REVIEW: MMK “Colored Pens” is Julia Barretto’s shining moment in drama

In what is considered as Julia Barretto’s shining moment in drama, the MMK episode “Colored Pens” elicits much sympathy and resonance, while offering the kind of understanding and awareness about the health issues it raises.

Julia showcased her penetrating portrayal of Ayie, who suffers from bipolar disorder, from start to finish, letting viewers truly feel and comprehend her character’s sad yet real plight.

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Ayie had this illness ever since she was a child (Krystal Mejes) from the trauma she experienced from her father Eman’s (Jeric Raval) maltreatment. After showing signs of distress, Ayie had since left her family and been under the care of her kindhearted grandmother Nanay Alps (Rita Avila).

Her condition worsened when a schoolmate had bullied her, posting a barrage of tweets that maligned and even urged her to take her life. This triggered episodes of severe depression and anxiety, and led to a suicide attempt. Yet her Nanay Alps was always there to comfort and console her, even as she continued to distance herself from her family, especially with the sight of her father frightening her.

Even as she exhibited telltale signs of her mental health troubles, she is castigated and reviled online as she went on to work as a teacher. This led her to plunge into episodes of fits of sudden rage and anguish, a condition even her own family could not fathom, with even her mother Jak (Ara Mina) in denial. While Ayie gets frustrated and tormented, her sister Ingga (Gillian Vicencio) became her strength and inspiration.

It also helped that Marj (Jameson Blake), a once college schoolmate who worked with her in an outreach program, not only understood what she was going through but actually had fallen for her. Their relationship, though challenging, became a foundation that kept her standing.

But little did Ayie know that her own sisters had the same mental health woes, with Issa (Alexa Macanan) ingesting poison in a suicide try.  And her noticing some slash marks on Ingga’s wrists that she first downplayed.

Fighting “monsters”

While Ayie found solace in a jovial and blissful Ingga’s encouraging and endearing words that she would be there for her whatever happens and that she should fight her “monsters” for those who love her, she didn’t know her sister was going through her own personal demons.

One day at work, Ayie would receive a call that will crush her deeply—Ingga had taken her own life by hanging. Ayie is further devastated with the knowledge that as she went through her mental health issues, her beloved little sister who never showed any signs of depression had been afflicted with an unnoticed mental condition that was similar if not worse than hers—and now she is gone.

At Ingga’s wake, Ayie would lay down the bunch of colored pens her kid sister always wanted as she writhed in despair. Her parents would arrive at the wake, with Jak inconsolable and immediately threw a fit at Eman for Ingga’s death because he had been a bad father to them. And as she continued shouting, Ayie would also explode with rage telling her parents that they should both be blamed for her death, since they didn’t take their condition seriously.

Most powerful scene

This was the most powerful scene as it pushed their portrayals to the limit, allowing the actors to show their thespic intensity while displaying touching vulnerability in the scene at hand.

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By the time they would visit Ingga’s grave as a family, Ayie, who had since become a mental health advocate, said her sister’s death should lead to more openness about their condition and that they should not be feared but understood and loved as they bravely face it together.

We are all praises for one of the most outstanding MMK episodes as it dealt with a sensitive topic head on with a brilliant depiction. We also commend the exceptional direction of Cathy Camarillo, who brought the best out of the actors in well-executed scenes that were truly piercing yet thought-provoking.

Ara Mina impressed us with her intense and effective portrayal as Jak, while Rita Avila provided a heartfelt and well-polished performance as Nanay Alps. Other cast members, including Jeric Raval and Jameson Blake, were likewise exceptional, especially the young Ayie, Krystal Mejes, who is emerging as a remarkable young actress.

Plot twist

But among the supporting cast, Gillian Vicencio stood out for a deeply felt, natural depiction of Ingga, whose heartbreaking plight served as a key plot twist.

And definitely this episode made viewers marvel at Julia’s acting intensity, as she displayed a profound connection to her character as she faced her “monsters” in dealing with bipolar disorder.  It is indeed her shining moment as an actress, and everyone should remember her throughout her career for this portrayal.

Netizens were likewise astounded.