Cris Villanueva and Maris Racal on MMK “Finding Papa,” second chances and time as love language

A daughter searches for her father and discovers hideous truths about him. But none of these made her love him any less. Maalaala Mo Kaya would sketch a heartwarming story of a daughter’s unconditional love for her absentee dad, and how the latter found new life in the child he abandoned, in a two-part Father’s Day special topbilled by Cris Villanueva and Maris Racal.

Before MMK “Finding Papa” airs on our digital screens tonight (June 12), Cris and Maris graced Kapamilya Chat to tell more about the episode.

MMK “Finding Papa” begins the narrative with Jericho (Cris) leaving the young Jai (Maris). The longing for paternal love becomes stronger as Jai grows up, thus her search for her father. Tenacity and prayers pay off when she finally tracks him down but it is not the reunion she expected. Jai learns that the father she thought would make her complete is a broken man himself. And that’s where it becomes a more inspiring, arduous journey. 

Cris and Maris were both cast for MMK “Toga” in 2016, though they had zero scenes and interaction. Thus, MMK “Finding Papa” is considered their first time working together. Cris loves working with showbiz neophytes and younger stars.

Most first-timers would feel awkward and intimidated but never in their case.  They had this instant connection that made every scene smooth-flowing and their chemistry as father-daughter believable. It helped that both are giving and good listeners. Cris praised his younger co-star for her generosity. He said Maris comes on set prepared but open to suggestions and she adjusts to her co-stars’ performances. “It has to be a breathe-in-breathe-out acting para maging solid siya, and that’s what I like about Maris, very generous when it comes to acting.” Maris felt kilig hearing such praises from a screen veteran.

It’s worth noting how Cris talked about diligent script-reading, collaboration, and research as part of his preparations – proving that seniority does not guarantee a perfect performance. It would always take intense readiness and professionalism.

Maris considers mental and emotional preparedness a big part of the game, thus the meditation routine. “I find my center para hindi ako naliligaw, hindi ako distracted sa problems. Kasi may days na parang hindi natin kilala ‘yung sarili natin, ‘yung aura mo sobrang messed up.”

On similarities with their characters, Maris and Jai are both social media savvy and like to document special memories. Cris, on the other hand, said he’s the total opposite of Jericho but he appreciates the latter’s determination to get back up.

On the lessons infused in the episode, Maris mentioned giving people second chances. It was an eye-opener for someone like her who easily gives up once trust is broken. “Once na nasaktan na ako nang paulit-ulit, I want out na pero grabe ‘yung dedication ni Jai sa taong mahal niya.”

For Cris, the episode imbues viewers with realizations about time as “the best gift give you can give someone.” “Ganu’n pala ‘yung pagmamahal, when you give your precious time to the other person, so if you have the time to spend with your loved ones, do so. Huwag ninyong ipagdamot,”

Watch the MMK Father’s Day special titled “Finding Papa,” starring Cris Villanueva and Maris Racal and directed by Jerome Pobocan on June 12 and June 19 at 9 pm on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.