What’s fascinating about the Best of Maalaala Mo Kaya on the Kapamilya Channel is how we get to look back at current luminaries in the showbiz spotlight showed their massive dramatic highlights and breakthroughs as artists.
In its August 15 offering, Best of MMK featured the May 2008 Mother’s Day episode “Card,” which not only showcased the versatility and extensiveness of Bea Alonzo’s craft, but also introduced a bright, promising, and incredibly talented child actress, named Mara Schnittka. Mara would further shine in the limelight after her first MMK dramatic stint and eventually rechristened with the screen name “Julia Montes.”
As we watched, the episode was replete with impressive dramatic elements, from the realistic production design to the compelling story it narrated. It also brought us to the enrapturing sight of a deglamorized Bea Alonzo as the devoted and loving nanny Adela, who made the portrayal utterly believable from the get-go.
Adela is the eldest child in a large brood, yet couldn’t find favor with her struggling parents trying to make both ends meet. She would then decide to try to make a living in the city so she could help support her impoverished family and save up for her education.
She would then find a job as a nanny for an influential family, tasked to care for a baby named Abby, an unwanted love child of a young heiress. The family matriarch (Liza Lorena) would compel her household to consider Abby as adopted, and not an “accidental” offspring, to avoid embarrassment.
From the time Adela began caring for Abby, she would gradually develop a deep, emotional bond with the child, seeing her as her own. Even if she was merely paid to do the job, Adela sees more of her role as a real mother, exerting that extra effort, time, and attention for Abby’s welfare. She would always be at the child’s side, easing her discomforts, while making her feel loved.
As Abby grew, she became convinced that Adela was actually her “nanay” realizing gradually that the family considers her as an outsider. In spite of this, Abby still found a real mom in Adela, who would always go the extra mile to make her happy. And, Adela’s kindness and love influenced Abby to do the same, making her sensitive and responsive to the needs of others.
Even if Abby is not her real child, Adela’s maternal connection towards her was unbreakable. She would cheer her up on special occasions, defend her from school bullies, and act as her mouthpiece when she actually needed something from her family.
Her intense devotion came to a point that she even forgets herself, and her happiness. And even as she met a man of her dreams and married him, Adela could not leave Abby by herself and kept her husband at bay.
This was until Abby found out the truth from the family matriarch that she’s not adopted and that she is her real grandchild, a love child of her daughter but kept in seclusion to avoid public humiliation. Abby was devastated, thinking she was made to believe a terrible lie, and she then vented her anger towards Adela, whom she rebuked for not telling her the truth.
Just a nanny
Abby told Adela she was a liar like everyone else in the family. And when Adela denied it and told Abby to stop, the child would further blurt out that she was never her mom and that she was just a nanny.
Pained with what she heard, Adela would hit Abby in the mouth. Abby’s grandmother witnessed it and furiously shoved, nudged, and kicked Adela on the floor and told her to leave.
As Adela was packing her things, a weeping Abby told Adele she did not have to leave right away and apologized for what she said. But Adela told she shouldn’t feel sorry for her because she was actually right. She is just a nanny. From the onset, she actually really was merely trying to earn a living for her family. But, she said that to her own fault, she had grown to love her deeply and treat her as her own. But even so, she is not her real mother and they have to accept it and move on.
She then fell ill, and Abby would then take it upon herself to care for her beloved “nanay.” Seeing this, Adela felt satisfied and fulfilled that despite everything, she has taught Abby well.
Time came when Abby made Adela feel that she can let go of her and find her own happiness. She said she can do things on her own, without anyone’s help.
Eventually, Adela would leave Abby to fend for herself as she starts and raises her own family with her husband. As they live their own lives, Adela and Abby’s “maternal” bond would never fade.
A moving tale that truly grips and touches everyone’s hearts, “Card” is likewise a visual gem that resonates and captivates with its abject realism in characterization and production value. Direk Nuel Naval made the scenes as accurate as the situations depicted as possible—from the mannerisms of the actors to great lighting design. Joan Habana’s script is likewise so piercing and impactful, highlighting the deep characterizations in vivid detail.
Mara Schnittka, or Julia Montes, appeared in her first MMK episode in this 2008 outing and we already knew how much of a dramatic princess she would become in the years that followed. Even at her tender pre-adolescence, Julia poured out a sublime and deep portrayal of an innocent young girl faced with a difficult predicament.
For Bea Alonzo, this has certainly proven how deserving she is of having an illuminating stature in the industry, displaying the breadth and depth of a fine actress in this episode. She forgot herself truly and became the character genuinely and organically, apart from the magnificent true-to-life appearance she exhibited as an honest-to-goodness nanny, with a believable, impeccable portrayal from start to finish.