While love for family is indeed admirable and heartwarming, we must not forget that we also need to love and value ourselves first to become even more kindhearted and generous to others.
This is an inspiring takeaway from the Maalaala Mo Kaya episodes “Bigas” aired on March 13 and “Titulo” shown on March 20 that coincided with International Women’s Month, featuring the difficult journey of the house helper turned business icon Rebecca Bustamante-Mills. Rebecca went through the worst ordeals growing up yet found the courage and strength to rise above her struggles and became the best she could be.
With the unspeakable ordeals she faced growing up impoverished, Rebecca (Angeline Quinto) always knew and felt family comes first in anything, including herself, which she learned from her loving mother Conching (Irma Adlawan). But what she learned that really was deeply ingrained in her was that she must face life’s problems using her head, and not her heart.
But because of their difficulties, Rebecca helped her mother make both ends meet since her siblings and even their father Arong (Lito Pimentel) had been too dependent on Conching. And even as their mother suffered, Arong had been very demanding, cruel and abusive towards her.
As she sold fish and did house cleaning chores to earn for her family and her schooling, things turned for the worst with the death of her youngest sibling and Conching being diagnosed with lung cancer.
It came to a point when Conching succumbed amidst the despair as Arong went on with his wrongdoings. Their family would then incur debts, as her eldest brother Jerry (Arnold Reyes) mortgaged their property for a failed business that made them stand to lose it.
This forced Rebecca to decide to work in Singapore as a domestic helper to further assist her family. But since her earnings were not enough to support them, Rebecca would find ways to earn more, juggling her time between work and studying for a career in business, as she further migrated to Canada to continue her work and studies.
And her efforts paid off. With the help of her gracious employer, she would finish her studies and reach her dream of setting up a recruitment agency to help Filipinos find work and eventually have their families live in Canada.
As she reached the pinnacle of success, providing a better life for her family and a successful corporate career, it seemed it was taking a heavy toll on Rebecca, physically and emotionally. A friend would first dare her to date Canadian bachelors, telling her she should now think of herself more after working hard over the years just to keep their family afloat.
Rebecca would reject the idea of dating men, keeping in mind the utter monstrosity her mother and siblings underwent with her father. But the stress was unbearable—overseeing matters concerning her work as a businesswoman and still overly concerned with what’s going on with her family in the Philippines. After paying off the mortgage on their land, she continued to provide support—from financing the studies of her younger siblings to the renovation of their house, which her brothers vowed to oversee. They would even ask for more, such as capital for a business venture and a large amount to purchase a fishing boat.
After psychotherapy sessions made her realize how she continues to suffer from her traumatic past, Rebecca finally gave in to meet and date a Canadian man named Richard Mills. When they eventually got closer and fell in love after months of dating, Rebecca opened up to Richard about her family’s situation and when she invited him to visit the Philippines with her to visit her dying father, she told him that she would understand if he would not accept her predicament and leave her. But as Richard witnessed what Rebecca goes through, particularly meeting a still ludicrous Arong, he would never leave Rebecca’s side. Rebecca still took care of her father’s hospital bills, saying she is doing it for the love for Conching, who said in her dying wish to never take Arong for granted despite his missteps. Before Rebecca left, Arong apparently had been so regretful of his actions that he gave her full control over their family property by turning over the original land title to her.
After Arong passed away, Rebecca and Richard would tie the knot and raised a family blissfully, bearing two sons. But time came when Rebecca encountered financial difficulties herself as a result of a global crisis. She tried to carry herself through the tough times, but ending up bankrupt was inevitable as she forced to close her once thriving business. This was when she came back to the Philippines and appealed to her siblings if they would allow her to mortgage their property again to start anew. But her appeal was met with a scathing reprisal from her siblings, who only thought of their personal risks of losing the property and not the well-being of Rebecca.
Rebecca then recalled Richard’s advice not to let her siblings to continue “walking all over her” since they have lives of their own and could fend for themselves, and she should now think what is best for her. And here, she furiously castigated all her siblings for being so selfish even when she was always there when they needed her. She walked out on them ruing that now that she is the one who needs her siblings help, they couldn’t sacrifice even just a bit for her, as she gave them everything they wanted.
As the world seemed crumbling down, Rebecca’s health gave in. She was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, but with Richard’s insistence, they sought a second opinion from a Canadian doctor, who said she was just suffering from a curable brain infection.
Realizing their mistakes, Rebecca’s siblings visited her as she was recovering from her brain illness and apologized for their selfishness, and said that they and their families now enjoy the best life possible because of her. They said they regretted their actions after learning her life-threatening illness and would not forgive themselves if something would happen to her, vowing they would take care of her if she wanted them. Accepting their apology, Rebecca told them, “Mga kapatid ko kayo, pamilya tayo kahit anong mangyari.”
Rebecca’s personal and professional life prospered since then and became a respected business leader. So did her family who now lives in a bigger, more comfortable abode, with all her siblings reaching their respective dreams—some having successful business ventures while others enjoying fruitful careers abroad. This is all because of Rebecca, who never failed her mother Conching of always being there for her family no matter what.
With its superb creative execution under the auspices of director Raz dela Torre, both MMK “Bigas” and “Titulo” offered a piercing take on the inspiring story of businesswoman Rebecca Bustamante-Mills, with impeccable storytelling that made the episode more poignant and stirring.
While each of the cast members gave their impressive share in the thespic brilliance that overflowed in the episode, Irma Adlawan and Angeline Quinto showed their luminous and powerful acting craft that astounded viewers.
Irma has long been exceptional with all her previous portrayals leaving a lasting mark, with kilometric range that covers a broad spectrum of characters. This specific performance stands out as it gives much impact and meaning to her characterization of a mother guiding inspiring her children despite the difficulties she faces and the suffering she undergoes.
Angeline’s natural, brilliant performance is utterly special not only because it gave justice to the inspiring character, but also it allowed a refreshing, cathartic release for people who relate with her—Filipino women who goes through the same journey of adversity and trials but are encouraged to fight their respective battles in reaching their dreams. With her portrayal, we truly sense what Rebecca went through in her difficult journey, and she overcame it and triumphed in the end.