end. In MMK’s “Toga”, what’s most crucial is spending that difficult yet fulfilling journey with family, whatever it takes.

Analyn (Veyda Inoval) was an obedient, dutiful daughter who would not expect all the forthcoming ordeals she would face.

Her father Sulpicio (Cris Villanueva) was very much a good provider to the family, working tirelessly as a department store manager, apart from overseeing a general merchandise shop and a poultry business in Pagadian City.

Her mother Luzviminda (Aleck Bovick) was also the loving and supportive mother anyone could have, yet suffering from bouts of epileptic seizures. And, her brother Allan (John Manalo) had been a sibling so close to her that they would share wonderful bonding moments together.

Family policy

But Sulpicio’s premium on education, astuteness, and responsibility had been the family’s policy, overbearing as it may for Allan, who is now exposed to life’s convolutions and temptations as a teenager. Sulpicio would always scold Allan over the slightest provocation of learning about a naughty hangout at a liquor store, or learning he had been sleeping on the summer job he gave him at the department store.

It all came to a head when Sulpicio admonished Allan, who revealed during a family dinner that he was courting someone. Sulpicio was enraged, telling Allan having a girlfriend will make him lose focus on his studies. As such, he prohibited Allan from entering any romantic relationship while he was studying or else he would stop sending him to school.

It all came to a head when Sulpicio admonished Allan, who revealed during a family dinner that he was courting someone. Sulpicio was enraged, telling Allan having a girlfriend will make him lose focus on his studies. As such, he prohibited Allan from entering any romantic relationship while he was studying or else he would stop sending him to school.

Sulpicio did not search for his son, telling Luzviminda and Analyn not to look for Allan and that since he decided to leave, it was his choice to fend for himself.

But as they went on with their lives, Sulpicio’s liver illness worsened and soon died due to a fatal convulsion. This was not before he instructed Analyn to take care of her mother and follow her all the time.

Allan soon returned only to discover his dad’s wake at their home, making him break down and regret his actions.

Turned for the worse

But since the passing of Sulpicio, Allan turned for the worse. He seemed to confirm suspicions that he was a drug user and that he made life difficult for his mom and sister. One night, he threatened to kill them just because he wouldn’t get glue from his sister. This made Analyn scream at him, deploring him for his change in behavior, and told him that their late father, even if he loved him very much, was right in treating him harshly.

And as he realized his wrongdoing, he asked for apologies over his actions and said he would become more responsible, just like what Sulpicio had wanted. But to do this, he needed to leave for Cebu to find a job and promised to support them.

While he did send some financial support for a few months, he stopped suddenly and never continued. Luzviminda and Analyn were then left on their own to survive.

Always submissive to even their misfortunes in life, Luzviminda seems unable to help out her now grownup daughter (Maris Racal), who still tried her best at high school and graduated despite all the challenges they faced.

Analyn even worked as a domestic helper just to earn for herself and support her mom, who would always say her meager earnings as a manicurist wasn’t enough. When Luzviminda turned down her request to finally begin her college studies, Analyn became exasperated and frustrated, telling off her mom that like her, she should also get up and find a way to solve their problems. Analyn even blurted that it should have been Luzviminda who died instead of Sulpicio, who would always move mountains just to make both ends meet.

Head of the family

While Analyn realized her disrespect and apologized for it, Luzviminda instead thanked her daughter for making her know her responsibilities as the true head of the family. She would now find a way to make her daughter’s dreams come true.

Luzviminda would then sell their worn-down house and then use the proceeds to finally allow Analyn to pursue a college degree and pay off debts. In the next four years, while Analyn would focus on her college studies at a distant school, Luzviminda would sell vegetables at a faraway village to add to their income. To do this, she must walk through a dangerous bridge-less river crossing to reach her destination.

Luzviminda would then sell their worn-down house and then use the proceeds to finally allow Analyn to pursue a college degree and pay off debts. In the next four years, while Analyn would focus on her college studies at a distant school, Luzviminda would sell vegetables at a faraway village to add to their income. To do this, she must walk through a dangerous bridge-less river crossing to reach her destination.

Grieving over the tragic loss, Analyn sees Allan (Alchris Galura) return once more for another wake, this time of their mother. She was bitterly wrathful at her brother, who wasn’t there to help them get through hardships and only came back when their mother died.

What her parents wanted

As their mother lay buried, Allan explained that he too had problems finding a stable job and that his income wasn’t even enough to support himself. He said he couldn’t return because he knew he will only be an added burden to them.

And, after listening to her brother stoically, Analyn told her mom’s friend Luzvilla (Via Veloso) that she’s not interested to attend her graduation rites anymore because both her parents are gone and would not see her march to receive her diploma.

But Luzvilla encouraged her to still attend, telling her that was what her parents wanted. And as he received her diploma and saddened by the sight of other parents celebrating with their children who graduated with her, she sees Allan with Luzvilla applauding and cheering her on as she stood on stage. This made her still feel accomplished and driven despite all she went through to just reach that point in her life.

And, as she began her work as a teacher, Analyn “talked” to her parents as she stood by the river. She told them that while she was dejected and desolate that they weren’t there to witness her graduate and that she still had ill feelings towards Allan, it was still her brother who made her feel happy during the graduation rites. She said she saw both of them in Allan, the remaining vestige of family whom she would rely for strength and inspiration.

Relying on family

Analyn’s story gives us an idea of how extreme hardships can bring a family to its knees. But only with utter determination and a positive outlook could make us wither any storm that befall us, and of course relying on each and every member of the family to bring us through it.

It was a delight to see Maris Racal metamorphose into a laudable young actress, having the audience truly feel the difficult journey Analyn went through with her believable performance. Aleck Bovick is a much welcome sight on screen with her newfound thespic brilliance as the submissive turned heroic widow. Cris Villanueva has again gripped us with his intense portrayal of the stern yet ill father. John Manalo also impressed us with his rebellious fit, especially in his perplexing transformation into a troubled teenager.

Above all, the story was told in the most stirring way with well-played out scenes in smooth, clear succession that gave the audience a gripping sense of meaning, especially with a convincing script from Joan Habana and Arah Jell G. Badayos, and cunning directorial flair from Frasco Mortiz.