Claudine Barretto’s grand comeback to television through the 2015 Maalaala Mo Kaya episode “Itak” rekindled her impressive dramatic prominence and skill that made her the “Optimum Star” in the early days of her career.
In the episode, which was re-aired on Saturday, September 25, displayed the depth and range of her craft as Leni, a rape victim when she was five years old in the hands of her own father, Ramon (Gardo Versoza). As Ramon was eventually proven guilty of his crime and got convicted, he was pardoned six years later.
After his shortened jail sentence, Ramon returned home, still showing the same viciousness and carnality when he first raped Leni. That made Leni worry for her younger 17-year-old sister Aileen (Mika dela Cruz), who was living under the same roof with their father. And soon enough, Ramon began his lascivious acts against his innocent daughter and this led to rape. Feeling helpless over the trauma, Aileen ran away and kept the devastating experience all to herself.
Leni would soon learn that her fears were proven true—her father had also raped Aileen. Because of this, Leni searched far and wide for her sister’s whereabouts until fate finally brought them together. However, they would face another ordeal with Aileen learning that she is pregnant with Ramon’s child.
They filed a rape case against their father, who faced trial. But during the hearings, Aileen held back in her testimony, fearing embarrassment and shame over what Ramon did to her. Leni then urged her to fight, saying she must try her best to bring her father back behind bars to avoid a similar fate to happen to their younger siblings still living with him.
Aileen however told Leni that she feared reprisals over the incident, saying that it was totally unacceptable for other people to know that she is carrying the child of her own father, or carrying her own sister in her womb—something that will make people look at her with disdain. But Leni urged her to fight since she is innocent of partaking in the crime and she is the victim.
Leni also asked for Aileen’s forgiveness for not protecting her from her father, since she could have taken her away from her abusive father’s clutches, even if it was against her will. But Aileen told Leni it was not her fault, since she chose to stay with them. She would vow to stand up against their father at the trial to finally put a halt to his evil deeds.
After she testified against Ramon, a surprise witness came forward. It was their mother Nora (Maureen Mauricio), who previously always gave a blind eye to Ramon’s atrocities and allowed him to destroy their daughters’ lives. She admitted her failures in court, corroborated Aileen’s testimony, and asked for her daughters’ forgiveness in letting Ramon commit his crimes against them.
As Ramon was again handed down a guilty verdict and sentenced to life imprisonment, Leni and Aileen try to move on with their lives. Even as she bears the child of her father, Aileen said she would continue to be strong fighting difficulties and challenges that come her way, all for the sake of her newborn. Leni told her she would always remain supportive of her as she continues her perilous journey.
While the story is provocative and attention-grabbing, the creative execution of the scenes were impeccable, thanks to veteran director Jerry Lopez-Sineneng’s masterful guidance. The somber mood yet powerful message provides a superb impact that truly fascinated viewers.
Claudine Barretto’s exceptional acting has also brought out the best in Mika dela Cruz, who proved her acting brilliance in the episode, as she nailed the terrible trauma a young girl feels being victimized by her own flesh and blood.