For many, it’s simple to say that we are in control of our lives. However, in reality, everyone goes through certain circumstances that force them to a corner and make it difficult for them to see other options on how to better their life.
Maalala Mo Kaya’s “Libro” aired on August 14 featured this hardship in the story of Valerie Dela Cruz (Alexa Ilacad) and her family. She, her older brother Ali (Yves Flores), and Cha (Kira Balinger) lived with their parents Marcia (Tess Antonio) and Lando (Arnold Reyes). In honesty, they were struggling to get by with their daily lives so their father resorted to dealing drugs. When their house was raided and he was jailed, Marcia couldn’t support her family on her own so she also began selling drugs alongside her job. Despite her intention being helping her family, Marcia was given a lifelong sentence in prison.
Ali, Valerie, and Cha then lived their lives mostly on their own. Even if their father was released from jail after a year, they were transported to Bacolod to take advantage of a scholarship opportunity under the care of the church organization.
For a time, the three siblings were happy and determined to live a life different from their parents. Being in a religious school, Valerie saw the error of their parents’ ways and resolved to become better individuals for their future. Ali, as the eldest of the three, agreed and vowed to work hard and provide for Cha and Valerie. Cha was also always studying hard with the dream of becoming a lawyer who would someday set their mother free. They were comfortable and happy as they promised to never leave each other for the rest of their lives.
Yet, the misfortunes of life caught up to them. The church organization could no longer support all three of them so Ali moved in with a family friend nearby and began working there. What he didn’t know is that one of his older brothers would be there also. Given the challenges of earning an income, he was influenced by his brother into illegal acts to earn money and taking drugs as a relief from problems in life.
Valerie and Cha were studying hard and oblivious to all of it until they visited their family back home. Seeing how Ali changed and became addicted to drugs like their father and brother hurt them. Valerie tried to convince Ali to change, but he was already blinded by the temporary comfort of his criminal acts. The police raids and constant living in fear were not enough to change the men in their family. Valerie begged and reasoned with their father, but they only fought, pushing Valerie and Cha to just live life away from them.
The two sisters managed to find jobs whilst studying, but it was still a struggle. They encouraged each other and survived on their own. Although, they never could escape their family whom they still loved. When their father died from a sickness, Ali, Valerie, and Cha once again only had each other to rely on. Valerie was still set on improving their lives, but she also fell in love and got pregnant. Cha and Ali were both disappointed because Cha would be left alone to fend for herself and Ali’s dreams for Valerie are slowly disappearing. Despite that, Valerie believes that she would not live a criminal life and would still become a better person.
As the feeling of giving a new and better life for her own child comforted Valerie, she still had to face the life of her own family. When she heard that Ali tried killing himself, she immediately visited him and encouraged him to turn his life around. Even if they had several disagreements and arguments, Valerie assured them that they are still a family, “Hindi dapat ang isa’t isa ang tinalikuran natin, kundi ang mga bagay na sumisira sa pamilya natin.”
This was the turning point for them to wholeheartedly change for the better. Valerie ventured into live selling to make an honest living for her family and for continuing her studies, Ali finally found a dishwashing job that lets him support his family, and Cha is getting sponsors to support her education. The three of them truly saw the light and are continuing to hope for their mother’s freedom from prison. Though it may take some time, they are happy to finally be a loving family.
The story of this episode strongly showed the struggles that kids encounter when the fate of their parents affects them. Director Raz dela Torre was able to shell out the realities of such troubling circumstances and the destructive effects of illegal drugs on families.
The actors and actresses in the episode deserve commendations as well for their powerful portrayals. Tess Antonio and Arnold Reyes showed the complexities of being a parent in an impoverished society. Alexa Ilacad, Kira Balinger, and Yves Flores all displayed remarkable performances as young children navigating a difficult life. The way they each delivered their lines and unleashed moving emotions set them apart as young drama artists.
The inspiring message of the possibility of change was also refreshing to see. The true story shown by MMK “Libro” is something viewers must watch. Despite the struggles, we can witness how people can change their lives for the better.
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