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MMK stars’ best episodes

In over three decades on TV, Maalaala Mo Kaya featured not only the best stories but also the most brilliant actors in the country. After MMK took its final bow, some of these brightest stars thoughtfully share their memorable experiences with the program and why they think it ruled for 31 years.

Before he was hailed the country’s “Unkabogable Star,” Vice Ganda had a difficult yet colorful life, which he himself re-enacted in “Bola.” The most challenging part of the process, according to Vice, is reliving even the sad and painful moments in his past, “Mahirap magkwento ng sarili mong kwento lalung-lalo na kung hindi masasaya ‘yung mga karanasan na ikinukuwento mo.”

But that’s exactly why MMK lasted 31 years – it boldly presents the unfiltered story of a letter sender. “Sa MMK kasi nakikita natin ‘yung mga totoong kwento, totoong buhay, mga totoong nangyayari sa mga totoong tao,” Vice thought, adding that MMK’s legacy will live on through the endless, inspiring tales of Filipinos. “Hindi nauubos ang mga inspirasyon na nakukuha mula sa iba’t ibang buhay ng mga Pilipino. Hangga’t may Pilipino, hangga’t may kwento ang bawat Pilipino, hindi matatapos ‘yung saysay ng Maalaala Mo Kaya.”

Belle Mariano is a legit MMK child in that she grew up with the program. Among her most unforgettable portrayals is “Kalabaw” where she breathed life into the story of a young girl induced to follow in the footsteps of her rebel family members. “Isa siya mga challenging roles na ginawa ko. Meron pa akong eksena do’n na nasa palayan ako, nangangapas ako,” she looked back.

Belle believes that MMK’s unmatched endurance on TV is a testament to the positive impact it has on its viewers. “Ang ganda dahil bawat episode na pinapakita ng MMK, talagang may mapupulot tayong aral dito at nashe-share natin ‘yung mga experiences natin sa life para matuto ang ibang tao.”

One of the most lauded, tear-jerker episodes is “Regalo” starring Maja Salvador as the cerebral palsy-stricken April. Here, Maja engaged in an intense acting sparring with Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos, who played her mother. She said the single episode was filmed on and off within a year. It was no doubt a challenge but it was the kind of challenge that intensified her passion for acting.

For Maja, MMK was dearly loved by Filipinos because of its commitment to a great yet truthful storytelling, “Hindi filtered. Hindi sinu-sugar-coat at maraming nakaka-relate dahil baka sa isang ganap sa buhay nila, nangyari ‘yun.”

Coco Martin is like most of us who grew up with MMK. He reminisced, “Bata pa ako, hindi pa ako artista, ang buong pamilya ko ay tagasubaybay na talaga ng programang ito.” From just tuning into each episode with his family, he would become one of the biggest stars to grace the show. And his favorite assignment is “Plano” which paid tribute to the fallen SAF (Special Action Forces) commandos. Adding to Coco’s star power was Angel Locsin playing his wife.

Coco and Angel on board was enough to guarantee a high-quality episode, but what made it more affecting was the country’s collective sentiment over the Fallen 44’s tragic fate.

“Ramdam na ramdam namin ‘yung episode na ‘yun habang ginagawa namin ‘yun dahil talagang lahat ng mga Pilipino at buong Pilipinas noong mga panahon na ‘yon ay nagluluksa,” recalled Coco.

Asked to dissect MMK’s lasting powers, he said it’s about the quality of the show and the artists. “Bawat artista talaga, ‘pag sinabi mong gagawa sa MMK, para kang gagawa ng isang de-kalidad na pelikula.”

Carlo Aquino was likewise tapped to guest-star in a few episodes. The most unforgettable for him is “Scapular” which tells the story of three brothers – Carlo, Jhong Hilario, and Ketchup Eusebio – who left their parents in the province to earn enough for their father’s medication. Sadly, an illegal recruiter separates them.

The episode taught him a valuable lesson: “Natutunan kong aral dito ay mahalin mo ang pamilya mo lalong-lalo na ang mga kapatid mo dahil sila ‘yung best link to your past and they are there for you sa future mo.”

He added that MMK became a force to be reckoned with, thanks to the inspiration it gives viewers, “Palagi nilang sinasabi sa mga palabas nila na ang buhay, may mga pagdadaanan ka, may mga paghihirap pero huwag na huwag kang susuko.”

Diamond Star Maricel Soriano also shared her “Kwentong MMK.” She said her favorite episode portrayed is “Mom Beyond Blood,” for which she won an acting award. For her, MMK’s winning formula is this simple: “Nananaig palagi ang pagmamahal, ‘yung puso sa eksena at ‘yung puso sa kabuuhan ng show.”

Dear Charo Santos and the MMK family, thank you for the wonderful and inspiring 31 years!