Painful, heart-rending, piercing.
Though the hurt you felt seeing the Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos excruciatingly depicting the harrowing tale of a mother deeply burdened by the travails of her ailing special daughter has been quite deep, the relatability and inspiration overcome you.
But what really moves you apart from the inspiring story of Daisy Hernandez is the Vilma’s legendary and exceptional ability to transform into the character herself. You can see the anguish in her eyes and the profound suffering she felt in each second of her appearance.
As such, Maalaala Mo Kaya's classic 2006 episode “Regalo” is her televised dramatic opus beyond compare. Add to that Maja Salvador’s unprecedented breakthrough performance of Daisy’s precious child and cerebral palsy sufferer April, which made critics turn heads and focus intently on what she can offer as an actress. Maja truly matched the kind of thespic excellence an actor needs to show in the same frame as Vilma Santos, and more.
What else can an onscreen dramatic challenge can pose to even renowned thespians than the story of Daisy and April, whose arduous trek as mother and daughter is physically and emotionally difficult to bear. Add to that Ricky Davao’s portrayal of Rey and Erich Gonzales’s breakout role of Concon to the scene, and the satisfying sight of an overwhelming, affectual narrative reached its definitive purpose: making viewers cry buckets.
April’s unfortunate fate starts even at the onset of life—lacking the needed mental and motor skills to lead a normal existence. But that didn’t stop Daisy from giving up, tenderly yet strongly supporting her daughter, tending to her every need—from patiently guiding her to walk straight to actually helping her live a normal student life, despite the scorn and ridicule.
Though it has been difficult for Daisy balancing her needs as an individual with her duties as a wife and a mother, her choice was certainly a no-brainer, yet full of unconditional love—giving up everything for the sake of April.
And, despite her limited capabilities, April only knows and feels one thing—her deep and unfailing love for her mother, who she knows loves her more then she’ll ever know.
Her sacrifices for April seemed bearable at first—since Daisy has been used to the same love and care she gives to her princess ever since she had developed cerebral palsy when she was a toddler. But when she was afflicted with a much more serious life threatening illness, myasthenia gravis, or a neuromuscular, autoimmune, degenerative disease that made it difficult for her to breathe, April’s condition worsened dramatically.
One unforgettable, immensely powerful dramatic scene was when Daisy and Rey rushed April to the hospital with the debilitating symptoms of myasthenia gravis, and hospital staff tried their best to insert a respirator into April’s mouth, the connection between mother and daughter was terribly heartbreaking. As April won’t want to let go, Daisy just fell silent as she released her grasp of her hysterical daughter, agonizingly left to tears by her bedside helpless and devastated as she witnesses April cry out in pain.
Yet another monumental dramatic scene followed when April had apparently lost her vital signs and in the brink of death in the ICU where she was confined for days. Daisy would wrap her arms around her and begged her to hold on and not give up. After Daisy embraced her seemingly lifeless child on the bed for a few minutes with the deafening sound of a flatline further tormenting her, April indeed held on and the welcome sound of a pulse came through. For the love of her mom, April didn’t give up.
When April recovered from near-death, her condition would eventually improve. She was allowed to have her respiratory treatment done at home.
Yet as Daisy still moved mountains just to provide the special care April needed, her urgent rush to leave home for other filial chores made her lose her patience at April’s hardheadedness of not wanting to sit straight to avoid bed sores. Chancing upon a small amount of cash in April’s hand, Daisy would ask Concon what was it all about. She said April was saving up to buy her a Mother’s Day gift. However, due to her rush, Daisy would take the gesture lightly and tell April that the best gift she could give her is to follow her instructions and sit straight.
April was taken aback and thought Daisy was mad at her for being stubborn. She had since been burdened by the thought that her mom might be giving up on her. And, as Concon was feeding her, April would cough out, vomit blood, and lose consciousness. As Rey and Concon tried to revive April, this attack of myasthenia gravis proved fatal. April would then succumb in the arms of her father.
A panic-stricken Daisy would rush back to their home, and as she alighted to reach April’s room. It was too late. April was gone, as Concon and Rey wept unabashedly. Daisy was stunned to the core and could not speak. She would then break down by the house staircase, terribly hurt by the fact that April heaved her last breath when she was not by her side, and regretted that her last encounter with April was not pleasant.
April’s death brought Daisy into seclusion for weeks, staying in her daughter’s room watching her favorite movie, still laden with terrible regret, sorrow, and grief that she wasn’t there for April in her last moments. It’s the hurt a parent, who has never been away from her ill child, would feel when such a tragedy happens—that child passing away in that rare moment she wasn’t there by her side.
Eventually, Daisy would accept her painful loss and move on, but not before thanking April by her grave of the gift of imparting the kind of love she gave her, and to their family, as she strives to move on to become a better wife, mother, and person.
Incredible emotive dimensions
The episode had its astonishing thespic highlights, yet with masterful guidance from Direk Olive Lamasan, who brought incredible emotive dimensions to every character in the story. You would feel their every utterance, dramatic expression, and character validation worthy of thought and emulation.
Production value was first-rate yet authentic, as modest realism lurks in every corner of all the captured scenes, with even everyday sounds of people chattering, TV show dialogues, or vehicles speeding off unmuted. Light design was likewise utterly lifelike, making viewers perceive they are actually beside the actors with their own lines to speak. The musical score also left viewers mesmerized.
Yet nothing can top the superior, distinctive, and harmonious symphony of thespic talent of the cast. Ricky Davao proved his splendid, riveting skill in depicting a true, holistic picture of a caring yet uncompromising father and husband. As a young, emerging young actress at the time, Erich Gonzales is also impressive in showing her dramatic promise with her troubled yet consistent show of emotion.
Maja Salvador became an actress of note since this episode, and this started an eventful string of extraordinary dramatic performances both in film and TV. Her superb portrayal of a mentally and physically challenged individual became her rite of passage to the acting big leagues, and rightfully so, she has cornered a respectable and prominent place in the industry.
WATCH: Maja Salvador reveals number one acting tip from Vilma Santos
Mere words cannot express or measure the immense dramatic reach of Vilma Santos. You just have to witness her to believe and get astonished with every eye movement, line phrasing, raw emotion, expressive gesture she makes on screen. Vilma just satisfies everyone’s insatiable appetite for drama perfection, great thespic talent personified, and MMK “Regalo” further elevates her as a more illuminating Star for All Seasons.