Featuring an ensemble cast depicting three generations of the “carnival king” Ramon Santos led by sterling young actor Yves Flores, Maalaala Mo Kaya’s Christmas Day episode, “Karnabal” truly touched hearts with its message of keeping treasured values intact as we reach our dreams.
MMK “Karnabal,” which was originally aired during the Yuletide season in 2016, presents Ramon and his humble beginnings growing up as a farmer’s son and his struggles as a working student finishing an accounting degree while being employed as a janitor at a popular theme park. The story further delved on how he rose from the ranks and become a model employee at the amusement park, and eventually reached his dreams as a successful entrepreneur focusing on the things he loved the most, carnival rides.
Ever since he was a kid, Ramon (JB Agustin) has always been fascinated with carnivals and the fun rides that go with it, especially the rollercoaster. When he visited one carnival during the holidays in their province of Nueva Ecija with his mother (Tanya Gomez), his astonishment was profound and nothing else could put a smile in his face other than taking that exhilarating, exciting ride.
But, sadly, all his fascination turned out for naught, since his family could not afford regular trips to the amusement parks being a humble clan of farmers. His Tatay Jun (Nanding Josef), however, always teaches him the value of propriety and practicality while instilling that virtue of selflessness.
Ramon (Yves Flores) would embody those values, while showing sheer determination and hard work in pursuing an accounting degree at a Manila college. Even as he toiled in his studies, Ramon also was a dedicated worker, being employed as a janitor at a popular theme park in Manila.
When he finished college, Ramon would rise up the ranks in the company, where he met the woman he eventually married, Annie (Loisa Andalio). But their marriage came quite early in their relationship, and Ramon was not fully ready to start and nurture a family. He encountered unspeakable hardships in supporting his family, but despite the difficulties he would eventually find a way to make both ends meet.
Just like a roller coaster, Ramon faced many ups and downs in life, but never loses hope for his and his family’s sake. Together with Annie (Mickey Ferriols) and his in-laws, Ramon (Allan Paule) established a startup that would import amusement rides for theme parks in the Philippines. Though it achieved relative success in its beginnings, the peso devaluation in the 1990s brought Ramon’s company to its knees.
What was even more devastating for Ramon as he faced these challenges was the death of his mother, for whom he vowed to build a theme park and promised a better life. But his Tatay Jun was always there to boost his spirits, telling him he could always find a way to recover from the lowest point in his life.
Emerging from his grief, Ramon had an ingenious idea. With his Tatay Jun by his side, Ramon realized that importation would be costly given the economic situation, thus he pushed the manufacture of the amusement rides using local labor and materials. With Philippine-made rides, Ramon established a niche in the industry that was very attractive to theme park owners and malls.
But then another tragedy befell Ramon’s family. He discovered his father lifeless near a ravine. He was murdered brutally and no one knew the motive or any had any leads to his killers. Being an unsolved case, his father’s murder dampened Ramon’s spirits as he faced another string of misfortunes. Fearing the closure of his company, he asked his workers if they could sacrifice months without pay and wait until they recover.
While some had their doubts if Ramon could weather the storm, a majority still believed in him and opted to stay and support him no matter what. And, Ramon did recover and surpassed all the ordeals he faced with his courage and grit, especially with his beloved Annie by his side. He established the biggest amusement park north of Manila, the Carron Dream Park in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija.
His company continues to manufacture amusement rides for the biggest theme parks and malls not only in the Philippines, but around the world, making him the undisputed “Carnival King” of the Philippines.
MMK “Karnabal” is truly an inspiring tale for anyone with big dreams. With just sheer hard work and determination, these dreams are attainable no matter how high they are.
The episode was masterfully pieced together by exceptional storytelling and brilliant creative execution, led by its director Dado C. Lomibao.
Acting performances were remarkable, with the ensemble cast delivering centerpiece portrayals viewers appreciated, especially the depth in Yves Flores’ acting craft as Ramon, ably supported by a charming Loisa Andalio and a cast of veteran actors, including Allan Paule, Mickey Ferriols, Nanding Josef, and Tanya Garcia.
Indeed a perfect MMK treat for Christmas!