REVIEW: Arjo, Zaijian deliver meaningful portrayals in acclaimed fashion designer’s life story in MMK “Sketch Pad”

Success and personal fulfillment don't come easy.

It will take a lot of sacrifice, failures, and ordeals to really provide that immense spark in reaching that pinnacle in your life.

Terrible realities

Take the case of the late prized Pinoy international fashion designer Rocky Gathercole, who struggled with terrible realities that befuddled him as he was growing up but eventually took them as motivation to even go further in reaching his dreams. His life story in the Maalaala Mo Kaya episode “Sketch Pad” in 2017 was re-aired on Saturday, March 6, to honor Rocky and his incredible work and contribution to the local and international fashion industry as we grieve over his untimely death recently.

All Rocky (Zaijan Jaranilla) wanted to have a complete family. He would doodle on his sketch pad his dream—a father, mother, a sibling maybe with pets all living under one roof. But this was just not that simple for someone like him, who was faced with a cruel reality of having a mother who left them and a father who’s a womanizer and drunkard.



But despite this, he took it all in stride and make the best of what he has—still loving and appreciating his father Ike (Nonie Buencamino) for what he is. But time came when he got the important realization about himself—he was gay. And this made him seek his mother Aging (Jenny Miller) even more.

Traumatic surprise

Rocky ran away from his dad and searched for Aging. And, when he did find her, it was to his traumatic surprise that Aging kicked him out and told him she would never ever to see him again since she already had her own family.

Roaming hopelessly in the streets of Manila, Rocky (Arjo Atayde) felt dejected and forlorn until he met Ricky (Pooh) a street vendor who became his best friend. Ricky helped Rocky through his difficulties even as he met Josephine (Shy Carlos), who turned out to be the only woman he loved. They had a child, while accidental in Josephine’s eyes became Rocky’s fulfillment of a dream he long had---having a complete family.

But just like what happened to him when he was a kid, when Aging left, Josephine likewise decided to depart for Japan, leaving their child Andrei with him. Again, Rocky’s dreams were shattered and could only seek consolation of still having his dad Ike around who would help him take care of Andrei.


When Rocky seeks a job to support Andrei and his dad, he met his former nanny Mama Vicente (Fanny Serrano) along the way. When Mama Vicente stopped being a nanny to Rocky when he was two years old, she went to the Middle East to work as an assistant to a fashion designer. She then finds out in their chance meeting that Rocky is skillful in the visual arts.

He then told Rocky to draw flower prints on outfits and was stunned to see his work. Impressed, Mama Vicente eventually lands Rocky a job in Dubai to work for a fashion designer. While he still had to learn the ropes in the job and was even incessantly scolded and berated by his superiors, Rocky never let that discourage him. He would then exceed expectations and created designs that were so avant-garde, exquisite and spectacular that clients and fashion observers took notice.

Yet, back home, he was devastated to learn about his father’s ill health. Rocky, being family-centric that he is, stayed beside Ike until he breathed his last.

Milestone design

But something made the sun rise again for Rocky, a colleague showed him pages from a fashion magazine, revealing his first design worn by an international celebrity, Britney Spears! It began his illustrious Hollywood career as a designer to such names as Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Tyra Banks and Paris Hilton.



And as he graced catwalks all over the world, Rocky never considered his success as a personal victory but as a way to give back, especially to those dear to him back home with charity fashion shows and initiatives. Most especially, Rocky would not forget his family and friends who inspire and push him to be at his best.



His recent demise is surely a big blow to the Philippine fashion industry, and the global scene, as well, with his selflessness, generosity, and kindheartedness that will be sorely missed.

The MMK episode, “Sketch Pad,” stirringly directed by Nuel Naval and written by Jaymar Santos Castro, shows how much we need to just move forward despite the tragedies and heartbreaks we experience. We must focus on our dreams and how fulfilling it will be for the benefit of more people, not just your own.

Moving and identifiable

I must say that while we see Zaijan Jaranilla in a lot of MMK episodes, we are just so riveted with the way he portrayed the young Rocky. While he does excellently deliver the lines in a way that the character is truly felt and absorbed, Zaijan takes it even to another level by instilling naturalness and sincerity with his acting to make it so moving and identifiable.

But we are most in awe with span of Arjo Atayde’s thespic brilliance. In his broad range of acting portrayals, culminating with his Best Actor win in the Asian Academy Awards 2020, you would definitely embrace him with empathy and pity as Rocky while you cheer for him as he triumphs in the end. Arjo is surely one acting gem we should all treasure.

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