One’s first love is always unforgettable, as this is the earliest time a person feels the pleasure and wonder, likewise the hurt and harshness that come with it at a young age.
In the February 19 episode of Maalaala Mo Kaya, we look back at one adorable yet captivating tale of first love initially aired in February 2008, titled “Popcorn.”
Katkat (Eliza Pineda) seems like all of us who first encountered love at an early age—seeing that person she fell madly in love with all too suddenly. It started with a glance as she passed by a carnival, where the cute boy, Roel (Joshua Dionisio), was selling popcorn. Katkat was intrigued and very much interested to meet Roel, but couldn’t find the courage to approach him.
Time came when she gathered the strength to return to Roel’s popcorn stand only to find his brother manning it. When he accommodated her, she asked who was the other boy overseeing the store in other days. He said it was his brother Roel, who happened to drop by at that moment. They finally meet, and he shook her hand to her utter kilig.
In the next days, Katkat was left heartbroken when she found out that Roel was actually interested in courting another girl, her friend Marie (Mikylla Ramirez). He would even ask Katkat to act as a bridge for him to woo Marie.
But it didn’t take long before the tides changed, and Roel suddenly turned his attention to Katkat. He said he lost interest in Marie, whom he described as finicky. Because of this, Roel tried to get closer to Katkat, making her feel special every time they meet.
They became closer when Katkat agreed to go on a simple date with Roel that turned into a night spent manning his popcorn stand with him. He would accompany her home, and before saying goodbye, he said “I love you” and kissed her on the cheek, which meant they have started their “puppy love.”
By this time, Katkat could not get Roel out of her mind, and looked forward to always return to the carnival and meet her dashing “boyfriend.” And, yes, they went on a date again, this time during a town fiesta, and Katkat sneaked out of her home just to meet Roel.
When they met by the popcorn stand, Roel placed a ring on her finger—a sign he says of the special relationship they shared. Removing it, he said, would break their vow as young lovers, and because of this, Katkat promised not take it off or lose it.
However, after a memorable ride on the ferris wheel, Roel told Katkat that he and his family will leave the town soon since the carnival was about to close as the Christmas season ended. Roel told a weeping Katkat that even if he is far away they could still communicate via text messaging and continue their relationship.
As they separated, a strong downpour further dampened their spirits, with Katkat and Roel waving to each other an emotional goodbye. But when a crying Katkat reached home, she realized the ring she was wearing went missing. Worried that Roel might think she had forsaken their vow, she went back to the carnival looking for the lady who sold the ring to Roel and just bought a replacement ring.
Katkat then saw Roel and his family off, but realized that he was not wearing the ring they swore they would not take off. Their separation as Roel left in a rented truck after a farewell embrace and Katkat sobbing as the vehicle drove off was a touching, heartbreaking scene that surely moved many viewers.
Months passed and Katkat continued to miss Roel badly, wishing that December comes again and he would return. She thought of him a lot and texted him incessantly just to keep their love alive. Unfortunately on Roel’s part, he was not all that enthusiastic about their relationship.
He would not respond to her texts and even forgot their monthsaries. Worse, he would only communicate with Katkat when he needed her to pass on prepaid mobile phone load obviously to talk or text other people, especially girls.
When December came and Roel returned to their town to sell popcorn in the seasonal carnival, things turned different. When Katkat showed how happy she was seeing him again, Roel apparently displayed indifference as he talked to another girl and even brushed her aside, saying he had more important things to do.
Katkat was at a state of denial at first, and ignored Roel’s actions, thinking he might really be busy and could not spend time with her. But when she saw that girl he was talking to previously, Katkat asked her if she could use her phone to text Roel. She told her the phone was actually Roel’s. Katkat wondered why she was using Roel’s phone and further asked the girl who she was in Roel’s life. The girl said she was just Roel’s friend. When Katkat told her she was Roel’s girlfriend, the girl was surprised, saying he always bragged to her about having a girlfriend named Jenny, whose name appears on his phone.
By that time, Roel happened to pass by and Katkat became furious. How could he cheat on her, when all she gave was genuine love for him, and asked what more could she give to prove her love for him. Roel retorted that he gave up on her after getting irritated of the numerous texts she sends in a day. She then angrily reminded him it was even he who told her not to stop texting him.
Sensing that he fell out of a love she thought was true a year back, Katkat told him that he would not have wasted time thinking of him, sending money for mobile phone load, and even go against her parents’ wishes if she knew he didn’t care for her anymore. She then hurriedly walked out heartbroken.
Wailing in her room, her parents Gemma (Lotlot de Leon) and Mar (Richard Quan) comforted her knowing all too well the heartbreak she went through. They told her that being hurt is part of being in love, and that she should look forward to meeting someone else in the future who can truly love her as she was still so young. For now, they told her she must only focus on her studies.
After overcoming her first heartbreak, Katkat looked back at her bittersweet experience in a new light four years later. She knew it taught her life lessons that have molded her to become a better person. Katkat then scribbled in a school slambook on what she thinks about love. She wrote, “Love is like a rosary, it is full of mystery.”
MMK “Popcorn” may have came forth as a simple, light tale about young romance but the creative team pulled it off quite masterfully to craft a very moving, unforgettable episode. Award-winning director Jeffrey Jeturian made that happen with his brilliant way of telling stories in the most touching and effectual way possible.
While we admire the entire cast for how the dramatic picture turned out, Eliza Pineda and Joshua Dionisio showed outstanding skills despite their nascent years as actors at the time. They imparted a wonderful onscreen chemistry that even sent immense kilig feels to viewers. Their stint in the episode truly paved the way for more exceptional dramatic outings in the following years.