REVIEW: Charlie, Jameson shine with solid, stirring take of an imperfect yet genuine love in MMK “Planner”

True love is definitely not what we dream it to be. When we find the Right One, our forever, in our lives, we always look for those “perfect” qualities, maybe in a checklist we keep in our minds to know if you will make the best choice. And this falls in such criteria, such as being utterly handsome or gorgeous, stable financially and flashy, or even righteous and faithful.

But a love that is genuine goes deeper from the surface. It’s about sacrifice without any condition, understanding without letup, both growing and maturing from their imperfections, and loving no matter what.

In the second episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya for the season of hearts, “Planner,” aired on Valentine’s eve, tackled a love story that faced immense challenges, from a cute, secret puppy love to a relationship that faced the worst of storms.

Jobel (Charlie Dizon) and Gerard (Jameson Blake) had been in a relationship since they were in high school, both achievers who are upright and ambitious—seeking to achieve their dreams of making it big in the medical profession.

When they did start pursuing their aspirations, as both took nursing, their attitudes and work ethics differed, with Jobel being overly zealous with her studies, and Gerard having a carefree, happy-go-lucky outlook. Because Jobel wouldn’t have time to spend with Gerard’s night-outs with friends, their first serious test in their otherwise blissful relationship was upon them.

Gerard would have drinking sprees with another woman, who he felt satisfied his need for companionship during those wild partying days with close friends. Sulking over what he perceived as Jobel’s lack of priority towards him, Gerard would revel in his easygoing unfaithfulness to the point of ignoring her calls and texts, until he would be brought back to his senses after a short chat with his mother.  She told him that she sees Jobel as the dedicated, selfless partner who truly loves him, and reminded him that if he would continue taking her for granted, she would decide to leave him for good.

Gerard’s trysts was actually not surprising to Jobel when she heard rumors about it. She admitted failing Gerard because of her priorities and understood what he is going through, and would not bring the issue up with him.

Yet after Gerard realized what he stands to lose if he continued his wrongful ways, he made up for it by arranging and leading her to a decorated Valentine’s display by a staircase, with balloons popping up written notes that bear his regret of all his misgivings and would promise to become a better version of himself as a partner.

After patching things up, both continued frolicking with the renewed fervor in their romance, until both graduated from their nursing course. Gerard would further pursue a medical degree, while Jobel was seriously prepping up for the nursing board exam.

By this time, another challenge to their relationship surfaced. Jobel, this time, became attracted to what she thinks is her perfect man, her nursing board review instructor Christian (Jason Dy). While she found him attractive, she was most smitten by his earnestness, passion, and dedication to his work, apart from being a God-fearing Bible preacher—qualities she direly needed to see in Gerard.

Jobel would soon notice how the disparity between her boyfriend and her teacher was glaring, and was at the brink of falling for the latter. But when Jobel confronted Gerard over his purchase of a gaming console, she berated him for not being serious with his life, focusing on mere fun and playtime. Gerard would fume back at her, stressing that having a gaming console doesn’t mean he would be negligent of his responsibilities. When Jobel would ask him why he wouldn’t be like the person she stopped short of naming, Gerard knew she was comparing him with Christian.

After seeing stored pictures of Jobel and Christian in her phone, Gerard told her that he always knew that there was something going on between them, as he chided her for it. Jobel would then unearth his own unfaithfulness in the past, something that she said she ignored and never raised with him. Gerard would ask her why she still has not kept that issue buried in the past, and that she is now bringing it up once more just because she had met someone that matches her ideal qualities in a man. He told her that he has tried his best to change for the better, and never failed loving her since then. He would emotionally tell her pointblank: “Sigurado ako na ikaw ang gusto ko habang buhay. Ikaw, sigurado ka pa rin ba sa akin?” This left her speechless and in tears.

When Jobel remembered all those happy times she had with Gerard from the time they were together as bubbly teenagers to becoming young adults on the verge of realizing their dreams, she realized and felt the depth and genuineness of her love for Gerard.  She would then receive a call from Gerard asking her for a meet-up between him and Christian, who he said agreed to be there, to set things straight.
When the three met, Gerard declared his undying love for Jobel in front of Christian, telling him that even though they may be exact opposites in many areas—qualities that made Jobel attracted to him—he vowed he would do everything to fight for their relationship and do whatever it takes to win Jobel back. Jobel approached Gerard to tell him that he need not plead for anything. “Ano ka ba? ‘Di mo kailangang sabihin ‘yan. ‘Di mo kailangang magmakaawa. Mahal kita, Gerard. Ikaw lang,” Jobel emphasized. Christian would then tell them that he had no intention of destroying their relationship and left the two behind.

Gerard would then tell Jobel that he had always regretted his past mistakes and declared that he truly loves her, admitting he is unable to bear the prospect of losing her. Jobel also felt sorry for not expressing her unresolved issues with Gerard, and that when she met Christian, she found him so completely different from the boyfriend who has hurt her before, that she forgot who she truly loves.  Gerard then responded by saying that he may not be her ideal man, someone she can choose not to accept as her forever. “Pero, pinipili kita,” Jobel said, as they embraced tightly.

Gerard would then make a touching wedding proposal, complete with photos of their relationship since they were teens on the walkway leading to a podium, where he knelt down and asked for her hand in marriage with a ring in hand. Jobel would tearfully say yes.

Complete with the optimal ingredients for an enamoring Valentine’s offering, MMK “Planner” fuses outstanding dramatic performances with captivating and heartfelt storytelling that has kept the viewers so emotionally connected and engaged. Director Nuel C. Naval’s creative guidance made the characterizations well executed, and production elements well meshed with the moving romantic splendor of the story.

Charlie Dizon and Jameson Blake have proven their superb onscreen chemistry in this outing, as they respond to and complement each other with an inherent, natural connection as co-leads.

Jameson was incredibly revealing as a remarkable romantic leading man, showing his heartfelt genuineness and sincerity in carving out his portrayal of Gerard to its full impact. It really helps that his proper phrasing and emphasis of lines and his deeply felt non-verbal gestures and facial expressions took his dramatic thespic craft to another level.  

For the marvelous, breakthrough actress Charlie, who has mesmerized the world with her acclaimed and recognized performance in “Fan Girl,” extends that brilliance to the small screen with her well-focused, deeply understood, and natural portrayal of Jobel. While the part seemed an ordinary take for most young actresses, Charlie made the dramatic characterization sharper and more penetrating, leaving us amazed with what she can do onscreen.

Netizens were likewise astonished.