REVIEW: Arci, Ejay’s touching, identifiable performances teach us what it truly means to love again in MMK “Tattoo”

Maalalaala Mo Kaya’s (MMK) January 16 episode “Tattoo” holds a special place in the hearts of its viewers for two reasons: one — this featured real life events from Kapamilya Program Associate Karla Bonifacio’s love story; and two — this is a sequel to the another successful MMK episode titled “Fireworks” which aired in February 2018.

The first MMK episode focused on Karla and Gio’s (then played by Bela Padilla and JC Santos, respectively) early romance in high school, their adventures over the course of eight years, Gio’s disloyalty, and the second chance at love they found in one another. However, this story isn’t even about unfaithfulness or second chances, it’s about finding what it really means to love again.

The story of this new episode titled “Tattoo” begins with Karla, now played by Arci Muñoz, narrating the events that happened after she and Gio, played by Mark McMahon, got back together. Both Karla and Gio have gained quite the following on social media after making their love story public. Knowing full well it wasn’t easy to be flooded with all these messages from supporters and haters alike, especially in the middle of their wedding planning, Karla found peace in Gio’s reassurance that whatever happened in the past was never going to happen again.

Just when we thought that Karla was finally getting her happily ever after, things took a turn for the worst. Gio had made Karla’s worst nightmare come true for the second time around. It began with his unresponsiveness to Karla’s messages, the sudden need to keep their social media photos private, changes in their wedding plans, and finally a confirmation from one of Gio’s co-workers that Gio was indeed cheating on Karla again.



The signs were all there but, of course, for someone like Karla this was hard to believe. It broke her heart to have to end things with Gio again but what’s worse is that this time, he didn’t try to win her back. Here’s where we learn about the first lesson from the episode — giving someone a second chance does that we should allow ourselves to be fooled over and over. “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you” — as the famous saying goes.

For Karla, enough is enough. She went on to live her life and took a break from the dating scene for about six months, that is, until one day she gets a message from one of her classmates in second grade — Ralph Andres (Ejay Falcon). Although Karla somewhat swore off dating, catching up with Ralph did not seem like a romantic date with a stranger because here was a guy she knew for a long time. Not only was there familiarity with Ralph but both he and Karla shared a common pain of being cheated on by the person they loved.

Two months into platonic dating, Ralph finally confessed his feelings to Karla while also revealing himself as a single dad. Even though this came as a shock, Karla did appreciate the honesty. Down the road, she finally gave Ralph a chance. As audience members, we’ll find ourselves rooting for Karla and Ralph to work especially after witnessing just how heartbreaking her romantic experiences were.

Karla loved how Ralph was different from Gio in ways she did not expect. Ralph was proud to show to the world (and the social media world) that he was in a relationship with Karla. He spent time with her and made plans for their future. Needless to say, Karla was head over heels and she was ready for the next step with Ralph.

As Karla’s friends and family warned her that she may be going too fast, we are reminded that different doesn’t automatically mean better when it comes to relationships. Unfortunately, Karla was convinced that taking her time with Gio didn’t really do her any good and so she thought that making plans to move in early on in their relationship with Ralph didn’t sound too bad.

We later learn that Ralph’s insecurities tend to get the better of him and we see Karla and him engaging in an on and off and on again relationship. He wanted to control Karla by limiting who she went out with and demanding that her time with him be free of distractions which, at the time, was quite unfair as that was when Karla was at the verge of losing her job because of the denial to ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. The most painful thing for Karla, however, was probably when Ralph projected his insecurities to Karla over his being a single dad.



At this point, Karla once again called it quits even when it was not easy to accept that she had found herself in the same place she started from. This time around, instead of taking it easy on the dating scene and getting back again after a phase of moving on, she has decided to try something new. Throughout his relationship with Gio and Ralph, the people who were there for her were her family and her friends. But most importantly, she was there for herself.

Knowing now what she wished she knew then, Karla realizes that love is more than just about sharing a romantic relationship with a person from the opposite sex. It could also mean spending time with the people and things that matter the most, herself included. Towards the end of the episode, Karla learned that our lives are not based on a fairytale nor is our happiness dependent on who we are currently with at the moment. Sometimes the happily ever after we’ve all been looking for is just us — seeing through those red flags and actually paying attention, and not letting ourselves be treated of any less value than we think we deserve. Sometimes all we really need to do is to just love ourselves a little more.



In MMK “Tattoo,” the storytelling took a modern approach with Facebook and YouTube getting a glimpse of the spotlight. The conversation exchange through chat and social media comments came with a useful voice over and visual aids, which allowed the audience feel what the main character was going through.  This felt realistic to us as users of social media, who would read comments and messages and actually hear those words come to life.

It's also in scenes like this that you know that the direction of Nuel C. Naval went well because Arci had to act without any lines and all the edits (voice over and visual aid) came in scenes were shot. After looking the real Karla Bonifacio up, you can see her in Arci's characterization.

Overall, the production was spot on. The garden scenes worked well in making us feel the sense of healing and hope that Arci's character was feeling in various moments of the episode.

Taking on the role of some who got her heartbroken multiple times was well played by Arci Muñoz who, not only gave the character life but also convinced us even in pain, we can be supportive of others who have suffered the same way we have. This is evidenced by one of her scenes as Karla when she was crying over her second break up with Gio. She also showed amazing chemistry with Yayo Aguila who played Karla’s mom and was her go-to person when she wanted to feel the pain away.

Ejay Falcon, on the other hand, was a stellar single dad — charming and sweet. He also did a great job in showing the two very different sides of his character in the early and latter part of Ralph’s relationship with Karla. Towards the end, you’ll really find yourself rooting for Karla’s happy ending, even if it meant that she was alone

Karla thanks everyone who watched the episode and supported her through all this (https://www.facebook.com/karla.andrea.bonifacio/posts/4773864642684216 ). The episode ends with an interview between Charo Santos-Concio and the real Karla Bonifacio as they talk about what’s next for Karla from here on.



Netizens indeed learned a lot from Karla’s story and were impressed by the lead actors’ performances.