When a loved one passes on, we are all heartbroken. But it is even more painful to actually witness this person close to our hearts, slowly passing away, bit by bit, helplessly.
This is what we all excruciatingly watched in the 2017 Maalaala Mo Kaya Christmas episode “Sumbrero”, which was re-aired on Saturday, December 26, seeing how Josephine Llorca (Toni Gonzaga) devotedly stood by and cared for her Mommy (Gloria Diaz), who had been slowly eaten away by her Alzheimer’s Disease.
Upon learning that her mother was suffering from the irreversible brain disorder, Josephine gave up a lucrative job overseas to come home and dedicate her life to take care for her mother.
The signs were gradual yet definite, as Josephine talked to her sister about those telltale symptoms of the onset of dementia. Yet when Josephine came home and took her mom to the doctor, their suspicions were confirmed as she indeed is suffering from the degenerative disease.
Time came when they slowly but surely losing her—from those times she would forget simple things to that terrible moment she would get lost and the people around won’t know where she went. When that happened, Josephine searched all day for her, only to find her wearing that very prominent headdress at a church all by herself.
A heart-rending scene came when Josephine, her sister and her mom posed for a groufie, and she remarked that she was already that old. What she said next shocked Josephine to the core: “Ano nga ba pangalan mo, iha?” and this truly broke her heart.
When her mom was debilitated, bedridden, relied on medical instruments for nourishment, and depended solely on Josephine to survive, Josephine would even turn down an engagement proposal from her boyfriend, who demanded that she give up caring for her mom and instead focus on their relationship.
And this led to their final, tear-jerking encounter when Josephine had expressed her innermost frustrations—knowing that her mom still doesn’t recognize her, and that she had given up everything special to her just to care for her mom. She opened up about her long-held dream of eventually getting married with her supporting her, and being a loving grandmother to her children, and said that won’t happen anymore because she had already left her prematurely.
But as Josephine was about to leave her mom, the latter asked her youngest daughter, “Mahal mo pa ako?” indicating how much she is aware of her sacrifices, and how regretful she is that Josephine is undergoing such suffering. Josephine would respond that she indeed loves her very much as she cried unabashedly.
When Josephine came home one night, her sister hysterically told her, “Si Mama…” and when she entered her room, she was devastated, seeing her mother lifeless, succumbing to the serious, fatal side effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. It also indicated how her mother apparently expressed her love to Josephine, by giving her the freedom she needed to live her life and let go.
MMK “Sumbrero” was masterfully created to really touch the hearts of viewers, especially those who faced the challenges in caring for an Alzheimer’s Disease patient. They all identify with the characters in the story, while real-life, was so efficiently developed and portrayed.
Gloria Diaz showed her immense versatility, this time in playing a difficult role that requires a deep understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease and the patients who suffered from it. She surely gave a believable performance that was truly piercing to the heart.
Toni Gonzaga proved her exceptional craft by her restrained yet sensitive portrayal, and her moving delivery. Her emotions are well managed and expressed onscreen, with much naturalness, intensity, and depth, leaving many to tears.