Almost three years after its initial broadcast in 2018, Maalaala Mo Kaya once again brought back the inspiring story of Venancio “Ven” Villanueva, a hardworking and persistent person with disability (PWD) from Tiaong, Quezon Province impeccably portrayed by versatile Kapamilya star Enchong Dee.
Titled “Sunflower,” it followed the life of Ven from being a bullied child because of his condition up to becoming the passionate, diligent, and determined man he is at present, who’s able to impart himself to his fellow PWDs by helping them earn a living as the leader of their community livelihood program.
He may be mocked by his classmates, but the young Ven was fortunate to have supportive older brothers who served as his feet and protectors whenever he’s at school. And all their efforts were paid off as he became an achiever and even graduated with flying colors.
However, he wasn’t able to pursue college and achieve his dream of becoming an engineer after the foundation their family was expecting to fund his education suddenly ceased operation in their municipality. This truly devastated him, yet his mom (Ina Raymundo) still encouraged him to continue and vowed to send him to school with all their might.
Unfortunately, their plight grew more difficult was when their mother got diagnosed with tuberculosis, which compelled him to stop his studies to give way to her medication and for him to be able to take good care of her. He may have done everything he could, yet Ven still blamed himself for their mom’s heartbreaking demise since his disability incapacitated him from the opportunity of saving her.
He then began attending a seminar intended for handicapped people like him organized by the NGO Samahang Isinusulong ang Kakayahan ng mga May Kapansanan (SIKAP), in which he eventually become the president. It was also through that wherein he met the love of his life Jen (Nikki Bacolod), who was among their regular volunteers.
Since candlemaking couldn’t promise to give their group consistent income, someone encouraged them to try out sunflower farming, who assisted in their finances and in finding the good location apt for their new venture. Ven’s subordinates were already disheartened when no one was still visiting them on the first week of their opening, but he remained optimistic. Not long after, their first customers arrived and were succeeded with a slew of visitors.
He may not have achieved his ambition of finishing his studies and becoming an engineer, yet he’s still grateful for being able to achieve his mom’s dream of creating a place wherein handicaps like him could move easily and wouldn’t be pitiful through Sunshine Farm.
Enchong was able to prove how a talented actor he is, too, through his brilliant stint in this MMK episode. He indeed fascinated us with his dramatic chops and his compelling portrayal of Ven. At the same time, supporting actors Ina Raymundo, Epi Quizon, Nikki Bacolod, Amy Nobleza, and Young JV also did a great job in taking on their respective roles that indeed complemented the performance of the lead actor.
Of course, the “Sunflower” episode wouldn’t be possible without the well-written script prepared by topnotch writers Joan Habana and Arah Jell Badayos, as well as the top-caliber direction of Direk Raz Dela Torre.
Netizens were likewise inspired and impressed.