She may be known for her positive outlook in life and bubbly personality, thus her monicker "Ang Ms. Brightside ng Makati City," but former radio DJ and model-turned-Pinoy Big Brother housemate Karen Bordador actually went through a lot of challenges and setbacks in the past five years that she was in jail – as what we have seen in the two-pronged depiction of her inspiring story in the March 12 and 19 episodes of Maalaala Mo Kaya.
Her heartbreaking and stirring journey was impressively portrayed by fast-rising actress Kaila Estrada, who has been concurrently astounding us with her compelling dramatic chops as the antagonistic Raven in the well-loved series Viral Scandal.
Karen’s heartbreaking, stirring journey
In the first part titled “Selda” which aired on March 12, we were able to witness how such a go-getter and a high-flyer Karen was. She used to be on top of her game as she gradually made all her dreams come true – a great career as a radio DJ of popular FM station RX 93.1, a successful business, a promising modelling job, and huge financial earnings – while being a good daughter to her mom. But her once beautiful life instantly had a fateful turn after she got involved in the illegal drug activity of her then-boyfriend, who got arrested in a buy-bust operation at the same time she came to visit him in 2016.
Thankfully, her mom had been there to support and console her ever since the very moment that she had to go through the grueling process of her arraignment, as she firmly believed that her daughter couldn’t do drugs. Despite their pleas and negotiations with the police officers, Karen was still sent to jail. It may have enormously taken a toll on them, especially emotionally and mentally, yet both Karen and her mom still chose to be strong and optimistic that their ordeal would end soon. They were able to gain the favor of the police officers and her inmates as Karen’s mother brought food for all of them every time she came to visit.
Just when they assumed that her case would finally get dismissed after the results of her drug test turned negative, Karen was instead transferred to the city jail as the court decided that she’s guilty. As her fellow detainees in the district jail warned her of having more excruciating experiences in the new facility, she was surprised to see that her inmates, who used to be professionals, were welcoming and nice. Thus, she was able to make friends easily, such as with their cell coordinator Risa (Karla Pambid) and Vanessa (Lou Yanong). While in the city jail, her life had been more routinary as they moved according to schedule, yet at the same time, she was also able to enrich her skills in arts and crafts by taking part in the individual welfare development program.
As she opted to see her plight as just a college or journalistic work immersion and tried to enjoy it, she still couldn’t help herself from breaking down or being apathetic, especially when she was told that there’s a possibility for her to stay in jail for a long time.
In the second part of her story titled “Tablet” which aired last March 20, we were able to see a more zealous Karen who brought life and light to her inmates. As she found her life still “a little disorienting”, her mom’s consistent presence despite the heightened security in the correctional facility, as well as the presents she brought her, such as books, Bible, new journal, and pillow indeed helped her power through.
As she tried her best each day to cope, Karen was, at the same time, able to help their mentally-challenged inmate named Nikka by hiring her to be her servant in exchange of money that she could use inside the jail or to send to her family outside. With the hearings of her cases getting delayed a number of times, Karen was able to celebrate several Christmases, New Years, and her birthdays in prison, as well as witnessed the arrivals and departures of other prisoners, such as Risa. Because of the congeniality and leadership she brandished, she was tapped and unanimously picked to be the next coordinator.
Albeit the optimism she had in her, Karen couldn’t help but be disheartened when her petition for bail got denied. In one of her conversations with her mom, she wasn’t able to hold back her emotions as her mom insisted for them to discuss her case, while she kept on dodging it and blabbed about her experiences and plans as the new coordinator.
The COVID-19 pandemic also made their plight more difficult as they had to resort on e-dalaw (or electronic dalaw), where they only had the opportunity to talk with their loved ones through video call as physical visits were prohibited. At the same time, there were further delays in the hearings of their cases, too, not to mention the death of the judge assigned to her case.
Fortunately, the new judge was prompt enough to review her case and was able to immediately give his verdict. She may have almost failed to attend the hearing because of the internet connection problems inside the facility, but she was able to still make it and finally received the sweetest words she’d been pining to hear in the past five years – acquitted!
Karen was indeed over the moon to be finally free and go back to the outside world last year, bringing with her the memories, lessons, and friendships she had in jail.
Overall impressive performances
These MMK episodes were indeed highly anticipated by viewers, especially by the fans of Karen who had been yearning to find out what really happened to her in the past five years, and of promising actresses Kaila and Lou who were both models before venturing to acting.
Kaila is truly a “revelation” as she amazed everyone with her dramatic chops, which she definitely got from her esteemed actor-parents Janice de Belen and John Estrada. It was absolutely amazing how she’s able to pull off her heavy drama scenes wherein it was seemingly effortless for her to let her tears roll down her face and exude the emotions needed.
Lou also received praises for her impressive performance and unmistakable chemistry with Kaila, to the point that netizens wished for them to be in another project together anew. The same went for veteran thespian Shamaine Buencamino, who indeed succeeded in pulling our heartstrings with her compelling portrayal of a mother who relentlessly showed her unconditional love for her daughter and fought for the freedom and for justice to prevail for her daughter.
The remarkable performances of the other supporting cast members, which included Teetin Villanueva, Karla Pambid, and Karen Bordador herself couldn’t be missed as well. Audiences were indeed stoked to see Karen play another character in her own story.
Episode writers Maribel Ilag and Arah Jell Badayos, together with director Raz S. Dela Torre, indeed did a great job in putting up and helming a beautiful story that stirred and pierced the hearts of everyone.