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REVIEW: Telling his Inspiring life story, JC Alcantara shows immense promise as a dramatic actor in MMK “TV”

“Follow your dreams.” This is a saying we have heard at least once in our life. It’s truly great advice because our dreams fuel our passions and can take us far in life, but following our dreams will not always be as easy as we believe it to be.

Once, twice, or a lot of times, harsh realities have to be faced as we begin our journey to achieving our aspirations in life. In the the Maalaala Mo Kaya episode “TV” aired on Saturday, January 9, JC Alcantara imparts his very own story of how he was able to become the rising star that he is now despite the several trials he faced.

JC’s story begins when he was a young teen living a simple life in the province of Nueva Ecija. This was way before he was nicknamed JC and he still went by his second name Carlo. Although his parents Dennis (Marco Alcaraz) and Evelyn (Lara Quigaman), a construction worker and a house helper, could support their family, it wasn’t an ideal life. They still struggled earning enough to put food on the table and provide for their basic necessities.

Carlo, however, had big plans and big dreams. He wanted to be on TV just like Nash Aguas and the Goin’ Bulilit kids. If he was able to become a successful actor, he could help his parents and free them from tiring themselves to make it through every day. His parents admired how he wanted to work hard, but Evelyn wasn’t particularly keen on Carlo pursuing acting as a career and would rather just have him focus on studying.

As his dreams were put on pause, his trials in life were not. Dennis and Evelyn would usually fight about finances and Evelyn’s plans to go abroad to provide more for their needs. Dennis continually refuses but she pushed through with it given the abuse she experienced with her old employer abroad. Carlo witnessed this in his everyday life and because of this, he decided to help his parents when the opportunity came.

Randy (Victor Silayan), his uncle, offered to take Carlo in and live with them in Batangas. Carlo would be allowed to live in his uncle’s house and continue his studies while helping around the house and taking care of his cousin with special needs. Seeing this as a chance to lessen the burden of his parents, Carlo agreed to go with his uncle. At first, it was a decent set-up and he would help around the house diligently but it eventually felt like he wasn’t even considered as family anymore to Randy and his kids. At times, Randy and his eldest son would be abusive and treated Carlo without any respect. It came to a point where Randy pointed a gun at Carlo during one of his drunken days and threatened to kill him. With fear and frustration, Carlo left and sought out a friend from school to live with while he found another job as an errand boy and elderly helper.

Carlo had a hard time telling his family about the incident since they were hard to reach in the far off province. Visiting was even more difficult given that they were dealing with several other expenses already. When Evelyn found out about what happened, it broke her heart realizing that she had no idea what her son was going through. She immediately went to Batangas to find Carlo and take him home. As Carlo was hesitant to leave, his employer offered to take care of Carlo for the meantime and even pay for his schooling since he was a reliable and hard-working boy.

By this time, Carlo decided that it was time to take matters into his own hands. His dreams of becoming an actor burned inside him again thinking that if he were famous and popular, he would never be treated as how his uncle and cousin treated him. He started joining male pageants to maybe earn some prize money. Though he experienced several losses and embarrassments, he was able to win a pageant that slowly opened up an opportunity for him. Aside from a little prize money, a talent recruiter reached out to him. His mother was, again, reluctant about him going for acting, but Carlo didn’t mind since he was set on giving it a try.

He went through several auditions but no luck came his way. When his mother accompanied him to one, she saw Carlo’s hardships. Evelyn felt pain for him as he could not have the best clothes or circumstances compared to the wealthier people auditioning and asked him to give up. She still felt guilty for failing to protect Carlo from Randy so she wants to stop him now to avoid getting hurt again. Carlo understands his mother’s feelings, but refuses to let go of his dreams and believes he can make it. In his words, “Oo, ‘Nay, mahirap makapasok sa showbiz. Alam ko ho ‘yun. Handa ako. Tanggap ko. Pero ito ‘yung pangarap ko ‘Nay eh.” This burning declaration made Evelyn understand Carlo’s passion and strength so she starts to be more supportive.

As Carlo may have gained his family’s full support, it was still not a smooth journey to success. Carlo had to make do with passerby roles and take side jobs including giving out flyers just to support paying for his workshop and countless auditions. It was becoming hopeless for him and he was slowly deciding to stop pursuing acting all together. Ironically and fortunately, it was his mother who stopped him from losing hope in himself and told him that she knows Carlo can make it.

And Carlo did. His third handler, who is also the one who gave him his famous nickname JC, got him a commercial advertisement audition, in which Carlo succeeded getting the role. This commercial opened up several opportunities for Carlo, including his roles in Ipaglaban Mo, other MMK episodes, and Halik. He was finally able to earn more than enough to support him and his family, yet he always made sure to save and spend wisely because he knows very well how hard it was to achieve all of it. Eventually, he was able to buy his family a brand new TV as a fitting symbol of him reaching his dream of his family to finally see him on its screen.

The story ends with the JC we know now. As a newbie actor, he still experiences trials. He has to continuously work on his craft and hustle to get projects. It has been difficult, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt to his career. But with the motivational support of his family, most especially his mother’s, JC was able to land a main role in the boy’s love series, Hello Stranger, despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

Some may not know that this episode was borne out of JC’s chance conversation with MMK host Charo Santos-Concio because he wanted to inspire dreamers like him. It really does give us inspiration and motivation, especially with the fact that it was JC himself telling the story. Having him play out his life on screen, the show’s message felt ever more powerful. JC was able to deliver his most powerful performance yet as every scene’s emotion was intensified with sincerity.

MMK “TV”’s somber yet powerful take on JC’s life was expertly crafted to deliver much impact and inspiration to viewers. Director Nuel C. Naval oversaw an ideal mix of exceptional creative ingredients, such an impressive script, lighting and production design, to mould this brilliant depiction.

In the story, we have witnessed with JC’s ups and downs in his difficult, arduous personal journey. This emphasizes that we need family and people who believe in us to lift us up when we feel we are not enough. JC’s on-screen parents for this episode, the real-life married couple Marco Alcaraz and Lara Quigaman, gave wonderful performances that made us feel not only the hardships JC’s family went through, but also the deep love they share. Lara’s dedication to staying true to Evelyn’s feelings and emotions was definitely worthy of recognition.

But definitely, the biggest onscreen revelation in this episode is JC himself, who of course would know the travails he went through, how he felt in the midst of it, and how he eventually overcame them, while facing and dealing with more ordeals even up to the present. He shows depth and resonance in his portrayal, which was truly felt profoundly by those who watched. JC will surely have an exciting future ahead of him as a dramatic actor

MMK “TV” also adeptly depicts the important lesson that you cannot just want to be famous or successful. You must do the work and exert effort first and the merits will eventually come. We are all dreamers, but most of us do not realize that we can do more than just dreaming 一 we can make it a reality. Our circumstances and other people’s negative opinions are not a hindrance. As long as you stay passionate and are ready to face the challenges, a world of opportunities can open up.

Netizens were likewise moved by JC’s performance and story.