Indeed, gone are the days when women are just expected to stay home, do household chores, and take care of their family, because many of us have gone to work and make a career for ourselves. However, not everyone is fortunate to find a decent job here in the Philippines that would help us give our families a comfortable life.
Just like what happened to latest Maalaala Mo Kaya letter sender Abby, whose harrowing journey as a prostitute in Cyprus is featured in the show’s three-part “Tatlong Dekadang Pasasalamat” finale special from November 26 to December 10. And last Saturday, November 26, it commenced by showing viewers what compelled her to push through amid the traumatic experiences that she had to go through in pursuit of giving her family in the Philippines a better life.
The harrowing story of Abby
Tagged #MMKScarletWomen, the episode commenced with Abby, astoundingly played by Kaila Estrada, quietly sitting on the backseat of a car as she reminisced about what her parents and family had reminded her before she left.
As much as she didn’t want to work abroad and be separated from her family, but the income of her husband (Akihiro Blanco) from working at a koprahan, farming, and driving tricycle, as well as her earnings in selling brooms, were still not enough for them and their two little kids.
With their beloved family and big dreams as their motivation, Abby and her sister-in-law Ronalyn (Jacqui Leus) were both giddy upon entering the dimly lit Tiddy’s Lounge. While its interior had made them skeptical, more so when the elderly owner (Leo Rialp), who wanted to be called “Papa,” asked for their passports, that immediately vanished upon learning from them that they would be earning 1,000 euros per month, or roughly Php 60,000 in our currency. They just have to be nice to him and obey him, and never make him angry.
Just when they thought that they’re going to work as waitresses and cultural dancers in Cyprus, as what Abby’s recruiter-cousin told them, Abby and Ronalyn were totally appalled upon finding out that they would actually be prostitutes. When she was chosen by one of the guests, Abby protested and told “Papa” that she would report him to the authorities. But he threatened her back by saying that he had connections with the powerful people in Cyprus, so she’s going to either be imprisoned or dead just like what happened to other girls.
And the moment they’d been dreading unfortunately happened as both of them were sexually and physically abused by their respective customers on their very first night at work. Both helpless and traumatized, Abby consoled Ronalyn and told her that they will find a way to escape. However, their roommate and fellow Pinay, Mia, who already experienced working in Japan as an entertainer also, warned them that she would report them to Chynna (Apey Obera). But her heart eventually softened as she advised them to just be strong for their families left in the Philippines and not let their painful and difficult experiences there be put into waste.
As much as she tried to be strong, especially every time she talked to her family, Abby still couldn’t stomach what they were doing. Thus, in order to help her feel numb and forget what her customers were doing to her, she depended on cocaine after one of her guests had her try it. That indeed helped her become aggressive and careless as she worked more than 18 hours a day, and whenever customers would take her with them out of the lounge, which made her and Ronalyn not see each other anymore. They were only given two chances to go out every month, and those were the days when they had to send money to their families.
Unfortunately, her feigning to be okay had seemingly taken a toll on her relationship with her husband as she had grown indifferent towards him, as seen in her last phone call with him. Nonetheless, it’s still her family who is her source of strength and motivation amid all the pains, wounds, and bruises that she had on her body.
Even though her chasteness got already tainted, Abby’s heart was not. As another batch of Pinay workers arrived in the club, comprised by the characters of Trina Legaspi, Karina Bautista, Jenny Miller, and Meg Imperial, she warned them about what they’re going to get themselves into despite Chynna’s admonition.
She may not be able to save them from the hell that’s waiting for them, but Abby was able to keep Iris (Karina) from being ganged up by two men from the same group that picked them one night. She offered herself to them after seeing Iris crying helplessly, which reminded her of what she went through on the very first time that it happened to her.
Rave reactions from netizens
Praises and positive feedbacks towards the astounding performances of the lead actresses of the “Family Picture” episode, Kaila Estrada and Karina Bautista, indeed poured out on Twitter. Netizens who were able to watch it expressed how completely amazed they were of the dramatic prowess of the two fast-rising actresses, which made everyone of us feel the emotions of their characters Abby and Iris, respectively.
This may only be Kaila’s second appearance on MMK after her award-winning portrayal of Karen Bordador a few months ago, yet she is able to prove that she really has what it takes to be one of the brightest stars of her generation. She truly did a great job in her depiction of Abby, through which she’s able to show her versatility and maturity as an actress.
At the same time, her Viral Scandal co-star Karina also shone with her remarkable acting as Iris, even though her character just appeared in the last gap of the first part of #MMKScarletWomen. This only made us all excited to see more of her in the next two installments of this finale special.
Aside from the two leads, we were also impressed by the performances of the supporting ensemble, comprised by seasoned character actors Leo Rialp, Ana Abad-Santos, and Jonic Magno, and younger thespians Jacqui Leus, Akihiro Blanco, Thamara Alexandria, and Apey Obera.
Aside from Karina, we’re also anticipating how Meg Imperial, Trina Legaspi, and Jenny Miller will fare in the continuation of #MMKScarletWomen in the coming weeks.
Of course, not only the actors should be commended in this promising three-part finale special, but its production staff and crew as well, which include top-caliber director Dado C. Lumibao and writer Akeem del Rosario, for giving MMK an unforgettable adieu.
Here are some of the rave feedbacks from netizens that we spotted on Twitter with regards to the said episode:
The “Family Picture” episode might only be the first of the three special farewell episodes of MMK, but it already made us realize a few things about life. Aside from attesting that love can definitely stir us to do things that are difficult and we thought are impossible, the distressing journey of Abby and of her fellow entertainers should serve as an eye-opener to all of us that life abroad isn’t always easy. Yes, opportunities there could help OFWs elevate their families from poverty, but they have to go through a lot of hardships first before being able to earn, save, and send money to their loved ones.
Thus, aside from their families learning how to appreciate their hardwork and sacrifices, those who are in power must act more strictly in order to protect the welfare of our OFWs and to not let those kinds of experiences to ever happen again to our other kababayans who aspire to search for better opportunities – which we lack here in the Philippines – abroad.
Watch out for the upcoming two episodes of #MMKScarletWomen in the next two Saturdays, December 3 and 10, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, A2Z and iWantTFC.