REVIEW: RK Bagatsing, Gina Pareño deliver powerful, convincing portrayals in MMK "Surfboard”

The whole point behind the stories shared in Maalalaala Mo Kaya’s (MMK) is to inspire through the real-life story of ordinary people. The May 1 episode, the re-airing of the gripping “Surfboard,” stars RK Bagatsing as Harry Marzan — a man who’s no stranger to challenges. Harry has become so used to being challenged that at one point in his life, it was finally time for things to go smoothly for him. However, life has other plans for him as he is yet thrown another wave of difficult circumstances.

The story opens with Harry on the beach doing what he loves the most — surfing. Harry loves surfing so much that he frequently tells his grandmother (Gina Pareño) about it, even when she didn’t really fully understand what the whole fuss was about. But this is exactly what highlights the kind of relationship that Harry has with his grandmother — intimate, pure, and just filled with unconditional love. 

Here we learn that Harry has been stuck in a phase in his life where he just could not get things to go his way. More specifically, it took him eight long years to complete his college degree, and the person whom he depended on all this time was his loving grandmother who lovingly listens to all his stories when he comes back from his surfing trips.

Contrary to his closeness with his grandparent, Harry had an estranged relationship with his mother, which he never sought to fix because he felt like it was too much load. Instead, what he fixed his eyes on was, of course, surfing and acing the Board Exam so he can finally become an engineer and reverse the roles that he and his grandmother play.

Harry begins to open up more to surfing as he really found a place where he could just be in the moment and not be dragged by life’s struggles and painful memories. What was once an interest slowly became a hobby for him. With a little pressure from his surfing pals, he entered a competition and won. However, due to a drunk driving incident involving Harry and two of his friends, he found himself in a critical condition in the hospital. 



His grandmother was there for him as she always was, but things began to take a turn for the worst for Harry. Of all the three car passengers, Harry suffered the most injury so much so that his deteriorating arm needed to be cut off or else, he could die. This wasn’t an easy decision to make because this would also mean that Harry’s life would never be the same.

Still they did what needed to be done and shortly after, Harry was back home with her grandmother. But this time, the atmosphere was different. Harry was filled with anger and regret over the things that happened to him because just when he was inches away from making things happen, he faces this massive wave that he just can’t shake. It wasn’t easy for him to be a handicapped, especially with the denial in his heart that life will be different for him from now on.

Just when Harry thinks that he is starting to move on, this is when he and his grandmother really come face to face with how he is truly feeling. Gina Pareño did a spectacular job of portraying an encouraging and supportive lola to RK’s character. She reminded him of how he needs to discern his feelings as that is the only real thing that can help him move forward from where he is now.



RK’s answers back to Gina’s performance with an equally compelling scene as his character began expressing his grief, regret, anger, and everything else that he was feeling. It was a truly remarkable thing to witness especially since the subject matter is quite relatable to anyone who’s had a family member to stick with them through thick and thin.

Harry’s biggest regret was that he could not even do the thing he loved anymore. Luckily, more people are looking out for him this time. Apart from his grandmother, his surfing group served as a support community for his inner healing so this gave him the strength to keep on going. When all these support came pouring in, Harry eventually realized that it is only in surrendering to the situation and accepting who and what he is now, will he be able to move forward and, still, make the most out of life.

This marked a change in his perspective and started to bounce back for real, this time, with a stronger heart and will to let go of the pain of the past and look to the possibility waiting for him in the future. The story ends with Harry being able to compete in surfing events again. But most importantly he felt good about himself and about where he was. He was riding the waves of life.



Not only was this story one for the books for anyone who feels like the challenges come as a never-ending series of waves, another thing that makes this MMK episode stand out is how effective the choice of lead roles were, thanks to the masterful creative guidance of director Raz dela Torre. It’s almost impossible to imagine RK Bagatsing and Gina Pareño as anything else other than grandmother and grandson because of their powerful, convincing performances. The way RK played a handicapped man going through a deep sorrow was also spot on. All the shots taken at the beach, especially the ones with RK actually surfing made the storytelling more realistic. 

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