Kapamilya React: Jake Cuenca reminisces about MMK portrayals through the years

In his 16 years as a Kapamilya, Jake Cuenca has certainly astounded us with his acting prowess through his remarkable stints in television shows and movies that he starred in. And among those was in Maalaala Mo Kaya, wherein he’s able to show us his range as an actor and his chemistry with his fellow ABS-CBN talents.

As the iconic long-running drama anthology is about to end, he looked back on some of his appearances on the show and shared a few things about those in this episode of Kapamilya React.

The first episode shown to him was “Litrato,” which he top-billed opposite Angel Locsin, who just transferred then to ABS-CBN from their former network. He couldn’t help but smile and laugh about how their looks were really different 15 to 16 years ago. According to him, this was what brought them the 2011 flick “In The Name Of Love,” which they headlined alongside Aga Muhlach and served as a part of the special presentation for the 18th anniversary of Star Cinema.

It wasn’t the first time that they got to work together since they were both part of a teen drama series in the early 2000s, yet he finds the said MMK episode memorable because it’s their first show together as both Kapamilyas. Besides, he always feels proud every time he works and sees his name beside Angel Locsin because of how a great actress she indeed is. Thus, it is definitely something that he’ll forever treasure and never forget.

When asked what is the happiest and most challenging part of his every MMK appearance, Jake said that regardless if it’s a heavy or light episode, acting for the well-loved show is always a challenge for him since the management has expectations on what they want to see from an actor or the episode itself.

He stated, “Everytime I do an MMK, certainly, alam mo ‘yong feeling na kapag gagawa ka ng play or kapag gagawa ka ng pelikula? Gano’n ‘yong kaba, gano’n ‘yong nerbiyos, gano’n ‘yong expectations, at gano’n ‘yong pressure.”

Next one was the “Palayan” episode, in which he played the role of Igge, a good-hearted son who took the responsibility of taking care of his half-siblings after their mother died, only to be left behind by them to pursue their personal endeavors. Watching himself execute well his dramatic indeed brought him goosebumps and made him repeatedly utter “wow”.

He remarked, “I won’t forget this kasi parang this is a different phase of my life. Kumbaga, I started to see acting differently, I started to look at it more intellectually.”

The 34-year-old actor may not be able to recall anymore how he braced himself for that totally emotional scene, but he imparted that the process that he did before is completely different to how he does it at present since he hadn’t gone to acting school when he did the aforementioned episode.

With regards on how MMK has helped him to become versatile actor that he is now, he related, “I always say that the best tool that an actor can have is to have empathy. And the thing is, with this show, you have to have empathy kasi you have to be able to put yourself in the person’s shoes in the show. But more than anything, that’s what MMK does teach you also.”

He also shared his observation on how MMK has evolved through the years in terms of the stories that it showcases by featuring complex true-to-life narratives, just like its three-part “Tatlong Dekada ng Pasasalamat” offering entitled “Scarlet Women”, starring his Viral Scandal co-stars Kaila Estrada and Karina Bautista.

Seeing the “Spaghetti” episode he did with Andi Eigenmann and Arci Muñoz in 2015 made him realize that his stints in MMK had actually paved the way for him to do more projects. It had been a breeze for him to work with Andi, to whom he’s friends with in real life and he initially got to work with in the 2012 Kapamilya soap opera Kahit Puso’y MasugatanHis chemistry with Arci apparently impressed the management, too, which gave birth to their team up in the Philippine adaptation of Pasion De Amor that same year.

“What’s sad about MMK ending is it’s an opportunity, it really is a break. Kung isa kang artista and you want to show them that you’re a serious actor, MMK is the place to be,” he said.

Last was the “Blouse” episode, which he topbilled with his best friend Ria Atayde in 2021. It was their first time to work with one other, and their last MMK stint at the same time. He divulged that they recently exchanged texts upon learning that the show is going to an end. This brought them Viral Scandal, which was produced by RCD Narratives, the same production unit that handles MMK, and was shot on the same location – which really blew his mind.

Being able to portray the life of ordinary persons in a cinematic way through MMK is indeed something that his grateful for. He reiterated the value of having empathy and stated, “For a brief moment, you know what this character went through and you try to live in this character’s shoe. So, certainly, some of the characters that I portrayed have been through a lot. For me, it’s an honor.”

Jake continued, “To all the MMKs that I’ve done, to all the characters that I’ve portrayed in MMK, certainly it’s been an honor and thank you for being part of my journey, my journey as an actor. Thank you so much, Maalaala Mo Kaya.”