Halloween season may be already over, but Maalaala Mo Kaya still sent chills down our spines through its suspense-horror episode on Saturday, November 19, that follows the story of John Gregor “Billy” Cruz II, a man whose life has been filled with fright due to his “gift” of seeing spirits, impeccably portrayed by RK Bagatsing.
The spine-chilling episode
Ever since he was a kid, paranormal encounters have been a normal part of Billy’s life because of his third eye is open. He’s able to see and speak with ghosts, especially when their family lived in a haunted house. However, instead of considering it as a special “gift,” his father Daniel (Arnold Reyes) only saw it as a weird behavior and pure nonsense. Instead of acknowledging it, he wanted Billy to live normally, fearing that people would get away from him, make fun of him, or even call him “baliw.”
Although that absolutely hurt him, Billy realized that those were true. So, as much as possible, he tried his best to keep to himself the entities that he saw or hear until he became an adult. And his daddy’s fears came true when Billy confessed to his friends about his supernatural abilities and they also perceived him as mentally-ill.
Fortunately, his aunt or Mama Ta (Malou de Guzman) has been there by his side to protect and understand him, as well as to remind him that it is a “gift” that he should cherish and be proud of. Besides, he must also not mind what others think of him and just focus on who he really is.
But instead of listening to her, he tried to change who he is in order to fit in, even when their family migrated to the United States after his parents got separated. He’s able to keep himself occupied with studies, work, and passion, as well as be in a long-distance relationship with a girl named Carol (Ingrid dela Paz). Just when things are okay between them, his ability to see visions made him appear irrational because he couldn’t tell nor explain it to her, which ensued to their misunderstandings and fights.
His ‘hallucinations’ then got triggered upon seeing her pregnant with another man’s child when he went back here in the Philippines. As he got overwhelmed by sadness and the voices that he heard, he overdosed himself. Thus, his Mama Ta once again reminded him to just focus on himself and not what others say, as well as for him to never hesitate to seek help whenever he felt like needing it.
As he continued to seek validation from others, he got into another relationship with Berna (Maika Rivera), which once again didn’t work out upon finding out his “gift.” That happened when he witnessed a possession right inside a worship place, which the pastor forbade him to tell others as it would make them think that evil could infiltrate the church and for their faith to not weaken.
This made Billy decide to just really keep his “special powers” to himself, until he met Lorraine (Ryza Cenon), who made him feel comfortable to talk about it and the ghosts that he sees. He began to sleep at her house and one night saw a man, who she assumed might be her late abusive partner who took his own life due to his drug addiction.
Just when he thought that he’s already the woman he had been looking for, it was later on revealed that she’s lunatic after hurting Billy in one of their intense altercations. All along, his Mama Ta had been right about her hunch that there’s something scary about Lorraine on the first time that they met.
Despite what she did to him, Billy was still inexplicably obsessed with Lorraine and was even the one who’s apologetic about what happened to them. Her real identity was eventually revealed when he came back at her house and encountered two monstrous versions of her.
As Mama Ta sought the help of Apo Rolly (Rolando Inocencio), it was discovered that he was experiencing “nalumay” or being manipulated and bewitched. And Lorraine’s main reason of doing so is not to get back to him, but to exact vengeance on him. Mama Ta also showed him the medallion Billy had been wearing to ward off evil spirits, which the faith healer disclosed wasn’t really effective at all. Prayers and faith are more powerful than it or any amulet.
Apo Rolly also encouraged him to fight and help himself because he believed that Billy could, yet he was just restraining himself. He also taught him a prayer that he could recite whenever his “hallucinations” struck. And he was able to prove its power and of his own strength and faith during his encounter with the negative voices and Lorraine’s spirit that almost killed him, as he successfully defeated them.
After everything that he went through, Apo Rolly reminded him that it was really his faith in God, his strength and bravery, and his “mga gabay” or the good spirits that have been protecting him that helped him get through it. Apo Rolly also thought him how to use his gift properly since it’s indeed dangerous to be part of the paranormal world, which allowed him to help other people after he decided to make it as his vocation.
Besides, Billy has already finally come to terms with himself and acknowledged the fact that not everyone could accept him. He has also finally met the woman who completely loves him and understands his mission – Eloisa.
The relatable takeaways
The “Medalyon” episode might be horror, yet it was still able to impart life lessons that we could apply in our lives.
As many of us tend to be “people-pleasers,” it has been a challenge for us to seek the validation of others and long for their acceptance. However, we forgot that the first step that we must take in order to achieve is to accept ourselves first and acknowledge the things that we have. We must learn to love ourselves first, determine our strengths and weaknesses, and discover our gifts that could help us find out what makes us unique and how we can be of help to the people around us, or even to the world.
Just take for example what happened to Billy, who’s refusal to embrace his true self and share his “gifts” to the world had put him in a terrible and horrifying situation that he almost wasn’t able to overcome. We must keep in mind that each one us has unique gifts that we must discover, utilize, and nurture not just for ourselves, but for others as well, since those are part of who we are. After all, accepting oneself is the first step for us to experience genuine peace and happiness.
Besides, we should not also hesitate to seek help whenever we need it, just like what Mama Ta has been reminding Billy. For sure, there are people in our lives who would always be willing to listen to and understand us without prejudice.
The astounding performances of the cast
Just like other genres, horror also requires a different level of acting as the actors must be able to make the viewers feel goosebumps, frightened, and shocked in order for a project under this genre would be successful. And the cast of MMK “Medallion” indeed delivered to their jobs.
This was probably the first time when we saw RK Bagating do horror, which he nailed astonishingly. He was indeed able to make us feel his emotions throughout the entire episode. The same goes to Malou de Guzman, who made us miss the mother figures in our lives through her compelling portrayal of the doting Mama Ta, as well as to Ryza Cenon who really scared the hell out of us with her astounding performance as Lorraine.
The supporting ensemble, comprised by Ynigo Delen, Rolando Inocencio, Arnold Reyes, Jonic Magno, Maika Rivera, and Ingrid Dela Paz also did amazing jobs in playing their respective roles despite their very limited exposure.
Thus, kudos to brilliant Director Froy Allan P. Leonardo and seasoned writer Jerry Gracio, and everyone who were part of this production, for pulling off a remarkable episode.
Here are some of the nice feedbacks we got from Twittizens who were able to catch “#MMKTheAwakening”: