Dreams you want fulfilled only come true if you truly work hard for it, while rising above your pitfalls and mistakes in life to become a better person.
This is a precious lesson Pinoy Big Brother Connect housemate Ralph Malibunas (Jeremiah Lisbo) learned as he enjoyed his mother Grace’s (Lotlot de Leon) loving support in the Maalaala Mo Kaya episode “Brush” aired on October 2.
Ralph had long dreamed to become a big name personality in the country’s entertainment scene but had faced painful realities besetting his family. The mainly depended on the financial support of Grace’s sister, who also allowed their family to stay at her home as she was working in Japan. This is because they could not rely on their alcoholic, jobless head of the family (Jeffrey Santos), who wastes the little resources that they have on his vices. Worse is that he would even hurt Grace if he doesn’t get what he wants.
This deeply affected Ralph, who has long been very close and loving to his mother, vowing that he will never be like his father and that he would someday alleviate his mom and his siblings from their ordeals. But it didn’t take long before Grace herself found a way to provide a better life for her children—by working in France as a domestic helper.
Working away from her children proved difficult for Grace, but she thought it was a sacrifice she was willing to make just for the sake of her children. While she was away, Ralph first tried but failed to fulfill his dream of entering Bahay Ni Kuya on Pinoy Big Brother. This however opened opportunities for Ralph to still land bit roles in some TV dramas.
During this time, he wallowed in friendships that introduced him to vices, just like his father. With his new friends, he went to bars and drank heavily to the point of even asking money from his hardworking mom in France just to fund his splurges on “gimmicks.” When Grace got wind of Ralph’s wrongful ways, she castigated him for wasting his life just like his father. She reminded him that she had been working so hard for them in France, and the last thing she would expect was for Ralph wasting his life on toxic friendships.
Grace then said she would bring Ralph and his younger brother Gabo (CJ Salonga) to Paris so that she could look after them. Ralph found life difficult in his first few days in France since he was left alone in their pad, while Grace went to work and Gabo was studying. Ralph would then vent out all his frustrations at his mom, saying he wanted to go back to the Philippines since he was not doing anything in France, not having a job yet. But Grace told him that she and her relatives invested a lot so that he and his brother could go to France and find a new life there. She told him to just be patient while finding a job, but also told him that he was free to choose to go back to the Philippines and waste his life to vices just like his father again.
Ralph chose to stay in France, and Grace told him to accompany her as she worked so that he won’t be left bored in their pad. When he was with Grace, Ralph witnessed how difficult the job of his mom was. While Grace cleaned the house of her employers, specifically cleaning the toilet, Ralph realized the mistakes he made while he was in the Philippines, splurging on his mom’s hard-earned money while she gave blood, sweat and tears to her job in France all for their sake. He apologized for those mistakes, and vowed to find a job in France and work hard to help her and their family.
Ralph then found a job as a house cleaner and nanny and this provided him the means to support his mom and siblings. He even started vlogging on the side to further augment his earnings. But as he began earning, his father suddenly contacted him asking for money, apparently to continue his vices once more. Grace told Ralph that she would not prevent him if he wanted to send his father money, but as for her, she has nothing to give him after all the times he abused and hurt her, even pawning her and her sister’s possessions to continue his vices.
When his father asked Ralph once more about the money he promised to send him, he told him he could not send any yet due to difficulties arising from the pandemic. His father was enraged, and even pressed him to tell his mother to talk to him, but Ralph refused, saying Grace does not want to talk to him, being the irresponsible father he has always been.
While he had enjoyed his life working in France, helping his mother make a living, Ralph saw an announcement for virtual auditions for Pinoy Big Brother Connect. After sending his audition clip, he received notice from PBB that he finally passed the auditions and was set to become a live housemate on Bahay Ni Kuya, a dream come true. He first thought the ninth season of the reality-based competition was virtual, but then was informed that he needed to go back to the Philippines to enter Bahay Ni Kuya in person.
Ralph told Grace about this achievement, but his mom was cold to the idea since it meant he needed to return to Manila for the competitions. She urged him to give it up since it would mean giving up on their slowly improving lives in France, and going back to his old ways. Even as it left him disappointed and frustrated, Ralph first told PBB that he was turning down the offer of entering Bahay Ni Kuya. But as news spread that Ralph backed out, Grace realized how Ralph badly wanted to join PBB. She told Ralph to call PBB and tell them he was not backing out and would soon return to Manila to enter Bahay Ni Kuya. Ralph was overly ecstatic, knowing that his long-held dream is now coming to a reality.
When he joined PBB, he told Kuya about life in France, the beauty of the country, and the captivating sights, especially the Eiffel Tower, but also related the difficulties of Filipinos working in the country, especially the journey they took as a family. As Kuya gifted him to “return” to France by simulating a trip to the “top” of the Eiffel Tower, he surprised Ralph with a video call with Grace, who told him she was very proud of him, for being a loving son and for owning up for his mistakes, and becoming a better person out of it. While he may not have reached the Big Four, Ralph remained satisfied and fulfilled with his stint on Bahay Ni Kuya as he remained active living his dreams as a celebrity.
Meaningful and inspiring, Ralph Malbuenas’ story on MMK was both deeply affectual and impressive in terms of creative execution and dramatic performances of its cast, thanks to the guidance of director Chad Vidanes.
Lotlot de Leon brought out one of her best performances so far as a thoughtful, dedicated mother. This trait certainly comes naturally for Lotlot, apart from her incredible flair and skill as an actress, churning out the right mix of power, emotion and grace in her portrayal.
As Lotlot revealed in interviews leading to the episode, Jeremiah Lisbo is truly a noteworthy “student” of the acting craft. For a first ever MMK stint, Jeremiah indeed passed this dramatic test with flying colors, showing his potential as a great actor, internalizing his character well, and providing a resounding performance.
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