A noble father will do anything for his family, but will never forget to do what is right because he wants to impart the same values to his children. Maalaala Mo Kaya’s two-part Father’s Day special, which began its first episode on June 11 entitled “Logbook”, delivers exactly this message.
Mel, portrayed by JM de Guzman, is a humble father working to make ends meet for his family. While we’re opened with the scene showing that he is biding his time in prison, we have yet to understand why he is in there.
We are taken back to his story and we see a caring husband and father with simple dreams to build a comfortable home for his family. Although it’s far from being fully built, he promised his wife that he would see the construction through and be the main provider of their home.
To earn money, he entered a mining company as a driver, but offered to be part of construction duties given his minor experience. The company took a chance on him and let him prove himself. Mel, being the hard worker that he is, helped as much as he can on the construction and mining side of things despite having little to no experience.
Eventually, his efforts were recognized. Other than being able to recruit many of his neighbors to work in the plant, he also knew how to manage them so the company promoted him.
Slowly, he thrived and was able to pool in more savings for his family and progress his house’s construction. While the same happened to his neighbors, it wasn’t as smooth sailing as he expected. They started to notice that they weren’t paid for overtime. Mel even found out that the company would put in names on the payroll that weren’t workers, signaling that there could be corruption involved.
Mel tried reasoning with his boss Jacob, but the man merely shrugged it off. It was only when Mel’s co-worker Miguel got into an accident that he tried to talk with Jacob again. He pleaded with the company to help Miguel with his expenses or even pay for his overtime, yet Jacob and the company refused.
Frustrated about what he could do, Mel called the labor department for advice. After a conversation with the official, he realized the numerous illegal labor practices the company was doing to him and his workers. Their rights as employees were being violated and they were not being paid the right amount of compensation.
He tried being mum about it to protect his and his workers’ jobs but finally stood up when the company was unfairly dismissing them without advice or pay. Mel even let go of his own job just to stand for his principles and the rights of his fellow workers by filing a case against the company.
In his fight for justice, he was joined by his fellow workers to help invest time, money, and efforts to push their case. However, as they fought a large company, their resources slowly depleted and some were losing hope. They had families to feed and the fight didn’t seem worth it anymore. While it broke Mel’s heart to be alone, he continued the fight because he knew he was on the side of justice and righteousness.
Of course, the climb was difficult alone. At times, his own wife resented him for dipping their savings and neglecting their family’s needs for this fight. Mel hesitated on his decisions now, but his father convinced him otherwise. As a father himself, he knew Mel would want to do what was right to become a role model for his own kids. He reminded Mel, “Mabigat gawin ang tama… Pero hindi mo ito pagsisihan. Balang araw ipagmamalaki ka ng mga anak mo.”
This was the motivation he needed to pursue the case with full force. The company he was suing even tried to bribe him with Php 5 million cash up front for him to pull out the case, but he didn’t budge and succumb to the monetary temptation with the help and support of his wife.
After three long years, all his grit paid off because he finally won the case. The company had to pay them back a total of Php 27 million for all the damages incurred to 68 workers. Mel rejoiced along with the workers he fought for. They initially received Php 3.5 million and would receive the balance after.
As they enjoyed their fruits for some time, everyone was still waiting for the remaining money due. Unbeknown to Mel, his fellow workers began pinning that he stole the remaining money and filed a case against him. Mel couldn’t believe the accusations coming from the very same workers he fought for. It seems he has another fight to win.
While this MMK Father’s Day special still has a part two coming in the next episode, its story already holds so many lessons. Mel as a father possesses qualities of bravery, integrity, and determination that we all aspire for. His drive to be on the side of truth and justice despite all the obstacles is something we can also embody, especially in the midst of cruelty and corruption in this day and age.
JM should be hailed for his performance as well. He had to make viewers understand the different aspects of Mel’s life as a father, husband, worker, and leader. He was not only a courageous and tough guy in his character, but he was also empathetic and sensitive to everyone around him.