REVIEW: Gelli de Belen and Jerome Ponce’s unlikely team-up is dreamy, effectual in MMK “Simbahan”
REVIEW Gelli de Belen and Jerome Ponce s unlikely team up is dreamy effectual in MMK Simbahan  1

Onscreen romances have always captured our imagination, bringing us that sense of kilig, which is one dramatic element that draws us to a televised or cinematic narrative.

Most of the time, we expect or crave for that perfect pair to enliven that fascination—love teams or idyllic combinations of actors that have that onscreen chemistry to thrill us.

But there are some special instances that such tandems are quite improbable, given that the pair had their careers and their generations are worlds apart and in the case of that meaningful yet electrifying MMK episode, “Simbahan,” distanced by decades.

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And who would expect Gelli de Belen and Jerome Ponce would have that natural and kilig connection? Not in anyone’s dreams, we surmise. Yet their unlikely team-up is dreamy, effectual.


Outstanding portrayal

But they effectively nailed it with impeccable flair—owing to the outstanding portrayal of the likewise implausible pair of Agnes and Kiko, whose genuine and unconditional love for each other went beyond physical challenges and age.


Agnes thought she could not stand a chance at love, given that she had been a paralytic since she was a child—a polio sufferer whose unfortunate condition worsened. Her mobility and physical capabilities are limited, needing the help of her parents, siblings, or close friends to get by a day.

But her gloom turned into bliss upon seeing a factory worker named Kiko (Jerome Ponce) partaking his packed lunch at her eatery.  It was an instant attraction as their eyes meet embarrassingly at first yet sure and dedicated when Kiko took the initiative of actually meeting her.


And they would get closer as Kiko learns of Agnes’s noble traits as a selfless daughter and sister, who had sacrificed her whole life for her family. She not taken formal schooling and went on to make a living despite her disability, just to allow her siblings to finish their studies and support the needs of their family. She would only need them to help her go to the toilet or get items at the store that she can’t reach.

Unexpected romance

But here is where Kiko comes in—giving Agnes something she never dreamed of having: a supposedly impossible attraction of a young, dashing 22-year-old, who would truly love her with all his heart.

Yet there are those who doubt this unexpected romance, surprisingly Agnes’s mom (Daria Ramirez), who believed Kiko’s intentions were not true and that he would not genuinely love a 36-year-old paralytic like Agnes, who could not bear a child having been diagnosed with endometriosis.

While these doubts almost destroyed their relationship, Agnes and Kiko would remain devoted to each other—professing their love whatever it takes. While Agnes expressed her undying love, Kiko promised he would take care of Agnes as her bulwark of strength when they eventually walked down the aisle.

Until Kiko himself got afflicted with his own illness—a chronic kidney disease that needed costly twice-a-week dialyses. These drained the resources of the newly married couple, who needed assistance from friends and family. And after Kiko himself tried to brush off his illness given how it has made them suffer financially, he would collapse and almost lost his life due to the seriousness of his kidney ailment.

And, when they visited the same church where they first professed their love and eventually exchanged vows, they clasped their hands tight and promised to support and carry each other through amid their own disabilities and illnesses. As Agnes said it’s not just one of them taking care of the other—it’s both of them having each other’s backs “sa hirap at ginhawa.

Breathtaking camera work


The narrative is superbly inspiring and heartwarming, more so with the breathtaking camera work and impressive photography that took the narrative to the next level.  Director Paco Sta. Maria made the tale an impressively effectual romance that inspires many to believe in true love.

Thanks to Gelli de Belen and Jerome Ponce’s deep internalization of their respective characters, their connection seemed natural and organic, leaving viewers in overwhelming kilig whenever their eyes meet. It speaks a lot about their remarkable professionalism and incredible talent as actors.

Netizens were also thrilled.