The COVID-19 pandemic may have taken a toll on every aspect of our lives and of our society, but this didn’t hinder some of us from showing love, kindness, and generosity to those who are in dire need, despite having less in life as well. Just like taho vendor-turned-viral vlogger Gimmy Panis Conos, whose inspiring life was featured in the latest episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya.
The moving life story Tatay Gimmy
Titled “Taho,” the MMK episode followed the story of Tatay Gimmy, compellingly portrayed by veteran actor Joey Marquez, who, despite not having much in life and being sick, still willingly shares whatever he has to others in need. Coming from a broken family, he eventually decided to live on his own when his abusive mother continued to maltreat him when they moved to Manila with his younger sibling, while his older brother and father were left in Tacloban City, Leyte.
He worked as construction worker in Cavite, where he met Daniel (Joel Molina), a taho vendor who enticed him to venture on selling taho, which offers an income that’s comparatively higher than the salary he got from his job. He also taught him how to immediately sell their product.
Gimmy finally got reunited with his Kuya Benjamin, who he had not seen for a long time, and he invited him to stay with him and his wife in their house somewhere in Fairview. But seeing the displeased reaction of her sister-in-law, Gimmy declined Benjamin’s offer and simply told him that he didn’t want to barge in the family they’re building.
He may not have a family of his own, to whom he should be celebrating his birthday and Christmas with, yet he’s still able to find family in other people who treated him as one. Viewers were surely touched to see him help the people around him -- from letting a student pay less for the taho she bought, being a real-life Santa Claus who gives away free taho every Christmas, to helping a desperate woman come home to his family by giving her a portion of his money.
While life is already hard for him, it was made even more difficult by his diabetes that resulted in a mild stroke. Despite his illness, Gimmy continued to sell taho. Some of his patrons noticed his frail physique, with his suking doctor offering him free maintenance medicines and the others handing him money that could help him make both ends meet.
Things got worse when the pandemic began, which prohibited him from selling taho. But that didn’t stop from being a blessing to others, as Gimmy decided to simply give it away to everyone he would meet along the way. That’s when he started to become famous, after a news team spotted his good deed and broadcast it on television and online. It went viral on social media and many people were able to easily recognize him. He met a vlogger who encouraged him to utilize his fame by putting up his own channel and creating content that can be monetized. Being a modern technology and social media noob, he sought the help of his nephew Margaux (John Vincent Servilla) in making an account.
As his vlogs started to get noticed, a concerned netizen named Mary (Eisel Serrano) reached out to them and proposed to organize an online fundraising campaign for him, from which they’re able to successfully earn a huge amount of money. But more than the monetary aid, the most rewarding part of it was it helped mend the rift between her and her overseas Filipino worker-mother, who’s now so proud of her.
Apart from Mary and Margaux, there was also Teacher Jazz (Maru Delgado) who assisted him in making his vlogs. It was also to him to whom Tatay Gimmy confided that the reason why he decided to be a ‘confirmed bachelor’ is his fear of having another broken family like the one he used to have.
His channel may have encountered a problem, but the unwavering and overwhelming support he got from his viewers and the family he has formed with Margaux, Mary, and Jazz were already enough to keep him going. And now, vlogging has been his main source of income along with selling taho, not to mention that he has already received his Silver Play Button from YouTube as well.
The impressive storytelling, performance of the cast
Known for his flair in comedy, Joey Marquez indeed astounded the viewers with his dramatic chops in this MMK episode. He earned praises for his impeccable portrayal of Tatay Gimmy that truly touched the hearts of everyone.
The supporting ensemble comprised of Levi Ignacio, Henz Villaraiz, Joel Molina, Maru Delgado, and Eisel Serrano, also did a great job in their respective characters and impressed us with their performances. Fans of Pinoy Big Brother alums Crismar Menchavez, Abi Kassem, Amanda Zamora, and Argel Saycon also gushed over their appearances and hope to see more of them in the next episodes.
Of course, top-caliber director Jerome Pobocan and brilliant writer Mae Rose Balanay-Batacan should also be credited for their amazing work in telling the story of Tatay Gimmy, as well as the rest of the staff and crew for their unparalleled contributions in mounting this episode.
Aside from the commendable storytelling, what makes this episode remarkable are the life lessons were able to derive from it, such as learning to find something good and what would make us happy in every struggle or terrible situation that we’re going through, as well as that the kindness definitely goes a long way and will surely be rewarded in the way you least expected it.