A day before Father’s Day, Maalaala Mo Kaya continues to inspire and move us with the story of Mel, a simple man who did not only become a hero to his family, but to other people as well, as he courageously fought for what he believes in is right and just, in the second part of the #MMKAFathersJustice aired on Saturday, June 18.
In the first part broadcast last June 11, we were introduced to protagonist Mel, compellingly played by 2021 Asian Academy Creative Awards national winner JM de Guzman, who is depicted as a hardworking and perseverant father. He worked at a mining company and had a fallout with the administration eventually after he raised his concern regarding the corrupt practices and insisted that the workers should be provided proper salary and benefits.
The battle may be tough, but they were able to win their case and receive compensation from their previous employer, thanks to his relentless courage and determination despite the lack of money and being abandoned by his colleagues. However, as they noticed how seemingly easy it was for Mel to renovate his house, his co-workers alleged him of pocketing the remaining payment they’re yet to receive from the defendant.
This, of course, enraged him and his wife Eva (Anna Luna), but, just like what he did before, he’s also persistent to win the qualified theft case filed against him and to clear his name. Thankfully, their virtuous barangay captain, fondly called Kap (Joel Saracho), was there to help him in every step of the way, even though their lives were put in danger after unidentified gunmen attempted to ambush them.
The threat in his life didn’t end there as a hired killer, who disguised as a beggar, almost gunned him down at their home. Fortunately, Mel was able to immediately notice the unknown man’s weird behavior and a pair of men in uniform caught him in the act and arrested him.
Upon finding out that a warrant of arrest was released against Mel and the authorities were about to arrest him, Kap immediately told him to escape. As morally upright as he is, Mel initially refused since he knew that he’s fighting for what is right. But he eventually obeyed as Kap reminded him that they couldn’t guarantee his safety in jail knowing how powerful their enemy is, and also for the welfare of his family.
He left his family with a promise of going back before their fourth child is born. He stayed and hid at the house of a distant relative in the mountains, with Kap visiting him every now and then and informing him about the happenings in his family and his case, which got dismissed after the resolution was altered. They also tried appealing to the justice department but to no avail.
Meanwhile, his wife was forced to sell some of their belongings to support the needs not just of their children, but of him, too. And somehow true to his word, Mel secretly returned to his home to quickly visit his family after Eva gave birth to their son.
During his refuge, he’s also able to snag a job as a family driver as his way of continuously providing for his family. At the same time, Eva also decided to return working as a farmer and a manicurist. Aside from financial woes, their family also had to confront the wrong judgment of the people around them, which made him regret the good things he did.
Unfortunately, Mel contracted tuberculosis and had to be hospitalized, which also led to his arrest. He may have lost hope that he would be emancipated, but not his virtue in helping those who are in need. As he saved one of his fellow inmates from being beaten-up inside the cell, he was wooed to become the leader or mayor, but he declined for he didn’t want to get involved in trouble anew and he wished to put his own welfare first this time.
Upon knowing this, Eva, who used to criticize his being selfless and too principled, convinced him to accept the role and to not changed who he really is. She told him:
“Ayokong magbago ka, ayokong sumuko ka dahil gusto ko maging katulad mo ‘yong mga anak natin. Katulad ko na natutong maging katulad mo rin. ‘Dy, dahil sa nangyari sa atin, nakita ko kung ganun lang pala talaga kadaling magpakalat ng mali at manghusga. Dati gusto ko na lang magtago, huwag na lang magsalita para mas lalo na lang tayo hind maging biktima, pero hindi, ‘dy. Dahil do’n, natuto akong magsalita, natuto akong maging matapang, at ‘yon ang gusto kong matutunan ng mga anak natin dahil hindi lang ito ang maaaring mangyari sa buhay nila. ‘Dy, marami pa kaya hindi ka puwedeng sumuko. Hindi mo pwedeng sukuan kung sino ka dahil kapag ginawa mo ‘yon, parang sinukuan mo na rin na makalaya ka rito, parang sinukuan mo na rin na magkasama-sama tayong muli.”
With those stirring words of encouragement, Mel was motivated to continue his fight and be the mayor of their cell in order to help her fellow inmates. Not long after, he got acquitted as he won the case after the court accepted the evidence their party had submitted. He then got reunited with his four children, who were all very happy to see them and proud to have him as their dad amid everything that happened.
The journey of Mel is a great reminder on how easy it is for us to judge and throw mud at other people without knowing their story or what they’re going through in life, as well as to distort or believe a narrative without really knowing the whole truth. At the same time, he’s also able to prove that amidst the bad things that happen to us, the good will always prevail in the end, so we should never get tired nor give up easily in fighting for it.
Besides, Mel is a testament of what our beloved fathers can do, not only to provide the needs of the family and to protect us from harm, but to serve as a role model who we can emulate, and be really proud of, and be our own heroes, too!
JM showed to us why he’s among the best actors of his generation with his compelling portrayal of the lead character. He’s able to invoke the right emotions needed in every scene and deliver his lines so well, making us really feel and understand the pain of a man who got betrayed by the people he helped, who had to fight for what he believes in is right regardless of how difficult it would be, who had to set aside his principles for his and his family’s welfare, and who had to suffer for doing good.
And he would certainly would not be able to pull off his performance without the support and generosity of his co-actors, which include Anna Luna, Joel Saracho, and Soliman Cruz, in also providing the emotions needed in every scene that they shared.
Happy Father’s Day, Kapamilya!