Everyone marvels at a love story when two people would seem a match made in heaven, when we see them perfect for each other, like that coffee brew we all enjoy with right mix and flavor.
But in reality, nothing can be farther from the truth when two people who are totally from different backgrounds, and in this week’s MMK Episode “Hot Choco,” from distant ages.
Yet love indeed finds a way, if true and genuine, no matter how immense the gap is.
And in this episode, who could even imagine the pair of Elisse Joson and Richard Gutierrez, despite their differences, gelling well in terms of onscreen chemistry and dramatic compatibility? And while they belong to different sides of the showbiz spectrum, watching the episode made us feel they had long been quite a pair.
From the get-go, the connection is unmistakable, when Elisse as Shareena and Richard as Tito first made contact at the coffee shop, where his order for a hot choco ignited her deep and overwhelming yearning for the man of her dreams.
And while they did not have any encounter in the few years since her initial fascination, fate will then bring them together at a foundation where she worked while she was studying—he was her boss. After all the chance meet-ups, Shareena would find a way to get Tito’s undivided attention—she would borrow money from him to pay for her tuition.
It actually became an opportunity for her to get closer to him. When she would pay him in their meet-ups, Shareena would get to talk and know about him more. And when she had paid her last installment, it was the time she finally admitted her feelings for him, and gave him a cute gift: a keychain with hanging miniature Chuck Taylor shoe. It became quite an awkward situation, since it was Shareena wooing Tito.
While Tito felt uncomfortable at first, Shareena would eventually melt his heart with her “courtship”, sending heartfelt messages, preparing his favorite hot choco on his desk and leaving notes in his car’s windshield. They would even have slow dance in their first date after seeing a man propose to his girlfriend at a restaurant.
He says ‘yes’
It was after that date when Tito suddenly avoided Shareena, who thought he had “ghosted” her. And after a few months, Tito suddenly called her to a rendezvous by the bay, where Tito explained that he intentionally tried to avoid her to size up his feelings for her since he said he had begun to fall in love with her. He would then say “yes” to her.
As a couple, they would raise eyebrows, from the workplace to their households. But they would fight for their relationship, no matter what, and would show everyone how much they love one another. And when they decided to take their relationship to the next level—co-habiting at Tito’s residence—and this didn’t sit well with Sharenna’s father (Allan Paule), who thought her daughter would be at a loss with that setup.
But Shareena went on with her co-habiting relationship with Tito, and they would experience rough patches. But nothing else could draw the ire of Tito than discussing marriage, which broke Shareena’s heart. She would even catch Tito’s chat conversation with an ex-flame that really piqued her. And the worst of all, Shareena had been suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease, something she could not get from anyone else than Tito.
After this revelation, she would leave his place and return to her home, where she tearfully admitted to her father that indeed she had rushed things when she decided to live with Tito.
But Tito realized how he needed Shareena more than ever, and loved her deeply and genuinely. And when he saw her strolling with officemates in the street, he would approach her, embrace her, and tell her he couldn’t live without her. And as he hugged her, Shareena would collapse due to severe abdominal pain.
When he rushed her to the hospital, doctors discovered that she had a dangerous ectopic pregnancy that had her child attached outside her uterus and hung by her left fallopian tube. This needed surgery and unfortunately a necessary abortion to save her life.
And because the procedure had been a life and death situation, Tito would storm the heavens asking that Shareena’s life be saved for he truly and deeply loves her.
What transpired next was the most endearing and heartwarming, exceptionally acted scene wherein Shareena woke up at her hospital bed and saw Tito by her side. She would ask him if their baby was saved, and Tito heartbreakingly answered no. As Shareena was devastated with the news weeping her heart out, Tito sympathized with her also shedding buckets with the misfortune. But as Tito kept on comforting Shareena, he would then make a touching declaration: he might have feared marriage a lot but nothing else could fear him more than losing her. And after he said that, he would kneel on one knee took out that keychain with that dangling miniature Chuck Taylor shoe she gave him, with an engagement ring. He asked her if she could marry him. And she said yes.
They would since walk the aisle, vowing their never-ending commitment to each other forever, with one of the most electrifying onscreen kisses on record.
This episode struck everyone’s hearts with a tale that reflects every thrilling and painful stage in a relationship between two individuals. We can all identify with Shareena and Tito, and their love journey from their kilig first moments to the realization that they are each other’s forever. How they would feel the bliss of the onset of love, facing all the difficulties, overcoming all doubts, and staying together despite all odds.
Direk Andoy in his element
Director Andoy Ranay was definitely in his element in carving out a heartwarming, unforgettable episode, pushing the cast and production team to give out their best. Scenes were well-shot and impressively executed to make the episode both a visual treat and a storytelling marvel.
Who could not welcome Richard Gutierrez back to the genre he was known for—enthralling us with his princely looks and his impeccable craft as an actor. Richard remains the matinee idol of old in all aspects and his onscreen tandem with Elisse Joson shows his leading man charm would not fade, whoever he is paired with.
Elisse, who has been a favorite artist to take a lead female role in the drama anthology, did not let the producers down with yet another exceptional performance. She portrayed a wide-ranging evolution of sorts—from a giddy juvenile who would base her feelings of love on mere kilig to encountering the real hurt and painstaking reality of relationships, until she finds the validation she needed, finding forever in a man she truly loves.